Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Sons of God, and the Son of God

I've run into folks who seemed to believe that Jesus was too 'spiritual' to be really human. Then there's the more fashionable attitude that Jesus was a very wise man - - - who thought he was God?!

There's nothing new about either assumption, and I am not going to get distracted by Gnosticism and why I'm okay with having to breathe. (August 31, 2011)

Two paragraphs, and I'm already off-topic. I'm still picking my way through part of the Catechism's discussion of Jesus.1

Jesus, Assumptions, and Golgotha

Believing that Jesus is purely spiritual might seem attractive, particularly for folks who aren't fond of the physical world. The problem is that if Jesus wasn't a man, with a real body, the Crucifixion was no more than a bit of divine play-acting.

Seeing Jesus as just a wise man appeals to the notion that the physical world is all that exists, but asks us to assume that someone could be a wise teacher and delusional. I've been over this before. (October 3, 2012, August 8, 2012)

Jesus really died on Golgotha, and knew it would happen. When my Lord told his disciples what to expect, Peter didn't like it: understandably. (Matthew 16:23)

After people are nailed to a cross and die, they're expected to stay dead. Since Jesus is also the Son of God (capital "S"), that's not what happened. (Mark 16:1-6, Luke 24:1-7, for starters)

The next part of the Catechism gets into why the Word becoming man is important. Basically, the Word became one of us to deal with our sins. (Catechism, 457)

Capital "S"

When the Old Testament says "son of God," lowercase "s" in my language, it's a title given to angels, the children of Israel, and their kings. (Exodus 4:22, Deuteronomy 14:1, Job 1:6; Catechism of the Catholic Church, 441)

I suppose I'm a son of God, too: since my Lord told us to pray to "our Father." (Matthew 6:9-13)

I pray the 'Our Father' regularly, of course: but it still feels odd, thinking of myself as a sort of adopted child of God. The word "presumptuous" comes to mind. I think that comes partly from remembering a few versions of the "prosperity gospel."

Jesus, the World of God is - special:
"1 2 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God."
(John 1:1)
There's more, John 1:1-5 and 14, explaining that Jesus is God, and the Son of God, and that the Word of God "became flesh." (John 1:14)

I believe that, which isn't the same as saying that I fully understand the Incarnation. Like St. Augustine said:
"If you understood him, it would not be God"
(Catechism, 230)
Somewhat-related posts:

1 Here's what got me started today:
"In the Old Testament, 'son of God' is a title given to the angels, the Chosen People, the children of Israel, and their kings.44 It signifies an adoptive sonship that establishes a relationship of particular intimacy between God and his creature. When the promised Messiah-King is called 'son of God,' it does not necessarily imply that he was more than human, according to the literal meaning of these texts. Those who called Jesus 'son of God,' as the Messiah of Israel, perhaps meant nothing more than this.45"

"Such is not the case for Simon Peter when he confesses Jesus as 'the Christ, the Son of the living God,' for Jesus responds solemnly: 'Flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father who is in heaven.'46 Similarly Paul will write, regarding his conversion on the road to Damascus, 'When he who had set me apart before I was born, and had called me through his grace, was pleased to reveal his Son to me, in order that I might preach him among the Gentiles. . . .'47 'And in the synagogues immediately [Paul] proclaimed Jesus, saying, "He is the Son of God." '48 From the beginning this acknowledgment of Christ's divine sonship will be the center of the apostolic faith, first professed by Peter as the Church's foundation.49"
(Catechism of the Catholic Church, 441, 442)

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What's That Doing in a Nice Catholic Blog?

From time to time, a service that I use will display links to - odd - services and retailers.

I block a few of the more obvious dubious advertisers.

For example: psychic anything, numerology, mediums, and related practices are on the no-no list for Catholics. It has to do with the Church's stand on divination. I try to block those ads.

Sometime regrettable advertisements get through, anyway.

Bottom line? What that service displays reflects the local culture's norms, - not Catholic teaching.