Immersed in Christ: January 2, 2021
Memorial of Saints Basil the Great and Gregory Nazianzen, Bishops and Doctors of the Church
All the ends of the earth have seen the saving power of God (Psalm 98)
How do we know we know God? And do Christians know God in a way different from everyone else? 1John 2:22 -28 tells us that the unique experience of Christianity is knowing God as our Father. And we can only know him as Father by sharing in the life of the Son—and therefore in the Son’s own act of knowing the Father as Father. We experience this knowledge of the Father and this union with the Son when we pray with awareness, “Our Father, who art in heaven....” 1
John says we “know that we know” by two things, both essential: through the “anointing” of the gift of the Holy Spirit poured out in our hearts; and through fidelity to what we have “heard from the beginning” in the teaching of the Apostles.
Christianity is by nature an experience of the divine in the human and of the Spirit in the flesh. Jesus is God made human. In his human nature, actions and words, we encounter God. And in the human natures, actions and words of the members of his body on earth, the Church, we continue to encounter Jesus. To reject Jesus in the flesh is to deny the Spirit. To reject the Church is to reject Jesus in the flesh he has today. To deny the Spirit speaking in the Church is to become deaf to the Spirit speaking in our hearts. We simply cannot separate the divine from the human and continue to be Christians. But...
If what you heard from the beginning does remain in your hearts, then you in turn will remain in the Son and in the Father. He himself made us a promise, and the promise is no less than this: eternal life.
John 1:19-28 makes clear the difference between religion as just a human way of worshiping the divine, and religion as a divine way of being human.
John the Baptizer was a human preaching a human gesture. The “baptism of John” was a washing in water as a symbol of repentance. But he said, “Among you stands one whom you do not know, the one who is coming after me; I am not worthy to untie the thong of his sandal.” Matthew and Luke add: “He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire.” This is more than a human gesture. It is God giving the gift of the Spirit and of divine life. We need to be aware of this mystery when we attend a Baptism or think of our own. 2
What is true of Baptism is true of all the sacraments. An action of God is taking place, a mystery of the divine acting through the human. Sacraments remind us to look for this same mystery in all that we do. Say the WIT prayer!
Initiative: Be aware of the mystery of the divine and human united in you.
1 See Matthew 11:25-27; Luke 10:21-24.See also the Jerome Biblical Commentary, 1968: “Here ‘anointing’ is an Old Testament figure for reception of the Spirit of God (1Samuel 16:13; Isaiah 61:1).... To deny that Jesus is Christ [divine Savior of humanity] is to reject the divine filiation that is at the very heart of Christianity.” 2 Luke 3:16; Matthew 3:11.