First Point.—In order to escape from the crushing proof which follows from the testimony of Jesus in favor of His divinity, the infidels pretended that Jesus said He was, indeed, the envoy of God, but that He never affirmed that He was God. To demonstrate the falsity of this assertion, we have only to open the Holy Gospels. Jesus there gives testimony to His divinity at first in presence of His friends and disciples. One day, while speaking with them, He asked: "Whom do men say that I am?" The disciples answered: "Some say that Thou art John the Baptist, others that Thou art Jeremias, others that Thou art Elias, and others still that Thou art one of the prophets." But Jesus again asked: "Whom do you think I am?" Then Peter answered: "Thou art Christ, the Son of the living God." Instead of reproving him or correcting Peter's statement as a blasphemy, Jesus replied to
Peter: "Blessed art thou, Simon, son of John, because flesh and blood have not revealed this to thee, but My Father who is in heaven." In another circumstance, Philip said to Jesus: "Lord, show us the Father and that will satisfy us." But Jesus, being indignant at this request, answers him: "What! I am so long with you, and you have not known Me, Philip? He who sees Me, also sees the Father. How then can you say, show us the Father; do you not believe that I am in the Father and the Father is in Me?" On another occasion, always wishing still more to affirm His divine affiliation, He said to one of His disciples: "God has so loved the world that He has sent His only Son, that he who believes in Him shall not be condemned, but he who does not believe in Him shall be condemned, because he does not believe in the name of the only Son of God." Jesus, therefore, proclaimed Himself as the Son of God, and in the strictest sense He claimed that He was in the Father and that the Father was in Him; and that to see Him was to see the Father. The testimony which Jesus gives of His divinity to His friends and to His disciples is evident.
The testimony which He gives of Himself in presence of the people is no less evident and no less explicit. The multitudes which surrounded Him exclaimed: "How long shall you keep us in suspense? If you are the Christ, tell us clearly and openly." Jesus answers them: "I speak to you and you do not believe Me. The works which I have done give testimony of Me. My Father and I are one." At this statement, which told everything, the Jews gathered stones to throw at Him. And Jesus said to them: "I have shown you the works of My Father; for which of these works do you cast stones at Me?" The Jews answered: "For none of Thy works, but because of Thy blasphemy; because, being only a man, Thou hast made Thyself God." The language of Jesus before the people had the same signification as the language before the disciples: He clearly and unmistakably declared, "My Father and I are one." But Jesus is cited before the council of the ancients, the priests and magistrates of Judea. After testimony more or less inconsistent, the high priest puts the question squarely; he arises and addresses the accused this solemn adjuration: "I adjure you by the living God, to tell us, if you are the Christ, the Son of God." And Jesus answered him by these two words: "I am." And to confirm His avowal He immediately added: "I am He, and you shall see the Son of man seated at the right hand of the power of God, and coming in the clouds of heaven." So that before His friends, before the people, and before the magistrates, Jesus proclaimed Himself the Son of God, the only Son, the Son equal to His Father, one with His Father, and being in His Father and His Father in Him. This is the testimony which Jesus gives of Himself. And what a testimony! Only to think! a man, a being of flesh and blood, who has before Him not only the weakness of life but the weakness of death,-- a mere man,—and He dares to proclaim Himself a God! It is the first time in the history of the world that it has ever happened! It is evident that a mere man is not capable of such bold falsehood.
Second Point.—But is the testimony which Jesus renders of Himself true? To doubt it, we must accept one of these two propositions: either Jesus did not believe what He said, or He believed it without being what He declared Himself to be. In the first supposition, He would be deceitful, since He proclaimed Himself for what He was not; in the second supposition he would be insane, since, being only a man, He believed Himself a God. In both suppositions we are presented with an impossibility. It is impossible to make of Jesus a deceitful man. According to the avowal of all, even of those who do not believe in Him, Jesus is a good and wise man, a man of incomparable character. He has done so many wonderful things, such holy things, that even His very enemies always pay homage to His works and to His person. If the world has seen black and impious spirits who have dared to blaspheme against His innocence and to confound Him with seducers, they have been only some monsters whom the whole human race has held in horror, and whose names, too odious to every nature, have remained buried in the same darkness from which their impiety came. In fact, what man had ever appeared with more incontestable characters of innocence and sanctity than Jesus the Son of the living God?
In what man was ever observed so much love for virtue, so much sincere contempt for the world, so much charity for men, and such indifference for all human glory? Follow in detail His conduct and manners, and see if there has ever appeared on earth a just man more universally exempt from all the weaknesses which are inseparable from humanity. The more you observe Him, the more His sanctity shines out luminously. His disciples, who watch Him closely, are struck by the innocence of His life; while familiarity, which is so dangerous even to heroic virtue, serves only to discover, every day, new wonders in Him. When He speaks it is only the language of heaven, and He responds only when His answers may be useful for the salvation of those who interrogate Him. We never see in Him some intervals when the man asserts himself; but everywhere He appears as the envoy of the Most High. His most ordinary actions are exalted by the sublimity of the dispositions which accompany them; and never does He appear less a divine man than when He eats in the house of a Pharisee and when He calls Lazarus back from death to life. Jesus, therefore, is not and could not be a deceiver. But was He demented? This supposition is such an absurdity that it is revolting; and in; presence of the sublimity of His doctrines, which have won the admiration of every age; in presence of the purity of His moral teaching, which could not be equalled in the most beautiful pages that ever came from the hands of man; in presence of that wisdom which marked all His works, which dictated all His responses, a wisdom which sanctified all His acts and confounded the perfidy of His enemies. No, Jesus was not demented. He was not guilty of a horrible falsehood. He said He was God, and therefore He is God.
O my adorable Master, I love to recognize Thee as the Messias promised to Adam, as the Saviour of the world, and as the immortal King of ages. Thou art more than a great genius, more than Elias, more than a prophet, more than a divine man. Thou art the Son of the living God! Do not permit that anything in the world should ever disturb my faith or take from me Thy love.
Source: Short Instructions on the Feasts of the Year, Imprimatur 1897