Pope Benedict on Jesus and sacrifice

His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI is a pastor. He preaches and teaches around the Church year, his homily at every feast telling us something about Christ and something about us. Through his Easter and Corpus Christi homilies in particular he teaches us how to relate the passion, crucifixion, resurrection, the eucharist and body of Christ.

His very impressive little book on Jesus of Nazareth takes us through the ministry up to the transfiguration. We come to it in the knowledge that there is second book dealing with the passion and resurrection to follow. But a work of Christian teaching theology would not put incarnation and ministry in one book, which would then look very like a work of biblical studies, and the resurrection in another, and the Church and eucharist in a third. That would attempt to divide the indivisible, Jesus in one book, Christ in a second, and so divide Christ from his people, take away his anointing, until ‘Christ’ becomes the corpse over which the dogs of biblical studies have fought these many years. So it is a joy to find that the passion, resurrection and worship and eucharist are everywhere in this volume.

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Zizioulas on eschatology

The Orthodox theologian John Zizioulas is most often associated with the Christian doctrine of the person. The concept of the person holds together the two issues of communion and freedom. Zizioulas argues that if there is one person there must be many persons: the concept is intrinsically plural, relational and yet safeguards our particularity. By making a distinction between person and individual, Zizioulas contrasts the human who is related and integrated, and the human who is disengaged and isolated from all others. According to Christian doctrine, Christ is the person in whom we may all be persons. Christ comes to individuals without relation to anyone else, and brings them into communion so that they become persons, related to all others, indeed related to everything that is not themselves. This catholic being who is simultaneously one and many is coming into being in history, and at the eschaton will turn out to be truth of all humanity. In Christ, time and history move towards this reconciliation in which all creatures discover their proper unity and difference; this coming together of all things makes itself known in history in the Church and in the event of the eucharist. For Christian theology, the concept of the person relates to time and purpose and so to eschatology. His confidence in the theology of the Greek Fathers enables Zizioulas to lay out the logic of the Christian doctrine of the person with the utmost clarity, and it is this that makes his account of personhood distinctive and rewarding.

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