- In the Spirit, time is collapsed in that, in our oneness with the risen and ascended Christ, we already access eternal life, although we can only fully experience it beyond this life.
- In the Spirit, space is collapsed in that the presence of the risen and ascended Christ pervades all that is created, though you and I must wait to see him face to face.
- In the Spirit, matter is collapsed in that the presence of the risen and ascended Christ is perceptible in every aspect of our ordinariness here and now: in nature around us; in our times of intimacy; in solitude; in music, poetry and art; in the experience of birth; in observing children; in helping others; in the sacraments, particularly the Eucharist; and finally, in experiencing death itself, our own or others’.
Sunday, May 12, 2013
Love: The Irresistible Desire
If we’re willing to stretch our imagination and human language as far as we can, Philip Culbertson reminds us, we’ll begin to grapple with the “new physics" of the Ascension. He says that the possibility of other transcendent dimensions is no longer the stuff of science fiction, but of legitimate scientific theory. What if we considered “heaven” as a dimension that can touch the dimension of our present experience rather than a place far, far away? In fact, this is how the early church regarded the Ascension.
In one of the ancient Divine Office readings, Pope St. Leo I, in his Sermon 1 on the Ascension comments: “...[I]t was a great and unspeakable cause for rejoicing, when in the sight of a holy multitude, human nature ascended above the dignity of all celestial creatures...not to have any degree of loftiness set as a limit...short of the right hand of the eternal Father, where it would be associated with [the Father’s] royal glory, to whose nature it was united in the Son. Since, then, Christ’s ascension is our own exaltation, and where the glory of the head has gone before, there also is the hope of the body summoned. Let us, dearly beloved, rejoice... For today, not only have we been confirmed in the possession of Paradise, but in Christ we have...gained...far more...For those...cast down from the happiness of their first estate, these have the Son of God made to be one body with himself, and placed at the right hand of the Father...”
The Incarnation, Resurrection, and Ascension of Jesus span the gap between us and God. In Jesus, the Word made-flesh, God, who is Infinite Reality, Infinite Being, utterly empties Godself by giving Itself away in love in the act of creation. God’s generosity is boundless, and we are the generosity of God. You and I are who we have always been in God’s knowledge, even before God created us. God’s non-distinction from all things is their own reality, and so that reality is our very ordinariness. Our human nature is oned with that of Jesus through the Spirit of Love: Paul says that "in Christ we have access to the Father through the Spirit" (Ephesians 2:18). From time to time, you and I experience unexpected “quickening moments”, “stirrings of love”, “fleeting flashes”. These are subtle recognitions of the holiness of our life as it is. Such moments are such that in them God makes Godself known to us, awakens us to God already within our being: our God-given Godly nature. God awakens us to see that, in the very ordinariness of who we are, we already possess all that’s necessary to live in habitual consciousness of God giving Godself away. And having once glimpsed God, we know that only God will do in our life. We desire a more lasting, daily deepening awareness of this life, and the effect of this is cumulative, i.e., we desire more and more to follow the path leading to even deeper experiences of oneness with God. Blessed Julian of Norwich prayed: “God give me yourself for you are enough to me, and I can ask nothing that is less that can be full honor to you. And if I ask anything that is less, ever shall I be in want: for only in you have I all.” (Revelations of Divine Love, Chapter 5)
This is the path of our continuing union with the risen Christ through the Holy Spirit, made possible by Jesus' Ascension. The distance between God and humanity is fully and finally spanned in Christ! In Christ’s giving us the Holy Spirit, Christ collapses the distance between us and himself. This collapsing and transcending impacts our entire experience in the realms of time, space, and matter: