|"The Savior" by Juan de Juanes|
It’s so hard for us to fully accept that the Infinite God of the Universe could fully inhabit a human body, and be both True God and True Man. I’m reminded of how thorny a problem this is for us every year when I discuss the Christological Heresies with my adolescent religion students. The Arians could accept the human Jesus, but not his Divinity; the Docetists had no problem with Christ the Son of God, but they were sure his Humanity was just a show; the Monophysites could understand that Jesus was both man and God, but insisted that he had only one, Divine, nature . . . and so on.
These and numerous other incomplete answers to the puzzle presented to our finite minds by the Incarnate Second Person of the Trinity have been with us from the earliest days of the Church to the present day. The Council of Chalcedon gave a definitive answer in A.D. 451, when it declared that Christ is
made known in two natures without confusion [i.e. mixture], without change, without division, without separation, the difference of the natures being by no means removed because of the union, but the property of each nature being preserved and coalescing in one prosopon [person] and one hupostasis [subsistence]--not parted or divided into two prosopa[persons], but one and the same Son, only-begotten, divine Word, the Lord Jesus Christ.
As hard as it is to accept that Jesus Christ is both fully God and a true man with a human body, however, we are asked to accept an even harder teaching: that the same body is truly present in the Eucharistic bread and wine offered up at every Mass. Furthermore, as Christ Himself tells us,
Truly, truly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of man and drink his blood, you have no life in you; he who eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day. For my flesh is food indeed, and my blood is drink indeed. (John 6:55-57)
Many of his disciples found this teaching too hard to accept, and went away. Today’s Solemnity of The Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ reminds, however, as Peter points out (John 6:68), that we have nowhere else to go, and only by eating the Body and Drinking the Blood of the God-Become-Man can we share in his eternal life.
There’s the wonder. Christ has a human body, and so the Infinite God shares in our humanity; not only that, He shares that body with us in the Eucharist, and thereby lets us participate in His divinity. No wonder we call it “Gospel”, that is, “Good News.” Yes, it is hard to believe, but, as today’s feast reminds us, it’s The Truth.
Links For The Week
I have been doing most of my blogging at Nisi Dominus lately. This past week saw a couple of inspiring women who gave their lives for the faith, the final installment of my series on the Liturgy of the Hours, and more. Please feel free to explore the links below:
Monday May 23rd: The power of Christian witness - “St. Julia of Corsica: A Saint For Our Time”
Wednesday May 25th: We can find at least a few minutes during the day to pray with the whole Church - “Daytime Prayer Sanctifies Our Labors”
Thursday May 26th: With a little help from (non-Catholic) authors Henry Adams and Ursula LeGuin we consider the Church’s power of endurance: “Those Who Love Him Will Follow His Commandments”
The assault on the family is nothing new: “Blessed Margaret Pole, Martyr For Church And Marriage”
A beautiful musical celebration of the True Presence: “William Byrds’s ‘Ave Verum Corpus’”