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THE HUMANITY OF JESUS ...

Father Francis's picture
Nineteenth Week in Ordinary Time

Jn. 6:41-51

Across the centuries Christ has been worshipped and served as the virgin-born Son of God. He is unique, and so very different from us. In all of history there has never been, and will never be, another like Him. He is God's special revelation of Himself.

To see Him is to see God; to know Him is to know God; to serve Him is to serve God. The eternal God and the divine Son have become so identified in our minds that we find it impossible to think of One without thinking of the Other.

But with this emphasis on the deity of Christ, we must not overlook another important truth - His humanity. Jesus was a real person, just like you and me, except that He never sinned. Yet during the days of His public ministry He was so clearly and obviously a man that many people had difficulty believing He was the Christ! We have an example of that in today's Gospel reading.

Jesus had told His audience that He was the bread of life come down from Heaven. But some of them had known Jesus all of His life! They were so conscious of His humanity that they were blinded to His divinity. We should not make the same mistake in reverse. While acknowledging His divinity we should never forget that he was a man.

And Jesus was a real man. He started as a little baby completely dependent on His Mother and grew into manhood. He stood so many inches tall. He weighed so many pounds. His eyes were a certain colour. His skin was a certain complexion. He became hungry and wanted food, thirsty and wanted water. He became lonely and needed His friends. He grew tired and had to rest. When His heart was broken, He cried. When they stuck a spear in His side, He bled. When they nailed him to a cross, He died. Jesus was a real Person, God and Man. Everything that He said and did happened within the context of a real human life – in historical time and a geographical place.

This is a large part of His appeal to humankind. There is a little of Him in every one of us. The actualities of His life remind us of the possibilities of ours. The great light that shone in Him is at least a flickering candle in every human heart. What He was is what we in our best hours would like to be.

There is a story of an old painter from the south of France who worked in his own little studio with his own ideal of beauty. One day he had the chance to go to Paris where he stood in front of the Mona Lisa for a long time. Then he whispered with humility and pride, 'I am a painter, too.' The great Leonardo Da Vinci had revealed something that was in him, had said something with his brush that the old painter would have said if only he had been able.

This is the effect Christ has on us when He is truly understood. We call Him the Son of God, and so He is. Those first Christians, as they saw Him, began to see and say some things about themselves that they had never even dared to think before. Listen to Saint John as he writes, "Dearly beloved, we are God's children now; what we shall be later has not yet come to light. We know that when it comes to light we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is." From where did John get that idea of himself and his friends? He learnt it from Jesus. He had seen in Christ what is true of human life at its highest and best.

We need to remember the humanity of Jesus because it challenges us with the possibility of living as He lived. This is the real glory of the greatness and goodness of Jesus. It is repeatable. It can be reproduced in the lives of ordinary men and women just like you and me. He has blazed a trail that we can follow. He has laid a foundation that we can build upon. He has set an example that we can daily dedicate our hearts and minds to imitate.

The New Testament is jubilant with this truth. The same One who said, "I am the light of the world", also said, "You are the light of the world. Let your light so shine before men that they may see your good works and glorify your Father who is in heaven."

Lord Jesus, You are so far beyond us that we can never be all that You are - and yet You are so much one of us that we can be guided by Your example. The people in our Gospel reading were offended by Your humanity. Hopefully, we will be inspired by it to live our lives as You lived Yours.

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