Jesus as portrayed by Jim Caviezel in the film 'The Passion of the Christ'
Jesus is truly Divine and truly human, and yet one Person. This we know and profess, at least with our lips. In our devotion, however, we tend to centre on the Divine nature because it seems remote from our human reality and therefore non-challenging. The behaviour of Jesus is not considered normative for us, because, for him, being divine, all was easy: he did not have to struggle to remain faithful to the Father, whilst we do have to struggle.
Practical results of this attitude
- Pictures, statues, paintings, of Jesus, which should encourage us to virtue, are reduced to decorations, or at most to simply pious objects. They becomes like talismans, they bring us good fortune, and make sure we get the protection of Jesus.
- The Holy Spirit has no part in our lives – he does not lead us into the humanity of Jesus. The Gospels are reduced to books of history, they lose their Mystery.
- Jesus is reduced, or elevated, to the status of a superman – powerful to save from hell, indispensable for Salvation, but otherwise not interesting, and surely not to be loved, but simply acknowledged. Fortunately we have Mary and the saints who are really human and so can understand us, even if they do not really challenge us and are (too) compassionate.
- The Mystery of the Incarnation of the Son of God (One Person, Two Natures) is diminished. The humanity of Jesus is reduced to an accident of his being, not really that important. Even if it be accepted that Jesus was truly human, his humanity would be absorbed by his divinity.
- The Eucharist loses its Mystery, and becomes more of a show, irrelevant mostly. It touches the fantasy, but otherwise leaves the heart empty - so people just stop attending Mass.
Jesus is really divine and really human, and yet one Person; this is the Mystery of the Incarnation. Jesus really had to grow not only in stature but also in grace not only before men, but also before God. (Luke 3: 40, 52) He had a will of his own, and so had to choose freely to remain faithful to his Father. Otherwise his temptations would be mere playacting. He was really chosen at his Baptism, and had to struggle as we do to find out the will of the Father for him. He really experienced abandonment by his Father when on the cross. (Matthew 27:46) He really died.
When we begin to take the humanity of Jesus seriously, with all its implications, we start to realise what a wonderful Saviour we have, like us in all things, except that he did not accept to turn against his and our Father ( John 20:17) in any way, but strove always to remain faithful. (Hebrews 2:10, 17; 5:7) In our struggles we see his struggles, and in his struggles we see our struggles. He does share our lives in all. (Matthew 8:17)
Victor Degabriele SJ