Wednesday, December 28, 2011

The Incarnation itself as an act of Sacrifice (Michael Ramsey)


These beautiful words, from THE GOSPEL AND THE CATHOLIC CHURCH (p.21) by Michael Ramsey (1904-1988), the 100th Archbishop of Canterbury, remind us not to compartmentalise the aspects of the person and work of Christ so as to isolate them from each other.

His selfhood is so laid down, that His power and authority centre in His humiliation. Such is the impression of the earthly life of Jesus. But this seIf-abandonment does not belong to that earthly life alone, for it is the expression in history of the self-giving of the eternal God. Saint Paul makes it clear that the first and great act of humiliation is the act whereby the Son of God is made man.

“Have this mind in you, which was also in Christ Jesus; who, being in the form of God, counted it not a prize to be on an equality with God, but emptied himself, taking the form of a servant, being made in the likeness of men; and being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, becoming obedient unto death, yea, the death of the cross.” (Phil. 2:5-7)

Thus, before the humiliations of the Messiah in His life and death upon earth, there is the divine self-emptying whereby He "came" and “was sent." For St. Paul the Incarnation is in itself an act of sacrifice than which none is greater; Christmas is as costly in self-giving as is Good Friday. Only the crucifixion is the deepest visible point of the divine self-giving which entered history at Bethlehem and which begins in heaven itself. "There was a Calvary above which was the mother of it all." #

# Here Ramsey quotes the Congregationalist P. T. Forsythe (1848-1921)

1 comments:

Br Bernardine FHC said...

..."Compartmentalise the aspects of the person and the work of Christ so as to isolate them from each other"...???
There seems so many different aspects of the divine life verses the human life of Jesus. In our limited human and earthly experiences we can surely only follow the life of Jesus as shown to us and experienced in time and space?

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