“DID YOU KNOW?” (Lk 10:22): 04 December 2007 (Tuesday)
The way our Lord spoke in the Gospel today certainly sounded like he knew what he was talking about. He sounded so certain about who he was and what his relationship to the Father was–i.e., the Messiah, the Son of the Most High, and the only, almost exclusive, Way to the Father. Those of us who prefer a superhuman Christ should be consoled by that.
However, most biblical scholars today would say that these words were probably added by his disciples only after the Resurrection, when they were more certain about the meaning of Christ’s person and life. So the question I’d like to ask the Lord is: “Did you know? Did you know for sure that you were the Messiah, the Divine Son of God?”
In one of the most moving and most meaningful Theology classes I had years ago, our professor, Fr. C. G. Arevalo, extended an invitation to us to speculate, to imagine what Christ might have thought and felt as a human person. After all, the Church staunchly teaches that Christ is both totally divine and totally human. That’s also what the Bible says: that he was like us in all things except sin.
If Christ, therefore, was totally human, it would not have been possible for him to know for sure who he was every moment of his life. Ambiguity is part and parcel of being human, so if our Lord was truly totally human, then he couldn’t have been 100% sure about who he was and who God was for him!
As a result of that class, I wrote a song called “Something More,” which was about Christ asking if he was indeed “the One” people were looking for. In other words, maybe the Lord didn’t know for sure. At best he had a hunch, but he did not completely understand. St. Paul had a term for Christ’s condition in his letter to the Philippians: kenosis, meaning “self-emptying.” In Christ, God emptied himself, his divinity, to become human. I suppose the ‘self-emptying’ included divine omniscience. When God emptied himself in Christ, the divine was hidden not only from people, but even from Christ himself! That’s how human he must have been!
Some people might suspect that this Christ with all our human limitations might be a reduction of his divinity. But that’s true only if you think you become less divine if you are more human, and that’s exactly what Christianity is not about. Christianity teaches us through the Incarnation that there is no opposition between being divine and being human.
I don’t know about you, but this less-than-superhuman Christ, this less-than-certain Christ who probably struggled and lost sleep about who he was, who knew but also like us, did not know for sure if he was following God’s Will–such a Christ is more real and more appealing to me. Such a Christ understands me more–my own questions, my own struggles, even my own doubts. One of the most consoling things about the Christian faith is that it offers not a God who is distant and who, because of his perfection, does not and can never understand our imperfections. Instead it offers us a somewhat subversive face of a God who is intimately linked to us and who remains perfect and divine but because of the human imperfection he willingly embraced, can and does understand our imperfections as well.
I don’t know about you, but such a God, such a Christ, inspires more love and more gratitude in me. How wonderful that we have such a God!