Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Christology: Magisterial Texts & Ratzinger Exegesis

Give this a careful read. It is repetitive (which is helpful).

The text of Chalcedon (451):

“Therefore, following the holy fathers, we all teach that with one accord we confess one and the same son, our Lord Jesus Christ, the same perfect in human nature, truly God and the same with a rational soul and a body truly man, consubstantial with the Father according to divinity, and consubstantial with us, according to human nature, like unto us in all things except sin,; indeed born of the Father before the ages according to divine nature, but in the last days the same born of the virgin Mary, Mother of God according to human nature; for us and for our deliverance, one and the same Christ only begotten Son our Lord, acknowledged in two natures, without mingling, without change, indivisibly, undividedly, the distinction of the natures nowhere removed on account of the union but rather the peculiarity of each nature being kept, and uniting in one person and substance, not divided or separated into two persons, but one and the same son only begotten God Word, Lord Jesus Christ, just as from the beginning the prophets taught about Him and the Lord Jesus Himself taught us, and the creed of our fathers has handed down to us.”


The Text of Constantinople III (680-681):


“And we proclaim equally two natural volitions or wills in him and two natural principles of action which undergo no division, no change, no partition, no confusion, in accordance with the teaching of the holy fathers. And the two natural wills not in opposition, as the impious heretics said, far from it, but his human will following, and not resisting or struggling, rather in fact subject to his divine and all powerful will. For the will of the flesh had to be moved, and yet to be subjected to the divine will, according to the most wise Athanasius. For just as his flesh is said to be and is flesh of the Word of God, so too the natural will of his flesh is said to and does belong to the Word of God, just as he says himself: I have come down from heaven, not to do my own will, but the will of the Father who sent me, calling his own will that of his flesh, since his flesh too became his own. For in the same way that his all holy and blameless animate flesh was not destroyed in being made divine but remained in its own limit and category, so his human will as well was not destroyed by being made divine, but rather was preserved, according to the theologian Gregory, who says: "For his willing, when he is considered as saviour, is not in opposition to God, being made divine in its entirety"… Therefore, protecting on all sides the "no confusion" and "no division", we announce the whole in these brief words: Believing our lord Jesus Christ, even after his incarnation, to be one of the holy Trinity and our true God, we say that he has two natures [naturas] shining forth in his one subsistence[subsistentia] in which he demonstrated the miracles and the sufferings throughout his entire providential dwelling here, not in appearance but in truth, the difference of the natures being made known in the same one subsistence in that each nature wills and performs the things that are proper to it in a communion with the other; then in accord with this reasoning we hold that two natural wills and principles of action meet in correspondence for the salvation of the human race.

The key to understanding the unity of the divine and human in Christ is to understand that there is one divine Person Who has taken the humanity of the man Jesus of Nazareth epitomized in the human will as His own. It is critical to understand that it is not the will that wills, but the person. That is, the divine Person wills with His own human will. Only this can make sense of Jn. 6, 38: “For I have come down from heaven, not to do my own will, but the will of him who sent me.” The divine “I” does not do His own human will, but that of the Father. The dynamic of self-mastery consists in the Person subduing the human will that has been “made to be sin” (2 Cor. 5, 21).
[1] In a word, this is the radical self-gift of the Son as God-man.
Put more clearly, the relation of the divine and the human in Christ is not a parallelism of two natures bound together by the commonality of a Person as substance in itself. Rather, it is the compenetration of the divine and the human by the fact that the divine Person has taken the human will as His own and He, the divine Person, wills with the human will. The result is the “compenetration” of the two “wills,” the divine and the human because it is one and the same Person doing the willing.
And yet, the human will does not lose its autonomy and freedom, but rather has it radically enhanced by the fact that it is a divine Person living out the Trinitarian relation to the Father, now as man with a human will.




Preface

Josef Ratzinger

(“Journey Towards Easter”
[2])

The Christian Meaning of “Communio”
- and its Roots –


“A brief analysis of the roots of the Christian usage of the word `communion’ can show us how the stages of development in the human spirit are directed towards Christ and how in the Lord is realized the synthesis of separate or even opposed elements in human thought.

“1. A primary origin of the Christian word communio appears to be a long way off from the religious and spiritual world, but it is precisely this profane root which has become important; we shall meet it in our last meditation, and therefore I will limit myself here to a brief reference.

“In the account of St. Peter’s call (Lk. 5, 10) we read that James and John, the sons of Zebedee, were koinonoi of Simon, that is his `partners’ in the fishing. In other words: the three constitute a `cooperative,’ they are proprietors of a small enterprise, of which Simon is the manager. `You shall be fishers of men:’ in the conference on the priesthood we shall meditate on the marvelous transformation of this cooperative of Simon’s into the `communion’ of the Church. The fishing kooinonia (communion, cooperative) becomes the koinonia of the fish wrapped in mystery, Christ.

“2. The second root of the Christian word communio is to be found in the Hebrew world. In our mediation of Holy Thursday we have already shown that the chaburah of the Hebrews corresponds to the koinonia of the Greeks; this word too, indicates a cooperative, a society of common work and common values, But naturally the particular situations of Hebrew society are reflected in the word, adding specific aspects to its meaning. Essentially there are three. The Pharisees as a group already called themselves chaburah in the first century BC; the Rabbis came to be called the same by the end of the second century; and finally also the community gathered in for the Passover meal (at least ten people). In this last significance the mystery of the Church appears again. The Church is the chaburah in a very profound sense: it is the community of Jesus’ Pasch, the family that fulfills his eternal desire to eat the Pasch with us (cf. Lk. 22, 15). His Pasch is more than a meal; it is love unto death. His Pasch is therefore the participation in his own life, shared in his death for all, communicated in this anticipation of death which is realized when he says, `Take this, all of you, and eat it: this is my body which will be given up for you. Take this, all of you, and drink from it: this is the cup of my blood, the blood of the new and everlasting covenant. It will be shed for you ad for al so that sins may be forgiven.’

“Here we find in a very clear fashion what is specific of the New Testament, what is new in the `New.’ In the Old Testament also the ultimate intention of sacrifice and meal is the communion between God and his people. But the word chaburah – communion – is never used to express the relation between God and the human race; it means exclusively relations between human beings. Between God and humans there is no communion: the transcendence of the Creator is insuperable. The relationship actually existing between God hand human being is not expressed by the word `communion’ but with the term ‘covenant’ (testament: berith). This terminology signifies both the superiority of God, who alone can take the initiative of forming a relationship, and the distance permanent within the relationship. For that reason some exegetes refuse to translate berith as covenant: covenant expresses a certain equality between the partners, which on the contrary does not exist in the relation between God and human beings. In conclusion, the Old Testament does not know a communion between God and the human race: the New Testament conversely is communion.

“3. While the Old Testament opposes the transcendence and the uniqueness of God to pagan polytheism, and has consequently to reject the beautiful concept of communion between God and humankind, in the pagan world this concept was central to religion. Plato speaks in his Symposion of the reciprocal communion between the gods and men and explains that this communion is the ultimate intention and the most profound content of the sacrifice, of worship. In the final analysis, he says, worship is concerned with nothing else than love’s care and cure. What a foreshadowing of the truth of Christ! Let us add that for Greek mysticism also communion between the divinity, human beings, and all relational beings, is a central concept, but the true desire of this mysticism is union, not communion, with the divinity: in the end it is identity, not relation. If Philo distances himself from the traditional Hebrew terminology and in the framework of Greek mysticism he too speaks of the koinonia between God and worshipper, we may well speak of a certain hellenization of Hebrew thought. But if tin the New Testament the Church is communion, not only between persons but, by means of the mystery of death and resurrection of Jesus, it is communion with Christ, man and son of God – and therefore with the eternal love of the Trinity – this is not the result of anew thought synthesis but rather the fruit of anew reality. The one and only transcendent God of the Old Testament reveals his inmost life; he reveals that he is in himself the eternal dialogue of love. Since he is in himself relation, he is word and love and therefore can speak, listen, respond, love. Since he is relation, he can open himself to a relation of the creature with himself. In the Incarnation of the eternal Word is realized that communion between God and humankind that at first seemed incompatible with the transcendence of the one and only God.

“Plato’s affirmation that things pertaining to worship are concerned with communion between the gods and the human race and that all this belongs to the safeguarding and healing of love, now take son a new significance. Let us note that Plato is not speaking of God but of gods, and that Greek mysticism also does not speak of God but of the divinity. In Jesus we have something totally new: that the one and only personal God really communicates with human beings, incarnating himself in human nature. Divine nature and human nature compenetrated - `inconfuse et indivise’ – in the person of Christ. It would be absurd to want to see here a hellenization of Christianity out of a desire to return to pure Hebrew origins. To do such a thing would be simply to renounce the newness of Christianity. In reality the Incarnation is the new synthesis drawn by God himself, going beyond the limits of the Old Testament, assuming the whole heredity but bringing to it the riches of every culture: the Incarnation is reconciliation, it is communion of those once at enmity (cf. Eph. 2, 11-22), of Jews and pagans, and in the fields of thought as well. The charge of hellenization and the purist return to Hebraic origins signify a want of comprehension of the essence of Christianity.

“4. In 1 Cor. 10, 16 ff we find the heart of Christianity explained by means of the word `participation’ – communion. In this passage of Scripture the central premise of our argument finally appears: the enduring origin of ecclesiastical communion is founded on Christology; Christ Incarnate is the communion between God and humankind; the essence of Christianity is fundamentally nothing other than participation in the mystery of the Incarnation, or, using a formula from St. Paul, the Church, as Church, is the body of Christ. If we accept this truth the indivisibility of Church and Eucharist, communion and community, is entirely clear. In the light of this statement the words of St. Paul concerning our problem, or better, our mystery, are explained without difficulty. `The cup of blessing which we bless, is it not a participation in the blood of Christ? Because there is one bread, we who are many are one body, for we all partake of the one bread’ (1 Cor. 10, 16 ff). For St. Augustine these verses formed the core of his theology, and his homilies for Easter are in fact an exegesis of these words. By eating the same bread we become what we eat. This bread – he says in his Confessions – is the food of the strong. The usual foods are less strong than the person taking them and in the last analysis this is to their purpose: they are assimilated into the organism of the one eating them. But this food is superior to the person taking it, it is the stronger, and therefore the purpose is inverted: the person becomes assimilated to Christ, becomes bread like him: `We being many are one bread, one body.’ The consequence is obvious: the Eucharist is not a dialogue for two only, a private meeting between Christ and myself: Eucharistic communion is a total transformation of my life. This communion discloses the `I’ of a person and creates a new `we.’ Communion with Christ is necessarily communication also with all `his;’ I thus become part of this new bread which he creates by the transubstantiation of earthly beings.

“Now we may see the close connection between the notion of communio and the concept of the Church the body of Christ as well as the images of Christ, the true vine, or the fig tree, symbols of the people of god. These biblical concepts demonstrate once again the dependence of the community of Christians on Christ. The community of Christians is not to be explained in purely horizontal fashion: a tow-way relationship with the Lord is the condition of its existence; we can also say: the Church is relationship realized by the love of the Lord, which creates also a new relationship with us. With the fine words of Plato we can say that the Eucharist is really `love’s healing.’”
[3]


I


['Behold the Pierced One’]


Thesis 6: “The so-called Neo-Chalcedonian theology which is summed up in the Third Council of Constantinople (680-681) makes an important contribution to a proper grasp of the inner unity of biblical and dogmatic theology, of theology and religious life. Only from this standpoint does the dogma of Chalcedon (451) yield it full meaning.”

“It is common enough for the theological textbooks to pay scant attention to the theological development which followed Chalcedon. In many ways on e is left with the impression that dogmatic Christology comes to a stop with a certain parallelism of the two natures in Christ. It was this same impression that led to the divisions in the wake of Chalcedon. In fact, however, the affirmation of the true humanity and the true divinity in Christ can only retain its meaning if the mode of the unity of both is clarified. The Council defined this unity by speaking of the `one Person’ in Christ, but it was a formula which remained to be explored in its implications. For the unity of divinity and humanity in Christ which brings `salvation’ to man is not a juxtaposition but a mutual indwelling. Only in this way can there be that genuine `becoming like God,’ without which there is no liberation and no freedom.

“It was to this question, after two centuries of dramatic struggles which also, in many ways, bore the mark of imperial politics, that the Third Council of Constantinople (680-681) addressed itself. On the one hand, it teaches that the unity of God and man in Christ involves no amputation or reduction in any way of human nature. In conjoining himself to man, his creature, God does not violate or diminish him; in doing so, he brings him for the first time to his real fullness. On the other hand (and this is no less important), it abolishes all dualism or parallelism of the two natures, such as had always seemed necessary in order to safeguard Jesus’ human freedom In such attempts it had been forgotten that when the human will is taken up into the will of God, freedom is not destroyed; indeed, only then does genuine freedom come into its own. The Council of Constantinople analyzed the question of the two-ness and the one-ness in Christ by reference to the concrete issue of the will of Jesus. It resolutely maintains that, as man, Jesus has a human will which is not absorbed by the divine will. But this human will follows the divine will and thus becomes one will with it, not in a natural manner but along the path of freedom. The metaphysical two-ness of a human and a divine will is not abrogated, but in the realm of the person, in the realm of freedom, the fusion of both takes place, with the result that they become one will not naturally, but personally. This free unity – a form of unity created by love – is higher and more interior than a merely natural unity. It corresponds to the highest unity there is, namely, Trinitarian unity. The Council illustrates this unity by citing a dominical word handed down to us in the Gospel of John: `I have come down from heaven, not to do my own will, but the will of him who sent me’ (Jn. 6, 38). Here it is the divine Logos who is speaking, and he speaks of the human will of the man Jesus as his will, the will of the Logos. With this exegesis of John 6, 38 the Council indicates the unity of the subject in Christ. There are not two `I’s in him, but only one. The Logos speaks in the I-form of the human will and mind of Jesus; it has become his I, has become adopted into his I, because the human will is completely one with the will of the Logos. United with the latter, it has become a pure Yes to the Father’s will.
[4]

Maximus the Confessor, the great theological interpreter of this second phase of the Christological dogma, illuminates this whole context by reference to Jesus’ prayer on the Mount of Olives, which as we already saw in thesis I, expresses Jesus’ unique relationship to God. Indeed, it is as if we were actually looking in on the inner life of the Word-made-man. It is revealed to us I the sentence which remains the measure and model of all real prayer: `Not what I will, but what thou wilt’ (Mk. 14, 36). Jesus human will assimilates itself to the will of the Son. In doing this, he receives the Son’s identity, i.e., the complete subordination of the I to the Thou, the self-giving and self-expropriation of the I to the Thou. This is the very essence of him who is pure relation and pure act., Wherever the I gives itself to the Thou, there is freedom because this involves the reception of the `form of God.’ [The Absolute].

But we can also describe this process, and describe it better, from the other side: the Logos so humbles himself that he adopts a man’s will as his own and addresses the Father with te I of this human being; he transfers his own I to this man and thus transforms human speech into the eternal Word, into his blessed `Yes,’ Father.’ By imparting his own I, his own identity, to this human being, he liberates him, redeems him, makes him God. Now we can take the real meaning of `God has become man’ in both hands, as it were: the Son transforms the anguish of a man into his own filial obedience, the speech of the servant into the Word which is the Son.

Thus we come to grasp the manner of our liberation, our participation in the Son’s freedom. As a result of the unity of wills of which we have spoken, the greatest possible change has taken place in man, the only change which meets his desire: he has become divine. We can therefore describe that prayer which enters into the praying of Jesus and becomes the prayer of Jesus in the Body of Christ as freedom’s laboratory. Here and nowhere else takes place that radical change in man of which we stand in need, that the world may become a getter place. For it is only along this path that conscience attains its fundamental soundness and its unshakable power. And only from such a conscience can there come that ordering of human affairs which corresponds to human dignity and protects it. Every generation has to seek anew this right ordering of the world in response to a conscience that is alert, until the kingdom of God comes, which God alone can establish.
[5]


Later, in the same “Behold the Pierced One” (original: “Schauen auf den Durchbohrten” 1984)…

A) Eucharist:

(The whole is an explanation of Eucharistic spirituality. Jesus Christ “opens the way to the impossible, to communion between God and man, since he, the incarnate Word, is this communion. He performs the `alchemy’ which melts down[6] human nature and infuses it into the being of God. To receive the Lord in the Eucharist, therefore, means entering into a community of being with Christ, it means entering through that opening in human nature through which God is accessible – which is the precondition for human beings opening up to one another in a really deep way. Communion with God is the path to interpersonal communion among men. If we are to grasp the spiritual content of the Eucharist, therefore, we must understand the spiritual tension which marks the God-man: only in the context of a spiritual Christology will the spirituality of the sacrament reveal itself to us.



Christology and Soteriology (continuing the above):


b) “Western theology, with its predominantly metaphysical and historical concerns, has rather neglected this aspect, which is in fact the link between the various disciplines of theology and between theological reflection and the concrete, spiritual working out of Christianity. The Third Council of Constantinople (the thirteen hundredth anniversary of which , 1981, was – significantly enough – almost forgotten, compared with the celebration commemorating the First Council of Constantinople and the of Ephesus) sets forth the essential elements which, in my view, are also fundamental to a proper interpretation of the Council of Chalcedon, Obviously, we do not have space to make a thorough exposition of the problems, but let us at least try briefly to outline the issues which concern us here. Chalcedon had described the ontological content of the Incarnation with its celebrated formula of Two Natures in One Person. This ontology signaled the beginning of a great dispute, and the Third Council of Constantinople found itself confronted with the question: What is the spiritual substance of this ontology? Or, more concretely: What does it mean, in practical and existential terms, to speak of `One Person in Two Natures’? How can a person live with two wills and a twofold intellect? These were by no means questions posed out of theoretical curiosity: the questions affect us too, for the issue is this: How can we live as baptized people, to whom Paul’s words must apply: `I live, yet not I, but Christ liveth in me’ (Gal 2, 20)?

“As is well known, then – in the seventh century – as today, two solutions which were equally unacceptable presented themselves. Some said that in Christ there was in fact no actual human will. The third Council of Constantinople rejects this picture of Christ as that of a `Christ lacking on both will and power.’ The other solution took the opposite view and assumed that there were two completely separate spheres of will in Christ. But this led to a kind of schizophrenia, a monstrous suggestion which was also unacceptable. The Council’s answer is this: the ontological union of two faculties of will which remain independent within the unity of the Person means that, at the existential level, there is a communion (κοινωνία) of the two wills. With this interpretation of union as communion, the Council sketches an ontology of freedom. The two `wills’ are united in the way in which two wills can be united, namely, in a common affirmation of a shared value. In to her words, common affirmation of a shared value. In other words, what unites the two wills is the Yes of Christ’s human will to the divine will of the Logos. Thus, in concrete terms - `existentially’ – the two wills become a single will while remaining, at the ontological level, two independent realities. The Council adds that, just as the Lord’s flesh may be called the flesh of the Logos, his human will may also be termed the Logos’ own will. In practice the Council is here applying the Trinitarian model (with the mandatory ever-greater difference in the analogy) to Christology: the highest unity there is – the unity of God – is not the unity of unstructured, amorphous substance but unity by communion, a unity which both creates and is love. Thus the Logos adopts the being of the man Jesus into his own being and speaks of it in terms of his own I: `For I have come down from heaven, not to do my own will, but the will of him who sent me’ (Jn. 6, 38). In the Son’s obedience, where both wills become one in a single Yes to the will of the Father, communion takes place between human and divine being. The `wondrous exchange,’ the `alchemy of being,’ is realized here as a liberating and reconciling communication, which becomes a communion between Creator and creature. It is in the pain of this exchange, and only here, that that fundamental change takes place in man, the change which alone can redeem him and transform the conditions of the world. Here community is born, here the Church comes into being. The act whereby we participate in the son’s obedience, which involves man’s genuine transformation, is also the only really effective contribution toward renewing and transforming society and the world as a whole. Only where this act takes place is there a change for good – in the direction of the kingdom of God.”
[7]

Concluding by returning to the consideration of the Eucharist:

“I offer a further consideration for the sake of completeness. We have established that the Incarnation of the Son makes possible a new communion among human beings. This communion between Body and man, which is realized in the Person of Jesus Christ, itself becomes communicable in the Easter mystery, i.e., in the Lord’s death and Resurrection. The Eucharist is our participation in the Easter mystery, and hence it is constitutive of the Church, the Body of Christ. This is why the Eucharist is necessary for salvation. The necessity of the Eucharist is identical with the necessity of the Church and vice versa. This is how we should understand the Lord’s saying: `Unless you eat the flesh o fhte Son of man and drink his blood, you have no life in you’ (Jn. 6, 53). Hence we see the necessity, too, of a visible Church and a visible, concrete (and one might say `institutional’) unity. The most intimate mystery of communion between God and man is accessible in the sacrament of the Body of the Risen Lord; conversely, then, the mystery lays claim to our bodies and is realized in a Body. The Church, which is built upon the sacrament of the body of Christ, must herself be a body. And she must be a single body, corresponding to Jesus Christ’s uniqueness, a uniqueness which is reflected in unity and in the `continuing in’ the one, apostolic teaching.”
[8]


* * * * * * * * * * * *


“And we proclaim equally two natural volitions or wills in him and two natural principles of action which undergo no division, no change, no partition, no confusion, in accordance with the teaching of the holy fathers. And the two natural wills not in opposition, as the impious heretics said, far from it, but his human will following, and not resisting or struggling, rather in fact subject to his divine and all powerful will. For the will of the flesh had to be moved, and yet to be subjected to the divine will, according to the most wise Athanasius. For just as his flesh is said to be and is flesh of the Word of God, so too the natural will of his flesh is said to and does belong to the Word of God, just as he says himself: I have come down from heaven, not to do my own will, but the will of the Father who sent me, calling his own will that of his flesh, since his flesh too became his own. For in the same way that his all holy and blameless animate flesh was not destroyed in being made divine but remained in its own limit and category, so his human will as well was not destroyed by being made divine, but rather was preserved, according to the theologian Gregory, who says: "For his willing, when he is considered as saviour, is not in opposition to God, being made divine in its entirety"… Therefore, protecting on all sides the "no confusion" and "no division", we announce the whole in these brief words: Believing our lord Jesus Christ, even after his incarnation, to be one of the holy Trinity and our true God, we say that he has two natures [naturas] shining forth in his one subsistence[subsistentia] in which he demonstrated the miracles and the sufferings throughout his entire providential dwelling here, not in appearance but in truth, the difference of the natures being made known in the same one subsistence in that each nature wills and performs the things that are proper to it in a communion with the other; then in accord with this reasoning we hold that two natural wills and principles of action meet in correspondence for the salvation of the human race[9].


II


[`Journey Towards Easter']


“But the development of dogmatic theology did not end with the Councils of Nicaea and Chalcedon. The so-called neo-Chalcedonian theology resumed at the third Council of Constantinople (680-681) further made a notable contribut8ion to an exact understanding of the close union of dogmatic and biblical theology. Only through this can we fully understand the sense of the Chalcedonian dogma (481).

“In the manuals, the theological development after Chalcedon has ordinarily come to be little considered. The impression thus frequently remains that dogmatic Christology finishes up with a certain parallelism between the two natures of Christ. This impression has also been the cause leading to the divisions since Chalcedon. But in effect the declaration of the true humanity and the true divinity of Christ can retain its significance only when there is a clarification also of the mode of unity of the two natures, which the Council of Chalcedon has defined by the formula of the `one person’ of Christ, at that time hot yet fully examined. In fact only that unity of divinity and humanity which in Christ is not parallelism, where one stands alongside the other, but real compenetration, - compenetration between God and man – means salvation for humankind. Only thus in fact does that true `being with God’ take place, without which liberation and freedom do not exist.

“This same query returned at the third Council of Constantinople (680-681) after two centuries of dramatic struggle marked most often also by Byzantine politics. According to this Council, on the one hand: the unity between the divinity and the humanity in Christ does not in any sense imply an amputation or reduction of the humanity. If God joins himself to his creature –man/woman – he does not wound or diminish it: he brings it to its plenitude. But on the other hand (and this is no less important) there remains no trace of that dualism or parallelism of the two natures, which in the course of history was frequently judged necessary to defend the human liberty of Jesus. Such studies forgot that the assumption of the human will into the divine will does not destroy freedom, but on the contrary generates true liberty. The Council of Constantinople has analyzed concretely the problem of the two natures and one person in Christ in view of the problem of the will of Jesus. We are reminded firmly that there exists a specific will of the man Jesus that is not absorbed into the divine will. But this human will follows the divine will and thus becomes a single will with it, not, however, in a forced way but by way of freedom. The metaphysical duplicity of a human will and a divine will is not eliminated, but in the personal sphere, the area of freedom there is accomplished a fusion of the two, so that this becomes not one single natural will but one personal will. This free union – a mode of union created by love – is a union higher and more intimate than a purely natural union. It corresponds to the highest union which can exist, the union of the Trinity… The Council explains this union by a saying of the Lord given in the Gospel of John: `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 John 6, 38, the Council proves the unity of the subject: In Jesus there are not two `I,’ 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.
“Maximus the Confessor, the great theologian-exegete of this second phase of the development of Christological dogma, has illustrated those references to the prayer of Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane, which we have already seen in the previous meditation, as the most clear expressions of the singular relationship of Jesus with God. In effect, in such prayer we can, so to speak, look into the inner life of the Word become man. We can see it in that phrase which remains the measure and model of all effective prayer: “Not what I will, but who 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, in the giving and transferring of the I to the Thou: this is the mode of being of the one who is pure relations and pure act. When the `I’ gives itself to the `Thou,’ freedom originates, because the `form of God’ has been assumed.
But we can also describe this process, and describe it better, from the other side: the Logos so humbles himself that he adopts a man’s will as his own and addresses the Father with te I of this human being; he transfers his own I to this man and thus transforms human speech into the eternal Word, into his blessed `Yes,’ Father.’ By imparting his own I, his own identity, to this human being, he liberates him, redeems him, makes him God. Now we can take the real meaning of `God has become man’ in both hands, as it were: the Son transforms the anguish of a man into his own filial obedience, the speech of the servant into the Word which is the Son.
“In the unity of wills 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. Only on this road in fact does conscience attain its full rectitude and an irresistible strength. And only from this conscience can be born again that order in human affairs which corresponds to human dignity and which can defend it: an order which in every generation must be sought afresh by a vigilant human conscience, so that the Kingdom of God may come, a kingdom which God alone can build.”
[10]



The “Definitive” Christology of Constantinople III (680-691)


“Eucharist – Christology – Ecclesiology: the Christological Center of Our Argument”


“1. The communion between God and human kind in Christ foundation and model of Christian communion.

“As the last stage we have now to look more closely at the Christological content of communion, the foundation and sourece of the Christian community.

“Jesus Christ, as we have seen, opens the way to the impossible, to communion between God and humankind, because he, the Incarnate, is that communion; in him we find realized that `alchemy’ which transforms the human into the divine. Receiving our Lord in the Eucharist means entering into the being of Christ, entering into the alchemy of the human being, into that opening up towards God, which is the condition of the intimate opening of one person to another. The road to communion between persons is via communion with God. To understand the spiritual content of the Eucharist we have first to grasp the spiritual dynamism of the God-man; only in a spiritual Christology will the spirituality of the Eucharistic sacrament open itself up to us. Western theology, with its concern for the ontological and historical, has perhaps somewhat neglected this aspect of theology, which is the true bond between the various parts of theology, which is the true bond between the various parts of theology and between theology and life. The third Council of Constantinople, as we have already stressed in our Christological meditations, gives some indications which seems to me indispensable for the right interpretations of the Council of Chalcedon. The teaching of this Council has been explained by St. Maximus the confessor. We may give the essence in a few words: Chalcedon had expressed the hypostatic union of God and man in Christ with its well-known classic formulas. The second Council of Constantinople asked: What is the existential content of the ontological formula, What is `a person with two natures’? How can this person really live with two wills, two intellects, so infinitely different? This is no purely theoretical curiosity but a problem for our lives: how can we live, as baptized persons in Christ, following the model of St. Paul: `It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me’ (Gal. 2, 20)?

“Two solutions were pout forward; both unacceptable. Some said that there did not exist in Christ a proper human will. The second Council of Constantinople repudiated this Christ as `weak and weary.’ The other solution was a complete separation of the two wills. But by this arrive at a kind of monstrous schizophrenia, equally unacceptable. The Council replies: The ontological union is on the level of existence understood as communion. The Fathers thus sketch an ontology of freedom; the two wills are united in a manner in which the different wills can be united: in a common `Yes’ to common values. These two wills are united in the `Yes’ of the human will of Christ to the divine willl of the Logos. Thus the two wills become in reality a single will, and yet remain two. The Council says: Just as the flesh of the Lord can be called flesh of the Logos, so his will can be called te will proper to the Logos of God. In practice the Council is applying here the Trinitarian model: this ultimate unity, the unity of God, is not a mechanical unity but is communion, it is love. The Council found its solution in the Lord’s words: `I have come down from heaven, not to do my own will, but the will of him who sent me’ (Jn. 6, 38). St. Maximus finds the center of his Christology – in which he develops the practical content of the Christology of Chalcedon – in the prayer at Gethsemane: `…not what I will, but what thou wilt’ (Mk. 14, 36), Here the obedience of the Son, in the suffering of obedience, is realized the communion between the divine and the human being. The wonderful exchange (`admirable commercium’), the alchemy of the two beings – here is realized the liberating and reconciling communion. To receive the Eucharist in its deepest significance means to enter into this exchange of wills. In the suffering of this exchange, and only here, the human essence is really changed, world conditions are changed, community is born, the Church is born. The ultimate act of sharing in the obedience of the Son is the only thing really efficacious also for renewal and change in the external realities or the world.

“One other observation is necessary to complete our reflections. Let us recall the premises given so far. The Incarnation of the Son of God brings about communion between God and humankind and thus also opens up the possibility of a new communion between people. Communion between God and humankind realized in the person of Jesus becomes communicable in the Paschal Mystery, that is in the Lord’s death and Resurrection. The Eucharist is our participation in the Paschal Mystery and thus it constitutes the Church, the body of Christ. Hence the necessity of the Eucharist for salvation. The necessity of the Eucharist is the same as that of the Church. It is in this sense that the Lord says: `Unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you’ (Jn. 6, 53). This demonstrates also the necessity for the visibility of the Church and for a visible concrete unity. The intimate mystery of the communion between God and humankind is accessible in the sacrament of the Body of the Risen Lord; the mystery requires our body and is realized in one body: the Church constructed by means of the sacrament of the Body of Christ must itself be a body, and a single body, and, conformably to the unity in the Lord, must be expressed in unity and coherence with the teaching of the Apostles.”
[11]



[1] “Made to be sin” is to enter into the loneliness of sin as the rejection of the Triune God, and therefore of the others. This is Benedict’s interpretation of Jesus death cry, `My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?’ (Mark 15, 34) which is the first and only time that Jesus refers to the Father as “El” and not as “Abba.” Benedict says: “In this last prayer of Jesus , as in the scene on the Mount of Olives, what appears as the innermost heart of his passion is not any physical pain but radical loneliness, complete abandonment;” “Introduction to Christianity,” op. cit 227.
[2] J. Ratzinger, “Journey Towards Easter,” Crossroad (1987).
[3] Josef Ratzinger, “Journey Towards Easter,” Crossroad, (1987) 133-137.
[4] Ratzinger comments: “The central distinction which is fundamental to the Council (and which has received scant attention up to now) was worked out by Maximus the Confessor: he distinguishes the Thelema Physikon which belongs to the naturae and thus exists separately in Christ’s godhead and manhood, from the `gnomic’ thelema `which is identical with the liberum arbitrium and pertain to the person; in Christ it can only be a single thelema, since he subsists in the divine Person’ (Beck 41). Thus `much that had earlier been regarded as Monophysite… could be taken into spiritually’ (Beck 43). Once this basic idea of Constantinople III, which is central to Neo-Chalcedonian Christology, based on Pannenberg, are futile, resting on a misunderstanding. In Theo. Berichte 2, 29, Wiederhehr speaks of the `symmetrical path of the two-natures doctrine’ under the influence of the `two wills’ decision and thinks that it resulted from the idea `of an internal Christological dialogue… between a divine and a human nature.’ Thus he can rightly object that `there is nothing of this in the Jesus of the synoptics.’ `As far as the man Jesus is concerned, his dialogue partner is the Father, not his own self in his divine nature and person.’ This assertion, which he opposes to Neo-Chalcedonism, is in fact precisely the view of Constantinople III, except that the latter works out its ontological and existential structure very much more thoroughly than Widerkehr. Pannenberg (Jesus, God and Man, 1968) formulates it thus: “`Person’ is a relational concept, and, because the relation of Jesus to the Father in his dedication to him is identical with the eternal Person of the Son of God’ (339). It seems to me, if I read him correctly, that Pannenberg too fails to see that he is thinking along sthe same lines as Constantinople III (and Maximus the Confessor). In fact he is concentrating rather on the dispute with Leontius of Byzantium. From this point of view… etc., etc.
[5] J. Ratzinger, “Behold the Pierced One,” Ignatius (1986) 37-42.
[6] Consider that this means that the being of man turned back on self is melted and reformed into the relation of self-gift.
[7] J. Ratzinger, “Behold the Pierced One,” Ignatius (1984) 90-93. Here Ratzinger remarks: “It was Maximus the Confessor who explored theologically the Third Council of Constantinople… giving bibliography in German [footnote on 93].
[8] Ibid. 93-94.
[9] J. Ratzinger, “Behold the Pierced One,” Ignatius (1986) 37-42.
[10] Josef Ratzinger, “Journey Towards Easter,” Crossroad (1987) 88-91.
[11] Josef Ratzinger, “Jorney Towards Easter,” Crossroad (1987) 137-139.

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