The Good Shepherd
c. 1946


The Whole Christ
Addresses Delivered on the Catholic Hour by the Very Rev.  Fulton J. Sheen,
published by Keep the Faith.

[Address delivered on December 30, 1934]
Last year it was my happy privilege to address you on the most beautiful of all subjects: the life of our Divine Lord. In a few broad strokes I attempted to fire your hearts with the realization that He was not just a moral reformer, but a merciful Redeemer, and not merely a good man but the infinitely good God. You, of course, realize that that earthly life was lived over nineteen hundred years ago, in a small obscure corner of the earth.

Simply because it belongs to the past there is grave danger that we may think it has little relation to the present. Many of us have probably, as practical-minded persons, asked ourselves such questions as these: What possible relation can I, in this twentieth century, have to Him Who lived in the first? What influence can His Life of long ago have upon my life at the present? How can any bond of union that I have with Him differ from my relation to Plato or Buddha or Confucius? It is these questions which I hope to answer, with the help of God's grace, in this year's radio course. It need hardly be added that in the choice of such a subject there is only one purpose in mind: to teach the hungry hearts and souls of our land that Christ is the life of their souls, their only solace and their only peace.

Now to plunge into the important question: How does Jesus of Nazareth influence me who am centuries removed from Him by time and thousands of miles by space? The answer is that there are several ways in which any man may influence posterity even long after his death. And the first of these is by teaching. Anyone who ever wrote or spoke profound truths may echo himself from the grave.

  Thanks to their teaching, the wisdom of the Greeks lives amongst us. Plato and Aristotle are enshrined in our universities, and professors talk of them as if they had walked with them through the market places and porches of Athens. Augustine of the fifth century and Aquinas of the thirteenth are made to come from their graves, and by their written word instruct our hearts, minds, and souls in the things of God and men . . .

Our Blessed Lord can influence us in precisely the same way. His words of Heavenly Wisdom were not allowed to fade away on an evening breeze, but were caught up by his four evangelists------Matthew, Mark, Luke, John------so that all who could read or hear would know the Wisdom of One Who spoke, not as the Scribes and Pharisees, but as one having authority, even the authority of God. The Scriptures then constitute the first great link between the past and the present, between His earthly life and our modern existence.

But there is a second way in which a character of the past may make himself felt in the present, and that is by example. Any man who has ever had a biographer or who has written the incidents of his own life, may project the force of his personality into the future long after his flesh has crumbled into a heap of molded dust. The military example of a Caesar or a Napoleon, the saintly life of a Vincent de Paul or a Don Bosco, the daring exploits of a Columbus or a Magellan, can be told and retold a thousand times, and thus become an inspiration and a challenge to saintly and brave men of other times and different climes.

      In like manner our Lord can influence our day because He has left us a beautiful example of a holy, moral Life that we should follow. We too can be forgiving as He forgave those who crucified Him; we can be gentle as He was gentle to little children, humble as He was before those who would make Him an earthly king, and prayerful as He was in the long vigils on the mountain tops. Countless indeed are the heroic, self-sacrificing, and saintly deeds of our own day, which have had as their inspiration the example of Him Who left   the Heavens to teach us the manner of men God from all eternity wished us to be.

      Such are the two ways by which all men and our Lord in particular strike root even centuries after their death, namely, by teaching and example. The pity is that so many believe these are the only two ways for Our Lord to stir the hearts and fire the minds of our day. As a matter of fact, if our Divine Savior had no other way to project Himself to our day than by the Gospel records of what He said and what He did, then how would He differ from Plato or Confucius Mohammed or Caesar? They too live in the present by their teaching and by their example.

<>Even grant that His words are more magnetic and His deeds more noble than those of other men, if He has no other way to project Himself than that common to all men, then He is only a man and not God. If our Lord had no other way to energize the hearts and minds than the two ways common  to all, then Christianity is only the memory of a man who lived and died; then it is no more worth preserving than any human religion.   

 Modern milk and water Christianity regards the life of Christ as nothing more than the life of a good man, and because it bids us look back 1900 years to Israel and Judea, because it merely repeats His words, re-interprets His actions, and recalls His example, as it might do that of Scipio or Aurelius, it has lost its hold on the modern man.

If that were all Christianity were, then it should die, for men cannot be influenced long by a mere memory, however noble; it is the curse of a sin-stricken humanity quickly to forget even the finest heritages of the past.

Christianity, fortunately, is something more than a memory, because our Lord is something more than a man. He is true God and true man. Being God He can perpetuate Himself not only by His teaching and His example, which is a means common to all men, but also by a third way which belongs to Him alone, as God; namely by His Life. Others may leave their titles, theIr wealth, their stocks and their bonds, their doctrines and their biographies, but only Our Lord can make a last will and testament bequeathing to posterity that which no one else on dying could ever leave------His Life and the Life of the World. He brought Divine Life to earth at the crib, but He willed not that that Life should be only a temporary visitation of a score and ten years, and a localized experience confined to a few hundred square miles. He willed to diffuse it in time until the consummation of the world, and in space until all the thirsty hearts of earth had drunk of its refreshing draughts. It is of this sublime thought of Divine Life prolonged and diffused to all men that St. John speaks in the prologue of His Gospel: ". . . of whose fullness we have all received." It is that fullness of the Christ-life beating and throbbing at this very hour in millions of souls which gives flesh and blood to His teaching and His example. No longer is His teaching a cold record written alone on the pages of history, but a teaching bound up with a life in a living mind. No longer is HIs example an antiquated historical phenomenon but a living force walking before our very eyes.

    The Life of Christ then is more than a memory of a past. There are really three phases to the complete life of Christ, or the Whole-Christ: His Earthly Life, His Glorified Life, His Mystical Life. His Earthly Life covered a space of about thirty-three years, extending from His Birth at Nazareth through His Public Life, Crucifixion, and Resurrection, to His Ascension into Heaven, from whence He came. In His Glorified Life in Heaven, He sits at the right hand of the Father, not only enjoying the Eternal Repose merited by His glorious triumphs, but also continuing to exercise the power given to Him by His Father to teach, govern, and sanctify men. His Mystical Life in the Church began on the day of Pentecost when He sent His Spirit upon the Apostles, in order that He might not be external to His Church as an example to be copied, but internal with it as a life to be lived.

The complete life of Christ must include these three phases, and without anyone of them we know not Christ. Those who consider only the earthly life of Christ develop either a sentimental spirituality or else end by regarding Him only as a good man and a teacher of humanitarian ethics; those who consider Him only in His Heavenly Life of Glory regard Him as an absentee landlord disregarding both His promise to send His Spirit and His abiding interest in the souls whom He came to save.

The Whole-Christ embraces not only the Earthly Life in which He redeemed, but also the Glorified and Mystical Life by which He pours out the fruits of Redemption upon the world. For the present it suffices us to know that He is not only our Truth because of His Teaching, not only our Way because of His Example, but also our Life because our Savior and our Redeemer. His Life is not something gone from us, but living amongst us, making our lives livable, hopeful, and glad. Our eyes need not look back to Bethlehem, for the Wise Men and the simple shepherds are still at the feet of Christ. There is nothing past in Him Who is Eternal. There are no memories of Him Who is the "same yesterday, today, and tomorrow." There are no distances from here to Galilee, for He Who is Divine has pitched His tent in the very center of our hearts and civilization. Why, Christ is our contemporary-------because He is Eternal Life.

     The years come and go, but He alone abides. Hence I can think of no better way to wish you a happy new year, than to wish you the fullness of that life which is always new, because it measures itself not by years but by Love. That beautiful theme of Eternal Life which we begin now at the dawn of the new year will be the burden of these radio discourses until Easter.

There is much that remains to be said, but let me conclude with this one thought which, if you think it out in your soul with prayer, will make this year the happiest you ever lived:   

If it is within man's power to prolong himself through space and time by doctrine and example, why is it not within Christ's power to prolong Himself by His Life? If you believe He is God, you must believe this; but if you believe this you must find out where that Divine Life is, for Life is not something vague and undefined like a fog. If that Divine Life is on this earth, it must be found in some organism, for life on earth is never found divorced from a body. Now where is that Body? Where is the Life of Christ?  [The author went on to say that he would give the answer in another sermon, which is not in this presentation. But he means the Catholic Church.----the Web Master.]

48. I am the bread of life.
49. Your fathers did eat manna in
the desert: and are dead.
           50. This is the bread which cometh
down from Heaven: that if any man eat
of it, he may not die.
51. I am the living bread which came
down from Heaven.
           52. If any man eat of this bread, he
shall live for ever: and the bread that
I will give is My Flesh, for the life of the
53. The Jews therefore strove among themselves,
saying: How can this man
give us His Flesh to eat?
           54. Then Jesus said to them: Amen, amen, I say unto you:
except you eat the Flesh of the Son of man
and drink His Blood, you shall not have life in you.
55. He that eateth My Flesh and drinketh My Blood
hath everlasting life: and I will raise him up in the last
56. For My Flesh is meat indeed: and
My Blood is drink indeed.
           57. He that eateth My Flesh and drinketh
My Blood abideth in me: and I in him.