Saturday, December 02, 2006

Divine Strength In Weakness

"This remarkable contrast between the power of Jesus and the opprression He endured constitutes the austere and sublime beauty of His spiritual physiognomy. It is something that escapes the eyes of the world and unfolds itself to the saints as they progress in the path of contemplation. If beauty, which is harmony, derives from unity in diversity, the sublime, which is the extraordinary beautiful, derives from the most intimate unity in the greatest diversity. It is the reconciliation of two extremes which God alone can harmonize.

This mystery has been completely disfigured by two opposing heresies. In the second century the Docetae were scandalized by the passion of the Savior which they considered unworthy of a God, and they declared that Jesus' sufferings had been only apparent. According to them, Jesus had not really suffered at Gethsemane and on the cross, nor had He been a victim. The painful Passion, they said, had been only a sham. To support this senseless contention, which is contrary to the most soundly established facts, the Docetae maintained that the Word had not taken a real body in Jesus, but only the appearences of a body like a ghost. What errors we are led into when we are scandalized by the Cross!

In contrast to this error, there were other heretics later on, like Calvin, who held that Jesus had suffered so very much on Calvary that He had yielded for a moment to despair, and that He had endured the pains of hell at the moment when He cried out: 'My God, My God, why hast Thou forsaken Me?' Calvin seemed to think that Jesus redeemed us more through the intensity of His sufferings than through the infinite value of the love with which He endured them.

Thus error swings from one extreme to the other, because men do not know or choose to ignore the culminating point where apparently contrary truths are reconciled. The doctrine of the Church remains on the lofty levels where the diverse aspects of truth are harmonized. It maintains that Jesus on the cross was the most powerful priest by His oblation and the most annihilated voluntary victim. Far more, it holds that divine power has never manifested itself in such a sublime manner as in the passion of the Savior, for this was the greatest action of His life, the consummation of His mission. There is here an admirable law of the spiritual world, which is continually fulfilled in men's souls. 'Power is made perfect in infirmity,' saith the Lord."

-Fr. Reginald Garrigou-Lagrange, O.P. in Our Saviour and His Love For Us.
(as a side note, I learned last night at the Phenomenology of JP II conference from Cardinal Avery Dulles that Garrigou-Lagrange was John Paul II's dissertation director at the Angelicum. How cool is that?!)

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