Skip to content
Catholic Online Logo

By Fr. James Farfaglia

9/16/2012 (3 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 (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 www.fatherjames.org. 

---


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


Copyright 2016 - Distributed by THE CALIFORNIA NETWORK

Pope Francis Prayer Intentions for June 2016
Universal:
Human Solidarity: That the aged, marginalized, and those who have no one may findeven within the huge cities of the worldopportunities for encounter and solidarity.
Evangelization: Seminarians and Novices: That seminarians and men and women entering religious life may have mentors who live the joy of the Gospel and prepare them wisely for their mission.



Comments


More Living Faith

How the Church can improve your life Watch

Image of Church attendance helps people live longer (girlsallaround).

By Kenya Sinclair (CALIFORNIA NETWORK)

Remember your leaders, who preached the word of God to you, and as you reflect on the outcome of their lives, take their faith as your model. - Hebrews 13:7 LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - God permeates the Church, which acts as a conduit to all God has to offer ... continue reading


'I was a stranger and you welcomed me'

Image of

By Tony Magliano

Over 37 years-ago when Annunciation House - a sanctuary and home of hospitality that has served over 100,000 refugees, homeless poor and undocumented workers - was started in El Paso, Texas, founding director Ruben Garcia and a few friends wanted to place themselves ... continue reading


'Prayer enables grace': Pope Francis encourages prayer Watch

Image of Pope Francis encourages prayer (CNS).

By Elise Harris (CNA/Europa Press)

On Wednesday Pope Francis gave 25 new archbishops the pallium, encouraging them to remain strong in prayer, which he said helps in staying open to God's surprises, rather than closing in on oneself. Vatican City, Italy (CNA/Europa Press) - "Prayer enables grace to open ... continue reading


'It is so heartwarming': Thai Catholics exhibit extraordinary faith Watch

Image of Thailand's ill Catholics hold tight to God's mercy (Asia News).

By Antonio Anup Gonsalves (CNA/EWTN News)

Hundreds of sick and physically challenged people marked the Catholic Church's Year of Mercy in Thailand with a special procession through the Holy Door of the cathedral in the Diocese of Chanthaburi. Chanthaburi, Thailand (CNA/EWTN News) - "As human persons our lives ... continue reading


Colorado Springs Pastor fights to keep Jesus in the city Watch

Image of Pastor fights to keep Jesus advertisements around Colorado Springs (Pinterest).

By Kenya Sinclair (CALIFORNIA NETWORK)

"... all beings in the heavens, on earth and in the underworld, should bend the knee at the name of Jesus" - Philippians 2:10 LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - Jesus' name is so powerful, all must bow before it.That being said, the darkness at work in Colorado ... continue reading


Sister Cecilia Maria's smile stuns Watch

Image of Sister Cecilia Maria (General Curia of the Discalced Carmelites).

By (CNA)

Pictures of a young Argentinian nun - smiling and serene though dying from a devastating battle with cancer - have erupted on social media, with thousands sharing the images and heartfelt prayers. Buenos Aires, Argentina (CNA) - Sister Cecilia Maria lived in Saints ... continue reading


'Your goodness is a place where I feel protected': Pope Francis honors Benedict XVI Watch

Image of Pope Francis spoke to Benedict XVI to say thank you.

By Elise Harris (CNA/EWTN News)

On Tuesday, Benedict XVI gave his second public speech since his final day as Pope, expressing gratitude for a lengthy priesthood and for Pope Francis' "goodness," which he said moves him deeply. Vatican City, Italy (CNA/EWTN News) - Speaking to Pope Francis and ... continue reading


This man built a life sized Ark in Kentucky. See what's next! (PHOTOS) Watch

Image of Ken Ham's Ark Encounter opens July 7.

By Marshall Connolly (CALIFORNIA NETWORK)

A prominent Christian is ready to unveil his $102 million theme park to the public, centered around a life-size replica of Noah's ark. The attraction, known as "Ark Encounter," will open in Williamstown, Kentucky on July 7. LOS ANGELES, CA (California Network) - Ken ... continue reading


'Woman's thought is important': Pope Francis on women deacons Watch

Image of Pope Francis was upset at how the media construed women deacons (WordPress).

By Ann Schneible (CNA/EWTN News)

Pope Francis told journalists on Sunday that he was somewhat angered when reports emerged that the Church was allegedly paving the way for the ordination of women to the diaconate, since no such change is in the works. Vatican City, Italy (CNA/EWTN News) - "The first ... continue reading


'Let us make up for our shortcomings in harmony and charity': Pope Francis to Catholicos Karekin II Watch

Image of Pope Francis works with the Supreme Patriarch and Catholicos Karekin II to offer prayers (Paul Haring/CNS).

By (CNA/EWTN News)

Working toward full communion is a project of love, humility and peace, Pope Francis told Armenian Orthodox leaders gathered at an ecumenical meeting on Saturday. Yerevan, Armenia (CNA/EWTN News) - "With great joy, we are walking together on a journey that has already ... continue reading


All Living Faith News

Newsletters

Newsletter Sign Up icon

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

Subscribe to Catholic OnlineYouTube Channel

the FEED
by Catholic Online

  • First Martyrs of the See of Rome: Saint of the Day for Thursday, June ...
  • America has become craven, that's why Satan is winning
  • 'I was a stranger and you welcomed me'
  • Fatima Morning Offering HD Video
  • Daily Readings for Thursday, June 30, 2016
  • A Prayer for the Departed HD Video
  • How the Church can improve your life

Daily Readings

Reading 1, Amos 7:10-17
10 Amaziah the priest of Bethel then sent word to Jeroboam king of Israel ... Read More

Psalm, Psalms 19:8, 9, 10, 11
8 The precepts of Yahweh are honest, joy for the heart; the commandment ... Read More

Gospel, Matthew 9:1-8
1 He got back in the boat, crossed the water and came to his home ... Read More

Saint of the Day

Saint of the Day for June 30th, 2016 Image

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