In the Book of Revelation, Jesus described Himself to the church in Laodicea as, “the Amen, the faithful and true witness” (Rev. 3:14). We use “Amen” at the end of our prayers – when being led in prayer by another to say, “I agree, so be it,” or when praying by ourselves to say “let it be done.” We might also use it to express agreement with what someone has said.
Jesus used the word “Amen” much differently, though – not at the end of his statements, but at the beginning. In our modern English translations we often find it rendered, “Truly, I say to you…,” or when Jesus used a double-amen, “Truly, truly, I say to you…” There are fifty such occurrences in the four gospels, twenty five in the Gospel of John alone. (Fr. Felix Just, S.J., has a wonderful summary.) Fr. Roch Kereszty, O Cist., was the first to bring this to my attention, and I want to quote from him here:
…the “Amen” of Jesus has a “hidden prehistory;” it is the final act of a dialogue between the Father and Jesus. The word of Jesus is of divine authority because it comes from the Father. Yet the Father’s divine word is Jesus’ own, not that of an “Outsider” as in the case of a prophetic message. Here we have a first hint of Jesus’ personal identity: his absolute authority is based on his absolute dependence on his Father. (Jesus Christ: Fundamentals of Christology, 110-11.)
Ultimately, Jesus’ “Amen” is a revelation of the Trinity and of the mystery of the Incarnation. Jesus is the one Who, from all eternity, streams forth from the Father. All that the Father is, He gives; all that the Son is, He receives. As the Letter to the Hebrews tells us, Jesus is “the refulgence of [the Father’s] glory, the very imprint of his being” (Heb. 1;3); or, as Colossians says, He is “the image of the invisible God” (Col. 1:15). When the Son became incarnate, He revealed the Father in and through His humanity. His words and actions were those of the divine Son, the perfect image, perfect Word, of the Father (Jn. 1:1; Mt. 11:27). Jesus is the Great Amen, the faithful witness to all that the Father is and does (Jn. 5:19; Rev. 3:14) – praise God!
Alright, now lets look at something St. Paul wrote to the Corinthians: “all the promises of God find their Yes in [Christ]. That is why we utter the Amen through him, to the glory of God” (2 Cor. 1:20). What beauty – what an amazing summation of the Gospel: Through grace, through our union with the Incarnate Son, we say “Amen” to all that the Father has said. We say “yes,” “let it be so,” to God’s vision of man and woman, His vision of sexuality, of the family, of community, and of the world. Like Jesus, we receive all we are from the Father and offer ourselves completely back to him in loving gratitude. We live the Apostle Paul’s call to offer our “bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God,” recognizing that this is authentic “spiritual worship” (Rom. 12:1). In Christ, in His Eucharist, we reach the apex of prayer:
Through him, and with him, and in him, O God, almighty Father, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, all glory and honor is yours, forever and ever. Amen.
Editor’s note: This article originally appeared on Just a Catholic, the personal blog of Mr. Kapler, and is reprinted here with kind permission.