Friday, May 13, 2016

The Hypostatic Union, Further Thoughts

Praised be Jesus Christ!

Now and forever. Amen.

I would like to draw on my last entry to explore this reality more deeply. Specifically, I'd like to draw on the parallel I made between the Hypostatic Union and the body/soul union of the human person. I think this line of reasoning has some fruitful outcomes.

Paradox of Identity

An important teaching from the Church about the human person is that the body/soul union is a true union. We are not in the first place animals who have been given a gift of rationality. And we are also not spirits who are trapped in a body. We are not half bodies, half spirits, as though there were a "spiritual side of me" that is divorced from the body.

Rather, the Church teaches that you cannot separate our spiritual "side" from our physical "side". When you look in the mirror, you aren't seeing a "fleshbag". You're seeing you. You are your body as much as you are your spirit, and you are so because there is no division between your body and your spirit, they are one in quantity, and identity.

If we are to say that this union is similar to the Hypostatic Union, then we may draw the same conclusions about it as we do the body/spirit union of the human person. Namely, the Divine Identity of the Son cannot in any way be divorced from His human nature, His human identity. When Jesus looked into a mirror (or at the very least a pool of water on a clear day), He wasn't just seeing His humanity any more than He was just seeing His body. The human body reveals the human spirit, and Jesus' humanity reveals His Divinity. Thus, when He saw Himself in a reflection, He saw His whole self, including the Divine Godhood.

Paradox of Action

This leads us into the consideration of action. If there is no separation between body and spirit, this means that everything we do, we do through our bodies, including our intellectual activities, which are essentially spiritual works. All of our actions bear a spiritual and physical dimension. It is impossible for matter to reason, yet in humans this is exactly what happens. It is impossible for spirits to change the directions of their wills, yet in humans this is exactly what happens. This is because in us the union between these two realities is true, complete.

This can help us to understand the reality of Jesus' person, in the Hypostatic Union. Drawing the same parallels, we can say that everything the Son does, then, He does both out of His Divinity and His humanity. For example, it is impossible for a human to know everything, yet Jesus did. It is also impossible for God to be weak, yet He was (in certain human senses). This is because there can be no separation between His natures.

So, when Jesus spoke, He spoke as a man, and as God, simultaneously. When He ate, He did so as man and as God at once. The implication here is significant, because God is an eternal being, yet humanity is temporal. What this means is that Jesus, though temporal, has always been who He is, as the Incarnate Word. Thus, He speaks truly when He says, in John 8:[58] "Amen, amen I say to you, before Abraham was made, I am."

And Yet...

We often hear, regarding those strange passages in Scripture that seem to limit Jesus in ways (I'm thinking here of when Jesus says, for example, in Matthew 24:[36] "But of that day and hour no one knoweth, not the angels of heaven, but the Father alone."), that when Jesus speaks this way He is speaking out of His humanity, not His Divinity. But this seems to counter the arguments I have made above. If you can speak about Jesus' humanity in a distinctive way as compared with His Divinity, does that not imply that this Union is not like the human body/soul union?

To that, I answer this way: when we speak of human reason, we speak of a kind of intellect that is unique, being both spiritual and physical. However, reason, in principle, is a spiritual reality, not a physical one. Likewise, in principle, sex is a physical reality, not a spiritual one, yet in humans, there is something unique going on, because it is both a physical and a spiritual action.

But we can still speak about human reason as a spiritual reality because that what reason is, in principle, a spiritual reality. Likewise, when we speak about Jesus' humanity, we make speak of it in such a way. It is not Jesus' Divinity which makes it necessary for Jesus to sleep, for example, it's His humanity. The fact that when Jesus sleeps, it is both a human and Divine action without distinction, doesn't mean we can't speak about that need as arising from the human "side" of the Union.

So, when we say Jesus is "speaking out of His humanity" we should not mean to say that somehow He lacks because of the nature of His humanity. Rather, we should mean to say that because what He says is true, He is capable of saying it, even if it implies a lack, because He is not "God-only". This means that He is equally capable of saying "I also know" because He is equally also not "man-only." And because this is true, then we must discern that His point isn't about Divine knowledge (as in the example I quoted above), but rather it's about holding a healthy skepticism about end-time prophecies. In other words, you don't need to know.

Hmm... yes I think I'll stop there. Thanks for reading!

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