The Religion of Jesus | Blessed Columba Marmion | From Christ, The Ideal of the Priest
By His Incarnation the Word, while remaining God, began to give glory to the Father under a new form, that of a creature. In His divine nature, in forma Dei (Phil 2:7), His whole being is directed towards the Father of Whom He is the splendour and the glory; in His humanity, in forma servi (Phil 2:7), His soul is, as it were, carried away in the movement of praise proper to the Second Divine Person. The life of the Word is directed wholly towards the Father, est tota ad Patrem; so also the human life of Jesus is constantly directed towards Him: Ego vivo propter Patrem (Jn 6:8). The Son pays honour to the Father by all His acts of humility. He practises in an eminent manner the virtue of religion.
In order to glorify the Father in the name of sinful humanity, He can not only adore, but expiate, suffer, be immolated, offered as a sacrifice. The virtue of religion in the Son of God is certainly unique, unparalleled.
Its first excellence is that it is sacerdotal. In each one of His actions the Saviour knew that He was the universal Pontiff of the glory of the Father, catholicum Patris sacerdotem; as Tertullian puts it so aptly.  The Incarnation had raised Christ to this dignity. When He said: "I honour My Father" (Jn 8:49), He meant, without any doubt, that He did so as a priest charged with the task of redeeming the world by the sacrifice of the Cross. The offering of this sacred immolation constituted an act of supreme religious homage. The redemption was certainly not, in the eyes of Jesus, a work which was exclusively His. It appeared to Him as the realization in time of a plan of eternal mercy conceived and willed in heaven. Christ recognized that He was the Pontiff of the New Testament. He accepted the will of the Father and carried out the programme planned in advance in the divine counsels. This is certainly the meaning of the words of Jesus: "I came not to do My own will but the will of Him Who sent Me" (Jn 6:38). And again: "The chalice which My Father hath given Me, shall I not drink it? " (Jn 18:11). Since Christ was carrying out the will of His Father, was not His whole existence an incomparable act of religious homage? He says so Himself in His sacerdotal prayer after the Last Supper: "Father... I have glorified Thee on earth; I have finished the work which Thou gayest Me to do" (Jn 17:4).
Another characteristic of the virtue of religion in Jesus is that it takes its source in the intuitive vision of the Father which He alone enjoyed.
He comprehended the immensity of the divine sanctity and realized how incumbent it was on men to render honour and worship to God. "Just Father," said He, "the world hath not known Thee; but I have known Thee" (Jn 17:25); and again: "I know Him because I am from Him" On 7:29).
This intimate contemplation produced in our divine Master the constant need to abase Himself before the infinite majesty. The activity of His soul consisted principally in ineffable adoration. "He that sent Me is with Me, and He hath not left Me alone" (Jn 8:29). These were the sentiments of Jesus, and this constant contact with the divinity not only maintained His soul in an attitude of profound abasement but served also to arouse in Him a thirst to sacrifice Himself for each one of us. The spirit of religion in Jesus proceeded wholly from this interior contemplation of the Father, and through it, it was elevated to heights beyond compare.
The virtue of religion in Jesus possessed a third excellence: the gift of self.
It is the fullness of His self-sacrifice in the carrying out of His acts of homage to God which makes His practice of the virtue perfect. This total gift of self made Jesus direct all the actions of His life to the service of the Father. "I seek not My own glory," said He, "there is one that seeketh and judgeth" (Jn 8:50). According to the divine plan, His whole existence, from the workshop at Nazareth to the Last Supper, was dedicated to the establishment among men of the cult and the love of the Father. The hour of His sacrifice was certainly the occasion of the supreme immolation but, while awaiting "His hour" Jesus was already offering Himself to the Father as a victim and an oblation. The virtue of religion was the constant inspiration of all the actions of I his life
Furthermore, the heart of Jesus was an ever-glowing focus of charity. If He wished that the name of the Father should be glorified, that His kingom should come, that His will should be done on earth as it was in heaven, it was assuredly because this glorification was due in all justice to the Father, but He desired it also by reason of an intense movement of love for the infinite goodness.
In the harmony of interior activity in our divine Saviour, charity was predominant, and thus, under the inspiration of love, the virtue of religion attained in Jesus its highest perfection. When we read Holy Scripture we can remark that this eagerness to render to the Father the worship which was His due is characteristic of every stage in the life of Christ. Have we not seen it: from the moment of the Incarnation the whole activity of His soul was one sublime act of religion consisting in the total oblation of His life to God (Heb 10:5-7). The first words from His lips which the Gospels have preserved for us teach us this lesson that His whole life was consecrated to the work and to the rights of the Father: "Do you not know that I must be about my Father's business?" In his quae Patris mei sunt opertet me esse (Lk 2:49 Douay-Rheims). During all the years of His hidden life, Jesus -- who can doubt it -- was animated by the same spirit: He sought the glory of the Father. Then, as afterwards, at every moment, He was carrying out the divine will: quae placita sunt ei, facio semper (Jn 8:29).
In the course of His intimate colloquies with God did not Jesus practice, and with outstanding perfection, the virtue of religion? "The Father seeks adorers in spirit and in truth" said He, in spiritu et veritate (Jn 4:23). And was not He the first and most excellent of these? Who can ever envisage the mystery of those colloquies of the Saviour when He passed forty days in prayer in the desert or when, having retired unto the heights in the evening, He prolonged His prayer, Erat pernoctans in orantione Dei (Lk 6:12). Adoration was imposed upon on Him by an inner compulsion. When He preached at the lakeside, on the mountain or in the temple, when He cured the sick or confounded the Pharisees, everything was the expression of His inner consciousness that He is the Son of God. He came into this world to teach men to glorify the Father and to acknowledge His sovereignty. If He wishes that they render to Caeser the things that are Caeser's, it is in order to establish more forcibly the rights of the Most High: "Render to God the things that are God's" (Mk 7:17).
The supreme moment in the life of Jesus when He offered the sacrifice of the Cross was also the culmination of the virtue of religion in Him. As Pontiff of the New Testament, as Lamb of God, the Victim burdened with the sins of the world, His interior dispositions were divinely inspired: Per Spiritum Sanctum semetipsum obtulit immaculatum Deo (Heb 9:14). His immolation constituted the most complete act of homage, the most august act of worship that can ever be offered to the divinity.
Never forget that at every Mass the same sublime act of religion is continued when you present the sacred Victim to God: hostiam puram, hostiam sanctam, hostiam immaculatam. And there, as on the Cross, Jesus is not alone in His immolation. His Church is united to Him: she is His body and the fullness of Him: est corpus ipsius et plenitudo eius (Eph 1:23). As head of the mystical body, Jesus contains us within Himself, and makes us participate in His ineffable devotion to the Father.
And now our Saviour is in heaven, in gloria Dei Patris. God be thanked for it! Jesus has entered into the glory which is His due. And yet the sacred humanity remains ever in profound adoration before the Father.
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Blessed Columba Marmion (1858-1923) was a Benedictine priest who wrote several works that are considered spiritual classics, including Christ: The Life of the Soul. Read more about his life and work here.
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