“I believe in one Lord Jesus Christ, the Only Begotten Son of God…”
God delights in God’s people and sends the Son, so they might be saved and have the fullness of life. The second part of the Creed, names and speaks of the ‘human’ God – Jesus who is both human and divine – here is the mystery of the Incarnation – the Son of God is the Word made flesh, who dwells among us in the person of Jesus of Nazareth. Jesus, meaning the one who saves, is the revelation or sacrament of God’s love, mercy and salvation for all peoples. Within Jesus everything is contained: God, humanity, creation and salvation. When we pray in Jesus’ name we invoke His saving presence. This is the name that was given at the incarnation, pronounced at His birth, crucified on the Cross, risen from the dead and reigns for all eternity.
‘Eternally begotten of the Father … the only son of God … God from God… true God from true God….of one being with the Father….begotten not made ….through Him all things were made’ – these phrases speak of Jesus’ divinity.
Many people today consider Jesus a great prophet, miracle worker or wise teacher, but cannot accept the Christian belief that Jesus is both divine and human. Yet Catholic belief coincides with the early Church Councils which stress that Jesus possessed all the attributes of God – having no beginning or ending, the Word of God made flesh in Jesus is ‘responsible’ for creation and shares the very essence of God.
At the same time, Jesus’ humanity is attested through the narrative of his birth and his life in Palestine 2,000 years ago. Jesus has a particular human history. It was by the power of the Holy Spirit that Jesus took flesh in the womb of the Blessed Virgin Mary and Mary gave birth to a son, Jesus. Mary said ‘Yes’ to God’s invitation and through the gift of the Spirit she gave her assent to becoming Jesus’ mother, the Mother of God. Mary’s faith, itself a gift from God, sets her as a model of faith for all believers, demonstrating that nothing is impossible for God. Mary has a special place in the Catholic tradition as the Mother of Jesus.
Jesus’ suffering, death, resurrection from the dead, ascension into heaven, his reign in glory and the promise of his return reveal the purpose of why God entered human history. Jesus’ life, suffering, death and resurrection was the means by which God shows His love for all humankind, all creation, and saves us from our sins as God opens to us the way to live with God in glory. The pattern of Jesus’ life provides a pathway for all believers to follow.
The Incarnation is the central mystery of the Christian faith and distinguishes Christianity from other religions, since it reveals that God in the fullness of time sent His Son born of a woman to redeem us so that we could be adopted as sons and daughters of God (cf (Galatians 4:4,5) to share in an eternal destiny with our loving God.