Thursday, December 6, 2007

In hope we were saved

I have just begun to read through Spe Salvi and I came across this statement on page 4.

“Paul illustrates the essential problem of the religion of that time quite accurately when he contrasts life “according to Christ” with life under the dominion of the “elemental spirits of the universe” (Col 2:8). In this regard a text by Saint Gregory Nazianzen is enlightening. He says that at the very moment when the Magi, guided by the star, adored Christ the new king, astrology came to an end, because the stars were now moving in the orbit determined by Christ.”

I found this interesting because for the past several months I have been reading through Introduction to Christianity (written as Cardinal Ratzinger). In it he makes a similar statement in reference to the incarnation. That the incarnation consumed all myth.
Put another way the incarnation, when properly understood, fulfills the hope of human myth and legend. If all human religion is understood as the innate longing for God then it is may be said that in some sense all religion is good in that it expresses a desire toward God, which has been placed in us by God. However, it is not good in that this desire for union with God will always be confounded by our limits as compared to His limitlessness. We can not ascend to God ever. He always remains beyond our reach. The closer we get to God the more glorious He becomes and therefore the distance between what I am and He is becomes greater and greater. I am reminded of Genesis 3.16 where the woman is told that your desire will be for your husband but he will rule over you. The desire is for closeness but she will experience distance. Then it follows that the greatest hope (and the greatest good) of human kind is that either we become more God-like or that God become more Human-like and thus bridge the gap. The incarnation provided both.
Moreover, the incarnation of Christ not only fulfills the desire of all myth and religion but goes beyond them. The God-man is not half man half God. Jesus Christ is fully God and fully man. The Christ is not resurrected to die again in an endless cycle, His resurrection is once for all. Jesus does not simply overcome evil he destroys it and eliminates the final consequence of it. In Christ is the national hope of Israel for a messiah and the natural hope of all humans for a hero. Christ is the hope of all, though many do not know it.

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