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'


2014 - Distributed by THE NEWS CONSORTIUM

Pope Francis Prayer Intentions for October 2014
Peace:
That the Lord may grant peace to those parts of the world most battered by war and violence.
World Mission Day: That World Mission Day may rekindle in every believer zeal for carrying the Gospel into all the world.



Comments


More Living Faith

Christians shouldn't badmouth others, Pope warns Watch

Image of People are

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Speaking at his weekly general audience in St. Peter's Square this week, Pope Francis says that Christians must set a good example lest they drive people away into atheism. "How many times we've heard in our neighborhoods, 'Oh that person over there always goes ... continue reading


'Structural causes' of poverty must be dismantled, Pope tells activists Watch

Image of

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

In a wide-ranging speech to activists, Pope Francis urged the gathered to join the fight against the "structural causes" of poverty and inequality, calling for a "revolutionary" program drawn from the Gospels. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - "The poor no ... continue reading


God's existence does not contradict the discoveries of science, Pope Francis says Watch

Image of The pontiff reassured that the Big Bang theory, as well as the theory of evolution do not eliminate the existence of God.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

God remains the one who set all of creation into motion, Pope Francis told the Pontifical Academy of Sciences this week. The pontiff reassured that the Big Bang theory, as well as the theory of evolution do not eliminate the existence of God. LOS ANGELES, CA ... continue reading


Yesterday's Faith is Not Enough: How We Can Overcome Pride Watch

Image of Monks in prayer

By Deacon Keith A Fournier

Jesus continued to do what the Father had sent Him to do, in spite of opposition from apparently religious people. We are invited to follow his example. He will give us the grace to do so, if we ask Him. St Josemaria Escriva used a phrase to refer to the kind of ... continue reading


Christian rapper comes out of the closet --as straight Watch

Image of Jackie Hill-Perry is living testament to the power of God to change those who are willing to accept Him.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Christian rapper, Jackie Hill-Perry has come out of the closet --as straight. Hill-Perry says she experienced gender confusion after being sexually abused as a child and sought same-sex relationships until she says God helped her to change for the better. LOS ANGELES, ... continue reading


Every Christian is 'to create unity in the Church,' Pope Francis declares Watch

Image of This creating of unity in the Church, the Pope said, recounting the reading from Saint Paul to the Philippians,

By CNA/EWTN News

In his homily for Mass at the Santa Marta residence on Oct. 24, Pope Francis reflected on the call of Christians to perpetuate unity in the Church by being "living stones" built upon the "cornerstone of Christ." Vatican City (CNA/EWTN News) - This creating of ... continue reading


Abolish death penalty and life imprisonment, Pope Francis declares Watch

Image of The Vatican recently eliminated life imprisonment from its own penal code, Pope Francis noted.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Calling for the abolition of the death penalty as well as life imprisonment, Pope Francis soundly denounced what he called a "penal populism." The world's prescribed cure for crime - punishment, should never overtake the pursuit for social justice, he says. LOS ... continue reading


Making a Difference - Newly beatified pope championed justice and peace

Image of Pope Paul VI addresses the UN during his 1965 appeal for peace.

By Tony Magliano

With numerous armed conflicts raging in various parts of the world, and the Vietnam War worsening, Pope Paul VI on Oct. 4, 1965 proclaimed before the U.N. General Assembly: "No more war, war never again. It is peace, peace which must guide the destinies of peoples and ... continue reading


'War does not begin in the battlefield. Wars begin in the heart,' Pope Francis says Watch

Image of

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Speaking at his weekly general audience in St. Peter's Square, Pope Francis addressed the topic of war. With the majority of the world engaged in some sort of battle, and it's up to the individual to realize that major conflicts begin with little things. LOS ... continue reading


Finding the Path to Peace Through Forgiveness Watch

Image of For he (Jesus) is our peace, he made both one and broke down the dividing wall of enmity, through his Flesh, abolishing the law with its commandments and legal claims, that he might create in himself one new person in place of the two, thus establishing peace, and might reconcile both with God, in one Body, through the cross, putting that enmity to death by it. He came and preached peace to you who were far off and peace to those who were near, for through him we both have access in one Spirit to the Father- St Paul

By Deacon Keith A Fournier

In 1999 I was a part of Project Reconciliation led by a true peacemaker, paralyzed police officer Detective Steven McDonald. This trip was a part of Steven McDonald's mission of preaching peace through forgiveness. It had the goal of helping to heal the wounds ... 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, Ephesians 6:10-20
10 Finally, grow strong in the Lord, with the ... Read More

Psalm, Psalms 144:1, 2, 9-10
1 [Of David] Blessed be Yahweh, my rock, who trains ... Read More

Gospel, Luke 13:31-35
31 Just at this time some Pharisees came up. 'Go ... Read More

Saint of the Day

Saint of the Day for October 30th, 2014 Image

St. Alphonsus Rodriguez
October 30: Confessor and Jay brother, also called Alonso. He was born in ... 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