Satan – The Ancient Enemy
Satan, the Evil One, and his demons, are fallen angels who freely chose to rebel against God’s reign (CCC 391-395). When Adam failed in his vocation to protect Eve and the Garden, Satan (Hebrew: adversary, one who plots against) treacherously enticed Eve to rebel against God (Gen 3:1-24; CCC 1707). Adam and Eve’s Original Sin to side with Satan led to a loss of Original Holiness and evil took root in the world, pitting men and women against each other in hostile world of pain and death (CCC 400). The Old Testament documents Satan’s action in the world (Lev 17:7; 1 Chr 21:1; 2 Chr 11:15; Tob 3:17; Job 1:6-12, 2:1-7; Wis 2:24; Isa 13:21; Bar 4:35; Zech 3:1-2).
Satan in the Modern World
Satan continues to vigorously corrupt Man to rebel against God (CCC 414) in overt ways: the barbarous murders of Christians by Islamic terrorists; the institutionalized murder of abortion; government endorsement of sinful sexual behaviors (e.g. contraception, pornography as free speech, the legalization of homosexual acts); the growing euthanasia movement; legal attacks against God and Christians; coercion to accept same-sex faux marriage; Satan worship.
Satan is also acts in subtle ways to corrupt: contraception as a “right”; mainstreaming of single parenthood; radical feminism that divides women and men; “gender theory” that proliferates “orientations”; increasing control and manipulation by governments and corporations; rampant materialism; stifling of free speech and religion; education systems that indoctrinate but fail to teach; the earth-worship of perverted environmentalism; political systems built on divisive identity politics; selective acceptance of racism and sexism; the expansion of no-fault divorce; technology-powered propaganda of perverted causes; growing totalitarianism of pluralism/relativism.
Satan has also corrupted some Catholic bishops and priests to teach lies and not Truth and to stand idly by while millions of Catholics leave the Church: the downplay of the existence of Satan, Sin and the reality of Hell; de-sacralizing the liturgy; de-emphasis of Confession; promotion of “pastoral” acceptance of divorce and homosexuality as a “gift”; the failure to vigorously rebuke predator priests; acceptance of heretical Catholic education leaders; the abject failure to evangelize men.
Jesus Christ – Conqueror of Satan
Jesus Christ decisively conquers Satan and unequivocally warns Man about Satan. Jesus:
Allows Satan to roam the earth…for now – While Satan can influence, his power is nothing compared to the power of God. Christ, with the Father and the Holy Spirit, allows Satan to exist in the world for His own providential and mysterious purpose (CCC 395).
Incarnates to conquer Satan – Predicted in the Protoevangelium (the first Gospel; Gen 3:15), Jesus incarnates through Mary to decisively conquer and destroy Satan and to teach the redemptive goodness of God in the face of evil (CCC 309; 385; 394).
Rebukes Satan in the Temptation – Satan attacks Jesus after a 40-day fast, twisting scripture with appeals to hunger, pride and power (Matt 4:1-11); Christ rebukes and dismisses Satan.
Dominates demons in every encounter – Scripture documents many of the times that Christ specifically casts out demons in a variety of circumstances (Matt 4:24; 9:32-34; 12:22-28; 17:14-21; Mark 1:21-28; 1:32-34; 1:39; 3:22-26; 5:1-20; 7:24-30; 9:14-29; Luke 4:31-37; 4:41; 6:17-19; 8:1-3; 8:26-39; 9:37-43; 11:14-19; 13:10-17; Acts 10:34-38). On a number of occasions, the demons recognize and fear Christ (Matt 8:29; Mark 1:21-28).
Condemns the acts of Satan – Jesus rebukes Satan’s attempts to corrupt Peter (Matt 16:21-23). He accuses the Pharisees for acting on Satan’s behalf (John 8:43-51). Christ warns Peter that Satan has demanded Peter for himself (Luke 22:31-34). He calls Satan “a murderer” and “the father of lies” (John 8:44). Christ prays to the Father to protect the apostles from the Evil One (John 17:15).
Warns men about Satan in the Lord’s Prayer – Christ specifically acknowledges Satan and man’s need for protection: “But deliver us from the Evil one” (Matt 6:13; CCC 2850-54).
Strengthens the Apostles to recognize and confront Satan and his demons – Numerous examples exist of Christ’s warnings and the Apostle’s confirmation of Satan in their teachings:
- Gives the Apostles the power to cast out demons – Christ allows and specifically equips the Apostles and other disciples to cast out demons (Matt 10:8; Mark 6:7; 9:38-41; Luke 9:1; 9:49-50; 10:17-20; Acts 5:16; 8:7).
- St. Peter – Warns that the “devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour” and that men must resist Satan (1 Peter 5:8-9).
- St. Paul – Confirms that he is being used to turn people from Satan to God (Acts 26:16-18), rebukes Elymas for being the “son of the Devil” (Acts 13:8-18), exorcises demons (Acts 19:11-17), instructs the faithful to reject hardened sinners to Satan’s grasp (1 Cor 5:4-5; 1 Tim 1:19-20), warns the Satan disguises himself as “an angel of light” (2 Cor 11:14) and that in latter days “some will depart from the faith, giving heed to deceitful spirits and doctrines of devils (1 Tim 4:1-2), confirms that some early disciples are corrupted by Satan (1 Tim 5:15), and acknowledges that he is being attacked by Satan (2 Cor 12:7-10; 1Thes 2:18). He instructs men to “put on the armor of God…to withstand the wiles of the Devil” (Eph 6:10-20).
- St. James – Instructs men to be “subject to God, but resist the Devil, and he will flee from you” (Jas 4:7).
- St. John – Confirms that Jesus came to “destroy the works of the Devil” (1 John 3:8), that men can resist the Devil in Christ (1 John 2:13) and that the whole world is currently influenced by the Evil One (1 John 5:19; Rev 2:10-11).
Decisively conquers Satan – Christ will ultimately put an end to Satan’s evil attacks (Rev 12:1-17) and counterfeit signs (Rev 16:13-14), bounding Satan and casting him into a lake of fire (Rev 20:1-10).
Strengthens the Church to teach the reality about Satan – The Church in the fullness of Truth, continues to profess the reality of Satan who acts in the world today and that God has dominion over Satan (CCC 391-395; 414; 1708).
The Birth of the Unrepentant
At Eden (Gen 3:1-14), Adam and Eve rejected God’s commandments at the urging of Satan, sinning by eating the forbidden fruit. When confronted by God, neither Adam nor Eve repent of their sin or show contrition; instead Adam blames Eve and Eve blames Satan. For their Original Sin, the harmony of creation is broken and Adam and Eve bear the consequences for unrepented sin (Gen 3:15- 24). The firstborn of Eve, Cain, sins by killing his brother Abel, is unrepentant and bears the consequences of his sin (Gen 4:18-14). The lack of repentance becomes Man’s scourge.
The Age of Excuses
Today, Man rejects sin and excuses those acts still considered sinful. The 10 Commandments given by God (Ex 20:1-17), are routinely rejected in the darkening and decaying culture. God is rejected by secular elites and replaced by man-made laws, materialism, sports, entertainment, career, “genderism”, environmentalism and many other false idols. The Sabbath and the Lord’s name are routinely profaned. Sexual depravity is the norm, with pornography, fornication, adultery and homosexuality embraced by many. Marriage is rejected, denigrated by “divorce” and perverted. The killing of the innocent through abortion and the infirm through euthanasia is broadly accepted. Gluttony and sloth are rampant and encouraged. For those few things still considered sinful by the modern culture, sinful acts are excused, blamed on poor parenting, poverty, pressure or a period of temporary insanity. Man has rejected God’s definition of sin and excused himself from whatever politically correct forms of sin that are still recognized. Man’s excuses accuse him.
Jesus Christ – The Call to Repentance
Jesus Christ reaffirms the reality of Sin, each Man’s culpability and calls each Man to repentance. Jesus:
Calls Man to repentance in the Old Testament – The Trinitarian God instructs Man to turn from sin, giving the 10 Commandments (Ex 20:1-17) and by Moses’ exhortation to turn from death to life (Deut 30:15-20). Other examples of the call to repentance include God’s appearance to Solomon (2Chr 7:12-16), Ezekiel’s exhortation (Ezek 18:21-32) and Jonah’s call to Nin’eveh (Jon 3:7-10).
Sends John the Baptist to call for repentance – John the Baptist, recognized as a prophet (Isa 40:3; Matt 3:3), is sent as Christ’s forerunner (CCC 523) with the specific call for repentance: “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand” (Matt 3:2).
Calls Man to Repent from Sin – Jesus reinforces the truth about Sin, fulfilling the Law and the Prophets (Matt 5:17-20) and begins His public life with these words: “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand” (Matt 4:17).
Teaches about the importance of Repentance – Jesus parables emphasize the need for repentance: the Two Sons (Matt 21:28-32), the Prodigal Son’s remorse (Luke 15:11-32), the tax collector’s confession of sin (Luke 18:9-14) and the evil souls’ rejection of the marriage feast (Matt 22:1-14). He emphasizes that the temptations of the world cause many to not repent (Mark 10:23-31).
Forgives and is patient with those who repent – Jesus forgives the repentant sinful woman (Luke 7:36-50) and Peter’s denial (John 21:1-19). Repentance is a gradual process and God is patient with those who turn from sin and redirect their lives towards holiness (Wis 12:10; Roman 2:4; 2 Pet 3:9).
Will judge the unrepentant, who will die – The Father has given “all judgment to the Son” (John 5:22; Acts 10:42), giving Jesus the power and duty to offer “definitive judgment on the works and hearts of men”, a right “acquired” by His Cross (CCC 679). Jesus teaches that those who don’t repent will perish (Luke 13:3). “If [mortal sin] is not redeemed by repentance and God’s forgiveness, it causes exclusion from Christ’s kingdom and the eternal death of Hell” (CCC 1861).
Exhorts the Church to preach repentance – Jesus sends out the 12 (Mark 6:7-13) to preach that “men should repent”. Christ teaches that “repentance and forgiveness of sins should be preached in His name to all nations” (Luke 24:47; CCC 981); Peter follows Christ’s command (Acts 2:38).
Through the Church, offers Man the practices of Repentance – Man is called to metanoia (Greek for a “change of mind”; appears 22 times in the NT), an complete repentance in which Man continually repents and gives his entire life to Christ. Following the forgiveness of Baptism, Man is to continually repent from the new sins he routinely commits, and for which, needs forgiveness (CCC 1425-1429), by:
A daily Examination of Conscience – Cultivated and formed by Christ and His Church, Man’s conscience is continually perfected by the virtue of Prudence, which allows Man to make right judgments (CCC 1777-1787, 1790). The Church emphasizes the importance of the examination of Conscience (CCC 1454), using the Ten Commandments as a sure standard of Sin and the Catechism as a powerful help (Sin: CCC 1846-1876; 10 Commandments: CCC 2052-2557).
Turning from sin in repentance – Repentance means to “regret” (Latin penitire) and Man is called to a conversion of heart through interior penance, a radical rejection of sin and an acceptance of God’s many graces that allow Man to experience a sustained conversion (CCC 1430-1433).
An Act of Perfect Contrition – Contrition (from Latin, contritus, meaning “worn out, ground to pieces) is the soul-deep sorrow and hatred for the sin committed, together with a resolution not to sin again (CCC 1451-1454). Contrition is the most important act of the penitent and is necessary for the reception of the Sacrament of Reconciliation (CCC 1451).
To confess one’s sins in Sacrament of Reconciliation – Christ endows Peter and his successors with the ability to forgive the repentant of their sin (Matt 16:18-19; CCC 553) through the power of the Holy Spirit (John 20:22-23). Man is specifically called to recognize and confess sin (1 John 1:9; James 5:17; Acts 19:18). Through the Sacrament of Reconciliation, the sins Man confesses to a priest (CCC 1456) are absolutely forgiven, reconciling Man with God and His Church (CCC 1440-1445). Man must, at minimum, confess sin in Reconciliation once a year (CCC 1457) and immediately when in a state of mortal sin; Man must not take Communion when in a state of mortal sin to avoid the guilt of “profaning the Body and Blood of the Lord” (1 Cor 11:27).
Satisfaction through Penance – Jesus preaches about the importance of the repentant practices of almsgiving, fasting and pray (Matt 6:1-18). Man must make satisfaction for sin after Confession to remedy the disorders that sin has caused, making amends for sin; this is called “penance” and is directed by the priest (CCC 1459-1460). To help Man grow in holiness, the fourth precept of the Church makes it mandatory that Man must continually repent and “observe the days of fasting and abstinence established by the Church” (CCC 2042-3) to grow in holiness and to avoid future sin.
“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 one’s 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 Coming of Jesus Christ
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 host (from the Latin, hostis, meaning “army, war-like expedition”) of angels come to the shepherds abiding in the fields (Luke 2:8-20). At Christ’s birth is an army 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.
Modern Man’s Aversion to Kings and Kingdoms
The word “monarchy” comes from the Latin, monarchia, meaning, “absolute rule, the ruling of one.” Monarchies, a form of human government, are ruled by a king (or queen) and have been around since early human history. Much of Western civilization has its roots in monarchies. Today, while about 20% of countries in the world are formerly called monarchies, few actually give more then ceremonial recognition to kings or queens.
Living in a democracy in the 21st century, the idea of kings and kingdoms is a foreign concept. The U.S. was founded based on the specific rejection of monarchy of the King of England. Americans value independence and reject the idea of being “subjects”, fiercely supporting democracy in the political realm.
Catholic men are called to recognize that Jesus Christ is the Divine King, the Messiah and that they are His subjects. Men are called to give total allegiance to the King, to kneel before Him in adoration and continually give themselves to Him. Recognizing the Truth of the Divine Kingship of Jesus Christ can help men become more loyal subjects of Christ.
The Divine Kingship of Jesus Christ
Messiah, or Christ in the Greek, comes from the Hebrew, meaning “the anointed one.” Since the time of the Prophets, a Messiah was foretold who would restore the fallen Kingdom of Israel and bring salvation to the world(CCC 763). Angels foretold of the coming of the Messiah to the Blessed Virgin, calling Jesus “great”, “the Son of the Most High” and that “He will reign…for ever…and His kingdom will have no end.” (Luke 1:31-33). Pagan kings found the Christ Child and “fell down and worshiped Him” (Matt 2:11) and King Herod, fearing his kingdom, slaughtered the Innocents (Matt 2:16).
Jesus, the Messiah King, is royally anointed by the Holy Spirit at His Baptism (Luke 3:21-22), and begins to preach about His Kingdom, saying, “Repent for the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand” (Matt 4:17). The devil tries to unsuccessfully tempt Jesus with “all the kingdoms of the world” (Matt 4:8). Andrew and Peter realize that they “have found the Messiah” (John 1:41).
Jesus continually teaches about the Kingdom of God throughout His ministry: in the Beatitudes (Matt 5:2-12), in numerous parables and in the Our Father (Thy Kingdom come, Thy will be done…). The people attempt to forcefully make Him king (John 6:15), but Jesus instead later enters Jerusalem like a Davidic king (CCC 560). Pilate mistakenly concludes the Jesus is simply the King of the Jews and has Jesus crucified when the people say, “We have no king but Caesar” (John 19:15). After the resurrection, Jesus teaches for forty days about the Kingdom of Heaven (CCC 659).
The Catholic Church has always recognized the Divine Kingship of Jesus Christ and reserves the last Sunday of the liturgical year for the Feast of Christ the King.
What Jesus Teaches through His Divine Kingship
Jesus Christ, and His Church, teaches the great importance of the Divine Kingship of Jesus Christ:
Jesus Christ is the Divine King – Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, the Son of King David, the King of Kings, a Divine King anointed by the Holy Spirit (CCC 436). He “accompanies His words with many “mighty works and wonders and signs”, which manifest that the kingdom is present in Him and attests that he was the promised Messiah” (CCC 547). He performs many signs to make known the Mysteries of the Kingdom of God (CCC 1151). He is the Perfect King (CCC 578), a Merciful King (CCC 545), a Heroic King who comes to free the slaves and the poor (CCC 544) through His own sacrificing death.
Jesus Christ has complete dominion as Divine King – Jesus, as Divine King, sits at the right hand of the Father and has an everlasting dominion (i.e. authority, rule and power) over all men (CCC 664; Matt 28:18). Jesus warns that “all judgment is given to the Son” (John 5:22) and that those who do not do the will of the Father will not enter the Kingdom (Matt 7:21).
All men are called to be His devoted subjects – Jesus calls all men to conversion, to repent and work for the Kingdom (CCC 2608). Men ultimately must choose who they will serve, either Jesus Christ or Satan “who act(s) in the world out of hatred for God and his Kingdom in Christ Jesus” (CCC 395). Men must give their complete devotion to Jesus Christ as the martyrs have done, with “matchless devotion towards [our] king and master” (CCC 957).
As subjects, men are called to serve the Divine King – Men are called to pick up their crosses and follow Jesus. He warns that lukewarm commitments or attachment to riches keep men from the Kingdom of Heaven (Luke 18:25). “One must give everything…Words are not enough, deeds are required” (CCC 546). Though subjects, men are part of a royal office of Jesus Christ (CCC 786). Men are called to be the King’s co-workers (CCC 307) to hasten the fulfillment of the Kingdom (CCC 2046).
Men must give obedience to the Church – Jesus, the Divine King, gives Peter the keys to the Kingdom (CCC 553) and supreme earthly authority has passed to each successive Pope and the college of bishops (CCC 869). Catholics are called to obedience to the teachings of the Church (CCC 891).
Men are called to adore Jesus Christ the Eucharist – The real presence of Jesus Christ, the Divine King, is in His Church and in the Eucharist (CCC 1088, 1373). In the Mass, men are given a foretaste of the Kingdom of Heaven (CCC 2770). “Adoration is the first attitude of man…[and] homage of the spirit to the “King of Glory” is a necessity… (CCC 2628). Men are called to worship the Divine King through adoration of the Eucharist: “The Catholic Church has always offered and still offers to the sacrament of the Eucharist the cult of adoration, not only during Mass, but also outside of it…” (CCC 1378). Like many who were awed by Christ in the Gospels, all men are called to kneel and worship their King.
Men are called to evangelize – Jesus commands the Apostles to spread the Good News of the Kingdom to all the world (Matt 28:16-20). As subjects of the King, “the laity are made to share in the priestly, prophetical, and kingly office of Christ” (CCC 873), “to spread the Kingdom of Christ over all the earth” (CCC 863).
The Descent into Dirt
The Church teaches that Satan was full of Pride and rebelled against God, causing God to cast Satan and his angels out of Heaven and into Hell (CCC 391-92). Still full of rebellious Pride, Satan slithered into Eden and seduced Eve (and Adam) to join in rebellion against God (Gen 3:5). God’s response to the Sin of Pride was definitive: Satan was cursed and deemed the enemy of Man; Adam and Eve were to live with pain, toil and death. Rather than immortality, Man was to “return to dust” (Gen 3:19); turning to dust is the ultimate lesson in humility (from the Latin, humus, meaning, “of the soil”). Pride remains the first of the Capital Sins/Vices (CCC 1866) leading Man to envy and resent God (CCC 2094, 2540).
Modern Man’s Empty Chest-thumping
Modern culture is infected with the insanity of the “Enlightenment”: the prideful rejection of God and the embrace of radical individualism/selfishness. The prideful rejection of God infects Man with all kinds of schemes to attempt to find happiness: the false political “progressivism” that promises an earthly Utopia (literally, “no place”), insatiable capitalism, the reliance on technology and science to solve all the ills of society, the rejection of sexual morality (e.g. rejection of marriage, contraception, abortion, the acceptance of homosexuality/same sex “marriage”, transgenderism, etc.) and the totalitarian use of government to enforce pluralism/relativism to the point where nothing is sacred. Man’s pride threatens the very peace of the world (CCC 2317).
Like gorillas in the wild, Modern Man thumps on empty chests in prideful display that cries out “Look at me!”: conspicuous consumption (clothing, cars, McMansions), body adornment (tattoos, strange hair and cosmetics), exhibitionism (Facebook, Twitter), the scandalous antics and self-promotion of politicians, celebrities, “comedians” and athletes. In the modern mind, Humility is not a virtue.
The Humility of Jesus Christ
Jesus Christ demonstrates the perfection and power of humility in the Incarnation.
Descends to become the Son of Man – As the Divine Son of God from the beginning (John 1:1), Jesus demonstrates the ultimate humility by becoming Man, emptying Himself (Phil 2:7), taking the form of a slave (Phil 2:6-7) and willingly accepting the constraints of human learning (CCC 472). As the “Perfect Man”, Christ’s whole life is the model for Man to follow in holiness (CCC 520).
Chooses to be Incarnate to humble parents – Rather than the pride of Eve (Gen 3), Virgin Mary becomes the “New Eve” (CCC 411) in the humility of “the handmaiden of the Lord” (Luke 1:38). God chooses Joseph, a carpenter, who humbly accepts and defends the pregnant Mary (Matt 1:18-25), accepts celibacy in marriage (CCC 499) and raises Jesus as his own son.
Embraces humble circumstances – Jesus is born in a humble manger (Luke 2:1-7), has no earthly pedigree (money, political, scholarly credentials), lives in poverty (Luke 9:58) and associates with the lowliest of sinners (Matt 9:10-13) and outcasts (Matt 8:2-4).
Submits to the Baptism – Despite being without Sin (CCC 536), Jesus humbly accepts Baptism in solidarity with Man (Matt 3:13-17); each Christian is called “to enter into this mystery of humble self-abasement and repentance” (CCC 537).
Allows Satan to attempt temptation – With the humility of perfect love and in solidarity with Man, Jesus allows Satan to tempt Him, refraining from destroying Satan: in the desert (Luke 4:1-12) and perhaps in Gethsemane (Matt 26:36-46; CCC 612).
Embraces humility in the Passion – Jesus enters Jerusalem on a lowly donkey (Matt 21:1-10). He washes the disciples’ feet (John 13:1-17). He bows to the Father’s Will in Gethsemane (Matt 26:36-46) and willingly (CCC 272) allows the Jews and Romans to insult (mocking an spitting), torture and kill Him by scandalous Crucifixion (Matt 26-27) while asking the Father to forgive His persecutors from the Cross (Luke 23:34).
Jesus Christ explicitly directs Man to embrace humility and to reject pride.
Condemns the sin of pride – Jesus opposes the proud (Jas 4:6) including the Pharisees (Matt 9:10-13), Pilate (John 19:10-11), Herod (Luke 23:9), and admonishes the proud ambitions of the Apostles (Matt 20:20-28, Luke 22:24-27, Mark 9:35).
Directs Man to be humble – Humility is at the core of the Beatitudes (Matt 5:3-12); “poor in spirit”, “the meek” and “the merciful.” He teaches that “all who exalt themselves will be humbled, all who humble themselves will be exalted” (Matt 23:12), to take the lowest seat at the table (Luke 14:7-11) and to be a servant to all (Luke 22:26), even a slave (Mark 10:42-45). Jesus instructs the leaders of the Church and all Christians to be humble (Matt 18:1-4) and in self-denial to take up the Cross (Matt 16:24-26; Rom 8:17).
Demonstrates that humble dependence on God can defeat temptation – Even though weakened by a 40-day fast, Jesus rejects Satan’s temptations by calling on the Father (Luke 4:1-12). He again defeats Satan’s temptation in Gethsemane (Luke 22:53; CCC 612).
Clarifies that humility is mandatory for Salvation – Jesus teaches that a humble repentant heart is necessary for justification (Luke 18:9-14; CCC 1446; see Reconciliation: CCC 1442-1498) that the humility of a child is a pre-requisite for Heaven (Matt 18:4).
Promises the fruits of humility – Jesus teaches that the humble will inherit the earth (Matt 5:5; CCC 1716), will enjoy eternal salvation (Matt 18:1-3) and enter the kingdom of heaven (Matt 5:6; CCC 1746, 2546).
Teaches Man to pray with humility – Jesus teaches Man to pray the humble “Our Father” (Matt 6:9-13), each section requiring humility: submitting to God as “Father”, “hallowing” His name, accepting God’s will, begging for “daily bread” and forgiveness (a sign of humility – CCC 2631) and protection from temptation and the Evil One. Man must embrace humility to draw closer to the Trinity in prayer (CCC 2713, CCC 2728).
Endows the Church with humility – The Apostles embrace humility: Peter: “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble” (1 Peter 5:5); James: “Humble yourself before the Lord and He will exalt you” (James 4:10); St. Paul “Do nothing from selfishness or conceit, but in humility count others better than yourselves” (Phil 2:3). All the martyrs and saints have embraced humility.
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).
Copyright image by Ann Chapin – for more of Ann’s work see http://www.faceofchrist.gallery
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.
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.
The Descent of Man
At Eden, Man, through his own distrust of God and selfishness, fell into Sin. Tainted by the inborn selfishness of Original Sin, Man has struggled, plagued by Satan and Sin, reaping the harvest of pain and suffering. Since then, Man has hoped and prayed for salvation to lift him from the depths of sin and isolation from God. (more…)