Sunday, April 16, 2006

Resurrection 2006

Resurrection as New Creation

The Transcendent “I” of Jesus Christ:

“The person of Jesus is unprecedented and therefore measurable by no already existing norm. Christian recognition consists of realizing that all things really began with Jesus Christ; that he is his own norm – and therefore ours – for he is Truth.

“Christ’s effect upon the world can be compared with nothing in its history save its own creation: `In the beginning God created heaven, and earth.’ What takes place in Christ is of the same order as the original act of creation, through on a still higher level. For the beginning of the new creation is as far superior to the love which created the stars, plants, animals and men. That is what the words means: `I have come to cast fire upon the earth, and what will I but that it be kindled?” (Luke 12, 49). It is the fire of new becoming; not only `truth’ or `love,’ but the incandescence of new creation.

“How earnest these words are is clear from those that follow: `But I have a baptism to be baptized with; and how distressed I am until it is accomplished!’ `Baptism’ is the mystery of creative depths: grave and womb in one. Christ must pass through them because human hardness of heart does not allow him to take the other road. Down, down through terrible destruction he descends, to the nadir of divine creation whence saved existence can climb back into being.”

To Know the Person of Christ as "I" Experientially

This means that no cosmic category in our conceptual capital can be employed as the rubric in which to insert the Person of Jesus Christ. He transcends our entire conceptual life because he transcends the empirical experience of sensation of the cosmos. Therefore, to know Him experientially is to begin the true process of “meaning” for ourselves and everything in the empirical cosmos. To know Him engages us in the question of what it means to know a person, and even more poignantly, how does one go about knowing an uncreated Person who is the very Creator of ourselves and the cosmos.

The answer of Benedict XVI is simple. You know Christ by becoming Christ. Knowledge is the process of becoming one being with another. Since we cannot become “things,” we form mediations of those “things” within us, like images and concepts. Since that cannot be done for the invisible “I” of persons, and a fortiori for an Uncreated Person, we become the “medium” ourselves. If the Person of Christ is pure gift to the Father, and as such is pure relation, then we must “aliken” ourselves to Him by becoming relational. Such an act involves the whole self as the act of faith as the act of obedience, and, particularly, prayer. This is loving in the sense of eros (striving) becoming Agape (giving).

The philosophic work of Karol Wojtyla centered precisely on disclosing the existence and nature of the experience that a person has of self in the act of self-determination and self-possession to make that gift. Once that experience is achieved, the knowledge of self, which is not conceptual (because conceptualization objectifies what it knows by abstracting from the real existence of it – and therefore the subjectivity of it) but conscious, it transfers that consciousness to the other “I” that is going through a like experience in doing the same thing. This is the key of to “I” knowing another “I.” It is the key to knowing Christ as “I AM” and being able to reflect on that consciousness such as to say: “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God” (Mt. 15, 15).

The Resurrection: The "I" of Jesus Obeys with His Human Will.

Remember the posts referring to the one act of existence, the Esse, of the Logos dynamizing the entire humanity of Jesus of Nazareth. That means that the human will of the man Jesus is the human will of the divine “I” of the Son. It continues to be a free human will which must be subdued [now laded with sin – 2 Cor. 5, 21] by the divine “I” and become the vehicle of the Divine Procession of obedience and glorification to the Father by the Son. The key to this section below is St. Thomas’ S. Th. III, 17, 2, ad 2.

Christ rose from the dead because the divine "I" of the Son exercised His human will in obedience to the Father. Nicea (325) used the word “consubstantial” not to impose a Greek metaphysic of substantial being on God (which we have just seen is impossible), but to conceptually protect the revelation of Christ that “I and the Father are one” (Jn. 10, 30). Enfleshed, the “I” of the Logos is the “I” of Jesus Christ who has taken the will of the man Jesus as His own, and He speaks with it His own: “I have come down from heaven, not to do my own will, but the will of the Father who sent me’ (Jn. 6, 38). Here the divine Logos is speaking, and speaking of the human will of Jesus in the mode by which he calls his will the will of the Logos. With this exegesis of Jon 6, 38), the Council [Constantinople {680-681}] proves the unity of the subject: in Jesus there are not two `I,’s but only one. The Logos speaks of the will and human thought of Jesus using the `I;’ this has become his `I,’ has been assumed into his `I,’ because the human will has become fully one with the will of the Logos, and with it has become pure assent to the will of the Father.”[2]

Maximus the Confessor does the same exegesis with the prayer in Gethsemani: “Not what I will, but what thou wilt” (Mk. 14, 36). “The human will of Jesus enters into the will of the Son. By doing so, it receives the identity of the Son, which consists in entire subordination of the “I” to the Thou: this is the mode of being of the one who is pure relation and pure act. When the `I’ gives itself to the `Thou,’ freedom originates, because the `form of God’ has been assumed.

“But we can describe this process also and better still from another viewpoint: the Logos stoops to assume as his own the will of man, and speaks to the Father with the `I’ of this man, and thereby transforms the word of a man into the eternal word, into his own blessed `Yes, Father.’ While giving to this man his own `I,’ his own identity, the Logos frees the man, saves him, divinizes him. We here touch almost palpably on the reality meant by the phrase `God became man:’ the Son transforms the anguish of a man into the obedience of the Son, transforms the speech of the `servant’ into the words of the `Son.’ Thus becomes comprehensible also our way of liberation, of sharing in the freedom of the Son.

“In the unity of wills of which we have spoken [in the one Person] of which we have spoken is attained the greatest conceivable transformation of any person, which is at the same time the one thing ultimately desirable: divinization. Thus the prayer which enters into the prayer of Jesus, and which in the body of Christ becomes the prayer of Jesus Christ, can be defined as the `laboratory’ of freedom. Here and in no other place occurs that profound change in a person which we need for the world to become better.”

This act of obedience of the “I” of the Logos to the will of the Father with His human will, that of the man Jesus of Nazareth, is the key to the resurrection of all of us insofar as we are sacramentally inserted into His obedient flesh.

[1] Romano Guardini, The Lord, Regnery (1954) 306.
[2] J. Ratzinger, “Journey Towards Easter,” Crossroad (1987) 88.
[3] Ibid. 90.

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