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Jesus Christ is Lord

Twenty-fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Dear sisters and brothers in Christ,

Both the second reading and the passage from the Gospel according to St. Mark proclaimed this Sunday invite us to consider the person of Christ, our relationship with Him and with the rest of humanity with whom we are united by our common human nature irrevocably united to divine nature by virtue of the Incarnation.

When it comes to these questions, there is a very enlightening Church document that is often criticized and very seldom read, entitled Dominus Iesus.

“In contemporary theological reflection there often emerges an approach to Jesus of Nazareth that considers him a particular, finite, historical figure, who reveals the divine not in an exclusive way, but in a way complementary with other revelatory and salvific figures. The Infinite, the Absolute, the Ultimate Mystery of God would thus manifest itself to humanity in many ways and in many historical figures: Jesus of Nazareth would be one of these. More concretely, for some, Jesus would be one of the many faces which the Logos has assumed in the course of time to communicate with humanity in a salvific way.

Furthermore, to justify the universality of Christian salvation as well as the fact of religious pluralism, it has been proposed that there is an economy of the eternal Word that is valid also outside the Church and is unrelated to her, in addition to an economy of the incarnate Word. The first would have a greater universal value than the second, which is limited to Christians, though God’s presence would be more full in the second.

These theses are in profound conflict with the Christian faith. The doctrine of faith must be firmly believed which proclaims that Jesus of Nazareth, son of Mary, and he alone, is the Son and the Word of the Father. The Word, which “was in the beginning with God”‌ (Jn 1:2) is the same as he who “became flesh”‌ (Jn 1:14). In Jesus, “the Christ, the Son of the living God”‌ (Mt 16:16), “the whole fullness of divinity dwells in bodily form”‌ (Col 2:9). He is the “only begotten Son of the Father, who is in the bosom of the Father”‌ (Jn 1:18), his “beloved Son, in whom we have redemption… In him the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, and through him, God was pleased to reconcile all things to himself, on earth and in the heavens, making peace by the blood of his Cross”‌ (Col 1:13-14; 19-20)…

For this reason, the Second Vatican Council states that Christ “the new Adam…’image of the invisible God’ is himself the perfect man who has restored that likeness to God in the children of Adam which had been disfigured since the first sin… As an innocent lamb he merited life for us by his blood which he freely shed. In him God reconciled us to himself and to one another, freeing us from the bondage of the devil and of sin, so that each one of us could say with the apostle: the Son of God ‘loved me and gave himself up for me’”‌.

In this regard, John Paul II has explicitly declared: “To introduce any sort of separation between the Word and Jesus Christ is contrary to the Christian faith… Jesus is the Incarnate Word – a single and indivisible person… Christ is none other than Jesus of Nazareth; he is the Word of God made man for the salvation of all… In the process of discovering and appreciating the manifold gifts – especially the spiritual treasures – that God has bestowed on every people, we cannot separate those gifts from Jesus Christ, who is at the center of God’s plan of salvation”‌…

With the incarnation, all the salvific actions of the Word of God are always done in unity with the human nature that he has assumed for the salvation of all people. The one subject which operates in the two natures, human and divine, is the single person of the Word. …

The Church’s Magisterium, faithful to divine revelation, reasserts that Jesus Christ is the mediator and the universal redeemer: “The Word of God, through whom all things were made, was made flesh, so that as perfect man he could save all men and sum up all things in himself. The Lord…is he whom the Father raised from the dead, exalted and placed at his right hand, constituting him judge of the living and the dead”‌. This salvific mediation implies also the unicity of the redemptive sacrifice of Christ, eternal high priest…

Furthermore, the salvific action of Jesus Christ, with and through his Spirit, extends beyond the visible boundaries of the Church to all humanity. Speaking of the paschal mystery, in which Christ even now associates the believer to himself in a living manner in the Spirit and gives him the hope of resurrection, the Council states: “All this holds true not only for Christians but also for all men of good will in whose hearts grace is active invisibly. For since Christ died for all, and since all men are in fact called to one and the same destiny, which is divine, we must hold that the Holy Spirit offers to all the possibility of being made partners, in a way known to God, in the paschal mystery”‌.

Hence, the connection is clear between the salvific mystery of the Incarnate Word and that of the Spirit, who actualizes the salvific efficacy of the Son made man in the lives of all people, called by God to a single goal, both those who historically preceded the Word made man, and those who live after his coming in history: the Spirit of the Father, bestowed abundantly by the Son, is the animator of all.

Thus, the recent Magisterium of the Church has firmly and clearly recalled the truth of a single divine economy: “The Spirit’s presence and activity affect not only individuals but also society and history, peoples, cultures and religions… The Risen Christ ‘is now at work in human hearts through the strength of his Spirit’… Again, it is the Spirit who sows the ‘seeds of the word’ present in various customs and cultures, preparing them for full maturity in Christ”‌. While recognizing the historical-salvific function of the Spirit in the whole universe and in the entire history of humanity, the Magisterium states: “This is the same Spirit who was at work in the incarnation and in the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus and who is at work in the Church. He is therefore not an alternative to Christ nor does he fill a sort of void which is sometimes suggested as existing between Christ and the Logos. Whatever the Spirit brings about in human hearts and in the history of peoples, in cultures and religions, serves as a preparation for the Gospel and can only be understood in reference to Christ, the Word who took flesh by the power of the Spirit ‘so that as perfectly human he would save all human beings and sum up all things’”‌.

In conclusion, the action of the Spirit is not outside or parallel to the action of Christ. There is only one salvific economy of the One and Triune God, realized in the mystery of the incarnation, death, and resurrection of the Son of God, actualized with the cooperation of the Holy Spirit, and extended in its salvific value to all humanity and to the entire universe: “No one, therefore, can enter into communion with God except through Christ, by the working of the Holy Spirit”‌.”

Fr. Roberto M. Cid