Ascending, He Comes

From a homily on the Ascension by Hans Urs von Balthasar:

The Lord Jesus Christ shares in Gods mode of presence; but he is not only God, he is also man for all eternity, with a human body and a human soul. Now this humanity explicitly participates in the new mode of Christ s presence and indwelling. And this is the really astonishing and baffling thing: that this finite soul and this limited body can share in the limitless omnipresence and intimacy of God. His wisdom and love have brought this miracle about: it is called Eucharist. It is not only a spiritual being-together in which the parties think of one another, nor is it simply the kind of presence whereby man is in God. It is an indwelling of the divine-human being of Christ, soul and body, in the whole person, body in body and soul in soul. He who eats my flesh and drinks my blood abides in me and I in him.

Mans eucharistic indwelling and permeation by the Lord or, to put it the other way round, mans incorporation into the Eucharistic Lord is, for the Lord, a concrete aspect of his own Resurrection and Ascension: one of his earthly members, for whom he went to his death, has now entered into him and (as the Apostle says in Ephesians 2:6) has been made to sit with him in the heavenly places.What we have here is a mutual indwelling that does not cause the persons to become confused: Christ remains the Lord and the Head; the believer remains the servant, the friend, the member. Indeed, he or she experiences the same paradox that is always there when God draws near: the nearer God comes, the more profoundly we grasp how totally other Gods divine nature is, the more we realize Gods nearness is pure grace, always beyond our comprehension.The more graciously God bends down to our level and enters into us, the higher Gods mystery ascends above us.

Robert P. Imbelli, a priest of the Archdiocese of New York, is the author of Rekindling the Christic Imagination.

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The Anglican Communion

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