Marvellous things happened on the way to Emmaus

 Image result for road to emmaus

by

 Damien F. Mackey

  

“Some theologians have suggested that one of the two disciples

on the way to Emmaus could have been a woman”.

 

The “Two” Disciples

 Mr and Mrs Cleopas

 

There are those today who argue that one of the two disciples who encountered Jesus along the way from Jerusalem to the village of Emmaus was probably a woman.

Some of these base their conclusion upon the parallels they believe to exist (and with good reason) between this Gospel story and the Genesis account of Adam and Eve in the Garden. This view is nicely encapsulated in a terrific article (https://liftingjesus.org/2015/03/03/the-road-to-emmaus-a-love-story-from-the-garden-of-eden-restored/):

 

The Road to Emmaus – a Love Story from the Garden of Eden Restored

 

…. by John & Aileena Lu The Road to Emmaus (Luke 24:13-36) contains many Gold-nuggets to discover, we are about to discover a Restoration process of what was lost in the Garden of Eden by the First Adam. The story begins with two disciples of Jesus, who were walking from Jerusalem to Emmaus on the day that Jesus rose from the dead. There were two disciples but the bible only mentioned one name: Cleopas, and the other one unnamed. We may have assumed that they were both male disciples, but actually the bible does not say anything about this.  I submit to you that they were husband and wife, Mr. & Mrs. Cleopas.

 

It is the Jews culture during the time to mention only the name of the man (husband). For instance, when Jesus was feeding the multitude of 5000 man with five loaves of bread and two small fish; it only mentioned the man. Five thousand men were accounted, excluding (not counting) woman and children (Mat 14:21 Now those who had eaten were about five thousand men, besides women and children).

 

This is not just the culture, but this is how God sees a married couple, as ONE. We see this evidenced even in the creation of mankind Adam & Eve. (Gen 5:2 KJV.  Male and female created He them; and blessed them, and called their name Adam, in the day when they were created.)  God addressed them both as one person, and God named them Adam. Wait a minute! How about Eve? Well, read your Bible, God did not name Eve, It was Adam who named his wife’s as Eve, and It was just Adam who called her Eve. While, God has been calling both of them as Adam (Mr. & Mrs). Although, it was Eve who was first deceived by the serpent and it was Eve who misled Adam to eat the wrong fruit, but whoever made the mistake, God treated them as equally responsible, because God sees them as ONE.

 

This is also evidenced in many countries’ social culture, to call a married couple by the husband’s name, eg. Mr. & Mrs. Smith. So, now we know that the two disciples, who walked from Jerusalem to Emmaus, were husband & wife, Mr. & Mrs. CLEOPAS. As they were walking and talking about what had just happened in Jerusalem “The things concerning Jesus of Nazareth”, suddenly Jesus Himself drew near and went with them. But their eyes were restrained, so that they did not know Him (Luk 24:14-16).

 

Why did Jesus restrained their eyes not to know Him? Likewise to ask, why Jesus did not walk around in Jerusalem after His Resurrection showing off His NAILED PIERCED HANDS? Is it not going to astound people of His Deity identity? No, obviously God did not think like human, this is not the way of God. He wants all of us to stand equal chance to see Him by FAITH. In that Emmaus Journey we know that Jesus expounded to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning Himself.  He wanted them to see Him in the Scriptures by FAITH NOT BY SIGHT. Because, without faith it is impossible to please God.

 

It is a beautiful picture of them in the EVENING WALKING together with Jesus on the day of His first bodily Resurrection. It is like referring to the first Adam usually walking in the evening with God in the Garden of Eden.

 

Gen 3:8  …God walking in the garden in the cool of the day, (EVENING time) – Adam & Eve walking with God.

Luk 24:29  … Abide with us, for it is toward EVENING,…  (Mr. & Mrs. Cleopas walking with Jesus)

 

And this is significant because this event corresponded to and restored the creation story in the Garden of Eden, whereby the first created couple (husband & wife) Adam & Eve had failed by committing the high treason of partaking from the forbidden tree, which was the only commandment that God had given them. There were two special TREEs in the middle of the Garden. hey partook from the wrong tree, the TREE OF KNOWLEDGE OF GOOD & EVIL (the first tree). While, God actually gave them a choice to partake from the TREE OF LIFE.

 

Both trees would open the eyes of man, the first tree opened their eyes to their nakedness. When Eve took of its fruit and ate and she also gave it to Adam who was with her, and he ate it; what happened?

 

Gen 3:7 Then the EYES of both of them were OPENED, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves coverings.

 

Their eyes were opened to see their Lack, and shortcomings, and they tried to cover themselves with fig leaves, which is a picture of Self Righteousness, trying to justify themselves with their work & self-effort to achieve God’s Favor. Apparently, they realized whatever their self-work to cover themselves did not measure up to God’s standard, and as a result, they were afraid, they were in fear and they hid themselves from God (Gen 3:8-10).

 

God did not want them to partake from this tree but God cannot violate His own creation of Free Will. Likewise, God cannot force you to love Him. It must come from your free will. Thus, a free will to be a free will, there must be a choice. God put both trees in the middle of the Garden for them to choose.

 

Jesus showed us in this event, that He is faithful and has restored the failures of first Adam partaking from the wrong tree, with what? With the Lord Supper of Breaking the bread.

 

Luk 24:30  Now it came to pass, as He sat at the table with them, that He TOOK BREAD, BLESSED and BROKE it, and GAVE it to them.

Luk 24:31 Then their EYES WERE OPENED and they KNEW Him; and He vanished from their sight.

 

The breaking of Bread is the holy communion between believers and Christ Jesus, a union in the body and soul. In other word, the Breaking of Bread is the TREE OF LIFE, the tree that Adam had missed it in the Garden of Eden. We have partaken this Tree through our continuous Holy Communion with Christ that rendered to infuse Life into our body, making us more healthy and adding years to our age, and energy to our body.

 

Joh 6:51 I am the living BREAD which came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever; and the bread that I shall give is My FLESH, which I shall give for the LIFE (Greek: Zoe) of the world.”

 

“Zoe” of the world is the Physical life, NOT Eternal (spiritual) life which in Greek is “Zoe Ionos”

 

And, look what happened to Mr. & Mrs. Cleopas? After their eyes were opened? (Luk 24:33 So they ROSE UP that very hour and RETURNED to Jerusalem,…) 

 

Their heart was burning with the warmth of Christ’s Love, and it energized them to immediately walk back from Emmaus to Jerusalem again, which is total walk of 14 Km just during that evening alone, wow what a strong body?!. Their Heart burning with the Passion of Christ Revelation, and they wanted to share it with the rest of the disciples in Jerusalem.

[End of quote]

 

Now, James Boice has arrived at the very same identification of the two disciples, Cleopas and his wife, but, in Boice’s case, his argument has arisen entirely from New Testament information

http://www.jesus.org/death-and-resurrection/resurrection/who-were-the-disciples-on-the-road-to-emmaus.html

 

Who Were the Disciples on the Road to Emmaus?

 

The answer to this question is not as uncertain as most people, who are accustomed to referring merely to the “Emmaus disciples,” are likely to assume. For one thing, the story itself gives the name of one of them. If you turn to Luke 24:18, you will find that one of the disciples was called Cleopas. Moreover, if you will then use any good concordance of the words occurring in the New Testament and look up the word “Cleopas,” you will find a second mention of his name in another account of the Resurrection. The reference is John 19:25. There we read, “Now there stood by the cross of Jesus his mother, and his mother’s sister, Mary, the wife of Cleopas, and Mary Magdalene.” It is true that John spells the name a bit differently. But the spelling of names often varied in antiquity, and here the two names undoubtedly refer to the same person. Thus, we learn that the wife of Cleopas was also present in Jerusalem at the time of the Crucifixion. And we may, therefore, assume that she was the one returning to Emmaus with him on the morning of the Resurrection.

Moreover, I believe that we can know even more than this. For it seems clear to me that John has given us her name when he writes of “his [Jesus’] mother, and his mother’s sister, Mary, the wife of Cleopas, and Mary Magdalene.” I must admit that because of the way John has written this verse it is not at once obvious whether John is identifying the first Mary he mentions as the sister of the virgin Mary or as the wife of Cleopas. But a little thought shows that the second of these should be preferred.

For one thing, John seems to be distinguishing between two different Marys in the second part of the verse—Mary, the wife of Cleopas, and Mary Magdalene. At least this is the most natural way of interpreting the sentence. Second, if this is not the case, then either there is an unidentified Mary in the story (making five persons) or else there is a Mary who is the sister of the Virgin Mary. The first case is unlikely in itself as well as unlike John’s literary style. And the second is unlikely simply because it would mean there were two sisters, both named Mary. These reasons seem to point to the wife of Cleopas being named Mary, a woman who (we are told elsewhere) was also the mother of James the less and Joses and who had been a follower of Jesus as well as a helper of Jesus and His immediate disciples (Mark 15:40, 41: cf. Mark 16:1 and Luke 24:10).

The whole of the argument means that, after His appearance to Mary Magdalene in the garden early in the morning, Jesus next appeared (not counting a private, unrecorded appearance to Peter) to a man and his wife, Cleopas and Mary, and this before He appeared to any of the so-called “regular” disciples. ….

[End of quote]

 

The first time that I ever heard mention of this view, expressed as (from memory) “Some theologians have suggested that one of the two disciples on the way to Emmaus could have been a woman”, I was attending a lecture given by a Cardinal with the exotic name of Martini, and he – as far as I was then concerned – brilliantly debunked the suggestion. I refer to a talk back in 1996 by the Archbishop of Milan, Jesuit Maria Cardinal Martini, given at St Joseph’s College, Hunters Hill (Sydney)a biblical reflection on the Emmaus incident. At question time a nun got up and hopefully put it to the Cardinal that one of the two disciples may have been a woman.

To this the Cardinal brilliantly (though not necessarily correctly) replied that he, too, had heard of this view, but he had one good reason why he thought that it could not have been the case. Jesus, he said, had rebuked the two disciples, saying [a reference to Luke 24:25]: ‘How foolish you are, and how slow to believe’, and He never ever said that about any woman.

The nun quickly sat down as the audience applauded the Cardinal’s response.

From a Catholic point of view as I have recently heard the Emmaus account interpreted by Andrew Wood (St. John Centre for Biblical Studies), lecturing on the Gospel of Luke, the most marvellous thing that happened at Emmaus was the Mass, with its scriptural readings followed by Jesus himself becoming the Eucharist. Now, Wood’s mentor is Dr Scott Hahn, who has written along similar lines https://stpaulcenter.com/blog/emmaus-and-us-scott-hahn-reflects-on-the-third-sunday-of-easter

 

Emmaus and Us: Scott Hahn Reflects on the Third Sunday of Easter

 

…. We should put ourselves in the shoes of the disciples in today’s Gospel. Downcast and confused they’re making their way down the road, unable to understand all the things that have occurred.

 

They know what they’ve seen – a prophet mighty in word and deed. They know what they were hoping for – that He would be the redeemer of Israel. But they don’t know what to make of His violent death at the hands of their rulers.

 

They can’t even recognize Jesus as He draws near to walk with them. He seems like just another foreigner visiting Jerusalem for the Passover.

 

Note that Jesus doesn’t disclose His identity until they … describe how they found His tomb empty but “Him they did not see.” That’s how it is with us, too. Unless He revealed himself we would see only an empty tomb and a meaningless death.

 

How does Jesus make himself known at Emmaus? First, He interprets “all the Scriptures” as referring to Him. In today’s First Reading and Epistle, Peter also opens the Scriptures to proclaim the meaning of Christ’s death according to the Father’s “set plan” – foreknown before the foundation of the world.

 

Jesus is described as a new Moses and a new Passover lamb. He is the One of whom David sang in today’s Psalm – whose soul was not abandoned to corruption but was shown the path of life.

 

After opening the Scriptures, Jesus at table took bread, blessed it, broke it, and gave it to the disciples – exactly what He did at the Last Supper (see Luke 22:14-20).

 

In every Eucharist, we reenact that Easter Sunday at Emmaus. Jesus reveals himself to us in our journey. He speaks to our hearts in the Scriptures. Then at the table of the altar, in the person of the priest, He breaks the bread.

 

The disciples begged him, “Stay with us.” So He does. Though He has vanished from our sight, in the Eucharist – as at Emmaus – we know Him in the breaking of the bread.

 

[End of quote]

 

As Andrew Wood explained it, Jesus’s ‘vanishing from our sight’ did not mean that He suddenly shot through on his two disciples. No, at the moment of the Consecration (“blessing of the bread”), Jesus disappeared from their sight because He had become the Eucharist.

 

 

Pope Francis puts French priest murdered by Isil extremists on path to sainthood

Image result for fr hamel martyr

 

A priest has throat slit in Normandy A priest has throat slit in Normandy Play! 01:04

“He accepted his martyrdom there on the altar,” the Pope said. “He is a martyr and martyrs are beatified.”
The remarks strongly suggested that the Pope intends to make Father Hamel a saint. Beatification is the first major step in the path towards sainthood.
For a person to be beatified, the Catholic Church normally requires that a miracle be attributed to them.  But that condition appears to have been waived by the Pope, who has established a reputation for “jumping over procedural hurdles”, as one Vatican insider put it.

Pope Francis said that to murder in the name of God is a "satanic" act

Pope Francis said that to murder in the name of God is a “satanic” act Credit: Vincenzo Pinto/AFP
The Argentinean pontiff spoke at a special Mass for around 80 Catholics from Rouen, where the 85-year-old was killed after two men barged their way into his church in the suburb of Saint-Étienne-du-Rouvray.
They forced him to kneel and then slit his throat, while chanting in Arabic at the altar. The two attackers were shot dead by police as they came out of the church.
The Pope said that before he was murdered, Father Hamel yelled at his attackers: “Satan, get out!” He added: “What a pleasure it would be if all religious confessions would say: ‘To kill in the name of God is satanic'”.

Hundreds gather to mourn murdered priest Father Jacques Hamel Hundreds gather to mourn murdered priest Father Jacques Hamel Play! 00:50



He said Father Hamel was just the latest in a long line of martyrs in the history of the Church. Throughout the world there were Christians “who are murdered, tortured, imprisoned, have their throats slit because they do not deny Jesus Christ,” he said.
After the Mass, Dominique Leburn, the archbishop of Rouen, said the Pope had told him that the French priest should from now on be “venerated” – a further indication that his path to sainthood is all but assured.

Pope Francis declares Mother Teresa a Saint Pope Francis declares Mother Teresa a Saint Play! 00:34

It’s Jesus who radically sets us free, Pope Francis says

DIVINE MERCY

By Hannah Brockhaus.- Christ took on our sins so that we might have true freedom, Pope Francis said Saturday during a special audience in St. Peter’s Square, where he gave confirmation to a young man in a wheelchair.

“The word ‘redemption’ is little used, yet it is important because it indicates the most radical liberation that God could perform for us, for all of humanity and the entire creation,” Francis said.
Often, the Pope said, we deny that our sins have any power over us, when in reality they are another type of slavery.
“By becoming one of us, the Lord Jesus not only takes on our human condition, but he raises us to the possibility of being children of God,” Pope Francis said. “By his death and resurrection, Jesus Christ, the Lamb without blemish, has conquered death and sin to free us from their domain.”
The Sept. 10 gathering at the Vatican was the latest in a series of special audiences for the Jubilee Year of Mercy, which are being held throughout the year in addition to the weekly general audiences on Wednesdays.

In addition to the audience, on his way to St. Peter’s square Saturday, Pope Francis stopped to greet and confirm as Catholic Giuseppe Chiolo, a young man in a wheelchair, L’Osservatore Romano reported.

Our unwillingness to open ourselves to salvation keeps us from receiving the true freedom provided by God’s forgiveness, Pope Francis preached.

“We need God to deliver us from all forms of indifference, selfishness and self-sufficiency,” he continued.
Francis noted that life is often difficult and filled with suffering, however, we are invited to turn our gaze on the crucified Jesus, “who suffers for us and with us, as certain proof that God does not abandon us.”

Even in persecution and distress, or in the pain of daily life, God’s merciful hand lifts us up to him and gives us a new life, he said.

“God’s love is boundless: we discover new signs indicating his attention towards us and especially its willingness to reach and go before us.”
“Beautiful are these three words: forgiveness, love and joy. All that He has taken has also been redeemed, liberated and saved,” the Pope continued.
“Our whole life, though marked by the fragility of sin, is placed under the gaze of God who loves us,” he said. “The more we are in need, the more his gaze on us is full of mercy.”

….

Taken from: http://www.catholicnewsagency.com/news/its-jesus-who-radically-sets-us-free-pope-francis-says-31237/

Mother Teresa to be elevated to sainthood in canonisation by Pope Francis

Mother Teresa Canonisation Pilgrimage: 2-11 September 2016

                                              <img src=”http://imageresizer.static9.net.au/G5A6nCyzlngP8uC_o4Kzq5He42g=/718×0/http%3a%2f%2fprod.static9.net.au%2f_%2fmedia%2f2016%2f08%2f28%2f17%2f31%2f20081014000125018883original.ashx” alt=”Mother Teresa. (AAP)” />          

Iconic nun and missionary Mother Teresa is set to become a Catholic saint next week, in a ceremony and Mass led by Pope Francis.

The open-air ceremony will be held on September 4 in St Peter’s Square in Vatican City, and is expected to draw a crowd of hundreds of thousands.
Born Agnes Gonxha Bojaxhiu in 1910 in the Macedonian capital of Skopje, she became a nun and spent several years in Kolkata, India after training with the Sisters of Loreto.

She worked as a teacher, and started an order called The Missionaries of Charity in 1950 to look after less-fortunate people.

In 1979, Mother Teresa was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for “work undertaken in the struggle to overcome poverty and distress, which also constitutes a threat to peace” and donated the fund to the poor.

She continued to travel the world visiting various branches of the Missionaries of Charity despite ailing health problems, right up until her death in 1997. She donated the prize’s funds to the poor in India.

She was officially beatified within the Catholic church in 2003 by Pope John Paul II – the first step to sainthood.

While she was one of the 20th century’s most iconic and beloved figures, her hardline opposition to contraception and abortion drew controversy among her followers and critics.

© Nine Digital Pty Ltd 2016

Pope leads 11,000 pilgrims praying rosary for quake victims

Image result for rosary for quake victims

Pope Francis leads pilgrims in praying for the victims of an earthquake in Italy during his Aug. 24, 2016, general audience. (Credit: Daniel Ibañez/CNA)

After a major earthquake hit central Italy, virtually destroying one town and affecting many others, Pope Francis turned his weekly general audience into a prayer service, leading the recitation of the sorrowful mysteries of the rosary.

ROME– Instead of giving his usual catechesis during his Wednesday General Audience, Pope Francis decided to postpone the speech, leading pilgrims in praying the sorrowful mysteries of the rosary for the victims of an earthquake that rocked central Italy earlier in the morning.

“On hearing the news of the earthquake that has struck central Italy and which has devastated many areas and left many wounded, I cannot fail to express my heartfelt sorrow and spiritual closeness to all those present in the zones afflicted,” Francis said Aug. 24.

He offered his condolences to all who have lost loved ones, and his expressed his spiritual closeness to those who are “anxious and afraid.”

By 11:00 a.m. ET, Italian authorities were reporting that 73 people have been killed, scores others trapped by rubble, and at least a thousand people displaced after an earthquake hit central Italy early Wednesday morning.

The original 6.2 magnitude quake hit the town of Norcia, about 65 miles northeast of Rome, at 3:36 a.m., with several aftershocks following.

According to the BBC, the mayor of Amatrice, one of the worst-hit areas, said “the town is gone.” Officials warn that the death toll will likely continue to rise as rescue efforts move forward.

Pope Francis, hearing that the mayor of Amatrice said his town “no longer exists” and learning that many children are also among the dead, said “I am deeply saddened.”

“For this reason I want to assure all the people of Accumoli, Amatrice, the diocese of Rieti, Ascoli Piceno and all the people of Lazio, Umbria and Le Marche of the prayers and close solidarity of the entire Church,” he said.

The pope then offered his thanks to all the volunteer and rescue workers assisting in the affected areas, asking Jesus, “who is always moved by compassion before the reality of human suffering, that he may console the broken hearted, and through the intercession of the Virgin Mary bring them peace.”

“With Jesus, let our hearts be moved with compassion,” he said, and invited the some 11,000 pilgrims present to join him in praying the Sorrowful Mysteries of the Rosary.

In addition to Pope Francis’ appeal to prayer, the Italian Bishop’s Conference (CEI) has already decided to donate 1 million Euro to the most urgent relief efforts, and have asked that a special collection take place to help raise more money for the affected areas.

In an Aug. 24 communique from the CEI, the bishops said the Church throughout Italy “gathers in prayer for all the victims and expresses her fraternal closeness to the people involved in this tragic event.”

The president of the bishop’s conference, Cardinal Angelo Bagnasco, launched a national collection for Sept. 18, set to coincide with Italy’s 26th National Eucharistic Congress, inviting all parishes, religious institutes and lay institutions in the country to participate.

The funds gathered from the collection will go toward relieving those who lost everything, and is “a fruit of the charity” that will flow from the Eucharistic congress and the participation of all “in the concrete needs of the affected populations.”

At the Benedictine monastery in Norcia, a community growing in fame because of their prayer life and their brewery, the 15 monks and five guests were already awake when the first quake hit, Benedictine Father Benedict Nivakoff told Catholic News Service.

Aug. 24 is the feast of St. Bartholomew, and “on feast days we get up earlier” to pray, he said.

“All of the monks and the monks’ guests are safe,” he said. But the Basilica of St. Benedict suffered “considerable structural damage” and the monastery will need repairs as well.

Within a half hour of the first quake, Nivakoff said, the square outside the monastery was filled with people “because it is the safest place in town — around the statue of St. Benedict.”

While no buildings collapsed, it is obvious that many homes are no longer habitable, he said. The monks have set up a reception desk to help meet their neighbors’ needs.

The basilica, he said, is closed pending an inspection by civil engineers, who were to arrive the afternoon of Aug. 24. However, Nivakoff said, “the facade seems to have detached” from the rest of the building and major repairs are likely.

After careful study of the developing seismic situation in the region, and as a “precautionary measure,” on Wednesday afternoon the monks announced on their website they had decided to temporarily transfer the community to Rome.

Material from Catholic News Service was used in this report.

Follow Wooden on Twitter: @Cindy_Wooden.

Pope Francis: life is no video game, the goal of salvation is serious

Pope Francis waves to pilgrims at the Angelus on Sunday August 21, 2016 - AFP

Pope Francis waves to pilgrims at the Angelus on Sunday August 21, 2016 – AFP

21/08/2016 12:30

(Vatican Radio)  Pope Francis on Sunday said “life is not a video game or a soap opera; our life is serious and the goal to achieve is important: eternal salvation.”  Speaking to pilgrims gathered for the Angelus prayer in St. Peter’s Square, the Pope focused on the theme of eternal salvation and referred to the day’s Gospel reading in which a man asks Jesus how many people will be saved. “It doesn’t matter how many,” the Pope noted, “but it is important that everyone knows which is the path that leads to salvation.”  And the door to salvation lies in Jesus, he said, and we can cross the threshold of God’s mercy through love, and by overcoming pride, arrogance and sin.
Below, please find a Vatican Radio translation of the Pope’s Angelus address:“Dear brothers and sisters, good morning!

 
Today’s Gospel passage invites us to meditate on the theme of salvation. The Evangelist Luke tells us that Jesus is on the way to Jerusalem and along the way is approached by a man who asks him this question: “Lord, will only a few people be saved?” (Luke 13:23). Jesus does not give a direct answer, but takes the discussion to another level, with suggestive language that at first, the disciples don’t understand:   “Strive to enter through the narrow door; for many, I say unto you, will seek to enter, but they will not succeed” (v.24 ). With the image of the door, He wants to explain to his listeners that it is not a question of numbers – how many people will be saved.   It doesn’t matter how many, but it is important that everyone knows which is the path that leads to salvation: the door.
To go along this path, one must pass through a door. But where is the door?  What is it like?  Who is the door?  Jesus himself is the door (cf. Jn 10,9).  He himself says it, ‘I am the door’ in John’s Gospel.  He leads us in communion with the Father, where we find love, understanding and protection. But why is this door narrow? One can ask. Why is it narrow?  It is a narrow door not because it is oppressive – no, but because it asks us to restrict and limit our pride and our fear, to open ourselves with humble and trusting heart to Him, recognizing ourselves as sinners, in need of his forgiveness.   For this, it is narrow: to contain our pride, which bloats us.  The door of God’s mercy is narrow but always wide open, wide open for everyone! God has no favorites, but always welcomes everyone, without distinction. A door, that is narrow to restrict our pride and our fear.  Open because God welcomes us without distinction.   And the salvation that He gives us is an unceasing flow of mercy…which breaks down every barrier and opens up surprising perspectives of light and peace.  The narrow but always open door:  do not forget this.  Narrow door, but always open.
Jesus offers us today, once again, a pressing invitation to go to him, to cross the threshold of a full life, reconciled and happy. He waits for each of us, no matter what sin we have committed, no matter what!  To embrace us, to offer us his forgiveness. He alone can transform our hearts, He alone can give full meaning to our existence, giving us true joy. Upon entering the door of Jesus, the door of faith and of the Gospel, we can leave behind worldly attitudes, bad habits, selfishness and the closing ourselves off. When there is contact with the love and mercy of God, there is real change. And our life is illuminated by the light of the Holy Spirit: an inextinguishable light!”
Pope invites faithful to examine their consciences
 
“I’d like to make you a proposal,” the Pope said to the pilgrims in the square, and invited them to think in silence  for a moment about the things they have inside that prevent them from passing over the threshold: pride, arrogance, sin. “And then, let us think about that other door, the one open to God’s mercy and He is waiting on the other side to forgive us,” Francis added.
“The Lord offers us many opportunities to save ourselves and to enter through the door of salvation,” the Pope continued.  “This door is an opportunity that must not be wasted: we must not make an academic discourse of salvation, as did the man who questioned Jesus, but we must seize the opportunities for salvation. Because at a certain moment “the landlord got up and locked the door” (v.25), as mentioned in the Gospel. But if God is good and loves us, why does he close the door – he will close the door at a certain point? Because our life is not a video game or a soap opera; our life is serious and the goal to achieve is important: eternal salvation.
To the Virgin Mary, Door of Heaven, we ask help so that we seize the opportunities that the Lord gives us to cross the threshold of faith and thus to enter into a wide road: it is the path of salvation that can accommodate all those who allow themselves to love and be loved (it: si lasciano coinvolgere dall’amore). It is love which saves;  the love that is already here on earth is a source of happiness to those who, in meekness, patience and justice, forget themselves and give themselves to others, especially the weakest.”
….
 

Pope Francis encourages encounters with the Holy Spirit

 Pope Francis on the Holy Spirit. 
Pope Francis on the Holy Spirit.

Vatican City, Italy CNA/EWTN News) – The Church needs “passionate missionaries, consumed by zeal to bring the consoling Word of Jesus and his grace to everyone,” the Pope said during his weekly Angelus address.

“This is the fire of the Holy Spirit,” he said. “If the Church does not receive this fire, or allow it to enter, it becomes a cold or lukewarm Church, incapable of giving life, since it is made of cold or lukewarm Christians.”

The Pope expressed his admiration for the many priests, consecrated, and lay faithful, “who, throughout the world, are dedicated to the proclamation of the Gospel with great love and loyalty, often even at the cost of their lives.”

Pope Francis delivered his Aug. 14 address to the crowds who had gathered in St. Peter’s Square for the weekly Angelus.

In his address before reciting the Marian prayer, the pontiff reflected on the themes of the day’s Gospel reading, specifically on Jesus’ words: “I have come to set the earth on fire.” He explained how the fire about which Jesus speaks is that of the “Holy Spirit, the living and working presence in us from the day of our Baptism.”

This fire is a “creative force which purifies and renews,” as it burns away every human misery, egoism, and sin, he said. “It transforms us from within, regenerates us, and makes us capable of love.”

“Jesus wants the Holy Spirit to burn like fire in our hearts, because it is only from the heart that the fire of Divine love can strengthen and advance the Kingdom of God,” he said.

By opening ourselves completely to the Holy Spirit, we will be given the the “courage and zeal to proclaim to everyone Jesus, and his consoling message of mercy and salvation.”

The Holy Spirit keeps the Church from being “held back by fear and calculations” or becoming accustomed to staying within secure confines, Pope Francis said.

“The Apostolic courage which the Holy Spirit ignites in us as a fire helps us overcome walls and barriers, makes us creative,” and spurs us along “unexplored or uncomfortable paths, offering hope to those we meet.””We are called to become ever more a community of persons who are guided and transformed by the Holy Spirit,” the pontiff said.

Speaking off the cuff, Pope Francis said the fire of the Holy Spirit brings us to those who suffer from various miseries and problems, including migrants and refugees.

Now more than ever there is a need for priests, consecrated men and women, and lay faithful, the Pope said, “who, throughout the world, are dedicated to the proclamation of the Gospel with great love and loyalty, often even at the cost of their lives.”

“Their exemplary witness reminds us that the Church does not need bureaucrats or meticulous officials,”  Pope Francis said. Rather, it needs “passionate missionaries, consumed by zeal to bring the consoling Word of Jesus and his grace to everyone.”

“This is the fire of the Holy Spirit,” the pontiff said, again going off script. “If the Church does not receive this fire, or allow it to enter, it becomes a cold or only  Church, incapable of giving life, since it is made of cold or lukewarm Christians.”

The Pope encouraged those present to take five minutes to ask themselves whether their own hearts are cold or lukewarm, and if they are capable of receiving this fire of the Holy Spirit.

Concluding his address, Pope Francis appealed to the Virgin Mary’s intercession that the Holy Spirit might pour on all believers the “Divine fire which ignites hearts, and helps us be in solidarity with the joys and sufferings of our brothers and sisters.”

Finally, the Pope remembered the “martyr of charity,” Saint Maximilian Kolbe, whose feast is Aug. 14. “May he teach us to live the fire of love for God and for the other.”

….

Jesus Curses the Barren Fig Tree

by

 Damien F. Mackey

 

 

“It has puzzled people for generations why Jesus was so upset with a fig tree

that by nature should not have had figs or leaves…”.

 

 

Dr. Ernest L. Martin appears to have had something of a knack of being able to interpret (at least some key aspects) of the parables and actions of Jesus Christ. See on this e.g. my:

Abraham and Eleazer: ‘Rich Man and Lazarus’ Parable

https://www.academia.edu/27606717/Abraham_and_Eleazer_Rich_Man_and_Lazarus_Parab

 

 

Dr. Martin’s interpretation of the puzzling action of Jesus in relation to the barren fig tree appears to make good sense, as well as providing us with some important extra information – it seems – about the Garden of Eden.

We read of Martin’s interpretation of this in Roger Waite’s “The Lost History of Jerusalem” (pp. 187-190): http://www.rogerswebsite.com/articles/TheLostHistoryofJerusalem.pdf

 

A Tale of Two Trees

 

…. What … type of trees were the two trees? We have seen that the earthly tabernacle and Temple was modeled after the Garden of Eden and the heavenly Temple. The Holy of holies symbolised the midst of the Garden where the two trees [were].

 

Within the Holy of holies was placed Aaron‘s rod that miraculously budded which symbolised the Tree of Life. In Numbers 17:8 we read:

 

The rod of Aaron of the house of Levi had sprouted and put forth buds, had produced blossoms and yielded ripe ALMONDS.

 

Aaron‘s rod that budded was an almond tree. Since it symbolised the Tree of Life there is every chance that the Tree of Life was an almond tree. Ernest Martin makes these comments:

 

The Old Testament description of the Menorah constructed in the time of Moses showed that it was intimately connected with the almond tree motif. Note that the flowers and the bowls for the oil on each of the seven branches of the Menorah were designed to be like those of the almond tree (Exodus 37:17-24).

 

This almond tree type of lampstand was placed by Moses in the Holy Place of the Tabernacle just outside the Holy of Holies. But inside the inner sanctum itself was deposited the rod of Aaron that budded. It too had the symbol of the almond tree associated with it. The rod brought forth almond flowers and even almonds themselves in a supernatural manner (Numbers 17:1-13). Because Moses placed this almond rod of Aaron inside the Holy of Holies, this goes a long way in showing that the rod (with its almond tree genre) was the symbolic Tree of Life which had been in the Garden of Eden.

 

Philo in the time of Jesus, said the almond tree was “the emblem of the priesthood” (Life of Moses, 111.22) because it was the first to bloom in the springtime and the last to lose its leaves. This tree showed the greatest longevity of life each year and it was a fit symbol for the Tree of Life (Golgotha p.384).

 

In Revelation 22:2 we read the about the river of life and the tree of life in the New Jerusalem:

 

In the middle of its street, and on either side of the river, was the tree of life, which bore twelve fruits, each tree yielding its fruit every month. The leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations.

 

The tree of life here bears 12 different fruits beyond the almonds which may have been the original fruit from it. Given the prominence of the olive tree, especially on the Mount of Olives, there is also the possibility that the olive tree could have been the tree of life though olives are quite salty to the taste.

 

Traditionally the forbidden fruit of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil is portrayed as an apple. Was it an apple or something else?

 

Shortly before Jesus was crucified there is recorded an incident that strongly suggests that the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil was a fig tree. Now a fig tree is also used in a positive way in the Bible in the millennial verse that speaks of every man sitting under his vine and under his fig tree and no one being afraid (Micah 4:4).

 

The Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil belonged ONLY to God so there is nothing evil about the tree by and of itself. The evil was the choice of Adam and Eve to disobey and take what belonged ONLY to God against His clear instructions. Ernest Martin writes the following about the connection between the fig tree and the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil:

 

It will be remembered that in the Garden in Eden there were two trees that God specifically selected for the attention of Adam and Eve. One was the Tree of Life and the other was the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. Our first parents partook of this latter tree and they were then expelled from the Garden for this sin (the first sins ever committed by mankind).

 

What type of tree was this that Adam and Eve partook of? While many different types of trees have been guessed (the pomegranate, date, grape and even the apple), the only tree mentioned in the context of Genesis describing the “fall” of Adam and Eve is the “fig.” It is to be noted that as soon as Adam and Eve knew they had sinned, they sewed fig leaves together to hide their shame. It is well documented among the Jews that this was understood to be the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil.

 

“What was the tree of which Adam and Eve ate? Rabbi Yosi says: It was the fig tree…the fig whereof he ate the fruit opened its doors and took him in” (Midrash, Bereshith Raba, 15,7).

 

“The fig leaf which brought remorse to the world” (ibid., 19, 11).

 

“The tree of which the first man ate … Rabbi Nehemiah says: It was the fig, the thing wherewith they were spoilt, yet were they redressed by it. As it is said: And they stitched a fig-leaf’ (Berakoth 40a, and see Sanhedrin 70a).

 

In the non-canonical Book of Adam and Eve (20:5) it says: “I sought a leaf to cover up my nakedness and found none, for, when I ate, the leaves withered off every tree in my plot except for the fig, and from it I took leaves and it made me a girdle, even from the tree of which I ate”…

 

The symbol of the fig tree as being the “evil” tree in the Garden of Eden figures in a prominent episode that occurred during the week just before Jesus was crucified. Once the symbolic meaning of the fig tree is recognized, then this special event can make a great deal of doctrinal sense in regard to the role that Jesus played in expelling “sin” from the world. I am talking about the time when he saw a fig tree on the Mount of Olives as he was approaching Jerusalem, and he cursed it. This fig tree would have been very near if not directly adjacent to the village of Bethphage which meant “House of Unripe Figs.” Before that day was over that particular fig tree was withered up and completely dead. This has a remarkable figurative meaning to it.

 

Four days before his crucifixion, Jesus left Bethany and started walking towards Jerusalem. When he was near the summit of the Mount of Olives, opposite Bethphage, he noticed on the side of the road a fig tree. He went to it and finding no figs on its branches (yet the tree was covered with leaves), he cursed that fig tree and said: “Let no man eat fruit from you henceforth forever. And his disciples heard it” (Mark 11:14). The cursing of that particular fig tree has baffled men ever since. The truth is, even Mark said that “it was not the season of figs” (Mark 11:13). Indeed, difficulty in understanding the curse of Jesus went further than that. It was not even the time for fig trees to have leaves! It has puzzled people for generations why Jesus was so upset with a fig tree that by nature should not have had figs or leaves…

 

Since the tree was located on a main thoroughfare into Jerusalem and with the heavy population around the city at that Passover season, it is not to be imagined that Jesus expected to find a few dried figs of last year’s crop on the branches. The tree would surely have been stripped clean of its fruit [The fruit season was around Tabernacles]. Jesus must have known that he would not find any figs on this unusual fig tree…

 

Note that the next day after Jesus cursed that fig tree, the disciples found it withered (Mark 11:20,22; Matthew 21:18-21). What was significant about this? It meant that the type of tree that Adam and Eve first ate which brought sin and death to them (and in an extended sense to all humanity) was now withered and dead.

 

Tradition had it that the only tree under Adam’s care in the Garden of Eden that did not shed its leaves after our first parents took of the fruit was the fig tree. It was the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. But with this miracle of Jesus on the Mount of Olives, it meant that symbolic tree was now withered and dead. It signified that no longer would that type of tree be in the midst of humanity to encourage mankind to sin in the manner of our first parents…

 

Jesus cursed that symbolic tree at the top of Olivet so that no man would eat of it

again. And to complete his victory over sin, a short time later Jesus was going to be sacrificed for the sins of the world just a few yards away from this withered and dead tree. What Jesus was doing in the last week of his life on earth was acting out a symbolic victory over all the factors in the Garden of Eden around which our first parents failed. The Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil was now withered and dead.

 

But there was a second symbolic meaning to the withering of the fig tree. There was the village of priests called Bethphage (House of Unripe Figs) along side that

withered tree. And Bethphage was where the Sanhedrin met for special sentencing, especially that dealing with whom they considered to be a rebellious elder who needed to be excommunicated. And why was this priestly village called Bethphage? It meant “The House of Unripe Figs.” The Jewish authorities understood that the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil from which Adam and Eve ate that brought sin into the world was the fig (not the apple). Adam and Eve took leaves from that very tree from which they ate to hide their nakedness from God. But, in the case of the Sanhedrin at Jerusalem at Bethphage, they were supposed to act as God’s judges and thereby they were supposed to be rendered free of sin in their adjudications. This is probably why they named the village on Olivet the “House of Unripe Figs” because at this place of the court there were supposed to be no ripe figs available to tempt the judges to eat of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil like was the case with Adam and Eve…

 

It was no accident that Jesus told his disciples to go into Bethphage and obtain a donkey for him to ride into Jerusalem to fulfill the prophecy of Zechariah about the Jews adoring their king riding on a donkey. By getting this donkey at Bethphage was like saying that Jesus went to the Supreme Court for his transport.

 

But there is even more. Note that when Jesus departed on the donkey from Bethphage that the people praised him as the King of Israel (Matthew 21:1-17). Jesus then returned to Bethany on the east side of the Mount of Olives and the next morning started once again into Jerusalem. He then saw the fig tree (note carefully that this was a fig tree) that had no eatable fruit on it. Indeed, the texts say that it was not yet the time for ripe figs because it was so early in the season. But Christ, finding no ripe figs on it, cursed it then and there. This event occurred on the Mount of Olives and right next to the village of Bethphage (the House of Unripe Figs). Soon that fig tree withered away and died, within a matter of hours.

 

Jews living at the time in Jerusalem (without the slightest doubt in their minds) would have known the significance that Jesus was placing on that miraculous event. That fig tree itself was a “Tree of Unripe Figs” which was located next to the village of Bethphage (with the name “House of Unripe Figs”) which was the site where the Sanhedrin determined the limits of things that were holy and things not holy. In effect, Jesus through the miraculous withering of that fig tree of unripe figs was showing the demise and final authority of the Sanhedrin to make decisions at Bethphage (the House of Unripe Figs).

 

Later Jewish interpretation said that the verse in the Song of Songs which said: “the fig tree putteth forth her green figs” (Song of Songs 2:13) was figurative of the coming days of the Messiah, see the fifth century Jewish work called the Pesikta de-Rab Kahana (Piska 5:9). But here was Jesus, doing the work of the Messiah, causing the fig tree with no figs to dry up. The official work of God was to be given to a nation bringing forth proper results. Recall, Jesus later stated in the Temple: “Therefore say I unto you. The kingdom of God shall be taken from you, and given to a nation bringing forth the fruits thereof” (Matthew 21:43) (Golgotha p.138-144).

 

 

 

Crucifixion of Jesus Christ and “Last Judgement of Sanhedrin”

last

by

Damien F. Mackey

  

“It means that the judgment made by the official Sanhedrin against Jesus within the Chamber of Hewn Stones, was THE LAST JUDGMENT ever given by the official Sanhedrin in their majestic chambers within the Temple!”

 

The important insights of Dr. Ernest L. Martin on this subject are summarised in an article by William F. Dankenbring, “The Mysterious Events of the Year 30 A.D.!”

http://www.ensignmessage.com/archives/mysteriousevents.html

 

IN the gospel accounts dealing with the crucifixion of Jesus Christ, we find that strange events occurred, surrounding the event of the crucifixion, stamping it in the memory of man and God.

 

Such a significant year in the history of all mankind would hardly seem to be allowed to pass without some “sign” or “wonders”. Indeed, although unbelievers continue to deny the facts, 30 A.D. was a strange, anomalous year.

 

In the book of Matthew we read:

 

“Now from the sixth hour there was darkness over all the land unto the ninth hour…. Jesus, when he had cried again with a loud voice, yielded up the spirit. And, behold, the veil of the temple was torn in two from the top to the bottom; and the earth did quake, and the rocks were split; and the graves were opened, and many bodies of the saints that slept were raised, and came out of the graves after his resurrection, and into the holy city, and appeared unto many. Now, when the centurion, and they that were with him watching Jesus, saw the earthquake, and those things that were done, they feared greatly, saying, Truly this was the Son of God” – (Matthew 27:45-54).

 

Writes Alfred Edersheim in The Life and Times of Jesus the Messiah:

 

“And now a shudder ran through Nature, as its Sun had set. We dare not do more than follow the rapid outlines of the Evangelistic narrative. As the first token, it records the rending of the Temple-Veil in two from the top downward to the bottom; as the second, the quaking of the earth, the rending of the rocks and the opening of the graves.., while the rending of the Veil is recorded first, as being the most significant token to Israel, it may have been connected with the earthquake, although this alone might scarcely account for the tearing of so heavy a Veil from the top to the bottom. Even the latter circumstance has its significance. That some great catastrophe, betokening the impending destruction of the Temple, had occurred in the Sanctuary about this very time, is confirmed by not less than four mutually independent testimonies: those of Tacitus, of Josephus, of the Talmud, and of earliest Christian tradition. The most important of these are, of course, the Talmud and Josephus. The latter speaks of the mysterious extinction of the middle and chief light in the Golden Candlestick, forty years before the destruction of the Temple; and both he and the Talmud refer to a supernatural opening by themselves of the great Temple-gates that had been previously closed, which was regarded as a portent of the coming destruction of the Temple” (p.610).

 

The Temple was destroyed by Titus in 70 A.D. Forty years before that date would be 30 A.D. – the year of the crucifixion!

 

Says Josephus, in his Wars of the Jews:

 

“Thus also, before the Jewish rebellion, and before those commotions which preceded the war, when the people were come in great crowds to the feast of unleavened bread, on the eighth day of the month Xanthicus [Nisan] and at the ninth hour of the night, so great a light shone round the altar and the holy house, that it appeared to be bright day-time; which light lasted for half an hour. This light seemed to be a good sign to the unskillful, but was so interpreted by the sacred scribes as to portend those events that followed immediately upon it. At the same festival also, a heifer, as she was being led by the high priest to be sacrificed, brought forth a lamb in the midst of the temple. Moreover, the eastern gate of the inner, [court of the temple,] which was of brass, and vastly heavy, and had been with difficulty shut by twenty men, and rested upon a basis armed with iron, and had bolts fastened very deep into the firm floor, which was there made of one entire stone, was seen to be opened of its own accord about the sixth hour of the night. Now, those that kept watch in the temple came thereupon running to the captain of the temple, and told him of it; who then came up thither, and not without great difficulty was able to shut the gate again. This also appeared to the vulgar to be a very happy prodigy, as if God did thereby open them the gate of happiness. But the men of learning understood it, that the security of their holy house was dissolved of its own accord, and that the gate was opened for the advantage of their enemies. So these publicly declared, that this signal foreshewed the DESOLATION that was coming upon them” – (IV,5,3).

 

In early writings of the church fathers, Jerome in a Letter to Hedibia relates that the huge lintel of the Temple was broken and splintered and fell. He connects this with the rending of the Veil. Says Edersheim, “it would seem an obvious inference to connect again this breaking of the lintel with an earthquake” (p. 610, op. cit.). The lintel was an enormous stone, being at least 30 feet long and weighing some 30 tons!

 

The Temple Veils were 60 feet long, 30 feet wide, and the thickness of the palm of a man’s hand, wrought in 72 squares. They were so heavy that we are told 300 priests were needed to manipulate each one. The Veil being rent from top to bottom was such a terrible portent because it indicated that God’s Own Hand had torn it in two, His Presence thus deserting and leaving that Holy Place.

 

Says the Jewish Talmud in Yoma 39b of the events which occurred in 30 A.D.:

 

“Forty years before the Temple was destroyed [i.e., 40 years before 70 A.D., or in 30 A.D.] . . . the gates of the Hekel [Holy Place] opened by themselves, until Rabbi Yohanan B. Zakkai rebuked them [the gates] saying, Hekel, Hekel, why alarmist thou us? We know that thou art destined to be destroyed…”

 

For the huge doors of the Temple behind the Veil to open, of their own accord, or in association with the great earthquake, would cause them to pull powerfully against the Veil, and with the lintel falling, at the same time, could have torn it in two from top to bottom.

 

This same year, 30 A.D., the Sanhedrin had to abandon the Chamber of Hewn Stones, near the Holy Place in the Temple, which was its official seat or location. This was about 40 yards southeast of the entrance to the Holy Place. In 30 A.D. the Sanhedrin had to move to another location, called “The Trading Place,” farther to the east and a much less significant spot. To be forced to move from a beautiful, gorgeous, awesome location in the Temple to a spot much less beautiful, esteemed, and reverential, must have seemed a terrible “put down.” Says the Talmud:

 

“Forty years before the destruction of the Temple, the Sanhedrin was BANISHED (from the Chamber of Hewn Stone) and sat in the trading station (on the Temple Mount)” – (Shabbat 15a).

 

Forty years before the destruction of the Temple in 70 A.D. is 30 A.D. – the very year of the crucifixion of the Messiah! Why was the Sanhedrin moved in the very year Jesus was crucified? Could it also have been forced to do so because of damage due to the earthquake associated with the crucifixion of Jesus – and be direct punishment for their complicity in handing Jesus over to the Romans? Was this evidence of God’s official displeasure with their actions?

 

Prior to the War with Rome, Josephus tells us that the Sanhedrin had to move once again. This time they moved to an area outside the Temple complex, in an ordinary part of Jerusalem – actually a place west of the Temple near a building called the Xystus (see Josephus’ Wars of the Jews, V,4, 2). What a come-down! Says Ernest Martin in his book Secrets of Golgotha:

 

“If an earthquake of the magnitude capable of breaking the stone lintel at the top of the entrance to the Holy Place was occurring at the exact time of Christ’s death, then what would such an earthquake have done to the Chamber of Hewn Stones (a vaulted and columned structure) no more than 40 yards away from where the stone lintel fell and the curtain was torn in two?”

“There is every reason to believe, though the evidence is circumstantial, that the Chamber of Hewn Stones was so damaged in the same earthquake that it became structurally unsafe from that time forward. Something like this had to have happened because the Sanhedrin would not have left this majestic chamber (to take up residence in the insignificant ‘Trading Place’) unless something approaching this explanation took place” – (p.230-231).

 

Martin is right! They would not have made such a humiliating move – voluntarily! It had to be forced upon them by circumstance. There is no record of the Roman government compelling such a move – they stayed out of Jewish religious life. Nor would Herod the king have been responsible – to offend the entire Sanhedrin would have been a disastrous political mistake. Only a “natural cause” which men could not remedy would seem plausible for causing such a move. Martin goes on:

 

“If this is actually what happened (and I have no doubt that it did), we then have a most remarkable witness that God the Father engineered every action happening on the day of Christ’s trial and crucifixion. It means that the judgment made by the official Sanhedrin against Jesus within the Chamber of Hewn Stones, was THE LAST JUDGMENT ever given by the official Sanhedrin in their majestic chambers within the Temple! It would show that God the Father demonstrated by the earthquake at Christ’s death that the sentence of the Sanhedrin against Jesus would be the last judgment it would ever make in that authorized place!” – (p.231).

 

But this is not all. The events of the year 30 A.D. are amazing, when viewed from the perspective of almost 2,000 years later. Why did so many anomalous events occur during that one single year? Why did so many “curses” begin that very year? Why was the Sanhedrin so obviously rebuked by God that year, by being forced to “relocate” to a much lesser station than that which they previously held? Writes Rabbi Leibel Reznick in The Holy Temple Revisited:

 

“Although this was the largest structure on top of the entire Temple Mount, the purpose and function of the Basilica is not recorded anywhere. The TALMUD tells us that when the Sanhedrin (Supreme Court) CEASED TO JUDGE CAPITAL OFFENCES, they MOVED from the Supreme Court chambers to the ‘shopping mall’ (Rosh HaShana 31a). This shopping mall was located on the Temple Mount (Rashi) … Perhaps this shopping mall was located within the Royal Basilica. Because this area was built on Herod’s extension, it did not have the sanctity of the Temple itself, and commerce would have been permitted” (Jason Aronson, Inc., Northvale, New Jersey, 1993, p.69).

 

Notice! The year the Sanhedrin was moved was 30 A.D., the year Christ was crucified. This was also the year they CEASED to judge capital offences! This “authority” was thenceforth removed from their purview, denied to them – another withering rebuke to the sages of the Court which so injudiciously and intemperately MISJUDGED the Messiah Himself! Writes Craig Blomberg of this event:

 

“…the claim that the Romans retained the sole right of capital punishment (John 18:31) has often been termed a Johanine error, especially in view of the counter-example in the stoning of Stephen (Acts 7:58). But this right is strikingly confirmed by a passage in the Talmud, which says that capital punishment had been taken from the Jews FORTY YEARS before the destruction of the temple in A.D.70 (pSanh. 1:1,7:2). Stephen’s stoning reads more like mob action which defied technical legalities” – (The Historical Reliability of the Gospels, by Craig Blomberg, Inter-Varsity Press, 1987, p. 179).

 

It was the very year of the crucifixion that the Jews were denied the right to perform capital punishment by the Romans. When the members of the Jewish Supreme Court brought Jesus to Pilate, he told then “Take him and judge him according to your law.” But they replied, “It is not lawful for us to put any man to death” – (John 18:31). Yet they connived and pressured Pilate and stirred up the crowd to demand the crucifixion of Christ the Messiah, the Anointed One of God (John 18:32-40; 19:1-16).

 

Great trouble and trial has come upon the Jewish nation ever since this moment frozen in time in 30 A.D. As He was led away to be crucified, Jesus warned the women of Jerusalem,

 

“Daughters of Jerusalem, weep not for me, but weep for yourselves, and for your children. For, behold, the days are coming, in the which they shall say, Blessed are the barren, and the wombs that never bare, and the paps which never gave suck. Then shall they begin to say to the mountains, Fall on us; and to the hills, Cover us. For if they do these things in a green tree, what shall be done in the dry?” – (Luke 23:28-31).

 

Truly, that was a memorable year of infamy!

[End of quotes]

 

 

 

Some may prefer a slightly different date, other than 30 AD, for the Crucifixion of Jesus Christ.

But, whichever year it actually was, it was indeed, as said above, “a memorable year of infamy!”

 

 

 

Necessity of Virgin Mary

 virgen mary 

by

 Damien F. Mackey

  

 “We must conclude that, being necessary to God by a necessity which is called “hypothetical”, (that is, because God so willed it), the Blessed Virgin is all the more necessary for men to attain their final end. Consequently we must not place devotion to her on the same level as devotion to the other saints as if it were merely something optional.”

–Saint Louis Marie de Montfort

“True Devotion to Blessed Virgin Mary”

(39 §2)

 

‘The Marian Dimension’

  

“The Marian dimension of the life of a disciple of Christ is expressed in a special way precisely through this filial entrusting to the Mother of Christ, which began with the testament of the Redeemer on Golgotha. Entrusting himself to Mary in a filial manner, the Christian, like the Apostle John, “welcomes” the Mother of Christ “into his own home”130 and brings her into everything that makes up his inner life, that is to say into his human and Christian “I”: he “took her to his own home”.”

 Pope John Paul II:

“Redemptoris Mater”

(# 45)

 

 

Just possibly, John Paul II may have picked up this phrase, “The Marian Dimension”, from a one-time mentor of mine, Frits Albers, who used the description twice in titles of books that he wrote, one of which was apparently part of the Offertory at the pope’s Mass at St. Patrick’s Cathedral, Melbourne (Australia) in 1986. Frits’s book, The Marian Dimension in the Apocalypse of St. John (1982) preceded John Paul II’s sixth encyclical letter, Redemptoris Mater (1987), by some 5 years.

Frits Albers, philosopher and maths teacher, was an extraordinary and controversial character, who studied for ten years to become a Jesuit at the Catholic University of Nijmegen in Holland. He claimed to have lost his vocation, but never his faith, and he blamed his loss of vocation on the teachings of Father Teilhard de Chardin that were rampant at the time. Moving later to Geelong in Victoria (Australia), Frits married and he and his wife together had ten children.

Frits was a relentless warrior in defence of the Catholic Faith, and launched many broadsides against de Chardin. Some of it must have rubbed off on me. See my:

 

The Sheer Silliness of Teilhard de Chardin

 

https://www.academia.edu/19566354/The_Sheer_Silliness_of_Teilhard_de_Chardin

 

 

Pope John Paul II makes another mention of “the Marian dimension” in the same part of his encyclical, when writing:

 

It can be said that motherhood “in the order of grace” preserves the analogy with what “in the order of nature” characterizes the union between mother and child. In the light of this fact it becomes easier to understand why in Christ’s testament on Golgotha his Mother’s new motherhood is expressed in the singular, in reference to one man: “Behold your son.”

 

lt can also be said that these same words fully show the reason for the Marian dimension of the life of Christ’s disciples. This is true not only of John, who at that hour stood at the foot of the Cross together with his Master’s Mother, but it is also true of every disciple of Christ, of every Christian. The Redeemer entrusts his mother to the disciple, and at the same time he gives her to him as his mother. Mary’s motherhood, which becomes man’s inheritance, is a gift: a gift which Christ himself makes personally to every individual. The Redeemer entrusts Mary to John because he entrusts John to Mary. At the foot of the Cross there begins that special entrusting of humanity to the Mother of Christ, which in the history of the Church has been practiced and expressed in different ways. The same Apostle and Evangelist, after reporting the words addressed by Jesus on the Cross to his Mother and to himself, adds: “And from that hour the disciple took her to his own home” (Jn. 19:27). This statement certainly means that the role of son was attributed to the disciple and that he assumed responsibility for the Mother of his beloved Master. And since Mary was given as a mother to him personally, the statement indicates, even though indirectly, everything expressed by the intimate relationship of a child with its mother. And all of this can be included in the word “entrusting.” Such entrusting is the response to a person’s love, and in particular to the love of a mother.

 

 

The “New Eve”

 

 

“The foundation of this beautiful alias is entirely biblical. Jesus Christ is the New Adam. Now, the old Adam had a helpmate like unto himself who was his partner in crime. It’s a parallelism that begs to be completed. Common sense tells us we don’t have to look far to complete it. For those who have eyes to see and ears to hear, the Gospels show us that Jesus had a partner in redemption, and that partner was Mary”.

 

 

Sometimes it may seem to us as if it is Satan, and not God, who really controls the show.

The Devil can certainly be accused, at least, of ruining the show, as according to this famous quote from French Thomistic philosopher, Jacques Maritain:

 

“Nowadays the devil has made such a mess of everything in the system of life on earth that the world will presently become uninhabitable for anybody but Saints. The rest will drag their lives out in despair or fall below the level of man. The antinomies if human life are too exasperated, the burden of matter too oppressive; merely to exist, one has to expose oneself to many snares. Christian heroism will one day become the sole solution for the problems of life.”

 

However, as the Book of Job reveals to us, it is God, not Satan, who has the last word – or who has, one could say, the First and the Last Word.

Satan is allowed a degree of interference for the sake of a greater good. The prophet Job became a far better person for his terrible ordeal, as did his three friends who had formerly accused him.

As St. Paul optimistically put it (Romans 5:20): “… where sin increased, grace abounded all the more”.

God will always re-write a discordant note into a new and better symphony. He always has at hand what Tertullian called “a rival operation”, to turn the Devil’s schemes upon himself.

This Divine method is most wonderfully illustrated in the reversal, by the “New Adam” and the “New Eve”, of the sin of the first Adam and Eve. I wrote about it as follows in my book:

 

The Five First Saturdays of Our Lady of Fatima

 

https://www.academia.edu/3689879/The_Five_First_Saturdays_Of_Our_Lady_of_Fatima

 

 

A Rival Operation

 

All the way through the history of salvation, since sin fist entered into the universe, the Triune God has employed what Tertullian called “a rival operation”, to turn the Devil’s own schemes upon himself. This dramatic change of fortune against the forces of evil, just when these had appeared to have the upper hand, always leaves them stranded, trapped at their own game, and an easy target for God. It is a process that is wonderfully demonstrated in the Book of Esther, where it is consciously used by the sacred writer to create a dramatic tension. That this same process of “rival operation” runs throughout the entire Scriptures in fact, is attested by Fr. Papali, when he says that: “There is no parallelism in the Scriptures so pronounced and so perfect as between the drama of the fall of man and that of his restoration. St. Paul has emphasised the essential and central point of that contrasting parallel:

“Therefore, as by the offence of one, unto all men to condemnation; so also by the justice of one, unto all men to justification of life. For as by the disobedience of one man, many were made sinners; so also by the obedience of one, many shall be made just’ (Rom. 5:18-19)”. ….

Now what is the role of the Woman in this parallel scheme of things? With this question we touch on the heart of the Fatima message. And, as we are going to discover, this role is a central one.

Already, in the Introduction, we briefly considered how Queen Vashti and Queen Esther typify, respectively, the First Eve and the Second Eve. Now, Tertullian used this very example of the Virgin Mary as the ‘Second Eve’, to illustrate exactly what he meant by his term “rival operation”. Thus he wrote (in De Carn. Christ., 17):

“For into Eve, as yet a virgin, had crept the word which was the framer of death, equally into a Virgin was to be introduced the Word of God which was the builder-up of life”.

Now, considering that the hero and heroine in the Book of Esther – that is, Mordecai and Queen Esther – typify (and only typify) respectively Jesus Christ and the Virgin Mary, then we shall have to go to the New Testament where the final details of their true relationship lie revealed. We may expect Mordecai, even more than Esther, to be the drama’s chief protagonist on the side of good. And whilst it is indeed Mordecai who initiates the action, and who conveys vital instructions to the ever-obedient Queen Esther, it was nevertheless she alone amongst the Jewish race who had any hope of access to the king. If then it is Esther who will stand before the royal presence – though it may mean her life – and plead for mercy: ‘I will go to the king, though it is against the law; and if I perish, I perish’ (4:16), then the final answer to this profound mystery, “Why this preference for the Woman as the central figure in the drama?”, cannot be given until they whom Mordecai and Queen Esther typify have made their appearance: namely, Our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ and His holy Mother.

We begin our search for the only answer that can completely satisfy us (as far as the limitations of our earthly existence will allow) at the level where two Popes (Pius IX in “Ineffabilis Deus”, 1854, and Pius XII in “Munificentissimus Deus, 1950) have instructed us to look for it: in eternity …. A little earlier on we had displayed the important text which appears in both of these papal documents:

“… the revered Mother of God, ‘from all eternity joined in a hidden way with Jesus Christ in one and the same Decree of Predestination’ …”..

Central to the answer is the unbelievable power of an ‘instrument’ in the Divine Mind; power associated with being a ‘causa instrumentalis’ in God’s Hands. To understand fully what is to follow, it is absolutely essential that the truth be accepted as proposed by the holy Catholic Church: that Mary is not only the Mother and the Model, but also the beginning of the Church. Central in the Mind of God as to this whole Mystery of Fall and Redemption is this Revealed Truth: that Mary, as the New Eve, was at one stage the whole Church when, on that momentous occasion of the Annunciation, She gave Christ the two instruments that he needed under the Divine Decree of Redemption: the physical Body that made Him human and the Mystical Body that made Him Head. And by this simple act of being the singular instrument that Christ needed to redeem the world in the form of a “rival operation” paralleling the Fall, the world became inundated with the Flood of the Incarnation and Redemption; an unleashing of Grace out of all proportion to the status of being a mere human instrument. And the whole core of what this present book is about is that now, by that same decree, this tremendous power of being a ‘causa instrumentalis’ has flowed from Christ the Head, through Mary, through the holy Church to each of its members, i.e. to each of this Mother’s children ….

“Many souls go to Hell because there is no one to pray or to bring sacrifices for them ….”.

Christ prayed and died for these souls. Mary prayed and suffered for them. The holy Church prays and suffers. Yet, according to St. Paul [Col. 1:24] and the above-quoted words of our Lady at Fatima, there is still something lacking, there is still more to be done! Locked up in God’s inscrutable Decree of Predestination lies the decision that other instruments have been set aside and have been given the power to obtain the very special grace equally won by Christ: the removal of individual obstructions to this ‘flood of Grace’; obstructions which, due to fallen human nature, remain present in each parched soul. And unless a substitute can be found in case the instruments, chosen initially, refuse to pass on this flow and secure this individual grace, “many souls go to Hell” ….

 

That this teaching of the New Adam and the New Eve, stemming from biblical roots, represents a most ancient belief in the Christian Church is apparent from what we read in the following article (http://catholicism.org/second-eve.html):

 

The foundation of this beautiful alias is entirely biblical. Jesus Christ is the New Adam. Now, the old Adam had a helpmate like unto himself who was his partner in crime. It’s a parallelism that begs to be completed. Common sense tells us we don’t have to look far to complete it. For those who have eyes to see and ears to hear, the Gospels show us that Jesus had a partner in redemption, and that partner was Mary.

 

The “Last Adam”

 

Saint Paul provides us with the first part of our argument. It is this inspired title of Jesus Christ: The Last Adam. In two passages, the Blessed Apostle teaches us that Adam was a type 1 of Our Lord as the head of a new race. As Adam was the head of fallen humanity, Christ Our Lord is head of a regenerated, sanctified humanity. In the Epistle to the Romans, he tells us that “death reigned from Adam unto Moses, even over them also who have not sinned, after the similitude of the transgression of Adam, who is a figure of him who was to come” (5:14). He further develops the thought in the Epistle to the Corinthians while speaking of the Resurrection. Proving to the doubting Corinthians that there will indeed be a resurrection on the last day, the Apostle contrasts the curse received through Adam with the blessings received through Christ: “For by a man came death: and by a man the resurrection of the dead. And as in Adam all die, so also in Christ all shall be made alive” (1 Cor. 15:21-22).

Later, he continues the contrast by showing its origin in the corrupted nature we inherit from Adam as opposed to the heavenly nature we receive by the grace of Our Lord:

“The first man Adam was made into a living soul; the last Adam into a quickening spirit. Yet that was not first which is spiritual, but that which is natural: afterwards that which is spiritual. The first man was of the earth, earthly: the second man, from heaven, heavenly. Such as is the earthly, such also are the earthly: and such as is the heavenly, such also are they that are heavenly. Therefore, as we have borne the image of the earthly, let us bear also the image of the heavenly” (1 Cor. 15:45-49).

According to Saint Paul, Jesus is the “last Adam” or the “second man” who came to restore to the human race what we lost in the Fall.

All who call themselves Christian accept this Adam-Christ parallel. We will not prove it or develop it here. Our task is to complete the picture by showing that Christ, like Adam, had a “helpmate like unto himself” (Gen. 2:18) who was his partner in the redemption. This will establish a strong foundation for Catholic Marian beliefs and devotions. Our approach is to present the doctrine of the “Second Eve” in the thoughts of the Fathers of the Church, whose testimony to the Eve-Mary parallel shows that these ancient defenders of the Christian religion were generous in their love of Our Lady (like Catholics) and not “Marian minimizers.”

 

The Annunciation

 

Common to many of the Fathers’ texts on the Second Eve is the notion that Our Lady’s Annunciation was the antithesis of Eve’s disobedience. The parallels are obvious: both were women, both were virgins, both were approached by angels who promised them something glorious should they cooperate with their respective propositions, both stood at the dawn of creation (Christ’s work was a “new creation”). The contrasts, too, are obvious: In the one case, disobedience of God brought misery, while in the other, obedience brought about happiness; the one was all-too-eager to hear what the evil spirit was suggesting, while the second was “troubled” at the angel’s wondrous greeting; the first accepted the angelic proposal even though it contradicted God’s word, while the second tested the message by its fidelity to God’s word. 2

The earliest known reference to the Eve-Mary parallel is that of Saint Justin Martyr, who died around 165. It is likely that this great philosopher-martyr was referring to an older tradition when he made the following reference, contrasting Mary’s Annunciation with Eve’s encounter with the serpent:

“[The Son of God] became man through a Virgin, so that the disobedience caused by the serpent might be destroyed in the same way it had begun. For Eve, who was virgin and undefiled, gave birth to disobedience and death after listening to the serpent’s words. But the Virgin Mary conceived faith and joy; for when the angel Gabriel brought her the glad tidings that the Holy Spirit would come upon her and that the power of the Most High would overshadow her, so that the Holy One born of her would be the Son of God, she answered, ‘Let it be done to me according to thy word’ (Lk. 1:38). Thus was born of her the [Child] about whom so many Scriptures speak, as we have shown. Through Him, God crushed the serpent, along with those angels and men who had become like the serpent.” (Dialogue with Trypho 100, quoted in Mary and the Fathers of the Church, by Luigi Gambero, Ignatius Press, 1999 [hereafter, MFC], pg. 47.)

A later witness of the parallel between Gabriel and the serpent is Saint Cyril of Jerusalem (+403): “Death came through a virgin, Eve. It was necessary that life also should come through a virgin, so that, as the serpent deceived the former, so Gabriel might bring glad tidings to the latter.” (Catecheses 12,15; MFC, pg. 135.)

 

“Cause of Salvation”

 

Many of the patristic texts on this subject assign to the Virgin an active role in man’s salvation. She was no mere passive recipient of grace. For instance, here is Saint Irenaeus of Lyons (+c.202), who tells us that Mary is the “cause of salvation,” whereas Eve had been the “cause of death”:

“Even though Eve had Adam for a husband, she was still a virgin. … By disobeying, she became the cause of death for herself and for the whole human race. In the same way, Mary, though she also had a husband, was still a virgin, and by obeying, she became the cause of salvation for herself and for the whole human race. … The knot of Eve’s disobedience was untied by Mary’s obedience. What Eve bound through her unbelief, Mary loosed by her faith.” (Against Heresies 3, 22; MFC, pg. 54. Unless otherwise noted, all italics in quotes are ours.)

Those tempted to object to this causality attributed to Mary should note that it is a perfect expression of Catholic Marian orthodoxy. The role of the Blessed Virgin is dependant on Christ in much the same manner as the role of Eve was dependant on Adam. God, who was no feminist, made salvation dependant on the action of a Man, just as He punished our race because of the sin of a man. Here we need to repeat what many are probably unaware of, namely, that it was Adam’s sin, not Eve’s, which is the original sin. Saint Paul reminds us that, in the order of time, the woman sinned first: “For Adam was first formed; then Eve. And Adam was not seduced; but the woman, being seduced, was in the transgression” (1 Tim. 2:13-14). But he also lets us know that Adam’s fall was the fall of the entire race: “For by a man came death: and by a man the resurrection of the dead. And as in Adam all die, so also in Christ all shall be made alive” (1 Cor. 15:21-22). For Catholics, Adam’s exclusive role in the original sin is dogma. The same is true for many Protestants. The Calvinist New England Primer memorably put it this way: “In Adam’s fall, we sinned all.”

Now, while God was no feminist, He did give woman a special place. Eve was, for Adam, a “helpmate like unto himself” (Gen. 2:18). When she sinned and encouraged him to sin, she failed in that role. All this goes to show, that while Adam’s was the original sin, Eve had a real, active, and causal role. Invert that in the case of the New Adam. The work of redemption was the work of Christ. But He had a helpmate. Hence, we see the reasonableness of Mary’s title, “Co-Redemptrix.” 3

Saint Irenaeus writes elsewhere about Mary’s effective role in undoing what Eve did. This Father of the Church had a very profound theology which developed Saint Paul’s doctrine in Ephesians (1:10) about the “recapitulation” of all things in Christ. All human history, from Adam to his last son, are “recapitulated” in Christ so that what went wrong in Adam will be made right in the Second Adam. He details this theology in his Against the Heresies, the work we cited earlier. Here, in another work, he makes reference to the same idea, but with a beautiful Marian twist:

“Adam had to be recapitulated in Christ, so that death might be swallowed up in immortality, and Eve [had to be recapitulated] in Mary, so that the Virgin, having become another virgin’s advocate, might destroy and abolish one virgin’s disobedience by the obedience of another virgin.” (Proof of the Apostolic Preaching 33; MFC, pg. 55.)

Note again the active nature of the Blessed Virgin’s role: Mary destroyed Eve’s disobedience.

Another who gives Our Lady an active role in the redemption is Saint Ephrem the Syrian (+373), the “Harp of the Holy Ghost.” Saint Ephrem is one of the early witnesses to the Immaculate Conception and to the Marian interpretation of Genesis 3:15 (“she shall crush thy head”; the “she” being Mary). Here he espouses this position, throwing in the Eve-Mary typology: “Because the serpent had struck Eve with his claw, the foot of Mary bruised him.” (Diatesseron 10, 13; MFC, pg. 117.)

 

The Woman

 

Saint Jerome (+420) was one of Our Lady’s great defenders in the fifth century. It is he who stood up for her perpetual virginity when … Helvidius attacked it. Speaking of the wife of Job, who foolishly advised Job to “curse God and die” (Job 2:9), he notes the devil’s trick of using women to ensnare men:

“Observe the cleverness of the ancient foe. He ferociously preyed upon the substance of the just man [Job]. … He left him nothing but his tongue and his wife, so that one tempted him while the other blasphemed. The devil remembered the old trick by which he had once ensnared Adam through the woman… thinking that he could always trap men by using woman. But he did not consider that, if a man was ruined by a woman once, now the whole world has been saved through a woman. You are thinking of Eve, but consider Mary: the former drove us out of paradise; the latter leads us back to heaven.” (Tract on Psalm 96, 1; MFC, pg. 212.)

 

 

Mary as New Ark of Covenant

 

 

Catholic biblical commentators have been, in recent times, drawing magnificent and compelling parallels between the blessed Virgin Mary and the ancient Ark of the Covenant, with Mary being described as, for example, “the Ark of the New Covenant”.

 

 

Consider, for instance, the parallels drawn in the following article by Catholic convert Steve Ray http://www.catholic.com/magazine/articles/mary-the-ark-of-the-new-covenant

 

Mary, the Ark of the New Covenant

By: Steve Ray

….

Why do Catholics call Mary the Ark of the New Covenant? Answering that question will take us on a thrilling journey through the Old and New Testaments.

 

For example, Luke wove some marvelous things into his Gospel that only a knowledgeable Jew would have understood—a Jew who knew Jewish Scripture and had eyes to see and ears to hear. One of the things he would have understood is typology.

 

We all know that the Old Testament is full of stories, people, and historical events. A type is a person, thing, or event in the Old Testament that foreshadows something in the New Testament. It is like a taste or a hint of something that will be fulfilled or realized. Types are like pictures that come alive in a new and exciting way when seen through the eyes of Christ’s revelation. Augustine said that “the Old Testament is the New concealed, but the New Testament is the Old revealed” (Catechizing of the Uninstructed 4:8).

 

The idea of typology is not new. Paul says that Adam was a type of the one who was to come—Christ (Rom 5:14). Early Christians understood that the Old Testament was full of types or pictures that were fulfilled or realized in the New Testament.

 

Here are a few more examples of biblical typology:

 

  • Peter uses Noah’s ark as a type of Christian baptism (1 Pt 3:18-22).
  • Paul explains that circumcision foreshadowed Christian baptism (Col 2:11-12).
  • Jesus uses the bronze serpent as a type of his Crucifixion (Jn 3:14; cf. Nm 21:8-9).
  • The Passover lamb prefigures the sacrifice of Christ (1 Cor 5:7).        
  • In those days Mary arose and went with haste into the hill country, to a city of Judah, and she entered the house of Zechariah and greeted Elizabeth. And when Elizabeth heard the greeting of Mary, the babe leaped in her womb; and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit and she exclaimed with a loud cry, “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb! And why is this granted me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me? For behold, when the voice of your greeting came to my ears, the babe in my womb leaped for joy. And blessed is she who believed that there would be a fulfillment of what was spoken to her from the Lord.” (Lk 1:39-45)
  • Compare David and the ark to Luke’s account of the Visitation:
  • David went out to retrieve the ark (1 Sm 6:1-2). After a man named Uzzah was struck dead when he touched the ark, David was afraid and said, “How can the ark of the Lord come to me?” He left the ark in the hill country of Judea for three months. We are also told that David danced and leapt in front of the ark and everyone shouted for joy. The house of Obed-edom, which had housed the ark, was blessed, and then David took the ark to Jerusalem (2 Sm 6:9-14).
  • Luke weaves additional parallels into the story of Mary—types that could be overlooked if one is unfamiliar with the Old Testament. After Moses died, Joshua led the Israelites across the Jordan River into the Promised Land. Joshua established the Ark of the Covenant in Shiloh, where it stayed for more than 200 years. One day the Israelites were losing a battle with the Philistines, so they snatched the ark and rushed it to the front lines. The Philistines captured the ark, but it caused them great problems, so they sent it back to Israel (1 Sm 5:1-6:12).
  • King David and Elizabeth
  • The Virgin Mary is the living shrine of the Word of God, the Ark of the New and Eternal Covenant. In fact, St. Luke’s account of the Annunciation of the angel to Mary nicely incorporates the images of the tent of meeting with God in Sinai and of the temple of Zion. Just as the cloud covered the people of God marching in the desert (cf. Nm 10:34; Dt 33:12; Ps 91:4) and just as the same cloud, as a sign of the divine mystery present in the midst of Israel, hovered over the Ark of the Covenant (cf. Ex 40:35), so now the shadow of the Most High envelops and penetrates the tabernacle of the New Covenant that is the womb of Mary (cf. Lk 1:35). (Pontifical Council for the Pastoral Care of Migrants and Itinerant People, The Shrine: Memory, Presence and Prophecy of the Living God)
  • God was very specific about every exact detail of the ark (Ex 25-30). It was a place where God himself would dwell (Ex 25:8). God wanted his words—inscribed on stone—housed in a perfect container covered with pure gold within and without. How much more would he want his Word—Jesus—to have a perfect dwelling place! If the only begotten Son were to take up residence in the womb of a human girl, would he not make her flawless?
  • It’s easy to miss the parallel between the Holy Spirit overshadowing the ark and the Holy Spirit overshadowing Mary, between the Ark of the Old Covenant as the dwelling place of God and Mary as the new dwelling place of God.
  • In the theophanies of the Old Testament, the cloud, now obscure, now luminous, reveals the living and saving God, while veiling the transcendence of his glory—with Moses on Mount Sinai, at the tent of meeting, and during the wandering in the desert, and with Solomon at the dedication of the temple. In the Holy Spirit, Christ fulfills these figures. The Spirit comes upon the Virgin Mary and “overshadows” her, so that she might conceive and give birth to Jesus. On the mountain of Transfiguration, the Spirit in the “cloud came and overshadowed” Jesus, Moses and Elijah, Peter, James and John, and “a voice came out of the cloud, saying, ‘This is my Son, my Chosen; listen to him!’” Finally, the cloud took Jesus out of the sight of the disciples on the day of his Ascension and will reveal him as Son of Man in glory on the day of his final coming. The glory of the Lord “overshadowed” the ark and filled the tabernacle. (CCC 697)
  • When the ark was completed, the glory cloud of the Lord (the Shekinah Glory) covered the tent of meeting, and the glory of the Lord filled the tabernacle (Ex 40:34-35; Nm 9:18, 22). The verb for “to cover” or “to overshadow” and the metaphor of a cloud are used in the Bible to represent the presence and glory of God. The Catechism explains:
  • God loved his people and wanted to be close to them. He chose to do so in a very special way. The Catechism of the Catholic Church says, “The prayer of the people of God flourished in the shadow of the dwelling place of God’s presence on earth, the ark of the covenant and the temple, under the guidance of their shepherds, especially King David, and of the prophets” (CCC 2594). God instructed Moses to build a tabernacle surrounded by heavy curtains (cf. Ex 25-27). Within the tabernacle he was to place an ark made of acacia wood covered with gold inside and out. Within the Ark of the Covenant was placed a golden jar holding the manna, Aaron’s rod that budded, and the stone tablets of the covenant (cf. Heb 9:4).
  • The Ark of the Old Covenant
  • Paul says that Abraham “considered that God was able to raise men even from the dead; hence, figuratively speaking, he did receive him back” (Heb 11:19).
  • Mary arose and went to the hill country of Judea. I have been to both Ein Kerem (where Elizabeth lived) and Abu Ghosh (where the ark resided), and they are only a short walk apart. Mary and the ark were both on a journey to the same hill country of Judea.
  • When David saw the ark he rejoiced and said, “How can the ark of the Lord come to me?” Elizabeth uses almost the same words: “Why is this granted me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me?” Luke is telling us something—drawing our minds back to the Old Testament, showing us a parallel.
  • When David approached the ark he shouted out and danced and leapt in front of the ark. He was wearing an ephod, the clothing of a priest. When Mary, the Ark of the New Covenant, approached Elizabeth, John the Baptist leapt in his mother’s womb—and John was from the priestly line of Aaron. Both leapt and danced in the presence of the ark. The Ark of the Old Covenant remained in the house of Obed-edom for three months, and Mary remained in the house of Elizabeth for three months. The place that housed the ark for three months was blessed, and in the short paragraph in Luke, Elizabeth uses the word blessed three times. Her home was certainly blessed by the presence of the ark and the Lord within.
  • When the Old Testament ark arrived—as when Mary arrived—they were both greeted with shouts of joy. The word for the cry of Elizabeth’s greeting is a rare Greek word used in connection with Old Testament liturgical ceremonies that were centered around the ark and worship (cf. Word Biblical Commentary, 67). This word would flip on the light switch for any knowledgeable Jew.
  • The ark returns to its home and ends up in Jerusalem, where God’s presence and glory is revealed in the temple (2 Sm 6:12; 1 Kgs 8:9-11). Mary returns home and eventually ends up in Jerusalem, where she presents God incarnate in the temple (Lk 1:56; 2:21-22).            The early Christians taught the same thing that the Catholic Church teaches today about Mary, including her being the Ark of the New Covenant. ….
  • The Catechism of the Catholic Church echoes the words from the earliest centuries: “Mary, in whom the Lord himself has just made his dwelling, is the daughter of Zion in person, the Ark of the Covenant, the place where the glory of the Lord dwells. She is ‘the dwelling of God . . . with men’” (CCC 2676).
  • Gregory the Wonder Worker (c. 213–c. 270) wrote: “Let us chant the melody that has been taught us by the inspired harp of David, and say, ‘Arise, O Lord, into thy rest; thou, and the ark of thy sanctuary.’ For the Holy Virgin is in truth an ark, wrought with gold both within and without, that has received the whole treasury of the sanctuary” (Homily on the Annunciation to the Holy Virgin Mary).
  • Athanasius of Alexandria (c. 296–373) was the main defender of the deity of Christ against the second-century heretics. He wrote: “O noble Virgin, truly you are greater than any other greatness. For who is your equal in greatness, O dwelling place of God the Word? To whom among all creatures shall I compare you, O Virgin? You are greater than them all O [Ark of the] Covenant, clothed with purity instead of gold! You are the ark in which is found the golden vessel containing the true manna, that is, the flesh in which divinity resides” (Homily of the Papyrus of Turin).
  • Even if someone rejects Catholic teaching regarding Mary, he cannot deny that Catholics have scriptural foundations for it. And it is a teaching that has been taught by Christians from ancient times. Here are a few representative quotations from the early Church—some written well before the New Testament books were officially compiled into the final New Testament canon:
  • in the same chapter we read that the devil went out to persecute the woman’s other offspring—Christians—which certainly seems to indicate that Mary is somehow the mother of the Church (Rv 12:17).
  • What I would maintain is this, that the Holy Apostle would not have spoken of the Church under this particular image unless there had existed a Blessed Virgin Mary, who was exalted on high and the object of veneration to all the faithful. No one doubts that the “man-child” spoken of is an allusion to our Lord; why then is not “the Woman” an allusion to his mother? (On the Blessed Virgin Mary)
  • John Henry Cardinal Newman wrote about this passage in Revelation:
  • But does this passage really refer to Mary? Some say the woman represents Israel or the Church, and certainly she does. John’s use of rich symbolism is well known, but it is obvious from the Bible itself that the woman is Mary. The Bible begins with a real man (Adam), a real woman (Eve), and a real serpent (the devil)—and it also ends with a real man (Jesus, the Last Adam [1 Cor 15:45]), a real woman (Mary, the New Eve [Rv 11:19-12:2]), and a real serpent (the devil of old). All of this was foretold in Genesis 3:15.
  • What did John say immediately after seeing the Ark of the Covenant in heaven? “And a great portent appeared in heaven, a woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet, and on her head a crown of twelve stars; she was with child” (Rv 12:1-2). The woman is Mary, the Ark of the Covenant, revealed by God to John. She was seen bearing the child who would rule the world with a rod of iron (Rv 12:5). Mary was seen as the ark and as a queen.
  • At this point chapter 11 ends and chapter 12 begins. But the Bible was not written with chapter divisions—they were added in the 12th century. When John penned these words, there was no division between chapters 11 and 12; it was a continuing narrative.
  • While the apostle John was exiled on the island of Patmos, he wrote something that would have shocked any first-century Jew. The ark of the Old Covenant had been lost for centuries—no one had seen it for about 600 years. But in Revelation 11:19, John makes a surprising announcement: “Then God’s temple in heaven was opened, and the ark of his covenant was seen within his temple.”
  • The Old Testament tells us that one item was placed inside the Ark of the Old Covenant while in the Sinai wilderness: God told Moses to put the stone tablets with the Ten Commandments inside the ark (Dt 10:3-5). Hebrews 9:4 informs us that two additional items were placed in the Ark: “a golden urn holding the manna, and Aaron’s rod that budded.” Notice the amazing parallels: In the ark was the law of God inscribed in stone; in Mary’s womb was the Word of God in flesh. In the ark was the urn of manna, the bread from heaven that kept God’s people alive in the wilderness; in Mary’s womb is the Bread of Life come down from heaven that brings eternal life. In the ark was the rod of Aaron, the proof of true priesthood; in Mary’s womb is the true priest. In the third century, St. Gregory the Wonder Worker said that Mary is truly an ark—”gold within and gold without, and she has received in her womb all the treasures of the sanctuary.”
  • It seems clear that Luke has used typology to reveal something about the place of Mary in salvation history. In the Ark of the Old Covenant, God came to his people with a spiritual presence, but in Mary, the Ark of the New Covenant, God comes to dwell with his people not only spiritually but physically, in the womb of a specially prepared Jewish girl.

A Marian Church

  

“This Marian profile is also – even perhaps more so – fundamental and characteristic for the Church as is the apostolic and Petrine profile to which it is profoundly united…. The Church lives on this authentic ‘Marian profile’, the ‘Marian dimension’…. The Marian dimension of the Church is antecedent to that of the Petrine…. Mary… precedes all others, including obviously Peter himself and the Apostles…”.

 

Pope John Paul II

to Roman Curia (Christmas 1987)

 

 

 

Similarly one reads in the Catechism of the Catholic Church:

 

The Church – mystery of men’s union with God

 

772 It is in the Church that Christ fulfills and reveals his own mystery as the purpose of God’s plan: “to unite all things in him.”189 St. Paul calls the nuptial union of Christ and the Church “a great mystery.” Because she is united to Christ as to her bridegroom, she becomes a mystery in her turn.190 Contemplating this mystery in her, Paul exclaims: “Christ in you, the hope of glory.”191

 

773 In the Church this communion of men with God, in the “love [that] never ends,” is the purpose which governs everything in her that is a sacramental means, tied to this passing world.192 “[The Church’s] structure is totally ordered to the holiness of Christ’s members. And holiness is measured according to the ‘great mystery’ in which the Bride responds with the gift of love to the gift of the Bridegroom.”193 Mary goes before us all in the holiness that is the Church’s mystery as “the bride without spot or wrinkle.”194 This is why the “Marian” dimension of the Church precedes the “Petrine.”195

 

“The “Marian” dimension of the Church precedes the “Petrine”.”

The current pope, Francis, appears to have made this teaching his own, according to the following piece by John Honner (http://spirituality.ucanews.com/2013/08/15/the-marian-church-of-pope-francis/):

 

It seems that Pope Francis lives in a more personal, compassionate and collegial Church, rather than in a legalistic, hierarchical and ritualistic Church. He does not refer to himself as Pope so much as Bishop of Rome, he prefers to live in community rather than alone in the papal apartment, he dreams of a poor church for the poor, he spurns the trappings of ritual and power, he celebrates Mass with a community rather than in private. This could be described as a Marian Church, the Church of Pentecost, a Church of a community guided by charism rather than by law.

In the Catechism of the Catholic Church, at #773, it is taught that ‘the “Marian” dimension of the Church precedes the “Petrine”.’ The supporting reference for this statement is to John Paul II’s 1988 apostolic letter on the dignity and vocation of women, Mulieris Dignitatem #27. In that paragraph John Paul II writes not so much about precedence as about the Church being ‘both “Marian” and “Apostolic-Petrine”. However, as Brendan Leahy notes in his contribution to The Legacy of John Paul II, John Paul II stressed the priority of the Marian in an address to the Roman Curia before Christmas 1987:

 

This Marian profile is also – even perhaps more so – fundamental and characteristic for the Church as is the apostolic and Petrine profile to which it is profoundly united…. The Church lives on this authentic ‘Marian profile’, the ‘Marian dimension’…. The Marian dimension of the Church is antecedent to that of the Petrine…. Mary… precedes all others, including obviously Peter himself and the Apostles….

 

Leahy then shows how the theologian Hans Urs von Balthasar influenced both John Paul II and Benedict XVI in their view of ‘the Church’s charism-institution polarity within the interplay between the Marian-Petrine profiles”.

In his essay on ‘Von Balthasar and the Office of Peter in the Church’, John McDade explains that for von Balthasar

Mary is at the centre of the Church because her faith represents ‘the all-inclusive, protective and directive form of all ecclesial life’, ‘the model of all being and acting’ in the Church…. ‘The entire Church is Marian’, von Balthasar says … because ‘Mary disappears into the heart of the Church to remain there as a real presence which, however, always gives place to her Son’. For von Balthasar, the radiant heart of the Church is lay, faithful and holy….

By displacing the Petrine office from the ‘centre’ or ‘top’ of the Church, von Balthasar aims to restore an ecclesiological balance which an over-juridical, ultramontane approach to papal authority has disturbed…. He argues that one nourishes the other—the Church is both Marian and Petrine—and that they are not to be opposed….

 

While the Marian Church of von Balthasar, John Paul II and Benedict XVI is described in abstract principles, Pope Francis stresses the Marian dimension to the Church in uncompromising practical ways.

For example, in his address to the Italian Bishops on 23 May 2013, his closing prayer included not only addressing Mary at the heart of the Church, but also the practical implications of being a tender and compassionate Church on pilgrimage, rather than a more hierarchical institution: ‘being pastors also means to be ready to walk in the midst of and behind the flock: capable of listening to the silent story of the suffering and bearing up the steps of those who are afraid of not succeeding; careful to raise up, to reassure, and inspire hope’. And so he prayed:

 

Mother of the silence that preserves the mystery of God…

Purify the eyes of pastors with the balm of memory: that we might return to the freshness of the beginning, for a praying and penitent Church….

Cloak Pastors with that compassion that unifies and integrates: that we might discover the joy of a humble and fraternal servant Church…. Mother, we will be the People of God, on pilgrimage towards the Kingdom. Amen.

 

It seems that in Pope Francis’s practice, the “Marian” dimension of the Church actually does precede the “Petrine”.

 

“Of Mary, never enough” (De Maria numquam satis)