Wednesday, February 10, 2010
When Jesus came, He did not write out a law on paper. He spread His word by mouth and action to His apostles and all who listened, and trusted that they would pass it down to us. He later sent His Spirit to guide them in this passing down of His teachings, so that we who live 2,000 years later do not lose sight of it. This is part of the reason why the Church both relies on the written word and tradition. What does Christ manner of teaching point out to us?
It is obvious from the life of Christ that we are to keep Him and His law alive in our hearts... a living, breathing consciousness of Christ. If we have Him alive in our hearts in this manner, then the teachings of the Church are merely adding seed to the already lush soil. If we have Christ within us, then we will have consciences well formed and have the ability to recognize Him.
What do I mean when I speak of recognition? I mean that through the merits of this living word within us we can recognize Christ in other people and situations. For instance, where right and wrong is concerned, we should be able to recognize Christ's right because we have adopted His reasoning. When we suffer trials, we should be able to recognize Christ on the horizon and see the goods in His arms waiting for us. When we are speaking to others, we should recognize two things. First we should recognize Christ in them, and secondly we must recognize the agonized love that Christ feels in their trials. This is basic if we have received Christ with open hearts.
However, recognition of Christ goes further even than this. We come to recognize Him in a supernatural, rather than a natural manner. If Christ lives in us and has given us even the smallest gifts of virtue, we will begin to see Him in other ways as well. The Eucharist is a perfect example, one who has faith living in his heart can recognize Christ in the Eucharist. Wisdom is another example, for one who habitually relies on Christ for his information will find wisdom. Longing for heaven is another, for although we cannot perceive heaven, the supernatural being within us will cause us to hope for something more. Indeed, Christ Himself is not confined to human nature... and through merit of His life within us, neither are we.
Recognition of Christ in a very personal manner becomes especially necessary when we are seeking our vocation. Because He wants only good for us, recognizing our vocation is essentially recognizing His Will. This isn't always easy, because one who is seeking his vocation is still growing and does not yet perceive Christ as well as he could. Not only must we come to recognize Christ beckoning us to a certain path, but we must also come to recognize His voice. However, if Christ lives within us then His life is constantly enveloping us more and more, thus causing our lives to become His, and consequently moved to recognition of His presence.
When Christ gave us an example to follow through His life, He did a marvelous thing. He was not showing us how to fish or play a game or work... what He taught us was not specific actions that we should do. Rather, He showed us how to grow, how to cultivate God's life within us, so that we could continue to learn more and more through that life's working in our hearts. He spent forty days in the desert, fasting and suffering temptation, because this shows us that we must prepare our minds and hearts to receive God. He often went alone to pray, to show us that prayer should be the center of our life and all we do. He gave us the beatitudes, which can be used so broadly that they can be summed up in one word: peace. Christ's death on the Cross and the Perpetual Sacrifice which He offered show us the depth of love, and teach us to bear the fruit of His love. Thus, through His living example, that continues to live in us, we have the seeds of growth... not specific actions or words, but a seed that can grow and advance to all other things in us.
Because God knew that we could not keep a dead covenant, He sent us a living one. The more we allow Christ's Work in us, the more we follow His example for cultivating the seed of the Gospel, the more self-sufficient we become through His life in us. Self-sufficient, but at the same time more and more dependent, for we depend on a life within us, the life of Christ, which can sustain itself through its infinite knowledge.