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JESUS, "THE MASTER"

in the spirituality according to Fr. Alberione

Acts of the International Seminar
on "Jesus, the Master"
(Ariccia, October 14-24, 1996)

by Guido Gandolfo ssp

 

5.2. 2nd Stage: The "incarnation" of the Master in us
(theology of the Son – illuminative way)

The first stage ended with a very high prospect: the way to holiness passes through the "incarnation of God in us." As we have seen the accent was placed prevalently on "our part," seen above all as work of purification and control of ourselves: examination (annual, monthly, weekly, daily), daily meditation, spiritual direction and confession. All this with the purpose of giving "worth to our effort."

Opening the second stage, the theology of the Son, Fr. Alberione immediately goes back to the reality of the "incarnation," while making himself understood that this shall be the central aspect of the new stage.

First of all he clarifies that it is Jesus Christ who is incarnated. Once more he reminds the believers some "dispositions" are wanted:

In order that Jesus may incarnate himself in us, we must:

a) place ourselves in the dispositions of innocence, of the humility of St. Joseph and Mary;

b) to perform during these days worthy fruits of penance, meditating on the life of St. John the Baptist and exciting ourselves to sorrow and mortification [DF 97].

The dispositions of him who desires to welcome the initiative of God are therefore complete purity contained in the word "innocence," and humility of heart, after the examples of our most holy Mother Mary and of St. Joseph. Furthermore, one must not abandon the "worthy fruits of penance," – for which it would be useful to "meditate on the life" of St. John the Baptist(21) with the commitment of "exciting one’s self" to sorrow and mortification with the purpose of sustaining through time the already started conversion.

The discussion is developed according to a linear logic in conformity with the pre-Vatican II theological tradition: man, who comes out of God’s hands having the destiny of glorifying Him in heaven, in the journey of trial on earth is preceded, is guided, is accompanied, is sustained by the Son of God given to us by the Father as the only and the universal Master. The entire life of the man of God is characterized by the commitment of conformation to Him: it is a matter of assuming the "form" of the Divine Master by daily trying to become more after the model. Such process finds its origin in the love coming from the Trinity and duly takes plane only in a dynamics of loving response to God.

After having undertaken the necessary journey of conversion in order to return to the first project of the Father, the disciple of Jesus is invited to decisively enter the main road: that which shall lead to the "incarnation" of Christ Master in his person.

Hence, the clear objective that awaits the Pauline: conformation to the Divine Master through his "incarnation" in us.

Such an objective – incarnation – becomes, meanwhile, the great word-legacy of the second stage. (summary)

5.2.1. So that Christ may be incarnated in us

The next number is meaningfully entitled "Incarnation." The Author precisely specifies the transforming significance of this vital insertion of the Divine Master in the existence of the disciple till Pauline maturation: "I live now not I but Christ lives in me."

Incarnation. — 1. This period must bring to us Jesus Christ: Truth, Way, Life, whereby comes the new man. Supernatural life shall give life eternal: "coheredes Christi".

2. Jesus Christ is truth: for the intelligence: thus will follow the need to study the Christian doctrine, in a special manner the Gospel.

Jesus Christ is way: for the will, thus it shall follow the need to imitate Christ, especially to cultivate Holy Communion.

Jesus Christ is life: for the heart, thus it shall follow the need to clothe us with sanctifying and actual grace, especially with the Holy Mass.

3. Concerning this: divide the hour of adoration into three parts: a) reading of the Gospel and Christian doctrine in order to honor Jesus Christ Master; b) compare our life with Jesus Christ model and make the examination of conscience; c) prayer, especially that which prepares for the Holy Mass (Way of the Cross, sorrowful mysteries) [DF 98-100].

A rich passage, another of the effective synthetic visions which characterize the teaching of our Founder. It deserves to be carefully analyzed.

This period. — What period? First of all, it is the period of the spiritual exercises and the year of novitiate for which the Donec formetur was initially intended for. But the horizon is surely more vast, till it characterizes every period of Christian and religious life understood as diligent and committed discipleship to the Divine Master: a year of preparation to important stages, a year of spirituality, a sabbatical year, a jubilee year, etc., but not only that.

Must. — This is an engaging word which refers us to the evangelical context of total and willing adherence of Jesus to the saving project of the Father and as well to a disciplined itinerary of conformation with such a Master. According to what the Author affirms, in fact, it is not to be understood as something voluntary or only decorative like paint, or pure "dressing"... Here we are at the heart of our spirituality, here our identity of Paulines and life itself are involved. It is an obligation, therefore, among the most serious ones.(22)

Bring to us. — The idea of gift is immediate, of a gift which is brought to us, of something beautiful, perhaps greater than our very expectations. Such a gift is brought in us:(23) it is not something of the outside, which is superimposed over our person. It is a gift that enters into life, that penetrates the depth, destined to compenetrate with our person, thus we become one with it.

Jesus Christ. — Here the unexpected gift is unveiled: the welcomed guest, the most precious treasure is nobody else but the Person of Jesus Christ! Hence, not just a grace, a virtue, a spiritual gift but Jesus, the Christ, the incarnate Word, the Son of God, God Himself! Our Master...

Truth, Way, Life. — The never lacking underlining, to designate the whole Christ, all of Christ, just as he defined himself (Jn 14:6).

Whereby comes the new man. — Fr. Alberione, starting from the Old Testament framework of Gen 2-3 which lies beneath the 1st part of the theology of the Father, goes back to the image offered by the Letter to the Ephesians (2:15; 4:24). For St. Paul, the new man is Jesus Christ, risen and living in the persons of his faithful ones, who are incorporated in Him in baptism and now form a single mystical body with the Risen One. Through the religious profession, one is grafted into the baptismal consecration, the conditions are established so that the incarnation of Jesus Christ in man may precisely bring about a new personality. The old man, bound to the passions of the past, disappears and the grafting of the new man, Jesus Christ, takes place. The fruits that come from it shall be from now on formed in Christ.(24)

Supernatural life shall give life eternal. — The point of arrival remains to be the same, and Fr. Alberione makes sure that it is borne in mind. The whole process of "supernatural life," the life according to the Spirit (cf. 1 Cor 2:10-16), shall flow to blessed and imperishable eternity.

"Coheredes Christi." — There, one shall live fully and indefectively the excellent condition wherein the goodness of the Father has raised: the same inheritance of the Son shall be given to the faithful disciple, "co-heirs in Christ" (Rm 8:17).

Hence, the incarnation of Jesus Christ, Divine Master, in us. This moment of the itinerary marks a crossroads, decisive as it is for the purpose of conformation.

But what does the process of incarnation comport? It is expressed by the word itself: that Jesus Christ takes up flesh in a person. According to the natural law of incarnation, the reference to Mary, the Virgin Mother, is obligatory. Similar to what happened to her, Christ Jesus, the Master, is incarnated when he takes up flesh in the believer, the Pauline.

In other passages, Fr. Alberione sought to explain this reality by taking recourse to the image of the olive grafted into the wild olive tree,(25) also this is after the Pauline mold (cf. Rm 11:16ff). A process similar to grafting takes place. The grafting of a good bud or a more precious plant, into a wild plant, in a manner that little by little the two plants fuse together and the new bud develops on the part of the old. The new sap takes the place of the old so that the fruits shall no longer be wild, but those of the grafted bud. At the same time, the progressive incarnation of the Person of the Divine Master in a soul, in virtue of conformation, tends to form a new person: the selfish components, sin are reduced; the flow of the divine sap increases; the person begins to think, will, love like Jesus. And good, Christian, apostolic fruits come forth.

It is a slow, tiring, but re-generating transformation. The new creature is born and grows. Everything, indeed everything, acquires luminosity and new taste. The forms and the times of spirituality, from "practices" become life(26) while losing every eventual formalistic aspect; from "duties" they become "needs" of the heart; from expressions often marginal and with no influence, they reveal their authentic identity as the central propeller of every thought, affection, choice and decision.

At the same time, the persons with whom one works become brothers/sisters whom the same Master Jesus has given us as gifts; the long, stressing "work hours" become knowing gift of our energies to the Lord of Life who, in turn, raises them to the greatest value, the saving value; what comes out of our hands is not only a "product" but is actually sacred and sanctifying fruit.(27)

All of these, we know well, do not happen automatically, nor is it applied to us from above without our personal commitment. It is a matter of welcoming the gift of the whole Divine Master, Truth, Way and Life, in the totality of our being: intelligence, will and heart.

It is the path our Founder followed and to which he decisively also calls each one of us. Let us follow its development.

The itinerary of conformation to the Master - 3

Summary

Jesus Master yesterday, today and for ever   A historical-charismatic survey

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