I believe in Jesus Christ
By Br Vincent Antony Löning | “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” This opening verse of the Gospel of John—echoing the opening of Genesis’s account of creation—goes deep into the mystery of the life of the Trinity.
“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” This opening verse of the Gospel of John—echoing the opening of Genesis’s account of creation—goes deep into the mystery of the life of the Trinity. The Word is the second person of the Trinity, the eternal Son of God, who is uncreated, who was before anything was. The Word who becomes incarnate is also Jesus Christ, a man, with a human mother, the Virgin Mary, who lived like us and amongst us in this world, the same world that ultimately rejected him and crucified him: “his own received him not” (Jn. 1.11).
So Jesus Christ is both God and man—not 50% God and 50% man, but both fully God and fully man, as taught by the Fathers of the Council of Chalcedon in A.D. 451. It is difficult enough to begin understanding what is meant by Christ’s divinity, and even Jesus’s humanity is to some extent shrouded in the mystery and controversies that surround the ‘historical Jesus’—but what are we to make of this greatest mystery of all, that in his humanity and his divinity he is, ever was and remains one person, uniting two natures hypostatically? The complex and unusual vocabulary (words such as ‘hypostatic’) which we use to describe who Jesus really is, is not simply a bit of theological sophistication. Though it is technical language, the language of Christology was necessary and arose in the early Church as Christians sought to get to know a person whose very being is so mysterious that it is in many ways impenetrable. In many ways it is easier to say what God is not than what he actually is, and this is true also of the person of Christ.
Does this mean we should give up trying to get to know Jesus? By no means. God wants us to share in his life. Yet through our own efforts we can never reach his level, become perfect as the Father in heaven is perfect (cf. Mt. 5.48). And that is precisely why, in the person of Jesus, God comes himself to share our life, in order that he might ultimately bring us back to him. Though it is futile to try to grasp the divine essence in its totality, we do have a sure guide to it, as we meet Christ’s divinity in his humanity. No-one can see God and live (Ex. 33.20), but if we cannot contemplate God’s glory directly, we can contemplate the crib, we can contemplate the Cross. We can befriend his human family and followers, especially the blessed apostles, and above all his blessed Mother. That is the best news which the ‘good news’ (a.k.a. the Gospels) have to offer: that mere sinners can meet Jesus, and in him meet God Himself.