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"And I beheld, and heard the voice of one eagle flying through the midst of heaven,
saying with a loud voice: Woe, woe, woe to the inhabitants of the earth....
[Apocalypse (Revelation) 8:13]

Saturday, May 5, 2018

Fr. Campbell, “The Firstborn of Every Creature” (Col.1:15)

“The Firstborn of Every Creature” (Col.1:15) 

Fr. Campbell 

 

“Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ, is born of God. And everyone who loves him who begot, loves also the one begotten of him” (1Jn.5:1).

“Who is the liar,” says St. John, “but he who denies that Jesus is the Christ? He is the Antichrist who denies the Father and the Son. No one who disowns the Son has the Father. He who confesses the Son has the Father also” (1Jn.2:22,23). 

 

But not so the world! In denying the Son, it has denied the Father also. It does not have the Spirit of Truth, the Holy Spirit. The result is confusion and chaos. Those who are deceived by the world can find no satisfactory answers, and for them life has lost its meaning. Despair is the result. There are many suicides. Often they take the lives of others before taking their own. Some kill themselves by degrees through drugs and alcohol. Hundreds of millions enter this world only to starve to death or to die of aids and other diseases. We are haunted by wars and threatening disasters. But St. John assures us,

“He who confesses the Son has the Father also” (1Jn.2:23).

During the early years of the fourth century there arose the great heresy of Arianism. In the year of Our Lord 319, Arians could be heard singing the refrain which denied the divinity of the Son and almost destroyed Christianity: “There was a time when the Son was not.” In order to put an end to the terrible controversy that developed, the Emperor Constantine called together the Council of Nicea in the year 325, at which it was defined that the Son is “one in substance with the Father.” The Council of Chalcedon in 451 dealt the decisive blow to the Arian heresy, defining that Jesus Christ is a Divine Person having two natures, human and divine. These two natures are united in such a way that they remain distinct in the one Person of the Son. This is called the “hypostatic union.” Jesus Christ is therefore one of us, “like us in all things but sin” (Heb.4:15), but in His divine nature is one with the Father.

Jesus declared to the Apostle Philip: “Philip, he who sees me sees also the Father” (Jn.14:9).
He declared His own divinity when He took to Himself the name God revealed to Moses on Mount Sinai – “I AM”. “Amen, amen,” Jesus said to His adversaries: “I say to you, before Abraham came to be, I AM” (Jn.8:58). The excuse for His crucifixion was His claim to divinity, for which He was accused of blasphemy by the Pharisees: “They therefore took up stones to cast at him; but Jesus hid himself, and went out from the temple” (Jn.8:59).

Only thirty years after Our Lord’s crucifixion, in 63 A.D., St. Paul refers to a hymn of the Christians at that time which testifies to Christ’s divinity:

“Have this mind in you which was also in Christ Jesus, who though he was by nature God, did not consider being equal to God a thing to be clung to, but emptied himself, taking the nature of a slave and being made like unto men. And appearing in the form of men, he humbled himself, becoming obedient to death, even to death on a cross” (Phil.2:5-8).

Everything, the whole economy of salvation, depends upon the man Jesus Christ being truly God. If Jesus is not God we are not redeemed, we are all on our way to Hell. Pope St. Leo the Great explains this in one of his letters:

“The divine nature and the nature of a servant were to be united in one person so that the Creator of time might be born in time, and he through whom all things were made might be brought forth in their midst. For unless the new man, by being made in the likeness of sinful flesh, had taken on himself the nature of our first parents, unless he had stooped to be one in substance with his mother while sharing the Father’s substance and, being alone free from sin, united our nature to his, the whole human race would still be held captive under the dominion of Satan.”

In discussing the question of man’s participation in the Divine Nature by grace, St. Augustine remarked: “God became man that man might become God.” In his Confessions he speaks to God about the key point in his conversion:

“I looked for a way to gain the strength I needed to enjoy you, but I did not find it until I embraced the mediator between God and man, the man Christ Jesus, who is also God, supreme over all things and blessed forever.”  

To this day we pray the Nicene Creed in the Traditional Latin Mass:

“I believe …in one Lord Jesus Christ, the Only-begotten Son of God. Born of the Father before all ages. God of God; Light of Light; true God of true God. Begotten not made; consubstantial with the Father; by Whom all things were made. Who for us men, and for our salvation, came down from heaven, and was incarnate by the Holy Ghost of the Virgin Mary, AND WAS MADE MAN…” 

No mere man could be “the Lamb of God Who takes away the sins of the world,” atoning to God the Father for the sins of men, but a MAN WHO IS GOD can bridge the gap between earth and Heaven, between Humanity and Divinity. And the Son of Man, Jesus Christ is that MAN. In the words of St. Paul:

“He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of every creature. For in him were created all things in the heavens and on the earth, things visible and invisible… All things have been created through and unto him, and he is before all creatures, and in him all things hold together… For it has pleased God the Father that in him all his fullness should dwell, and that through him he should reconcile to himself all things, whether on the earth or in the heavens, making peace through the blood of his cross” (Col.1:15,16a,17,19,20).