FAITH OF OUR FATHERS

Total Salvation in Christ

As we move towards the climax of Lent we are confronted ever more directly by the mysterious fact that this is God, the true Son of God, who is going up to suffer death in the flesh on our behalf. Only God himself could heal the breach between humanity and himself, which we had brought about by the sinful choice to go it alone, to make life in this material world according to our own designs.

From that choice of independence from God, described to us in the fall of Adam and Eve, a choice which we have all repeated in one way or another, follow all the catastrophes which are written large in the media: wars, famines, pestilences, death and Hades. These in turn lock mankind into its state of self-concern; and the separations of disobedience from God proliferate in the separations and mutual hostilities of men and women in relation to one another. They end in the final separation of death.

Only God, from his side, could overcome these separations and set creation on its way again to becoming a new creation, united with himself, as he had intended from the beginning. In sending his Son into our midst as true man, God did what would have been necessary anyway to complete his purpose of gathering all things into Christ, to be united and made new in himself. Christ appeared among us, not just as any other human person, but as the Man destined from the beginning of creation to be the Head and High Priest of a perfected human race. The human life this Man lived was not just a sign of his own perfection, but the very fount and goal of the perfection of each one of the rest of us.

That is why, when the Son of God became the Son of Man, he did not begin by taking an already perfected humanity. He took our weakened, sin-wounded humanity, and lived by it without sin in that obedience to the Father which was natural to him as the Son of God.

We then, especially at this season, do well to contemplate and marvel at the Son of God being tempted, feeling tired and hungry, suffering insults and rejection, being beaten and shedding his lifeblood for us, and dying on the Cross. Yet this unique Man, even in his suffering and death continued to be wholly united with the saving will of God, and so, having met and vanquished Satan and death, he was raised from the dead to the glory of the Father.

This same Jesus Christ accomplished all of this as the head of your life and mine. We who are baptized into him, who call upon his name, and who recall his saving works in his Eucharist `have not a high priest who is unable to sympathise with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sinning. Let us then draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need' (Heb. 4. 15-16).

In his sight, we do not have to pretend that we are other than he sees us to be in our weaknesses and temptations. Our confidence lies in the fact that he, who is `God from God', has assumed every aspect of our own humanity and has opened it up to the sanctification of the Holy Spirit. Father Gregory C.S.W.G.

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