It being the Feast of Athanasius…

It being the Feast of Athanasius… May 2, 2017

I thought a little reading from him might be good:

16. He came then to attract man’s sense-bound attention to Himself as man, and so to lead him on to know Him as God.
For men’s mind having finally fallen to things of sense, the Word disguised Himself by appearing in a body, that He might, as Man, transfer men to Himself, and centre their senses on Himself, and, men seeing Him thenceforth as Man, persuade them by the works He did that He is not Man only, but also God, and the Word and Wisdom of the true God. 2. This, too, is what Paul means to point out when he says: That ye being rooted and grounded in love, may be strong to apprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length, and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ which passes knowledge, that you may be filled unto all the fullness of God. 3. For by the Word revealing Himself everywhere, both above and beneath, and in the depth and in the breadth— above, in the creation; beneath, in becoming man; in the depth, in Hades; and in the breadth, in the world— all things have been filled with the knowledge of God. 4. Now for this cause, also, He did not immediately upon His coming accomplish His sacrifice on behalf of all, by offering His body to death and raising it again, for by this means He would have made Himself invisible. But He made Himself visible enough by what He did, abiding in it, and doing such works, and showing such signs, as made Him known no longer as Man, but as God the Word. 5. For by His becoming Man, the Saviour was to accomplish both works of love; first, in putting away death from us and renewing us again; secondly, being unseen and invisible, in manifesting and making Himself known by His works to be the Word of the Father, and the Ruler and King of the universe.

By no coincidence, this patient leading of the sense-bound on to the things of God is exactly what we see in today’s gospel:

When they found him on the other side of the sea, they said to him, “Rabbi, when did you come here?” Jesus answered them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, you seek me, not because you saw signs, but because you ate your fill of the loaves. ¶ Do not labor for the food which perishes, but for the food which endures to eternal life, which the Son of man will give to you; for on him has God the Father set his seal.” Then they said to him, “What must we do, to be doing the works of God?” ¶ Jesus answered them, “This is the work of God, that you believe in him whom he has sent.” ¶ So they said to him, “Then what sign do you do, that we may see, and believe you? What work do you perform? ¶ Our fathers ate the manna in the wilderness; as it is written, ‘He gave them bread from heaven to eat.’ ” Jesus then said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, it was not Moses who gave you the bread from heaven; my Father gives you the true bread from heaven. For the bread of God is that which comes down from heaven, and gives life to the world.” (Jn 6:25–34).

The amazing thing about this gospel, of course, is that the crowd asking Jesus, “Then what sign do you do, that we may see, and believe you? What work do you perform? Our fathers ate the manna in the wilderness; as it is written, ‘He gave them bread from heaven to eat’” are the people who, just the day before, witnessed (and participated in) the feeding of the five thousand.  The bread Jesus fed them the day before has pointed their minds, not to the question, “Who is this?” but “When do we get another full belly?”  Jesus is like the man pointing at something while his dog does not look where he is pointing, but sniffs his finger.

It’s a paradigm shift we are slow to achieve.  That’s why, two thousand years later, we are still thinking about our stuff–our guns, property, food, jobs, and sundry earthly things–while Jesus is calling us to open our hearts to the least of these and, in them, to him.

If you do not see Christ in the beggar at the Church door, you will not find him in the cup. – St. John Chrysostom

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