Christ's divinity is undeniable
During the last few decades something quite similar, albeit on different lines, is happening in the history of the Church akin to what took place in the first 500 years after the birth of Christ.
There is currently a ferocious attack not only on the teachings of the Catholic Church, especially on her moral teachings, which is not wholly unexpected considering the secularised age we live in, but also on the figure of Christ himself, especially on his divinity.
Books, films, plays all seem set with one purpose in mind - to cast doubts or even scoff at the very concept that Christ is anything but solely human, with an extraordinary life perhaps, but ordinarily human nonetheless. Long forgotten (and discredited) documents are unearthed, tombs are dug and archives are consulted with the same unique and fervent goal - to prove that Christ's claim to divinity was false after all.
Naturally, if Christ were not God besides being fully human, the whole edifice of Christianity would simply collapse. Martyrdom for the faith would cease to have any meaning and even trying to live according to the norms that he left us would make, in most cases, no sense at all.
What purpose would forgiving, turning the other cheek, praying for those who harm us have if Christ were not God? What point would suffering have if it were not directed towards the One who, by his Passion, Death and Resurrection gave meaning to such suffering? Believers would resemble atheists and agnostics who, unable to recognise the transcendent in their lives, can hope for nothing and are struck dumb when confronted with situations which defy human explanation. Having no answer to suffering and that most uncontrollable of human events - death, the taboo subject of modern society - they often choose to ignore it.
What, however, is more striking is that it is not only Christ's divinity that is being denied but also certain aspects of his humanity. It is evident that, despite much lip-service, the figure of Christ is for some, even among Christians, an embarrassment and a challenge that, unlike the saints, we refuse to confront ourselves with. This is so regarding his total obedience to the will of his Father but especially his chastity and celibate life which go so much against our freedom-loving, sex-obsessed Western society and is therefore unacceptable.
This is the reason why so many efforts are made to prove that Christ was an ordinary man who was married and even fathered children. It is to be remembered that the main protagonists of the other monotheistic religions - Abraham, Moses, Mohammed - were all married and only Christ stands out from the rest. If Christ's chastity were just a myth then there is really no point in having a celibate priesthood or vows of chastity among both male and female religious. If Christ himself could not resist living a life without sex, then pre-marital sex and even conjugal chastity would lose much of their meaning.
The sad and tragic truth is that even in the Church herself there is a sort of silent apostasy that seems to be taking hold of the hearts and minds of many. Some of the teachings of Christ are quietly abandoned and this is clear, when, for example, no mention is made of the terrible consequences of sin and not only in this life but also in the life hereafter.
There is a selective choice of Jesus' teachings which censors some of his teachings such as those regarding eternity and the judgment that awaits us on our death. Nobody, either in the Old or in the New Testament, ever spoke of hell as much as Christ did and this is proved by the parables that He narrated to his followers.
There are some parables that end well for the protagonists, but many do not and the characters end up very badly indeed as in the case of the rich man in the parable of Lazarus, or the man who refused to show mercy towards another who had borrowed money from him, or the invited guests who refused to attend the wedding feast of the king's son, or the hired labourers in the parable of the vineyard.
We seem to have come round to a perception of Christianity being a faith worth living mainly because in our increasingly confused, insecure and desperate world to live as a Christian is a good option, and therefore this is almost considered as an end in itself. It, of course, is not but is only a means, mostly a tortuous one, leading to that which believers aspire for above everything else - meeting face to face Christ, true God and true Man.
The old catechism of the Catholic Church used words unequalled in their clarity and precision to describe man's destiny on earth - to know, love and serve God and then to share His happiness forever in heaven. May the faithful hear more about this in homilies and in the media while reflecting on St Paul's words in his Letter to the Hebrews "We have no lasting city here".