Jesus is Lord

KENNETH BAKER, S.J

I would like to call your attention to the fact that all the prayers of the Church are directed to God the Father “through Jesus Christ, our Lord”.

Not only in the liturgy, but also in our religious conversation, we are accustomed to call Jesus "Lord".

After proclaiming our belief in one God in the first part of the Creed, we move on to profess our belief in Jesus Christ, the second Person of the Blessed Trinity. Since most of revelation comes through Jesus Christ, since he is one of us by reason of his being born into this world of the Blessed Virgin Mary in a certain place and at a certain time, and since we know more about him than we do about the other two divine Persons, we confess our belief in him in much more detail than we do in the case of the Father and the Holy Spirit.

"We believe in one Lord, Jesus Christ." The first affirmation we make about Jesus is that he is the Lord. The full meaning of the title includes the notions of authority, dominion, kingship and divinity.

In the Old Testament the title "Lord" or "Kyrios" was applied to Yahweh to signify his dominion over all things, including the gods of the pagans. In this sense he was also called the "Lord of lords". Toward the end of the Old Testament period the title "Lord" tended to replace the older "Yahweh", which was not even pronounced by pious Jews because of the sacredness of the name. Thus "Lord" came gradually to be used as the name of God himself.

In the Gospels, Jesus is rarely called "Lord", with the exception of a few times in Luke and John. The Apostles and first disciples did not come to the full realization that Jesus was God until after his Resurrection and after they had received the Holy Spirit at Pentecost. Once they had reached that realization they did not hesitate to attribute to him the divine title of "Lord" as used in the Old Testament.

When Jesus appeared to Thomas and showed him the wounds in his hands, feet and side, Thomas exclaimed "My Lord and my God!" (Jn 20:28). This profession "Jesus is Lord" was very common among the early Christians. St. Paul is constantly referring to Jesus as the "Lord", or he addresses his converts "in the Lord". In 1 Corinthians (12:3) he says, "No one can say 'Jesus is Lord' unless he is under the influence of the Holy Spirit." Paul claims that he is not preaching himself but "Christ Jesus as the Lord" (2 Cor 4:5). The Acts of the Apostles speaks a number of times about the first Christians being "baptized in the Lord".

As we shall see at a future date, the divinity of Jesus is asserted a number of times in the Creed. We first affirm our belief that he is a God by attributing the divine title of "Lord" to him. Since he has dominion over all men and also over all creation, he has no superior and no equal. Therefore we say that we believe in "one Lord". Let us pray with St. Paul: "God raised him high and gave him the name which is above all names so that all beings in the heavens, on earth and in the underworld should bend the knee at the name of Jesus and that every tongue should acclaim Jesus Christ as Lord, to the glory of God the Father" (Phil 2:9-11).

See the index of chapters from Fundamentals of Catholicism which have been reprinted to CERC here.

ACKNOWLEDGEMENT

Kenneth Baker, S.J. "Jesus is Lord." In Fundamentals of Catholicism Vol. 1 Part 1, Chapter 4 (San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 1995), 36-38.

This article reprinted with permission from Father Kenneth Baker, S.J.

THE AUTHOR

Rev. Kenneth Baker, S.J., has served for the past thirty years as editor of the Homiletic & Pastoral Review. He entered the Society of Jesus in 1947. In 1970 he served as president of Seattle University and in 1971 became editor of the Homiletic & Pastoral Review. In 1973 he published his translation of the Philosophical Dictionary and adapted it to American usage. In 1975 he became president of Catholic Views Broadcasts, Inc., which produces a weekly 15-minute radio program that airs on 50 stations across the United States. He has built and run three community television stations. In 1983 he published a three-volume explation of the faith called Fundamentals of Catholicism Vol. 1, Creed and Commandments; Vol. 2, God, Trinity, Creation, Christ, Mary; and Vol. 3, Grace, the Church, the Sacraments, Eschatology.

Copyright © 1995 Fr. Kenneth Baker, S.J.


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