THE INCARNATION OF THE SON OF GOD WAS NECESSARY TO GIVE PERFECT SATIFACTION TO THE INJURED MAJESTITY OF GOD
God might have chosen some other means for redeeming man. He might, by special ex-ercise of His goodness, have been content with an imperfect sastisfaction, or have re-mitted the guilt without demanding any satisfaction at all. St. Augustine on this subject writes: "There shall be some foolish people who think God could not have redeemed mankind otherwise than Himself taking flesh and suffering at the hands of sinners. He might have followed quite another plan." As we shall see in treating of the death of Christ, God wished to have perfect satisfaction could be given only by a God-man. The greatness of an injury is measured by the dignity of the person who suffers; hence the offence given to God is infinitely great. No finite being, not even the most perfect angel could not atone for an offence against God, only God Himself. "So that," to use the words of St. Anselm. " to redeem man it was necessary that God should become man." As God only He could not suffer; as man only He could not redeem; hence the God head a human nature (St. Proclus). If valuable portrait be damaged beyond recognition it cannot be re-stored unless the sitter presents himself to the artist; thus God had to come down to re-store His likeness in man (St. Athanasius).
The Incarnation and the Trinity are the fundamental mysteries of the Catholic Faith. On these two everything else rests. If there is no Trinity, then there is no redemption by the Second Person of the Trinity. If there is no Incarnation, there is no atonement by Jesus Christ. The word Incarnation is derived from the two Latin words and , which mean in the flesh. As applied to the Son of God they signify His existence in the flesh, that is. His becoming man. This is a stupendous mystery, as difficult of comprehension as the Trinity. How the infinite God became finite man, yet remained God, is something we do not understand. It was so difficult of apprehension for the Jews, who had a true conception of God, that they could not or would not believe that Christ was God. That was their whole contention. Because He affirmed He was God, they put Him to death.
Jesus realized their difficulty and met it sympathetically. He told them that no man was witness to his own word, and referred them for proof of His word to His deeds: "The things which I do give testimony of me." And those Jews who were not influenced by passion recognized His testimony. From the beginning of the world, said they, no man spoke as this man, and no man ever did the things which he does. Thus spoke the multitudes.
On one occasion Jesus forgave a man his sins. "Who but God can forgive sins ?" The Scribes and Pharisees exclaimed. Jesus accepted their challenge. True, said He, no one but God can forgive sins, but that you may know that I have the power to forgive sins, that I am indeed God, I shall do something before your eyes which only God can do. And straightway He said to the cripple, who was brought to Him on a bed: "Take up thy bed and walk." And the man rose and walked, and all glorified God. This is but one of hun-dreds of things which Jesus did to show the people that they could trust Him. Once He established His divine power, it was their duty to believe Him.
And the great body of people did believe in Him. But the Scribes and Pharisees, who saw that their sway over the multitude would cease with their acceptance of Jesus as the Messias, Used all their power to discredit Him. A dreadful instance of this is in regard to their conduct after the resurrection of Lazarus.
I once said to a distinguished lawyer that, as an example of faith of the Jesus leaders, their attempt to suppress in case of Lazarus was convincing proof. He asked me in just what way they tried to do so. I informed him that after the resurrection of Lazarus, which was witnessed by hundreds, among whom wee many distinguished men of Jerusalem, the Jews called a council. In this counsel, they debated the proof of his resurrection. The lawyer exclaimed: "Why, I never saw that in Scripture. If that is so, it is conclusive, for the suppression of evidence is the most flagrant criminality." He then asked me to point out the passage in Scripture which recorded the fact. I did so, and he said no greater proof could exist of malicious intent against Christ. (John xii. 10) In this connection, let me say that the Jews themselves never denied the miracles of Jesus. The Scriptures, taken merely as profane history, record the doings of Christ as they occurred and as they were accepted by the people generally. Unless His deeds were just as recorded in the Bible, the Jews would have protested against the narration from the start. They never did.
It may be asked, why, then, did they not receive Jesus Christ as the Messiah? The reply is that did not give them what they wanted. They expected a worldly kingdom and a mighty temporal ruler who would exalt their nation above others. But Christ did not leave heaven and come to this earth to give the fleeting things of this world to man. He came to give eternal life, an eternal kingdom. Hence He said: "My kingdom is not of this. World." The Scribes and Pharisees were looking merely to the present. Hence they re-jected their greatest good, they renounced Jesus Christ. How many to-day reject Jesus be cause He does not give them what they want.
GOD AND MYSELF
By: Fr. Martin J. Scott S.J.