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 March 2015
Universal:
Scientists: That those involved in scientific research may serve the well-being of the whole human person.
Evangelization: Contribution of women: That the unique contribution of women to the life of the Church may be recognized always.



Comments


More Living Faith

Give God control: 20 verses to help during anxiety and fear Watch

Image of

By Abigail James (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Terrorism, disease, natural disasters, war, violence and crime; we live in a world where we see and hear about horrors every day. People are dying every day, in your city, in my city, in a country on the other side of the world. I am afraid. It's hard not to be afraid. ... continue reading


Three type of people your life may be better off without Watch

Image of

By Hannah Raissa Marfil (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Have you ever wondered why you're wasting your energy dealing with the kind of person who brings you down? Or maybe you're the opposite - you're the one who loves too much and does not know how to say "No." MUNTINLUPA, PHILIPPINES (Catholic Online) - Reality says that ... continue reading


Frodo Baggins and St Therese: The Little Way Through Middle Earth Watch

Image of Frodo alone, while weighed down by the burden of the Ring, is not tempted to use it for his own long term glory, until at the last moment he weakens and the Ring's power infests his heart. 
Frodo is humble, but he is not weak, and what keeps him from being weak is his obedience

By Fr Dwight Longenecker

In giving us a humble hero Tolkien reminds us that it is the foolish things of God which overturn the wisdom of the world. Things are not what they seem. The small ones turn out to be mighty while the mighty are fallen. It is the secret agents of the world who ... continue reading


Drinking the Chalice of the Lord: Facing Suffering, Struggle and Failure Watch

Image of All of those who bear the name Christian are invited to follow the path of Jesus' struggle, to walk along with Him on the way of His rejection. We too are invited to climb the mountain of His great saving act of unmerited selfless Divine love. Golgotha beckons.

By Deacon Keith Fournier

James was the son of Zebedee and brother of John. From faithful stock, we see in this encounter that some forms of zeal may indeed be genetic. In fact, the zeal in both of these brothers caused the Lord to name them the Sons of Thunder.(Mk 3:14-17) However, human ... continue reading


Making a Lenten Retreat with Pope Francis: Learning from Elijah Watch

Image of There is a mystery here, deep and profound, yet as simple as the broom tree encounter of our teacher Elijah. God is searching for men and women who will surrender their lives in love to Him in this hour. Often, it takes the depletion of all of our own efforts and resources before we are willing to give up - and give in - to Him. When we do, the life of true faith begins. It is there we learn to hear the God of surrendered love in the whisper of the wind. It is there that we learn the Faith of Elijah, under the broom tree.

By Deacon Keith Fournier

In many respects, our life on this earth is a classroom of love and a continual invitation to holiness. As we age, we are given the opportunities we need to receive the graces we need to empty ourselves of all that clutters up our life - so that we can be free to ... continue reading


Pope Francis opens the Vatican to the homeless Watch

Image of The homeless are now being welcomed into the Vatican and are sleeping there overnight in sleeping bags donated by Pope Francis.

By Marshall Connolly (Catholic Online)

Pope Francis has opened the Vatican to the homeless, providing them with sleeping accommodations. The number of homeless there has doubled in the past six months as the Pontiff makes a difference in the lives of so many people. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - ... continue reading


Your Catholic Voice Foundation (YCVF) Reports - what your generosity did for Syrian and Iraqi Christians in 2014!

Image of YCVF has helped thousands in need. You can be part of this success too. Help now!

By Marshall Connolly, Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Your Catholic Voice Foundation 2014 Report - Last year, caring, devoted Catholics such as you made thousands of donations to care for Christians in Syria and Iraq. At this time, Your Catholic Voice Foundation would like to report how your donations made a ... continue reading


New rules for Vatican finance offices include protection for 'whistleblowers' Watch

Image of Publishing the new statutes in Italian on its Web site, the new rules governing the Vatican's finances went into effect on March 1. Pope Francis approved the statutes

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Those who find evidence of wrongdoing in the finances governing the Vatican will be protected under new rules. The guidelines governing the guidance, oversight and control of Vatican financial and administrative activities will include the power to levy ... continue reading


Former atheist shares with the world his unbelievable journey finding Jesus Watch

Image of

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Journalist and Pastor Lee Strobel led a "narcissistic and profane" life before his conversion to Christianity in 1981. The former atheist spent two years interviewing experts and exploring theology, when he became overwhelmed by the evidence for Jesus Christ's ... continue reading


Catholic-raised beef. Yep, that's a thing! Watch

Image of A nun's life is filled with unexpected joys and happiness. For the Benedictine nuns of the Abbey of St. Walburnga, ranching and prayer fit perfectly.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

When many Americans think of monks and nuns, they imagine brown or black-clad cloistered people who do nothing but pray all day in perfect isolation from the rest of the world. It's a common misconception and perhaps it dissuades many from a life that is actually ... 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, Jeremiah 17:5-10
5 Yahweh says this, 'Accursed be anyone who trusts in ... Read More

Psalm, Psalms 1:1-2, 3, 4, 6
1 How blessed is anyone who rejects the advice of the ... Read More

Gospel, Luke 16:19-31
19 'There was a rich man who used to dress in purple ... Read More

Saint of the Day

Saint of the Day for March 5th, 2015 Image

St. John Joseph of the Cross
March 5: St. John Joseph of the Cross was born about the middle of the ... 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