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Jesus Christ, the Son Who Lives for the Father

General Audience — July 15, 1987

—    Close communion of the divine Persons

In the previous reflection we considered Jesus Christ as the Son intimately united to the Father. This union permitted and obliged him to say: "The Father is in me, and I am in the Father," not only in the confidential conversation in the upper room, but also in the public declaration made during the celebration of the Feast of Tabernacles (cf. Jn 7:28-29). Indeed, still more clearly Jesus went as far as to say "I and the Father are one" (Jn 10:30). These words were regarded as blasphemous and provoked a violent reaction among his hearers: "They took up stones to stone him" (cf. Jn 10:31). The Mosaic law prescribed the death penalty for blasphemy (cf. Dt 13:10-11).

It is important to recognize the existence of an organic link between the truth of this intimate union of the Son with the Father and the fact that Jesus the Son lives completely for the Father. We know that the whole life, the entire earthly existence of Jesus was constantly directed to the Father. It was given to the Father without reserve. While still only twelve years old, Jesus, son of Mary, had a precise awareness of his relationship with the Father. He adopted an attitude consistent with his interior certainty. Therefore in reply to the remonstrance of his mother, when together with Joseph she found him in the Temple after having sought him for three days, he said, "Did you not know I had to be in my Father's house?" (Lk 2:49).

In the present reflection also we refer especially to the fourth Gospel, because the awareness and attitude shown by Jesus already at the age of twelve are deeply rooted in his great farewell discourse. According to John, this was delivered during the Last Supper, at the end of Jesus' life, as he was about to complete his messianic mission. The evangelist John says that Jesus, "realizing that the hour had come...(was fully aware) that the Father had handed everything over to him and that he had come from God and was going to God" (Jn 13:3).

Referring in a certain way to the pre-existence of Jesus, the Letter to the Hebrews emphasizes the same truth when it states: "Wherefore, on coming into the world, Jesus said, 'Sacrifice and offering you did not desire, but a body you have prepared for me; holocausts and sin offerings you took no delight in. Then I said, "As is written of me in the book, I have come to do your will, O God"'" (Heb 10:5-7).

1.  Close communion of the divine Persons

In the words and deeds of Jesus, to do the will of the Father means to live totally for the Father. "Just as the Father who has life sent me...I have life because of the Father" (Jn 6:57), Jesus said in the context of the announcement of the institution of the Eucharist. That the fulfillment of the Father's will was for Christ his very life is shown by the words which he himself addressed to his disciples after his meeting with the Samaritan woman: "My food is to do the will of him who sent me, and to accomplish his work" (Jn 4:34). Jesus lived by the will of the Father. This was his "food."

He lived in this way—totally directed to the Father—because he had come forth from the Father and was going back to the Father, knowing that the Father had given everything over to him (cf. Jn 3:35). Letting himself be guided in everything by this knowledge, Jesus proclaimed before the children of Israel: "Yet I have testimony greater than John's [that is, than John the Baptist's testimony], namely, the works the Father has given me to accomplish. These very works which I perform testify on my behalf that the Father has sent me" (Jn 5:36). Again in the same context we read: "I solemnly assure you, the Son cannot do anything by himself—he can do only what he sees the Father doing. For whatever the Father does, the Son does likewise" (Jn 5:19). And he added: "Just as the Father raises the dead and grants life, so the Son grants life to those to whom he wishes" (Jn 5:21).

The passage of the Eucharistic discourse (from John 6) which we quoted above: "As the Father who has life sent me...I have life because of the Father" is sometimes translated: "I live through the Father" (Jn 6:57). The words of John 5 which we have just cited above harmonize with this second interpretation. Jesus lives "through the Father" in the sense that all that he does corresponds fully to the Father's will; it is that which the Father himself does. For this very reason the Son's human life, his activity and his earthly existence are completely directed to the Father—Jesus lives entirely through the Father—because in him the source of everything is his eternal unity with the Father. "I and the Father are one" (Jn 10:30). His works prove the close communion of the divine Persons. In them the same divinity is manifested as the unity of the Father and the Son—the truth of the Father and the Son—the truth that provoked so much opposition among his hearers.

As if foreseeing the further consequences of that opposition, Jesus said in another moment of his conflict with the Jews: "When you lift up the Son of Man, you will come to realize that I Am and that I do nothing by myself. I say only what the Father has taught me. The One who sent me is with me. He has not deserted me since I always do what pleases him" (Jn 8:27-29).

Truly Jesus fulfilled the Father's will to the end. By Jesus' passion and death on the cross he confirmed that "he always does what pleases the Father." He fulfilled the salvific will for the redemption of the world, in which the Father and Son are united because they are eternally "one" (Jn 10:30). When dying on the cross, Jesus "cried out with a loud voice, 'Father into your hands I commend my spirit'" (cf. Lk 23:46). These final words of his testified that to the very end his whole earthly existence was directed to the Father. Living, as Son, "through the Father" he lived completely "for the Father."

And the Father, as he had predicted, did not desert him. The paschal mystery of the death and resurrection fulfilled the words: "when you lift up the Son of Man, you will come to realize that I Am." "I Am"—the very same words used once by the Lord, the living God, in reply to Moses' question about God's name (cf. Ex 3:13f.).

In the Letter to the Hebrews we read certain consoling expressions: "Therefore Jesus is always able to save those who approach God through him, since he forever lives to make intercession for them" (Heb 7:25). He who as Son "of the same being with the Father" lives "through the Father," has revealed the way of eternal salvation. Let us also take this way and proceed along it, participating in that life "for the Father," whose fullness lasts for ever in Christ.