Irenaeus on the purpose of Christ’s passion

As we reflect today on the events of Great and Holy Friday, observe Christ's descent into Hades, and look forward to his paschal triumph, here's a passage adapted from Irenaeus' Against Heresies worth considering: The Lord suffered that he might bring those who have wandered from the Father back to knowledge and to his fellowship. Having thus suffered and bestowing the knowledge of the Father, the Lord conferred salvation upon us. His passion gave rise to strength and power. For the Lord … [Read more...]

Christ is both our goal and our way

Christ is everything to the believer. Our lives follow his. This short reflection from Augustine's City of God shows us that Christ is the goal of human life and the way we walk toward that goal. He's the point and the path. (I've paraphrased it here from Marcus Dods' translation.) Man is properly understood to be made in God’s image. This is the higher part of his nature that transcends the lowly animals and brings him nearer to the Supreme. But while the human mind is naturally … [Read more...]

Where you go to meet with God

И. Максим, Flickr

During the Last Supper the disciple Philip asked Jesus show him God. "Lord," he said, as recorded by John's gospel, "show us the Father, and we shall be satisfied" (14.8). Did Philip know what he was asking? Surely he was aware that Moses asked a similar question, to see God's glory. "[Y]ou cannot see my face," answered the Lord, "for man shall not see me and live" (Ex 33.20). God allowed Moses a glimpse nonetheless, but not directly. Instead of seeing the Lord’s face, Moses was … [Read more...]

The Lord’s Prayer: God’s words, our needs

Detail of fresco by Manuel Panselinos, Wikimedia Commons

Why does the Lord's Prayer matter? Let the context answer the question. In Luke's account, Jesus' disciples approach. They point to John the Baptist's practice of teaching his disciples to pray and ask for similar treatment. "Teach us to pray," they implore. This is a reasonable request. What is a person, a fallen human, supposed to say to an almighty, all-holy God? God tells us that his ways are not ours. We cannot identify with him. And if prayer is communication between two persons, a … [Read more...]

Daddy by grace: An adoption insight

Moses and Dad

My Moses can be a fickle child. The other night he said in his singsongy, Luganda-tinged voice, "You are not my daddy." It's a funny thing to hear as an adoptive father. My response was funny too. It was a knee-jerk thing -- accidental, really -- but I dropped some theology on the boy. "You're right," I said, "I'm not your father by nature. I'm you're father by grace." Come again? It was out of my mouth before I really understood what I had said. The words came from something I had been … [Read more...]

Jesus comes to us so we can go for him

Doubting Thomas believes

On the Sunday after Easter the Eastern Orthodox Church commemorates the encounter of the Apostle Thomas with the risen Jesus. You know the story. Skeptical about his fellow disciples' enthusiastic claims of the resurrection, Thomas took a wait-and-see attitude, earning him the moniker Doubting Thomas. But then, when Christ appeared to him, Thomas exclaimed, "My Lord and my God!" There in that moment Doubting Thomas became Believing Thomas. Two things stand out for me about this … [Read more...]

The gangster, the cardinal, and us

the gangster the cardinal and us

In You've got Mail, Tom Hanks's character says that all of life's questions can be answered by reference to The Godfather. Not quite, but close. For instance, just ask yourself why in a supposedly Christian nation things are so decidedly unchristian. There is a scene in The Godfather: Part III which provides an answer. … [Read more...]


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