Category Archives: Christology

I AM the Way!!

I LOVE St Thomas; yes, his incredulity. But, moreso, his crankiness. He is very easy to imagine as that ONE in any group who is THE negative Nel, apologies to all Nels out there, Bob Bummers, Debbie Downers, etc. He whines. He complains. WHAT a ray of JOY & LIGHT in a group, no?

Were it up to the Apostles, they would surely have thrown Thomas in a well or over a cliff, or whatever it took to get RID of him!!! Imagine waking up to hear, listen to Thomas complain, whine, albeit unrecorded, each morning!!! A REAL upper!!!!

If it weren’t for the miracles and Jesus, it would be a horrible existence to have to live with Thomas. His family must have been GLAD to get rid of him!!! Yet, the Boss, Jesus, knows him, loves him, calls hims, gives him, knowing Thomas, special status. Jesus KNEW Thomas would be the one to openly doubt after the Resurrection.

Some of the Apostles, the ingenues, the younger ones, John, may have believed right off the bat due to their youthful naivete’, or sincerely; but the older, more sodden with experience ones, understandably, were thinking what Thomas said out loud, and took the easy way out to let Thomas do it. See, there’s the rub. The annoying one also always does a great service. He gets to do unpopular work of asking the uncomfortable questions, to the benefit of the group. That is likely why any group keeps them around, to provide that good service despite being annoying.

Jn 11:16


-by Br Isidore Rice, OP

“Where I AM going you know the way.”
Thomas said to Him,
“Master, we do not know where You are going;
how can we know the way?” (John 14:4-5)

“Here Thomas denies the two things that our Lord affirmed.” St. Thomas Aquinas’ first take on his namesake’s question finds St. Thomas the Apostle contradicting the Lord. Whatever St. Thomas the Apostle’s weaknesses, he at least had no trouble speaking his mind.

Jesus claims that Thomas knows the way. Thomas audaciously responds that he doesn’t. His reasoning is as flawless as that of Yogi Berra: “If you don’t know where you’re going, you’ll end up somewhere else.”

But lest we think that the disciple has bested the master, Aquinas reconciles Jesus and Thomas’ conflicting claims, stating that “both statements are true: for it is true that [the apostles] knew, yet they did not know that they knew.” The apostles know the way because they know Jesus, Who is the way. They know the destination because they know Jesus, Who is the truth and the life. “I AM the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father, but by Me” (John 14:6).

Our destination is God. A life GPS set to anywhere else or to nowhere in particular will not lead us there. It is not an easy thing to go to God and see Him face to face. “No one has ever seen God” (John 1:18a). But there is one way: “The only Son, God, Who is in the bosom of the Father, has made Him known” (John 1:18b).

It took St. Thomas a while to understand. The same boldness that urged him to object that he did not know the way would later specify the way he could come to belief: “Unless I see the mark of the nails in his hands and put my finger into the nailmarks and put my hand into his side, I will not believe” (John 20:25). St. Thomas came to believe not only in the resurrection of Jesus, but also that Jesus is Himself the way and the goal: “My Lord and my God!” (John 20:28).

Love,
Matthew

Counterfeit Christ: Socialism

The Huffington Post seems to think so – On Christmas 2016, HuffPost published the online article Jesus Was A Socialist

In the Stern Dining Hall of Stanford University there is a painting by Antonio Burciaga called The Last Supper of Chicano Heroes.

It’s an homage to Da Vinci’s Last Supper but with Hispanic heroes in place of Jesus and the apostles.

The mural has generated controversy because of its depiction of socialist revolutionary Che Guevara in the place of Jesus Christ. One outraged student wrote in a Stanford newspaper, “Che Guevara was a butcher and a tyrant. It is utterly disgusting, offensive, and ignorant for Casa Zapata to deify him on its walls.”

But many people think it’s entirely appropriate to compare Che to Jesus because both men were “socialists” who liberated the poor.

In her popular book Nickel and Dimed: On (Not) Getting By in America, Barbara Ehrenreich says Jesus was a “wine-guzzling vagrant and precocious socialist” whose inconvenient message about helping the poor the Church tries to suppress.

In 2015, Bolivian president and head of the Movement for Socialist party Evo Morales gifted Pope Francis with a “Communist crucifix.” It depicted Christ crucified on a hammer and sickle (the symbol of the communist party in the Soviet Union) in an effort to show that socialism and Christianity are compatible with one another.

Pope Pius XI said “no one can be at the same time a good Catholic and a true socialist,” but this counterfeit Christ says the exact opposite: the only good Catholics are true socialists. If you really cared about the poor, if you really accepted the call of Christ to care for the “least among us” (Matt. 25:40) then you would support socialist policies to eliminate poverty.

But how can that be true if . . .
…Jesus Did Not Preach Socialist Policies

If you define a socialist as “a person who wants to help the poor,” then Jesus was a socialist—but then so is almost everyone else. What makes someone a socialist is not his desire to help the poor but his belief about what kind of economy provides the most benefit to the poor.

Capitalism, for example, is defined in terms of private ownership of the means to produce goods and services. Usually, this kind of capitalism takes place within a “market economy” that allows for the free exchange of goods and services as a means to create profit. Capitalists believe that this voluntary series of exchanges makes everyone in the economy wealthier and that this is the most effective way to lift people out of poverty.

Socialism, on the other hand, refers to the collective or “social” ownership of the means to produce goods and services. There are several different kinds of economic models that have been called socialism, but according to The Oxford Companion to Christian Thought, “By its very nature [socialism] involves the abolition of private ownership of capital; bringing the means of production, distribution, and exchange into public ownership and control is central to its philosophy.”

Socialists claim the best way to alleviate poverty is through a central authority like the government (as opposed to decentralized forces like the market) distributing a society’s wealth among its individual members.

If this is what is meant by “socialism,” then Jesus was not a socialist because Jesus did not seek to abolish the private ownership of capital (like money or natural resources) or the means of production like organized farms and manufacturing technologies.

According to economist Lawrence Reed, “The fact is, one can scour the scriptures with a fine-tooth comb and find nary a word from Jesus that endorses the forcible redistribution of wealth by political authorities. None, period.”

But even if Jesus didn’t preach socialist political policies, couldn’t we say he preached socialist values when it came to individuals? After all, he told the rich man that if he wanted to inherit eternal life he should sell what he had and give it to the poor (Mark 10:21). Doesn’t this mean that Jesus wanted the rich to give away all their money to the poor?

It should first be noted that giving away your money to the poor is a charitable value rather than a socialist one. Jesus’ commands for individuals to give alms to the poor (Luke 12:33) did not include whether those individuals should give that money directly to the poor, donate it to charities who serve the poor, or allow the money to be taxed and redistributed though government subsidy programs.

Helping the poor is a non-negotiable issue for Christians, but there can be reasonable disagreement among believers over which methods are the best way to reduce poverty.”

Love & freedom, and love of freedom,
Matthew

I AM the Way!!

I AM – In the Greek language, “I am” is a very intense way of referring to oneself. It would be comparable to saying, “I myself, and only I, am.”

“O Christ, eternal Truth, what is Your doctrine? And by what path do You direct us to the Father? I can find no other way but the one which You have marked out in virtue of the fire of Your charity. The path, O eternal Word, which You have marked with Your Blood is the way.

O loving, tender Word of God, You tell me: ‘I have marked the path and opened the gate with My Blood; do not be negligent in following it, but take the same road which I, eternal Truth, have traced out with My Blood.’ Arise, my soul, and follow your Redeemer, for no one can go to the Father but by Him. O sweet Christ, Christ-Love, You are the way, and the door through which we must enter in order to reach the Father” (St. Catherine of Siena).

Love,
Matthew

I AM the Truth!!

I AM – In the Greek language, “I am” is a very intense way of referring to oneself. It would be comparable to saying, “I myself, and only I, am.”

“O divine Father, You have opened the Book of Life, Jesus Christ, before us, Your children. In Him, the God-Man, we find all that we could wish to know. Reading in Him, we shall be filled with holy knowledge; we shall find all the doctrine we need for ourselves and for others. But, O my soul, if you want to be enlightened and instructed, you must not read this Book of Life hastily or superficially, but slowly and attentively; then you will be inflamed with divine love and you will know the truth.

Above all, O my soul, try to have a true knowledge of God and yourself; you can obtain this only by reading, meditating, and studying the Book of Life, Christ, Our Lord” (St. Angela of Foligno).

Love,
Matthew

I AM the Life!!

I AM – In the Greek language, “I am” is a very intense way of referring to oneself. It would be comparable to saying, “I myself, and only I, am.” Several other times in the Gospels we find Jesus using these words. In Matthew 22:32 Jesus quotes Exodus 3:6, where God uses the same intensive form to say, “I am the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob.” In John 8:58, Jesus said, “Truly, truly I say unto you, before Abraham was, I AM.” The Jews clearly understood Jesus to be calling Himself God because they took up stones to stone Him for committing blasphemy in equating Himself with God. In Matthew 28:20, as Jesus gave the Great Commission, He gave it emphasis by saying, “I AM with you always, to the end of the age.” When the soldiers came seeking Jesus in the garden the night before His crucifixion, He told them, “I AM He,” and His words were so powerful that the soldiers fell to the ground (John 18:4–6). These words reflect the very name of God in Hebrew, Yahweh, which means “to be” or “the self-existing one.” It is the name of power and authority, and Jesus claimed it as His own.

“May my mind, my heart, my body, my life, be wholly animated by You, my sweet Life! I will love You Lord, my strength; I will love You, and will live, no longer through my own efforts, but through You.” (St. Augustine).

Love,
Matthew

Concealed Divinity


-Dante Angelic Choirs, please click on the image for greater detail

“You may not see My face, for no one can look upon Me and live.” -Ex 33:20

Our reward is the promised “beatific vision”, which means the eternal and direct visual perception of God. It means seeing God face to face. St. Thomas Aquinas reasoned that one is perfectly happy only when all of one’s desires are perfectly satisfied, and this cannot occur until we are fully united with God. That complete union can happen not through human imagining nor even in the most deeply contemplative prayer, but only by the direct presence of God in heaven.

Hell is to be completely separated from God for beyond eternity: no hope, no life, the second death, and that is why it is suffering beyond eternity. God will grant us our heart’s desire. Like on Earth, He will not violate our free will. If our desire is to be separated from God, by will, or by action, without repentance in this life, He will grant that, too. I say this first of all to myself, and frequently I remind myself, “Repent!! And, BELIEVE IN THE GOSPEL!!!” This IS LIFE!!

-by Rev Gabriel of St Mary Magdalen, OCD, Divine Intimacy, Baronius Press, (c) 1964

Presence of God – Give me light, O Lord Jesus, to see in the lowliness of the Child, the indescribable Majesty of the Son of God.

MEDITATION

Jesus “is the image of the invisible God, the first-born of every creature; for in Him were all things created in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible … all things were created by Him and in Him. And He is before all, and by Him all things consist” (Colossians 1:15-17). This text from St. Paul summarizes the infinite greatness of Jesus. As the Word, He is the perfect, substantial image of the Father, having the same divine nature as the Father and proceeding from Him by eternal generation. As the Word He is the first-born of all creatures, begotten of the Father before all creation; furthermore, the Father created everything through Him, His Word, His eternal Wisdom. St John of the Cross teaches, “God looked at all things in this image of His Son alone, which was to give them their natural being and to communicate to them many natural gifts and graces…. To behold them … was to make them very good in the Word, His Son.” (St John of the Cross, Spiritual Canticle, 5,4). But the Word is not only the first-born of all creatures. Possessing the same divine nature as the Father, He is also their Creator, for “without Him was made nothing that was made” (John 1:3).

All these splendors, which belong by nature to the Word, became the splendors of Jesus, the Man-God, by reason of His Incarnation and His hypostatic union. In fact, St. Paul declares that “in Him dwelleth all the fullness of the Godhead corporeally” (Colossians 2:9).

Jesus was pleased to conceal all the infinite riches of His divinity in the obscurity of the manger; yet, guided by faith and love, we shall not be slow to recognize and praise Him in this lowly guise.

COLLOQUY

“Thou hast multiplied Thy wonderful works, O Lord, my God; and in Thy thoughts there is no one like to Thee” (Psalm 40:6). “It is good to give praise to the Lord: and to sing to Thy Name, O Most High, to show forth Thy mercy in the morning, and Thy truth in the night. For Thou hast given me, O Lord, a delight in Thy doings; and in the works of Thy hands I shall rejoice. O Lord, how great are Thy works! Thy thoughts are exceeding deep.” (Psalm 92:2-3, 5-6).

What work could be more wonderful than the Incarnation of Your only-begotten Son? Is there any masterpiece more sublime than Jesus Christ, true God and true man, “in whom are hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge” (Colossians 2:3)?

O Jesus, You make me understand that You are really God made man and You manifest Yourself to my soul with such majesty that I can no longer doubt Your infinite greatness. O Lord, who can comprehend the depths of Your great Majesty, You who are the absolute Ruler of heaven and earth?

“O Christ, my God, my hope, lover of mankind, the light, the way, the life; the salvation, honor, and glory of all Your servants, You live eternally, reigning now and for all eternity…. You are my living and true God, my holy Father, my loving Lord, the great King, the good Shepherd, my only Teacher, my incomparable helper, my guide to heaven, my straight path … my immaculate Victim, my holy Redeemer, my firm hope, my perfect charity, my true resurrection, my eternal life. I long for You, my sweetest, most beautiful Lord!…

O splendor of the Father’s glory, who sit above the Cherubim and scrutinize the abyss, true light, shining light, unfailing light, on Whom the angels desire to gaze, behold my heart before You; drive away the darkness from it that it may be more abundantly inundated with the splendors of Your holy love.

Give me Yourself, O my God, give me Yourself, that I may love You; and if my love is not very fervent, make me love You more ardently.

“I cannot measure what is wanting in my love to make it what it ought to be, to make it run to meet Your embrace, and not to leave it until my life is hidden in the light of Your face; this I know, that all is a source of evil for me except You, O Lord, and not only what is outside of me, but also what is within me. All wealth which is not my God is poverty and misery for me” (St. Augustine).

Love,
Matthew

I seek not My own glory – Jn 8:50

“I honor My Father…. I seek not My own glory.”
“I receive not glory from men.”
(John 8:49, 50; John 5:41)

-by Rev Gabriel of St Mary Magdalen, OCD, Divine Intimacy, Baronius Press, (c) 1964

Presence of God – O Jesus, increase within me Your love and Your zeal for the glory of the Father; teach me to despise all personal glory and to flee from it.

MEDITATION

“Jesus ever sought His Father’s glory, and to this end He chose for Himself utter humiliation, even to becoming “the reproach of men and the outcast of the people” (cf Psalm 22:7). Bethlehem, Nazareth, Calvary—the three great stages of the humble, hidden life of Jesus, in which He veiled His glory as the Son of God. Even during His public life, when His divinity was more openly manifested, Jesus tried to flee as much as possible from human glory. Many times after performing a miracle, He imposed silence on those who had witnessed it. He forbade the three Apostles who had been present at the Transfiguration “to tell any man what things they had seen, till the Son of Man shall be risen again from the dead” (Mark 9:8). After the first multiplication of the loaves, “when He knew that they would come to take Him by force and make Him king [He] fled again into the mountain Himself alone” (John 6:15).

The glory of Jesus lies in the fact that He is the Son of God; He desires no other glory. It is as though He would relinquish this essential glory by accepting any other. Therefore He said: “If I glorify Myself, My glory is nothing; it is My Father that glorifieth Me” (John 8:54). Jesus knows that after His death He will be glorified and acknowledged as the Son of God and the Savior of the world, but He desires that even this glory may be for the glorification of His Father: “Father, the hour is come, glorify Thy Son, that Thy Son may glorify Thee” (John 17:1).

COLLOQUY

O Lord, give me Your love for Your Father’s glory, so that I too, wretched and poor though I am, may serve my God in some small way and give Him glory.

“May it be Your pleasure, my God, that the time may come when I shall be able to pay at least a small part of the immense debt I owe You; do You ordain it, Lord, according to Your pleasure, that I may in some way serve You. There have been others who have done heroic deeds for love of You; I myself am capable of words only; and therefore, my God, it is not Your good pleasure to test me by actions. All my will to serve You amounts to nothing but words and desires, and even here I have no freedom, for it is always possible that I may fail altogether. Strengthen and prepare my soul, Good of all good, my Jesus, and then ordain means whereby I may do something for You, for no one could bear to receive as much as I have and pay nothing in return. Cost what it may, Lord, permit me not to come into Your presence with such empty hands, since a man’s reward must be according to his works! O Lord, here is my life, my honor, and my will! I have given it all to You; I am Yours; dispose of me according to Your desire. Well do I know, Lord, how little I am capable of, but keep me near You. I shall be able to do all things, provided You do not withdraw from me. If You should withdraw, for however short a time, I should go where I have already been—namely, to hell” (Teresa of Jesus, Life, 21).

Make me understand, O Lord, that if I wish to work for Your glory and the glory of Your Father, I must be entirely detached from every desire for personal glory; otherwise I shall deceive myself, thinking that I am working for You, whereas in reality I am but serving my own ego.

You know, O Jesus, that herein lies the greatest danger for me, that which I fear most in my good works, especially in the works of my apostolate. Therefore, I beg You, Lord, to use every means to save me from it. And if this requires humiliations, failure, criticism, use them, and use them abundantly. Do not consider my repugnance, pay no attention to my tears, for I do not want to lessen Your glory or ruin Your works by my pride.”

Love & His glory,
Matthew

Is Christ the Way? Who is Jesus?


-by Br Timothy Danaher, OP

““All men by nature desire to know.” Aristotle’s opening line of the Metaphysics was true of humans then and is true of humans now. Children still explore the front lawn on summer mornings, asking eternally: “What’s that?” But what about those things beyond simple understanding? What about complicated things, like macroeconomics or human decision-making? And what about God?

Any foray into apophatic, or so-called “negative,” theology, the teaching that what we know about God is more about what we don’t know about Him, must mention its most venerable cheerleader Dionysius, a monk from the early 500s: “We ascend from the particular… to contemplate the superessential darkness that is hidden by all the light that is in existing things” (Mystical Theology, ch. 2).

Mystical journeys aside, we must ask: Is Christ that way? Isn’t he the light of the world, revealing God to us in words we can understand? Paul says, “God has made known to us in all wisdom and insight the mystery of His will… which He set forth in Christ” (Eph 1:9-10), but he also says, “As for knowledge, it will pass away. For our knowledge is imperfect” (1 Cor 13:9). Years back, I was struck by an anecdote in a First Things essay by David Bentley Hart:

The Christ of the gospels has always been—and will always remain—far more disturbing, uncanny, and scandalously contrary a figure than we usually like to admit. Or, as an old monk of Mount Athos once said to me, summing up what he believed he had learned from more than forty years of meditation on the gospels, “He is not what we would make Him.”

Right when we think we have Christ pinned down, He escapes us. In trying to preach Him, in public or in private, His mystery seems to defeat us. In my reading of late, I’ve found that various authors speak to the same point, that of Christ using images but always being beyond them:

God speaks to us, not in propositions and syllogisms, but in stern commands, in images, signs, gestures, whisperings of love, by both his manifest presence and his tangible absence, by both his words and his dramatic silences, always upsetting, overturning, the ordinary meaning of words and things. God’s logic may thus be compared to a logic of fire, which enkindles everything it touches. (Erasmo Leiva-Merikakis, Fire of Mercy, Heart of the Word, 42-43)

Christ clothed himself in the archetypal images of Israel, and then began to do and to suffer. The images were further transformed by… being combined in his one person. What sort of victorious David can it be, who is also the martyred Israel and the Lamb of sacrifice? What sort of new Adam can it be, who is also the temple of God? And what sort of living temple can it be, who is also the Word of God whereby the world was made? (Austin Farrer, The Glass of Vision, 109)

It is the most difficult mission imaginable… to convince men, by using all means of thought and evidence available, of something that lies beyond all the categories accessible to men; that God is triune love. This could be demonstrated only through Christ’s word, work, conduct, and suffering… even though before the coming of the Spirit no one was able to glimpse the seamless whole in the scattered pieces. (Hans Urs von Balthasar, You Have Words of Eternal Life, 53-55)

Christ clothed Himself in what came before Him. He is like Moses and David and a prophet and the Passover lamb. But He is not these things. He is God. Even after His coming among us, we must sing: “How unsearchable are His judgments and how inscrutable His ways” (Rm 11:33).

To follow Christ is to be humbled, not just by our sinfulness but by the poverty of our minds. But there is joy, in eternal life and this life. Someday, says Paul, “I shall understand fully, even as I have been fully understood” (1 Cor 13:12). All men by nature desire to know. Even truer, all men desire by nature to be known. God assures us we already are, and for now that makes all the difference.”

Love,
Matthew

Feb 2 – Candlemas, Feast of the Presentation of the Lord – Nunc dimittis & sin’s effect…


-“Simeon’s song of praise”, by Aert de Geider, ~1700-1710, oil on canvas, Height: 94.5 cm (37.2 in). Width: 107.5 cm (42.3 in), Royal Picture Gallery Mauritshuis, The Hague

Nunc dimittis servum tuum, Domine, secundum verbum tuum in pace:
Quia viderunt oculi mei salutare tuum
Quod parasti ante faciem omnium populorum:
Lumen ad revelationem gentium, et gloriam plebis tuae Israel.

Lord, now You may dismiss Your servant. (cf Lk 2:26)
For mine eyes have seen Your salvation,
Which You have prepared before all people;
To be a light to the Gentiles, and the glory of Your people Israel.
-Lk 2:29-32


-by Br Isidore Rice, OP

“We tend to shy away from our sins and weaknesses coming to light. When we hear of someone caught and punished for committing injustice, we might be tempted to think them worse off than those ‘lucky’ evildoers who get off scot-free. Yet, even by the light of his natural reason, Socrates saw through this instinct:

“But in my opinion, Polus, the unjust or doer of unjust actions is miserable in any case,—more miserable, however, if he be not punished and does not meet with retribution, and less miserable if he be punished and meets with retribution at the hands of gods and men.”

Socrates is motivated by the conviction that just actions are healthy for the soul while unjust actions sicken it. Whatever suffering just punishment may bring to the body, it is nothing compared to the misery caused by sin festering in the dark corners of one’s soul. Thus, for Socrates, the path forward for an evildoer is clear:

“[If anyone] does wrong, he ought of his own accord to go where he will be immediately punished; he will run to the judge, as he would to the physician, in order that the disease of injustice may not be rendered chronic and become the incurable cancer of the soul.”

All this is true, but it does not seem particularly hopeful. After all, as Socrates says, the “doer of unjust actions is miserable in any case.” For Socrates, the evildoer is still miserable even while his wrongdoing is brought to light and he receives justice.

But we have a greater light, a light which not only brings us to justice, but brings justice into our hearts. We may be tempted to shy away from this light as well, for, as the prophet says, “Who will endure the day of His coming? And who can stand when He appears?” (Malachi 3:2).

And yet, this coming light is none other than Jesus, our savior. The presentation of the baby Jesus, carried in the arms of His mother Mary into the Temple, hardly seems like a day that must be endured. Simeon and Anna did not quail in fear when this light was presented. Rather, under the influence of the Holy Spirit, they drew near and rejoiced. But, as Simeon prophesied:

“Behold, this child is destined

for the fall and rise of many in Israel,

and to be a sign that will be contradicted

and you yourself a sword will pierce

so that the thoughts of many hearts may be revealed” (Lk. 2:34-35).

This same Jesus will soon hang on the cross between two thieves as a sign of contradiction, with Mary, her heart pierced by a sword of sorrow, at His feet. One thief, seeking merely to avoid punishment for his crimes, falls into the greater crime of blasphemy. The other, accepting justice and hoping for mercy, rises with Jesus. And the good thief is not merely brought to the state of lesser misery offered by Socrates. That very day St. Dismas entered paradise to enjoy the vision of God Himself in the light of glory (Lk. 23:43).

May the same Holy Spirit who led Simeon to encounter Jesus in the Temple and St. Dismas to turn to Jesus on the cross lead us to encounter Him in the Sacrament of Confession. Lord Jesus, give us the grace to open our hearts to your light so that you may burn out all evil lurking there. Let us then hear the wonderful words, “may God give you pardon and peace, and I absolve you from your sins,” so that with Simeon, we may rejoice and pray,

“Lord, now you let your servant go in peace; your word has been fulfilled: my own eyes have seen the salvation which you have prepared in the sight of every people: a light to reveal you to the nations and the glory of your people Israel” (Lk. 2:29-32).”

Love, & His peace, which is beyond ALL understanding, His gift He left to us, if only we would avail,
Matthew