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Sunday Reading

English: Icon of Jesus Christ

Icon of Jesus Christ (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Gospel Lk 23:35-43

The rulers sneered at Jesus and said, “He saved others, let him save himself if he is the chosen one, the Christ of God.”

Even the soldiers jeered at him. As they approached to offer him wine they called out, “If you are King of the Jews, save yourself.” Above him there was an inscription that read, “This is the King of the Jews.”

Now one of the criminals hanging there reviled Jesus, saying, “Are you not the Christ? Save yourself and us.”

The other, however, rebuking him, said in reply, “Have you no fear of God, for you are subject to the same condemnation? And indeed, we have been condemned justly, for the sentence we received corresponds to our crimes, but this man has done nothing criminal.” Then he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.”

He replied to him, “Amen, I say to you, today you will be with me in Paradise.”

A portrait of Karl Marx.

A portrait of Karl Marx. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Commentary:

Today’s reading underscores the Christian belief that Jesus is not the king of this world but the king of heaven. As such, we can’t expect him to solve all our worldly problems or help us get everything we want in this earthly life. With all due respect to all seekers, my feeling is that many people reject Jesus as the Messiah because they believe the Messiah should be some kind of political leader.

This certainly is how it was back in Jesus’ day. The people wanted a Messiah who would deliver them from the occupying Romans. When Jesus didn’t deliver – not in that way, anyhow – they just couldn’t wrap their heads around the idea that the Messiah was far greater than that. The Messiah was to deliver anyone, that is, anyone, to the kingdom of heaven. So instead of a temporary worldly glory, believers could expect an everlasting glory, one far surpassing anything that could be experienced on earth.

But there was a price tag, as there is today. And sometimes it’s quite high. We have to really put God first and our worldly concerns second. This doesn’t mean that we should be passive or apathetic and not try to improve our lot and the world in general. Far from it. But it does mean that we shouldn’t put all our eggs in this worldly basket. We’ll end up disappointed if we do. For God is the source, the ultimate source of all this is good. So God can be with us as we try to change the world. But our efforts probably won’t be too effective if God is not behind us.

Just one example:  Karl Marx. He didn’t believe in God but I imagine he really believed he was doing the right thing. And maybe some good has come out of his movement. But on the whole, communism didn’t happen as Marx envisioned it, and the entire movement has pretty well proved to be a huge flop!


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Sunday Reading

English: An ikon of Aghia and some votive obje...

An ikon of Aghia and some votive objects – these have a specific name: tamata. Photographed in the chapel dedicated to her (see below) above the , Iraklio, Kriti in 2001 May. A life of Aghia Paraskevi. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Luke 21:5-19

While some people were speaking about
how the temple was adorned with costly stones and votive offerings,
Jesus said, “All that you see here–
the days will come when there will not be left a stone upon another stone that will not be thrown down.”

Then they asked him,
“Teacher, when will this happen?
And what sign will there be when all these things are about to happen?”
He answered,
“See that you not be deceived,
for many will come in my name, saying,
‘I am he,’ and ‘The time has come.’
Do not follow them!
When you hear of wars and insurrections,
do not be terrified; for such things must happen first,
but it will not immediately be the end.”
Then he said to them,
“Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom.
There will be powerful earthquakes, famines, and plagues
from place to place;
and awesome sights and mighty signs will come from the sky.

“Before all this happens, however,
they will seize and persecute you,
they will hand you over to the synagogues and to prisons,
and they will have you led before kings and governors
because of my name.
It will lead to your giving testimony.
Remember, you are not to prepare your defense beforehand,
for I myself shall give you a wisdom in speaking
that all your adversaries will be powerless to resist or refute.
You will even be handed over by parents, brothers, relatives, and friends,
and they will put some of you to death.
You will be hated by all because of my name,
but not a hair on your head will be destroyed.
By your perseverance you will secure your lives.”

Commentary:

Some people spend a lot of time looking for signs about the end times. Others seem to be convinced that whenever something bad happens, like a World War or horrific catastrophe, the end of the world is near. This kind of fanaticism is nothing new. It’s been around for centuries. Even many of the early disciples thought the world would end in their lifetimes.

But today Jesus tells us that this is folly. In fact, even Jesus doesn’t seem to know when the world will end. In Matthew 24-36 he tells us that only the Father knows.

“But about that day or hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son,f but only the Father.”

So I’m not going to waste my time worrying about the end of the world. In fact, I’m going to live my life to the fullest, as long as I can. And I’ll only let go of those things that I truly believe Jesus wants me to let go of. Until then, I’ll keep on being me. Imperfect and at times weak. But at the same time, having reason to believe that there’s more than this. A lot more!

—MC


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Jesus Christ

English: Jesus Christ - detail from Deesis mos...

English: Jesus Christ – detail from Deesis mosaic, Hagia Sophia, Istanbul (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

By Fr. Thomas R. Harding, Th.D.

This homily has been posted with the direct and generous permission of the late Fr. Thomas Harding, Th.D. (1918-2005). It is not to be copied, duplicated, modified nor distributed in any way.

In the Gospel of John 4:5-42, Jesus was sitting by the well. He asked a Samaritan woman, who came to draw water, for a drink to quench His thirst. A long conversation ensued and finally the woman said to Him: “I know that the Messiah is coming (who is called the Christ). When He comes He will proclaim all things to us. Jesus said to he, I am He, the one who is speaking to you.”

Who is this Jesus Christ?

The Apostle Creed answers:

I believe in Jesus Christ, His only Son, Our Lord. He was conceived by the power of the Holy Spirit and born to the Virgin Mary. He suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died and was buried. He descended to the dead. On the third day He rose again. He ascended into Heaven and is seated at the right hand of the Father He will come again to judge the living and the dead.

The primary and best source of our knowledge of Jesus Christ is, of course, the four Gospels which all agree on the essence of the Revelation of Jesus Christ.

  • First, that He is the Messiah and the Prophet.

  • Second, that He is the Son of God and that He became Man.

  • Third, it is as Man that He is Our Redeemer, Our Saviour, Our High Priest, the Head of the Church, and the Just Judge that is to come.

In addition to this agreement of the Four Gospels on the identity of Jesus Christ, each of the four has his own individual emphasis on His Character and Personality.

Matthew portrays Jesus as the Great Leader by giving His six great discourses

  1. The Sermon on the Mount (Matthew Chapters 5-7).
  2. The Missionary Discourse on the spread of the Kingdom (Mathew Chapter 10).
  3. The Sermon on the Coming Persecutions and Rewards (Matthew 11-12).
  4. The Sermon on the Parables (Mathew 13).
  5. The Sermon on the Church (Matthew 18).
  6. The Last Discourse and the Triumph of the Kingdom (Matthew 24).

In addition to these discourses, since Matthew was living in Jerusalem he wrote primarily for the Hebrews so Matthew presents Jesus Christ as the Fulfiller of the Messianic Prophecies of the Old Testament.

Mark portrays Jesus Christ as the Mysterious God Man

  1. The central point of Mark is the Person of Jesus Christ.
  2. Jesus Christ is a Person of Mysterious origin and great Power.
    (a) The voice of the Father said “This is My Beloved Son in whom I am well pleased “(Mark 1:11).
    (b) The Spirit as a Dove also descended upon Him. (Mark 1:10)
    (c) Jesus is the Lord of the Sabbath. (Mark 2:28).
    (d) Jesus is the Lord of Nature. (Mark 4:35-44).
    (e) Jesus has power over demons. (Mark 9:13-28).
    (f) A frequent refrain of Mark is: “They brought all the sick and the possessed to Him and He healed them all. (Mark 6:53-56).
  3. Jesus Christ is a Person of humility and suffering.
    (a) He suffered at the hands of the Jewish Leaders. (Mark 14:1).
    (b) He suffered at the insensitivity of the crowds. (Mark 4:12).
    (c) He suffered from the obtuseness of His followers. (Mark 3:21)
    (d) He rejected the false notion of the Messiah as a temporal King. (Mark 6:1-6)

Luke presents Jesus Christ as the Friend of the Poor, the Lost, the Suffering

St. Luke was an artist and physician and he was close to Mary, the Mother of Jesus Christ and to the Holy Spirit. Thus he wrote the Gospel of the Infancy and Childhood of Jesus Christ and the Apocalypse, the Gospel of the Holy Spirit.

  1. A Friend of the Poor such as the Shepherds and He listed the 8 Beatitudes. (Luke 2:8-20 and 6:20).
  2. A Friend of the Lost such as the Lost Sheep, the Prodigal Son and the Penitent Woman. (Luke 15:1-7; 15:11-32; 7:36-50).
  3. A Friend of the Suffering and He healed all who asked Him. (Luke 4:33-44).

John presents Jesus as the Incarnate Word and he emphasized
the Divinity of Christ

  1. The Christ of the fourth Gospel is presented more theologically than in the Synoptic Gospels of Matthew, Mark and Luke.

  2. In the Prologue to his Gospel, he describes the Majestic sweep of the Second Person from Heaven to Earth and back again to Heaven with the Redeemed of the World. (John 1:1-18).

  3. John describes Jesus as the Light of the World. (John 8:12).

  4. The Promise of the Eucharist. (John Chapter 6).

  5. He gives the Last Discourse and the Prayer for Unity at the Last Supper. (John Chapters 14, 15 and 16).

  6. He describes the Resurrection of Jesus. (John Chapter 20).

Jesus Christ in Theology

  1. Jesus Christ is true God and true Man.

  2. He has Divine and Human Nature.

  3. As a human being, He has a human body and a human soul.

  4. In that union of the divine and human natures in Jesus Christ, there is just one Person, the Divine Person, the Second Person of the Blessed Trinity.

  5. In the Prologue to John’s Gospel, we read: “No one has seen God at any time. The only begotten Son, Who is in the bosom of the Father, He has revealed Him.” (John 1:18). We cannot know God as He is in the present order, but we can know God as He is in human form as He appeared in Jesus Christ, the God-Man.

Jesus Christ in the Secondary Sources

There is also the Life, Character and Personality of Jesus Christ in the Secondary Sources such as Lives of Christ, Works on the Spiritual Lfe, Great Biographies, Inspiring Histories, Records of the Martyrs, Subtlest Theology, Sublime Poetry and Literature, Great Art and Music.

I have enjoyed the Lives of Christ such as Karl Adam’s The Son of God (very theological), Constant Fouard’s Christ the Son of God (very scriptural), Archbishop Alban Goodier’s The Public Life of Our Lord Jesus Christ and The Passion and Death of Our Lord Jesus Christ (very scriptural), Abbot Marmon’s Christ in His Mysteries (very mystical) and the popular Lives of Christ by Fulton Oursier, Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen, Malcolm Muggeridge, Francois Mauriac, Fyodor Dostoevski and the pictorial version of Georges Rouault with text by Jacques Maritain entitled Art Through the Ages.

Many have derived benefit from films on the Life of Christ such as: The King of Kings, Quo Vadis, Ben Hur, Godspell (meaning Gospels) and the controversial versions like Jesus Christ Superstar, Jesus of Montreal and The Last Temptation of Christ.

Some have also derived benefit from musical compositions such as those of Mozart, Beethoven, Cesar Frank, Handel and the great masses. Many have been inspired by the masterpieces of art of Michelangelo, Leonardo Da Vinci, Albrecht Durer, Salvador Dali and the Dutch Masters.
Even though adults cannot understand it, teenagers have been touched by the Musical Hair in the sixties. With their long hair, they were imitating Jesus Christ as we discover in the words of one of the songs in the musical.

My Hair like Jesus wore His Hallelujah,
I like it Mary loved her Son,
Why doesn’t my mother love me?

Another song shows that some of the youth think that they can find precisely in Jesus the answer to their questions formulated in Hair:

Where do I go? Follow the river,
Where do I go? Follow the gulls
Where is the something?
Where is the Someone?
That tells me why I live and die.
Follow my heart beat
Where do I go?
Follow my hand,
Where will they lead me?
And will I ever discover why
I live and die, I live and die?

They also loved the Beatles. When George Harrison died recently, they revealed that he was a spiritual person and did not appreciate the time when John Lennon said they were more popular than Jesus. Then came the song “My Sweet Lord, I Really Want To Know You” by George Harrison.

Among all the secondary sources, I liked the two works of Archbishop Goodier, S.J. the best. He was from England but he became an Archbishop in India. The reason why I like his two books is because he shows how to find the true Jesus Christ in the gospels. He emphasizes His attractiveness, His winsomeness, which drew people to Him: the sinners, the sick, the blind, the lepers, the possessed, the hardened and the little children who flocked to Him. “Let the little children come to me for of such is the Kingdom of Heaven.”

Jesus was in demand also as a dinner guest. He was the life of the party. He was always accessible born in a cave, always on the open highways, in the market place, in the temple, no home except the mountain tops. He died publicly in a public place of execution called Golgotha, the Place of the Skull. All were struck by His courage, His fearlessness, His sublime teaching, His healing, His love for all, even for His enemies.

Archbishop Goodier points out four guiding lines in the Gospels’ portrayal of Him.

  1. His absolute truth of understanding or His stamp of utter, unerring certainty and trustworthiness because of certainty. “He spoke as one having authority.”

  2. His boundless tender heart, a father, a mother, a brother, a sister, a true friend. He was always meek but never weak to those who were disposed to Him. His love went out to all. It was theirs for the taking.

  3. His constancy in action. He has a definite work to do, a definite life to live and death to die and never for a moment does he swerve in its accomplishment. Failure may disappoint Him but He never gives up; opposition may alter His plan but it does not slacken His effort; malice does not embitter Him, deceit, betrayal, denial, desertion, none of these things can lessen His endeavour, make His hand tremble or the feet on the mountain falter.

  4. His infinite mercy goes out to all who are repentant. He always wants to forgive, to save, to heal. He does not compel people. He is gentle. He invites them to come to Him and when they respond His eyes glisten, His Heart expands. His hand opens and He releases the flood gates of Infinite Love and the Mercy of His Sacred Heart.

There are many examples of leaders who are remembered in history for good or evil. Julius Caesar, Alexander the Great, Constantine, Charlemagne, Napolean, Hitler, Stalin, Mussolini, Churchill, F. D. Roosevelt, Mahatma Ghandi, Eisenhower, Kennedy, Mao Tse Tung. (Mention ladies as well). Only one stands out above all the others and is remembered in the minds and hearts of billions, Jesus Christ. Christianity is a creed, cult and code, but it is also a Person, the Love of a Person for us and our response to Him, that is, Jesus Christ, the God-Man.

Napolean, according to John Henry Cardinal Newman, may have once said to himself:

I have been accustomed to place before me, the examples of Caesar and Alexander with a hope of rivaling their exploits and living in the minds of men forever. But in what sense do Caesar and Alexander live… Their chief place is in the school room, in children’s grammars and text books. IBut on the contrary, there is just one name that lives, Jesus Christ I He has possessed the world and He maintains possession. Palaces and monuments are raised to His Honour. His Image is triumphantly displayed in all countries and on the tops of mountains.

He died but He rose again from the dead on the third day and He lives on as Christ the King in the minds and hearts of billions. We praise and thank you Lord for your unspeakable gifts.

As Romano Guardini said in his brief Creed: “I believe in you Jesus of Nazareth. You are the meaning of the World and of my ljfe.” I also like the Jesus Prayer: “Lord Jesus Christ, Son of the Living God, Have Mercy on me a sinner.”

So much for the secondary sources.

In conclusion, let us consider the appearance of Jesus Christ. What did He look like? We have our image of Jesus Christ largely from Medieval Art. But we also have the benefit of an eye-witness and of the expert on the Shroud of Turin.

First, the eye-witness is Lentulus, who was consul in the 12th year of the reign of the Emperor Tiberius. In the letter of Lentulus, which is mentioned in the writing of Josephus Flavius, a first century historian, he describes how he saw Jesus during His trial and Crucifixion. His report to the Emperor reveals what Jesus looked like.

Lentulus described Jesus as having a noble and lively face, with fair and slightly wavy hair, black and strongly curving eyebrows, intense penetrating blue eyes and an expression of wondrous grace. His nose is rather aquiline and His hair has never seen a scissors. His neck is slightly inclined so that He never appears to be bitter or arroganL His tanned face is the colour of ripe corn and well proportioned, it gives the impression of gravity and wisdom, kindness and goodness and is completely lacking in any kind of anger.

Second, Professor Giovanni Judica-Cordiglia, an eminent scholar of the Holy Shroud of Turin, the cloth covering the face and Body of Christ in the tomb; from it he tried to describe the appearance of the Lord, gleaned from the Shroud with his experience as a Doctor and a Professor of Forensic Medicine.

Here is his report:

The Man who was wrapped in the Shroud was a man of great beauty and uncommon stature. He was about one metre and eighty centimeters tall (approximately six feet) with a perfectly proportioned physique, lithe and harmonious. He was a standard type in the most literal sense of the phrase. His face was a very soft and gentle one, rather long and with a broad straight forehead. The nose is straight and turned slightly downwards, the cheeks are large and slightly protruding. From all the anthroprometric calculations so far made, it seems that Christ was physically in far better shape than the average man.

I can conclude that His cranial capacity was of 1575 cc, which would place Him in the Megalo Cephalic (Large Headed) category with a cranial capacity coefficient of 95 which would indicate that the weight of His brain was 1492 grams. This is far greater than the average, suggesting a person of extraordinary genius.

So much for the evidence of the eye-witness who actually saw Jesus and from the expert on the Shroud of Turin who described His appearance scientifically with his experience as a Doctor and a Professor of Forensic Medicine.

In conclusion, I wish to give the conclusions of John Duns Scotus about the Person of Jesus Christ. John Duns Scotus was a great Theologian who lived from 1265- 1308 A.D. He was a contemporary of St. Thomas Aquinas and he taught both in Italy and in Oxford, England. He was beatified by Pope John Paul II just a year ago, probably delayed because of his daring Theology.

Blessed John Duns Scotus says Jesus Christ was God’s greatest work. He taught that Jesus Christ would have become Man even if Adam and Eve had not sinned. He also taught that the Second Person of the Blessed Trinity will be united to human nature for all time to come and for all eternity.

Blessed John Duns Scorns also taught that Mary, the Mother of God, was the highest creature after Christ as Man. He taught also that Mary was conceived in Her Mother’s womb immaculately. The Immaculate Conception of Mary was defined by Pope Pius IX in 1854. Our Lady Herself appeared to St. Bernadette Soubiroux in 1858 and when asked who she was, she replied “I am the Immaculate Conception” in the dialect of Southern France which was familiar to St. Bernadette.

Incidentally, Pope Pius IX was beatified with Pope John XXIII, and Abbott Marmion of Ireland, on September 5, 2000 by Pope John Paul II, the present Pope. He probably Beatified them because of their brilliant teachings about Jesus Christ, His Mother, and the Church.

This homily is not to be copied, duplicated, modified nor distributed in any way.


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New Pope will have to face same old Church

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A lot of people entirely dismiss the Catholic Church. But that’s not really fair. True, there are problems. And many of them will take a long time to repair. But there are about 1.2 billion Catholics worldwide. And it seems unlikely that all of these people would attend Mass merely for aesthetic or sociological reasons.

If Catholicism were just a crazed cult like some folks say, it would have died out after its founder (Jesus Christ) died. Sociologists note that cults always dwindle away and die after their charismatic leader passes.

So what’s going on? Could it be that, as the Church claims, the Holy Spirit lives and breathes within the ancient liturgy? I, myself, believe that it does. But that doesn’t mean that there’s still not a whole host of very human problems in need of repair. – MC

Whoever he may be, the 266th pope will inherit a gerontocracy obsessed with turf and Italian politics, uninterested in basic management practices and hostile to reforms. (washingtonpost.com)

Read more news clips at Pinterest – News, Today, Digital Age


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The Holy Spirit – Fr. Thomas R. Harding, Th.D.

Alfa et omega. The beginning & the end by Sint-Katelijne-Waver via Flickr

This homily has been posted with the direct and generous permission of the late Fr. Thomas Harding, Th.D. (1918-2005).

Because 1998 was the year of the Holy Spirit it is important that we emphasize the role of the Holy Spirit in the PLAN OF GOD and in this period of the history of the Church from the First Pentecost until the end of time and for all eternity.

In the Apostles’ Creed we say: “I believe in the Holy Spirit, the Holy Catholic Church, the Communion of Saints, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body and life everlasting. Amen.”

In the Nicene Creed we say: “We believe in the Holy Spirit, the Lord, the giver of life, who proceeds from the Father and the Son. With the Father and the Son, He is worshipped and glorified. He has spoken through the Prophets. We believe in One Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church. We acknowledge one baptism for the forgiveness of sins. We look for the resurrection of the dead and the life of the world to come. Amen.”

The Holy Spirit in the Old Testament

There are Biblical texts dealing with the Spirit of God from the Book of Genesis in the Old Testament to the Book of Revelation in the New Testament. We will mention a few of the familiar ones.

In Genesis 1:1-2a:4a we read “In the beginning, God created heaven and earth and the earth was void and empty and darkness was on the face of the deep and the Spirit of God moved over the waters. Then God said ‘Let there be light’, and there was light God saw how good the light was.” This is actually the second account of creation by the Priestly author of a later date.

The first account by the author known as YAHWIST because he referred to God as YAHWEH is in Genesis 2:4-7 where we read: “At the time when God made the earth and the heavens while as yet there was no field shrub on the earth and no grass of the field had sprouted, for the Lord God had sent no rain upon the earth and there was no man to till the soil but a stream was welling up out of the earth and was watering all the suiface of the ground The Lord God formed man out of the clay of the ground and blew into his nostrils the breath of life and so man became a living being.”

The YAHWIST has no interest in the formation of cosmic light or the sun, moon and stars as Father George Montague says in his book entitled The Holy Spirit: Growth of a Biblical Tradition, because his interest is restricted to the earth and the things that immediately touch human life: water, earth, the sown land, animals, woman. His interest is centred in man who is ADAM for the ADAMAH, earthman from the earth.

Other popular texts from the Old Testament referring to the Holy Spirit or adaptable to His action are as follows:

In Isaiah 11:2-3. we read: “The Spirit of the Lord shall rest upon Him; a Spirit of wisdom and understanding, a Spirit of counsel and strength. a Spirit of knowledge and of fear of the Lord and his delight shall be the fear of the Lord.” There is no explicit mention of piety in this text but it may be included in the opening words of the quotation. At any rate these Isaiah gifts are the general characteristics of the Messiah who is to come and, we hope. of his future followers who receive the Holy Spirit and His gifts in Baptism and Confirmation.

In Jeremiah 31:31-33, we read: “I will make a new covenant… I will put my law within them and I will write it upon their hearts.”

In the prophet Ezekiel 36:26, we read, “I will give you a new heart and place a new Spirit within you, taking from your bodies your stony hearts and giving you natural hearts.”

In the prophet Joel 3:1-2, we read: “I will pour out my Spirit upon all flesh. Your sons and daughters shall prophesy. Your old men will dream dreams, your young men shall see visions. Even upon the servants and handmaids, I will pour out my Spirit.”

As we say in the Nicene Creed: “He” that is, “the Holy Spirit spoke through the prophets.” He truly spoke through all the prophets of the Old Testament and through Jesus Christ, the Priest, Prophet and King of the New Testament!

The Holy Spirit by His Inspiration is the Principal Author of the books of both Testaments. And yet it is difficult to find a direct quotation from the Holy Spirit Himself in the Scriptures. There are many indications of the Holy Spirit speaking in the New Testament:

MATTHEW 10:19-21 “When they hand you over, do not worry about what you will say or how you will say it. When the hour comes you will be given what you are to say. You yourselves will not be the speakers; the Spirit of your Father will be speaking in you..” This is commonly referred to as “the Dabitur Vobis” which translated into English means: “It will be given to you.”

Another oft-quoted text in this regard is JOHN 3-8: “The wind blows where it will you hear the sound it makes but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes. So it is with everyone begotten by the Spirit.”

The text of Paul to the Romans 8:26-27 is very comforting for all of us: “The Spirit too helps us in our weakness, for we do not know how to pray as we ought; but the Spirit Himself makes intercession for us with groanings that cannot be expressed in speech. He who searches hearts knows what the Spirit means, for the Spirit intercedes for the saints as God Himself wills.” Again St. Paul says in I Corinthians 12:3 just before he lists the charismatic gifts of the Holy Spirit: “And no one can say ‘Jesus is Lord’ except in the Spirit.” So when you pray, be open to the Holy Spirit and He will take over. Invite Him to take over and your prayer life will improve immensely.

Thus the Holy Spirit is constantly in communication with the Church and with her members from within. We are Temples of the Holy Spirit and since He is dwelling within us, we receive His messages directly in our minds and hearts and it is our obligation to accept them and act upon them.

The Holy Spirit in The New Testament

In his constitution on Confirmation in 1971, Pope Paul VI said the New Testament shows how the Holy Spirit assisted Jesus Christ throughout His whole Messianic Mission:

1) At the Annunciation the Angel Gabriel said to Mary: “The Holy Spirit will come upon you and that which you conceive will be called the Son of God.” Luke 1:35

2) On receiving the Baptism of John the Baptist, St. John the Evangelist said: “I beheld the Holy Spirit descending upon Him like a dove and it stayed upon Him!” John 1:32

3) After His Baptism, St. Mark said: “He was led by the Spirit into the desert and He was in the desertforforty days and forty nights, being tempted the while by Satan; and He was with the wild beasts and the angels came and ministered to Him.” Mark 1:12-13

4) Teaching the people of Nazareth, He showed by what he said that the words of Isaiah referred to Himself: “the Spirit of the Lord is upon me.” Luke 4: 17-21

5) He later promised before He suffered that “the Holy Spirit would help them to bear fearless witness to their faith before persecutors.” Luke 12:12

6) The night before He died, He assured His Apostles that “He would send the Spirit of Truth upon them from the Father.” John 15:26

7) After His Resurrection, He promised the coming descent of the Holy Spirit: “You will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes down upon you and you Will be my witness in Jerusalem in all Judea and in Samaria and even to the ends of the earth.” Acts 1:8. He had told them: “not to depart from Jerusalem but to wait for the promise of the Father.” Acts 1:4

8 ) After praying for nine days in the upper room: “the Apostles and the disciples with Mary, the mother of Jesus and the women and the brothers were ready to receive the Spirit ” Acts 1:13-14

9) On the tenth day it is reported: “When the day of Pentecost came, all the believers were gathered together in one place. Suddenly, there was a noise from the sky which sounded like a strong wind blowing and it filled the whole house where they were sitting. Then they saw what looked like tongues of fire which spread out and touched each person there. They were all filled with the Iioij’ Spirit and began to talk in other languages as the Holy Spirit enable them to speak.” Acts 2:1-4

10) The Church was born and the believers began to preach the Good News: “There were Jews living in Jerusalem, religious people who had come from every country in the world. When they heard this noise, a large crowd gathered. They were all excited because they heard the believers talking in their own languages. In amazement and wonder they exclaimed: “These people who are talking like this are Galileans! How is it then, that all of us hear them speaking in our own native languages? We are from Parthia, Media and Elam from Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia; from Pontus and Asis, from Phrygia and Pamphylia, from Egypt and the regions of Libya near Cyrene. Some of us are from Rome, but Jews and Gentiles converted to Judaism and some of us are from Crete and Arabia -yet all of us hear them speaking in our own languages about the great things God has done. Acts 2:5-11

Titles of the Holy Spirit

1) Advocate: “These things I have spoken to you while yet dwelling with you. But the Advocate, whom the Father will send in my name, He will teach you all things and will bring to mind whatever I have said to you.” John 14:26 Advocate means lawyer, one who pleads our case.

2) Paraclete: “But I speak the truth to you; it is expedient for you that I depart For if I do not go, the Paraclete will not come to you; but if I go, I will send Him to you.” John 16:7-8 Paraclete means “Comforter”, one who gives strength.

3) The Spirit of Truth: “But when the Advocate has come, the Spirit of Truth who proceeds from the Father, He will bear witness concerning me.” John 15:26

4) The Love of God Personified: “And hope does not disappoint because the Love of God is poured forth in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who has been given to us. Romans 5:5

Father Bernard J. F. Lonergan, S.J., the great Canadian Theologian uses this text to contrast the Apostles’ love of God before and after the coming of the Holy Spirit on the First Pentecost. For example, Peter loved the Lord with a human love on the first Good Friday and he denied Him three times during the Passion. However, after the descent of the Holy Spirit, he loved the Lord with the love of God, or with divine love and thus he was able to face persecution and he even asked that he be crucified upside down because he was unworthy to die like the Lord.

There are other titles for the Holy Spirit such as: Comforter, Sanctifier, the promised One of the Father, and the Inner Teacher, the Spirit of the Father and the Spirit of the Son.

Symbols of the Holy Spirit

1) A Dove: The dove has long been a sign of peace, gentleness and hope. “And the Holy Spirit descended upon Him in bodily form, like a dove. A voice came from Heaven: ‘You are my Son, the Beloved with whom I am well pleased” Luke 3:22

2) Wind: The word SPIRIT is etymologically from the word BREATH or WIND. Invisible and formless, the wind can caress us or overwhelm us with its power. “The wind blows where it chooses, and you hear the sound of it, but you do know where it comes from or where it goes. So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit.” John 3:8

“And when the days of Pentecost were drawing to a close, they were altogether in one place. And suddenly there came a sound from heaven as of a mighty wind blowing and it filled the whole house where they were sitting.” Acts 2:1-2

3) Fire: Fire consumes and purifies, warms us and lights our path. “Divided tongues, as of fire, appeared among them and a tongue settled upon each of them. All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit.” Acts, 2:3-4

4) Water: Water cleanses and refreshes, yet its power can carve a mountainside. “Those who drink of the water that I will give them will never be thirsty; but the water that I will give shall become a fountain of water springing up unto life everlasting.” John 4:13-15

“On the last and most important day of the festival Jesus stood up and said in a loud voice, ‘Whoever is thirsty should come to me and drink As the scripture says, ‘Whoever believes in me, streams of life-giving water will pour out from his heart Jesus said this about the Spirit, which those who believed in him were going to receive. At that time the Spirit had not yet been given, because Jesus had not been raised to glory. John 7:37-39

This text is used to illustrate the growth in the Spirit in those who are living The life in the Spirit.

The Holy Spirit and the Church

God the Father’s plan was to raise all the members of the human race to a participation of the divine life. When Adam sinned, He did not abandon human beings but sent His son Jesus Christ into the world as the Saviour and Redeemer. Christ inaugurated the Church, the Kingdom of Heaven on earth. He is the HEAD OF THE CHURCH.

When the work of redemption was completed, God the Father and God the Son sent God the Holy Spirit into the world that He might continually sanctify the Church and guide her until the end of time to preserve her from error and all dangers. The Holy Spirit, who is the Soul and the Life of the Church, gives her infallibility and indefectibility. He makes sure that the Church is One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic for all time to come.

Moreover, each member of the Church receives the Holy Spirit in the Sacraments of Baptism and Confirmation along with His Gifts and Fruits and all the other wonderful effects of these sacraments. (Dogmatic Constitution on the Church, Vatican II, Numbers 2-8 )

This homily is not to be copied, duplicated, modified nor distributed in any way


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The Resurrection of the Body and Life Everlasting

English: Resurrection of Christ

Resurrection of Christ by Noel Coypel via Wikipedia

By Fr. Thomas R. Harding, Th.D.

This homily has been posted with the direct and generous permission of the late Fr. Thomas Harding, Th.D. (1918-2005).

It is good at this time of the year to read the accounts of the Resurrection of the Lord in the four Gospels and in the First Epistle of Paul to the Corinthians. He appeared over a period of 40 days and then ascended into Heaven. St. Matthew describes four apparitions, St. Mark six, St. Luke five, St. John seven and St. Paul six. That makes a total of twenty eight.

I like the account of St. Paul, 1 Cor. 15:1-12, he wrote: “For I delivered to you what I also received, that Christ died for our sins and rose from the dead and that He appeared

  1. To Cephas
  2. After that to the Eleven
  3. Then He was seen by 500 brothers and sisters at one time, many of whom are with us still but some have fallen asleep
  4. After that He was seen by James
  5. Then by all of the Apostles
  6. And last of all He was seen by me as by one born out of due time. For I am the least of the Apostles and am not worthy to be called an Apostle because I persecuted the Church of God. But by the Grace of God I am what I am and His Grace in me has not been in vain.”

He was chosen by God as the Apostle to the Gentiles.

Jesus Christ raised other people from the dead in His lifetime. In the cases of His friend Lazarus, the Son of the widow of Naim and the daughter of Jairus, resurrection was a kind of resurgence or a return to the same kind of life which they had just left.

The Resurrection of Jesus is different. It is a breaking through to a new life in God, living in a glorified body which is no longer vulnerable or mortal. Jesus, who died and rose, now lives on for us in the Divine Sphere. As St. Paul in 1 Cor. 15:45 says: “Scripture has it that Adam, the first man, became a living soul, the last Adam, Jesus Christ has become a life-giving spirit.” For He promised that we too will rise.

Not only did God raise Jesus, the man from the dead, but He let Him be seen by many witnesses over a period of forty days and it is on the evidence of these witnesses that our Faith and our Church depend. The accounts of His appearances indicate that His Resurrection is that of an embodied Being, living now in a Glorified Body. In today’s Gospel it is encouraging to note that “They gave Him a piece of broiled fish and He took it and ate it in their presence.”

St. Paul describes a Christian as one who believes in the Resurrection of the flesh. St. John describes a Christian as one who believes that Jesus Christ came in the flesh. The two mysteries are related. The Resurrection is the Incarnation perpetuated but in flesh that is incorruptible, life-giving and universally extended to all.

Regarding the age-old questions of life, death and resurrection, I have often wondered just what happened at the moment of death. What happens to the soul? Is it asleep or awake? If asleep does it stay that way until the Angel Gabriel’s call and the sound of the trumpet of God on the last day? Does the soul then wake up to rejoin it’s body wherever it may be and then hurry off to the valley of Jehosaphat for the General Judgment?

I would like to think that when the soul leaves the body, it is awake and that it is fitted with a glorified body for after all, man is by nature a spirit informing a body, not a ghost or a disembodied spirit.

The Dutch Catechism reports that the departed soul is awake and this is logical because we pray to the Saints. On the question of the time when we are reunited to the body, the Dutch Catechism says we imagine Heaven to be a vast Assembly Hall, full of spiritual souls where only two places are bodily occupied, those of Jesus and May, for Jesus ascended into Heaven and Mary was assumed into Heaven. However, the Dutch Catechism does not reject the opinion that God can supply newly arriving souls with bodies.

Ladislaus Boros, S.J. has written a great deal about the questions of death, resurrection, the risen body and heaven. On the question as to when our resurrection takes place, he says we have to take into account two questions.

First, Revelation states that the resurrection is an event coming at the end of time (1 Thess. 4:16). Second, the severance of the soul from the body is utterly unnatural for the soul. The soul is meant to inform a body in order to function naturally. Is God supposed to hold back the soul artificially until the resurrection of the body at the end of time?

Ladislaus Boros, S.J. shows how Karl Rahner, S.J. tries to unite these two factors in an hypothesis which is very attractive, if not entirely satisfying. Rahner comes to the conclusion that the separation of the soul from the body in death is not a complete break from matter. On the contrary, at the moment of death there arises for the soul a new and essential closeness to matter. The human soul in death does not become A-COSMIC, that is, out of this world, but it becomes ALL-COSMIC, that is, everywhere present in the world and in the universe. We profess our faith in the Apostles’ Creed that Jesus Christ descended to the dead to announce the Good News of Redemption to the souls of the just waiting there and then He ascended into heaven and brought them with Him.

The Resurrection of Christ (Kinnaird Resurrection)

The Resurrection of Christ by Raphael via Wikipedia

Rahner says that the resurrection of the body may take place at the moment of death, but it is not yet perfect. The risen body needs the transformed, glorified universe as its sphere of being. We can experience our bodily resurrection in its full perfection when the world and the universe have entered into the state of glory at the end of time.

Pierre Teilhard de Chardin says that God by His Almighty Power can destroy the whole universe and immediately restore it in its state of Glory at the end of time. Thus the glorious transformation of the universe at the end of time would also be the final perfection of the resurrection of the body which already occurred at the moment of death.

Traditionally, Theology has listed the qualities of the Risen Body as splendour or radiance, subtlety or the ability to pass through walls, the doors being closed as Jesus did after the Resurrection, agility or the ability to travel instantaneously from one place to another in space and outer space, and impassability or being free from injury, suffering and death.

We will leave these questions with God for the time being, but it is interesting to think of the possibilities. Remember St. Augustine said: “We are Resurrection people. We are Alleluia people.” And St. Paul says: “We have not here a lasting city. Our conversation is in heaven.” And we profess our faith in the Apostles Creed: “I believe in the resurrection of the body and Life Everlasting.”

Praise and Thank the Lord!

* * * * *

This homily is not to be copied, duplicated, modified nor distributed in any way.


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DVD Review – The Murder of Mary Magdalene: Genocide of the Holy Bloodline

Reality Films

Title: The Murder of Mary Magdalene: Genocide of the Holy Bloodline (DVD)
Genre: Religion, Conspiracy, History, Occult
Production Company: Reality Films

Synchronicity is a hard thing to prove. It’s even harder to prove a given theory by citing a series of perceived synchronicities. And this is exactly what Dan Green sets out to do in The Murder of Mary Magdalene: Genocide of the Holy Bloodline.

Offering an alternative history to the story of Jesus and Mary Magdalene, Green weaves an intricate tapestry of symbols, codes and clues to support his belief that Mary Magdalene was murdered to prevent word from getting out that she and Jesus Christ were much closer than commonly believed.

This is the kind of film that gets traditional religious persons up in arms. Similar claims made in The Holy Blood and the Holy Grail (1982) led to that book being banned in strongly Catholic countries such as the Philippines.

Likewise, Dan Brown’s fictional The Da Vinci Code (2003) sparked off a lot of heated debate and its overall content was deemed “offensive” by many Catholics.

Sociologists and Religious Studies professors like John Gager say that whenever the beliefs and practices of an out-group get a bit too close for comfort to those of an established in-group, members of the in-group get upset. The in-group then wants to better define its boundaries, which may lead to exclusion, condemnation or, as we’ve seen in the often grisly march of human history, persecution.

According to this theory, it’s the similarity of the two groups that riles the established in-group. Radically different out-groups lacking some kind of thematic overlap with an entrenched in-group are usually ignored. But when an out-group hits a nerve by getting too ideologically close to the in-group—that’s when sparks fly.

This dynamic apparently took place between the early Christians and the Gnostics. And a similar kind of dynamic continues to this day.

As for The Murder of Mary Magdalene‘s challenge to the traditional Christian story, I found this DVD far more a Jungian-style treatise than a flaky religious rant. If anything, it’s a testament to the power of synchronicity. From watching this film, it seems that Dan Green perceived an ongoing set of synchronicities all through the research and production phases of The Murder of Mary Magdalene.

In case you’re wondering, synchronicity is a word coined by the Swiss psychiatrist Carl Jung to point to the idea of meaningful coincidence. From the perspective of synchronicity, nothing happens by chance. And the idea of chance, itself, is taken as nothing more than a human concept.

The DVD’s special features include an author interview by director Philip Gardiner. This summarizes the film’s main points while giving a biographical sketch of Green. Here, Green’s eyes sparkle whenever he talks about the synchronicities he encountered during the film’s production. And that’s something pretty hard to fake.

What did go through my mind, however, was a question. Not the central question posed by this film – was Mary Magdalene murdered? – but another one regarding the interpretation of synchronistic events.

No doubt, Green believes he encountered genuine synchronicities. But we’re compelled to ask if Green’s interpretation of those inner-outer experiences is more about his own personal journey instead of a universal truth about the supposed unwritten history of Jesus and Mary Magdalene.

We can’t know for sure, of course. But the question does arise.

On the cinematography side, viewers will enjoy the UK’s archaic Lincoln Cathedral, along with many other sacred treasures so very well presented in this film.

The Murder of Mary Magdalene: Genocide of the Holy Bloodline was the perfect antidote to the mid-February grind of Canadian winter. Whether or not you agree with its conclusions, this is the kind of film where you can just sit back and let it take you away.

Chances are the only folks who’ll find it upsetting are those who aren’t really comfortable with their beliefs anyhow. It’s a button pusher. But only if  buttons are there to be pushed.

—MC
Revised from original review published March 22, 2010.

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