Sorry, but I feel compelled to continue the onslaught of Ratzinger. I've finished the book now finally, so it can't continue forever. This, in keeping with my typical laziness, will essentially be a copy-and-paste from something I already typed up for someone:
Why is Christ the perfect self-revelation of God? How do we know that in Christ, we're getting the real
thing, the authentic revelation of God? How can we be sure that the Christ about whom we learn is really how
Christ was? In other words, how can we be sure that "Jesus" and "Christ" are completely equatable?
Ratzinger says it is because, for Christ, being and word, being and action, are merged, in a way that they
are for ordinary fallen men:
"with Jesus, it is not possible to distinguish office and person; with him, the differentiation simply becomes inapplicable. The person is the office; the office is the person. . . . there is no private area reserved for an 'I' that remains in the background
behind the deeds and actions."
"To understand him as the Christ means to be convinced that he has put himself into his word. Here there is no 'I' (as there is with all of us) that utters words; he has identified himself so closely with his word that 'I' and word are indistinguishable: he is word."
I shall attempt to unpack the significance of all this. See, the dilemma is that for any of us, who we are as a person always eludes grasp to some degree; it cannot be defined or confined in what our various positions in life are, what our actions are, what our words are. It can be glimpsed, but discovering the true authentic person is so very difficult. When people seek to get to know each other, how do they do it? Well, largely through words--through conversation. But how authentic is this? I can be deceptive in what I choose to say, and you can't always tell the difference. I may not be intentionally deceptive, but I may be selective in what I choose to say, so that my words are not always an accurate representation of my thoughts. People have habitual ways of expressing themselves (known as social skills) that put somewhat of a disconnect between the way they come across to others and the way they really are. How authentic then, are words? With humans, we can never really be sure we know who someone really is merely by their words. So we have the benefit of actions, right? You know someone partly by the things they do. But again, how can one be sure these are not just part of a self-scripted drama? Or, again, if not deceptive, selective...my actions only make public a small sliver of me. Or, again, my actions could be tailored to fit certain circumstances, so that they come to represent more what I am expected to do than who I really am. There is again a disconnect--how do we get at the authentic person behind the mask of words and deeds? To some degree, we never can, in this life, at least.
But Jesus Christ transcends that disconnect--for him, his words, his teachings, are inseparable from his being; he is incarnate Word. At the same time, his deeds are inseparable from his being; his role as prophet, priest, and king, is the authentic full revelation of his being from all eternity. He is the divine essence in pure, unimpeded action. At the same time, he is the perfection of humanity, because, as the first human who is fully, authentically himself, he satisfies at last the human thirst to truly know one another, to commune with one another, and he prefigures for us the perfect transparency we will
enjoy in our glorified state.
A couple long quotes showing how Ratzinger starts to apply this:
"His crucifixion is his coronation; his kingship is his surrender of himself to men, the identification of word, mission, and existence in the yielding up of this very existence. His existence is thus his word. he is word because he is love. From the Cross faith understands in increasing measure that this Jesus did not just do and say something; that in him message and
person are identical, that he is all along what he says. John needed only to draw the final straightforward inference: if that is so--and this is the Christological basis of his Gospel--then this Jesus Christ is 'word'; but a person who not only has
words but is his word and his work, who is the logos ('the Word', meaning, mind) itself; that person has always existed and will always exist; he is the ground on which the world stands--if we ever meet such a person, then he is the meaning that comprises us all and by which we are all sustained."
"For anyone who recognizes the Christ in Jesus, and only in him, and who recognizes Jesus as the Christ, anyone who grasps the total oneness of person and work as the decisive factor, has abandoned the exclusiveness of faith and its antithesis to love; he has combined both in one and made their mutual separation unthinkable. The hyphen between Jesus and Christ, the inseparability of person and work, the identity of one man with the act of sacrifice--these also signify the hyphen between love and faith. For the peculiarity of Jesus's 'I', of his person, which now certainly moves right into the center of the stage, lies in the fact that this 'I' is not at all something exclusive and independent but rather is Being completely derived from the 'Thou' of the Father and lived for the 'You' of men. It is identity of logos (truth) and thus makes love into the logos, the
truth of human existence. The essnence of the faith demanded by a Christology so understood is consequently entry into the universal openness of unconditional love. For to believe in a Christ so understood means simply to make love the content of faith, so that from this angle one can perfectly well say, love is faith."