Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Labor Day 2008

1) Benedict XVI wrote: “The core content of the Gospel is this: The Kingdom of God is at hand. A milestone is set up in the flow of time; something new takes place….The phrase ‘Kingdom of God’ occurs 122 times in the New Testament as a whole.”[1]

2) Benedict reports that Origen identified the Kingdom of God with the Person of Jesus Christ. “The Kingdom is not a thing, it is not a geographical dominion like worldly kingdoms. It is a person; it is he… the term ‘Kingdom of God’ is itself a veiled Christology…. The ‘Kingdom of God’ is not to be found on any map. It is not a kingdom after the fashion of worldly kingdoms; it is located in man’s inner being. It grows and radiates outward from that inner space.”[2]

3) Therefore, the ‘Kingdom of God’ occurs where a person has undergone the experience of becoming “another Christ.” When and wherever a person has began to transcend self, the process of Christogenesis has begun. The sacramental grace of Baptism makes this experience possible, but the anthropology of self-determination and self-gift must be freely undertaken for the Christogenic to take place, and with it, the Kingdom of God.

4) The Kingdom of God is in the world as Jesus Christ is in the world, i.e. by dint of the reality of the human nature that is Jesus of Nazareth. The humanity of Jesus of Nazareth has a human intellect and human will that is exercised by the divine Person-Agent-Logos. The God-man works within the world as any other man, physically, intellectually, emotionally, etc. The divine Person exercises Himself as man in the world by means of work. Any work! The smallest, most obscure task that is done by the God-man is the “quid divinum” that St. Josemaria refers to in his “Passionately Loving the World:” “Understand this well: there is something holy, something divine hidden in the most ordinary situations, and it is up to each one of you to discover it.”

5) Following the direction given by Gaudium et Spes #24 that “man, the only earthly being God has willed for itself, finds himself, by the sincere gift of himself,” whenever there is self-giving in any action that is free (and therefore can be called “work”), there is a Christogenesis taking part. Christ becomes present in that person. And since Christ is the Kingdom of God, the Kingdom of God becomes present with the self-giving work of that person.

Here we have the most solid identity between the exegesis of Benedict XVI concerning the core content of the Gospel that is the Kingdom of God and the spirit of Opus Dei that was given to St. Josemaria on August 7, 1931. Notice the content of the auditory locution: “When I am lifted up from the earth, I will draw all things to myself.” (Jn. 12, 32). And then, he heard: “not in the sense in which Scripture says it. I say it to you in the sense that you raise me up in all human activities… that all over the world there be Christians with a personal and most free dedication, that they be other Christs.” The import of the locution is that Jesus Christ will be placed at the summit of all human activities by some becoming-Him in the exercise of their secular work. It will be through the exercise of work when that work is not an exercise in Babel-building, but an exercise in service and going out of self.

6) Here the notion of secularity kicks in. “Christifideles Laici” #15 teaches that there is a secularity (1) that is “dimension” of the entire Church (including religious orders, etc.) by virtue of the humanity of Christ that is free with the freedom of self-gift of the Logos in obedience to the Father, and the secularity (2) that is “characteristic” of the laity because they are “in” the world, work in the world as their proper place to exercise themselves in self-giving and therefore Christogenesis. In a word, they become Christ precisely by being and working in the world establishing the Kingdom of God by themselves becoming “other Christs.” They become "other Christs" because of the world, not in spite of it. Thus “secularity” is a Christian truth. It is the autonomy of free self-determination in accord with the truth of the human person as revealed in Jesus Christ (GS #22).

[1] Benedict XVI “Jesus of Nazareth,” Doubleday (2007) 47.
[2] Ibid 49-50

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