Sunday, 10 April 2011

Jesus of Nazareth 7 - Set apart for mission

Pope Benedict's words today draw a connection between Jesus being set apart from the world, in order to serve the world, just as we as Christians are set apart from the world in the universal call to holiness, but only in order to bring the whole world to God.
The process of consecration, "sanctification", includes two apparently opposed, but in reality deeply conjoined, aspects. On the one hand, "consecrating" as "sanctifying" means setting apart from the rest of reality that pertains to man's ordinary everyday life. Something that is consecrated is raised into a new sphere that is no longer under human control. But this setting apart also includes the essential dynamic of "existing for". Precisely because it is entirely given over to God, this reality is now there for the world, for men, it speaks for them and exists for their healing. We may also say: setting apart and mission form a single whole.

The connection between the two can be seen very clearly if we consider the special vocation of Israel: on the one hand, it is set apart from all other peoples, but for a particular reason - in order to carry out a commission for all peoples, for the whole world. That is what is meant when Israel is designated a "holy people".

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