Understanding God’s essence can only be found through his eternal Love!
The Love that God has for all of humanity goes deeper than just forgiving us when we sin. It has become an internal knowledge of what love is all about. It may appear that God couldn’t realize what a human being felt as the essence of this entity called love entered within the persona of man. But, since God is an eternal entity himself and everything created is of God alone, the actions, be they spiritual or of a physical nature, have no place without God’s knowledge and permission. Therefore, when we sin and need the forgiveness of a loving God, he already knew what the pain and separation from mercy was all about.
Remember the Incarnation and the very reason God chose this action to become a man so that man could never say “God doesn’t understand what human flesh is like since he is only divine.” True God doesn’t require any of the uniqueness that describes man, he took on humanity in order that we could understand how our creator would show his love by becoming one like us.
Eternal existence places God in a state of permanent being without any beginning. With that in mind, the Incarnation and the humanity Jesus took upon himself was already present before the Father sent his Only Son into the world of human corruption to save man. With that being said, God knew what human suffering and a need for forgiveness by his creator already was experienced through the human nature of Christ.
As humanity was being created God (the Holy Trinity) agreed that this entity called man would have their very essence of divinity by saying; “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness.” An image of anything becomes an exactness of the original making it difficult to see the difference. A likeness indicates that my child will take after me through his understanding of realisms towards those I share my love with. It is like a genetic transfer of all that I am made of to my child that is just like me.
Love, as in an eternal God, can only be like the very one who created human life, lived it, and embraced the suffering this entity of humanity learned through the forgiveness of a divine nature. This was the life of Christ who could forgive us because he understood the weaknesses that man could not overcome without the grace that he alone would give to his likeness.
When trying to ascertain an intellectual premise of the divinity of Almighty God becoming exactly like us, the depth of a finite mind can never make heads or tails of such an idea. Yet, throughout our worship of God, through the Holy Spirit, which is Christ himself, is an eternal proclamation when the words spoken by the deacon during the preparation of the elements in the chalice; “By the mystery of this water and wine may we come to share in the divinity of Christ who humbled himself to share in our humanity.” Here in perhaps no other part of scripture does the very essence of God’s promise so eloquently compare with the words of a likeness to God.
If a Catholic tries to answer the question from other religions who always ask why we believe so deeply about the real presence of Christ in the Eucharist, we respond it is God who spoke of it first. To some, I expect, that these words of Let us make man in our image, after our likeness, are just a metaphor without any reality to exactness. But, this is where God’s essence is found beyond the truth of eternal love; it is the full meaning of God to man; yesterday, today, forever!
Ralph B. Hathaway