The Epistle, The 2nd Reading – 2016.12.25
The Light of God
At various times in the past and in various different ways, God spoke to our ancestors through the prophets; but in our own time, the last days, he has spoken to us through his Son, the Son that he has appointed to inherit everything and through whom he made everything there is. He is the radiant light of God’s glory and the perfect copy of his nature, sustaining the universe by his powerful command; and now that he has destroyed the defilement of sin, he has gone to take his place in heaven at the right hand of divine Majesty. So he is now as far above the angels as the title which he has inherited is higher than their own name.
God has never said to any angel: You are my Son, today I have become your father; or: I will be a father to him and he a son to me. Again, when he brings the First-Born into the world, he says: Let all the angels of God worship him.
Well intentioned and Confused
The Apostle makes a fundamental error when he writes about the station that Jesus occupies.
I do not fault the Apostle for this, not personally, he is a product of his time. He had even less freedom in his consciousness to uncouple himself from a hierarchical view of the world than we do today, and we still struggle with this in our own time.
The Apostle tell us that Jesus of Nazareth is the Son of God, through whom all of creation, the entire universe, everything that is, was or will ever be, came to be.
The Apostle tells us that Jesus of Nazareth possesses the exact copy of God’s nature, expressing his faith in the categories of Platonic thinking.
The Apostle tells us that the universe itself is sustained by the power that resided in Jesus of Nazareth, and that in this same power the defilement of sin has been destroyed, which is an odd statement insofar as it is clear to anyone who observes our world that sin is a constant reality that every human being struggles with.
The Apostle tells us that this perfect copy of God, the creator of the universe, sits at the right of God, the creator of the universe, and is per se the creator of the universe.
The Apostle begins to express concern that we, his audience, properly understand the majesty of Jesus, a majesty above all of the angels, because he, Jesus has inherited the title, Son of God, a title belonging to no other.
This begs the questions; are we not all, each and every one of us the children of God? Is Jesus only the Son of God by inherited title? Will God be the father of Jesus, or was God always the father of Jesus?
We must understand that Paul, the Apostle, he was winging it here. He did not know what he was talking about. But he was trying to say that God, the creator of the universe dwelt within Jesus of Nazareth in a special way, and as a result Jesus is a unique being, a being fundamental to God’s sovereignty of the universe, and whose life was the critical instrument in the resolution of sin and evil in the world.
The Apostle’s message gets muddies with his incessant commentary on the hierarchy of the angelic hosts, the role of sonship, qualities of majesty, position and station.
It would have been better for the world if he had spoken plainly.
Jesus was a child of the creator, he was our brother. In Jesus the conflict of sin was resolved, by following the example of his life we may resolve it for ourselves. The entirety of the eternal and infinite God dwelt perfectly within Jesus, as it dwells perfectly within each of us, whether we know it, believe it, or not.
The whole is in the part, undivided, and one.
1st Sunday of Christmas