All Day (Saturday)
Meditations for Lent By: Jacques-Bénigne Bossuet Courtesy of Sophia Institute Press Week 4: Saturday No Man Ever Spoke Like This Man Although we are very far away from that blessed vision in which we shall
Meditations for Lent
By: Jacques-Bénigne Bossuet
Courtesy of Sophia Institute Press
Week 4: Saturday
No Man Ever Spoke Like This Man
Although we are very far away from that blessed vision in which we shall clearly see the Father in the Son and the Son in the Father, the Son of God comes to teach us that the Father has already begun to manifest himself in him in two marvelous ways: by his words and by the works of his might that are his miracles.
“Do you not believe that I am in the Father and the Father is in me? The words that I say to you I do not speak on my own authority” (John 14:10). If I am not from myself, I do not speak on my own authority; if I am the word, I am the word of someone. The one who makes me speak gives me my being, and all my words are from him, inasmuch as the substantial word from which are born all the words that I speak is from him.
The words of Jesus Christ have something divine about them, in their simplicity, in their profundity, and in the mild authority with which he speaks. “No man ever spoke like this man” (John 7:46). No man had ever enjoyed the natural authority over minds that belongs to the truth, which effortlessly and without the affectation of a lofty manner gives him a power over us that penetrates to the heart but is mild and peaceful.
Yet the marvel of these words is that a man who speaks as God at the same time speaks as one who receives everything from another: “What I say . . . I say as the Father has bidden me” (John 12:50), and as he always bids me, because he speaks to me continually, for I am his word. “My teaching is not mine, but his who sent me” (John 7:16). And what proof of this does he give? “He who speaks on his own authority seeks his own glory; but he who seeks the glory of him who sent him is true, and in him there is no falsehood” (John 7:18).
My Savior, do not speak too much like a creature. What is a creature if not something that is not from itself, which has nothing of its own, which is always borrowing? The difference is immense between what is produced from all eternity and what is produced in time. The former exists forever; the latter does not exist forever and is able to cease existing. It is drawn forth from nothingness, and in itself is nothingness. What a great difference there is, consequently, between coming from God as his work and coming from God as his Son! One is created, the other begotten. One is drawn from nothingness and in itself is nothingness. The other is drawn from the substance of God and consequently is being itself.
My God, do I dare to follow this light? Man is father, but is he a true father? What does he give to his son? A man’s son does share his nature; but was it the father who gave him that nature? No, certainly not. In what manner, then, did it come from him? Most imperfectly. True paternity is found in God, who, begetting his Son from his very being gave him his entire substance and made him not only his equal but one with him: “I and the Father are one” (John 10:30).
His Father, forever abundant, communicates to him all of his being, holding nothing back. It is one thing to lend, that is, to choose to give what one might not give, and it is another thing to abound. We need to attempt to understand the Father’s abundance, fullness, fruitfulness, his full effusion of himself, remaining in himself to beget another like himself, who receives everything by being begotten, just as great, just as eternal, just as perfect as the Father. God does not come from God by being drawn forth from nothingness, but God comes from God by being drawn forth from his very substance. Producing another self would degrade him if he produced something less than himself. God, therefore, has come from God, the perfect Son from the perfect Father, perfectly one with him, because he receives his nature from him, and it is his nature to be one: “Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God is one” (Deut. 6:4).
Should we dare to peer into these profound depths? Why has Jesus Christ revealed it to us? Why does he return to the subject so often? When we stop to consider these truths, do we not risk forgetting the sublimity of Christian doctrine? We must tremble when we consider them. We must consider them through faith. We must, while listening to Jesus Christ and to these divine words, believe that they come from God, and believe at the same time that this God from whom they come himself comes from God and that he is Son. At each word that we hear, we must return all the way to the source and contemplate the Father in the Son and the Son in the Father.
Speak, then, speak O Jesus! Speak, you who are the word itself. I see you in your words because they make me see that you are God. But I also see your Father in them, because they teach me that you are God from God, the Word, and the Son of God (John 1:1, 14).