November 24, 2020
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Bulletproof Jesus

Bulletproof Jesus

Several weeks ago, after writing that Jesus would love his neighbor enough to wear a mask in a pandemic, I received an email challenging my position; not challenging whether Jesus would wear a mask, but whether Jesus could actually get sick or not. In fact, I was told that the reader wanted to alert me “to an error in my recent column entitled, As A Christian, I Wear a Mask. The error is in the second to last sentence. Many may consider this statement blasphemous and could cause scandal among some of the more poorly catechized.”

The line in question was when I stated “As such, he caught colds. He could get the flu.” Reading this note, I recalled Paul’s words in Hebrews 2:17, “Therefore he had to become like his brothers and sisters in every respect, so that he might be a merciful and faithful high priest in the service of God, to make a sacrifice of atonement for the sins of the people.”  

My correspondent’s reasoning for calling out my statement was (my emphasis added):

“…that Jesus Christ, the Son of God, has two natures, True God and True Man, and are joined together through the hypostatic union. This mystery means that the natures cannot be separated from each other and each nature is entire. So in other words Jesus is not half man and half divine, He is entirely human and entirely God. As such, our Blessed Lord could never catch a virus or be stricken with any other disease to which every creature is susceptible. Our susceptibility to disease comes along with original sin and actual sin. The Divine nature He possesses would not bode well for viral particles or bacteria that come in contact with His human body and by default His Divine nature. There are many passages in the New Testament where our Blessed Lord laid hands on the sick to cure them. There are passages whereas the sick only touched His garment and were healed. If the Second Person of the Holy Trinity was susceptible to illness, there would be a problem in that He may become ill or He may transmit the disease to another human being. So by confessing that Jesus Himself could catch a cold or any other ailment, you are denying His Divine Nature. I really do not think you meant to say that, at least that is my hope. It is the same with the Holy Eucharist, while we may be able to contract a virus in many ways, even inside a Catholic Church, we should understand that we could never contract an illness by receiving the Precious Body and Blood of our Dear Blessed Lord. The Holy Consecrated Host could never, ever be a vector of illness, as He can only heal. Anything else would call in to question God’s perfections, specifically His immutability.”

A truly well thought out response but, one which happens to be the heresy of Monophysitism. Like the Monophysites, my correspondent implies that Jesus’ human nature had ceased to exist as such in Christ when the divine person of God’s Son assumed it. As noted in the Catechism of the Catholic Church, this was dealt with in the Council of Chalcedon in the year 451: 

“Following the holy Fathers, we unanimously teach and confess one and the same Son, our Lord Jesus Christ: the same perfect in divinity and perfect in humanity, the same truly God and truly man, composed of rational soul and body; consubstantial with the Father as to his divinity and consubstantial with us as to his humanity; “like us in all things but sin”. He was begotten from the Father before all ages as to his divinity and in these last days, for us and for our salvation, was born as to his humanity of the virgin Mary, the Mother of God.

We confess that one and the same Christ, Lord, and only-begotten Son, is to be acknowledged in two natures without confusion, change, division or separation. The distinction between the natures was never abolished by their union, but rather the character proper to each of the two natures was preserved as they came together in one person (prosopon) and one hypostasis.” (CCC467)

It clearly says Jesus was  “like us in all things but sin.” His Divine nature did not ward off colds, allergies, or indigestion. His divinity was not reduced by his humanity, nor was his humanity reduced by his divinity. 

So yes, Jesus in his humanity could have caught the coronavirus if he had been exposed to it. Jesus also certainly could have cured himself from it too but, why would he? The assertion that he could not be sick could then progress to say that he did not bleed or feel pain either. In other words, his crucifixion was a sham. No!

Is it not wonderful that Jesus, who died for us was also tempted like us, cried like us, hurt and even got mad like us?  Jesus “grew in wisdom.” (Luke 2:52) Amen, may I do so as well.

I do not want a “bulletproof Jesus.” I have a God who took on our humanity to show us a better way. I have a God who not only knows my heart, but my aches, pain, and injustices as well. Jesus took the worst of humanity upon himself and kept his faith until his last breath on the Cross. He calls on me to do the same. Blood and water flowed from his side in a new birth and a new baptism for me. God does not just know me, he experienced me. He lived my world in every way. He lived it better and reaches out to me to do so as well. In the resurrected Jesus, he still bore the marks of the nails and hole in his side. Signs of His victory, not His defeat.

We preach a Jesus Christ that was crucified. (1 Corinthians 1-23) Not one who was bulletproof or weakened by kryptonite. Embrace his humanity so we can embrace ours. Embrace his divinity so his victory on the cross can be ours as well.

To my correspondent, thank you. Not only for reading Catholic Journal, but for caring enough to correspond with us. May we always welcome prayerful discernment of the divinity and humanity of Christ.

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Deacon Gregory Webster
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Deacon Gregory Webster