I believe in Jesus Christ, the only Son of God.
What is not assumed is not healed.
The second article of the Apostles’ Creed introduces the next five: that Jesus was born of the Virgin Mary, suffered, died, rose from the dead, ascended into heaven, and will judge the living and the dead.
Half of the twelve articles recount the Incarnation and the Paschal Mystery, the historical events that reveal the divine and human natures of Jesus. The meaning of these events was vehemently argued at the early Church councils. Is Jesus merely a human man with a special relationship to God? Is he a superhuman creature with special powers? Is he God’s appearance in history like an angelic apparition? Does he have full humanity, or simply a human body animated by divine will?
If these questions seem abstract and remote, they have a very immediate impact on the way we live. Christian life and worship are not possible apart from God’s revelation in Jesus. In recent years, it has been popular to present Jesus as merely an enlightened moral teacher, but if that is the case then he has no power to save us from sin and eternal separation from God. At the early Church councils, there was less doubt about the divinity of Jesus; there were far more heresies that denied his humanity! Thus, most of the credal articles about Jesus are affirmations of his humanity. The dictum of St. Gregory Nazianzen was a concise summary: “What is not assumed is not healed.” If Jesus did not assume a complete human nature, then human nature was not completely restored in him; and, equally true, if there was not a divine Person who took human nature in Jesus, then he does not have the power to save us.
Debate about the identity of Jesus is not new. The readings this Sunday relate to the question of Jesus as Messiah: what is a messiah, and is Jesus one among many or somehow different?
“Messiah” and “Christ” are renderings of the Hebrew and Greek word “anointed,” derived from the ancient Jewish practice of anointing kings, priests, and prophets with oil, a sign of divine appointment to the office that they exercised. The first reading (1 Samuel 16:1-13) recounts the anointing of David by Samuel. David was the greatest messianic figure of ancient Judaism as king and prophet, and even exercised a priestly office of sacrifice on some occasions. David was chosen and favored by God and, after his anointing and the coming of God’s spirit upon him, he became a hero who rescued Israel from enemies and inaugurated the period of Israel’s greatness as a kingdom.
In the Gospel, when Jesus heals a man born blind, the Pharisees cannot agree about him. Some argue that he “is not from God” because he healed on the Sabbath, while others ask, “How can a sinful man do such signs?” (John 9:16). Some doubt whether the man was truly born blind and healed. This disagreement is reflected in the way people have responded to Jesus throughout history. Each of us is faced with the choice of how to respond to Jesus. By God’s grace, may we always share our patron’s profession of faith in Jesus: “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God” (Matthew 16:16)