Meditations for Layfolk - Jesus Christ, True Man

The coming of Christ was for a definite purpose, to atone for the sins of the world. Whether He would have come if the world had not fallen into sin, it is impossible to say, though Scripture implies that it was sin alone that made His coming imperative. Even the Church sings in one of her most beautiful hymns: "Happy fault of Adam that required so worthy a Saviour!" but that is a point apart, and needs no mention here. We know that man sinned. Through the action of Adam the whole race was by the decree of God involved in the loss of original justice and suffered the privation of grace and became children of wrath. Man had sinned, yet he could not make satisfaction for his sin; for, since a fault is partly to be measured by the dignity of the person against whom it is committed, sin took on something of the infinity of God. Man himself, therefore, was not able of himself to atone. God alone could do that. Yet how was God to suffer or make redemption? He is immortal, impassible. The Divine Wisdom discovered a way, in the person of one who should be at once God and man, man that He might suffer, God that His suffering might have infinite avail. Hence our Blessed Lord was born God and Man, as we see to have been rigorously demanded by the circumstances of the case. Before He came as man, He was already a person, the Second Person of the Blessed Trinity. His humanity, therefore, could not add a second personality to Him, else the redemption would have been useless, being achieved by one who was man only or God only. Hence the Church under the impulse of the Holy Spirit has defined that in Christ there are two natures, but one person.

Christ our Lord, therefore, is a true and perfect man. He came into the world through the same portal as all others come, formed out of the flesh and blood of His mother's womb. Slowly He grew to man's estate, increasing in wisdom and grace before God and man; adding to the fruits of His knowledge by experience, learning language from His mother whom He had created, growing conscious of the outward fabric of the universe which His own hands upheld. Boylike He strayed away from His parents, and was found at that pursuit that has always been the pleasure of all childhood - asking questions that His grown-up hearers could not answer. In the desert, after He had fasted, He was hungry; on the Cross He cried aloud that He had thirst. He was weary when He sat down at the well and spoke those revealing words to the woman of Samaria which drew her to faith in His Messiahship. As a true patriot, He whose own country was no less than all the world, He wept over the far sight of His own fair city when He saw it in His prophetic vision overrun and battered by the Roman arms. Hypocrisy and cant were abhorrent to Him; He denounced them with all the scorn of which humanity is capable, and, in His terrible anger, flung the tables of the money-changers down the front steps of the Temple, and scourged with cords all those that trafficked where had been built a House of Prayer. And even as He took upon Himself all the weakness of humanity, save that He did not sin, so into His soul crept that great dread of death which is so distinctive of the human heart.

Ah, yes, He came in the winsome garb of childhood, for He came as a brother to save. He is as truly man as I - with all a man s limitations, save that He did not sin. Tempted, He knows our weakness, for He had trial of it in Himself. " He needed not that anyone should show Him what was in man," for He was man. In life and after death He retained His divine powers over all creation. His body had qualities not given to us or to ordinary flesh and blood; none in all the world could convince Him of sin. Yet for all that He was truly man:

"Our fellow in the manger lying,
Our food within the supper room,
Our ransom on the Cross, when dying,
Our prize in His own kingly home."

I must therefore always be conscious of His humanity. I must realize that my sorrows are akin to His, that my difficulties are such that He will understand, that, though His strength is divine and is upheld by all the force of his Godhead, His compassion is thereby not less human, that He is God indeed from all eternity, but man as truly from the moment of the Incarnation. Man to understand by experience, God to help; man to suffer and die, God that death and suffering may have infinite avail. Oh, the dignity of my human nature, that it, too, is clothed about the strength of God! Oh, the real union achieved in the Blessed Sacrament when I am one with Christ! No wonder Lacordaire broke out in accents of human love in his address to his Redeemer: "O Father, O Master, O Friend, O Jesus!" There is a real relationship of love between me and His Humanity.

- text taken from Meditations for Layfolk by Father Bede Jarrett, O.P.