THE OPEN SECRETS OF CHRIST’S BECOMING MAN – SALVATION AND UNITY- A Spiritual Reflection
One of the most profound passages in the Gospels is Matthew’s 1:1-17Matthew’s 1:1-17 . We struggle through hearing the Lector read forty-two generations of ancient Jewish names, from Abraham to Jesus. Why? St. Augustine provides a reason in clear but human terms when he says, “Christ rose in the flesh in order to ensure we could believe in our resurrection of the flesh [and the need for our unity with him].” Christ won trust by the resurrection of His flesh.
People who help or minister to others who are struggling find that they are so much more effective when they have lived the same struggles or experiences previously. Could you love your children or friends if you did not see them and their smile? Could you really relate to someone who never got tired or rested, never slept or was never hungry or thirsty? How about someone who was never wrong nor felt unfairly treated or embarrassed?
In this regard, it is so practical for the Son of God to take on flesh like one with us. God might be less real for us if we could not imagine his sharing our humanity. We can’t relate simply to some type of ”spirit in the sky.” Along with the mind, heart and soul, we experience human feelings and virtues such as love, mercy, trust, compassion, understanding and forgiveness. We need hugs and hand-shakes and the ability to look into each other’s eyes. So while going through the genealogy of Jesus is a challenge, it brings a sense of unity to the humanity – as well as the divinity – of Christ who became man to show how much we are loved and desired by the Father. Christ took on humanity so he could not only say, “I AM” but “I AM one of you.”
In Mere Christianity, C. S. Lewis helps us to understand that God never meant us to be a purely spiritual creature. Lewis writes about the mysterious need for the uniting of our humanity with Christ’s Divinity when he says, “When Christians say the Christ-life is in them, they do not mean simply something mental or moral. They mean that Christ is actually operating through them – that we are His fingers and muscles, the cells of His body.” It explains why this new life is spread not only by purely mental acts like belief, but by bodily acts like Baptism and Holy Communion. It is not merely the spreading of an idea. That is why He uses material things like bread and wine to put the new life into us.
Some may think this rather crude and “unspiritual.” God does not: He invented eating. He likes matter. He “invented” it. God also “invented” humanity. So, as we await the coming of Jesus’ humanity, let us express our gratitude for our humanity. Consider the prayer of St. Ignatius Loyola, Anima Christi:
“Take my body Jesus, eyes and ears and tongue.
Never let them, Jesus, help to do thee wrong.
Take my heart and fill it, full of love for thee.
All I have I give thee, give thyself to me.
Soul of Christ sanctify me. Body of Christ save me.
Blood of Christ inebriate me. Water from the side of Christ wash me.
Passion of Christ strengthen me. O good Jesus hear me.
Within thy wounds hide me.
At the hour of my death call me, and bid me come to thee.
So that with all the Angels and Saints, I may praise thee forever and ever.”
Reflection By Deacon Bill Masapollo