May 3, 2012 - Feast of Saint Philip and Saint James, Apostles.

1 Corinthians 15:1-8
Psalm 19:2-5
John 14:6-14

Some people try to read the Gospels as if Jesus were merely an intelligent person who taught interesting things. Such people consider the Gospels as a source of wisdom, but reject the idea that Jesus is God. Our reading from the Gospel today shows that this is impossible. If the Gospels are not reliable, we will not be able to find more wisdom there than we already have, since it will then be up to us to pick and choose what is wise and what is foolish. If the Gospels are reliable, we cannot cast aside the reading today.

Everything we know suggests that the Gospels are reliable. They have been a source of wisdom for two-thousand years. The Gospels are responsible for every idea of freedom and justice which have developed in the western world. This is not to say that everything that Europeans and Americans have done is good, but that everything good we have done can be traced back to the Gospels. The Gospels have been responsible for more good in the world than any philosophy or theology every invented by human beings.

The words of Jesus today, however, go beyond the words of a wise man. As has often been noted, if Jesus is not God, he must be either a fool or a liar. He must not be a fool, since he is the source of so much wisdom. Is it possible that he is a liar? He himself said, "I am the truth." He said that Satan is the father of lies. He said that our "yes" should be "yes" and our "no" should be "no". He seems particularly opposed to lying. Of course, liars usually are opposed to being lied to. It does seem wrong to accuse him of lying though when there is no evidence that he ever did.

Is it certain that Jesus is claiming to be God today? Well, he claims that anyone who has seen him has seen the Father. He makes this an absolute claim. We might say that we see God in a holy person, but the holy person would tell us that God is so much greater. Jesus claims that it is not possible to reveal God more than he has done. He makes this an exclusive claim. He claims that no one comes to the Father except through him. A wise person would say that anyone can see God by following the same way that they have followed. Jesus claims to be the way itself.