Date of Award


Degree Type

Master's Essay - Restricted

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)


Religious Studies




Only in the faith which follows Resurrection and Pentecost are we able to face the two most frightening of all questions: ~ is God? and Who am I? In order to answer these questions, we must recapture the vision of God; we must penetrate the revelation of God as contained in Jesus Christ, the Incarnate Word of the Father. Christ is God expressed as man in all the fullness of human perfection. Ultimately, the truth of Christ is not proven; it is experienced. Real meaning in life is initiated when conscious encounter with the Person of Christ takes place. Following upon this encounter, the individual is free to respond or to reject the challenge of an ever-deepening friendship.

He who is chosen by God and opens himself to the divine call, experiences the creative, transforming power of God's word spoken in the Word incarnate ••• Only he who opens himself to the words of Christ and surrenders himself to the demands these make on him can hear the Father speaking to him in Christ ••• where there is faith and surrender--and these are themselves the work of the Father--one who listens to Christ hears the Word spoken in eternity and the voice of the Father.

The Supreme Pontiffs, particularly of recent years, and at present the Vatican Council, have all stressed the necessity of our coming to know Jesus Christ. It is in knowing Him that we shall begin to view reality in a Christian way. It is only as we develop in personal relatedness to Him that we shall begin to discern the Father's intentionality for mankind, for the whole universe in which we live. It is only through the Spirit of Christ that we will be able to acknowledge Who God is and Who we are. The aims of Christianity include answers to these questions: in union with Christ, through the Spirit, we are to acknowledge our individual sonship, live out our corporate membership in Christ's Mystical Body, and restore all things to Christ, keeping in mind the assurance of St. Paul, "...all are yours, and you are Christ's, and Christ is God's." (1 Cor. 3:23).

We find in Christ a keen sense of the world and a deep understanding of everyday life as it was lived by the people around him. And yet He moves among these people with authority and a sense of mission. Christ shows no awareness of inadequacy such as Jeremiah felt before God. There is in Christ no inner force urging Him te proclaim His message. There is rather an atmosphere of calm, of freedom, and of determination. "Never did human failing or human sin surprise or shock Him. He never registered shock in the presence of moral ugliness. He is constantly serene in the presence of men and women whose behavior repels an ordinary good man. The charity of Christ is always vital and spontaneous--for He bad come to spread the fire of God's love upon the earth, and his whole desire was to enkindle it."

As we meditate on the image of Christ portrayed for us in the Gospels, we increasingly discover Bis plan of leading men to a knowledge of God and to an understanding of themselves. For example, we watch the apostles while they participate in the Transfiguration scene. They are preS'Sed to the ground as they become heavy with the weight of glory. They experience the reality of the living God, and the intensity of the encounter is insupportable to them. They are filled with the sudden awareness of divinity and are conscious at the same time of a pervading knowledge of their own creaturehood. No wonder these men fall down upon the ground, for they desperately need something concrete to assure themselves of reality.

In all the actions of Christ's life, it is in His prayer that we are most conscious of the depth of mystery. The evangelists record that Christ prays at His baptism, before choosing the Twelve, before Peter's confession of faith, and in particular during His sufferings. They describe some of the outward circumstances of His prayer, but they do not attempt to enter into the personal relationship of Christ with His Father. Mark alone mentions the Aramaic word that Jesus uses ••• and follows it with a translation into Greek: "~, all things are possible to thee." (14:36). St. Matthew, the evangelist of Christian prayer, shows how the prayer of Christ becomes ours. The Christian is regarded as a son with Christ; sonship is summed up in Christ's words, "You therefore are to be perfect, even as your heavenly Father is perfect." (Matt. 5:48).

Further meditation on the image of Christ opens to us the reality of the Incarnation as an on-going process. The Incarnation, the process by which Christ becomes man, continues until His consummation as perfect manat the Resurrection. We realize that this mystery is one of profound identity with mankind. The Gospel writers want us to know the Incarnate Word, that in knowing Him, we might know God and understand more fully who we are.

Each Gospel paints for us a different portrait of Christ. Luke shows Him in His universal mission as Saviour of all men. The goodness and mercy of God is found on every page. It is to st. Luke we are indebted for the parables of the prodigal son, the lost groat, the strayed sheep. How rich these themes are with God's mercy Mark pictures for us Christ who acts, Christ who is delightfully homespun, Christ who reveals what it is like to be human. With Matthew, so tranquil, so serene, so eminently quotable, we have Christ who speaks. "The Gospels were written ex fide ad fidem. They called for the response of faith."

There is a sentence in Deuteronomy which strikes the keynote of all Scripture. The message it brings out pulses with relevance to the here and now. We want to use this message, apply it to the Gospel image of Christ, and finally, we want to hear, as did the ancient Hebrews, the voice of the Lord, our God--the voice of the living God--speaking to us today from the midst of fire, speaking to us forever in Jesus Christ. Moses had gathered the people before him that he might recount for them the mighty deeds of God. This is how he began..."Hear, 0 Israel, the statutes and decrees which I proclaim in your hearing this day...The Lord, our God, made a covenant with us at Horeb; not with our fathers did he make this covenant, but with us, all of us, who are alive here this day." (Deut. 5:1-4).