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Transfiguration

TWO NATURES IN ONE PERSON

Many have tried to reduce the Person of Christ the God-man to something comprehensible. To try and render Him fully understandable is to try and make Him other than what He is. We must accept that the constitution of His unique Person is ultimately a mystery.

The mystery of His two natures in one Person was revealed iconographically (so to speak) at His Transfiguration on the mountain.

Then at the Council of Chalcedon in 451 a definitive doctrinal formulation was pronounced:

    “We confess that one and the same Lord Jesus Christ, the only-begotten Son, must be acknowledged in two natures, without confusion, without change, without division, without separation…He is not split or divided into two  persons, but He is one and the same only-begotten, God the Word,  the Lord  Jesus Christ…”

That doctrine has been treasured and expounded by the Church down the centuries. The doctrine of Christ’s two natures in one Person nourishes our spiritual lives, even as it surpasses our understanding. This doctrine helps us to accept with awe and wonder the fact that the Baby at Bethlehem knew that He had made the stars. The One who preached by the side of Lake Galilee knew that He had already existed for ever. The One Who willingly went to His death on Calvary knew that He was Israel’s Messiah, the Son of God.

To ponder the doctrine of Christ’s two natures will deepen the way we look at the crucifix, or an image of our blessed Lady. It should also illuminate the way we read the gospels. It should help us to understand that no human word or gesture of Christ’s recorded in the gospels was ever merely contingent. All the words and actions of His humanity were a revelation of His divine purposes.

In the Mass, in the tabernacle, and in the monstrance, we worship the Person of Christ in His two natures. Christ’s human and divine Presence in the Blessed Sacrament helps us to accept the sufferings which He sometimes asks us to endure, as our way of sharing in His Cross.

And whenever the weight of that Cross threatens to weaken our faith or undermine our hope, we have the Mass to sustain us. The beauty of Holy Mass should always orientate us to look forwards and upwards; forwards and upwards towards the divine splendour that will one day be revealed to us on the mountain, that Mountain which is Christ Himself.