NEWSLETTER 200 1989 September
Christ’s talk with the Pharisees (Matthew 22:41–46)
There are several places in the Gospels where Christ openly states that He is the Son of God in an absolutely special sense: that He is the Only One, the Only-begotten Son of God. In St. John's Gospel, in answer to a question He says, «I am He who is». These very words are used by God Himself in the Old Testament in answer to Moses's question, «Who art Thou?», «I am He who is». There is no definition of Me. «I am, I am the Only One, Who is.» In other passages too. Christ declares that He is indeed God come into the world in the flesh.
In this short extract from St. Matthew's Gospel we see how Christ, when He is questioned by people who want to catch Him on a word, faces His hearers with a paradox that is beyond understanding: that He is at the same time the Son of God and the son of man; something that by human laws is impossible. A Jew of the Old Testament could not anticipate such a thing because of his conception of God as being beyond comprehension. And yet in the Old Testament there are a number of places, including the one cited above, where the reader is faced with a difficult question: How can this be? How can it be that Christ is the son of David, and at the same time David calls Him his Lord?
As I have just said, there is no intellectual answer to this; the answer is in the historical fact, the fact that the Son of God was born of the Virgin. In these few words set before the people of the Old Testament (as indeed before any unbeliever or searcher) lies the question, the difficulty and the answer. A Western saint said very daringly, but it seems to me very beautifully, «I am as great as God, God is as small as I.» Christ is God, Christ is man; this is incomprehensible and this is a historical fact.
This also shows us what we are called to be: to be so one with Christ as to grow to superhuman measure to partake of God's nature, to become divine by participation, yet remaining what we are, human. Only by accepting the historical fact of the incarnation can Christ's question to the Pharisee be answered; and only the meeting with Christ as God could convince first a small group of disciples and later an ever increasing number of people, believing Jews and searching pagans, that the prophetic words had been fulfilled in life. Paul had seen only a man in Christ and therefore considered Him a false prophet and impostor, but having met Him on the way to Damascus in His risen glory, he found the answer.
So millions of people from generation to generation have found Him and believe with all their mind and heart and soul, in the whole tenor of their lives, that the Son of God became the son of man, that Christ is their God, and that for us all He is an example, the way, the truth, the life. Amen.