I Believe in Jesus Christ, the Only Son of God   (E.J.Tyler)

1. The Christian is one who knows and loves Christ     

There have been and are various notions of what it means to be a Christian. At times we hear the expression, “that person is a real Christian”. All too often all that is meant by this is that the person is good to people, especially people in need. He is compassionate and upright. Now, of course these are indeed
typical virtues of a real Christian, but if that is all that can be said about a person, one cannot say that he is a real Christian. At the heart of the life of a real Christian is a personal knowledge and love for the risen Jesus and a full acceptance of his teaching about himself and about God’s plan for our salvation. Our Lord came among us and lived among us, he fulfilled his public ministry and gave his life for us precisely to bear witness to the truth about himself and God’s saving plan for us. So it is essential that we come to know and love Jesus. At the Last Supper our Lord said that “eternal life is this, to know you Father, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent.” All our life we should be contemplating the person of Jesus. Let us do that right now. Let us think of who he is and what he did for us. To accept the Gospel means to accept what the Church proclaims and what the Scriptures teach about Jesus. He is the Christ, the Son of God, the redeemer of the world. From the beginning the mission of the Church and of the Church’s members has been to lead all to faith in Christ. This desire springs from their knowledge and love of him and from Christ’s command. So firstly we must come to know Christ and, knowing him, to love him.

2. Jesus is the Messiah, Redeemer, and Son of God

 Our Lord’s very name, Jesus, was given to him before his birth to make clear his mission. The word means “God saves”. The angels said that “he will save his people from their sins” (Matthew 1:21). After the coming of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost, Peter proclaimed that “there is no other name under heaven given to man by which we can be saved” (Acts 4:12). So Jesus is the Saviour of the world, and the only Saviour. This is a particularly important point to grasp and to fully adhere to today when we are conscious of various religions. Each religion claims to be the way, or at least a way, to salvation understood in some sense. For instance, any Muslim believes that the greatest prophet is Mahomet and that the religion of Mahomet is the true religion. The Catholic believes and knows that this is a profound error. The true religion is that revealed by Christ, and he is the only redeemer of man. As our Lord said at the Last Supper, no one can come to the Father except through me, and I am the Way, the Truth and the Life. He is the long promised Messiah, the Christ, the one who established the Kingdom of God on earth by his life, his death and resurrection and by the sending of the Holy Spirit to the infant Church. But he is more than the redeemer of man. He is the only begotten Son of God, the second divine person of the Blessed Trinity, and therefore God himself. When people spoke to the man Jesus, they were speaking to the only Saviour of the world, a true man, and also to God. This is the one in whom we place our faith and whom we love. He is the living Jesus, especially in the Eucharist. We must be clear as to who Jesus is.

3. The mystery of the Incarnation   

Our Lord was conceived in the womb of the virgin Mary not in any natural way but miraculously by the power of the Holy Spirit. He had no human father but truly had a human mother. Inasmuch as he is God, Mary in becoming his mother became the mother of God, God the Son made man. A fundamental sign of a Christian is that he truly believes that God the Son became man, a man like us in all things except sin. So Jesus is both God and man. He is one divine person but has two distinct natures. We could describe the nature of something as the way a thing exists. For instance in saying that we have a human nature, we mean that we exist in one specific way and so we operate in one specific way, namely as a human being. The Son of God, though, as a result of the Incarnation had two natures, his divine nature that he necessarily has from all eternity as God, and his human nature which by the power of the Holy Spirit he took to himself when he was conceived in the womb of the Virgin Mary. From that moment he began to act not only as God but as man. It was a stupendous act of divine power for God to become man. God the Son could now suffer and die, not in his divine nature, but in his human nature. At times our Lord acted as God, at times as man. He suffered and died as man, but in all this by his divine power he had full awareness of each one of us individually.

 4. One divine person in two natures  

 This is a cornerstone of the Christian faith that Jesus was both God and man. He is a divine person with two distinct natures, one human, the other divine. Accordingly he had a human intellect and a human will, as well as his power of knowing and willing things in a divine way as God. For instance, when he met Nathanael for the first time he was able to tell Nathanael that he had seen him under the fig tree. He knew this as God, and when he told Nathanael this, Nathanael said he was the Messiah the Son of God. But on the other hand we remember how when he was in the crowd a woman came up to him and grasped the hem of his garment and was immediately cured. Our Lord turned around and asked who touched him. He continued looking around for who it was. He had felt power going out of him. So he was acting according to his human nature in not knowing who touched him, but he acted as God in curing the woman by that touch. So at times our Lord acted according to his human nature, at times according to his divine nature. When he suffered so much during his Passion and then in unparalleled fashion on the Cross at Calvary he was suffering in his human nature. But he acted according to his divine nature in doing all this for each one of us. St Paul writes that Christ loved him and delivered himself for him. Each of us can say the same thing, and we can say this because it is in Scripture and because our Lord as God could do this. He could die for each of us. Our Lord took on a human nature so as to save each member of the human race from sin.

5. Mary the Mother of God  

And so the second person of the Blessed Trinity was conceived by the power of the Holy Spirit in the womb of the Virgin Mary without the cooperation of man. Our Lord was born of the Virgin Mary his mother and had no natural human father. His only natural father from all eternity was God the Father. Mary was chosen from all eternity to be the mother of her divine Son. In order to carry out her mission she herself was conceived immaculate, completely free from all stain of sin, and this happened because of the merits of her future divine Son many years later. She is and was full of grace, all holy, and when the angel Gabriel came from God to ask her consent to be the mother of the Messiah who would be the Son of the Most High, she freely gave her consent with the obedience of faith. She believed and obeyed, and this was her attitude for the whole of her life. In this she is our model. She remained a virgin in conceiving her Son, she remained a virgin in giving birth to him, and remained always a virgin. And so when the Gospels refer to the brothers and sisters of our Lord, of course this is a reference to our Lord’s relatives in his extended family. Now, because Mary is the mother of Jesus she is our mother too, especially inasmuch as our Lord gave her to his beloved disciple and in giving her to him he gave her to all his disciples. That disciple took her to his home and it is the wish of our Lord that we take Mary into our home, the home of our hearts. She is intended by God to be our mother and our model, and her one desire is to see our minds and hearts formed more and more in the image of her Son. Our vocation is to be like him, and Mary is the perfect image of her Son, the first and foremost Christian, and therefore a perfect model for each of us. Mary is the help of Christians.

6. The years of our Lord’s infancy   

So our Lord was born at Bethlehem, fled from Herod into Egypt, and grew up at Nazareth. The Gospels tell us about his infancy and there is so much to learn from it. At Nazareth he grew in nature and grace. Imagine the home at Nazareth! Imagine those thirty years spent at Nazareth, our Lord working at his trade with Joseph his foster father, living with Mary his beloved mother. Imagine the death and burial of Joseph. Imagine the funeral procession taking the body of Joseph out to the cemetry, the loss it was to them both Jesus and Mary, and how they carried on together. Imagine the intimacy that existed between Mary and Joseph, between Jesus and Joseph, and between Mary and Jesus.  There was no family in all history to be compared with the Holy Family at Nazareth and yet it was hidden from sight. The townspeople had no idea of the extraordinary treasure in their midst. It reminds us that even though the redemption of the human race and of each one of us comes from the cross and resurrection of Christ, the entire life of our Lord was for the salvation of mankind. Those silent years at Nazareth teach us the value of the ordinary life if lived in imitation of the life of Jesus, Mary and Joseph. Their life at Nazareth teaches us the grandeur of the ordinary life lived in union with God. We should learn from this.

7. The proclamation of the Kingdom   

Our Lord spent the far greater part of his life hidden with Mary and Joseph at Nazareth. Finally the time came for him to begin his public mission. It was a momentous stage with the history of the world about to take a decisive turn. He left the town of his childhood, his youth and his young manhood, he left his home and the constant company of his wonderful mother, and embarked on his life’s work. He began by going to the river Jordan where the great prophet John the Baptist was baptizing and preparing the people for the coming of the Messiah. There our Lord took the part of sinful man and stepped forward for baptism despite the protestations of John the Baptist his kinsman. Once Jesus was baptised, the Father announced from heaven that he was his beloved Son in whom he was well pleased, and the Holy Spirit rested on him in the form of a dove. It was the beginning of his public ministry. He began calling and forming his disciples. He changed the water into wine at the wedding feast of Cana in Galilee. He launched into a spectacular public ministry of preaching the imminence and true nature of the Kingdom of God. He taught the people what was necessary for them to enter eternal life and accompanied his preaching with miracles of such number and greatness that never had there been a prophet like him. He raised the dead, drove out demons, cured the sick, calmed the storm, fed thousands of people with next to nothing and preached with unparallel authority. No one spoke like him. He called all to be his disciples, indeed he called them to be his friends, friends with a total faith in his person. He announced the coming of the Holy Eucharist through which he would remain with us forever and by means of which he would give himself to his disciples. Very many of his disciples turned away from him when he taught the doctrine of the Eucharist. He made it clear that they would find eternal life in him, in his person and teaching. His public ministry was a ministry of bearing witness to the truth of who he was and supporting it with the testimony of his own life, his person and his many miracles. Yet despite all this only a fraction of God’s people truly believed.

8. The Passion and Death of Jesus   

Especially did many of the leaders of the people turn against him. And so finally he turned his face towards Jerusalem where death awaited him. He went to Jerusalem to bear witness to the truth about himself before the nation’s leaders. The night before his betrayal by one of his own Apostles he celebrated the Paschal meal with his disciples, his last supper with them. His betrayer was present for the first part of the meal, prior to the institution of the Eucharist. This was the first Mass when he sacramentally changed the bread and the wine into his body and his blood and sacramentally made present the sacrifice of himself to the Father the next day at Calvary. The sacrifice of Calvary was made present sacramentally and the Eleven disciples by receiving Holy Communion united themselves with our Lord and with his self-sacrifice - just as we do every time we take part in Mass. The apostles were commanded by our Lord to do this in his memory, and that is what we do at Mass. That night in the Garden he allowed himself to be betrayed and delivered into the hands of his enemies and went to his Passion and Death. He suffered, died and was buried, and he did this for us and for our salvation from sin. He took upon himself the sins of each of us and of the whole world. In some mysterious way he put himself in our place and suffered for the sin of the whole world, and as the Lamb of God expiated for it. There is no way the sufferings of Christ could be calculated because of enormity of the world’s sins. But the important thing to remember is that he did all this for me. He suffered and died for me. He rose for me and for every other man and woman, rising in order to share with us his own divine life. The mission of the Church is to grant to each of us and to all a share in the life of the risen Jesus.

 9. Our Lord’s ascension and second coming

Our Lord ascended into heaven and took his seat at the right hand of the Father. So at the right hand of almighty God sits a man, our brother who is God, the same one God as the Father, though distinct from him as a Person. He is there constantly interceding for us as one who has experienced the sufferings we experience and who knows the burden of sin while having been sinless himself. He is there, and at the same time he is present constantly with us in the Church especially in the sacraments. He is the Church’s head and works in and through the Church bringing the merits of his passion and death to each person who accepts him and his teaching as it comes to us in the life and ministry of his Church. He is preparing for the final goal of all history which is his final coming in glory to judge the living and the dead. Then of his kingdom there will be no end. So then, let us entrust ourselves entirely to him, live generously as members of his Kingdom, and give our lives over to its advancement among men..

CCC 422-682