This may appear to be a statement that others will certainly question. How can you say that this is the only way to find God’s mercy? They will quote many verses in Sacred Scripture, both Old and New Testament, that would refute my words. Continuing they’ll say, “look at the Paschal Mystery, its tenets of the Easter Triduum, the path of the Via Delarosa, and certainly the three hours on Calvary, loudly they’ll acclaim, “ Ralph you are wrong.”
Of course, we could rely on the heresies of the past which would show that the Incarnation was not what the Church teaches. Then, according to those teachings the whole story of Jesus and His mission would be of no account. There would be nothing but confusion. Thanks to many like Pope Victor; 190 - 198 AD, Heresy of “Adoptionism”, which denied the pre-existence of Christ and therefore denies His Diety; The Council of Ephesus (431 AD) corrected the heresy of “Nestorianism”, which taught Mary only gave birth to Jesus’ human nature, and if true then Jesus was not God Incarnate in the womb; and the Council of Chalcedon (451 AD) the heresy of “Docetism” which taught that Jesus only appeared to have a body and was not truly Incarnate. By denying Jesus truly had a body they also denied He suffered on the cross and rose from the dead.
Now I would say, “Let’s look at some scripture verses that may change the minds of skeptics.”
According to Joel, and reiterated by Peter in Acts: (Acts 2: 17-21). “It will come to pass in the last days;” God says, “that I will pour out my spirit upon all flesh.” “Your sons and daughters shall prophesy, your young men shall see visions, your old men shall dream dreams.”……… “ “The sun shall be turned to darkness, and the moon to blood, before the coming of the great and splendid day of the Lord, and it shall be that everyone shall be saved who calls on the name of the Lord.” Words spoken by Peter at Pentecost regarding Jesus whom they crucified. The gift God promised, and through Mary the Mother of God, Jesus Christ was to become the means He would fullfill all these prophecies.
From Isaiah; (Is 7: 10-15) “Again the Lord spoke to Ahaz: “Ask for a sign from the Lord, your God; let it be deep, deep as the nether world, or high as the sky!” But Ahaz answered; “I will not ask!” “I will not tempt the Lord!” Then he said: “Listen O house of David! Is it not enough for you to weary men, must you also weary my God?” “Therefore the Lord himself will give you this sign; the virgin shall be with child, and bear a son, and shall name him Immanuel. He shall be living on curds and honey by the time he learns to reject the bad and choose the good.” The footnote to this (New American Bible) states; “The church has always followed St. Matthew in seeing the transcendent fulfillment of this verse in Christ and his Virgin Mother…….. The Holy Spirit was preparing for a nativity which alone could fulfill the divinely given terms of Immanuel’s mission and in which the perpetual virginity of the Mother of God was to fulfill the words of this prophecy in the integral sense intended by the divine Wisdom.
Why would these excerpts from the Old Testament, along with others, be used by God except to reveal, over time, the coming into the world His Son who would fulfill the Father’s promise to save the world from its sin. Remember the appearance on the road to Emmaus when Jesus explained to the two disciples saying; “Oh, how foolish you are! How slow of heart to believe all that the prophets spoke! Was it not necessary that the Messiah should suffer these things and enter into his glory.” Then beginning with Moses and all the prophets, he interpreted to them what referred to him in all the scriptures.
Do we need more? Without the Annunciation of Gabriel to Mary, the Incarnation and the Angels’ chorus of “Glory to God in the Highest, Peace on earth to all who believe.” there would be no fulfillment of God’s promise. Yes, in fact the Incarnation is the only way to God and His Mercy through the Paschal Mystery of His Son, Jesus Christ, the Savior of the world.
Ralph B. Hathaway Advent 2018