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Jesus Christ, Incarnate God

Fr. John A. Hardon, S.J.

The heart of Christianity is faith in the Incarnation. We believe that the Second Person of the Holy Trinity became man. We believe the Incarnation is the union of the divine nature of the Son of God with human nature in the person of Jesus Christ. We believe that the Son of God assumed our flesh, body and soul and dwelt among us like one of us, in order to redeem us. We believe that His divine nature was substantially united to our human nature. We believe that Jesus Christ is God who became man and will remain man for the endless reaches of eternity.

To be a Christian not only in name but in reality, one must believe in the divinity of Jesus Christ, that He is true God and true man. To be Christian means is to believe that the Infinite Creator of heaven and earth became a speechless child who was conceived of His virgin mother, born at Bethlehem, died on the cross, ascended into heaven, and is seated at the right hand of His heavenly Father.

Since the dawn of Christianity, the divinity of Christ has been the single most frequently and strongly challenged mystery of our faith. We say that the Church is going through the most serious crisis of the twenty centuries of her history. At the center of this crisis is the wide spread doubt and denial that Jesus Christ, the Son of Mary is the son of the living God. There is nothing else in our Catholic faith that needs to be more clearly understood and firmly believed than Christ’s divinity.

The Testimony of St. John

As we know, the apostle John was the only one of Christ’s immediate disciple who did not died a martyr’s death. He lived until the close of the first century of the Christian era. All of this was providentially to ensure that the beloved disciple could write his gospel, letters, and the Book of Revelation. Between Christ’s Ascension and the death of St. John were circulated the earliest hearses which denied that Jesus was indeed the Son of God.

That is why the writings of the fourth evangelist are such a precious treasury of revealed wisdom testifying to the divinity of the Savior. The apostle is so explicit about Christ’s oneness with the Father and Christ’s divine nature, that critics of the faith have to resort to dismissing John’s writing as Hellenistic theory superimposed on the simple message of the other three evangelists. John begins his gospel with a prologue that leaves nothing to the imagination. “In the beginning” says John, “was the Word, and the Word was with God; and the Word was God...and the Word was made flesh and dwelt among us.” (John 1:1,14)

Even if the Gospel were not the last inspired writing of the apostle, it was certainly occasioned by the rise of Gnosticism. The Gnostics claimed to know the mysteries of the universe. According to them, matter is hostile to spirit. On these terms, God could not have become man. Why not? Because God, who is pure spirit, could not have united Himself with a human body. More important, the Gnostics denied an objective divine revelation that was completed in the apostolic age and which the Church, founded by Christ, alone has the teaching authority to interpret decisively the meaning of what God has revealed.

All the errors that are plaguing the modern age are rooted in Gnosticism. That is why the cardinal heresy among professed Christians is some form of Gnosticism disguised under a variety of clever names that fill so many books that are supposed to be Catholic.

It is St. John who records the dialogue between a group of Jews and Jesus. The Jews picked up heavy stones to throw at Him. So He asked them “I have done many good works for you to see; works from my Father; for which of these are you stoning me?” The would-be stoners answered Him, “we are not stoning you for doing the good work, but for blasphemy: you are only a man, and you claimed to be God” (John 10:24-33)

The crowning witness to His profession of divinity occurred a week after the Resurrection. The doubting Thomas was not among the apostles when the Savior appeared to them on Easter Sunday night. When the others told Thomas that they have seem the Lord, he stubbornly replied that he would not believe unless he put his fingers into the wounds in Christ’s hands and his hand into Christ’s opened side. A week later, Jesus appeared to the disciples, called Thomas to Him and asked him to do exactly Thomas has demand as condition of believing. Thomas repented of his doubt and pronounced those words that by now has been repeated million of times by believing Catholics at the elevations at Mass. “My Lord and my God,” Thomas declared. The human language could not be more clear. Jesus Christ is our Lord and our God.

Copyright © 1998 Inter Mirifica

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