Article brought to you by: Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)
Catholic Social Doctrine: To Restore All Things in Christ
By Andrew M. Greenwell, Esq.
May 11th, 2012
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)
Jesus, the "new Adam," is at the center of the Church's understanding of the international community of nations, the nations to which she addresses the Gospel and seeks to baptize into its truths. "The Lord Jesus is the prototype and foundation of the new humanity." (Compendium, No. 431) Not Moses, not Muhammad, not Buddha, not Kant, not science, not anyone or anything else.CORPUS CHRISTI, TX (Catholic Online) - In the New Testament, Jesus is referred to as the "new Adam" or the "last Adam." Whereas "in Adam all died, so too in Christ shall all be brought to life." (1 Cor. 15:22) "So, too, it is written, 'The first man, Adam, became a living being,' the last Adam a life-giving spirit." (1 Cor. 15:45) Christ is therefore seen as the beginnings of a new humanity.
Church iconography vividly reflects this unity between the first Adam--whose disobedience brought death and division into the world--and the second Adam--whose obedience brought life and the promise, as indicated in the new Adam's highly priestly prayer, that man "may be one" even as the Father and the Son are one (John 17:21). Paintings of the crucifixion and crucifixes show the skull and bones of the first Adam under the cross. Christ's death on the Cross occurs at Golgotha, Calvary, respectively the Aramaic and Latin names for "place of the skull," (Matt. 27:33, Mark 15:22). Traditionally, the skull referred to was Adam's skull, as it was believed that Adam was buried below the spot where Christ was crucified.
Jesus, the "new Adam," is at the center of the Church's understanding of the international community of nations, the nations to which she addresses the Gospel and seeks to baptize into its truths. "The Lord Jesus is the prototype and foundation of the new humanity." (Compendium, No. 431) Not Moses, not Muhammad, not Buddha, not Kant, not science, not anyone or anything else.
"In [Christ Jesus], the true 'likeness of God' (2 Cor. 4:4), man--who is created in the image of God--finds his fulfillment. In the definite witness of love that God has made manifest in the cross of Christ, all the barriers of enmity have already been torn down (cf. Eph 2:12-18), and for those who live a new life in Christ, racial and cultural differences are no longer causes of division (cf. Rom. 10:12; Gal. 3:26-28; Col. 3:11)." (Compendium, No. 431)
This same Jesus promised to his disciples the Holy Spirit, the Paraclete, the Counselor, the helper whom he stated would not come until he went away. "And when he comes," Jesus told his disciples, "he will convict the world in regard to sin and righteousness and condemnation: sin, because they do not believe in me; righteousness, because I am going to the Father and you will no longer see me; condemnation, because the ruler of this world has been condemned." (John 16: 8-11)
"Thanks to the Spirit," the Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church states, "the Church is aware of the divine plan of unity that involves the entire human race (cf. Acts 17:26), a plan destined to reunite in the mystery of salvation wrought under the saving Lordship of Christ (cf. Eph 1:8-10) all of created reality, which is fragmented and scattered."
"From the day of Pentecost," the Compendium continues, "when the Resurrection is announced to diverse peoples, each of whom understand it in their own language (cf. Acts 2:6), the Church fulfills her mission of restoring and bearing witness to the unity lost at Babel. Due to this ecclesial ministry, the human family is called to rediscover its unity and recognize the richness of its differences, in order to attain 'full unity in Christ.'" (Compendium, No. 431) (quoting VII, LG, 1)
The Church's universality is explained by this "new humanity" that is to arise as the Church preaches its Gospel and fulfills her Lord's command to "Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit." (Matt. 28:19). This is a "new humanity" not to be brought out by man's efforts, but a "new humanity" wrought by the mission of God in Christ.
The unity of mankind envisioned by the Church is deeply, fundamentally Patrological, Christological and Pneumatological, that is to say Trinitarian. It is informed by Christ, who taught us of the Father, and who promised the Holy Spirit. It is informed by the Holy Spirit, who proceeds from the Father and the Son. The Church therefore has a "divine agenda," a holy agenda, a Trinitarian agenda entirely separate and apart from the machinations and designs of men.
"The Christian message," to wit, the Gospel, "offers a universal vision of the life of men and peoples on the earth that makes us realize the unity of the human family."
The Compendium makes clear that this unity is the work of God, and not the work of man: "This unity is not to be built on the force of arms, terror or abuse of power; rather, it is the result of that 'supreme model of unity, which is a reflection of the intimate life of God, one God in three Persons, ... what we Christians mean by the word 'communion'; it is an achievement of the moral and cultural force of freedom." (Compendium, No. 432)
The unity of all mankind, as the Church understands it, is a fruit of the Gospel, and not of any other religious, philosophical, or political tradition.
"The Christian message has been decisive for making humanity understand that peoples tend to unite not only because of various forms of organization, politics, economic plans or in the name of an abstract ideological internationalism, but because they freely seek to cooperate, aware 'that they are living members of the whole human family.'" (Compendium, No. 432) (quoting J XXIII, Pacem in terris, 296)
This is part and parcel of the mandate given to the Church by her Lord to preach to all nations, and bring them into her fold. The unity of men in nature, the nature of the Old Adam, is to be made real in the supernatural unity promised them in Christ.
"The world community must be presented, over and over again and with ever increasing clarity, as the concrete figure of the unity willed by the Creator." (Compendium, No. 432) The "figure of unity" is, of course, the new Adam, Christ.
Grace, one may recall, supposes, builds upon, and does not destroy nature. Hence it is that the unity willed by God as reflected in the expressed will of Christ, the new Adam, recognizes a pre-existing unity of all men upon which this supernatural unity in Grace is to be achieved. It is with this understanding that the Compendium closes the introduction to its handling of the international community by quoting John XXIII's encyclical, Pacem in terris (292):
"The unity of the human family has always existed, because its members are human beings all equal by virtue of their natural dignity. Hence there will always exist the objective need to promote, in sufficient measure, the universal common good, which is the common good of the entire human family." (Compendium, No. 432)
Why does the Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church spend its opening paragraphs on the international community on the Biblical narrative? Why this sort of excursus?
Because the Compendium wants to communicate the fact that the Church's vision of the international community is not a secular humanistic vision, but is a Biblical vision, indeed a Christological vision, where "God may be all in all." (1 Cor. 15:28)
The Church is not interested in building a "tower of unbelief," but she is interested in building the City of God. She looks to the Lord on the Cross, who uttered the words, Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachtani (Matt. 27:46), a reference to the opening words of Psalm 22. By referring to these words while on the Cross, Jesus was invoking the entire Psalm, a Psalm which itself contains the intendment of the Church's teaching on the international community:
All the ends of the earth
will remember and turn to the LORD;
All the families of nations
will bow low before him.
For kingship belongs to the LORD,
the ruler over the nations. (Psalm 22:27-28 [21:28-29])
These are the words of the New Adam, the Son of Man. Jesus on the Cross is the centerpiece of the Church's social doctrine as it relates to the communion of nations.
Andrew M. Greenwell is an attorney licensed to practice law in Texas, practicing in Corpus Christi, Texas. He is married with three children. He maintains a blog entirely devoted to the natural law called Lex Christianorum. You can contact Andrew at email@example.com.
Article brought to you by: Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)