Saturday, January 14, 2006

7th Day after Epiphany.
Meditation theme fragments from the week after Epiphany - 'Divine Intimacy' by Fr Gabriel of St Mary Magdalen OCD. Part 1.

"Jesus the true vine". 1.Jesus is the one Mediator between God and men (1Tim 2,5); however, He did not will to effect the work of our redemption independently of us, but used it as a mean of strengthening the bond between Himself and us. This is the wonderful mystery of our incorporation in Christ, the mystery which Our Lord revealed to His apostles the night before His Passion. 'I am the true vine; and My Father is the husbandman...Abide in me and I in you. As the branch cannot bear the fruit of itself, unless it abide in the vine, so neither can you, unless you abide in Me' (Jn15,1-4). Jesus strongly affirms that there is no redemption, no supernatural life, no grace-life for one who does not live in Him, who is not grafted unto Him....We cannot receive the least degree of grace except through Christ's mediation...if we abide in Him, we shall not only have supernatural life, but we shall become the recipients of special attention from our heavenly Father, the Husbandman of the mystical vine. In fact our heavenly Father, acknowledges us as His adopted children, loves us as such, and takes care of us, precisely to the degree in which He sees in us Christ, His only-begotten, His well-beloved Son. The grace of adoption, then is wholly dependent upon our union with Christ, a union so close that we form, as it were, a 'living part' of Him, as the branch forms a living part of the vine....This spiritual engrafting, an accomplished fact, was made possible for all men by Christ's death on the Cross, and it became effective for each one of us at the time of our Baptism. Christ grafted us into Himself at the cost of His precious Blood. Therefore we "are" in Him, but He insist further that we "abide" in Him and bring forth fruit. "Abide in Me" is not a chance expression. Christ wished to show us that our life in Him requires our personal collaboration with Him, that we are to employ all our strength, our mind, our will, and our heart that we may live in Him and by faith, charity, and good works done with the intention of pleasing God...That we shall become..the branches laden with fruit, the fruit of sanctity destined to bring joy to the Heart of God..."In this is my Father glorified, that you bring forth very much fruit" (Jn 15,8).

"The mystical body of Christ". 'I am the vine you are the branches'. On these words of Jesus, which describe our union with Him, the whole doctrine of the Mystical Body of Christ is founded (1Cor 12, 12.27). Christ is the Head of this Body...the Church...(Eph 5,23). Christ Our Lord vivifies the Church with His supernatural life; by His divine power He permeates the whole Body and nourishes and sustains each of the members (Mystici Corpus) is a mysterious union, and in this sense is called mystical, but it is no less real and vital....The Holy Spirit, 'the soul of the Church' (ibid.), is the bond which intimately and really unites and vivifies all the members of Christ, diffusing grace and charity in it is not a symbolical, metaphorical union, but of a real union, so real that it surpasses all the others. We are members of Christ. This is our greatness and our glory, infinitely surpassing all earthly dignity and glory.

"I am the life". Jesus explained His mission in these words: 'I am come that they may have life, and may have it more abundantly' (Jn 10,10). What is this life....? It is the life of grace, which is the participation in His divine life. Jesus is the Incarnate Word; in His divine nature as the Word, He possesses divine life in the same way and to the same degree as His Father possesses it. This plenitude of divine life reverberates in Christ's humanity by reason of hypostatic union. His sacred humanity, placed in direct contact with His divinty, to which it is united in one Person, is inundated with divine life; that is, it receives the greatest possible participation in it through 'such plentitude of grace that no greater amount can be imagined' (Mystici Corporis). The sanctifying grace which fills the soul of Jesus is so plentiful, perfect, intense, and superabundant that theologians do no hesitate to call it 'infinite grace'. 'Because in Him [Christ], it hath well pleased the Father that all fullness should dwell' (Col 1,19), affirms St Paul; and St John describes Him as being 'full of grace and truth' (Jn 1,14). But Jesus...wishes to have brethren with whom He can share it. For this reason He embraced His sorrowful Passion; by dying on the Cross, he merited for us His members that grace which He possesses in such great plentitude. Thus Christ becomes the one and only source of grace and supernatural life for us. He is so 'full of grace and truth' that 'of His fullness we have all received' (ibid. 1,14.16). Here, then, is how divine life comes to us: from the father to the Word; from the Word to the humanity which He assumed in His Incarnation, and from this humanity, which is the sacred humanity of Christ, to our souls. 2. Grace, like everything that exists, apart from God, is created by God. Jesus as God, that is, as the Word, is together with the Father and the Holy Spirit, the Creator of grace. Let us now contemplate Jesus as our Redeemer, therefore, as Man, and as such, the Mediator of grace, the One who merited grace for us, in virtue of His own infinite treasure of grace, and who also bestows it upon us. He not only merited it for us once for always by His death an the Cross, but He is continually applying it to our souls and producing it in us. Thus grace is infused and made to grow in us by means of His living and ever-present action. In this way, Jesus gives us life; He is Life for us, the one source of our supernatural life. For this reason the grace of Jesus is called 'capital grace', that is, grace belonging to the Head, who both merited it and dispenses it to His members....The grace which sanctifies our soul is, in essence the same identically the same as that which adorns the sacred soul of Jesus (St Thomas, IIIa, q.8, a.5)....but differs immensely in measure and perfection, however the nature of grace is the very same. Thus it can sanctify us, making us live in union with God and for His glory. By giving us grace, Jesus has truly communicated His life to us; He has planted in us the seed of His sanctity, so that we can live a life similar to His own.