Skip to content
Catholic Online Logo

By Fr. James Farfaglia

9/16/2012 (2 years ago)

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

There is no historical doubt about the actual existence of Jesus of Nazareth.

Who is this man that has divided history into two parts?  Who is this man that has divided nations?  Who is this man for whom many of his followers have given their lives rather than deny him?  In this Sunday's gospel narrative Peter tells us who he is: "You are the Christ" (Mark 8: 29).  There is no historical doubt about the actual existence of Jesus of Nazareth. But, Jesus asks the apostles "Who do people say that I am?" (Mark 8: 27).

Highlights

By Fr. James Farfaglia

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

9/16/2012 (2 years ago)

Published in Living Faith

Keywords: Sunday homily, homilies, catholic spirituality, Jesus, gosples, discipleship, Fr James Farfaglia


CORPUS CHRISTI, TX (Catholic Online) - The purpose of this Sunday's liturgy is to get us to contemplate the person of Jesus Christ so that we can know him more deeply.  Knowledge leads to love, and love to imitation.  Jesus, who is the way, the truth and the life, must be the center, the criteria and the model for our daily lives.  This is what it means to be a disciple of Jesus.

Had Jesus of Nazareth been a Roman or a Greek, certainly his contemporaries would have left behind statues in his honor.  However, because the Jews had a strict understanding of idolatry, their interpretation of the Mosaic Law did not allow them to make any images whatsoever of any human person.  It would have been interesting if we had been left something that would illustrate the physical attributes of the Lord. 

Throughout the centuries, there has been much discussion on the subject.  The Shroud of Turin and Veronica's veil tell us a lot about his Middle Eastern features; however, our faith is best served by depending on the one authenticated source, the Gospels.
 
The accounts written by the Evangelists depict Our Lord's great capacity for physical activity.  The long hours spent at hard work in the carpenter shop had prepared him well for the grueling task of his public ministry.

He walked many miles under the blazing Middle Eastern sun in order to preach the Kingdom of God.  He slept many nights under the stars, and he spent much of that time in the bliss of silent prayer.  He found little time to eat because of the multitudes seeking his healing touch, and yet when he did find time to rest, he slept so profoundly that not even a terrible storm could awaken him. 

His body was strong and so was his soul.  During the hours of tribulation in Gethsemane, he persevered in profound prayer while the apostles slept.  When Joseph of Arimathea requested his body for burial, Pilate was surprised to discover that Jesus had died so quickly.  Pilate knew that he had encountered a strong Galilean.

Jesus did not display his divinity in the manner of the mythical figures of Greek and Roman literature.  He did not fly from place to place as though he were some sort of superman. Amazingly, in him the supernatural and the natural were interwoven.  His divinity seemed so simple and normal. 

No mysterious beams of light, flashes of lightning, or peals of thunder occurred as he performed his miracles.  Instead, it was enough for him to touch, or be touched. 

Only once did he show the magnificence of his divinity before a select group of apostles.  Even then, during the Transfiguration, the experience was brief, simple, and discreet. 

Aside from his physical attributes, Jesus knew exactly what he wanted.  He was one with his mission.  Everything that he did proceeded from his passionate desire to fulfill the will of the Father. 

Unlike the complicated discourse of many philosophers and religious leaders, Our Lord's teaching is simple and easy enough for everyone to understand.  However, the message is so clear and precise that his words are irresistible to all those who listen. 

Who is this man that has divided history into two parts?  Who is this man that has divided nations?  Who is this man for whom many of his followers have given their lives rather than deny him?  In this Sunday's gospel narrative Peter tells us who he is: "You are the Christ" (Mark 8: 29). 

Tacitus (54-119 A.D.), Suetonius (75-160 A.D.) and Pliny the Younger (61-115 A.D.) of the ancient Roman Empire all give written historical testimony about the existence of Jesus.      Jewish thinkers Philo (died after 40 A.D.) and more importantly Flavius Josephus (born 37 A.D.) also gives written historical testimony about Jesus and his work. 

There is no historical doubt about the actual existence of Jesus of Nazareth. 

But, Jesus asks the apostles "Who do people say that I am?" (Mark 8: 27).

When we consider all that Jesus said and did, we are faced with the dilemma that C.S. Lewis wrote about in his book Mere Christianity: either Jesus is a liar, a lunatic, or he is who he says that he is: the one true God.

Keep in mind that Jesus of Nazareth fulfilled 1,093 prophecies of the Old Testament. 

What do we need to do in order to truly know Christ Jesus?

Above all, we must be open. Far too many people attempt to live Christianity based upon their own terms.  They do not come to the Lord with open minds and hearts.  Far too many remove pages from the Scriptures and reduce Christianity to their own comfort level.

When we are completely open, the Holy Spirit floods our souls with his loving and peaceful presence.  He cannot enter locked doors and windows that he cannot open.  God respects our freedom.  Only the open can believe and see. 

Knowledge automatically brings us to love.  We only love that which we know.  Our love for the Lord must be authentic and real.  Hypocrisy repulsed the Lord.  "What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if someone says he has faith but does not have works?  Can faith save him?" (James 2: 14).  

Love brings about transformation.  The goal of discipleship is to die to self so that the Lord may live within us.  "Whoever wishes to come after me must deny himself, take up his cross, and follow me" (Mark 8: 34). 

The narrow road of the Gospel is difficult to live.  Nevertheless, it is the only road that leads to eternal life in heaven.

In this Sunday's gospel narrative we discover the drastic invitation of Jesus. "Whoever wishes to come after me must deny himself, take up his cross, and follow me" (Mark 8: 34).   The cross, our personal cross or crosses which cannot be transferred to anyone else is an essential aspect to our walk with the Lord Jesus. 

Jesus and the two thieves were not the only people ever crucified by the Roman Empire.  Crucifixion was the form of capital punishment used for those people living under Roman jurisdiction who were not actually Roman citizens.  Beheading was the punishment for Roman citizens, crucifixion for non-Roman citizens. 

Just think how horrible crucifixion must have been if the Romans spared their own citizens such a terrible death.  So painful was death by crucifixion that the Romans eventually did away with it as a form of capital punishment.

Too many of our contemporaries seek an easy life without suffering, without sacrifice, without renunciation, without mortification.  Many people would like to stand under the cross of Jesus and cry out as did the jeering crowd on the first Good Friday, "Come down from the cross."

However, there is only one Jesus, and he is the crucified Jesus who rose from the dead.  Christianity without the cross is not Christianity; only through the cross of Jesus have we gained salvation.  

So, when we suffer, we should not consider our suffering a burden; rather we must look upon the cross we bear as an immense gift from God. 

Mother Theresa once said: "Suffering is a sign that we have come so close to Jesus on the cross that he can kiss us and that he can show that he is in love with us by giving us an opportunity to share in his passion". 

Undoubtedly there are many forms of suffering that are quite mysterious.  Moreover, the need to carry our cross as an essential dimension of Christianity does not take away the need and the duty to seek cures for illnesses and to make this life a better life for everyone.  Although human progress continues to make this earth a better place for everyone, suffering, in one form or another, will always be a part of our existence.   The meaning of suffering does make sense when we contemplate Jesus Christ crucified and risen from the dead. 

When we ask the question why, we need to look upon the crucifix.  It is only there that we will find the meaning of suffering and the exact reason why we must carry our own cross. 

"Whoever wishes to come after me must deny himself, take up his cross, and follow me.  For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake and that of the gospel will save it" (Mark 8: 34-35).

-----

Father James Farfaglia, is a contributing writer for Catholic Online and author of Get Serious! - A Survival Guide for Serious Catholics.  You can visit him on the web at www.fatherjames.org. 

---


Pope Francis: end world hunger through 'Prayer and Action'


Copywriter 2015 - Distributed by THE NEWS CONSORTIUM

Pope Francis Prayer Intentions for June 2015
Universal:
That immigrants and refugees may find welcome and respect in the countries to which they come.
Evangelization: That the personal encounter with Jesus may arouse in many young people the desire to offer their own lives in priesthood or consecrated life.


Rosaries, Crosses, Prayer Cards and more... by Catholic Shopping .com


Comments


More Living Faith

Learning from Elijah: Shipwreck, Struggle and the Broom Tree

Image of Elijah under the broom tree

By Deacon Keith Fournier

There are lessons that can only be learned under the broom tree. The lesson St Paul gave to the early Christians in Greece about the reality of being shipwrecked and experiencing daily struggles in life is critical in our age. God is searching for men and ... continue reading


Itinerary of the Pope's trip to Cuba and the U.S.A. and his visit to the United Nations

Image of Pope Francis boarding airline.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

VATICAN CITY - The Vatican on Tuesday released the comprehensive itinerary for Pope Francis' journey to the United States and Cuba, including his schedule for Philadelphia for Sept. 26-27.Here is the Holy Father's complete schedule for his September visit to Cuba and ... continue reading


The Ultimate Bucket List: 20 things to do before joining God in Heaven Watch

Image of Add your own bucket list goals.

By Nikky Andres (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Bucket listing has become a popular trend within social media sites and all over the world, ranging from reading best-selling books, to traveling to exotic places on holiday, favorite places to eat, enchanting tourist destinations and so forth. MUNTINLUPA, PHILIPPINES ... continue reading


Religious lawyer calls out to people of faith warning what will happen if they don't 'STAND UP' following gay marriage ruling Watch

Image of Photo credit: Dave Crenshaw - Eastern Oklahoma Catholic

By Linky C. (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

The Supreme Court gave in to LGBT rights advocates on June 26 and legalized same-sex marriage throughout the United States. Now the entire United States court system must recognize the union of two same-sex individuals as legal, creating a social media frenzy around ... continue reading


'Holy Grail' recovered after stolen by burglars Watch

Image of One depiction of the Holy Grail.

By Nikky Andres (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

A year after it was stolen, the police finally recovered a wooden relic believed by some to be the Holy Grail. In July 2014, the invaluable medieval relic was stolen during a raid in Weston Under Penyard near Ross-on-Wye in Herefordshire. The Nanteos Cup has now been ... continue reading


Medjugorje Marian apparitions ruled FALSE? Watch

Image of According to the reports, the congregation did acknowledge Medjugorje as a place of prayer and devotion that can be visited by pilgrims for prayer, though without contacting the supposed visionaries or participating in their

By CNA/EWTN News

If reports in Italian media outlets are to be believed, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith met June 24 to discuss the alleged Marian apparitions in Medjugorje, reaching the conclusion that they are inauthentic, but recognizing the site as a place of ... continue reading


'It can even be morally necessary' Pope Francis reacts to family separation and divorce ahead of the 2015 World Meeting of Families Watch

Image of Pope Francis continues to take interesting stances on traditional Catholic values.

By Linky C. (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

The Catholic Church's point of view when it comes to troubled families and marriage is continuously under scrutiny. Pope Francis released a statement claiming it may be "morally necessary" for families to separate, creating a change in the tone of the Catholic Church's ... continue reading


New study shows close relationships with God positively affects psychological well-being Watch

Image of

By Atarah Haely (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Having the belief that God is intimately involved in an individual's ventures positively affects his/her psychological well-being, according to newly published research. The researchers add that the positive relationship between the two was only observed in Christians, ... continue reading


3 damaging church cultures churchgoers need to look out for Watch

Image of Some churches can grow into a culture that actually hurts members, rather than helping them.

By Atarah Haely (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

After speaking with two seasoned pastors on the topic of church revitalization and growth and reflecting on the conversations with a friend, Ron Edmonson, Senior Pastor of Immanuel Baptist Church in Lexington, KY. and church planter gathered a few observations on ... continue reading


Infallible? Informal? How binding is the new encyclical on Catholics? Watch

Image of

By Adelaide Mena, CNA/EWTN News

With the release of Pope Francis' encyclical on the environment this week came a wave of controversy over the Pope's statements about climate change, species extinction and other scientific topics. Washington D.C. (CNA) - Alongside the debate came a resounding ... continue reading


All Living Faith News

Newsletters

Newsletter Sign Up icon

Stay up to date with the latest news, information, and special offers

Daily Readings

Reading 1, Genesis 19:15-29
15 When dawn broke the angels urged Lot on, 'To your ... Read More

Psalm, Psalms 26:2-3, 9-10, 11-12
2 Probe me, Yahweh, examine me, Test my heart and my ... Read More

Gospel, Matthew 8:23-27
23 Then he got into the boat followed by his ... Read More

Saint of the Day

Saint of the Day for June 30th, 2015 Image

First Martyrs of the See of Rome
June 30: The holy men and women are also called the Protomartyrs of ... Read More

Inform, Inspire & Ignite Logo

Find Catholic Online on Facebook and get updates right in your live feed.

Become a fan of Catholic Online on Facebook


Follow Catholic Online on Twitter and get News and Product updates.

Follow us on Twitter