Virtues and Prudence
“Virtues are firm attitudes, stable dispositions, habitual perfections of Intellect and Will that govern our actions, order our passions and guide our conduct according to reason and faith. They make possible ease, self-mastery, and joy in leading a morally good life. The virtuous man is he who freely practices the good” (CCC 1804). The four “cardinal virtues” are prudence, justice, fortitude and temperance (CCC 1805). Prudence is the “charioteer of the virtues” for it guides the other virtues to make moral decisions to do the good (CCC 1806), consistent with God’s Will (CCC 1787). St. Thomas Aquinas sums up Prudence as “right reason in action”: the ultimate “right” must be aimed at the Truth of God; well-formed “reason” requires Man’s Intellect to have deep knowledge of the Word (i.e. the Logos, also meaning “reason”) who is Jesus Christ; for fallen Man’s Will to take the correct “action” requires the constant reliance on Grace of the Sacraments and the acceptance of the Holy Spirit.
The Terminal Imprudence of Man
Adam fails in Prudence (Gen 2:17, 3:1-24): he did not choose the “right” of doing God’s expressed Will; he did not embrace the “reason” of God; he relied on Satan (and Eve), instead of God in his “action.” Post-modern Man is terminally Imprudent. Rejecting the “right” Truth of God, today’s atheists reject God outright and Casual Catholics ignore God, settling for a lazy pluralism/relativism in which the clarity of good and evil is lost. Rejecting the “reason” of Jesus Christ, Tradition, Natural Law and the ages-old wisdom of how humans thrive in faith, family and community, Post-modern Man relies on “feelings”, emotion and indulgent urges, trying to find novel new “truths” in science, political messiahs, or post-modern philosophies. Confused, Man idolizes a narcissistic ability to have a “choice” rather than taking right “action”, embracing a flabby, effeminate way of living rather than manly responsibility. The rotten fruit of Post-modern Man’s Imprudence is the prevalent “Culture of Death.”
The Perfect Prudence of Jesus Christ
Jesus Christ, fully God and fully Man (CCC 464), demonstrates perfect Prudence. With God from the beginning (John 1:1), the prudent plan of Man’s salvation described in the Old Testament is fully revealed by Jesus Christ in the New Testament (CCC 134). Jesus is the perfection of “right reason in action” is Man’s model in all things (CCC 1694).
Jesus Christ reveals that the “right” is to do the Will of the Father. Jesus:
Knows the Father in an intimate, direct and exclusive way – “No one knows the Son except the Father and no one knows the Father except the Son and anyone to whom the Son chooses to reveal Him” (Matt 11:27; John 1:18; 3:11; 6:46).
Demonstrates that the Father’s Will is the ultimate “right” – Jesus shows how one can beat the devils’ temptations through His complete obedience to God’s Will: “Jesus is the new Adam who… (is) totally obedient to the Divine Will. In this, Jesus is the devil’s conqueror… Jesus’ victory over the tempter in the desert anticipates victory at the Passion, the supreme act of obedience of His filial love for the Father” (CCC 539). In the Garden, Jesus says, “Not my will, but thine, be done” (Luke 22:42).
Jesus Christ reveals that perfect “reason” is found in Him. Jesus:
Is the only Source for knowledge of the Father – Like Christ depends on the Father, Man must depend on Jesus Christ as the Source and Summit” of Catholic Faith, the foundation of right “reason.” Only Jesus has seen the Father (John 1:18) and only Jesus can reveal the Father (CCC 151); rejection of the Word leads to spiritual darkness, death and disinheritance (CCC 679). In the Father’s Will as revealed by Jesus Christ is perfect “reason.”
Is the personification of right “reason” – Jesus Christ is Wisdom personified (Isa 55:10-11), given to Man (1 Cor 1:30) and is the “one, perfect and unsurpassable Word. In Him, He has said everything; there will be no other word than this one” (CCC 65; Heb 1:1-2); only Jesus is the divinely reliable Truth (John 14:6) which He comes to reveal to Man (CCC 473-474).
Gives Man His perfect “reason” in the Scriptures – As the Source of Scripture, Christ demonstrates an encyclopedic knowledge of Scripture, referring to about 80 Old Testament passages from 24 of 39 OT books, which He uses to rebuke Satan (Matt 4:1-11) and various religious challengers across a wide variety of doctrines (cf. Mark 10:2, 12:28; Luke 11:15, 14:1, 20:20, 20:32). In the NT, Jesus Christ leaves a comprehensive primer on right “reason”; examples include the wisdom of Sermon on the Mount (Matt 5-7), reaffirms the inerrancy of the Law/10 Commandments (Matt 5:17-20), the teaching about prudently assessing the cost of discipleship (Luke 14:22-38) and the parable of The 10 Bridesmaids (Matt 25:1-13).
Inspires the Magisterium to guide Man’s reason – Jesus anticipates heresy, saying, “many false prophets will rise and seduce the many” (Matt 24:11, 23-26). To protect against heresy, Jesus established the Church on the rock of Peter (Matt 16:18) and the Magisterium ensures that the Truth of Jesus is faithfully and accurately passed on today (CCC 88); the Church is the sure depository of Christ’s Truth (CCC 85). The Catechism of the Catholic Church is the distillation of the Church’s 2000 years of reflections on the revelation of Christ given to guide Man’s reason and instruct conscience (CCC 50) in the 4 Pillars of the Catechism: Creed, Sacraments, Moral Life and Prayer.
Jesus Christ strengthens Man’s ability to take right “action”. Jesus:
Lives inside those who believe in His Name – Christians must believe that Jesus is the Son of God (Acts 8:37; 1 John 2:23) and invite Jesus into one’s life by invoking His Sacred Name (John 16:23; Phil 2:10; Rom 10:13; Acts 2:21, 3:16). For those who embrace His Cross, Jesus Christ gives Himself personally, living in each (Gal 2:20; CCC 521). Jesus Christ acts in those who embrace Him.
Sends the Holy Spirit – Jesus promises to send the Holy Spirit before His Passion (John 14:26), sends the Holy Spirit at Pentecost (Acts 2:1-4) to work within the Church (Acts 4:29-21, 13:1-3, 16:6-10). Jesus also continues to intercede for Man by assuring a permanent outpouring of the Holy Spirit (CCC 667), giving actual graces to assist Man’s actions in conversion and sanctification (CCC 2000).
Endows the Church with the Sacraments – In the age of the Holy Spirit, Christ endows the Church with the Sacraments (CCC 1076). In Baptism, Christ gives sanctifying Grace, which gives Man a permanent disposition to take action consistent with God’s call to holiness (CCC 2000). Jesus Christ is present in the Eucharist at every single Mass: “the whole Christ is truly, really and substantially contained [in the Eucharist]” (CCC 1374).
The Descent of the Prodigal Son
“Prodigal” comes from the Latin word, prodigus, meaning “wasteful.” Adam, immature and ungrateful, greedily sought a greater inheritance from the Father, eating of the fruit of the “knowledge of good and evil” (Gen 3). Fallen, afraid and ashamed, Adam wasted his inheritance of the peace and joy in the Garden for a lie by Satan. Disinherited by the Original Sin of Adam, Man became a race of prodigals, wandering alone in the world, alienated from God and at war with each other, tormented by Satan.
The Plague of Post-Modern Prodigals
Despite God the Father’s consistent call across the ages, legions of Prodigal Sons wander in post-modern despair. Post-Modern Man, full of self-conceit and rebellion, rejects the Father and fatherhood. Men, in growing numbers, prefer the effeminate comfort of perpetual adolescence, many ironically living in their father’s basements wasting their lives in trivial pursuits. Today’s Prodigals, many sired out of wedlock and abandoned by their “fathers”, reject or postpone the call to marriage, preferring promiscuity under the cover of contraception, abortion, pornography and self-indulgence. But the wastrel life has consequences: depression, suicide, addictions of all sorts and male loneliness are at epidemic levels. Post-modern Man is a spiritual bastard, intoxicated in Sin and utopian dreams, blindly living in a perpetually wasted state. Post-modern men are pathetic Prodigals.
The Call of the Son of God to the Prodigals
Jesus Christ is irrefutably identified as the only begotten Son of God. Jesus:
- Is embraced as the Father’s Son – “The coming of God’s Son to earth is an event of such immensity that God wills to prepare for it over centuries” (CCC 522) to battle the Devil (CCC 394) and save Man. God the Father sends the Son (CCC 422; Gal 4:4-5). In His Own Voice, the Father calls Jesus His Son at the Baptism (Matt 3:17; Mark 1:11; Luke 3:22) and the Transfiguration (Matt 17:5; Mark 9:7; Luke 9:35) allowing numerous witnesses to hear. The Father is “well-pleased” with the Son (Matt 3:15) and instructs Man to “listen to Him” (Mark 9:7; Luke 9:35).
- Claims to be the Son of God – Even at the age of 12, Jesus goes to His Father’s house and says, “I must be about My Father’s business” (Luke 2:49). Jesus clearly proclaims that He is the Son (Matt 11:27; Mark 14:61-62; John 5:25, 10:36) who has been sent from Heaven (John 3:31). Jesus has a personal intimacy with the Father, calling Him “Abba”, meaning daddy or papa (Mark 14:36), speaking directly to the Father (John 12:49). He speaks of God as “My” and not “our”, claiming a special personal relationship (Matt 6:9; John 20:17) and hidden, exclusive knowledge (Matt 11:25-27; Luke 10:21-22). Jesus confesses before His enemies that He is the Son of God (Mark 16:61-62). After the Resurrection, Jesus says He is ascending to the Father at the Ascension (John 20:17).
- Is proclaimed to be the Son of God – At the Annunciation, Gabriel proclaims to Mary that Jesus is the Son of God through the Holy Spirit (Luke 1:32-35). Many proclaim that Jesus is the Son of God: the Devil (Matt 4:1-11); Nathaniel (John 1:49); Peter (Matt 16:15-16); John (John 20:31); Paul (Rom 1:3; CCC 242); the Centurion who crucified Him (Matt 27:54) and even demons (Luke 4:41). The Church has always proclaimed that Jesus is the only begotten Son of God (CCC 1; 441-445), a Divine Person (CCC 262).
Jesus Christ demonstrates perfection as the Son of the Father. Jesus:
- Demonstrates Divine Sonship in miracles – Jesus radiates Divine Power (Luke 6:19; 8:44), has dominion over nature (Matt 8:26, 17:2, 27:51; Mark 5:1-11, 6:48), heals all kinds of illnesses (Matt 9:27-31; Mark 1:40-45; Luke 9:37-42), raises the dead (Luke 8:40-56; John 11:44). He transfigures Himself (Matt 17:2),is resurrected (Mark 16:6) with supernatural powers (Luke 24:16; John 20:26) including the ability to ascend to Heaven (Mark 16:19).
- Is the Obedient Son – In the Incarnation, Jesus accepts the Father’s mission of Redeemer (Gal 4:4-5). All Christ does is for the Father, embracing the Father’s commands (John 14:31) and doing the Father’s will (John 6:38, 8:29), even unto death (Phil 2:8) out of love for Man (Eph 5:2). Even dying on the Cross, Jesus remains obedient to the Father (Luke 23:34, 46).
- Emphasizes the importance of the father-son relationship – God reveals His plan for the family, by the Incarnation of His own Son to Mother Mary and Father Joseph. Referred to as the Son of God in the NT 147 times, Jesus reinforces the importance of the father-son relationship in parables: Prodigal Son (Luke 15:11-32), Wicked Tenants (Mark 12:1-11) Two Sons (Matt 21:28-32).
Jesus Christ calls all Men to become adopted sons of God. Jesus:
- Is given to Man out of love by the Father – The only begotten Son is given to Man (John 3:16) in a sign of sacrificial Love (Rom 5:8; 1 John 3:16; CCC 219) in which the Father allows the Son to taste death (Heb 2:9; CCC 624). The Father instructs Man to “listen to Him” (Matt 17:5), fulfilling a promise to send a Messiah to teach Man (Deut 18:15).
- Must be believed to be the Son of God – Only Jesus is the mediator with the Father (CCC 480) who, in Glorified Flesh, sits at the right hand of the Father (CCC 663). Only Jesus has seen the Father (John 1:18) and only Jesus can reveal the Father (CCC 151): Jesus Christ is the “one, perfect and unsurpassable Word. In Him, He has said everything; there will be no other word than this one” (CCC 65; Heb 1:1-2); only Jesus is the divinely reliable Truth (John 14:6). Christians must believe that Jesus is the Son of God (Acts 8:37; 1 John 2:23) and invite Jesus into one’s life by invoking His Sacred Name (John 16:23; Phil 2:10; Rom 10:13; Acts 2:21, 3:16). Rejecting the Son of God leads to spiritual darkness, death and disinheritance (CCC 679). Without Jesus, all men remain Prodigals.
- Gives Man the ability to be adopted Sons of God – Jesus teaches the stunning Truth that Man, rather than remaining perpetual Prodigals, can become adopted Sons of the God of the Most High through Baptism (Gal 4:5; CCC 2798) and call God “Abba” (Rom 8:15, 29). For those who embrace the Cross, Jesus Christ gives Himself personally, living in each (Gal 2:20; CCC 521) and promises the inheritance of Heaven (1 Peter 1:3-4). In Christ, Prodigals can finally return to God’s home.
- Sends Man to Evangelize the whole world in His Name – Like the Father sent the Son, the Son sends Man to evangelize the world (John 20:21-23) by emphasizing the paramount nature of Fatherhood and Sonship (Matt 28:19-20). Man must evangelize in the Name of Jesus for Jesus to stand for Man in Heaven (Matt 10:32).
- Endows the Church with the Sacraments – As the Son of God, Jesus has the unique ability to forgive Sins (CCC 1441; Mark 2:5,10; Luke 7:48) that He gives to the Church (John 20:23). In the age of the Holy Spirit, Christ endows the Church with the Sacraments (CCC 1076).
Man’s Desperate Need for God’s Mercy
Since falling in Original Sin, Man has endured physical suffering (Gen 3:16-19) and suffering from concupiscence and sin (CCC 1264). In response, God, who has enduring love for all Creation (Ps 136:4-6), offers His Divine Mercy, comforting Man’s suffering and forgiving Man’s sins (CCC p. 888). God’s Divine Mercy comforts Israel’s suffering by bringing Israel out of Egypt (Ps 136:10–16), in the conquest of Canaan through the defeat of Israel’s enemies (Ps 136:17–22; 40:11, 79:8; Jer 42:12) and in restoring Israel after the Exile (Ezek 39:25). God’s Divine Mercy forgives Israel’s repeated sins (Ex 33:19; Ps 85:15, Isa 63:9; Neh 9:17; Jon 4:2) and offers final forgiveness and redemption of His people (Deut 13:17; Isa 54:8; 55:3; Jer 33:26; Mic 7:20). God proclaims to Moses that He is “merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness” (Ex 34:5-6; CCC 210).
The False Mercies of the Post-Modern World
Post-modern Man suffers and sins because of the lingering effects of Original Sin. Post-modern secularists reject God and deny sin while attempting to alleviate Man’s suffering. Secularists: seek to stifle God through oppressive political correctness that denies truth; impose the culture of death that promotes abortion, contraception and euthanasia; indoctrinate children in government schools; pit people against each other through “identity politics”; enable single parenthood and homosexual “marriage”; enslave in the corruptive dependency of the welfare state; spend trillions of dollars on unfunded social/economic programs. Despite mind-boggling spending and escalating government control, Man’s suffering and sin is worsening due to increasing: estrangement from God due to atheism and DYI faith; abandonment of marriage and children; loss of dignified work; feminization/homosexualization of the culture; addiction to porn; obesity, alcoholism and drug addiction; loneliness/isolation and escapism into a online fantasy worlds. Post-modern secularist “mercies” are false mercies for they can never offer true forgiveness of sins or relieve Man’s suffering.
The Divine Mercy of Jesus Christ
Jesus Christ offers His Divine Mercy to relieve suffering and forgive the sins of all who seek Him. Jesus:
Is sent by the Father to bring Mercy to Man – Jesus Christ is with the Father from the beginning (John 1:1; 17:5; CCC 422-23) and prefigured in the Old Testament (CCC 1223). In the fullness of time (Gal 4:7), the Mercy of God is perfectly fulfilled in the person and mission of Jesus Christ. God who is “rich in mercy” (Ephesians 2:4) sends His Son so that “He may have mercy upon all” (Romans 11:32; Titus 3:5). Mary speaks of God’s great mercy (Luke 1:50, 54), as does Zechariah (Luke 1: 72, 78).
Offers His Divine Mercy to relieve Man’s suffering:
Has an aching compassion that moves Him to mercy – Jesus, God Incarnate, feels the deepest and visceral mercy, described in the Greek, splagchna eleous, literally “the bowels of mercy” (Luke 1:78) or in Latin tradition, misericordia, literally, “miserable heart”. Moved with empathetic pain in His Sacred Heart, Jesus is powerfully moved by the helplessness and suffering of Man (Matt 9:36; 14:14; 15:32; 20:34; Mark 1:41; 6:34; 8:2; 9:22; Luke 7:13).
Responds to those who suffer and cry out for Mercy – Jesus responds to those who seek His Mercy: two sets of two blind men (Matt 9:27; Matt 20:30); the Canaanite woman with a demon-possessed daughter (Matt 15:22); the man with the epileptic son (Matt 17:15); Bartimaeus, the blind beggar (Mark 10:47); the 10 lepers (Luke 17:13); cleansing the leper (Mark 1:41); feeding the hungry (Matt 15:32; Mark 8:2); teaching the ignorant (Mark 6:34); raising the dead (Luke 7:13).
Offers His Divine Mercy to forgive sinners:
Announces His Mission to bring the Mercy of forgiveness to Sinners – Jesus comes “not to call the righteous, but sinners” (Mark 2:17; Luke 5:32) and desires “mercy not sacrifice” (Hosea 6:6; Matt 9:13). Scandalous to the scribes and the Pharisees (Matt 9:10–13; 12:7), Jesus dines with sinners and tax collectors (Luke 15:1-2, 22 – 32) inviting them into His Mercy. He rebukes the scribes and Pharisees for their lack of mercy (Matt 9:13; 12:7; 23:23).
Demonstrates Mercy by forgiving sinners – Jesus possesses the Divine Authority to forgive sinners (John 5:18; 10:33; CCC 589), leaving the Jewish leaders to ask, “who can forgive sins but God alone?” (Mark 2:7). Jesus offers His mercy using the formula “your sins are forgiven” and working His miracles (Matthew 9:2; Mark 2:5; Luke 5:20). He mercifully forgives repentant sinners including the Samaritan woman (John 4:7–26), the woman taken in adultery (John 8:3–11) and, sensationally, Peter despite Peter’s outright multiple denials of Christ (John 21:15–19).
Instructs Man to be Merciful – Jesus teaches that “Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy” (Matt 5:7) and that Man must “Be merciful, even as your Father is merciful” (Luke 6:36). He calls Man to be merciful in relieving the suffering of others: In the Parables of the Good Samaritan (Luke 10:30–37) and the Sheep and the Goats (Matt 25:31-46), from which the Corporal Acts of Mercy are taken (CCC 2447) that Man must perform on pain of eternal damnation (Matt 25:41). He calls Man to be merciful in forgiveness of sins in the Parable of the Prodigal Son (Luke 15:11–32; CCC 1439) and explicitly in the Lords Prayer (Matt 6:12: “as we forgive those who trespass against us”). He explicitly condemns the lack of mercy in the Parable of the Unmerciful Servant (Matt 18:23-35).
Invites Man to repent and enter into God’s Mercy – Jesus invites sinners “to that conversion without which one cannot enter the kingdom…[and] shows them in word and deed His Father’s boundless mercy for them and the vast “joy in heaven over one sinner who repents””(CCC 545).
Reveals the infinite bounds of Mercy in the Passion – “By going so far as to give up His own Son for us, God reveals that He is “rich in mercy” (CCC 211). “The supreme proof of His [Jesus’] love…[is] the sacrifice of His own life “for the forgiveness of sins”” (CCC 545).
Continues to offer His enduring Mercy to all those willing to accept it:
To receive Mercy, Man must repent and forgive others – To receive Divine Mercy, Man must be willing to accept God’s Mercy (CCC 1864), to hope for God’s Mercy (CCC 2091), repent from sin (1 John 1:8-9; CCC 1429; 1847) and forgive others (CCC 2840).
Gives Man the Church, the Sacraments and the Mother of Mercy – Because Christ desires none to be lost to Hell and that all might be saved (CCC 1037), He gives Man the Church and the graces of the Reconciliation and the Eucharist as enduring sources of His Mercy (CCC 2040; 1422; 2100). He also gives Man the Virgin Mary, the Mother of Mercy, to intercede for Man’s redemption (CCC 2677).
Guided the Church to emphasize Christ’s Divine Mercy – Saint John Paul II’s beautiful encyclical Dives in Misericordia (Rich in Mercy) teaches the centrality of Divine Mercy. The Church has also canonized St. Faustina Kowalska who received from Christ the Divine Mercy Devotion. The Church celebrates and announces God’s Divine Mercy on the second Sunday of Easter.
The Rise of God’s Prophets
From Man’s fall into Original Sin (Gen 3), God proclaimed the Protoevangelium (First Gospel), the prophecy of Mary and the salvation of Jesus Christ (CCC 411). From then on, God raised up prophets (e.g. Abraham, Moses, Samuel, Elijah, Isaiah, Daniel, Jeremiah, Ezekiel) over thousands of years to speak the Truth of God to Man. Old Testament prophets spoke Truth inerrantly through a special charism (gift) of Grace called “the Spirit of the Lord” (1 Kings 22:24; Is 61:1) and “the word of the Lord” (Jer 1:2, 4; Ezek 1:3). The prophets called Israel and all nations to turn to God (CCC 64, 2595) by reasserting God’s laws, performing miracles and by offering future predictions. False prophets emerged, leading people away from God (Is 28:7; Jer 5:31, 6:13, 23:9–40; Ezek 13:1–23; Mic 3:5–7) and were condemned to death by Moses (Deut 13:1-18) and by Elijah (1 Kings 18).
False Prophets in the Modern Age
False prophets continue to draw Man towards away from God. Some idolize humanistic forces (e.g. Nietzsche: power, Marx: economics, Freud: sex). Some idolize ideologies (e.g. secularism, progressivism, conservatism, nationalism, scientism, environmentalism, feminism, homosexualism). Some idolize people (e.g. “gurus”, political messiahs, celebrities). Some promote religions that reject the Truth of Jesus Christ preserved in the Catholic Church (e.g. Chinese Folk, Judaism, Buddhism, Hinduism, Mormonism, Tribal religions, neo-paganism, Wiccan, Satanism). Some perpetuate Christian division built upon previous heresies and schisms that “wound the unity” (CCC 817) of the “sole Church of Christ” (CCC 816): Orthodox and Protestants, while still sadly separated in these old errors, are accepted with affection as “brothers in the Lord” (CCC 818). The Church continues to pray that the Father will “reunite all His children, scattered and led astray by sin…into His Son’s Church” (CCC 845).
Jesus Christ – Divine Prophet
Jesus Christ is the Divine Prophet. Jesus:
- Is prophesized in the Old Testament – The Messiah is long foretold and awaited Prophet (Deut 18:15, 18; Is 49): “It was necessary that the Messiah be anointed by the Spirit of the Lord at once as king and priest, and also as prophet” (CCC 436; Is 11, 61:1-2; 58:5; Zech 4:14, 6:13).
- Is announced by the last of the Old Covenant Prophets – The 500 year-old prophecy of John the Baptist (Mal 4:5) as the final precursor to Christ (Matt 3:3; Luke 1:76; CCC 719) was confirmed by Jesus: “for all the prophets and the law prophesied until the time of John…he is Elijah who is to come” (Matt 11:13).
- Is anointed like a prophet – Like some prophets in the OT (Ex 29:7; Lev 8:12; 1 Sam 9:16; 10:1, 16:1, 12-13; 1 Kings 1:39, 19:16), Jesus is anointed (Lk 4:16-21) at His Baptism (Lk 3:21-22).
- Acts like a prophet – Jesus’ public acts were reminiscent of OT prophets. Like Moses, Jesus offers the blessings of the Commandments (Deut 6:5-25; Matt 5), selects 12 disciples (Num 13:2-6; Matt 10:2-4) and cures leprosy (Num 12:10-13; Matt 8:2-3). Like Elijah, Jesus raised the widow’s son from the dead (1 Kings 17:17-24; Luke 7:11-17) and offers miraculous feedings (2 Kings 4:8-37; Matt 9:23-25). He acted in dramatic form, cursing and killing a fig tree (Mark 11:13–14) and cleansing the Temple (Mark 11:15; Is 56:7; Jer 7:11), causing people to marvel in fear (Luke 7:11–16; Kings 17:17–23).
- Speaks like a prophet – Jesus speaks for God: “You must listen to what I have to say, because the words I speak are not mine; they are the very words of God” (John 3:34). Like the OT prophets, He warned of the judgment to come (Matt 11:21–24, 23:13–29; Luke 6:24–26) and offered promises of blessings from God (Psalm 9:7-8; Matt 5:3–11, 13:16–17; Mark 10:29–30). He denounced hypocrisy, quoting Isaiah (Matthew 15:7; Isaiah 29:13). He speaks of Himself as the prophesized “Son of Man” (Dan 8:17; John 5:27) who will sit in judgment.
- Is prophetic about the future – He makes offers prophetic insights to Nathaniel (John 1:47-49) and the woman at the well (John 4:39). He predicts His Passion and Resurrection with amazing detail including that: Judas will betray Him (John 6:70-71), He would die in Jerusalem (Luke 13:33), be rejected by the priests and elders (Mark 8:31), be delivered to the Gentiles to be mocked, spit upon and scourged (Mark 10:33-34), crucified (John 3:14) and be resurrected in 3 days (Matt 12:39-40). Jesus accurately predicts the fall of Jerusalem in 70 A.D. (Mark 13:2).
- Is recognized as a prophet – Jesus was widely considered a prophet by His disciples (Luke 4:19), by those who witness miracles (John 7:16), by those who are healed (John 9:17), by those who hear His prophecies (John 4:19; Matt 16:14; Mark 6:15; 8:28; Luke 7:16; 9:8; 24:19; John 6:14; 7:40; 7:17; Acts 3:22). He is proclaimed a prophet upon entry to Jerusalem (Matt 21:11) and is arrested because “they feared the multitude, because they held him to be a prophet” (Matt 21:46), the Romans taunt Him as a prophet (Mark 14:65; Matthew 26:68; Luke 22:64) and is murdered like the prophets (Matt 23:30, 31, 37).
- Is greater than all the prophets – Jesus spoke of Himself as a prophet. When rejected in Nazareth, He responds, “a prophet is not without honor, except his own country” (Mark 6:4; Luke 4:24). He contrasted Himself with “false prophets” (Matt 7:15, 24:11, 24; Mark 13:22), identified with Israel’s great prophets (Luke 13:31–33) and sends out prophets in His name (Matt 10:41). Jesus taught that He is “greater than Jonah” (Matt 12:38–41) and greater than Moses (John 6). The greatest OT prophets, Moses and Elijah are called to witness Christ’s Transfiguration (Matt 17:3).
- Endows the early Church with prophets – Prophets played an important and esteemed role of the early Church (Acts 11:27, 13:1, 15:32, 21:10; 1 Cor 12:28, 14:3-5; Eph 4:11; 1 Tim 1:18, 4:14). They were among the teachers of the early Church (Rom 12:6; 16:26; 1 Co 12:10; Eph 2:20), guided with insights from Christ (1 Cor 13:2, 1 Pet 1:19-21; Rev 1:1, 4-5) to encourage believers (1:Cor 14:3) and with the apostles form the foundation on which the Church was built (Eph 2:20).
- Continues to call the Church to His Prophetic Office – “Jesus Christ is…established as priest, prophet, and king. The whole People of God participates in these three offices of Christ and bears the responsibilities for mission and service that flow from them” (CCC 783). The laity is especially called to offer prophetic witness by their holy lives and by proclaiming Jesus Christ to make Him known (LG 35; CCC 897-900).
Sin, Sacrifice and Priesthood
Created in God’s own image (Gen 1:27), Man is a “religious being” with a natural desire to draw near to God through religious rituals (CCC 27-28). After the fall into sin at Eden, the first sons brought religious sacrifices to God: Abel’s sacrifice of the first-born from the flock pleased God while Cain’s sacrifice from the soil was not pleasing to God. Full of sin, Cain killed his brother Abel; the first murder was motivated, in part, out of jealousy from the first sacrificial offering (Gen 4:3-8). Melchizedek, a “priest of God Most High” (a Gentile and the first mentioned “priest” in the Bible; was perhaps Shem, the son of Noah), blessed Abram for his heroic deeds with a sacrificial offering of bread and wine (Gen 14:14-20). Abram obediently prepared to sacrifice his first-born son Isaac to God, who instead commanded Abram to sacrifice a ram (Gen 22). In the earliest recorded written human experience found in the Bible, Man seeks to reconcile with God for sin through sacrifice led by priests (from Latin, presbyter, meaning “elder”, a masculine noun).
The Rejection of Sin, Sacrifice and Priesthood
The Postmodern culture is perverted, rejecting Man’s inborn aversion to sin and the hope of reconciliation with God through sacrifice and the priesthood. Influencers of culture (e.g. academics, psychologists, scientists, politicians, activists, media and corporate elites) reject age-old definitions of sin and embrace perversion (e.g. fornication, denigration of marriage, contraception, abortion, homosexual acts, pornography). Where there is no sin, there is no need for sacrifice: many men are withdrawing from manly responsibilities and self-sacrifice into sloth, self-indulgence, a perpetual adolescence of bachelorhood without commitments to a wife and children and service to society. Where there is no sin or need for sacrifice, there is no need for priesthood. The Postmodern culture rejects religious priesthood, seeking to comfort guilty consciences with secular pseudo-priests: psychologists, philosophers, pop-gurus, political messiahs and entertainment idols. Tragically, these secular pseudo-priests offer only temporary distraction, not absolution and salvation.
Jesus Christ – Divine Priest
Jesus Christ condemns sin and becomes the Perfect Sacrifice as the Divine Priest. Jesus:
- Condemns Sin and confirms the reality of Hell – As a Person of the Trinity, Jesus condemns sin in the giving of the 10 Commandments to Israel at Mt. Sinai (Ex 35) and Moses keeps the stone tablets in the Holy Ark of the Covenant (1 King 8:9; Heb 9:4). In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus amplifies the description of sin in the 10 Commandments to include thoughts of lust and unrighteous anger (Matt 5:21-32). Jesus also speaks repeatedly about the punishment of Hell for unrepentant sinners (Matt 7:13-14, 25:46; Mark 9:47-48) and the Church continues to faithfully teach the reality of Hell as punishment for unrepented mortal sin (CCC 1035).
- Institutes a sacrificial system by priests of Israel – “Sacrifice is a ritual offering made to God by a priest on behalf of the people, as a sign of adoration, gratitude, supplication and communion” (CCC 2099). After the people engage in an orgy around the Golden Calf (Ex 34), God instructs Moses to establish the Levitical priesthood (Ex 40:12-16), the exclusive priesthood of Israel (Num 17:1–13, 18:1–7). In Leviticus, the definition of sins and the sacrificial economy were made explicit; the rituals of sacrifices to God, led by priests, were at the center of Jewish life.
- Prefigures His Priesthood in the Old Testament – The mysterious priest-king Melchizedek (King of Salem, which becomes Jerusalem), a priest of God the Most High, blesses Abram with offerings of bread and wine (Gen 14:18-20; Psalm 110:4). Abram follows God’s instruction to sacrifice his first-born son Isaac on Mount Moriah (renamed Mt. Zion in Jerusalem) but God instead provides a ram for sacrifice (Gen 22:1-19). These events prefigure Christ’s Priesthood in which He offers the Eucharist in the bread, wine and His Holy Sacrifice as the Lamb of God on Mt. Zion in Jerusalem.
- Signals His Divine Priesthood during childhood – Mary is seen by Blessed John Paul II as the first communicant of Christ’s Eucharist, having the actual body and blood of in her womb (Ecclesia de Eucharistia, no. 55). The Magi travel to give homage to Christ as King but also as Priest, offering myrrh, a tree resin used to anoint Levite priests (Ex 30:23-33). Mary and Joseph present Jesus, the first-born son at the Temple consistent with the Law (Ex 13:2), perhaps implying that Jesus was consecrated as priest (Luke 2:22-24). At twelve, Jesus remains in the Temple in Jerusalem, “amazing” the learned rabbis (Luke 2:47), a signal of His Divine Priesthood.
- Previews His Sacrifice in the Eucharist in the Feeding of the 5000 – Jesus feeds the 5000 with bread and then offers His Bread of Life discourse, explicitly describing the Eucharistic feast of His body and blood that gives eternal life (John 6).
- Gives the Perfect Sacrifice of Himself in the Eucharist – “At the Last Supper, on the night He was betrayed, our Savior instituted the Eucharistic sacrifice of His Body and Blood” (CCC 1323). By offering Himself once and for all as the unique and Perfect Sacrifice (Heb 10:14) in the Eucharist, Jesus provides the true meaning and perfection to the Old Testament sacrificial cult (cf. Heb 5:10, 6:20). His Sacrifice is commemorated and mysteriously present in the Eucharistic sacrifice of the Church (CCC 1357, 1544) at every mass.
- Is recognized by the early Church as Divine Priest – While Jesus does not explicitly give Himself the title of “priest”, He clearly acts as the Divine Priest and is recognized as Divine Priest by the Apostles. Throughout Hebrews, Christ is seen as the Divine Priest described in various ways: as the Son of God who reigns as priest forever (Heb 7:3); as the “great priest” (Heb 10:21); the “high priest” (Heb 2:17; and in nine other places); the “great high priest” (Heb 4:14); the priestly “order of Melchizedek” (Heb 5:6, 5:10, 6:20, 7:11, 7:17). The apostles of Jesus Christ affirm the continuity of His priestly action by preaching and “the breaking of the bread” (Acts 2:46), following Christ’s direction to “do this in memory of Me” (Luke 22:19; 1 Cor 11:24).
- Perpetuates the Eucharist through Catholic priests – Through the Sacrament of Holy Orders (CCC 1539, 1544, 1547, 1554), priests act in persona Christi to re-present the unique sacrifice of Christ on the Cross in the Eucharistic sacrifice of the Church (CCC 1554, 1562).
- Calls all Men to Sacrifice and to the Priesthood – In addition to ministerial priests in Sacred Orders, all the faithful are called by Christ to be a “kingdom of priests” (1 Peter 2:5; Rev 1:6, 5:10) through the Sacraments of Baptism and Confirmation (CCC 784). As “as priestly people” all baptized and confirmed Catholics are enabled to celebrate the liturgy (CCC 1119) and are called to live out their priesthood according to their own vocation (CCC 1546).
“Christ-miss” in the Modern World
While the feast of “Christ’s-Mass” dates back to at least the 2nd Century, much of the modern world has lost sight of the mysterious and wonderful Advent of Christ. For many Christians, rather than renewal in Christ, Christmas is perhaps better described as “Christ-miss”. “Christ-miss” is celebrated with rampant consumerism, holiday gift-giving, family reunions, partying, vacations and perhaps even attending Christmas Mass, while “missing” the opportunity to renew
Like the slumbering world that missed Christ’s quiet birth in a Bethlehem stable 2000 years ago, many are sleeping during Advent, embracing “Christ-miss” rather than “Christ-Mass.” They miss the great miracle of Christ’s continued rule in the modern world; they miss the opportunity to draw closer to Christ and to experience His lasting peace and joy. Instead, in the deprived darkness of the modern secular “Christ-miss” world, people suffer in darkness, lost in the self-absorption of sinful addictions, lost in battles to promote sexual liberation, the killing of children and the control of the nation’s wealth, lost in transient relationships, broken marriages and the loneliness of going it alone.
The Advent of the Divine Child
Into this broken world, the Light of Christ continues to shine brilliantly during Advent. Into a world that seeks to avoid the conception of children and to abort children, Jesus comes as a little child to establish a New Creation, a Creation of joyful life. Christ comes as a lowly and humble child to save men from their sins and to offer them lasting peace and joy by becoming children of God (John 1:12; CCC 526). Despite all the darkness and suffering in the world, there is Good News: Unto us a Child is born who is the Savior, Christ the Lord (cf. Luke 2:11).
The Advent of the Mysterious and Glorious Divine Child
Jesus the Divine Christ Child demonstrates His mysterious Glory in His Advent. Jesus:
Is the One who is prophesized – “The coming of God’s Son to earth is an event of such immensity that God willed to prepare for it over centuries”(CCC 522). Through God’s beautiful Grace, prophets foretold of Christ’s coming (richly described in CCC 711-716), providing confirming proof to help mankind strengthen their faith through seeing prophecies fulfilled.
Is welcomed by the Blessed Virgin Mother – God prepares a perfect womb for His Son to be born, interceding in nature through the Immaculate Conception of Mary, who is born without the stain of Original Sin (CCC 490-493), the first soul redeemed by Christ (even before His birth!). According to St. Augustine, Mary took a vow of virginity when she came of age. Mary was probably a young teen when the Angel Gabriel greets her, saying “Hail, full of Grace” (the only person in the bible to be so greeted) and “you have found favor with God” (Luke 1:26-37). God, in His greatness, does not impose His Will on Mary, allowing Mary to give her blessed fiat (e.g. “let it be done”; Luke 1:38) that she gives enthusiastically (CCC 494). As the Virgin Mother realized 2000 years ago, “all nations will call me blessed” (Luke 1:48); today, her prophecy continues to be true around the world with each “Hail Mary”!
Is accompanied by John the Baptist – John is conceived to the barren Elizabeth and the elderly priest Zechariah, pious Jews of OT Law, after the angel Gabriel announces the birth in the Temple Holy of Holies (Luke 1:5-24). John will be “filled with the Holy Spirit” and be a prophet in the spirit and power of Elijah foretold 400 years earlier (Mal 4:5-6). John will be a celibate and abstaining priest (like his father) and a prophet like Elijah who prepares the way for the Messiah (Luke 1:12-17).
Is a miraculously conceived and born – Jesus is conceived, not from the dust of Adam but by the Father through the Holy Spirit who overshadows Mary (Luke 1:35), echoing the Spirit’s overshadowing the Temple in the OT (Ex 40:35), sanctifying her womb and making it fruitful (CCC 485). Fulfilling a 700 year old prophecy (Isa 7:14) Mary, the Virgin, not only conceives as a virgin, but mysteriously delivers the Child as a virgin, remaining perpetually a virgin (CCC 487-89). She becomes the “Mother of God” (Theotokos), Christ’s first disciple and “Mother of the Church” (CCC 495). The birth of Jesus is an exclusive miracle, never replicated.
Is welcomed, protected and raised by Joseph – God underscores the importance of family and earthly fathers when He calls Joseph (Matt 1:18-25). Joseph protects Jesus and the Virgin Mother (Matt 2:13-15). Fulfilling the prophecy that the Messiah would be a descendent of King David (2 Sam 7), Joseph names the child and officially adopts Jesus at the time of His circumcision (Luke 2:21). Joseph, a pious and just Jew, raises Christ with the Virgin and teaches Him to be a carpenter (Mark 6:3).
Overturns human assumptions about His birth – Jesus is expected to come as a King, born in an obviously royal household, with worldly power and might. Instead, Jesus is born in a third-rate town of Bethlehem where no prophets had yet been born (John 7:52; CCC 525), born in poverty.
Angels participate in Christ’s Incarnation – Gabriel, not mentioned in the Bible since the prophesy of the Messiah to Daniel some 600 years earlier (Dan 9:24-27), returns to announce the Messiah to Zechariah (Luke 1:8-23) and Mary (Luke 1:26-38). A choir of angels come to the shepherds abiding in the fields (Luke 2:8-20). At Christ’s birth is an assembly of angels on earth rivaled only in Revelation.
Inspires awe – Even in Elizabeth’s womb, moved by the Holy Spirit, John leaps for joy when he draws near Jesus in the New Ark of the Covenant (CCC 2676) and Elizabeth cries in a loud cry, “Blessed are you among women and blessed is the fruit of your womb (Luke 1:39-45). Perhaps drawn by ancient prophecy (Num 24:17-19), the Gentile Magi travel a great distance to offer the Christ Child gifts and to adore and worship Him (Matt 2:1-12). The shepherds, recalling the shepherd boy David, are called by an angel and rush to see the Christ and glorify and praise God (Luke 2:8-20). Simeon, moved by the Holy Spirit proclaims that the Child Jesus is the “light of revelation” and blesses the Holy Family (Luke 2:25-35). The prophetess Anna sees the Child and proclaims that He will be the redemption of Jerusalem (Luke 2:36-38). King Herod, awed into fright, fails to kill Jesus when he slaughters the Innocents (Matt 2:16-18), fulfilling a prophecy by Jeremiah (Jer 31:15), 600 years earlier.
Remains fully present in the modern world – Jesus, the Savior Child born in Bethlehem (the House of Bread), ever present, offers Himself in the Eucharist of His Christ-Mass for those who choose not to miss Him.
The Fall of the Sons of Man
God created Man in His image and likeness, giving Man dominion over the earth (Genesis 1:27). The first man Adam (Hebrew for “man”) disobeyed God and fell into Original Sin (Gen 3). Cast out from Eden, Adam became a father of Cain, and then, Abel. Abel, a shepherd, pleased God with an offering from his flock, while Cain’s offering “from the ground” did not please God. Fallen and disfigured by Original Sin, Cain, the very first son of man (Adam), killed his brother Abel (Gen 4). Like the first Man Adam, the first son Cain displeases and rebels against God. Fallen in Original Sin, all generations of sons struggle in persistent sin.
The Loss of Sonship and Manhood
By turning away from God the Father and Jesus the Son, Post-modern Man has lost the meaning of being a son and being a man. Postmodern sons, many raised without fathers, fail to learn “sonship”: respect for elders, obedience, loyalty, humility, discipline and how to be fathers. Many of today’s men avoid fatherhood (contraception, abortion) or reject the responsibilities of being a father (siring children out of wedlock, abandoning or neglecting their children and the mothers of their children). Postmodern sons are failing in manhood: the rejection of chivalry and disrespect of women, indulgence of compulsive desires (food, drink, pornography), equating manhood to the siring of many children out of wedlock, the strutting of hyper-masculinity, the sloth of perennial adolescence, or embracing dependency or the effeminate. The failed post-modern culture cannot be salvaged without a return to virtuous sonship and manhood.
Jesus Christ – The Son of Man
Jesus Christ, the Son of Man, demonstrates perfection of sonship and manhood. Jesus:
- Draws on Old Testament references to the “Son of Man” – The phrase “son of man” appears over 100 times in the Old Testament, most often as a human being or mortal man (Num 23:19; Job 25:6; Psalm 8:4; Sir 17:30) or to describe individual men including Ezekiel (Ezekiel 2:1, 3) and Daniel (Daniel 8:17). The “son of man” is used to describe a supernatural man: Daniel has a vision of the “Ancient of Days” (God) who welcomes a glorious figure “like the Son of Man” into God’s heavenly presence. The Son of Man is hailed as worthy and God condemns the rulers of the earth, giving everlasting dominion to the Son of Man to defeat God’s enemies and rule over all nations (Dan 7).
- Calls Himself the “Son of Man” – The “Son of Man” is the most frequent title for Jesus Christ in the New Testament: it is found over 73 times in the Gospels (60 times in the Synopics/13 times in John), in Acts (7:56) and Revelation (1:13; 14:14); St. Paul does not use the title “Son of Man” for Jesus. Jesus is the only one in the Gospels who uses the title “Son of Man” and He exclusively applies it to Himself. Jesus prefers the title “Son of Man”: several occasions when He is identified as the “Christ” (Mark 8:29–30, 14:61–62, 13:21–22), Jesus responds by speaking of what the “Son of Man” will do.
- Occasionally uses the “Son of Man” to describe His humanness – Jesus uses the title “Son of Man” to show He possessed a human body (John 6:53) and has the capacity for human activities like resting (Matthew 8:20), eating and drinking (Luke 7:34), suffering (Mark 8:31), and that His body will be placed in the grave (Matthew 12:40).
- Predominately uses the “Son of Man” to assert His Divine Mission – Jesus had encyclopedic knowledge of the Old Testament (He wrote it after all) and clearly means to reveal that He is the Divine “Son of Man”, predicted in Daniel (Dan 7). Jesus:
- Teaches that He is the Divine Son of Man – Jesus echoes Daniel’s description of the “Son of Man”, referring to Himself (Matthew 19:28, 24:30, 25:31) as the one who will be raised up by the Father to sit on a royal throne at the right hand of the Father (Psalm 110:1) and come on the clouds of Heaven (Matthew 26:64; Mark 14:62). He emphasizes His preexistence of the Son of Man (John 3:13) and is attended by angels (John 1:51). In Him, people must put their faith (John 9:35). While Christ’s assertion of Divinity is clear in Greek, In the Aramaic language, the expression “Son of Man” (ben-adam) had come to mean simply “man” (bar-ethas), allowing Jesus to veil messianic significance in his prophetic preaching..
- Asserts His authority and power as the Son of Man – As the Son of Man, Jesus claims the authority of God the Father (John 8:28). He asserts the ability and authority to forgive sins (Mark 2:10), teach (Matthew 13:37), heal (John 9:35), suspend the Sabbath (Mark 2:28), judge men for their deeds (John 5:27) and even grant life (John 6: 27). The Angel Gabriel, in the Annunciation to Mary says, “He shall reign forever… And His kingdom shall have no end” (Luke 1:33), referring back to Daniel’s vision of the Son of Man (Daniel 7:18–27) and the eternal nature of the dominion of Christ.
- Proclaims His Divine mission of Salvation – The Son of Man’s mission is to save the lost (Luke 19:10) and He serves to give His life for many (Matthew 20:28, 26:2, 26:24, 26:45; Mark 8:31, 9:12, 10:45, 14:21, 14:41; Luke 9:22, 22:22, 22:48, 24:7).
- Uses His role as Son of Man in prophecy – Jesus reveals that the Son of Man will be betrayed, arrested, be condemned by elders and chief priests, be killed and rise again after 3 days (Mark 8:31, 9:9, 9:12, 9:31, 10:33, 10:45, 14:21) and will return (Luke 17:22, 18:8, 21:36).
- Refers to the Son of Man to warn of the coming Judgment – Jesus offers a somber warning for those who are not prepared for the future coming of the Son of Man (Matthew 24:27, 24:37, 24:39, 24:44). He warns that He will judge all people (John 5:27) and those who reject the Son of Man will be rejected at the Judgment (Mark 8:38; Matthew 16:27).
- Emphasizes the Son of Man in the Eucharist – Jesus asserts the life-saving nature of eating the flesh of the Son of Man (Bread of Life – John 6:27, 53; Last Supper: Matt 26:17-30).
- Strengthens disciples in the face of persecution – He prepares the disciples that they will suffer for the Son of Man (Luke 6:22).
- The Church affirms that Jesus Christ rules as the Son of Man – Today, Jesus rules over all the world through His Church (Mark 16:19; Acts 7:56; Rev 14:14–16; CCC 440, 661).
Is the Perfect Son and Perfect Man – Jesus is the Perfect Son (CCC 536, 564) and the Perfect Man (CCC 381, 482); all men are called to imitate Him (CCC 1694).
The Birth of Chaos
Since the beginning, God ‘s plan of sheer goodness is to allow Man to share in His blessed life (CCC 1). Satan rejected God’s plan, was irreversibly cast out from Heaven and has sought to corrupt Man ever since (CCC 391-92). Adam failed to accept God’s clear direction to “go forth and multiply” (Gen 1:28), to protect the Garden (Gen 2:15) and to not eat of the Tree of Knowledge (Gen 2: 17). Accepting Satan’s temptation in the Original Sin (CCC 385-406), Adam and Eve were cast out of Eden by God into the world tormented by sin and death (Gen 3:15-24); rather than enjoying the Paradise of Eden planned by God, Man struggles in the chaotic battle between good and evil (CCC 409).
The Chaos of Post-Modernism
Throughout the history of Mankind, all peoples and cultures have embraced God with varying levels of understanding of God’s Truth, ultimately seeking to participate in God’s plan. Today’s Postmodern culture is unprecedented as the first culture in human history in which large groups of humans militantly profess atheism or live like God does not exist. Secularists proclaim that God does not exist, Creation is a result of random processes and that Man is simply an evolutionary “accident.” This God-less delusion renders life is ultimately meaningless; Man lives and dies with no purpose and no future. Secularists, perhaps well-meaning but profoundly ignorant and arrogant, scheme to progress towards their vision of “Utopia” (literally, “No Place”), a place of hope and change where Man can finally find happiness. The Postmodern “strategic plan” is failing and leading to chaos and despair: the breakdown of the family, assaults on life (abortion, euthanasia, contraception, the rejection of children), the embrace of promiscuity, the decay of virtue in relativistic pluralism, gender and race conflict, antagonism between economic and social classes and warfare between ideologies and nations.
Jesus Christ – Divine Strategist
The word “strategy” comes from the Greek, strategia, meaning “command of a general”. Jesus Christ, the Eternal King and Divine Strategist, comes to proclaim the plan of the Gospel. Jesus:
- Has a strategy from the beginning – Jesus is with the Father from the beginning (John 1:1-5). Rather than a long string of meaningless events, human history has its beginning and end in God’s blessing (CCC 1). “Creation is the foundation of “all God’s saving plans” (CCC 280) by which “the Father accomplishes the “mystery of his will”…in a wisely ordered plan [called the]…economy of salvation” (CCC 1066). “The ultimate end of the whole divine economy is the entry of God’s creatures into the perfect unity of the Blessed Trinity” (CCC 260; John 17:21-23).
- Is at the center of the Strategy of Salvation – To save Man, God’s strategy was to send His only Son (John 3:16) to save Man from Sin (Matt 1:21); “Jesus” literally means “God saves” (CCC 430) and is the only name by which men can be saved (Acts 4:12). The Gospel of Jesus Christ is that Man can be saved from Original Sin and death, that Satan has been defeated (CCC 1086) and that there is a way of life and a way of death (CCC 1696).
- Strategically prepares Man for His Advent in the Old Testament – “[T]he economy of the Old Testament was deliberately so oriented that it should prepare for and declare in prophecy the coming of Christ, redeemer of all men” (CCC 122) who fulfills all God’s Old Testament promises (CCC 1964-70; 280). At Emmaus, Jesus explains the meaning of the Old Testament to the disciples, filling them with awe (Luke 24:32). The Incarnation reveals that the hidden meaning of the Old Testament is the dying of the Savior for our sins (1 Cor 15:3).
- Makes series of strategic covenants with Man over time – God forms covenants, growing in reach: Noah (One Holy Family – Gen 9), Abraham (One Holy Tribe – Gen 15, 17,22), Moses (One Holy Nation – Ex 24/Deut 29), David (One Holy Kingdom – 2 Sam 7) and the Church (One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church – Mark 14). Each covenant builds on early covenants in preparation for the “new and perfect covenant which was to be ratified in Jesus Christ” (CCC 781).
- Deliberately “previews” His strategy of salvation in the Old Testament – Jesus offers “previews” (called typology or prefigurements) of Himself through the Old Testament (CCC 128-130); examples include Melchizedek (Gen 14:18-20; Heb 7:1- 3), Joshua, Moses and David. God also reveals the coming of Jesus through OT prophets (CCC 522, 702).
- Predestines Mary to be the New Ark of the Covenant – As early as Eden, God describes the victory over Satan in the protoevangelium (Gen 3:15; CCC 410), in which Mary, the New Eve, will bear Jesus Christ who conquers evil and death. Mary is predestined by God to bear Christ (CCC 488) and prefigured in the Old Testament (CCC 489). Mary is purposefully created without Sin in the Immaculate Conception (CCC 490-493) and by “the power of the Holy Spirit, He became incarnate of the Virgin Mary, and was made man” (CCC 456).
- Purposefully becomes Incarnate in history – Jesus strategically chooses to Incarnate in a particular time and place to give God a human face (CCC 1160). He irrefutably demonstrates that He is God through teaching, miracles, correction of religious authorities, the defeat of Satan and through His saving Passion and Resurrection (CCC 1019; cf. 1741, 601-02, 401-404).
- Prefigures and becomes the Eucharist – God purposefully prepares Man to accept the Eucharist in Abraham’s sacrifice of Isaac (Gen 22:1-12), the Passover (Exod 12) and the manna in the desert (Exod 16). Jesus, building off the sacrificial practice of Israel, becomes the true Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world (CCC 523, 602), revealing the true meaning of the Passover during the Eucharistic celebration that is extended from the Last Supper to His Death on the Cross.
- Establishes the Church and endows Her with the Gospel and Sacraments – In the Church, Jesus Christ has left “”the fullness of the means of salvation”: the correct and complete confession of faith, full sacramental life and the ordained ministry in apostolic succession (CCC 830), preserved through Sacred Tradition, Sacred Scripture and the Magisterium (CCC 95; 107; 126). Jesus establishes the Papacy in Peter (Matt 16:18) who passes along the authority for Christ’s Church on earth to bishops so that “the full and living Gospel might be preserved in the Church” (CCC 77).
- Continues to implement His strategic plan – Jesus, as Divine King, sits at the right hand of the Father and has an everlasting dominion over all men (CCC 664; Matt 28:18). Christ remains Man’s “advocate with the Father”, who “always lives to make intercession” for Man (CCC 519, 668). At Pentecost (Acts 2), Jesus’ promise to send the Holy Spirit (John 14:16; 15:26) is fulfilled, and the Holy Spirit continues to help Man (CCC 1811, 1889). At her Assumption, Mary becomes the Queen of Heaven, continuing to intercede to bring Man “the gifts of eternal salvation” (CCC 969).
The Ills of Modern Man
At Eden, Man chose to abuse his freedom, distrusting God and seeking to “be like God” (cf. Gen 3:5). Since then, Man has suffered under the effects of Original Sin (CCC 396-409), which includes the embrace of personal sin and lives full of pain, illness, emotional suffering and death.
Humans have sought to alleviate suffering through modern medical advances to treat mental and physical illnesses. Modern psychology and psychiatry seek to treat mental illness with cognitive behavioral therapy and various medicines. Modern physical medicine has made great advances in treating all kinds of bodily illness through diagnostic technology, scientific treatment protocols, pharmaceuticals and surgical procedures.
Despite these medical advances and huge monies spent on healthcare, Man remains immersed in mental and physical illness and every person still die. Trillions of dollars are spent on healthcare. Despite spending unprecedented levels, mental illness is growing with increasing levels of depression and suicide. Despite extraordinary advances in medical technology, Man still suffers high levels of disease and the inevitable effects of human aging.
Much of Man’s suffering is the result of the spiritual sickness of Sin. Sinful indulgence leads to physical suffering: gluttony and the obesity epidemic has led to growing levels of heart disease/diabetes; substance abuse has resulted in various health problems; sexual promiscuity increases sexual disease. The rejection of Christian morality has resulted in growing levels of mental anguish: sexual promiscuity and the rejection/attempted redefinition of marriage has led to abortion and great numbers of children suffering with broken/unformed families; adultery and selfishness has led to increased divorce and the collapse of the family. Man’s personal choice to sin causes much of today’s human anguish.
Jesus Christ – Divine Physician
Jesus Christ, the Divine Physician, has the power and the desire to heal all Man’s spiritual, mental and physical illnesses. Jesus: (more…)