The Person of Christ is Revelation:The import of this post is that Christian faith and morality as proposed in “Amoris Laetita” 304-305 is not reducible to moral conclusions and principles, but to a conscience imbued with a lived faith. If you live outside of yourself you will have a gut reaction that comes from the tendency of the Christ developing within you. You will know: “That’s it!” or “That’s not it!” with regard to a course of action.

The Ascent of Mount Carmel, by St John of the Cross [Juan de Yepes]

 

In Christ, God has spoken to us [Bk. 2, ch 22]

         “The principal reason why the Old Law permitted us to ask questions of God, and why prophets and priests had to seek visions and revelations of God, was because at that time faith had no firm foundation and the law of the Gospel was not yet established; and thus it was necessary that men should enquire of God and that he should speak, whether by words or by visions and revelations or whether by figures and images or by many other ways of expressing His meaning. For all that he answered and revealed belonged to the mysteries of our faith and things touching it or leading to it.

  “But now that the faith is founded in Christ, now that in this era of grace the law of the Gospel has been made manifest, there is no reason to enquire of God in that manner nor for him to speak to us or answer us as he did then. For, in giving us, as he did, his Son, who is his one and only Word, he spoke to us once and for all, in this single Word, and he has no occasion to speak further.

  “And this is the meaning of that passage with which the Letter to the Hebrews begins, trying to persuade the Hebrews that they should abandon those first ways of dealing and communicating with God which are in the law of Moses, and should set their eyes on Christ alone: At various times in the past and in various different ways, God spoke to our ancestors through the prophets; but in our own time, in the last days, he has spoken to us through his Son. That is, God has said so much about so many things through his Word that nothing more is needed, since that which he revealed partially in the past through the prophets, he has now revealed completely by giving us the All, which is his Son.

  “Therefore if someone were now to ask questions of God or seek any vision or revelation, he would not only be acting foolishly but would be committing an offence against God – for he should set his eyes altogether upon Christ and seek nothing beyond Christ.

  “God might answer him after this manner, saying: This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased; listen to him. I have spoken all things to you in my Word. Set your eyes on him alone, for in him I have spoken and revealed to thee all things, and in him you shall find more than you ask for, even more than you want.

  “I descended upon him with my Spirit on Mount Tabor and said This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased; listen to him. You have no reason to ask for new teaching or new answers from me because if I spoke to you in the past then it was to promise Christ. If people asked questions of me in the past then their questions were really a desire of Christ and a hope for his coming. For in him they were to find all good things, as has now been revealed in the teaching of the Evangelists and the Apostles.”

 

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Revelation: Receiving God

Pope Francis:

I ask you: How do you abide in the presence of the Lord? When you visit the Lord, when you look at the tabernacle, what do you do? Without speaking… “But I speak, I talk, I think, I meditate, I listen…” Very good! But do you let yourself be looked at by the Lord? Letting ourselves be gazed upon by the Lord. He looks at us and this is itself a way of praying. Do you let yourselves be gazed upon by the Lord? But how do you do this? You look at the tabernacle and you let yourselves be looked at… it is simple! “It is a bit boring, I fall asleep”. Fall asleep then, sleep! He is still looking at you. But know for sure that he is looking at you! This is much more important than having the title of catechist. It is part of “being” a catechist. This warms the heart, igniting the fire of friendship with the Lord, making you feel that he truly sees you, that he is close to you and loves you. In one of my visits here in Rome, at a Mass, a fairly young man came up to me and said: “Father, it is nice to meet you, but I don’t believe in anything! I don’t have the gift of faith!” He understood that faith is a gift. “I don’t have the gift of faith! What do you have to say to me?” “Don’t be discouraged. God loves you. Let yourself be gazed upon by him! Nothing else”. And this is the same thing I would say to you: Let yourselves be gazed at by the Lord! I understand that for you it is not so easy; especially for those who are married and have children, it is difficult to find a long period of quiet time. Yet, thanks be to God, it is not necessary for everyone to do this in the same way. In the Church, there are a variety of vocations and a variety of spiritualities. What is important is to find the way best suited for you to be with the Lord, and this everyone can do; it is possible for every state of life. Now each one of you could ask: how am I experiencing “being” with Jesus? This is a question I leave you: “How do I experience this remaining with Jesus, abiding in Jesus? Do I find time to remain in his presence, in silence, to be looked upon by him? Do I let his fire warm my heart? If the warmth of God, of his love, of his tenderness is not in our own hearts, then how can we, who are poor sinners, warm the heart of others? Think about it!”[1]

Comment: This experience is revelation. This is the experience of Peter when he and the apostles began to pray with Jesus to the Father (Lk. 9, 18). As you pray, permit the Father to gaze on you until you begin to sense receiving Him. Ratzinger explanation: “‘revelation’ is always a concept denoting an act. The word refers to the act in which God shows himself, not to the objectified result of this act [Scripture]. And because this is so, the receiving subject is always also a part of the concept of ‘revelation.’”[2] This means that you, in receiving Christ, become “Revelation.” Revelation is a Person, not a text. Revelation of the act of obedience of the whole self going beyond self – or letting the self be gone beyond. It is the Samaritan woman replying to Christ’s command: “Bring me your husband.” When she says, “I have no husband” she is immediately made aware that this man is the Christ. That is, there is a subjective experience that mimics the Trinitarian Person [Son]. A consciousness comes with that, and that consciousness can be many things depending on what kind of action it was: it can be conscience, faith, natural law, meaning, “self” [“I”] (Helen Keller’s experience of naming the water at the pump). It depends. But it is an act of self-transcendence, which is the physiognomy of Divine Person. Therefore, we enter Christ’s words: Only the Father knows the Son, and only the Son knows the Father and he to whom the Son reveals him (Mt. 11, 27).

Let Christ ask you: “Bring me your husband!” And you tell the truth about yourself: “I have no husband” (Jn. 4, 18)

 Humbly asked God to remove our shortcomings. [1]

For example, you don’t become loving by saying to yourself, “Be loving!” Instead, you recognize your “shortcomings,” the moments when you were totally unloving, and you weep over them. That doesn’t feel like power at all, does it? No one wants to go there. But it is actually a negative capability that creates space, desire, and momentum, like a stretched rubber band.

You might say to yourself, “I just did it again! I treated that person as if they were inferior to me. Where does that come from inside of me? What is the part of me that needs to do that–that needs to control other people and think of myself as superior?” Until you catch yourself being unloving, I don’t think you will change.

Unfortunately, most of us have been trained to strive for perfection by willpower and determination. In men’s work we call this the heroic journey. Self-assertion and striving characterize the young male, and this is the shape his ego takes. Yet all spiritual traditions at their more mature levels teach that the soul must be receptive before God and simply accept love, without heroic effort. It is a path of descent more than ascent, unlearning more than learning, letting go more than any performance principle. It takes a long time to believe this.

If we try to fix ourselves, we’ll do it with the same energy that caused the problem in the first place–which only strengthens our ego style. Instead, the Twelve Steps ask God to do the work that only God can do. To reverse an old aphorism: We must pray as if it all depends on us, and work as if it all depends on God (yes, you read that correctly)! God is humble and never comes if not first invited, but God will find some clever way to get invited (Richard Rohr).

[1] Francis, “Being With Christ,” Address to the Participants at the International Congress on Catechesis, 27 September 2013.

[2] J. Ratzinger, “Miletones…” Ignatius (1999) 108.