By Bishop J. Douglas Deshotel
Special to The Texas Catholic
The opening words of the Letter to the Hebrews in the New testament tells us, “In times past, God spoke in partial and various ways to our ances¬tors and through the prophets; in these last days, he spoke to us through a son, whom he made heir of all things and through who he created the universe, who is the refulgence of his glory, the very imprint of his being and who sustains all things by his mighty word.”.
Those words explain how all his¬tory revolves around the central point of God completely making himself known to us in the person of Jesus Christ. All history before the coming of Christ was in preparation for his entrance into our world; all history since his coming is a reflection back on this miraculous event. Jesus Christ is the Son of God, the second person of the most Holy Trinity who assumed a human nature, was conceived in the womb of the Blessed Virgin Mary by the power of the Holy Spirit. He is completely God, having the same nature as the Father. At the same time, he is completely a human being, body and soul. Although he has two natures, he is the one person Jesus Christ.
This ancient formula of the church explains how we know of God in the person of Jesus Christ. When St. Phillip asked our Lord, “Lord, show us the Father”, Jesus answered him, “Phillip, he who has seen me, has seen the Father”. In the Gospels, our Lord declared several times, “the Father and I are one”. While Jesus is one with the Father, he is also completely human in all things but sin. From the Second Vatican Council we read, “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.”
In this union of divine nature and human nature in the one person of Jesus Christ we are given the beautiful teaching of our faith, the Incarnation. To restore the human race back to himself, God became one of us. God shared in our human nature that we might share in his life. In the person of Jesus Christ, God walked in our shoes that he might tell us, “I understand, I’ve been there.” Our Blessed Lord was hungry and thirsty, he grew tired, he was happy and enjoyed friendship, he experienced the limitations of our human body, he was lonely, he knew pain and suffering, he even underwent death as we do. But as God he conquered death and calls us, “follow me, I will show you the way to true and everlasting life”. He tells us that now we too will conquer death just as he did. Remember what he told St. Martha when Lazarus had died, “Your brother will rise … I am the resurrec¬tion and the life, he who believes in me will never die”. That is because as God, Jesus Christ conquered the ancient enemy of our human race: sin and death.
It is comforting to know that the God we hope to spend all eternity with is the same one who loved us enough to die for us. The God to whom we will give an account of our lives is the same as the father who welcomed the prodigal son home, promised paradise to the thief on the cross and forgave the sinful woman. The God who brought us into being, gave us the story of the Good Samaritan, fed the hungry, spoke the Sermon on the Mount and healed the sick and suffering. We know who God is because of Jesus Christ: the ultimate Revelation of God.
The Most Rev. J. Douglas Deshotel is an auxiliary bishop, vicar general and moderator of the Curia for the Diocese of Dallas