Today's Wisdom

Those who do not pass from the experience of the cross to the truth of the resurrection condemn themselves to despair! For we cannot encounter God without first crucifying our narrow notions of a god who reflects only our own understanding of omnipotence and power
Pope Francis

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Who Do You Say I Am?

In "Catholicism" first video whose object is Jesus Christ, Fr. Robert Barron comments: Jesus did not say 'What do people think of my teachings.' He asked 'Who do people say that I am' (Mark 8:27). It's hard to imagine another great religious founder asking such a question. The Buddha would not focus on himself, and I say it to his credit, he would say 'There is a way I discovered and I want you to know it.' Mohammed would not focus on himself - He would say 'There is a revelation I received I want you to know it'. Confucius would not say 'It's about me' - He would say 'It's about this path I found'. Then there is Jesus who says 'Who do people say that I am'. The whole gospel really hinges on this point. Jesus identity personally is what it is about, because throughout the gospel he consistently speaks and acts in the very person of God. The reply to Jesus' question depended on how close was the person to Jesus and which prophetic voice they thought was echoed: "Some say John the Baptist, others say Eli'jah, and others Jeremiah or one of the prophets." But to those who were close to Jesus, the question "But who do you say that I am?" was answered by Peter "You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God" (Matt 16: 16). And Jesus answered him "Blessed are you, Simon son of Jona! For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father who is in heaven." (Matt 16: 17)...

You may wish to watch this excerpt here:

Jesus radiated love in his healing and teachings and approached the crowds with unprecedented authority for saying and acting the truth. The Apostles understood Jesus' mission when, fearful of the authorities after his crucifixion and death, they saw him risen and received the Holy Spirit from him.

In his book "Introduction to Christianity" Joseph Ratzinger bases the evidence of the Resurrection of Christ on the power of love with which Jesus of Nazareth defeats death and mortality in his selfless love of the Father while dying on the cross (humanly speaking: Being in the Other who still stands when I have fallen apart). 

In the New Testament, the Resurrection of Jesus Christ is the central theme that God leads the inspired writer to write and so bring the readers attention to. The story of Jesus walking on the waters of the sea is more than an event to show his power; for it reminds the listeners about Jesus' victory over the waters of the sea considered the abode of death. He is the One who takes Peter by the hand to deliver him from death. He is the One who leads the Church, new Israel, out of the bondage of death and "slavery in the land of Egypt." Every event recounted in the Gospel has multiple meanings; all meant to encourage the young church to persevere in the times of darkness; but more significant they proclaim the body of Christ in the Eucharist as the eternal manna that feeds the new Israel in their journey to New Jerusalem as the manna fed the hungry Israelites in their journey out of slavery - the difference being that while the Israelites who ate the manna died the new "People of God", who eat the body of Christ, will live with him for ever. While the pagan religions were declining, and the Jews were scattered after the destruction of the Temple in 70 AD, the Christian movement gave a new hope to the crowds who listened to the "good news" - the Gospel.

Monday, September 8, 2014

Georges Farah on Immaculate Mary

At Jesus the King Church yesterday, we celebrated the Nativity of the Virgin Mary, and had a procession of her picture of the Immaculate Conception accompanied with honor guards from the Knights of Columbus. In his brief homily, Fr. Georges Farah was able to link the Nativity of Mary and her immaculate conception to the cross of Christ that we celebrate on September 14.

Georges Farah said: In the Eastern Byzantine icons of Mary the Theotokos, 3 stars are shown on her veil : One at the part covering the forehead; the second on the left shoulder and the third on right shoulder. The stars tell us what we sing in the liturgy: She is always virgin. She was virgin before she bore Jesus in her womb; virgin during her pregnancy with Jesus; and still virgin after she delivered him to the world. We think this is beautiful but it was a tragedy for her in ancient Jewish society. First she was found pregnant before Joseph was able to engage her physically. Second, she - with Joseph carrying Jesus - had to flee to Egypt for Herod wanted to kill the little Jesus; When Herod died, they journeyed back and settled in the different town Nazareth. Then they lost Jesus when he was only 12 and had to search for him until they found him in the temple talking with teachers. And she was left behind when Jesus went around with his apostles healing people and only close to her beloved son when he was dying on the cross. Her joy was and remains in the resurrection of her son  Jesus Christ and his ascension.

Georges Farah said a virgin is translated from Batula or Batul in the ancient Hebrew which is related to Beit Il or the house of God. How could Mary be the house or the temple of God? She could not unless she was without the stain of sin: original sin and personal sin. When someone sins, he misses his goal. Your goal is to be like God. You miss the goal when you become a slave to your selfishness and desires. But this little girl Mary was dedicate to God in the temple since her early childhood. She said Yes to his angel and never sought her glory. She was always in the shadows. To be born of an immaculate virgin, Christ saved her by protecting her in her conception from original sin and his grace accompanied her throughout her suffering and joys. And today, when there is much suffering and violence in the Middle East, we call on the Virgin Mary to protect her children there. She leads all to her son and point them to him as she pointed the workers in the wedding in Cana to Christ. To the Knights of Columbus, who many of them are with us today, we ask you to assist our brothers and sisters there.

Each one, however rich or great, still has his cross. The cross is in the middle of every human person regardless of religion. But to carry one's cross, you need the living joy of giving and sharing with others. It is not in suffering that we find glory but in serving the least of us as Jesus Christ did and Mary did.

Today's Quote

"Behold I make all things new." (Revelation 21:5)


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