How low can God go?

Author: Sean Barth

". . . I owe thee thanks for the goodness with which thou dost admit to thy table a vile and wretched sinner such as I am. . . O my Saviour and my God, how can I repay thee for this fresh mercy? Thou bringest the heavens down to us, thou condescendest from thy greatness to our littleness! Who art thou, and who are we, that thou, the Lord of majesty, shouldst stoop to visit our dwellings of clay? The heavens are thy throne, the earth thy footstool, and the glory of thy divine Being fills the universe; yet thou art willing, my God, to take thy rest upon a handful of straw! Is it possible, cried Solomon, that God should wish to dwell among men? If the heavens cannot contain thee, what of that dwelling I have built for thee? O marvel past all understanding! He whose throne is above the cherubim, and whose glance from that summit pierces the abyss, descends into these depths to rest there, to establish there his royal throne!" (Prayer of Ven. Louis of Granada, OP, 1504-1588)


During the season of Lent, I always try to keep at the forefront of my mind the humiliation or condescension of the Word of God (aka the Logos) into our midst. I think we have a tendency to see Jesus with what theologians would call a "low Christology"; that is, we focus on Jesus as a friend and teacher, in His full humanity. This is a relatively modern take on viewing the reality of the Incarnation. True, Jesus is fully human. He lived and preached in 1st century Palestine, had a family, made friends and enemies, went to parties, performed miracles, and set the religious/cultural landscape ablaze with his seemingly revolutionary teachings. And to be sure Christ becoming "like us" is an essential piece of the Divine plan of salvation. But, perhaps even more importantly, Jesus is also the WORD OF GOD who chose to empty Himself and become a servant in order redeem our fallen world. This piece is truly mind blowing! As the venerable Louis of Grenada wrote, "O marvel past all understanding!" This concept all eventually boils down into mystery, but contemplating and praying with it can expand our understanding of who Jesus is, what He has done for us, and why it matters.


So this Lent I challenge you to regularly sit with the reality that the omnipotent (having unlimited power), omniscient (having complete knowledge), omnipresent (present at all times and in all places) CREATOR OF THE UNIVERSE chose to lower Himself beyond human comprehension/reason so as to enter into our dirty, ugly, sinful world. Why did God do this? In order that He might enter into the least of His creation, spend His first moments as a human in a feeding trough, and eventually die an excruciating death reserved for only the worst of criminals - all for YOU. Yes, YOU (and me). Dang.


And don't even get me started on God's humiliation in taking the form of bread and wine in the Eucharist!!!

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