The Stations of the Cross Defeat Three Sources of Sin

Way of the cross or stations of the cross silhouettes of Jesus Christ carrying his cross on Calvary hill, with cloudy dark sky and sun light rays. Abstract religious Lent illustration.

The Bible describes many different ways to sin but only three root causes of sin. The apostle John describes these causes as “the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes and the pride of life” (1 John 2:16). These are illustrated fittingly enough in the fall of mankind. God had forbidden Adam and Eve to eat from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil in the Garden of Eden. When Satan tempted Eve, “the woman saw that the tree was good for food (lust of the flesh), and that it was a delight to the eyes (lust of the eyes), and that the tree was desired to make one wise (the pride of life)”. (Gen. 3:6)

In contemplating the Stations of the Cross, we can see through Jesus’ three falls how to overcome our falls from grace.

The first station: Jesus is condemned to death. Adam and Eve were made for communion with God and for immortality but they chose creation instead of the creator. On Ash Wednesday, we hear God’s words to Adam and Eve after the fall, “you are dust and to dust you shall return (Gen. 3:19).” Jesus earnestly desired his suffering and death because He knew it would lead to a resurrection not only for Him but for all who follow him. Through His death a path to restored communion with God and eternal life was formed.

The second station: Jesus is made to bear his cross. To follow Christ is difficult. Every day in our lives we must choose the creator over the creation. Jesus says, “If any man would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it” (Matt. 16 24-25).

The third station: Jesus falls for the first time. The first step to overcoming the lust of the flesh is to be humble and realize that the flesh will fail. Peter boasted at the Last Supper that he would die for Christ. Jesus knew better and told him that before the cock crowed, Peter would deny him three times (Luke 22:33-34). Jesus said to his sleeping disciples in the garden of Gethsemane that the spirit is willing but the flesh is weak (Matt. 26:41). Jesus, through his first fall, shows us that we need help to carry our crosses.

Mechelen - Jesus meets his mother in church Our Lady

The fourth station: Jesus meets his mother. This must have been bittersweet for both of them. Given the next two stations to come, I feel sure she must have interceded for her son. To overcome our failings we need the prayerful intercession of others. Do not be afraid to call upon those in heaven and those on earth for prayer support in your journey. Intercessory prayer was not made to be a solitary act. “If two of you agree on earth about anything they ask, it will be done for them by My Father in heaven (Matt. 18:19).” It humbles the flesh to ask for prayer and admit that our need can only be met by God.

The fifth station: Simon of Cyrene is made to carry the cross. Simon did not want to help, rather he was compelled by the Roman soldiers. When our flesh fails we may need the physical or financial help of others, especially when we are sick or destitute. Sometimes the government compels people through taxes to pay for our assistance. It humbles the flesh to not be able to care for oneself and to accept the help of others especially if it is not given willingly.

The sixth station: Veronica wipes the face of Jesus. Veronica moved by pity and compassion wiped the blood from Jesus face. She was rewarded by an image of Jesus’ face on her veil. When our flesh fails sometimes God sends us those who help us out of love instead of compulsion. They are rewarded by bearing the image of Christ. It humbles the flesh to be an object of pity or compassion.

The seventh station: Jesus falls the second time. Stations three through six conquered the lust of the flesh. Stations seven and eight help us overcome the lust of the eyes. It is humiliating to fail, especially in front of those who wish you ill. We want people to see us at our best. We try to hide our faults and failings from others. This is hypocrisy. Jesus speaking of the Pharisees’ hypocrisy said, “Nothing is covered up that will not be revealed, or hidden that will not be known. Whatever you said in the dark shall be heard in the light, and what you have whispered in private rooms shall be proclaimed from the housetops” (Luke 12:2-3). It is humbling to live in the truth of our circumstances. We fail. It is through our failures that the greatness of God and His mercy can be made known. Redeemed sinners give others the courage to approach the throne of grace.

Brussels - Jesus meets the women of Jerusalem

The eighth station: Jesus comforts the women of Jerusalem. Jesus presented a vision of suffering that provoked grief in the tender hearts of the women of Jerusalem. Yet Jesus counseled them, “Daughters of Jerusalem, do not weep for me, but weep for yourselves and for your children. For behold, the days are coming when they will say, ‘Blessed are the barren, and the wombs that never bore, and the breasts that never nursed!’ Then they will begin to say to mountains, ‘Fall on us’; and to the hills, ‘Cover us’. For if they do this when the wood is green, what will happen when it is dry? Luke 23:28-31)” The lust of the eye misjudges what is good and what is bad. Jesus suffering and dying for us looked horrific. The life of ease and a lack of responsibilities looks good. We must view our lives in terms of the coming judgment that will occur at the end of our lives and at the end of time. To overcome the lust of the eyes we must ask God for the grace to truly see what is good and what is bad through His eyes not our own.

The ninth station: Jesus falls the third time. The pride of life is that which makes us desire power and standing in the world. It feels good to be first and the best. Yet the way of the Lord is different. We are to desire to serve rather than be served, to desire to be last rather than first. To let God exalt us, rather than seek the approval and the fickle exaltation of man. Jesus warned his disciples,” if you were of the world, the world would love its own, but because you are not of the world, therefore the world hates you” (John 15:19). So Jesus falls a third time earning the derision of those around him.

The tenth station: Jesus is stripped of his clothing. Clothing bestowed status and rank in the ancient world. The priests had their special garments, kings had royal attire, but slaves were naked. They had no status. Every stripe their masters put on their backs was there for all to see. People could look at the lustfully and there was nowhere to hide. Jesus identified himself with the lowest position in society that of a slave. The pride of life dies when it takes the lowest position.

11th Stations of the Cross, Crucifixion, Basilica of the Sacred Heart of Jesus in Zagreb, Croatia

The eleventh station: Jesus is nailed to the cross. Jesus was immobilized physically unable to help himself in the flesh, though in His deity, He could have stopped this at any time. He endured people mocking him, and telling him to save himself. To save Himself would leave us condemned to eternal death. Jesus said, “Greater love has no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends. (John 15:13)” St. Paul thought that was barely conceivable that one might die for a good man, but Jesus died for us when we were sinners (based on Romans 5). He died for the people persecuting him, not just then but for all time. He prayed, “Father, forgive them for they know not what they do.(Luke 23:34)” The pride of life is crushed when we are misunderstood and persecuted for doing the right thing but we persist anyway. We must value the judgment of the creator over the opinion of the created.

The twelfth station: Jesus dies on the cross. For the Jews this manner of death was especially abhorrent because in Deut. 21:23 it states, “Any one hung on a tree is under God’s curse.” This was clear evidence to them that Jesus was not the Son of God. Paul explains how this was done for our sakes. “Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law, having become a curse for us—for it is written, “Cursed be every one who hangs on a tree”—that in Christ Jesus… we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith,” Galatians 3:13-14. The value of our soul is not based on what we do, but by the immensity of the price paid for us.

pietà

The thirteenth station: Jesus is taken down from the cross. Just as Eve offered to Adam the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, Mary sits beneath the Tree of Life (the cross) and offers to the world her son who has given everything for you. What more could he have done? What greater price could be paid? As children of Eve we grasp for the things that satisfy the flesh, are beautiful to behold, and will earn the esteem of others. As children of Mary, siblings of Christ, we must strive to be like him and to esteem the world as nothing. We seek to hold him close to our hearts while we can.

The fourteenth station: Jesus is laid in the tomb. When Jesus was stripped, his only material possession, his clothes, were distributed amongst the soldiers. His beloved mother He gave to the beloved disciple and vice versa. He was buried in a donated tomb. There was not even time to prepare his body for burial. When we die, our material possessions will be given to others. Our loved ones will be cared for by others. Even those who believe will enter into judgment, then our actions will be tested by God. Paul compares our actions to gold, silver, precious stone, wood, hay or straw. These actions will be tested by the fire of God. If our works survive the fire we will receive a reward. If everything is burned, we ourselves will be saved by our faith but we will be like those who survived a fire with nothing but our lives. (Based on 1 Cor. 3:10-15)

The message of Lent is that we are all born to die. It is wisdom to keep our end before our eyes as we make our choices in this life. To live as a Christian is to daily do battle with lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life. We will fall because flesh fails, but we can arise through the grace of God and the help of others to persevere to the end. We like Veronica can bear the image of Christ to the world.

 

#StationsoftheCross #Lent #rcot #sourcesofsin

Written by Kathy Labosh

The Descender

 

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Most people are not aware that there is this vertical geography set up in the first chapter of the Bible. This geography carries through the entire Bible. On the second day of creation, God separated the primal waters into the waters above and the waters below. He also placed a barrier beneath the waters above. On a literal level, the author of Genesis looked up saw that it was blue in the sky and that water fell from it, sometimes in huge quantities. Something must be keeping that enormous weight of water up there.

On a spiritual level the waters above represented the heavens where God dwelt and the waters below represented the abyss. The barrier represented our separation from God. In the Bible, the higher up you are, the closer your interactions were with God. Eden was considered to be on the highest mountain because all of the great rivers of the earth descended from it.[1] Covenants with God were made on top of Mt. Sinai. Moses and Elijah encounter God after a long trek up a mountain. The Transfiguration occurred on Mt. Tabor, the Crucifixion on Mt. Calvary, and Jesus ascended on Mt. Olivet.

On a spiritual level, the waters below were a place of death and judgment. The unrighteous of Noah’s day drowned while Noah and his family floated above the water protected from death. The Hebrew boys were drowned in the Nile, while baby Moses floated over the water in a basket. The Egyptian soldiers drowned in the Red Sea while the Hebrews passed through it.

So upward is good, downward is bad and underwater is deadly. By the way, in modern times we tend to use up for North and down for South, it does not work that way in the Bible. No matter what direction you were coming from you went up to Jerusalem because it was hilly there. The Jews were more orientated from East where the sun rises to the West where it sets but that’s a whole other blog.

Baptism of Jesus

So now that we have the basics we need to move onto the Baptism of Jesus. First off, Jesus is baptized in the Jordan River, which means in Hebrew, “The Descender”. It was probably named that because the river starts high on Mt. Hermon at Caesarea Philippi (where Jesus gave Peter the keys of the Kingdom) and ends at the lowest place on earth, the Dead Sea. It is right near the entrance to the Dead Sea where Jesus was baptized.

Adam and Eve could also be considered descenders. They began in Eden with the closest relationship with God humanly possible and descended into sin. Their descendants became ever more steeped in sin. Humanity was on their way to eternal death (the Dead Sea).

Jesus was also a descender. He descended from heaven to come to earth. After death, He descended to the dead (1 Peter 4:6). By his death, he opened the gates of heaven to the just who had passed away. He arose from the dead, and after 40 days ascended into heaven where He is seated at the right hand of God the Father Almighty. At Pentecost, He sent the Holy Spirit down upon his disciples. This allowed a relationship with God even closer than in Eden. The Holy Spirit dwells within us.

This is all there symbolically at his Baptism. Jesus descends under water representing His death. He then comes up again (his resurrection). The heavens are opened. It also means the barrier from Genesis 1, that blocked access to the waters above (God’s abode) is no longer blocked (ascension). The Holy Spirit descended in the form of a dove (Pentecost). The Father said, “This is my Beloved Son with whom I am well pleased” (seating at the right hand of God).

Our own baptism captures all of this. St. Paul says, “Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, so that as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life. For if we have been united with him in death like his, we shall certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his. (Romans 6:3-5)” St. Peter compares baptism to Noah’s ark that carried people to safety over the floodwaters. (1 Peter 3:20-21). St Gregory of Nyssa compared baptism to crossing the Red Sea, and letting waters drown our sins (the soldiers) while we emerge free on the other side. [2]

I hope learning about the vertical geography of the Bible and how it related to Baptism has been instructive. Kathy Labosh.

[1] Bergsma, John Bible Basics for Catholics (Ave Maria Press, 2012) pg. 29 (This is an excellent book, I highly recommend it. It takes the seven covenants of the Bible to explain salvation history.)

[2] St. Gregory of Nyssa, The Life of Moses, 121-124

#rcot #Baptism #Jordan #Adam and Eve #Moses #Eden

What’s in the Water at Cana?

Religious fresco on ceiling

The water at Cana, which Jesus turned into wine, was not ordinary water.[1] It was water used for Jewish purification rites to cleanse people who had had contact with death. According to Numbers 19, a red heifer without blemish was to be offered completely to the Lord as a sacrifice. The ashes from the red heifer were to be added to water for purification. Any person who had had contact with a dead person or animal was to be sprinkled with this water on the third day and the seventh day to be cleansed from the contamination of death. So, the water Jesus transformed into wine had bits of ash.

The water at Cana contained the transformed remains of body of the animal that was sacrificed. This sets up a tremendous number of parallels between the Cana wine and the wine of the Last Supper! Let’s take a look at some.

First both wines were miraculous in origin. The changing of water into wine was Jesus’ first miracle. Jesus transforming bread and wine into His Body and Blood was His last miracle before His death on the cross.

Both wines were sacrificial and contained the body of the sacrificed one. The Red Heifer was sacrificed and the substance of his body was transformed by the fire into ash. One of the symbols of the Holy Spirit is fire. Those ashes were placed by a priest into the purification water and made available to the people. The substance of Jesus’ Body, which was about to be sacrificed, was transformed by the Holy Spirit to be present in the bread and wine that Jesus offered. That is why Jesus could say, “This is my body which is given for you (Luke 22:19),” and “This chalice which is poured out for you is the new covenant in my blood (Luke 22:20).” Priests through the working of the Holy Spirit make the Body and Blood of Jesus available to the people through the Eucharist.

Both wines were transubstantiated. Oh, big word. It means the substance of the original product was changed into the substance of something else. So at Cana, the substance of the water was changed into the substance of wine. At the Last Supper and at every Mass, the substance of bread and wine is transformed into the substance of Jesus’ resurrected Body and Blood. It maintains the appearance of Bread and Wine for our benefit.

The water at Cana was meant to cleanse people from the effects of death, but it was not effective. Like all of the sacrifices offered in the Old Testament, their purpose was to point to the sacrifice that actually would be able to cleanse us from sin and save us from its effects, that being eternal death. The sacrifice of Jesus and His Body and Blood to actually save us from the effects of sin and bring us into everlasting life. As Jesus says, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of man and drink his blood, you have no life in you; he who eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day. For my flesh is food indeed, and my blood is drink indeed.” (John 6:53-55)

The first miracle took place at a wedding feast. The steward went to the bridegroom to comment upon the miraculous wine saying, “Every man serves the good wine first; and when men have drunken freely, then the poor wine; but you have kept the good wine until now (John 2:10). The wine was the bridegroom’s responsibility. Throughout the Bible God is portrayed as a Bridegroom wooing his people. In Revelations, heaven is portrayed as giant wedding feast, where God is finally united to His people portrayed as the Bride. Jesus the Bridegroom provided wine out of the very sacrifice of his life.

“The Spirit and the Bride say, ‘Come.’ And let him who hears say, ‘Come.’ And let him who is thirsty come, let him who desires take the water of life without price. (Revelations 22:17).”

***This represents my return to blogging after a several year hiatus while I have been working on my Master degree in Theology. I’m still working on it but I was convinced by a friend to return to writing. Kathy Labosh***

 

[1] “The New Testament” Ignatius Catholic Study Bible, footnote on verse 2:6.

#Cana #rcot #waterintowine #LastSupper #miracle

Hail Mary – the Trinity’s Love Song

Crowned statue of the virgin Mary carrying a child with a diffused vegetation background
Crowned statue of the virgin Mary carrying a child with a diffused vegetation background

The infancy narrative is the foundation for one of the great prayers of the church—the Hail Mary. The words of the first part of the prayer originate in the Trinity itself.  The Trinity’s goal for man has always been to bring them into the circle of Trinitarian love.  Here in the relationship between the Trinity and Mary you see God’s love and the perfect human response to that love. Just as the Song of Songs is a duet between the Bridegroom and the Bride.  At the beginning of the Infancy narrative you see a love duet between the Trinity and Mary.

Annunciation Mary AngelStained Glass Old Basilica Guadalupe Mexi
Annuciation Angel Gabriel Tells Mary She Will Give Birth to Jesus Stained Glass Old Basilica Guadalupe Mexico City Mexico. Also known as Templo Expiatorio a Cristo Rey. Basilica construction was started in 1531, finished in 1709. This basilica is the location where the Virgin Mary appeared to the Meixcan peasant Juan Diego. The old Basilica is where Juan Diego’s original cloak with the picture of the Virgin Mary first appeared.

The angel Gabriel who was sent from God the Father called her, “Hail, favored one! The Lord is with you.” Those words are also translated, “Hail, full of grace!”  These are words of love for Mary that originate from the Trinity, spoken to her by an angel. Mary was troubled not knowing why an angel should address her with such honor and to what purpose.  Her heart already belonged to God and her humility made her wary of personal praise. Eve’s pride left her vulnerable when Satan sought her opinion.

Next the angel Gabriel like Abraham’s servant laid out the riches of the Father before her and asked her to be the mother of God the Father’s Son. Gabriel said, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God.  Behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall name him Jesus. He will be great and will be called Son of the Most High, and the Lord God will give him the throne of David his father, and he will rule over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end.”  Marvelous, marvelous news, but does it remind you a bit of when Satan showed Jesus all the nations of the world that could be his?  Or when the serpent promised Eve equality with God?  Mary’s heart is still ever true to God. If this greatest honor of all time involves her breaking her vow of virginity to God, she wants none of it.  “How can this be, since I have no relations with a man?

Mary did not succumb to pride when honored or greed when offered incredible position.  Her relationship with God was paramount.  She was not like Eve at all.

The angel Gabriel responded a third time, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you.  Therefore the child to be born will be called holy, the Son of God.  And behold, Elizabeth, your relative, has also conceived a son in her old age, and this is the sixth month for her who was called barren; for nothing will be impossible for God.”

Here Mary recognized the God she loved.  The same God who made Sarah pregnant has made her cousin Elizabeth pregnant.  The same spirit that overshadowed the Ark of the Covenant and entered the Temple will enter her.  Her vow to God rendering her body sacred to Him will not be violated but be brought to its highest level of sanctity.  Now she believed what was said earlier that the child will be the Messiah who will sit on the throne of his ancestor David.  Now she understands why she was called highly favored.  She gave love’s perfect response to God–perfect submission to His will. “Behold I am the handmaid of the Lord.  May it be done to me according to your word.”

This annunciation event of the Father wooing Mary through Gabriel is remembered in the first lines of the prayer, “Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with you.”   The next line of the prayer originated with the Holy Spirit who sang His duet with Mary through Elizabeth.

Antwerp - The Visitation of Virgin Mary to Elizabeth by Francken
ANTWERP, BELGIUM – SEPTEMBER 5, 2013: The Visitation of Virgin Mary to Elizabeth by Frans Francken (1581 – 1642) in Saint Pauls church (Paulskerk)

When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting she was filled with the Holy Spirit and gave utterance. “Most blessed are you among women…”  This exclamation recalls the titles given to Judith and Jael the women warriors. “and blessed is the fruit of your womb. And how does this happen to me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me?”  This reaffirmed that child was the Messiah the one who would take the throne of His father David.  The Holy Spirit through Elizabeth gave her the title that had belonged first to Bathsheba, the queen mother.  “For the moment the sound of your greeting reached my ears, the infant in my womb leaped for joy.”  This recalled David’s dance before the Ark of the Covenant when he brought it into Jerusalem.  The Holy Spirit affirmed her as the New Ark of the Covenant and gave her and her son the reception the world should have given them.  “Blessed are you who believed that what was spoken to you by the Lord would be fulfilled.”  Elizabeth’s husband Zechariah the priest had failed in that and was mute because of it.  Under the Old Covenant, the nation of Israel represented by Zechariah had failed.  Mary was the faithful remnant of Israel, the daughter Zion who responded with faith.

Mary responded in the duet of love with the Holy Spirit. Overwhelmed by the expressions of love and honor given to her by the Holy Spirit through Elizabeth, Mary responded by declaring her nothingness without God.  Any greatness she had was because of what God had done for her. She wanted her very being to magnify God for the world. Gratitude, humility and a desire to glorify God were all blended in her heart’s response.

My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord;

my spirit rejoices in God my savior. 

For he has looked upon his handmaid’s lowliness;

behold, from now on will all ages call me blessed. 

The Mighty One had done great things for me, and holy is his name.

Mary knew that God had already won a great victory over Satan.  God had called her to be “the woman” who with her son would crush the head of Satan. She responded as Miriam did when God delivered Israel from the Egyptians, as Deborah did when God delivered Israel from Sisera, and as Judith did when God delivered Israel from Holofernes.  She sang a song of victory, but unlike them she sang her victory song in advance of the battle.  This second part of her song of love extolled the might, mercy and faithfulness of God.

Judith Shows the Head of Holofernes

 

His mercy is from age to age to those who fear him.

  He has shown might with his arm, dispersed the arrogant of mind and heart. 

He has thrown down the rulers from their thrones but lifted up the lowly. 

The hungry he has filled with good things; the rich he has sent away empty.

 He has helped Israel his servant, remembering his mercy,

 according to his promise to our fathers,

to Abraham and to his descendants forever. Amen.

In Song of Songs the bride and bridegroom extolled the physical characteristics of their beloved.  Here Mary and the Trinity extol the character and spiritual beauty of each other.  A soul that seeks God alone delights the Lord, the way a bride’s beauty ravishes her bridegroom’s heart. All of this duet between Mary and the Spirit is referenced in the second line of the Hail Mary, “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb, Jesus.”

At the center of the prayer is “Jesus”.  He was at the center of her life and devotion.  It was He that made her holy, set apart for God alone. The Father was truly Jesus’ Father. Jesus was truly the Son of God, but Jesus was also truly the son of Mary.  The title Mother of God encapsulates the mystery of the perfect unity of Jesus’ humanity and divinity.  He became our brother in the flesh, so we might become His siblings in the spirit.  He did this through His mother.  The next phrases of the Hail Mary refer to the mystery of Christ’s incarnation.

Holy Mary, Mother of God

The Queen Mothers of the courts of Judah were advocates and intercessors for the people.  If you remember how Bathsheba and Esther had to enter the king’s presence with trembling, and they were their wives, then for an ordinary person to approach the king would be terrifying indeed.  The queen mother was different. She could speak freely to the king and he would listen to her.  People could approach her.

We do not have to fear to approach God because Jesus our brother has sanctified us. But if we were to truly see him as He is, and truly see our sinfulness, we would faint like John in Revelations, or bid Him depart from us because we are sinful men like Peter.  The Holy Spirit led Elizabeth to proclaim that she is “the mother of my Lord” because God wanted her to act as mother not only for her son but for the other members of the Kingdom of God as well.  The Trinity is weaving us into a family with God as our Father, Jesus as our brother, and Mary as our mother.  This honor is encapsulated in the last words of the Hail Mary. Pray for us sinners, now and at the hour of our death. Amen

Ruth declares her love for her mother-in-law

Just as Mary was there for Jesus during His suffering on the cross, and she was there for Elizabeth during her labor, I believe that no Christian is alone during their hour as they are born into heaven.  Stephan looked up to heaven and saw Christ in his glory.  Joseph was surrounded by Mary and Jesus when he died.  He is the patron saint of a happy death because of it.  I believe that in a special way Mary is present at the hour of a Christian’s death just as she was at her son’s.

Why would God so honor a human being in this way?  For the same reason God honors us by calling us brother or sister.  The love of God is beyond reason in its generosity towards humanity.  By giving Mary this position Jesus is fulfilling the commandment.

“Honor your father and your mother, that you may have long life in the land the Lord your God is giving you.”[1]

For those afraid to pray the Hail Mary lest they offend God, the Trinity should not be offended by us echoing the Spirit’s own words of praise and offering our own Amen to them.  Nor should God be offended in our asking for her prayers.  For Jesus said,

Again, [amen] I say to you, if two of you agree on earth about anything for which they are to pray, it shall be granted to them by my heavenly Father. For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them.[2]

The Hail Mary is a celebration of the Trinity and celebrates the Incarnation of Jesus.

[1] Ex. 20:12

[2] Matt. 18:19-20

#trcot #Hail Mary #Mary #Trinity #Rosary #tcot

 

Moses and Jesus – a Life Comparison

Church of St. Anne - Transfiguration
The internal painting of the church of St. Anne, an illustration of the Transfiguration. The author – Ivan Protsiv.

Moses and Jesus’ lives are linked from the very start. Their stories both begin with the death of innocent children. In each case, Satan sensed that someone of importance was coming and inspired the leaders of the nation to execute small children to thwart the plan of God.

With Moses, Pharaoh ordered that the Hebrew newborn males should be thrown into the Nile River. Moses mother, Jocabed, while obedient to the letter of the law fashioned a basket and placed the child inside.  Moses floated on the Nile until he was saved by none other than the daughter of the Pharaoh!

With Jesus, King Herod sought to find and destroy the newborn King of the Jews. So he ordered every newborn child under the age of two killed. St. Joseph was warned in a dream to flee to Egypt and the Holy Family escaped.

When the Holy Family escaped to Egypt they passed through the tribal lands of Simeon, which means “God heard”.  This is a reminder of what God said to Moses at the burning bush.  If you adapt it to Jesus, it is apparent that the mandate was the same.

I have seen the affliction of my people who are in Egypt (sin), and have heard their cry because of their taskmasters(Satan); I (Jesus) know their sufferings, and I have come down to deliver them up out of the land to a good and broad land, a land flowing with milk and honey (heaven).[1]

Just the Living God spoke in a burning bush before the start of Moses’ public ministry, so Jesus heard the words of the Father at His Baptism.  Jesus was led out into the desert for 40 days paralleling the forty years that Moses led the Hebrews in the desert.  At the end of the forty years, Moses instructed the Hebrews on what lessons they should have learned from that time. Jesus successfully defeated Satan in the desert by quoting from Moses’ instructions.

In another parallel, Moses’ first plague was to turn the Nile’s water into blood.  Jesus’ first miracle was to turn the water in wine. Jesus too performed many miracles, signs and wonders before the people and the unbelieving religious authorities of the day.  The hearts of the religious authorities just grew harder and harder like Pharaoh’s.

At the Transfiguration, Moses and Elijah spoke to Jesus about the exodus Jesus was to accomplish in Jerusalem. [2] This emphasized that everything Jesus had accomplished up to this point was leading toward His people’s deliverance from their slavery to sin. Before the exodus from Egypt could begin, there first had to be the Passover.

During the last plague of Egypt the angel of death killed the first-born of every Egyptian family.  The Hebrew families sacrificed the Passover lamb in the place of their first-born. They placed its blood on the wooden lintels of their doorposts.  They then ate the body of the lamb to participate in its death.

This foreshadowed both the Last Supper and the Passion of Christ.  He ordered His disciples to eat the bread and drink the wine after transforming it into His Body and Blood. He became the Passover Lamb. In this way, they participated in His death.  The first-born of the family of God really did die and His blood spilled on the wooden beams of the cross, the doorway of our salvation.

[1] Ex. 3:7b-8a

[2] Luke 9:31

Don’t Look for the Living Among the Dead

Jerusalem - icon of Resurrection from Church of Holy Sepulchre
JERUSALEM, ISRAEL – MARCH 3, 2015: The icon of Resurrection from Church of the Holy Sepulchre by unknown artist.

On Easter Sunday, a very dear nun, Mother Angelica passed away.  She has been in my living room off and on for years on her EWTN television show. Her words were often opportune.  However since her death, she seems to have come in a whole new way. EWTN is running clips of her all day and she has been speaking directly into my world.

My life is at a very difficult point for a variety of different reasons. Yesterday was particularly difficult. I was driving with my severely autistic son when he had a massive temper tantrum in the car hitting and punching himself just in the seat behind me.

I normally drive my van where I have taken out the middle seat so as to keep some distance. He has in the past reached out and grabbed my head while I was driving.  This time I was in my husband’s car.  I reached home safely and sent him to his room but I was very shook up.  I turn on the TV and there was Mother Angelica saying, “Are you afraid of somebody?” She proceeded to give me the council I needed.

We are currently in a predicament which if you look back you can see warning signs that we missed along the way.  There were choices I would have made differently. So Mother Angelica comes on the TV and says, “You can’t live your life thinking, “I would have, could have or should have.  You need to show yourself the same mercy you show other people.”

She spoke to me again. I have been working on a book for years and have gotten very discouraged. I have no qualifications to teach these things yet God has given me a gift for seeing how parts of the Bible fits together.  God doesn’t give you gifts for yourself, it is always for the uplifting of the body, but being told you can’t weighs you down and slows you down.

But yesterday, I heard stories of how Mother Angelica was told she “couldn’t” all her life. She said the one thing she was afraid of was going to Jesus and seeing what her life would have been like if she had only had the faith to believe.  So, she has gotten me started again.  Where did I leave off?  The communion of the saints!  Thank you Mother Angelica.  You are not among the dead, but among those most truly alive.

Jesus said, “I have a baptism to be baptized with; and how I am constrained until it is accomplished!”  After His death and resurrection, He was able to send His Holy Spirit upon the earth.  No longer could only a few people be close to Him.  Now He could dwell in everyone’s heart and speak personally to them, guiding them their thoughts, or leading them to scriptures.

When a holy person on this earth dies, they do not leave the Body of Christ! No, they are more intimately connected to it.  Their place in the Body has changed.  They no longer see through a glass darkly, but they God face to face.  They do not love less.  No, their love and concern for other members of the Body is magnified because their hearts are more conformed to God’s.

Much of what St. Paul spoke of regarding the Body of Christ speaks to this.  “If one member suffers, all suffer together; if one member is honored, all rejoice together.”  All of heaven is not indifferent to our struggles and God’s triumphs in our lives. We might be indifferent to the saints, but Paul says that we cannot say to another part of the Body, “I don’t need you.” Jesus prayed that we might all be one.

Each cell of our body is individually fed by tiny capillaries, so it is with us. Each Christian should have a personal relationship with Jesus and be fed by Him. But the individual cell may be ignorant of how the rest of the body co-operated to bring it that precious blood.  Also, that individual cell is part of a larger organ that has a function that serves the Body as a whole.

It was never “just me and Jesus” and  it never will be.  At least have gratitude to the Apostles and writers of the Bible.  Have gratitude also for all those who held onto the faith and passed it down through the centuries until it reached you.  A common mistake is that people think we are praying to the dead.  But Jesus spoke of Jacob and Abraham as living, when He said, “For he is not the God of the dead, but of the living; for all live to Him.” So I ask as the angels of the resurrection did, “Why do you look for the living among the dead?”

Easter mass in Saint Peter's Square
piazza san pietro

As Mother Angelica has joined the mighty cloud of witnesses who watch as I run my race. I know that she is cheering me on, encouraging me and praying for my spiritual success.  Thank you Mother for what you did for me while I was alive.  Thank you for what you have done for me since.

 

Referenced scriptures; Luke 12:50, 1 Cor. 13:12, Luke 20:38, Luke 24:6, 1 Cor. 12, Hebrews 12:1

#Mother Angelica #trcot #tcot #Communion of the Saints

The Rebirth of Adam – the Resurrection

God creating Adam
Byzantine wall painting shows God creating Adam

Before the original Adam was cast out of Eden, he was cursed.  Read the words carefully and then consider Jesus’ Life, Passion and Death.

“Cursed is the ground because of you!

In toil shall you eat its yield all the days of your life.

Thorns and thistles it shall bring forth for you; as you eat the plants of the field. 

 By the sweat of your face shall you get bread to eat,

Until you return to the ground from which you were taken;

For you are dirt, and to dirt you shall return.”

For the first thirty years of his life, Jesus lived among us as one of us.  He toiled as a carpenter in Nazareth to provide for his mother after his father had died.  For Him labor was not a curse but the will of God and He partook of its rewards.

In his public ministry he took on the work of God alone. Only He who had seen the Father could explain the Father and His Kingdom.  This work too was the will of God, and His harvest was not vegetation but souls.

At His Passion He took on the redemption of the curse that only the New Adam could do.  The blood from the sweat of his brow fell upon the earth redeeming the earth.  The blood of his head soaked the thistles and thorns that crown about his head.  It was by His sweat and blood that we have our eternal bread to eat. Finally in fulfillment of the curse his body was returned to the earth.

A crown of thorns on a white background - Easter. religion.
Crown of thorns on a white background Easter religious motif commemorating the resurrection of Jesus- Easter

Just as the first Adam was drawn from the earth, so at the Resurrection we see the New Adam–Jesus come forth from the earth.  As if to emphasis this point, who does Mary Magdalene mistake Him for but a gardener!

Resurrection of Christ

Mary Magdalene represents the redeemed church–the fallen woman restored.  Jesus’s words to her are similar to Adam’s words to His bride.  Adam had said, “This at last is bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh;” They were the same.  Jesus’ words to Mary were, “I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.”  Jesus and man were the same with the same Father! Finally a bride for the solo Adam!  The Father had brought for the Bride of Christ from the side of Jesus when he died, just as He did for Adam as he slept!

Let me form a hymn of praise to the New Adam!

Blest is the ground because of you!

Blest too is our toil because You shared in it.

You bring forth spiritual fruit from our simple labors!

Blest is the holy sweat that fell from your brow redeeming the cursed earth.

Blest is the fruit of the soil, the wheat and grapes that now have become your Body and Blood.

Blest are the thistles and thorns that crowned your head. You became King and Master of our Curse.

Blest is the ground that received you, Adam’s dirt to which you returned.

Blest is the new creation of Adam.  The first-born who taught us to say, “Our Father!”

 

 

Happy Resurrection! Happy New Creation! Happy Easter!

#Resurrection #Easter #Adam’s Curse #Crown of Thorns #trcot #tcot