Tuesday, 10 July 2012

Are you sure you know Jesus? 1/..


In the Roman Latin Rite we do say in each Mass this prayer, right before Communion: "Lord Jesus Christ look not on our sins but on the faith of your Church". What a mysterious expression: “the faith of the Church”!
We believe what the Church believes. The one who baptises, baptises according to the faith of the Church. But what is the Contents of the Faith of the Church ? Some might say : - it is the Creed. To a degree, the Creed sums up all our Faith. Others would add: - it is the Faith transmitted by the Apostles. Reminding us that all the contents of the “Revelation” is given to us, until the last Apostle (John) dies. After that, there is nothing “new” to be added. All that is true.

But I would like to go further a bit, if you don't mind. The capacity to believe is not that obvious. If we focus a little on the Apostles themselves, we'll find that they had their own journey of growth, and they themselves acknowledge to us, many times, in the the Scriptures (the New Testament), that they couldn't believe, that they failed.

The core of our faith

Are you struggling to follow me here? Well, let us swiftly try to sum up the essence of our Faith (the Faith of the Church). How could you sum up our creed? Or, if you prefer, what is the main point in our Creed, without it we consider that our faith is empty?

if Christ be not risen, then is our preaching vain, and your faith is also vain” (1 Co 15:14) The belief in the Death and Resurrection of Jesus is the core of our faith. To go from where we are to where God is, from darkness to God Himself, this takes a journey, it needs a bridge, and without that bridge, we can't reach God. Remember Adam's fall. We are not living in the joy of the Presence of God! Without that "bridge", without Christ and what he realises on the Cross, we can't reach the Father.

We can sum up the preaching of Jesus, with a bit of exaggeration, in saying: “I will die and I will rise again”. To be true, the Lord Himself does it, and He does it, for three times. You may have a look at Matthew, chapter 16, you'll see His first announcement of His Death and Resurrection. From that time on Jesus began to explain to his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things at the hands of the elders, the chief priests and the teachers of the law, and that he must be killed and on the third day be raised to life.” (Mt 16:21) This announcement is followed by two, almost identical ones: see Mt 17:22-23; 20:17-19.

As I was saying, the striking thing is that for such vital matter, the Apostles not only failed in believing Jesus, in believing His Word, His only Word that mattered in all His Message: "I will die, and I will rise again", but they also recognised it in their teaching: we failed.
If the first part ("I will die") was the biggest shock in their last 3 years – they were shattered – the second part of Jesus' word ("I will rise again") is impossible to grasp. He is dead, and He IS dead. It ends here. The concept of Resurrection itself is something really very far from their grasp. Remember the day the big-three (Peter, James and John) were coming down after the Transfiguration, He mentions His Resurrection, but they were wondering “what it meant”. “As they were coming down the mountain, Jesus gave them orders not to tell anyone what they had seen until the Son of Man had risen from the dead. They kept the matter to themselves, discussing what “rising from the dead” meant.” (Mark 9:9-10) The concept is new. Unheard of.

Now, I leave you the leisure to go through all the accounts of the Resurrection in the four Gospels, and try to find one Apostle, or one of the holy Women, who believed in Jesus' Resurrection.

Peter and John? They didn't believe. They still did not understand from Scripture that Jesus had to rise from the dead.” (John 20:9)

Mary Magdalene? She didn't believe, she was preparing during all the sabbath, in secret (you can't show that you are working), the species in order to burry again the Lord. She saw Him Risen and thought she was speaking to the gardener who took his body. See John 20.

So, amongst the Apostles, who believed in the Resurrection? Simply: nobody.

Let us be serious here for a second. If this is “our faith”, if this is “the faith of the Church”, the “faith of the Apostles” there is a serious problem. The Apostles themselves are telling us clearly that they didn't believe. So, in very clear terms, nobody was waiting for Him to Rise. Actually, this is what many would assume.

So all these stories of the 5 wise virgins (Mt 25:1-13), is just unbelievable: your master (any Apostle) can't invite you (they are the ones who wrote the Gospel, of course inspired by the Holy Spirit) to do something that he himself wasn't able to do. This is why, I don't easily buy the fact that “the faith of the Church” is exactly “the faith of the Apostles”. There is a missing link.

Is there anybody waiting for Jesus the Risen Lord, early morning on Sunday?

To help you find the answer, let me go back in time, for a while, to the beginning of Luke's Gospel. This we will see in the next post.

PS: You may want to watch the video of the lesson on Our Lady in our spiritual life (you may want to split it in little bits, since it is long. The following is the first part.):

(to be continued)

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