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Jesus heard John's preaching and joined the crowds for baptism in the Jordan River. Following his baptism Jesus went into the desert for prayer and meditation. It is clear that Jesus had some consciousness of a divine calling, and in the desert he thought through its meaning. The Gospels report that he was tempted there by Satan as to what kind of leader Jesus would choose to be—a miracle worker, a benefactor who would bring people what they wanted, a king wielding great power. Jesus accepted a harder and less popular mission, that of the herald of the kingdom of God.

Returning from the desert, Jesus began preaching and teaching in Galilee. His initial proclamation was similar to John's: "The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent, and believe in the gospel" Mark ; Revised Standard Version. This message was both frightening and hopeful. It told people not to cling to the past, that God would overthrow old institutions and ways of life for a wonderful new future. This future would be especially welcomed by the poor, the powerless, the peacemakers.

It would be threatening to the rich, the powerful, the cruel, and the unjust. Jesus attracted 12 disciples to follow him. They were mainly fishermen and common workers. Of the 12 it seems that Peter, James, and John were closest to Jesus. Peter's home in Capernaum, a city on the Sea of Galilee , became a headquarters from which Jesus and the disciples moved out into the countryside. Sometimes he talked to large crowds.

Then he might withdraw with the 12 to teach only them. Or he might go off by himself for long periods of prayer. On one occasion he sent out the disciples, two by two, to spread the message of God's kingdom. The records concerning Jesus report many miracles. Through the years there have been great disagreements about these reports. For centuries most people in civilizations influenced by the Bible not only believed literally in the miracles but took them as proofs that Jesus had a supernatural power. Then, in an age of rationalism and skepticism, men often doubted the miracles and denounced the reports as fraudulent.

Today, partly because of psychosomatic medicine and therapy, people are more likely to believe in the possibilities of faith healing. The Bible candidly reports that on some occasions, when people had no faith, Jesus could do no mighty works. People were especially skeptical in his home-town, where they had known him as a boy Mark However, usually the Gospels report the healings as signs of the power of God and His coming kingdom. Jesus taught people in small groups or large gatherings; his sayings are reported in friendly conversations or in arguments with those who challenged him.

At times he made a particularly vivid comment in the midst of a dramatic incident. The starting point of his message, as already noted, was the announcement of the coming of the kingdom of God. Since this kingdom was neither a geographical area nor a system of government, it might be better to translate the phrase as "God's reign.

The rest of Jesus' teaching followed from this message about the reign of God. At times he taught in stories or parables that described the kingdom or the behavior of people who acknowledged God's reign. Perhaps the most famous of his many parables are those of the Prodigal Son and the Good Samaritan. At times he pronounced ethical commandments detailing the demands upon men of a loving and righteous God.

At times Jesus taught his disciples to pray: the words that he gave them in the Lord's Prayer are often used today. Jesus' teaching was a subtle teaching, and often it was directed to the needs of a particular person in a specific time and place. Therefore almost any summary can be challenged by statements of Jesus that point in an opposite direction. One way to explore the dynamics of his teachings is to investigate some of its paradoxes. Five are worth mentioning here.

First, Jesus combined an utter trust in God with a brute realism about the world. On the one hand, he told men not to be anxious about life's problems, because God knows their needs and will look out for them.

Early Years

So if men trust God and seek His kingdom, God will look out for the rest of their needs. Yet, on the other hand, Jesus knew well that life can be tough and painful. He asked men to give up families and fortunes, to accept persecution out of faithfulness to him, thus promising them a hard life. Second, Jesus taught both ethical rigor and forgiveness. He demanded of men more than any other prophet or teacher had asked. He criticized the sentimentalists who call him "Lord, Lord" but do not obey him, and he told men that, if they are to enter God's kingdom, their righteousness must exceed that of the scribes and Pharisees, who made exceedingly conscientious efforts to obey God's laws.

He told men not to be angry or contemptuous with others, not to lust after women, and not to seek revenge but to love their enemies. Yet this same Jesus understood human weakness. He was known as a friend of sinners who warned men not to make judgments of others whom they consider sinful. He forgave men their sins and told about a God who seeks to save sinners. Third, Jesus represented a kind of practicality that offends the overly spiritual-minded; but he also espoused an expectation of a future world God's reign that will make the attractions of this world unimportant.

As a worldly man, he wanted to relieve hunger and sickness. He wanted no escape from responsibility into worship. He taught that sometimes a man would better leave church and go to undo the wrongs he has done. But with this attention to the world was coupled the recognition that men are foolish to seek security and happiness in wealth or possessions. They would do better to give away their riches and to accept persecution.

Jesus promised—or warned—that God's reign will reverse many of the values of this world. Fourth, Jesus paradoxically combined love and peace with conflict. His followers called him the Prince of Peace, because he sought to reconcile men to God and each other. He summed up all the commandments in two: love for God and love for men. He refused to retaliate against those who had harmed him but urged his followers to forgive endlessly—not simply seven times but seventy times seven. Yet he was not, as some have called him, "gentle Jesus, meek and mild" he attacked evil fearlessly, even in the highest places.

Fifth, Jesus promised joy, freedom, and exuberant life; yet he expected sacrifice and self-denial. He warned men not to follow him unless they were ready to suffer. But he told people to rejoice in the wonders of God's reign, to celebrate the abundant life that he brings. To some people Jesus was a teacher or rabbi. The healing ministry did not necessarily change that conception of him, because other rabbis were known as healers. But Jesus was a teacher of peculiar power, and he was sometimes thought to be a prophet.

Jesus certainly was a herald of the kingdom of God. But then a question arises: was he simply talking about God and his reign, or did he have some special relationship to that kingdom? Those who heard Jesus were frequently perplexed. In some ways he was a modest, even humble man. Instead of making claims for himself or accepting admiration, he turned people's thoughts from himself to God.

But at other times he asked immense loyalty of his disciples. And he astonished people by challenging time-honored authority—even the authority of the Bible—with his new teachings. He was so audacious as to forgive sins, although men said that only God could do that. There was also the question whether it was possible that Jesus was the Messiah. For generations some of the Jewish people had hoped that God would send a king, an heir of the great King David of past history, who would undo the oppression that the Jews suffered, would reestablish the glorious old kingdom, and would bring justice.

Some expected even more—that a divine savior would come and inaugurate a radical transformation of life. Various reports in the New Testament lead to various possible conclusions. Today some scholars think that Jesus never claimed to be the Messiah. Others feel that he clearly did. But there was one occurrence that is especially interesting. Once, in the neighborhood of Caesarea Philippi , a city north of the Sea of Galilee Mark , Jesus asked his disciples, "Who do men say that I am?

Then Jesus asked, "But who do you say that I am? Why, if he accepted the designation, did he want it kept a secret? One persuasive answer often given is that Jesus was radically revising the traditional idea of the Messiah. If the people thought he was the promised Messiah, they would demand that he live up to their expectations. He had no intention of becoming a conquering king who would overthrow Rome. Jesus, who knew the Old Testament well, had read the Messianic prophecies.

He had also read the poems of the suffering servant in Second Isaiah, the unknown prophet whose writings are now in Isaiah, chapters These tell of a servant of God and man, someone despised and rejected, who would bear the cost of the sins of others and bring healing to them. It may be that Jesus combined in his own mind the roles of the Messiah and the suffering servant. The undeniable fact is that his life and character were of such a sort that they convinced his followers he was the Messiah who, through his suffering love, could bring men a new experience of foregiveness and new possibilities for human and social life.

Soon after Peter's confession Jesus led his disciples to Jerusalem in an atmosphere of gathering crisis. On the day now known as Palm Sunday he entered the city, while his disciples and the crowds hailed him as the Son of David, who came in the name of the Lord. The next day Jesus went to the Temple and drove out the money changers and those who sold pigeons for sacrifices, accusing them of turning "a house of prayer" into a "den of robbers.

During the following days he entered into controversies with the priests and authoritative teachers of religion. Their anger led them to plot to get rid of him, but they hesitated to do anything in the daytime, since many people were gathered for the feast of Passover. On Thursday night Jesus had a meal with his disciples. After the meal Jesus went to the Garden of Gethsemane, where he prayed alone.

His prayer shows that he expected a conflict, that he still hoped that he might avoid suffering, but that he expected to do God's will.

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There into the garden one of his disciples, Judas Iscariot , led the priests and the temple soldiers, who seized Jesus. That same night Jesus' captors took him to a trial before the temple court, the Sanhedrin. Several evidences indicate that this was an illegal trial, but the Sanhedrin declared that Jesus was a blasphemer deserving death.

Since at that time only the Roman overlords could carry out a death sentence, the priests took Jesus to Pilate, the Roman governor of Judea. Pilate apparently was reluctant to condemn Jesus, since it was doubtful that Jesus had disobeyed any Roman laws. But as the ruler of a conquered province, Pilate was suspicious of any mass movements that might become rebellions.

And he also preferred to keep the religious leaders of the subjugated people as friendly as possible. Jesus, as a radical intruder into the conventional system, and believing that obedience to God sometimes required defiance of human authority, represented a threat to both the Sanhedrin and the Romans.

Pilate thus ordered the crucifixion of Jesus. Roman soldiers beat him, put a crown of thorns on his head, and mocked him as a fraudulent king. Then they took him to the hill Golgotha "the Skull" , or Calvary, and killed him as an insurrectionist. Pilate ordered a sign placed above his head: "King of the Jews.

That same day now known as Good Friday Jesus was buried in a cavelike tomb. On Sunday morning now celebrated as Easter , the Gospels report, Jesus rose from the dead and met his disciples. Others immediately rejected the claim of the resurrection, and the controversy has continued through the centuries. The New Testament states very clearly that the risen Christ did not appear to everybody.

Among those who saw Jesus were Cephas Peter , the 12 disciples, "more than five hundred brethren at one time," James, "all the apostles," and finally Paul. Other records tell of appearances to Mary Magdalene and other women and of a variety of meetings with the disciples both in the Jerusalem area and in Galilee. The four Gospels all say that the tomb of Jesus was empty on Easter morning, but Paul never mentions the empty tomb. None of the records ever tells of an appearance of the risen Christ to anyone who had not been a follower of Jesus or like Paul had not been deeply disturbed by him.

The evidence is very clear that the followers of Jesus were absolutely convinced of his resurrection. The experience of the risen Jesus was so overwhelming that it turned their despair into courage. Even though it might have been easier, and certainly would have been safer, to regard Jesus as dead, the disciples spread the conviction that he had risen, and they persisted in telling their story at the cost of persecution and death.

Furthermore they were sure that their experiences of Jesus were not private visions; rather, as in the statement quoted above, they "ate and drank with him. There are thousands of books about Jesus, written for many purposes and from many points of view. Those mentioned here are only a few of the most reputable works using the methods of modern historical scholarship.

Although many scholars doubt, on the basis of the sources, that an objective biography of Jesus can be written, several noteworthy attempts should be mentioned. Hooke A very readable biography by a distinguished American scholar is Edgar J. Goodspeed, A Life of Jesus More frequent than biographies among contemporary scholars are efforts to interpret the sources in their meaning for modern man's belief in Jesus. Robinson The most important sources for all these works are the letters of Paul and the Gospels of the New Testament. Matthew, Mark, and Luke are known as Synoptic Gospels because they parallel each other in many respects, although each has its own point of view.

The fourth Gospel, John, has a different structure and a more highly articulated theological position. Cite this article Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography. July 1, Retrieved July 01, from Encyclopedia. Then, copy and paste the text into your bibliography or works cited list. Because each style has its own formatting nuances that evolve over time and not all information is available for every reference entry or article, Encyclopedia. Jesus is the historical figure identified by the many forms of Christian tradition as its point of historical origin and the means of Christian believers' eternal destiny.

Jesus of Nazareth was a popular Jewish teacher who reflected the tradition of his day — often associated with the Pharisee group of Jews — adhering to a belief in a future resurrection of the dead associated with a day of judgment and a new form of the kingdom of God. After his death his disciples claimed that he had risen from the dead, a resurrection belief characterizing his disciple group that soon broke away from traditional Judaism to become the earliest Christian Church.

This means that the person of Jesus became inextricably bound up with the idea of the conquest of death. Indeed, the novelty of the New Testament does not lie in a general belief in resurrection but in a commitment to the specific belief that it had already taken place in Jesus and, because of that, all who believe in him and are his followers will also be granted a resurrection to eternal life. The significance of Jesus as far as death is concerned does not simply lie in the belief that he was resurrected, but that his death, in and of itself, achieved specific purposes.

Here death becomes a symbolic vehicle for a number of ideas, largely grounded in the notions of sacrifice and salvation and traditionally spoken of as theories of atonement explaining how his death beneficially changed the relationship between God and humanity from hostility to reconciliation. The prime meaning given to the death of Jesus both in the New Testament and in subsequent theologies is that it was an act of atonement expressed as a sacrifice.

It is important to appreciate the fullness of the extent of this symbolism and the way it has entered into many of the cultures of the world. The death of Jesus could not have been interpreted as a sacrifice without the long historical tradition of the pre-existing Hebrew Bible and the Jewish ritual practices conducted at Jerusalem 's temple, especially animal sacrifices for Jerusalem was then a center for animal sacrifice in which the shed blood was the means of removing personal sin.

This was a religion in which morality and sacrifice were closely bound together as a means of forgiving the sin engendered by the breaking of divine commandments. The life of the beast was reckoned to be in its blood and it was the ending of that life that made possible the forgiveness of sins. Another important strand of this tradition regarded suffering as the means of atoning for sin as in the image of the suffering servant of God who would be an agent for the deliverance of God's chosen people, Israel.

This perspective was developed by some of the rabbis in the early Christian period to argue that death was the most extreme form of suffering, one that was actually experienced by dying individuals who might thereby atone for their sins in and through their own death. The earliest Christian traditions tended to foster these ideas, emphasizing them to varying degree, but seeing in Jesus both the sacrificial lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world and the suffering servant.

Much has been made of the fact that Jesus did not die a natural death but died as a criminal by the appointed method of crucifixion. This raises an interesting issue over blood as a medium of sacrifice. Crucifixion as practiced by the Romans, and it was on Roman authority that he was crucified, did not necessarily involve the use of nails and the shedding of blood. Criminals could be tied to crosses and die of asphyxiation when they could no longer bear the weight of their body on their legs. Indeed, their legs might be broken to ensure this took place. It was a slow form of punishing death.

None of the Gospel stories tell of Jesus being nailed to the cross and John's Gospel has to add the specific, and unusual, comment that a soldier standing by pierced his side with a spear out of which came "blood and water" John This is because John's Gospel has a specific interest in blood as a medium of salvation from sin. In various letters of the New Testament , especially the Letter to the Hebrews , great stress is placed upon Jesus as the High Priest who offers his own blood in a sacrificial ritual Heb.

The overall Christian idea is that Jesus and his sacrificial death form the basis for the New Covenant between God and humanity. One aspect of Christ's sacrificial death is reflected in the idea that he was either a representative of or a substitute for believers with the result that his death is related to their ongoing life and, as significant, that their death is no longer just a personal and private event.

This is because the language of death, that of Jesus and of the believer, comes to be the means of interpreting one's life and is given fullest formal expression in the language of worship and ethics. Many Christian hymns reflect upon these matters and have ensured that the death of Christ has always remained at the forefront of Christian thought.

The piety that sometimes arises in connection with this focus upon Christ's suffering and death has often been profound and is one means of eliciting the responsive love of individuals to God for the love shown to them. For St. Paul , the combined death and resurrection of Jesus takes place at and as the turning point in history between the Jewish religion focused on a single nation and governed by the divine law — Israel's Torah — and the new international community of believers in Christ inspired by the divine revelation of the gospel.

This "good news" was that God forgave the sins of all through this sacrificial death and, in the new unified community, created and led by the Spirit of God, there was a new kind of "body" of Christ — the church — existing in the world. The promises and pre-existing history of Israel had now come to fulfillment in this new community of love through God's action against humanity's sin to demonstrate the divine righteousness and to create a righteous world as expressed in different theories of atonement. Early fathers of the church offered variations on the theme of the life and sacrificial death of Jesus within a legal framework, one that viewed relationships in terms of rights, duties, ownership, and obligations.

These are sometimes called legal or juridical theories of the atonement. Origen , writing in the third century, saw Christ's death as a form of ransom paid to the devil who had gained certain rights over fallen humanity. Human sin was a kind of debt resulting from the fact that people did not render the honor due to God. Not only ought humanity to return into obedience to God but some satisfaction should also be provided for the outrage perpetrated against the divine. And this was what the voluntary death of Jesus accomplished. His death becomes a satisfaction for the sins of humanity.

This view contradicted that earlier theological suggestion that Christ's death was a payment to the devil. One element of Anselm's thought speaks of the death of Jesus as an example of how ordinary humans ought to live by giving voluntary offerings to God. Abelard, a younger contemporary, developed his exemplary theory further arguing that the suffering death of Jesus should so stir the lives of believers that they would respond anew to God.

Something of this exemplarist view also stirred the imagination of early-twentieth-century theologians as when Hastings Rashdall — saw God's love revealed in the life and death of Jesus in ways that evoked a human response to a life of service, as published in The Idea of Atonement in Christian Theology This broad tradition expresses the positive accomplishment of Jesus and the sense of confident benefit received by believers through it.

In more recent and popular forms this doctrine of the power of Christ over the devil has been used in Pentecostal and Charismatic forms of Christianity in relation to exorcism and gaining power over evil spirits reckoned to be afflicting the sick. The death of Jesus did not, however, simply forge the first Christian groups or give opportunity for abstract theology but became central to three ritual practices: baptism, the Eucharist , and funerals. These ensured that the image of death would be kept firmly before Christian consciousness for the next 2, years.

Baptism is a rite in which water becomes a symbol expressing several meanings, including 1 the normal function of water to cleanse the body, in this case the cleansing of sin viewed as an impurity or stain to be removed; 2 the biological "waters" associated with birth, in this case symbolizing spiritual birth so that a baptized person can be spoken of as being "born again"; and 3 the image of death, specifically the death of Jesus, for when someone becomes a Christian through baptism he or she is said to "die with Christ.

In this way the historical death of Jesus has come to be invested with deep theological significance and forms the basis for individual believers to reflect upon the meaning of their own lives. In religious terms not only are they said to have died to their old nature and to have been born again with a new nature on the single occasion of their baptism, but they are also called to "die daily" in a spiritual commitment to live a "new life. This emphasis on the transformation from death to life, both in the death of Jesus and in the experience of Christians , is reinforced and developed in a special way in the rite called by a variety of names including the Eucharist, the Mass, the Holy Communion, or the Lord's Supper.

In major Christian traditions such as Greek and Russian Orthodoxy, Catholicism, Lutheranism, and Anglicanism, both baptism and the Lord's Supper are regarded as sacraments — special ritual activities in which the outward signs of water, bread, and wine reflect spiritual depths and foster the whole life in the process of salvation. The Eucharist enacts an account of the Last Supper , itself probably a traditional Jewish Passover meal that expressed God's covenant with Israel, held by Jesus with his disciples just before he undergoes the agony of commitment to God's purposes in the Garden of Gethsemane, where he is finally betrayed, arrested, and executed.

The Eucharist tells how it was on that night of betrayal that he took a cup of wine and told his disciples that it was his own blood that is shed for them and that they should repeat the act of drinking it as a way of remembering him. And so too with bread that they should eat in memory of his body given for them. Different traditions have developed these themes, some stressing aspects of remembrance as a mental act and talking about wine and bread as simply wine and bread, some even use nonalcoholic wine or even water.

Others, especially in the Catholic traditions, speak of the Mass as a "transubstantiation" rite in which the bread and wine "become" the body and blood of Christ through the priest's authority and the proper conducting of the ritual. A major train of thought interprets the Mass as a rite in which the death of Jesus is not simply represented but is also represented.

Modern believers enter into the foundational and epoch-making moments in the life and death of Jesus. The familiarity of these rites possibly tend to cloud the significance of what they express and yet when believers take the communion bread and wine they are engaging with symbols of death and life and bring the death and life of Jesus into intimate association with their own lives and death.

Not only that, the rite also mentions the death and eternal life of various ancient saints of the church as well as of the more recently dead.

The Story of Ruth

Not only do many Christians pray for the dead but also invoke the saints to pray for the living. In other words, the eucharistic rite activates an entire network in which the living and the dead are caught up together within the Kingdom of God. Finally, it is in funeral rites that the death of Jesus has come to play a significant part and these rites have become a major feature of the impact of Christian churches upon many societies.

Once more, the death of individual believers is associated with the death of Jesus, their grave is symbolically linked to his and, in turn, his resurrection is proclaimed to be the basis for their future life. Christian burial has come to contain two paradoxical elements reflected in the well-known phrases, "earth to earth, ashes to ashes, dust to dust" and "in the sure and certain hope of the resurrection.

The very existence of baptism, the Eucharist, and funerals reflected and stimulated Christian theological explorations of the death of Jesus as a creative source of life, fostering the view that death may not be a futile end but, in some way, beneficial as in the twentieth century's world wars whose millions of dead have been depicted as not dying in vain but as valiant warriors fighting for the truth.

Jesus (persons In The Bible) |

Many war memorials rehearse the saying accorded to Jesus in St. John's Gospel: "Greater love has no man than this, that he lay down his life for his friend. In many contexts of disaster and catastrophe relatives of the dead often seek some explanation of why the loss occurred and express the hope that something good may come out of it or that some lesson may be learned in order that, as the expression holds, "this may never happen again. After Jesus died, the cave-tomb where he had been placed was found to be empty and the body unfound.

Disciples say he appeared to them and believed that he had been raised from the dead. The contemporary popular Jewish belief in resurrection came to sharp focus: Resurrection had become personalized in Jesus. The early disciples also reckoned that a spiritual power had transformed them into a strong community, exemplifying the new message of God's love for all, irrespective of social or ethnic background. Identity within the new community of the church involved belief in the triumph over death conferred by this spiritual power coming to believers.

From the eighteenth century on scholars used historical analysis of biblical texts to interpret Jesus's life, cutting through centuries of developed dogma. Albert Schweitzer 's important works, including The Quest for the Historical Jesus , argue that Jesus believed the world and history were coming to an end and that he was the Messiah whose own suffering would prompt it and help deliver people from the anguish involved. Rudolph Bultmann wanted to demythologize biblical stories so that the Christ of faith could be clearly heard, calling people to decision and faith.

In the s Charles Dodd argued for a "realised eschatology," the idea that a degree of divine fulfillment of the Kingdom of God had already occurred in the ministry of Jesus. In the s Reginald Fuller opted for a belief that fulfillment would only come after Jesus's earthly work was completed. Despite detailed research on biblical descriptions of Jesus's suffering and death, much remains open as to whether he felt abandoned by God or not.

Similarly, the theme of the resurrection remains contested as an arena in which ideas of the Jesus of history and the Christ of faith remain open-ended as Edward Sanders has indicated. From a psychological viewpoint, some argue that the resurrection is grounded in grief-induced hallucinations. Whatever the case, the death of Jesus has been the major focus by which millions have reflected upon their own death and sought relief when bereaved of those they love.

Brown, Raymond E. New York : Doubleday, Fuller, Reginald H. London: SCM Press, Kent, Jack A. The Psychological Origins of the Resurrection Myth. London: Open Gate Press, Schweitzer, Albert. Reprint, Minneapolis: Fortress Press, Jesus of Nazareth, one of the most influential humans in history, lives on as Jesus Christ. One-third of the human race, almost 2 billion people, identify with his name, calling themselves Christians. Beyond the circle of believers as well as within it, many admire him, cite him, and seek to apply his teachings — especially about love — in human affairs apart from what most Christians claim about his divine character or his deity.

This fame and acclaim are astonishing, given the humbleness of his circumstances, the obscurity of origins and details about his life, and the arguments from the beginning about the meaning of his ministry and his character as being both human and divine. Jesus himself came to be regarded as suspicious both by Jewish authorities in religion and in their relations to the Roman rulers as well as to the Romans themselves.

In the mixture of loyalties and disloyalties, Jesus was executed by crucifixion. Three of them, called Matthew, Mark, and Luke, were edited into the forms contained in the modern Bible , probably a generation after his death. The authors or editors of these had slightly different intentions, depending upon whether they wanted to attract Jewish or Gentile readers, or for some other purpose. Yet, for all their variations and despite some conflicts in their accounts, overall they present a coherent portrait.

While some of them have advocates in the twenty-first century, none of them were accepted into the canon, the authorized collection called the New Testament that was approved by church leaders in the second and third centuries. In such writings Jesus is no longer the rabbi, healer, and wonder-worker of Nazareth so much as the risen and exalted Lord of all creation. The understandings of who Jesus was were vastly diverse. Like so many other advocates of the Enlightenment in his century and many admirers of Jesus in the twenty-first century, he wanted to rescue Jesus from the priests and to see him as the greatest exemplar of love and teacher of justice.

As for these councils: According to the book of Acts and the New Testament letters of Paul, Jewish religious authorities in Jerusalem and Roman rulers there and elsewhere began to persecute followers of Jesus. Some saw them as subversive of Jewish temple practices and others as threats to Roman rule throughout the Empire. The boldness of the apostles, as early articulators and witnesses were called, and then the readiness of their followers to face whatever the authorities threatened because of their faith in Jesus, only added luster to his reputation and served to attract ever more followers.

In both Asia and Africa some followers took the call of Jesus to mean denial of the pleasures of the world, and went to the desert and other remote places, there in isolation of community to become monks. They pioneered in a practice that through the twenty centuries had led to special devotion to Jesus and self-sacrifice in his honor and following his commands.

Those commands, however, took their impetus from Gospel records that embody and impart some apparently contradictory impulses and commands. On one hand, the Gospel writers remember Jesus calling for drastic self-renunciation. Followers were to deny themselves, take up their cross — a reference to the mode of his death by crucifixion — and even to desert their families and familial obligations. On the other hand, and just as emphatically, the Gospel writers depict Jesus as enjoying life and teaching others to do the same. His special form of discourse was in parables, short stories that usually included a kind of overturning of conventional ways of looking at reality.

It has been said that one will not understand these preserved parables without recognizing that they turn everything topsy-turvy. More shockingly, Jesus favored the company at table of prostitutes, the hated tax collectors, and others seen as marginal or outcast by respectable people. As for justice, a series of sayings preserved as the Sermon on the Mount or, in another gospel , the Sermon on the Plain, called for radical adherence to the call of God to effect justice in the world.

ST. LUKE 1:30-32

The discourse combines such stern language with words of blessing and comfort, sayings followers have cherished through the centuries. He was even more extreme in declaring that this Law of God had its limits in the face of human need. He saw the value of the Sabbath , the divinely commanded day of rest, yet when his disciples were desperately hungry he allowed them to prepare grain for food, and when someone needed healing, he healed, scorning those who invoked the Law of God over the call to love.

He was particularly confrontational when he faced religious authorities that overlooked human need in the name of their interpretations of divine commands. When asked to summarize all the commandments he drew them down to two: the love of God and the love of neighbors, or others. Every serious return to the teachings of Jesus focuses on both the seriousness of his demands for justice and the abundance of his calls to love, the love that followers saw in his giving of himself to death.

To believing Christians in all cultures, Jesus is not merely an historical figure, written about and admired after twenty centuries. Most of them regard him as a living presence. The Gospels hear him saying that when two or three followers are gathered in his name, he is there among them, so they regularly worship in his name. Catholic Christianity in many denominational forms is sacramental, and its adherents believe that Jesus is especially present among them in the sacred meal described in the Gospels as occurring first the night before he was killed and which he commanded that they should repeat.

Second, Jesus has been present in visual representations. No one knows what he looked like, and in all societies and cultures artists portray him as an ideal figure in their own. In the Eastern Orthodox churches he appears in very formal guise in icons. In Latin in Europe , in Spanish cultures; in the Western Hemisphere, in Latin American cultures , he is usually portrayed as a whipped, bleeding sufferer on the cross. In other cultures he is domesticated and portrayed as a kind of bourgeois comforter of children and quiet teacher. Readings in the Liturgy of the Hours has made many of these writings available to preachers and people alike.

Familiarity with the writings of the Fathers can greatly aid the homilist in discovering the spiritual meaning of Scripture. From them we can learn to detect innumerable figures and patterns of the Paschal Mystery that are present in the world from the dawn of creation and that further unfold throughout the history of Israel that culminates in Jesus Christ.

It is from the Fathers that we learn how intimately connected is the mystery of the biblical Word to the mystery of the sacramental celebration. The Catena Aurea of St. Thomas Aquinas remains a splendid tool for accessing the riches of the Fathers. The Second Vatican Council clearly recognized that patristic writings represent a rich resource for the preacher:.

Priests are admonished by their bishop in the sacred rite of ordination that they "be mature in knowledge" and that their doctrine be "spiritual medicine for the People of God. Especially is it drawn from reading and meditating on the Sacred Scriptures, and it is equally nourished by the study of the Holy Fathers and other Doctors and monuments of tradition Presbyterorum ordinis The Council has bequeathed to us a renewed understanding of the homily as integral to the liturgical celebration, a fruitful method for biblical interpretation, and an incentive for preachers to familiarize themselves with the riches of two thousand years of reflection on the word of God that is the Catholic patrimony.

How can a preacher realize this vision in practice? Pope Francis emphasizes this admonition with very strong words: a preacher who does not prepare himself and who does not pray is "dishonest and irresponsible" EG , "a false prophet, a fraud, a shallow impostor" EG Clearly, in the preparation of homilies, study is invaluable, but prayer is essential.

The homily will be delivered in a context of prayer, and it should be composed in a context of prayer. The sacred action of preaching is intimately joined to the sacred nature of the Word of God. Augustine, to avoid being "an empty preacher of the word of God outwardly, who is not a listener to it inwardly"; and further on in the same paragraph all Catholics are exhorted to read Scripture as a prayerful conversation with God for, according to St. Pope Francis emphasizes that preachers must allow themselves to be pierced by the living and active word of God if it is to penetrate into the hearts of their hearers cf.

The Holy Father recommends that preachers seeking this profound dialogue with the word of God have recourse to lectio divina , which consists of reading, meditation, prayer, and contemplation cf. This fourfold approach is rooted in the patristic exegesis of the spiritual senses of Scripture and was developed in subsequent centuries by monks and nuns who prayerfully pondered the Scriptures throughout a lifetime. It opens with the reading lectio of a text, which leads to a desire to understand its true content: w hat does the biblical text say in itself?

Without this, there is always a risk that the text will become a pretext for never moving beyond our own ideas. Next comes meditation meditatio , which asks: what does the biblical text say to us? Here, each person, individually but also as a member of the community, must let himself or herself be moved and challenged. Following this comes prayer oratio , which asks the question: what do we say to the Lord in response to his word?

Prayer, as petition, intercession, thanksgiving and praise, is the primary way by which the word transforms us. Finally, lectio divina concludes with contemplation contemplatio , during which we take up, as a gift from God, his own way of seeing and judging reality, and ask ourselves what conversion of mind, heart and life is the Lord asking of us? In the Letter to the Romans , Saint Paul tells us: "Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that you may prove what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect" Rom Contemplation aims at creating within us a truly wise and discerning vision of reality, as God sees it, and at forming within us "the mind of Christ" 1 Cor The word of God appears here as a criterion for discernment: it is "living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and spirit, of joints and marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart" Heb We do well also to remember that the process of lectio divina is not concluded until it arrives at action actio , which moves the believer to make his or her life a gift for others in charity This is a very fruitful way for all people to pray with the Scriptures, and it recommends itself to the preacher as a way to meditate on the biblical readings and liturgical texts in a prayerful spirit when preparing his homily.

The dynamic of lectio divina also offers a fruitful paradigm for an understanding of the role of the homily in the liturgy and how this affects the process of preparation. The first step is lectio , which explores what the biblical text says in itself. This prayerful reading should be marked by an attitude of humble and awe-filled veneration of the word, which is expressed by taking time to study it with the greatest care and a holy fear lest the preacher distort it cf.

As a preparation for this first step, the homilist should consult commentaries, dictionaries, and other scholarly resources that can help him understand what the biblical passages meant in their original context.

Jesus of Nazareth

But then he must also observe carefully the incipit and explicit of the passages in question in order to determine the significance of why the Lectionary begins and ends them where it does. Pope Benedict XVI teaches that historical-critical exegesis is an indispensible part of the Catholic understanding of Scripture because it is linked to the realism of the Incarnation. He says, "The historical fact is a constitutive dimension of the Christian faith.

The history of salvation is not mythology, but a true history, and it should thus be studied with the methods of serious historical research" VD This first step should not be passed over too quickly. Our salvation is accomplished by the action of God in history, and the biblical text recounts this action in words that reveal the deepest sense of this action cf. So, we need this testimony of events, and the preacher needs a strong sense of their reality. The practice of lectio begins by taking into account this awesome fact.

Some biblical scholars have not only written biblical commentaries, but also reflections on the readings in the Lectionary that apply the tools of modern scholarship to the texts proclaimed at Mass; such books can be of great help to the preacher. As he begins lectio divina , the homilist can review the insights he has gained from study, and prayerfully reflect on the meaning the biblical text.

He should bear in mind, however, that his aim is not to understand every little detail of a text, but to discover its principal message, the message which gives structure and unity to the text cf. Because the aim of this lectio is to prepare a homily, the preacher must take care to translate the results of his study into language that can be understood by his hearers.

Citing the teaching of Pope Paul VI that people will greatly benefit from preaching that is "simple, clear, direct, well-adapted" Evangelii nuntiandi 43 , Pope Francis warns preachers against using specialized theological language which is unfamiliar to his hearers cf. He also offers some very practical advice:. One of the most important things is to learn how to use images in preaching, how to appeal to imagery.

Sometimes examples are used to clarify a certain point, but these examples usually appeal only to the mind; images, on the other hand, help people better to appreciate and accept the message we wish to communicate. An attractive image makes the message seem familiar, close to home, practical and related to everyday life. A successful image can make people savour the message, awaken a desire and move the will towards the Gospel EG The second step, meditatio , explores what the biblical text says to us. Pope Francis suggests a few simple but penetrating questions that can shape our meditation: "Lord, what does this text say to me?

What is it about my life that you want me to change by this text? What troubles me about this text? What do I find pleasant in this text? What is it about this word that moves me? What attracts me? Why does it attract me? But the tradition of lectio tells us that this does not mean that by our own reflections we are the final arbiters of what the text is saying. This is the heart of the homiletic preparation itself.

It is here that familiarity with the writings of the Fathers of the Church and the saints can inspire the preacher to provide his people with an understanding of the readings at Mass that will truly nourish their spiritual lives. It is also at this stage of preparation that he can explore the doctrinal and moral implications of the Word of God, for which, as has been noted, the Catechism of the Catholic Church is a useful resource.

Along with reading the Scriptures within the context of the whole Tradition of the Catholic faith, the homilist also needs to reflect on it within the context of the community who will gather to listen to the Word of God. In the words of Pope Francis, "The preacher also needs to keep his ear to the people and to discover what it is that the faithful need to hear.

A preacher has to contemplate the Word, but he also has to contemplate his people" EG This is one reason why it is helpful to begin preparing the Sunday homily several days before it is to be delivered: along with study and prayer, attention to what is happening in the parish and the wider society will suggest avenues of reflection about what the Word of God has to say to this community at this moment. It will strongly shape the content of the homily. The third stage of lectio is oratio , which answers the Lord in response to his Word.

Reactions to the readings are expressed in words of awe and wonder, or one is moved to ask for mercy and help, or, again, there might be a simple outburst of praise, expressions of love and gratitude. This shift from meditation to prayer, when considered in the context of the liturgy, highlights the organic connection between the biblical readings and the rest of the Mass. This connection can also be reinforced in other ways. Or if these cannot be used, then hymns should also be chosen carefully, and the priest should guide those involved with the ministry of music in this regard.

There is another way the priest can underscore the unity of the liturgical celebration, through a judicious use of the opportunities provided by the General Instruction of the Roman Missal for brief comments at various points in the liturgy: after the greeting, before the Liturgy of the Word, before the Eucharistic Prayer, and before the dismissal cf. Great care and restraint should be exercised in this regard. There should be only one homily at Mass.

If the priest chooses to say something at any of these points, he should prepare in advance a succinct sentence or two that helps the people sense the unity of the liturgical celebration without going into an exhaustive explanation. The final stage of lectio is contemplatio , during which, in the words of the Pope Benedict XVI, "we take up, as a gift from God, his own way of seeing and judging reality, and ask ourselves what conversion of mind, heart and life is the Lord asking of us? In the monastic tradition this fourth stage, contemplation, was seen as the gift of union with God — undeserved, greater than our efforts could ever achieve, sheer gift.

A particular text had begun the process, but this point of arrival had moved beyond particulars to a grasp in faith of the whole in a single, intuitive and unitive glance. The saints show us these heights, but what is given to the saints can belong to us all. When this fourth stage of contemplation is considered in the liturgical setting, it can be a consolation to the preacher and give him hope, because it is a reminder that it is ultimately God who is at work bringing his Word to fruition, and that the process of forming the mind of Christ within us takes place over a lifetime.

Paul said, "I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the growth" 1 Cor Pope Benedict XVI added a coda to the traditional fourfold process of lectio divina : "We do well also to remember that the process of lectio divina is not concluded until it arrives at action actio , which moves the believer to make his or her life a gift for others in charity" VD It is significant that the Exhortation Verbum Domini concludes with a lengthy consideration of the Word of God in the world; preaching, when combined with the nourishment of the sacraments received in faith, opens up the members of the liturgical assembly to practical expressions of charity.

In fidelity to the example of the Master, it is vitally important for the Church today to go forth and preach the Gospel to all: to all places, on all occasions, without hesitation, reluctance or fear. The joy of the Gospel is for all people: no one can be excluded EG When describing the task of preaching, Pope Francis teaches: "The heart of its message will always be the same: the God who revealed his immense love in the crucified and risen Christ" EG The purpose of this section of the Homiletic Directory is to provide concrete examples and suggestions to help the homilist put into practice the principles presented in this document by considering the biblical readings provided in the liturgy through the lens of the Paschal Mystery of the crucified and risen Christ.

These are not sample homilies, but sketches that propose ways of approaching particular themes and texts throughout the course of the liturgical year. These will be cited. In all that is proposed concerning any of the texts of Scripture, it should always be borne in mind that "The reading of the Gospel is the high point of the liturgy of the word. For this the other readings, in their established sequence from the Old to the New Testament, prepare the assembly" OLM The starting point of the presentation here is the Lectionary of the Paschal Triduum, for this is the center of the liturgical year, and some of the most important passages from both Testaments are proclaimed during the course of these most holy days.

This is followed by reflections on the Easter Season and Pentecost. Next, the readings of the Sundays of Lent will be considered. Further examples are taken from the Advent-Christmas-Epiphany cycle. This plan of proceeding follows what Pope Benedict XVI has called "the sage pedagogy of the Church, which proclaims and listens to sacred Scripture following the rhythm of the liturgical year. So, in what is offered here, no attempt is made to exhaust all that could be said about a given celebration or to move in detail through the whole liturgical year.

Rather, in the light of the centrality of the Paschal Mystery, indications are offered on how particular texts could be handled within a given homily. The pattern suggested by these examples can be adapted for the Sundays in Ordinary Time and other occasions. The pattern would be valid, and so useful, also for those other rites of the Catholic Church that use a different Lectionary from the Roman rite.

Jesus entered into his Passion by celebrating the meal prescribed in the first reading: its every word and image point to what Christ himself pointed to at table, his life-giving death. We are told to eat this meal "with your loins girt, sandals on your feet and your staff in hand, like those who are in flight. It is at this point in the reading, when we are told to eat like those in flight that the Lord solemnly names the feast: "It is the Passover in Hebrew pesach of the Lord! For on this same night I will strike down the first-born in the land … but, seeing the blood, I will pass over you.

This solemn announcement of the Pasch concludes with a final order: "This day shall be a memorial feast for you … a perpetual institution. The selection from Isaiah Is - is one of the passages from the Old Testament in which Christians first saw the prophets pointing to the death of Christ. In relating this passage to the Passion, we follow a very ancient apostolic tradition, for this is what Philip did in his conversation with the Ethiopian eunuch cf. Acts We are invited to see the glory hidden in the Cross: "See, my servant shall prosper, he shall be raised high and greatly exalted. The servant is described as one "whose look was marred beyond human semblance and his appearance beyond that of the sons of man.

The prophetic words apply to our community and culture as well, and to the host of "nations" within each of us — our energies and tendencies which must be converted to the Lord. The depth of suffering is further described with an exactness that makes us understand how natural it was for the first Christians to read texts of this kind and understand them as a prophetic foreshadowing of Christ, perceiving the glory hidden within. And thus, as the prophet claims, this tragic figure is full of significance for us: "Yet it was our infirmities that he bore, our sufferings that he endured … by his stripes we were healed.

But in effect the Resurrection is obliquely foretold as well in what the prophet says: "If he gives his life as an offering for sin, he shall see his descendents in a long life. There are two New Testament readings, the announcement of the Resurrection according to one of the Synoptic Gospels and a reading from St. An understanding of these texts in relation to the Paschal Mystery, which is so explicit in the Easter Vigil, can inspire the homilist when these or similar readings appear at other times in the liturgical year. They can serve as a school of prayer for the homilist not only as he prepares for the Easter Vigil, but also throughout the year when treating texts similar to those proclaimed this evening.

Another useful resource for interpreting the Scripture passages is the responsorial psalm that follows each of the seven readings, the poems sung by Christians who have died with Christ and now share with him in his risen life. These should not be neglected through the rest of the year, for they demonstrate how the Church reads all Scripture in the light of Christ.

The first reading is from the Acts of the Apostles, which throughout the Easter season replaces the Old Testament reading. The readings about the Good Shepherd are assigned to the Fourth Sunday. Following upon the rich collection of readings from the Old and New Testaments heard during the Triduum, these are some of the most intense moments of the proclamation of the risen Lord in the life of the Church, and they are meant to be instructive and formative of the People of God throughout the whole liturgical year.

During Holy Week and the Easter Season, the homilist will have occasion again and again to drive home the point, based on the scriptural texts themselves, of the Passion, Death, and Resurrection of Christ as the central content of the Scriptures. The paragraphs of the Catechism of the Catholic Church that treat the resurrection CCC are, in fact, an unfolding of many of the key biblical texts that are proclaimed during the Easter season.

Second, during the Sundays of Easter the first reading is taken, not from the Old Testament, but from the Acts of the Apostles. Many of the passages are examples of the earliest apostolic preaching, and we see in them how the apostles themselves used the Scriptures to announce the significance of the death and resurrection of Jesus.

From these passages, the homilist has in hand some of his strongest and most basic tools. He sees how the apostles used the Scriptures to announce the death and resurrection of Jesus, and he does the same, not only in the passage at hand but in this same style throughout the whole of the liturgical year.

He also sees the power of the life of the risen Lord at work in the first communities, and he declares in faith to his own people that the same power is still at work among us. Third, the intensity of Holy Week itself, with its Paschal Triduum, followed by the joyful celebration of fifty days that climax in Pentecost, is an excellent time for the homilist to draw links between the Scriptures and the Eucharist.

A similar pattern of understanding is to be hoped for still today. The homilist works diligently to explain the Scriptures, but the deeper meaning of what he says will emerge in "the breaking of the bread" at that same liturgy if the homilist has built bridges to that moment cf. VD The importance of such bridges is forcefully stated by Pope Benedict in Verbum Domini :. From these accounts [of resurrection] it is clear that Scripture itself points us towards an appreciation of its own unbreakable bond with the Eucharist. The Eucharist opens us to an understanding of Scripture, just as Scripture for its part illumines and explains the mystery of the Eucharist The readings and prayers provide an opportunity for the homilist to treat the role of the Holy Spirit in the ongoing life of the Church.

With preaching that embodies these principles and points of view throughout the Easter Season, the Christian People is well prepared for the celebration of the Solemnity of Pentecost, where God the Father "through his Word, pours into our hearts the Gift that contains all gifts, the Holy Spirit" CCC The reading from Acts on that day recounts the Pentecost event itself, while the Gospel gives an account of what happened on the evening of Easter Sunday itself.

Easter is Pentecost. Easter is already the gift of the Holy Spirit. As the Church moves into the Eucharistic prayer on that day, she prays that "the Holy Spirit may reveal to us more abundantly the hidden mystery of this sacrifice and graciously lead us into all truth" Prayer over the Offerings. The reception of Holy Communion by the faithful on that day becomes the Pentecost event for them. Eucharist is Pentecost. If the Paschal Triduum and the Fifty Days are the radiant center of the liturgical year, Lent is the season that prepares the minds and hearts of the Christian people for a worthy celebration of these days.

It is also the time for the final preparation of catechumens who will be baptized during the Easter Vigil. Their journey needs to be accompanied by the faith, prayer and witness of the entire ecclesial community. The scriptural readings of the Lenten season find their deepest sense in relation to the Paschal Mystery that they prepare us to celebrate.

The Introduction of the Lectionary notes the traditional use of accounts of the Temptation and Transfiguration on the first two Sundays of Lent, and says this about the other readings: "The Old Testament readings are about the history of salvation, which is one of the themes proper to the catechesis of Lent. The series of texts for each Year presents the main elements of salvation history from its beginning until the promise of the New Covenant. The readings from the Letters of the Apostles have been selected to fit the Gospel and the Old Testament readings and, to the extent possible, to provide a connection between them" OLM The Gospel of the First Sunday of Lent.

It is not difficult for people to connect the forty days that Jesus passed in the desert with the forty days of Lent. It is useful for the homilist to draw this connection explicitly in such a way that the Christian people understand that the annual observance of Lent somehow makes them mysteriously participate in these forty days of Jesus, and in what he underwent and achieved in his fasting and being tempted. While it is customary for Catholics to engage in various penitential and devotional practices during this season, it is important to underscore the profoundly sacramental reality of the entire Lenten season.

The Collect for the First Sunday of Lent uses the striking phrase " per annua quadragesimalis exercitia sacramenti. The Preface assigned to this day states this idea beautifully when it says, "by abstaining forty long days from earthly food, he consecrated through his fast the pattern of our Lenten observance. That Passion in some sense begins already here in the desert, virtually at the beginning of the public life of Jesus. So from the beginning, Jesus is moving toward his Passion, and everything that follows draws its meaning from this. A paragraph taken from the Catechism of the Catholic Church can demonstrate its usefulness in preparing homilies, especially for touching on doctrinal themes that are directly rooted in the biblical text.

The evangelists indicate the salvific meaning of this mysterious event: Jesus is the new Adam who remained faithful just where the first Adam had given in to temptation. The temptations that Jesus undergoes are a struggle against a distortion of his messianic task. The devil is tempting him to be a Messiah who displays divine powers. This foreshadows the ultimate struggle that Jesus will undergo on the cross, where he hears the mocking words: "Save yourself if you are the Son of God and come down from the cross.

Precisely in this way Jesus proves that He truly enters the desert of human existence and does not use His divine power for His own benefit. The homilist should point out that Jesus is subjected to temptation and death in solidarity with us. The ultimate guarantee of Jesus sharing that victory with all who believe will be the celebration of the paschal sacraments at the Easter Vigil, toward which the first Sunday of Lent is already pointing.

The homilist points in this same direction. Through his death he becomes the bread of the Eucharist. Then Christian faith can act as a leaven in a world hungry for God, and stones are truly turned into the nourishment that fulfills the longing of the human heart. The Gospel of the Second Sunday of Lent. The Gospel on the second Sunday of Lent is always the account of the Transfiguration. These same three disciples — Peter, James, and John — will likewise be with Jesus during his agony in the garden as he enters into the very hour of his Passion. In the context of the entire narrative of each of the three gospels, Peter has just confessed his faith in Jesus as Messiah.

Jesus accepts this confession but immediately turns to teaching his disciples just what kind of Messiah he is. Moses and Elijah appear, and they are conversing with Jesus. Then a cloud of divine presence, like the one on Mount Sinai, envelops Jesus and his disciples, and from the cloud comes a voice, just as thunder on Sinai signaled that God was speaking to Moses and giving the Law, the Torah, to him. This is the voice of the Father, revealing the deepest identity of Jesus and accrediting him. He says, "This is my beloved Son. Listen to him" Mk Many of the themes and patterns that this Directory has emphasized are concentrated in this stunning scene.

Clearly, cross and glory belong together. Clearly, the whole Old Testament, represented in Moses and Elijah, concurs that cross and glory belong together. The homilist must speak of these things and explain them. Perhaps no better summary could be found of what the mystery means than the beautiful words of the Preface assigned to that day. As the Eucharistic prayer begins, the priest, speaking for the whole people, wants to give thanks to God through Christ our Lord for this mystery of transfiguration: "For after he had told the disciples of his coming Death, on the holy mountain he manifested to them his glory, to show, even by the testimony of the law and the prophets, that the Passion leads to the glory of the Resurrection.

It is as if He says, "Listen to Him, in whom there is the fullness of my love, which will appear on the Cross. Are we not here deep inside the very heart of the trinitarian mystery? The Transfiguration holds an essential position in the season of Lent because the entire Lenten Lectionary is a lesson book that prepares the elect among the catechumens to receive the Sacraments of Initiation at the Easter Vigil, just as it prepares all the faithful to renew themselves in the new life into which they have been reborn.

The homilist might well use the words and authority of St. Paul to establish this point, who said, "He [Christ] will change our lowly body to conform with his glorified body" Phil This verse is found in the second reading of Cycle C, but the short phrase can bring the point succinctly to the fore in any year. As the faithful come in procession to communion on this Sunday, the Church has them sing in the Communion Antiphon the very words of the Father heard in the Gospel: "This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased; listen to him.

In the Prayer after Communion we thank God for allowing us while "still on earth" to be partakers of the things of heaven. While still on earth, the disciples saw the divine glory shining in the body of Jesus. Because these Gospels are of major importance in regard to Christian initiation, they may also be read in Year B and Year C, especially in places where there are catechumens. Thus at the beginning of the Third, Fourth, and Fifth Weeks of Lent optional Masses with these texts for the Gospel have been inserted and may be used in place of the readings of the day on any weekday of the respective week" OLM 97, The catechetical power of the Lenten season is especially highlighted by the readings and prayers for the Sundays in Cycle A.

The association of the themes of water, light, and life with baptism are quite evident; by means of these biblical passages and the prayers of the liturgy, the Church is leading her elect toward sacramental initiation at Easter. Their final preparation is a fundamental concern, as the prayer texts used when the Scrutinies are celebrated make clear.

What of the rest of us? It may be helpful for the homilist to invite his listeners to view the Lenten season as a time for the reactivation of the graces of baptism and a purification of the faith that had been received. So for us, Lent is a time when in the wilderness of our present existence with its difficulties, fears and infidelities we rediscover the proximity of God, who despite everything is leading us to our Promised Land. This is a fundamental moment in our life of faith that challenges us.

The graces of baptism, received in infancy, are not to be forgotten, even though accumulated sin and human errors may suggest their absence. The desert is a place that tests our faith, but it also purifies it and strengthens it when we learn to base ourselves upon God in spite of contrary experiences. The underlying theme of these three Sundays is how faith can be nurtured continually even in the face of sin the Samaritan woman , ignorance the blind man , and death Lazarus.

These are the "deserts" through which we travel through life, and in which we discover that we are not alone, because God is with us. The relationship between those preparing for baptism and the rest of the faithful enhances the dynamism of the Lenten season, and the homilist should make an effort to associate the wider community with the preparation of the elect. When the Scrutinies are celebrated, provision is made for a prayer for the godparents during the Eucharistic Prayer; this can serve as a reminder that each member of the congregation has a role to play in "sponsoring" the elect and bringing others to Christ.

We who already believe are called, like the Samaritan woman, to share our faith with others. Then, at Easter, the newly-initiated can say to the rest of the community, "We no longer believe because of your word, for we have heard for ourselves, and know that he is truly the Savior of the world. The Israelites are thirsty, and their thirst causes them to question the wisdom of the journey God has launched them on. The situation seems hopeless, but help comes from a most surprising source: when Moses strikes the hard rock, water gushes forth!

But there is a still harder, more obdurate substance — the human heart. The Responsorial Psalm makes an eloquent plea to those who sing and hear it: "If today you hear his voice, harden not your hearts. This hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured into our hearts, enabling us to love.

This divine love was given to us not as a reward for our merits, because it was given when we were still sinners, and yet Christ died for us. In just a few verses, the Apostle invites us to contemplate both the mystery of the Trinity and the virtues of faith, hope, and love.

The stage is set for the encounter between Jesus and the Samaritan woman, a conversation that is profound because it speaks of the fundamental realities of eternal life and true prayer. It is an illuminating conversation, because it manifests the pedagogy of faith. Jesus and the woman are initially talking on different levels.

Her practical, concrete mind is centered on the water in the well. Jesus, as if oblivious of her practical concerns, insists on speaking about the living waters of grace. Since their discourses fail to meet, Jesus touches upon the most painful moment of her life: her irregular marital situation. This recognition of her frailty immediately opens her mind to the mystery of God, and she then asks about prayer.

When she follows the invitation to believe in Jesus as the Messiah, she is filled with grace and is quick to share her discovery with those in her own town. Faith, nourished by the Word of God, by the Eucharist and by the fulfilment of the will of the Father, opens to the mystery of grace that is depicted through the image of "living water. Mindful of this, the Church puts these words on the lips of the people as they process forward to receive Communion: "For anyone who drinks it, says the Lord, the water I shall give will become in him a spring welling up to eternal life.

But we are not the only ones who are thirsty. The thirst of Jesus will reach its climax in the final moments of his life, when from the Cross he cries out, "I thirst! Then from his pierced Heart flows the eternal life that nourishes us in the sacraments, giving us who worship in spirit and in truth the nourishment we need as we continue our pilgrimage. The Fourth Sunday of Lent is suffused with light, a light reflected on this "Laetare Sunday" by vestments of a lighter hue and the flowers that adorn the church.

The association of the Paschal Mystery, baptism, and light is succinctly captured in a line from the second reading: "Awake, O sleeper, and arise from the dead, and Christ will give you light. We are cautioned in the first reading: "Not as man sees does God see, because man sees the appearance but the Lord looks into the heart. The Prayer after Communion states that God enlightens everyone who comes into the world: but the challenge is that, in great ways or small, we turn toward the light or away from it. The cured man begins by describing his healer as "the man Jesus"; then he professes that he is a prophet; and by the end of the passage he proclaims, "I do believe, Lord" and worships Jesus.

The Pharisees, for their part, become increasingly more blind: they begin by admitting that the miracle took place, then come to deny that it was a miracle, and finally expel the cured man from the synagogue. Throughout the narrative, the Pharisees continue to profess confidently what they know, while the blind man continually admits his ignorance. The Gospel ends with a warning by Jesus that his coming has created a crisis, in the literal meaning of that word, a judgment: he gives sight to the blind, but those who see become blind.

The finality of death, emphasized by the fact that Lazarus had been already dead four days, seems to create an obstacle even greater than drawing water from a rock or giving sight to a man blind from birth. Again, we are reminded that the following of Christ is the work of a lifetime, and whether we are about to receive the sacraments of initiation in two weeks time, or have lived many years as Catholics, we must struggle continually to deepen our faith in Christ.

This is why it is essential for us as Christians to immerse ourselves continually in his Paschal Mystery. As the Preface today proclaims: "For as true man he wept for Lazarus his friend and as eternal God raised him from the tomb, just as, taking pity on the human race, he leads us by sacred mysteries to new life.

It is that conviction that enables us to accompany him next Sunday as he enters Jerusalem, saying with Thomas, "Let us also go and die with him. But it doesn't follow from this that all Christians everywhere can eat whatever they like. Christian vegetarians and vegans might make the point described above in the discussion of Luke 24, namely, that few Christians in the West think it is okay to eat cats, dogs, or foods such as foie gras.

If, however, it is morally problematic to eat cats, dogs or foie gras, then Jesus's declaring all foods clean doesn't make eating animals purely a matter of "Christian liberty", if by that is meant that each person can decide for him- or herself what to eat. Quite the opposite appears to be true. If Jesus's point in this passage was that the source of human evil comes from the intentions within the human heart, then Jesus's followers should seek to avoid behaviors and practices which involve intentionally inflicting cruelty on the non-human animals that God has created.

In the Acts of the Apostles, the author recounts that the Jerusalem Council recommended at least for Gentile Christians abstention "from things strangled, and from blood". Within the Bible's New Testament , the Apostle Paul appears to ridicule vegetarians, arguing that people of "weak faith" "eat only vegetables", [ Romans —4 ] although he also warns believers to "stop passing judgment on one another" when it comes to food in verse 13 and "[It is] good neither to eat flesh" in verse Paul also said, "The Spirit clearly says that in later times some will abandon the faith and follow deceiving spirits and things taught by demons.

Such teachings come through hypocritical liars, whose consciences have been seared as with a hot iron. They […] order […] to abstain from certain foods". In the 4th Century some Jewish Christian groups maintained that Jesus was himself a vegetarian. Epiphanius quotes the Gospel of the Ebionites where Jesus has a confrontation with the high priest.

Jesus chastises the leadership saying, "I am come to end the sacrifices and feasts of blood; and if ye cease not offering and eating of flesh and blood, the wrath of God shall not cease from you; even as it came to your fathers in the wilderness , who lusted for flesh, and did sat to their content, and were filled with rottenness, and the plague consumed them. According to Lightfoot , "the Christianized Essennes […] condemned the slaughter of victims on grounds very different from those alleged in the Epistle of Hebrews , not because they have been superseded by the Atonement , but because they are in their very nature repulsive to God; not because they have ceased to be right, but because they never were right from the beginning".

Other early Christian historical documents observe that many influential Christians during the formative centuries of Christianity were vegetarian, though certainly not all. The Clementine homilies , a second-century work purportedly based on the teachings of the Apostle Peter , states, "The unnatural eating of flesh meats is as polluting as the heathen worship of devils, with its sacrifices and its impure feasts, through participation in it a man becomes a fellow eater with devils.

Although early Christian vegetarianism appears to have been downplayed in favor of more "modern" Christian culture, the practice of vegetarianism appears to have been very widespread in early Christianity, both in the leadership and among the laity. Later he is reputed to have said "If God had meant us to eat meat, then it would have come to us in edible form [as is the ripened fruit].

The Seventh-day Adventists present a health message that recommends vegetarianism and expects abstinence from pork, shellfish and other foods proscribed as "unclean" in Leviticus. Typically, however, these sabbatarian pro-vegetarian Christian fellowships do not "require vegetarianism as a test of fellowship. The Word of Wisdom is a dietary law given to adherents of the Latter Day Saint movement also known as Mormonism , which states that "flesh also of beasts and of fowls of the air Smith became church president in , emphasis on refraining from meat has largely been dropped.

Some members of the Religious Society of Friends also known as Quakers practice vegetarianism or veganism as a reflection of the Peace Testimony , extending non-violence towards animals. Some Ranter groups - non-conformist Christian groups that existed in 17th-century England - were vegetarian.

Roman Catholic monastic orders such as the Carthusians and Cistercians follow a strict vegetarian diet. Carmelites and others following the Rule of St. Albert also maintain a vegetarian diet, although the old and sick are permitted to eat meat according to this rule of life. The Liberal Catholic Movement traditionally had many people who were vegetarians and still have.

The Christian Vegetarian Association CVA is an international, non-denominational Christian vegetarian organization that promotes responsible stewardship of God's creation through plant-based eating. CreatureKind is an organization which exists "to encourage Christians to recognize faith-based reasons for caring about the well-being of fellow animal creatures used for food, and to take practical action in response". CreatureKind produces a course for churches to do which facilitates church groups to think through how Christians should respond to and treat animals.

The group Evangelicals for Social Action have suggested that a vegan diet is a way of demonstrating Christian love and compassion to farmed animals, and argue in particular that this is what a consistently pro-life ethic looks like. During Lent some Christian communities, such as Orthodox Christians in the Middle East , undertake partial fasting eating only one light meal per day. Eastern Orthodox laity traditionally abstains from animal products on Wednesdays because, according to Christian tradition, Judas betrayed Jesus on the Wednesday prior to the Crucifixion of Jesus and Fridays because Jesus is thought to have been crucified on the subsequent Friday , as well as during the four major fasting periods of the year: Great Lent , the Apostles' Fast , the Dormition Fast and the Nativity Fast.

Catholic laity traditionally abstain from animal flesh on Fridays and through the Lenten season leading up to Easter sometimes being required to do so by law, see fasting and abstinence in the Roman Catholic Church , some also, as a matter of private piety, observe Wednesday abstinence. Fish is not considered proper meat in any case see pescetarianism , though the Eastern Orthodox allow fish only on days on which the fasting is lessened but meat still not allowed.

For these practices, "animal rights" are no motivation and positive environmental or individual health effects only a surplus benefit; the actual reason is to practice mortification and some marginal asceticism. Oriental Orthodox , Eastern Orthodox , and Eastern Catholic monastics abstain from meat year-round, and many abstain from dairy and seafood as well. Through obedience to the Orthodox Church and its ascetic practices, [80] the Orthodox Christian seeks to rid himself or herself of the passions , or the disposition to sin.

  1. Tales of the City Episode 1: Taking the Plunge!
  2. The Bible: A Biography.
  3. Jesus of Nazareth.
  4. According to Canon Law , Roman Catholics are required to abstain from meat defined as all animal flesh and organs, excluding water animals on Ash Wednesday and all Fridays of Lent including Good Friday. This is apparently a corruption of a manuscript in which Saint Gregory of Tours described one person who was also ill and might not have been Catholic eating a rabbit fetus during Lent. Catholics said they avoid meat on Fridays during Lent.

    From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. See also: Jewish vegetarianism. Christianity portal. SUNY Press. National Catholic Register. Retrieved 17 March However, most people, Catholic and otherwise, don't realize that many Catholic monastic orders such as the Franciscan nuns, Trappists, Trappistines, Carthusians and Cistercians are strictly vegetarian.

    Carmelites and other communities that follow the Rule of St. Albert similarly restrict themselves to a vegetarian diet except in the case of elderly and infirmed members. Eastern Catholic monks and nuns also completely abstain from meat—some even abstain from dairy and seafood also—for the sake of mortification, prayer and asceticism. Martin's Press. Also, John Wesley, the founder of Methodism, who promoted the idea that vegetarianism was a more healthful way to live. The Christian Vegetarian Association. Retrieved 25 January It is a great delusion to suppose that flesh-meat of any kind is essential to health.

    International Vegetarian Union. Vegetarian America: A History. The Vegetarian Society. Archived from the original on 16 July Retrieved 8 July London: I. Tauris pp. Yale University. The New York Times. In Grummet, David; Muers, Rachel eds. Eating and Believing. What about Dominion in Genesis? A Faith Embracing All Creatures. Wipf and Stock. What about the Covenant with Noah?

    Archived from the original on 2 September Retrieved 19 April The Lost Religion of Jesus. Eusebius , Ecclesiastical History 5. Minucius Felix refers to bloodshed in the arena and the blood of animals in the same breath Octavius Tertullian points out that Christians are forbidden both human and animal blood Apology 9. Sandmel states that blood could refer either to the blood of a sacrificed animal or to human violence: Judaism and Christian Beginnings , p.

    Is God a Vegetarian? Schwartz Judaism and vegetarianism 3, revised ed. Lantern Books. Lightfoot London: Macmillan. Retrieved 11 November