The most difficult times can produce the greatest spiritual blessings. God truly knows just what we need at every moment!

Monday, December 07, 2009

Parish Advent Mission - Day First


“Late have I loved you, O Beauty ever ancient, ever new, late have I loved you! You were within me, but I was outside, and it was there that I searched for you. In my unloveliness I plunged into the lovely things which you created. You were with me, but I was not with you. Created things kept me from you; yet if they had not been in you they would have not been at all. You called, you shouted, and you broke through my deafness. You flashed, you shone, and you dispelled my blindness. You breathed your fragrance on me; I drew in breath and now I pant for you. I have tasted you, now I hunger and thirst for more. You touched me, and I burned for your peace.”

St. Agustin

What is the incarnation: This word basically means God becoming man.

How do teach something like the incarnation? I mean at first glance it’s easy everyone knows that Christians believe Jesus is God made man whether or not they believe it. Other religions do not believe this. Buddhists think highly of him: “one who may have reached enlightenment.” For Muslims he was a great prophet even if his words had been slightly squed by his followers. The Hindus come closest to the Christian belief but Jesus was no more God then I or you are.

But I am not giving this talk to them, nope I am giving this talk to neo - Christians who know that as enlightened as Christ may have been, it wasn’t what made him rise from the dead. We believe that the apostles did not make up stories about Christ and his claim to divinity, and then die for the lies they made up! And as divinely inspired as I may seem and we both my pretend to be, not a one of us can say to a dead child rise up and see life enter her body by our own power.

Nope it came to me that the only way to talk about the incarnation that would even seem to be relevant would be to tell you how the Lord in his mercy decided to unfold the beauty of his love over the last 2000 years. First we will look at the first 60 years of the fledgling church, then at the newly established imperial church in the 4th and 5th century, and thirdly at the church in the middle ages. There is a lot more to say on the matter but I am giving a retreat not a semester class.

So let’s start with the first chapter of the gospel of John. Although many educated people say that this wasn’t written by the apostle John, in most of our information leads us to believe is was.

The Gospel of John:

the word “LOVE” for this talk is interchangeable with the “WORD”


In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.


He was in the beginning with God.


All things came to be through him, and without him nothing came to be. What came to be


through him was life, and this life was the light of the human race;


the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.


A man named John was sent from God.


He came for testimony, to testify to the light, so that all might believe through him.


He was not the light, but came to testify to the light.


The true light, which enlightens everyone, was coming into the world.


He was in the world, and the world came to be through him, but the world did not know him.


He came to what was his own, but his own people did not accept him.


But to those who did accept him he gave power to become children of God, to those who believe in his name,


who were born not by natural generation nor by human choice nor by a man's decision but of God.


And the Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us, and we saw his glory, the glory as of the Father's only Son, full of grace and truth.


John testified to him and cried out, saying, "This was he of whom I said, 'The one who is coming after me ranks ahead of me because he existed before me.'"


From his fullness we have all received, grace in place of grace,


because while the law was given through Moses, grace and truth came through Jesus Christ.


No one has ever seen God. The only Son, God, who is at the Father's side, has revealed him.

As you can see the true knowledge of God was known then and there in the Life time of the apostles. Christ was as much God as he was Man in their eyes. But this mystery of God becoming a man was too difficult for people. So many theories about how God became man arose. These are the first heresies... it’s funny but if you look at the heresies of the first few centuries you will see all the heresies of the next 1500 years, there is no such thing as a new heresy! It’s also funny that with his birth into this world it was MARY and the CATHOLIC thought of her, that helped keep us on the right thoughts of Christ

So let’s see what Christ was thought to be and what he IS KNOWN TO BE:

Arianism – the belief that Jesus was god and not man

- But if he was not man how could he have counted among men as there representative and paid the price for sin

Monophysitism – a supper human who evolved into godliness

- If he wasn't God his sacrifice would have been inadequate, regardless of superhuman powers

Nestorianism - Jesus was God and man but separately, like a possession, if you will.

- This gives little freedom to the man Jesus and turns God's redemption of man into a big farce

§ The council of Ephesus (431) condemned the heresy of Nestorius, and defined that Mary was mother in the flesh of God's Word

Jesus was fully God and fully Man (hypostatic union)

- With this we can say that God the second person of the trinity died on the cross... think about it, that’s a drastic claim!

- He was also able to go against God's will because he had a mind of his own! The cool thing about Christ and Mary was that their wills conformed perfectly to the fathers will. The aim of all Christians is to conform our wills to Gods

In the end what we have is Christ, he is fully God with no restrictions he is also fully man with all the pitfalls bodily functions and weaknesses.

- So he couldn't be Buddha because he did not evolve into a God or tap into the grate see of being

- He could not be like Mohammed because he was more than a prophet with great “connections” to God

- He was not Confusious or any great philosopher because he taught the truth from its source that is he.This was his claim (something no sane man had or has ever made)

The Nicene Creed

“We believe in one Lord, Jesus Christ,
the only Son of God,
eternally begotten of the Father,
God from God, Light from Light,
true God from true God,
begotten, not made,
one in Being with the Father.
Through him all things were made.
For us men and for our salvation
he came down from heaven:

(all bow their heads during the next three lines)
by the power of the Holy Spirit
he was born of the Virgin Mary,
and became man.

What does the incarnation mean to Man?

- Franciscan School of thought

- When we think of the incarnation often times we think of Christ coming to earth to die for the sins of mankind and rightly so because that’s what he did but it may not have been the only “why”

- The Franciscans said nature is so beautiful, so awesome that only one thing would make this “art” better and that is for the creator himself to become part of it

- Saint Bonaventure liked to emphasize that everything was created for Christ. In this sense, Creation depended on the Incarnation. And not the other way around. Without the Incarnate Word, indeed, nothing would have been created, and everything was created for him. This is why he is the true King.

oCreation finds its fullness in Crist and so to we!

- And WE DESIRE IT SO he is the fulfillment of all desire

- Sin may have altered the reason for incarnation but not the incarnation

A good way to show this is the perfect work of art became the perfect act of love

– joining the art to become part of it

- Paul’s letters talk about all creation groaning for the fulfillment of the kingdom of Christ (we await the fulfillment of the incarnational promise written into the hearts of man)

- There is the reason why things can always be better sports games could have been played better, scenery could have been better, love could have been better!

- Beer, entertainment, sports and even life experience can only be so good and often we see them as wanting! Is life meant to be so bla? NO!

- The Holy Father said it best when he said “do not be afraid do not give in to mediocrity, put out into the deep and let down your nets for a catch”

- Trust in God and he will fulfill your desire not to be rich or loved by man. But to be filled with his joy and completed as the creation you were always meant to be!

HOW do we do this? .... luckily we were told just today what to do!

How to thank God for the Incarnation:

Christ is the love of God made FLESH. He is also the Fulfillment of all creation the perfection of all creation. He is the smile on the Mona Lisa, the ART of creation.

How can we but love, in the midst of such Love!

I repeat the words of John the Baptist "Prepare the way of the Lord, make his paths straight. Every valley shall be filled, and every mountain and hill shall be brought low, and the crooked shall be made straight, and the rough ways shall be made smooth; and all flesh shall see the salvation of God."

All this should say to us is don’t get in the way of the love of God! Fill in the valleys of our discontented mediocrity of the sin we have grown too accustomed to. Push down the mountains made from the mole hills of our pride, do what is right in the eyes of God so that his way to your heart is straight and smooth. See the salvation of our God, the fulfillment of all your inner most desires... you were made for him! Don’t let sin get in the way, hell what else confession is for!

“You have made us for Yourself, Oh Lord, and our hearts are restless until they rest in Thee.”

St. Agustin

John-Paul Markides

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