Tuesday, August 20, 2013

The Church: Jesus Remains With Us

God chose a moment of history--a particular place and time--to enter into an inconceivable solidarity with the human race by becoming one of us in Jesus Christ. God gives Himself in the particular life, death and resurrection of Jesus -- but it is not only a gift for the immediate disciples of Jesus or for the human race of the first century; He gives Himself so as to be an offering for each and every person of every place and time. Jesus desires with all the ardor of His heart to be present as the Word who has become flesh, and who continues to dwell among us even today.

This is what the Church is all about. Jesus. He remains present among us through the Church.

This means that Jesus has taken the "risk" of putting Himself in the hands of sinful human beings so that He can continue to give Himself to us twenty centuries later, in a concrete way. He has promised that He will reach us today through the Church. We trust Christ in His Church.

Even if many of His representative are great sinners, He has promised that we will always find Him in the Church, and He has established the means whereby He makes good on this promise. Thus Christ reaches us in the sacraments and makes Himself present for us in the Eucharist, even if the minister -- His human instrument -- is unworthy to represent Him.

We must never forget this. It is not a matter of an omnipotent, merely human priesthood conjuring Christ by some magical incantation. It is a matter of His sovereign determination to be with and to give Himself to you and me in the space and time and reality of our lives through human gestures that take place in our world today--gestures which are guaranteed to have value for our lives because it is He who performs them through His ministers.

The value of the sacraments and their meaning for our lives is founded on the presence and action of Jesus Christ, not the merits or worthiness of those He uses as instruments. He is present in His Church, and it is always to Him we adhere. Even as we recognize that He comes to us through other men, we trust Him, and we know that He will not deny Himself to us because of their weaknesses and limitations. This is the promise that Christ in the sacraments has made to every human being who seeks Him.