St Augustine

When St Augustine said that our hearts are restless until they rest in God, he was not just speaking of other Christians, but of all human beings too. He meant all human beings because we are all made in the image and likeness of God (Genesis 1:26). The question is how we get from here, from where we are now, to the God who has created us to share in his own inner life and eternal loving for which we crave. It was to answer this question that Christ came.

The Way, The Truth, and The Life

That is why he said that he is The Way, The Truth, and The Life. He is ‘The Way’ because it would only be in, with, and through him that our hearts that yearn for God would find him. He is ‘The Truth’ because the ultimate truth that God is Love was literally embodied in his human physical body. Because this truth was realised in his human being, he could tell other human beings this sublime truth, while simultaneously explaining that through him they would be able to experience something of this infinite love as he did, even beginning in this life. That is why he is also ‘The Life’ because the fullness of life, which is love, the fullness of love for which we yearn, can only be found in him, because he is in God and God is in him (John 14:6-10). When we try to observe the Commandments, as Jesus promised at the Last Supper, then he can make his home in us and we can make our home in him in such a way that all our deepest desires and hopes and yearnings are fulfilled (John 14:21-24). It is this that enables us to experience true, if interrupted happiness in this life, and true uninterrupted happiness in the next.

The Mysterion

St Paul called God’s stupendous plan to share his infinite life and loving with us, the Mysterion. This Greek word means unseen, invisible or secret, because the plan is only visible to the eye of faith. This word is the origin of the word mystic, used in the Catholic tradition to describe a person who is totally committed to entering into God’s Plan, the Mysterion. In the old Testament the Prophets did not detail this plan because they did not know it in detail themselves, but they did promise those who were waiting that it would be explained in more detail when Christ came. Even after telling his followers what it would involve for them and those who would follow them, Christ said that it had not come yet. However, he promised that God’s plan for them that had already come in him, would in only a short time, come for them when the final preparations were in place, preparations that only he could bring about.

The Meaning of the Glorification

These preparations were in place after his Ascension when his physical human body was united with his Father in such a way, that it was glorified by being possessed as never before by the infinite loving that had reigned in God from eternity. The preparations were now in place because his physical human body that had restricted him to being in only one place at a time while he was on earth, and present therefore only to those in that place, was radically changed by the infinite loving that now possessed him. His whole human and divine personality suddenly expanded spiritually in such a way that it could be present to people in every place on earth and in every subsequent century.

A New and Transformed Body

His new transformed and transfigured body came to be called his mystical body, not just because it could be present to every human being on earth simultaneously, but because his body became porous, so that the love that was animating him from the inside would overflow onto and into all who were open to receive it, as happened on the first Pentecost day. On the first Pentecost this loving was symbolised by fire but on subsequent occasions when his love was poured out onto and into individuals at their Baptism, it was symbolised by water.

Fire and Water

Both fire and water then symbolised the inner divine spirit that animated Christ in a unique way after he was fully transformed and transfigured when he was glorified after his ascension into heaven. It is this same divine Spirit that first possessed Christ before it was communicated to us. As a mark of reverence this divine spirit has been called The Holy Spirit. This Holy Spirit that first animated Christ is transmitted to us so that it can become the sacred ligature that binds us together with him, in his mystical body, and with all others in that body so that we can support one another as we travel together in The Way, and on the way, from here to eternity.

A Modern Metaphor

Let me try to explain what is and will forever remain a profound mystery, by turning to a human metaphor in the form of a story that happened to me some years ago, to explain what has come to be called the Hypostatic Union.

It was a disaster waiting to happen, and it did happen when I absentmindedly plugged my 12 volt kettle into the mains. I can still see the sparks flying, the smoke rising and the smell of rubber burning as the kettle I had bought for the car languished and died before me. At least I learnt a valuable lesson. Two hundred and forty limitless volts of electricity will not go into a twelve volt receiver. Nor therefore would God’s limitless love go into a limited human receiver, at least not without a transformer. That is why God sent Christ to become a living breathing spiritual transformer, because he had both a divine and a human nature. This meant that he could plug in, as it were, to God’s infinite love in such a way that it could percolate through into his human nature. In this way the same love that animated him could be transmitted to all other human natures, all other men and women who were open to receive it, and to the end of time. That is why he became, and still is for us now ,The Way, The Truth and the Life.

In order to develop the prayer that can continually help us to raise our hearts and minds to God as we practise the asceticism of the heart please follow the Podcast on prayer on this web-site entitled The Hermit – Wisdom from the Western Isles

 

 

 

 

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