A Pilgrim's Catechism
The Occasional Thoughts of a 21st-Century Roman Catholic on Journey
Towards the Reign of God
Christ Pantocrator, St. Catherine's Monastery, Mt. Sinai, 6th-7th century
How is God present in world? In human beings? Especially in Jesus Christ?
God exists in an eternal now without past or future. His being is without limit. His one, eternal, unchanging act is his being and his being is his act. God creates but he does not begin creating or cease creating. He creates in the one act that is his being. If God is without limit, his creation, because it is not God, has limits. Creation subsists as matter/energy displaying itself for us in time (past, present and future) and space (here and there).
God is present to all of creation as a cause is present in its effect. The world can only continue to be because God is present to it. God is present to the world through his uncreated but begotten Word.
God shares his life with his intelligent worldly creatures, human beings, through the Word. Human beings can only accept that life, not on their own, but in the power of the Spirit. It is the acceptance of the gift of divine life through the Word in the power of the Spirit that constitutes and defines a human being from the first moment of their existence in the womb. This first moment occurs when the fetus is developed enough physically to support self-consciousness with the Spirit supplying the language that is required for created reasoning and decison. Reasoning and decision are necessary even at the first moment so that a person is always responsible for who they are. Spirit-infused sub-conscious language remains continually present underlying the later acquisition of culturally-acquired conscious language. It is in the power of the Spirit then that humans grow in divine life and come gradually to understand and consciously to articulate what the Word speaks and offers once and for all in every moment to everyone.
The acceptance of the gift of divine life in the first moment of existence is ordinarily a partial acceptance. In the unchanging act that is God’s being, the gift of divine life is always offered through the Word in the power of the Holy Spirit at every moment in a person’s life, even when it has been rejected in sin. Hopefully human life becomes a journey of growth in divine life continued into the world to come.
In one of us, in the Lord Jesus Christ, the initial response to the offered gift of divine life is perfect. There is not merely a sharing in divine life. Divinity and humanity join in the God-human Jesus: the Word becomes flesh. Divinity does not swallow up humanity. God does not merely take upon himself the appearance of being human. Nor does a human being dress themself in the accoutrements of God. Jesus is truly God and truly human.
The eternal, unchanging Word, spoken by God once and for all, principally experienced by humans at the depth of their being, is now made manifest in the world in a human body, in Jesus, to be seen, heard and touched.
God who saves humanity from their sins and the effect of sin at every moment by the one, unchanging gift of divine life now saves through the God-human, Jesus Christ.
The giving, receiving and sharing that is the inner life of God, the one, true sacrifice, is made manifest in the world in Jesus Christ whose existence as God-human is that same eternal sacrifice made visible, at every moment of Jesus' life, but at no time more clearly shown than by his death on the Cross.