Another Humanity or Another Member?

ElisabethOne of Blessed Elizabeth of the Trinity’s favourite phrases was “another humanity.” She, by the transforming power of grace, would become “another humanity” for Christ to live on earth. Jesus would be present, not hypostatically or in the same Person as the Word, but nonetheless really present by grace in her and to the world through her.

I like this.

I think it would be very hard for anyone with a contemplative inclination to not like this.

But I also think there’s something either a bit off or a bit incomplete here.

In fact, we do not become another humanity, but we do become another member of Christ’s body. In other words, we become another site at which Christ’s humanity is present to the world, but we are really members of one another (cf. Rom 12:5). We “are Christ’s body, and individually members of it” (1 Cor 12:27). Strictly speaking, we are not individually “another humanity.” We are individually “members” of that “other humanity” which is the Church, the Body of Christ, the Communion of Saints.

I fear that the language of “another humanity” is a remnant of that Baroque and Enlightenment age where individualism reigned supreme in Europe and North America. I do not think it is all wrong. There is much good in it. It can clearly awaken us to a wonderful exercise of charity and a deep penetration of the Christian mysteries. But is it complete? No, for it lacks the final claim: and this site of a new Christ-humanity is oriented in itself to the other sites at which such humanity is either potentially or actually realized.

Maybe our age, which is very much aware of casting off some of the excesses of the Enlightenment and the Baroque era, can take this path, correct it slightly, and run with it.


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