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King St. Louis

December 4, 2020 Frontpage No Comments


There are stories that come to us about the saints that are sometimes legend, but most of the time they’re true. Whether fact or fiction, these stories offer us many valuable lessons about some of the wonderful aspects of our holy and ancient faith. The following story is of King St. Louis, the saint for whom the city in Missouri is named. I’ve never been able to verify its veracity, but the lessons we can garner from the story are tremendous.
It’s said that when King Louis was very young, he had a love for his people that was uncommon among even the most benevolent of kings. He was saddened to know how much they suffered from hunger, cold, and sickness. He did what he could for them with gifts of food and clothing, but his people didn’t seem to think he really cared. “It’s no use telling the king our troubles,” they’d lament. “He could never understand what it’s like work, or be hungry or cold.”
Young King Louis was discouraged by his subjects’ attitude. He was determined to do something, so he went to a wise old man of the royal court to seek his advice. “How can I win the confidence of the people? I want to show them how to put an end to some of their sufferings and help them to bear others bravely, but they don’t know their king loves them. Please tell me how I can make them understand.”
“Your Majesty, I think there would be only one way to do this.”
“Please tell me!”
“If Your Majesty could go and live among them — not as their king, but rather as one of them.”
That night a man dressed in poor clothing left the palace. With the exception of the old wise man and a couple of trusted servants, no one knew it was the king himself. The people of the royal court had come to believe the king had gone on a long journey to another country, but for months he lived in a poor hut in a village among the people. He lived and ate and worked among the peasantry. He tended the sick and worked right alongside those who struggled to earn a living.
It wasn’t long before the people came to love and trust him, and many of them came to him for advice because he seemed wise beyond his years. He told them one day he had to move on, and they were very sorry to see him go.
When King Louis returned to the palace and again moved among the people as he had before, it wasn’t long before he was recognized by those who’d known him as a laborer. The story spread throughout the kingdom, and from then on his subjects loved and trusted him because he’d shown that he’d cared so much for them that he had even become one of them.
Fact or fiction? It doesn’t really matter. This anecdote actually tells us the story of the Incarnation and the nature of Jesus Christ. The Incarnation is when God became man. That is, the Incarnation is when the Son of God became man to redeem us.
In our story, King St. Louis was both the king and one of the people. Jesus is true God (King) because He has the same divine nature as the Father. He’s true man (the people) because he was born of the Blessed Virgin Mary just like any man is born of woman. Also like any other man, Jesus has a human body and a human soul. Although Jesus is true man, He was still free from all sin, both original and personal, because He is also true God, and God cannot sin.
Now where people really get confused is about the nature of Jesus Christ. I’ve learned when you ask most people how many persons there are in Jesus, most want to say two. They seem to think about Him being a divine person and a human person. No, He isn’t schizophrenic. There is only one Person in Jesus Christ. He’s the second Person of the Blessed Trinity. That means His personhood is divine — that He is God Himself. However, Jesus does possess two natures, the human and divine. A person is who you are, but a nature is something you possess. So Jesus is God, but He possesses both a human and divine nature. This is called the hypostatic union in theology.
To drive home the point of the Incarnation and Jesus’ divine personhood, I’ll ask you, did Jesus Christ always exist? No, He didn’t. The Second Person of the Blessed Trinity has always existed, but Jesus Christ, true God and true man, has only existed for 2,000 years. Get it? Jesus only existed from the time of the Incarnation, but as God He has always existed with the Father and the Holy Spirit.
I happen to know some of you are sharing “What We Believe . . . Why We Believe It” with some of your non-Catholic friends and relatives in an effort to share the faith with them. Congratulations for having the tenacity to obey Christ’s command to share the faith with the world. Please understand, though, that non-Catholics often use this teaching about Christ’s hypostatic union to take a potshot at the Blessed Virgin Mary. They ask, “If Jesus possesses a human nature but is a divine Person, how is it that you can call Mary the Mother of God? He is, after all, man.”
Well, the answer to this isn’t rocket science, but you do have to stop and think for a moment. Did your mother give birth to a person or a nature? She gave birth to a person, of course! Again, a nature is merely something you possess — it’s not who you are. You are a person. Therefore, since Jesus is a divine Person, the Second Person of the Blessed Trinity, she conceived of the Holy Spirit and gave birth to the second Person of God. This makes Mary the Mother of God, and the divine motherhood is the greatest privilege ever given to a human person.
Sacred Scripture proves Mary is the Mother of God. When the Archangel Gabriel announced to Mary she was being given the opportunity to bring the Savior into the world, he said, “And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you will call his name Jesus. He will be great, and will be called the son of the Most High . . . therefore the child to be born will be called holy, the Son of God” (Luke 1:31-35). If Jesus is the Son of God, He must also be God, so Mary gave birth to God! But that’s not all! (That sounds like a commercial, so you should probably be waiting for your two bonus offers now.)
Luke also tells us that when Mary visited her cousin Elizabeth and greeted her, John the Baptist, who was still in Elizabeth’s womb, was filled with the Holy Spirit and leapt for joy. Then Elizabeth said, “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb! And why is this granted me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me?” (Luke 1:42-43). Mary hadn’t even yet told Elizabeth she was to have a child, but when the Holy Spirit filled her unborn son she had perfect understanding. What did Elizabeth call Mary? She called her the “mother of my Lord.” Who is Elizabeth’s Lord? God, of course. So Elizabeth was the first human in history to call Mary the Mother of God!
There are other passages we could examine to reinforce the fact that Mary is the Mother of God, but we lack the space here to do so. However, we’ll conclude this by pointing out that the Church teaches the divine maternity as a dogma of our faith, which means it’s not an option for us — we must believe it to be Catholic. The official title for Mary is Theotokos, a Greek term meaning Christ-bearer, and it was canonized by the Council of Ephesus in AD 431 in defense of Mary’s divine maternity. In fact, this was the whole reason the Council of Ephesus was convoked. A man named Nestorius, who gave us what history calls the Nestorian Heresy, claimed that Mary was only the mother of the man Jesus. But to the ecstatic celebration of the laity, the bishops of the Church declared her the Theotokos!
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