The Space After the Period

One final point is worth noting about this part of the Creed:  There is a whole lifetime crammed into the space after “and became man.”  That’s because the Creed contains nothing explicit about Jesus’ earthly ministry.  Those three words encompass not merely the conception and birth of Jesus, but the entirety of his life.  The Creed, being a summary of the highlights, simply leapfrogs over three quarters of all the text of all the gospels to get to the real nugget of what those gospels are about: Jesus’ Passion, Death, and Resurrection.  That’s not because the Church thinks the baptism and temptation of Jesus, the Sermon on the Mount, the parables, the miracles, and the sayings of Jesus are unimportant.  It’s because a gospel is, in the words of Martin Kähler, a “passion narrative with an extended introduction.” Fully one-quarter of every gospel is about a roughly 72-hour period in the life of Jesus running from the evening of Holy Thursday to Easter Sunday.  It is this interval of time that is very clearly what each gospel is about.  Everything before that span of time is included for one purpose only: to illustrate the meaning, power, and effect of the event which occurred over those three days.

Born to Die

What it all comes down to is this simple and profound reality: Jesus is fully God and fully man.  That is what all the complex theological formulations double and triple and quadruple underscore.  That is what all the weird consequences and paradoxes point back to.  A believer in Jesus can, if he likes, make a life’s study of all the controversies and arguments that rocked the early Church as it grappled with these mysteries.  Or you can accept in childlike simplicity that Jesus Christ is Son of God and Son of Man.  That’s up to you.  Meanwhile, the incredible and beautiful reality is summed up in these words:

The Son of God. . . worked with human hands; he thought with a human mind. He acted with a human will, and with a human heart he loved. Born of the Virgin Mary, he has truly been made one of us, like to us in all things except sin.

And he did all that so that he could offer to his Father on our behalf a fully human life—body, blood, soul, and divinity—that could bear all the distortion, dysfunction, hatred, pain, and spite we could heap upon him and bear it away into the abyss of God’s love for us.  That is why the Catechism says (CCC 478):

He has loved us all with a human heart. For this reason, the Sacred Heart of Jesus, pierced by our sins and for our salvation (cf. John 19:34), “is quite rightly considered the chief sign and symbol of that. . . love with which the divine Redeemer continually loves the eternal Father and all human beings” without exception (Pius XII, encyclical, Haurietis aquas (1956): DS 3924; cf. DS 3812). Jesus took flesh for one reason: to offer it to the Father every second of every minute of every day until, at the final consummation, he suffered death and was buried.


2 Responses

  1. Brilliantly expressed. We do not have God’s power, but we have within our hearts the capacity to love as God loves.

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