Juan Diego and the tilma image

Image result for tilma and juan diego

by

Damien F. Mackey

 

“In a post-conciliar era which featured the excising of certain saints from the Church’s official calendar of saints, the proposed action of canonizing Juan Diego seemed to resurrect the historical peccadilloes of previous centuries. Canonizing Juan Diego, they argued, would be akin to canonizing the Good Samaritan.

Some pro-apparitionist interlocutors impugned the anti-apparitionists’ motives as racist”.

 

 

As a Catholic, Marian devotion (to Mary) is an essential aspect of my piety and prayer life.

A New or Second Adam (1 Corinthians 15:45), Jesus Christ, would seem to necessitate also a New Eve. See e.g. my article:

 

Necessity of Virgin Mary

https://www.academia.edu/27516476/Necessity_of_Virgin_Mary

And, although the Church does not command that we follow any private revelations:

 

“When the Church approves private revelations, she declares only that there is nothing in them contrary faith or good morals, and that they may be read without danger or even with profit; no obligation is thereby imposed on the faithful to believe them”….

http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/13005a.htm

 

I have accepted as authentic and cosmically significant the Marian revelations of both Fatima and Lourdes. In fact, I gave up professional work as a Librarian at the University of Tasmania in 1976 to join a Fatima apostolate (“Fatima International”) in Canada and the US.

And I have long accepted, together with Fatima and Lourdes, the apparition to Juan Diego at Tepeyac in 1531 by Our Lady of Guadalupé, whilst vehemently rejecting unapproved apparitions, such as Garabandal, Bayside and Medjugorje. See e.g. my multi-part series:

 

Medjugorje and the Mad Mouthings of the ‘Madonna of the Antichrist’

 

commencing with:

 

https://www.academia.edu/18657854/Medjugorje_and_the_Mad_Mouthings_of_the_Madonna_of_the_Antichrist_

 

I have also written a book on Fatima:

 

The Five First Saturdays of Our Lady of Fatima

 

https://www.academia.edu/3731625/The_Five_First_Saturdays_of_Our_Lady_of_Fatima

 

Lately, though, with my view of the Cortesian Conquest of Mexico being historically impossible and derived from a concoction of ancient people and events, see e.g. my multi-part series:

 

Alexander the Great and Hernán Cortés

 

commencing with:

 

https://www.academia.edu/35112849/Alexander_the_Great_and_Hern%C3%A1n_Cort%C3

 

and also my multi-part series:

 

Hysterical AD ‘History’

 

commencing with:

 

https://www.academia.edu/35158293/Hysterical_AD_History._Part_One_What_if

 

then I have had seriously to reconsider as well Juan Diego whose historical background was, supposedly, this very Conquest of Mexico.

Coupled with all this are some strong arguments against the authenticity of Juan Diego, especially those raised by Fr Stafford Poole (CM).

We read, for example, this review of Fr. Poole’s book, by Jalane D. Schmidt:

https://doi.org/10.1093/jaarel/lfn056

 

The Guadalupan Controversies in Mexico. By Stafford Poole

“Mexico was born at Tepeyac,” says an aphorism about the legends surrounding the apparition of the Virgin of Guadalupe to a poor Indian neophyte named Juan Diego. But senior historian Stafford Poole disputes the historical veracity of these apparition narratives and their subsequent embellishments.

Poole previously penned Our Lady of Guadalupe: The Origins and Sources of a Mexican National Symbol (University of Arizona Press, 1995), which, with David Brading’s more recent Mexican Phoenix: Our Lady of Guadalupe (Cambridge University Press, 2001), offers the most authoritative English-language historical reckonings of the origins of the cult. The Guadalupan Controversies is written for specialists of Latin American religious history, and offers a historiographical account, from early colonial-era New Spain to present-day Mexico, of the scholarly disputes, ecclesial politics, and journalistic imbroglios surrounding the investigation and promotion of devotion to Mexico’s national patron, the Virgin of Guadalupe.

Poole’s book highlights controversies among elites, and his reliance upon clerical sources eclipses attention to the popular role in the cult. Of course, there is no shortage of theological and anthropological interpretations of the popular cult, and in any case, the presumed autonomy of “popular” from “elite” devotions should not be too sharply drawn. But Poole could have included an analysis of the lay devotions that also played a part in the Guadalupan controversies that the book examines. For instance, Poole gives scant attention to the early colonial-era objections of Franciscan missionaries to the “new” Marian devotion under the name of Guadalupe at Tepeyac (40). Franciscan friars in the 1550s denounced the “false miracles” attributed to the shrine’s Marian image, which was reportedly painted by a local Indian artist. Fray Bernardino de Sahagún deplored as “idolatry” the fact that Indians flocked to Tepeyac—a site that, according to Sahagún, had formerly hosted festivals dedicated to Tonantzín, an indigenous goddess (210–212, 216). Unfortunately, such reports appear only in an appendix written by another historian, and Poole does not examine these data—other than to caution readers against collapsing these sixteenth-century accounts of Marian devotion at the Tepeyac shrine with the apparition legends that emerged a century later (172). Guadalupan devotion, Poole maintains, originated with the circulation of seventeenth-century apparition legends that were written by clergymen (ix).

The history of devotion to Our Lady of Guadalupe, as Poole’s book amply documents, is replete with initiatives from the church hierarchy (201), rather than being the chiefly bottom-up development that is often imagined. One of the most important clerical nudges came with Luis Laso de la Vega’s 1649 publication of the Nahuatl document known as the Nican Mopohua, which reported a previously “forgotten” 1531 apparition of the Virgin of Guadalupe to a humble Indian neophyte named Diego (5). Laso de la Vega’s mid-seventeenth century account was clearly aimed at an indigenous audience, and reported that the 1531 apparition had spurred the conversion of many Indians. The problem for historians such as Poole is that, prior to 1648, no archival source—whether written by Mexico’s first archbishop, Zumárraga (to whom Diego supposedly appealed in 1531), or by his ecclesial successor (a known champion of Guadalupan devotion in the 1550s), nor any documents left by the Spanish viceroys and their coterie of colonial administrators, nor writings by the prolific Dominican “defender of the Indians” Bartolomé de las Casas, nor the fervent Franciscans on the lookout for dubious miracles—mentioned the report of a Marian apparition at Tepayac or anywhere else in New Spain. Furthermore, the data do not demonstrate a spike in native conversions, but rather depict an evangelization process that was sporadic in nature: while baptism eventually became widespread in many Indian communities, this was not necessarily accompanied by a wholesale “conversion” of indigenous religious practice and orientation (120, 198–199). ….

 

Then there is this question and answer set:

https://www.thebereancall.org/content/march-2010-q-and-a-2

 

Question: I have been challenged by a Catholic regarding the supposed miracle of “Our Lady of Guadalupe”

 

March 1, 2010

TBC Staff

 

Question: I have been challenged by a Catholic regarding the supposed miracle of “Our Lady of Guadalupe” and the image of the Virgin Mary that appeared on the cape of the peasant Juan Diego. They said that the endurance of this account and Diego’s canonization by John Paul II (July 31, 2002) is evidence enough of the truth of this story. What do you say?

 

Response: Even those described as devout Catholics have long questioned “Our Lady of Guadalupe.” The head of the Spanish Colony’s Franciscans, Francisco de Bustamante read a sermon in 1556 before the Spanish Viceroy and the Royal Audience. Bustamante disparaged the origins of the image and contradicted Archbishop Alonso de Montúfar’s previous sermon of two days earlier. Bustamante stated: “The devotion that has been growing in a chapel dedicated to Our Lady, called of Guadalupe, in this city is greatly harmful for the natives, because it makes them believe that the image painted by Marcos the Indian is in any way miraculous” (Stafford Poole, Our Lady of Guadalupe:The Origins and Sources of a Mexican National Symbol, 1531-1797. Tucson: University of Arizona Press, 1997). The name “Marcos” may have meant Marcos Cipac de Aquino, an Aztec painter active in Mexico when the icon first appeared.

The fourth viceroy of Mexico, Martín de León, a Dominican, condemned the “cult of the Virgin of Guadalupe” in 1611 as a syncretized worship of the Aztec goddess Tonantzin (Ibid.). Catholic missionary and anthropologist Bernardino de Sahagún agreed with de León’s judgment, writing that the Tepeyac shrine, although popular, remained a concern because shrine visitors called the Virgin of Guadalupe, “Tonantzin.” Sahagún recognized that some worshipers believed “Tonantzin” meant “Mother of God” in the native Nauatl language, but he pointed out this was simply not true.

(http://hispanic.cc/la_reina_de_mexico.htm).

The existence of Juan Diego (the Spanish equivalent of “John Doe”) is also suspect. During the 1800s, Mexico City Bishop Labastida appointed historian Joaquin Garcia Icazbalceta, another devout Catholic, to investigate.

Icazbalceta’s confidential bishop’s report clearly doubted the existence of Juan Diego (Joaquin Garcia Icazbalceta, “Juan Diego y las Apariciones del Tepeyac,” Mexico City: Publicaciones para el Estudio Cientifico de las Religiones, 2002, pages 3-8). David Brading of Cambridge University (among others) points out that the image of the virgin was supposed to have been miraculously imprinted on Juan Diego’s cape in 1531 (Steinfels, “Beliefs: As sainthood approaches for Juan Diego, some scholars call his story a ‘pious fiction,”’ New York Times, July 20, 2002). Nevertheless, the first recorded mention of the image of the Virgin of Guadalupe doesn’t appear until 1555 or 1556.

Further, Stafford Poole of Los Angeles, another Catholic historian/priest, points out that Juan Diego himself doesn’t appear in any account until 1648 (Stevenson, “Canonization Of First Indian Saint Draws Questions In Mexico,” Associated Press, 7/1/02), the date when Miguel Sanchez, a Spanish theological writer in Mexico, mentions Diego in his book The Apparitions of the Virgin Mary.

Father Poole stated in Commonweal, a Catholic biweekly, “More than forty documents are said to attest to the reality of Juan Diego, yet not one of them can withstand serious historical criticism” (Vol. 129, June 14, 2002).

 

Whilst Stuart M. McManus will write: https://doi.org/10.1215/00182168-7288182

 

Our Lady of Guadalupe: The Origins and Sources of a Mexican National Symbol, 1531–1797

 

Stuart M. McManus

University of Chicago

Hispanic American Historical Review (2019) 99 (1): 160-162.

 

Originally published in 1995 at the height of the controversy surrounding the beatification (1990) and eventual canonization (2002) of Juan Diego, Stafford Poole’s study of the historical evidence in both Spanish and Nahuatl for the apparition of Our Lady of Guadalupe to Juan Diego in 1531 is now available in a revised edition. As well as showing definitively that the standard account of the apparition was an invention of the mid-seventeenth century, Poole also makes a number of other important claims. Despite Bernardino de Sahagún’s statement that the Virgin of Tepeyac was dangerously pagan, she was, Poole argues, not a syncretic product of a European Marian devotion and the pre-Columbian cult of Tonantzin (if this word ever referred to a particular Mesoamerican deity at all). Furthermore, the devotion to the apparition story was largely restricted to the ethnically Spanish, not the indigenous population. In other words, the real early modern Guadalupe was not the mestizo mother of the nation that modern Mexican popular religion, the church hierarchy, and the historiography have made her out to be.

 

As in the original edition, from which this revised edition differs only in the addition of a new introduction, the occasional discussion of a new document, and updated bibliographical references (including citations of the important work of David Brading and Jeanette Favrot Peterson), the focus throughout is on the precise evidence for the apparition and the relationship between the cult and the rise of creole patriotism. This means that those looking for an introduction to the life and times of the antiquarians and ecclesiastics who helped build and then eventually began to critique the apparition story should look elsewhere. The focus here is on the precise content and significance of the surviving documentation.

 

When compared to the original edition, the main novelty is the new introduction, a significant proportion of which is taken up with a demolition of the work of Richard Nebel, Serge Gruzinski, Timothy Matovina, and a number of Mexican theologians and ecclesiastics (including Cardinal Norberto Rivera Carrera), whom Poole takes to task for either their blinkered piety or their uncritical acceptance of standard narratives about the apparition. He also dismisses as a “clumsy forgery” the Codex Escalada, a purportedly sixteenth-century document signed by Sahagún and Antonio Valeriano (who many claim wrote the Nican mopohua) brought to light by a Mexican Jesuit in 1993 (p. 14). In this jeremiad against historical credulity and devotional works masquerading as serious history, Poole does, however, find time to praise the work of Xavier Noguez, Ana María Sada Lambretón, and, to some extent, David Brading.

If the book were written de novo today, it would no doubt take a fuller account of the archival work of Cornelius Conover on Mexico City’s eighteenth-century cabildo and the recent reframing of the creole patriotism debate by Peter Villella, Tamar Herzog, and me. Indeed, on the latter subject, while Poole makes clear that the devotion was largely restricted to those who claimed and were assigned an identity as Spaniards, the book has a tendency to fixate on the role of a supposed nascent Mexican identity in the formation of the apparition myth. This is a historical development that Poole rather takes for granted, in contrast to the current scholarly consensus that such a historiographical framework can all too easily blend into teleology. While the creole authors discussed in the book certainly celebrated the specific “Mexican” location of the apparition, echoing and citing the words of Psalm 147 (“non fecit taliter omni nationi”), the connection between any embryonic political identity and the gradual rise of the Virgin of Tepeyac is not as self-evident as Poole makes out, which leads him to neglect important countervailing evidence. For instance, he dismisses the foundation of a Guadalupan congregation in Madrid by Philip V in 1743 as an aberration: “Why a criollo devotion would have appealed to a Spanish king is not clear, unless it was an attempt to blunt its political potential” (p. 5). If the book were written today, it would probably also include discussions of the devotion in the Philippines, where it had a significant following among both the Novohispanic diaspora and peninsular missionaries like Gaspar de San Agustín. Considering the historiographical context in which it was written, however, the book as it stands is unimpeachable.

 

In sum, Poole’s account remains required reading for all historians of early modern and modern Mexican religion, society, and culture. This revised edition represents the single most comprehensive and most thoroughly researched work on the origin of the apparition story and the rise of what would become a lodestar of Mexican and Chicano culture. This book is the product of a lifetime of careful scholarship and is likely to last several more.

Pope asks anti-trafficking nun to write Way of Cross meditations

 

Pope Francis has asked an Italian nun, who has been on the frontlines in the fight against human trafficking, to write this year’s Way of the Cross meditations.

Consolata Sister Eugenia Bonetti, 80, will prepare the texts for the evening service April 19, Good Friday, at Rome’s Colosseum, Alessandro Gisotti, interim director of the Vatican press office, said April 5.
Gisotti said, “The suffering of many people who are victims of human trafficking will be the central theme of the meditations,” which are meant to help participants walk in Christ’s footsteps and reflect on today’s sins and sufferings, and how Christians should respond.

Each year, the pope asks a different person to write the commentary and prayers.

Bonetti is a leader among religious women working against human trafficking. She started and led anti-trafficking initiatives for the Italian Union of Major Superiors and helped educate officials in Italy and the United States about the problem.
The Italian religious superiors’ anti-trafficking office she set up trains and connects religious congregations and other people around the world to provide victim support and services as well as prevent trafficking by helping people, in their home countries, who are vulnerable to being trafficked.
She was honored by the U.S. Department of State in 2004 with its “Trafficking in Persons Hero Award” for her work, and in 2007 she was given the State Department’s “Woman of Courage” award for helping “create transformative change” and setting “a positive example for emerging women leaders worldwide.” In 2014, she received Italy’s highest honor when Italian President Giorgio Napolitano bestowed on her the Order of Merit.
Currently, Bonetti is president of the Italian association, “Slaves No More,” which focuses on helping rebuild the lives of women and children forced into the sex trade and those who are victims of other forms of abuse, violence and discrimination.
In 2013, she asked Francis to help raise greater awareness in the Church about the problem of human trafficking by establishing a worldwide day of prayer and fasting.

“The pope was very interested in our suggestion and asked us what date we would like the day to be,” Bonetti told Catholic News Service at the time. She said they told him to make it Feb. 8 – the feast day of St. Josephine Bakhita, a Sudanese slave who found freedom in Italy and became a nun in the late 19th century.

The next year, Francis asked the international unions of superiors general of men’s and women’s religious orders to promote the initiative. The International Day of Prayer and Awareness Against Human Trafficking was first celebrated Feb. 8, 2015.
When talking in 2014 about her two decades of fighting trafficking, Bonetti said the only way to help victims or people at risk is to go to them and make “direct contact,” which is why she and her community hit the streets of Rome late at night and speak to foreign women who have been trafficked into prostitution.

“We tell them there is an alternative” and that they can be free, she said.
“We enter into communion with them, without judgment, without condemning them, trying to really understand their situation and lend a hand,” she said.

https://cruxnow.com/vatican/2019/04/05/pope-asks-anti-trafficking-nun-to-write-way-of-cross-meditations/

POPE TO YOUTH: CHURCH MUST CHANGE

NEWS: WORLD NEWS

 

by Stephen Wynne  •  ChurchMilitant.com  •  April 2, 2019    92 Comments

Warns against ‘battling obsessively over two or three issues’

VATICAN CITY (ChurchMilitant.com) – Pope Francis is raising eyebrows over his call for “change” in the Church.
In response to the October 2018 Synod on Young People, on Tuesday, Francis issued Christus vivit (“Christ is Alive”), an apostolic exhortation rallying Catholic youth to work for greater openness as part of a campaign of Church renewal.
Titled Christus vivit (“Christ is Alive”), the Pope’s message lays out his vision for a faith sculpted by “listening” and “change.”
“A Church open to renewal,” Francis writes, “should not be excessively caught up in herself, but instead, and above all, reflect Jesus Christ.”
“This means humbly acknowledging that some things concretely need to change,” he argues, “and if that is to happen, she needs to appreciate the vision but also the criticisms of young people.”
Let us ask the Lord to free the Church from those who would make her grow old, encase her in the past, hold her back or keep her at a standstill.Tweet
Among faithful Catholics, many are voicing concern over the nature of Francis’ desired “change.”
While urging youth to be “protagonists of change,” the Pope calls for them to “ask the Lord to free the Church from those who would make her grow old, encase her in the past, hold her back or keep her at a standstill.”
Some are interpreting the Pope’s words as a rejection of the traditional movement, with its focus on the Latin Mass, pre-Vatican II liturgy and an active devotional life — all of which is exploding among young Catholics today.
Francis exhorts Catholics to reject focusing narrowly on certain “issues.” Instead, he writes, the Church must humbly listen and respond to the perspectives of its youngest members:
Although many young people are happy to see a Church that is humble yet confident in her gifts and capable of offering fair and fraternal criticism, others want a Church that listens more, that does more than simply condemn the world. They do not want to see a Church that is silent and afraid to speak, but neither one that is always battling obsessively over two or three issues.
“To be credible to young people, there are times when she needs to regain her humility and simply listen,” he continues, “recognizing that what others have to say can provide some light to help her better understand the Gospel.”
Image
Pope Francis at the October 2018 Youth Synod
“A Church always on the defensive, which loses her humility and stops listening to others, which leaves no room for questions, loses her youth and turns into a museum,” Francis adds. “Even if she possesses the truth of the Gospel, this does not mean that she has completely understood it; rather, she is called to keep growing in her grasp of that inexhaustible treasure.”
The pontiff warns against an “overly fearful” Church “tied to its structures,” which he says “can be invariably critical of efforts to defend the rights of women, and constantly point out the risks and the potential errors of those demands.”

“Instead, a living Church can react by being attentive to the legitimate claims of those women who seek greater justice and equality,” Francis suggests. “A living Church can look back on history and acknowledge a fair share of male authoritarianism, domination, various forms of enslavement, abuse and sexist violence.”

https://www.churchmilitant.com/news/article/pope-to-youth-church-must-change

Unique identity of Jesus Christ

 Image result for jesus unique

by

Damien F. Mackey

 

‘Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God!’

Matthew 16:16

 

Once I had a lively encounter with a Moslem at a bus stop in Earlwood (Sydney, Australia). Our discussion, generally friendly, sometimes a bit noisy, attracted the attention of bystanders who listened, smiled or laughed, and even occasionally joined in. The question that this man seemed most eager to ask, and for which he dearly wanted an answer, was this:

 

‘What do you think of Muhammad?’

 

Whatever an individual Christian may think of Muhammad, or Mohammed, the real question that should most preoccupy his or her mind is that burning question that Jesus himself was most desirous of asking, and for which He awaited an answer:

 

‘Who do men say that I am?’

 

This question is posed in all three Synoptic Gospels.

The fact is that Jesus’ contemporaries were not really sure who he was. ‘Elijah’, said some. ‘John the Baptist’, said others. ‘One of the prophets returned from the dead’. Or, perhaps, ‘Jeremiah’. Some great man, for sure, but not one utterly unique.

 

It was the Apostle Peter who, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, gave the right answer when the question was personalised by Jesus to: ‘Who do you say that I am?’; though Peter still had very much to learn about the significance of what he had proclaimed, for he would soon be rebuked by Jesus as a ‘Satan’ (Mark 8:33).

 

Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI has marvellously discussed the whole question of Jesus’ identity – and the contrast between opinions of, and belief in, Him – in Chapter 9 of his book, Jesus of Nazareth, beginning with (pp. 287-288):

 

Peter’s Confession

 

All three Synoptic Gospels present Jesus’ question to the disciples about who the people think he is and who they themselves consider him to be – (Mk 8:27-30; Mt 16:13-20; Lk 9:18-21) as an important milestone on his way. In all three Gospels, Peter answers in the name of the Twelve with a confession that is markedly different from the opinion of the “people”. …. In all three Gospels, however, he also interprets this “following” on the way of the Cross from an essentially anthropological standpoint: It is the indispensable way for man to “lose his life”, without which it is impossible to find it (Mk 8:31-9:1; Mt 16:21-28; Lk 9:22-27).

 

And finally, in all three Gospels there follows the account of the Transfiguration of Jesus, which once again interprets Peter’s confession and takes it deeper, while at the same time connecting it with the mystery of Jesus’ death and Resurrection (Mk 9:2-13; Mt 17:1-13; Lk 9:28-36).

Only Matthew immediately follows Peter’s confession with the bestowal upon Peter of the power of the keys – of the power to bind and loose – and this is connected with Jesus’ promise to build his Church upon Peter as on a rock. Parallel passages concerning this commission and this promise are found in Luke 22:31f. in the context of the Last Supper and in John 21:15-19 after Jesus’ Resurrection.

It should be pointed out that John, too, places a similar confession on Peter’s lips, which once again is presented as a decisive milestone on Jesus’ way, giving the circle of the Twelve its full weight and profile for the first time (Jn 6:68f.) ….

[End of quote]

 

So, what was the answer that Peter gave, that so pleased Jesus?

Peter had replied (Matthew 16:16):

 

‘Thou art the Christ [or the Messiah], the Son of the living God!’

 

To which Jesus responded: ‘Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah! For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father in heaven’ (v. 17).

 

Clearly there were now two basic views abroad about the identity of Jesus: the one, his “unique filial being”, as the Pope puts it – as Peter was inspired to utter (“Peter’s confession”) – and the other, the common one of the people. Pope Benedict goes on to tell how the former view, the correct one, crystallised in the disciples who were now “on the way”, distinguishing them from the people (op. cit., pp. 290-291):

 

The great period of preaching in Galilee is at an end and we are at a decisive milestone: Jesus is setting out on the journey to the Cross and issuing a call to decision that now clearly distinguishes the group of disciples from the people who merely listen, without accompanying him on his way – a decision that clearly shapes the disciples into the beginning of Jesus’ new family, the future Church. It is characteristic of this community to be “on the way” with Jesus – what that way involves is about to be made clear. It is also characteristic that this community’s decision to accompany Jesus rests upon a realization – on a “knowledge” of Jesus that at the same time gives them a new insight into God, the one God in whom they believe as children of Israel.

 

In Luke – and this is entirely in keeping with his portrait of the figure of Jesus – Peter’s confession is connected with a prayer event. Luke begins his account of the story with a deliberate paradox: “As he was praying alone, the disciples were with him” (Lk 9:18). The disciples are drawn into his solitude, his communion with the Father that is reserved to him alone. They are privileged to see him as the one who – as we reflected at the beginning of this book – speaks face-to-face with the Father, person to person. ….

 

[End of quote]

 

This ‘speaking face-to-face with the Father’ will become a most important consideration when, further on, we consider a challenge by another Moslem, Islamic missionary Ahmed Deedat of IndianSouth African descent (now deceased), that Jesus Christ could not have been the one foretold to Moses in Deuteronomy 18:18: “I will raise them up a Prophet from among their brethren, like unto thee …”, but that Mohammed was that one. We are going to find that, whilst Deedat’s Christian opponent, a dominee (or minister) of the Dutch Reformed Church, was not really able adequately to counter the Moslem’s forceful argument, pope Benedict XVI has, in his book, provided the perfect answer to an argument such as Deedat’s. Whether the many will respond to it, though, and enter upon “the way”, or just the few as in the case of the disciples, remains to be seen. For those who do make the leap in faith, then the privileges are untold and unique. Thus the Pope continues (pp. 291-292):

 

[The Twelve] are privileged to see him in his utterly unique filial being – at the point from which all his words, his deeds, and his powers issue. They are privileged to see what the “people” do not see, and this seeing gives rise to a recognition that goes beyond the “opinion” of the people. This seeing is the wellspring of their faith, their confession; it provides the foundation for the Church.

Here we may identify the interior location of Jesus’ two-fold question. His inquiry about the opinion of the people and the conviction of the disciples presupposes two things. On the one hand, there is an external knowledge of Jesus that, while not necessarily false, is inadequate. On the other hand, there is a deeper knowledge that is linked to discipleship, to participation in Jesus’ way, and such knowledge can grow only in that context. All three Synoptics agree in recounting the opinion of the people that Jesus is John the Baptist, or Elijah, or some other of the Prophets returned from the dead; Luke has just told us that Herod, having heard about such accounts of Jesus’ person and activity, felt a wish to see him. Matthew adds an additional variation: the opinion of some that Jesus is Jeremiah.

 

The common element in all these ideas is that Jesus is classified in the category “prophet”, an interpretative key drawn from the tradition of Israel. All the names that are mentioned as interpretations of the figure of Jesus have an eschatological ring to them, the expectation of a radical turn of events that can be associated both with hope and with fear. While Elijah personifies hope for the restoration of Israel, Jeremiah is a figure of the Passion, who proclaims the failure of the current form of the Covenant and of the Temple that, so to speak, serves as its guarantee. Of course, he is also the bearer of the promise of a New Covenant that is destined to rise from the ashes.

By his suffering, by his immersion in the darkness of contradiction, Jeremiah bears this twofold destiny of downfall and renewal in his own life.

 

These various opinions are not simply mistaken; they are greater or lesser approximations to the mystery of Jesus, and they can certainly set us on the path towards Jesus’ real identity. But they do not arrive at Jesus’ identity, at his newness. They interpret him in terms of the past, in terms of the predictable and the possible, not in terms of himself, his uniqueness, which cannot be assigned to any other category. Today, too, similar opinions are clearly held by the “people” who have somehow or other come to know Christ, who have perhaps even made a scholarly study of him, but have not encountered Jesus himself in his utter uniqueness and otherness. Karl Jaspers spoke of Jesus alongside Socrates, the Buddha, and Confucius as one of the four paradigmatic individuals. He thus acknowledged that Jesus is of fundamental significance in the search for the right way to be human. Yet for all that, Jesus remains one among others grouped within a common category, in terms of which they can be explained and also delimited.

[End of quote]

 

Pope Benedict XVI accounts for the utter uniqueness of Jesus Christ, as opposed to a “common” view of him – an old but also a contemporary view – as just one amongst a group of history’s most enlightened individuals. But we are also going to introduce into this discussion, Mohammed, to whom the Pope did not refer.

 

Pope Benedict XVI continues his critical account of the typical view of Jesus Christ, whereby “man, the individual subject … ends up being himself the measure”.

See also on this subject my multi-part series, beginning with:

The Futile Aspiration to Make ‘Man the Measure of All Things’

 https://www.academia.edu/8494268/The_Futile_Aspiration_to_Make_Man_the_Measure_of_All_Things_

 

Thus Benedict XVI writes (op. cit., p. 293):

 

Today it is fashionable to regard Jesus as one of the great religious founders who were granted a profound experience of God. They can thus speak of God to other people who have been denied this “religious disposition”, as it were, drawing them into their own experience of God. However, we are still dealing here with a human experience of God that reflects his infinite reality in the finitude and limitation of a human spirit: It can therefore never amount to more than a partial, not to mention time- and space-bound, translation of the divine. The word experience thus indicates on one hand a real contact with the divine, while also acknowledging the limitation of the receiving subject. Every human subject can capture only a particular fragment of the reality that is there to be perceived, and this fragment then requires further interpretation. Someone who holds this opinion can certainly love Jesus; he can even choose him as a guide for his own life. Ultimately, though, this notion of Jesus’ “experience of God” remains purely relative and needs to be supplemented by the fragments of reality perceived by other great men. It is man, the individual subject, who ends up being himself the measure: The individual decides what he is going to accept from the various “experiences”, what he finds helpful and what he finds alien. There is no definitive commitment here.

[End of quote]

 

This really sums up the Moslem view, too, of Jesus as a great prophet, “peace be upon him”, though lesser than Mohammed himself. In fact it also sums up the Moslem God, Allah, as one derived from man’s being the measure, not God. Though it does not mean that a Moslem cannot love and serve God (as according to the Pope’s explanation regarding “love” of Jesus Christ even without full knowledge of him), and that he cannot “choose him as a guide for his own life”.

However, there is also that true saying that ‘one cannot love what one does not know’, which, in our context, could be re-stated as ‘one’s capacity for loving Jesus Christ must be greatly enlarged by one’s having a proper concept of who He is, according to the Pope’s explanation’.

Similarly, a God of whom Jesus Christ is not the perfect image and reflection is not God in his true actuality. He cannot therefore be loved as a St. Augustine, for instance, loved God, Christo-centrically. It is only through Jesus Christ that God can truly be known.

‘Whoever has seen me has seen the Father’ (John 14:9).

 

Why Islam thinks that Mohammed, not Jesus,

was foretold by Moses

 

We are now going to conclude by looking at Ahmed Deedat’s argument (much edited) against the South African Christian dominee. Deedat’s argument might throw many a Christian, as it apparently gave trouble to the dominee. But it would not throw the Pope, who has authoritatively shown how Jesus Christ, and He alone, was the fulfilment of the One whom Moses had foretold.

 

Islamic lecturer, Ahmed Deedat, tells of an interview he once had with a dominee of the Dutch Reformed Church in Transvaal, van Heerden, on the question: “What does the Bible say about Muhummed?” Deedat had in mind the Qur’an [Koran] verse 46:10, according to which “a witness among the children of Israel bore witness of one like him…”.

This was in turn a reference to Deuteronomy 18:18’s “I will raise them up a Prophet from among their brethren, like unto thee, and I will put my words in his mouth; and he shall speak unto them all that I shall command him.” The Moslems of course interpret the “Prophet … like unto [Moses]” as being Mohammed himself.

Faced with the dominee’s emphatic response that the Bible has “nothing” to say about Mohammed – and that the Deuteronomic prophecy ultimately pertained to Jesus Christ, as did “thousands” of other prophecies – Deedat set out to prove him wrong. Firstly he asked the dominee: Out of the ‘thousands’ of prophecies referred to, can you please give me just one single prophecy where Jesus is mentioned by name? The term ‘Messiah’, translated as ‘Christ’, is not a name but a title. Is there a single Prophecy where it says that the name of the Messiah will be JESUS, and that his mother’s name will be MARY, that his supposed father will be JOSEPH THE CARPENTER; that he will be born in the reign of HEROD THE KING, etc. etc.? No! There are no such details! Then how can you conclude that those ‘thousand’ Prophecies refer to Jesus (Peace be upon him)?

 

To which the dominee replied: “You see, prophecies are word-pictures of something that is going to happen in the future. When that thing actually comes to pass, we see vividly in these prophecies the fulfilment of what had been predicted in the past”. Deedat responded: “What you actually do is that you deduce, you reason, you put two and two together.” He said: “Yes”.

Deedat said: “If this is what you have to do with a ‘thousand’ prophecies to justify your claim with regards to the genuineness of Jesus, why should we not adopt the very same system for Muhummed?”

The dominee agreed that it was a fair proposition, a reasonable way of dealing with the problem. He argued that the key phrase in the Deuteronomic prophecy was “like unto thee” – LIKE YOU – like Moses, and Jesus is like Moses”.

Deedat questioned: “In which way is Jesus like Moses?”

The answer was: “In the first place Moses was a JEW and Jesus was also a JEW; secondly, Moses was a PROPHET and Jesus was also a PROPHET – therefore Jesus is like Moses and that is exactly what God had foretold Moses – “SOOS JY IS” [in Afrikaans]”.

 

Whilst the dominee’s reply here is basically true (though Moses was strictly speaking not a Jew, but a Hebrew or Israelite – ‘all Jews are Israelites, but not all Israelites are Jews’) – he probably gets off on the wrong foot straightaway by attributing to Jesus what could be attributed to any number of Jewish prophets. In other words, he does not begin with what makes Jesus unique, and with – in the context of Moses – what makes Him “like” the latter, but unique nevertheless, as explained by the Pope. Now, whether someone will listen attentively to the argument is another matter. I, for instance, fresh from reading Pope Benedict XVI, had used his main point in my discussion with the Moslem. But it seemed not in any way to have been absorbed. However, the important thing is that we know what the answer is, and can enunciate it. And, hopefully, there will be some who will be able to comprehend it. It is greatly to be hoped that the Pope’s book will be read, studied and absorbed by many.

 

Deedat quickly realizes that his opponent has not attributed to Jesus anything singular. “Can you think of any other similarities between Moses and Jesus?” Deedat asked.

The dominee said that he could not think of any.

Deedat replied: “If these are the only two criteria for discovering a candidate for this prophecy of Deuteronomy 18:18, then in that case the criteria could fit any one of the following Biblical personages after Moses: – Solomon, Isaiah, Ezekiel, Daniel, Hosea, Joel, Malachi, John the Baptist etc., because they were also ALL Jews as well as Prophets.

Why should we not apply this prophecy to any one of these prophets, and why only to Jesus? Why should we make fish of one and fowl of another?”

 

[Or why, one might ask, does Islam not say that the prophecy was in fact referring to one of these above-mentioned sages of Israel?].

 

The dominee had no reply.

Deedat continued: “You see, my conclusions are that Jesus is most unlike Moses, and if I am wrong I would like you to correct me”.

So saying, Deedat reasoned with him: “In the FIRST place Jesus is not like Moses, because, according to you – ‘JESUS IS A GOD’, but Moses is not God. Is this true?”

He said: “Yes”.

Deedat said: “Therefore, Jesus is not like Moses!

SECONDLY, according to you – ‘JESUS DIED FOR THE SINS OF THE WORLD’, but Moses did not have to die for the sins of the world. Is this true?”

He again said: Yes”.

Deedat said: “Therefore Jesus is not like Moses! THIRDLY, according to you – ‘JESUS WENT TO HELL FOR THREE DAYS’, but Moses did not have to go there. Is this true?”

He answered meekly: “Y-e-s”.

Deedat concluded: “Therefore Jesus is not like Moses!” “But dominee”, Deedat continued: “these are not hard facts, solid facts, they are mere matters of belief over which the little ones can stumble and fall. Let us discuss something very simple, very easy that if your little ones are called in to hear the discussion, would have no difficulty in following it, shall we?”

The dominee was quite happy at the suggestion. Deedat will now proceed to list a whole lot of biographical points according to which Moses and Mohammed – human persons who were married and had children – were alike, but were quite unlike Jesus. This is to prove his point that Mohammed, not Jesus, was ‘like unto Moses’, and that Mohammed, therefore, and not Jesus, was the one who fulfilled the Deuteronomic prophecy.

We shall take only a few of these cases from Deedat’s long-winded and well-rehearsed spiel:

 

Father and Mother

 

“Moses had a father and a mother. Muhummed also had a father and a mother. But Jesus had only a mother, and no human father. Is this true?” He said: “Yes”. Deedat said: “DAAROM IS JESUS NIE SOOS MOSES NIE, MAAR MUHUMMED IS SOOS MOSES!” Meaning: “Therefore Jesus is not like Moses, but Muhummed is like Moses!”

 

Miraculous Birth

 

“Moses and Muhummed were born in the normal, natural course, i.e. the physical association of man and woman; but Jesus was created by a special miracle. You will recall that we are told in the Gospel of St. Matthew 1:18: ‘…..BEFORE THEY CAME TOGETHER, (Joseph the Carpenter and Mary) SHE WAS FOUND WITH CHILD BY THE HOLY GHOST’. And Dr. Luke tells us that when the good news of the birth of a holy son was announced to her, Mary reasoned: ‘…….HOW SHALL THIS BE, SEEING I KNOW NOT A MAN? AND THE ANGEL ANSWERED AND SAID UNTO HER, THE HOLY GHOST SHALL COME UPON THEE, AND THE POWER OF THE HIGHEST SHALL OVERSHADOW THEE:……’ (Luke 1:35).

 

In short, Deedat said to the dominee: “Is it true that Jesus was born miraculously as against the natural birth of Moses and Muhummed?” He replied proudly: “Yes!” Deedat said: “Therefore Jesus is not like Moses, but Muhummed is like Moses. And God says to Moses in the Book of Deuteronomy 18:18 “LIKE UNTO THEE” (Like You, Like Moses) and Muhummed is like Moses”.

 

Marriage Ties

 

“Moses and Muhummed married and begat children, but Jesus remained a bachelor all his life. Is this true?” The dominee said: “Yes”. Deedat said: “Therefore Jesus is not like Moses, but Muhummed is like Moses”.

 

Jesus Rejected by his People

 

“Moses and Muhummed were accepted as prophets by their people in their very lifetime. No doubt the Jews gave endless trouble to Moses and they murmured in the wilderness, but as a nation, they acknowledged that Moses was a Messenger of God sent to them. The Arabs too made Muhummed’s life impossible. He suffered very badly at their hands. After 13 years of preaching in Mecca, he had to emigrate from the city of his birth. But before his demise, the Arab nation as a whole accepted him as the Messenger of Allah. But according to the Bible: ‘He (Jesus) CAME UNTO HIS OWN, BUT HIS OWN RECEIVED HIM NOT’. (John 1:11). And even today, after two thousand years, his people – the Jews, as a whole, have rejected him. Is this true?” The dominee said: “Yes”. Deedat said: “THEREFORE JESUS IS NOT LIKE MOSES, BUT MUHUMMED IS LIKE MOSES”. …

 

How they Departed

 

“Both Moses and Muhummed died natural deaths, but according to Christianity, Jesus was violently killed on the cross. Is this true?” The dominee said: “Yes”. Deedat averred: “Therefore Jesus is not like Moses but Muhummed is like Moses”.

And so it goes on, with Deedat, like an eager prize fighter, landing virtually all of the punches, and becoming ever more emboldened and aggressive.

 

‘What do you think of Muhammad?’, the similarly keen and feisty Moslem in Earlwood had been so keen to ask me.

 

My answer to this today would be: “There was no historical prophet Mohammed!”

 

Above, I had queried, in the context of Deedat’s argument: “… why, one might ask, does Islam not say that the [Deuteronomic] prophecy was in fact referring to one of these above-mentioned [by Deedat] sages of Israel?”

Let me explain what I am getting at. The Koran (Qur’an) is, broadly speaking, so much like the Old Testament in many places that one could argue that it is simply the latter mixed with a lot of Arabic folklore and mythology, and derived from much unreliable oral tradition. In the Koran we meet again with all of the familiar Hebrew patriarchal and prophetical characters and sages of the Old Testament.

 

There are also the serious problems of chronology and geography.

To give just one series of examples of these, see my multi-part series beginning with:

Durie’s Verdict: No Mohammed

https://www.academia.edu/38270742/Duries_Verdict_No_Mohammed

 

There are chronological problems, not only with the supposed life of Mohammed himself, and the writings, but also with the early history of Islam.

Books have been written ‘In Search of the Historical Mohammed’, who can be something of a conundrum. There are even certain aspects associated with Mohammed that I think seem to parallel Jesus Christ; mainly the spiritual or miraculous, since Deedat is quite right in arguing that there can be no worthwhile comparison between the details of the lives of Jesus and Mohammed.

‘Mohammed’ seems to be, at least in part, something of a composite biblical character.

He is quite un-historical as regards the C7th AD.

Part Two:

Jesus a son of King David

 

“When Joseph adopted Jesus as his legal son, Jesus became both David’s direct descendent through David’s son Nathan (Mary’s side), and David’s legal royal heir through Solomon (Joseph’s side)”.

abideinchrist

 

According to this website:

http://www.abideinchrist.com/messages/onlylegitimatemessiah.html

Jesus Christ is:

 

The Only Possible Legitimate Messiah 

 

Matthew, who is the most Jewish of the Gospels, begins with the words, “Jesus Christ, the son of David, the son of Abraham.”

 

Is Jesus Christ the legitimate heir to the throne of King David? How can we be sure that He is the only possible legal, and the royal Messiah of Israel?

 

The Scriptures declare that Jesus Christ “was a descendent of David.” Therefore His Jewish ancestry is very important to establish His legitimacy as the Jewish messiah.

 

Two Lineages of the Son of David

 

God “promised beforehand through the prophets in the holy scriptures” things concerning the coming of the son of David. Those things related to the place, nature of His birth, life, death and resurrection. His Jewish background would demand that He be born of the line of David if He would be eligible to sit on the great king’s throne and reign forever as the true king of Israel.

The prophet Jeremiah was specific when he wrote in 23:5-6 of the coming of the royal son of David:

 

“Behold, the days are coming,” declares the Lord,

“When I will raise up for David a righteous Branch;

And He will reign as king and act wisely

And do justice and righteousness in the land.

“In His days Judah will be saved,

And Israel will dwell securely;

And this is His name by which He will be called,

‘The Lord our righteousness.’”

 

The Jewish writer Matthew uses the genealogy of Jesus of Nazareth to prove that Jesus had descended from King David and therefore qualified to be Israel’s Messiah (2 Samuel 7:13-16). The promise had been given to King David, “Your house and your kingdom will endure forever before Me” (2 Samuel 7:16).

 

Matthew uses at least forty formal quotations from the Old Testament, and at least sixteen times he uses the formula, “all this was done that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophet saying . . .” Matthew traces the origins of Jesus to King David and to the Jewish patriarch Abraham.

 

Matthew begins his genealogy with Abraham and moves forward through fourteen generations in history to David, and then his descendents through fourteen generations to the Babylonian exile, and another fourteen generations to “Jacob the father of Joseph, the husband of Mary by whom was born Jesus, who is called Christ” (Matt. 1:16).

 

Another genealogy is given by Luke, which moves in the opposite direction. He begins with Joseph and goes back to David, Abraham and Adam (Luke 3:31, 34, 38). He is giving evidence to show that Jesus “will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High; and the Lord God will give Him the throne of His father David; and He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and His kingdom will have no end” (1:32-33).

 

Both of the genealogies are dealing with the same person, Jesus the Messiah. Both trace the lineage of Jesus through His adopted father Joseph, the husband of Mary, of whom Jesus was born.

 

Legal and Royal Rights to the Throne of David

 

The difficulty we encounter when we look at the two genealogies is quite interesting. They are the lines of two brothers and the children are cousins. Matthew says that Joseph was the son of Jacob who descended from David through David’s son and successor King Solomon (1:6). However, Luke says that Joseph was the son of Heli who had descended from David through Nathan (Luke 3:31), who was also David’s son and a brother of Solomon (v. 32).

 

Bernhard Weiss and James Orr carefully note that we are looking at two lineages of Joseph and Mary respectively, each who are descendents of King David. “Nathan’s line ran on through the years and ultimately produced the Virgin Mary. Solomon’s line ran on through the years and ultimately produced Joseph.” But Joseph was not the father of Jesus. He was the husband of Mary, the adoptive father of Jesus (Matt. 1:16). The distinction between these two lines of descent from David is between the “royal” line of those who actually sat on the throne and the “legal” line of descent from one oldest son to the next, even though these descendents never actually reigned as kings of Israel.

 

It is important to keep in mind these two lines of descendents from King David.

 

Nathan was the older brother of Solomon, but the younger brother took the throne. Solomon was the king God chose to reign after David’s death. Normally, however, that would have fallen to the elder son, Nathan, who would have been king if God had not given it to Solomon. Of course, none of Nathan’s descendents ever claimed the throne.

There were no reigning kings in his line of descendents, even though they had the legal right to the throne. When Joseph adopted Jesus as his legal son, Jesus became both David’s direct descendent through David’s son Nathan (Mary’s side), and David’s legal royal heir through Solomon (Joseph’s side).

 

The line of Solomon continued down through the centuries until it eventually produced Joseph, who was betrothed to the virgin Mary who would eventually become her husband after she had given birth to Jesus. However, note very carefully that Jesus was not a descendent of Joseph. However, when Joseph took Mary under his protection and thus became the adoptive father of her divine child, he passed the right of royalty to Jesus.

 

A Divine Curse

 

Moreover, Jeremiah 22:30 tells us that if Jesus had been the physical descended from Joseph a divine curse would have been on Him if He succeeded to the Davidic throne. Jeremiah tells us a terrible curse was pronounced on king Jehoiachin (Jechonias, whom Jeremiah abbreviates to Coniah), the last of the actual reigning kings who descended from King Solomon.

 

“Thus says the Lord,

‘Write this man down childless,

A man who will not prosper in his days;

For no man of his descendants will prosper

Sitting on the throne of David

Or ruling again in Judah.’ ”

 

Because of God’s curse on Jehoiachin, no king who ever descended in that line could be a legitimate king. “Thus says the Lord, �Write this man down childless, A man who will not prosper in his days; For no man of his descendants will prosper Sitting on the throne of David Or ruling again in Judah … (NET). Though Jehoiachin did have children, he was considered childless because none of his descendents were allowed by God to sit on the throne of David and rule Judah (1 Chron. 3:17). Judah’s lat king was his uncle, Zedekiah. the line of rulership passed through Jeconiah’s sons though none of them ever occupied the throne.

If Joseph had been the physical father of Jesus, Jesus could not have been the Messiah. Jesus is the son of Mary, not the son of Joseph and Mary. If Jesus had been a physical descendent of Joseph and not virgin-born, He would have been disqualified because of this divine curse.

 

But wait. What about Joseph and his descendents? Remember, Jesus was not a physical descendent of Joseph. Joseph was Jesus’ step-father. Joseph, a descendent of Solomon, with Jesus’ legal father, therefore, His right to the throne came through His legal father.

Each of his half brothers, who were the only other possible candidates for the Messiah had the curse of Jehoiachin on them and would have passed it on to their children if they had become king.

 

A Royal Heir

 

Because Jesus was a divine child his adoptive father handed the reign over to Him. Therefore, Jesus was a legitimate royal heir to the throne.

 

Many bible scholars follow this same line of thought. Donald Grey Barnhouse gives an excellent summary. The line that had no curse upon it produced Heli and his daughter the Virgin Mary and her Son Jesus Christ. He is therefore eligible by the line of Nathan and exhausts that line. The line that had a curse on it produced Joseph and exhausts the line of Solomon, for Joseph’s other children now have an elder brother who, legally, by adoption, is the royal heir.

 

How can the title be free in any case? A curse on one line and the lack of reigning royalty in the other.

 

But when God the Holy Spirit begat the Lord Jesus Christ in the womb of the virgin without any use of a human father, the child that was born was the seed of David according to the flesh. And when Joseph married Mary and took the unborn child under his protecting care, giving him the title that had come down to him through his ancestor Solomon, the Lord Jesus became the legal Messiah, the royal messiah, the uncursed messiah, the true Messiah, the only possible messiah. The lines are exhausted. Any man that ever comes into this world professing to fulfill the conditions will be a liar and the child of the devil (Man’s Ruin: Exposition of Bible Doctrines, Taking the Epistle to the Romans as a Point of Departure, vol. 1, Romans 1:1-32. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1952, p. 45-47).

 

A Legal Heir

 

Moreover, because Jesus descended from Mary, who also was a descendent of King David through the lineage of Nathan, He had a legal claim to the throne. The two lines of David focused on the Messiah. No one else could ever bring a legitimate claim to the throne of David.

 

Luke presented the physical line of Jesus through His mother who descended from David through the line of Nathan (Luke 3:31). in this way Jesus escaped the curse of Jehoiachin.

Donald Barnhouse concludes, “If Jesus is not the Messiah who has descended from David according to the Old Testament prophecies, there will never be a Messiah.

For Jesus had no human children, and each of his brothers (who are the only other possibilities through whom another messiah might descend) had the curse on him and would have passed it on to his children” and Jeremiah’s prophecy would thus be fulfilled.

 

Jesus Christ is the legitimate descendent from two lines of King David. He is the King announced in the Jewish prophecies. He is the King Messiah who was also the Son of God. He is the “King of Kings and Lord of Lords.” No one else can make that claim. He is the only possible legitimate Messiah. There can absolutely be no other.

 

How significant that the great prophecy that the Messiah King would come through the line of David was given just a few verses after the great words of judgment on the descendents of Jehoiachin. C. C. Ryrie notes, “If Jesus had been born only in the line of Joseph (and thus of Jechoniah, Heb. Coniah), He would not have been qualified to reign on the throne of David in the Millennium.” He also writes, “Had our Lord been the natural son of Joseph, He could not have been successful on the throne of David because of this curse. But since He came through Mary’s lineage, He was not affected by this curse.” There was no curse on Nathan’s line.

 

Though Jechoniah’s sons never occupied the throne, the line of rulership passed through them. If Jesus had been a physical descendent of Jechoniah, He would not have been able to occupy David’s throne. Luke’s genealogy makes it clear that Jesus was a legal descendant of David through his son Nathan (Lk. 3:31). Joseph, a descendent of Solomon, was Jesus’ legal adoptive father, so Jesus traced His royal rights to the throne through Joseph.

 

Jesus Christ is the only legitimate legal Jewish Messiah. Let us bow and worship Him as King of Kings and Lord of Lords. ….

 

Part Three:

Jesus as the New Moses

 

“Grounding his core premise on the fact of the intimate unity between the Old and

the New Testament, and drawing on the Christological hermeneutics that see in

Jesus Christ the key to the entire Bible, Benedict XVI presents the Jesus of the Gospels as the “new Moses” who fulfills Israel’s ancient expectations (Page 1)”.

 zenit.org

 

 

At this website:

http://www.zenit.org/article-19375?l=english

we encounter this relevant synopsis of Emeritus Pope Benedict XVI’s book, Jesus of Nazareth:

 

ROME, APRIL 15, 2007 (Zenit.org).- Here is the synopsis of Benedict XVI’s book “Jesus of Nazareth,” released by the Italian publisher Rizzoli, which has handled worldwide sale of the rights to the work.

….

The Pope’s Path to Jesus

 

A personal meditation, not an exercise of the magisterium

This book is the first part of a work, the writing of which, as its author states, was preceded by a “long gestation” (Page xi). It reflects Joseph Ratzinger’s personal search for the “face of the Lord” and is not intended to be a document forming part of the magisterium (Page xxiii).

“Everyone is free, then, to contradict me,” the Pontiff stresses in the foreword (Page xxiv). The main purpose of the work is “to help foster [in the reader] the growth of a living relationship” with Jesus Christ (Page xxiv). In an expected second volume the Pope hopes “also to be able to include the chapter on the [infancy] narratives” concerning the birth of Jesus and to consider the mystery of his passion, death and resurrection.

It is primarily, therefore, a pastoral book. But it is also the work of a rigorous theologian, who justifies his assertions based on exhaustive knowledge of sacred texts and critical literature. He underlines the indispensability of a historical-critical method for serious exegesis, but also highlights its limits: “Admittedly, to believe that, as man, he [Jesus] truly was God exceeds the scope of the historical method” (Page xxiii).

 

And yet, “Without anchoring in God, the person of Jesus remains shadowy, unreal, and unexplainable” (Schnackenburg, “Freundschaft mit Jesus,” Page 322). In confirming this conclusion of a notable Roman Catholic representative of historical-critical exegesis, the Pope states that his book “sees Jesus in light of his communion with the Father” (Page xiv).

 

In addition, based on “reading the individual texts of the Bible in the context of the whole” — a reading that “does not contradict historical-critical interpretation, but carries it forward in an organic way toward becoming theology in the proper sense” (Page xix) — the author presents “the Jesus of the Gospels as the real, ‘historical’ Jesus,” underlining “that this figure is much more logical and, historically speaking, much more intelligible than the reconstructions we have been presented with in the last decades” (Page xxii).

 

For Benedict XVI, one finds in the Scriptures the compelling elements to be able to assert that the historical personage, Jesus Christ, is also the Son of God who came to Earth to save humanity.

In page after page, he examines these one by one, guiding and challenging the reader — the believer but also the nonbeliever — by way of an enthralling intellectual adventure.

Grounding his core premise on the fact of the intimate unity between the Old and the New Testament, and drawing on the Christological hermeneutics that see in Jesus Christ the key to the entire Bible, Benedict XVI presents the Jesus of the Gospels as the “new Moses” who fulfills Israel’s ancient expectations (Page 1). This new Moses must lead the people of God to true and definitive freedom. He does so in a sequence of actions that, however, always allow God’s plan to be anticipated in its entirety.

The Baptism of Jesus in the River Jordan is “an acceptance of death for the sins of humanity, and the voice that calls out, ‘This is my beloved Son,’ over the baptismal waters is an anticipatory reference to the Resurrection” (Page 18). Jesus’ immersion in the waters of the River Jordan is a symbol of his death and of his descent into hell — a reality present, however, throughout his life.

To save humanity “He must recapitulate the whole of history from its beginnings” (Page 26), he must conquer the principal temptations that, in various forms, threaten men in all ages and, transforming them into obedience, reopen the road toward God (Chapter 2), toward the true Promised Land, which is the “Kingdom of God” (Page 44). This term, which can be interpreted in its Christological, mystical or even ecclesiastical dimension, ultimately means “the divine lordship, God’s dominion over the world and over history, [which] transcends the moment, indeed transcends and reaches beyond the whole of history. And yet it is at the same time something belonging absolutely to the present” (Page 57). Indeed, through Jesus’ presence and activity “God has here and now entered actively into history in a wholly new way.” In Jesus “God … draws near to us … rules in a divine way, without worldly power, rules through the love that reaches ‘to the end'” (Pages 60-61; John 13:1).

 

The theme of the “Kingdom of God” (Chapter 3), which pervades the whole of Jesus’ preaching, is developed in further depth in the reflection on the “Sermon on the Mount” (Chapter 4). In the Sermon Jesus clearly appears as the “new Moses” who brings the new Torah or, rather, returns to Moses’ Torah and, activating the intrinsic rhythms of its structure, fulfills it (Page 65).

The Sermon on the Mount, in which the beatitudes are the cardinal points of the law and, at one and the same time, a self-portrait of Jesus, demonstrates that this law is not just the result of a “face-to-face” talk with God but embodies the plenitude that comes from the intimate union of Jesus with the Father (Page 66). Jesus is the Son of God, the Word of God in person. “Jesus understands himself as the Torah” (Page 110). “This is the point that demands a decision […] and consequently this is the point that leads to the Cross and the Resurrection” (Page 63).

The exodus toward the true “Promised Land,” toward true freedom, requires the sequel of Christ. The believer has to enter the same communion of the Son with the Father.

Only in this way can Man “fulfill” himself, because his innermost nature is oriented toward the relationship with God. This means that a fundamental element of his life is talking to God and listening to God. Because of this, Benedict XVI dedicates an entire chapter to prayer, explaining the Lord’s Prayer, which Jesus himself taught us (Chapter 5).

 

Man’s profound contact with God the Father through Jesus in the Holy Spirit gathers them together in the “we and us” of a new family that, via the choice of the Twelve Disciples, recalls the origins of Israel (the twelve Patriarchs) and, at the same time, opens the vision toward the new Jerusalem (Revelation 21:9-14) — the ultimate destination of the whole story — of the new Exodus under the guidance of the “new Moses.”

With Jesus, the Twelve Disciples “have to pass from outward to inward communion with Jesus,” so as then to be able to testify to his oneness with the Father and “become Jesus’ envoys — ‘apostles,’ no less — who bring his message to the world” (Page 172). Albeit in its extremely variegated composition, the new family of Jesus, the Church of all ages, finds in him its unifying core and the will to live the universal character of his teaching (Chapter 6).

 

To make his message easier to understand and indeed to incorporate that message into daily living, Jesus uses the form of the parable. He comports the substance of what he intends to communicate — ultimately he is always talking about his mystery — attuned to the listener’s comprehension using the bridge of imagery grounded in realities very familiar and accessible to that listener. Alongside this human aspect, however, there is an exquisitely theological explanation of the parables’ sense, which Joseph Ratzinger highlights in an analysis of rare depth. He then comments more specifically on three parables, via which he illustrates the endless resources of Jesus’ message and its perennial actuality (Chapter 7).

 

The next chapter also centers round the images used by Jesus to explain his mystery: They are the great images of John’s Gospel. Before analyzing them, the Pope presents a very interesting summary of the various results of scientific research into who the apostle John was. With this, as also in his explanation of the images, he opens up new horizons for the reader that reveal Jesus with ever-increasing clarity as the “Word of God” (Page 317), who became man for our salvation as the “Son of God” (Page 304), coming to redirect humanity toward unity with the Father — the reality personified by Moses (Chapter 8).

 

This vision is further expanded in the last two chapters. “The account of the Transfiguration of Jesus […] interprets Peter’s confession and takes it deeper, while at the same time connecting it with the mystery of Jesus’ death and resurrection” (Pages 287-288). Both events — the transfiguration and the confession — are decisive moments for the earthly Jesus as they are for his disciples.

The true mission of the Messiah of God and the destiny of those who want to follow him are now definitively established. Both events become comprehensible to their full extent only if based on an organic view of the Old and New Testament. Jesus, the living Son of God, is the Messiah awaited by Israel who, through the scandal of the Cross, leads humanity into the “Kingdom of God” (Page 317) and to ultimate freedom (Chapter 9).

 

The Pope’s book ends with an in-depth analysis of the titles that, according to the Gospels, Jesus used for himself (Chapter 10). Once again it becomes evident that only through reading the Scriptures as a united whole is one able to reveal the meaning of the three terms “Son of Man,” “Son,” and “I Am.” This latter term is the mysterious name with which God revealed himself to Moses in the burning bush. This name now allows it to be seen that Jesus is that same God. In all three titles “Jesus at once conceals and reveals the mystery of his person. […] All three of these terms demonstrate how deeply rooted he is in the Word of God, Israel’s Bible, the Old Testament. And yet all these terms receive their full meaning only in him — it is as if they had been waiting for him” (Page 354).

 

Together with the man of faith, who seeks to explain the divine mystery above all to himself; together with the extremely refined theologian, who ranges effortlessly from the results of modern doctrinal analyses to those of their ancient precursors, the book also reveals the pastor, who truly succeeds in his attempt “to help foster [in the reader] the growth of a living relationship” with Jesus Christ (Page xxiv), almost irresistibly drawing him into his own personal friendship with the Lord.

 

In this perspective the Pontiff is not afraid to denounce a world that, by excluding God and clinging only to visible and tangible realities, risks destroying itself in a self-centered quest for purely material well-being — becoming deaf to the real call to the human being to become, through the Son, a son of God, and thereby to reach true freedom in the “Promised Land” of the “Kingdom of God.” ….

 

Part Four:

Significance of Jesus as “the gardener”

   

“Adam was to “garden” the whole earth for the glory of His Father. But he failed. Created to make the dust fruitful, he himself became part of the dust. The Garden of Eden became the wilderness of this world. But do you also remember how John’s Gospel records what happened on the morning of Jesus’ resurrection? He was “the beginning [of the new creation], the firstborn from the dead.” But Mary Magdalene did not recognize Him; instead, she spoke to him, “supposing him to be the gardener”.”

 Sinclair Ferguson

 

Nick Batzig has written beautifully on this in his 2014 article, “Jesus, the True and Greater Gardener” at: https://www.placefortruth.org/blog/jesus-the-true-and-greater-gardener

 

The Scriptures tell us that the Son of God began His sufferings in a Garden and brought them to a close in a Garden. That is an absolutely amazing display of God’s wisdom. After all, Jesus is the second Adam undoing what Adam did and doing what Adam failed to do (Rom. 5:12-21; 1 Cor. 15:47-49). He is the Heavenly Bridegroom, entering into His sufferings in a Garden for the redemption of His bride, the Church. He is the Heavenly Gardener, giving Himself to the cultivation of the souls of His people through His atoning sacrifice and continual intercession. When He hung on the cross, He spoke of Glory under the name of “Paradise”–an evident allusion to the paradise in which our first parents dwelt and the paradise from which they fell. He is the second Adam who, by the shedding of His blood, secured the New Creation. As we consider the double entendres of the fourth Gospel, we come to those specifically concerning the biblical theology of the second Adam in the Garden. Consider the theological significance of the following two Garden settings in which Christ carried out the work of redemption:

 

  1. Jesus began His sufferings in a Garden in order to show that He came to undo what Adam had done. In his soul-stirring book, Looking Unto Jesus, Isaac Ambrose explained the theological significance of the Garden motif in the Gospels–both with regard to the beginning of Christ’s sufferings in the Garden of Gethsemane and at the end of His sufferings in the Garden where His body was laid to rest in the tomb. Concerning the first of these symbolic gardens, Ambrose suggested:

 

“Jesus went forth with his disciples over the brook Kidron, where there was a garden (John 18:1)” many mysteries are included in this word, and I believe it is not without reason that our Savior goes into a garden…Because a garden was the place wherein we fell, and therefore Christ made choice of a garden to begin there the greatest work of our redemption: in the first garden was the beginning of all evils; and in this garden was the beginning of our restitution from all evils; in the first garden, the first Adam was overthrown by Satan, and in this garden the second Adam overcame, and Satan himself was by him overcome; in the first garden sin was contracted; and we were indebted by our sins to God, and in this garden sin was paid for by that great and precious price of the blood of God: in the first garden man surfeited by eating the forbidden fruit, and in this garden Christ sweat it out wonderfully, even by a bloody sweat; in the first garden, death first made its entrance into the world; and in this garden life enters to restore us from death to life again; in the first garden Adam’s liberty tosin brought himself and all of us into bondage; and, in this garden, Christ being bound and fettered, we are thereby freed and restored to liberty. I might thus descant in respect of every circumstance, but this is the sum, in a garden first began our sin, and in this garden first began the passion, that great work and merit of our redemption.1

Since “a garden was the place wherein we fell…therefore Christ made choice of a garden to begin there the greatest work of our redemption.” He is the second Adam. It is fitting, therefore, that His work of undoing all that Adam did should begin in a Garden. Charles Spurgeon drew out his same observation when he observed: “May we not conceive that as in a garden Adam’s self-indulgence ruined us, so in another garden the agonies of the second Adam should restore us. Gethsemane supplies the medicine for the ills which followed upon the forbidden fruit of Eden. No flowers which bloomed upon the banks of the four-fold river were ever so precious to our race as the bitter herbs which grew hard by the black and sullen stream of Kedron.”

 

  1. Jesus concluded His sufferings in a Garden to show that He accomplished all that Adam failed to accomplish. It is not only in a garden that Jesus began the work of redemption; it is in a Garden that Jesus finished the work of redemption. Our Lord Jesus was buried and raised in a Garden. When he came to expound the account of Mary Magdalene outside of the Garden-tomb, weeping and thinking that Christ was merely “the Gardener” on the day of His resurrection, Ambrose again noted:

As Adam in the state of grace and innocency, was placed in a garden, and the first office allotted to him, was to be a gardener; so Jesus Christ appeared first in a garden, and presents himself in a gardener’s likeness: and as that first gardener was the parent of sin, the ruin of’mankind, and the author of death; so is this gardener the ransom for our sin; the raiser of our ruins, and the restorer of our life. In some sense, then, and in a mystery, Christ was a gardener; but Mary’s mistake was in supposing him the gardener of that only place; and not the gardener of our souls.3

 

Spurgeon further unpacked the idea that the Scriptures mean for us to view Jesus as the Gardener of the souls of His people when we see Him appearing to Mary in the Garden where His body had been buried. In his sermon, “Supposing Him to be the Gardener,” he explained:

 

If we would be supported by a type, our Lord takes the name of “the Second Adam,” and the first Adam was a gardener. Moses tells us that the Lord God placed the man in the garden of Eden to dress it and to keep it. Man in his best estate was not to live in this world in a paradise of indolent luxury, but in a garden of recompensed toil. Behold, the church is Christ’s Eden, watered by the river of life, and so fertilized that all manner of fruits are brought forth unto God; and he, our second Adam, walks in this spiritual Eden to dress it and to keep it; and so by a type we see that we are right in “supposing him to be the gardener.” Thus also Solomon thought of him when he described the royal Bridegroom as going down with his spouse to the garden when the flowers appeared on the earth and the fig tree had put forth her green figs; he went out with his beloved for the reservation of the gardens, saying, “Take us the foxes, the little foxes, that spoil the vines: for our vines have tender grapes.” Neither nature, nor Scripture, nor type, nor song forbids us to think of our adorable Lord Jesus as one that careth for the flowers and fruits of his church.4

 

Adam was called to guard and keep the Garden. This certainly included his need to protect his bride from the temptations of the evil one. When Jesus entered into His sufferings on the cross, He did so with His bride–the church–with Him there in the Garden. As Adam should have warned Eve to “watch and pray lest you enter into temptation,” so Jesus warns His bride–the Church to do that very thing. There is a striking parallel between the events of the two Gardens–Eden and Gethsemane.

 

There are also striking parallels between the tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil and the tree from which Jesus is to drink the fruit of the cup place before Him. In the Garden of Eden, God told Adam that he could eat of every tree except one. In the Garden of Gethsemane, God the Father essentially told Jesus to eat from one tree and one tree only. “The cup” symbolized the fruit of Adam’s sin–the wrath of God. The wrath of God was the fruit that Jesus was to partake of as our Redeemer. When he presses through the soul struggles of Gethsemane and makes His way to the sufferings of Gothgotha, Jesus is showing that He is the second Adam who came conquering and to conquer–Satan, sin and death. Now, all those who trust in him are given freely to eat of the Tree of Life.

 

Sinclair Ferguson sums this all up for us when he writes:

 

Adam was to “garden” the whole earth for the glory of His Father. But he failed. Created to make the dust fruitful, he himself became part of the dust. The Garden of Eden became the wilderness of this world. But do you also remember how John’s Gospel records what happened on the morning of Jesus’ resurrection? He was “the beginning [of the new creation], the firstborn from the dead.” But Mary Magdalene did not recognize Him; instead, she spoke to him, “supposing him to be the gardener.” Well, who else would he be, at that time in the morning?

The Gardner? Yes, indeed. He is the Gardener. He is the second Man, the last Adam, who is now beginning to restore the Garden.

Later that day Jesus showed his disciples where the nails and the spear had drawn blood from his hands and side. The Serpent had indeed crushed his [heel]. But he had crushed the Serpent’s head! Now he was planning to turn the wilderness back into a garden. Soon he would send his disciples into the world with the good news of his victory. All authority on earth–lost by Adam–was now regained. The world must now be reclaimed by Jesus the conquerer.

In the closing scenes of the book of Revelation, John saw the new earth coming down from heaven. What did it look like? A garden in which the tree of life stands!5

 

Meditation on these truths ought to make our souls to sing. These truths should stir up within us greater love to the Christ who first loved us. They should make us long to go to the One who tends to and tills the soil of our souls. We are a garden to our God and Father, and Jesus in our heavenly Gardener who cultivates the sweet fruit of the Gospel in us.

 

  1. Isaac Ambrose Looking Unto Jesus(Pittsburgh: Luke Loomis & Co., 1832)pp. 337-338
  2. An excerpt from C.H. Spurgeon’s sermon, “The Agony in Gethsemane.”
  3. Ambrose Looking Unto Jesusp. 442
  4. An excerpt from Spurgeon’s sermon “Supposing Him to be the Gardener.”
  5. Alistair Begg and Sinclair Ferguson, Name Above All Names(Crossway, 2013) p. 34.

 

 

 

 

 

Assumption of the Virgin Mary

 

“As in the definition of the Immaculate Conception, the Church had to remind the world that perfection is not biologically inevitable, so now in the definition of the Assumption, it has to give hope to the creature of despair. Modern despair is the effect of a disappointed hedonism and centers principally around Sex and Death. To these two ideas, which preoccupy the modern mind, the Assumption is indirectly related”.

 Fulton J. Sheen

 

 

This first piece on the Assumption is taken from The Catholic Weekly:

https://www.catholicweekly.com.au/the-assumption-of-our-lady-15-august/

 

The Assumption of Our Lady – 15 August

 

By

Staff Writers

August 12, 2011

 

Monday, 15 August the Church celebrates the Feast Day of the Assumption of Our Lady when according to our faith, the Holy Mother, “having completed her course of her earthly life, was assumed body and soul into heavenly glory”.

 

Although defined as an article of faith by Pope Pius XII just over half a century ago, the Assumption of Our Lady into heaven has been accepted from back to the earliest of Christian times.

 

The Assumption signals the end of Mary’s earthly life and marks her return to heaven to be reunited with Jesus. While the bodies of both Jesus and Mary are now in heaven, there is a difference between the Assumption and the Resurrection.

Where Jesus arose from the tomb and ascended into heaven by his own power, Mary’s body was taken up to heaven by the power of her Son.

For this reason we use different words to describe each event. One is the Ascension of Christ and the other, the Assumption of Mary.

 

Historical Background

 

Although some scholars insist there is no historical data to prove the historical fact of the Assumption, apart from faith there is also strong and reasoned data to support the event.

 

1.Firstly at no time in history has Christendom venerated a grave or tomb of the Blessed Virgin.

2.Until the 5th century of Christianity there was not even a legend concerning her place of burial.

3.There is absolutely no relic of Our Lady’s body in existence; nor has any person or city ever claimed possession of such a relic. From the earliest times of the Church, the faithful venerated the remains of the Saints. Relics of the Apostles and of thousands of martyrs are preserved in shrines and caskets. The sacred remains of Mary could not have been lost or neglected.

4.In the first sixteen centuries of Christianity no reputable theologian or school of theology ever questioned the dogma of the Assumption.

In addition there was also the solid and deep-rooted conviction among the first Christians that something extraordinary happened to Our Lady at the moment of her departure from this life. This found expression in writings, sermons, devotional practices, and prayers to Mary “assumed into heaven”, and was followed by churches, religious orders, cities and nations across the world dedicating or consecrating to her under the title of Assumption.

 

The Assumption of Mary Feast Day dates back to earliest Christian times

 

The first believed to have asked what had happened to Mary’s body was St Epiphanius, a 4th Century bishop who devoted himself to the study of Mary’s death and believed Our Lady did not die but instead was recalled to heaven.

 

The feast day of this holy and momentous event stems from the middle of the 5th Century when the Commemoration of the Mother of God was celebrated each year on 15 August in a shrine located near Jerusalem.

More than 100 years later, the feast also commemorated the end of Mary’s sojourn on earth and was known as the “Dormition of Our Lady.”

 

The feast was introduced to Rome in the 8th Century by Pope Sergius and from there it spread rapidly throughout western Europe, with Pope Hadrian later giving the Feast Day its official name as the Assumption of Mary towards the end of the Century.

 

Dogma and Definition

 

When Pope Pius IX defined the dogma of the Immaculate Conception in 1854, it drew attention to the possibility of a dogmatic definition of the Assumption. Both are truths not found explicitly in the Bible which was when many petitioned the Apostolic See for an immediate definition.

 

Between 1849 and 1940 more than 2,500 petitions were received from bishops and superiors or religious orders across the world of which more than 73% came from the Catholic hierarchy. Finally on 1 November in the Holy Year, 1950, the day after the closing of the International Marian Congress in Rome, Pope Pius XII solemnly defined the dogma of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary into heaven.

 

This great event took place in St Peter’s Piazza in the presence of 40 Cardinals, 500 bishops, thousands of priests and more than a million of the faithful.

 

“Mary, having completed the course of her earthly life, was assumed body and soul into heavenly glory,” Pope Pius told the masses.

 

For many, the most telling verification of the Assumption can be found not only in learned theological studies or definitive doctrinal statements, but in the medium of Mary’s many apparitions which the Church has declared worthy of belief. Where these apparitions have appeared have become beloved Holy shrines visited by millions each year and include the Shrines of Our Lady at Guadaloupe, Lourdes and Fatima.

 

*****

 

This second piece on the Assumption was written by, then (1952) Bishop, Fulton J. Sheen:

http://www.catholictradition.org/Mary/assumption-world.htm

 

The Assumption and the World by Bishop Fulton J. Sheen

 

The definition of the Immaculate Conception was made when the Modern World was born. Within five years of that date, and within six months of the apparition of Lourdes where Mary said, “I am the Immaculate Conception,” Charles Darwin wrote his Origin of Species, Karl Marx completed his Introduction to the Critique of the Philosophy of Hegel (“Religion is the Opium of the people”), and John Stuart Mill published his Essay on Liberty. At the moment the spirit of the world was drawing up a philosophy that would issue in two World Wars in twenty-one years, and the threat of a third, the Church came forward to challenge the falsity of the new philosophy. Darwin took man’s mind off his Divine Origin and fastened it on an unlimited future when he would become a kind of God.

 

Marx was so impressed with this idea of inevitable progress that he asked Darwin if he would accept a dedication of one of his books. Then, following Feuerbach, Marx affirmed not a bourgeois atheism of the intellect, but an atheism of the will, in which man hates God because man is God. Mill reduced the freedom of the new man to license and the right to do whatever he pleases, thus preparing a chaos of conflicting egotisms, which the world would solve by Totalitarianism.

 

If these philosophers were right, and if man is naturally good and capable of deification through his own efforts, then it follows that everyone is immaculately conceived. The Church arose in protest and affirmed that only one human person in all the world is immaculately conceived, that man is prone to sin, and that freedom is best preserved when, like Mary, a creature answers Fiat to the Divine Will.

 

The dogma of the Immaculate Conception wilted and killed the false optimism of the inevitable and necessary progress of man without God. Humbled in his Darwinian-Marxian-Millian pride, modern man saw his doctrine of progress evaporate. The interval between the Napoleonic and Franco-Prussian Wars was fifty-five years; the interval between the Franco-Prussian War and World War I was forty-three years; the interval between World Wars I and II, twenty-one years. Fifty-five, forty-three, twenty-one, and a Korean War five years after World War II is hardly progress. Man finally saw that he was not naturally good. Once having boasted that he came from the beast, he now found himself to be acting as a beast.

 

Then came the reaction. The Optimistic Man who boasted of his immaculate conception now became the Pessimistic Man who could see within himself nothing but a bundle of libidinous, dark, cavernous drives. As in the definition of the Immaculate Conception, the Church had to remind the world that perfection is not biologically inevitable, so now in the definition of the Assumption, it has to give hope to the creature of despair.

 

Modern despair is the effect of a disappointed hedonism and centers principally around Sex and Death. To these two ideas, which preoccupy the modern mind, the Assumption is indirectly related.

 

The primacy of Sex is to a great extent due to Sigmund Freud, whose basic principle in his own words is: “Human actions and customs derive from sexual impulses, and fundamentally, human wishes are unsatisfied sexual desires. … Consciously or unconsciously, we all wish to unite with our mothers and kill our fathers, as Oedipus did unless we are female, in which case we wish to unite with our fathers and murder our mothers.” The other major concern of modern thought is Death. The beautiful philosophy of being is reduced to Dasein, which is only in-der-Weltsein. There is no freedom, no spirit, and no personality. Freedom is for death. Liberty is contingency threatened with complete destruction. The future is nothing but a projection of death.

 

The aim of existence is to look death in the eye.

 

Jean-Paul Sartre passes from a phenomenology of sexuality to that which he calls “nausea,” or a brazen confrontation of nothingness, toward which existence tends. Nothing precedes man; nothing follows man. Whatever is opposite him is a negation of his ego, and therefore nothingness. God created the world out of nothingness; Sartre creates nothingness out of the world and the despairing human heart. “Man is a useless passion.”

 

 

Agnosticism and Pride were the twin errors the Church had to meet in the Doctrine of the Immaculate Conception; now it is the despair resulting from Sex and Death it has to meet in this hour. When the Agnostics of the last century came in contact with the world and its three libidos, they became libertines. But when pleasure diminished and made hungry where most it satisfied, the agnostics, who had become libertines by attaching themselves to the world, now began in disgust to withdraw themselves from the world and became philosophers of Existentialism. Philosophers like Sartre, and Heidegger, and others are born of a detachment from the world, not as the Christian ascetic, because he loves God, but because they are disgusted with the world. They become contemplatives, not to enjoy God, but to wallow in their despair, to make a philosophy out of it, to be brazen about their boredom, and to make death the center of their destiny.

 

The new contemplatives are in the monasteries of the jaded, which are built not along the waters of Siloe, but along the dark banks of the Styx.

 

These two basic ideas of modem thought, Sex and Death, are not unrelated. Freud himself hinted at the union of Eros and Thanatos. Sex brings death, first of all because in sex the other person is possessed, or annihilated, or ignored for the sake of pleasure. But this subjection implies a compression and a destruction of life for the sake of the Eros. Secondly, death is a shadow which is cast over sex. Sex seeks pleasure, but since it assumes that this life is all, every pleasure is seasoned not only with a diminishing return, but also with the thought that death will end pleasure forever. Eros is Thanatos. Sex is Death. From a philosophical point of view, the Doctrine of the Assumption meets the Eros-Thanatos philosophy head on, by lifting humanity from the darkness of Sex and Death to the light of Love and Life. These are the two philosophical pillars on which rests the belief in the Assumption.

 

  1. Love. The Assumption affirms not Sex but Love. St. Thomas in his inquiry into the effects of love mentions ecstasy as one of them. In ecstasy one is “lifted out of his body,” an experience which poets and authors and orators have felt in a mild form when in common parlance, “they were carried away by their subject.” On a higher level, the spiritual phenomenon of levitation is due to such an intense love of God that saints are literally lifted off the earth. Love, like fire, burns upward, since it is basically desire. It seeks to become more and more united with the object that is loved. Our sensate experiences are familiar with the earthly law of gravitation which draws material bodies to the earth. But in addition to terrestrial gravitation, there is a law of spiritual gravitation, which increases as we get closer to God. This “pull” on our hearts by the Spirit of God is always present, and it is only our refusing wills and the weakness of our bodies as a result of sin which keep us earth-bound. Some souls become impatient with the restraining body; St. Paul asks to be delivered from its prison house.

If God exerts a gravitational pull on all souls, given the intense love of Our Lord for His Blessed Mother which descended, and the intense love of Mary for Her Lord which ascended, there is created a suspicion that love at this stage would be so great as “to pull the body with it.” Given further an immunity from Original Sin, there would not be in the Body of Our Lady the dichotomy, tension, and opposition that exists in us between body and soul. If the distant moon moves all the surging tides of earth, then the love of Mary for Jesus and the love of Jesus for Mary should result in such an ecstasy as “to lift her out of this world.”

 

Love in its nature is an Ascension in Christ and an Assumption in Mary. So closely are Love and the Assumption related that a few years ago the writer, when instructing a Chinese lady, found that the one truth in Christianity which was easiest for her to believe was the Assumption. She personally knew a saintly soul who lived on a mat in the woods, whom thousands of people visited to receive her blessing. One day, according to the belief of all who knew the saint, she was “assumed” into heaven. The explanation the convert from Confucianism gave was: “Her love was so great that her body followed her soul.” One thing is certain: the Assumption is easy to understand if one loves God deeply, but it is hard to understand if one loves not.

Plato in his Symposium, reflecting the Grecian view of the elevation of love, says that love of the flesh should lead to love of the spirit. The true meaning of love is that it leads to God. Once the earthly love has fulfilled its task, it disappears, as the symbol gives way to reality. The Assumption is not the killing of the Eros, but its transfiguration through Agape. It does not say that love in a body is wrong, but it does hold that it can be so right, when it is Godward, that the beauty of the body itself is enhanced.

Our Age of Carnality which loves the Body Beautiful is lifted out of its despair, born of the Electra and Oedipus incests, to a Body that is Beautiful because it is a Temple of God, a Gate through which the Word of Heaven passed to earth, a Tower of Ivory up which climbed Divine Love to kiss upon the lips of His Mother a Mystic Rose. With one stroke of an infallible dogmatic pen, the Church lifts the sacredness of love out of sex without denying the role of the body in love. Here is one body that reflects in its uncounted hues the creative love of God. To a world that worships the body, the Church now says: “There are two bodies in Heaven, one the glorified human nature of Jesus, the other the assumed human nature of Mary. Love is the secret of the Ascension of one and of the Assumption of the other, for Love craves unity with its Beloved. The Son returns to the Father in the unity of Divine Nature; and Mary returns to Jesus in the unity of human nature. Her nuptial flight is the event to which our whole generation moves.”

 

  1. Life. Life is the second philosophical pillar on which the Assumption rests. Life is unitive; death is divisive. Goodness is the food of life, as evil is the food of death. Errant sex impulses are the symbol of the body’s division from God as a result of original sm. Death is the last stroke of that division. Wherever there is sin, there is multiplicity: the Devil says, “My name is Legion; there are many of us.” (Mark 5:9.) But life is immanent activity. The higher the life, the more immanent is the activity, says St. Thomas. The plant drops its fruit from a tree, the animal drops its kind for a separate existence, but the spiritual mind of man begets the fruit of a thought which remains united to the mind, although distinct from it. Hence intelligence and life are intimately related. Da mihi intellectum et vivam. God is perfect life because of perfect inner intellectual activity. There is no extrinsicism, no dependence, no necessary outgoing on the part of God.

Since the imperfection of life comes from remoteness to the source of life and because of sin, it follows that the creature who is preserved from Original Sin is immune from that psychological division which sin begets. The Immaculate Conception guarantees a highly integrated and unified life. The purity of such a life is threefold: a physical purity which is integrity of body; a mental purity without any desire for a division of love, which love of creatures apart from God would imply; and finally, a psychological purity which is immunity from the uprising of concupiscence, the sign and symbol of our weakness and diversity. This triple purity is the essence of the most highly unified creature whom this world has ever seen.

Added to this intense life in Mary, which is free from the division caused by sin, there is still a higher degree of life because of her Divine Motherhood. Through her portals Eternity became young and appeared as a Child; through her, as to another Moses, not the tables of the Law, but the Logos was given and written on her own heart; through her, not a manna which men eat and die, but the Eucharist descends, which if a man eats, he will never die.

But if those who commune with the Bread of Life never die, then what shall we say of her who was the first living Ciborium of that Eucharist, and who on Christmas day opened it at the communion rail of Bethlehem to say to Wise Men and Shepherds: “Behold the Lamb of God Who taketh away the sins of the world”?

Here there is not just a life free from the division which brings death, but a life united with Eternal Life. Shall she, as the garden in which grew the lily of Divine sinlessness and the red rose of the passion of redemption, be delivered over to the weeds and be forgotten by the Heavenly Gardener? Would not one communion preserved in grace through life ensure a heavenly immortality? Then shall not she, in whose womb was celebrated the nuptials of eternity and time, be more of eternity than time? As she carried Him for nine months, there was fulfilled in another way the law of life: “And they shall be two in one flesh.”

 

No grown men and women would like to see the home in which they were reared subjected to the violent destruction of a bomb, even though they no longer lived in it. Neither would Omnipotence, Who tabernacled Himself within Mary, consent to see His fleshy home subjected to the dissolution of the tomb. If grown men love to go back to their homes when they reach the fullness of life, and become more conscious of the debt they owe their mothers, then shall not Divine Life go back in search of His living cradle and take that “flesh-girt paradise” to Heaven with Him, there to be “gardenered by the Adam new”?

 

In this Doctrine of the Assumption, the Church meets the despair of the world in a second way. It affirms the beauty of life as against death. When wars, sex, and sin multiply the discords of men, and death threatens on every side, the Church bids us lift up our hearts to the life that has the immortality of the Life which nourished it. Feuerbach said that a man is what he eats. He was more right than he knew. Eat the food of earth, and one dies; eat the Eucharist, and one lives eternally. She, who is the mother of the Eucharist, escapes the decomposition of death.

 

The Assumption challenges the nothingness of the Mortician philosophers in a new way. The greatest task of the spiritual leaders today is to save mankind from despair, into which Sex and Fear of Death have cast it. The world that used to say, “Why worry about the next world, when we live in this one?” has finally learned the hard way that, by not thinking about the next life, one cannot even enjoy this life. When optimism completely breaks down and becomes pessimism, the Church holds forth the promise of hope. Threatened as we are by war on all sides, with death about to be rained from the sky by Promethean fires, the Church defines a Truth that has Life at its center. Like a kindly mother whose sons are going off to war, she strokes our heads and says: “You will come back alive, as Mary came back again after walking down the valley of Death.” As the world fears defeat by death, the Church sings the defeat of death. Is not this the harbinger of a better world, as the refrain of life rings out amidst the clamors of the philosophers of death?

 

As Communism teaches that man has only a body, but not a soul, so the Church answers: “Then let us begin with a Body.” As the mystical body of the anti-Christ gathers around the tabernacle doors of the cadaver of Lenin, periodically filled with wax to give the illusion of immortality to those who deny immortality, the Mystical Body of Christ bids the despairing to gaze on the two most serious wounds earth ever received: the empty tomb of Christ and the empty tomb of Mary. In 1854 the Church spoke of the Soul in the Immaculate Conception. In 1950 its language was about the Body: the Mystical Body, the Eucharist, and the Assumption. With deft dogmatic strokes the Church is repeating Paul’s truth to another pagan age: “Your bodies are meant for the Lord.” There is nothing in a body to beget despair. Man is related to Nothingness, as the philosophers of Decadentism teach, but only in his origin, not in his destiny. They put Nothingness as the end; the Church puts it at the beginning, for man was created ex nihilo. The modern man gets back to nothingness through despair; the Christian knows nothingness only through self-negation, which is humility. The more that the pagan “nothings” himself, the closer he gets to the hell of despair and suicide. The more the Christian “nothings” himself, the closer he gets to God. Mary went so deep down into Nothingness that she became exalted. Respexit humilitatem ancillae suae. And her exaltation was also her Assumption.

 

Coming back to the beginning … to Eros and Thanatos: Sex and Death, said Freud, are related. They are related in this sense: Eros as egotistic love leads to the death of the soul. But the world need not live under that curse. The Assumption gives Eros a new meaning. Love does lead to death. Where there is love, there is self-forgetfulness, and the maximum in self-forgetfulness is the surrender of life. “Greater love than this no man hath, that he lay down his life for his friends.” (John 15:13.) Our Lord’s love led to His death. Mary’s love led to her transfixion with seven swords. Greater love than this no woman hath, that she stand beneath the Cross of her Son to share, in her own way, in the Redemption of the world.

 

Within three decades the definition of the Assumption will cure the pessimism and despair of the modern world. Freud, who did so much to develop this pessimism, took as his motto: “If I cannot move the Gods on high, I shall set all hell in an uproar.” That uproar which he created will now be stilled by a Lady as powerful as an “army drawn up in battle array.” The age of the “body beautiful” will now become the age of the Assumption.

 

In Mary there is a triple transition. In the Annunciation we pass from the holiness of the Old Testament to the holiness of Christ. At Pentecost we pass from the holiness, of the Historical Christ to the holiness of the Mystical Christ or His Body, which is the Church. Mary here receives the Spirit for a second time. The first overshadowing was to give birth to the Head of the Church; this second overshadowing is to give birth to His Body as she is in the midst of the Apostles abiding in prayer. The third transition is the Assumption, as she becomes the first human person to realize the historical destiny of the faithful as members of Christ’s Mystical Body, beyond time, beyond death, and beyond judgment.

 

Mary is always in the vanguard of humanity. She is compared to Wisdom, presiding at Creation; she is announced as the Woman who will conquer Satan, as the Virgin who will conceive. She becomes the first person since the Fall to have a unique and unrepeatable kind of union with God; she mothers the infant Christ in Bethlehem; she mothers the Mystical Christ at Jerusalem; and now, by her Assumption, she goes ahead like her Son to prepare a place for us. She participates in the glory of Her Son, reigns with Him, presides at His Side over the destinies of the Church in time, and intercedes for us, to Him, as He, in His turn, intercedes to the Heavenly Father.

 

Adam came before Eve chronologically. The new Adam, Christ, comes after the new Eve, Mary, chronologically, although existentially He preceded her as the Creator a creature.

By stressing for the moment only the time element, Mary always seems to be the Advent of what is in store for man. She anticipates Christ for nine months, as she bears Heaven within her; she anticipates His Passion at Cana, and His Church at Pentecost. Now, in the last great Doctrine of the Assumption, she anticipates heavenly glory, and the definition comes at a time when men think of it least.

 

One wonders if this could not be the last of the great Truths of Mary to be defined by the Church. Anything else might seem to be an anticlimax after she is declared to be in Heaven, body and soul. But actually there is one other truth left to be defined, and that is that she is the Mediatrix, under Her Son, of all graces. As St. Paul speaks of the Ascension of Our Lord as the prelude to His intercession for us, so we, fittingly, should speak of the Assumption of Our Lady as a prelude to her intercession for us. First, the place, Heaven; then, the function, intercession. The nature of her role is not to call Her Son’s attention to some need, in an emergency unnoticed by Him, nor is it to “win” a difficult consent. Rather it is to unite herself to His compassionate Mercy and give a human voice to His Infinite Love. The main ministry of Mary is to incline men’s hearts to obedience to the Will of Her Divine Son. Her last recorded words at Cana are still her words in the Assumption: “Whatsoever He shall say to you, that do ye.”

 

 

 

To philosophise in Mary 

Image result for mary and child

 

“For between the vocation of the Blessed Virgin and the vocation of true philosophy

there is a deep harmony. Just as the Virgin was called to offer herself entirely as

human being and as woman that God’s Word might take flesh and come among us,

so too philosophy is called to offer its rational and critical resources that theology,

as the understanding of faith, may be fruitful and creative”.

 Pope St. John Paul II

At: jp2forum.org/tag/mary/page/2 one reads on this subject:

 

REFLECTIONS ON THE PHILOSOPHER POPE

 

Karol Wojtyla was a philosopher and poet. He was a priest and bishop. He was called by God to serve many years as Pope John Paul II. The legacy of his life, his thought, and his papacy provides us with great insight and wisdom.

 

Philosophize in Mary

 

John Paul invokes the Seat of Wisdom in the concluding section of Fides et ratio and exhorts the reader to philosophize in Mary (“Philosophari in Maria.” §108) He considers the life of Mary “a true parable illuminating the reflection contained in these pages.” Mary lost none of her humanity is giving assent to Gabriel’s word; so too “when philosophy heeds the summons of the Gospel’s truth its autonomy is in no way impaired.” All the more do its enquiries “rise to their highest expression.”

 

We know of John Paul’s devotion to Mary, through the “True Devotion” of St Louis de Montford and the motto “Totus tuus.” So it is not surprising to see this exhortation. But what more does it mean? St Louis provides a meditation for doing all things “by Mary, with Mary, in Mary, and for Mary.” He says that in Mary we discover “the true terrestrial paradise of the new Adam.” In this paradise, he says, there is the true tree of life, which has borne Jesus Christ, the fruit of life, and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, which has given light to the world.” (§261)

 

Earlier in Fides et ratio John Paul talks about the cross (“the true tree of life”) as the authentic critique of those seek self-sufficiency. (§23) The cross is a challenge to reason – but “reason cannot eliminate the mystery of love which the cross represents, while the cross can give to reason the ultimate answer which it seeks.” Mary stood at the foot of the cross. To philosophize in Mary and with Mary is to stand there also to consider the meaning of the sacrifice.

“Only in the mystery of the incarnate Word does the mystery of man take on light. . . . Christ fully reveals man to man himself and makes his supreme calling clear.” (Gaudium et spes, §22) ….

 

  1. I turn in the end to the woman whom the prayer of the Church invokes as Seat of Wisdom, and whose life itself is a true parable illuminating the reflection contained in these pages. For between the vocation of the Blessed Virgin and the vocation of true philosophy there is a deep harmony. Just as the Virgin was called to offer herself entirely as human being and as woman that God’s Word might take flesh and come among us, so too philosophy is called to offer its rational and critical resources that theology, as the understanding of faith, may be fruitful and creative. And just as in giving her assent to Gabriel’s word, Mary lost nothing of her true humanity and freedom, so too when philosophy heeds the summons of the Gospel’s truth its autonomy is in no way impaired. Indeed, it is then that philosophy sees all its enquiries rise to their highest expression. This was a truth which the holy monks of Christian antiquity understood well when they called Mary “the table at which faith sits in thought”. (132)

 

In her they saw a lucid image of true philosophy and they were convinced of the need to philosophari in Maria.

 

 

 

May Mary, Seat of Wisdom, be a sure haven for all who devote their lives to the search for wisdom. May their journey into wisdom, sure and final goal of all true knowing, be freed of every hindrance by the intercession of the one who, in giving birth to the Truth and treasuring it in her heart, has shared it forever with all the world.

 

Given in Rome, at Saint Peter’s, on 14 September, the Feast of the Triumph of the Cross, in the year 1998, the twentieth of my Pontificate.

 

Growing forgetful of God

Image result for world war 1

Fatima was “a power greater than nature”

Part Three:

Growing forgetful of God

 

 “The War [WWI] is going to end: but if people do not cease offending God,

a worse one will break out …”.

Fatima 1917

 

“The failings of human consciousness, deprived of its divine dimension,

have been a determining factor in all the major crimes of this [20th] century.

The first of these was World War I, and much of our

present predicament can be traced back to it”.

 Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn

 

 

The view that world wars arise from sin and ingratitude towards God was collaborated by Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn when he stated (in 1983): “… if I were called upon to identify briefly the principal trait of the entire twentieth century, here too, I would be unable to find anything more precise and pithy than to repeat once again: Men have forgotten God”.

 

According to Solzhenitsyn:

http://roadstothegreatwar-ww1.blogspot.com/2016/02/solzhenitsyn-on-god-and-first-world-

 

Over a half century ago, while I was still a child, I recall hearing a number of old people offer the following explanation for the great disasters that had befallen Russia: “Men have forgotten God; that’s why all this has happened.”

Since then I have spent well-nigh fifty years working on the history of our Revolution; in the process I have read hundreds of books, collected hundreds of personal testimonies, and have already contributed eight volumes of my own toward the effort of clearing away the rubble left by that upheaval. But if I were asked today to formulate as concisely as possible the main cause of the ruinous Revolution that swallowed up some sixty million of our people, I could not put it more accurately than to repeat: Men have forgotten God; that’s why all this has happened.

What is more, the events of the Russian Revolution can only be understood now, at the end of the century, against the background of what has since occurred in the rest of the world. What emerges here is a process of universal significance. And if I were called upon to identify briefly the principal trait of the entire twentieth century, here too, I would be unable to find anything more precise and pithy than to repeat once again: Men have forgotten God.

 

The failings of human consciousness, deprived of its divine dimension, have been a determining factor in all the major crimes of this century. The first of these was World War I, and much of our present predicament can be traced back to it.

 

It was a war (the memory of which seems to be fading) when Europe, bursting with health and abundance, fell into a rage of self-mutilation which could not but sap its strength for a century or more, and perhaps forever.

 

The only possible explanation for this war is a mental eclipse among the leaders of Europe due to their lost awareness of a Supreme Power above them. Only a godless embitterment could have moved ostensibly Christian states to employ poison gas, a weapon so obviously beyond the limits of humanity.

 

Source: This is an excerpt from Solzhenitsyn’s 1983 Speech, “Men Have Forgotten God” in which he expands his theme to include the Second World War and the Mutual Assured Destruction Doctrine of the Cold War.

Pope: God is purifying the church with ‘unbearable’ pain of abuse scandal

Rome — The clerical abuse scandal has caused everyone in the Catholic Church “pain and unbearable suffering,” Pope Francis said, but it also is a call to repentance and the renewal of the church.
“Our humble repentance, which remains silent between our tears for the monstrosity of sin and the unfathomable greatness of God’s forgiveness, this, this humble repentance is the beginning of our holiness,” the pope told priests from the Diocese of Rome.

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Pope Francis’ annual Lenten meeting with the priests March 7 began with a penitential prayer service and individual confessions at the Basilica of St. John Lateran, the cathedral of the Diocese of Rome.
In a long, impromptu talk on priesthood and forgiveness, the pope acknowledged the clerical sexual abuse crisis and the particular way it had impacted priests.
“Sin disfigures us,” he said, and it is “humiliating” when “we or one of our brother priests or bishops falls into the bottomless abyss of vice, corruption or, worse still, of a crime that destroys the lives of others,” like the sexual abuse of minors does.
Pope Francis said he is convinced the abuse scandal is ultimately the work of the devil.
“Still, do not be discouraged,” he told the priests. “The Lord is purifying his bride (the church) and is converting us all to himself. He is putting us to the test so that we would understand that, without him, we are dust.”
God is working “to restore the beauty of his bride, surprised in flagrant adultery,” the pope said.
When the ancient Israelites made the golden calf, he said, “a patient process of reconciliation began, a wise pedagogy through which God threatens and consoles, makes them aware of the consequences of the evil done and decides to forget their sin, punishes the people and heals the wounds he inflicted.”
God threatens to abandon his people, and he lets them experience some of what it might mean to be without him, the pope said. “We’ve experienced this, these awful moments of spiritual desolation.”
But the Lord always returns, allowing people to learn to fear their own powerlessness, their slyness, the way they say one thing and do another, he said.

Confession, for priests like for any Catholic, is a moment of coming face to face with one’s own weakness, being honest and saying out loud how one has sinned, he said. It’s like removing the mask or makeup people usually wear so no one sees their faults.

Pope Francis told the priests they should not expect to be always understood, accepted and appreciated, but “let us believe in the patient guidance of God, who does things in his time, opening our hearts and placing ourselves at the service of his word of reconciliation.”

https://www.ncronline.org/news/vatican/francis-chronicles/pope-god-purifying-church-unbearable-pain-abuse-scandal

Vital devotions to the Sacred Heart of Jesus

Image result for sacred heart of jesus

 

Enthronement of the Sacred Heart at home,

and the Nine First Fridays of Reparation.

 

 

Philip Kosloski of Aleteia lays it out at:

https://aleteia.org/2016/04/29/5-things-catholics-should-know-about-first-fridays/

 

5 Things Catholics Should Know About First Fridays

Learn about devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus and the graces that come from observing First Fridays

 

It is no wonder, therefore, that our predecessors have constantly defended this most approved form of devotion — the pious devotion of the faithful toward the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus [and] the custom of receiving Holy Communion on the first Friday of every month at the desire of Christ Jesus, a custom which now prevails everywhere.—Pope Pius XI Miserentissimus Redemptor

 

What’s so special about First Fridays?

 

Our parents grew up going to church every First Friday of the month and taking part in Sacred Heart devotions, but in recent decades the pious practice has fallen out of practice, and is dismissed by some as an “old-fashioned” anachronism.

A main reason for the decline in interest in this devotion is probably rooted in simple ignorance: people don’t know what First Fridays are all about; families and parishes may not have adequately passed down their importance to the next generation. Here are five things to know.

 

  1. How did the First Friday Devotion begin?

 

While some saints referenced the Heart of Jesus in their writings even centuries earlier, in 1673, a French Visitandine (Visitation) nun named Margaret Mary Alacoque had visions of Jesus, wherein he asked the Church to honor His Most Sacred Heart. In particular, Jesus asked the faithful to “receive Communion on the First Fridays, for nine consecutive months.” The request was connected to a specific promise made to all who venerated and promoted devotion to the Sacred Heart. After Margaret Mary’s death, the First Friday practice steadily spread in the Church — endorsed by popes and promoted by saints — but it greatly increased in popularity when Margaret Mary was canonized a saint in 1920 by Pope Benedict XV.

 

 

 

  1. Why nine consecutive months?

 

The number nine is traditionally associated with a novena and finds its origin in the nine days that the apostles spent in prayer before Pentecost. A novena provides an extended amount of time for preparation and interior renewal.

 

  1. What am I supposed to do on First Fridays?

 

Go to Mass and receive Holy Communion with the intention of honoring Christ’s Sacred Heart. If you are not in a state of grace, and thus unable to receive, you will also need to go to confession.

 

  1. What are the “promises” connected to this devotion?

 

Jesus said to St. Margaret Mary, “In the excess of the mercy of my heart, I promise you that my all powerful love will grant to all those who will receive communion on the First Fridays, for nine consecutive months, the grace of final repentance: they will not die in my displeasure, nor without receiving the sacraments; and my heart will be their secure refuge in that last hour.” This means that if a person faithfully receives communion for nine consecutive months on First Fridays, Jesus will grant that person extra graces at the time of their death, making it possible to repent of their sins and receive the last rites (if needed).

This promise is the last of 12 promises connected to the Devotion to the Sacred Heart, particularly attached to the Enthronement of the Sacred Heart in one’s home:

 

(1) I will give them all the graces necessary in their state of life.

(2) I will establish peace in their homes.

(3) I will comfort them in all their afflictions.

(4) I will be their secure refuge during life, and above all, in death.

(5) I will bestow abundant blessings upon all their undertakings.

(6) Sinners will find in my heart the source and infinite ocean of mercy.

(7) Lukewarm souls shall become fervent.

(8) Fervent souls shall quickly mount to high perfection.

(9) I will bless every place in which an image of my heart is exposed and honored.

10) I will give to priests the gift of touching the most hardened hearts.

(11) Those who shall promote this devotion shall have their names written in my Heart.

(12) I promise you in the excessive mercy of my Heart that my all-powerful love will grant to all those who receive Holy Communion on the First Fridays in nine consecutive months the grace of final perseverance; they shall not die in my disgrace, nor without receiving their sacraments. My divine heart shall be their safe refuge in this last moment.

 

  1. Are the First Fridays a “ticket” to heaven?

 

It is not as simple as going to Mass for nine months and then clocking out, never going to Mass again and leading a sinful life! The entire purpose of this devotion is to draw a person closer to the heart of Christ. If a person fulfills these obligations with sincere faith, it is natural for he or she to be closer to God and better prepared for death. The moment that this devotion is observed in a superstitious manner, neglecting the need to live a virtuous life, all bets are off and Jesus’ promise is null and void.

Jesus wants us to rest on his heart, like St. John, and the First Friday devotion is an opportunity for us to encounter him more than just on Sundays and to deepen our love of him.

Coming to know, love and trust that we may take rest in the Sacred Heart of Jesus, and place our anxieties within, is what the First Fridays are all about.

 

[Editor’s Note: Take the Poll – Do You Still Celebrate First Fridays?]

 

1st (Friday) March, 2019

Location of Arimathea and the “Resurrection Tomb Mystery”

Image result for resurrection tomb mystery



Meanwhile, Richard Bauckham, who was consulted for the documentary but has drawn very different conclusions about the tomb, has detailed no less than 13 possible readings for the inscription which James Tabor reads as ‘O Divine Jehovah, raise up, raise up’.

 

 

The following blog, christianevidence, gives this rather negative view of the controversial documentary of 2012, The Resurrection Tomb Mystery:

http://christianevidence.org/history/page/the_resurrection_tomb_mystery
Posted: 16 April 2012
On the Thursday before Good Friday this year, the Discovery Channel screened a documentary, The Resurrection Tomb Mystery, claiming to reveal the earliest evidence for belief in the resurrection of Jesus. The documentary was about a sealed 1st century tomb found in Talpiyot, a suburb of Jerusalem, which contains ossuaries, or bones boxes.

 

Working with a camera mounted on a robotic arm, the filmmakers found an image on one of the boxes which biblical historian James Tabor believes is of the great fish in the story of Jonah. The early Christians used the story of Jonah, who was swallowed by the fish but later escaped from it, as a parable for the death and resurrection of Jesus.

Another of the boxes has an inscription which, according to James Tabor, says something like: ‘O Divine Jehovah, raise up, raise up’. Tabor, who is at the University of North Carolina, says he is 95 per cent certain in linking the image and inscription with Jesus.

 

Simcha Jacobovici, who produced the documentary, also made The Lost Tomb of Jesus in 2007, claiming that another tomb, just 200 metres from the ‘Resurrection’ tomb, contained the bones of Jesus and some of his earliest followers, including Mary Magdalene. That tomb also contained a number of bone boxes, but the Da Vinci Code-like conclusions drawn by the documentary were ridiculed by archaeologists who were involved in excavating the tomb.

This time round, The Resurrection Tomb Mystery has generated huge debate and disagreement on academic blogs around the world. Robert Cargill, of the University of Iowa, has demonstrated that the image of the ‘great fish’ has been clumsily Photoshopped for the documentary to make it more fish-like. At the time of writing, Simcha Jacobovici and James Tabor have yet to admit that the image has been manipulated. Robert Cargill and other scholars believe the image is much more likely to be an amphora, or storage jar.

 

Meanwhile, Richard Bauckham, who was consulted for the documentary but has drawn very different conclusions about the tomb, has detailed no less than 13 possible readings for the inscription which James Tabor reads as ‘O Divine Jehovah, raise up, raise up’. Most of them have no resurrection theme. One of them reads, ‘Here are my bones. I, Agabus, crumble not away’.

 

Mark Goodacre of Duke University, North Carolina, who live blogged the screening of the documentary, said, ‘I was surprised to see… just how weak the attempts to link the tomb to Jesus appeared.’

[End of quote]

 

Richard Bauckham clarifies the situation in NT blog, in an article that also provides the location for the biblical town of Arimathea in connection with 1 Maccabees:

http://ntweblog.blogspot.com/2012/04/joseph-of-arimathea-and-talpiyot-tomb-b.html

 

 

Joseph of Arimathea and Talpiyot Tomb B, by Richard Bauckham

 

I am delighted  to have the opportunity to blog the following guest post from Prof. Richard Bauckham.  It is also available as a PDF file here.

 

Joseph of Arimathea and Talpiyot Tomb B

 

Richard Bauckham

 

The “Resurrection Tomb Mystery” documentary attempts to suggest that Talpiyot Tomb B was the tomb of Joseph of Arimathea. Hardly any evidence for this is actually provided. The only point at which some reason for the identification is given is this:

 

“The two [Talpiyot] tombs were found on what had been in the first century a rich man’s estate, complete with wine press and ritual bath. And the area is dominated by two hills. Joseph of Arimathea was a rich man and his name, in Hebrew, means ‘Two Hills.’”

 

This comment obviously depends on the usual explanation of Arimathea as representing the Hebrew place name Ramathaim (1 Sam 1:1), and correctly notices that this is a dual form of the word ramah. The latter means ‘height’ but is scarcely used except in place-names, either alone, as Ramah (there are 4 or 5 towns so-called in the Hebrew Bible), or in compounds, such as Ramoth-Gilead. In such cases, it designates a town built on a high place. For the Arimathea/Ramathaim from which Joseph is named, there needs to be a town, not just an estate ‘dominated by two hills’.

That there was a town, or even small village, called Ramathaim, so close to Jerusalem but mentioned nowhere else in our sources, seems unlikely.

 

The most likely identification of Joseph’s place of origin is with the Ramathaim (textual variant: Rathamin) mentioned in 1 Macc 11:34 as the headquarters of a toparchy transferred in 145 BCE from Samaria to Judea. This Ramathaim is clearly not near Jerusalem, but near the borders of Judaea and Samaria. Eusebius’s Onomasticon places it at the village of Remphis (Israel map grid 151159), which is about 30 km north-west of Jerusalem. It should be noticed that the dual form of Ramathaim is an archaic form, which has survived unusually in this place name (otherwise only in 1 Sam 1:1, which may refer to the same place, evidently called Ramah later in the narrative of I Samuel). It is therefore very distinctive (unlike the common Ramah) and we should not multiply Ramathaims unnecessarily.

 

The makers of the documentary perhaps assume that, since Joseph appears in the Gospel narratives in Jerusalem and has a tomb near the city, Arimathea must be near Jerusalem. But this is a mistake. Like many aristocrats in the ancient world, Joseph had estates in the country (not necessarily at all near Jerusalem) but lived most of the time in the city. This is the most obvious way of explaining why he has a new tomb, not yet occupied, near Jerusalem. His aristocratic family would surely already have a tomb – back in Arimathea. But Joseph has decided that he would like to be buried near the holy city, rather than having his body transported back to Arimathea. We now have a nice parallel in the case of the Caiaphas family, another aristocratic Jerusalem family. They had the now well-known tomb in north Talpiyot, where the high priest Caiaphas himself was interred, together with other family members. But from the ossuary inscription that was made known to the public only last year (the ossuary of Mariam daughter of Yeshua of the Caiaphas family), we now know that there was also a family tomb elsewhere, somewhere in the vicinity of the Elah valley (where the ossuary is said to have been found), plausibly at Khirbet Qeiyafa. This will have been where the family estates were located. (See my article, ‘The Caiaphas Family,’ JSJH 10 [2012] 3-31.)

 

So the only shred of evidence presented in the documentary for identifying Talpiyot Tomb B as that of Joseph of Arimathea is entirely without value.