Thoughts of a Catholic convert

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Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Fully Human, Fully Divine

There's a post at America magazine's blog about what sounds like an interesting book - Fully Human, Fully Divine: An Interactive Christology by Michael Casey, a Trappist monk in Australia. Here's a bit from the post ...

[...] Casey's study alternates chapters between his treatment of segments of Mark's gospel (the baptism; the temptation; Jesus' exorcisms; Jesus as teacher; Jesus the Sower; Nature miracles; Jesus with the Syro-Phoenician woman; the transfiguration; Gethsemane; the cross and the empty tomb) with parallel chapters, drawing on the wisdom and spirituality of the great monastic writers, such as Julian of Norwich, Bernard of Clairvaux, John Cassian, Isaac of Stella, Gregory the Great. As Casey knows: " Outward observance, however holy, cannot take the place of personal encounter with the living God." .....

Casey follows the Greek Fathers' tradition in asserting that God became human so that we might also take on elements of his divinity. As he says in one remarkable throw away line: " Christianity is not a matter of being good but becoming God." Yet, as in Jesus the human and the divine commingled, so for us, too, " we are divinized to the extent that nothing of our humanity is denied, despised or ignored, when nothing of what makes us human is lost or left behind." ...

High Christology ... low Christology ... I'm not sure where I stand, but before I made that online retreat I had thought of Jesus as 99.9% divine - didn't imagine he was ever happy/sad or that he could suffer, much less that he could be surprised or change his mind. My experiences in the retreat blew that version of Jesus away. It's a strange tension trying to keep Jesus vulnerably human and at the same time God and it makes me very uncomfortable, but maybe that's ok.

I remember that when the movie Jesus came out some religious groups criticized it for showing a Jesus that was too human, and it does show a Jesus who tells jokes, dances, gets angry, falls in love, feels sad, but then he also does miracles. Here's a clip from it that begins with Jesus just meeting Peter and helping him catch fish ....


Blogger MadPriest said...

I think the clue is in the line, "The Word became flesh." There is no co-mingling here. There is no putting on of flesh. So I believe that God became 100% human with all our emotions etc.. However, Jesus was still the Word (there wasn't another Word up in heaven whilst Jesus was on earth). But the Word made flesh wasn't able to access his own divinity. As Jesus himself says over and over again, all his ability to perform miracles and divine the future comes from God the Father, not from powers he possessed. Not only does my view join humanity 100% to divinity it also is proof that God in Christ suffered exactly how we suffer (that Jesus had no easy ride on the cross). Furthermore it explains all the inconsistencies in the gospel record where Jesus appears to know what is going to happen sometimes and at other times does not. It also explains why Jesus could insist that we never get angry or fearful when he himself got angry and fearful - he was only human.

3:34 AM  
Blogger crystal said...

Hi MadPriest,

Thanks for the explanation - that does make sense. What do you think, though, about the miracles in the NT like turning water into wine? I guess I don't want to give up on those because I want to believe they can still happen now.

1:22 PM  
Blogger MadPriest said...

Very simple. As Jesus himself states, everything comes from the Father. As the Word become fully human, Jesus relies on the Father for his power. I wouldn't want to ditch the miracles of Jesus and I would not want to ditch the miracles performed by living saints and in answer to our prayers. But we accept such miracles are always through the power of God. Why should not the miracles of the Word made flesh also be from the Father. The miracles of Christ are more numerous and extravagant simply because of his special relationship with the Father, his closeness to the Father and his faith in the Father. Remember, the early Christians claimed that Jesus did not cling to equality with God but humbled himself by becoming human.

However, if I am right then we have to accept that God does perform miracles through ordinary human beings and nowadays people are not tto comfortable with that idea.

4:18 PM  
Blogger crystal said...

Thanks, MP.

I think you're right about Jesus doing the miracles by relying on God - for instance, when he raises Lazarus from the dead, first he thanks God for hearing him.

I'm pretty skeptical of modern miracles, especially those attributed to saints, but I really do want to believe that God does act in the world, that miracles are possible even if they're rare and manifest through the acts of other people. I just don't want to think we're sort of abandoned here and completely on our own - which probably just means I'm a coward :)

6:58 PM  
Blogger Deacon Denny said...

It's nice to hear from the MadPriest again!

Crystal, have you read about the healing of Jacob Finkbonner? This happened at Children's Hospital here in Seattle, and the doctors admit they can't explain it. I met him and his parents when they first came to the hospital. They were encouraged (by my own pastor, Tim Sauer, who was then their pastor) to pray to Blessed Kateri Tekakwitha... the rest is marvelous history.

I do believe in miracles, though I admit I'm rather timid in asking for them.

Thanks for the clip from "Jesus." I bought a copy of that movie because of you!

9:32 PM  
Blogger crystal said...

Hi Denny,

No, I hadn't heard of Jacob Finkbonner. I just looked him up - there's a story about him at NPR ...

It's an amazing story.! The one thing that bothered me, though, about the NPR story was when the priest who was the postulator saud that saints have special access ti God. I hope that's not true but that we all have the same access (said crystal the one-person-one-vioe Christian :)

I want to believe in miracles and I do ask for them almost every day. I think God knows everything so there's no point in not asking for what I really want, even if it needs a miracle to come true.

11:00 PM  

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