4th Sunday of Advent
Who and what is this Jesus who reveals God to us, who knows and loves us and wants us to know and love him through prayer.
Who is he? There is only one answer. The second person of the blessed Trinity, God the Son, not God the Father, not God the Holy Spirit, but God the Son. That is who he is. What is he? After the Angel visited Mary there are two answers. What is He? He is God. But he is also Man.
What you are, your nature, decides what you can do. But who you are, your person, does it. Who raises Lazarus from the dead? Jesus. How can he do that? Because he is God. Therefore he can do the things of God. Who suffers and dies on the Cross? Jesus. How can he do that? Because he is Man. Therefore he can do the things of man.
One person Jesus Christ, the second person of the Blessed Trinity. Two natures human and divine. The Divine Nature, the Saviour has always possessed. He has always been God. The Human nature he took to himself in the womb of the Virgin Mary at the moment of the Annunciation. The same time he took the name Jesus.
He doesn’t take this human nature as a mask which he takes off again later, nor is it just the appearance of a man, or an act or a pretence. He becomes a man just as we are. He has a soul just like us, a brain that works like ours, learning things, forgetting things, putting two and two together. A body like ours, growing, prone to tiredness, hunger, full of feelings and emotions. Have you ever been surprised by the Gospel accounts of Jesus praying? As a man he does pray- it is part of human nature for the mind and heart to be lifted to God in prayer. And the person who does this is Jesus.
He has a human nature so he can do all that goes with being man, he has a divine nature so he can do all that goes with being God. But whether he is doing the things of God in his Divine Nature or the things of Man in his human nature, in either case it is the one person who is doing them and that person is Jesus Christ the second person of the Blessed Trinity.
This means that because of his human nature our Lord can perform human acts - from crying as a baby to giving his life as a sacrifice of love on the cross. But the one who does these things is a divine person. I can do some penance to make up for my sins, or the sins of others, but it remains the act of a simple man and limited in its effect and scope. But what Jesus does on this earth is the act of God. Thus his actions, his penance, his works have infinite value. Sin had torn man and God apart, now man and God are re-united in one person, Jesus the Saviour. As a man Jesus can act on behalf of the whole human race, he can offer to God The father, on behalf of the whole human race, a sacrifice of obedience and love which is truly human but which, because the person who does it is God, has the perfection, beauty, value and merit needed to put us at rights with God, with each other and with creation. Indeed it has more than enough. This sacrifice is what we offer at Mass.
This is why Christmas is such a solemn day. Not because a baby is cute, though they are, not because a baby is a sign of hope and peace, though it is, but because this particular baby Jesus is truly God and truly man, and only because he is truly God and truly man can he be our saviour.
So many things flow from this primary truth at the heart of our faith. Jesus is truly God and truly man. Whatever Jesus does is done by God, whatever Jesus suffers is suffered by God, whatever happened to Jesus happens to God – for Jesus is God. So many things but we are directed towards one thing especially this Sunday before Christmas day. The child born at Christmas is God, but you cannot think of a baby without its Mother, you cannot have a baby without a Mother, you should not approach a baby without first approaching the Mother. This child is God but he is also Human. Devotion to Mary is the true test of our belief that Jesus is God and man. For if Jesus is God then Mary the Mother of Jesus is the Mother of God.