Reflections on Lumen Gentium, Part III

3. The Son, therefore, came, sent by the Father. It was in Him, before the foundation of the world, that the Father chose us and predestined us to become adopted sons and daughters, for in Him it pleased the Father to re-establish all things.(4) To carry out the will of the Father, Christ inaugurated the Kingdom of heaven on earth and revealed to us the mystery of that kingdom. By His obedience He brought about redemption. The Church, or, in other words, the kingdom of Christ now present in mystery, grows visibly through the power of God in the world. This inauguration and this growth are both symbolized by the blood and water which flowed from the open side of a crucified Jesus,(5) and are foretold in the words of the Lord referring to His death on the Cross: “And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all things to myself”.(6) As often as the sacrifice of the cross in which Christ our Passover was sacrificed, is celebrated on the altar, the work of our redemption is carried on, and, in the sacrament of the eucharistic bread, the unity of all believers who form one body in Christ (8) is both expressed and brought about. All men and women are called to this union with Christ, who is the light of the world, from whom we go forth, through whom we live, and toward whom our whole life strains.

4 Cf. Eph. 1:4-5 and 10.

5 Cf. Jn. 19:34.

6 Jn. 12:32.

7 1 Cor 5:7.

8 Cf. 1 Cor. 10:17.

Jesus Christ was sent by the Father to “re-establish all things,” that is, to reconcile us to the Father after the Fall of humankind in sin. This plan was set forth from before the beginning of the world, from before Creation. How can this be? Because God is eternal, so He exists outside of time. Every moment for God is now. Creation is now. The Fall is now. The salvation won for us be Christ is now. So, the Father chose us in Christ “before the foundation of the world, to be holy and without blemish before him” (Eph. 1:4). This plan was from eternity. From eternity we were chosen by the Father to be one with Him in Christ, “in accord with the favor of his will” (Eph. 1:5). Think about that – from eternity, we were chosen by the Father to be one with Him in Christ!

In order to fulfill the Father’s plan for our reconciliation, Christ inaugurated the Kingdom of God on earth. The Kingdom is now! The Kingdom is here! We do not wait for some future day when the Kingdom will be begin. Christ has inaugurated the Kingdom in His earthly ministry. What is this Kingdom? It is the Church! The Church is “the kingdom of Christ now present in mystery.” Furthermore, this Kingdom of Christ grows through the power of God in the world, and we see this growth in the growth of the Church, in the coming to Christ through the Church of more and more believers who are baptized into the Body of Christ.

The water and blood that flowed from Christ’s side symbolize this growth. The water symbolizes baptism. The water of baptism washes away our sins and makes us members of the Body of Christ. The blood symbolizes the Eucharist, the sacrifice of Christ made present on the altar each time the Mass is celebrated. The Eucharist nourishes and strengthens us to live faithfully the life of Christ. What is celebrated and made present on the altar of the Mass is the sacrifice of Christ for our redemption. In the Mass, then, the redemptive work of Christ is carried out. As well, in sharing in the One Bread of the altar, believers both proclaim and share in the unity of the Body of Christ. “Because the loaf of bread is one, we, though many, are one body, for we all partake of the one loaf” (1 Cor 10:17). This is the mystery of the sacrament, that it effects what it symbolizes. The Eucharist symbolizes the unity of all believers in Christ, so it effects the unity of all believers in Christ.

All men and women are called to this unity with and in Christ. All are called to the table of the Lord. All are called to celebrate and participate in the sacrifice of Christ made present on the Eucharistic altar. It is the mission of the Church to proclaim Christ and call all to His table.

One more thought: The Council Fathers write that, “By His obedience He brought about redemption.” We sometimes forget this, I think. The sacrifice Christ offered to the Father for the sake of our redemption was not only His death on the cross, but His entire life lived in perfect obedience to the will of the Father, even unto death (Phil. 2:5-11). It was the disobedience of Adam that caused our alienation from the Father. It was the perfect obedience of Christ, the new Adam, that brought about our redemption (Rom 5:15-20).

Be Christ for all. Bring Christ to all. See Christ in all.

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