The Royal Ministry of Christ in His Church
by Archbishop Dmitri
The resurrection of Christ was His triumphant entry into His glory, and in His Ascension, He was received up into glory. (I Tm. 3:16) He became thus the Lord of the living and the dead: "For to this end Christ both died, and rose, and revived, that He might be Lord both of the dead and the living." (Rm. 14:9) As John records in the Revelation, "He laid his right hand upon me, saying unto me, Fear not; I am the first and the last: I am He that liveth, and was dead." (1:17b-18) At His departure from the earth, He had said: "Ail power is given unto me in heaven and in earth." (Mt. 28:18)
The resurrection of Christ constitutes the proof of the acceptance of His sacrifice on the cross by the heavenly Father, and the guarantee of the completion of our redemption, because death was definitely defeated and the corruption that the human race suffered as a result of the fall of Adam was done away.
In the resurrection we see the glory of the coming Kingdom of Christ. In it, the common resurrection of us all is made certain. "[He] was delivered for our offences, and was raised again for our justification." (Rm. 4:25)
When the Head of the Body, that is, the Church, rose from the dead, He raised the whole Body, which is formed by all those who believe in Him. "Even when we were dead in sins, [God] hath quickened us together with Christ ... and hath raised us up together..." (Eph. 2:5,6a) "Now ye are the body of Christ, and members in particular." (I Cor. 12:27)
In the Ascension, Christ made His mystical Body, the Church, ascend with Him and sit with Him in heaven. As we see from the last clause of verse six from Ephesians cited above: "...[God has] made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus." (2:6b)
The heavenly glory of Christ is spoken of in Scripture as His sitting on the right hand of God. This expression "the right hand" is not a place, for there is no spatial limit to the divine. It refers to the glory that belongs to God and the exercise of His power.
Again we are reminded of the Lord's words just before His ascension: "All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth." Christ, the God-Man, is vested with kingly power, and although not present in the sense that He was before His passion, death, and resurrection, He continues to be present, in accordance with His promise, and active in the world. He rules His Church as its Head (Col 1:18), and as eternal Priest, makes intercession for the faithful before the Father (Hb. 7:25).
It is in the Church that the King exercises His dominion. The Church, therefore, is the Kingdom of God on earth, for it consists of those who have been brought to the Son by the Father (Jn. 6:44), who have passed from "darkness and [have been] translated into the kingdom of His dear Son." (Col. 1:13) St. Paul exhorts the Church at Thessalonica to walk "worthy of God, who hath called you unto His kingdom and glory." (I Thess. 2:12)
Thus, Christ reigns in the world, but not yet over it. As He said: "My kingdom is not of this world ... but now is my kingdom not from hence." (Jn. 18:36) The "now" of the last part of this verse indicates that finally His kingdom will replace all other kingdoms and all other reigns. He will. come in His glory and in His kingdom to take possession of the whole world. He "shall judge the quick and the dead at His appearing and His kingdom." (II Tm. 4:1) This kingdom will have no end. (Lk. 1:33; II Pt. 1:11) For, He has promised to establish this everlasting kingdom and makes those who love Him heirs to it. (?as. 2:5)
Christ reigns as King and Head of His Church, gathering His sheep that are scattered throughout the world. He awakens them by the grace of the Holy Spirit, uniting them to Himself and to each other. He gives them life and nourishes them.
Christ has sent the Holy Spirit to teach His flock all things (Jn. 14:26) and to guide them into all truth (Jn. 16:13)
The Lord feeds and nourishes them not only with His word but with His own body and blood. The eucharistic meal is the most obvious way in which He fulfills His promise to be with them always, even until the end of the world. (Mt. 28:20)
Communion with the body and blood of Christ is precisely the way in which the faithful live and are united to Christ. "Except ye eat the flesh of the Son of Man, and drink His blood, ye have no life in you. Whoso eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, hath eternal life; and I will raise him up at the last day. For my flesh is meat indeed, and my blood is drink indeed. He that eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, dwelleth in me, and I in him." (Jn. 6:53-56)
The life of the Church flows from its Head, fills the whole Body, and is instilled in each one of its members. From Christ, the Head, "the whole body fitly joined together and compacted by that which every joint supplieth, according to the effectual working in the measure of every part, maketh increase of the body unto the edifying of itself in love." (Eph. 4:16) Thus, St. Paul confirms the unity of all the members in Christ, the dependence of all on Him and their interdependence on each other.
The Lord purchased or won the Church with His own blood (Acts 20:28); He loves it "...and gave Himself for it ... that He might present it to Himself a glorious church." His activity in the Church is to perfect it in each one of its members, that it may have neither "spot nor wrinkle, nor any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish." (Eph. 5:25-27)Likewise, the Lord protects His Church, so that His promise may be fulfilled: “I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.” (Mt. 16:18) The fulfillment of this promise can be literally verified by the history of the Church. It has been attacked by countless enemies, from within and from without, in every generation from the day of its founding until now. Yet it has remained intact. Its message, its mission, its teachings and its life are the same as ever. Its glorious march through history constitutes the proof of its divine institution and its divine life, and, finally, of its protection by the one who is its Lord, God, and King.
From The Doctrine Of Christ, A LAYMAN'S HANDBOOK By Archbishop Dmitri