Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Saint Athanasius, bishop and doctor (Acts 12:24-13.5a; John 12:44-50) Before the Church affirmed its the aching on Christ's divinity, the issue was mired in controversy. Using ample New Testament evidence, the priest Arius taught that it was logically impossible for Jesus to be God for God's nature is infinite whereas the human soul has limits. Arius said that God becoming human would be like putting a mountain in a box. Half of Christianity including the Roman emperor, it seems, agreed with him. Arius' argument, however, was satisfactorily countered by Athanasius whose feast day we celebrate today. Athanasius was a brilliant priest and later bishop of Alexandria, a center of Greek learning. He answered Arius by agreeing partly with him. If God's nature were only infinite, it would not befit a human. However, Athanasius argued, God's nature is really incomprehensible. As absolute mystery, impenetrable to human reasoning, God could have become human as Scripture with equally ample testimony implies. Today's gospel may be cited as indicating Jesus' divine nature. He says that anyone who sees him sees also the Father who sent him. We hang on such testimony. God cannot be dismissed as modern atheists claim. Although we cannot say anything about His nature as it is shrouded in mystery, we can say that He is compassionate and just because Jesus who reveals the little that we know of God is like that.