The author of the Letter to the Hebrews leaves us in doubt as to the humanity of Jesus. The Gospel of Luke is equally convincing in that it details more of the infancy of Jesus than any of the other Gospels. However, it is the Letter to the Hebrews that tells us that the Incarnation, the taking of our human form by Jesus, is absolutely essential to our salvation. Or in the words of Cyril of Alexandria or one of his contemporaries, “… that which Jesus does not assumed is not redeemed.” This makes perfect sense as it is eminently reasonable to see how it would be possible to argue the case that someone other than a fellow human being cannot redeem humanity. It is also the case that our Redeemer must be divine or else the necessary reparation for our sins cannot be made!

The Incarnation is, therefore, a central tenet of our faith and one that the Church has had to defend from many heretical movements down through the centuries. Even today there can be a tendency to deny the divinity of Jesus and present Him as a holy man and a prophet. The author of Hebrews would say with great indignation that such a tendency simply misses the point and fails to grasp the true nature of Jesus’ identity. He is quite clear that Jesus is not an angel or any other created being but both fully human and fully divine. We are not able to fully understand the mechanics of this but we can know for sure that it is necessary for our salvation.

Jesus’ humanity enables Him to be able to experience our human condition insofar as He can experience temptation and suffering. He does not sin himself, but experiences the full effect of sin in that He undergoes suffering and death for our sake on the cross. We can know now that God fully comprehends and has experienced our wretched state as far as it is possible for Him to do so. We can also know that He has raised our humanity to the heights of union with the divine in both His own person and in the promise that we receive of eternal life. As Basil of Caeserea will later proclaim, “The greatest dignity of the human person is found in the call to become God!” No, he is not saying that we are or become God but he is meditating upon the reality of the future union with God that the redeemed will receive when welcomed into the gift of eternal life.

Do I fully realize and respect the absolute dignity of each human life? How can I grow in my respect of the dignity of my brothers and sisters around me.

Holy Spirit, enlighten my mind with the truth. Let me never be satisfied with unfulfilling half-truths about the nature of my relationship with the Son of God. Help me to live fully my dignity and destiny of one called to live for and ultimately in union with the Triune God.