Catholic Diocese of Spokane, Washington
Official News Magazine of the Diocese of Spokane
P.O. Box 48, Spokane WA 99210
(509) 358-7340; FAX: (509) 358-7302
The Question Box
by Father I.J. Mikulski
(From the April 7, 2011 edition of the Inland Register)
Q. In a homily a while ago the priest said as Jesus was being baptized he heard the Father’s words “This is my son” and he (Jesus) realized he was God’s son. I do not agree. Jesus always knew who he was, is and always will be. Jesus as God never had a beginning. How could Jesus ever not know who he was?
A. Tread gently around the profound mystery of the totally divine and totally human nature of Jesus Christ. Theologians call it the “hypostatic union,” so watch your step.
The first regional council of the Catholic church was convened at Antioch, Syria, and the first world-wide ecumenical council was convoked at Nicaea in 325 specifically to address this thorny theological issue. The assembled bishops put it in writing.
The Nicene Creed, which we still use, declared that the Son of God is “begotten not made, of the same substance as the Father.”
The Arian, Nestorian and Monophysite heresies cropped up like brush fires and Councils at Ephesus, Chalcedon and Constantinople were convened to stamp them out. Every now and then a few sparks get blown around but nothing like the formative dogma days.
The human nature that Jesus Christ, Son of God, assumed was endowed with true human knowledge that necessarily developed, like all human experience, over space and time. Luke said Jesus “increased in wisdom and in stature and in favor with God and man” (Luke 2:52) and, like anyone he learned best from personal experience.
In that capacity as having the “same substance as the Father” Jesus Christ had full knowledge to understand the eternal plan of God he had come to reveal.
Jesus Christ, being true God and true man, totally divine and totally human.... He could never be partially divine and partially human ... which he has in common with the Father and the Holy Spirit.
Your priest’s presentation was theologically correct. It’s hard to explain this supreme mystery in a brief homily.
Q. I realize that sometimes we must accept things we don’t understand but I also think we will find answers. In the case of miracles we can’t explain now but some day we will because our research will get better. When that time comes how will the church agree to non-miracles?
A. If we believe in God we must believe in divine powers. What would be the sense of having faith in a divine being if that divine being did not, or could not, affect human lives?
If our God is incapable of superceding the laws of nature as we understand them we had better start looking elsewhere for a qualified Supreme Being who is superior to the wonders he has created.
Miracles are wondrous because we know they do not happen at the recitation of a scientific formula but at the invocation of the Virgin Mary.
Will we ever have the key to all knowledge so we can explain every miracle in astrophysics, biology, chemistry, psychiatry, anatomy and everything else? If that day ever comes the creative ingenuity of God will make miracles seem like childish tinkering.
Q. I know the Bible is infallible. If the Bible is the book that’s the word of God with us and if we are saved by the words inspired by God then how can it be anything but true and infallible?
A. The Bible has the human errors we expect whenever we leave our fingerprints on anything. It has mistakes in history, science, omissions, duplications, padded additions, scrambled sequences and fanciful allegories.
The Bible is truthful in matters of divine revelation when we understand the purpose of the writers and the conditions at the time of writing. That narrows the field considerably. Your faith will not suffer a relapse if you stay within those borders.
Observe the first rules of interpreting: Context, context, context.
Do not mix excerpts from Genesis with the last book, Revelation, or lines from Leviticus with quotes from John’s Gospel.
The Bible is not the sole rule of faith. The Bible does not say that. People say that.