The Father and I Are One
Homily for Tuesday of the Fourth Week in Easter
The last line of today’s Gospel passage speaks of an important dogma of our faith. Jesus proclaims: “The Father and I are one.”
Coincidentally, as we remember St. Athanasius today, we have him to thank for clarifying this particular tenet of our faith. During the early part of the fourth century, an Alexandrian priest named Arius taught that there was only one God; namely, the one who creates all things. Arius wrongly declared that God created the Son. If the Son was not God, Arius said, then it was not God who came down from heaven, died for our sins, and rose to life. In other words, Arius did not believe that Jesus was equal in divinity with God the Father.
St. Athanasius, who was also a priest of Alexandria, countered that argument by teaching that Jesus had to be God for only God could forgive sins. He asserted that Jesus was not made by God, but was begotten. In other words, St. Athanasius stated that Jesus is truly God. At the Council of Nicaea in the year 325 A.D., the leaders of the church came together to affirm his teaching and what we profess today. Out of that counsel came the formula that we call the Nicene Creed.
As the first reading from today’s liturgy reminds us, this was exactly what the apostles taught as they spread the Gospel throughout the world. Today we hear of the city of Antioch which became a great Christian community. The Acts of the Apostles passage for today reminds us that it was in Antioch that the followers of Jesus were first called Christians.
We who are called Christians must be strong in our faith. We believe that the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit are one. Our celebration of the Eucharist brings us into unity with our Triune God as well as with one another.