Saturday, November 22, 2008

The Kingship of Christ

We celebrate the feast of Christ the King and ask ourselves what kind of kingship Jesus exercises over us. America has no history of kings who have lived within its borders, but we citizens of the United States are subject to authority chosen through an election process.

How does Jesus rule? A dialogue about His kingship took place at a time when His power seemed to have reached its lowest ebb. Bound by the Jewish council of priests, elders, and scribes, He has been delivered to Pilate who asked Him, “Are you king of the Jews? His answer, “You have said so” ( Mk 15:2). In the subsequent interchange between Jesus and his accusers, Pilate will not let go of his ironic assignment of kingship to this criminal brought before him. The soldiers guarding Jesus mock Him. “ All hail! King of the Jews,” (Mk 15:18) they shout as they spit upon Him and kneel in comic posture at His feet. Here is our King subject to insult, made the butt of jokes, taunted with laughter and derision.
Have we experienced the scorn of others and felt ourselves disdained and ridiculed? At such times, we turn to our King in His darkest hours and realize how deeply human judgment can cut. In Jesus’ case, He was wholly innocent. We may deserve the blame imputed to us or we may be the objects of unfair reproach. In either case, we find in Jesus the One Who lifts our hearts and understands what it is to be subject to human disdain.
When Jesus was hanging on the cross, the inscription of the charge against him read “The King of the Jews” (Mk 15:26). Here is royalty where all sovereignty seems to have been wiped away. He is nailed to a wooden throne. And yet in these three hours on Calvary, sin is overcome and humankind is redeemed. Our King fulfills His mission through a crucifixion leading to His resurrection. Death is conquered. A new kingdom is inaugurated, but not one based on the policies most people would expect.
During His public life, Jesus had employed many images to explain the reign of God. He did not use spectacles of glory and splendor. When He spoke of the kingdom He came to inaugurate, He likened it to the most ordinary things that were part of daily existence at his time: the planting of a mustard seed, yeast a woman took and kneaded into measures of flour, a dragnet cast into the sea, a treasure hidden in a field.
Hiddenness seems to have been a special quality of His kingdom. “The last shall be first and the first shall be last” (Mt 20:16). Looking at the crowds who followed Him, he chose a little child to embody what His Good News is all about. “It is to such as these that the Kingdom of God belongs” (Mk 10:13). The category for admission is not according to human estimation. Jesus for His contemporaries and for our secular society today is a Man of paradox. He affirmed clearly that His reign contradicts worldly values (Jn 18:36).
Jesus declared, “ I must announce the good news of the reign of God, because that is why I was sent” (Lk 4:43). Fame and wealth do not open the doors of Christ’s kingdom but neither are the prosperous barred from entry if they are humble of heart and poor in spirit. Eternal riches can be ours already if we let go of pride and self-centeredness. The laws of Jesus kingdom are all rooted in love and the willingness to share. We look around us to see those who are in need and when we can, we offer a portion of what has been given to us—material or spiritual. It could be just a word of encouragement. We take time--a precious commodity in our American culture—to assist someone who needs a helping hand. We see Christ in others and hear His voice in their pleading. “Blest are your eyes because they see and blest are your ears because they hear” (Mt 13:16).
St. Paul tells us that we have been ”rescued from the power of darkness and brought into the kingdom of God’s beloved Son” Col 1:12-13). Jesus seeks now to establish His throne within our innermost being. We find Him there in prayer. In that interior stillness, He speaks to us. “To you the mystery of the reign of God has been confided” (Mk 4:11).
We ask Christ our King to increase our understanding of this mystery and to help us bring others to the treasures that faith in Him unlocks.
Sister Margaret Dorgan, DCM
Taken from:
"He must reign until He has put all things under his feet".
1 Corinthians 15
1Moreover, brethren, I declare unto you the gospel which I preached unto you, which also ye have received, and wherein ye stand;
2By which also ye are saved, if ye keep in memory what I preached unto you, unless ye have believed in vain.
3For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures;
4And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures:
5And that he was seen of Cephas, then of the twelve:
6After that, he was seen of above five hundred brethren at once; of whom the greater part remain unto this present, but some are fallen asleep.
7After that, he was seen of James; then of all the apostles.
8And last of all he was seen of me also, as of one born out of due time.
9For I am the least of the apostles, that am not meet to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God.
10But by the grace of God I am what I am: and his grace which was bestowed upon me was not in vain; but I laboured more abundantly than they all: yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me.
11Therefore whether it were I or they, so we preach, and so ye believed.
12Now if Christ be preached that he rose from the dead, how say some among you that there is no resurrection of the dead?
13But if there be no resurrection of the dead, then is Christ not risen:
14And if Christ be not risen, then is our preaching vain, and your faith is also vain.
15Yea, and we are found false witnesses of God; because we have testified of God that he raised up Christ: whom he raised not up, if so be that the dead rise not.
16For if the dead rise not, then is not Christ raised:
17And if Christ be not raised, your faith is vain; ye are yet in your sins.
18Then they also which are fallen asleep in Christ are perished.
19If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable.
20But now is Christ risen from the dead, and become the firstfruits of them that slept.
21For since by man came death, by man came also the resurrection of the dead.
22For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive.
23But every man in his own order: Christ the firstfruits; afterward they that are Christ's at his coming.
24Then cometh the end, when he shall have delivered up the kingdom to God, even the Father; when he shall have put down all rule and all authority and power.
25For he must reign, till he hath put all enemies under his feet.
26The last enemy that shall be destroyed is death.
27For he hath put all things under his feet. But when he saith all things are put under him, it is manifest that he is excepted, which did put all things under him.
28And when all things shall be subdued unto him, then shall the Son also himself be subject unto him that put all things under him, that God may be all in all.
29Else what shall they do which are baptized for the dead, if the dead rise not at all? why are they then baptized for the dead?
30And why stand we in jeopardy every hour?
31I protest by your rejoicing which I have in Christ Jesus our Lord, I die daily.
32If after the manner of men I have fought with beasts at Ephesus, what advantageth it me, if the dead rise not? let us eat and drink; for to morrow we die.
33Be not deceived: evil communications corrupt good manners.
34Awake to righteousness, and sin not; for some have not the knowledge of God: I speak this to your shame.
35But some man will say, How are the dead raised up? and with what body do they come?
36Thou fool, that which thou sowest is not quickened, except it die:
37And that which thou sowest, thou sowest not that body that shall be, but bare grain, it may chance of wheat, or of some other grain:
38But God giveth it a body as it hath pleased him, and to every seed his own body.
39All flesh is not the same flesh: but there is one kind of flesh of men, another flesh of beasts, another of fishes, and another of birds.
40There are also celestial bodies, and bodies terrestrial: but the glory of the celestial is one, and the glory of the terrestrial is another.
41There is one glory of the sun, and another glory of the moon, and another glory of the stars: for one star differeth from another star in glory.
42So also is the resurrection of the dead. It is sown in corruption; it is raised in incorruption:
43It is sown in dishonour; it is raised in glory: it is sown in weakness; it is raised in power:
44It is sown a natural body; it is raised a spiritual body. There is a natural body, and there is a spiritual body.
45And so it is written, The first man Adam was made a living soul; the last Adam was made a quickening spirit.
46Howbeit that was not first which is spiritual, but that which is natural; and afterward that which is spiritual.
47The first man is of the earth, earthy; the second man is the Lord from heaven.
48As is the earthy, such are they also that are earthy: and as is the heavenly, such are they also that are heavenly.
49And as we have borne the image of the earthy, we shall also bear the image of the heavenly.
50Now this I say, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; neither doth corruption inherit incorruption.
51Behold, I shew you a mystery; We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed,
52In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed.
53For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality.
54So when this corruptible shall have put on incorruption, and this mortal shall have put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, Death is swallowed up in victory.
55O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory?
56The sting of death is sin; and the strength of sin is the law.
57But thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.
58Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye stedfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labour is not in vain in the Lord.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Did Christ Have Faith?

The title immediately suggests a second question; viz: What does the Church teach us that enables us to know the answer?
There is, of course, a third question: What does it matter?

Let us begin with question one: What does the Church teach us that enables us to know the answer? Bearing in mind the fact that the Church’s teaching comes to us both through her Scripture and through her Tradition we can, I believe, find the answer to this and our title question.
What is faith? The book of Hebrews, Ch. 11 Verse 1, provides us with a succinct definition:
“Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.” (R.S.V.).
I have highlighted the last phrase as being pivotal to what follows. Clearly, the inability to see ‘things’ is germane to the condition of one who has faith. We know that the saints in heaven do not have faith because they do see these same ‘things’. Equally, it can be said that if Christ’s knowledge precluded ‘things not seen’, then He could not have had faith. We now turn to that other arm of the Church’s teaching office; viz., ‘Tradition’, to discover if there were or were not ‘things not seen’ by Him.
The ‘Catechism of the Catholic Church’ provides us with clear teaching in regard to the knowledge of Christ. The formulation of this teaching in The Catechism is the culmination of the age-old traditional belief of the Church as attested to by the early Fathers, as refined by St. Thomas and as taught by the Popes of the last century. The first of these Popes was St. Pius X who, in association with his encyclical letter, ‘Pascendi’, in which he dealt with the errors of ‘Modernism’, issued a ‘Syllabus of errors’ which contained condemnation of propositions that opposed the substance of the truth of the matter as taught in the ‘Catechism’. ( See Syllabus Propositions 32 and 34 ).
Next we have Pope Pius X1, in his encyclical, “Miserentissimus Redemptor’, stating that Christ had knowledge :
“... of sins to come yet clearly foreseen … and our reparation, likewise clearly foreseen”.
In his encyclical letter, ‘Mystici Corporis’, Pope Pius X11 teaches:
“But the knowledge and love of our Divine Redeemer, of which we were the object from the first moment of His Incarnation, exceed all that human intellect can hope to grasp. For hardly was He conceived in the womb of the Mother of God, when He began to enjoy the beatific vision, and in that vision all the members of His Mystical Body were continually and unceasingly present to Him and He embraced them with His redeeming love. . . .In the crib, on the Cross, in the unending glory of the Father, Christ has all the members of the Church present before Him in a much clearer and more loving manner than that of a mother who clasps her child to her breast, or than that with which a man knows and loves himself.”
Clearly, the Holy Spirit, in speaking through His Popes, was preparing us for the Catechism’s magisterial formulation re the knowledge of Christ. Lest we might be tempted to underestimate the power and validity of the ‘Catechism’ as the voice of Christ to His people it is well to note the Holy Father’s introductory words:
“ The Catechism of the Catholic Church, which . . . I today order by virtue of my Apostolic Authority, is a statement of the Church’s faith and of Catholic doctrine, attested to or illumined by Sacred Scripture, the Apostolic Tradition, and the Church’s Magisterium. I declare it to be a sure norm for teaching the faith..” ( Par. 3. Emphasis mine).
Let us now see what ‘The Catechism’ says concerning Christ’s knowledge. For this we turn to #s 472, 473, 474.
Paragraph 472 deals with the fact of Christ having true human knowledge, so that He could “increase in wisdom and in stature..”.
Paragraph 473 states:
“ But at the same time, this truly human knowledge of God’s Son expressed the divine life of his person. “The human nature of God’s Son, not by itself but by its union with the Word, knew and showed forth in itself everything that pertains to God.” Such is first of all the case with the intimate and immediate knowledge that the Son of God made man has of the Father. The Son in his human knowledge also showed the divine penetration he had into the secret thoughts of human hearts.” ( Heavy type – mine).
Paragraph 474 states:
By its union to the divine wisdom in the person of the Word incarnate, Christ enjoyed in his human knowledge the fullness of understanding of the eternal plans he had come to reveal. . . “
In the light of this clear teaching it is quite untenable to claim that, in the context of Hebrews 11: 1, there were ‘things not seen’ by Christ. No knowledge of anything ‘that pertains to God’ and no understanding ‘of the eternal plans He had come to reveal’ were precluded from his human intellect. But, as the same text tells us, faith’s very essence is ‘the conviction of things not seen’. These Catechism quotes make very clear that this ‘conviction’ was impossible to the Word made flesh. We must conclude, therefore, that Christ himself teaches us, through his Church, that He could not and, consequently, did not have faith.
It is important to note that #474 also teaches us that, not only did Christ have the fullness of understanding of God’s eternal plans in his human intellect but that these very eternal plans were the substance of what He had come to reveal.
To attribute faith to Christ in the light of the above would obviously be a contradiction. Here those memorable words of Pope Pius X11 in his encyclical letter, ‘Humani Generis’, have cogent force:
“The mind of man, when it is engaged in a sincere search for truths, will never light on one which contradicts the truths already ascertained. The Christian will weigh the latest fancy carefully, making sure that he does not lose hold of the Truth already in his possession, or contaminate it in any way with great danger and perhaps great loss to the faith itself.”
The third question in my first paragraph: What does it matter? is essentially answered by the above papal teaching. But not entirely. In fact the full answer concerns the relevance of this doctrinal matter to our Congregation.
Most Brothers would be aware that there has been, in recent years, an acceptance amongst us of the proposition that Christ did have faith. That is my reason for writing this article. The proposition, signalled by the phrase, ‘the faith vision of Jesus’, has appeared in official Congregational documents. Needless to say, a false understanding of the person of Christ can only lead to further falsehood, most especially if elements of Congregational inspiration and direction find their genesis in this very proposition.
A Christ having faith must be one who is uncertain, one who, seeking to know what he is ignorant of, is in danger of being reduced to the status of an idealist who hopes he is right. What a stark contrast is this depiction of this Messiah with the true Christ of the Gospels who “teaches as one having authority”, who says, “I and the Father are one”, and who is the One whom Hebrews 12:2 identifies as “auctorem fidei et confirmatorem Jesum” – ‘Jesus, the origin and crown of faith’. This is the Christ who came ‘to reveal’ the Trinity’s eternal plans for us.
For one who believes that Christ had faith, is there not a real danger that a door has been opened to the temptation of losing confidence in our divine Master’s teaching and, consequently, of losing confidence in his Church?
I would, therefore, see it as a matter of urgency that we Brothers examine our understanding of Christ in relation to this matter of faith.
Brother Jim Ward.

3 O'Clock Prayer to the Divine Mercy
You expired Jesus, but the source of life gushed forth for souls and the ocean of mercy opened up for the whole world. O Fountain of Life, unfathomable Divine Mercy, envelop the whole world and empty Yourself out upon us.
O Blood and Water, which gushed forth from the Heart of Jesus as a fountain of mercy for us, I trust in You.
Holy God, Holy Mighty One, Holy Immortal One, Have mercy on us and on the whole world. (3 times)
JESUS, King of mercy, I trust in You! AMEN