08 Christ my ' Kin' - Fr (Dr) John Rose, SJ

posted Nov 20, 2018, 7:33 AM by Neil D'Souza   [ updated Nov 20, 2018, 7:34 AM ]
My embarrassment with the title, 'Feast of Christ the King', faded away, when I decided to drop the 'g' from 'king' and be left with 'kin', and so 'Christ my kin' was totally satisfying. When I mentioned this to a priest friend of mine, he immediately shot back saying, 'Yes' that 'g' is for 'greed!' implying, I guess, that royals are inclined to grabbing. This may be farfetched, but it is undeniable that qualifying Christ as my kin is in keeping with what 'incarnation' means. By taking on the same substance and dimensions and qualities of any human being, Christ becomes both physically and otherwise related to me. He has His brothers and sisters and parents in Nazareth as a well-known fact, and on one occasion, the close relatedness to Him and any human being is made when Jesus is made to say: "For whoever does the will of God, he is my brother and sister and mother." (Mk 3:35)

The close bonding of Christ and human beings is essential for the Letter to the Hebrews on the Priesthood of Christ, where He, Christ, is both the sacrificer and the sacrificed. We can accept that, according to Hebrews 2—summarised in this paragraph almost verbatim— we are made less than the angels, and it is therefore surprising that God is mindful and caring of us. But Christ too was made lower than the angels, and because of His suffering and death, was crowned with glory far above theirs. Having become like us in every way, with flesh and blood like all of us, He tasted death for every one; because He was like His brothers and sisters, 'brethren' in every respect, He became a high priest able to make expiation for all His people; since He was as everyone else, He was able to help people who, like Him, were tempted or tested. For God's plan to make Christ the "pioneer of salvation" for people's salvation, "He had to be made like His brothers and sisters, 'brethren' in every respect", a truth stated plainly in the same letter: "We do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathise with our weaknesses, but we have one who in every respect has been tested as we are, yet without sin." (Heb 4:15)

The earliest Christian heresy, one which seems to be still held by some sincere Christians, without them being conscious about it, is docetism, that had to be encountered even before the writing of John's Gospel. It held that Jesus was only divine, merely appearing as if he were a man, to deceive Satanic spirits that, according to the Gnostic myths of that time, ruled the universe, and prevented human beings from recovering the original divine spark they were born with before the Fall. But "he was in the beginning with God… and the Word became flesh and lived among us" (Jn 1:1-14), an idea also stressed in the most famous Christological hymn: "though he was in the form of God…emptied himself, taking the form of a slave, being born in human likeness. And being found in human form [i.e. in the very human substance], he humbled himself and became obedient to the point of death— even death on a cross (Phil 2:6.-8)." This scriptural text alone is sufficient to justify the importance of Christ's humanity: "By this you know the Spirit of God: every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God, and every spirit that does not confess Jesus is not from God." (1 Jn 4:2-3) Our human kinship with Christ is established. It is there even before time began for God "chose us in Christ before the foundation of the world." (Eph 1:4)