Who is Jesus & What has He brought?
|This graphic is a piece of homework my son William produced in year 7 to answer the question 'Who was Jesus' (the tense of which I objected to and so we changed it here). Unfortunately it was rejected & he was told it was too complicated!|
One of the theological battles being fought currently is one that revolves around the historical study of the person of Jesus Christ. The trend over recent decades has been to separate the Jesus of faith from the Jesus of history. This approach perhaps reached its zenith with the theologian Rudolf Bultmann who proposed his final theory, which has become known as the Bultmanian dichotomy, in his work History of the Synoptic Tradition (New York: Harper & Row, 1963).
Renowned theologian Joseph Ratzinger: now Pope Benedict XVI, has tackled this dichotomy head on in his recent work Jesus of Nazareth in which he demonstrates clearly the powerful story of Jesus Christ's actions on earth, actions which drew on what had been foreshadowed in revelation to the Jewish people, and changed the world forever.
The Pope explains how Jesus uses parables in order to show us how something we have hitherto not perceived can be glimpsed via a reality that does fall within our range of experience. In this way Jesus leads us to the mystery of God—to the light that our eyes cannot bear and that we therefore try to escape. In order to make this accessible to us, Jesus shows how the divine light shines through in the things of this world and in the realities of our everyday life. Through everyday events, He wants to show us the real ground of all things and thus the true direction we have to take in our day to day lives if we want to go the right way. He shows us God: not in an abstract God, but the God who acts, who intervenes in our lives, and wants to take us by the hand.
Can we reject the reality of this God? There are a thousand rational objections—not only in Jesus time, but throughout all generations and today maybe more than ever. For we have developed a concept of reality that excludes reality’s translucence to God. The only thing that counts as real is what can be experimentally proven. In the parable of Lazarus and the rich man (Luke 16:19-31) the rich man dies and in knowledge of what awaits his family cries out for more evidence of revelation to be sent to his family. The highest truths cannot be forced into the type of empirical evidence that only applies to material reality. If a miracle were indeed provided as the rich man requests, there is still every possibility that it will simply lead to a hardening of hearts as evidenced in John 11:45-53.
God cannot be constrained into experimentation and thus we are free to reject the parables’ message. This means, though, that the parables are ultimately an expression of God’s hiddenness in this world and of the fact that knowledge of God always lays claim to the whole person—that such a knowledge is one with life itself. Knowledge of God only comes through the gift of God’s love becoming visible to you—but this gift too has to be accepted.
God’s sign for men is the Son of Man; it is Jesus himself. And at the deepest level, he is this sign in his Paschal Mystery, in the mystery of His death and resurrection.
The question asked answered by Ratzinger's book is 'What did Jesus actually bring if not world peace, universal prosperity, and a better world? What has he brought?'
The holy father explains that answer is in fact, very simple: God. He has brought God. He has brought the God who formerly unveiled his countenance gradually. First to Abraham, then to Moses and the Prophets, and then in the Wisdom Literature—the God who revealed his face only in Israel, even though he was also honoured among the pagans in various shadowy guises. It is this God, the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, the true God, whom he has brought to the nations of the earth.
He has brought God and now we know his face, now we can call upon him. Now we know the path that we human beings have to take in this world. Jesus has brought God and with god the truth about our origins and destiny: faith: hope, and love.
c.f. Ratzinger, J., Jesus of Nazareth (London: Bloomsbury, 2007).