Yesterday we had the following words to contemplate from St. Athanasius, “God became man, so that man might become God.” Today we have the following words from Jesus to His apostle, Phillip, “I am in the Father, and the Father is in me. If you know me, you also know the Father."
The technical word for this theology is called “Theosis," which literally means, "becoming God."
It is the process that takes place most fully through our reception of the Holy Eucharist, in which we participate mysteriously in the Divine nature. And this is possible, through the incarnation. Jesus, fully God, fully Man, became incarnate in the flesh, and we are privileged to consume Him and become Christ to others.
Philip didn't fully realize that great miracle that Jesus was going to perform when he questioned how Jesus was going to feed the five thousand earlier in John's Gospel, which foreshadows His feeding us, physically and spiritually in the Eucharist.
Now the apostles post Pentecost truly modeled what it means to be Christ to others in their heroic spread of the Gospel message throughout the early Church. They were products of “Theosis”…..in other words….They became other Christs in the world, bringing the message to far and distant lands with joy, zeal, and without fear of condemnation. All good works were done in Jesus' name.
Phillip, from northern shore of Galilee, called "Bethsaida," preached throughout Asia Minor, was believed to have been martyred in modern day Western Turkey, in the year 80 A.D.
Also today we celebrate St. James the Less, or St. James, son of Alphaeus is thought to have been the first bishop of Jerusalem, held in very high esteem. Legend has it that he was known as “James the Just,” and was also the author of the epistle of James in the New Testament. In the Acts of the Apostles he presides over the Council of Jerusalem.
The reason the two share the same feast day is because the Basilica of the Holy Apostles in Rome received the bodies of both saints together in the sixth century, where they are now buried.
Both men had a relationship of complete intimacy with Christ, and thus great intimacy with our Heavenly Father. They were found worthy to suffer a martyr’s death.
Today, particularly during this Easter season, is a good day to ponder what we are willing to suffer for Christ. We are called to witness to Christ in all that we say and do. As St. James says in his epistle, it is our faith and works that lead to salvation.
What are the vices in our lives that prevent us from completely assimilating Christ as the early apostles did?
Do we profess to be Christian but are quick to gossip that neighbor of ours?
Do we profess to be Christian yet not take opportunities God gives us to share our beliefs with others for fear of offending them, and then they won’t like us?
Do we profess to be Christian yet feel no shame in watching programs or listen to music that is violent, sexually promiscuous, pornographic, or that use foul language?
Do we profess to be Christian yet accumulate more wealth than is necessary for our sustenance out of fear of losing what we’ve worked so hard for, but turn a blind eye to the poor?
Do we profess to be Christian but refuse to get involved in a ministry for fear of failure?
Pope Benedict XVI said the following regarding St. James' discussion of the value of faith and works:
" Faith must be fulfilled in life, above all, in love of neighbour and especially in dedication to the poor. It is against this background that the famous sentence must be read: 'As the body apart from the spirit is dead, so faith apart from works is dead'"
Let’s pray for more faith in the miracle of this Eucharistic celebration in which we receive the Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity of Our Lord, that we can truly assimilate Christ in all we say and do this day, and resist the vices that hold us back from becoming saints.
For Jesus says in today's Gospel, “Whoever believes in me, will do the works that I do.”
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