Skip to content
Catholic Online Logo

By Fr. James Farfaglia

9/16/2012 (3 years ago)

Catholic Online (

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).


By Fr. James Farfaglia

Catholic Online (

9/16/2012 (3 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 


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

Copywriter 2015 - Distributed by THE NEWS CONSORTIUM

Pope Francis Prayer Intentions for October 2015
That human trafficking, the modern form of slavery, may be eradicated.
Evangelization: That with a missionary spirit the Christian communities of Asia may announce the Gospel to those who are still awaiting it.


More Living Faith

3 Biblical ways to achieve small victories in our Walk with God Watch

Image of Walk with God.


Life struggles are inevitable but to look at them more than just a bump in the road is like putting rocks in your backpack before a hike. God doesn't want that - our journey to Him is meant to shape us in a way He planned for us. Little by little, we achieve victories ... continue reading

Families 'free us from the sea of loneliness and indifference,' Pope Francis says Watch

Image of After recently concluding a series of catechesis on the family as a lead-in to this year's synod gathering, Pope Francis explained that he would start a new catechesis on the

By Elise Harris, CNA/EWTN News

Family rescues us from indifference and loneliness and teaches us the essentials of life, Pope Francis said - adding that as the family of God, the Church has the same role and must evaluate how to live this out. Vatican City (CNA/EWTN News) - "Like Saint ... continue reading

Respecting life the Gospel way Watch

Image of

By Tony Magliano

For the sake of our salvation, we need to pay serious attention, and act with purpose, to what Jesus teaches here in Matthew's Gospel: "When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit upon his glorious throne, and all the nations will ... continue reading

Young girl blessed by Pope Francis during visit to U.S. believes the 'miracle has begun' Watch

Image of Julia Bruzzese was blessed by Pope Francis.


12-year-old Julia Bruzzese, who has been experiencing symptoms of Lyme disease, suffered from sudden paralysis that doctors are still unable to explain. However, following a blessing from Pope Francis, the young girl seems to be healing. NEW YORK, NY (Catholic Online) ... continue reading

'God did not create us to live in sorrow or to be alone,' Pope Francis says of marriage Watch

Image of Pope Francis' comments were made during his Oct. 4 Mass marking the official opening of this year's Ordinary Synod of Bishops on the Family.

By Elise Harris, CNA/EWTN News

Pope Francis formally opened the synod of bishops Sunday, telling participants that the union between a man and woman is the foundation of God's plan for the family, and a solution to the many forms of loneliness in today's world. Vatican City (CNA/EWTN News) - ... continue reading

FULL TEXT: Family synod prayer vigil, Pope Francis's full address Watch

Image of

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Presiding over a prayer vigil in St. Peter's Square, Pope Francis led the beginning of the Extraordinary Synod of Bishops on the Family, at the Vatican. Drawing tens of thousands of the faithful, many were present in the Square since the afternoon for a ... continue reading

Vatican issues statement in regards to monsignor's declaration of homosexuality Watch

Image of


The director of the Holy See press office has issued a statement in response to Vatican official Msgr. Krzysztof Charamsa's declaration in a recent interview that he is homosexual and has a boyfriend. Vatican City (CNA/EWTN News) - Msgr. Charamsa, 43, granted a ... continue reading

Guardian Angels are always by our sides, Pope Francis says Watch

Image of Pope Francis explained that when Adam and Eve were expelled from the Garden of Eden, God could have left them to fend for themselves. Instead, as an act of love and mercy, the Lord sent with them an angel to guide and protect them.


Each of us has a Guardian Angel who, acting on behalf of God, advises us and protects us from evil, if we only listen to him, Pope Francis said during his homily at Mass on Friday. Vatican City (CNA/EWTN News) - "May we ask the Lord for the grace of this ... continue reading

Top 5 Bible verses to turn to when you're angry Watch

Image of What does the Bible have to say about anger?

By Kenya Sinclair (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

What makes you angry? Maybe you don't like the way your boss talks to you at work or your spouse spends too much money. What do you do when you feel anger coming on? Who do you turn to? LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - When we get angry we can say or do things we ... continue reading

Megachurch Pastor's new book tells people to 'get over themselves' Watch

Image of Pastor Kyle Idleman (YouTube).


Megachurch Pastor Kyle Idleman claims that to live life, "everyone simply needs to get over themselves" to truly "experience abundant life with Jesus," a theory he promotes in his new book The End of Me: Where Real Life in the Upside-Down Ways of Jesus Begins. LOS ... continue reading

All Living Faith News


Newsletter Sign Up icon

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

Subscribe to Catholic OnlineYouTube Channel

Daily Readings

Reading 1, Joel 1:13-15; 2:1-2
13 Priests, put on sackcloth and lament! You ... Read More

Psalm, Psalms 9:2-3, 6, 16, 8-9
6 the enemy is wiped out -- mere ruins for ever -- ... Read More

Gospel, Luke 11:15-26
15 But some of them said, 'It is through Beelzebul, ... Read More

Saint of the Day

Saint of the Day for October 9th, 2015 Image

Sts. Denis, Rusticus, and Eleutherius
October 9: The first mention we have of these three martyrs who died around ... Read More