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Credo 11 Christ ... eternally begotten of the Father...

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

When we think about Jesus, we probably think about a man who lived 2000 years ago somewhere in the Near East. We might think about this man in a very special way. Nevertheless, Jesus appears to be a human being with flesh and bones who most of the time delighted in the company of his fellow men and shared his love with them. Apparently, he enjoyed good food. In the end, he died a terrible death. Like everybody’s life, Jesus’ life underwent a lot of changes and excitement and ceased at the end.
If we think about God, we think differently. The first thing which is said about him is that he is the powerful creator of heaven and earth, and their unmoved first cause. God sustains everything which surrounds us, and is present in the innermost core of our hearts. He is so big, so timeless and mysterious that we can hardly grasp him, not to speak about painting accurate pictures of him.
Now let us turn to today’s line of the Creed. It states that Jesus and God are the same. A human being is also divine and God becomes a human being.
This sounds nonsensical indeed. How can somebody be born and yet also be timeless, die and yet be eternal, be truly human and yet truly divine? Is that not as absurd as saying that a number, let us say the number 127 is a living creature? And that my neighbour’s parrot Polly is a number?
From our point of view, Jesus was a man who was born around 2000 years ago. From God’s point of view, nothing changed at all. It is not as if his Incarnation involved him changing his Divine state. The thing that really changed was his creation. Let us shortly go back to our example with numbers and animals. No animal will ever be a number. By definition, numbers have no body. Numbers and animals are mutually exclusive regarding their categories of being. If we consider the Son, eternally begotten of the Father, now become flesh, we recognize that this is not the case with God and the human being. There is now something divine in every human being: 'acknowledge your dignity', Pope Leo the Great says, the dignity humans now have because God has lived as one of us. The Christian God is a God with a human face.


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