Tuesday, July 2, 2013


   To paraphrase St. Paul, "We live, no longer we, but Christ lives in us."  (Gal. 2:20)  This magnificent and challenging truth calls and empowers us to see as Christ would see and to act as Christ would act, here and now, throughout the world.

    The Spirit of Christ living within us is actually God:  Father, Son and Holy Spirit.  "Christ" means the loving union of God and creation, the union of God and ourselves.  In the case of Jesus, God and Jesus were one person.  In our case, we are our own person and God lives within us.  So we are not Christ himself but expressions of Christ.

   After Jesus rose from the dead, he appeared to his followers.  They saw him, spoke with him, touched him and ate with him.  Then he physically removed himself from the world. The Bible says he "ascended" into heaven. (Acts 1:9-11).  That's because at that time, people thought the world was flat and God lived in heaven up above the world.  Today we would say something like, "Jesus removed himself from space/time."
   Then Jesus sent us his Spirit.  In doing so, he elevated our lives to a new, evolutionary level.  He did not send us his limited, human, 1st century, male, Palestinian spirit; he sent us his unlimited, divine, global Spirit.  As a result, he could not be restricted to one area or one time period or one culture or one gender.  Instead, he could live in all areas, all times and cultures, and in all people, both male and female.  All are valid expressions of Christ in their own way.

   Christ is so global that we Catholics go so far as to say that all people who live in consistent good will and love are expressions of Christ.  That's because, without God's grace, i.e., without Christ's Spirit living within them, they could not live in consistent good will and love.  So today we can look around the world and see Christ being expressed in people of consistent good will and love, in all the various countries and ethnic traditions.  Also, Vatican II taught that the church of Christ extends beyond the borders of the Roman Catholic Church.  People of various faith traditions and even atheists (as Pope Francis recently pointed out) can, in our view, express Christ in their own way and be saved.   

   Our global view does not make us indifferent.  We don't say that all faiths are equal and it doesn't matter what faith tradition a person may, or may not, belong to.  While we respect all legitimate faith traditions, and people of no faith, we still believe that as Catholics we have the fullness of spiritual resources.  This still leaves room for people of other faiths and of no faith to live better spiritual lives than Catholics who do not take advantage of their own spiritual resources.

   The main point is to rejoice that Christ lives in people throughout the world, so we can reach out in peace and love and seek ways to work together to elevate and heal our world together.  The creative, healing, and world-transforming love that we share with all others is the surest sign that Christ lives within us.    


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