The Enlightening Grace Of God

The Enlightening Grace Of God December 10, 2023

Lucidoadrian: Stained Glass Window Of The Transfiguration From Caleruega Nasugbu, Batangas: Wikimedia Commons

Jesus, the incarnate God-man, unites creation with God, making him the mediator between God and humanity, God and creation. In him the two are one and yet always two. He is God and man, creator and creature. Those distinct natures are preserved instead of becoming blended together and becoming a new, third nature. In his humanity, he shares with the rest of creation a created nature, allowing them to be one, even as they find themselves to be personally distinct, similar to the way the divine persons are distinct and yet united as one in their divinity.

The incarnation took place at a particular time and place. It is an event which did not happen at the beginning of time, nor at its end. Perhaps it happened in the exact mid-point of time; this is something which we do not know, though it would be fitting as it would symbolically point out how the incarnation is the natural center of all creation. While Jesus was not, in his humanity, the first created being, nor its last, ontologically speaking, it has priority to the rest of creation, allowing him to be said to be the first-born of all creation:

He is the image of the invisible God, the first-born of all creation; for in him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or authorities — all things were created through him and for him.  He is before all things, and in him all things hold together.  He is the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning, the first-born from the dead, that in everything he might be pre-eminent (Col. 1:15-18 RSV).

Saying all things were created in and through Jesus certainly can mean that as God, he created all things, but it can also mean that his humanity serves as the model or blueprint used, not only for the creation of humanity, but for all created beings. As God, he is the Logos, the ontological principle of all principles, the principle or reason of being from which all other principles of being emerge. That is, he can be said to be the Logos in which all logoi of being participate, as they find themselves, being their own logos, a limited reflection or imagining of the infinite, transcendent Logos. In relation to his humanity, he is ontologically prior to all other humans, for all humanity, indeed, all creation, can be said to be created with him as its goal. His humanity, his human nature, exists in the eternal mind of God, and forms the basis by which all other humanity exists, even as his human nature, being a created nature, serves as the basis and model for all created natures.

We, are limited in our ability to comprehend or even perceive all truths, because many, if not most of them, transcend our limited intellectual capability. We should not be surprised, therefore, that God, being the source and foundation of all those truths, is incomprehensible to us. Nonetheless, with Jesus, the image of the invisible God, we are given the means we need to properly apprehend God. Through him, we can come to know God for ourselves. We are shown who God is in and through him. If we follow after him in faith, we will find ourselves apprehending God more and more, and through such apprehension of God, come to know more and more of the truths of being as well. For, the more we open ourselves up to God in faith, the more God can and will offer to enlighten us, leading us to perceive more and more of the divine glory and all that flows from it, similar to the way Jesus helped heal blind people to see and apprehend the world around them:

As he drew near to Jericho, a blind man was sitting by the roadside begging;  and hearing a multitude going by, he inquired what this meant.  They told him, “Jesus of Nazareth is passing by.”  And he cried, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!” And those who were in front rebuked him, telling him to be silent; but he cried out all the more, “Son of David, have mercy on me!” And Jesus stopped, and commanded him to be brought to him; and when he came near, he asked him,  “What do you want me to do for you?” He said, “Lord, let me receive my sight.”  And Jesus said to him, “Receive your sight; your faith has made you well.”  And immediately he received his sight and followed him, glorifying God; and all the people, when they saw it, gave praise to God (Lk. 18:35-43 RSV).

We, like the blind man, should come to Jesus and beseech him to help us see, that is, to become enlightened by his grace. We should have a faith seeking understanding. The greater our faith, the more we will seek to understand what it is we believe. But the more we understand, the more we will understand what we do not understand is greater than what we do understand. And so the more we will seek to understand, knowing how great the pursuit of understanding will be. There will be some who will tell us that due to our limited, finite existence, there will be a limit to what we can apprehend, and they will try to define that limit. While, it is true, we are limited, the limit to what we can apprehend is the infinite, transcendent nature of God; the more we grow in faith and understand, the more we will find that faith and understanding will give us the grace we need to grow, to become ever greater in our intellectual capacity, so that we should not only be growing in understanding but also our potential to understand throughout eternity.

When we grow, when we are enlightened in some fashion, we should not be surprised if, at first, it appears we have gone from spiritual darkness to another darkness, making us wonder if our situation has really changed. The reality is that it has, but we will find that we have gone from a kind of darkness into a bright, spiritual light due to the light of grace. Just as someone going from complete darkness to the light of the noonday sun will find the brightness of the sun so overwhelming it will be as if they had entered into a new kind of darkness, so too, the brightness of our new spiritual condition will temporarily seem as if we have just entered into a new kind of darkness. Nonetheless, we will find ourselves adjusting to the light, and in doing so, we will then see we have truly gone beyond the darkness and into the light, that we have been enlightened by grace, through it, find ourselves transformed in the process. Then, we will be able to take what we previously apprehended and understand it better, thanks to the new light, so that we will see how and why it represented or pointed to the truth which it did not comprehend. Then, once we are ready, we should begin to explore the truth once again, to open up to more grace, to more of the light of truth, and find ourselves growing even more, a process which we will find will be with us for all eternity, allowing us to go from truth to truth, glory to glory, making eternity never boring but always exciting and new

 

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N.B.:  While I read comments to moderate them, I rarely respond to them. If I don’t respond to your comment directly, don’t assume I am unthankful for it. I appreciate it. But I want readers to feel free to ask questions, and hopefully, dialogue with each other. I have shared what I wanted to say, though some responses will get a brief reply by me, or, if I find it interesting and something I can engage fully, as the foundation for another post. I have had many posts inspired or improved upon thanks to my readers.

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