Sunday, March 20, 2016

The Messiah We Need

Tiberius was Rome's absentee emperor around the time the Han Dynasty was getting back to business-as-usual, after Wang Mang's brief takeover. I mentioned him before: Wang Mang, I mean. (December 27, 2015)

Meanwhile, Phaedrus was retelling Aesop's Fables in Latin, and Pontius Pīlātus was prefect of the Roman Province of Judea.

That part of the world had been under Roman control since the Battle of Philippi, Armenia wasn't a Roman province yet, but it wasn't the force it had been during Tigranes' reign, and that's another topic.

Tigranes, Tiberius, and Wang Mang, were well-known folks in their day;1 at least in their homelands. Two millennia later, not so much.

Pontius Pīlātus is another matter. He's mentioned each year around this time, when something like 2,000,000,000 folks pay at least fleeting attention to a Nazarene's progress from top-of-the-polls celebrity to executed corpse.

"But who do you say that I am?"

That's because Jesus of Nazareth is one of three very important persons.

Abraham's descendants learned, eventually, that the Almighty was serious about this:
"1 'Hear, O Israel! The LORD is our God, the LORD alone!"
(Deuteronomy 6:4)
I think God is one, too.

However, I'm a Catholic: so I acknowledge God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

That's one God, three persons; a divine Unity; "...the Father who generates, the Son who is begotten, and the Holy Spirit who proceeds...." (Catechism of the Catholic Church, 253-256, 456-478)

But I don't understand how the Trinity works. Not on an operational, nuts-and-bolts, level. All three were at our Lord's baptism — you can read about that in Matthew 3:13-17 — I talked about the Trinity, tefillin, and metaphor, last year. (March 8, 2015)

I also acknowledge that our Lord is the Son of God, human and divine, "true God and true man." (Catechism, 456-478)

Again, I don't understand how that works; but I agree with Peter.
"8 When Jesus went into the region of Caesarea Philippi 9 he asked his disciples, 'Who do people say that the Son of Man is?'

"They replied, 'Some say John the Baptist, 10 others Elijah, still others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.'

"He said to them, 'But who do you say that I am?'

"11 Simon Peter said in reply, 'You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.' "
(Matthew 16:13-16)
Today is Palm Sunday, Holy Week's kickoff. We've been leading up to a really long Gospel reading with this sort of thing:
"5 Jesus spoke to them again, saying, 'I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.' "
(John 8:12)

"So Jesus said (to them), 'When you lift up the Son of Man, then you will realize that I AM, and that I do nothing on my own, but I say only what the Father taught me.
"The one who sent me is with me. He has not left me alone, because I always do what is pleasing to him.' "
(John 8:28-29)

"So the Jews said to him, 'You are not yet fifty years old and you have seen Abraham?' 23
"24 Jesus said to them, 'Amen, amen, I say to you, before Abraham came to be, I AM.' "
(John 8:57-58)

"If I do not perform my Father's works, do not believe me;
"but if I perform them, even if you do not believe me, believe the works, so that you may realize (and understand) that the Father is in me and I am in the Father.'"
(John 10:37-38)

Last Supper, Messy Death

(Palm Sunday in Mexico, East Timor, South Sudan, and Poland.)

Today's long Gospel reading, Luke 22:14-56 starts with the Last Supper and ends with the women who had come from Galilee with our Lord resting on the Sabbath — after spotting the tomb his body was in.

The short version, Luke 23:1-49, isn't particularly short. It runs from the council of elders accusing Jesus before Pilate to our Lord's death.

Either way, it's a far-from-cheerful account.

So why did our Lord go through all this?2 It's like God told Abraham: "...All the communities of the earth shall find blessing in you." (Genesis 12:3)

Jesus may not have been the Messiah folks expected, but our Lord is the Messiah and Redeemer God promised after the first of us made that disastrous choice.3 (Genesis 3:19-15; Catechism, 397-410, 528)

Jesus is the Messiah we need. (Catechism, 430-435)

Our Lord's messy death, and what happened after that, opened Heaven's gates for you, me, and everyone. Whether we walk in is up to each of us, and that's yet another topic. (Catechism, 597-618, 631-635, 637, 1026, 1739-1742)

Still Celebrating

Our Lord wouldn't stay dead: which is why, two millennia later, we're still celebrating — and passing along wonderful news.

God loves us, and wants to adopt us. All of us. (John 3:17; Romans 8:15; Ephesians 1:3-5; Catechism, 1-3, 52, 1825)

And that's yet again another topic:

1 As a writer, Phaedrus wasn't important the way civic leaders are, but the poet Martial and writer Avianus mentioned him: and his stories lasted considerably longer than he did.

Phaedrus made an important contribution to the current iteration of Western civilization, although it wasn't until fairly recently that we worked out where at least some source material for "Anonymus Nilanti," a collection of Latin beast fables, came from.

2 More about Palm Sunday:
3 As I've said before, often, Adam and Eve aren't German. It's become increasingly obvious that we've passed down accounts of how we lost harmony within ourselves and with the universe for a very long time:

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