Varietates Legitimae 11-12: Christ in the New Testament and the Liturgy

Calling upon the New Testament, the Church continues to describe the history and tradition of the nature of Christ, his initiation of a universal evangelization, and also how liturgy rightly expresses and inspires these salvific actions to continue:

11. Christ, who wanted to share our human condition (cf. Heb. 2:14), died for all in order to gather into unity the scattered children of God (cf. Jn. 11:52). By his death he wanted to break down the wall of separation between mankind, to make Israel and the nations one people. By the power of his resurrection he drew all people to himself and created out of them a single new man (cf. Eph. 2: 14-16; Jn. 12:32). In him a new world has been born (cf. 2 Cor. 5:16-17), and everyone can become a new creature. In him, darkness has given place to light, promise became reality and all the religious aspirations of humanity found their fulfillment. By the offering that he made of his body, once for all (cf. Heb. 10: 10), Christ Jesus brought about the fullness of worship in spirit and in truth in the renewal which he wished for his disciples (cf. Jn. 4:23-24).

12. “In Christ … the fullness of divine worship has come to us.”(SC 5) In him we have the high priest, taken from among men (cf. Heb. 5:15; 10: 19-21), put to death in the flesh but brought to life in the spirit (cf. 1 Pt. 3:18). As Christ and Lord, he has made out of the new people “a kingdom of priests for God his Father” (cf. Rv. 1:6; 5:9 10). (Lumen Gentium 10) But before inaugurating by the shedding of his blood the paschal mystery, (Missale Romanum) which constitutes the essential element of Christian worship, (Paul VI, Mysterii Paschalis) Christ wanted to institute the Eucharist, the memorial of his death and resurrection, until he comes again. Here is to be found the fundamental principle of Christian liturgy and the kernel of its ritual expression.


– Christ’s example was of breaking down the walls of human separation. We can expect no less from ourselves as we spread the gospel to people who have not heard of or experienced Jesus Christ.

– Christ’s example was also bringing a fullness of worship to those with whom he spoke. The Scriptural note references his discussion with the Samaritan woman at the well. Jesus of the Gospel built on an existing tradition–he did not insist on eradicating what had been. One note missing here (but covered later in VL 14) is the Acts 15 notion that in reaching out to Gentiles, to those who had not even heard of the God of Israel, that no burden other than false worship, idolatry, or immorality was to be placed on new converts.

– VL 12 affirms the centrality of the Paschal Mystery and the Eucharist. As the foundation of liturgical inculturation, these are of the essence. Anything that draws out these to deeper spirituality–avoiding the negatives–must certainly be good.

Any comments from the readers?

About catholicsensibility

Todd lives in the Pacific Northwest, serving a Catholic parish as a lay minister.
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