One of the great themes in the letters of Saint Paul is union with Christ. It is a theme that penetrates all of his letters, his life, and his mission. There are different aspects of union with Christ that are woven throughout Paul’s letters. Christians are united with Christ because they are baptized into his death: “Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized in Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, so that as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life” (Rom 6.3-4). They form with Christ one body: “For just as the body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body, though many, are one body, so it is with Christ” (1 Cor 12.12-13). They have been foreknown and predestined by God to be remade into the image of his Son: “For those whom he [God] foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the first-born among many brethren” (Rom 8:29). With faith and through the sacraments of Baptism and Eucharist, Christians are initiated into a process of personal transformation in which they put on Christ to the point that can say it is Christ who lives in them: “I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me” (Gal 2.20).
The purpose of this paper is to examine four aspects of union with Christ: cosmic union, spiritual union, sacramental union, and personal union.
by Sr. Kathryn James Hermes, FSP