Tuesday, December 9, 2014

"Jesus, who is truly man, and truly God, belongs to both the created and uncreated orders simultaneously".

The Vertex of Love

October 8, 2012  By
Jonathan Fleischmann

When Mary was predestined in one and the same decree with Jesus Christ by the design of God—before the creation of angels or the universe, and before the existence of sin or evil—she was predestined to be the Spouse of the Holy Spirit … to hold within herself all the love of creation. 

Love’s Mechanics
In the return of all created things to God the Father (cf. Jn 1, 1; 16, 28), “the equal and contrary reaction,” says St. Maximilian Kolbe, “proceeds inversely from that of creation.”  In creation, the saint goes on to say, the action of God “proceeds from the Father through the Son and the Spirit, while in the return, by means of the Spirit, the Son becomes incarnate in (the Virgin Mary’s) womb and through Him, love returns to the Father.” 1 The Saint of Auschwitz goes on:
In the union of the Holy Spirit with her, not only does love bind these two beings, but the first of them (the Holy Spirit) is all the love of the Most Holy Trinity, while the second (the Blessed Virgin Mary) is all the love of creation, and thus in that union heaven is joined to earth, the whole heaven with the whole earth, the whole of Uncreated Love with the whole of created love: this is the vertex of love. 2
Love’s Equilibrium
The form of the diagram shown in Figure 1 is not found in the work of St. Maximilian.  However, it accurately represents the state of equal and opposite action and reaction, that occurs when two bodies make contact.  In this case, the “bodies” represent heaven and earth:  the uncreated and created orders, God and his creation.  The first point I would like to make is that the state of equal and opposite contact forces in Newtonian mechanics requires “force equilibrium.”  It may then seem very wrong to use an image like this one, because how can the state shown between God and his creation be in equilibrium?  Isn’t God’s act of love so much greater than the return of his creation that no “equilibrium” would be possible?  This would certainly be the case if it were not for Emmanuel, that is, God with us.  Jesus, who is truly man, and truly God, belongs to both the created and uncreated orders simultaneously.  In his person, Jesus is both the son of Mary, fully human and like us in all ways except sin, and the Eternal Son of God the Father, infinite and equal in all ways to the Triune God.

Thus, the love of Jesus, the Word Made Flesh who is God, is by itself enough to “balance” the love of God.  However, there is even more in the equation of love’s equilibrium than the love of the Son, infinite and sufficient in itself, though it is.  According to St. Maximilian, the perfect love of the Trinity meets an adequate response in the perfect love of the Immaculate, which is the name St. Maximilian gives to the Blessed Virgin Mary.  How is it possible that Divine Love can find an adequate response in the love of a creature?  It is possible precisely because of the name that the Virgin Mary can claim for herself.  In 1854, the Blessed Virgin Mary proclaimed to St. Bernadette Soubirous: “I am the Immaculate Conception.”  In the words of St. Maximilian, the Blessed Virgin is the created Immaculate Conception, as in the words of St. Bonaventure, the Holy Spirit is the uncreated Immaculate Conception. 3  The Holy Spirit proceeds from the Father, and the Son ,as the perfect and infinite love between the Father and the Son in the eternal interior life of the Blessed Trinity.  Thus, the Holy Spirit is truly all the love of the Most Holy Trinity.  The Holy Spirit is also called the “Complement” of the Blessed Trinity, because he is the completion of the Trinity, not in “number” (quantitatively), but in essence (qualitatively).
When Mary was predestined in one and the same decree with Jesus Christ, 4 by the design of God—before the creation of angels or the universe, and before the existence of sin or evil—she was predestined to be the Spouse of the Holy Spirit. So she was predestined to hold within herself all the love of creation.  Thus, St. Maximilian says that the Blessed Virgin Mary “inserted into the love of the Most Holy Trinity becomes, from the very first moment of her existence, always, forever, the Complement of the Most Holy Trinity.”  We may paraphrase the thoughts of St. Maximilian Kolbe on the spousal relationship between the Holy Spirit, and the Blessed Virgin Mary, in the words of Fr. Peter Damian Fehlner:
In virtue of this spousal union formally denoted by the title, Complement, Mary is able to enter, as no other, into the order of the hypostatic union, her soul being wholly divinized, because by the grace of the Immaculate Conception, it has been ‘transubstantiated’ into the Holy Spirit. 5
It is for this reason that Mary—though she is a creature in both her person and her nature—is herself the created Immaculate Conception, and, therefore, all the love of creation. She can actually provide an adequate response to the love of the Holy Spirit, who is the uncreated Immaculate Conception, and, therefore, all the Love of God.  Thus, the equation of love’s equilibrium is balanced again.
Now that we have balanced the equation of love’s equilibrium twice over, we could certainly stop.  However, there is reason to continue.  St. Maximilian does not expressly mention St. Joseph in the context of these reflections.  However, the diagram in Figure 1, based entirely on the saint’s own reflections, certainly suggests the presence of St. Joseph in the order of the response of creation to God the Father.  The order of Father, Son, and, Holy Spirit, shown in the diagram, reflects the order of God’s loving act of creation. This was initiated by the zeal of the Father, designed by the wisdom of the Son, and effected by the action of the Holy Spirit.  This is the order referred to by St. Maximilian when he says that: “the equal and contrary reaction (i.e., the return of all creation to God) proceeds inversely from that of creation.”  We see this reflection in the diagram, where the reaction “force” of love is inverted, and the order of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, as the “action force,” is reversed to give the order of Holy Spirit, Son, and Father.
Notice, however, that in the return to God, it is creation that is reacting.  Thus, the individuals reacting—while reflecting the Holy Spirit, Son, and Father to greater or lesser degrees—are all creatures.  We have Mary, who is the perfect similitude (St. Bonaventure), transparent icon (St. Maximilian), or even quasi-incarnation (St. Maximilian) of the Holy Spirit, but who is still a created person, with a created human nature.  We have Jesus, who is the Word Incarnate, the same Person as the Second Person of the Blessed Trinity, but who is still in possession of a created human nature.  St. Maximilian stops here, but must we stop here?  I would dare to say that the analogy we have carried out so far on the inspiration of St. Maximilian suggests an obvious completion.  We have St. Joseph, who has been called the “perfect icon of God the Father” by more than one saint. 6  In the words of Fr. Joachin Ferrer Arellano:
In the light of the Scotistic thesis on the Primacy of Christ, to take one example, one discovers (…) how the virginal marriage of Mary and Joseph was predestined “ante mundi constitutionem” (before the constitution of the world), as an essential part of the one decree of the Incarnation of the Word in the womb of the Immaculate “ante praevisa merita” (before any consideration of antecedent merit).  Such is the saving plan, “the mystery hidden before the ages in God,” (cf. Eph 3:9) to be accomplished at the high point in the history of salvation.  That high point is the fullness of time (cf. Gal 4:4) when God sent his Son into the most pure bosom of Holy Mary Ever Virgin, espoused to a man of the house of David (cf. Lk 1:26) in fulfillment of the prophecy of Nathan.  God acted thus, that through the obedience of the Spouses of Nazareth the Son might be freely welcomed into history on behalf of all mankind in order to save it.  This welcome took place in the virginal womb of Mary, the Daughter of Zion, and in the house of Joseph, in the family home established by the marriage of the two Spouses (Mary and Joseph), “sanctuary of love and cradle of life.”  This is the theological foundation of the holy Patriarch’s greatness as virginal, messianic father of the Only-begotten of the Father: shadow and transparent icon of Him who wished to make Joseph unique partaker of his fatherhood in order to prepare the human nature of Christ for the holocaust of Calvary.  In this way, He made Joseph Father and Lord of the Church gushing forth from Christ’s opened side and born of the sword of sorrow of the Woman. 7
In addition to being the transparent icon of God the Father, St. Joseph was the true, virginal husband of the Blessed Virgin Mary. 8  In fact, it can even be said that St. Joseph is the virginal father of Jesus Christ.  For, again in the words of Fr. Joachin Ferrer Arellano:
Although singular, unique, and not univocal with fatherhood as this is ordinarily understood and commonly found among men, the position more common and traditional among theologians upholds the truly real fatherhood of Joseph in relation to Jesus, based 1) on his marriage to Mary, the Mother of Jesus, and 2) on the right of the husband over his wife.  He, therefore, who is born virginally of Mary, by reason of his birth, intimately pertains in some manner to Joseph as father. … In view of the dignity of Joseph as husband of Mary, to whom belongs the fruit of his wife’s womb, one is not permitted to overlook … how the indivisible virginity of both spouses—not simply that of Mary, but also that of her husband, the son of David—is ordered to the virginal fatherhood of Joseph according to the Spirit, in virtue of the obedience of faith to the saving plan of God.  This plan includes the messianic fatherhood of Joseph as son of David in relation to his virginal Son, constituted Son of David, the messianic King, because He was Son of Joseph. 9
In the return of all created things to God the Father, it is under the leadership, and in imitation of, St. Joseph, our patriarch, that the individual members of the Church must, by the merits gained for us through the redemptive sacrifice of Jesus Christ, the Incarnate Word of God, be transubstantiated into Mary, who is the Virgo Ecclesia Facta (Virgin-Made-Church). 10 It is only by being transubstantiated into Mary, the created Immaculate Conception, that we can be united to God as she is uniquely united to God, being transubstantiated with her into the uncreated Immaculate Conception, who is the Holy Spirit.  In virtue of this transubstantiation, we are possessed by the Immaculate, and we are thereby formed into a single community, or Church, sharing her personality.  To St. Maximilian, this is the only way that we can be members of Christ’s Church, and thereby united to God.  In the words of Fr. Peter Damian Fehlner:
To this dynamic union of love in which not only the being of the Holy Spirit and that of Mary are united, but the entire love of heaven and that of earth touch, merge and become one so as to culminate in the Incarnation, in the birth of the Son of God, the Man-God, and then in the incorporation of the members of the Church into that Body conceived by the power of the Holy Spirit, the Saint of Niepokalanow and Auschwitz (St. Maximilian Kolbe) ascribes the fecundity of the Holy Spirit, precisely because Complement of Father and Son. … Whence the importance of Mary’s possession of those who wish to be incorporated into Christ, conformed to him in life and in death: except through her it cannot be achieved (emphasis added).  This mysterious mutual possession, then, is the basis of all other cooperation in the work of salvation, the reason for rejecting the Protestant solus, and “passive” ecclesio-typology, and affirming the universal Marian mediation of grace or active ecclesio-typology. 11
Thus, in accordance with St. Maximilian’s principle of action and reaction, what was first reversed in the order of God’s creative act, in the fullness of time, in the objective order of salvation, is reversed again in the subjective order of salvation. What was first reversed in the objective order of salvation means that, through the action of the Holy Spirit, Jesus Christ was incarnate of the Blessed Virgin Mary, and became man, and through him, love returned to the Father.  What was reversed again in the subjective order of salvation means that, in imitation of our patriarch and leader, St. Joseph, through the merits gained for us by the redemptive sacrifice of Jesus on Calvary, we can be transubstantiated into the Immaculate, and thereby form one Church, sharing her personality. Consequently, we share in her unique union with God in eternity, which is the Beatific Vision.  This can be illustrated in the diagram shown in Figure 1, if one imagines traveling from the top of the diagram to the bottom, and then returning from the bottom of the diagram to the top again.
Love’s VertexOur final meditation on the diagram shown in Figure 1 is the point of contact between heaven and earth, the vertex of love, where all the love of God, and all the love of creation, meet and are joined: “in that union heaven is joined to earth, the whole heaven with the whole earth, the whole of Uncreated Love with the whole of created love.” 12  This point of contact, between the whole heaven and the whole earth, is, according to St. Maximilian, the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary.  Why is this?  Why is the vertex of love not the Incarnation of Jesus Christ, the Son of God, who is love?  Indeed, the Saint of Auschwitz has been sharply criticized, and even ridiculed by some theologians, for what they have called “a heresy” along the lines of that of Joachim of Fiore. 13  It is claimed that, by making the vertex of love the Immaculate Conception, the centrality of the Incarnation of Jesus Christ, the Son of God, is denied.  However, precisely the opposite is true.  For, in the words of Fr. Peter Damian Fehlner:
Today, this joachimite tendency generally reveals itself in constant anxiety about Catholic proneness to “exaggerate” Mary, and a downplaying (emphasis added) of the active role of Mary in the work of salvation as Mother of God, and co-redemptress so as to exalt the “mediation” of the Holy Spirit as principal “co-redemptor” (and for some “mother”) of whom Mary is but the instrument (as are we), or so as to speak of the suffering of the Father. … But such historical trends have always been the prelude of Unitarianism: not an affirmation of the Trinity, but its denial, a denial which must ultimately lead to some form of pantheism. … The significance of St. Maximilian’s reflections on the Holy Spirit, and Mary, and of his preferred terminology cannot be underestimated. 14
It is the relationship of Mary to her Divine Son, which is the relationship of Mother of God, or Theotokos, which is the source of all her dignity, unparalleled among creatures.   This dignity so far transcends the dignity of every other created being as to make her a “quasi-part” of the Blessed Trinity.  It is in this very dignity, however, that the Incarnation of Jesus Christ is central, which is why St. Maximilian Kolbe’s reflections on the Blessed Virgin Mary are directly opposed to the joachimite heresy.  Fr. Peter Damian Fehlner paraphrases St. Maximilian Kolbe on this subject as follows:
Thus, Mary’s self-definition is: “I am the Immaculate Conception.”  Only Mary can say this, because only of Mary Immaculate, jointly predestined with Christ for an absolute primacy in creation, can it be said that the whole world and each of us was made “for her”. 15 Therefore, of no other just person can it be said as it was said to Mary “The Lord is with thee.” 16  For no other than the Immaculate can be Mother of God (emphasis added).  Indeed, she remains only a creature; nonetheless in virtue of the Immaculate Conception she far transcends the supernatural perfection of even the greatest saints and of all the saints together, for as “quasi-part” of the Trinity, she not only participates in the divine perfections, she is “inserted into the very bosom of the Trinity and into the order of the Incarnation.” 17 … 18  To be part of the Trinity, then, in so singular a way revolves about the divine Maternity, and by extension the spiritual maternity as well.  For in loving the Immaculate the divine Persons love us. 19
In the famous Roman conference of 1937, St. Maximilian defined sanctity with an equation: “S: v = V”.  The letter “S” stands for sanctity, the lowercase letter “v” stands for the will of a creature, and the uppercase letter “V” stands for the will of God.  It is Mary Immaculate who is the perfect image, or icon, of sanctity, because it is only she who satisfies Kolbe’s equation.  “We may add with the Saint: perfect sanctity is perfect charity or Immaculate Conception.” 20  This is the meaning of the vertex of love, and why that vertex is the Immaculate Conception, rather than the Incarnation.  Mary is a created person, and yet her will is perfectly united to the will of God: “v = V.”  In the words of St. Maximilian:
The Immaculate, the full of grace, was always united to the will of God.  From all eternity, she was in the thought of God who had willed her so holy and perfect, to correspond with his will in a manner so complete.  Hence, we can say that to do the will of God, means to do the will of the Immaculate, and to do the will of the Immaculate means to do the will of God, because she is always united to God: the Lord is with thee; because she is always docile to the call of God: be it done to me; because she is always solicitous for the glory of God, always adoring, praising and thanking: my soul magnifies the Lord. 21
We know well from St. Thomas Aquinas that love is in the will. 22  Thus, in the equation, “v = V,” we see that all the love of creation (in the will of the Immaculate Virgin Mary) is united to all the love of the Most Holy Trinity (in the will of the Holy Spirit), and, in the words of St. Maximilian, “in that union heaven is joined to earth, the whole heaven with the whole earth, the whole of Uncreated Love with the whole of created love: this is the vertex of love.” 23
Oh sweet heart of Mary, be our salvation.
Ave Maria!
  1. SK 1318.  All citations from the writings of St. Maximilian Kolbe in this paper, with the exception of the Roman Conferences, are abbreviated SK and taken from Scritti di Massimiliano Kolbe (Roma 1997).
  2. Ibid.
  3. Regarding the Mysteries of the interior life of the Blessed Trinity, St. Bonaventure said that the Son can be properly said to be “a conceived”, but only the Holy Spirit can be properly said to be “conception” (in I Sent.).  St. Maximilian added the word “Immaculate” (perfect, holy) to the name given the Holy Spirit by St. Bonaventure, an addition St. Bonaventure would surely have approved.
  4. The following is an excerpt taken from the Apostolic Constitution of Pope Pius IX Ineffabilis Deus, issued on December 8, 1854, in which the Holy Father solemnly declared the Dogma of the Immaculate Conception:  “From the very beginning, and before time began, the eternal Father chose and prepared for his only-begotten Son a Mother in whom the Son of God would become incarnate and from whom, in the blessed fullness of time, he would be born into this world.  Above all creatures did God so love her that truly in her was the Father well pleased with singular delight.  Therefore, far above all the angels and all the saints so wondrously did God endow her with the abundance of all heavenly gifts poured from the treasury of his divinity that this mother, ever absolutely free of all stain of sin, all fair and perfect, would possess that fullness of holy innocence and sanctity than which, under God, one cannot even imagine anything greater, and which, outside of God, no mind can succeed in comprehending fully. …  And hence the very words with which the Sacred Scriptures speak of Uncreated Wisdom and set forth his eternal origin, the Church, both in its ecclesiastical offices and in its liturgy, has been wont to apply likewise to the origin of the Blessed Virgin, inasmuch as God, by one and the same decree, had established the origin of Mary and the Incarnation of Divine Wisdom.”  Here Blessed Pope Pius IX makes use both of the Scotistic thesis on the Absolute Joint Primacy of Jesus and Mary, both of whose existence were ordained before God’s act of creation and before any consideration of original sin (cf. R. Rosini, O.F.M., Mariology of Blessed John Duns Scotus, translated by P. Fehlner, F.I., New Bedford 2008), and the formulation of St. Anselm, who said that Mary “shines with a purity greater than which none can be imagined” (De Conceptione Virginis).
  5. P. Fehlner, F.I., St. Maximilian Ma. Kolbe, Martyr of Charity – Pneumatologist (New Bedford, 2004).
  6. St. Theresa of Avila and St. Bernadette Soubirous are among these (cf. A. Dozè, “Le mystère de Saint Joseph révéle a deux femmes: Therèse (d’Avila) et Bernadette”, in Actas simposio de Kevelaer 2005), as well as St. Peter Julian Eymard (Month of St. Joseph).
  7. J. Ferrer Arellano, “The Virginal Marriage of Mary and Joseph according to Bl. John Duns Scotus”, in Bl. John Duns Scotus and His Mariology, Commemoration of the Seventh Centenary of His Death, Acts of the Symposium on Scotus’ Mariology, Grey College, Durham – England (New Bedford, 2009).
  8. Blessed John Duns Scotus and St. Maximilian Kolbe are both clear on this point, as are many other saints, including Blessed Pope John Paul II (cf. Redemptoris Custos).  The fact that Mary is the Spouse of the Holy Spirit, and the fact that their perfect spousal love results in Mary’s transubstantiation into the Holy Spirit, does not imply that the Holy Spirit is the “husband” of Mary, or that the Holy Spirit is the “father” of Jesus.  To approach an understanding of the perfect spousal union of love between the Holy Spirit and Mary, it must be understood that highest experience of spousal love, which is between husband and wife within the holy sacrament of marriage, is but an imperfect reflection of the source of spousal love, which is the Love between the Father and the Son in the Blessed Trinity, both of Whom in the inner life of the Trinity are, of course, without “gender” in the human sense of the term.  This Perfect Spousal Love is the Holy Spirit, and it is as a fruit of this Spousal Love that the Blessed Virgin Mary is one with the Holy Spirit; transubstantiated into the Holy Spirit; the Holy Spirit quasi-incarnate.  (P. Fehlner, St. Maximilian Ma. Kolbe, Martyr of Charity…)
  9. J. Ferrer Arellano, “The Virginal Marriage of Mary and Joseph…”
  10. The title “Virgo Ecclesia Facta,” or Virgin-Made-Church” is applied to the Blessed Virgin by St. Francis of Assisi in his Antiphon for the Office of the Passion (cf. J. Schneider, O.F.M., Virgo Ecclesia Facta: The Presence of Mary in the Crucifix of San Damiano and in the Office of the Passion of St. Francis of Assisi, New Bedford 2004).  The phrase “transubstantiation into the Immaculate,” though surprising, is used twice by St. Maximilian Kolbe to describe the total consecration to the Immaculate he demanded of his priests (cf. A. Geiger, F.I., “Marian Mediation as Presence and Transubstantiation into the Immaculate”, in Mary at the Foot of the Cross – III:  Mater Unitatis, Acts of the Third International Symposium on Marian Coredemption, New Bedford 2003).
  11. P. Fehlner, St. Maximilian Ma. Kolbe, Martyr of Charity…
  12. SK 1318
  13. Joachim of Fiore was a theologian (c. 1135 – 1202) who de-emphasized the central role of the Incarnation in the Salvific Order.  His theories were declared heretical at the Fourth Lateran Council (1215) and at the Synod of Arles (1263).
  14. P. Fehlner, St. Maximilian Ma. Kolbe, Martyr of Charity…
  15. SK 1305.
  16. SK 1295
  17. SK 1320; 1305; 1295; 1288.
  18.  Father Fehlner continues:  “While this personal communion or inexistence of the Holy Spirit and Mary Immaculate is absolutely unique in its perfection (a hierarchy or sacred order of its own kind), it is nonetheless the ontological basis making possible the sanctification of the Church as Bride of Christ, as sharing in the redemptive sacramentality of the Incarnation.  This mediation of Mary qua created Immaculate Conception is the source of that mystical personality of the Church qua Bride, a personality of virgin and mother underlying and permeating every other dimension of the Church, including the petrine, hierarchical, sacramental-liturgical.”  (P. Fehlner, St. Maximilian Ma. Kolbe, Martyr of Charity…)  See also J. Ferrer Arellano, “The Triple and Inseparable Mediation of the Immaculate, the Eucharist and the Petrine Ministry in the Building Up of the Church Until the Parousia (The Three Whites)”, in Mary at the Foot of the Cross VI: Marian Coredemption in the Eucharistic Mystery, Acts of the Sixth International Symposium on Marian Coredemption (New Bedford, 2007).
  19. P. Fehlner, St. Maximilian Ma. Kolbe, Martyr of Charity…
  20. Ibid.
  21. St. Maximilian Kolbe, in Roman Conferences of St. Maximilian M. Kolbe, translated with introduction and notes byFr. Peter Damian Ma. Fehlner, F.I. (New Bedford, 2004).
  22. Despite the objections of Dietrich von Hildebrand (cf. Dietrich von Hildebrand, The Nature of Love).
  23. SK 1318.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Jesus Christ gave right co-ordinates for Queen of Sheba

The Queen of (Beer) Sheba


 Damien F. Mackey


Following on from my recent:

How the Queen of Sheba may parallel Abimelech (Genesis)

according to which the biblical “Queen” referred to in both the Old Testament (I Kings 10:1) and the New Testament (Matthew 12:42; Luke 11:31) was Tamar, sister of Absalom, whose grandfather was Talmai king of southern Geshur (Shur), I now want to show how Jesus gave most helpful co-ordinates enabling for one to establish the Queen’s geographical location.
It turns out to be really quite simple.

“End of the land”

As determined previously, the Greek tes ges (της γης) as given in both Matthew and Luke means “the land”, the land of Israel.
Israel’s “end”, or border, was Dan in the north and Beersheba in the south (hence, we often read: “from Dan to Beersheba”).
Obviously only the southern border is relevant here in the case of the:

“[Queen] of the South”

“The south” is a common biblical term for the Negev.
So, we are directed to the chief town, Beersheba, that stands at the southern border of the kingdom of Israel, in the (northern) Negev – and known as “the Capital of the Negev”.
The Old Testament fully supports this, giving the name of the Queen’s realm as “Sheba”, which is just another name for Beersheba (Joshua 19:2): “… Beersheba (or Sheba) …”.

And, given the ancient city’s strategic location of intersecting trade routes, we ought not be surprised to read that the Queen of (Beer)sheba travelled to Jerusalem with so richly-laden a camel train as she did (I Kings 10:2, 10), and that: “Never again were so many spices brought in as those the Queen of Sheba gave to King Solomon”.

Friday, November 21, 2014

Christ the King

Jesus' Three Offices: Prophet, Priest, and King

Jesus is both divine and human at the same time. Therefore, in the one person of Jesus are two distinct natures. This is called the hypostatic union, but, this isn't all we know about the person and work of Christ. Jesus also occupies three main offices: Prophet, Priest, and King. In other words, Jesus functions and/or has functioned in these offices. Let's take a look.

Christ as Prophet

A prophet of God is someone who reveals God, speaks for God, and communicates to people the truths that God wants them to know. Undoubtedly, Jesus did this when he came to do the will of the Father (Luke 22:42), to reveal the Father (Matt. 11:27), and to speak the things of the Father (John 8:28; 12:49).

In the Old Testament Moses said in Deut. 18:15, “The Lord your God will raise up for you a prophet like me from among you, from your countrymen, you shall listen to him." This prophecy is quoted by Peter in Acts 3:22-23 in reference to Jesus, “Moses said, ‘The Lord God shall raise up for you a prophet like me from your brethren; to Him you shall give heed in everything He says to you. 23 ‘And it shall be that every soul that does not heed that prophet shall be utterly destroyed from among the people.’" The context of Acts 3:22 is clear that it is speaking of Jesus. In Acts 3:15 it speaks of Jesus being raised from the dead. In v. 16 Jesus is the one who strengthened a certain man. Christ is mentioned in v. 18 as needing to suffer. In v. 20 Jesus is called the Christ.  Verse 21 mentions how God spoke "by the mouth of his holy prophets from ancient time." Then we have v. 22 which quotes Deut. 18:15. The context is clearly about Christ.
Furthermore, Jesus refers to himself as a prophet.
  • Luke 13:33, "Just at that time some Pharisees came up, saying to Him, "Go away and depart from here, for Herod wants to kill You." 32 And He said to them, "Go and tell that fox, ‘Behold, I cast out demons and perform cures today and tomorrow, and the third day I reach My goal.' 33 "Nevertheless I must journey on today and tomorrow and the next day; for it cannot be that a prophet should perish outside of Jerusalem."
  • Matt. 13:57, "And they took offense at Him. But Jesus said to them, “A prophet is not without honor except in his home town, and in his own household.” 58 And He did not do many miracles there because of their unbelief.."
In Luke 13:33 Jesus refers to himself as a prophet because he knows he is about to die, but he cannot do it outside of Jerusalem. Also, in Matt. 13:57 Jesus speaks about a prophet having no honor in his home town, and that is why he did not do many miracles there. Clearly, Jesus is referring to himself as a prophet.

Christ as Priest

The priests were the ones in the Old Testament who offered sacrifices to God in order to cleanse of sin. Ultimately, all such priests were representations of Jesus who is the True Priest who offered himself as a sacrifice (Eph. 5:2; Heb. 9:26-27; 10:12) by which he cleanses us of our sin (1 John 1:7). But, Jesus is called a priest after the order of Melchizedek. “Where Jesus has entered as a forerunner for us, having become a high priest forever according to the order of Melchizedek.” (Heb. 6:20).   Heb. 9:11 says, “But when Christ appeared as a high priest of the good things to come, He entered through the greater and more perfect tabernacle, not made with hands, that is to say, not of this creation." As a priest, Jesus is our mediator between God and ourselves (1 Tim. 2:5).

It could be said that both the Prophet and the priest stand between God and man. In the case of the prophet, he delivers the word of God from the top down. In the case of the priest, he delivers the sacrifices of people to God from bottom to top. So, Jesus is a prophet who delivers the word of God to us, and he is also the priest who delivers his sacrifice, on our behalf, to God the father.

Christ as King

A king is someone who has authority to rule and reign over a group of people. Jesus is just such a king. He is called the King of the Jews by the Magi (Matt. 2:2), and Jesus accepts that title in Matt. 27:11, "Now Jesus stood before the governor, and the governor questioned Him, saying, 'Are You the King of the Jews?' And Jesus said to him, 'It is as you say.'” Matt. 21:5 speaks of Jesus and says, "Behold your King is coming to you, gentle, and mounted on a donkey." Remember, Jesus is King in that he rules and judges. "And I saw heaven opened; and behold, a white horse, and He who sat upon it is called Faithful and True; and in righteousness He judges and wages war." (Rev. 19:11). The armies follow him (Rev. 19:14).

The phrase, "Kingdom of God," occurs 66 times in the NASB--most of them in the synoptic gospels. “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.” (Mark 1:14). Jesus taught us to pray, "Thy Kingdom come." (Matt. 6:10). Is there a kingdom of God without a King? No. Jesus is that king: "'Are You the King of the Jews?' And Jesus said to him, 'It is as you say.'" (Matt. 27:11).

Does his three offices diminish Christ's deity?

No, they do not. Jesus is still fully divine and human even now (Col. 2:9) and presently holds the three offices mentioned above. It is simply a manifestation of the work of the person of Christ who is Prophet, Priest, and King. By the way, God is called the King in Psalm 95:3, "For the Lord is a great God, and a great King above all gods." So, if it does not diminish God's deity to be called a king, then it does not diminish or deny Christ's deity by calling him a King--or, for that matter, a Prophet and a Priest.


Taken from: http://carm.org/prophet-priest-king

Sunday, November 16, 2014

"Jesus the Messiah the son of David". Matthew 1:1

Listening to what

Saint Matthew has to say

Damien F. Mackey

In this three-part article we attempt to learn what Matthew the Evangelist himself
had intended with regard to certain challenging aspects of his Gospel.

Part One: The Structure of Matthew’s Gospel

Bernard Sadler started the ball rolling aright when he, in The Structure of Matthew (“For Mary Immaculate, Blessed Virgin, Mother of God, Queen of Evangelists”), sought to learn from Matthew himself what was the Evangelist’s intended structure for his Gospel, as Bernard put it, “to explain the basic structure Matthew used composing his gospel”. Bernard wrote (www.structureofmatthew.com):


The structure of Saint Matthew’s gospel has long remained obscure. Scholars believe that Matthew wrote his gospel in a Semitic language, probably Hebrew. We do not know what his manuscript looked like because the original and any copies that may have been made from it have been lost. A Greek language version was made, some scholars think by Matthew himself, and that too has been lost. But copies of this Greek version, of uncertain degrees of relationship, have come down to us. These early Greek versions seem not to show any structure, and editors since have offered a wide variety of suggestions. The familiar division of the gospel into 28 chapters made in the 13th century and the further division into verses made in the 16th century do not help. They are indispensable today for reference purposes, and are retained here, but they tell us little about the gospel structure.
Understanding the structure of the gospel and how Matthew ordered the various parts to each other and to the whole is important, because unless this structure is correctly understood what Matthew is saying is likely to be misunderstood. Understanding the gospel’s structure will not prevent readers or commentators making errors of interpretation but misunderstanding the structure certainly will not help.
The purpose of this book is threefold: to explain the basic structure Matthew used composing his gospel; to present outlines showing how this basic structure is found throughout the gospel; and to provide a gospel text laid out using those structures.
Basic structure
Now, contrary to modern perceptions, early Greek versions do show the structure—but not the way modern readers expect. Matthew wrote his gospel in paragraphs grouped into larger symmetrical units called chiasms. A chiasm is a passage of several paragraphs (or other units) so written that the last paragraph of the chiasm is linked to the first paragraph, the second-last paragraph is linked to the second paragraph, and so on. It is the linking of paragraphs this way that binds them together as a chiasm. A chiasm usually has a freestanding central paragraph about which the others are arrayed. Chiasm is the only structure Matthew used in his gospel.
The linking of the paragraphs of a chiasm is done by parallelism. Parallelism consists in the repetition of words or phrases. A differently inflected form of a word may be used and occasionally a synonym is used; for example, Matthew uses the word treasures in 6:19 and repeats it in 7:6 as pearls. Sometimes two words are repeated in reverse order to produce what is called inverted parallelism.
There are other kinds of chiasms and other uses of parallelism in Hebrew literature but here we are considering only those Matthew used to shape his gospel. ….
Part Two: Matthew’s Genealogy of Jesus Christ
Question:What does Saint Matthew have to say about Our Lord’s Genealogy?
A merely superficial reading of this text (Matthew 1:6-17) will not suffice to unravel its profound meaning.
According to Monsignor John McCarthy, in his Introduction to “The Historical Meaning of the Forty-two Generations in Matthew 1:17” (http://www.rtforum.org/lt/lt13.html):
For those who study deeply into the Gospel text, Matthew’s prologue, contained in his first two chapters, is one of the most masterful pieces of writing ever presented to human eyes. The genealogy with which this prologue begins displays its full share of wondrous artistry, but so subtle is its turn that many commentators have failed to grasp the logic that it implies. ….
Deep study is indeed required to grasp the logic of it all, because it appears that Matthew has, within his neat triple arrangement of “fourteen generations” (1:17):
“Thus there were fourteen generations in all from Abraham to David,
fourteen from David to the exile to Babylon,
and fourteen from the exile to the Messiah”.
completely dumped four kings of Judah whose history is written in Kings and Chronicles.
Those familiar with the sequence of the kings of Judah as recorded in Kings and Chronicles will be struck by the fact that Matthew 1 is missing these: Ahaziah; Joash (Jehoash); andAmaziah, three virtually successive kings - Matthew understandably omits the usurping Queen Athaliah before Joash - and later, Jehoiakim. Four in all!
Matthew’s omissions can be seen clearly in this chart, a comparison of him with I Chronicles (http://www.contradictingbiblecontradictions.com/?p=1179):
Matthew 1: 6-16
1 Chronicles 3:10-16
Azariah  (Ozias)
What is going on here?
Was Saint Matthew the Evangelist mathematically deficient, somewhat like the schoolboy whose ‘sum of all fears’ is actually the fear of all sums?
Even a mathematical dope, however, can probably manage to ‘doctor’ basic figures in order to arrive at a pre-determined number!
Monsignor McCarthy, when discussing Fr. Raymond Brown’s attempted resolution of this textual difficulty, begins by asking the same question:
Could Matthew count? Raymond Brown, reading Matthew's genealogy from the viewpoint of a modern reader, does not plainly see fourteen generations in each of the three sets of names, but by using ingenuity he can "salvage Matthew's reputation as a mathematician." He cautions, for one thing, that we should not expect too much logic in Matthew's reasoning, since omissions are frequently made in tribal genealogies "for reasons that do not seem logical to the Western scientific mind" (pp. 82-84). ….
On the face of things - or, as Monsignor McCarthy puts it, “reading Matthew's genealogy from the viewpoint of a modern reader” - what Saint Matthew may seem to have done would be like, say, a horse owner whose nag had come fourth in the Melbourne Cup, who later decided to re-write the story by completely ignoring any reference to the first three winners (trifecta), so that his horse now came in ‘first’. We however, believing the Scriptures to be inspired by the Holy Spirit, cannot simply leave it at that: a supposed problem of the sacred writer’s own making. Though this is apparently where the more liberally-minded commentators are prepared to leave matters in the case of a scriptural difficulty that it is beyond their wisdom to solve; thereby, as Monsignor McCarthy writes with reference to Fr. Brown, leaving things “in a very precarious state”. We had discussed previously a similar case: that of Fr. D. Dumm writing on “Tobit” for The Jerome Biblical Commentary, who, being unable to make any sense of the geography of the book, had had to conclude that:
“[The angel] Raphael knows the journey of life far better than the route to Media!”
See also my:
A Common Sense Geography of the Book of Tobit
As with Fr. Dumm, so with Fr. Brown, there is a failure to attempt to “salvage” the sacred text. Rightly, therefore, does Monsignor McCarthy proceed to suggest:
Brown's reasoning leaves a big problem. In the light of the deficiencies that he sees in Matthew's counting, how can one seriously believe that Matthew really shows by his 3 x 14 pattern that "God planned from the beginning and with precision the Messiah's origins" …? What kind of precision is this? And what could the number fourteen seriously mean in the message of Matthew? Brown believes that for Matthew fourteen was, indeed, "the magic number" …, but he cannot surmise what that number was supposed to mean. He knows of no special symbolism attached to the number fourteen, and, therefore, he cannot grasp at all the point that Matthew is trying to make. So, rather than "salvage" Matthew's reputation as a theologian, Brown leaves Matthew's theology of 3 x 14 generations in a very precarious state.
Monsignor McCarthy will, like Bernard Sadler in Part One above, seek to determine what Matthew himself is saying. Thus: “Let us look at the plain message of the text of Mt 1:17”. Contrary to what Fr. Brown had imagined: “Matthew is not plainly saying that there were fourteen immediatebiological generations in each period. In fact, when in his opening verse Matthew speaks of Jesus as "Son of David, son of Abraham," he is setting up a definition of terms which enlarges the notion of a generation”.
The Evangelist’s ways are not our ways - not how we might operate in a modern context. Accordingly, Monsignor McCarthy will allow Matthew to speak for himself:
Just as Matthew can use the word 'son' to mean any descendant in the direct line, so can he use the word 'begot' to mean any ancestor in the direct line. Therefore, he does not err in saying in the second set of names that "Joram [Jehoram] begot Oziah [Uzziah]" (Mt 1:8), even though there were three immediate biological generations in between. Matthew is saying that there were fourteen undisqualified generations in each period of time, and his point has force as long as there is a discernible reason for omitting some of the immediate generations in keeping with the purpose of his writing.
This brings us to that exceedingly interesting matter of the “discernible reason for omitting some of the immediate generations”. For, how to justify bundling out of a genealogical list two such mighty Judaean kings as Jehoash and Amaziah? Between them they occupied the throne of Jerusalem for about three quarters of a century! Well, say some liberals, Matthew was using faulty king lists. No, say some conservatives, those omitted kings of Judah were very evil, and that is why Matthew had chosen to ignore them. But, can that really be the case?
2 Kings 12:2: “Jehoash did what was right in the eyes of the Lordall the years Jehoiada the priest instructed him”.
2 Kings 14:3: “[Amaziah] did what was right in the eyes of the Lord, but not as his father David had done. In everything he followed the example of his father Joash”.
Why, then, does Matthew’s Genealogy include the likes of Jehoram (Joram), and Ahaz (Achaz), for instance, about whom Kings and Chronicles have nothing whatsoever favourable to say?
2 Chronicles 21:6 “[Jehoram] followed the ways of the kings of Israel, as Ahab’s family had done, because his wife was Ahab’s daughter. So he did what the Lord considered evil”.
2 Kings 16:2-4 “Unlike David his father, [Ahaz] did not do what was right in the eyes of the Lord his God. He followed the ways of the kings of Israel and even sacrificed his son in the fire, engaging in the detestable practices of the nations the Lord had driven out before the Israelites”.
Monsignor McCarthy, wisely basing himself upon the Fathers, seems to have come up with a plausible explanation for why these particular kings were omitted from the genealogy, and why the name of the wicked Jehoram, for instance, was genealogically preserved:
Regarding the second set of "fourteen" generations, we read that "Joram begot Oziah" (Mt 1:18). But we know that Joram was actually the great-great-grandfather of Oziah, because Oziah is another name for Azariah (cf. 2 Chr 26:1; 2 Kg [4 Kg] 14:21), and in 1 Chr 3:11-12 we read: "and Joram begot Ochoziah, from whom sprang Joas, and his son Amasiah begot Azariah." Hence, Matthew omits the generations of Ochoziah, Joas, and Amasiah from his list, and the judgments given in the Old Testament upon these people may tell us why.
St. Jerome 3 sees a reason in the fact that Joram married Athalia, the daughter of Jezebel of Sidon, who drew him deeper and deeper into the practices of idolatry, and that the three generations of sons succeeding him continued in the worship of idols. In the very first of the Ten Commandments given by God through Moses on Mount Sinai it was stated: "Thou shalt not have foreign gods before me. ... Thou shalt not adore or serve them. I am the Lord thy God, powerful and jealous, visiting the iniquity of fathers upon their children unto the third and fourth generation of those that hate me, and showing mercy unto thousands to those that love me and keep my commandments" (Ex 20:3-6). Now Solomon was a sinner and an idolater (1 Kg f3 Kg] 11: 7-8), but he had a good man for his father and was therefore not punished in his own generation (1 Kg [3 Kg] 11:12).
St. Augustine 4 points out that the same was true of Joram, who had Josaphat for his father, and therefore did not have his name removed from Matthew's genealogy (cf. 2 Chr 21:7).
St. John Chrysostom 5 adds the further reason that the Lord had ordered the house of Ahab to be extirpated from the face of the earth (2 Kg [4 Kg] 9:8), and the three kings eliminated by Matthew were, as descendants of Athalia, of the seed of Ahab. Jehu eradicated the worship of Baal from Israel, but he did not forsake the golden calves in Bethel and Dan. Nevertheless, the Lord said to him: "Because you have diligently performed what was right and pleasing in my eyes and have done to the house of Ahab in keeping with everything that was in my heart, your children shall sit upon the throne of Israel unto the fourth generation (2 Kg [4 Kg] 10:28-31). So it is interesting to note that while these generations of Jehu were inserted into the royal lineage of Israel, the three generations of Ahab were taken out of the genealogy of Jesus by the judgment of God through the inspired pen of St. Matthew.
[End of quote]
A Further Note on Matthew 1:17
Further to my:
The" Toledoths" of Genesis
Matthew 1:1 has an apparent toledôt: “This is the genealogy[a] of Jesus the Messiah”, supposedly the only one in the New Testament, that may seem at first to contradict the thesis of P.J. Wiseman thattoledôt are colophon endings, rather than headings. Though it does conform nicely with his argument that toledôt refer to "ancestors" not "descendants".
But the Gospel of Matthew is, like so many other Bible books, chiastically structured, with the first division coming at 1:17 according to Bernard Sadler’s (Part One above) findings. In other words Matthew 1:1 chiastically connects with 1:17. And, guess what, "generations" is mentioned 4 times in 1:17. So this latter may be our actual colophon, whereas 1:1 is a link to this (perhaps Wiseman's 'catch-line' theory).
Perhaps, more importantly, 1:1 constitutes the title,in the way that Genesis 1:1 does
It may open up a whole new field for study.
Part Three: The Zechariah Problem (Matthew 27:9)
Monsignor John McCarthy and Bernard Sadler were thorough and convincing in their respective studies of the Gospel of Matthew.
Here I shall be much more tentative as I propose what I think could possibly be a solution, albeit a controversial one, to why Saint Matthew would have attributed to the prophet Jeremiah words that we actually find in the book of the prophet Zechariah.
Put simply, I intend to argue that Zechariah was Jeremiah.
Now, here is the Zechariah problem as set out by D. Miller and E. Lyons at Apologetics Press: http://www.apologeticspress.org/apcontent.aspx?category=6&article=658:

Who was Matthew Quoting?

…. After reporting in his gospel account about Judas’ suicide and the purchase of the potter’s field, Matthew quoted from the prophets as he had done many times prior to chapter 27. He wrote: “Then was fulfilled what was spoken by Jeremiah the prophet, saying, ‘And they took the thirty pieces of silver, the value of Him who was priced, whom they of the children of Israel priced, and gave them for the potter’s field, as the Lord directed me’ ” (27:9-10).
For centuries, these two verses have been contemplated by Christians and criticized by skeptics. The alleged problem with this passage, as one modern-day critic noted, is that “this is not a quote from Jeremiah, but a misquote of Zechariah” (Wells, 2001). Skeptics purport that Matthew misused Zechariah 11:12-13, and then mistakenly attributed the quotation to Jeremiah. Sadly, even some Christians have advocated this idea (see Cukrowski, et al., 2002, p. 40). What can be said of the matter? ….
Miller and Lyons then go on to provide their answer to this difficulty.
My short-cut solution to it on the other hand, that Zechariah was Jeremiah, would seem to be disqualified immediately on chronological grounds. Whereas we last hear of Jeremiah (qua Jeremiah) as an exile in Egypt, where he is generally thought to have died around 570 BC, Zechariah’s time of prophesying – {the Book of Zechariah} - is specifically dated some 50 years later than that (520-518 BC).
However, the“Darius” referred to in Zechariah 1:1: “In the eighth month of the second year of Darius, the word of the LORD came to the prophet Zechariah”, generally thought to have been Darius the Great, actually fits much better as a previous king given the early stage of the restoration (Zechariah 4:9): “The hands of Zerubbabel have laid the foundation of this temple …”.Compare this with what happened in “the second year”, again, of Cyrus (Ezra 3:8, 10):
In the second month of the second year after their arrival at the house of God in Jerusalem, Zerubbabel son of Shealtiel, Joshua son of Jozadak and the rest of the people (the priests and the Levites and all who had returned from the captivity to Jerusalem) began the work.
When the builders laid the foundation of the temple of the Lord ….
Common denominators are: second year (with month); Zerubbabel; and foundation of Temple. That a Darius (namely, Darius the Mede) can also be this Cyrus of the Book of Ezra has been well argued by many, usually by those who would take Daniel 6:28 to intend only the one king: “So Daniel prospered during the reign of Darius, even [not “and”] the reign of Cyrus the Persian”. The Hebrew waw explicative function allows for such an interpretation. James Jordan, moreover, has connected Darius the Mede with Cyrus by chiasmus (The Handwriting on the Wall, ch. 12: http://books.google.com.au/books?id=l25D1d4ub_0C&pg=PA675&lpg=PA67). And I, previously, had identified the great world-ruling “King Ahasuerus” of the Book of Esther also with Darius the Mede of the Book of Daniel:
Taking away any chronological impediment now opens the way for the prophet Jeremiah to be Zechariah. It actually brings to completion the prophet Jeremiah who, appointed by God (1:10) “over nations and kingdoms to uproot and tear down, to destroy and overthrow, to build and to plant,” had so far (as Jeremiah) seemingly done little by way of ‘building and planting’.
Moreover, according to Jewish tradition, Zechariah was ‘possessed’ of the spirit of Jeremiah (http://biblehub.com/topical/z/zechariah.htm): “[Zechariah] leans avowedly on the authority of the older prophets, and copies their expressions. Jeremiah especially seems to have been his favorite; and hence the Jewish saying that "the spirit of Jeremiah dwelt in Zechariah”."
Again, both Jeremiah (29:10) and Zechariah (1:12) refer to the “70 years” of punishment.
For those interested in reading further on this, and how the genealogy of Zechariah may tell us more about the origins of Jeremiah, see my:
A Case for Multi-identifying the Prophet Jeremiah

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Pope Francis warns 'lukewarm Christians': The Lord will 'vomit you from [his] mouth'

Francis cautions against Pagan Christians during a morning Mass, Friday at Vatican City.
Pope Francis warned there are too many people who live their lives as Christians in name only, and that such 'false' Christians are merely Pagans and “enemies of the Cross."
During a morning Mass at Casa Santa Marta in Vatican City on Friday, the Pontiff went on to cite Revelations 3:16 against mediocre believers, declaring that, “because you are lukewarm (Christians) I vomit you from my mouth."
According to Francis, there are only two types of Christians-- those who advance the faith and those who behave as “enemies” of Christ. These “enemies,” are "Pagans with two strokes of Christian paint, in order to appear as Christians."
He said true believers must be careful not to fall into the trap of Paganism. Believers must check in on their intentions, and make sure that they are not too focused on material concerns.  Asking oneself questions such as, “Do I like to brag? Do I like money? Do I like my pride, my arrogance? Where are my roots, and where is my citizenship? In heaven or on earth?” can be helpful, according to the Pope. 
It is often difficult to distinguish Pagan Christians from true Christians, as both go to church together, praise the Lord and call themselves Christian, the Pontiff stated. The difference, he added, is Pagan Christians are too concerned with worldly desires and hopes and “act like enemies of the Cross of Christ! Christians' enemies of the Cross of Christ.

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Pope Francis to venerate famed Shroud of Turin


ROME — Walking in the footsteps of both Popes John Paul II and Benedict XVI, Pope Francis will travel to the Italian city of Turin on June 21 to venerate its famous shroud, traditionally regarded as the burial cloth of Jesus Christ.
The shroud will be placed on display in the Turin cathedral from April 19 to June 24, marking one of the rare occasions when the revered but controversial cloth will be available for public viewing.
On the same trip, Francis also will pay tribute to Italian St. John Bosco, founder of the Salesian religious order, on the bicentennial of his birth. “Don Bosco,” as he was known, dedicated his life to helping and educating street children, juvenile delinquents, and other disadvantaged youth.

The Shroud of Turin is a piece of linen cloth that, according to Catholic tradition, was used to wrap the body of Christ after his death on the Cross. It contains a full-length photo-negative image of a man, front and back, bearing signs of wounds that correspond to the Biblical accounts of Jesus’ crucifixion.
To date there’s no scientific consensus on how the image was created. Skeptics regard it as a later forgery, while devotees believe it was burned into the cloth at the time of Christ’s resurrection.
All three recent popes have been careful not to pronounce definitively on the authenticity of the shroud, generally referring to it as an “icon” that inspires genuine faith regardless of its historical origins.

“The pope comes as a pilgrim of faith and of love,” said Archbishop Cesare Nosiglia of Turin, papal custodian of the Shroud, during a Vatican news conference Wednesday to announce the pope’s trip next June.
“Like his predecessors did, Pope Francis confirms the devotion to the shroud that millions of pilgrims recognize as a sign of the mystery of the passion and death of the Lord,” Nosiglia said.
In 1978, a detailed examination carried out by a team of American scientists found no evidence of how the image was produced.

A radiocarbon dating test performed in 1988 over small samples of the icon by three laboratories, at the universities of Oxford and Arizona, and the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology, concurred that the samples they tested dated from the Middle Ages, between 1260 and 1390.
Other scientists, however, believe those results could be off by centuries, pointing to the possibility of bacterial contamination of the cloth. They note, for instance, that burial shrouds for Egyptian pharaohs sometimes test to centuries later than their known age for precisely that reason.
Despite the controversies, Pope Benedict XVI visited the shroud during its last public exhibition in 2010, and St. John Paul II did so three times: in 1998, in 1980, and in 1978, months before the conclave that elected him pope.

During the first days of his pontificate, Francis referred to the disfigured face depicted in the Holy Shroud as “all those faces of men and women marred by a life which does not respect their dignity, by war and violence which afflict the weakest …”
The message was made public on March 30, 2013, hours before footage of the icon was shown on TV for the first time in four decades.
During the press conference, organizers of the exhibition announced that more than 1 million people from all over the world are expected in Turin to venerate the icon.
The visit to the display in the city’s cathedral will be free, but to regulate the massive flow of visitors, mandatory reservations should be made through the official website.
Inés San Martín is the Vatican correspondent for Crux, stationed in Rome. More