In Revelation 1:8, we learn that Jesus Christ, in His divine form, is the Alpha and the Omega, the Infinite:
I am the Alpha and the Omega, says the Lord God, who is and was and is to come— the Almighty. (Rev. 1:8)
This Infinite Being, referred to as the Word in the Gospel of John, became a Finite Being, a corporeal God through Mary:
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. (John 1:1)
The Word became flesh and made His dwelling among us. We have seen His glory, the glory of the one and only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth. (John 1:14)
And she (Mary) gave birth to her firstborn, a Son. She wrapped Him in swaddling cloths and laid Him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn. (Luke 2:7)
Jesus Christ stated who He was while on this earth:
While I am in the world, I am the light of the world. (John 9:5)
The Christian faith is based on accepting that the Infinite (the Alpha and the Omega) is also the Finite (Jesus Christ on earth) born of a finite being (Mary, the mother of Jesus):
1 Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, for many false prophets have gone out into the world. 2 By this you know the Spirit of God: every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God, 3 and every spirit that does not confess Jesus is not from God. This is the spirit of the antichrist, which you heard was coming and now is in the world already. (1 John 4:1-4)
In this contribution, we look at how the Infinite (the Alpha and the Omega) is also the Finite (Jesus Christ on earth) born of a finite being (Mary the mother of Jesus). We use the analogy between an historic scientific discovery and the role of Mary to develop an analogous principle that yields our conclusion.
We begin by recalling this historic scientific discovery made in 1801. A scientist by the name of Thomas Young rocked the scientific world with an accidental discovery that scientists found hard to swallow. They were confronted with an entity which has two seemingly very contradictory natures in one – a reality that was unreal! The entity is no other than light itself. It is a wave (with no dimension, just like the waves that continuously hit the beautiful sandy beaches of Fiji) and a particle (with dimension, just like a grain of a sandy beach in Fiji) at the same time! How could that be? The scientists of that era were stumped and struggled with the implication. Years down the line, even the greatest of them all was perplexed, if not humbled. Einstein said of the discovery in 1938, together with Infeld, a fellow renowned physicist:
“But what is light really? Is it a wave or a shower of photons? There seems no likelihood for forming a consistent description of the phenomena of light by a choice of only one of the two languages. It seems as though we must use sometimes the one theory and sometimes the other, while at times we may use either. We are faced with a new kind of difficulty. We have two contradictory pictures of reality; separately neither of them fully explains the phenomena of light, but together they do.” – Albert Einstein and Leopold Infeld, The Evolution of Physics, pg. 262-263.
Young initially set out to prove that light is a wave. Therefore, he reasoned, that if he passed light through two slits cut a distance apart into a metal plate, the two lights from the slits would converge as a wave by forming moving valleys, hills and plains, just like what any two waves would do when they crash into each other. He observed exactly that – he saw rolling valleys, hills and plains – but then the unexpected happened! These valleys, hills and plains were not distributed continuously along the screen in front of the metal plate but were converging to clearly demarcated areas on the screen, just like what ping pong balls will do if you hurled them through two holes. They will hit discrete points on the screen.
The scientific world was stunned! It had come face-to-face with a monster – a reality that was not real. How could light be both a wave and a particle at the same time? Nonsense, the scientific world said! But it had no choice. It had to accept the unreal reality. Scientists had to accept the wave-particle duality of light because of Young’s experiment.
Ground-breaking scientific discoveries such as this, apart from their scientific impact, can also be fashioned into reasonable philosophical frameworks that heal great divisions in our society. Take for instance the centuries-long division between the Catholics and the Protestants. In the core of the division is the dispute about an important individual in the Bible, namely, Mary, the woman who gave birth to Jesus. Their arguments are sound. Catholics say that since Jesus is divine, Mary is therefore the Mother of God. Protestants, on the other hand, say that this is not possible. God is dimensionless, God is Infinite with no beginning and no end, and therefore cannot be contained in a finite being like Mary. Mary is the Mother of Jesus Christ, as a physical man, the Protestants argue.
At this juncture, let’s go back to Young’s experiment. The wave form of light is dimensionless, whereas its particle form has dimension. Young’s ingenuity lies in the invention of a physical instrument that is the double-slit plate. It is the double-slit plate that captures the dimensionless (or if defined appropriately in some sense, the infinite) and produces the finite. In essence, therefore, it is possible for a finite entity (the double-slit plate) to admit an infinite or a dimensionless entity (wave) and emit a finite entity (particle). It is the instrument through which the scientific community first witnessed, in motion, in real-time, the wave-particle duality of light over 200 years ago.
Analogously, we can think of Mary in the Bible as the instrument that receives the dimensionless or infinite Jesus and births the finite Jesus. The scientist Young had to come up with a well-designed equipment, a suitable equipment, to enable it to reveal the wave-particle dual nature of light. In the case of Mary, she had to be “favored by God” – to be suitable – in order to reveal the infinite-finite nature of Jesus Christ. In Luke 1: 26-38, we read:
26 In the sixth month of Elizabeth’s pregnancy, God sent the angel Gabriel to Nazareth, a town in Galilee, 27 to a virgin pledged to be married to a man named Joseph, a descendant of David. The virgin’s name was Mary. 28 The angel went to her and said, “Greetings, you who are highly favored! The Lord is with you.”
29 Mary was greatly troubled at his words and wondered what kind of greeting this might be. 30 But the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary; you have found favor with God. 31 You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you are to call him Jesus. 32 He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, 33 and he will reign over Jacob’s descendants forever; his kingdom will never end.”
34 “How will this be,” Mary asked the angel, “since I am a virgin?”
35 The angel answered, “The Holy Spirit will come on you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the holy one to be born will be called the Son of God. 36 Even Elizabeth your relative is going to have a child in her old age, and she who was said to be unable to conceive is in her sixth month. 37 For no word from God will ever fail.”
38 “I am the Lord’s servant,” Mary answered. “May your word to me be fulfilled.” Then the angel left her.
Verses 34 and 35 allude to the dimensionless, infinite nature of Jesus Christ; He is the Son of God, and verse 50 shows Mary’s willingness to be used in this historic occasion as an instrument of God – the Lord’s servant – to receive the infinite Jesus and birth the finite Jesus. Her willingness contributes towards her suitability for God’s work. Hence, she found “favor with God.”
Therefore, just as the finite double-slit plate reveals the wave-particle duality of light, the finite Mary reveals the infinite-finite duality of Jesus Christ. May we be so bold and propose that it is this analogous principle that is a fundamental truth that unites both diverging views of the Catholics and the Protestants. Succinctly the analogous principle allows us to conclude the following:
The infinite-finite duality of Jesus Christ is revealed through Mary.
Via this analogous principle, both Catholics and Protestants are therefore correct.
Mary, in her acknowledgement of her crucial role in revealing the infinite-finite duality of her Son, sang (Luke 1:46-49):
46 And Mary said:
“My soul magnifies the Lord,
47 And my spirit has rejoiced in God my Savior.
48 For He has regarded the lowly state of His maidservant;
For behold, henceforth all generations will call me blessed.
49 For He who is mighty has done great things for me,
And holy is His name.