Fr Rodney Kissinger, S.J.
The theme of our Holy Father’s visit is: “Christ Our Hope.” In the Gospel for this Fifth Sunday of Easter the Lord is echoing and confirming this theme. Jesus said, “I am the way the, the truth and the life.” (John 14:6) Jesus is telling us that Christianity does not consist essentially in abstract dogmas, moral laws or liturgical rubrics but a Person. Jesus Christ, true God and true man is the center and heart of Christianity. The entire content of Christianity has been abstracted from the person and life of Jesus. To be a Christian means to incarnate these abstractions into our own person so that Christianity is once again a person; a person who has a personal relationship with Jesus.
God: The personal relationship begins with God. “God is love.” The essence of the Trinity is a personal relationship of love between the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. In the Trinity each Person needs the love of the other two Persons to be God.
Creation: The love of God is diffusive of itself. In the beginning God created light, the universe, plants, fish, birds and animals. And he saw that it was good. But it was an impersonal world, a world that was determined by physical, chemical and biological laws and instinct. In this world there was no one with whom he could have a personal relationship. So God said, “Let us make man in our own image.” And so he did. Now he had someone with whom he could have a personal relationship. Now he had someone to whom he could communicate, and someone who could understand and respond freely without compulsion; some one who could love and be loved.
Redemption: When God decided to redeem us he sent a Person, Jesus Christ. “For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him might not perish but might have eternal life.” (John 3:16) And Jesus loved us so much that He gave us Himself. John tells us that “Greater love than this no man has that he lay down his life for his friend.” Paul says that there is a greater love and that is to lay down our life not for our friend but for our enemy. And he reminds us that we were sinners when Jesus laid down his life for us. But there is an ever greater love than this and that is after having laid down his life for his enemies he offer it again in the Eucharist to be rejected and crucified again.
Jesus said that the whole law and the prophets was simply a personal relationship of love. “You shall love the Lord, your God, with all your heart, with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and the greatest commandment. The second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. The whole law and the prophets depend on these two commandments.” (Matt. 23:37-40)
Sanctification: In his Last Discourse Jesus told his disciples, “The Advocate, the Holy Spirit that the Father will send in my name, he will teach you everything and remind you of all that I taught you.” (John 14:26) When Jesus returned to his heavenly Father he sent a Person, the Holy Spirit. Paul tells us that, “The love of God has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit that has been given to us.” (Rom. 5:5)
The theological virtues of faith, hope and love which constitute us as Christians and from which flow every authentic Christian action is essentially a loving, trusting relationship with Jesus. Grace by which we are sanctified is not a thing but essentially a more intense personal relationship of love with Jesus.
Last Things: Heaven is a face to face personal relationship of love with the Blessed Trinity. Hell is a loss of this personal relationship of love with the Blessed Trinity.
And the danger and tragedy is that we can get so concerned with abstract dogmas, moral laws, ecclestical precepts, liturgical rubrics, sacraments and sacramentals, saints, relics, indulgences, devotions and other peripheral truths that we can obscure and perhaps even forget “Christ Our Hope.” We can forget that Jesus is “the way, the truth and the life.”
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