Deacon Blog February 21, 2021
The Understanding of a Lifetime
A short while ago a professor of mine challenged me to respond to an article in a Catholic publication that reported 57% of Catholics do not believe that Jesus is GOD. Think about that for a moment. Forty three percent (43%) believe He is. How can we be almost split down the middle, after two millennia, on such a pivotal and essential foundation of Christian faith? This really intrigued me. I feel I have to acknowledge the reality that many continue to struggle with this so I will try to make the case as efficiently as I am able. I strongly recommend to anyone who struggles with this to read John’s Gospel. High Christology was his domain and he provides the clearest argument, as a close friend and confidant of our Lord, and the language he uses has given us the best understanding we have…but there are many verses in scripture that do so as well.
In Matthew we read that the angel Gabriel, speaking with St. Joseph, tells him that the child his betrothed is carrying is from GOD and he will name Him Jesus and They (meaning all of us) shall call Him Emmanuel, or GOD with us. This is the language of the Incarnation. These are the words given to us to begin our recognition of who Jesus is and why He came to our world. As John tells us, He is the Word of GOD made flesh. The very breath of the MOST HIGH, that spoke and created the universe (all things visible and invisible), became a man and dwelt among us (John 1:14). Because only GOD can forgive, only GOD can heal, then through the life and actions of Jesus, or the ones HE gave the power to, we see both functions being performed profusely throughout HIS earthly life. John 10:30 Jesus reveals, “I and the Father are one”. ‘One’ what? One in Being we read. Verse 8:58, “Truly, Truly I say to you, before Abraham was born, I AM” (Jesus’ reference that HE is the one who spoke to Moses in the burning bush and on Mt. Sinai). Repeatedly, Jesus tells the people “Your sins are forgiven”, even acknowledging the Pharisees response that “Only GOD can forgive sins” (Mark 2:5, Luke 5:19). I realize I am condensing things, but you can read this Gospel yourself and fill in the rest. Paul’s letters to the Romans, Corinthians, and Colossians 2,“ For in HIM dwells all the fullness of the Godhead bodily”. Finally, John’s Book of Revelations where Jesus declares “I am the Alpha and the Omega” … the beginning and the end of all things.
Gnosticism, Adoptionism, and Arianism are all forms of heresies that have challenged Jesus’ divinity in one form or another. The Church has wrestled with these issues since its very origin, and by ‘wrestled’ I mean defended against. The Apostles all fought off challenges from both pagan and Gentile Christian assertions that Jesus was mere man (adopted by the Father) or true spirit inhabiting a “shell”, or simply a prophet and teacher uniquely blessed by GOD. Together, as they formed the Church, they held fast to the teachings Jesus had given them and vowed to protect this message with their lives. Over the centuries, this protection was passed on to those ordained to do so. Their body of work is known today as the Magisterium of the Faith. My feeling is that so much can be said here (whole books have been written on this subject) but there is a limited space in a two-page blog.
In a world so battered by secularism and the pressure of evil to “fold our tents”, I am saddened these arguments still persist over the “settled law” of Jesus’ Oneness with the FATHER. I refer you to the Catechism of the Catholic Church (paragraphs 245,246). I pray one day for a unity of all Christians, especially Catholics, in their devotion to and acceptance of the Blessed Trinity of the One True God (three persons in one) and all they have provided for us as “food for our journey” together in this life. Believing Jesus to be one with GOD is essential in this plan of redemption we are all engaged in. Hearing that non-believers reject Jesus as God makes sense, but Catholics… it’s hard to imagine. The Good News is…I have a solution. It’s called LENT. It’s the perfect time to meditate and contemplate what our Father in heaven was willing to do for us, and what HIS earthly incarnation has done for us. This is how you define “one-in-being with the Father”. Spend some time these forty days reflecting deeply on this. Attend the Stations of the Cross each Friday. Walk the path of our Savior God who came to us that we might have life, and to live this life more abundantly. Come to an understanding that GOD needed to walk this life as “one of us” so we could even begin to understand the depths of HIS love for us and the desire HE has to be with us in eternity. LENT, and the Easter season isn’t just about HIS crucifixion. It involves much more than that, but it is The Place to start.
I promise this revelation will “rock your world” (sorry St. Peter), as they say.
GOD Bless You ALL