Tuesday, June 8, 2004

Christian Heritage - June 8

Anyone who aspires to union with Christ must share in his flesh and in his divinity, as also in his death and resurrection. We associate ourselves with his death and resurrection by our baptism, we share in the royal unction he received and in his Godhead by our chrismation, and we have communion with the flesh and blood assumed by the Savior when we eat the consecrated bread and drink the most holy cup. In this way we are united to him who for our sake became flesh, imparted to the flesh his divinity, and who died and rose again.

But why do we reverse the order and begin where he ended and end where he began? It is because the reason for his descent to earth was to make possible our ascent to heaven. We have to go by the same road as he did, and as he descended, so we have to ascend. The very circumstances of the case make this order inevitable. Baptism is a birth, chrism is a source of energy and activity, the bread of life and the cup of the eucharist are real food and drink. To be able to act or receive nourishment one first has to be born. Moreover, the waters of baptism reconcile us to God, chrism endows us with the supernatural gifts, the holy table communicates to the initiated the body and blood of Christ.

Nicolas Cabasilas (AD 1322-1387), Life of Christ 2: PG 150, 522-513

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