The obedience of Jesus’ human will is inserted into the everlasting Yes of the Son to the Father. This ‘giving’ on the part of the Lord, in the passivity of his being crucified, draw the passion of human existence into the action of love, and so it embraces all the dimensions of reality—Body, Soul, Spirit, Logos. Just as the pain of the body is drawn into the pathos of the mind and becomes the Yes of obedience, so time is drawn into what reaches beyond time. The real interior act, though it does exist without the exterior, transcends time, but since it comes from time, time can again and again be brought into it. That is how we can become contemporary with the past events of salvation.
Spirit of the Liturgy, 56
Reflection – OK, so this is some nice little light reading for a busy Wednesday in June! Ratzinger enters here into a depth of reflection on the connection between the eternal and the temporal, the divine and the human in Christ and how this connection, this union, extends towards us and beckons us to enter its depths.
This text requires slow, careful reading. Each word, each phrase is charged with meaning. First, we have Jesus the man in his human obedience united, ‘inserted’ into the eternal dynamism of the Son’s ‘Yes’ to the Father. This temporal obedience which becomes one with the eternal divine action occurs in the passivity of suffering and death. Because of this, the lowest, the most degraded, the most passive, helpless, poor moment of human life—the very moment of death itself—becomes an expression of the most supreme action of God, the action of love.
This is redemption, you see. God is all Act, all power, all fullness of being, expressed in the Divine Charity. Human beings are a mixture of act and passion, being and non-being, power and powerlessness, riches and poverty. But here, in the very depth of our human poverty, Jesus who is God has brought that perfect Act of Love. ‘The pain of the body is drawn into the pathos of the mind and becomes the Yes of obedience.’ That is a sentence we could meditate on for a year and a day and not be done with it.
And then we have this whole business of time and beyond time. Again, God is outside of time; the flow of time does not flow through the Divine. The eternal Yes of the Son to the Father and the Father to the Son is a Yes beyond our comprehension because of this. For our thinking is always temporal thinking – we cannot really conceive of what timeless action is.
So this timeless action—the Yes of the Son—is made one with the internal ‘yes’ of Jesus the man, and this united yes is expressed in a moment in time: a specific day and hour as the earth travelled around the sun in a little province of the Roman Empire. A man said yes to being slaughtered on a cross.
Time and beyond time—the event occurs in time, but the internal reality of the event is the eternal love of the Son and the Father. And so it is not simply an event in time; it is both in time and outside of time, transcending time.
And so, when we go to Mass, we are indeed present at Calvary, and the risen Lord Jesus offers us the same sacrifice he made there in time, in our time, today, to be our food and drink—his life to be our life, his strength to be our strength. All coming to us to bring our whole being, but in a particular way our poverty, our weakness, our passion and our death into the eternal living dynamism of the eternal living God.
The Mass draws us into all this, and so makes our life an ongoing transcending of self, the world, time, history, a constant extension of our human reality in all of its limited temporality into the infinite and eternal expanses of God, a perpetual encounter of God and man, a perpetual embrace of love. Something we never could have conceived; something we never could do; something entirely a work of the Holy Spirit. And this is God’s great gift to us.