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YOU ARE MY SON; THIS DAY I HAVE BEGOTTEN YOU (Ps2:7)

YOU ARE MY SON; THIS DAY I HAVE BEGOTTEN YOU (Ps2:7)

The Lord hath said to me: Thou art my son, this day I have begotten thee. Ask of me, and I will give thee the Gentiles for thy inheritance, and the uttermost parts of the earth for thy possession. (Psalm 2:7, 8)

Christ did not become King to exact tribute, to equip armies, nor subdue visible foes

What a stupendous thing it was for the King of the ages to become King of men! For Christ did not become King of Israel to exact tribute, to equip armies with swords, nor subdue visible foes. He became King of Israel that he might rule over men’s souls, counsel them about eternity, that he might lead to the kingdom of heaven those who believe in him, hope in him, and love him.

Christ became King that he might rule over men’s souls, counsel them about eternity, that he might lead to the kingdom of heaven those who believe in him, hope in him, and love him.

Accordingly, it was not to increase his power, but condescension on his part that made him – the Son of God, co-equal with the Father, the Word by whom all things were made – wish to become King of Israel. It was an indication of his mercy; it did not augment his power.

He who on earth was called King of the Jews, in heaven is called Lord of the angels. But is Christ King of the Jews only, and not King of the Gentiles, too? Yes, he is King of the Gentiles, too. When in prophecy he said, “But I have established my kingdom upon Sion, my holy mountain. I will proclaim the decree of the Lord,” he added immediately so that the mention of Mount Sion might not lead men to believe he had been anointed King of the Jews solely: “You are my Son; this day I have begotten you. Ask of me and I will give you the nations for an inheritance, and the ends of the earth for your possession.

– St Augustine, Bishop, Treatise 51 on John 12-13, and Treatise 117 on John 19-20, from: An Approved English Translation of the Breviarium Romanum, Burns & Oates, London, 1964

 
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Posted by on November 20, 2016 in Words of Wisdom

 

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THE SALVATION HISTORY OF ALL MEN AS REVEALED IN THE BIBLE: THE RANSOM FOR MANY

The Gospel according to Mark, chapter 10

WHAT MOTIVE COULD EXPLAIN THIS SEEMINGLY FOOLISH RESOLVE?

“Caiphas and the enemies of Jesus had resolved to put Jesus to death. The feast of the Pasch was approaching, and Jesus expected to attend the feast at Jerusalem. To avoid the plot of Caiphas, after restoring life to Lazarus at Bethany, Jesus withdrew to Ephraim, a village twenty miles north of Jerusalem. He remained there until it was time to start the journey to Jerusalem for the Pasch.

When Jesus started on the road to Jerusalem the Apostles were both puzzled and frightened. They knew of the enmity of Caiphas for Jesus; they had taken the sojourn of Jesus at Ephraim to mean that Jesus was seeking to avoid the traps of Caiphas. Now Jesus seemed determined to walk into the clutches of His enemies. What motive could explain this seemingly foolish resolve?

Jesus, knowing their fears, said to them, ‘Behold, we are going to Jerusalem, and the Son of Man will be betrayed to the chief priests and the Scribes; and they will condemn him to death and will deliver him to the Gentiles; and they will mock him, and spit upon him, and scourge him, and put him to death; and on the third day he will rise again’ (Mark 10:33-34).

THE APOSTLES SEEMED TO HOPE IN A GLORIOUS MESSIAS

Jesus knew that His time had come, the time appointed by His Father for Him to die. He foretold it to His Apostles and disciples. He also told them that He would come back to life again on the third day after His death. Both of these predictions were mystifying to the Apostles. They understood neither of them. Their minds were so filled with visions of Jesus as a glorious, triumphant Messias, that they could not perceive any significance in the picture of a suffering, defeated Messias, even if He were to rise again.

‘YOU DO NOT KNOW WHAT YOU ARE ASKING FOR’

That the minds of the Apostles were blinded by their own hopes for a glorious Messias is shown by the incident which immediately followed the prediction of the death of Jesus. The mother of the two sons of Zebedee, John and James, came to Jesus and asked Him, ‘Command that these, my two sons may sit, one at Thy right hand, and one at Thy left hand, in Thy kingdom.’ Jesus, addressing John and James, said, ‘You do not know what you are asking for. Can you drink of the cup of which I drink, or be baptised with the baptism with which I am to be baptised?’ Believing that Jesus would lead them to a glorious triumph, the sons of Zebedee answered, ‘We can’ (Mark 10: 35-40; Matthew 20:23).

Jesus knew that they misunderstood Him. They had not seen that Jesus was to enter His own glory only after passing through death. Hence He asked them if they were ready to drink of the chalice which He Himself had to drink, that is, the cup of misfortune and death. Even though they did not understand, their loyalty to Jesus remained firm and they answered that they were ready to drink the same cup. Jesus then told them, ‘Of my cup you shall indeed drink; but as for sitting at my right hand and at my left, that is not mine to give you, but it belongs to those for whom it has been prepared by my Father’ (Matthew 20:23).

The other Apostles who had followed the conversation became indignant at the ambition of the two brothers. Jesus took the occasion to enlighten all the Apostles on the true nature of His mission. ‘You know,’ He said to them, ‘that the rulers of the Gentiles lord over them, and their great men exercise authority over them. Not so is it among you. On the contrary, whoever wishes to become great among you shall be your servant; and whoever wishes to be first among you shall be your slave; even as the Son of Man has not come to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many’ (Matthew 20:25-28).

THE PRICE TO BE PAID TO GOD FOR THE RESTORATION OF DIVINE LIFE TO MEN, THE SALVATION OF MEN

In these words Jesus gently rebuked all the Apostles for their worldly dreams of power. If they were to be His faithful disciples, they must not seek to lord it over their fellowmen, but rather to serve them. Jesus Himself has not come into this world to rule an earthly kingdom, but rather to serve mankind. In fact, He is to give up His life as a ransom for all men. Jesus had already predicted His death three times, the last time just before the ambitious request of the sons of Zebedee. Now, for the first time, He says clearly that His suffering and death will be offered as a ransom for men. He had already hinted at this aspect of His death when He compared Himself to a Good Shepherd and said that the Good Shepherd lays down His life for His sheep. A ransom is the price paid to liberate someone, and the Good Shepherd lays down His life to save the lives of His sheep. Jesus, therefore, is saying that His life is the price which will be paid for the salvation of men. It is the price to be paid to God for the restoration of divine life to men, the salvation of men, the establishment of the Kingdom of God among men.

‘LORD, SON OF DAVID, HAVE MERCY ON US’

The Apostles probably did not understand the words of Jesus, but they followed Him on His way to Jerusalem. As they drew near to Jericho, they were met by two blind men. When the blind men heard that it was Jesus of Nazareth who was passing by, they cried out, ‘Lord, Son of David, have mercy on us.’ Though some would have prevented them from disturbing Jesus, He commanded that they be brought to Him. He asked them what they wished of Him. When they asked Him to restore their sight, Jesus, moved by compassion, touched their eyes, and immediately their sight was given to them.

Shortly afterwards, as they were passing through Jericho, a great crowd filled the street to see Jesus. One of the townspeople, a certain Zacchaeus, a rich publican, climbed a sycamore tree to be able to see Jesus. Now publicans, tax gatherers, were regarded by the people as sinners, as extortioners. It was therefore surprising to the crowd when Jesus, seeing Zacchaeus in the tree, called to him, ‘Zacchaeus, make haste and come down; for I must stay in thy house today’ (Luke 19:5). Zacchaeus, sinner that he was, was overjoyed at the thought that the Wonderworker, Jesus of Nazareth, condescended to accept the hospitality of his house. But some of the people, probably those opposed to Jesus, murmured that Jesus did not hesitate to be the guest of a sinner. This gesture of Jesus, however, moved Zacchaeus to repentance, and he said, ‘Behold, Lord, I give one half of my possessions to the poor, and if I have defrauded anyone of anything, I restore it fourfold’ (Luke 19:8).

THE PARABLE OF THE TALENTS

Tax gatherers, publicans, worked for the Roman authorities, gathering taxes for them. For that reason, they appeared to the people as traitors of Israel. The gesture of Zacchaeus in returning the monies he had gained by his trade showed his sincere repentance. Jesus recognised this and said, ‘Today salvation has come to this house since he, too, is a son of Abraham. For the Son of Man came to seek and save what was lost’ (Luke 19:9-10).

In these last words Jesus repeats the lesson He had already given His Apostles. He has come, not to establish an earthly kingdom but to save the souls of sinners. He will give His life for the salvation of men.

Either during or after the meal in the house of Zacchaeus, Jesus told the parable of the talents or the gold pieces. The people were looking on Jesus as a political Messias, who would restore the kingdom of Israel. Jesus knew that their hopes would be disappointed when He died an ignominious death at Jerusalem. He tried, in this parable, to correct their false hopes and lead them to a better hope.

A nobleman, He told them, went to a far country to obtain a kingdom for himself. This would probably recall to the people the history of Herod, who went to Rome to obtain from the Romans the title of King of Judea. The nobleman, before leaving, sent for his servants and gave each of them some gold pieces which they were to use to gain profit for their master. But his enemies sent a delegation after him that they did not desire him to be their king. On his return as king he sent for his servants and demanded an accounting of the gold pieces. One servant had gained ten gold pieces, another five. He rewarded them by giving them positions of power and influence. But one of the servants had been afraid to hazard the piece given him, and so he returned only this piece, without any interest whatsoever. The king took even this piece away from him because he had been a useless servant. The citizens who had opposed him he put to death.

THE MEANING

In this parable Jesus was trying to describe the relations between Himself and His own people. He was the Messias, seeking to establish His own kingdom in the world. But he was to do so only by dying, by leaving His people for a time. In His absence His enemies will work to keep His kingdom from Him. But He gives His Apostles and disciples gold pieces, the means of building up His kingdom for Him. They must work for Him, even in His absence, to build up His kingdom. Even though He Himself is absent from them, they must persevere in His interests with hope and courage.

THE OINTMENT OF GREAT VALUE

After this warning Jesus continued on His journey to Jerusalem. Six days before the Pasch Jesus arrived in Bethany. Here He met Simon the Leper, Lazarus and his sisters Martha and Mary. While they were reclining at table, Mary took a pound of ointment, spikenard, an ointment of great value. She anointed the head of Jesus with the spikenard, and then, since there was some left over, she anointed His feet also. Judas Iscariot, one of the Apostles, the treasurer of the band of Apostles, objected to this waste. The ointment, he claimed, could have been sold for three hundred denarii and the money given to the poor.

St John tells us that Judas said this, not because he had any great love for the poor but rather because he was avaricious and sought money for himself. It is possible that Judas, of all the Apostles, was the most interested in the establishment by Jesus of an earthly kingdom, a kingdom in which Judas himself would become rich and powerful. He may, at this time, have become discouraged at the refusal of Jesus to seek to establish such a kingdom. In such case the journey of Jesus to Jerusalem, the stronghold of His enemies, would have seemed to Judas to be madness, and so he was already prepared to betray the ‘madman’ who disappointed his hopes.”

– Martin J. Healy S.T.D., 1959

 

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THE PASSION OF OUR LORD JESUS CHRIST ACCORDING TO LUKE (LK 22:14-71, 23:1-56)

THE LAST SUPPER OF THE LORD

When the hour came, Jesus took his place at the table and the apostles with him. And he said to them, “I was eager to eat this Passover with you before I suffer; for, I tell you, I shall not eat again until it is fulfilled in the kingdom of God.”

Then they passed him a cup, and when he had given thanks, he said, “Take this and share it among yourselves; for I tell you that, from now on, I will not drink the fruit of the vine until the kingdom of God comes. Jesus also took bread, and after giving thanks, he broke it and gave it to them, saying, “This is my body which is given for you. Do this in remembrance of me. And after the supper, he did the same with the cup, saying, “This cup is the new covenant, sealed in my blood, which is poured out for you.

Yet the hand of the traitor is with me on the table. Know that the Son of Man is going the way marked out for him. But alas for the one who betrays him!” They began to ask one another which of them could do such a thing.

LAST CONVERSATION WITH JESUS

They also began to argue among themselves which of them should be considered the most important. And Jesus said, “The kings of the pagan nations rule over them as lords, and the most hardhearted rulers claim the title ‘Gracious Lord’. But not so with you; let the greatest among you become as the youngest, and the leader as the servant. For who is the greatest, he who sits at the table or he who serves? He who is seated, isn’t it? Yet I am among you as the one who serves.

You are the ones who have been with me, and stood by me, through my troubles; because of this, just as the kingship has been given to me by my Father, so I give it to you. You will eat and drink at my table in my kingdom, and you will sit on thrones and govern the twelve tribes of Israel.

Simon, Simon, Satan has demanded to sift you like grain, but I have prayed for you that your faith may not fail. And when you have recovered, you shall strengthen your brothers. Then Peter said, “Lord, with you I am ready to go even to prison and death.” But Jesus replied, “I tell you, Peter, the cock will not crow this day before you have denied three times that you know me.”

Jesus also said to them, “When I sent you without purse or bag or sandals, were you short of anything?” They answered, “No.” And Jesus said to them, “But now, the one who has a purse must take it, and a bag as well. And if anyone is without a sword, let him sell his cloak to buy one. For Scripture says: ‘He was numbered among criminals.’ These words have to be fulfilled in me, and now everything written about me is taking place. Then they said, “See Lord, here are two swords!” but he answered, “That is enough.”

THE AGONY IN THE GARDEN OF GETHSEMANE

After this, Jesus left to go as usual to the Mount of Olives, and the disciples followed him. When he came to the place, he told them, “Pray that you may not be put to the test.”

Then he went a little further, about a stone’s throw, and kneeling down he prayed, “Father, if it is your will, remove this cup from me; however, not my will but yours be done.” And an angel from heaven appeared to give him strength.

As he was in agony, he prayed even more earnestly, and great drops of blood formed like sweat and fell to the ground. When he rose from prayer, he went to his disciples, but found them worn out with grief, and asleep. And he said to them, “Why do you sleep? Get up and pray, so that you may not be put to the test.”

JUDAS’ BETRAYAL

Jesus was still speaking when a group appeared, and the man named Judas, one of the Twelve, was leading them. He drew near to Jesus to kiss him, and Jesus said to him, “Judas, with a kiss do you betray the Son of Man?”

Those with Jesus, seeing what would happen, said to him, “Master, shall we use the sword?” And one of them struck the High Priest’s servant and cut off his right ear. But Jesus stopped him, “No more of this!” He touched the man’s ear and healed him.

Then Jesus spoke to those coming against him, the chief priests, officers of the Temple and elders; and he said to them, “Did you really set out against a robber? Do you need swords and clubs to arrest me? Day after day I was among you, teaching in the Temple, and you did not arrest me. But this is the hour of the power of darkness; this is your hour.”

THE TRIAL OF JESUS, PETER’S DENIAL

Then they seized him away, bringing him to the High Priest’s house. Peter followed at a distance.

A fire was kindled in the middle of the courtyard where people were gathered, and Peter among them. A maidservant noticed him. Looking at him intently in the light of the fire, she exclaimed, “This man also was with him!” But he denied it, saying, “Woman, I do not know him.”

A little later someone who saw him said, “You are also one of them!” Peter replied, “My friend, I am not!”

After about an hour another asserted, “Surely this man was with him, for he is a Galilean.”

Again Peter denied, “My friend, I don’t know what you are talking about.” He had not finished saying this, when a cock crowed. The Lord turned around and looked at Peter, and Peter remembered the word that the Lord had spoken, “Before the cock crows, you will deny me three times. Peter went outside, weeping bitterly.

And the guards, who had arrested Jesus, mocked and beat him. They blindfolded him, struck him, and then asked, “Who hit you? Tell us, prophet!” And they hurled many other insulting words at him.

At daybreak, the council of the elders of the people, among whom were the chief priests and the scribes, assembled again. Then they had Jesus brought before them, and they began questioning him, “Tell us, are you the Christ?” Jesus replied, “You will not believe, if I tell you, and neither will you answer, if I ask you. Yet, from now on, ‘the Son of Man will have his seat at the right hand of the Mighty God’.”

In chorus they asked, “So you are the Son of God?” And Jesus said to them, “You are right, I am.”

Then they said, “What need have we of witnesses? We have heard it from his own lips.”

JESUS BEFORE PILATE

The whole council rose and brought Jesus to Pilate. They gave their accusation: “We found this man subverting our nation, opposing payment of taxes to Caesar, and claiming to be Christ the king.”

Pilate asked Jesus, “Are you the King of the Jews?” Jesus replied, “You said so.” Turning to the chief priests and the crowd, Pilate said, “I find no basis for a case against this man.” But they insisted, “All the country of the Jews is being stirred up with his teaching. He began in Galilee and now he has come all the way here.”

When Pilate heard this, he asked if the man was a Galilean. Finding the accused to come under Herod’s jurisdiction, Pilate sent Jesus over to Herod who happened to be in Jerusalem at that time.

Herod was delighted to have Jesus before him now; for a long time he had wanted to see him because of the reports about him, and he was hoping to see Jesus work some miracle. He piled up question upon question, but got no reply from Jesus.

All the while the chief priests and the scribes remained standing there, vehemently pressing their accusations. Finally, Herod ridiculed him and with his guests mocked him. And when he had put a rich cloak on him, he sent him back to Pilate. Pilate and Herod, who were enemies before, became friends from that day.

Pilate then called together the chief priests and the elders and the people, and said to them, “You have brought this man before me and accused him of subversion. In your presence I have examined him and found no basis for your charges; and neither has Herod, for he sent him back to me. It is quite clear that this man has done nothing that deserves a death sentence. I will therefore have him scourged and then release him. (On the Passover Pilate had to release a prisoner.)

Shouting as one man, they protested, “No! Away with this man! Release Barabbas instead!” This man had been thrown into prison for an uprising in the city and for murder. Since Pilate wanted to release Jesus, he appealed to the crowd once more, but they shouted back, “To the cross with him! To the cross!” A third time Pilate said to them, “Why, what evil has he done? Since no crime deserving death has been proved, I shall have him scourged and let him go.”

But they went on shouting and demanding that Jesus be crucified, and their shouts grew louder. So Pilate decided to pass the sentence they demanded. He released the man they asked for, the one who was in prison for rebellion and murder, and he handed Jesus over in accordance with their wishes.

THE WAY OF CALVARY

When they led Jesus away, they seized Simon of Cyrene, who was coming from the fields, and laid the cross on him, to carry it behind Jesus.

A large crowd of people followed him; among them were women beating their breasts and grieving for him, but Jesus turned to them and said, “Women of Jerusalem, do not weep for me! Weep rather for yourselves and for your children, for the days are coming when people will say, ‘Happy are the women without child! Happy are those who have not given birth or nursed a child!’ And they will say to the mountains, ‘Fall on us!’ and to the hills, ‘Cover us!’ For if this is the lot of the green wood, what will happen to the dry?”

Along with Jesus, two criminals also were led out to be executed. There, at the place called the Skull, he was crucified together with two criminals – one on his right and another on his left. (Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.) And the guards cast lots to divide his clothes among themselves.

The people stood by, watching. As for the rulers, they jeered at him, saying to one another, “Let the man who saved others now save himself, for he is the Messiah, the chosen one of God!”

The soldiers also mocked him and, when they drew near to offer him bitter wine, they said, “So you are the king of the Jews? Free yourself!” Above Jesus there was an inscription in Greek, Latin and Hebrew, which read, “This is the King of the Jews.”

One of the criminals hanging with Jesus insulted him, “So you are the Messiah? Save yourself, and us as well!” But the other rebuked him, saying, “Have you no fear of God, you who received the same sentence as he did? For us it is just: this is payment for what we have done. But this man has done nothing wrong.” And he said, “Jesus, remember me, when you come into your kingdom.” Jesus replied, “Truly, you will be with me today in paradise.”

It was almost midday. The sun was hidden, and darkness came over the whole land until mid-afternoon; and, at that time, the curtain of the Sanctuary was torn in two. Then Jesus gave a loud cry, “Father, into your hands I commend my spirit.” And saying that, he gave up his spirit.

[When this part is read out in Church, all of the faithful go down on their knees.]

The captain, on seeing what had happened, acknowledged the hand of God. “Surely this was an upright man!” He said. And all the people who had gathered to watch the spectacle, as soon as they saw what had happened, went home beating their breasts. But those who knew Jesus remained there, at a distance, especially the women, who had followed him from Galilee; they witnessed all this.

Then intervened a member of the Jewish supreme council, a good and righteous man named Joseph, from the Judean town of Arimathea. He had not agreed with the decision and action of his fellow members, and he lived uprightly in the hope of seeing the kingdom of God. Joseph went to Pilate and asked for Jesus’ body. He then took it down, wrapped it in a linen cloth, and laid it in a yet unused tomb, cut out of a rock.

It was Preparation Day, and the star which marks the beginning of the Sabbath was shining. So the women, who had come with Jesus from Galilee, followed Joseph to see the tomb, and how his body was laid. And returning home, they prepared perfumes and ointments. And on the Sabbath day they rested, as the Law required.

 
 

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