O Lord Thou shalt open my lips and my mouth shall declare Thy praise.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Don't Build Your Own House, Get The Contractor

Feast of Our Lord Jesus Christ the King - I Class
Epistle: I Col. 1:12-20
Gospel: Jn. 18:33-37
Full Latin-English propers here.

"Unless the Lord build the house, they labour in vain that build it. Unless the Lord keep the city, he watcheth in vain that keepeth it." (Ps 126:1) Many people go through their lives, building up their lives their own way, on the greatest strength they can muster, all to make themselves happy, their own way, on their own strength. They take the gifts that God gave them and use them according to their own, passions, feelings, and opinions. This only degrades God's creation down to a worldly level in accordance with the opinions of men.

The cross of Christ has two arms, the vertical and horizontal. He is both Ischyros and Athanatos. He is the Ischyros (Mighty One), capable of completely satisfying us. He is the Athanatos (Immortal One), Whose joy lasts forever. Unless Christ build up their life and then guard it, lording Himself over it (we don't call Him "Lord" for nothing), then that life will never fully satisfy them or last forever. It will never fully satisfy them because God designed them, their bodies, their minds, their souls, for a certain purpose and a certain dignity. To move away from that is to degrade yourself. We were created to know, love, and serve God. We are beautiful because we are created in God's image. We are designed to be perfectly beautiful because we are designed to reflect perfectly the beauty of God. We are designed to love as God loves. The love of God is the grace that pushes one to sacrifice oneself to attain the dignity for which the beloved was created. Love is the very presence of God, as God is love (1 John 4:8). A simpler definition of love is that love is when God teaches you to look at someone the way He looks at them. This is how Christ the Nymphios (Bridegroom) loves His Bride the Church. He sacrificed Himself on the cross to restore His Bride to the dignity for which She was created. This love is made present in the Eucharist, where the Nymphios, through the priest, comes down from Heaven to be with His Bride.

Icon of Christ Pantocrator (All-Mighty)
Marriage is the most perfect reflection of this love. Husband and wife give themselves to each other completely to get the other to the dignity for which he/she was created. This mutual self-giving is most perfectly expressed in the marriage bed, where they give even their very bodies to each other. It is the perfect expression of the relationship. The husband is over his wife, protecting her, giving everything to her to take care of her on the way to Heaven. The wife is under her husband, supporting him on his journey to Heaven. They hold back nothing from each other. They desire nothing for themselves, but only the good of the other; the dignity for which the other was created. This perfect union of man and woman is the environment of love God wills to use to create new life, which is then nurtured and raised by that same love, that same sacrificial desire for the Divinely-designed dignity of the other.

Apart from Christ, people are only distorting and perverting themselves. Sex is degraded to an act of pleasure, desiring whatever carnal pleasure or romantic pleasure. Of course God can bring new life out of this as well, but that is merely a show of His power, as He can bring good out of evil. Children are perverted by being raised not to attain the dignity for which they were created by God, but rather children are raised o have whatever they want to be happy. Parenting becomes nothing but passing pleasure. That's no surprise, as the relationship between the parents is only passing pleasure to begin with. If they build up their own lives, they are separating themselves from God by using themselves for whatever they want. They lower their gifts to a human level, using them based on human emotions for human pleasures. Joined to Christ, they attain the purpose for which they were created. They attain a joy that is infinitely powerful, satisfying them perfectly, and endures infinitely, satisfying them forever. Only with God is it infinite, as God alone is infinite. Everything besides God runs out as everything besides God is finite. We have everything to gain by letting Christ rule over our lives and deciding Himself how our lives will turn out. We have everything to loose by building our lives ourselves. Christ can make us happier than we can make ourselves, just because He's God. He alone is the Pantocrator (All-Mighty).

Icon of the Nymphios (Bridegroom)