“What difference does it make whether Jesus is God or not. He was an excellent teacher and an amazing moral example. That’s good enough for me. His divinity just isn’t something I think about.” With that my lunch companion took a bite of salad. She viewed her point as unassailable and the issue exhausted.
Many active, committed Catholics doubt or find little need for Jesus’ divine status. Without in any way calling it into question, I agree that the idea of Jesus’ divinity is difficult.
The belief that Jesus was both completely human and truly divine goes back to the earliest days of the gospel. Proving that this belief is true or explaining how it can be true, is beyond us here. It will have to suffice to say that this is our Faith.
The belief in Jesus’ divinity plays a crucial role in Catholic faith, however.
There are huge arguments about how God reacts to human events. If we win a game, God was on our side. If we lose, God either has a plan that we don’t know or God is punishing us for something. If we look at Jesus’ life, we quickly arrive at the realization that God isn’t involved in who wins or loses but cares deeply that the whole experience enhances the lives of all involved.
When we watch Jesus relate to people, we watch God relate to people. Jesus revealed God in his actions. He loved, he forgave, he healed, he listened, he didn’t count costs, he gave himself, he bet everything he had on people. When we see Jesus act, we see God act. When we know Jesus, we know God.
Do we know the totality of God? No. We know the reality of God that we need to live the gift that God gives us. That’s the revelation of Jesus. That’s the work of Jesus setting us free to overcome evil.
Think how often we argue about how God relates to people. Then think how seldom we argue about how Jesus related to people. For those who know Jesus as God-among-us, that’s the point.