Tuesday, March 30, 2010

A member of a "Roped Party" with Christ

Below I have copied some of Pope Benedict's beautiful language from his Palm Sunday Homily.

I love his vision of our being on a journey with Christ towards ultimate communion with Him. At the same time, we are not on this journey with Him alone; we journey with His community -- the church.

As someone who has done some climbing in the past, I also love his metaphor of being part of a "roped party" with Christ at the lead position, also known as "sharp end of the rope," the climbing expression for the individual who leads and guides the rest of the party up the rock. Our job is not to lead, but to follow Him; to make the ascent with Him in the lead. Followers must trust the leader in a rope party literally with their lives. They rely on the leader's judgment at all times.

Benedict continues that we are not roped alone with Christ. It is not just us and Christ; we do not own Christ. Instead, we are roped up with the entire Church. We are not alone, but are truly tied together to the entire Church. This affirms the importance of the church. We are all tied together with Christ and are led on a journey that we undertake even when tired or weary because that's where our leader wants us to go. We assent to allowing Him to lead us where he wants us to go, which is a trip through the sacraments, which purify and sanctify us.

All of this is wonderfully freeing.

Here is how Benedict says it:

"Thus in the breadth of Jesus' ascent the dimensions of our following of him become visible -- the goal to which he wants to lead us: to the heights of God, to communion with God, to being-with-God. This is the true goal, and communion with him is the way. Communion with Christ is being on a journey, a permanent ascent to the true height of our calling. Journeying together with Jesus is always at the same time a traveling together in the 'we' of those who want to follow him. It brings us into this community. Because this journey to true life, to being men conformed to the model of the Son of God Jesus Christ is beyond our powers, this journeying is also always a state of being carried. We find ourselves, so to speak, in a 'roped party' with Jesus Christ -- together with him in the ascent to the heights of God. He pulls us and supports us. Letting oneself be part of a roped party is part of following Christ; we accept that we cannot do it on our own. The humble act of entering into the 'we' of the Church is part of it -- holding on to the roped party, the responsibility of communion, not letting go of the rope because of our bullheadedness and conceit.

"Humbly believing with the Church, like being bound together in a roped party ascending to God, is an essential condition for following Christ. Not acting as the owners of the Word of God, not chasing after a mistaken idea of emancipation -- this is also part of being together in the roped party. The humility of 'being-with' is essential to the ascent. Letting the Lord take us by the hand through the sacraments is another part of it. We let ourselves be purified and strengthened by him, we let ourselves accept the discipline of the ascent, even if we are tired."

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