Fr. Lawrence Jagdfeld, O.F.M., Administrator
The Gospel selection for today from chapter six of St. John's Gospel includes one of those statements that causes much discussion, sometimes heated. No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draw him, and I will raise him on the last day. (John 6:44) Later on, in chapter fourteen of the Gospel, Jesus is quoted as saying: Jesus said to him, I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. (John 14:6) It would seem that either St. John (or Jesus) is using a bit of circular reasoning or that he is contradicting himself. However, in the Gospel of St. John, we often find ourselves ending up where we began. Whenever we read the Gospel of St. John, it is important to remember the primary purpose of this particular Gospel was to promulgate the community's contention that Jesus was God incarnate. The story is secondary; the community's faith in Jesus is the single point that makes the entire Gospel hang together.
While most Christians take Jesus' divinity for granted, that article of our faith was arrived at after years of reflection and prayerful consideration. Theologians speak of "low" and "high" Christology to show how the Church moved from the consideration of Jesus as the Son of God to the belief that Jesus was, in fact, God. Every prophet, every king of Israel, every high priest in Israel's history was called a Son of God. Many different characters of the Hebrew Scriptures are cast in the role of Messiah. So these particular titles do not carry the same weight as the declaration that Jesus is God. The opening words of St. John's Gospel are unequivocal. In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. (John 1:1) The rest of the Gospel must be read with these words echoing in our minds.