By Leon Suprenant | June 2, 2008
At today’s Mass we heard the opening verses of the Second Letter of St. Peter. Two things really grabbed my attention. First, we hear about “precious and very great promises” that allow us to come “to share in the divine nature” (2 Pet. 1:4).
This amazing verse is explored in Catechism, no. 460, which along the way quotes Sts. Irenaeus, Athanasius, and Thomas Aquinas:
“The Word became flesh to make us ‘partakers of the divine nature’: ‘For this is why the Word became man, and the Son of God became the Son of man: so that man, by entering into communion with the Word and thus receiving divine sonship, might become a son of God.’ ‘For the Son of God became man so that we might become God.’ ‘The only-begotten Son of God, wanting to make us sharers in his divinity, assumed our nature, so that he, made man, might make men gods’” (original emphasis, footnotes omitted).
God is three persons in but one Godhead, and the above statements have to be understood in that context. Christ is the only-begotten Son of God. He is truly divine in His nature despite taking flesh in the fullness of time. We who are baptized become sons and daughters of God not by nature, but by the spirit of adoption which leads us to cry out Abba, Father (Rom. 8:15). Because of God’s immense generosity to us, we participate in His very nature, in His very life. This doesn’t diminish God, but rather shows forth His power through loving and thus ennobling His creatures. Wow!
The second thing that struck me, which I admit gave me a brief chuckle, was the conclusion of the passage: “For this very reason, make every effort to supplement your faith with virtue, virtue with knowledge, knowledge with self-control, self-control with endurance, endurance with devotion, devotion with mutual affection, mutual affection with love” (2 Pet. 1:5-7).
So much for being saved by “faith alone”!