4th Wednesday of Lent – 2019 (readings)
The entirety of today’s Gospel focuses on the equality of the Father and the Son. The Jews recognize immediately that Christ is claiming equality with the Father, even if the Arians of the 3rd century were clueless about this.
An interesting point of theology, however, is found in the opening of the Gospel. You see, it is common for Christ, after demonstrating a miracle, to teach at length. As such, today’s Gospel is only part of a longer discourse by Christ in the Gospel of John. Immediately before today’s readings, Jewish officials are arguing with Christ about the sabbath; which is why we hear Christ answer them with the words, “My Father is at work until now, so I am at work.”
As we know, the Law of Moses established the sabbath as a weekly day of rest–particularly because we humans need it for our physical bodies, but also for our spiritual life. By the strict keeping of the sabbath the Jews felt that they were imitating God, who had rested from His work of creation.
But as Aquinas observes, Christ rejects this strict interpretation; Aquinas says, “(The Jews), in their desire to imitate God, did nothing on the sabbath, as if God on that day had ceased absolutely to act. It is true that he rested on the sabbath from his work of creating new creatures, but he is always continually at work, maintaining them in existence. […] God is the cause of all things in the sense that he also maintains them in existence; for if for one moment he were to stop exercising his power, at that [same] moment everything that nature contains would cease to exist.”
With this observation of Aquinas, we can now understand the words of Christ at the beginning of today’s Gospel, “My Father is at work until now, and I am at work.” These words of Christ contain an implicit reference to his divinity and equality with God; what’s more, the Jews realize this and seek to kill him because of it.
It’s assumed by our very presence here at the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, that we recognize Christ’s divinity and equality with the Father. So then, the question arises, how do we demonstrate this recognition? This belief in His divinity?
It’s simple really. By making frequent visits to Our Lord in the adoration chapel here at the parish. And by devoutly receiving Our Lord in Holy Communion here at Mass while in a state of grace. These are the two primary ways of showing our faith and belief in Christ’s divinity.
But there’s also a phrase from the Old Latin Mass that strikes at the heart of Christ’s divinity. It’s a phrase that the people prior to the 1960’s were accustomed to reciting quietly as an affirmation and reminder of His divinity.
During the consecration in the Old Rite, when the priest elevates the Body of Christ, the people would quietly repeat the words of St. Thomas the Apostle when he saw Our Resurrected Lord; his words were, “My Lord, and My God.” These words remind us that Christ is both human and divine, and that he is equal to the Father.
And it’s these words today, when the priest elevates the Body of Christ during the consecration, that we can use to remind ourselves of the Son’s divinity and equality with the Father, as we whisper in silent adoration, “My Lord, and My God.”