Sunday, May 4, 2014

Jesus: Two Millennia of Truth and Alternatives

John the Baptist identified Jesus as the Lamb of God, so quite a few churches display pictures of a young sheep with a halo. That's a visual metaphor, though. WiseGEEK has a fairly painless discussion of visual metaphor, and I'm drifting off-topic.

I don't worship a lamb, of course. Jesus is human, which is how my Lord is often portrayed. Details vary with time and place.

Jesus, All Over the World

The artist's image Jesus I've seen most often looks very European, hardly surprising since my native culture is rooted in Europe.

Folks in other parts of the world often show Jesus and Saints as nice, normal people from that region.

We don't know what Jesus looked like, at least not before the Resurrection. My guess is that my Lord's appearance was Middle-Eastern, but that's just an educated guess.

Tradition tells us that Mary is a descendant of David, and Joseph, husband of Mary and foster-father of Jesus, is "of the house of David." That makes Jesus a descendant of David: legally and by ancestry. (Luke 1:26-27; Catholic Encyclopedia, Genealogy of Christ)

Anyway, my Lord gave tacit approval to being called the son of David. (Matthew 21:8-16) He also pointed out that the Almighty is — all-mighty: "...God can raise up children to Abraham from these stones...." (Matthew 3:9; Luke 3:8)

True God and True Man: Really

Jesus is human on his mother's side.

I wouldn't worship a fellow-creature, and I don't: Jesus isn't just human. His father is God. (Luke 1:26-38)

For two millennia, the Church has said that Jesus is true God and true man; fully human and divine. (Catechism of the Catholic Church, 464-469)

"...Jesus is inseparably true God and true man. He is truly the Son of God who, without ceasing to be God and Lord, became a man and our brother...." (Catechism, 469)

In some circles, that went over about as well as "eat my flesh." (John 6:53-60)

Some folks who had no trouble believing that Jesus is divine balked at accepting my Lord's humanity. They claimed that Jesus is:
  • Created by God
    • And therefore subordinate to God
  • Not human
    • His apparent humanity was an illusion
  • Human and divine
    • Not at the same time
      • Was human first
      • Then became divine
    • At the same time
      • But the divine and human natures didn't mix
I think some of the trouble is a distaste for the physical world that's endemic to Western civilization. (March 5, 2012)

Another objection to the mysterious union of God and man may be that the crucifixion is undignified, to say the least.

I don't like the idea that God voluntarily became one of us, and was nailed to a cross: I'm too aware of my unworthiness. But as a Christian I must embrace the Cross and my Savior who died and rose from the dead. (Catechism of the Catholic Church, 595-618)

For my Lord's death to mean anything, Jesus must be the Son of God and Son of man: fully human, fully divine. (Catechism of the Catholic Church, 456-478)

"Before Abraham Came to be, I AM."

Jesus said, in no uncertain terms, "I am God."
"So the Jews said to him, 'You are not yet fifty years old and you have seen Abraham?' 23

"24 Jesus said to them, 'Amen, amen, I say to you, before Abraham came to be, I AM.' "
(John 8:57-58)

"Philip said to him, 'Master, show us the Father, 7 and that will be enough for us.'

"Jesus said to him, 'Have I been with you for so long a time and you still do not know me, Philip? Whoever has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, "Show us the Father"?

"Do you not believe that I am in the Father and the Father is in me? The words that I speak to you I do not speak on my own. The Father who dwells in me is doing his works.

"Believe me that I am in the Father and the Father is in me, or else, believe because of the works themselves."
(John 14:8-11)
Jesus looked and acted like one of us. He was in a particular time and place, learned to speak, and grew up: just like we do. (January 16, 2013)

I'd like to think that I could believe that Jesus is God with nothing to go on but my Lord's word. Happily, I can also "believe because of the works themselves." After twenty centuries, going on twenty one, we've got quite an accumulation of works: that's yet another topic.

(From AnonMoos/Sumudu Fernando, via Wikimedia Commons, used w/o permission.)

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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.