Monday, April 24, 2006

Sufficient unto the Day

As persons wholly dependent for salvation on the work of Christ, we have to think and speak dialectically, being addressed by Paul, “what do you have that you did not receive? And if you received it, why do you boast as if it were not a gift? (1 Cor 4:7). But once our dependence is thought through and made clear, we should not shy away from pondering the richness of the gift, where another thought-form can well be introduced, that of participation.

I am reminded of the remark of an astute Thomist of the Reformation era, when he responded to the Protestant denial of the meritorious and satisfactory value of human graced good works. The opponents felt constrained to make this denial, lest they call in question the full and perfect sufficiency of the merit and satisfaction of Christ’s death for us and for our salvation. The affirmation of Christ had to be guarded by a denial of a creaturely role. But the Thomist, Tommaso de Vio, Cardinal Cajetan, answered that ascribing meritorious value to the works of the justified does not come from holding an insufficiency on the side of Christ, but it is done instead precisely because of the singular richness of Christ’s merit (propter affluentiam). For Christ gives his members a share in his merit, albeit in their order of dependent causes and in their partial and imperfect degree.[17] The key is not to think that a Yes to Christ means simply and solely a No to his members, dialectically, but to admit as well that Christ’s influence extends to give others a mode of participation, on their level, in what he is and does.

Thus, Mary’s intercession on behalf of the world is dependent on the unique and all-perfect mediation of her Son. It does not serve to supplement Christ’s intercession, as if that needed completion. It is rather a manifestation of, or even a testimonial to, the supreme role of Christ that he incorporates others, preeminently his mother, into his ongoing intercession for the graces of his Spirit for us and for our salvation.

— Jared Wicks, S.J., A Commentary on Mary: Grace and Hope in Christ of the Anglican-Roman Catholic International Commission - 2005

Worms have eaten them, but not for love. How many have died, how many have killed, how many have suffered, how many have persecuted, because a few misread Paul? Why did Catholics and Protestants in the 16th century agree that such terms as “sufficiency” and “insufficiency”, “mediator” and “intercessor”, were fighting words? Why were grace and works a riddle? Why did it take 500 years for Catholics and Anglicans, Catholics and Lutherans, to reach common understandings that the wars of religion were “just” misunderstandings?

Do not boast, because it is a gift. Is the Giver then forbidden to say, “Well done, good and faithful servants”?

But some do boast: “ Lord, Lord, we kill in thy name.”


Post a Comment

<< Home