13 October 2006

It's not about Christ; it's about BEING Christ

27th Week OT (F): Galatians 3.7-14 and Luke 11.15-26
Fr. Philip N. Powell, OP
St. Albert the Great Priory, Irving, TX

Jesus is at war with the Devil’s kingdom. The gospel stories of exorcism are sometimes battles between Jesus’ desire to reveal who he is himself and the shock and awe of the demons who know who he is and who want to scream his name in terror. Jesus orders them to keep his secret! Demons may not reveal Christ’s identity to God’s human children. As purely disobedient intelligences, demons know who Christ is but do not experience him as Savior and Lord; therefore, they can reveal information about Christ—his identity, e.g.—but they cannot share his saving love, his healing mercy. In other words, they can tell us Christ’s name, but in their disobedience they cannot BE Christ for us. We are not only able to be Christ for one another, we are healthiest, wealthiest, and wisest when we do so. And the Church—fully armed and well-guarded—stands tallest against the siege of lies and violence that mark the Devil’s domestic and foreign policy!

In his letter to the Galatians, Paul writes that Christ died not only as the Messiah of the Jews but also as the only means of salvation for the Gentiles. Jesus expanded his Father’s kingdom to include all those not under the Mosaic law, not under the Old Covenant. And so, we are subjects of this kingdom in virtue of our baptism, citizens of a new realm, and heirs to the Father’s riches. But I wonder, looking at the Church today, if we really believe this. Do we really believe that we are subjects of the King, citizens of His realm, and heirs to His riches? A kingdom divided cannot stand. A realm split apart is weakened at its root. Riches scattered are easily squandered. And without the unity of the Body, from where do we draw the strength, the energy to be Christs for one another? Without obedience to the historic faith; allegiance to long, apostolic family narrative; without ears and eyes opened to the scriptural revelation of the Christ, we stand apart, divided, weak in our isolation, desolate in our individuality, and defeated before we are properly armed.

There are many ways that we fail the Kingdom and help the enemy. Let me identify one of the most damaging: when we limit our Christian activity in the world to gathering and distributing information to others about Christ instead of being Christ for others, we imitate the demons and hand them victory. In other words, when our ministry to the world is anything but the ministry of Jesus on earth—preaching and teaching the Father’s Word of truth; admonishing sinners; and healing and forgiving those same sinners,—anything but the work of Christ among the nations, then we are mute witnesses and blind guides.

The Good News, the Great News, is that we have received the promise of the Spirit through faith. Our failures of unity are not inevitable nor are they permanent. We know that the Kingdom has come in the person of Jesus Christ. We know that the Devil’s church has been razed and the ground salted. We know that the Word triumphs in creation, bringing every living thing to its natural and supernatural perfection in Christ—he is the firstfruit of all creation! We know, we know, we know. But knowing is not enough. It never has been. Never will be. We must know Christ, of course, and share Christ, always. But we must BE Christ first. Anything less, anything meaner or smaller than this full baptismal witness feeds the unclean spirits of disobedience and lazy charity, and seduces us into pride.

The Great News is that there is nothing disobedient or lazy in the promises of God. Nothing stingy or mean in the promises of His abundant Spirit. We are well-armed, fully charged, beautifully graced, and wholly loved. A joyful witness is ours to make. The kingdom is ours to claim: the Lord will remember His covenant forever.

1 comment:

  1. waltseale at yahoo8:58 AM

    Being Christ is the world's salvation. We have ALL of the Spirit of God - we lack nothing in Christ. We are the light of the world that Christ is redeeming here and now. Come Holy Spirit. May your kingdom come on earth as it is in heaven.