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Lesson 6: Jesus Christ – God and Man (Part 2) BY FATHER ROBERT ALTIER

Posted on 04/21/2006 1:00:27 PM PDT by MILESJESU

Fundamentals of Catholicism by Father Robert Altier

Lesson 6: Jesus Christ – God and Man (Part 2)

We were talking about the knowledge of Jesus, or the way that His human mind works, and we said that there was no error or ignorance in Jesus’ human soul due to the hypostatic union. From this, we can see that the knowledge gained from the Beatific Vision is what is called “infused” knowledge. That is, God simply puts the knowledge in our minds without having sense experience to go with it. The spiritual concepts are communicated immediately to the mind by God.

What about acquired or experiential knowledge, did Jesus have that as well? That is the kind of knowledge we have. God will also give us infused knowledge if He chooses to do so. Saint Teresa tells us that when that happens you will know more in one second than you would know in a thousand years of study. God simply infuses the knowledge into your mind, and you know it in an absolute sense. But that is the rare occasion. So what about the vast majority of our knowledge? It requires sense experience. Everything we get, we get through the senses: we see, we hear, we taste, we touch, or whatever it might be.

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TOPICS: Apologetics; Catholic; Ministry/Outreach; Prayer; Worship
KEYWORDS: fraltier; godandman; jesuschrist; talks
Fundamentals of Catholicism by Father Robert Altier

Lesson 6: Jesus Christ – God and Man (Part 2)

We were talking about the knowledge of Jesus, or the way that His human mind works, and we said that there was no error or ignorance in Jesus’ human soul due to the hypostatic union. From this, we can see that the knowledge gained from the Beatific Vision is what is called “infused” knowledge. That is, God simply puts the knowledge in our minds without having sense experience to go with it. The spiritual concepts are communicated immediately to the mind by God.

What about acquired or experiential knowledge, did Jesus have that as well? That is the kind of knowledge we have. God will also give us infused knowledge if He chooses to do so. Saint Teresa tells us that when that happens you will know more in one second than you would know in a thousand years of study. God simply infuses the knowledge into your mind, and you know it in an absolute sense. But that is the rare occasion. So what about the vast majority of our knowledge? It requires sense experience. Everything we get, we get through the senses: we see, we hear, we taste, we touch, or whatever it might be. Did Jesus have that kind of knowledge also? The answer is “yes.” Acquired knowledge is the human knowledge which proceeds from the combination of sense perception and the abstracting activity of the mind to produce concepts or universal ideas.

To put that into practical English, if I said to you “car” or “dog,” you have a concept, a universal idea, of what a car or a dog is. If I said to you “German shepherd,” well, now you have just eliminated all kinds of dogs from your concept of what a dog is, but you still can have a universal idea of what a German shepherd is because you have had experience of enough of them over the years that you have a general idea of what a German shepherd looks like without even having to have a particular dog in mind. Then if I were to tell you the name of your next-door neighbor’s German shepherd, you would bring up the image in your mind of what that particular dog looks like. If I just simply said “car,” you know that a car has four wheels, a body, a steering wheel, windows, and the like. If I said something like “station wagon,” now you know it is a certain type of car. If I said “a Ford” then you would know that eliminates all other kinds. You just keep narrowing it down, but you have a universal idea of “car” because you have seen lots and lots of cars. You can know what a car is, you can have an idea of a car, without having a particular car in mind. That is what happens through the senses. We have enough experience of these various things that we see and touch and so on that we make universal ideas. We make these concepts in our minds through the abstracting activity. We take in the individual things then we extract this universal concept of what a car is from all the individual cars we have seen. Jesus was fully human, and because He was fully human, He also had experiential knowledge. To deny that leads to a heresy called “docetism.” What that says is that Jesus was not human but He just appeared that way; basically, that He just put on a mask which looked human but He really was not.

Having looked at the intellect of Christ, let us look for a second at His will. It is by the will that we either adhere ourselves to God or separate ourselves from Him by sin. We make the choice in and through the will. We know God in the intellect; we choose in the will. That being the case, did Jesus ever sin? No. Was Jesus even capable of sinning? No. The hypostatic union excludes the possibility of separation from God. Jesus is God, and in the hypostatic union His humanity and divinity are substantially united, meaning they can never be separated, as we have looked at already. Therefore, He could never separate Himself from Himself. To sin would separate Himself from God, which is Himself; therefore, He could not sin. He also was not subject to original sin, since original sin is transmitted by generation and He was conceived supernaturally. There was no original sin on His soul. Being free of original sin, He was also free of the effects of original sin. That would include concupiscence. The word concupiscence literally means “with seizing.” It seizes you. Think about what it is like to be hungry. There is a point at which the hunger pains take over. You get seized with hunger, if you will. Concupiscence involves the things of the senses. We like to have things that are soft, warm, nice, feel good, sound nice, etc. All of those things are part of concupiscable appetites. Being free of concupiscence means that His sensual nature and His passions were completely subject to the direction of His reason, the way Adam and Eve were in the Garden. His mind and His will were in complete control over all the things in His body.

What about the miracles that Our Lord worked? Did His human body possess the power of God to do such things? In other words, was there something different about His human body that when people touched Him the power of God was there? Well, recall that God gives certain powers to the nature of the things He has created, and once in a while He goes beyond the nature of a thing for a spiritual purpose. That is what we mean by a miracle, something which is beyond the nature of the being. Christ’s human nature was endowed with certain powers and grace, just like us, but His human nature was still finite. The human nature of Jesus is not omnipotent. As God, Jesus is omnipotent; in His human nature, He is not. Omnipotence is a perfection which pertains only to the divinity. So with regard to things like miracles and prophecies and so on, Jesus’ human nature functions as an instrument of the Word. In other words, His human body by itself did not contain some sort of extraordinary power to do things, but rather God worked through His own humanity. The Word (the Second Person of the Trinity) united to His humanity worked through His humanity to perform miracles. It is not that His humanity contained this ability all on its own, but rather God has that power and God worked through His humanity to do that. He has instrumental power, then, to produce supernatural effects in the physical and moral order which serve the purpose of redemption.

He could have gone around doing anything He wanted. But if it did not have to do with His mission as the Redeemer of the world, He was not going to do it. Remember when the devil took Him to the parapet of the temple and said, “Just jump! God said that His angels are going to save you.” He was not going to showboat; that was not why He came. He did not come to show off and make sure everybody understood that He had the power to do these things. Only those things which served the purpose of redemption would He do, and only in people who had faith. That is why He healed some pagan people and not some Jewish people, because He did not find any faith. The same is going to be true for us. Anyway, it is not that His humanity possessed any power of its own, but rather the power of God worked through His humanity. The key, again, to understanding this is the hypostatic union. The principle cause of the supernatural effects that we see in the miracles and prophecies is the Word of God Who operates through His humanity.

We have already answered this one earlier, but did Jesus endure physical suffering in His body? In other words, when they scourged Him, did He feel it? When they put the crown of thorns on His head, when they put the nails in His hands and feet, did He feel that? Did He endure mental suffering, for instance, sadness, fear, and things like that? The answer is “yes.” In becoming human, Jesus assumed all the general “defects” of human nature, things like thirst, hunger, fatigue, pain, death, and so on. He did not assume particular defects which are the result of moral fault or those that would be opposed to the perfection of His soul, something like ignorance. We have already seen that He did not possess any ignorance, because that would go against the perfection of His soul. Being human, He was also subject to emotions. He became human in all things but sin, so everything that we can say about ourselves, we can say about Him, as long as it is not sin or the effects of sin. Those things would not be a problem in Him. Part of what affects us due to sin is a darkening of the mind and a weakening of the will. That is why we cannot talk about ignorance in Christ. His mind was not darkened because there were no effects of any sin since He had neither original sin nor personal sin. His mind and His will operated exactly the way they were supposed to. Ours are darkened and weakened, respectively. The other things that we have to deal with as human beings, the struggles and sufferings and being tired and things like that, He had to deal with all of that as well.

This point of Jesus being subject to emotions is interesting. When we were talking about God we said that God has no emotions. God does not change. If He had emotions, He would be changing all the time: “God is angry now. Oops, now He’s happy. Oh, God’s sad.” No, God does not have any emotions. But just as we have seen that in Jesus Christ God can be born and God can die, so too in Jesus, God has emotions. Whatever can be said of Christ can be said of God. Therefore, it is the person of Jesus who suffered. It is the person of Jesus who wept at the grave of His friend. It is the person of Jesus who got angry in the temple when they were buying and selling in the temple. We can say then that God cried, God was angry, and God suffered because the person, not the nature, is what cries or is angry or suffers. Because He took a human nature to Himself, we can say those things of the person of Christ, and Christ is God.

With all that said, why did God become man in the first place? What was the purpose of Jesus becoming one of us? He became man in order to redeem us. In other words, the purpose of the Incarnation is our redemption from sin. It is also, of course, for the glory of God. Remember that everything outside of God, everything that He does outside of Himself, is for His own glory. We also said that God does not get anything out of it, so it is not like He has more perfection or that He was lacking something before, but rather it is so that we would see the mercy of God and give Him the glory and honor that is due to Him.

We said that the purpose of the Incarnation is the Redemption, but what exactly does that mean? Redemption is God’s deliverance of humanity from sin and His restoration of humanity to the state of grace by an act of divine power and merciful love. There are two ways that we can consider the Redemption. The first way is the work done on our behalf by the God-man Jesus Christ. When we think about the work that He did, that includes everything in His life: His incarnation, His life, His passion, His death, His resurrection. This work effected the salvation from sin, which includes separation from God, suffering, death, and subjection to the devil. In all the things that Jesus did in His life, in the Incarnation, that is what He did for us. The second way of looking at the Redemption is the application of the grace of Christ to individual men and women. Those who believe in Christ and repent of their sins and are baptized receive the grace of Christ, which makes us children of God and heirs of heaven.

The first way is the way that Catholics have traditionally looked at things. The second way is the way that Protestants have traditionally looked at things. Both are true. Neither can be without the other; you need to have both. In other words, to talk about things like the application of the grace of Christ to us so that we can believe and repent and be saved, that cannot happen unless He goes to the Cross. And He cannot go to the Cross unless He is born; the Incarnation and His life and passion have to precede all of that. At the same time, if we look at the Incarnation, the passion, and the death of Christ, it does not stop there; it goes beyond so that His grace is applied to us. You can look at it either way, but you have to understand that you need both. The Protestants do not deny the reality of what happened in the life and death and resurrection of Christ, and Catholics do not deny what happens in the application of grace to our souls and our regeneration in Christ. We both have to understand each of those; it is just a question of where you are going to put the emphasis. Catholics tend to put the emphasis on the life and suffering of Christ because this is a vale of tears. There is suffering in this world, so we look at the Cross and we can see that Our Lord suffered. It gives us the grace and the courage to continue plowing forward. Protestants tend to look at the resurrection and the glory and the grace that is given because that is what gives them hope to be able to continue forward. Both, again, are perfectly valid. It is not that one is better than the other; it is that both are necessary. It is a both-and, not an either-or situation.

In view of His human and divine constitution, Jesus is the mediator between God and us, as Saint Paul makes absolutely clear. In the order of being, He is the sole mediator between God and man. All other mediators, the angels and saints, are subordinate to the mediation of Christ. They are not mediators according to being, but rather they share in the mediation of Christ and they are subordinated to the mediation of Christ. He mediated and continues to mediate for us through the actions of His human nature. That is the nature of Christ as the mediator. We will look more at that later.

Do we need a redeemer? It should be obvious to anybody. Yes. The Church teaches infallibly that we cannot redeem ourselves. No matter how much we try, it is not possible for us to redeem ourselves. To obtain our final end of the Beatific Vision, we need God’s help, which again should be obvious because the Beatific Vision is something supernatural. It is not something we can attain by our own natural ability. It is beyond us to be able to do that. So God became incarnate to restore us to the supernatural gift of sanctifying grace, that is, God’s life in us. When all of our mortal sins are forgiven, then sanctifying grace is restored to our souls. Because the gift is supernatural, we could not do it on our own. As we saw at the beginning of the lesson, sin is an infinite offense and we are finite; therefore, we cannot make adequate satisfaction for the offense. Only a divine person is able to do that.

We also speak of Jesus possessing a three-fold office. Jesus is Priest, Prophet, and King. The office of the prophet is the office of a teacher. In biblical terms, a prophet is one who speaks in the name of God either to express the demands of God or His promises. He proclaims to the people God’s Will for them. That is what a prophet is all about. Predicting future events is only one very small aspect of the gift of prophecy. I remember talking with one person who got into all this charismatic stuff at one point and quite arrogantly had asked the people to pray so that she would receive the gift of prophecy. She came to me quite agitated one day and said, “They all prayed for the gift of prophecy, and I got it. But you know what God wants me to do now? He wants me to tell people to stop sinning! He wants me to tell people to quit doing these things that they’re doing!” I said, “Well, yes, you asked for the gift of prophecy.” She said, “No, I wanted to predict the future! I wanted to know what future events were going to be!” I said, “Sorry. You asked, you got it. Now you better do something with it.” So be careful what you ask for, you just might get it. She did not understand what the gift of prophecy really was, so in her ignorance and arrogance she was looking for something selfish. God does not give His gifts for selfish reasons. The gift of prophecy is to tell the people God’s Will for them, and that is what He was asking this person to do. She had the gift of prophecy, but it was not to predict the future; it was to be able to tell the people what God wanted.

As for the kingly office, when we look at that in the Church, the term king and the term pastor are actually synonymous, and when used for Jesus, they mean the same thing. Now that does not mean “one who is the top dog,” in this case. The word pastor is the Latin word for “shepherd.” The shepherd was the lowliest office in the ancient world. It was a completely unskilled position. In the Church, the king, who we normally think of as being the most exalted, is the same as the one who is the lowliest. The kingly office with regard to Christ refers to His rule or authority over the people of God. The wonderful thing about Jesus is that when He rules and is given this authority and exercises it, it is an office of service. That is the difference between authority and power. Authority is given to serve others. Jesus exercises His authority in service to us, and that is how He exercises His kingly office. It is an office of love; it is an office of service. It is not about Himself: “Look, I have the power. You bow down before Me.” Each one of us is a priest, a prophet, and a king; therefore, we share in that royal office. He serves us and we serve Him. Not because we are afraid, not because of any selfish reason, not because we think we are going to get ahead if we do this or we will be noticed, but out of love. We want to serve Him out of love. He serves us out of love. It is that mutual relationship of love that is present, both serving one another. That is what marriage is all about. That is what the Christian life is all about. What is the command that He gave us? To love. It is the very purpose of our creation in the first place. We are made in the image and likeness of God. God is love, God is also truth. What are the two faculties of the human soul? The mind and the will – to know the truth and to love. That is what we were created for, to be like God. We can see how badly we messed ourselves up with original sin that God actually has to become one of us and command us to do the very thing He created us to do in the first place. What a mess we have become! But in Christ we have the means out of that mess. We can now be redeemed men and women, to live in that redeemed humanity. We do not have to do it the way that everyone else seems to be doing it, or the way that we used to do it, that is, just throwing ourselves headlong into sin.

Now for the priestly office. The basic notion of priesthood is mediation. A mediator is one who stands in the middle between two extremes. Another essential notion of the priesthood is sacrifice. In this sense, sacrifice means to offer something good and precious to God. It is to remove it from our hands and place it in God’s hands. The purpose of offering sacrifice to God is to give visible expression to our obedience and our subjection to His Will. Does God need our sacrifices? No. We need our sacrifices. We need to be able to show God. Because we are physical beings, we have to have a material, physical way to be able to express our obedience and our subjection to God. That is why He requires sacrifice of us. It interesting, by the way, that every religion in the history of the world up until two thousand years ago offered sacrifice. Since the year 70, when the temple was destroyed in Jerusalem, the Jewish people have not offered sacrifice. Protestants do not offer sacrifice. Now we have these New-Ager’s, and they do not offer sacrifice either (it is not exactly a religion). Anyway, the reality is that it is part and parcel of the notion of religion to offer sacrifice to God. If you look at any ancient religion, if you look at the Old Testament and the New Testament, sacrifice is required. It is required not because God gets something out of it, but because we are the ones who need it. We have to have a way to be able to express what is in our hearts, to be able to show to God our love and our obedience and our subjection to His Will.

When we look at mediation, then, mediation between God and humanity is a two-way street. The priest offers gifts and sacrifices to God on behalf of humanity. He also brings gifts and blessings from God to the people. In the Catholic faith, this is done by the administration of the sacraments and especially by offering the Sacrifice of the Mass and bringing the Holy Eucharist to the people. Think about what happens at Mass. The priest takes the bread and wine, the gifts of the people, and offers them to God. In response, God gives the priest Himself to give to the people. The priest is the one who is that mediator in between. Because of the hypostatic union, Jesus is the mediator, the sole mediator. Therefore, He is able to offer acceptable sacrifices to God because He is God. He is also able to bring the grace of God to us because He is one of us. He is fully God and He is fully man. If the mediator is the one who stands in the middle between two extremes, Jesus is the only perfect mediator because He is on both extremes. He is both God and man. Nobody else can say that. Because of His hypostatic union which will last for eternity, Jesus is our High Priest. You can see that in Saint Paul’s Letter to the Hebrews. He is our High Priest – He is our only High Priest – and His priesthood lasts forever. The mediation of Christ is absolute, perfect, and primary. He is the sole mediator.

The rest of us, however (we will talk more about this in subsequent lessons), can pray for one another. We can intercede on behalf of others. That is mediation. But our mediation on behalf of others is dependent on the mediation of Christ. He has to mediate for us before we can mediate for anyone else. We have to have His grace before we can pray for anybody else. We have to be in union with Him before we can bring anybody else to union with Him. Our mediation, or intercession (if you want to call it that), is secondary; it is not essential. It is completely subordinate to and dependent on the mediation of Christ. He is the sole mediator between God and man. Because we are made members of Jesus Christ, we share in that threefold office of priest, prophet, and king. We exercise our priesthood, the baptismal priesthood of all believers, through sharing in that work of mediation: to pray for others, to offer sacrifice for the sake of others, to fast, to pray, to give alms, and to do all these things. That is part of what it means to share the priesthood of Christ. It does not take anything away from Christ. When we say that He is the sole mediator, we say that we also share in that office of mediation. But it is part of His office. It is not something we can do on our own. When we say that He is the sole mediator, it is the absolute truth. He is the only one, and everything else is dependent on and subordinate to Him.

When we look at the death of Christ on the Cross, the Church teaches that His death is a true sacrifice. A sacrifice has four elements: number one, the person to whom the sacrifice is offered; number two, the one who offers it; number three, the visible gift which is offered; number four, the purpose for which the offering was made. If we put it into one sentence, we can see all four of these points. We can say that Jesus offered Himself to the Father in atonement for our sins. It is just that simple. He is the one who offers. What does He offer? Himself, so He is the visible gift. He offers Himself to the Father, the One to Whom the sacrifice is offered. And He offers Himself to the Father in atonement for our sins, the purpose for which the offering is made. On the Cross, Jesus is both priest and victim.

The word victim here does not mean the poor guy who got run over, or something like that. Victim here is a very technical thing. The Latin word for victim is “hostia.” That is why we call the little round communion wafer a host. Tragically, the worst thing I have ever heard about the Mass was when somebody said, “The Mass is a celebration. We have a host, so it’s a party. It’s a celebration. The host invites us to the party!” I just wanted to bang my head into the wall and say, “No!!! That’s not what it means! That’s not it at all!” Host means “victim.” It is not the guy who is having a party – it is the one who is being sacrificed. The easiest way to understand this concept of victim is to think about the little lamb that grows up with his family and is the family pet. The kids play with the little lamb, sleep with the little lamb, and do all these things with the little lamb. But the day comes when the lamb is going to have to be killed in order for the family to live, because that is all they have to eat. This is the little lamb the kids grew up with. Yet the lamb is going to have to be sacrificed for the sake of the family. The lamb is the victim, the one who dies so that others can live. That is the point we are making here with Our Lord. He is the victim. He is the one who died so that we could have life. That is what we are talking about, not the one who was violated somehow, but the one who offered Himself. He is the priest who makes the offering, and He is also the victim who is offered. In the Old Testament, the victim is the bull or the sheep or whatever it is that the Jewish people happen to be offering. In this case, it is Jesus Himself. As we said earlier, the blood of bulls and goats could never take sin away; Saint Paul says that in his Letter to the Romans. The blood of Jesus, which is human blood, was able to remove sin.

In the Agony in the Garden, Jesus prays that the cup may pass Him by, but then He prays, Not my will be done, but Thine. Did Jesus have to die? In other words, when He was in the Garden, did He have a choice? Did He have to die, or could He have chosen not to? If He had chosen not to die, He would have sinned because He would not have been doing God’s Will. This was the very purpose for which he came into this world. It is an extraordinary thing when you think about it. Jesus is the only person ever to be conceived for the purpose of dying. The rest of us, our parents know that we will die. All of you who are parents, you know that one day your kids will die. You did not have children in order for them to die; that was not the purpose. But Jesus came into this world for one purpose, and that was to die. The reason He was conceived and born was to die. If He had chosen not to, He would have sinned because He knew perfectly that God’s Will for Him was to die on the Cross. To freely choose against God’s Will is to sin. Yet, at the same time, if He had to die, if He was forced into it, there would be no free will. If it is not a free choice, it is not a sacrifice. And if it is not a sacrifice, then we are not redeemed.

Now we have this quandary: If He had chosen not to go to the Cross, He would have sinned; but if He did not have a choice in the matter, then there is no redemption. So what do we do? Well, some people said, “Look, Jesus had two wills and two intellects. Maybe in the Agony in the Garden He is speaking from His human nature, not from His divine nature.” Therefore, did He have a choice? No. He still could not act contrary to His divine will because it is the person who makes the choice. It is the person who acts, not the nature. The problem is with the definition of freedom. This is something that is exceedingly important for Americans to understand. Freedom is a gift from God. God is free, and He made us in His image and likeness; therefore, we are free as long as we act in His image. Jesus said, Whoever sins becomes a slave to sin. Isn’t it interesting that we want to be able to say, “I want to exercise my freedom and do whatever I want to do”? That is not freedom; that is license. The problem in America right now is that we have misunderstood what freedom means and we equate freedom with license. “I can do anything I want and no one can tell me any different.” True freedom is doing God’s Will. If we sin, we become a slave to sin. Remember that God only wants what is the very best for you. God never wants what is second best for you, ever. God only wants what is the very best. Therefore, if you do what is the very best, you are doing God’s Will and you are exercising your freedom perfectly. God will not force you to do His Will, but what He wants is only the best anyway, so why would you want to choose second best for yourself? That is what it comes down to. Doing God’s Will is where perfect freedom lies. Therefore, when Jesus chose to do the Will of God, He used His freedom. Obviously, He could not choose against God’s Will because He is God and God’s Will was His own will. Nonetheless, when He made His decision, He exercised perfect freedom. And that is where we are going to find freedom. Jesus told us, If the Son sets you free, then you are truly free. Well, what is the freedom in Christ? It is the freedom of the children of God to act as God acts, to be His children, to act the way that He does. Again, what does God do? God is the truth and He is love, so it is to know the truth, to live the truth, and to love. That is perfect freedom. That is where we are going to find fulfillment and happiness. As long as we are being selfish and sinning, we are going to be miserable and we are going to be slaves to sin. But as long as we are operating in true freedom, then we are going to be happy and we are going to be fulfilled.

From the Cross, Christ taught us love. He taught us merciful love. Mercy draws good out of evil. From the evil of original sin, God drew the infinite good of the Incarnation. You see that right in Genesis 3:15. It is called the protoevangelium; that means “the first gospel.” It is the first proclamation of the Redeemer, that there will be enmity between the devil and the woman, between his offspring and hers, that the devil would nip at the heel of the offspring of Our Lady, and she was going to crush the head of the serpent. So it is the first promise of the Redeemer. Immediately after sin, God promises that He would send His Son. And it is very clear that it is not talking about Eve and all of her offspring. It is talking about one woman and one male child. In Hebrew, it is very, very clear. In English, it is not so clear, but the Hebrew is very clear: one woman, one male offspring. That is where we can see the very first promise of the Redeemer. You need to recognize, as we see throughout the Old Testament, many times when God talks about the coming Redeemer it is intimately linked with a woman. It is by God’s providence and His Will that His Son would be born of a woman, which is exactly what you read in Saint Paul’s Letter to the Galatians: In the fullness of time, God sent forth His son, born of a woman, born under the law to free from the law those who were subject to it. It was part and parcel of what was required, and we will see that later when we talk about Our Lady. She was a necessary part of the work of redemption, not some sort of sideshow somewhere.

Anyway, when we look at the Cross, we also see that God permits us to love Him in a merciful way, having compassion and sorrow. Compassion is a word that means “to suffer with.” It is to be willing to share in the suffering of Christ. That is a concept that many people do not like and in fact many people deny. They say, “Oh, Jesus did it for us. I don’t have to suffer.” There is absolutely no place in Scripture that even hints at that idea. I could show you in nearly every book of the New Testament just the opposite: Rejoice in the measure in which you share in Christ’s suffering – Count it pure joy when you are involved in any sort of trial – When you suffer, it is then that…. It goes on and on and on. One of my favorite quotes in all of Scripture is Colossians 1:24: I make up in my body what is lacking in the suffering of Christ for the sake of His body, the Church. We are invited as members of Jesus Christ to share in the suffering of Christ. We will talk more about why that is so important when we talk about the Eucharist. But the point of suffering is something that is going to be part and parcel in every one of our lives. The question is what we are going to do with it. What is the difference between human suffering and the suffering of an animal? Is there any difference? Sure, there is, but not if we do not choose to do something with it. We can offer it to Christ, and offering it to Him can bring about the conversion of souls, the salvation of souls, and so on. If we just waste it, there is not much difference between our suffering and that of an animal. We are able to share in the suffering of Christ. The desire to remove the suffering of Christ, the desire to take on part of His suffering, comes then from the desire to remove sin from our own lives. From the Cross, Christ is paying the price for our offense, and that is a matter of justice. His going to the Cross for us is purely a matter of love. He is giving the gift of Himself to us. Therefore, on the Cross, love and justice, mercy and justice, are one and the same. It is a perfect act of love, and it is a perfect act of justice.

In the Creed, we say that Jesus descended into hell. That is in the Apostles’ Creed. What exactly does this mean? The English word here is difficult because in this situation it is not referring to the hell of condemnation. Rather, it is referring to what in Hebrew would be sheol, or in Greek hades, or in Latin infernos. Unfortunately, in English we do not have a word to translate it differently. The best thing would be to call it the limbo of the just. It is the netherworld, the underworld, the abode of the dead, the place where all the souls went, the good and the bad, while they awaited the time of Christ and His resurrection. It is the place where all of the souls went, including Saint Joseph, Saint John the Baptist, Moses. Everybody was there. What we believe based on what Saint Peter is telling us is that after Jesus’ death, His human soul separated from His body (as we talked about before, that is the nature of death), but remained united to His divine person and entered into the place of the dead. His soul remained there until the Resurrection. His purpose was to free the souls of the just that were in this place by the application of the fruits of His redemption, that is, by the communication of the Beatific Vision. His descent into hell was not to suffer or to convert the unbelievers. Rather, at the moment of the Resurrection, those who would not believe in Christ were freed from this place and fell into hell as we think of it today. In other words, for those who were looking forward to the coming of Christ, they now had to make an explicit act of faith in Him. And so He went down into this place of the dead to preach the Gospel, and those who had rejected God were still going to reject Him. Remember that once the soul leaves the body, you cannot change your mind. Therefore, those who died in the state of mortal sin were not suddenly going to be converted because they saw the Lord. Those who died in the state of grace would now make an explicit act of faith in Him, and then they would be freed from that place at the time of the Resurrection. Then when heaven was opened at the Ascension, they would be able to go into heaven. The souls of those who chose against God at the time of the Resurrection, when the hell of condemnation (as we think of it) was opened, that is where they went.

What about the Resurrection? What exactly happened on Easter morning? Was the event of Easter morning something similar to what happened to Lazarus or the daughter of Jairus or the son of the widow of Naim? Those are three people who came back from the dead in the Gospels. The answer is “no.” These people were resuscitated and they had to die again. Think about poor Lazarus. Three days he was dead, then he came back, and the poor guy would have to die all over again. At the Resurrection, the body and the soul of Jesus took on a new mode of existence. His soul was reunited with His body and this was accomplished through His own power. Moreover, His human nature, both body and soul, were glorified. So the whole of His human nature shared in the glory of God. That is why He was able to simply walk through the walls. He rose from the tomb; nobody had to roll the stone back; He was able to just get through because the physical limitations that we suffer with in this world He no longer had. The glorified body is not subject to all of our physical limitations.

I should also point out that when we think about the time Our Lord spent in the tomb, we say that He rose on the third day. Now if you count it up, you might say, “Wait a second here. He died on Friday at 3:00, and He rose sometime on Saturday night or Sunday morning, the way we calculate time. So how do you get three days out of that?” Well, you have to understand the Jewish understanding of time in order to calculate the three days. For a Jewish person, if something happens on the last minute of one day, that is still calculated as that day, the whole day. We tend to look at days as 24-hour periods. So if we say that Jesus was in the tomb for three days, we think that should mean 72 hours. No. He was in the tomb less than 36 hours. He died at 3:00 on Friday afternoon. For the Jewish people, the day begins and ends at sunset. It does not begin and end at midnight. So the moment the sun sets, the new day begins. He died at 3:00 on Friday, maybe the sun set at 8:00 or so on Friday night. For us, the day still has another several hours. For the Jewish people, that was the end of the day. But because that happened on Friday, it is considered the whole day. Then He was in the tomb all day on Saturday. And then sometime after sunset but before sunrise, He rose from the dead. Remember, sunset is the beginning of Sunday, so it could be anytime from whatever time the sun set on that night up until sunrise. All we know is that when the sun rose and Mary Magdalene went to the tomb, He was already resurrected. So it happened sometime during the night, but that began on Sunday. Because it happened on Sunday according to Jewish time, that is the third day. Even though chronologically it would only be about 36 hours, it spanned three different days. Therefore, for the Jewish people that would be 3 days.

What about the Ascension? The Ascension is the transfer of the risen and glorious humanity of Christ into heaven. This too Jesus did by His own power as God. We say that He ascended into heaven and is seated at the right hand of the Father. That is a biblical phrase which means that the glorified Christ participates in the glory and the power of God in a special way even in His humanity. When we see it this way, we recognize that the Ascension is the ultimate accomplishment of Christ’s redemptive work. The Ascension is the model and the pledge of our own glorification. The Resurrection is the single most important event in human history, yet the Resurrection by itself is not enough. What would happen if Jesus rose from the dead but did not ascend into heaven? Well, that means we can rise from the dead and we can hang out here for the rest of time. Forget it! Who wants to be around here any longer than we have to? The Jehovah’s Witnesses, poor souls, think this is what they are going to do, that they are going to roam the earth in some sort of quasi-paradise and they will be around here forever. That is not what God made us for. God made us for heaven. And so if Jesus did not ascend into heaven, neither can we. The Ascension, then, is the fulfillment of His work of redemption. The Resurrection is the most important thing that ever happened, but it is not enough. The Ascension completes the work of Christ and it serves as the model and pledge of our own glorification because our humanity is in heaven in Christ. Because we are incorporated into Christ in baptism, Saint Paul says, You are already seated at God’s right hand; therefore, set your sights on the things of heaven, not the things of earth. In Christ, our humanity is already there. It is just now awaiting the time when we too will die and we too will rise.

By the way, it is that body – the one you have right now – that is going to rise from the dead. And your body is either going to be glorified (assuming that your soul goes the right direction and is glorified) or your body is going to rise to be, as the prophet Daniel says, an everlasting horror and a disgrace, because your soul will be reunited with your body and will live forever in one of two places. As a human person, we are body and soul. The fullness of our person is going to share in eternity in one of two places. That is why it is so critical that we make the right choices so that we will be able to share in the glory of God, body and soul. It will be a glorified body, not with any of the limitations that we have now. The kids all think it is pretty cool when I tell them in school that they will be able to walk through the walls just like Jesus did. We are not going to be held bound by any of the limitations we have now. Those defects of human nature are not going to be a problem anymore. But, at the same time, if you rise and go the wrong direction, your body is going to share in the fullness of eternal condemnation and is going to share in the total rejection of God. It will be a totally, completely, horrifying experience that will never end. Hell is for eternity. Once you get there, you cannot get out. And once you get to heaven, you would never want to get out. But that is the problem in hell: They all want out, but they cannot get out. This is the only opportunity we have to make the choice. And we make it in this life, not in the next. So we have to choose Christ and we have to live what we choose and get accustomed to making that choice to say “yes,” because when the last choice comes, we will say “yes” once again. If we are not accustomed to making that choice, then when the last choice comes, more than likely we will not say “yes” then either. That is why it is critical that we do it now and start getting used to it so we will be able to make that choice forever.

The Lord be with you. May the blessing of Almighty God, the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit descend upon you and remain with you forever. Amen.

[End of Lesson 6]

1 posted on 04/21/2006 1:00:32 PM PDT by MILESJESU
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To: Canticle_of_Deborah; sandyeggo; Siobhan; Lady In Blue; NYer; Pyro7480; livius; ...


2 posted on 04/21/2006 1:05:09 PM PDT by MILESJESU (JESUS CHRIST, I TRUST IN YOU.)
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1)Fundamentals of Catholicism by Father Robert Altier Lesson 1: The Unity of God

2) Fundamentals of Catholicism by Father Robert Altier Lesson 2: The Most Holy Trinity

3)Lesson 3: God’s Creation of the World

4)Lesson 4: Creation of the Human Person and Original Sin

5)Lesson 5: Jesus Christ – God and Man (Part 1) BY FATHER ROBERT ALTIER

3 posted on 04/21/2006 1:14:53 PM PDT by MILESJESU (JESUS CHRIST, I TRUST IN YOU.)
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4 posted on 04/21/2006 2:05:02 PM PDT by MILESJESU (JESUS CHRIST, I TRUST IN YOU.)
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To: All


5 posted on 04/22/2006 2:58:14 AM PDT by MILESJESU (JESUS CHRIST, I TRUST IN YOU.)
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6 posted on 04/22/2006 9:16:51 AM PDT by MILESJESU (JESUS CHRIST, I TRUST IN YOU.)
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7 posted on 04/22/2006 2:14:48 PM PDT by MILESJESU (JESUS CHRIST, I TRUST IN YOU.)
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