Saturday, July 11, 2009

The Spirit of Adoption

(15th Sunday in Ordinary Time, B)

The second reading today is the beginning of the letter to the Ephesians. This passage occurs in the Church’s liturgy ever single week, as the New Testament canticle for Evening Prayer, or Vespers, on Mondays. So, if we believe ourselves as Catholic Christians when we say the liturgy expresses our deepest identity, we realize that this is a very important passage of Sacred Scripture for us. And indeed it is, because the letter to the Ephesians contains a deep and beautiful explanation of a key concept for us Christians, namely the “adoption” we enjoy in Jesus Christ.

To begin to understand the wondrous gift of divine adoption we have in Christ, we have to back up a little. Let’s recall what we believe about the Blessed Trinity. God is Love, and anybody who has been in love knows that love—by its nature—wants to overflow; love is superabundant. So, from all eternity, God overflows into a perfect image of God and there is Lover and Beloved in God, the relations we call the Father and the Son. This is what we mean in the Creed when we say that the Son was “begotten, not made,” and “God from God, Light from Light, true God from true God.” Our belief in the Blessed Trinity is nothing more than the confession that God is Love, and thus God is not a static “supreme being” but a dynamic, relational, Force.

God is a dynamic, perfect, divine Love. Now it’s the nature of love to want to share itself with others. We all know this from our ordinary experience. It’s why people invite friends and families to their weddings. It’s why people want to show us pictures of their children. They have had an experience of love, and want to share it. So it is with the divine Love Who is God. God desires to share himself with someone. And so what happens? Creation. The creation comes to exist so that God might have someone with whom share his Love.

Now we can get back to the grace of adoption. For us creatures endowed with a spiritual and rational soul, God delights to draw us into the divine Love that is between Father and Son, the Love we call the Holy Spirit. God wants to “adopt” us into the filial relationship of God the Father and God the Son. So how is God going to do this? The Son of God will become flesh; this is the mystery of the Incarnation. The Son of God will become flesh so that divine Love will be united to our humanity. Thus our humanity—yours and mine—has a chance to be united to God through the humanity of Christ, “adopted” into the Love of the Lover and Beloved in God and made a sharer in the Holy Spirit which is the bond between Father and Son.

You know, sometimes we have this idea that the Incarnation of the Son was like “plan B” for God. God made the world, our first parents messed it up for everybody, and so then God had to think again and send his Son as man to fix it. But this idea of things doesn’t really stand up to Sacred Scripture. As we heard in the reading, God “chose us in him, before the foundation of the world...for adoption to himself through Jesus Christ.” It’s quite the other way around; creation happens so that the Son of God might become incarnate in it, in order to lift our lives into the original blessing of the Blessed Trinity.

When the Body of Christ is broken on the Cross, the Life of heaven pours out. In our Holy Communion, we climb into the divine Love through the open wounds of that same broken body—the Body of Christ we receive here at Mass. Entering the life of God through our communion with the humanity of Christ, we become daughters and sons in the Son, adopted into the dynamic and eternal Love we call the Blessed Trinity.


Anonymous said...

That was great Charles, but I have a feeling it is going to go over heads sitting in the pews. But hey, you know your parishioners better then I.

Brother Charles said...

Well, the "blog" version is not exactly the same as the version in "real time," and I vary things according to the particular assembly.

Like my riff from the Sach?

Brother Charles said...

Plus some of my high flyingness these days is from having too many weddings to preach. ;)

Qualis Rex said...

Brother Charles, I disagree with the "other brother" : ) Coming from the pews, I think the sermon was wonderful; on the mark and needed to be said. As someone who was born in the 70's, it sickens me that homilies have been dumbed down to such a base level. I think many priests make the mistake of letting the mass media (i.e. television, popular news etc) be thier measuring stick of what people will listen to or understand. HUGE mistake.

Qualis Rex said...

Hello Brother Charles, Coming from the pews, I have to strongly disagree with the "other brother" : ) I think your sermon was wonderful; right on the mark and relevant. As someone who was born in the 70's, it sickens me how so many sermons/homilies have been dumbed down to suuch as base level. I think too many priests make the mistake of using mass media (i.e. television, popular newspapers etc) as a measuring stick of what people will listen to or understand. HUGE mistake.

Brother Charles said...

Thanks for the encouragement, QR!

"Brother" and I have lived with each other in community and know each other somewhat in the he knows when to reign me in from some of my highfalutin tendencies!

Karinann said...

Brother Charles,
I have to agree with QR; I loved your homily. The part that struck me most was about the Incarnation not being God's Plan B. I have to admit that I have wondered about that. I liked how you turned it around for us.
Thanks again and God Bless!