Emmitsburg Council of Churches

The Victim Who is Victorious

Father John J. Lombardi

Jesus Christ---risen from the dead-is the Victim Who is Victorious. As Christ moved the stone of the tomb at His Glorious Resurrection, may He move away any spiritual and physical stones from your life. So, Receive His Glorious Resurrection power! The Resurrected Christ gives us His Extended Presence, His Dynamic and Living Presence…

Phillip Brooks, Christian writer, says: "The great Easter truth is not that we are to live newly after death but that we are to be new here and now by the power of the Resurrection."

Now, just what is the source of, and why is this Resurrection-Power available? Jesus Christ is the Victim Who is Victorious. In other words: no Cross, no Crown; no suffering, no salvation. The Savior becomes a slave to save us. He took on our sins and punishments; He offered up, and He de-impaired all this by His Blessed Resurrection. Each part of His Salvation Plan is essential. This seeming paradox, a Victim Who is Victorious, is a combination of two opposite terms, like a Virgin-Mother, and God-Man-Christ. These spiritual paradoxes transcend reason and yet are not irrational. Mysteries like these are meant to entice and inspire the soul to enlightenment that would not otherwise come through ho-hum, old-bumpkin thinking. Thru holy prayer we can breathe in His Resurrection Breath and His Living Presence: "And (Jesus) said to them again, 'Peace to you'…and He breathed on them" (Jn. 20:21,22).

Now, back to Victim-Victorious. Some view victims as beaten up, dejected, dumbed-down folks roughed up by life. But our Paschal Victim-Jesus Christ-is the Victim Who is victorious! Though roughed up-by life, death, our sins, even attempts by Satan-He triumphs thru it all: He shows us the Way-thru the Cross by becoming a Victim, to the Resurrection. He gives us His Extended Presence in Holy Communion, as shown to the Emmaus disciples: "While He was with them He took bread and said the blessing, Broke it and gave it to them. With that their eyes were opened and they recognized Him" (Lk. 24:30,31). Seek, receive and embrace the Resurrected Lord in Holy Communion. This Easter let us celebrate and remember His Royal Way! His Resurrection-Glory-Light overcomes all darkness, death and dissonance. The nature of sin is entropy and atrophy; the Nature of God is Love (I Jn. 4:16), integrating and ingratiating Divine Glory. Jesus' Light-filled, luminous Sacred Body goes thru doors (Jn 20:26 ); appears Eucharisticaly to pilgrims (Lk. 24:13ff); and causes belief in doubting souls (Jn. 26:28 )

Amor facit ecstasans…Love produces Ecstasy (St Thomas Aquinas). Now, the Source of Jesus Victory and Victimhood is His love: "With great desire I have desired to share this Meal with you" He says, and "He loved His own in the world and loved them to the end" (Jn. 13:1) . And so, because of His sacrificial love He not only became a Victim for us, He laid down His life for us. Love, as you know, makes people do things. And Divine Love impels the Lord to shed His Blood-to the point of death. His blood flows forth in an ecstasy for us souls to free us and divinize us.

And so, in Jesus' ecstatic-outpouring Love we see Him Who is the God-Man become a Man of Sorrows; the King of Kings becomes Fugitive Prince; the Savior becomes a slave…Now if that isn't' being victimized…

What is a victim? No one wants to be a victim-of a shooting, of a robbery or gossip. In a religious perspective a victim is a person who takes on another's sufferings, or sacrifices for their sins, or pays their punishments. The victim "absorbs" others sufferings: "Come to Me all you who labor…" (Mt.11:28); he magnetizes other's punishments for sins: "For Christ ….died…for the ungodly…while we were sinners, Christ died for us" Rm. 5:6,8); He is the "Cosmic Victim Soul" (altering the entire universe)-Who constellates, gathers all negatives into Himself (becomes a kind of Divine Participant in "prisoner exchange"), dies to sin and suffering (holocaust aspect) and triumphs over it all(the Resurrection). St Paul says: "May you know the surpassing greatness of Christ, raising Him from the dead…far above every principality, power dominion…and He put all things beneath His feet…But God, who is rich in mercy…even when we were dead in our transgressions, brought us to life with Christ, raised us up with Him, and seated us with him in the heavens in Christ Jesus" (Eph. 1:18,19,22; 2:4-6). St. Paul's is a mystical seeing of a cosmic Soul-Savior- not only saving us but also elevating us.

I recently gave a talk to drug addicts and mentioned the word Redeemer. What's that?-one soul asked. It means, as Fr. Raniero Cantalamesa, preacher to Papal Household illustrates, that it is like we're guilty for trying to escape from a prison camp and wind up for interrogation and torture. Another guy fesses up for us and is tortured in front of us. He says not a word and then innocently dies in our

place. The guilty prisoner escaping death and guilt is the sinner--us, and the innocent prisoner is like the Christ--He took our place "even yet while we are sinners.".Fr Tanquerey, in the excellent book, "The Spiritual Life", says that at Mass the mystic immolation of the Victim is renewed. In other words, Jesus-giving-Himself-up-for-us prisoner-sinners is re-presented, re-extended, newly accessed from the Last Supper and Calvary: Remember, Jesus says: "Do this in memory of Me". His Redemption now becomes re-presented, unbloody, under new forms. Immolation means sacred death, de-identification: The love Jesus has for us is an ecstasy which impels Him to detach form the most prized possession of mortals-self and life. Conversely, we rather get caught up in self seeking, self-gratification. Selfless sacrifice is the opposite of today's culture. L. P. Jacks wrote: "One trouble with the churches is that they want to have Easter without Calvary." The Cross of immolation leads to the Crown of Glory.

So, we disciples are all called to imitate Jesus Christ-The-Victim--to sacrifice our lives for the sake of the Bride, the Church, and especially for others-the poor, sick and dying, and also for the punishments and sins of others. Like Jesus we are called to offer up, exchange, undergo, absorb, be transformed and Resurrected-all terms and, better yet, realities of sacred victimhood. While doing this, since it isn't natural and desirable for our ego, we should always remember: Love produces ecstasy. Lose self, find soul; deny self, affirm Savior; reject self, become selfless. We are called to immolate ourselves-give up our own identity, and be alter Christus-other-Christs One guy who did this was a Frenchman, Louis Bunel, born in 1900, known later as Pere Jacques. While harboring Jewish infants during WW II he was caught by Nazis and then, eventually, sent to Mauthausen concentration camp in Austria. Even there he was serving, suffering for others, absorbing other's confessions, sins and punishments, giving up his food, inspiring others to pray despite risking his own welfare. He gradually got sick, was tortured, lost his healthy stamina and was only 75 pounds at his death. He gave his life as a ransom for others and paid the price. He lived like Jesus and now his life-faith-story is up for canonization-thru identifying with the immolation of the Cross he is coming to a kind of glory of Resurrection.

The Roman Pontifical-prayer-book counsels priests: "Realize what you do and imitate the Victim you offer." We should all take this to heart.

By becoming a Victim Christ took on all our sins, sufferings and de-formation of body and soul (by the merciless tortures he received before Calvary)-He de-lethalized it to show us that God's Grace and Trinitarian Power can overcome all death and denigration.

Jesus Christ is victorious over sin-death Hell. Victorious over Sin: He rebuked and defeated the Devil's three temptations in the desert and show us that, when we are tempted, we do not need give in, or give up but be raised by His Resurrection Power. So, Let Him lift you up above your crazed passions, pride and sloth. Jesus overpowers death: St Augustine said-"He who fears death does not love God perfectly." The seeming ultimate darkness of death could not even keep Christ down, so, remember, in your depression, darkness or other disgusts, link with Him and He will help you be victorious. Decaying cancer is a very common disease today. It seems victorious. But let us think of the Christ's Glorified Body which is "impassible"-His and ours will never undergo suffering in the Heavenly World. Christ's Victim hood, by absorbing death is Victorious over it in His Resurrection power.

Heart disease seems like a sin-triumphant, and is extremely pervasive today, but Jesus gives us His Sacred Heart burning with divine desire to save and heal souls. Make Him the King and center of your heart by exchanging yours with His. Anxiety disorders are the most common mental afflictions Americans have. But, remember: Jesus is the Prince of Peace-and says: "I Am the Way, Truth, Life" (Jn. 14:6); and: "Come to Me all you who are weary and find life burdensome, and I will refresh you" (Mt. 11:28).

So, allow and access the Resurrection Power of the Victim Who is Victorious thru prayer, the Mass, selfless love of discipleship. St Teresa of Avila says that when we contemplatively-deeply-mystically pray it is like our human-candle-flame becoming one with the Lord's Divine Flame. In the Mass, Jesus gives us Himself. A priest friend recently voiced a sacred desire that, just before an early morning operation: "If I check out of this world I'd like to have Mass first." Cultivate that same love for Him and His Resurrection Power. Thru sacrificial love disciples can imitate the Divine Victim-Victorious-exchange yourself like Pere Jaques and so many other saints! Let the Resurrection Light-Bliss-Glory-Power inflame, expand and extend you into His Divine Life! Let Him move away the stone of your self-absorption into Godly-immolation and transformation. Let the Virgin bring you to her Son and show you His ecstatic Love frees and divinizes you! Be born again, begotten from Above (Jn. 3:3), so that here below you may be His ambassador, His instrument and Christic-channel!

How to Respond: Easter literally means "feat of fresh flowers." We all wilt and need fresh air and Sonshine. Now, how?.

Practice frequent Confession and Communion-perhaps you are coming back to the Church after a long time. Keep coming back-more! He extends His Victory and Resurrection Power thru the Sacraments-grab hold, breathe in, assimilate with His Sacred Breath…Live like a Catholic-Christian-joyfully, passionately….Love your Mother-Church-study her teachings. Jesus speaks of the Holy Spirit as a Living Presence-"He will guide you to all truth" (Jn. 16:13).Remember: you are a Catholic, part of Christ's Bride, the Church-learn and burn with desire for more Truth.….Give Him your life-all thoughts, words and deeds thru Him, with and in Him…Extend His Light-Glory to others-the poor, sick and dying. He says His Presence is in other poor, sick, imprisoned and dying people-go out to Him and refresh the wilting ensouled-flowers of His people (Cf. Mt. 25: 31 ff)

Jules Gross describes how the Presence comes into us, by the ancient writings of an Catholic theologian, "Origen …conceives of the final deification of humankind as a simple restoring of the human soul into its original, 'divine' state - one might as well say as a re-divinization. So untraditional a conception can hardly have favored the progress of the doctrine of divinization."

(The Divinization of the Christian According to the Greek Fathers").

I saw on a church sign board recently: "The Victim of Good Friday is the Victor of Easter Sunday." Get it? ! "St Athanasisus: "In the same way humankind would not have been deified unless the One who became flesh is of the Father by nature and was His genuine and very Logos. This is why the contact was thus made in order that the human nature might be united with the divine nature and that the salvation and deification of the former might be assured."

Read other reflections by Father John J. Lombardi