“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.
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…)
There is an orphan epidemic in the modern world. Many children in the modern world have, in practical terms, been abandoned, even when they have one or both parents. Increasing numbers of women (with men in passive agreement) are bearing children out of wedlock (absent fathers) and/or through artificial insemination (anonymous fathers). Many marry only to divorce. As a result, a large and growing number of children are being raised without a father; fatherless orphans. Children are also being abandoned into virtual orphanhood; the vocation of parenting is being outsourced to hired day care providers, teachers in secular schools and by modern media. Many adults are also embracing orphanhood through a rejection of God the Father with growing numbers of people choosing atheism, agnosticism or ‘casualism’ in faith. Orphans abound.
The rejection of earthly fathers and the Heavenly Father yields great suffering. Modern culture is showing the negative effects of orphanhood by declines in morality and human happiness: idolatry (materialism, cult of celebrity), promiscuity, addictions (pornography, substances), the murder of abortion and euthanasia and the rejection of marriage and children, etc. Great numbers of today’s ‘orphans’ are relentless and depressed, feeling the discouraging impact of empty lives; the reality of their mortality weighs on their hearts and minds; the unavoidable issue of their eternal salvation weighs on their souls. The faithless orphans of the world bear a great burden.
Jesus Christ Revealer of Our Father
Jesus Christ comes to reveal God the Father to an orphaned world. (more…)
Satanspel – The Devil’s Story
At Eden, Satan seduces Man with the false story (from the Old English “spel”) that humans can have “all knowledge” and “become like gods” (Gen 3:5). The turning away from God and His Truth to the devil’s false story, the Satanspel, is the fall of Man into Original Sin.
The Satanspel of today promises that a “modern” secular society (humans can be gods) and information technology (knowledge) will lead to the salvation of humans. Secularists seek to neutralize God in the public square and promote an individualist order where all humans can fulfill their personal cravings for material goods and sexual perversion. The “knowledge” of Eden is the “information” of today with Man submerged in a swamp of information through ever-more intrusive media devices. In the “information overload”, the trivial, obscene and morbid seduce Man into greater and greater distraction from God, with Man falling into ever-greater darkness of sin.
Gospel of Jesus Christ the Divine Evangelist
In Divine contrast to the dark lies of the Satanspel, the Gospel (literally, “Good news” or “God’s story”) is the Truth of Jesus Christ. Jesus, whose name means “God saves”, brings the Divine good news that God Is and Man can be saved by God through Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ, He, Himself, is the Good News, for He is God who comes into the world through the Incarnation to save Man from the dark spell cast by Satan. The Good News is the Story of Salvation for mankind. The Good News is that, rather than the randomness of deconstruction and cold evolutionary forces without a plot or storyline, there is the Truth of the Salvation Story in Jesus Christ.
What Jesus Teaches as Divine Evangelist
The Gospel Himself, Jesus Christ the Divine Evangelist teaches that:
There is a Kingdom of God – Rather then the confusion and waywardness of Israel or the deception of the human tendency to want to become gods, Jesus Christ brings the Good News that God exists and rules eternity in His Kingdom (CCC 544).
Salvation is the Story – Rather then a long string of meaningless events, human history has a trajectory in God. Even in the treason of Eden, God describes the victory over Satan in the protoevangelium (Gen 3:15; CCC 410), in which Mary, the New Eve, through her seed Jesus Christ, will conquer evil. The Gospel is the Good News of the God Story, 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). Jesus Christ is the turning point in Salvation History, fulfilling all the promises by God in the Old Testament (CCC 1964-70). Men are given a real history, a family history, in the Bible and the Traditions of the Church.
Jesus, Himself, is the Good News of the New Covenant – In the Incarnation, Jesus gives definitive proof of God’s existence. Jesus pays a high price and works tirelessly to bring the Good News, walking thousands of miles, healing the multitudes, living without a home, accepting the Will of the Father to submit to the injustice of puny men unto death. In the Incarnation, Jesus gives God a human face and man preserves this idea of Christ’s Good News in the blessings of Icons (CCC 1160).
Man must repent and accept the Good News – Jesus comes to set the record straight. Man is in deep trouble because of Original Sin, which is the opposite of the Gospel (CCC 389). Man must reject the false idols of human gods and scientific rationalism. Man has a choice and is accountable (1 Pt 4:17) for conversion (CCC 1427). Man will either be in the kingdom or outside with “weeping and gnashing of teeth” (Matt 22:13). Man must not be ashamed of the Gospel (Rom 1:15), “live a life worthy of the Gospel” (CCC 1692) and be prepared to give up all for the Gospel (CCC 2544).
There is Salvation in Christ – Jesus Christ ushers in a New Covenant, paying the price for human sin through His Crucifixion and offering all men the new life of the Resurrection (CCC 571). Christ teaches that there is no salvation for man without self-sacrificing love.
Man must embrace the Gospel through lifelong catechesis– Jesus Christ, Himself, is the Word, which is the Gospel. The Gospel is promulgated in writing and speaking (CCC 76). Man must continually be catechized and pass along the faith to the next generation through education/catechesis (CCC 2226).
Man must embrace the Church – Jesus Christ establishes His Church so that men can know the Truth be given Grace through the Sacraments. The Apostles pass 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) as their first and primary task (CCC 888). The Gospel is preached at every mass (CCC 1160). Christ establishes communio in the Church and the fraternity of brotherhood (CCC 2636).
Men are commanded to evangelize – Jesus preaches the Gospel with His own lips (CCC 75) and commands the Apostles to understand and preach the Gospel to all nations (Matt 26:13; Mark 13:10) for it is good news for all nations (CCC 528). Today, Man is called to be obedient evangelists (CCC 3; CCC 673), for the preaching of the Gospel has the power through the Holy Spirit to renew culture in Christ (CCC 2527). Man must take the Gospel seriously for it has been passed down for 2000 years with great hardship and sacrifice.
Responding to the Gospel has requirements – To fully respond to the Gospel, Man must embrace renewal in prayer (CCC 821) and be drawn into the sacraments (CCC 977). Jesus leaves a perpetual evangelization of man through the Sacraments (CCC 1247). To bear witness and promulgate the Gospel, Man must live a life faithful to the Gospel (CCC 2044: CCC 2226; CCC 2472).
Men must persevere to preach the Gospel – Christ teaches that there is great resistance to His Gospel, and despite apparent defeats and setbacks, Man must never cease to preach the Gospel (CCC 854).
He will send the Holy Spirit – Key to the Gospel is the promise that Christ makes to send the Holy Spirit to give the power to transmit the Gospel (CCC 2600, 2640).
Men seek heroes
God has created men by nature and vocation with a natural desire for Himself (CCC 44) and men can only find happiness in God (CCC 27). But men become lost as they seek God due to ignorance and sin (CCC 397). Realizing real dangers in the world and the God-implanted understanding of the need for salvation, men aspire to heroic deeds and seek courageous heroes to protect and lead them through the challenges of life. The desire and need for true heroes is perennial in the hearts of men across time and cultures.
From an early age, boys naturally seek heroes. They look up to their fathers, older boys and other men as role models and as defenders/protectors. Boys are intrigued by the heroic deeds of fictional characters (e.g. Superheroes in movies, TV and books, videogame heroes, sports heroes, etc.). Boys admire and seek those with heroic virtues.
When grown, men continue to seek heroes. Some continue on with the fictional heroes of youth, trading comic books for the action/superheroes and celebrities in the media. Most men also look up to heroes in real life. Many follow and celebrate sports teams and athletes. Others admire and follow politicians, social activists or business leaders. Still others look up to and follow real life heroes in the military (e.g. medal of honor winners), religion (e.g. saints) and people who perform extraordinary deeds in the face of tough challenges (e.g. 911 responders, those who battle life-challenging illnesses, etc.). All men, in some way, desire to be heroes and to associate themselves with heroic leaders.
Men fall for false heroes
Many men are confused about the definition and true nature of heroism. Heroism is confused with celebrity. Heroism is confused with self-serving athleticism, political opportunists, charlatans who deceive, “anti-heroes” or outright scoundrels. The meaning of the word “hero” has been dumbed down to the point of being almost meaningless. Doing an Internet search for websites, news articles or images provides ample evidence of the misuse of the word “hero”. Heroism is associated with movie stardom, video games (e.g. Guitar Hero), relatively routine athletic accomplishments and even a sandwich. Sadly, many of the real life men who masquerade as heroes, fail, and fail spectacularly.
The Definition of “Hero”
The word “hero” comes from the Latin, hero, meaning, “defender, protector” and “to save, deliver, preserve, protect.” Closely related is the word, “Savior” which comes from the Latin, salvatorem, meaning “one who delivers or rescues from peril” or “heals.” Modern definitions of the word “hero” provide other characteristics of a hero. A hero: faces danger or adversity with courage; sacrifices self for the greater good of humanity; displays moral excellence”; “ is placed high above his fellows.”
Jesus – The True Hero
Jesus is infinitely higher above all other heroes – He is the Son of God; there can be no hero that compares. Heroes come and go, but only Jesus is the long-awaited Messiah. No hero, except Jesus, was anticipated for thousands of years before His birth and remains a hero two millennia after His death (and Resurrection).
He physically protects people on earth – He saves the Disciples who are in fear of drowning (Luke 8:22-25). He stands up to the bloodthirsty mob that is going to stone the adulterous woman (John 7:53-8:11). He protects the disciples from the violent legion when He is taken in the Garden (John 18:8). He is the ultimate protector.
Jesus is the perfect demonstration of virtue – He demonstrates prudence, temperance, justice and fortitude and charity with perfection that no man has met, or can ever, match.
He heals people from sickness, madness and death – Jesus healed the multitudes of every illness and raises them from the dead.
He stands for Truth against falsehood – Repeatedly, He confronts the Pharisees and the Sadducees and corrects their falsehoods, despite their collusion to kill Him. He refuses to yield to Pilate, even as Pilate threatens Him with death. Jesus is Truth itself (John 14:6).
Jesus defeats man’s greatest foe, Satan – There is no greater enemy of man than Satan. Jesus defeats Satan (1 John 3:8) when tempted in the Wilderness (Matt 4:10), by casting out demons (Matt 8:28-34), and by using the Satan-inspired evil of Judas (Luke 22:3) for the Glory of the Cross and Resurrection (CCC 2853 ). He defeats Satan on his home turf (Hell) when Jesus descends to offer His “redemptive works to all men of all times and all places…” (CCC 634). Only Jesus delivers us from evil.
He defeats man’s greatest scourge, Sin – He saves people from sin (CCC 2854). For example, He tells the sinful woman at Simon the Pharisee’s house, “Your faith has saved you; go in peace.”(Luke 7:50).
He sacrifices Himself for others – Jesus makes an infinite sacrifice, for His life is of infinite value and he gives it for the sins of all mankind. He chooses a horrible death freely (John 10:18), saying, “Greater love has no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.” (John 15:13).
He offers salvation for all mankind – His Name means “God saves” (CCC 430) and it is only the name of Jesus that can actually save (Acts 4:12). “Christ’s whole life is a mystery of redemption. Redemption comes to us above all through the blood of His cross…” (CCC 517). “He who believes and is baptized will be saved; but he who does not believe will be condemned” (Mark 16:16). “For the Son of man came to seek and to save the lost.” (Luke 19:10). “For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.” (John 3:16).
He is recognized as a Savior during His life on earth – The Samaritans profess, “It is no longer because of your words that we believe, for we have heard for ourselves, and we know that this is indeed the Savior of the world.” (John 4:42).
Definitions : “Miracle” – Latin miraculum “object of wonder” and “marvelous event caused by God“. “Resurrection” – Latin resurrectionem “a rising again from the dead.”
1) Miracles before the Passion
- Jesus predicts His Passion and Resurrection – Jesus repeatedly predicts His Passion and Resurrection in the Gospels. In Matt 20:18-19, Jesus gives a highly detailed prophesy identifying his betrayers (Jewish priests and scribes), that He would be scourged and crucified by the Romans and rise on the third day.
- The Miracle of the Passover and Passion – Jesus chooses the place (Jerusalem, the Jewish spiritual capital) and the time (the Passover, the Holiest Jewish feast) of His Passion. This choice ensures that huge numbers of Jewish pilgrims will witness the Passion, pilgrims who will later spread the news about Jesus across the Mideast. By using the Passover (celebrated for over 1300 years) for His Passion, Jesus radically redefines what the Holy Day means by becoming the Paschal Lamb that was sacrificed to take away the sins of the world.
2) Miracles between the Passion and Resurrection
- God accepts the death of His Son – In the Incarnation, the eternal Word takes flesh and was “crucified, died and was buried” (CCC 571-630). It is wondrous that God would so love humans that He would descend, incarnate and accept human death to save us from sin/death (John 3:16).
- Christ’s death reconciles humans to God – “By His death, Christ liberates us from sin…” (CCC 654). The un-payable debt of sin, from the time of Adam, is paid as Christ dies, saying “It is finished” (John 19:30), a term that in Roman times signified the full and final payment of a debt.
- Jesus descends into Hell – Jesus, having died, descends into Hell to offer redemption to righteous people who died before the Passion (CCC 632-635). This mysterious miracle confirms the completeness of “Christ’s redemptive work to all men of all times and all places…”(CCC 634).
3) Miracles at the Resurrection
- His body is uncorrupted – Despite being dead for three days with massive wounds, there is no corruption/decay of His body (Acts 2:27, CCC 627). It defies human experience.
- He transcends human experience by rising from the dead (Matt 28:1-10 Mark 16:1-20; Luke 24:1-53; John 20:1-31) – With the Father’s help, Jesus “effects his own Resurrection by virtue of his divine power” (John 10:17-18; CCC 649). He is not a ghost (Luke 24:39). His Resurrection is not simply the reviving of a dead person like the other people whom Jesus raised (Luke 7:11-17; Mk 5:22-24; John 11:1-44) for all of them eventually died. Jesus’ Resurrection is “about breaking out into an entirely new form of life, into a life that is no longer subject to the law of dying…a life that opens us a new dimension of human existence.”
- His resurrected body is miraculous – The horrific physical wounds of Christ included serious face and head wounds, head wounds due to the crown of thorns, full body scourging (120 lacerations), dehydration, large nail holes in His hands and feet, being pierced through the heart and having no food or water for three days while in the tomb. One who didn’t die from these wounds would certainly be hospitalized for weeks. Yet, Jesus rises with a miraculously healed body, a body that still shows the wounds of the crucifixion (Luke 24:40) including a pierced heart (John 20:20) that again works. The Gospels don’t mention the horrific wounds of the scourging, the beating or the crown of thorns after the Resurrection, which apparently are not noticeable.
- His Resurrection opens up a new life for all humans – “By His Resurrection, He opens for us the way to a new life…[a] new life that is above all justification that reinstates us in God’s Grace…we too might walk in the newness of life…[and we] become Christ’s brethren.” (CCC 654).
4) Miracles from the Resurrection to the Ascension
- Jesus appears with His Resurrected body – Jesus’ “real body possess the new properties of a glorious body: not limited by space and time but able to be present how and when he wills…” (CCC 645). He can disguise and reveal His appearance at will (Luke 24:16; John 20:14,19). He can appear and disappear at will (Luke 24:31). He eats and drinks (Acts 10:41) and allows others to touch Him (John 20:27). On the day of the Resurrection, He walks about 6 miles to Emmaus, shares a meal and teaches for an extended period.
- Jesus reveals the fullness of Salvation History – 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).
- Jesus appears and interacts with many disciples – Jesus appears many times to many people including Mary Magdalene (Mark 16:9; John 20:11-16), Peter and John, to the disciples on the road to Emmaus, to the Twelve and five hundred disciples (and to Paul after the Ascension) (1 Cor 15:5-8).
- Jesus Ascends to heaven – After His Resurrection, Jesus predicts that He will ascend to heaven (John 20:17) and, after 40 days, miraculously ascends into the clouds (Mark 16:19; Acts 1:6-11). The stunned disciples then see two men in white robes who say, “Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will come in the same way as you saw him go into heaven.”
- Jesus sends the Holy Spirit – At Pentecost (Acts 2), Jesus’ promise to send the Holy Spirit (John 14:16; 15:26) is fulfilled.
 Benedict XVI, Jesus of Nazareth: Holy Week (San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 2011), xxii-xxiii.