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P. 1
Jesus Christ and Justice

Jesus Christ and Justice

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Published by Karl Cruz

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Published by: Karl Cruz on Jul 02, 2012
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07/02/2012

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JesusChristandJustice
Thefirstwaveofrenewalinchristologyhassculpturedanewlandscapebyremovingthechurch'sforgetfulnessofthegenuinehumanityofGodwithus.Asaresult,theincarnationisappreciatedasamuchmorestartlingeventthanwhenitsimplyinvolvedtheunionofGodwithaquasi-humanity.ThesecondwavehaschiseledthehumanfeaturesofthehistoricalJesusinboldrelief,givingthechurch'smemoryofJesusanewandcompellingconcreteness.Neitherofthesemovementshastakenplaceinavacuum,whichisamisimpressionthatmaybecreatedwhentheyaresingledoutbythemselvesforclosescrutiny.Rather,thepressingneedsofouragecoupledwiththecharacterofpost-VaticanIItheologyturnedtowardthetroubledworldhaveledchristologyintoimmediatecontactwithissuesofdiscipleship,thatis,thefollowingofJesusChrist.Thequestionaboutwhowesayheisinvitesananswerinpracticallivingaswellasinreflection.Furthermore,thepracticalconcernsoftodayreachbeyondthepersonalandtheinterpersonaltoincludethestructuralandcosmic,andrightlysoifthevictoryoverthe"powersandprincipalities"woninthecrucifiedJesusissignificantforthewholeuniverseandnotjustforindividualsinisolation.WhatisthedynamismofourfaithconfessioninJesusChristthatgeneratesactiononbehalfofjusticeasacon-stitutiveelementofthatfaith?Whatisthisrelationbetween
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68JesusChristandJusticechristologyandsocialjusticethatisemergingasanewinsightintheChristianimaginationofourtime?Assoonaswebegintoanalyzethisrelation,itbecomesmorecomplexduetothepluralismexistingintheologytoday.Similartothesituationinthefirstcentury,whenadiversityofculturalexperiencesleddifferentChristiancommunitiestoarticulateJesus'significanceinvariousways,givingusthediversechristologiesofPaul,Mark,andJohn,thechurchtodayasanemergingworldchurchiswitnessingdiversechristologiesbornfromtheexperienceofbelieversondif-ferentcontinents.Tofindapaththroughthispluralism,andtogettotheheartofthequestionaboutchristology'srelationtosocialjustice,wecanborrowapagefromKarlRahner.Accordingtohi"analysis,allchristologiescanintheendbecharacterizedasbelongingtooneoftwobasictypes:asalva-tionhistoryorascendingtype,commonlycalledchristologyfrombelow,andametaphysicalordescendingtype,com-monlycalledchristologyfromabove.Thetwoarenotmutu-allyexclusive,andtheChurchneedsbothforthefullconfessionofitsfaith.Theyaredistinct,however,bringingintoplaydifferentscripturalanddoctrinalemphasesandadifferentmethodofthinking.ToillustratetheunbreakablerelationbetweenJesusChristandsocialjusticeineachofthesepatternsofthinking,wemayturntokeyteachingsofchurchleaders.Thisinitselfhigh-lightsoneaspectofthedynamicofalivingtradition,namely,onceafermentintheologicaldevelopmentreachesacertainstageofmaturity,itstestedinsightsbegintobeusedincom-monparlanceoftheteachingofthechurch.Thustheyarepreservedandhandedontofuturegenerations.ThefirstwaveofchristologicalrenewalisclearlypresentinthefirstencyclicalofJohnPaulIIonJesusChristasredeemerofthehumanrace.TherehepresentsadescendingtypeofchristologyfocusedprimarilyonJesusChrist'sredemptiveincarnationanditshealingeffectonthewholehumanrace.JesusChristandJustice69HisargumentstandsorfallsontherealityofthegenuinehumanityofJesus,forbythathumanityJesusisunitedtoeveryotherhumanbeing,giftingeachofuswithadignitybeyondcomparewhichmandatesjusticeforall.Ontheotherhand,thesecondwaveofrenewalinchristologyshapesthepastorallettersonpeacemakingandeconomicjusticewrittenbytheUnitedStatesCatholicbishops.IntheseteachinglettersthebishopsdelineateanascendingtypeofchristologywhichdrawsitsinspirationfromtheministryoftheearthlyJesus,culminatinginhisdeathandresurrection.Withoutthecon-creteexampleofJesusandthevaluesenunciatedinhispreach-ing,thebishops'caselosesitspersuasiveChristianpower.Whilefollowingdifferenttrainsofthought,however,bothapproachesareoneinappealingtotheintrinsicdynamismofthequestion"WhodoyousaythatIam?"whichsetsbelieverstofollowingthewayofJesusChristincareandcommitmentforthesufferingneighbor,andincritiqueandchangeofthesystemswhichcausethatsuffering.Uncoveringthelogicoftheirdifferentargumentsshowsthatbothpropelthechurchinthesamedirection,fromthefoundationofconfessingfaithinJesusChristtothechallengeofactiononbehalfofjustice.
DescendingChristology
ThistypeofchristologyhasbeenthepredominantoneinthecourseoftheChristiantradition.ItbeginsitsthinkinginheavenwiththedoctrineoftheSecondPersonoftheBlessedTrinity,theWordofGodpreexistingfromalleternityinunitywiththeFatherandtheSpirit.Asitsnamesuggests,thischristologythentracesthedescentoftheeternalWordintothisworld;fascinatedwiththemysteryoftheincarnation,theWordbecomeflesh.Theonethroughwhomallthingsweremadeisnowintheworldundertheconditionsofsinandalienation,inordertorenewcreationwhichGodhasneverceasedtolove.AstheIncarnateWord,JesusChristrevealsthe
 
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JesusChristandJusticeloveandmercyofGodand,throughhisidentificationwithhumanexistenceculminatinginthecrossandresurrection,restoreshumanbeingstotheirlikenesstoGodwhichhadbeendisfiguredbysin.Indeed,thewholecosmosisredeemedandmadeintoanewcreation.ThusthegenuinedescentoftheeternalWordintohumanexistenceisaredemptiveeventparexcellence;JesusChrist'smetaphysicalidentityisthegroundofhisfunctionasRedeemerofthehumanrace.ThispatternofchristologyfindsitsscripturalparadigminthegospelofJohn:"InthebeginningwastheWord,andtheWordwaswithGod,andtheWordwasGod...andtheWordwasmadeflesh"(1:1,14).ItisusuallydevelopedintheologywithmuchattentiontothedoctrinalproblematicoftruedivinityandtruehumanityintheunityoftheonepersonofJesusChrist..In
RedemptorHominis,
PopeJohnPaulIIgracefullyas-sumesthisdescendingpatternofchristologicalthought.HebeginswiththeaffirmationthatJesusChrist,theWordofGod,becameahumanbeing:"Godenteredthehistoryofhumanityand,asahumanbeing,becameanactorinthathistory,oneofthethousandsofmillionsofhumanbeingsbutatthesametimeunique!"(paragraph1).Thisincarnationisaradicallyrealone.ChristwhoistheSonofthelivingGodneverthelessbecameforoursakesagenuinehumanbeing:"Heworkedwithhumanhands,hethoughtwithahumanmind.Heactedwithahumanwill,andhelovedwithahumanheart.BornoftheVirginMary,hehastrulybeenmadeoneofus,liketousinallthingsexceptsin"(8).ItisthishumanityoftheSonofGodwhichattractsusandwhichspeakseventomanywhoarenotChristian.Hisfidelitytothetruthspeaks;sodoeshisall-embracingloveandtheinscruta-bledepthofhissufferingandabandonmentonthecross(7).Whatistothefore,then,isJesusChrist'spersonalidentity.HeisunmistakablyGod;heisalsoundeniablyoneofus.InJohnPaul'shands,itistheunionofthetwoinJesusJesusChristandJustice
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Christthattriggersthedramaofredemption.Thewholenaturalworld,whichGodcreatedgood,haslostitslinkwithGodthroughthesinofAdam.Andthehumanrace,speciallycreatedintheimageandlikenessofGod,haslikewisebeendisfiguredthroughthesinofAdam.InthepersonofthenewAdam,however,whojoinsthecreatedwiththeuncreated,theworld'slinkwithGodisreforged.SotootheimageofGodinhumanbeingsisrestored,for"byhisIncarnation,he,theSonofGod,inacertainwayunitedhimselfwitheachhumanbeing"(8).Weall,then,JewandGreek,slaveandfree,maleandfemale,indeedthewholeworld,aremadeintoanewcreation.TheelementwhichJohnPaulsiftsoutofthisstoryofredemptionandbeginstousetoshapeavisionofthechurch'smissionintheworldistheunsurpassabledignityofeveryhumanbeing.ThedescentoftheeternalWordintohumanityleavesnohumanbeingunaffected:"humannature,bytheveryfactthatitwasassumed,notabsorbed,inhim,hasbeenraisedinusalsotoadignitybeyondcompare"(8).Theresultistheestablishmentoftheunsurpassedworthofeveryhumanbeing."HowverypreciousweallmustbeintheeyesofGodthatwehavebeengivensuchaRedeemer,God'sownSon!HowverypreciousweareinthelightoftherevelationthatourhumanityhasbeenrestoredtothelikenessofGod!Howverypreciousweare,unitedtoChristinthemysteryofredemption!WhatarisesinusasweassimilatethischristologyiswonderatthegoodnessofGodanddeepamazementatourselves.Inreality,anothernameforthisdeepamazementatourworthanddignityashumanbeingsisthegospel,thegoodnews(10).Atthispointinthedevelopmentofhischristology,JohnPaulmakesthecriticalmovewhichwillleadtoincorporatingconcernforsocialjusticeintothechurch'smissionintheworld.ThismoveconsistsinsettinguptherelationbetweenChristandthechurchaccordingtothemetaphorofthe
way:
"JesusChrististhechiefwayforthechurch.Hehimselfisour

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