Bethlehem-House of Bread

Chistmas Stable In Bethlehem
A nativity scene of christs birth in bethlehem with the isolated run down stable being lit by a bright star on a dark blue sky background

Bethlehem means House of Bread in Hebrew.  What a fitting place for the Bread of Life to be born! Jesus from His very birth associated Himself with bread as He lay in a manger filled with grains for the animals to eat.

In John 6, He called Himself the Bread of Life that came down from heaven. Moses had given the people manna, but they died. The Father was giving to us the true bread from heaven–Jesus’ very flesh and blood.  Christ said that my flesh is real food and my blood is real drink. Whoever eats of it will never die.

John 6:66 tells of the people leaving Him because they could not handle His teaching.  Jesus asked His disciples if they wanted to go too.  Their response sounded a little conflicted.  Where else could they go? Only He had the words of eternal life.

Jesus did not elaborate further until they got to the Last Supper. Where He lifted up the bread and said “This is my body,” and lifted up the cup of  wine and said, “This is my blood”.  Finally, it was clear! We were to eat His body and drink His blood through bread and wine changed by the power of the Holy Spirit.

Jesus then let His body be put through the same process wheat goes through. At that time, wheat was first harvested then brought to the threshing floor.  There it was beaten with flails to break the wheat from the chaff. A flail was a wooden stick with a number of other wooden sticks attached to the end.  It looks visually very similar to the cat-o-nine-tails which was used to scourge Jesus.

Then everything was lifted high in the air on a windy hilltop where the chaff would blow away and the heavier wheat would fall to the ground.  Much like Jesus was lifted up from the earth on the cross.  The one man cursed God until he died, and the good thief came to repentance. The spiritual wheat and chaff were separated there.

The wheat was then ground into flour by millstones.  They would have big wooden beams that would extend outward and oxen would be attached to the beam. They would walk in a circle while they ground the wheat.  The Philistines attached Samson to the wooden beam which he carried on his shoulders as he trudged.  Visually that was very similar to Jesus carrying His cross up the hill.

Jesus Himself said, “Unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone, but if it dies, it bears much fruit.” Jesus died and was buried just like that grain of wheat.

From His birth, through His teaching, through His Passion, Death and Burial, Jesus associated Himself with Bread.  At Christmas, see Him there lying in a grain-filled manger at a place called the House of Bread.

#Eucharist #Bethlehem #trcot #tcot #House of Bread

 

Joseph – Most Chaste Spouse

Wooden Statue of Saint Joseph
HAACHT, BELGIUM – MAY 30, 2015: Wooden Statue of Saint Joseph in the Church of Haacht, Belgium.

Not many people know why St. Joseph is always shown with a flowering branch in his hand.  It ties into his marriage to Mary, and to a couple of Old Testament stories.

Back when the Israelites were in the desert, a rebellion arose among the people.  They thought that Moses, Aaron and the Levites were lording it over everybody. The other tribes had as much a right to lead and to tend to the Ark of the Covenant as Moses and Erin did.  Everybody was holy!  It led to the earth opening up and swallowing the rebels.

The Lord told Moses to have the princes of all the tribes bring their rods with their names carved on it and place them before the tabernacle.  The next morning Aaron’s rod had not only blossomed but had produced nuts.  This rod was then kept in the Ark of the Covenant as a sign of Aaron’s high priesthood.

There is a traditional story about Mary. When girls who were pledged to the temple approached womanhood they were to be given in marriage.  They could not continue to serve because a woman’s monthly cycle would render her unclean and the priests did not want the Temple to be accidentally defiled.  Mary objected to being married because she said that she had made a vow to God of perpetual virginity. So the priests of the Temple asked the descendants of David if anyone would be willing to be her betrothed protector. A number of men including Joseph agreed and they were asked to give their rods.  Joseph’s rod bloomed and a dove flew from it.  So Joseph became the betrothed of Mary.

This story is found no where in the gospel nor is it necessary to believe it to be true. However, it is interesting that the author was tying Joseph to the protector of the original Ark of the Covenant.  That Ark was considered so sacred to God that even the priests were not allowed to touch it.  There were rings on the side of it through which poles were placed. It was then carried by those poles from place to place.

There came a time during the time of Samuel, when men lost respect for the Ark and it was taken from Israel.  Later it was miraculously returned!  David had his soldiers try to bring it to Jerusalem on an oxcart but it started to tip.  Uzzah reached out his hand to steady it and died because he had touched the Sacred Ark.  David was afraid and said, “How can the Ark of the Lord come to me?” The Ark stayed for three months in the house of Obed-e-dom in the hill country around Jerusalem. The household was blessed, so David thought that it was safe to try again. This time he brought the priests who carried it and offered sacrifices every few steps.  David danced before the Ark and praised God mightily.

Many have compared that scene to Mary visiting the house of Elizabeth and Zechariah in the hill country around Jerusalem for three months.  Elizabeth’s exclamation and John’s reaction also correlated with David’s behavior.

Mary’s body is more sacred than the original Ark because she held the actual member of the Trinity not just symbols of Him. She was overshadowed by the Holy Spirit not just the glory of the Lord. What is sacred to the Lord belongs entirely to Him. To treat something sacred as ordinary would profane it.  Joseph was like Aaron of old–the guardian and protector of the Ark and the Glory of God within.

Jesus’ discourse at the Last Supper was in many ways marital.  I am in you and you are in me. He spoke of oneness with Him.  Joseph and Mary’s marriage can be compared our own walk with Jesus on this earth.  It is close, personal, and with a deep level of unity. Yet, it remains in many ways unconsummated until we reach the glory of heaven and achieve perfect unity with God. When we take within ourselves His Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity in the Eucharist, it is as close to a marital act with God as we get in this life. Yet, it is a pale shadow of the joys to come in heaven.

#trcot #tcot #Joseph Most Chaste Spouse #Perpetual Virginity #Mary #Ark of the Covenant

Reference scriptures Numbers 16 & 17, 2 Samuel 6, Luke 1:39-56 John 14:20

The Miracle of the Incarnation Occurs Every Day at Mass

GRANADA, SPAIN - MAY 29, 2015: The baroque paint of Annunication in Iglesia de San Anton by unknown artist.

If you were to see the miracle of the Incarnation from Jesus’s perspective, You would see Him take His Soul and Divinity and place it within a single ovum in Mary’s body.  That single cell would grow and divide until it came to look like the adult Jesus. All this was accomplished through the Holy Spirit. Does that single cell remind you visually of anything?

The Eucharist!  It is the same miracle, only the physical matter being changed is different. If God could do it with an ovum, He can do it with bread and wine.  Both that first cell and the Eucharist contain the Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity of Jesus Christ. Both are accomplished through the power of the Holy Spirit with the co-operation of mankind.

When the Eucharistic minister stands before you holding the host, he stands in the place of Gabriel.  Both asked, “Will you take the Son of God into your body and let Him dwell there?”

Next time you go to Mass put into practice the lessons of this week so far.  Prepare the soil of your heart so that it is spiritually like the virginal womb, free from sin.  Ponder the ramifications of what God is asking of you. Let your Amen be a “thy will be done.”  Such a seed as the Eucharist planted into the fertile soil of a prepared heart and a willing spirit can change the world.  Receive prayerfully, mindfully, often and over the course of your lifetime.

#Advent #Eucharist #Annunciation

Was the Trinity Clearly Prefigured at the Very Heart of Jewish Worship?

Trinity glass window, depicting Father, Son and Holy Spirit. This window was created before 1900, no property release is required.

One of the foremost Catholic doctrines is that of the Trinity. So firmly did the early Church believe in it that all new Christians had to assent to the Apostle’s or later the Nicene Creed in order to be baptized. A large section of our Catechism is devoted to a fuller explanation of all the beliefs surrounding the different members of the Trinity summarized in the Creed.

It is Jesus’ claim to divinity, without it He is just a prophet and a false one at that. If this radical, eternal precept is valid it should have been recognizably prefigured in the Old Testament, at least by hindsight. It was!

When Moses spent forty days on Mt. Sinai in the presence of God he brought back more than the Ten Commandments. He brought back very specific instructions on how the Tent of Meeting and the Tabernacle were to be constructed, as well as specific details of liturgical worship.  At the very center was the Ark of the Covenant over which the glory of God rested.  The Ark was shielded from human eyes by a thick curtain.  Once a year on the Day of Atonement could the High Priest enter, and then only after offering sacrifices for his sins and those of the nation.  The Ark of the Covenant prefigured the Father, the unseen God.

Watercolour sketch of series

Just outside the curtain were two other pieces of equipment which were in regular contact with only the priests.  The first was the table for the showbread with a loaf for each tribe.  There six loaves on one side of the table and six on the other side.  There were also cups for the wine libations that were to be poured out.  The loaves of showbread after spending some time in the presence of the Lord were to be eaten by the priests. This clearly prefigures Jesus, especially at the Last Supper with the Apostles gathered around the table.  There they shared the Bread and the Wine that were changed into the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ.

During the Last Supper Jesus told His disciples, “I am the vine. You are the branches.” This brings us to the other piece of equipment the lampstand.  It was made to look like a tree with many branches and flower blossoms that held the oil for the light.  I want you to picture Pentecost when the Holy Spirit descended and tongues of fire appeared over the disciples’ heads.  Is it not a visual reminder of the Lampstand? So the Holy Spirit is also there, prefigured by the Lampstand in the Holiest place of Jewish worship.

Menorah

St. Peter called those who believe in Christ a royal priesthood. We on earth have access to both Jesus and the Holy Spirit. However, the Father remains hidden from our view until we enter into the heavenly realms. There we will truly understand how the Trinity can be one, but for now consider this.

“One” can have different meanings.  One can mean solo, single, and solitary. The Creator saw Adam was alone, and said that was not good. When God uses the word “one” He can mean so closely united as to be inseparable.  The first time He used that word was in Genesis when He said that man and woman should cleave to each other and become one flesh. This is significant because of what God said when He made man and woman.

And God said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness…” So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.”

Humanity’s ability to become one with each other was central to our image and likeness of God.  He even used the plural pronouns “us” and “our” to refer to Himself when God created them.

The Jewish people have worshipped unknowingly the Trinity since the beginning of the Jewish liturgical worship.  Humanity just didn’t have the experience of the Trinity to see it.

Reference scriptures: Ex. 25, Lev. 24:5-9, John 15:5, 1 Peter 2:9, Gen. 1:26-28

Special credit to Brant Pitre and his book Jesus and the Jewish Roots of the Eucharist

#trcot #tcot #Eucharist #Trinity

The Desert Revisited – The First Temptation – the Eucharist Revealed.

TRNAVA, SLOVAKIA - OCTOBER 14, 2014: The neo-gothic fresco of fhe scene as Israelites at gathering of manna by Leopold Bruckner (1905 - 1906) in Saint Nicholas church.
TRNAVA, SLOVAKIA – OCTOBER 14, 2014: The neo-gothic fresco of fhe scene as Israelites at gathering of manna by Leopold Bruckner (1905 – 1906) in Saint Nicholas church.

Most people view the first temptation as tackling desires of the flesh, but there is a whole other level going on in that conversation. It revolves around manna and how the children of God are fed in the desert.

Listen the words of the first temptation.  “If you are the Son of God, command these stones to become loaves of bread.”  “Like Father, like Son” What did the Father do in the desert and how did He do it?  He fed the Israelites with manna that formed like a dew on the rocks of the desert.  Let me rephrase Satan’s statement.  “If you the Son of God, do what your Father did and feed yourself with miraculous bread from these rocks.”

Listen to Jesus’ response. “It is written, ‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.'”  Is Jesus not the Word of God?  Did He not call Himself the Bread of Life?  The miracle that Christ will do is greater than manna in the desert. He will become the true bread by which men live.

Jesus spells this out much more specifically in John 6 when He compares Himself to the manna in the desert.  Those who ate manna in the desert died. Yet, He radically claimed that His flesh and His blood are the new manna and that you need to eat of Him to have eternal life.  Not surprisingly many people left Him at this point.

Jesus did not really explain Himself further until the Last Supper when the bread and the wine were miraculously transformed into His body and blood while retaining their outward form.  He lifted up the bread and said, “This is my Body. Take and eat.” and He lifted up the chalice filled with wine and said “This is my blood. Take and drink.”

At the Transfiguration, Moses, Elijah and Jesus spoke of the new exodus that He would accomplish in Jerusalem.  The Eucharist is the new food for the journey to the Promised Land of Heaven.  Jesus promised we would not die like those who ate the manna.  We would have eternal life.

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

How do we really know that the transformation is real?  How do we really know that it is not still bread, or worse something evil, a deception of the devil?  To answer this Jesus had another saying involving rocks and bread.

What man of you, if his son asks him for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish will give him a serpent? If you then, who are evil know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask him.

The stones of the desert actually look like loaves of bread. Snakes were considered unclean and the Israelites were forbidden to eat them.  If we ask the Father for this living bread, that Jesus said we need for eternal life, will the Father give us an empty look-alike?  Will He give us something evil or forbidden? Jesus told us to ask the Father for it.

Right in the Our Father it says, “Give us this day our daily bread.”  That particular word for bread was created for only this instance.  It means “super-substantial” bread.  Even if you don’t agree with that translation, it is clearly not ordinary bread or they would not have had to invent a new word for it.

Temptation of Jesus Christ

Listen again to Jesus’ words to Satan. “Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.”  Or to phrase it another way, “That old bread is passing away. The people of God will be fed by me, the Word of God, the Living Bread which came down from heaven.

This first temptation was about so much more than Jesus being hungry!