This is the second installment in a trilogy of articles written under the banner of “Three Chords and the Truth”. The first article, “Angels and Humans”, left us outside the gates of Eden with a vast expanse of time to cover before the Incarnation of Christ would be realized. This article will attempt to cover the period that led up to God the Son becoming part of the human family, His Incarnation, life on Earth and Paschal Mystery that culminated with Pentecost, the birth of the Church.
In the period of time between The Fall and The Incarnation, God guided His people through covenants. These sacred bonds of trust were initiated by God and involved mutual self-giving between God and His people. The most notable covenant, made with Moses at Mount Sinai, served as the basis of God’s commandments and Israel’s fidelity as the chosen people for generations.
The Law and the Prophets
From the time of Moses and the Sinai covenant until the Incarnation of Christ, God’s people were given the law and the prophets to guide and protect them. The law, as represented by the Torah, was contained within that sacred scripture. The prophets were appointed and anointed by God to protect and interpret the law in concert with the priests of that time. As God’s chosen people, Israel was guided by the Spirit as they awaited their Messiah. The Incarnation would be the fulfillment of the law and prophecy; it would actuate the indwelling of God’s Spirit through baptism into the Church, and the New Covenant in Christ. God’s plan for the adoption of humankind thus began in temporal time with the birth of Jesus into the human family.
The Incarnation and Family Life of Jesus
The birth of Jesus is well known and celebrated every year throughout the world. The infancy narratives of Luke and Matthew together render an account of Jesus being born into the human family in general, and specifically into the family of Mary and Joseph. Very little is recorded detailing the daily life of the Holy Family, where Jesus lived until the age of thirty. It is very safe to say, however, that their pattern of life would be that of the pious Jewish households of their day. Jesus, the incarnate Christ, grew in wisdom and strength and obedience to his parents as well as to his Father in Heaven. Family life, as well as the family name Jesus bore, were and are foundational for the salvation of humankind. The Son of God becoming human, within the context of adoption and familial bonds, is key in Salvation History. Jesus was sent forth into His public ministry with thirty years of foundational values that were given by God through Mary and Joseph as well as His extended family.
The Public Ministry and Paschal Mystery
It is significant to note that the Baptism of Jesus preceded His public ministry. After being baptized, and before His public ministry, Jesus was led into the desert for forty days. This period of time, now commemorated in the season of Lent, was a means of preparation for the three years of ministry that would follow. The order of Baptism, time in the desert, public ministry and the Paschal Mystery is mirrored for all who were, are, and ever will be baptized into Christ. This Paschal Mystery, the essence of the celebration of Eucharist, began in temporal time with the Incarnation. The continuum of Incarnation, life, passion, death, Resurrection, Ascension, and Pentecost are realized in the Body of Christ and the Communion of Saints as we journey toward Heaven.
Go And Make Disciples
Before His Ascension into Heaven, Jesus left His “marching orders” for the Apostles and for the nascent church about to be born at Pentecost: “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit” (Matthew 28: 19). The final part of this trilogy on Salvation History will be about discipleship to which all baptized Christians are called.