Learn by Topic: Awe


In today’s Gospel (John 1:43-51) Jesus Christ awes the very hard to impress Nathaniel.  But do you know the real reason why Nathaniel is so impressed?  It is not as obvious as you might first think. (more…)

In today’s Gospel from the Holy Mass (Luke 2:41-52) Mary and Joseph find Jesus in the Temple.

Here is a striking passage (one of many in this reading):

“they found Him in the Temple, sitting among the teachers, listening to them and asking them questions and all who heard Him were amazed by His understanding and His answers.” (Luke 2:47-47).

This is astounding:Christ-Teaching-at-the-Temple - Bloch - Cropped

  • To teach in the Temple, a rabbi (Hebrew for  “teacher”) typically had to have years of study under a master; for example, Paul studied for years under Gamaliel (Acts 22:3).  Jesus was just a child, but was sitting amongst the teachers.
  • Jesus amazes by His understanding and His answers.  Imagine a 12 year old today, sitting with Cardinals of the Church and blowing them away with his/her knowledge of Scripture and the Catechism.  Something like this would make for a viral video that would sweep around the planet.
  • Jesus not only understands, but answers questions.  When is the last time you asked theological questions to a 12-year old?
  • It stands to reason that one of the sources of Jesus’ great wisdom was the upbringing He was being given by the Blessed Mother and Joseph.  Do we strive to teach our children and the children of our parish with the same rigor?
  • Of course the reason why Jesus astounds, is because He is the Word (John 1:1), the Logos, Wisdom itself, for He is the Son of God.  It was astounding then and is astounding now.

It is clear that Jesus was a genius, beyond the genius of even the most learned men.  This should not surprise us, for we believe that Jesus is the Son of God!  While we shouldn’t be surprised, we should certainly be in awe of our God.

Simeon with the Christ Child

Simeon with the Christ Child

Today’s Mass reading describes when Mary and Joseph took Jesus to the temple to “present Him to the Lord” (Luke 2:22-35).  While Mary and Joseph certainly “marveled” (i.e. “to be filled with wonder”) over many things during their lives with Jesus, today’s reading describes the only use of the word “marvel” in the Gospels associated with Mary and Joseph.

What caused Mary and Joseph to marvel?

The righteous and devout Simeon, an old man, is filled with the Holy Spirit and takes Jesus in his arms.  Simeon says:

 “Lord, now lettest thou thy servant depart in peace, according to thy word;  for mine eyes have seen thy salvation which thou hast prepared in the presence of all peoples, a light for revelation to the Gentiles, and for glory to thy people Israel.”

And his father and his mother marveled at what was said about Him. (Luke 2:29-33).

It is moving, but why would Mary and Joseph be filled with wonder? (more…)

St. John the Evangelist - Guido Reni (1621)

St. John the Evangelist – Guido Reni (1621)

One way to realize the greatness of a person is to observe the impressiveness of his followers. Impressive people follow people who are more impressive than themselves.  A disciple is not greater than his master (Matt 10:24).

If the impressiveness of St. John is realized, then one can realize just how impressive Our Lord Jesus Christ is.

In any age, John the Evangelist would be considered one of the most impressive men alive.  John is chosen by Jesus Christ to be one of the 12 Apostles (Luke 5:10), a fact that alone would certainly rank John as one of the greatest men who ever lived.  Jesus allows John to be present at critical turning points in the Incarnation (e.g. at the Transfiguration, the Garden of Gethsemane).  Jesus directs John to care for the Blessed Mother (John 19:27).

John’s greatness grows in new directions after the Resurrection.  John becomes one of the pillars of the Church in Jerusalem (cf. Gal 2:9).  John is perhaps the greatest theologian of the Church, writing the Gospel of John which is a mature reflection on who Jesus Christ is and the powerful meaning of the Incarnation: Pope Benedict XVI wrote his first papal Encyclical (Deus caritas est) using John’s words “God is love” (1 John 4:16).  John goes on to write Revelation, the powerful and poetic vision of the Kingdom of God and beautiful and terrible days of judgment that the Lamb will usher in.

Clearly John is one of the impressive men who has ever lived.  And John was totally impressed by Our Lord Jesus Christ.

We must ask ourselves:  Am I impressed by Jesus Christ?


“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 their faith in Christ.La_Vierge_au_lys

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.   (more…)