Monthly Spiritual Message, July 2012
By Fr Carl Schafer OFM
The question is often asked, “Why did God the Father send his Son to us?”, or, “Why did God the Son become a man?”
These questions arise from our human way of looking at things. Naturally, we are aware of ourselves first. Each of us tends to think that the whole world is built around him or her.
When we ask, “Why did God the Son become a man?”, we think first of the world and the human race already long in existence, then God the Son is born into the world, into a family at a particular place and time.
The answer often given to the question, “Why did God send his Son to us?”, usually runs along these lines: At the outset, Adam ruined God’s plans for his happiness by a monstrous sin of pride. He enslaved himself and all of us to sin, misery and death. But God loved us too much to leave us in that state. He devised a new plan; he sent his own Son to save us.
The trouble with these questions and answers is that they are too limited by our human point of view. We would have to be satisfied with our human viewpoint if God hadn’t opened up a fuller view to us, his own view. God has made known his plans for his Son and for the whole world. We find his plans outlined in sacred Scripture and sometimes in detail (e.g., Colossians 1:15-20, Ephesians 1:3-10).
Scripture expresses religious truth sometimes from the human viewpoint, sometimes from the divine viewpoint. For instance, it presents Jesus Christ as a descendant in a long line of human parents. This is perfectly true, of course. But we also have God’s revelation that no other creature would even exist if Jesus Christ didn’t have first place in God’s plan.
So, instead of asking “Why did Jesus Christ exist?”, we do better to ask, “Why do we exist, why does anything exist outside of God?”
Revelation alone tells us about the all-important place that Jesus Christ holds in God’s plan for creation. If we want to know what place Jesus Christ should hold in our thoughts and actions, the answer is: the same as the God-Man holds in the thoughts and actions of God.
St Paul explains God’s plan for creation in his letter to the Colossians. He says that Jesus is the “first-born of all creation” (Col 1:15). At the outset, there was the Trinity – the Father, Son and Holy Spirit – living their own complete life and loving one another in a way proper to themselves alone.
They willed to create someone outside of themselves, someone who would share their divine life completely and return their love fully. He would be outside of them and yet be identified with God the Son. He would be both divine and human.
With this plan in mind, the Trinity created everything that would contribute to the perfect creation, whom we know as Jesus Christ. Everything – minerals, plants, animals, the human race – everything was created for no other purpose than to build up to Jesus Christ. St Paul says, “in him were created all things in heaven and on earth: everything visible and everything invisible… all things were created through him and for him” (Col 1:16).
“He exists before all things and in him all things hold together (Col 1:17), and he is the Head of the Body, that is, the Church” (Col 1:18).
This is God’s plan for creation. This is God’s viewpoint. At least one important point becomes clear: no sin of man ever ruined God’s plan. Nothing can ruin God’s plan. The most that sin can do is to violate it.
Even the sinner, in spite of his sin, depends on Jesus Christ for his very existence, his daily life and his final purpose. Jesus helps the repentant sinner to recover his place in the proper order of things. The sinner and the deliberate unbeliever live in a state of turmoil and violence. They fight against the divine attraction in themselves and in all creation that draws them to their centre of gravity, God alone.
We live in harmony with God, with ourselves and with all creation when we live out our lives in faith. Faith puts us in gear with God’s plan for building up the perfect creation, Jesus Christ, Head and Body.
God’s perfect creation is still in the process of forming. St Paul explains that the Church is the Body of Jesus and he is its Head (cf. Col 1:18).
In Jesus, in the Church, we are reconciled with God and we take an active part in realizing God’s plan for the world. In the Mass especially, let us commit ourselves with Jesus to carry out God’s perfect will.
Carl Schafer OFM
National Spiritual Assistant OFS-Oceania