Monday, January 2, 2017

"the absence of any separation in Christ between his decision and its realization"

"to the Father's decision to hand over his Son must correspond the Son's decision to hand himself over.  Where should we locate this decision in the life of Jesus?  At the very beginning:  the baptism in the river Jordan already signifies Jesus' free choice to be numbered among sinners and engulfed with them in the waters of death, in order to emerge into paschal life.  We could say the same about the prayer on the mountain of the Transfiguration.  The effect of this prayer of consent to the Father's will is the anticipated gift of the glory of the Resurrrection, which shines forth on the Lord's body.
     "The Son's entire life, then, is a ratification of the Father's plan.  And yet, nothing has been accomplished until the effects of this ratification are communicable to others.  For this, it is necessary for Christ to give to those who believe in him the grace of the possibility of sharing in his decision.  This is what takes place in the Eucharist.
     "The words pronounced during the Last Supper express a decision. . . .
     ". . . It is still only a decision, since the event to which it corresponds is yet to come.  Yet this decision is already efficacious, so that the disciples present at the last meal participate, by anticipation, in the reality that it announces.  How is this possible?  Quite simply, if we can put it thus, it is thanks to the absence of any separation in Christ between his decision and its realization.  This is so in spite of the temporal interval.
     "This clashes with our everyday experience.  There is not only a temporal gap between our decisions and their execution; the gap is above all qualitative.  The promises we make, even the most solemn, are more or less hypothetical, and if we do not end up entirely denying them, we never fully fulfill them.  It is completely different for Christ:  his decision is of such a nature that he can already, before the actual event, share in its fruits.  This is so in spite of the bitter agony of Gethsemane, which shows how much it cost him to go to the very end of his kenosis, without in any way questioning the decision itself, of which the kenosis is the fruit:  'No one takes my life from me, but I lay it down of my own accord.  I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it up again' (Jn 10:17-18).
     "If Jesus has the power to give his life (no one takes it from him), it is not by virtue of some magical ability, but by virtue of his love for the Father and for his brothers, which brings his filial obedience to perfection.  And if he has the power to take it up again (that is, in the Resurrection), it is not by virtue of a Docetism that would have him appear dead when he is really not, but because the way in which he died was fatal to death.  If the Father resurrrected him, 'it is not his death that pleased the Father, but the will of the one who freely died' [(Bernard of Clairvaux, De erroribus Petri Abaelardi, 8, 21 (PL ;182, 1070)].
     "The disciple, in turn, by sharing sacramentally in Jesus' decision, can draw the necessary strength to live his own decision to the end. . . ."

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