JMC : The Christian Mind / by Dom Anscar Vonier, O.S.B.

Chapter III.
The Role of Christ's Humanity.

Before proceeding with the description of the Christian mind, I think it worth the reader's while to be given an opportunity of understanding more clearly the role of Christ's humanity, in being to man life, and resurrection, and all other things substantively.

It is the human nature, the human element in the Word Incarnate that gives to the Hypostatic Union its proper character, its traditional and wonderful individuality.

To explain all things that make up the riches of our redemption in Christ merely through the infinitude of the divine element in Jesus is a great practical error in the psychology of the Incarnation; Christ's humanity is as indispensable a part for His role as the Life of the world as is His divinity.

It is therefore of the utmost practical importance for the Christian Mind to have such views of the role of our Lord's humanity as to make that most sweet humanity the delight and the deepest object of our mental contemplation, so as to enable us to grasp at one glance the composite perfection of our new life in God, it being an indissoluble and inseparable blending of the Divine and the human.

A not uncommon phrase used with regard to the Incarnation is this: Christ's humanity is said to have been totally absorbed by the Divinity in Him. What pious people mean generally when using such an expression is that Christ's human nature has been brought so completely into line with the Divinity, has been made so absolutely subject to it, and has been sanctified by it so entirely, that it could never be to man an obstacle, when man wants to go directly to God through Christ. According to this view the Godhead in our Lord is so predominant, that practically His humanity is nowhere, and when you are in presence of the Lord, you are in presence of Divinity, pure and simple, for the practice of Christian contemplation.

This view considers Christ's humanity as being in a state of divine passiveness. It is a way of looking at our Lord frequently found in the beginnings of spiritual life, when the mind is for the first time overpowered by the thought of the all-sufficiency of God.

Such beginners, of course, hold more or less theoretically the Christian doctrine that all life and all grace and all redemption come through Christ's humanity as through a divinely appointed mediumship: they know it to be the great element of mediation, though such knowledge does not render the humanity a living part of their thinking minds.

It is really a mental awkwardness in the beginner, an awkwardness resembling in some way the difficulties the Protestant mind has to find joy and rest in the thought that the Saints intercede for us with God. The Protestant mind sees in the Catholic position of the Saints in Heaven an obstacle between man's soul and God.

Now mature Christian sanctity suffers from no awkwardness of that kind. On the contrary, it exults in all things that come from God, and it never feels itself nearer to the fountain head of all goodness than when it contemplates some wonderful created manifestation of God's creative love, and for mature sanctity God is at His best when He creates some wonderful being, giving it existence outside Himself

And such is also the behaviour of ripe wisdom in the mystery of Christ with regard to the humanity in the Incarnation.

Far from considering Christ's humanity as having been absorbed by the Divinity, it rejoices at the thought that the humanity in Jesus is the highest and most potent expression of the Divinity.

The Godhead, instead of absorbing it, brings it out, so to speak, with infinite effect.

Divinity communicates to humanity such potentialities, such vitalities, that no distinction need be made by our mind, as to what is the share of the one or the other in our redemption. It is an undivided result, and an undivided life, the divinised humanity, and the humanised Divinity, being the great life.

The Incarnation is adequately appreciated by those only to whom Christ's humanity is the marvel of marvels, a marvel in which they have their being, in which they live, work, die, and in which they hope to rise again from the dead, in which they find the fulness of the Godhead, as Moses found the fire in the bush.

The astonishing frailty of the human nature being made to flame forth the glory of eternal Godhead, and yet remaining unconsumed, and keeping its native greenness, is the ever refreshing anomaly of Christ's humanity.

"And the Lord appeared to him (Moses) in a flame of fire out of the midst of a bush: and he saw that the bush was on fire, and was not burnt. And Moses said, I will go and see this great sight why the bush is not burnt" (Ex. iii. 2 3).

Far from considering Christ's humanity as having been absorbed by the divine element, the saint rejoices at the great discovery he is sooner or later privileged to make, that the ever blessed humanity is the highest, and the most active, and the most insistent expression of the Divinity; Hypostatic Union enhances its native realities in an infinite degree.

It is God's most astonishing production, it is the effect of what I may call supercreation, of an incomprehensibly high scale of perfection, a creation through which Divine personality is given to an individual nature, instead of an ordinary finite mode of existence. And although the saint knows that Christ's human nature is something that is inferior to the Divine nature in Him, he knows that this inferiority has been practically bridged over in the Hypostatic Union, that there are in that mystery such resources of life and power, that at no point are we in contact with anything, in our Lord, that does not bear the stamp of some infinitude, and there are no banks to that stream of life, which is Christ Jesus.

In sacred theology are contained the metaphysical principles that explain how, with the relative superiority of the divine element in our Lord over His humanity, this same humanity is yet a full and total cause of our higher life with God.

In our practical thinking we need not make any such distinction, just as we do not distinguish between a man's soul and a man's body when we think of some amiable person.

We walk up bravely to that Person, Jesus, such as He stands before us, and we find Him to be infinite truth and infinite grace.

In all His manifestations, in the phases of His career, He is the one great wonder of heaven and earth, and our mind rejoices in Him exceedingly and endlessly.

"And evidently great is the mystery of godliness, which was manifested in the flesh, was justified in the spirit, appeared unto Angels, hath been preached unto the gentiles, is believed in the world, is taken up in glory" (i Tim. iii. 16).

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