Sunday, April 8, 2012

Why The Risen Christ Did Not Manifest His Glory To The Entire World






One of my favorite Catholic writers is Caryll Houselander, a British woman who wrote many small articles and features on the Catholic Faith during the 1940s and early 1950s.
Here is her meditation on the Risen Christ and why He did not manifest His glorified Body to all the world, but only to a handful of people.


Resurrection
From The Risen Christ,
by Caryll Houselander
(Sheed And Ward, 1959)


     Before the crucifixion [Jesus Christ] had always kept his divinity secret until he had first won men and brought them close to him. He would not prostrate them with fear, they must not be afraid to live intimately with him and learn from this what God's love is.
     But now, since that little handful who did love him had been scattered and broken by the bewilderment and terror of the crucifixion, since everything for which they had in spite of recent failure given their lives seemed in ruins, would it not have been consistent with his mercy to have shown his glory, to have shaken his enemies, and to have restored the courage and joy of his apostles in a single glorious moment?
     There is no doubt that it was his will that his love should sweep round the world like fire, and now there seemed to be nothing to stop it. Before, his message could only go as far as his voice could carry it, his mission as far as he could go on foot, and even among those whom he could reach tramping the roads and preaching in the streets, the temple and the countryside, many hearts were shut to him and would not open to the joy he brought for them. He wept over them openly; his tears could not move them, his love was frustrated.
     Yet, now in his glorified body, he remained in the same little district, he hid his splendor, he kept the wounds of his Passion, he walked and talked and ate with men. He seemed as intent on persuading them to realize that he was human as he had been before on proving that he was divine, and instead of appearing in dazzling light all over the world, he sent other people to carry the news of his Resurrection, people who were still afraid, who still had the stains of their tears on their faces, who were still broken by the grief and horror of Calvary.
     He came out of the tomb and walked in the garden and on the road to Jerusalem, as if he was eager to lay hold of the substantial earth with the same blameless feet that had so lately been lifted from it and fastened down by the cold, heavy iron to the cross.
     He had loved the earth before, had loved its mysteries of seed and harvest; and he loved it still. The love he had come to give was love like the seed in the earth. Love that must go down again and again into the darkness, be buried again and again in the heart of man, to live again and again in the resurrections of innumerable springs. Christ who had died and risen from the dead would not approach those whom he loved from outside; he would not only be the voice in their ears, he would be the silence in their souls.
     He would be the life that quickens in darkness and flowers in countless millions of forms of beauty. He would overcome fear and sin and sorrow and death in the heart of everyone who would love him until the end of time.
     He, in his sacred humanity, could suffer no more; he could not be wounded or die any more; his life had become peace, joy, the absolute power of consummated love; and now by a supreme expression of that love, which completely passes our understanding and our realization, he gives us that life of joy.
     He gives that joy and peace to be at the very heart of our suffering, to make suffering and joy, for us as it was for him, not two things incompatible with each other, but just one thing, love -- and he gives us his own power of consummated love to use for one another, to comfort and heal and restore one another; even, in a mysterious sense that those who have really known sin and sorrow and love will understand, to raise one another from the dead. "Believe me when I tell you this; the man who has learned to believe in me will be able to do what I do; nay, he will be able to do greater things yet" (John 15:12).
     The ultimate miracle of Divine Love is this, that the life of the Risen Lord is given to us to give to one another. It is given to us through our own human loves. It is no violation of our simple human nature.
     It is not something which must be cultivated through a lofty spirituality that only few could attain; it does not demand a way of life that is abnormal, or even unusual; it is not a specialized vocation. It is to be lived at home, at work, in any place, any circumstances. It is to be lived through our natural human relationships, through the people we know, the neighbors we see. It is given to us, if we will take it, literally into our own hands to give. It is the love of human lovers, of man and wife, of parent and child, of friend and friend.
     It is through his Risen Life in us that Christ sends his love to the ends of the earth. That is why instead of startling the world into trembling adoration by manifesting his glory, he sent the woman who had been a sinner to carry the ineffable secret, and sent the two disciples who had been bewildered by their blind inability to reconcile Scripture and Calvary, and sent the friend who had denied him, to give his love to the world, and to give it as simply as a whispered secret or a loaf of bread.
     So is it that we, sinners, wranglers, weaklings, provided only that we love God, are sent to give the life of the Risen Christ to the whole world, through the daily bread of our human love.
"It is not for you to know the times and the seasons which the Father has fixed by his own authority. Enough for you, that the Holy Spirit will come upon you, and you will receive strength from him; you are to be my witnesses in Jerusalem and throughout Judea, in Samaria, yes, and to the ends of the earth" (Acts Of The Apostles 1:7-8).

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