Don’t be fooled by the title. I actually want to talk about the sign of contradiction, God becoming human. When I think about it, one of the reasons God did become one of us, with all our frailties and sinfulness, was to tell and show us how to love as Christ loves us. This is something that we must acquire using the ability to reason and our freedom to choose what we think is good for us. No one chooses something bad or inconvient for themselves. Yet, that is what everyone born of water and the spirit is asked to do, voluntarily. It is not enough that Christ told us how to love others as He loves us, He actually showed us how to do it.
Consider this. When we are born, we come into a world that is imperfect. The default of the world has a beginning and an end, in fact, everything in the physical and mental universes has a beginning and an end. Each human, although saved by the redeeming blood of the Lamb of God, must use their ability to reason to make a choice, in this case to place and sustain Christ as the center of their existence. God won’t make it for us. The transition from the physical and mental universes to a reality that includes physical, mental, and spiritual universes is needed to be able to even understand what Christ is telling us and showing us. Here is my point. If you only look at Christ from the viewpoint of the World (physical and mental universes), nothing He says makes sense.
In recent Lectio Divina meditations (Philippians 2:5), I have been thinking about what it means to be saved (passive)? Saved from what? First, we are saved from our own lack of Faith by Christ coming to show us how to love others as He loves us. God doesn’t need my praise or my prayers, I need it to sustain my relationship with Christ. When I join Christ in the Eucharist, I am an adopted son of the Father, tagging along with Christ who actually sees the Father. This is where the sign of contradiction comes into play. My spirituality only makes sense because Christ first loved me. He tells us, I have chosen you, you have not chosen me. All the believers in the world won’t make Eucharist the Real Presence. Only Jesus can do that. Faith is when I am overshadowed by the Holy Spirit to be able to call God, Abba, Father.
Next, Christ came to save us from just getting our values from the World. Read what Bishop Barron has to say about the World and the Law. https://www.wordonfire.org/resources/video/israel-the-church-and-the-law-part-2-of-2/131/
Our values come from Christ. Christ shows us and gives us tips on how to prepare ourselves to live with Him Forever and not get our circuits fried by the pure knowledge, pure energy, pure love that is God. Here is my point. The Spiritual Universe can only be understood in terms of the sign of contradiction. Everything in the Kingdom of Heaven is the reverse of the World. St. Benedict instituted a School to learn how to love because the word “love” means different things to the World and the Spirit. (Galatians 5). Chapter 4 of his Rule instructs us in how to behave in this spiritual universe, where we are asked to deny ourselves, take up our cross daily, and follow Christ’s footsteps. I ask you to stop now and reflect on how Christ gives us what we need to know, love, and serve God in this life, so that we can be happy with Him in Heaven.
When the sign of the cross, a symbol of this sign of contradiction is the standard that we carry. We have a tattoo indelibly etched on our spirit, the sign of the cross. Like a tattoo, we can’t get rid of it, but we can ignore it, at risk of losing the gift of Faith.
Read what I Corinthians has to say about the sign of contradiction. Our sign, our standard is the cross of Christ Jesus.
“The Message of the Cross
18For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved, it is the power of God. 19For it is written:
“I will destroy the wisdom of the wise; the intelligence of the intelligent I will frustrate.”b
20Where is the wise man? Where is the scribe? Where is the philosopher of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? 21For since in the wisdom of God the world through its wisdom did not know Him, God was pleased through the foolishness of what was preached to save those who believe.
22Jews demand signs and Greeks search for wisdom, 23but we preach Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles,c 24but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God.
Wisdom from God
26Brothers, consider the time of your calling: Not many of you were wise by human standards; not many were powerful; not many were of noble birth. 27But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong. 28He chose the lowly and despised things of the world, and the things that are not, to nullify the things that are, 29so that no one may boast in His presence.
30It is because of Him that you are in Christ Jesus, who has become for us wisdom from God: our righteousness, holiness, and redemption. 31Therefore, as it is written: “Let him who boasts boast in the Lord.”e
Read this passage again, very slowly, and think about the sign of contradiction that is Christ Himself (Philippians 2:5-12). I have described this event in terms of a polar reversal. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I6Ggs7nUjxA
When Christ died on the cross, and the veil in the Temple was torn in half, there was also a polar reversal in spiritual time. From now on, disciples must not see reality as the World sees it, but as Christ sees it. If you want to be the greatest in the Kingdom of Heaven, you must be the servant of all. If you love those who love you, what merit is that? To be disciples of the Master, you must love those who hate you, do good to those who persecute you, become like a little child. This sign of contradiction is the badge we wear over our hearts and marked on our souls, the cross of a criminal, an outcast, one scorned by his own people.
I have tried to make my Lay Cistercian lifestyle consistent with this sign of contradiction by the daily practice of trying to have in me the mind of Christ Jesus. (Philippians 2:5). Some days are better than others. It is the time I try to try to prefer nothing to the love of Christ that is my yearning for Christ. It is one a once a day experience, but rather the whole day is lifted up to the Father in praise and glory through the Son, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, now and forever. The God who is, who was, and who is to come at the end of the ages. Amen and Amen. –Cistercian doxology