Negation: Chapter IV

peter_paul_rubens_-_christ_on_the_cross_between_the_two_thieves_-_wga20235
“Christ On the Cross Between the Two Thieves”, Peter Paul Rubens.

Chapter IV – The Redemption

Original Sin introduced the privation of friendship and communion with the Divinity. After Adam and Eve were chased out of Eden, enmity, conflict, injustice and chaos entered the material Creation and the human society. To the Fall of the First Parents was joined the Proto-Gospel, the promise of the Redeemer who would restore the Order destroyed by the Fault and re-introduce supernatural Grace into the human soul.

“I will put enmity between you and the woman,                                                     and between your offspring and hers;                                                                                                  They will strike at your head,

while you strike at their heel.*” (Genesis 3:15)

The promise of the Savior was revealed through the power of the Woman who would conquer the Serpent and crush his head. The Son of the Woman, the Christ would effect the Redemption of the human race and re-establish the filiation of the human creature.

Salvation history is the Divine quest by the Triune God for the restitution of the moral order and of the spiritual relationship between the Divinity and humanity. The Fall of Adam and Eve resulted in the loss of Divine communion, the enmity between man and man and in Divine chastisements that represented paternal attempts at correction: the first murder of Abel by Cain, the episode of the tower of Babel, the cataclysm of the universal deluge, the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah reveal instances that are consequences of human degeneration and of the human inability to achieve moral rectitude apart from divine grace. Man had come into bondage with the Evil One who reigned over humanity and sowed corruption within the human heart. He was in need of Redemption and of divine assistance.

The Divine Plan and purpose unfolded over millennia. Yahweh God selected among damned mankind, those members that were spiritually alive, lived according to his moral commands and offered an acceptable religious sacrifice in order to operate the regeneration of the human species. The Divinity established a bond of covenant with the first Patriarchs of humanity, – Seth, Noah, Abraham, Moses – teaching them to observe his statutes, his laws, and his commands in His attempt at realizing the Salvation of the human race. In His Divine pedagogy, the Triune God sought to form the spirit of man, give moral life to his soul, and consecrate his flesh.

The dawn of human civilization contributed to moral corruption and the erection of an order of life dissociated from religious sanctity and righteousness. Humanity became separated between the sons of man ruled by commerce with evil, and the sons of Heaven , the descendance of Seth, who lived according to the commands of God. The degeneration of moral life presented a threat to the generation of Seth affected over time and contaminated in their lineage, by the rampant dissolution on the Earth such that moral goodness was on the path of extinction. God repented of the creation of man and decreed in His Just counsel, a Deluge of water that would cleanse the global Earth of evil; all members of the human race perished in the Flood except 8 human persons led by the patriarch Noah, who with his family and the animal species, took refuge in an Ark and survived the cataclysm.

Despite the renovation of the Deluge, the human race resumed its habits of vice and irreligion, in contradiction of attempts by the Divinity to grant virtuous justice. The episode at Babel and the chastisement of Sodom and Gomorrah reveal human hearts moved by acting pride and sensual lust that dominated their love and prevented them from achieving true righteousness. Yahweh directed history towards the erection of a people of adoptive sons, He established a covenant with Abraham to whom He promised through his son Isaac, a descendance, numerous as the grains of sand in the desert, that would settle in Canaan. Abraham, tributed for his great faith in his friendship with God, and a holy obedience that led him to sacrifice even his own miraculous son Isaac in response to the Divinity’s request, is the father of the Hebrew peoples. The Hebrew peoples grew in number and upon a famine in Canaan, emigrated to Egypt. There, they increased in population and power, and perceiving their threat, the Pharaoh of Egypt held them under the bondage of slavery for 400 years. The Israelites were used as a force of manual labor and subjected to material poverty and human exploitation.

Moses represents the greatest prophet of Israel. The story of Moses is Messianic in certain respects since it portrays the leader as the Liberator of Israel and the authentic messenger of Divine justice and the bearer of Divine revelation. The account of his origin as a baby that escaped the infanticide ordered by Pharaoh stands as a parallel to the arrival of the Messiah who was the object of persecution from the first moments of His earthly life. Moses was placed in a papyrus basket by his mother Jochebed on the river Nile after he had been hidden for three months, and was found by Pharaoh’s daughter who was bathing in the body of water.

[…]

At the fullness of time, the Messiah could become incarnate of the Woman. The Woman, a virgin consecrated to the Temple, was named Mary and was chosen by the Eternal Word to be the God-bearer, the Theotokos, the Mother of God. St Gabriel, the beloved Archangel of glad tidings announced to the young woman, the glory of the Incarnation:

“[26] And in the sixth month, the angel Gabriel was sent from God into a city of Galilee, called Nazareth, [27] To a virgin espoused to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David; and the virgin’ s name was Mary. [28] And the angel being come in, said unto her: Hail, full of grace, the Lord is with thee: blessed art thou among women. [29] Who having heard, was troubled at his saying, and thought with herself what manner of salutation this should be. [30] And the angel said to her: Fear not, Mary, for thou hast found grace with God.

 

[31] Behold thou shalt conceive in thy womb, and shalt bring forth a son; and thou shalt call his name Jesus. [32] He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the most High; and the Lord God shall give unto him the throne of David his father; and he shall reign in the house of Jacob for ever. [33] And of his kingdom there shall be no end. [34] And Mary said to the angel: How shall this be done, because I know not man? [35] And the angel answering, said to her: The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the most High shall overshadow thee. And therefore also the Holy which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God.” – Luke 1:26-35

The Woman was specially created by the Divinity to be the One to bear God to the world. She was “full of grace”, that is, her soul was animated with the fullness of the charity and of the justice that was the character of her immaculate purity. It was necessary that this perfect Ark of the new Religion be inviolate and incorrupt, for it would be the select receptacle of the Divinity, the abode of the Eternal Word incarnate from Her holy flesh; an Ark of the new Covenant with God that would teach the Son of God in wisdom, grace, justice, and love. The Immaculate Virgin was the necessary instrument in the realization of the Redemption of the human race; Her fiat to the word of the Archangel was the beautiful key that opened the Gate of Heaven, the Heart of God, permitting the Word to descend personally from Heaven and indwell physically in Her virginal womb. It was the fullness of times, in Mary, humanity had reached the maturity of justice and of holiness that would merit the vision of the human Face of God. Mary, in her subjection to the Divine Will, was the Co-Redemptrix, the New Eve who in Her humility and complete obedience to the Divine Wish would restore the order destroyed by the Fault of the “mother of the living”.

lJesus-Christ, True God and True Man, was the Messiah, the universal Savior of the human race. The Head of humanity, He is the new Adam, the one who through filial, loving, and free obedience to the Will of the Father – an obedience that concluded in the ignominy of the Death on the Wood of the Cross – canceled Original Sin, repaired the Honor of the Father, and restored supernatural and sanctifying Grace, in the communion of the Holy Spirit. The Christ, came in the poverty of a manger, in the innocence of a baby, in the simplicity of a peasant. A King, He subjected Himself to slavery in order to redeem mankind held in bondage to the Devil.

“[5] For let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus:

[6] Who being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: [7] But emptied himself, taking the form of a servant, being made in the likeness of men, and in habit found as a man. [8] He humbled himself, becoming obedient unto death, even to the death of the cross. [9] For which cause God also hath exalted him, and hath given him a name which is above all names: [10] That in the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those that are in heaven, on earth, and under the earth:

[11] And that every tongue should confess that the Lord Jesus Christ is in the glory of God the Father.” Philippians 2:5-11

The holy slavery of Christ consisted in his subjection as a Divine Person, to the limitedness and the contingency of a soul incarnate in a flesh, to the finitude of the laws of nature, to the submission to human creatures, to the humiliation of a material poverty that contradicted His Dignity as the King, to the willing acceptance and the exposure to the trial of moral, human, and spiritual temptations, to the loving embrace of suffering which stood against the Goodness of His Divine Nature, and ultimately, to the horror of death and the Crime of trespassing on a Cross, a most unjust end.

Equal in Eternity, Omnipotence, Wisdom, and Nature to God His loving Father, the Christ humbled Himself by assuming the human nature, a human Person, as Yahweh created for Him a soul hypostatically united to the Word and infused into a most Perfect Flesh. Emmanuel, signifies “God is with us”, and reveals the negation and the self-denial of the act of the Incarnation. Cbrist “emptied himself”, that is, He took on a new mode of existence, a human, material, and limited mode of existence. St. Thomas Aquinas notes that:

“He says, therefore, He emptied himself. But since He was filled with the divinity, did He empty Himself of that? No, because He remained what He was; and what He was not, He assumed. But this must be understood in regard to the assumption of what He had not, and not according to the assumption of what He had. For just as He descended from heaven, not that He ceased to exist in heaven, but because He began to exist in a new way on earth, so He also emptied Himself, not by putting off His divine nature, but by assuming a human nature. “(Commentary on Philippians Chapter 2-2)

There was no resulting change in Eternity, Omnipotence, Wisdom, Nature and the other Divine attributes, though God entered Time and made His dwelling among men. He robed Himself with human flesh, endowed with senses, and with a rational Soul blessed with perfect Intellect and Will, that is, Reason and Freedom. The God-Man, as a slave, subjected His most holy Body to the laws of gestation in the finite and limited womb of the Immaculate Virgin. The humility of God found in the innocence of an Infant, and the Divinity veiled behind the simplicity and the ordinary character of Body, Blood and Soul. The Star announced the arrival to the Magi, and to the Israelites, of the Messiah, the King of the Jews in Bethlehem of Judah while the angels revealed to the shepherds the coming of the Incarnate Word: Emmanuel. The Incarnate Word obeyed in His Humanity the goodness of the laws of nature, confining His human Body to the single location of space and the temporality of time. He accepted in His loving Goodness the submission to the laws of the animal life subject to the material needs of food, drink, shelter, fatigue, and sleep.

Emmanuel was born in material poverty, a condition that revealed His consummate humility, a humiliation that contradicted His reality as King, a King of a spiritual Kingdom that reigned within human hearts and was to be at the center of human political society. The Son of God came in the destitution of a manger, a naissance among an ox and a donkey unknown to the world, except to the three Magi and the shepherds. He lived in Nazareth throughout His hidden life and was taught by His putative father, the trade of the carpenter. The Christ merited palaces and subjects to rule, instead, He elected to take the condition of a slave and identify materially with the misery of the human condition.

“[57] And it came to pass, as they walked in the way, that a certain man said to him: I will follow thee whithersoever thou goest. [58] Jesus said to him: The foxes have holes, and the birds of the air nests; but the Son of man hath not where to lay his head.” – Luke 9:57-58

The Redeemer wedded human poverty and extolled it in His example, as a virtue of the Christian religion. His Messianic ministry of three years was certainly clandestine as He journeyed to cities preaching the good news of the Kingdom of Heaven, performing miracles, freeing the possessed from demons, and forming and enkindling Charity in the hearts of the believers. Religious orders throughout history have understood this vocation, and the poverty of Christ has been celebrated as a model to imitate in order to obtain detachment from worldly possessions and from the spiritus mundi, the finality of which is holiness towards the attainment of the blessedness of Heaven.

In His poverty, the God-Man deprived His body from the comforts of sense; in his submission, He subjected His Intellect to the direction of human creatures. The holy slavery of Christ consists in his subjection to the authority of His holy Parents, who educated Him in the holy observance of the Law of Moses, and in the justice, and of the Charity of which they were animated. The Savior, a Divine Person, assented to the counsel, the wisdom, and the judgement of human creatures, conforming thus, His acts to the Divine Will of the Eternal Father.

Jesus Christ, was subjected through His Humanity to serious temptations that perfected His Spirit and glorified His Soul. He lived in the world, in which reigns “the concupiscence of the flesh, and the concupiscence of the eyes, and the pride of life, which is not of the Father, but is of the world.” (1 John 2:16) The Devil sought to destroy His Holiness, lead Him to glorify Himself, and reject the Will of the Father, which was the Redemption of the human race through the Pain of the Cross. The Divinity testified to the Messianic character of the God-Man on the day of His baptism by St. John the Baptist; led to the desert by the Holy Spirit, Christ fasted for forty days and forty nights, at the term of which, He was tempted by the Devil. He was tried to glorify Himself as the Son of God: through food, through power, and through glory. The Devil endeavored to lead the Christ away from His mission, by testing His Flesh, His Spirit, and His Divinity, seducing Him to conceive Himself as the Head of the human race – for He is the Word, the Cause of Grace, the Teacher of all rational creatures, and the King of all spirits – apart from the loving Plan of Divine Redemption.

Jesus loved suffering, composing with His daily sacrifices, The Poem of the Man-God, a poem of love and of passion, of mercy and of power, of virtue and of perfection. Suffering represents a contradiction of the Divine Goodness, for it propounds to oppose its reality and its force. Yet, Christ embraced suffering with placid peace and loving meekness, a true Lamb conformed to the pattern of the Cross in His daily Acts, a pattern that shone in His powerful teaching, that was revealed in His wondrous miracles, and that was testified to in His loving Charity. The Redeemer suffered from the material misery of hunger and the lack of his bodily and sensory needs, the passionate thorns of betrayal and rejection, the mental and the spiritual nails of incredulity, opposition, and derision. Emmanuel was the suffering servant, prophesied by the prophet Isaiah. The incredulity of men, a mass of the damned dead to supernatural Grace, and the Hate of the Devil resulted in the consummation of the Plan of Salvation: the Wood of the Tree that restores supernatural Life, the ignominious Cross. Love begot Horror, the Father abandoned His Son, and The Poem reached its conclusion.

The Redemption that commenced at the Incarnation found its summit, and its center in the immutable Act of the Passion of the Christ on the Cross. Christ operated the Redemption by revealing the Trinity of the Divinity throughout His ministry: the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. “[5] And the light shineth in darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it.” (John 1:5) Christ is the Light that enlightens and illumines the human race, and a light that gives life, a supernatural, spiritual, and material life to the human person. A Light that taught with authority, forming intellects, freeing souls from the power of the Devil, and reconstructing the moral law, the divine law, and granting the possession of the Kingdom through a novel infusion of sanctifying grace in the human life. The Light, shone in the darkness of the world, of Israel, of paganism and could not be overcome. This Light, this Word, revealed in its rays the Wisdom of God and the Power of Charity. This Word Incarnate, perfected the Law and fulfilled prophecy to the letter; He dominated the elements and ruled over men; He revealed in His lucid preaching the judgements of God on the House of Israel: Apostasy and Deicide. In Its Power, this Light cancelled Sin, and destroyed the darkness of ignorance in the human soul. This Light, redeemed. The Flesh, too, cooperated. On the darkness of the Cross, was the complete Immolation of the Person of the Son: Body, Blood, and Soul. On the Cross, Christ offered His Person as Divine Food and Eternal Vision for the human being. The flogging expiated the impurity of the flesh, the crown of thorns destroyed the pride of man, the nails consecrated the Priestly offering of the King and Eternal Priest according to the order of Melchizedek, the wood restored life constituting the ladder, the Bridge between Heaven and Earth.

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