Tag Archives: Humanity of Christ

Friday after Ash Wednesday

Lent 1
Mt 9, 14-15

The 30 or so years that Jesus Christ lived on earth are brief on the timeline of human history. Hardly visible at all. But we believe Jesus, “in the fullness of time,” changed the way we look at life and time itself in those years. He’s God’s revelation to us.

His first disciples saw him, listened to his words, followed him and told us about him. They tell us very little about his birth and early years. The part of his life they tell us most about is the story of his death and resurrection. It’s the longest story in the gospels and we believe it’s the key to understandi the One “who is, who was and is to come.”

How can we understand that story best? Shall we study it academically, maybe read a popular book like Bill O”Reilly’s “Killing Jesus”? Shall we ask historians or scholars what it means?

My community, the Passionists, always begins Lent by celebrating on the day before Ash Wednesday the Feast of the Prayer of Jesus in the Garden. The feast points out the best way to share in the mystery of Jesus’ death and resurrection– enter the Garden of Gethsemane and pray there with Jesus.

Gethsemane is more than a place, it’s an experience humanity shares. Jesus came to the garden in his humanity and faced there the mystery of death, the fears and helplessness it brings, the questions about God’s care, God’s love and God’s will that humanity faces.

He shares our humanity. We enter the garden–not to fall asleep or simply observe Jesus at prayer–but to face death as he faced it, to face our fears and questions about God’s will and care that he faced then, and to draw divine support as he did.

In his spiritual diary, St. Paul of the Cross said that sharing the humanity of Christ leads to sharing his divinity; meditating on his death and resurrection leads us to new life.

“I also had knowledge of the soul united in a bond of love to the Sacred
Humanity and, at the same time, dissolved and raised to a deep, conscious, and
felt knowledge of the Divinity. For since Jesus is both God and Man, the soul
cannot be united in love to the Sacred Humanity without being at the same time
dissolved and brought to a deep, conscious, felt knowledge of the Divinity.” (Diary)

Thank you, Father, for the gift of your Son, Jesus Christ,
the Word who made the universe,
the Savior you sent to redeem us,
who came as one like us
to make us one with you.

The Humanity of God

You can’t say it more beautifully than the way St. Bernard says it in this sermon.

“The kindness and love of God our savior have appeared.  Thanks be to God, through whom we receive such abundant kindness in this pilgrimage, this exile, this distress.

” Before his humanity appeared, God’s kindness lay concealed. Of course it was already in existence, because the mercy of the Lord is eternal, but how could we know it was so great? It was promised but not yet experienced: hence many did not believe in it. At various times and in various different ways, God spoke through the prophets, saying I know the plans I have in mind for you: plans for peace, not disaster.

” What reply did we make, we who felt the affliction, and knew nothing of peace? ‘How long will you keep saying “Peace, peace” when there is no peace?’ And so the angels of peace weep bitterly saying Lord, who has believed our report?

“But now at last let us believe our own eyes, because all God’s promises are to be trusted. So that it cannot escape the notice of even troubled eyes, He has set up his tabernacle in the sun. Behold, peace is no longer promised, but conferred; no longer delayed, but given; no longer predicted, but bestowed.

“Behold, God has sent down to earth a bag bulging with his mercy, a bag that, at the passion, is torn open so that our ransom pours out of it onto us. A small bag, perhaps, but a full one: for it was a small child that was given to us, but in him dwells all the fulness of the Godhead.

“After the fulness of time had come, there came too the fulness of the Godhead. He came in the flesh, so that at least he might make himself manifest to our earthly minds, so that when this humanity of his appeared, his kindness might also be acknowledged. Where the humanity of God appears, his kindness can no longer be hidden. In what way, indeed, could he have better commended his kindness than by assuming my flesh? My flesh, that is, not Adam’s, as it was before the fall.

“What greater proof could he have given of his mercy than by taking upon himself that very thing which needed mercy? Where is there such perfect loving-kindness as in the fact that for our sake the Word of God became perishable like the grass? Lord, what is man, that you make much of him or pay him any heed?

“Let us infer from this how much God cares for us. Let us know from this what God thinks of us, what he feels about us. Do not ask about your own sufferings; but about what God suffered. Learn from what he was made for you, how much he makes of you, so that his kindness may show itself to you from his humanity.

“The lesser he has made himself in his humanity, the greater has he shown himself in kindness. The more he humbles himself on my account, the more powerfully he engages my love. The kindness and humanity of God our Saviour appeared says St Paul. The humanity of God shows the greatness of his kindness, and he who added humanity to the name of God gave great proof of this kindness.”