Blog # 244 The Good Shepherd - 2
Blog # 243 was rooted in an insight that came to me as I was preparing a homily for 'Good Shepherd Sunday' last week. "In the Incarnation of the Word, God came among us to learn how to be God on earth so that we might learn, in Him , how to be divine." Independently of the Incarnation I could not imagine what it would entail for God to learn anything but could see clearly enough that would be required of Him in the mystery of the Incarnation, when the Word came among us, remaining one with the Father and the Holy Spirit in the divinity of the Trinity, yet now, in time, one with us and like us in all but sin, sharing all the limitations and characteristics that identify us as human.
Think of what this means. Jesus would have to learn to pray, to live by the Commandments, marvel in a human way at the wisdom goodness and generosity of the Creator in the colors shapes and sounds around Him day by day, designed as they were to speak to Him by faith of the single Creator of it all. He would have to learn to forgive offences against Him, bear the brunt of rejection in response to His preaching the truth, grow tired and hungry, rejoice with His disciples, love and receive the love of those who loved Him as a friend and human companion on the voyage of life together. God though He was, He would have to learn how to walk from Jerusalem to Jericho, and finally to die.
The Holy Trinity of Father, Word, and Spirit could not 'experience' any of these human realities. This is true because in their human identity they all entail limitations of time power and space etc. while God is revealed as totally without limits. Jesus however experienced them all. And one with us in His humanity He had to learn how to do it. In a logical conclusion we can rightly say God in Jesus learned how to walk, and IN JESUS God learned how to die. And having learned by His experience He can be our best teacher. ( This insight throws new light for me on two familiar Bible quotations: Jn 15: 13. There is no greater love than this: to lay down one's life for one's friends, and : Heb 5: 8 Son though he was, he learned obedience from what he suffered, and when perfected he became the source of eternal salvation for all who obey him).
In some of my reflections on the Good Shepherd this past week I wondered why it took so long for me to be aware of and so deeply impressed with the thoughts that came to me as the content of this blog. I don't remember it often being mentioned and focused upon as a key element in our Catholic theology of salvation, nor as a most important part of our quest to understand and live out our distinctive unique identity as Catholic Christian believers. I thought perhaps this was the case because, influenced by other Christian churches and religious bodies believing in God but not in the divinity of Jesus, we became accustomed to place greater emphasis upon morality, with disobedience to the
Commandments rather than a betrayal of our BAPTISMAL COVENANT as our most serious sin and all other sin as after effects or by products of neglect or betrayal of our Baptism.
And so, after addressing the first part of the insight that fascinated me in preparation for the celebration of Good Shepherd Sunday, in our next blog we will consider the second part of the insight, which went on to say: SO THAT we might learn to live and to die in a new identity that comes to us through faith and Baptism.