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Scientism, Selfishness and Death

Modern Man worships Scientism.  Scientism is an idolatrous belief that only that which can be scientifically measured can be trusted.  Scientism rejects the Divine and reduces Man to molecules.  Rejecting the Divine, Man becomes obsessively Selfish, pursuing rampant materialism and living to feed the passions.  Embracing selfishness, Man lives a walking Death, empty, with broken relationships, isolation, addiction, emotional turmoil, ill health and the loss of hope of Heaven.

Jesus Christ reveals the Mystery, Love and Life of the Trinity

In contrast to false knowledge of Scientism, Jesus reveals the Mystery of the Trinity. (more…)

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Man’s Quest for Knowledge

Man has always been on a quest for knowledge.  Ever since Adam and Eve’s fall to Satan’s temptation to “know good and evil” and to be “wise” (Gen 3), the knowledge quest has drawn men into sin.  The Enlightenment failed because it sought to build knowledge through rational thought and the rejection of God.  More recently, Marx (economics), Nietzsche (power) and Freud (sex) all proposed new knowledge that would bring man fulfillment.  The dismal post-modern idea that there is no sure knowledge, seeks to deconstruct civilization into an atheistic, pluralistic and relativistic pool of confusion.  The Internet has provided easy access to most human knowledge and experience including the promotion of darkest human perversion, just a click away.  Politicians, media kings/queens and activists promote hyper-partisan opinions, gaining power/wealth,­­­ while dividing people into armed camps.  Man’s use of the exploding levels of secular knowledge has not led to peace or joy.

The Powerful Knowledge of Jesus Christ

If knowledge is power, then Jesus Christ is the most powerful man who has ever lived.  For Jesus Christ had intimate knowledge of God and a superior human knowledge.  Christ’s powerful Gospel recreated civilization.   In Christ’s Knowledge “is the new and definitive covenant…[and]…will never pass away…” (Catechesi Tradendae). The Truth and Knowledge of Jesus Christ is preserved by the Catholic Church through the oral Tradition and the written Gospels (CCC 126).  The Church proclaims the Truth of Jesus Christ through preserving, interpreting and promulgating the Sacred Scripture without error (CCC 107).  The Church is “the pillar and bulwark of the truth” (CCC 171) for today’s 2.2 billion Christians, the wider world and for all future generations.

The Divine and Human Knowledge of Jesus Christ

Human knowledge – The Church teaches that Jesus “assumed a rational human soul” that “is endowed with true Human knowledge.” His “knowledge could not in itself be unlimited; it was exercised in the historical conditions of his existence in space and time.”  This is why, as he grew into manhood, Jesus could “increase in wisdom and in stature, and in favor with God and man” (Luke 2:52; CCC 471-472).

Jesus asks questions and acts to find out something He does not know (Mark 6:38, 11:13; Luke 8:30).  To deny that Jesus learned is to deny that He learned things from his Mother, the people and other experience. Christ comes to have complete solidarity with man, impossible without the experience of human learning.  Jesus learns through experience for He is truly human.

Divine Knowledge – As the Son of God, through His human knowledge “not by itself, but by its union with the Word, knew and showed forth in itself everything that pertains to God.  Such is first of all the case with the intimate and immediate knowledge that the Son of God made man has of his Father…By its union to the divine wisdom in the person of the Word incarnate, Christ enjoyed in his human knowledge the fullness of understanding of the eternal plans he had come to reveal” (CCC 473-474).  As the Divine Knowledge of Truth, Jesus’ life is a lesson in wisdom; words, silence, miraculous acts and through the smallest detail.  Despite sharing everything with the Father, Jesus admits that He doesn’t know the Day of Judgment (Matt 24:36) but also that He was not sent to reveal it (Acts 1:7).

How Jesus Christ Demonstrates Knowledge

Demonstrations of Divine Knowledge:

  • 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 any one to whom the Son chooses to reveal Him”(Matt 11:27; also, John 1:18; 3:11; 6:46). “He who has seen Me has seen the Father” (John 14:9).  His knowledge is not through faith, but from direct knowledge of the Father.  Jesus describes eternal life as “knowledge”: “this is eternal life, that they know you the only true God and Jesus Christ whom you have sent” (John 17:3).
  • Interacts with the supernatural – Directly confronts Satan and is ministered to by angels (Matt 4:1-11), experiences the Holy Spirit (Matt 3:16) and talks with Moses and Elijah (Luke 9:30).
  • Reveals His knowledge of people’s hidden lives – Jesus knows what is in Nathaniel’s heart (John 1:47-49), the Samaritan woman’s history (John 4:17-18), the disciple’s arguments behind His back (Mark 9:33-35) and that Lazarus is dead (John 11:14).
  • Knows the future – Describes His Passion before the fact (Matt 12:39-41), knows the timing of His hour(John 2:4), predicts Peter’s denial and the disciples defection (Mark 14:18-21,27-31; Luke 22:31-39), His Resurrection (Mark 8:31) and the destruction of the Temple (Matt 24:2).

Demonstration of Human Knowledge:

  • Has incredible big picture perspective – Jesus knows salvation history and has a clear understanding of the religious-political landscape. Knows the errors of the Sadducees, Pharisees, Essenes and Zealots.  He has a plan for Salvation and makes it happen.
  • Institutes the Eucharist – Re-imagines elements of the Exodus (manna), the rituals of Passover (sacrificial lamb), table fellowship and Roman crucifixion and establishes the lasting life-giving Sacrament of the Eucharist.
  • Deep insights into lives and the motivations of humans – Jesus develops deep human knowledge that He uses to teach the Gospel.  His 30 parables are masterpieces that have the power to touch lives today: The Good Samaritan, The Prodigal Son, Workers in the Vineyard, etc.  The Parables demonstrate that Jesus is a keen observer of nature and people that He uses with vivid detail, humor and sympathy. He demonstrates specific knowledge of farming, business, ethic rivalries, religious life, community, etc.
  • Unparalleled genius of His Sermons  – The Sermons of Jesus Christ are perpetual reminders of His genius that speak to each generation. His genius is recognized in His own time, and is compared to Moses, David, Solomon and Elijah; He is called the “Word”(John 1).
  • Uses superior Scriptural knowledge to correct powerful opponents Christ demonstrates an encyclopedic knowledge of Scripture, referring to about 80 Old Testament passages from about 25 books.  He uses His superior exegesis to publically rebuke/correct religious authorities across a wide variety of doctrines (cf. Mark 10:2, 12:28; Luke 11:15, 14:1, 20:20, 20:32).

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Man’s Feeble Power

Since the fall of Man in Eden, men have pursued power to fulfill selfish desires.  “Power” comes from the Latin, potis, meaning, “to be able” and “strength, vigor and control”.  Men seek power to in an attempt to control other men (political, economic), natural resources (land, resources) and even life itself (longevity, health).  Through the acquisition and use of power, men hope to increase physical pleasure (wealth, possessions, sensual, sexual) and emotional/mental pleasure (enjoyment, pride, greed, lust).

Man’s pursuit of power is futile for it does not lead to lasting happiness due to Original Sin.  Modern Man has gained some control over nature (agriculture, weather, nuclear science, manufacturing), human life (genetics, medical technology) and over the pursuit of happiness (psychology, philosophy, communications and media).  But Man’s growing power through advancements in science/technology has not made Man happy.  Man’s power is feeble, for it offers only the emptiness in possessions, the discomfort of conflict/war, the temporary indulgence of selfish desire and can not avoid the finality of death.  Man’s futile grasping for power does not bring lasting peace and joy.

Awed by the Power of Jesus Christ

In contrast to the feebleness of human power, Jesus Christ possesses both the highest human powers and Divine Power.  Jesus is given all power and authority over heaven and earth by the Father (Matt 28:18; John 5:19-29) and sits at the “right hand of Power” (Mark 14:62).  Christ is born without Sin (John 8:46; 1 Pet 2:22), calls Yahweh, “Father” (John 2:16) and has the authority to offer completely new interpretations of the 1300 year-old Law (Matt 5:17-19), the Sabbath (Matt 12:8) and the Temple (John 4:21).  Christ forgives sins (Mark 2:5) and offers lasting peace and joy (John 14:27; CCC 736).  Despite His awesome power, Jesus Christ is humble (Matt 11:29) and refuses to take earthly political power (John 6:15).

Many in the New Testament are awed by the power of Jesus Christ.  Herod (Matt 2:13) and Pilate (John 19:8) are intimidated by Jesus.  Wise men “fall down and worship Him” (Matt 2:11).  Demons fear him (Matt 8:29).  The Jewish leadership is afraid of Jesus (Mark 11:18) and amazed (Matt 22:22).  Roman guards and temple guards “draw back and fall to the ground” at Gethsemane (John 18:6). The crowds and disciples are “filled with awe” (Mark 4:41), “astonished” (Luke 5:9), “amazed” (Mark 10:24), “utterly astounded” (Mark 6:51) and are “exceedingly afraid” (Luke 9:34).

The Power of Jesus Christ

Jesus Christ manifests His power in astounding ways:

Has the power of Creation – Present at Creation, Jesus Christ shares in the absolute power of the Father (John 1:1-5).

Has immense physical power – Jesus Christ endures 40 days in the desert without eating (Luke 4:2). Jesus lives a physically demanding life as a first century carpenter and as itinerant preacher; one source suggests Jesus traveled almost the circumference of the earth; 25,000 miles.

Has a powerful personal presence – People are awed by the personal presence of Jesus.  His presence attracts: Wise men (Matt 2:1), disciples (Matt 4:18-22) and crowds (Matt 4:25).  His Divine nature shines through His human nature in His personality and physical appearance (His body, face, and particularly His gaze (Luke 6:20; Mark 3:5)).  Jesus confronts the merchants and moneychangers and single-handedly clears the massive (35 acres) temple area (John 2:15).

Has the power to avoid physical coercion – Jesus mysteriously is able to avoid angry crowds who seek to control or kill him (Matt 12:15, Luke 4:30, John 6:15).

Has great healing power – Jesus Christ demonstrates His dominion by healing all maladies including those of the skin (Mark 1:40-45), bones (Luke 6:6-11; 13:10-17), nervous system (Luke 9:37-42), internal organs (Mark 5:24-34), the eyes (Matt 9:27-31) the ears (Mark 7:31-37), the tongue (Matt 9:32-34) and a severed ear (Luke 22:47-53).  This power is palpable and real and radiates from Him (Luke 6:19; 8:44).

Has power over nature/Creation – Jesus demonstrates astounding power over nature including weather (Matt 8:26), the sea (Mark 6:48), light and darkness (Matt 17:2; Luke 23:44), earthquakes (Matt 27:51), creatures (Mark 5:1-11), material objects (Matt 17:24-27) and has the ability to multiply loaves and fishes (Mark 6:32-44).  He is mysteriously transformed in the Transfiguration (Matt 17:2).

Has power over death – Jesus raises Jairus’ daughter (Luke 8:40-56) and Lazarus (John 11:44) from the dead.  Jesus raises Himself from death at the Resurrection (Mark 16:6).

Has the power to summon angels and the dead – Angels minister to Him at the Temptation (Mark 1:12-13), Gethsemane (Luke 22:43) and respond to His call (Matt 26:53).  Jesus summons Moses and Elijah (Luke 9:30).

Has transfer power disciples – Jesus grants power to His disciples (Matt 10:1, Luke 9:2) including the ability to forgive sins (John 20:22-23; CCC 976).

Has the power to respond to prayer – Jesus promises to answer prayers (John 14:13).

Has mysterious powers in His Glorified Body – After the Resurrection, Jesus is able to change His appearance (Luke 24:16), enter closed rooms (John 20:26) and ascend to heaven (Mark 16:19).

Can send the Holy Spirit – Jesus promises to send the Holy Spirit before His Passion (John 14:26) and sends the Holy Spirit at Pentecost (Acts 2:1-4).

Has the power of the Real Presence – 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).

Has the power of Salvation – Granted by the Father, Jesus Christ has the power to forgive sins against God (Mark 2:5) save all who believe in Him (John 11:25).  Has the power to mediate between God and man (John 14:6) and will judge each person by their “works and hearts” (John 5:22; CCC 679).

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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).

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Why is it so hard to be happy?  Despite the great wealth and relative freedom that many in the Western world enjoy, happiness is elusive.  Watch any channel on t.v. and one is bombarded with all kinds of discontent; advertising that seeks to bring attention to unmet “needs”, people searching and competing for fame and wealth and attention, a continual news cycle that amplifies human selfishness as one abuses another.  In this age of “enlightenment”, the ultimate human enlightenment of simple happiness is elusive.

In the quest to quell the pain of discontent, people turn to psychologists who offer all kinds of “treatments” to cure, or at least alleviate, discouragement and depression.  These psychological treatments include approaches such as cognitive behavioral therapy and the prescribing of anti-depressants.  TV “psychologists” and pop-gurus of all sorts diagnose and assert all kinds of advice to help the forlorn.  Despite man’s best efforts to treat the pain of being human, depression, suicide, substance abuse and other addictive behaviors are at epidemic levels.  Why can’t we all just be happy?

In today’s Gospel from the Mass (John 15:9-17), Jesus, the Divine Psychologist, gives Man the keys to true joy (more…)

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Ray Downing created this image; please visit his website for more information and to get prints of this wonderful image.

The Purposeful Incarnation of Jesus Christ

As part of God’s plan of sheer goodness, the Father sent His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ as Redeemer and Savior (CCC 1).  In the Incarnation (meaning, the ‘act of being made flesh’), God purposefully chose to come to Man (CCC 456).  By becoming flesh, Jesus demonstrates God’s love (CCC 458), so that Man might have a perfect model of how to love God and neighbor (CCC 459) and so that Man might be able to participate in God’s divine nature, becoming adopted children of God (CCC 460).

The Importance of the Physical Jesus Christ

The Church places a great emphasis on the importance of Christ’s physical body.  “Since the Word became flesh in assuming a true humanity, Christ’s body was finite.  Therefore the human face of Jesus can be portrayed…” (CCC 476).  “At the same time the Church has always acknowledged that in the body of Jesus “we see our God made visible and so are caught up in love of the God we cannot see.”  The individual characteristics of Christ’s body express the divine person of God’s Son. He has made the features of his human body his own, to the point that they can be venerated when portrayed in a holy image, for the believer “who venerates the icon is venerating in it the person of the one depicted” (CCC 477).

The Physical Jesus Christ

Scripture, history and meditation offer insights into the Physical Jesus Christ.  (more…)

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In the Gospel from the Mass (John 16:12-15) Jesus reaffirms that He is sending the Holy Spirit to help us:

[12] “I have yet many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. [13] When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth; for he will not speak on his own authority, but whatever he hears he will speak, and he will declare to you the things that are to come.  [14] He will glorify me, for he will take what is mine and declare it to you. [15] All that the Father has is mine; therefore I said that he will take what is mine and declare it to you. [16] “A little while, and you will see me no more; again a little while, and you will see me.”

Jesus Christ offers us the great gift of the Holy Spirit to guide us as an Insurance Plan:

  • Jesus tells us that the Holy Spirit discloses the full meaning of the Gospel (John 14:26), counter acting the acts of Satan which are purposefully intended to deceive and corrupt the world (John 8:44).
  • As time goes on, now and in the future, Christ has given us this perfect guide who continues the teaching mission of Jesus Christ, bearing witness to the Truth (John 8:31-32; 18:37; CCC 687).
  • This gift of the Spirit to the Apostles, hand-picked by Jesus, and acting on the Authority of Jesus, have continued to lead the Catholic Church through the millennia.  The guidance of the Spirit is Christ’s guarantee that the gospel will not be corrupted, distorted, or misunderstood by the ordained shepherd os the Church during her earthly pilgrimage (CCC 768, 889-92).

We must both take great joy and marvel at how Jesus Christ ensures that His grand strategy of Salvation (His logos) continues through the giving of the Holy Spirit.

The Holy Spirit is an insurance plan; who knew?

In the Gospel (John 15:26-16:4), Jesus accurately predicts the persecution of Christians:

[26] But when the Counselor comes, whom I shall send to you from the Father, even the Spirit of truth, who proceeds from the Father, he will bear witness to me; [27] and you also are witnesses, because you have been with me from the beginning. [1]”I have said all this to you to keep you from falling away. [2] They will put you out of the synagogues; indeed, the hour is coming when whoever kills you will think he is offering service to God.  [3] And they will do this because they have not known the Father, nor me.  [4] But I have said these things to you, that when their hour comes you may remember that I told you of them.

In a long history of persecution that began with Jesus, today there continues to be many places on earth where those who hate, kill Christians.  Western society, though not yet as violent, persecutes Christians through laws, the legal system (HHS Mandate that coerces Christians to support the infanticide of abortion), through unchecked perverted moral slander against the Church and attacks on our Bishops.

All of these sins are part of Christ’s prophesy, and we should not expect them to end.

Pray the words of Our Lord from His persecution on the Cross: “Father, forgive them for what they do.”