Jesus Christ


The Son of God became man to share our condition
and enable us to participate in His divinity.

As far as historians are concerned, there is no doubt as to the actual existence of Jesus. It is attested that he lived two thousand years ago, at the beginning of our system of dating. He was crucified by order of Pontius Pilate and, during the following centuries, the faith which he inspired among his disciples was to become a determining factor in the history of the Roman Empire, and the rest of the western world. At the turn of the third millennium, this faith is still flourishing.

The Christian faith professes that Jesus is the Son of God, that he himself is God. As we have already pointed out, the divine plan is to bring about the salvation of mankind by offering us the chance to enter into communion with the three persons of the Trinity, the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. In order to allow us to participate in this mystery, it was necessary to create a living connection with us, and this was done through the Incarnation. One of the three became one of us, he came to share in our human condition so that we might dwell in their love. The mystery of the Trinity is, then, part of the mystery of the Incarnation: the Son of God became "the Son of Man."

This mystery is the inspiration behind some fundamental sections of the New Testament, and in particular the poetic prologue to the Gospel according to Saint John: "In the beginning was the Word: the Word was with God and the Word was God....The Word became flesh, He lived among us, and we saw His glory .... No one has ever seen God; it is the only Son, who is close to the Father's heart, who has made him known." (John 1:1,14,18). The "Word", in its primary sense, here signifies the word conceived in the thought of God. This God born of God (Credo) was born in Bethlehem of the Virgin Mary, an event celebrated by the festival of Christmas.

The Son of God was announced under the name of Jesus - in Hebrew Yehoshuah or Yeshuah - which literally means "Yahweh has saved" or, more simply, "salvation". When the Angel of the Lord appears to Joseph in the first pages of the New Testament, he explains to him the essence of this mission of salvation. ["You must name him Jesus, because he is the one who is to save his people from their sins." Matthew 1:21. The identity of Jesus is abbreviated in the letters of the Greek word ichthus (fish): "Jesus Christ, Son of God, Savior." This is why, in the catacombs, the fish is one of the symbols of Christ.]

Jesus has been given the additional name of "Christ" which, in Greek, means "anointed" (christos) as it also does in the Hebrew "Messiah" (mashiach). The Christian tradition in fact recognizes his triple anointment as king, prophet and priest, which makes of him simultaneously the heir to King David and the great prophet whom Israel was awaiting (and whom the Jews are still awaiting today). The anointment which he received is that of the Holy Spirit, the Love which unites the persons of the Trinity, and which was clearly expressed by the Father during his baptism in the Jordan . [This is my Son, the Beloved; my favor rests on him." Matthew 3:17.] When they are baptized, then confirmed, Christians also receive this anointment of the Holy Spirit and so become other christs, for Jesus was to be "the eldest of many brothers" (Romans 8:29).

Jesus can also be called Immanuel, which the Angel of the Lord we have already cited translates as "God-is-with-us". [Matthew 1:23. Cf. also Isaiah 7:14] Immanuel has, in the unity of His being, both divine and human nature "without confusion, without change, without division, without separation," according to the venerable phrase of the Council of Chalcedon. At once God and man, He becomes the mediator of a New Covenant, He is the "bridge" between heaven and earth. This is the true meaning of "pontiff" (in Latin pontifex, a "bridgebuilder"). At the head of the priesthood, the Sovereign Pontiff represents the Priest-Christ in his role as a mediator, just as each bishop does in his diocese.

From this mystery of the Incarnation, conceived as an act of mediation, Christianity derives a full range of symbolism: a physical gesture such as the laying-on of hands, or earthly produce such as water, bread and wine, take on a spiritual dimension in the sacraments. By becoming man, Christ magnifies all of our images, since the depiction of God now becomes possible.

The excesses caused by the creation of images even brought about a violent quarrel which led to the eighth-century movement of iconoclasm. The Second Council of Nicaea settled the question in 787 by the resolution that holy images were orthodox.

Both the West and the East have faithfully observed these commands. They have created a large cultural heritage of masterpieces depicting the Son of God as a man, from the Good Shepherd of the Catacombs to Rouault's Christ. Mosaics, frescoes, statues, paintings and Eastern icons have been produced by image-makers in prayer and fasting. Churches and museums teem with paintings of a highly religious inspiration. Only the Reformation of Calvin, for whom God was a spirit, forbade any decoration with such images on the bare, austere altars on which the sacred rite is celebrated. The Lutherans have adapted a more moderate position.

Jesus' divine humanity is perfectly expressed in the Transfiguration, which revealed His human face illuminated with divine glory before the apostles Peter, James and John. The Transfiguration was intended to strengthen their faith just at the moment when Christ was about to pass from this world to His Father's side by means of the Cross of Redemption. It lights up the disfigured face of the crucified Christ, who had sacrificed Himself completely to the very end of His life on earth. ["There in their presence he was transfigured: his face shone like the sun...." Matthew 17:2.]

Self Esteem

“No one can make you feel inferior without your consent."
Eleanor Roosevelt

Self-esteem is feeling worth and able to meet life's challenges. It is as essential as the air we breathe, and just as intangible. It comes from the depths of our core, yet it is reflected in every single outward action we take, grand or small. It is the essence from which we measure our worth and the most important building block in the foundation of our psyches.

If self-esteem is a lesson that you need to learn, you will be tested over and over until you feel confident about who you are and understand and believe in your intrinsic value. Your body may provide you with enough opportunities to work on this lesson throughout your entire lifetime.

Your body may teach you the lesson of self-esteem by testing your willingness to view yourself as worthy, regardless of what you look like or how your body performs. A certain brother is a public speaker who has had two major accidents in his life: first, a motorcycle accident set 90 percent of his body on fire, and then several years later, a small plane crash broke his back and put him in a wheelchair for the rest of his life. Through many years of hard inner work, he came to realize that in spite of his circumstances, he could live a fulfilled life as long as he approached it with the right attitude. Rather than dwelling on all the things he cannot do, he now focuses on those things he can do. He feels his life's work is to inspire audiences.

Support

"There are two ways of spreading light:
to be the candle or the mirror that reflects it." Edith Wharton

Support is holding up from underneath. You support someone when you willingly step forward to strengthen, energize, and help them through a challenging time. Yet the great irony is that when you support others, you are also, in fact, supporting yourself.

When you withhold support from others, it is usually an indicator that you are also withholding support from yourself.

When we train people to become facilitators of our church service, the primary thing we teach them is to be aware of how much their support of the individual workshop participants mirrors their own issues. If a facilitator is having difficulty supporting a participant who is expressing rage, it is a good sign that he or she is not supporting his or her own tolerance of or personal tendency toward rage. If the facilitator cannot support someone developing their sense of inner power, then it is the facilitator's own rejection of his or her own inner power that is getting in the way. This is not unlike the training of psychoanalysts, in which they use their own reactions to patients as mirrors in which the patients can view themselves.

The Prodigal God
A Story Of Two Brothers
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