A Son of Man and The Son of Man 25th Sunday Ordinary Time B

A Son of Man and The Son of Man 25thSunday Ordinary Time B

Wisdom 2:12, 17-20 Psalm 54:3-4, 5, 6, 8 James 3:16-4:3 Mark 9:30-37

            In today’s gospel passage Jesus refers to himself as “The Son of Man”. What does this mean? One way to understand what this title means, is to understand how Jesus is “the Son of Man”. As pointed out by Brant Pitre, Jesus refers to himself as “The Son of Man” and not just a son of man. In other words, there are two types of son of men. There is a definite, one specific Son of Man and there are many sons of men, indicated by the general term “a son of man”.[1]

The Old Testament makes this distinction between a specific Son of Man and a son of man in a general sense. Two places we encounter this distinction is in Daniel Chapter 7 which describes a divine being “like a Son of Man”, who appears in the form of man. This divine being appears by descending in full glory from heaven, accompanied by clouds to establish an everlasting, eternal kingdom.

In contrast, Psalm 8 refers to a son of man in a general since he is like all other men without a difference. The psalmist asks, “what is man that you are mindful of him, and the son of man that you care for him (Psalm 8:4 RSV)?” Here, with the title “son of man” the psalmist is simply describing “a son of man” who is like all other men. He is not describing the divine being Daniel refers to who looks like a Son of Man but is different because he is divine.

We believe that Jesus fulfills both types of son of men by being fully God, and by being fully human. Jesus is divine since he came from heaven and returned to heaven. He also is fully human since assumed a human nature united in his divine person to his divine nature.

In identifying himself with “The Son of Man” from Daniel and with all sons of men Jesus does so with a surprise. The surprise, as pointed out by Pitre, is that Jesus does not describe himself in a glorious way as the prophet Daniel does but in a horrifying way by stating that he will be handed over to men who will kill him.[2]

By so doing, comments Pitre, Jesus related the glorious divine being who looks like a son of man prophesied by Daniel with the Old Testament’s prophecy of a suffering servant, which we encounter in today’s first reading.

Nonetheless, Jesus also teaches that he will be glorified as Daniel prophesied but only after being rejected, suffering, dying. After “three days” Jesus promised that He will as “The Son of Man” rise from the dead. Why? – Because although Jesus has a fully human nature Jesus also is divine and His divinity will defeat death that resides in all human nature.

In addition, the condition of suffering prior to Jesus’ glorification is God’s way to teach us that our capacity to suffer is dependent on our capacity to love. Since God loves infinitely he is willing to suffer immensely for us, not, of course, in his divine nature but in his human nature that he assumed at the Incarnation

As described by Benedict XVI suffering is the “inside” dimension of love that is true, love that is not passing but permanent, and everlasting.[3]For this reason, Jesus was patient. Interestingly, the word patience literally means willing to suffer since patience is comes from the Latin verb pati which means to suffer.

Impatience literally means refusing to suffer, in other words refusing to be true to love, to persevere in love whatever its cost.

May we be more like our risen Lord Jesus, patient, willing to suffer since we truly love God and consequently all our neighbors.

God Bless,

Fr Peter

Jean Colombe [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons, “Le Christ baptisé par saint Jean dans le Jourdain, surmonté de la Trinité. Deux anges tiennent ses vêtements à gauche et une foule est rassemblée à l’arrière, au centre d’un paysage,” c. 1485 – 1486.

[1]Brant Pitre, “The Twenty-Fifth Sunday of Ordinary Time (Year B),” catholicproductions.com.

[2]Brant Pitre, “The Twenty-Fifth Sunday of Ordinary Time (Year B),” catholicproductions.com.

[3]Benedict XVI, Day by Day with Pope Benedict XVI(San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 2006), 104. “Anyone who has inwardly accepted suffering becomes more mature and understanding of others, becomes more human. Anyone who has consistently avoided suffering does not understand other people; he becomes hard and selfish… If we say that suffering is the inside of love, we then also understand why it is so important to learn how to suffer…”

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