Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Compendium, 1, 1, 2: "God Comes to Meet Man" (6-9)

Jesus is the full and complete revelation of God. Not the canon of the Scriptures, but Jesus. It is perhaps an understood truth, but a distinction worth pointing out. This is why the Catholic Church, and so many other believers, give special reverence to the Gospels. Not because of any difference in level of inspiration or authority, but because of their subject. It is in the Gospels that we are told of the words and work of Christ, it is here that we are shown the life, death and resurrection that purchased for us eternal salvation. The Epistles and Apocalypse are not the fullness, the climax of God's revelation (as a progressive view of revelation that culminates in the canon of God's word rather than in the person of the Word of God demands) - but the fullness of God's revelation is Christ. And just as all of the Old Testament pointed forward to Christ, so the rest of the New Testament points back to him.

I'm including a few sections today because they all speak of God's revelation to man throughout history, culminating in the person of God's Son. God reveals himself to man; God gives himself to man. The revelation of God and the gift of God is himself.

6. What does God reveal to man?

(Catechism 50-53, 68-69)
God in his goodness and wisdom reveals himself. With deeds and words, he reveals himself and his plan of loving goodness which he decreed from all eternity in Christ. According to this plan, all people by the grace of the Holy Spirit are to share in the divine life as adopted “sons” in the only begotten Son of God.

Note the use of "sons" when speaking of our adoption rather than "sons and daughters." This usage is important: We are made "sons" even though we are male and female. Both sexes alike are adopted as "sons" - dependent upon the natural Sonship of Christ. We share in the Sonship of Christ, having a real share in or union with the life of the Blessed Trinity.

7. What are the first stages of God's Revelation?

(Catechism 54-58, 70-71)
From the very beginning, God manifested himself to our first parents, Adam and Eve, and invited them to intimate communion with himself. After their fall, he did not cease his revelation to them but promised salvation for all their descendants. After the flood, he made a covenant with Noah, a covenant between himself and all living beings.

8. What are the next stages of God's Revelation?

(Catechism 59-64, 72)
God chose Abram, calling him out of his country, making him “the father of a multitude of nations” (Genesis 17:5), and promising to bless in him “all the nations of the earth” (Genesis 12:3). The people descended from Abraham would be the trustee of the divine promise made to the patriarchs. God formed Israel as his chosen people, freeing them from slavery in Egypt, establishing with them the covenant of Mount Sinai, and, through Moses, giving them his law. The prophets proclaimed a radical redemption of the people and a salvation which would include all nations in a new and everlasting covenant. From the people of Israel and from the house of King David, would be born the Messiah, Jesus.

9. What is the full and definitive stage of God's Revelation?

(Catechism 65-66, 73)
The full and definitive stage of God’s revelation is accomplished in his Word made flesh, Jesus Christ, the mediator and fullness of Revelation. He, being the only-begotten Son of God made man, is the perfect and definitive Word of the Father. In the sending of the Son and the gift of the Spirit, Revelation is now fully complete, although the faith of the Church must gradually grasp its full significance over the course of centuries.

“In giving us his Son, his only and definitive Word, God spoke everything to us at once in this sole Word, and he has no more to say.” (Saint John of the Cross)

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