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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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“HAVE COURAGE” – ST JOAN ANTIDE-THOURET

“[On]  24th August, one of the saints remembered by the Church is St Joan Antide-Thouret. She was born in France in 1755 and lived at a time of great change during the French Revolution but this did not stop St Joan from living the life and vocation that she wanted.

A time of great change during the French Revolution

At the age of sixteen, after her mother had died, St Joan looked after her father in the village of Besancon. However, in 1787 she felt called by God to enter the Sisters of Charity at Paris. There two serious illnesses interrupted her religious training and in 1794, due to the turmoil around them, the sisters had to disperse.

Due to the turmoil, the sisters had to disperse

St Joan returned to her hometown and ran a school for the village children. When political conditions improved the local Vicar General invited St Joan to open a bigger school and, after some reluctance due to her feeling inadequate, this was achieved in April 1799. Six months later St Joan added a soup kitchen and a dispensary.

In obedience to her Bishop

Some critics denounced her for not returning to her original community of sisters. She countered this by saying that she had not yet taken religious vows and was now acting in obedience to her Bishop. St Joan also ran a female asylum at Belleveaux, which housed orphans, criminals, the homeless and women with mental illness. She and others laboured there in the asylum under hopeless conditions, and opponents again criticised her for undertaking this work.

Let’s despise the world and its false gods. Let’s despise its honours. In vain would we seek our happiness in them.

However, St Joan pressed on with this work, encouraging others with her example and writings. In one letter to a fellow worker she wrote: ‘How are you? Still holding on firmly to the handles of the plough? Is the ground hard and dry? Is the corn growing well? The weeds not stifling it? If so, dig out the weeds with a hoe, without damaging the corn. Have courage. The good corn of the elect will ripen and will nourish you for eternal life. Prune the vine well. You will drink the good wine in long draughts in paradise. But to merit this happiness, let’s not tire of fighting during this exile. Let’s despise the world and its false gods. Let’s despise its honours. In vain would we seek our happiness in them. It will benefit us greatly to receive nothing from the world but ingratitude and opposition. This will detach us from it and attach us closely to God alone. You face many troubles in serving these poor people entrusted to you. I am sure that you do so from charity and the love of God.’

This will detach us from the world and attach us closely to God alone.

By 1810 St Joan’s community had spread to Switzerland, Savoy and Naples, where St Joan had gone to administer a hospital. In 1819 the Pope approved this order as the Daughters of Charity. St Joan died in Naples in 1826. She is an inspiration to those of us who wish to do the work of God whilst fighting against opposition, misunderstanding, criticism, feeling inadequate and the pettiness of others. St Joan did it and so can we.”

– From: Spiritual Thought from Fr Chris/2015

 

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EVERYONE IS CALLED TO ENTER THE KINGDOM OF GOD

“…Jesus tells a parable to answer the question, ‘What can we say the kingdom of God is like?’ The Catechism of the Catholic Church also says much about the kingdom of God. Let us prayerfully reflect on some of these words:

• ‘Now after John was arrested, Jesus came into Galilee preaching the gospel of God saying: ‘The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand: repent, and believe in the gospel.’ To carry out the will of the Father, Christ inaugurated the kingdom of heaven on earth. Now the Father’s will is to raise up men and women to share in his divine life. He does this by gathering people around his Son Jesus Christ. This gathering is the Church, on earth the seed and beginning of that kingdom.’ (section 541)

• ‘Everyone is called to enter the kingdom. First announced to the children of Israel, this messianic kingdom is intended to accept men of all nations. To enter it, one must first accept Jesus’ word: The word of the Lord is compared to a seed which is sown in a field; those who hear it with faith and are numbered among the flock of Christ have truly received the kingdom. Then, by its own power, the seed sprouts and grows until the harvest.’ (section 543)

• ‘Jesus invites sinners to the table of the kingdom: ‘I have come not to call the righteous, but sinners.’ He invites them to that conversion without which one cannot enter the kingdom, but shows them in word and deed his Father’s boundless mercy for them and the vast ‘joy in heaven over one sinner who repents’.’ (section 545)

• ‘The coming of God’s kingdom means the defeat of Satan’s: ‘If it is by the Spirit of God that I cast out demons, then the kingdom of God has come upon you.’ … The kingdom of God will be definitely established through Christ’s cross: ‘God reigned from the wood.’ (section 551)

– From “Spiritual Thought from Fr Chris”/June 2015

 
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Posted by on June 23, 2015 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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