Sunday, September 25, 2011

Jesus on Mount Olivet was Warning About Jews, not Romans

Taken from:

(Search The Scriptures, February 1985)


We are dealing with the character known as "the Beast" in the book of Revelation. Let me suggest, if you are not familiar with this subject, that you read the following passages before going on: Rev. 11, 13, 16, 17, 19, 20; 2 Thess. 2; 1 John 2, 3, 4, 5; and Matthew 24 (esp. vss. 23, 24). The identity of "The Beast" has always intrigued theologians. Legions of theories have been conjured up to excite the imagination. This article will examine some of them. It is not our purpose here to identify specifically who the Beast is, but rather to clarify his general nature (i.e. whether he is a Jewish Beast or a Roman one). If we can determine that, maybe his specific identity will be easier to pinpoint. We want to show why the Beast cannot be Roman and why it must be Jewish in character. The whole question as to the nature of the Beast (Jewish or Roman) and his identity is related closely to the date of the book of Revelation. This article assumes that the book of Revelation was written before the destruction of Jerusalem (AD 70). Past Theories Some have identified the Beast as being an individual such as the Pope, Martin Luther, John Calvin, William of Orange or Hitler. Others have seen the Beast more as a group or movement of people, such as the apostate Roman Church, the Protestants, the Roman Empire (or the Common Market), the Roman persecuting power of the first century, or some other great world-power that will rise up to persecute Christians. Some of the more serious attempts have been to identify the Beast as Nero, based on the "666" number in Revelation 13. Another person (Spitta) urged a first-century application to the Biblical character of Simon Magus (Acts 8). Zullig interpreted the Beast as being the Herodian dynasty of rulers. J. S. Russell (in his book, The Parousia) suggests the Roman Procurators (from AD 44-66) and Nero. Once when walking in New York City, I was handed a sheet which stated that Rockefeller was the Antichrist! I've heard similar rumors about Henry Kissenger! Every famous person who was feared or hated was someone's "Beast!" This really illustrates how fear and hate (and other emotions) can affect one's exegesis! An Alternative Very few have mustered the courage to suggest a Jewish fulfillment of these "beastly" passages. Most modern interpreters (who are Amillennial) say the Beast is Rome. So, the thesis of a Jewish Beast will probably not be easily accepted. I want to preface our study with some comments taken from Dr. Cornelius Vanderwaal's commentary on First John, where he deals with the antichrists: (from his commentary set entitled, Search The Scriptures, vol. 10, pp. 60,61) -- "John, who may have been on the island of Patmos when he wrote this letter, now declares that things have gone so far that many antichrists have already appeared. This indicates that it is the 'last hour' (2:18). Many false prophets have gone out in 'the world' (4:1), that is, the apostate Jewish world. (emphasis mine, ees). John's words make it clear that we must not think of the 'antichrist' in connection with a misty future. When John reports the vision of the Beast in the book of Revelation, he is not telling us about a future political antichrist with the reins of world government in his hands; he is indicating that some beastly devil will arise out of Israel to attack the church. 2 Thessalonians 2 follows the same line of thought. In 3:9, John distinguishes sharply between the seed of God and the children of the devil (see John 8:44)." Who Were The Serpents? The "Dragon" was the source of power and authority for the Beast. He is called "the Serpent" and "the Devil" also. He is clearly identified as "Satan" himself (Rev. 12:9, 20:2). Were the Romans ever called "children of the devil"? The Jews were: (John 8:44; Acts 13:10; 1 John 3:10)! The Jews were also called "serpents" and "offspring of vipers" (Matt. 23:33)! And that same verse (Matt. 23:33) condemns them to a fiery end similar to the end of the Beast and his followers (Rev. 19:19-21)! Two Beasts! There are actually two "Beasts" mentioned in Revelation (ch. 13). The second of these is later identified as the "False Prophet" (cf. Rev. 13:11-14; 16:13 and 19:20). Throughout the Old and New Testaments the words "false prophet" are continually used to denote Jewish characters. It would be strange indeed to speak of a Roman Beast with such terminology. This is another indication that the Beast and those he associates with are Jewish in character. The Beast Revived If the Beast is a Roman Emperor (such as Nero or Domitian), we are going to have to deal with the lack of historical evidence for his resurrection. Rev. 13:2, 12, 14 make it clear that the Beast was killed with the sword but came back to life. Some who favor the idea that Nero is under consideration here recall the rumor that was circulated after his death that he really hadn't died but that he was over in Parthia gathering an army to come back to Rome and take over. There is, of course, historical evidence that such a rumor was circulated in the first century, but there is not the slightest evidence that the rumor was true, and Nero never reappeared. This theory (called the "Nero Redivivus" theory) has pretty well been abandoned by most who consider John's account in Revelation to be inspired. How could an inspired Apostle entertain such speculative notions which never did materialize? Neither Nero nor Domitian nor any other Roman emperor came back to life again. This would certainly militate against the Beast being Roman. And it can't be the Roman persecuting power that was revived, since the Roman persecution dragged on for several more centuries, and whatever persecution this is, was supposed to end shortly after the book was written (see Rev. 1:1-3; 22:6,10). This is interesting, because the Jewish persecution did come to a screeching halt shortly after the book was written! Before its end, the Jewish cause got a couple of extra lives: one in AD 66 when Cestius Gallus (the Roman general) withdrew his forces and suffered a humiliating defeat at the pass of Beth Horon. A second chance for their religion came when Yochanan Ben Zakkai pretended dead and escaped (in a coffin) out of Jerusalem to the Romans, where he was allowed by Titus to go to Yavneh and continue his teaching of the Law (where it continued until the destruction of Jerusalem in Hadrian's day (AD 135). The Song of Moses To anyone familiar with the Law of Moses and Jewish tradition, Rev. 15:2,3 will have meaning. It says that those martyrs "who had come off victorious from the Beast" were singing "the Song of Moses." Deuteronomy 32:1-43 is the song that John has reference to. The Jews were to sing this song to remind themselves of what would befall them "in the latter days" (Deut. 31:29). the song talks about "the end" of the Jews (Deut. 32:20), and details their destruction by a consuming fire (Deut. 32:22), "famine" (32:24), "plague" (32:24) and "bitter destruction" (32:24). God calls them a "perverse generation" (32:5,20), and says He will "render vengeance" upon them and "vindicate His people" (32:41 and 32:36 respectively). Why would Christian martyrs of the first century be singing this song about the Romans, when the song had reference to the Jews? It wouldn't make much sense. But if it was Jews who were killing them (like the book of Acts shows), then they had every reason to be singing the Song of Moses! It was the Jews who were the real threat to the Christians! No one else knew better how to attack the church than the Jews. Paul said that his intention as a former persecutor was not just to debate the Christians and prove they were wrong. He was out to "destroy" them (Gal. 1:13,23; 1 Tim. 1:13; Acts 8:3; 9:21)! It was a Jewish beast who was persecuting and killing these Christians, and these martyrs were singing the Song of Moses to remind their Jewish persecutors of what was coming upon them! Aren't these the same martyrs who cried out earlier, "How long, Or Lord, wilt Thou refrain from judging and avenging our blood" (Rev. 6:10)? Who was it who had all the "blood of the righteous" martyrs imputed against them - Jews or Romans? These Christians who had kept their faith in Jesus in spite of the intense persecution by the Jews were the ones "who had come off victorious from the Beast." (See Matt. 23:35 and Luke 13:33)! This passage (Rev. 15:2,3) points very clearly to a Jewish beast. Gnawed Tongues and Wild Beasts In Rev. 16:10,11, it says that the people in the Beast's kingdom "gnawed their tongues because of pain." They had great sores on their bodies along with other plagues that had been poured out on them. The question is, if this is Rome or a Roman beast of some kind, when were they ever in such a miserable mess? John makes it clear that these events were to happen soon after the book was written (Rev. 1:1,3; 22:6,10). When was Nero or Domitian's kingdom thrust into such dire straights? We know from Josephus when the Jews literally gnawed their tongues for lack of food during the siege of AD 70! And, it is interesting that Josephus even calls the Jewish Zealot forces a "wild beast" in several places (Wars V.1.1; IV.7.4; IV.9.8; V.2.5)! This doesn't fit the Romans at all, but it does fit the Jews very well! This point is emphasized even more by the fact that the whole context of the Song of Moses is full of references to "beasts," "serpents," and "dragons" (Lev. 26; Deut. 28-32; esp. Deut. 32:24,33). The Beast Was Seized The real clincher to the whole story is found in Revelation 19:11-21, where it says the Beast was "seized and "thrown alive into the lake of fire" (vs. 20). Keep in mind that these events were to happen soon after Revelation was written (Rev. 1:1,3; 22:6,10). Was Nero or Domitian seized and thrown into the Lake of Fire shortly after Revelation was written? Did Rome make war against Jesus and His angelic hosts and get defeated shortly after the book was written (Rev. 19:19)? Did the Roman armies get "killed with the sword" and become a feast for all the vultures, shortly after Revelation was written (19:21)? The Roman persecution did not end shortly after the writing of Revelation, but the Jewish one did. Whoever the Beast is, he is soundly defeated here, his persecution against the church is crushed and his armies become plunder for the birds of prey to eat. Rome didn't fall until the Fifth Century, and that's a long time after Revelation was written! This sounds more like a Jewish Beast trying to persecute and destroy the church, but finally getting itself destroyed! The Romans were the vultures of this text (Rev. 19:21) who circled outside the Jewish walls watching the Jewish factions kill each other, waiting until they wore themselves out enough to become easy prey. This soon happened (in AD 70) and Jews glutted the world slave market. The Roman armies weren't seized and "killed with the sword" in AD 70, nor in AD 96 either. Therefore, the Beast here (Rev. 19:19-21 cannot be a Roman one. It had to be Jewish! Conclusion We hope someone will go from here and discover the specific identity of the Jewish Beast. Whether he is an individual or a group within the Jewish nation is a matter that will be left to future studies. John Bray has suggested the Jewish Zealot leader, John of Gischala. Others have suggested Menachem, who was a relative of Judas the Galilean who had stirred up troubles back in earlier days. He gathered a zealot band and attacked Masada, captured the fortress, seized the armaments and paraded through Jerusalem with them. Menachem put on the purple robes, proclaimed himself Messiah, and went into the Temple, but he was assassinated in the Temple and his army vaporized. There may have been rumors about his coming back to life, but I haven't read of them so far. He never reappeared as far as Josephus recorded.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Louis de Montfort/The Love of Eternal Wisdom/Chapter 14

From Saint Wiki

The Love of Eternal Wisdom
167. The Cross is according to my belief the greatest secret of the King (Tob 12.7) - the greatest mystery of Eternal Wisdom.
Wisdom and the Cross
How remote and how different are the thoughts and the ways of eternal Wisdom from those of even the wisest of men. (cf Is 55.8) This great God wished to redeem the world, to cast out and chain up the devils, to seal the gates of hell and open heaven to men, and give infinite glory to his eternal Father. Such was his purpose, his arduous task, his great undertaking. What means will be chosen by divine Wisdom, whose knowledge reaches from one end of the universe to the other and orders all things well? (cf Wis 8.1) His arm is almighty; at a stroke he can destroy all that is opposed to him and do whatever he wills. By a single word he can annihilate and create. What more can I say? He has but to will and all is done.
168. But his power is regulated by his love. He wishes to become incarnate in order to convince men of his friendship; he wishes to come down upon earth to help men to go up to heaven. So be it! It would be expected then that this Wisdom incarnate would appear glorious and triumphant, accompanied by millions and millions of angels, or at least by millions of chosen men and women. With these armies, majestic in his splendor and untouched by poverty, dishonor, humiliations and weaknesses, he will crush all his enemies and win the hearts of men by his attractiveness, his delights, his magnificence and his riches.
Surely nothing less than that. But O wonder! He perceives something which is a source of scandal and horror to Jews and an object of foolishness to pagans. (cf 1 Cor 1.23) He sees a piece of vile and contemptible wood which is used to humiliate and torture the most wicked and the most wretched of men, called a gibbet, a gallows, a cross. It is upon this cross that he casts his eyes; he takes his delight in it; he cherishes it more than all that is great and resplendent in heaven and on earth. He decides that that will be the instrument of his conquests, the adornment of his royal state. He will make it the wealth and joy of his empire, the friend and spouse of his heart. O the depths of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How amazing is his choice and how sublime and incomprehensible are his ways! But how inexpressible his love for that cross! (Rom 11.33)
169. Incarnate Wisdom loved the cross from his infancy. (cf Wis 8.2) At his coming into the world, while in his Mother's womb, he received it from his eternal Father. He placed it deep in his heart, there to dominate his life, saying, "My God and my Father, I chose this cross when I was in your bosom. (Ps 39.9) I choose it now in the womb of my Mother. I love it with all my strength and I place it deep in my heart to be my spouse and my mistress." (cf Wis. 8.2)
170. Throughout his life he eagerly sought after the Cross. If, like a thirsting deer, (cf Ps 41.2) he hastened from village to village, from town to town; if with giant strides (cf Ps 18.6) he pursued his way towards Calvary; if he spoke so frequently of his sufferings and death to his apostles and disciples, (cf Mt 16.21; 17.12,22,23; 20.17-19) and even to his prophets during his Transfiguration; (cf Lk 9.31) if he so often exclaimed, "I have longed for it with an infinite desire" (Lk 22.15); it was because all his journeying, all his eagerness, all his pursuits, all his desires were directed towards the Cross and because to die in its embrace was for him the very height of glory and success.
He espoused the Cross at his Incarnation with indescribable love. He sought it out and carried it with the utmost joy, throughout his whole life, which became but one continuous cross. After having made several efforts to embrace it in order to die upon it on Calvary, he asked, "How great is my distress until it is completed!" How am I hindered? What is delaying me? Why can I not embrace you yet, dear cross of Calvary? (Lk 12.50)
171. At last his wishes were fully satisfied. Bearing a stigma of shame he was attached to the cross, indissolubly joined to it, and died joyfully upon it as if in the arms of a dear friend and upon a couch of honor and triumph.
172. Do not think that, wanting to be more triumphant, he rejected the cross after his death. Far from it; he united himself so closely to it that neither angel nor man, nor any creature in heaven or on earth, could separate him from it. The bond between them is indissoluble, their union is eternal. Never the Cross without Jesus, or Jesus without the Cross.
Through his dying upon it the Cross of ignominy became so glorious, its poverty and starkness so enriching, its sorrows so agreeable, its austerity so attractive, that it became as it were deified and an object to be adored by angels and by men. Jesus now requires that all his subjects adore it as they adore him. It is not his wish that the honor even of a relative adoration be given to any other creature however exalted, such as his most Blessed Mother. This special worship is due and given only to his dear Cross. On the day of the last judgment he will bring to an end all veneration to the relics of the saints, even those most venerable, but not to those of his Cross. He will command the chief Seraphim and Cherubim to collect from every part of the world all the particles of the true Cross. By his loving omnipotence he will re-unite them so well that the whole Cross will be re- formed, the very Cross on which he died. He will have his Cross borne in triumph by angels joyfully singing its praises. It will go before him, borne upon the most brilliant cloud that has ever been seen. And with this Cross and by it, he will judge the world.
Great will be the joy of the friends of the Cross on beholding it. Deep will be the despair of its opponents who, not being able to bear the brilliant and fiery sight of this Cross, will plead for the mountains to fall upon them and for hell to swallow them. (cf Lk 23.30)
The Cross and ourselves
173. While waiting for that great day of the last judgment, Eternal Wisdom has decreed the Cross to be the sign, the emblem and the weapon of his faithful people.
He welcomes no child that does not bear its sign. He recognizes no disciple who is ashamed to display it, or who has not the courage to accept it, or who either drags it reluctantly or rejects it outright. He proclaims, "If anyone wishes to come after me, let him renounce himself and take up his cross and follow me." (Mt 16.24; Lk 9.23)
He enlists no soldier who does not take up the cross as the weapon to defend himself against all his enemies, to attack, to overthrow and to crush them. And he exclaims, "In this sign you will conquer. Have confidence, soldiers of mine, I am your leader; I have conquered my enemies by the cross (Jn 16.33), and by it you also will be victorious."
174. He has enclosed in the cross such an abundance of grace, life and happiness that only those who enjoy his special favor know about them. He often reveals to his friends his other secrets, as he did to his Apostles: "All things I have made known to you," (Jn 15.15) but he reveals the secrets of the Cross only to those who make themselves worthy by their great fidelity and great labors. One must be humble, little, self-disciplined, spiritual and despised by the world to learn the mystery of the Cross. The Cross even today is a source of scandal and an object of folly not only to Jews and pagans, Moslems and heretics, the worldly-wise and bad Catholics, but even to seemingly devout and very devout people. Yes, the Cross remains an object of scandal, folly, contempt and fear: not in theory, for never has so much been spoken or written about its beauty and its excellence than in these times; but in practice, because people lose courage, complain, excuse themselves, and run away as soon as a possibility of suffering arises.
"Father," said this incarnate Wisdom, when beholding in joyful rapture the beauty of the Cross, "I thank you for having hidden these things - the treasures and graces of my cross - from the wise and prudent of this world and revealed them to the little ones." (Lk 10.21)
175. If the knowledge of the mystery of the Cross is such a special grace, how great must be the enjoyment when one actually possesses it? This is a favor Eternal Wisdom bestows only on his best friends and only after they have prayed for it, longed for it, pleaded for it. However excellent is the gift of faith by which we please God, draw near to him and overcome our enemies, and without which we would be lost, the Cross is an even greater gift.
"It was a greater happiness for St. Peter," says St. John Chrysostom, "to be imprisoned for Jesus Christ than to be a witness of his glory on Mount Thabor; he was more glorious bound in chains than holding the keys of paradise in his hand." (Acts 12.3-7; Mt 16.19) St. Paul esteemed it a greater glory to wear a prisoner's chains for his Savior than to be raised to the third heaven (Eph 3.1; 4.1; 2 Cor 12.2). God bestowed a greater favor on the Apostles and martyrs in giving them his Cross to carry in their humiliations, privations and cruel tortures than in conferring on them the gift of miracles or the grace to convert the world.
All those to whom Eternal Wisdom gave himself have desired the Cross, sought after it, welcomed it. Whatever sufferings came their way, they exclaimed from the depths of their heart with St. Andrew, "O wonderful Cross, so long have I yearned for you!"
176. The Cross is precious for many reasons:
1. Because it makes us resemble Jesus Christ;
2. Because it makes us worthy children of the eternal Father, worthy members of Jesus Christ, worthy temples of the Holy Spirit. "God the Father chastises every son he accepts;" (Heb 12.6) Jesus Christ accepts as his own only those who carry their crosses. The Holy Spirit cuts and polishes all the living stones of the heavenly Jerusalem, that is, the elect (cf 1 Pet 2.5; Apoc 21.2,10). These are revealed truths.
3. The Cross is precious because it enlightens the mind and gives it an understanding which no book in the world can give. "He who has not been tried, what can he know?" (Sir 34.9)
4. Because when it is well carried it is the source, the food and the proof of love. The Cross enkindles the fire of divine love in the heart by detaching it from creatures. It keeps this love alive and intensifies it; as wood is the food of flames, so the Cross is the food of love. And it is the soundest proof that we love God. The Cross was the proof God gave us of his love for us; and it is also the proof which God requires to show our love for him.
5. The Cross is precious because it is an abundant source of every delight and consolation; it brings joy, peace and grace to our souls.
6. The Cross is precious because it brings the one who carries it "a weight of everlasting glory." (2 Cor 4.17)
177. If we knew the value of the Cross, we would, like St. Peter of Alcantara, have novenas made in order to acquire such a delightful morsel of paradise. We would say, like St. Theresa, "Either to suffer or to die;" or with St. Mary Magdalene of Pazzi, "Not to die but to suffer." Like blessed John of the Cross we would ask only for the grace to suffer and be despised. Heaven esteems nothing in this world except the Cross, he said after his death to a saintly person. And our Lord said to one of his servants, "I have crosses of such great value that my Mother, most powerful as she is, can procure from me nothing more precious for her faithful servants."
178. Wise and honest people living in this world, you do not understand the mysterious language of the Cross. You are too fond of sensual pleasures and you seek your comforts too much. You have too much regard for the things of this world and you are too afraid to be held up to scorn or looked down upon. In short, you are too opposed to the Cross of Jesus. True, you speak well of the Cross in general, but not of the one that comes your way. You shun this as much as you can or else you drag it along reluctantly, grumbling, impatient and protesting. I seem to see in you the oxen that drew the Ark of the Covenant against their will, bellowing as they went, unaware that what they were drawing contained the most precious treasure upon earth. (1 Kgs 6.12)
179. The number of fools and unhappy people is infinite, says Wisdom (Ecc 1.15), because infinite is the number of those who do not know the value of the Cross and carry it reluctantly. But you, true disciples of Eternal Wisdom, if you have trials and afflictions, if you suffer much persecution for justice's sake, if you are treated as the refuse of the world, be comforted, rejoice, be glad, and dance for joy because the cross you carry is a gift so precious as to arouse the envy of the saints in heaven, were they capable of envy. All that is honorable, glorious and virtuous in God and in his Holy Spirit is vested in you, for your reward is great in heaven and even on earth, because of the spiritual favors it obtains for you.
Practical conclusion
180. Friends of Jesus Christ, drink of his bitter cup and your friendship with him will increase. Suffer with him and you will be glorified with him. Suffer patiently and your momentary suffering will be changed into an eternity of happiness.
Make no mistake about it; since incarnate Wisdom had to enter heaven by the Cross, you also must enter by the same way. No matter which way you turn, says the Imitation of Christ, you will always find the Cross. Like the elect you may take it up rightly, with patience and cheerfulness out of love for God; or else like the reprobate you may carry it impatiently and unwillingly as those doubly unfortunate ones who are constrained to repeat perpetually in hell, "We have labored and suffered in the world and after it all, here we are with the damned." (Wis 5.7)
True wisdom is not to be found in the things of this world nor in the souls of those who live in comfort. He has fixed his abode in the Cross so firmly that you will not find him anywhere in this world save in the Cross. He has so truly incorporated and united himself with the Cross that in all truth we can say: Wisdom is the Cross, and the Cross is Wisdom.

Taken from:

The Triumph of the Holy Cross


St Clare of Assisi: ‘If you suffer with Him, you shall reign with Him.’
By Fr Paschal M Corby OFM Conv

On the Feast of the Triumph of the Cross, celebrated on 14 September, the Church in her sacred liturgy meditates on the account from the Book of Numbers when, in answer to the people’s murmuring against Him, the Lord sent among the people fiery serpents, whose bite brought death to many.
Acknowledging their sin, the people of Israel asked Moses to intercede for them before God; and in response the Lord instructed Moses: “Make a fiery serpent and put it on a standard. If anyone is bitten and looks at it, he shall live” (Num. 21:8).
In the Gospel of the same feast, Christ proclaims: “The Son of Man must be lifted up as Moses lifted up the serpent in the desert, so that everyone who believes may have eternal life in him’ (Jn 3:14-15).
In a homily for the Feast, the late John Paul II drew these readings into a neat synthesis. Just as the fiery serpents brought death to many in the desert, so the human family had received a deadly bite from the ‘ancient serpent’ at the beginning of history; injecting “a satanic venom – the venom of original sin – into the souls of the first man and woman. And from that time onward, man’s history on earth has been burdened by sin.” [1]
Moses’ fashioning of the bronze serpent is, therefore, interpreted as a figure, or type, of the salvation won by Christ when He was lifted up on the Cross – saving us not merely from physical death, but from Satan’s power, the death of sin and alienation from God.
The Israelites were instructed to ‘look at’ the bronze serpent and they would be saved. In a similar fashion our contemplation of the Cross is the constant realisation of our salvation in Christ.
“Whoever believes in him,” wrote John Paul, “whoever sees in this Cross and in the Crucified One the Redeemer of the world, whoever looks with faith on the redemptive death of Jesus on the Cross, finds in him the power of eternal life. By this power, sin is overcome. People receive forgiveness of their sins at the price of the Sacrifice of Christ. They find again the life of God which had been lost by sin.” [2]
It has long been a Christian tradition to venerate the crucifix, in our churches and in our homes, as the symbol of our redemption. But the saints also remind us that the cross is a fitting object for our prayer and contemplation. To this end, in a letter to St Agnes of Prague, St Clare of Assisi advised her sister to ‘gaze upon’ the crucified.
In gazing upon the Cross, we contemplate the depths of God’s love. Christ crucified reveals the self-emptying, outpouring love of God, humbling Himself of His glory to assume our humanity – making Himself ‘contemptible’, as Clare puts it, for our salvation.
The Cross, therefore, reveals God as a God of relation – of One given and poured out for us. Christ Himself insists, “greater love hath no man than that he lay down his life for his friends” (Jn 15:13). The Cross draws us into this friendship with God. To gaze is not merely a process of seeing or knowing; it is to be drawn into the object that we see – to become one with the object of our contemplation.
We see in the Cross, therefore, what we are called to be – to be imitators of Christ; to love as He loved (cf. Jn 15:12); to take up our cross and follow Him (cf. Mt 16:24), sharing in His passion so as to share in His glory.
In identifying ourselves with the Crucified, uniting our sufferings to His perfect sacrifice, we share in Christ’s triumph and become co-redeemers in the victory of His Cross. Convinced of this, St Clare exhorts her sister (and us):
If you suffer with Him, you shall reign with Him.If you weep with Him, you shall rejoice with Him.If you die with Him on the cross of tribulation, you shall possess heavenly mansions in the splendour of the saints,
And, in the Book of Life, your name shall be called glorious among men. [3] 

Fr Paschal M Corby OFM Conv is Assistant Priest at Our Lady of the Rosary Parish, Kellyville.

[1] John Paul II, Homily for the Feast of the Triumph of the Cross, September 13, 1988
[2] Ibid.
[3] Ibid.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Pope Benedict XVI's Jesus of Nazareth Part Two

Congratulations to Josef Ratzinger/Pope Benedict XVI for this year reaching his glorious Diamond Jubilee milestone. Sixty years as a priest!

Here we continue with the second part of our review of his book:
Jesus of Nazareth:

Holy Week: From the Entrance into Jerusalem
To the Resurrection

“I am praying for them; I am not praying for the world” ....
The present “world” has to disappear; it must be changed into God’s world. That is precisely what Jesus’ mission is, into which the disciples are taken up: leading “the world” away from the condition of man’s alienation from God ....

Previously, we had touched briefly upon the Pope’s general intention of providing a better rounded than usual approach to biblical hermeneutics in line with Vatican II’s Dei Verbum, before our embarking upon a more thorough description of the Pope’s explanation of the Suffering Servant type of Messiahship as embraced by Jesus Christ, and how this challenged the pre-conceived notions of his disciples. In this regard we lingered notably on the wrong attitude to Messiahship of Saint Peter himself, as best exemplified by his reaction to the episode of the Washing of the Feet. Peter’s subsequent fall was there contrasted with the ‘dark destructiveness’ of Judas.
That has taken us about a third of the way through the nine chapter book, to Chapter 3 (“The Washing of the Feet”).      
The remainder of the book contains, amongst its various themes, certain arguments that have aroused a fair amount of controversy. We refer especially to Pope Benedict’s treatment of the Last Supper (Chapter 5) - and “whether or not it was a Passover meal” (p. 145) - and of the Resurrection (Chapter 9), which some think to be completely inadequate, or worse. Anyway, these are to be the two areas upon which we shall be focussing in the pages ahead, whilst also sweeping up along the way certain other points of interest for us as raised by the Pope.

Like others we did tend to wince, at least initially (but see p. 36), when reading Pope Benedict’s bald statements as follows regarding the Last Supper and the Resurrection:

P. 103: “… the accounts of the Last Supper and the institution of the Eucharist are caught up in a dense undergrowth of mutually contradictory hypotheses, which seem to make access to the real event virtually impossible”, but more especially (p. 106): “The problem of dating Jesus’ Last Supper arises from the contradictions on this point between the Synoptic Gospels [the name given to the collective Matthew, Mark & Luke], on the one hand, and Saint John’s Gospel, on the other”. Then there is:
P. 269: “… the Resurrection. … Luke ends up contradicting his own narrative …”.

At the centre of the controversy, apart from the matter of any perceived contradiction between Saint John and the Synoptics, is the important consideration of whether or not a lamb was involved in the Last Supper. In other words, was it based upon a traditional Jewish Passover meal but then transformed into something far higher by Jesus, or - which seems to be the Pope’s view - was the whole thing entirely new?   
The more traditional view has recently been defended by Fr. Brian Harrison of the Oblates of Wisdom and by Dr. Brant Pitre of the St. Paul Center for Biblical Theology. Fr. Harrison wrote firmly on this issue in an e-mail of 16 July 2011:

... Prof. Ratzinger's scholarship seems sloppy even by his own standards here, because when you read past the subtitle and first sentence (p. 106), which talk of a contradiction between the Gospels in "the dating of the Last Supper", you find that the "contradiction" he thinks he finds is over the character, not the date, of the Last Supper. (Ratzinger spends two or three pages discussing - and finally disagreeing with - a scholar who argued some decades ago that it took place on the Tuesday night, not the Thursday, of the original Holy Week. He himself doesn't deny that all the Gospels place the Last Supper on the Thursday night, and that he was crucified the next day.)
The alleged contradiction is, rather, about whether the Last Supper was the Passover supper or not. The Synoptics make it clear that it was, while John 18:8 says that the Passover meal was to be celebrated by the Jews on the Friday night, not the Thursday night. And indeed, Ratzinger claims that John really wants to tell us that the Last Supper was not a Passover meal. Well, I don't think he does that at all. Have a look for yourself at the relevant passage, John ch. 13 to ch. 18, which contains all that John says about the Last Supper. The only reference to the Passover is right at the beginning, where John says the supper took place "before the festival of the Passover" (13:1). The rest of Ratzinger's argument seems to be pretty much from silence; i.e., John says nothing in these chapters that would indicate they were celebrating a Passover meal. But on that sort of 'logic', you'd have to say John also "denies" the institution of the Eucharist at the Last Supper, because he also says nothing about it. (Rather, he gives an account of the foot-washing, which the Synoptics don't mention.) .....
[End of quote]

And Dr. Pitre writes in his article,Was There a Passover Lamb at the Last Supper?”:

…. As anyone who has read Pope Benedict’s new book, Jesus of Nazareth: Holy Week will know, the Pope devotes a substantial portion of his chapter on the Last Supper to the question of the date of the meal—specifically, whether or not the Last Supper coincided with the ordinary Jewish Passover meal (see pp. 106-115). And as anyone familiar with this extremely complex and age-old question knows, there is simply no way I can address it here adequately.
Thankfully, I am currently working on finishing a full-length scholarly book on the Last Supper (to be published by Eerdmans), in which I will offer a detailed solution to the date of the Last Supper. In that study, I will draw on the massive amount of contemporary research done in this area and add to it some important Jewish evidence that been neglected. (For some suggested readings on the question of the date, see pp. 214-215 in my book, Jesus and the Jewish Roots of the Eucharist).
[End of quote]
Before we consider further these areas of controversy, though, and read more of what Fr. Brian and Dr. Pitre have to say, let us continue our sweep through the book, here just gathering a handful of interesting - and, we think, inspiring - points that we have picked up along the way.

Pope Benedict XVI has written:

P. 78: “According to the rabbinic theology, the idea of the covenant – the idea of establishing a holy people to be an interlocutor for God in union with him – is prior to the idea of the creation of the world and supplies its inner motive. The cosmos was created, not that there might be manifold things in heaven and earth, but that there might be a space for the “covenant”, for the loving “yes” between God and his human respondent”.

P. 80: “In [John 17: Jesus’ high-priestly prayer] the words addressed by Jesus to the Father, the ritual of the Day of Atonement is transformed into prayer. Here we find a concrete example of that cultic renewal toward which the cleansing of the Temple and Jesus’ interpretation of it were pointing. Sacrificial animals are a thing of the past. In their place are what the Greek Fathers called thysía logikê – spiritual sacrifices [literally: sacrifices after the manner of the word] – and what Paul described in similar terms as logikê latreía, that is, worship shaped by the word, structured on reason (Rom 12:1)”.

Pp. 89-90: “Between [John 17] verses 17 and 19, which speak of the consecration of the disciples, there is a small but important difference. Verse 19 says that they are to be consecrated “in truth”: not just ritually, but truly, in their whole being – that is doubtless how it should be translated. Verse 17, on the other hand, reads: “sanctify them in the truth”. Here the truth is designated as the force of sanctification, as “their consecration”.
            According to the Book of Exodus, the priestly consecration of the sons of Aaron is accomplished when they are vested in sacred robes and anointed (29:1-9); the ritual of the Day of Atonement also speaks of a complete bath before the investiture with sacred robes (Lev. 16:4). The disciples of Jesus are sanctified, consecrated “in the truth”. The truth is the bath that purifies them; the truth is the robe and the anointing they need.
            This purifying and sanctifying “truth” is ultimately Christ himself. They must be immersed in him; they must, so to speak, be “newly robed” in him, and thus they come to share in his consecration, in his priestly commission, in his sacrifice”.

Pp. 100-101: “The universal horizon of Jesus’ mission can also be seen in two other important texts from the Fourth Gospel: first, in Jesus’ nocturnal conversation with Nicodemus: “God so loved the world that he gave his only-begotten Son” (3:16), and then – with the emphasis here on the sacrifice of his life – in the bread of life discourse at Capernaum “The bread which I shall give for the life of the world is my flesh” (6:51).”
But how do we reconcile this universalism with the harsh words found in verse 9 of the high-priestly prayer: “I am praying for them; I am not praying for the world”? In order to grasp the inner unity of the apparently contradictory prayers, we must remember that John uses the word “cosmos” – world – in two different senses. On the one hand, it refers to the whole of God’s good creation, especially to men: his creatures, whom he loves to the point of the gift of himself in the Son. On the other hand, the word refers to the human world as it has evolved in history. Corruption, lies, and violence have, as it were, become “natural” to it. Blaise Pascal speaks of a second nature that in the course of history has supplanted the first. Modern philosophers have described this historical state of mankind in various ways, as for example when Martin Heidegger speaks of being reduced to the impersonal, of existing in “inauthenticity”. These same issues are presented in a very different way when Karl Marx expounds man’s alienation.
            Philosophy in these instances is ultimately describing what is known to faith as “original sin”. The present “world” has to disappear; it must be changed into God’s world. That is precisely what Jesus’ mission is, into which the disciples are taken up: leading “the world” away from the condition of man’s alienation from God and from himself, so that it can become God’s world once more and so that man can become fully himself again by becoming one with God. Yet this transformation comes at the price of the Cross; it comes at the price of readiness for martyrdom on the part of Christ’s witnesses”.

P. 134: “Now there is one further expression in Jesus’ words of institution that needs to be explained, one that has been extensively debated in recent times. According to Mark and Matthew, Jesus said that his blood would be shed “for many”, echoing Isaiah 53, whereas in Paul and Luke we read of the blood being given or poured out “for you”.
Recent theology has rightly underlined the use of the word “for” in all four accounts, a word that may be considered the key not only to the Last Supper accounts, but to the figure of Jesus overall. His entire being is expressed by the word “pro-existence” – he is there, not for himself but for others. This is not merely a dimension of his existence, but its innermost essence and its entirety. His very being is “being-for”. If we are able to grasp this, then we have truly come close to the mystery of Jesus, and we have understood what discipleship is”.

And, later (in the Epilogue), now on the episode of the Ascension:

Pp. 281, 283: “The joy of the disciples after the “Ascension” corrects our image of this event. “Ascension” does not mean departure into a remote region of the cosmos, but rather, the continuing closeness that the disciples experience so strongly that it becomes a source of lasting joy.
…. The departing Jesus does not make his way to some distant star. He enters into communion of power and life with the living God, into God’s dominion over space. Hence he has not “gone away”, but now and forever by God’s own power he is present with us and for us”.
P. 286: “Christ, at the Father’s right hand, is not far away from us. At most we are far from him, but the path that joins us to one another is open. And this path is not a matter of space travel of a cosmic-geographical nature: it is the “space travel” of the heart, from the dimension of self-enclosed isolation to the new dimension of world-embracing divine love”.

P. 292-293: “[At his Ascension] Jesus departs in the act of blessing. He goes while blessing, and he remains in that gesture of blessing. His hands remain stretched out over this world. The blessing hands of Christ are like a roof that protects us. But at the same time, they are a gesture of opening up, tearing the world open so that heaven may enter in, may become “present” within it”.

The traditional view that the Last Supper was a Passover Meal is fixed in our minds thanks to the famous eucharistic hymn of Saint Thomas Aquinas, Pange Lingua, “Sing, My Tongue”, with the translated words: “He the Paschal victim eating, first fufills the Law’s command”. Then follows the institution of the Eucharist, “[He] ... as Food to His Apostles gives Himself with His own hand”:   
In supremae nocte cenae
recumbens cum fratribus
observata lege plene
cibis in legalibus,

cibum turbae duodenae
se dat suis manibus.
On the night of that Last Supper,
seated with His chosen band,
He the Pascal victim eating,
first fulfills the Law's command;
then as Food to His Apostles
gives Himself with His own hand.

Correspondingly, there does appear to be a strong case for a paschal lamb to have been involved at the Last Supper, as argued by Fr. Brian Harrison and Dr. Brant Pitre. We continue on with their discussions, beginning with Father Harrison’s e-mail letter:
     There are various explanations traditional exegetes have offered as a solution for this difficulty [i.e., no indication by St. John of a Passover meal being celebrated]. The majority view seems to have been that both the Synoptics and John are right, given that there is evidence for some degree of flexibility at that time among different Jewish groups, as to when the Passover meal (normally 14th Nisan) was celebrated (just as there is on our liturgical calendars, when a certain annual Feast can be displaced in a given year by a higher Feast).  Since - as we learn from Jn 18: 28 - the regular calendar followed in Jerusalem had the Passover on the Friday, that would have been another good reason why Our Lord would decide to anticipate the Passover meal with his disciples by one day, on 13th Nisan. For he knew he was going to dead by the time most folks there were celebrating their Passover meal; and in any case of course, the Last Supper wasn't going to be just a regular Passover meal, but was destined to include, at the end, something new, the institution of the Eucharist, in which he himself would be offered, anticipating Calvary, as the new Paschal Lamb. Ratzinger finally gets round to acknowledging this "paschal" (in a new sense) element in the Last Supper, but he doesn't retract his initial assertion that there is a "contradiction" between John and the Synoptics.
Presumably he thinks the latter are wrong in depicting the first part of the Last Supper as being a regular Passover meal. (That would seem to mean they put false words on the lips of Jesus, who is reported as saying that what he intended to do that night was "keep Passover" [Mt. 26: 18; Mk 14: 14; Lk 22: 11]. The evangelists then tell us that's exactly what the disciples understood: for they went and "prepared Passover" [Mt. 26: 19; Mk. 14: 16; Lk 22: 13].)   In that case they would of course have made sure they had an appropriately sacrificed Paschal lamb ready for the meal [cf. Mk 14: 12], even though the Jerusalem Jews in general would have been killing the lambs in the temple 24 hours later, while Jesus was on the Cross. In view of the latter fact, John is also right in 13:1 in saying the Last Supper was "before" the festival of Passover.
The relevant part of the Jerusalem Bible footnote to Mt. 26: 17 [Father Harrison had referred to this text in a previous correspondence] ... reads: 
      "The 'first day' of the week during which unleavened loaves (azymes) were eaten, cf. Ex 12: 1 +, 23: 14 +, was normally that which followed the Passover supper, i.e., the 15th of Nisan; the Synoptics however give this title to the preceding day, thus attesting a wider use of the term, Further, if we take account of Jn. 18: 28 and of other details connected with the Passion, it seems fairly certain that in this particular year the Passover supper was celebrated on the evening of the Friday (or 'Preparation Day', Mt. 27: 62; cf. Jn 19: 14, 31, 42). Christ's Last Supper, which the Synoptics put on the day before, i.e., on the Thursday evening, must therefore be explained in one of two ways: either a whole section of the Jewish people thus anticipated the rite, or (and this is preferable), Christ anticipated it on his own initiative." 
      Note the traditionally Catholic outlook of the JB commentator in lines 1-3 above.
It seems he is starting his exegesis from the premise of faith; and so rather than leap to the conclusion that the Synoptics are wrong in what they affirm, he infers that they are "attesting a wider use of the term". He then goes on to indicate how both John and the Synoptics are right as regards when the Passover was celebrated. Professor Ratzinger does not rebut the kind of explanation given by the JB commentator. He does not even address it. ....
[End of quote]
And, returning also to Dr. Pitre:
…. Catholics everywhere will celebrate Holy Thursday by attending the Evening Mass of the Lord’s Supper.
At this Mass, we will read the institution of the Passover (Exod 12, OT reading), sing one of the most famous of the Hallel Psalms (Psalm 118, Responsorial Psalm), and then read the institution of the Eucharist (1 Cor 11, Epistle) and Jesus’ act of washing the disciples’ feet at the Last Supper (John 13, Gospel). This particular Eucharist is a momentous liturgical moment, where we both recall the institution of the very first Eucharist and enter into the beginning of the calendrical Holy of Holies—the sacred Triduum, climaxing in the feast of Easter (in Latin, Pascha).
But how did Jesus and his disciples celebrate the first Holy Thursday?
Specifically, was the Last Supper a Jewish Passover meal?
…. For now, all I would like to do in this post is one brief point about the first Holy Thursday: contrary to what is often claimed by some exegetes, the Synoptic Gospels clearly identify the Last Supper as a Jewish Passover meal—one that included the presence of a passover lamb. Allow me to explain.
A Lambless ‘Passover Meal’?

Anyone familiar with scholarly books on Jesus will be aware that one of the primary arguments against the Last Supper being a Passover meal is that “there is not a word about the lamb” in the Gospel accounts of the institution of the eucharist. In fact, for years, I myself agreed with this view and even have some recordings where I make just that point!
Alas, upon closer study of the entire context in the Gospels in their original Greek, I discovered that the idea that there was no lamb at the Last Supper is just not exegetically sustainable. Although the word “lamb” (Gk arnion) admittedly does not appear in any account of the words of institution, both Mark and Luke in particular explicitly testify that there was a Passover lamb (Gk pascha) at the Last Supper.
This is quite clear in the Gospel accounts—not first and foremost in the words of institution—but in the accounts of Jesus sending the disciples (Peter and John) into Jerusalem to prepare the Passover (Mark 14:12-16 parr.)

“When they Sacrificed the Passover Lamb (Pascha)”

So, for example, in the Gospel of Mark, we read: “And on the first day of Unleavened Bread, when they sacrificed the pascha, his disciples said to him, “Where will you have us go and prepare for you to eat the pascha”? And he sent two of his disciples, and said to them, “Go into the city, and a man carrying a jar of water will meet you…” (Mark 14:12-13)
Though English Bibles translate these with two different words, there is no way for the first use of pascha to refer to the Passover lamb that was sacrificed to be eaten and for the second use of pascha to refer to the now-popular idea of a “lambless Passover meal.” The only way to make this work would be to wrench the second occurrence completely out of context.

“Go and Prepare the Pascha, that We May Eat it”

The presence of the Passover lamb at the Last Supper is even more explicit in the Gospel of Luke. According to his account of Holy Thursday afternoon, the following took place: “Then came the day of Unleavened Bread, on which the pascha had to be sacrificed. So Jesus sent Peter and John, saying, “Go and prepare the pascha for us, that we may eat it.” They said to him, “Where will you have us prepare it?” (Luke 22:7-8)
Same problem: there is no way I can see in which the first use of pascha in v. 7 refers to the Passover lamb, while in v. 8 pascha refers to a lamb-less Passover meal (if such a thing were even possible in the 1st century A.D.). The meal which they are preparing for Jesus and the disciples to eat in the upper room that evening clearly consists of the passover lamb which had been sacrificed that day.

“I Have Greatly Desired to Eat this Pascha with You”

To top it all off, in Luke’s account, Jesus even uses the same word in the context of the words of institution on two more occasions. Just a couple of verses later, we read: The Teacher says to you, Where is the guest room, where I am to eat the pascha with my disciples?’ And he will show you a large upper room furnished; there make ready.” And they went, and found it as he had told them; and they prepared the pascha….
And when the hour came, he sat at table, and said to them, “I have earnestly desired to eat this pascha with you before I suffer…” (Luke 22:11-13, 15)
It seems to me that far from the lamb never being mentioned, Luke’s Gospel refers to the Passover lamb in the context of the Last Supper some three or four times, both in the account of the preparation and in the account of the meal itself! ….
 [End of quote]
The traditional view, as espoused by Fr. Harrison and Dr. Pitre,  seems also to be well in harmony with Verbum Domini’s notion of ‘fulfilling the incarnational paradigm of the Word made flesh’, and of St. Paul’s idea of the Word emptying Itself to being “born under the Law ... to redeem those who were under the Law” (Galatians 4:4-5). We think that it may be preferable, therefore, to Josef Ratzinger’s view of a lamb-less Passover. So perhaps with this in mind we might raise the query with Isaac of old:
‘… but where is the lamb?’ (Genesis 22:7)
The Resurrection
This important subject is treated in some detail by Josef Ratzinger in Chapter 9.
The Rev. Donald Sanborn, whose caustic criticism of the pope’s book we had referred to in the June-July MATRIX - as a counterpoint for dialectical discussion, not for the sake of agreement with Sanborn, it should be noted - has lined up this part of the book for his main frontal attack.
The principal error, indeed heresy, of this book is [Ratzinger’s] denial of the Resurrection of Christ” (Modernism Resurrected: Benedict XVI on the Resurrection).

.... Now someone might say that I am going too far in this accusation, since Ratzinger professes belief in the Resurrection of Christ. I respond that Ratzinger believes something about the Resurrection of Christ, but that he does not believe in the Catholic dogma of the Resurrection. For in order that we qualify as Catholics, it is necessary that we accept the dogmas of the Catholic Church according to the same sense in which the Church has always understood them.

Sanborn then goes on to test whether “Ratzinger [does] profess belief in the Resurrection in the sense that the Church originally held it”, before concluding emphatically that he doesn’t.
But one always needs to read most attentively what Josef Ratzinger actually writes.

Let us firstly, though, refresh our minds on what the Catechism of the Catholic Church has to say on the matter of the Resurrection of Jesus Christ:

I.     The Historical and Transcendent Event
639             The mystery of Christ's resurrection is a real event, wit­h manifestations that were historically verified, as the New Testa­ment bears witness. In about a.d. 56, St. Paul could already write ­to the Corinthians: "I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received, that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the scriptures, and that he was buried, that he was raised on the third ­day in accordance with the scriptures, and that he appeared to Cephas [Peter], then to the Twelve …" [I Cor 15:3-4]. The Apostle speaks here of the living tradition of the Resurrection which he had learned after his ­conversion at the gates of Damascus. … [Cf. Acts 9:3-18].
The empty tomb
640             "Why do you seek the living among the dead? He is not ­here, but has risen." …. [Lk 24:5-6]. The first element we encounter in the framework of the Easter events is the empty tomb. In itself it is not ­a direct proof of Resurrection; the absence of Christ's body from ­the tomb could be explained otherwise. … [Cf. Jn 20:13; Mt 28:11-15]. Nonetheless the empty tomb was still an essential sign for all. Its discovery by the disciples ­was the first step toward recognizing the very fact of the Resurrec­tion. This was the case, first with the holy women, and then with Peter. … [Cf. Lk 24:3, 12, 22-23]. The disciple "whom Jesus loved" affirmed that when he entered the empty tomb and discovered "the linen cloths lying there," "he saw and believed." … [Jn 20:2, 6, 8].
This suggests that he realized from the empty tomb's condition that the absence of Jesus' body could not have been of human doing and that Jesus had not simply returned to earthly life as had been the case with Lazarus. … [Cf. Jn 11:44; 20:5-7].

The appearances of the Risen One
641                   Mary Magdalene and the holy women who came to finish anointing the body of Jesus, which had been buried in haste because th­e Sabbath began on the evening of Good Friday, were the first to encounter the Risen One. … [Mk 16:1; Lk 24:1; Jn 19:31, 42]. Thus the women were the first messengers of Christ's Resurrection for the apostles themselves… [Cf. Lk 24:9-10; Mt 28:9-10; Jn 20:11-18]. They were the next to whom Jesus appears: first Peter, then the Twelve. Peter had been called to strengthen the faith of his brothers … [Cf. I Cor 15:5; Lk 22:31-32], and so sees the Risen One before them; it is on the basis of his testimony that the community exclaims: "The Lord has risen indeed, and has appeared to Simon!" … [Lk 24:34, 36].
      642                   Everything that happened during those Paschal days involves each of the apostles - and Peter in particular - in the building of the new era begun on Easter morning. As witnesses of the Risen One, they remain the foundation stones of his Church. The faith of the first community of believers is based on the witness of concrete men known to the Christians and for the most part still living among them. Peter and the Twelve are the primary "witnesses to his Resurrection," but they are not the only ones - Paul speaks clearly of more than five hundred persons to whom Jesus appeared on a single occasion and also of James and of all the apostles…. [I Cor 15:4-8; cf. Acts 1:22].
      643   Given all these testimonies, Christ's Resurrection cannot be inter­preted as something outside the physical order, and it is impossible not to acknowledge it as an historical fact. It is clear from the facts that the disciples' faith was drastically put to the test by their master's Passion and death on the cross, which he had foretold. … [Cf. Lk 22:31-32]. The shock provoked by the Passion was so great that at least some of the disciples did not at once believe in the news of the Resurrection. Far from showing us a community seized by a mystical exaltation, the Gospels present us with disciples demoralized ("looking sad"… [Lk 24:17; cf. Jn 20:19]) and frightened. For they had not believed the holy women returning from the tomb and had regarded their words as an "idle tale." … [Lk 24:11; cf. Mk 16:11, 13]. When Jesus reveals himself to the Eleven on Easter evening, "he upbraided them for their unbelief and hardness of heart, because they had not believed those who saw him after he had risen." … [Mk 16:14].
644                   Even when faced with the reality of the risen Jesus the disciples ­are still doubtful, so impossible did the thing seem: they thought they were ­seeing a ghost. "In their joy they were still disbelieving and still wondering" … [Lk 24:38-41]. Thomas will also experience the test of doubt and St. Matthew relates that during the risen Lord's last appearance in Galilee "some doubted" ….[Cf. Jn 20:24-27; Mt 28:17]. Therefore the hypothesis that the Resurrection was produced by the apostles' faith (or credulity) will not hold up. On the contrary ­their faith in the Resurrection was born, under the action of divine grace, ­from their direct experience of the reality of the risen Jesus.

The condition of Christ's risen humanity
645                   By means of touch and the sharing of a meal, the risen Jesus establishes direct contact with his disciples. He invites them in this ­way to recognize that he is not a ghost and above all to verify that the risen body in which he appears to them is the same body that had been tortured and crucified, for it still bears the traces of his passion. … [Cf. Lk 24:30, 39-40, 41-43; Jn 20:20, 27; 21:9, 13-15]. Yet at the same time this authentic, real body possesses the new properties of a glorious body: not limited by space and time but able to be present how and when he wills; for Christ’s humanity can no longer be confined to earth and belongs hence­forth only to the Father's divine realm. … [Cf. Mt 28:9, 16-17; Lk 24:15, 36; Jn 20:14, 17, 19, 26; 21:4]. For this reason too the risen Jesus enjoys the sovereign freedom of appearing as he wishes: in the guise of a gardener or in other forms familiar to his disciples, precisely to awaken their faith. …. [Cf. Mk 16:12; Jn 20:14-16; 21:4, 7].
646                   Christ's Resurrection was not a return to earthly life, as was ­the case with the raisings from the dead that he had performed before Easter: Jairus' daughter, the young man of Naim, Lazarus. These actions were miraculous events, but the persons miraculously raised returned by Jesus' power to ordinary earthly life. At some particular moment they would die again. Christ's Resurrection is essentially ­different. In his risen body he passes from the state of death to another ­life beyond time and space. At Jesus' Resurrection his body is filled with the power of the Holy Spirit: he shares the divine life in his glorious state, so that St. Paul can say that Christ is "the man of heaven" … [Cf. I Cor 15:35-50].

Actually, Josef Ratzinger’s case for the Resurrection harmonises with all of this and fully accords with its sense. He takes up this last point (# 646), for instance, when he writes on page 243, differentiating the raising of Lazarus and the daughter of Jairus from Christ’s Resurrection:

Now it must be acknowledged that if in Jesus’ Resurrection we were dealing simply with the miracle of a resuscitated corpse, it would ultimately be of no concern to us. For it would be no more important than the resuscitation of a clinically dead person through the art of doctors. The miracle of a resuscitated corpse would indicate that Jesus’ Resurrection was equivalent to the raising of the son of the widow of Nain (Lk 7: 11-17), the daughter of Jairus (Mk 5: 22-24, 35-43 and parallel passages), and Lazarus (Jn 11: 1-44). After a more or less short period, these individuals returned to their former lives, and then at a later point they died definitively.

And, in the case of the Pope’s p. 269: “… the Resurrection. … Luke ends up contradicting his own narrative …”, this appears to be only the “view”, as he says, “Most exegetes take …”, not necessarily the Pope’s view.
Sanborn, commenting on this section, wrongly concludes: “So despite his assurance that Christ is “embodied” (page 268), [Ratzinger] again shows his revulsion for the Catholic dogma by reacting to St. Luke’s account of our risen Lord’s eating a fish (Luke XXIV: 42)”.
But it is apparent from various references by the Pope to the risen Jesus’s eating with his disciples (eating grilled fish; breaking bread with the disciples of Emmaus, p. 269; sharing meals, p. 271) that the author has no such reactive issue to these phenomena.
It is also quite clear from a close reading of the book, too, that it is the same Jesus who was crucified (“he is the same embodied man”, p. 266, “complete with his body”, p. 274), who rose, and who appeared to his disciples, but “not a ghost (spirit)”, “he does not belong to the realm of the dead [Hades], but is somehow able to reveal himself in the realm of the living” (p. 273). This whole transcendental paradigm presents an immense challenge to our narrow human thinking (pp. 274-275):

Essential, then, is the fact that Jesus' Resurrection was not just about some deceased individual coming back to life at a certain point, but that an ontological leap occurred, one that touches being as such, opening up a dimension that affects us all, creating for all of us a new space of life, a new space of being in union with God.
It is in these terms that the question of the historicity of the Resurrection should be addressed. On the one hand, we must acknowledge that it is of the essence of the Res­urrection precisely to burst open history and usher in a new dimension commonly described as eschatological. The Resurrection opens up the new space that transcends history and creates the definitive. In this sense, it follows that Resurrection is not the same kind of historical event as the birth or crucifixion of Jesus. It is something new, a new type of event.
Yet at the same time it must be understood that the Resurrection does not simply stand outside or above his­tory. As something that breaks out of history and tran­scends it, the Resurrection nevertheless has its origin within history and up to a certain point still belongs there. Perhaps we could put it this way: Jesus' Resurrec­tion points beyond history but has left a footprint within history. Therefore it can be attested by witnesses as an event of an entirely new kind.
Indeed, the apostolic preaching with all its boldness and passion would be unthinkable unless the witnesses had experienced a real encounter, coming to them from out­side, with something entirely new and unforeseen, namely, the self-revelation and verbal communication of the risen Christ. Only a real event of a radically new quality could possibly have given rise to the apostolic preaching, which cannot be explained on the basis of speculations or inner, mystical experiences. In all its boldness and originality, it draws life from the impact of an event that no one had invented, an event that surpassed all that could be imagined.

[End of quote]

To sum up: Whilst in the controversial case of the Last Supper we may be missing the body of a real lamb, with the Resurrection we are not, despite criticisms, missing the real body of the Lamb.