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Jesus claimed the divine attributes for Himself

Catechesis by Pope John Paul II on Jesus Christ
General Audience, Wednesday 9 September 1987 - in Italian & Spanish  

"1. The cycle of catecheses on Jesus Christ has as its centre the revealed reality of the God-Man. Jesus Christ is true God and true man. It is the reality which is logically expressed in the truth of the indivisible unity of the person of Christ. We cannot treat of this truth in a disjointed manner or, still less, by separating one aspect from the other. However, we must seek to indicate here, in the first place, what is shown by the divinity, and then that which is shown by the humanity of the one Christ. This is because of the analytical and progressive nature of human knowledge, and partly also because of the way in which this truth is proposed in the very source of revelation above all, in Sacred Scripture.

2. Jesus Christ is true God. He is God the Son consubstantial with the Father (and with the Holy Spirit). The expression "I Am" which Jesus Christ used in regard to his own person, echoes the name by which God identified himself to Moses (cf. Ex 3:14). Since Christ applied to himself the same "I Am" (cf. Jn 13:19), it must be recalled that this name defines God not only as the Absolute (Existence in se of Being per se), but also as the one who entered into a covenant with Abraham and his descendants, and who by virtue of the covenant sent Moses to free Israel (the descendants of Abraham) from the bondage of Egypt. Hence the expression "I Am" refers also to God's saving power, denoting the God of the covenant who is with man (as with Israel) to save him. Indirectly it refers to Emmanuel (cf. Is 7:14), "God with us."

3. The "I Am" of Christ (above all in John's Gospel) should be understood in the same way. Undoubtedly it indicates the divine pre-existence of the Word-Son (this was spoken of in the pervious reflection). But at the same time it recalls the fulfillment of Isaiah's prophecy concerning Emmanuel, "God with us." "I Am" therefore also signified "I am with you," both in John's Gospel and in the Synoptics (cf. Mt 28:20). "I came from the Father and have come into the world" (Jn 16:28) "to seek and save the lost" (Lk 19:10). The truth about salvation (soteriology) already contained in the Old Testament in the revelation of God's name is confirmed and fully expressed by God's self-revelation in Jesus Christ. Precisely in this sense "the Son of Man" is true God. The Son is one in being with the Father, and he has willed to be with us to save us.

4. We should have these preliminary considerations constantly in mind when we seek to obtain from the Gospel all that is revealed by the divinity of Christ. Here are some important Gospel passages in this connection. In the first place, we consider the Master's last conversation with the apostles on the eve of his passion, when he spoke of his "Father's house" to which he would go to prepare a place for them (cf. Jn 14:1-3). When Thomas asked him the way, Jesus replied, "I am the way, and the truth, and the life." Jesus is the way because no one comes to the Father except through Jesus (cf. Jn 14:6). Indeed, he who sees him, sees the Father (cf. Jn 14:9). "Do you not believe that I am in the Father and the Father in me?" (Jn 14:10).

It is easy enough to realize that in this context, Christ's proclaiming of himself as "truth" and "life" is equivalent to claiming for himself the attributes proper to the divine Being—Being-Truth, Being-Life.

On the morrow Jesus would say to Pilate, "For this I was born, and for this I have come into the world, to bear witness to the truth" (Jn 18:37). Witness to the truth can be borne by man, but "to be the truth" is an exclusively divine attribute. When Jesus, as true man, bears witness to the truth, this witness has its source in the fact that he himself "is the truth" in the subsisting truth of God: "I am...the truth." Therefore he can also say that he is "the light of the world," so that whoever follows him "will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life" (cf. Jn 8:12).

5. Likewise, this applies also to the other saying of Jesus, "I am...the life" (Jn 14:6). Man, who is a creature, can have life; he can also give it, just as Christ gives his life for the salvation of the world (cf. Mk 10:45 and parallel passages). When Jesus spoke of giving his life, he spoke as true man. But he "is the life" because he is true God. He himself said so before raising Lazarus from the dead, when he said to Martha, the sister of the dead man, "I am the resurrection and the life" (Jn 11:25). In the resurrection he will confirm definitively that his life as Son of Man is not subject to death, because he is the Life, and therefore he is God. Being the Life, he can share it with others. "He who believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live" (Jn 11:25). In the Eucharist Christ can also become "the bread of life" (cf. Jn 6:35, 48), "the living bread which came down from heaven" (Jn 6:51). Even in this sense Christ compared himself to the vine who gives life to the branches grafted into him (cf. Jn 15:1), that is to say, all those who form part of his Mystical Body.

6. To these obvious expressions concerning the mystery of divinity hidden in the "Son of Man," we can add some others where the same concept is expressed in images pertaining to the Old Testament, especially to the prophets, which Jesus applied to himself.

For instance, there is the image of the shepherd. The parable of the good shepherd is well known. In it Jesus speaks of himself and of his mission of salvation. "I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep" (Jn 10:11). We read in the Book of Ezekiel: "For thus says the Lord God, behold, I, I myself will search for my sheep, and will seek them out.... I myself will lead my sheep to pasture.... I will seek the lost, and I will bring back the strayed, and I will bind up the crippled and I will strengthen the weak.... I will feed them in justice" (cf. 11, 15-16). "You are my sheep, the sheep of my pasture, and I am your God" (Ex 34:31). A similar image is found also in Jeremiah (cf. 23:3).

7. Speaking of himself as the good shepherd, Christ indicated his redemptive mission ("I lay down my life for the sheep"). At the same time, addressing his hearers who knew the prophecies of Ezekiel and Jeremiah, he indicated clearly enough his identity with him who in the Old Testament had spoken of himself as a solicitous shepherd, declaring: "I am your God" (Ez 34:31).

In the teaching of the prophets the God of the old covenant presented himself also as the bridegroom of Israel, his people. "For your maker is your husband, the Lord of hosts is his name; and the Holy One of Israel is your Redeemer" (Is 54:5; cf. Hos 2:21-22). In his teaching Jesus frequently referred to this image (cf. Mk 2:19-20 and par.; Mt 25:1-12; Lk 12:36; also Jn 3:27-28). It will be subsequently developed by St. Paul who in his letters presents Christ as the bridegroom of his Church (cf. Eph 5:25-29).

8. All these expressions, and other similar ones used by Jesus in his teaching acquire their full meaning if we reread them in the context of what he did and said. They constitute the thematic units which, in this series of reflections, must be constantly linked to the ensemble of meditations on the Man-God.

Christ is true God and true man. "I Am" as the name of God indicates the divine essence whose properties or attributes are: the truth, the light, the life, and also that which is expressed by the images of the good shepherd and the bridegroom. He who said of himself, "I Am who I Am!" (Ez 3:14) presents himself also as the God of the covenant, as the Creator and likewise Redeemer, as Emmanuel—God who saves. All this is confirmed and realized in the Incarnation of Jesus Christ.

After the Catechesis, Pope John Paul II greeted the pilgrims in various languages

Ai pellegrini di lingua tedesca

Liebe Brüder und Schwester!

So fürht uns der Herr diskret, aber eindringlich an das tiefste Geheimnis seiner Person heran: Er ist wahrer Mensch und wahrer Gott. Ich bete für euch alle, daß diese wesentliche Wahrheit unseres Glaubens stets euer Leben präge und in euch Freude und Hoffnung wecke. Gott segne die Wege eures Lebens!

Dies sei mein Segenswunsch an euch alle, die Väter und Mütter, die Alleinstehenden, die Kinder und Jugendlichen, die Priester und Ordensleute. Möge der Aufenthalt in Rom und beim Vatikan die Liebe und Treue zur Kirche Christi in euch vertiefen. Seid euch stets dessen gewiß: Der Nachfolger des Apostels Petrus, der Papst, geht mit euch denselben Pilgerweg des Glaubens, der Hoffnung und der Liebe. Die Mutter Christi und Mutter der Kirche schenke uns ihre Fürbitte, damit wir alle dabei das Ziel unseres Lebens in Gott erreichen.

Ai fedeli di lingua francese

Chers Frères et Sśurs,

Je suis heureux d’accueillir tous les pèlerins et visiteurs de langue française. Je dis mes vśux et ma sympathie aux membres du “Collège du temps retrouvé”, qui se familiarisent avec Rome. Et je salue cordialement les participants aux “Semaines universitaires”: vous approfondissez votre connaissance de la capitale de l’Empire romain, devenue la ville de saint Pierre et de saint Paul, centre de rayonnement du christianisme dans le monde. J’espère que vous avez pu vous sentir chez vous ici et mieux saisir ce que signifie Rome pour toute l’Eglise du Christ.

Sur vous tous ici présents, j’invoque la Bénédiction de Dieu.

Ai pellegrini e ai visitatori di espressione inglese

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

I am pleased to welcome all the visitors and pilgrims from the various countries of the English-speaking world. In particular, my cordial greeting goes to the a “Pipes and Drums” Corps of the London Irish Rifle Regimental Association. I thank you for your presence here today.

Ai fedeli giunti dalla Spagna e da diversi Paesi dell’America Latina

Amadísimos hermanos y hermanas,

Presento mi más cordial saludo a todos los peregrinos y visitantes de lengua espańola. En particular saludo a las Religiosas de María Inmaculada, Misioneras Claretianas, que han celebrado en Roma su Capítulo General. Os aliento a un renovado esfuerzo misionero para que la luz del Evangelio ilumine a cuantos todavía no conocen a Jesús, nuestro Redentor.

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Saludo igualmente a los sacerdotes y personas consagradas presentes en esta Audiencia, pidiendo al Seńor para ellos la gracia de una entrega sin reservas a la causa del Reino.

A todas las personas, familias y grupos procedentes de los diversos países de América Latina y de Espańa imparto con afecto la Bendición Apostólica.

Ai pellegrini di espressione slovena

Agli Eccellentissimi Presuli patrocinatori, in particolare all’Arcivescovo di Gorizia, e ai partecipanti al simposio, organizzato dall’Accademia teologica slovena, la mia Apostolica Benedizione.

Ai fedeli polacchi

Pozdrawiam pielgrzymów Polski, w szczególności ks. bpa Józefa Rozwadowskiego; pielgrzymów z Papieskiej Akademii Teologicznej w Krakowie, wydział filozoficzny; uczestników pieszej pielgrzymki warszawskiej na Jasną Górę; pielgrzymkę katechumenatu archikatedry warszawskiej; młodzież akademicką franciszkańskich parafii z Łodzi - Łagiewniki i Dąbrowa; pielgrzymów z diecezji łomżyńskiej; z parafii św. Maksymiliana Kolbego z Gdańska; z dusz pasterstwa akademickiego w Białymstoku; grupę Towarzystwa Przyjaźni Polsko-Włoskiej z Łodzi oraz z Gdańska; kolejarzy z Gdańska; grupę nauczycieli z Bydgoszczy, Logos-Tour; grupę turystyczną z Tomaszowa Mazowieckiego, Piotrkowa i Łodzi; orkiestrę z kopalni “Jastrzębie”; prócz tego uczestników grup turystycznych PKS z Warsawy, Orbis, PTTK z Chorzowa, Sport-Tourist, Towarzystwo Przyjaźni Polsko-Greckiej ze Szczecina i Przyjaźni PolskoWłoskiej z Wrocławia; kolejarzy z Torunia; grupę Pergrotour z Warszawy . . . Proszę was o modlitwę w intencji tej ważnej podróży pasterskiej do Stanów Zjednoczonych, którą mam podjąć jutro, następnej po odwiedzinach w Polsce. Równocześnie wspominamy dzisiaj i wspominaliśmy wczoraj polskich rolników. Jeszcze raz o tym przypominam. Pamiętam wspaniałe spotkanie z nimi w Tarnowie, w miesiącu czerwcu. Jeszcze raz prosimy Boga o siły ducha i o roztropność społeczną, dla tego wielkiego stanu, na którym od wieków opierała się Ojczyzna, dla tych, co żywią, i bronią, jak się mówiło o nich zawsze. Modlimy się za nich, ażeby wytrwali na swoim posterunku, bo ziemia to jest posterunek, jak uczył nas zmarły kardynał Stefan Wyszyński, nawiązując zwłaszcza do “Chłopów” Reymonta: ziemia to jest posterunek!

Ai pellegrini di lingua italiana

Desidero rivolgere un affettuoso saluto al folto gruppo parrocchiale di San Giovanni Battista di Campagnano di Roma, guidato al Parroco, Don Renzo Tanturli. Del gruppo fa parte un complesso musicale bandistico che offre la propria prestazione in occasione di feste e manifestazioni religiose.

Esprimo il mio compiacimento per quest’iniziativa, atta a rafforzare uno spirito di fraterna collaborazione e a favorire un cammino di fede sia all’interno del complesso musicale sia nel più vasto raggio della Parrocchia.

Vi auguro, cari fratelli e sorelle, di poter perseguire con entusiasmo in questa vostra attività, che è una vera e propria testimonianza cristiana. Di cuore vi imparto la mia Benedizione.

* * *

Il mio cordiale benvenuto anche al gruppo della Parrocchia di Fortogna di Longarone, guidati dal parroco Don Emilio Zanetti. Questi pellegrini mi hanno portato in dono un Crocifisso ligneo, presso il quale sostai in preghiera in occasione della mia visita al cimitero delle vittime del Vajont.

Vi ringrazio di cuore, cari fratelli e sorelle, sia per la vostra presenza, sia per l’omaggio che mi avete consegnato. Ricordo con commozione il mio incontro con voi e la vostra terra, e chiedo al Signore Gesù che vi conceda in abbondanza i doni del suo Spirito per un cammino di fede ricco di serenità e di pace, mentre io v’imparto una larga Benedizione.

* * *

Un pensiero affettuoso va ora ai seminaristi simpatizzanti del Movimento dei Focolari. Provenienti da ogni Paese d’Europa ed anche da altri Continenti, sono riuniti presso Castel Gandolfo per un convegno di spiritualità. Mi compiaccio per questa vostra iniziativa e le auguro ampio successo, “ per la Chiesa e per l’umanità ”, secondo il tema stesso del vostro Congresso. Vi accompagno e vi seguo con la mia Benedizione.

* * *

Un saluto, un augurio ed una parola di compiacimento anche per il gruppo di 30 missionari che stanno frequentando un corso di aggiornamento organizzato dal Pontificio Istituto Missioni Estere. Anche a voi, cari fratelli, va il mio plauso, mentre formulo voti che questo incontro possa offrire alla vostra scelta di vita nuove ragioni e nuovo slancio per un servizio sempre più efficace alla causa del Vangelo e della salvezza dell’uomo. Vi benedico di cuore, insieme con coloro ai quali offrirete la vostra testimonianza.

Ai giovani

Desidero rivolgere un cordiale saluto a voi, giovani presenti a questo incontro, e vi auguro che in questo periodo in cui avete ripreso le normali occupazioni di studio o di lavoro, sappiate realizzare in pienezza il vostro impegno di battezzati, dando una testimonianza di fede e di vita, ispirata alla Persona e al Messaggio di Gesù di Nazareth, Figlio di Dio e nostro Redentore.

Agli ammalati

Un affettuoso pensiero per voi, carissimi Fratelli e Sorelle, che portate dolorosamente nel vostro corpo il peso della malattia. Siate sereni, siate sicuri che Dio non vi ha dimenticato, non vi ha abbandonato, ma ha costruito e continua a costruire misteriosamente in voi e con voi un progetto di grazia e di amore, per voi e, in particolare, per tanti altri, a Lui solo noti, che han bisogno di purificazione e di riconciliazione. offrite a Lui generosamente la vostra sofferenza fisica e spirituale, unendola a quella di Cristo Crocifisso. A nome della Chiesa vi dico tutta la comune solidarietà e vi chiedo il dono del vostro umile e prezioso “ Fiat ”.

Agli sposi novelli

Fervidi auguri e sincere felicitazioni esprimo a voi tutti, sposi novelli, presenti a questa Udienza, e nel ricordarvi che avete consacrato in questi giorni il vostro reciproco amore dinanzi a Dio e alla Chiesa nel sacramento del Matrimonio, formo voti perché la vostra nascente famiglia sia un’autentica “Chiesa in miniatura”, in cui Dio sia il primo amato e il primo servito. Costruite la vostra vita coniugale sul fondamento della fede, che animi, illumini e orienti le vostre scelte quotidiane. La Madonna Santissima e il suo castissimo Sposo San Giuseppe proteggano sempre il vostro focolare.

A tutti la mia Benedizione Apostolica.

Al termine dell'Udienza il Santo Padre parla del pellegrinaggio negli Stati Uniti d'America:

At this time my thoughts turn toward the people of the United States of America. Tomorrow morning, God willing, I shall leave Rome in order to begin my second pastoral visit to that country.

It gives me great joy to undertake this visit during the celebration of the Bicentennial of the American Constitution. In anticipation of my arrival, I send cordial greetings to all the citizens of the United States. I look forward to expressing personally to them my sentiments of friendship for the whole nation.

In particular I look forward to being with the Catholic community, so that we may celebrate together our unity in Jesus Christ and in his Church. I desire to pray with them, to listen to them, and to speak to them. My message will be the Gospel of Christ, the story of how "God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that whoever believes in him... may have eternal life”.

I also look forward to meeting many other Christian and non Christian brothers and sisters throughout America. To everyone I wish to proclaim the dignity of the human person, encouraging all to work together in building a world of human solidarity in justice, peace and love!

May God bless all the people of America!

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