Christianity is the only religion in history to believe in the Incarnation, that is, in God becoming a human being. Thus, only Christians believe we can have a personal relationship with God as a human being. The uniqueness and essence of Christianity is personal relationship, communion, intimacy, and love.
Some would argue that Jesus' ascension ends the opportunity for a personal relationship with God because we can no longer see, hear, and feel Jesus' physical body. This would be true except for the Holy Spirit. Jesus promised: "It is much better for you that I go. If I fail to go, the Paraclete will never come to you" (Jn 16:7). By the power of the Spirit, we can have a personal relationship with the body of Jesus in two new ways. "It was in one Spirit that all of us, whether Jew or Greek, slave or free, were baptized into one body" (1 Cor 12:13). In the Spirit, we become members of Christ's body, the Church. Although the Church is not Christ's physical body, it is truly His body (see Acts 9:4; Mt 25:40; Mt 18:20) through which we can have a personal relationship with God. The Spirit also opens us to Jesus' body in the Eucharist (see Acts 2:42) by which we can relate to Jesus so personally that we live in Him and He in us (see Jn 6:56).
It's better for us that Jesus ascended. By the Spirit, we now can have a much more intimate, personal relationship with God by becoming part of His body, the Church, and by receiving God into our bodies in Holy Communion. The third Person of the Trinity makes possible a continuing, deeper, personal relationship with God.
|Rescript: In accord with the Code of Canon Law, I hereby grant the Nihil Obstat ("Permission to Publish") for One Bread, One Body covering the period from April 1, 2008 through May 31, 2008.
†Reverend Joseph R. Binzer, Vicar General of the Archdiocese of Cincinnati, October 23, 2007.