Of course, various religions throughout history have sought to accomplish this in various ways, but the basic premise usually has that sort of flavor to it. We go stumbling along trying and failing and trying again to get to the top, either forging our own path, or attempting to follow those who seem to have had some success on a certain route in the past (luckily, in some religions you can even get a couple lifetimes to sort through this whole ordeal).
Being that we were at a Catholic/Jesuit school, ordinary Christianity didn’t get much mention in the class, on the fair assumption that we got enough of that in the other 3 ½ years of theology. Christianity did get one brief shout out though, squeezed in on the very last day of class. We returned once more to the mountain.
What makes Christianity different? Why is it the Truth, when the others aren’t? Why are we here in this Catholic school? Why is our way better? Well, I’ll tell you why.
Because we don’t have to climb the mountain – at least not on our own. All those other religions have man scrambling up the mountain, trying to get to God. In Christianity,God came down the mountain to us. The analogy was complete, and I was dumbfounded at the picture it presented and the story it told.
This is the great mystery and miracle of the Incarnation. At a Catholic Mass, you’ll usually see people bow at two points: during the Nicene Creed, when, speaking of Jesus, we say, “and by the power of the Holy Spirit was incarnate of the Virgin Mary and became man”; and when the Eucharist is presented to the receiver. We bow when we remember Christ first coming in the flesh, and we bow when we see him do it again every Sunday. It’s a big deal.
This is what makes Christianity different, and better (and is at least a good start to thinking about why it might be True). It’s not just man seeking God anymore; but God seeking man. And this doesn’t just start with Christ either (though that’s indeed the climax of the grand tale). It started the second we messed it all up, back in Eden: in Genesis 3:6 we ate the fruit we should not have eaten; in verse 7 we hide; and by verses 8 and 9 God is already looking for us and calling for us. God didn’t hesitate for a moment to begin his great descent to bring us back to Himself.
Christ the man came to our world as the ultimate guide up the mountain. He didn’t just come to show us the way; He came to tell us He is the Way. So, we can perhaps still trek the mountain if the adventure suits us; or perhaps we can just ride the gondola of grace straight to the summit.
Jesus didn’t abandon his infant Church there either, to ascend right back home. Rather, he stayed with them on Earth for a time (though not in the same way as before), until he ascended bodily into Heaven 40 days after Easter. Then following a short 10 day period of possible confusion, the young Church was graced with another descent – this time of the Holy Spirit – on Pentecost Sunday.
So there you have it. God the Father descended in Eden at the Fall; God the Son descended in Bethlehem at the Incarnation; and God the Holy Spirit descended in Jerusalem at Pentecost. These are but a few examples of God seeking man in Christianity. And all for the purpose of gathering us all up and bringing us Home, when in a great ascent we will inhabit a new Heaven and a new Earth, living in harmony with God – just as we were always meant to.
Although Pier Giorgio has indeed inspired me to climb a mountain or two, when it comes to my eternal fate and that of those I love, I think the Christian option is the way to go. The mountain is there. You can either ignore it (like the atheist), attempt to ascend it (as all the other religions of the world do), or accept the mystery of the route to the top coming to us itself (as in Christianity). I choose the ladder.
Written by: Matt Gangidine