Sunday, March 20, 2011

Schillebeeckx: Christ is the primordial sacrament

Precisely because these human deeds of Jesus are divine deeds, personal acts of the Son of God, divine acts in visible human form, they possess of their nature a divine saving power, and consequently they bring salvation; they are the "cause of grace." Although this is true of every specifically human act of Christ it is nevertheless especially true of those actions which, though enacted in human form, are according to their nature exclusively acts of God: the miracles and the redemption. Considered against the background of the whole earthly life of Jesus, this truth is realized in a most particular way in the great mysteries of his life: his passion, death, resurrection, and exaltation to the side of the Father.

That is not all. Because the saving acts of the man Jesus are performed by a divine person, they have a divine power to save, but because this divine power to save appears to us in visible form, the saving activity of Jesus is sacramental. For a sacrament is a divine bestowal of salvation in an outwardly perceptible form which makes the bestowal manifest; a bestowal of salvation in historical visibility.


Consequently if the human love and all the human acts of Jesus possess a divine saving power, then the realization in human shape of this saving power necessarily includes as one of its aspects the manifestation of salvation: includes, in other words, sacramentality. The man Jesus, as the personal visible realization of the divine grace of redemption is the sacrament, the primordial sacrament, because this man, the Son of God himself, is intended by the Father to be in his humanity the only way to the actuality of redemption. "For there is one God, and one mediator of God and men, the man Christ Jesus." Personally to be approached by the man Jesus was, for his contemporaries, an invitation to a personal encounter with the life-giving God, because personally that man was the Son of God. Human encounter with Jesus is therefore the sacrament of the encounter with God.
E. Schillebeeckx OP, Christ the Sacrament of the Encounter with God, pp 14-15.


  1. Yes, He is the truest sacrament.

    And when we give to the poor, comfort the downtrodden, strengthen the weak, visit the prisoners, feed the hungry, and so on, IN HIS NAME, we are administering the only Sacrament that matters.

  2. Well, I'm not sure I'd say it's the only sacrament that matters, but I understand what you're trying to emphasize. Thanks for the comment.


About Me

I'm Rachel's husband and Darcy's daddy. I'm a Hoosier, an accountant, and an Episcopalian. Politically, I'm a progressive who believes in the preferential option for the poor. I use the blog as a sort of journal - to interact with my reading and sketch out ideas.