Seal of Opus Dei: The Cross Inside the World
Christ, The Meaning of Man (GS #22). Man Becomes Christ (And therefore “Son”) Through Imaging The Divine Persons at Creat ion and Baptism
In the terminology of St. Josemaria Escriva, Christ is found in any human act where His divine “I” subdues His human will (laden with all sin) and makes the gift of Himself to the Father for us. The prototype of His human ("theandric") acts is the Cross. His humanity is divinized by being assumed into His divine Self (without ceasing to be human/free) and thus being introduced into the Trinitarian Relations with Father and Spirit. This process of divinization of humanity is called “Redemption.” By Baptism, we are introduced into Christ (divine and human), and as He redeemed His humanity by divinizing it (by raising his human will to the giftedness of His divine “I”) so we “co-redeem” making the gift of ourselves to the Father in the service of others; in a word, by becoming “Christ Himself.” Therefore, Christ is at the summit of each and every human activity insofar as we are Christ and engaged in any noble human work. Christ revealed Himself to be the Kingdom of God in Person. Insofar as we are becoming “Christ Himself,” the Kingdom of God is becoming present wherever we are present. [Hence the Kingdom of God is not a structure or institution but a Person (persons)]
Our vision must be broadened to understand that Jesus Christ is not extrinsic and superadded to us as a divine/human exception as a supernatural meteor landing on earth. The epistles of St. Paul have been waiting for us to understand that Christ is the center, source and purpose of all creation. What else could the following text mean? “He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of every creature. For in him were created all things in the heavens and on the earth, things visible and things invisible, whether Thrones, or Dominations, or Principalities, or Powers. All this have been created through and unto him, and he is before all creatures, and in him all things hold together…. For it has pleased God the Father that in him all his fullness should dwell, and that through him he should reconcile to himself all things, whether on the earth or in the heavens, making peace through the blood of his cross.” Likewise, what could the following text of Ephesians mean? “Even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blemish in his sight in love. He predestined us to be adopted through Jesus Christ as his sons, according to the purpose of his will….”
Magisterium: John Paul says: “Ephesians leads us to approach this situation – man’s state before original sin – from the point of view of the mystery hidden from eternity in God. In fact, at the beginning of the letter we read, `God, the Father our Lord Jesus Christ… has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavens in Christ. In him he has chosen us before the creation of the world [underline mine] to be holy and immaculate before him in love’ (Eph 1, 3-4)
“ Ephesians opens before us the supernatural world of the eternal mystery, of the eternal plans of God the Father in regard to man. These plans precede the `creation of the world’ and thus also the creation of man. At the same time, these divine plans begin to be realized already in the whole reality of creation. If also the state of original innocence of man created, as male and female, in the image of God belongs to the mystery of creation, this means that the primordial gift given to man by God already included within itself the fruit of election, about which we read in Ephesians: `He has chosen us…to be holy and immaculate before him’ (Eph. 1, 4)…. Only after sin, after the breaking of the original covenant with the Creator, does man feel the need of hiding `from the Lord God:’ `I heard the sound of your step in the garden, and I was afraid, because I am naked, and I hid myself’ (Gen. 3, 10).
“Before sin [underline mine], by contrast, man carried in his soul the fruit of eternal election in Christ, the eternal Son of the Father. Through the grace of this election, man, male and female, was `holy and immaculate’ before God. This primordial (or original) holiness and purity expressed itself also in the fact that, though both were `naked… they did not feel shame’ (Gen. 2, 25), as we tried to show in the earlier analyses. When we compare the testimony of the `beginning’ reported in the first chapter of Genesis with the testimony of Ephesians, we must deduce that the reality of the creation of man was already permeated by the perennial election of man in Christ: called to holiness through the grace of adoption as sons, `predestining us to be his adopted sons through Jesus Christ, according to the good pleasure of his will, to the praise and glory of his grace, which he has given to us in his beloved Son (Eph. 1, 5-6).
“From’ the `beginning,’ man, male and female, shared in this supernatural gift. This endowment was given in view of him, who from eternity was `beloved’ as Son, although – according to the dimensions of time and history – it preceded the Incarnation of this `beloved Son’ and also the `redemption’ we have in him `through his blood’ (Eph. 1, 7) [my underline].
“Redemption was to become the source of man’s supernatural endowment after sin and, in a certain sense, despite sin [my underline].This supernatural endowment, which took place before original sin [my underline], that is, the grace of original justice and innocence – an endowment that was the fruit of man’s election in Christ before the ages – was brought about precisely out of regard for him, that one and only Beloved, while chronologically anticipating his coming in the body [my underline]. In the dimensions of the mystery of creation, election to the dignity of adoptive sonship was proper only to the `first Adam,’ that is, to man created in the image and likeness’ of God as male and female.”
Sean Mulholland on Duns Scotus: Duns Scotus: (1265-1308):
“The Incarnation is the model for creation: there is a creation only because of the Incarnation. In this schema, the universe is for Christ and not Christ for the universe. Scotus finds it inconceivable that the ‘greatest good in the universe’ i.e. the Incarnation, can be determined by some lesser good i.e. Man’s redemption. This is because such a sin-centred view of the Incarnation suggests that the primary rôle of Christ is as an assuager of the universe’s guilt. In the Absolute Primacy, Christ is the beginning, middle and end of creation. He stands at the centre of the universe as the reason for its existence. In this sense the universe has realised its creational potential more than Man, since it is created with the potential to bear the God-Man and the Incarnation has taken place historically and existentially. Man, as yet, has failed to reach his potential to ‘love one another as I have loved you’.
Scotus argues that the reason for the Incarnation is Love. The Love of God in himself and the free desire that God has to share that love with another who can love him as perfectly as he loves himself, i.e. the Christ. Scotus says that all the souls that were ever created and about to be created could not, cannot and never will measure up to the supreme love that Christ has for the Trinity. The very fact of the preconception of the Incarnation in Scotus’s thought means that we are co-heirs to this Trinitarian love that Christ has. The Incarnation, then in Duns Scotus, becomes the unrepeatable, unique, and single defining act of God’s love. God, says Scotus, is what he is: we know that God exists and we know what that existence is: Love. Thus, if Man had not sinned Christ would still have come, since this was predetermined from all eternity in the mind of God as the supreme manifestation of his love for the creation he brings about in his free act. The Incarnation is the effect of God freely choosing to end his self-isolation and show who and what He is to that creation. The Incarnation, therefore, in Franciscan spirituality is centred on Love and not sin.
Sin has been given too much prominence in contemporary soteriology: God redeems from sin because he loves us?: no, says the Scotist, God loves us and then redeems us. Redemption is an act of love first and foremost, not an act of saving us from sin, and the first act of redemption is the Incarnation. God foresees us in union with him before he sees how sin disrupts that relational dynamic between He and us. Scotus makes it clear that the first movement is from God, a revelatory movement wherein God freely chooses to move beyond his own self-loving and share that loving with something other than himself – namely creation, and this process is epitomised in the Incarnation.
What the Incarnation shows us is not primarily the need for redemption, but the need that is in each one of us for love. That love which is so utterly free and unmerited that it embraces our own limitations, our own failures, our own hopes and longings and in uniting itself to us in the Incarnate Word in the person of Jesus of Nazareth elevates the human project to that which it always was in the mind of God. Scotus begins with Love, that love which is the very being of God himself, he travels the road of Love, which is made manifest in the Incarnation, and he ends with love, that love so hard to see in the misery of the abandoned Jesus on the cross, that Love which glorifies the whole creational project in the Resurrection.
Franciscan Spirituality sees the Incarnation as the guarantee of union with God. It is not something to be hoped for or to be looked forward to – it is something, which is happening NOW. God is Love and that Love is our redemption and redemption is not primarily being saved from sin, but is rather the gift of the possibility of openness to the experience of the divine Other in our life. How can it be otherwise when we posit the notion of the divine and human in Jesus? Scotus’s doctrine of the absolute centrality of Love is both timely and profoundly needed by our world. Men and women cry out for an experience of hope in a world which has lost direction – in the teaching of Duns Scotus, Franciscan Spirituality has within its hand that hope-filled experience and the end of that longing. For if God willed the Incarnation from all eternity, then it was always his intention to become part of sinful creation – sin determines the manner of that becoming, but it does not determine the fact that it was going to be.” (By Seamus Mulholland OFM: Internet)
Ratzinger on Anselm: St. Anselm
What is the Anselm thesis that has been universally accepted?
“Anselm of Canterbury (c. 1033-1109) had been concerned to deduce the work of Christ by a train of necessary reasons (rationibus necessariis) and thus to show irrefutably that this work had to happen in the precise way I which it in fact did. His argument may be roughly summarized like this: by man’s sin, which was aimed against God, the order of justice was infinitely damaged and God infinitely offended. Behind this is the idea that the measure of the offence is determined by the status of the offended party; if I offend a beggar the consequences are not the same as they would be if I offended a head of state. The importance of the offence varies according to the addressee. Since God is infinite the offence to him implicit in humanity’s sin is also infinitely important. The right thus damaged must be restored, because God is a God order and justice; indeed, he is justice itself. But the measure of the offence demands infinite reparation, which man is not capable of making. He can offend infinitely – his capacity extends that far – but he cannot produce an infinite reparation; what he, as a finite being, gives will always be only finite. His powers of destruction extend further than his capacity to reconstruct. Thus between all the reparations that man may attempt and the greatness of his guilt there remains an infinite gulf which he can never bridge. Any gesture of expiation can only demonstrate his powerlessness to close the infinite gulf which he himself opened up.
“Is order to be destroyed forever, then, and man to remain eternally imprisoned in the abyss of his guilt? At this point Anselm hits on the figure of Christ. His answer runs thus: God himself removes the injustice; not (as he could) by a simple amnesty, which cannot after all overcome from inside what has happened, but by the infinite Being’s himself becoming man and then as a man – who thus belongs to the race of the offenders yet possesses the power, denied to man, of infinite reparation – making the required expiation. Thus the redemption takes place entirely through grace and at the same time entirely as restoration of the right. Anselm thought he had thereby given a compelling answer to the difficult question of `Cur Deus homo,’ the wherefore of the incarnation and the cross. His view has put a decisive stamp on the second millennium of Western Christendom, which takes it for granted that Christ had to die on the cross in order to make good the infinite offence which had been committed and in this way to restore the damaged order of things.
“Now it cannot be denied that this theory takes account of crucial biblical and human perceptions; anyone who studies it with a little patience will have no difficulty in seeing this. To that extent it will always command respect as an attempt to synthesize the individual elements in the biblical evidence in one great all-embracing system. Is not hard to see that in spite of all the philosophical and juridical terminology employed, the guiding thread remains that truth which the Bible expresses in the little word `For,’ in which it makes clear that we as men live not only directly from God but from one another, and in the last analysis from the One who lived for all. And who could fail to see that thus in the schematization of the `satisfaction’ theory the breath of the biblical idea of election remains clear, the idea that makes election not a privilege of the elected but the call to live for others? It is the call to that `For’ in which man confidently lets himself fall, ceases to cling to himself and ventures on the leap away from himself into the infinite, the leap through which alone he can come to himself. But even if all this is admitted it cannot be denied on the other hand that the perfectly logical divine-cum-human legal system erected by Anselm distorts the perspectives and with its rigid logic can make the image of God appear in a sinister light. We shall have to go into this in detail when we come to talk about the meaning of the cross. For the time being it will suffice to say that things immediately look different when, in place of the division of Jesus into work and person, it becomes clear that with Jesus Christ it is not a question of a piece of work separate from himself, of a feat which God must demand because he himself is under and an obligation to the concept of order; that with him it is not a question… of having, but of being human. And how different things look further on when one picks up the Pauline key, which teaches us to understand Christ as the `last man (’έσχατος Άδάμ: 1 Cor. 15, 45) - the final man, who takes man into his future, which consists of his being not just man but one with God.” (Divinization: the Ipse Christus of our Father).
“What position is really occupied by the cross within faith in Jesus as the Christ… As we have already established, the universal Christian consciousness in this matter is extensively influenced by a much coarsened version of St. Anselm’s theology of atonement, the main lines of which we have considered in another context. To many Christians, and especially to those who only know the faith from a fair distance, it looks as if the cross is to be understood as part of a mechanism of injured and restored right. It is the form, so it seems, in which the infinitely offended righteousness of God was made up for (propitiated) again by means of an infinite expiation. It thus appears to people as the expression of an attitude which insists on a precise balance between debit and credit; at the same time one gets the feeling that this balance is based on a fiction. One gives first secretly with the left hand what one takes back again ceremonially with the right. The `infinite expiation’ on which God seems to insist thus moves into a doubly sinister light. Many devotional texts actually force one to think that Christian faith in the cross visualizes a God whose unrelenting righteousness demanded a human sacrifice, the sacrifice of his own Son, sinister wrath makes the message of love incredible.”
Later in the same “Introduction to Christianity,” Ratzinger wrote: “This picture is as false as it is widespread [my emphasis]. In the Bible the cross does not appear as part of a mechanism of injured right; on the contrary, in the Bible the cross is quite the reverse: it is the expression of the radical nature of the love which gives itself completely, of the process in which one is what one does, and does what one is; it is the expression of a life that is completely being for others. To anyone who looks more closely, the scriptural theology of the cross represents a real revolution as compared with the notions of expiation and redemption entertained by non-Christian religions, though it certainly cannot be denied that in the later Christian consciousness this revolution was largely neutralized and its whole scope seldom recognized. In other world religions expiation usually means the restoration of the damaged relationship with God by means of expiatory actions on the part of men. Almost all religions center round the problem of expiation; they arise out of man’s knowledge of his guilt before God and signify the attempt to remove this feeling of guilt, to surmount the guilt through conciliatory actions offered up to God. The expiatory activity by which men hope to conciliate the divinity and to put him in a gracious mood stands at the heart of the history of religion.
“In the New Testament the situation is almost completely reversed. It is not man who goes to God with a compensatory gift, but God who comes to man, in order to give to him. He restores disturbed right on the initiative of his own power to love, by making unjust man just again, the dead living again, through his own creative mercy. His righteousness to grace; it is active righteousness, which sets crooked man right, that is, bends him straight, makes him right. Here we stand before the twist which Christianity put into the history of religion. The New Testament does not say that men conciliate God, as we really ought to expect, since after all it is they who have failed, not God. It says on the contrary that `God was in Christ reconciling the world to himself’ (2 Cor. 5, 19). This is truly something new, something unheard of – the starting-point of Christian existence and the center of New Testament theology of the cross: God does not wait until the guilty come to be reconciled; he goes to meet them and reconciles them. Here we can see the true direction of the incarnation, of the cross.
“Accordingly, in the New Testament the cross appears primarily as a movement from above to below. It does not stand there as the work of expiation which mankind offers to the wrathful God, but as the expression of that foolish love of God’s which gives itself away to the point of humiliation in order thus to save man; it is his approach to us, not the other way about. With this twist in the idea of expiation, and thus in the whole axis of religion, worship too, man’s whole existence, acquires in Christianity a new direction. Worship follows in Christianity first of all in thankful acceptance of the divine deed of salvation. The essential form of Christian worship is therefore rightly called `Eucharistia,’ thanksgiving. In this form of worship human achievements are not placed before God; on the contrary, it consists in man’s letting himself be endowed with gifts; we do not glorify God by supposedly giving to him out of our resources – as if they were not his already! – but by letting ourselves be endowed with his own gifts and thus recognizing him as the only Lord. We worship him by dropping the fiction of a realm in which we could face him as independent business partners, whereas in truth we can only exist at all in him and from him. Christian sacrifice does not consist in a giving of what God would to have without us but in our becoming totally receptive and letting ourselves be completely taken over by him. Letting God act on us – that is Christian sacrifice.”
Invisible Eschatology as Secularity
Because becoming Christ does not take on visible change, “the Kingdom of God comes unawares. Neither will they say, ‘Behold, here it is,’ of ‘Behold, there it is.’ For behold, the kingdom of God is within you” (Lk. 17 20-21). The key to experiencing the presence of the Kingdom is to understand the theological epistemology of knowing the Person of Christ. Ratzinger explains in his third thesis of “Behold the Pierced One,” that as relation to the Father, the Person of the Son enters the epistemology of enfleshment (this world) as prayer, the act of self-transcendence to the Father. And since “like is known by like,” on must pray in order to know Him Who is prayer. And so Simon knows that Jesus is “the Son of the living God because he enters into the prayer of Jesus (Lk. 9, 18). And, by so doing, becomes “another Christ:” Peter (“Rock” as Christ is “Cornerstone” [Acts 4. 11]).
Due to the frustration and misunderstanding of Christ’s not returning visibly as anticipated, Ratzinger writes that “Christian theology…turned the kingdom of God into a kingdom of heaven that is beyond this mortal life; the well-being of men became a salvation of souls, which again comes to pass beyond this life, after death.” And he goes on to explain: “But theology did not thereby provide an answer. For what is subliming this message is precisely that the Lord was talking not just about another life, not just about men’s souls, but was addressing the body, the whole man, in his embodied form, with his involvement in history and society; that he promised the kingdom of God to the man who lives bodily with other men in this history.”  And he explains John the Baptist’s sending the message to Christ: “Are you he who is to come, or should we look for another?” (Mt. 11, 3). And the proof of the reality of His presence was the miracles that were performed, but perhaps unperceived (Mt. 11, 5-6).Is this not the same situation today? Are there not continuous miracles, but we do not have eyes to see because we do not the act of faith in order to re-cognize them? Notice that since the Kingdom of God is the Person of Christ, and the Person of Christ is the received content of faith. Francis speaks of the necessity of evangelization: “To evangelize is to make the kingdom of God present in our world. Yet ‘any partial or fragmentary definition which attempts to render the reality of evangelization in all its richness, complexity and dynamism does so only at the risk of impoverishing it a
 Col. 1, 15-20.
 John Paul II, “ Man and Woman He Created Them, A Theology of the Body,” Translation, Introduction, and Index by Michael Waldstein Pauline Boos and Media (2006) 504-507.
 J. Ratzinger, “Introduction to Christianity,” op. cit. 172-174.
 J. Ratzinger, “Introduction…” op. cit. 213-215.
 J. Ratzinger, “What It Means To Be A Christian,” Ignatius (2006) 28.