God's Awesome Deeds
In today's first reading, the prophet Isaiah longs for God to act in the world:
Oh, that you would rend the heavens and come down,
with the mountains quaking before you,
while you wrought awesome deeds we could not hope for,
such as they had not heard of from of old.
Isaiah hopes for some dramatic action from God. He envisions the heavens splitting apart and the mountains trembling as God descends to earth. He desires God to perform great deeds beyond anything Israel had ever dared to dream.
And God did.
He didn't tear through the heavens or cause earthquakes when He came down to earth. But He certainly performed an awesome deed beyond anything His people could have hoped for or imagined.
He took on human flesh in His mother's womb. He became a tiny human baby.
During Advent, we anticipate the coming of Jesus that we celebrate at Christmas. We prepare our hearts to welcome our God, Who dared to take on human flesh and become like us in everything except sin.
A Note on the New Translation
In the new translation of the Nicene Creed, we encounter one of those big, scary, theology words: consubstantial.
I believe in one Lord Jesus Christ, the Only Begotten Son of God, born of the Father before all ages. God from God, Light from Light, true God from true God, begotten not made, consubstantial with the Father.
Consubstantial means “of one and the same substance, essence, or nature” (Dictionary.com). It is a direct translation of the Latin word consubstantialem.
Back in the fourth century, the Church needed to define exactly Who Jesus is. A priest named Arius was teaching that Jesus, the Son of God, was not truly God but rather an extraordinary, unique creature. His teaching appealed to many Christians, and they began to abandon the orthodox faith. The bishops called a council at Nicaea in 325 to clarify the Church's teaching on Jesus' divinity.
They condemned Arius' position and proclaimed that Jesus Christ, the Son of God, is homoousios (Greek) or consubstantialis (Latin) or consubstantial with the Father. Jesus is truly God. He is of the same substance, essence, and nature as the Father. He is not just an extraordinary, unique creature. He is fully divine.
The big, scary, theology word consubstantial, then, reminds us that Jesus Christ was, is, and always will be God.