Hello Rosary Lovers!! In this post we will be asking: Who is God to Jesus?
The Teaching of the Holy Catholic Church
We’re just going to get right down to it and say that:
God is Jesus’ eternal Father. The relationship Jesus has with God Almighty is that God is truly, really the real Father/Parent of Jesus from all eternity.
There was never a time this wasn’t so.
Another way to say this is that Jesus is God’s only-begotten Son. God has one natural, eternal Son. And this Son is Jesus Christ.
Jesus Christ is the infinite, eternal and only Son of the living God.
God is the living and eternal and infinite Father of his beloved Son, who is Jesus Christ.
Hang on – God has a son??
Yes, God has a Son. Really.
But how is that possible? God isn’t a human or an animal.
This is true, God is entirely different to anything in creation.
In fact, we don’t really know what or even who God is. God is absolutely incomprehensible and transcendent. God is infinite.
‘God dwells in unapproachable light that no one has ever seen or can ever see‘ (1 Timothy 6:16).
But we do know some things, because God has revealed them to us in Jesus Christ and through the Gospel.
And one of those things, perhaps the most important thing, is that God is an eternal Father of an eternal Son.
This is so important, it goes so to the heart of the what the Christian message and gospel is.
God is an eternal, loving Father! God is a Parent. In his very nature. As part and parcel of his eternal Being.
This is such an awesome truth, that we can approach God in Christ Jesus as our heavenly Father, as our own dear Parent in Christ. We are adopted sons and daughters of God through Jesus Christ, God’s only natural Son.
God is not some mean baddie in the sky waiting to zap us if we do something wrong. This is NOT the Gospel of Jesus.
God is a loving, kind, merciful, understanding, beautiful Parent who wants to hold us all in his arms near his chest like a shepherd holds his sheep or like a mother holds her baby.
This is how we must always approach God.
I still don’t get how God could father a son from all eternity…?
It isn’t like God had a sexual relationship with anyone or anything to produce Jesus.
But in some mysterious, utterly incomprehensible way, God fathered Jesus from all eternity from God’s very being.
Jesus is God’s Son from all eternity.
In eternity, outside of all time, before any ‘before’ or ‘after’, God birthed his only-begotten Son.
So what does that mean? Does it mean Jesus is like God?
Yes it means Jesus is like God. But it means so much more than this. It means Jesus IS GOD.
Hang on again! You just said Jesus is God’s Son. How can Jesus be God? Is Jesus the same as God the Father?
In one sense, yes, Jesus is the same as God the Father. He has exactly the same being as God the Father, bearing the Father’s own nature and imprint (Hebrews 1:3).
The Son of God is the eternal ONE Being of God.
Together, the Father and the Son are the ONE SOLE BEING and ESSENCE of God.
God the Father is the ONE SOLE BEING of God.
God the Son is the ONE SOLE BEING of God.
God the Father and Son are the ONE SOLE BEING of God.
That doesn’t make much sense.
Should it?! Shouldn’t God be this complicated? Why would you or I ever expect to understand God?
God is a complete and utter mystery.
But let’s unpack this a bit more, as best we can.
There is truly only ONE God. We are in complete agreement with Islam and Judaism on this point.
And yet, the holy Catholic Church teaches that God is ONE in one way, and THREE in another way.
God is ONE in Being, and yet THREE in Persons.
To put this another way, we can say that we really believe that God is ONE. We are monotheistic. God is not THREE, in this sense.
And yet, because the Father has an eternal Son and Holy Spirit, we also believe that in some real sense, God is also THREE.
The way the Catholic Church defines this with words is to say:
- One in Being
- Three in Persons
We are definitely not tritheists. We do not believe in three Gods. We condemn this.
And yet we want also to say that though we believe absolutely that God is an eternal Monad, numerically one, yet God is also three in a sense which really does matter and is true to his very nature.
But in a way that in absolutely no way compromises monotheism.
Isn’t the Church just trying to say too much? Have her cake and eat it?
Man, I hate that saying, but yes: she is trying to ‘have her cake and eat it’, if you wish!
The Church has to do this, because we know that God is ONE. This is how God reveals himself. His is numerically one being, an eternal Monad.
And yet, the Gospel has also revealed that God has an eternal Son and is an eternal Father.
So the Church is left with no option but to accept both of these aspects of revelation. The Church doesn’t try to work this out or make it reasonable. It is, to the human mind, entirely unreasonable. Or better, it transcends reason.
But it IS true, and therefore the Church believes it and confesses it in her Creeds, and preaches it to the world.
God is one and three at the same time, in very different ways, yet all in absolute perfect unity. There is no division in God. He is one absolutely simple Monad and Being.
And yet, we also say that the Father and the Son are truly distinct. They are not the same in another way.
In what way are the Father and Son not the same?
They are ABSOLUTELY IDENTICAL in EVERY POSSIBLE WAY, except in one way:
The Father is not the Son. The Son is not the Father.
The Son is eternally begotten of God. The Father is eternally unbegotten and unoriginated.
That’s it. That’s all that distinguishes them.
What on earth does that mean?
It means … we don’t know!! We don’t really know what ‘begotten’ and ‘unbegotten’ means when applied to God.
St Gregory Nazianzen said that if you can explain what ‘begotten’ means then you can also explain ‘unbegotten’ and vice versa.
The point is: no-one knows really what these terms mean.
They are just words that we use to be able to say something, so that we aren’t left saying absolutely nothing.
St Augustine tells us this when he describes the word ‘person’ when applied to the three ‘persons’ of the Trinity.
St Augustine says that we call them ‘persons’ not because they are really persons in the way that the human mind thinks of a person, but because we need to have something to call them.
In fact, the same is true of the word ‘God’. The word ‘God’ means something like ‘mighty one’. But God isn’t mighty like the mighty people of the world. And mightiness doesn’t sum God up very well according to the Gospel.
A far better name for God – maybe – would be something like Love. This is how God is revealed in the Holy Gospel.
But we have a very different concept of what Love is compared to God.
God alone truly knows what LOVE is because God is Love.
Our view of love, persons, fathers, son, births, mightiness, etc. is ENTIRELY derived from this created order.
We all learn what fathers and sons are from the world around us. We learn what love is – with all its imperfection – from the world and people around us.
And so, we know that God is not really any of this. God is way above it all.
Even the words themselves – ‘love’, ‘person’, ‘god’, ‘being’, ‘one’, ‘three’ – are purely human words. God didn’t invent them. Humans invented these words.
But we use these imperfect, human words so that we have something to say about God.
And, more importantly, we have the revelation of the Holy Gospel that these words are true when applied to God: God is an eternal Father and Jesus is his eternal Son.
So we have to take this seriously and believe it, even if we don’t understand it.
I hope you’ve enjoyed this post and I hope it has helped you and if you have any questions, don’t hesitate to get in touch.
God bless you, in the Father and the Son.