Msgr. John Esseff, the preacher of our Lenten Retreat, surprised many of us by affirming “I am Jesus, you are Jesus”. Are we not two very different persons, Jesus and I? On Holy Thursday morning, I read a reflection by Pope Benedict XVI on the “Graces of the Resurrection”. He wrote, “The Risen Christ is able not only to pass through closed door in the outside world, as the Gospels recount (see John 201:19). He can pass through the interior door separating the ‘I’ from the ‘you’, the closed door between yesterday and today, between the past and the future… Now he can even surmount the wall of otherness that separates the ‘I’ from the ‘you’. This happened with Paul, who describes the process of his conversion and his baptism in these words: ‘It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me’. (Galatians 2:20) Through the coming of the Risen One, Paul obtained a new identity. His closed ‘I’ was opened. Now he lives in communion with Jesus Christ, in the great ‘I’ of believers who have become as he puts it – ‘one in Christ’ (Galatians 3:28) … Believers are never totally cut off from one another. We are in communion because of our deepest identity: Christ within us. Thus, faith is a force for peace and reconciliation in the world: distances between people are overcome, in the Lord we have become close (see Ephesians 2:13) …”
From the teaching of Pope Benedict XVI and from his quotations of the Letters of Paul in the New Testament, we conclude that the Risen Christ can, if we allow him, live so deeply and intimately in us, that we can say with Paul, “It is no longer I who live but Christ who lives in me.” On the other hand, I am still a sinner in constant need of forgiveness and Christ is not a sinner and was never a sinner. I need a Saviour, who is Christ. I am not the Saviour and will never be. Christ is God by nature, I receive the divine life by adoption, by grace, not by nature. Until my death, I could always lose that grace. I must receive if from Christ day after day. I could abandon Christ but Christ will never abandon me. He will always seek to transform my no to Him into a yes, a freely given yes.