Deeper Perspectives on the Ascension as Heaven-Becoming, NOW – HERE

The simple theological insight of Joseph Ratzinger: the ascension took place when Our Lady said “Yes” and the humanity of the man Jesus of Nazareth was assumed by the divine Person of the Word (“The Word became flesh” Jn. 1, 14).

Ratzinger: “What, then, is the meaning of Christ’s ‘ascension into heaven’? It expresses our belief that in Christ human nature, the humanity in which we all share, has entered into the inner life of God in a new and hitherto unheard of say. It means that man has found an everlasting place in God. Heaven is not a place beyond the stars, but something much greater , something that requires far more audacity to asset: Heaven means that man has a place in God.

“The basis for this assertion is the interpenetration of humanity and divinity in the crucified and exalted man Jesus Christ, the man who is in God and eternally one with God, is at the same time God’s abiding openness to all human beings (i.e. all of us). Thus Jesus himself is what we call ‘heaven,’ heaven is not a place but a person, the person of him in whom God and man are forever and inseparably one. And we go to heaven and enter into heaven to the extent that we go to Jesus Christ and enter into him. In this sense, ‘ascension into  heaven’ can be something that takes place in our every day lives.

“Only in the light of these various connections can we understand why Luke should tell us, at the end of his Gospel that after the Ascension the disciples returned to Jerusalem ‘with great joy’ (lk. 24, 52) They know that what had occurred was not a departure; if it sere, they would hardly have experienced ‘great joy.’ No, in their eyes the Ascension and the Resurrection were one and the same event. This even gave them the certainty that the crucified Jesus was alive, that he had overcome death, which cuts man off from God, the Living One; and that the door to eternal life was henceforth forever open.

“For the disciples, then, the ‘ascension’ was not what we usually misinterpret it as being: the temporary absence of Christ from the world. It meant  rat her his new, definitive, and irrevocable presence by participation in God’s royal power [“The Ascension tells us that the crucified man Jesus now exercises God’s kingship over the world”]

“Hence, the disciples are not to remain staring into the future or to wait broodingly for the time of his return. No, they are to realize that he is ceaselessly present and even that he desires to become ever more present through their activity, inasmuch as the gift of the Spirit and the commission to bear witness, preach, and be missionaries are the way in which he is now already present. The proclamation of the Good News everywhere in the world is  that way in which, during the period between he Resurrection and second coming, the Lord gives expression to his royal rule over all the world, as he exercises his lordship in the humble form of the word… For John,  the mystery of Good Friday, of Easter, and of Christ’s Ascension form but a single mystery. The cross has a second, mysterious dimension: it is the royal throne from which Christ exercises his kingship and draws the human race to himself… Christ’s royal throne is the cross….”  (J. Ratzinger, “Dogma and Preaching” Franciscan Herald Press (1985) 61-65,

* * * * * * * *

The Ascension from two perspectives: 1) the Ascension of humanity into heaven already took place at the Annunciation when Our Lady said: “Fiat:” Human nature was assumed by the divine Person of the Son to become the God-Man. Jesus Christ was already man-in-heaven. 2) At the event of the ascension, Jesus Christ ascends to the right hand of the Father = He takes His humanity within the Trinitarian relations as Son of the Father and Spirator of the Holy Spirit.

“For the Son’s ascension into heaven is necessary if the Spirit is to be poured out in every dimension. In giving his life, bodily and spiritually, for his followers, he manifests the incarnational aspect of the gift of the Spirit: we enter God’s intimate sphere through the door formed by the wound in the side of God’s Word and Son, who was uttered and manifested to us ‘even unto death. Otherwise we would never have grasped what God’s Holy Spirit of love is, namely the highest degree of self-giving, shining forth in the Son’s squandering of his flesh and blood. His prodigality bursts the bounds of finite life as the Son returns to the infinite Father, together with whom, from all eternity, he breathes and shares the one Spirit. The Church receives the signal of ‘arrival’ with the Father, according to his promise, in the Pentecost gift of the Spirit. The withdrawal of the figure of the Son from sense-perception ‘frees’ the Spirit, and the ascension is the transfiguration and consummation of the death of Jesus.  Caught up (the raptus of Apocalypse 12, 5) to the ‘right hand of the Father,’ the Son’s transfigured humanity becomes involved in the eternal spiration of the Holy Spirit, and the immediate consequence of this is that the Spirit is poured out into Christ’s mystical body on earth.

“Once again the relationship changes; up to now it was the Son, the Word, who breathed the Spirit, showing himself to be ‘the Lord of the Spirit’ (2 Cor. 3, 18). Indeed, he himself was the ‘Spirit’ insofar as the eternal Word of God contains the depth, the vitality and the power of the Spirit of God (2 Cor. 3, 17m Jn. 6, 63) in contrast to all finite, earthly and ‘fleshly’ words….”

Let me stop with Von Balthasar here because of the abstractness of it. But look what he is saying and the great sense it makes. He is saying that we are involved in the very engendering and spirating of the divine Persons of the Son and the Spirit. It’s already in Our Lady. She freely says “Yes” to the vocation to be the mother, thus engendering the Son.  But we are also protagonists of doing just that: Jesus is told “his mother and brothers are standing outside and wish to see him,’ and he replies “My mother and my brothers are those who hear the word of God and do it” (Lk. 8, 20-21). As the Virgin becomes the Mother of God by hearing the Word and doing it [saying “yes”], so also we are called to “hear the Word and do it” and by so doing engender Jesus Christ as she did. The leitmotif of “Mother of the Redeemer” is “Blessed is she who believed” (Lk. 1, 45). As she is moved by the Spirit to say “Yes,” and thus enters the Trinity to become the Mother of God, Jesus Christ, so also are we moved by the Spirit to say “Yes” and engender the Son of God in us, which I understand to be the quid divinum in ordinary life that St. Josemaria talks about in “Passionately Loving the World.” One becomes Christ Himself by the giving of the self in the exercise of ordinary work and family life. And since our work and family life are our “yes” breathed out as gift to the others, we engender Christ in them if we speak with daring (parrhesia) and they are open to hear and receive.

This, of course, means that we are already in the end-time. Heaven is already here because Jesus Christ is already here. And it is being historically instantiated by the transformation of individual persons into “other Christs,” which is achieved by their ongoing gift of themselves in ordinary life to death which is their final self-gift. And so, heaven is now – and developing. This is what is meant by the “kingdom of God,” and what we pray – almost unknowingly – “they kingdom come.” The final eschatology is already upon us.

Here’s What Left a Lasting Impression on Trump in Israel

‘I’ve been amazed … Words fail to capture the experience,’ said the president as foreign trip continues

by Leah Jessen | Updated 22 May 2017 at 5:02 PM

President Donald Trump met with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Monday in Israel. “This is a land filled with beauty, wonder, and the spirit of God,” Trump said at a joint press conference with Netanyahu. “I’ve been amazed by the glorious and beautiful monuments and holy sites and the generosity of your incredible people.”

“We want Israel to have peace.”

Trump visited the historic Church of the Holy Sepulchre and the Western Wall on Monday. He was the first sitting United States president to pray at the Western Wall.

“I was deeply moved by my visit today to the Western Wall,” Trump said Monday. “Words fail to capture the experience. It will leave an impression on me forever.”

Trump also met on Monday with Reuven Rivlin, who holds the mostly ceremonial role of Israeli president.

Related: Trump Prays at Western Wall: The Solemn Religious Significance

“Today we reaffirm the unbreakable bond of friendship between Israel and the United States,” Trump added in his speech, as Netanyahu stood by his side.

Netanyahu and the people of Israel graciously hosted Trump and first lady Melania Trump.

Ascension into Heaven   

The overriding connection between May as the month of Our Lady and the Ascension into Heaven is the Body of Christ. She engenders “It” (and therefore Him) and He returns “It” (His very Self) to the Father. Without Our Lady, there is no body and therefore there is no Christ the God-man. And the Ascension is the insertion and presencing of matter in the very life of the Trinity.

This is astonishing. That is, it astonishing to a mind awash in Gnostic culture. That is (again),  we are all infected with the Gnostic Heresy views Spirit as “good” and Matter as “bad.” Romano Guardini writes: “Why must we … believe that this piece of creation is assimilated into the eternity of God’s existence? What for? A bit of earthliness lost and caught up into the tremendousness of eternity? Why doesn’t the Logos shake the dust from him and return to the pure clarity of his free divinity?”[1]

This notion of an enfleshed God produces astonishment, and Pope Francis says that revelation should produce astonishment and amazement. In his introduction to the homilies of Pope Francis, Fr. Anthony Spadaro, S.J. quotes Francis: “Amazement is a great grace; it is the grace that God gives us in the encounter with Jesus Christ. It is something that makes us lose our heads a bit out of joy… It is wonderful! Perhaps the opposite experience is more common, when human weakness, mental illness, or the devil makes people believe that phantasms and fantasies are the reality; this is not of God. What is of God is this joy that is so great it is beyond belief. And we think: No, this is not real! This is of the Lord. This astonishment is the beginning of the habitual state of the Christian. And ‘amazement’ in these homilies is connected to the encounter with Christ. It marks the moment of the encounter. But then it leaves its effects, which he calls ‘peace,’ or better, ‘consolation,’ which is ‘the presence of God in our hearts’ (June 10, 2013, no. 6)”[2]

Guardini continues: “Revelation defines such ideas as philosophy or worldly religion, to which Christian thought is by nature and definition diametrically opposed. But then what manner of God is this, with whom Resurrection, Ascension and throning on his right hand are possible?”

Guardini answers: “Precisely the kind of God that makes such things possible! He is the God of the Resurrection, and we must learn that it is not the Resurrection that is irreconcilable to him, but part of our thinking that is irreconcilable to the Resurrection, for it is false.

“If we take Christ’s figure as our point of departure, trying to understand from there, we find ourselves faced with the choice between a completely new conception of God and our relation to him, and utter rejection of everything that surpasses the limitations of a ‘great man’… We must also completely reform our idea of humanity, if it is to fit the mould Christ has indicated. We can no longer say:  man is as the world supposes him to be; therefore it is impossible that he throne at God’s right, but: since Revelation has revealed that the Son of Man does throng at God’s right, man must be other than the world supposes him. We must learn that God is not only ‘supreme Being,’ but supreme and human Being; we must realize that man is not only human, but that the tip of his essence reaches into the unknown, and receives its fulfillment in his Resurrection.

“It is the Resurrection that brings ultimate clarity to that which is known as salvation. Not only does it reveal who God is, who we are, what sin really means; not only does it indicate the way to new accomplishment for the children of God… [but] resurrection consists of the transformation of the totality of our being, spirit and flesh, by the recreative power of God’s love. Living reality, not only idea, attitude or orientation. It is the second divine Beginning – comparable only to the first, the tremendous act of creation. To the question: What is salvation, what does it mean to save, to have saved, to be saved – no full answer can be given without the words ‘the resurrected Christ.’ In his corporeal realty, in his transfigured humanity he is the world redeemed. That is why he is called ‘the firstborn’ of all creatures, ‘the beginning,’ ‘the firstborn from the dead’ (Col. 1, 15, 18). Through him transitory creation is lifted into the eternal existence of God, and God, now invulnerable, stands in the world, an eternally fresh start. He is a vital road that invites all to follow, for all creation is called to share in his Transfiguration… Early modernism manufactured a dogma to the effect that Christianity was anti-corporal, that the body was the enemy of the spirit. This is true only in the limited sense of pagan antiquity, or of the Renaissance, or of our epoch, where the boy is detached from God. Actually, Christianity alone dared to draw the body into the inmost sphere of  divine proximity.”[3]

The Epistemological Sea-Change

Behold the announcement of the staggering change that must take place in our perception of reality. Without befuddling ordinary perception too abruptly or muddying the waters too much, too quickly, let me offer a youtube anecdote and commentary by Bp. Robert Barron:

Perceptive Barron Anecdote and Comment

“On a recent trip to Sacramento, from my home base in the LA area, I flew Southwest Airlines. In an idle moment, I reached for the magazine in the seatback pocket and commenced to leaf through it. I came across an article by a woman named Sarah Menkedick entitled “Unfiltered:  How Motherhood Interrupted My Relationship with Social Media.” The piece was not only wittily and engagingly written; it also spoke to some pretty profound truths about our cultural situation today and the generation that has come of age under the influence of the Internet.

“She argues that to have swum in the sea of Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest, and YouTube from the time that one was a child was to live one’s life perpetually in front of an audience. Most millenials never simply had experiences; they were conditioned to record, preserve, and present those experiences to a following who were invited to like what they saw, to comment on it, to respond to it. To be sure, she acknowledges, the social media, at their best, are powerful means of communication and connection, but at their worst, they produce this odd distantiation from life and a preoccupation with the self. Here is how Menkendick puts it: “I’ve come of age as a writer at a time when it is no longer enough just to write. A writer must also promote her work and in the process promote herself as a person of interest…I learned the snarky, casually intellectual voice of feminist and pop culture bloggers, the easy outrage, the clubby camaraderie.”

“But then something extraordinary happened to the author:  she became a mother. On the front porch of her home, nursing her baby, she discovered that she had a visceral aversion to snark and absolutely no desire to share her experience with an audience or curry favor from it. She didn’t want to cultivate any ironic distance from motherhood; rather, she wanted to believe in it with all her heart, to let it wash over her. “Before I had a child, I took it for granted that no intellectual writer-type could ever be taken seriously were she to cave into conventional sentiment. As a mother, I was swept away by these huge, ancient, universal emotions I’d previously dismissed as uncomplicated.” Her baby, in a word, broke through the carapace of her self-regard and let in some real light. Again, granting all that is truly good about social media (which I use massively in my own ministry), they can easily produce the conviction that we are the stars of our own little dramas, always playing for an eager audience. Authentic spirituality always gives rise to the opposite conviction: your life is not about you.

“To grasp this distinction more completely, let me propose two scenarios to you. In the first, you are engaged in conversation with someone that you desperately want (or need) to impress, say, a prospective employer or a popular figure whose friendship you crave. In this context, you are indeed speaking, listening, laughing, looking pensive, etc., but more importantly, you are watching yourself perform these moves, and you are exquisitely attentive to the reaction of your interlocutor. Is she laughing at your jokes? Does she look bored? Did your witticism land effectively in her consciousness? The point is that you are not really experiencing reality directly, but rather through a sort of veil. It is as though you are looking at a beautiful landscape, but through a foggy window. Now a second scenario: you are in lively conversation with a friend, and there is no ulterior motive, no egotistic preoccupation. You become quickly lost in the discussion, following the argument where it leads, laughing when you are truly amused, watching your partner, but not in order to see how she’s reacting to you, but just because she’s interesting. In this case, you are immersed in reality; you are looking at the landscape through a clear pane of glass, taking in its colors and textures in all of their vividness.

“Now, to use the language of the classical moral and spiritual tradition, the first situation I described is marked, through and through, by pride, and the second by humility. Don’t think of pride, first and foremost, as self-exaltation, which is, in fact, but a face or consequence of pride. In its most proper nature, pride is seeing the world through the distorting lens of the ego and its needs. On the other hand, humility, from the Latin humus (earth), is getting in touch with reality directly, being close to the ground, seeing things as they are. This is why Thomas Aquinas famously says humilitas est veritas” (humility is truth). What makes the first scenario so painful and cringe-worthy is that it is out of step with the truth of things. What makes the second scenario so exhilarating, so fun, is that it is full of reality.

“What Sarah Menkedick intuited was the manner in which the social media environment can be a breeding ground for the unique type of spiritual distortion and dislocation that we traditionally call pride. What made all the difference for her was the arrival of her baby, in all of his densely-textured reality—a reality that she could appropriate only through humility.

Now, let me add a definitive and explanatory piece in the pitch in the total revamping of our way of knowing and perception of the real. I again take Robert Barron’s insistence on taking the person of Jesus Christ as prior reality and perception of all that is. To wit:

Blogger: Bp Robert Barron centers the meaning of the physical universe on the Person of the God-Man giving Colossians 1, 15 -19 as his scriptural warrant: The Son is the image of the invisible God, the first born over all creation. 16 For in him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things have been created through him and for him. 17 He is before all things, and in him all things hold together.18 And he is the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning and the firstborn from among the dead, so that in everything he might have the supremacy. 19 For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him…”. Barron writes that “Individiuals, societies, cultures, animals, plants, planets and the stars – all will be drawn into an eschatological harmony through him. Mind you, Jesus is not merely the symbol of an iintelligibility, coherence, and reconciliation that can exist apart from him; rather, he is the active and indispensable means by which these realities come to be.. This Jesus, in short, is the all-embracing, all-including, all-reconciling Lord of whatever is to be found in the dimensions of time and space.”[4]

And, Pope Francis wrote in “Laudato ‘Si” (#235): “For Christians, all the creatures of the material universe find their true meaning in the Incarnate Word, for the Son of God has incorporated in his person part of the material world, planting in it a seed of definitive transformation. ‘Christianity does not reject matter. Rather, bodiliness is considered in all its value in the liturgical act, whereby the human body is disclosed in its inner nature as a temple of the Holy Spirit, and is united with the Lord Jesus, who himself took a body for the world’s salvation.’ (236) It is in the Eucharist that all that has been created finds its greatest exaltation.

Conclusion

 

            From Guardini: “We must revise our whole conception of that redemption is. Rationalism is still deeply rooted in us, with its insistence on the spiritual alone in after-life. But redemption is more than an intellectual process, an interior disposition or emotion; we must learn all over again to grasp its divine concrete reality. Redemption is an integral and vital part of man’s existence; so much so that St. Paul… actually defines it as a process that begins with bodily renewal… Now we begin to understand what sacrament means. Were we not also among those in Capharnaum who protested: ‘How can this man give us his flesh to eat’ (Jn. 6, 53)? Why these strange words about the flesh and blood of Christ – why not ‘the truth’ and ‘the love’ of Jesus?  Why not leave it at the first half of the promise in John six: are the tangible, if not material details, the eating of flesh and drinking of blood really necessary? Wouldn’t remembrance of the Lord in all the purity and dignity of the spirit suffice? Why not? Because not only the spirit of Christ, but his resurrected flesh and blood, his whole, transfigured humanity is redemption! Because through the Holy Eucharist we participate again and again in this transfigured reality at once human and divine. Because communion in his flesh and blood is the remedy of immortality, the ‘pharmacon athanasias’… an immortality not only spiritual, but also corporal of man caught up into the abundance of pure corporal and pure spiritual life in God

[1] Romano Guardini, “The Lord, “Regnery Publishing, Inc. (2002) 482-483.

[2] Pope Francis, “Encountering Truth – Meeting God in the Everyday” Antonio Spadaro , Image (2015) xxxiv-xxxv

[3] Guardini, Ibid., 483-484.

[4] R. Barron, “The Priority of Christ” Brazos (2007),  134-135.

Love is never a given. It must be learned new every day – from the Spirit Through theVirgin

 

“…. For a Christian also, to be able to love is never a fact acquired once and for all. One must begin again every day; we must exercise ourselves so that our love for the brothers and sisters we encounter may become mature and purified of those limits and sins that render it partial, egoistic, sterile and unfaithful. Every day the art of loving must be learnt. Listen to this: every day the art of loving must be learnt; every day Christ’s school of patience must be followed, every day one must forgive and look at Jesus and this with the help of this “Advocate,” of this Consoler that Jesus has sent us who is the Holy Spirit.

May the Virgin Mary, perfect disciple of her Son and Lord, help us to be ever more docile to the Paraclete, the Spirit of truth, to learn every day to love one another as Jesus has loved us.” (Pope Francis, May 21, 2017)

 

Robert Barron: Social Media – Pride and Humility

On a recent trip to Sacramento, from my home base in the LA area, I flew Southwest Airlines. In an idle moment, I reached for the magazine in the seatback pocket and commenced to leaf through it. I came across an article by a woman named Sarah Menkedick entitled “Unfiltered:  How Motherhood Interrupted My Relationship with Social Media.” The piece was not only wittily and engagingly written; it also spoke to some pretty profound truths about our cultural situation today and the generation that has come of age under the influence of the Internet.

She argues that to have swum in the sea of Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest, and YouTube from the time that one was a child was to live one’s life perpetually in front of an audience. Most millenials never simply had experiences; they were conditioned to record, preserve, and present those experiences to a following who were invited to like what they saw, to comment on it, to respond to it. To be sure, she acknowledges, the social media, at their best, are powerful means of communication and connection, but at their worst, they produce this odd distantiation from life and a preoccupation with the self. Here is how Menkendick puts it: “I’ve come of age as a writer at a time when it is no longer enough just to write. A writer must also promote her work and in the process promote herself as a person of interest…I learned the snarky, casually intellectual voice of feminist and pop culture bloggers, the easy outrage, the clubby camaraderie.”

But then something extraordinary happened to the author:  she became a mother. On the front porch of her home, nursing her baby, she discovered that she had a visceral aversion to snark and absolutely no desire to share her experience with an audience or curry favor from it. She didn’t want to cultivate any ironic distance from motherhood; rather, she wanted to believe in it with all her heart, to let it wash over her. “Before I had a child, I took it for granted that no intellectual writer-type could ever be taken seriously were she to cave into conventional sentiment. As a mother, I was swept away by these huge, ancient, universal emotions I’d previously dismissed as uncomplicated.” Her baby, in a word, broke through the carapace of her self-regard and let in some real light. Again, granting all that is truly good about social media (which I use massively in my own ministry), they can easily produce the conviction that we are the stars of our own little dramas, always playing for an eager audience. Authentic spirituality always gives rise to the opposite conviction: your life is not about you.

To grasp this distinction more completely, let me propose two scenarios to you. In the first, you are engaged in conversation with someone that you desperately want (or need) to impress, say, a prospective employer or a popular figure whose friendship you crave. In this context, you are indeed speaking, listening, laughing, looking pensive, etc., but more importantly, you are watching yourself perform these moves, and you are exquisitely attentive to the reaction of your interlocutor. Is she laughing at your jokes? Does she look bored? Did your witticism land effectively in her consciousness? The point is that you are not really experiencing reality directly, but rather through a sort of veil. It is as though you are looking at a beautiful landscape, but through a foggy window. Now a second scenario: you are in lively conversation with a friend, and there is no ulterior motive, no egotistic preoccupation. You become quickly lost in the discussion, following the argument where it leads, laughing when you are truly amused, watching your partner, but not in order to see how she’s reacting to you, but just because she’s interesting. In this case, you are immersed in reality; you are looking at the landscape through a clear pane of glass, taking in its colors and textures in all of their vividness.

Now, to use the language of the classical moral and spiritual tradition, the first situation I described is marked, through and through, by pride, and the second by humility. Don’t think of pride, first and foremost, as self-exaltation, which is, in fact, but a face or consequence of pride. In its most proper nature, pride is seeing the world through the distorting lens of the ego and its needs. On the other hand, humility, from the Latin humus (earth), is getting in touch with reality directly, being close to the ground, seeing things as they are. This is why Thomas Aquinas famously says “humilitas est veritas”(humility is truth). What makes the first scenario so painful and cringe-worthy is that it is out of step with the truth of things. What makes the second scenario so exhilarating, so fun, is that it is full of reality.

What Sarah Menkedick intuited was the manner in which the social media environment can be a breeding ground for the unique type of spiritual distortion and dislocation that we traditionally call pride. What made all the difference for her was the arrival of her baby, in all of his densely-textured reality—a reality that she could appropriate only through humility.

Human Person as “Christ Himself”

Office of readings,   Friday – 5th week of Easter:

Isaac of Stella, Cistercian 1170’s. It is interesting   to see the struggle  in the 12th c. to give a theological account of the identity of the human person with Jesus Christ as Son of God. Read  this in the light of the 20th c. experience of St. Josemaria Escriva who heard while travelling in the street: “You are my Son; you are Christ.”

From a sermon by Blessed Isaac of Stella, abbot

 

Firstborn of many brothers

Just as the head and body of a man form one single man, so the Son of the Virgin and those he has chosen to be his members form a single man and the one Son of Man. Christ is whole and entire, head and body, say the Scriptures, since all the members form one body, which with its head is one Son of Man, and he with the Son of God is one Son of God, who himself with God is one God. Therefore the whole body with its head is Son of Man, Son of God, and God. This is the explanation of the Lord’s words: Father, I desire that as you and I are one, so they may be one with us.

And so, according to this well-known reading of Scripture, neither the body without the head, nor the head without the body, nor the head and body without God make the whole Christ. When all are united with God they become one God. The Son of God is one with God by nature; the Son of Man is one with him in his person; we, his body, are one with him sacramentally. Consequently those who by faith are spiritual members of Christ can truly say that they are what he is: the Son of God and God himself. But what Christ is by his nature we are as his partners; what he is of himself in all fullness, we are as participants. Finally, what the Son of God is by generation, his members are by adoption, according to the text: As sons you have received the Spirit of adoption, enabling you to cry, Abba, Father.

Through his Spirit, he gave men the power to become sons of God, so that all those he has chosen might be taught by the firstborn among many brothers to say: Our Father, who are in heaven. Again he says elsewhere: I ascend to my Father and to your Father.

By the Spirit, from the womb of the Virgin, was born our head, the Son of Man; and by the same Spirit, in the waters of baptism, we are reborn as his body and as sons of God. And just as he was born without any sin, so we are reborn in the forgiveness of all our sins. As on the cross he bore the sum total of the whole body’s sins in his own physical body, so he gave his members the grace of rebirth in order that no sin might be imputed to his mystical body. It is written: Blessed is the man to whom the Lord imputes no guilt for his sin. The ‘blessed man’ of this text is undoubtedly Christ. Insofar as God is his head, Christ forgives sins. Insofar as the head of the body is one man, there is no sin to forgive; and insofar as the body that belongs to this head consists of many members, there is sin indeed, but it is forgiven and no guilt is imputed.

In himself he is just: it is he who justifies himself. He alone is both Saviour and saved. In his own body on the cross he bore what he had washed from his body by the waters of baptism. Bringing salvation through wood and through water, he is the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world which he took upon himself. Himself a priest, he offers himself as sacrifice to God, and he himself is God. Thus, through his own self, the Son is reconciled to himself as God, as well as to the Father and to the Holy Spirit