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O JESUS, YOU HAVE COME TO SET FREE THOSE WHOM FEAR OF DEATH HOLDS IN PERPETUAL SLAVERY

O day of triumph!

The Resurrection (First Glorious Mystery)

“O day of triumph for the Saviour! O day of joy for all the faithful. I adore you from my heart, O Jesus, triumphing over death. Truly, this day is your Passover, that is to say, your passing, in which you pass from death to life. Give us the grace, O Lord Jesus, to make our Pasch with you, passing to a new and holy life.

The world passes, but I do not wish to pass with the world; I wish to pass to my Father. This is the journey, which I have to make, I wish to make it with you.

In the ancient passover, the Jews who went forth from Egypt in order to go to the Promised Land, had to appear in the garb of travellers, with staves in their hands, and to hasten to eat the Pasch, so that they might be ready to set out at any moment.

This is the state in which the Christian soul should place himself, in order to make his passover with Jesus Christ. O my Saviour, receive your traveller, behold me here, ready: I desire to pass with you from this world to your Father, since you have wished that he should be my Father also.

My Saviour, I believe that you have not overcome death for yourself alone. You have overcome it for us, who believe in you.

I adore you, O Jesus, my Redeemer. I adore you, O Jesus, come to life again, for yourself and for all your followers, whom you have filled with your spirit, which is the spirit of eternal life.

You have submitted to death, in order that death might be conquered, and Satan disarmed, and in order to set free those whom the fear of death held in a perpetual slavery. Let us, my soul, appreciate these words of our Saviour, which rob death of all its terrors: ‘I am the resurrection and the life; he who believes in me, even though he were dead, shall live; he who lives and believes in me, shall never die.’

I believe it, Lord, it is so; my sole Redeemer, I adore you.

O Jesus, you are, according to your word, ‘my resurrection and my life.'”

– Bossuet

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THE TRUE DISCIPLES OF JESUS HAVE NOTHING BUT JESUS

He had not whereon to lay his head.

“‘Master,’ said a doctor of the law, addressing Jesus – ‘I will follow you, wherever you go.’ ‘The foxes have their dens, and the birds of the air their nests, but the Son of Man has not whereon to lay His head.’

Alas! This man thought to find, in following Jesus, a more honourable and easy life. Hence this answer which reveals to us in what poverty Jesus continued to live during the three years of His public life, and at the same time, on what conditions we can become His disciples.

It is as He said: ‘In vain do you hope to find in following Me, honours, riches, delights. Even as I, the Master and the Model of perfection, have practised poverty, so far as to be born in a stable, and to lack even a stone on which to rest My head, so must My disciples accept poverty with all its austerities.’

‘The true disciples of Jesus,’ said Saint Jerome, ‘have nothing and hope for nothing, absolutely nothing, but Jesus.'”

– Mgr. Dupanloup

 
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Posted by on August 6, 2015 in Words of Wisdom

 

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“RENDER TO CAESAR WHAT IS CAESAR’S” (MT 22:17-21) – ON MAN’S IMAGE WHICH WAS MADE IN THE LIKENESS OF THE TRINITY

Tell us therefore what dost thou think, is it lawful to give tribute to Caesar, or not? But Jesus knowing their wickedness, said: Why do you tempt me, ye hypocrites? She’s me the coin of tribute. And they offered him a penny. And Jesus saith to them: Whose image and inscription is this? They said to him: Caesar’s. Then he saith to them: Render therefore to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s; and to God, the things that are God’s.

” On the threefold image of God: ‘Show me the coin of tribute’

Note that the image is threefold: of likeness, of creation (in which man is created, namely reason), and of restoration, by which the created image is restored, namely the grace of God which is infused into the mind to be renewed.

The image of likeness is that according to which man was made in the image and likeness of the whole Trinity.

By memory he is like the Father, by understanding like the Son, by love like the Holy Spirit.

So St Augustine says, ‘Let me remember you, understand you, and love you.’

Man was made in the image and likeness of God (cf. Gen 1:26-27): his image in the understanding of truth, his likeness in love of virtue.

The light of God’s countenance is the grace of j stification, whereby the created image is imprinted.

The light is the whole and true good of man, whereby he is marked like a penny with the king’s image.

That is why the Lord adds in this Gospel: Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, etc. It is as if he said: ‘As you give back to Caesar his image, so give back your soul to God, enlightened and signed with the light of his countenance.'”

– St Anthony of Padua

 
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Posted by on August 2, 2015 in Words of Wisdom

 

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A FIRM DEFENCE AGAINST THE WILES OF ALL MY ENEMIES, VISIBLE AND INVISIBLE

Grant that my soul may hunger after Thee, the Bread of Angels

O most sweet Lord Jesus Christ, transfix the affections of my inmost soul with that most joyous and healthful wound of Thy love, with true, serene, holiest apostolic charity, that my soul may ever languish and melt with entire love and longing for Thee, that it may desire Thee, and faint for Thy courts, long to be dissolved and to be with Thee.

Grant that my soul may hunger after Thee, the Bread of Angels, the Refreshment of holy souls, our daily and supersubstantial Bread, who hast all sweetness and savour, and the delight of every taste. Let my heart ever hunger after and feed upon Thee, upon whom the Angels desire to look, and my inmost soul be filled with the sweetness of Thy savour.

May it ever thirst for Thee, the Fountain of life, the Source of wisdom and knowledge, the Fountain of eternal light, the Torrent of pleasure, the Richness of the House of God.

May it ever yearn for Thee, find Thee, stretch towards Thee, attain to Thee, meditate upon Thee, speak of Thee, and do all things to the praise and glory of Thy holy name, with humility and discretion, with all virtues; a firm defence against the wiles of all my enemies, visible and invisible; a perfect quieting of all my impulses, fleshly and spiritual; a cleaving unto Thee, the one true God; and a blessed consummation of my end when Thou dost call.

And I pray that Thou wouldst vouchsafe to bring me a sinner to that unspeakable Feast where Thou, with Thy Son and Thy Holy Spirit, art to holy ones true light, fullness of blessedness, everlasting joy, and perfect happiness. Through the same Christ our Lord. Amen.

– St Bonaventure

 

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THE SALVATION HISTORY OF ALL MEN AS REVEALED IN THE BIBLE: THE LORD OF LIFE

THE TEN LEPERS

“While Jesus was on the way to Jerusalem, He entered a certain village and ten lepers called out to Him, ‘Jesus, master, have pity on us’ (Luke 17:13). Jesus told them to go and show themselves to the priests. While they were on their way to the priests, they were cured of their leprosy. Only one of them was grateful enough to return to Jesus to thank Him, and this one was a Samaritan.

WHEN IS THE KINGDOM OF GOD COMING?

As He was on His way to Jerusalem, the Pharisees came once again to try Him. They asked Him, ‘When is the kingdom of God coming?’ (Luke 17:20). Since Jesus had been preaching the arrival of the kingdom for some time, it is clear that the Pharisees were expecting something more striking than Jesus had already manifested. His works, His miracles were not apparently enough for them. No doubt they were expecting some great cosmic phenomena to manifest the tremendous power of God, or perhaps some great divine sign against the Romans, their oppressors.

SOME GREAT COSMIC PHENOMENA?

Jesus, knowing their desire for some external manifestation of divine power against the Romans, said to them, ‘The kingdom of God comes unawares. Neither will they say, ‘Behold, here it is,’ or ‘Behold, there it is.’ For behold, the kingdom of God is within you’ (Luke 17: 20-21). The meaning of Jesus is clear. The Pharisees were expecting the kingdom to begin with the liberation of the Jews from the domination of the Romans. This would demand some triumphant victory of the Jews over the Romans. The power of God would be manifested on the side of His Chosen People. The might of God would cast down into the dust the might of the greatest empire the world had ever known. But Jesus had not come to establish a world empire. So He told the Pharisees that the Kingdom of God had already come; it had come without the pomp and eclat of an earthly kingdom. It had already come; it was being established in their midst. But it had come quietly, for it was not to be a great political kingdom; it was meant to rule the hearts and souls of men, and it had already begun in the hearts of those who had given their allegiance to Jesus.

HE WOULD COME AGAIN SUDDENLY, IN POWER AND IN GLORY

This thought of the modest beginnings of His kingdom gave way in the mind of Jesus to the thought of His final coming at the end of the world to judge all men. “The days will come,’ He said, ‘when you will long to see one day of the Son of Man, and will not see it. And they will say to you, ‘Behold, here he is; behold, there he is.’ Do not go, nor follow after them. For as the lightning when it lightens flashes from one end of the sky to the other, so will the Son of Man be in his day. But first he must suffer many things and be rejected by this generation’ (Luke 17:22-25).

These words Jesus addressed to His own disciples. He had come to men now in humility, but He would come again at the end of the world; He would come suddenly, in power and glory. Though men would be watching for His coming and pretending to find Him, He would come unexpectedly, swiftly, at a moment when they did not expect Him.

MANY WILL BE UNPREPARED FOR HIS SECOND COMING

The heart of Jesus is not entirely joyful at the thought of His triumph at the end of the world. He warns His disciples that many will be unprepared for His coming and will be lost. Just as no one heeded the warnings of Noe [Noah]; just as people went on wining and dining and sinning right up to the moment of the flood which destroyed them, so also will men be up to the moment when Jesus comes to judge them. At the end, then, many will still be forgetful of the Kingdom of God and so will be lost.

PERSISTING IN PRAYER TO GOD

Jesus then tells a parable to encourage His disciples to remain steadfast in their allegiance to Him and to His kingdom. A poor widow sought justice from an unjust judge. For a while he refused to render a verdict in her favour. But she persisted in coming to him. Finally, worn out by her pleas, the judge gave her a favourable verdict. The widow’s persistence had finally won justice. So also the disciples of Jesus must persist in prayer to God. If they do, their faith will triumph in the end. Then the eyes of Jesus turn once again to the end of the world and He remarks sadly, ‘Yet when the Son of Man comes, will he find, do you think, faith on the earth?’ (Luke 18:8). Jesus knows that not all men will become His faithful disciples, not all men will enter His kingdom. And perhaps at the end His followers will be only a few among the many.

LORD, HAVE MERCY ON ME, A SINNER

On this same journey Jesus told also the parable of the Pharisee and the publican. Both went into the Temple to pray. The Pharisee took pride in his own virtue and, in his prayer, called God’s attention to the fact that he was not like other men a sinner. The publican, on the other hand, stood afar off, struck his breast in repentance and asked God to be merciful to a sinner. Jesus then pointed out that the humility of the publican was more pleasing to God than the pride and complacency of the Pharisee.

WHAT GOD HAS JOINED TOGETHER, LET NO MAN PUT ASUNDER

It was during this same journey to Jerusalem that Jesus gave His position on the questions of separation of spouses and divorce. The Pharisees asked Him directly if it were ever lawful for a man to separate from his wife. First of all Jesus laid down the law of the indissolubility of the marriage bond: ‘What God has joined together, let no man put asunder’ (Matthew 19:6). When the Pharisees objected that Moses had allowed the separation and divorce of spouses, Jesus replied that while it might be allowed to separate from a wife who was unfaithful, this separation did not dissolve the marriage bond, and neither the man nor the wife were allowed to remarry while the other spouse was alive. ‘Whosoever puts away his wife, except for immorality, and marries another, commits adultery’ (Matthew 19:9).

DON’T HINDER LITTLE CHILDREN TO COME TO ME

On another occasion the people were bringing their children to Jesus so that He might touch them. The disciples, probably afraid that Jesus might be wearied by this, sought to prevent the parents from so acting. But Jesus said, ‘Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for of such is the kingdom of God. Amen I say to you, whoever does not accept the kingdom of God as a little child will not enter into it’ (Luke 18:16-17). Men must not approach the Kingdom of God filled with pride in themselves, but rather as little children, innocent and humble, seeking only to receive the riches of eternal life.

THE RICH YOUNG MAN

Soon after, a rich young man, attracted to Jesus, came to Him and asked, ‘Good Master, what shall I do to gain eternal life?’ Jesus told him that he must keep the commandments of God. The young man replied that he had done this all his life. Perceiving his good will, Jesus then said, ‘One thing is still lacking to thee; sell all that thou hast, and give it to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven, and come, follow me’ (Luke 28:22). Jesus was giving this young man the chance to practise heroic virtue. He was even offering him the chance to become a favoured disciple. But the young man could not find it in his heart to part with his possessions, and so he left Jesus.

IT IS EASIER FOR A CAMEL TO PASS THROUGH THE EYE OF A NEEDLE…

This young man’s attachment to his wealth led Jesus to remark how difficult it was for the rich to love God wholeheartedly. ‘With what difficulty will they who have riches enter the kingdom of God! For it is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God’ (Luke 18:24-25). The disciples were astonished at His words. ‘Who then can be saved?’ the asked. But Jesus told them that God could save even the rich: ‘Things that are impossible with men are possible with God’ (Luke 18:27).

MANY WHO ARE FIRST NOW WILL BE LAST

This led Peter to say hopefully, ‘Behold, we have left all and followed thee’ (Luke 18:28). Jesus rewarded his hope. ‘Amen I say to you, there is no one who has left house, or brothers, or sisters, or mother, or father, or children, or lands, for my sake and for the gospel’s sake, who shall not receive now in the present time a hundredfold as much, houses, and brothers, and sisters, and mothers, and children, and lands – along with persecutions, and in the age to come life everlasting. But many who are first now will be last, and many who are last now will be first’ (Mark 10:29-31).

Jesus promised that those who loved Him would be taken care of in this world and, even more, they would receive life everlasting. But they would also be despised in this world and suffer persecution. But, at the end, those who had persecuted them and looked down upon them would be last, and the followers of Jesus would take the first places.

THE PARABLE OF THE LABOURERS IN THE VINEYARD

Then, and perhaps to emphasise the gratuitousness of God’s gifts to men, Jesus told the parable of the labourers in the vineyard. The owner of a vineyard hires labourers at the beginning of the day to work in his vineyard. Then about nine o’clock, again at noon and three, and just before evening he hired others to work also. He agreed to pay all a penny for their work. When the day was over he paid all the penny agreed upon. But those who had come early complained that they did not receive more than those who had come late. The owner of the vineyard told them that he had treated all with justice, for he had given all the sum agreed upon. If he chose to give the same sum to those who had worked less, that was due, not to injustice, but to his generosity. ‘Have I not a right to do what I choose?’ he asks. ‘Or art thou envious because I am generous?’ (Matthew 20:15)

God is not unjust to anyone, Jesus was saying. But His mercy to men was a free gift on His part. And in the mystery of His mercy He might give life everlasting even to those who had turned to Him only at the end of their lives. This should not cause those who had laboured long for life everlasting to complain. In fact, their complaints might show that they were less worthy of the divine mercy themselves. Hence Jesus concludes, ‘Even so the last shall be first, and the first last; for many are called, but few are chosen’ (Matthew 20:16).

THROUGH IT THE SON OF MAN MAY BE GLORIFIED

When Jesus was about a day’s journey from the village of Bethany, word was brought to Him from Mary and Martha in Bethany that their brother Lazarus, a friend of Jesus, was sick. Jesus loved Lazarus. But He did not hasten to Bethany to take care of him. ‘This sickness,’ He said, ‘is not unto death, but for the glory of God, that through it the Son of God may be glorified’ (John 11:4). Jesus waited two days and then said to His disciples, ‘Let us go again into Judea’ (John 11:7).

TOO DANGEROUS TO GO?

The disciples objected to His going because opposition to Him was strong in Judea. But Jesus, knowing that His hour was not yet come, insisted on going to aid Lazarus. ‘Lazarus, our friend, sleeps,’ He said, ‘but I go that I may wake him from sleep’ (John 11:11). Taking His words literally the disciples said, ‘Lord, if he sleeps, he will be safe’ (John 11:12). Jesus then informed them that Lazarus was, in fact, dead. Thomas, the Apostle, seeing that Jesus was determined to go, said to the others, ‘Let us also go, that we may die with him.’ At this moment Thomas was ready to die with Jesus at the hands of the enemies of Jesus.

LAZARUS HAD ALREADY BEEN BURIED FOR FOUR DAYS

When Jesus arrived at Bethany Lazarus had already been buried for four days. Martha, on hearing of His coming, went to meet Him. ‘Lord,’ she said to Him, ‘if thou hadst been here my brother would not have died. But even now I know that whatever thou shalt ask of God, God will give it to thee’ (John 11:21-22). Jesus said to her, ‘Thy brother shall rise.’ Martha replied, ‘I know that he will rise at the resurrection, on the last day.’ Then Jesus said, ‘I am the resurrection and the life; he who believes in me, even if he die, shall live; and whoever lives and believes in me, shall never die. Dost thou believe this?’ And Martha said to Him, ‘Yes, Lord, I believe that thou art the Christ, the Son of God, who hast come into the world (John 11:23-27).

Then Martha went to summon Mary. Some of the village dwellers followed Martha and Mary out to Jesus. Martha and Mary took Jesus to the tomb where Lazarus was buried. Some of the villagers murmured, ‘Could not he who opened the eyes of the blind, have caused that this man should not die?’ (John 11:37).

LAZARUS, COME FORTH!

At the tomb Jesus said, ‘Take away the stone.’ Martha, fearing the odour of the decaying body, said, ‘Lord, by this time he is already decayed, for he is dead four days.’ Jesus said, ‘Have I not told thee that if thou believe thou shalt behold the glory of God?’ The stone was then removed from the mouth of the tomb. Jesus raised His eyes to heaven and said, ‘Father, I give thee thanks that thou always hearest me; but because of the people who stand round, I spoke, that they may believe that thou hast sent me.’ After saying this, He cried out in a loud voice, ‘Lazarus, come forth!’ And at once Lazarus, who had been dead, came out of the tomb, still bound hands and feet in the burial bandages. Jesus commanded the bystanders to remove the bindings.

BY HIS APPREARANCE THERE HE WAS COURTING DESTRUCTION

The resurrection of Lazarus is one of the greatest of the miracles worked by Jesus. It is the third resurrection brought about by the power of Jesus. He had already restored life to the son of the widow at Naim and to the daughter of Jairus. In all three of these miracles Jesus had showed Himself to be the Lord of life. He proved the truth of His words, ‘I am the resurrection and the life.’ But, in the story of the resurrection, as told by John, there seems to be apparent an atmosphere of greater urgency and appeal than in the other miracles of Jesus. Jesus, against the urgings of His disciples, has come into Judea, the stronghold of His enemies. By His appearance there He was courting destruction. Yet He had insisted upon coming. It is as if He knew that His time was short, drawing rapidly to a close. He would, therefore, work a great miracle, right in the midst of those who were refusing to accept Him. It would be a strong appeal for their acceptance, one more effort to gain their good will.

That Jesus meant this miracle to be one of great importance in His mission is shown by His behaviour. He refuses to go at once to the aid of Lazarus because He knows that God wishes to manifest His glory through the resurrection of Lazarus. He realises that He Himself will be glorified by this miracle. He waits until Lazarus has been dead for some days before He goes to Bethany. Before working the miracle He demands from the sisters of Lazarus a confession of faith in Himself. And Martha acknowledges Him as the Messias, in fact, as the Son of God. Again, before working the miracle, Jesus says that it will happen, it will come to pass through the power of God so that men may believe that He has been sent by God, has come from God. And, lest there be any doubt about the reality of the resurrection, He commands that some of the bystanders unbind the risen Lazarus. He wished all to be convinced of the fact that He was the Lord of life, the giver of life.

JESUS HAD ASKED MEN TO ACCEPT HIM AS THE GIVER OF LIFE

Jesus had come into the world to give men eternal life, eternal life in the Kingdom of God. This was God’s greatest boon to mankind. He had asked men to accept Him as the giver of this life, the Anointed One of God, the Messias for whom they were waiting. He had worked miracles to prove His claim, to gain their faith. Some had followed Him. But many had rejected Him, and among these were the leaders of the people, the priests, the Scribes and the Pharisees. Now, in the resurrection of Lazarus, He would give them an unmistakable proof of His power and of His identity. By raising Lazarus back to life, Jesus showed Himself clearly to be the Messias, to be even more, the very Son of God, the Lord of life. By restoring to Lazarus the life of His body, Jesus showed Himself to be the Lord of eternal life. Those who accepted Him as such, would live forever in the Kingdom of God, and on the last day they would rise even in the body.

THEY RESOLVED TO PUT JESUS TO DEATH

That the resurrection of Lazarus was a decisive moment in the earthly life of Jesus is shown by its effects. Some of those who witnessed it believed in Him. But others, still opposed to Him, went to the Pharisees and reported His success to them. The priests and the Pharisees, instead of being convinced of His claims, called a council to decide what to do about Him. They refused to accept Him as the Messias, and so they could see in Him only a threat to their own power and position. They forgot that Jesus was not interested in an earthly kingdom. They feared that He might lead a rebellion against the Romans and so bring down on them the wrath of the Romans. Caiphas, the high priest that year, remarked cynically, ‘it is expedient for us that one man die for the people, instead of the whole nation perishing’ (John 11:50). The council of the Jews thereupon resolved to put Jesus to death.

GOD WAS USING HIS PLANS TO BRING ABOUT THE TRIUMPH OF JESUS

Although Caiphas was seeking his own ends in this decision, his words, in God’s sight, had a prophetic import. Caiphas was saying that it was better to put Jesus to death before a rebellion against the Romans broke out, so that the nation, and especially its ruling classes, should not suffer. But, as St John remarks, Caiphas was an unwitting prophet in the hands of God, for Jesus was to die not only to save His own nation but so that He might gather into one all the children of God throughout the world (John 11:51-52). Caiphas thought that he was planning the death of Jesus, but God was using his plans to bring about the triumph of Jesus.”

– Martin J. Healy S.T.D., 1959

 

 

 

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THE LIGHT OF THE WORLD

THE SALVATION HISTORY OF ALL MANKIND AS REVEALED IN THE BIBLE: THE LIGHT OF THE WORLD

“A BAND OF FAITHFUL FOLLOWERS

For some time Jesus had been instructing His Apostles and disciples, seeking to lead them to a proper understanding of His own identity and of the nature of His mission and kingdom. Although His compassionate heart had induced Him to heal the sick when the occasion presented itself, still for the most part He had been living in Galilee as quietly as possible. Knowing already that His people, as a whole, were to reject Him, He had been content to spend His chief effort in the task of building up for Himself a band of faithful followers.

‘NO ONE DOES A THING IN SECRET IF HE WANTS TO BE PUBLICLY KNOWN’

But the Feast of Tabernacles was approaching and many pious Jews were going to Jerusalem to celebrate the feast. Some of the relatives of Jesus – cousins perhaps – urged him to go to Jerusalem. Having seen or heard of His miracles, they were in some doubt about His true identity. Perhaps He was the Messias, they reasoned, but if He were, He should go up to Jerusalem, the very centre of Judaism, and there make some magnificent display of His power and so draw men to Himself.

‘Leave here,’ they said to Him, ‘and go into Judea that Thy disciples also may see the works that Thou dost; for no one does a thing in secret if he wants to be publicly known. If thou dost these things, manifest thyself to the world.’ (John 7:3-4)

This reasoned request shows that even some of the relatives of Jesus had no true understanding of His mission in this world. They were somewhat impressed by the magnificence of His powers, but they failed to grasp the meaning of His doctrine of repentance and of the spiritual nature of His kingdom.

JESUS REFUSED TO CATER TO THIS MISUNDERSTANDING OF HIS ROLE IN HUMAN HISTORY

Jesus refused to cater to this misunderstanding of His role in human history.

‘My time has not yet come,’ He replied to His relatives, ‘but your time is always at hand. The world cannot hate you, but it hates me because I bear witness concerning it, that its works are evil. As for you, go up to the feast, but I do not go up to this feast, for my time is not yet fulfilled’ (John 7:6-8).

He did not mean that He would not go to Jerusalem for the feast. He meant that He would not go up to Jerusalem in the manner requested by them. He would not go up to Jerusalem to score a political triumph or start a political movement to make the Jews a great nation politically. But He did go to Jerusalem privately, in His own way, to proclaim once again His message of deliverance from sin.

HIS MESSAGE OF DELIVERANCE FROM SIN

His appearance at the feast did not go unnoticed. Opinion about Him was divided. Some thought Him a good man, but others considered Him a seducer of the people. It was still remembered that on His last visit to Jerusalem He had been attacked by the leaders of the people because He had healed a man on the Sabbath day. For this reason – because He seemed to them to be advocating the destruction of the Law of Moses – the leaders had determined to have Him put to death.

THE LEADERS HAD DETERMINED TO HAVE HIM PUT TO DEATH

One day, about the middle of the feast, Jesus went up into the Temple to teach. In His discussion with the crowd He brought up again this old grievance which the leaders held against Him. The Law of Moses, He reminded them, required them to circumcise a man even on the Sabbath. Why then did they object when He cured a man on the Sabbath? They should judge, not by appearances but by truth.

JUDGE NOT BY APPEARANCES BUT BY TRUTH

The crowd still remained divided in its opinion of Jesus. Some still regarded Him as a seducer; others thought He might be the Christ, the Messias. Word of His teaching reached the Pharisees and they sent attendants to seize Him.

‘RIVERS OF LIVING WATER’

On the last day of the feast Jesus, addressing the crowd, said, ‘If any one thirst, let him come to me and drink. He who believes in me, as the Scripture says, ‘From within him there shall flow rivers of living water'” (John 7:37-38).

These words also, which Jesus spoke of the coming of the Holy Spirit into the world, caused the people to dispute with one another about His identity. The turmoil was so great and the uncertainty so extreme that the attendants sent by the Pharisees dared not arrest Jesus.

‘I AM THE LIGHT OF THE WORLD’

In spite of the opposition which His teaching aroused, Jesus continued to make His claim.

‘I am the light of the world,’ He said, “He who follows me does not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life’ (John 8:12).

The Pharisees objected that His claim was unsubstantiated. He offered nothing but His own word about Himself. Jesus replied that His witness to Himself was acceptable because He knew the truth, He knew from whence He came and whither He would go. He meant that He knew that He had come forth from God the Father and would return to God the Father. And so He said to them that His word was not alone, but was reinforced by the word of His Father in Heaven. To which word of His Father does He refer? To His Father’s word at His baptism or transfiguration? To the prophetic words spoken through the Father’s inspiration and found in the Sacred Scriptures of the Chosen People? To the miracles which He Himself worked through the power of His Father? Jesus does not say, but He has already pointed to these indications of His Father’s testimony to Himself.

‘YOU KNOW NEITHER ME NOR MY FATHER’

The Pharisees refused to accept the staggering truth that Jesus was indeed the Son of God and therefore equal to God. ‘Where is thy father?’ they asked, meaning no doubt, where is Thy human father. Jesus answered, ‘You know neither me nor my Father. If you knew me, you would then know my Father also’ (Kohn 8:19).

In spite of the opposition of the Pharisees Jesus continued to make His claim to be the Son of God, the equal of God in divinity. ‘I go,’ He said to them, meaning that He would return to His Father in Heaven, ‘and you will seek me, and in your sin you will die. Where I go you cannot come’ (John 8:21).

The Jews misunderstood Him – or at least pretended to misunderstand Him – and asked did he mean to commit suicide. Jesus told them that they did not understand Him because they were blinded by their sins and their worldliness. ‘You are from below,’ He said, ‘I am from above. You are of this world, I am not of this world. Therefore I said to you that you will die in your sins; for if you do not believe that I am he, you will die in your sins’ (John 8:23-24).

‘I AM HE’

Now in the Aramaic tongue which Jesus was speaking, the words ‘I am he’ would mean to the Jews that Jesus was claiming to be God. Since He appeared to be a man this claim seemed to many of them to be blasphemous. They asked Him, ‘Who art thou?’ Jesus was discouraged by their lack of belief, but He condescended to reiterate His claim.

‘When you have lifted up the Son of Man, then you will know that I am he, and that of myself I do nothing; but even as the Father has taught me, I speak these things. And he who sent me is with me; he has not left me alone, because I do always the things that are pleasing to him’ (John 8:28-29).

‘THE TRUTH SHALL MAKE YOU FREE’

Some of the crowd believed in Him and to them He said, ‘If you abide in my word, you shall be my disciples indeed, and you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free’ (John 8:31-32).

To abide in the word of Jesus is not simply to believe in His divinity; it is also to keep His word, that is, to live by the message of repentance and deliverance which Jesus brings to all men, to live according to the light and the life which Jesus gives to men. To live by the light and the life which Jesus gives is to be freed from sin, and thus, through living the truth, to be free.

FREEDOM THROUGH LIVING THE TRUTH

But some of those listening refused to accept the truth of Jesus and so they objected that they were children of Abraham and, as such, they were not slaves to anyone, that is, they worshipped the one true God and were not enslaved to any false gods.

Jesus pointed out to them that the freedom of which He spoke was freedom from sin.

‘Amen, amen, I say to you, everyone who commits sin is a slave of sin. But the slave does not abide in the house forever; the son abides there forever. If therefore the Son makes you free, you will be free indeed. I know that you are the children of Abraham; but you seek to kill me because my word takes no hold among you. I speak what I have seen with the Father; and you do what you have seen with your father’ (John 8:34-38).

THE JEWS MUST ACCEPT JESUS, THE SON OF GOD, AS THEIR SALVATION

The freedom of which Jesus speaks is freedom from sin. As children of Abraham, and Jesus recognises that the Jews are physically children of Abraham – perhaps even spiritually his children because they believe in the God of Abraham and reject false gods – and hence they ought to be free. But they are slaves to sin, and hence not really free. Because they are sinners they refuse to accept Jesus as the Son of God. But only the Son of God, Who resides in the bosom of God forever, can give true freedom from sin. To be truly free from sin the Jews must accept Jesus, the Son of God, as their salvation. By refusing to accept Him they remain slaves to sin and their true father is not Abraham but the devil.

CHILDREN OF ABRAHAM?

The Jews reply that they have but one father, God. Jesus replies that they do not understand His words because they are children of the devil, who was a liar from the beginning. If God were really the Father of these unbelieving Jews – that is, if they really acknowledged God as their Father, if they really sought the holiness of God – then they would love Jesus and they would accept Him and His word. But because they are sinners and so slaves to the devil, the father of lies, they will not accept the truth which Jesus brings to them. Jesus then appeals to His own holiness, His own sinlessness, as a testimony of the truth of which He speaks.

‘Which of you can convict me of sin? If I speak the truth, why do you not believe me?’ Then He gives the reason for their unbelief: ‘He who is of God hears the words of God. The reason why you do not hear is that you are not of God’ (John 8:46-47).

AT THIS MOMENT JESUS IS OFFERING TO ALL MEN LIGHT AND LIFE AND FREEDOM FROM SIN

This discussion of Jesus with the Jews is of vital importance, not only to His immediate hearers but to all men. At this moment Jesus is offering to all men light and life and freedom from sin. In a word, He is offering men eternal salvation. This salvation can be grasped by accepting Jesus as the Messias, nay, even more than the Messias, as the very Son of God the Father, equal to God, in fact, God Himself. To those who accept Jesus as the Son of God, as God Himself, there will be given light and life and freedom from sin; they will have the power to abide in the word of Jesus, to live by the light and life which He will give them. But to accept Him they must be of God, that is, they must be men of good will, men ready to give up sin, to live as children, not of the devil but of God. Salvation is freely offered to men by Jesus, but it must be accepted freely, in love.

OF VITAL IMPORTANCE

Those who were unwilling to acccept Jesus retorted that He was a Samaritan and possessed by a devil. Calmly Jesus rejected their accusation: ‘I have not a devil, but I honour my Father, and you dishonour me. Yet I do not seek my own glory; there is one who seeks and who judges. Amen, amen, I say to you, if anyone keep my word, he will never see death’ (John 8:49-50).

ABRAHAM AND THE GREAT PROPHETS ARE DEAD – HOW THEN CAN JESUS GIVE ETERNAL LIFE?

Unwilling to see that Jesus spoke of eternal spiritual life, the unbelievers in the audience took His words in a purely material sense. Abraham and the great prophets are dead, they remarked. If this great men of God died, how can Jesus give eternal life. Whom does He make Himself? Jesus answered:

‘If I glorify myself, my glory is nothing. It is my Father who glorifies me, of whom you say that he is your God. And you do not know him, but I know him. And if I say that I do not know him, I shall be like you, a liar. But I know him, and I keep his word. Abraham your father rejoiced that he was to see my day. He saw it and was glad.’ The Jews therefore said to Him, ‘Thou art not yet fifty years old, and hast thou seen Abraham?’ Jesus said to them, ‘Amen, amen, I say to you, before Abraham came to be, I am’ (John 8:54-58).

In the face of their unbelief and, almost, of their derision Jesus quietly claims to be God, for He claims to be eternal; before Abraham existed, Jesus was and is, for He is God. In prophetic vision Abraham saw that Jesus was to come to fulfil God’s promises and so he rejoiced.

The people understood the nature of the claim of Jesus. They saw that He was claiming to be God. Unable because of the worldliness and sinfulness of their hearts to accept Him as their God, they chose to regard Him as a blasphemer, and so they took up stones to stone Him to death for the sin of blasphemy. But Jesus his Himself from them and left the Temple.

“I BELIEVE, LORD”

Some time after this Jesus cured a man who had been blind from birth. When the news of this cure reached the Pharisees they investigated the fact thoroughly. They examined the man who had been cured; they questioned his parents; they re-examined the man himself. But they could not disprove the story. They were angry because Jesus had worked this miracle also on the Sabbath day. After their failure to shake the story of the cured man, they turned him out as a sinner.

Later Jesus met him again and said to him, ‘Dost thou believe in the Son of God?’ He answered and said, ‘Who is he, Lord, that I may believe in him?’ And Jesus said to him, ‘Thou hast both seen him, and he it is who speaks with thee.’ And he said, ‘I believe, Lord.’ And falling down, he worshipped him (John 9:35-38). (Martin J. Healy, to be continued)

 

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THE ONLY WAY TO EVER FIND PEACE IN LIFE IS BY DOING WHAT PLEASES GOD; WHEN WE SUBJECT THE FLESH TO THE SPIRIT

WE HAVE FREE WILL. THE DECISION TO LIVE IN FAITH, TO ACCEPT JESUS AS OUR SAVIOUR MEANS: WE, BY MEANS OF OUR FREE WILL, ACTIVELY START DOING ONLY WHAT PLEASES GOD. WE TAKE SIN SERIOUSLY, AND ASK GOD’S GRACE TO WORK CONSEQUENTLY ON OURSELVES TO AVOID SIN AND DO ONLY GOOD INSTEAD. EVERY MINUTE OF THE DAY. JUST SAYING ‘I ACCEPT JESUS AS MY SAVIOUR’ IS NOT ENOUGH. WE ALSO HAVE TO ASK GOD TO HELP US TURN OUR WHOLE LIFE IN HIS DIRECTION; NO HALF MEASURES, NO HANGING ON TO THE MAXIMS OF THE WORLD AND COMFORTS OF THE FLESH; IF WE DON’T, WE WON’T BE GOOD FOR GOD, WE ARE NOT PEOPLE OF FAITH IN JESUS, BECAUSE WE STILL ‘WORSHIP’ PARTS OF ‘SELF’ INSTEAD OF GOD – TRUE PEACE IS A GIFT FROM GOD FOR US ONLY WHEN WE EMPTY OURSELVES TOTALLY TO HIM IN HEART, MIND, AND DEED, 24/7. ♥
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We find peace with God by doing what pleases him, being chaste, truthful, acting honestly, “continuing in prayers and supplications” (Acts 1:14), and “singing and making melody in our hearts” (Eph 5:19), and not merely with our lips. We are at peace with ourselves when we subject the flesh to the spirit, choose to act according to our conscience, and the inner world of our thoughts proceeds with order and purity.

As for peace with another, this comes by “forebearing one another, and forgiving one another, if any man have a quarrel against any: even as Christ forgave you” (Col 3:13), and showing mercy to each other out of mutual love, as Christ too, just for love of us, had mercy upon us and came down to us for our sake.

I beseech you…let us too be at peace, and give proof of this peace through virtuous deeds and ways dear to God… Before all else we bring you the good tidings of peace in accordance with the promise of the Lord himself to us through the Apostles (Jn 14:27). By means of this peace we gather the scattered members, join them together, and cast out from our souls the disease and infirmity caused by hatred.

We are united with you in Christ, and we are ambassadors for Christ, who beseeches you through us to be reconciled to God (2Co 5:20), to acknowledge your kinship with one another, not just in soul but also in body. By so doing, you will become sons and heirs of peace, which is to say, of God. “For he is our peace, who has made both one, and has broken down the middle wall of partition,” having abolished enmity in the cross and planted peace in our souls (Ep 2:14-15). The entire work of his coming consists of peace, and for this he bowed the heavens and came down to earth.
– St Gregory Palamas, 14th century

 
 

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