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The Son of Man

THE LORD often used the phrase "son of man" instead of the first person pronoun. "The Son of Man came eating and drinking," "the Son of Man is Lord of the Sabbath," "The Son of Man came to save that which was lost." Its exact meaning is discussed among scholars. To us today the phrase calls to mind Christ's human nature. He belongs to our race, He is one of us. He is a man.

There are certain qualities that we expect of a man, qualities of mind and heart in particular. When these qualities are present in a very high degree, then we have an exceptional man. When they are found in the degree discoverable in Christ, we have a man among men. At the age of twelve He amazed the teachers in the midst of whom He sat in the temple. "And all who were listening to him were amazed at his understanding and his answers" (Luke 2:47). The crowds who heard Him "were astonished at his teaching . . ." (Matt. 7:28). Even the attendants of the chief priests and Pharisees admitted, "Never has man spoken as this man" (John 7:46).

There are several ways of measuring a man's mind. One of them is to note the clarity of expression. This must be weighed by the expressions of the time as well as by the adaptations to the audience. This is said lest some should think this measure cannot be applied to Christ's mind. Today some of His expressions may not be too clear. This is due to the difference in time and in audience. We are almost two thousand years away in time. We are an audience of different mentality and outlook than that to which our Lord spoke. By way of parenthesis it is for this reason that Christ established the living voice of His Church; to explain what He taught today and to the people of today.

Yet it is true that by far the majority of our Lord's sayings are as clear today as they were centuries ago. Who is able to misunderstand "therefore all that you wish men to do to you, even so do you also to them"? Or "Ask and it shall be given to you; seek, and you shall find; knock, and it shall be opened to you"? Or "seek first the kingdom of God and his justice, and all these things shall be given you besides"? Or "Our Father, who art in heaven . . . give us this day our daily bread . . . forgive us our debts . . ."?


Not only was our Lord clear. He adapted Himself to His audience. Most of the time He had before Him simple, ordinary, uneducated people. His expressions could be understood by them. They knew the terms that He used, such as "kingdom of heaven," "the birds of the air," "lilies of the field" and "false prophets." Parables were familiar to the people as a method of teaching. Our Lord's parables were from scenes of their daily lives, such as the sower in the field, the banquet table, the Pharisees praying so that every one could see them, the wedding feasts, the younger son wanting his freedom and the older son pouting. But when Christ stood before the leaders of the people He spoke in their language. So when Nicodemus came to Him at night, our Lord began in terms that this member of the Great Council should have understood. And when Christ spoke to the Samaritan woman at the well of Jacob, He adapted Himself to her condition. He asked for a drink and gradually opened her heart and mind.

There has never been a teacher like Christ. There has never been any one whose teachings have captured the minds of men as His teaching. Not only during His own time, but throughout the centuries, men have studied and read and meditated upon and written about what He said. Then no one had a mind as the mind of Christ. It was incisive, clear, simple yet profound. It penetrated to the heart of men's minds, it cut through to the very marrow of truth. As no man could convict Him of sin, so no one could convict Him of error. His mind was the mind of Truth, for it was the mind of Him Who was the Word.

Another way to measure a man's mind is to note how it is related to God. For man has been created for God. There can be no true knowledge unless it is from God and unless it tends to God. Over and over again Christ proclaimed that what He had He received from His Father. "All things have been delivered to me by my Father; and no one knows the Son except the Father; nor does anyone know the Father except the Son, and him to whom the Son chooses to reveal him" (Matt. 11:27). Christ came to reveal God. "God . . . last of all in these days has spoken to us by his Son..." (Heb. 1:2). "I have manifested thy name to the men whom thou hast given me out of the world" (John 17:6).

Never did any man's mind cling to God as did the mind of Christ. Never did any one's thoughts tend towards God as did the thoughts of Christ. Never was divine knowledge found in man's mind as in the mind of Christ. Never then was there a man like unto the man, Jesus Christ. It is no wonder that the crowds followed Him, even into the desert. It is no wonder that they listened to Him, with no regard to time or discomfort or hunger or thirst. It is no wonder that He attracted followers and that they gave up all to be near Him, to hear His voice, to hear the Truth.

It would be incredible to think that the revealed truth of God given by Jesus Christ should perish. It did not. He told His Apostles that "the Holy Spirit . . . will teach you all things and bring to your mind whatever I have said to you" (John 14:15-17; 14:26; 16:12-14). Shortly before He ascended into heaven He commissioned His Apostles: "Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations . . . teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you" ( Matt. 28:19-20) . This same commission exists today. It is found in the Pope and the Bishops of the Catholic Church for the Pope is the successor of Peter and the Bishops are the successors of the Apostles. They have inherited through the power granted them the commission of Jesus Christ. Today they are the "mind" of Christ for all men.


The two faculties of the soul that distinguish man from animals and that set him off too from other men are the intellect and the will. Christ's intellect puts Him apart from all men, for it was the intellect of the God-man. The will of Christ is also the will of the God-man. While its nature is the same as that of all men, this fact of being the will of the Word made flesh sets Him apart from all others. When we see Him exercising this will, we perceive at once a difference.

Since Adam sinned men have rebelled against God. In fact they came into the world as rebels. For original sin sets them apart from God. Jesus Christ did not rebel against God. He did not have original sin. His challenge "Which of you can convict me of sin?" was unanswered. On the positive side His own life may be summed up in this phrase: I CAME TO DO THE WILL OF HIM THAT SENT ME! This He did perfectly from the beginning of His life to its end.

In the epistle to the Hebrews is summed up this perfect obedience to God: "It is in this 'will' that we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all" (10:10).

Christ Himself proclaimed that "I do as the Father has commanded me" (John 14:31). Again He spoke, this time to His Father: "I have glorified thee on earth; I have accomplished the work that thou hast given me to do" (John 17:4). In the agony that preceded His passion He submitted to His Father's will: "Father, if you are willing, remove this cup from me; yet not my will but shine be done" (Luke 22:42).

God's will is made known through proper authority. St. Paul expressed this principle very clearly in writing to the Romans (13:1): "Let everyone be subject to the higher authorities, for there exists no authority except from God, and those who exist have been appointed by God." The measure of a man then comes from his recognition of this principle, but more so from his obedience to it.


There is only one measure for Christ. It is the measure of perfection. As He perfectly fulfilled His Father's will, so too did He perfectly fulfill the will of those placed over Him. For Him this was but a manifestation of His Father's will. Our Lord had parents. He was their son; hence obedience was due to Mary, His mother, and to Joseph, His legal father. "And he went down with them and came to Nazareth, and was subject to them" (Luke 2:51).

For the Jews, the Chosen People of God, the Law of Moses was the manifestation of God's will. One of the first laws was that a male child should be circumcised on the eighth day (Gen. 17:1-14). Jesus Christ through His parents carried out this law: "And when eight days were fulfilled for his circumcision, his name was called Jesus . . ." ( Luke 2:21). At the end of forty days a male child was to be presented to God in the temple (Ex. 13:2). Christ was presented on the fortieth day by His parents (Luke 2:22-40). On feast days pious Jews came to Jerusalem, if it was at all possible (Lev. 23:1-44). Throughout the Gospels we find our Lord in Jerusalem on various feast days (Luke 2:41 95.; John 2:13 95.; 5:1 95.; 7:1 95.; etc.).

The great commandments of the Law were the same as in Christianity. These commandments were those of love (Deut. 6:5; Lev. 19:18; Matt. 22:34-40). Love means a perfect fulfillment of the will of the one loved. "If you love me, keep my commandments" Christ had told His Apostles (John 14:15). Since Christ perfectly fulfilled God's will, He loved God perfectly. This was the reason that the Father called Him "my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased."

There can be no love of God without the love of the neighbor. For it is God's will that we love the neighbor. To love God is to do what He wills us to do. Jesus Christ loved us with a great love. "Greater love than this no one has, that one lay down his life for his friends" (John 15:13). The name of Jesus was given to Him "for he shall save his people from their sins" (Matt. 1:21). "I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for his sheep" (John 10:11).

The entire life of Christ was a life of love, for it was a life of service. He lived as He did to give us an example that would serve for our daily life. His public life was a life devoted to serving first His Apostles, then the people. He spent hours teaching the Apostles. Many of the discourses in the Gospels were addressed to them. Other times He took them apart from the crowds and instructed them.

He moved from town to town preaching in the synagogues, or wherever a crowd gathered. He used His divine power to feed them when they followed Him into the desert. He cured their sick, He drove out devils, He even brought back to life the dead. He summed up this life of service in these words: ". . . the Son of Man has not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many" (Matt. 20:28).


In word Christ taught this same life of love. In the parable of the Good Samaritan (Luke 10:25-36), He taught that love is the manifestation of neighborliness. Christ Himself is THE GOOD SAMARITAN Who came to pour into the sinful wounds of our souls the wine and oil of divine grace. Love forgets self and thinks only of the one in need. Christ forgot Himself and gave Himself to be our food and our drink because of our great need (John 6:54-59).

Down through the centuries the mind and heart of Christ have fascinated men. The words that came from Him have been repeated over and over. The teachings that He gave in His own time have become the thoughts and the guide of millions. The love that He manifested has been the inspiration of centuries. It has been more than that. This love has been the source of the love of God by millions of the followers of the Son of Man. It has been the source too of the love of the neighbor. For greater love than that of the Son of Man, the world has never seen or experienced or known.

Courtesy of Catholic Information Network (CIN)



Copyright 2004 Victor Claveau. All Rights Reserved