Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Jesus versus Christ

Do you tend to refer to Our Lord as "Jesus" or as "Christ?" Have you ever thought that it might be significant? For centuries the common Catholic usage was "Christ", but, over the last 50 years, "Jesus" has come to predominate. Does this change reflect a transformation in the way many Catholics view their Lord or is it just an insignificant change of style?

In 1982, Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger, the future Pope Benedict XVI, spoke of the wide ranging significance of this shift in an address he gave on Christology (emphasis mine).

"In contemporary writing, the title "Christ" has largely given way to the personal name "Jesus". This linguistic change reveals a spiritual process with wide implications, namely, the attempt to get behind the Church's confession of faith and reach the purely historical figure of Jesus. He is no longer to be understood through this confession, but, as it were, in and through himself alone; and thus his achievement and his challenge are to be reinterpreted from scratch. Consequently people no longer speak of following Christ but of following Jesus: for "discipleship of Christ" implies the Church's confession that Jesus is Christ, and hence it involves a basic acknowledgement of the Church as the primary form of discipleship. "Discipleship of Jesus", however, concentrates on the man Jesus who opposes all forms of authority; one of its features is a basically critical attitude to the Church, seen as a sign of its faithfulness to Jesus."

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