Monday, March 21, 2011
What Do We Mean By Becoming "Ipse Christus" (Christ Himself)?
Jesus Christ, as God-man, is the prototype of the human person. Although divine, the human person has been made in His image and likeness. We are all “sons in the Son.” As Prototype of the image, He is the meaning of human person. What we mean by "person" is the act of engendering the Son, and the act of glorifying the Father. We mean constitutive relationality. There is nothing in our sense experience that is constitutive relation. But we can experience it in spousal love. Our ontological constitution "images" it. Therefore, when we are totally "for" the other (that is the language of death), then we have reached the prototype of who we are. And that is Christ.
The mysterious part of this is that we all become who we uniquely are by becoming Christ. And this because we become Christ (as total self-gift) by the free act of self determination, precisely to become self-gift. To be totally "for" the other must be the unique act that I alone am capable of. This act is decisive in the ontological determination of who I am. But in the act of achieving it, I become Christ. And so, I am most who I am as unique individual when I am totally for the other - Christ.
This is what I take "Ipse Christus" to be as announced in Eph 1, 4: "Even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world... He predestined us to be adopted through Jesus Christ as his sons..." We are sons of the Father insofar as we become Christ Himself.
We have an impossible time grasping this because of the ordinary way of under standing things, i.e. through sensation and abstraction. Unavoidably, we impose our epistemological way of knowing on the world such that we presume that things are the way we categorize them by abstraction. We demand a metaphysics of "substance" and can't handle being pure relation - which we demand that it be "accident." But this is why Christ is perfectly present in the world in front of us, right before our eyes. We just can't "see" Him. We can - and must - experience Him subjectively. Since "like is known by like," we can begin to recognize Him - "see" Him - if we become like Him. When incarnating, the divine Person Who is Relation, shows Himself to be prayer (see Ratzinger's "Behold the Pierced One" Thesis 1-3 [Ignatius (1986]). As relation, He reveals Himself as prayer in the Incarnation. If we become pryer, we become Christ.
In passing, keep in mind that the success of particle physics involved a like kind of epistemological turnaround. Heisenberg and associates had to move from an objectifying (abstractive) epistemology to enter into sensed reality subjectively in order to experience it with full realism.
 “In the Letter to the Ephesians we find a beautiful exposition of the divine plan of salvation, when Paul says that in Christ God desired to recapitulate everything (cf. Eph 1: 23). Christ is the epitome of all things, he takes everything upon himself and guides us to God. And thus he involves us in a movement of descent and ascent, inviting us to share in his humility, that is, in his love for neighbour, in order also to share in his glorification, becoming with him sons in the Son;” Benedict XVI, October 22, 2008.