I’ve become convinced that its important for the Church to inoculate our young people with a healthy dose of catechesis before we ship them off to college, just enough so that when they first hear about Nietzsche or really study Darwin they won’t freak out and presume that what the Church taught them in 6th grade confirmation is the only wisdom the Church has to offer.
I’ve been working on writing a catechism, a distillation of the faith into concise questions and answers with brief supporting scriptures that could be the starting point for a conversation.
You can find the previous posts here.
III. The Son
1. Who is Jesus?
Jesus is the One for whom a ‘Who?’ question can never sufficiently identify him.
To answer fully ‘Who is Jesus?’ requires asking ‘What is Jesus?’
Most obviously ‘Jesus’ names the son of Mary and Joseph, but ‘Jesus’ also designates the human who is the embodiment- literally so- of the eternal God.
On the one hand, Jesus is but another ordinary child named Yeshua in 1st century Galilee. On the other hand, this Yeshua is the Word of the ineffable God made flesh in 1st century Galilee.
This is but a way of answering the ‘Who is Jesus?’ question with the response ‘Jesus is the incarnate God.’ Jesus was (and is) a human person; however, this same identical human person was (and is) God. While the adjectives ‘divine’ and ‘human’ answer the question ‘What is Jesus?’ (his nature) question, the name ‘Jesus’ refers to who (which person) he is.
For example, ‘Who’ Jesus is is the Messiah, the oft-promised, long-awaited King of Israel to whom God promised to give dominion over the Earth. ‘What’ Jesus is is the union of humanity with the divine which brings our human lives, through the Holy Spirit, into the life of God.
Who Jesus is is the 2nd Adam, the first fully human person, who lives a life of love and fidelity even though ‘humanity’ responds to such human a life by killing it. As such, what Jesus is is the ‘Faithful One’ whom the righteousness of God vindicates by raising him from the dead.
Who Jesus is is the 2nd Abraham, the child of Israel through whom the redemptive blessing of God comes to the whole world, which makes ‘what’ Jesus is…salvation.
Who Jesus is is the One in whom our rejection of God and our rejection of authentic humanity coincide; therefore, what Jesus is is our original sin.
Jesus is our Fall and our forgiveness.
“You, who are marked out for vengeance, may take our present life, but the King of the universe for whose laws we die will resurrect us faithful ones again to eternal life.” – 2 Macc 7:9).
2. Why Do We Say Jesus was Born from a Virgin?
In order to confess that Jesus is the beginning, the first fruit, of God’s New Creation.
Just as the Word brought forth creation from nothing, brought into existence all that is without needing any previously existing materials, the Word takes flesh in a virgin’s womb.
Takes flesh from nothing.
Takes flesh, that is, apart from Joseph, sex and the normal, necessary means of human creating.
To confess the virgin birth is to profess that the incarnation is what Matthew calls it at the beginning of his Gospel: a Genesis.
A new beginning.
Which makes Mary the New Eve and Jesus the 2nd Adam and each of us, in Christ, a new creation.
“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, they are a new creation. The old has passed away.”
– 2 Corinthians 5.17