The Eternal Perspective of Emotion
God endowed Man with passions, or feelings/emotions (CCC 1771), to assist Man towards moral perfection (CCC 1770) and beatitude (CCC 1762). Emotions (meaning “to move out”) are natural components of human psychology that connect the senses and the mind (CCC 1764) and are not inherently good or evil (CCC 1767). Emotions do incline Man to embrace good/virtue or evil/vice (CCC 1763, 1774); they become good when they incline the will/reason towards good or become evil when they incline the will/reason towards evil (CCC 1768). Emotions inclined to beatitude include love, joy, peace and happiness (CCC 1718, 1024, 1029). Other emotions include fear and sadness (CCC 1772). Some emotions are inclined toward/or are always evil including pride, lust, envy, jealousy, anger, greed, gluttony (CCC 1852, 1866), despair (CCC 2091) and hatred (CCC 2303). One cannot love and engage in evil emotions at the same time (CCC 1825-26).
When Emotions become Evil
At Eden, emotions became perverted and evil in Man. Before falling to temptation, Adam and Eve were envious of God and full of pride; after eating the fruit they felt lust, shame and fear (Gen 3:1-22). After Eden, Genesis records Man’s continued perversion into sin and evil emotions: Cain is filled with envy and murderous anger (Gen 4:1-16); Noah falls to drunken gluttony and Ham lusts after his mother (Gen 9:18-28), the builders of the Tower of Babel are filled with pride; Sodom is consumed with lust; Laban deceives Jacob in greed (Gen 29:25); Simeon and Levi burn with rage and murder (Gen 49:5-7) and Joseph’s brothers are filled with jealousy and hatred (Gen 37:4).
The Emotions of Jesus Christ
Jesus demonstrates the perfect engagement of human emotions:
- Demonstrates perfection in emotion – Through His human nature, Jesus experienced all aspects of being human except for Sin (CCC 470). Jesus is Man’s model of holiness (CCC 459). In His Perfection, Jesus’ emotions are perfectly ordered towards the embrace of the Will of the Father to love. Jesus has no evil emotions (i.e. pride, lust, envy, jealousy, greed, gluttony and hatred). Jesus’ cry of “My God why have thou forsaken me” (Matt 27:46) is not a cry of abandonment, fear or cowardice, but a reference to God’s coming victory (Psalm 22).
- Experiences love as His primary emotion – “Jesus Christ is love” (1 John 4:8) and He demonstrates the perfection of love as the Son of God (John 3:16). Love, as an emotion, is “aroused by the attraction of the good. Love causes a desire for the absent good and the hope of obtaining it; this movement finds completion in the pleasure and joy of the good possessed” (CCC 1765); “all other affections have their source in this first movement of the human heart towards the good” (CCC 1766). Jesus expresses compassion numerous times (Matt 9:36, 14:14, 20:24, Mark 1:41, 8:2; Luke 7:13). Jesus offers the greatest love, by His own choice (CCC 609), to lay down His life for His friends (John 15:13).
- Is full of peace and joy – As the Prince of Peace, Jesus possesses peace in perfection (CCC 2305). Jesus also possesses abundant joy (Luke 10:21, John 15:11; 17:13). The joy of Jesus is sometimes expressed in humor (Matt 7:4, 23:24).
- Experiences “agony” at Gethsemane – As He anticipates His own suffering and death at the Passion (Matt 26:36-46), Jesus sweats blood (Luke 22:44). Jesus experiences grief (Matt 26:38; Isa 53:3) at Man’s coming evil acts at the Passion (CCC 1765). Man also experiences negative emotions (grief, fear, disgust, etc.), moved by the Holy Spirit to reject evil (CCC 1769).
- Shows Perfection in “anger” – Jesus’ zeal/anger in the clearing of the Temple (John 2:13-20) should not be confused with a fit of anger or “anger [which] is a desire for revenge” (CCC 2302-03); Jesus specifically denounces this type of murderous anger and hatred as immoral (Matt 5:22). Rather, Jesus’ reaction of righteous indignation is praiseworthy (CCC 584; Psalm 69:9, 119:53; Mark 3:5) because it “imposes restitution to correct vices and maintain justice” (CCC 2302). Jesus does not seethe in rage, for to do so would be sinful (Eph 4:26-27). On other occasions, Jesus uses anger to communicate displeasure and to correct Man (Mark 3:5, 10:14) and expresses anger in reaction to betrayal (John 11:33, 13:21).
- Experiences sorrow – Jesus experiences sorrow at the hardness of Man’s heart (Mark 3:5), in sympathy to the sorrow over Lazarus’ death (John 11:33-38), over the coming destruction of Jerusalem (Luke 19:41-44) and at His death on the Cross (Matt 27:45-46).
Jesus instructs Man how to properly engage the emotions:
- Instructs the disciples to embrace love – Jesus distills the entire Mosaic Law to the “love of God and neighbor” (Matt 22:34-40) and commands the disciples to “love one another” (John 13:34), moved by the Holy Spirit (CCC 1822-29). The acts and emotions of love can not be truly engaged out of fear of punishment (Hell) or out to the greed of reward (Heaven), but out simple love of Christ and the good (CCC 1828). The fruits of love are the beatific emotions of joy and peace in which Man finds true rest (CCC 1829; Gal 5:22-26).
- Promises to give peace and joy – As the Prince of Peace (CCC 2305) Jesus blesses the “peacemakers” (Matt 5:9) and offers to give peace (Matt 11:28-30, Mark 5:34, Luke 7:50, John 14:27) and joy to those who seek His Will (CCC 2304-05) through the Holy Spirit (CCC 736). The Apostles underscore the importance of embracing peace (Heb 12:4, Rom 5:1, Phil 4:7, 1 Cor 14:33, 2 Thes 3:16).
- Instructs Man to turn from evil emotions – Jesus specifically instructs Man against evil emotions: lust (Matt 5:28), fear and worry (Matt 6:34, Mark 4:40, John 14:27), envy (Luke 12:15), greed (Luke 12:16-21), pride (Luke 20:45-47) and anger (Matt 5:22). The Church also warns against despair as a sin against hope (CCC 2091).
- Demonstrates how to turn to the Father in times of emotional turmoil – Jesus demonstrates that in times of emotional turmoil and stress, one must quickly turn to the Father: at the sorrow of John the Baptist’s death (Matt 14:13), at Lazarus’ death (John 11:41), in Gethsemane (Luke 22:41-44) and at the Passion (Matt 27:46).
The Fall of the Sons of Man
God created Man in His image and likeness, giving Man dominion over the earth (Genesis 1:27). The first man Adam (Hebrew for “man”) disobeyed God and fell into Original Sin (Gen 3). Cast out from Eden, Adam became a father of Cain, and then, Abel. Abel, a shepherd, pleased God with an offering from his flock, while Cain’s offering “from the ground” did not please God. Fallen and disfigured by Original Sin, Cain, the very first son of man (Adam), killed his brother Abel (Gen 4). Like the first Man Adam, the first son Cain displeases and rebels against God. Fallen in Original Sin, all generations of sons struggle in persistent sin.
The Loss of Sonship and Manhood
By turning away from God the Father and Jesus the Son, Post-modern Man has lost the meaning of being a son and being a man. Postmodern sons, many raised without fathers, fail to learn “sonship”: respect for elders, obedience, loyalty, humility, discipline and how to be fathers. Many of today’s men avoid fatherhood (contraception, abortion) or reject the responsibilities of being a father (siring children out of wedlock, abandoning or neglecting their children and the mothers of their children). Postmodern sons are failing in manhood: the rejection of chivalry and disrespect of women, indulgence of compulsive desires (food, drink, pornography), equating manhood to the siring of many children out of wedlock, the strutting of hyper-masculinity, the sloth of perennial adolescence, or embracing dependency or the effeminate. The failed post-modern culture cannot be salvaged without a return to virtuous sonship and manhood.
Jesus Christ – The Son of Man
Jesus Christ, the Son of Man, demonstrates perfection of sonship and manhood. Jesus:
- Draws on Old Testament references to the “Son of Man” – The phrase “son of man” appears over 100 times in the Old Testament, most often as a human being or mortal man (Num 23:19; Job 25:6; Psalm 8:4; Sir 17:30) or to describe individual men including Ezekiel (Ezekiel 2:1, 3) and Daniel (Daniel 8:17). The “son of man” is used to describe a supernatural man: Daniel has a vision of the “Ancient of Days” (God) who welcomes a glorious figure “like the Son of Man” into God’s heavenly presence. The Son of Man is hailed as worthy and God condemns the rulers of the earth, giving everlasting dominion to the Son of Man to defeat God’s enemies and rule over all nations (Dan 7).
- Calls Himself the “Son of Man” – The “Son of Man” is the most frequent title for Jesus Christ in the New Testament: it is found over 73 times in the Gospels (60 times in the Synopics/13 times in John), in Acts (7:56) and Revelation (1:13; 14:14); St. Paul does not use the title “Son of Man” for Jesus. Jesus is the only one in the Gospels who uses the title “Son of Man” and He exclusively applies it to Himself. Jesus prefers the title “Son of Man”: several occasions when He is identified as the “Christ” (Mark 8:29–30, 14:61–62, 13:21–22), Jesus responds by speaking of what the “Son of Man” will do.
- Occasionally uses the “Son of Man” to describe His humanness – Jesus uses the title “Son of Man” to show He possessed a human body (John 6:53) and has the capacity for human activities like resting (Matthew 8:20), eating and drinking (Luke 7:34), suffering (Mark 8:31), and that His body will be placed in the grave (Matthew 12:40).
- Predominately uses the “Son of Man” to assert His Divine Mission – Jesus had encyclopedic knowledge of the Old Testament (He wrote it after all) and clearly means to reveal that He is the Divine “Son of Man”, predicted in Daniel (Dan 7). Jesus:
- Teaches that He is the Divine Son of Man – Jesus echoes Daniel’s description of the “Son of Man”, referring to Himself (Matthew 19:28, 24:30, 25:31) as the one who will be raised up by the Father to sit on a royal throne at the right hand of the Father (Psalm 110:1) and come on the clouds of Heaven (Matthew 26:64; Mark 14:62). He emphasizes His preexistence of the Son of Man (John 3:13) and is attended by angels (John 1:51). In Him, people must put their faith (John 9:35). While Christ’s assertion of Divinity is clear in Greek, In the Aramaic language, the expression “Son of Man” (ben-adam) had come to mean simply “man” (bar-ethas), allowing Jesus to veil messianic significance in his prophetic preaching..
- Asserts His authority and power as the Son of Man – As the Son of Man, Jesus claims the authority of God the Father (John 8:28). He asserts the ability and authority to forgive sins (Mark 2:10), teach (Matthew 13:37), heal (John 9:35), suspend the Sabbath (Mark 2:28), judge men for their deeds (John 5:27) and even grant life (John 6: 27). The Angel Gabriel, in the Annunciation to Mary says, “He shall reign forever… And His kingdom shall have no end” (Luke 1:33), referring back to Daniel’s vision of the Son of Man (Daniel 7:18–27) and the eternal nature of the dominion of Christ.
- Proclaims His Divine mission of Salvation – The Son of Man’s mission is to save the lost (Luke 19:10) and He serves to give His life for many (Matthew 20:28, 26:2, 26:24, 26:45; Mark 8:31, 9:12, 10:45, 14:21, 14:41; Luke 9:22, 22:22, 22:48, 24:7).
- Uses His role as Son of Man in prophecy – Jesus reveals that the Son of Man will be betrayed, arrested, be condemned by elders and chief priests, be killed and rise again after 3 days (Mark 8:31, 9:9, 9:12, 9:31, 10:33, 10:45, 14:21) and will return (Luke 17:22, 18:8, 21:36).
- Refers to the Son of Man to warn of the coming Judgment – Jesus offers a somber warning for those who are not prepared for the future coming of the Son of Man (Matthew 24:27, 24:37, 24:39, 24:44). He warns that He will judge all people (John 5:27) and those who reject the Son of Man will be rejected at the Judgment (Mark 8:38; Matthew 16:27).
- Emphasizes the Son of Man in the Eucharist – Jesus asserts the life-saving nature of eating the flesh of the Son of Man (Bread of Life – John 6:27, 53; Last Supper: Matt 26:17-30).
- Strengthens disciples in the face of persecution – He prepares the disciples that they will suffer for the Son of Man (Luke 6:22).
- The Church affirms that Jesus Christ rules as the Son of Man – Today, Jesus rules over all the world through His Church (Mark 16:19; Acts 7:56; Rev 14:14–16; CCC 440, 661).
Is the Perfect Son and Perfect Man – Jesus is the Perfect Son (CCC 536, 564) and the Perfect Man (CCC 381, 482); all men are called to imitate Him (CCC 1694).