By Rev. Fr. B Joseph Francis –
Who is Jesus Christ as a Person?
The Nicene Creed (325 AD) expands this: “I believe in One Lord Jesus Christ, the Only Begotten Son of God, born of the Father before all ages, God from God, Light from Light, true God from true God, begotten, not made, consubstantial with the Father”. Who is Jesus Christ as a Person? He is the Only Son of the Father. Does it mean that he was born from the Father after some time? We cannot put any time gap within the Trinity of Father, Son and Holy Spirit. From all eternity they are always related that way and can never be absent from one another. It was a heretical priest Arius, around 325 AD who was preaching and composing popular hymns saying that God the Son was not really God in the sense the Father is God but is made and is of a different substance than the Father. He could be called god in a metaphorical sense and given honour accordingly. It is this opinion that was condemned at the council of Nicaea in 325 AD and Arius was declared as a heretic. The Council used a few interesting examples: Light from Light i.e., if we were to light a candle or lamp from another, in no way is the light diminished in the original or in the candle or lamp that is lit and so is the Son begotten of the Father, in no way diminishing the Father and in no way himself diminished to become a secondary or lesser god! He is, as the Creed says: God from God i.e., fully God and not divided into portions.
God the Son is “consubstantial” (one in being) with the Father
The Nicene Creed uses the word “consubstantial” by which the Council meant that the Father and the Son are of the same one Substance. Theologians today would call this in technical terms “numerically, identically same” i.e., the very same and not two different Substances or beings. A telling story to illustrate how there is no time gap involved between God the Father and God the Son is the following illustration: a boy, the only son of his father was asked how old he was and he answered 10 and was next asked how old his father was and without batting an eye said he was also 10. Was he not correct? His father was father only when he has a son and that was only since 10 years!
The Creed also declares that “He was begotten and not made” i.e., he is not created by the Father from nothing or manufactured/produced from any previously existing matter or substance. He is generated by the Father (do not imagine this generation like the human generation where you need a mother); the Son is eternally related to the Father by Generation (where the Generator and the Generated are of the same nature just as the human parents and their human child is of the same nature but here in the case of God the Father and God the Son they are not only of the same nature but also specifically the very same Substance, numerically identically the very same). Theologians will say use another example i.e., speech: the Father has said ONE WORD and he has said everything completely in him; there cannot be a second Word; there cannot be another Son and that is why the Creed says: ONLY Son.
The Trinitarian Mystery
In the Trinitarian mystery the Father gives himself completely to the Son, keeping back nothing except his Fatherhood which he cannot give since that is his constituted Person. The Trinitarian teaching goes further when it says that the Son does not hold on to what he received from the Father but gives everything back to the Father except his Son-ship because that is his constituted Person. In a simple way we could say that within the Trinity the Father is constantly saying: “my Son, my Son” and the Son in return is saying “Abba Father, Abba Father”. This goes on endlessly: the Father is now “Generating” the Son and the Son is even now the “Generated”.
We are made in the image of the Son
It is in this Son that we believe and who is “from the Father and to the Father” always at no moment can this be absent from him. All of us are made in his image. This can be explained in this fashion: before somebody builds a house he makes a blue print, a plan and seeing it at least mentally and being satisfied, sets to work it out. Now before the creation of the world there was nothing in front of the Father except the Son; therefore when the Father makes the plan for the creation of the universe he sees everything in the Son (you and me included) and having seen he loved and created. So we are made on the model of the Son. Not only we but the whole of creation is made in him and through him. This is why the Nicene Creed says: “through him all things were made” (Cf. Jn 1.1-3).
Therefore it stands to reason that we should acknowledge the Father since like the Son to some extent (analogically) we too are “from the Father and to the Father”. But it is sin that upsets this natural orientation, making us not give Glory to God the Father but only try to do our own will sinfully. The Son always remains for us the model of loving return to the Father, an acknowledgement that is due to God. He constantly invites us to turn to the Father in him and through him to call God “Abba, Father” by the power of the Holy Spirit (Cf. Rm 8.15-17; Gal 4.4-6). His incarnation (becoming human) was also for this purpose of correcting the wrong orientation into the right one of turning to the Father. In incarnation, God and the human are united in the ONE PERSON of the SON and the original orientation is recovered at least in Jesus Christ and all of us are invited to have it and enjoy it in and through Jesus Christ with whom we are united by our humanity and a union ratified and made fruitful at baptism! Be the son or daughter that God made you to be according to his great plan!
To be continued next Thursday…