Regína sacratíssimi Rosárii, ora pro nobis!

Ave Maria!

Third Sunday of Advent - Gaudete - 11 December AD 2011

On the Divinity of Christ

“There has stood in the midst of you One whose shoelace I am not worthy to undo.”[1]

The Mass in Latin and English
Third Sunday of Advent
Dominica Tertia Adventus

Ember Days in Advent

    Msgr. Ronald Knox was probably one of the best Catholic writers of the early part of the twentieth century.  In his book, The Belief of Catholics, he suggests that many non-Catholics have difficulty with the way Catholics honor the Virgin Mary as the Blessed Mother of God because they don't even think of Christ Himself as being divine.

    They have said that we deify her; that is not because we exaggerate the eminence of God's Mother, but because they belittle the eminence of God....  They refuse to honor the God- bearing Woman because their Christ is only a God-bearing Man.[2]

    More and more frequently we see that Knox was correct, as we encounter people who think of Jesus Christ as being nothing more than a great humanitarian; a great philosopher with wonderful ideals of world peace and brotherly love.

    And, not surprisingly, if we follow the same line of thinking, our concept of God the Father is reduced in the same manner.  God, if modern man accepts the concept of God at all, is reduced to some sort of powerful pantheistic “Force” that permeates the universe—or—if He is thought of in human terms, He is no more than the Great Architect who built the universe like a giant clock, wound up its spring, and walked away.

    Today, even among Catholics, it is not uncommon to find people who think along these lines.  God is no longer the center of their world, nor of their worship; having been replaced by man himself as the measure of all things.  They no longer seek their perfection in knowing and doing the will of God, but rather in human achievements.  Art and science and philanthropy have replaced prayer and penance and meditation as the means by which man pursues his supposed destiny:

    In order to perfect himself in his specific order, the person must do good and avoid evil, be concerned for the transmission and preservation of life, refine and develop the riches of the material world, cultivate social life, seek truth, practice good and contemplate beauty.[3]

    It is precisely for this reason that true Catholics follow the lead of the Church in this season, reading and meditating on the portions of Sacred Scripture that remind us that Jesus Christ is indeed truly God, as well as being truly human.

    We have the testimony of John the Baptist in today's Gospel:  “I am not worthy to loose the strap of His sandal.[4]

    In the daily readings we have been following the Book of Isaias the prophet:  “A virgin shall conceive and bring forth a Son, and He shall be called ‘Emmanuel,’”  meaning ‘God is with us.’[5]  The prophet tells us that this self-same would be “God the Mighty, Father of the world to come.” [6]  And we read in Matthew's and Luke's Gospels that Isaias was correct; that the Virgin birth of Jesus Christ fulfilled the prophesy.[7]

    Throughout the year we read of the miracles that Jesus worked—of demons cast out, of the lame and the blind and the deaf cured, even several people resurrected from the dead, to say nothing of our Lord’s resurrection after being crucified by the Roman soldiers.  One or two of these things we might be able to attribute to chance—but only the Son of God could have worked so many, and with no recorded instance of failure.

    And we also have our Lord's testimony about Himself—before the Jews in saying that “I and the Father are one,”[8] who, in turn told Pontius Pilate: “We have a law; and according to the law he ought to die, because he made himself the Son of God.”[9]  We have His testimony before the High Priest, who said to Him: I adjure thee by the living God, that thou tell us if thou be the Christ the Son of God.  Jesus saith to him: ‘Thou hast said it.’”[10]

    Now normally, we tend to take what a man says about himself with some suspicion.  We ask ourselves if he is a trustworthy person;  does he have something to gain by deceiving us?  So those who want to think of Christ as nothing more than great philosopher and humanitarian can do so only if they are willing to believe that He was also the world's greatest liar.  A bit hard to accept, but not as hard as trying to figure out why a man would deceive the authorities in order to get himself crucified!

    Saint John says it rather poetically in that Gospel we read at the end of most Masses, “The Word was God ... and the Word became flesh and dwelt among us.[11]

    In these few words, we have the whole significance of this Advent season—a preparation to celebrate the birth of God among His people.  Not some impersonal “Force” that operates the universe at a distance, and not just a great philosopher with a lot of high sounding truths—but, rather, the birth of God among His people.  And not the birth of a God who comes in vengeance, but rather the birth of a God who so loved the world that He sent His only-begotten Son—the God who loves us and asks only to be loved by us in return.



[4]   Gospel, ibid.


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