Jeremiah 6:16

Thus saith the Lord: Stand ye on the ways, and see and ask for the old paths which is the good way, and walk ye in it: and you shall find refreshment for your souls.


Jesus of Nazareth - Chapter 04

The Sermon on the Mount

Immediately after Jesus’ baptism, he begins His public ministry. The Holy Father examines this beginning in regards to three particular elements. He recognizes Matthew’s intended summary of Jesus’ preaching-entire as “Repent, for the Kingdom of heaven is at hand.” Benedict also sees the calling of the twelve as pivotal and fundamental in Jesus’ ministries as well as the clarification that Jesus, himself, is not simply a preacher and teacher, but the one whom has been prophesied, the anointed one, the Messiah and redeemer of all peoples.

Just as Moses led his people out of the hands of Pharaoh and the Egyptians, contemporary Jews believed that the Messiah would come to liberate them from the Romans as an occupying force, and return to them the land that was promised them. Instead, Jesus came to liberate His people from their ignorance and hardness of heart. Jesus has infact come as the new Moses as prophet and guide from darkness. The Pope pointedly remarks on particular actions related by the evangelists, which indicate the authority of Jesus. Matthew, writing to the Jews, details how Jesus goes up on a mountain (see Moses), and then sits down. This is the posture of an authority and teacher in the rabbinical style. However, instead of being seated in a school or synagogue to teach solely to Jews, Jesus sits above everyone on the mountain, to indicate His authority over the world. As Moses went up the mountain to pray and commune with God, and then taught his people, Jesus echoes this saving prefigurement.

This accent is in contrast to the particular choice of emphasis of Luke the evangelizer. Luke writes for the gentiles, who would not be familiar with the synagogical or rabbinical style. Luke, therefore, writes of particular pericope that imply authority for his audience. Benedict hits upon Jesus’ standing amidst His apostles. Standing indicates authority and kingship over the breadth of peoples, and all who had come to Him symbolized the peoples of the entire world, from whom Jesus demanded discipleship.

Again, the Pope harkens back to Exodus and the words and actions of the people. The Hebrews beg Moses to speak to them for they are afraid of dying were they to hear God’s own voice. As Jesus speaks, it is not only the new Moses, but it is no-less-than God, Himself, speaking. Benedict points out in amusement that the Israelites were right when they feared death at God’s voice. If we do listen to His voice, we hear Him calling us to die to this world so that we might live with Him. This is baptism in its fullest form; as the Pope says, baptism cannot be reduced to a mere ritual.

The Pope continues this exegesis with the teachings themselves of Jesus, remarking how they are reflective of, and indeed complimentary to the Law of Moses and the prophets of the Old Testament. The Beatitudes, far form being the commonly accepted “new commandments” are instead a commentary on the condition of Jesus’ disciples. It is particularly the poor, the downcast, and the weak who are explicitly invited to become part of God’s family. In addition to these Beatitudes, Jesus clarifies and renews the teachings of the Torah. He begins with “You have heard it was said…” and then continues with a calling to deeper fidelity and a deeper awareness of the call to goodness and holiness.


Victimae Paschali Laudes

Victimae paschali laudes
immolent Christiani.
Agnus redemit oves:
Christus innocens Patri
reconciliavit peccatores.
Mors et vita duello
conflixere mirando:
dux vitae mortuus,
regnat vivus.
Dic nobis Maria,
quid vidisti in via?
Sepulcrum Christi viventis,
et gloriam vidi resurgentis:
Angelicos testes,
sudarium, et vestes.
Surrexit Christus spes mea:
praecedet suos in Galilaeam.
Scimus Christum surrexisse
a mortuis vere:
tu nobis, victor Rex,
Amen. Alleluia.

A beautiful recording of this ancient Paschal Sequence.
(you might need to download VLC to hear it.)

Happy Easter all! He has Risen as He said! Alleluia!


Holy Saturday -- The World in Silence Waits

Something strange is happening - there is a great silence on earth today, a great silence and stillness. The whole earth keeps silence because the King is asleep. The earth trembled and is still because God has fallen asleep in the flesh and he has raised up all who have slept ever since the world began. God has died in the flesh and hell trembles with fear.

He has gone to search for our first parent, as for a lost sheep. Greatly desiring to visit those who live in darkness and in the shadow of death, he has gone to free from sorrow the captives Adam and Eve, he who is both God and the son of Eve. The Lord approached them bearing the cross, the weapon that had won him the victory. At the sight of him Adam, the first man he had created, struck his breast in terror and cried out to everyone: “My Lord be with you all.” Christ answered him: “And with your spirit.” He took him by the hand and raised him up, saying: “Awake, O sleeper,and rise from the dead, and Christ will give you light.

“I am your God, who for your sake have become your son. Out of love for you and for your descendants I now by my own authority command all who are held in bondage to come forth, all who are in darkness to be enlightened, all who are sleeping to arise. I order you, O sleeper,to awake. I did not create you to be held a prisoner in hell. Rise from the dead, for I am the life of the dead. Rise up, work of my hands, you who we recreated in my image. Rise, let us leave this place, for you are in me And I am in you; together we form only one person and we cannot be separated.For your sake I, your God, became your son; I, the Lord, took the form of a slave; I, whose home is above the heavens, descended to the earth and beneath the earth. For your sake, for the sake of man, I became like a man without help, free among the dead. For the sake of you, who left a garden, I was betrayed to the Jews in a garden, and I was crucified in a garden.

“See on my face the spittle I received in order to restore to you the life I once breathed into you. See there the marks of the blows I received in order to refashion your warped nature in my image.On my back see the marks of the scourging I endured to remove the burden of sin that weighs upon your back. See my hands, nailed firmly to a tree,for you who once wickedly stretched out your hand to a tree.

“I slept on the cross and a sword pierced my side for you who slept in paradise and brought forth Eve from your side. My side has healed the pain in yours. My sleep will rouse you from your sleep in hell. The sword that pierced me has sheathed the sword that was turned against you.

“Rise, let us leave this place. The enemy led you out of the earthly paradise. I will not restore you to that paradise, but I will enthrone you in heaven. I forbade you the tree that was only a symbol of life, but see, I who am life itself am now one with you. I appointed cherubim to guard you as slaves are guarded, but now I make them worship you as God. The throne formed by cherubim awaits you, its bearers swift and eager. The bridal chamber is adorned, the banquet is ready, the eternal dwelling places are prepared, the treasure houses of all good things lie open. The kingdom of heaven has been prepared for you from all eternity.


The Power of Christ's blood

From the Catecheses by Saint John Chrysostom, bishop

If we wish to understand the power of Christ’s blood, we should go back to the ancient account of its prefiguration in Egypt. “Sacrifice a lamb without blemish”, commanded Moses, “and sprinkle its blood on your doors”. If we were to ask him what he meant, and how the blood of an irrational beast could possibly save men endowed with reason, his answer would be that the saving power lies not in the blood itself, but in the fact that it is a sign of the Lord’s blood. In those days, when the destroying angel saw the blood on the doors he did not dare to enter, so how much less will the devil approach now when he sees, not that figurative blood on the doors, but the true blood on the lips of believers, the doors of the temple of Christ.

If you desire further proof of the power of this blood, remember where it came from, how it ran down from the cross, flowing from the Master’s side. The gospel records that when Christ was dead, but still hung on the cross, a soldier came and pierced his side with a lance and immediately there poured out water and blood. Now the water was a symbol of baptism and the blood, of the holy eucharist. The soldier pierced the Lord’s side, he breached the wall of the sacred temple, and I have found the treasure and made it my own. So also with the lamb: the Jews sacrificed the victim and I have been saved by it.

“There flowed from his side water and blood”. Beloved, do not pass over this mystery without thought; it has yet another hidden meaning, which I will explain to you. I said that water and blood symbolised baptism and the holy eucharist. From these two sacraments the Church is born: from baptism, “the cleansing water that gives rebirth and renewal through the Holy Spirit”, and from the holy eucharist. Since the symbols of baptism and the Eucharist flowed from his side, it was from his side that Christ fashioned the Church, as he had fashioned Eve from the side of Adam Moses gives a hint of this when he tells the story of the first man and makes him exclaim: “Bone from my bones and flesh from my flesh!” As God then took a rib from Adam’s side to fashion a woman, so Christ has given us blood and water from his side to fashion the Church. God took the rib when Adam was in a deep sleep, and in the same way Christ gave us the blood and the water after his own death.

Do you understand, then, how Christ has united his bride to himself and what food he gives us all to eat? By one and the same food we are both brought into being and nourished. As a woman nourishes her child with her own blood and milk, so does Christ unceasingly nourish with his own blood those to whom he himself has given life.