Monday, December 2, 2013

Jesus as Human, Adam as He Should Have Been: Advent 2013, Day Two

"He is fully human, ideally human. Subject to the same temptations, says the author of Hebrews, but focused upon the will of God where Adam wavered.... Jesus as human, Adam as he should have been...." (David Nystrom, Provost and Senior Vice-President of Biola University)
"If you are what you should be, you will set the whole world on fire!" (St. Catherine of Siena, 14th century)

The first of these two quotes is from day 1 (December 1) of Biola University's online advent calendar, which I did not discover until today, December 2. The meditation offered by David Nystrom accompanies an icon of Christ "found at the Monastery of St. Catherine at the foot of Mount Sinai." The icon is guessed to have been "written" in the sixth century A.D.

So, Jesus is what God had in mind when He created the first man. But Adam failed to live up to his Creator's intentions. So God Himself finally took on the flesh and blood of His creatures Himself -- not just in appearance but in actuality, being conceived in, carried in, and born from a woman's womb. And this time the man, Jesus, got it right.

But how does that help the rest of us ordinary human beings? Didn't Jesus have an edge over us, being not just a man but also 100 percent God? Aren't we still screwed?

No: that's why Jesus said more than just "imitate me." He knew that on our own we couldn't do a better job of being who we were meant to be after He lived, died, and was resurrected than we could do before He came. That's why He also said "eat me," and gave Himself to us as food:
"Your ancestors ate the manna in the desert.... I am the living bread that came down from heaven; whoever eats this bread will live forever; and the bread that I will give is my flesh for the life of the world.... I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you do not have life within you.... For my flesh is true food, and my blood is true drink. Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me and I in him.... the one who feeds on me will have life because of me." (John 6:48-51)
"This saying is hard," He acknowledged, and many followers left Him because of it. But the Twelve stayed. When He asked them why, Peter said, "To whom else would we go? You are the one who has told us what we need to do to have eternal life." Peter also said, "We have come to believe and are convinced that you are the Holy One of God." The Holy One of God: the One for whom they -- not just the Twelve but all people, whether they realized it, as the Israelites did, or not -- had been waiting.

As we now wait.

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