The Story of the Life of Jesus
My knowledge in writing this story comes from my Commentary on the Four Gospels, reading Giuseppe Ricciotti’s book of the ‘Life of Christ’, reading Maria Valtorta’s book ‘The Poem of the Man God’, which Our Lady recommended to the Medjugorje Visionaries, reading the Mystic Mary of Agreda’s writings who was reputed to have been told by The Lord to write down what He told her, having studied the Holy Shroud of Turin, having been on three Pilgrimages to the Holy Land, and Meditating when Praying the Holy Rosary. My aim in writing ‘my story’ is to ensure that, as I get older and my memory may fail, I will be able to refer to it and continue to relive the thoughts. I will also be able to share them with anyone who may be interested.
Of all the known religions only Christianity has the wealth of prophesy to prove its existence. As early as Genesis there are prophecies which have since been proved in Christianity. At the end of the text there are a list of prophesies, not by any means complete, some of which will be referred to within the text.
Time & Creation.
My understanding of ‘time’ is that it is part of God’s creation. God, therefore, exists in timelessness; an eternal ‘now’ which we will only understand when we are the other side of the grave. God created the angels and us in order to give us love and to receive love from us. Our earthly understanding of love is almost certainly very vague. Only when we see God will we understand its true meaning.
Did Jesus really exist?
It is amazing how often this question is asked. It sometimes occurs when Christian principles are being discussed. Those who do not want to accept those principles try to find a way out by doubting the existence of Jesus. On those occasions it is useless to quote from the Bible. The disbelievers are not interested in the Bible. If they do not believe in Jesus then the Bible is also on their list of ‘things not to believe in!’ So we turn to Josephus. Flavius Josephus was a Jew who wrote in Greek in Rome about 93A.D. His book deals with ‘the science of the past’ and it is a mine of information diligently compiled. Through it Biblical scholars have been able to study ‘what we can learn about the Bible from outside the Bible.’ In his writings Josephus mentions ‘James the brother of Jesus, the so-called Christ’. In writing this Josephus presupposes that his readers know who this Jesus-called-Christ is. So here we have a Jewish historian, not a Christian, mentioning Jesus. Yes, of course
But this is also a cause of great concern. Jesus said ‘…………but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because he has not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son.’ John 3:18. This is not referring to someone who has doubts but to someone who has no doubts but still refuses to believe. If all else fails we must pray for these non-believers.
Where to Start?
There is only one obvious starting point to the story of Jesus and that is the Immaculate Conception of Our Lady. A perfectly spotless soul had to be prepared to accept the conception of Jesus. This soul had to be free from original sin which we inherit from Adam and Eve. Therefore God intervened in the normal course of events by ensuring that Mary’s conception, through her parents Joachim and Ann, was miraculous. In 1858 Mary announced this miracle to Bernadette Soubirous at Lourdes when, asked who she was, she replied “I am the Immaculate Conception.”
We know nothing definite of Mary’s early life though mystics tell stories of her living in The Temple from an early age and it was from there at the age of about thirteen she was encouraged to choose someone to marry. But she had already made a vow of perpetual chastity. Joseph was presented to her as a suitable husband and it soon became apparent not only that he was a most humble man but that he had also taken a vow of chastity. Whether or not the mystic’s stories are correct, it was obviously a marriage made in heaven.
The Annunciation and Incarnation.
Mary’s Immaculate Conception did not mean that she lacked free will. Her first decision was, after listening to the Angel Gabriel, to give her “yes” or “no” to the question which had been presented to her. I have a picture in my mind of the whole of creation waiting for that answer. When it came it presented to the world an opportunity for peace which, two thousand years later, has still not been fulfilled. We are still waiting. But Mary has given her word that a time of peace will come. Mary’s humility could only obey the request laid before her. At her words “let what you have said be done unto me” the Incarnation took place. There is a painting of the Annunciation by Rossetti, which for me, surpasses all others. It shows Mary, after the Angel Gabriel had left her, rather than looking in a state of ecstasy, which most paintings depict, is shown in a state of horror as she clearly sees the life ahead, with all its trials and tribulations, which she has freely chosen. We all have our favourite verses for meditation and one of mine comes in St Luke’s Gospel; ‘……and the angel left her.’ Luke 1:38. I meditate on Mary’s thoughts at that time. Joy at the unbelievable privilege bestowed on her, plus dread at what this privilege holds, but also a feeling of total loneliness – one moment you are in the company of a heavenly angel; then you are alone; an unbearable contrast.
After accepting the awesome task of being the Mother of Jesus (the Mother of God) her thoughts turn to her cousin, Elizabeth. The angel Gabriel had told Mary that her cousin is in the sixth month of pregnancy. Elizabeth was beyond the normal time of child-bearing and, for the next three months, would need a lot of help. At this time Mary and Joseph were promised to each other but were not married. Mary turns to her betrothed to help her visit her cousin. In those days travelling could be dangerous. Danger would come from wild animals but also from brigands always looking for an easy way making a living and with no conscience as to how they obtained it! For safety, those travelling did so in groups known as caravans. As they travelled some would reach their intended destination and leave the caravan, others would join it. So there would be many farewells and hellos on the way. It is certain that Mary & Joseph would have travelled in such a caravan. But first of all Joseph, who was a carpenter, would have had to hire a donkey and advise his customers that he would be away. “I’m sorry I won’t be able to start/complete the work until I return.” Two thousand years later those words sound familiar don’t they? Not a lot has changed!
Travelling in groups meant a loss of privacy and it is very likely that Mary would have found that difficult. But, putting her faith in God, who she now carried in her womb, she would have accepted the inconvenience as a small price to pay for being able to visit her cousin. The journey would probably have taken about four days, and on the final day would have passed through Jerusalem to Zechariah and Elizabeth’s home at Ein Karem.
The Bible contains certain moments when it is obvious that the Holy Spirit is powerfully at work. The interpretation of those moments will differ from person to person. For me one occurs when Mary and Elizabeth meet. There is no need for Elizabeth to be told of her cousin’s pregnancy nor of the wonder of what was in her womb. Elizabeth knew instantaneously as did the baby in her own womb which leapt with joy. This may have been the closest Jesus and John the Baptist came to each other prior to Jesus’ Baptism by John.
At their meeting Mary proclaims the ‘Magnificat’. She would have known of Hannah’s prayer which is known as ‘The Magnificat of the Old Testament.’ (1 Samuel 2:1-10) and used that prayer as the formula for her own.
Biblical scholars seem to disagree on whether Mary stayed with Elizabeth till after the birth. To me, the answer comes in St Luke’s Gospel ‘……..behold, Elizabeth your kinswoman…….is now in her six month…..’ Luke 1:36 and ‘……… Mary remained with her about three months……’ Luke 1:56. I can’t imagine St Luke making the total nine months unless Mary had stayed. And surely the greatest assistance Elizabeth would have required is at the birth. Mary would not have left when she was most needed.
St Joseph Realises Mary’s Pregnancy.
We are left to assume that Joseph would have accompanied Mary to her cousins and returned to Nazareth to continue with his work. Then, at an appointed time, he would have returned to escort Mary home. During the three months at Ein Karem Mary’s pregnancy would have become more evident but Joseph was totally unaware of all that had happened at the Annunciation. But why hadn’t Mary told him? Because she hadn’t been told to do so. Complete obedience at all times. God is in charge, he will decide how and when events will happen. We can imagine the horror which filled Joseph’s heart when he saw the obvious signs that Mary, his betrothed, was pregnant. What does the Bible tell us? ‘But Joseph………..being an upright man and wanting to spare her disgrace, decided to divorce her informally.’ Matthew 1:19. That means that Joseph is almost unbelievably forgiving. Betrothal was even more permanent than our present day system of engagement. Whilst the couple did not live together as man and wife they were nevertheless deemed to be married but prior to the actual marriage service itself. Joseph’s love for Mary was so great that even though he thought that the baby in her womb had come about by natural means he was still prepared to cause her the least possible offence. Yet he did this at a time when his heart was breaking with sorrow. What a great man he was. What a great man he is! His feelings of despair are brought to an end when, in a dream, he is told that Mary is to be the Mother of God. The Bible tells us ‘…..an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, “Do not be afraid, Joseph, son of David, to take to thee Mary thy wife, for that which is begotten in her is of the Holy Spirit.”’ Matthew 1:20.
What a joy it must have been when Joseph told Mary of his dream. Surely his words would have contained a request for forgiveness for having thought that the pregnancy had come about other than by the Holy Spirit. Mary would have been totally understanding of Joseph’s predicament and would have told him that forgiveness was not necessary. Now they could plan together for the birth of the one who had been prophesied from earliest Biblical days.
The Decree of Caesar Augustus.
Mary & Joseph would have been aware of the prophesy of Micah:
‘But you Ephrathah (Bethlehem), the least of the clans of
Judah, from you will come for me the future ruler of Israel.’
But they were in Nazareth, four day’s journey away, and yet the time for the birth was getting near! Did they wonder how the Prophet’s word was going to be fulfilled or did they just leave it to the good Lord to sort out? Whichever is the answer they would have recognised the ‘hand of God’ when Caesar Augustus decreed that a census must be taken. Here was the method by which they would be in the appointed place at the appointed time.
Once again Joseph would have to make arrangements with his customers. But this time he would finish the work-in-hand but not make any promises for new work. He knew that after the baby was born Mary would need all his help. Travelling with caravans was not suitable for new babies. Caravans were a rough-and-ready way of travelling and moved at a speed which had to be kept up with or get left behind. So Joseph would have planned to be away from Nazareth for some considerable time, certainly until the baby was strong enough to travel.
The Journey to Bethlehem.
But the same rough-and-ready travelling conditions would have to be faced on the journey to Bethlehem with Mary approaching the time for her baby to be delivered. In fact when they left Nazareth the birth only four or five days away. I suggest ‘four or five’, rather than ‘four’, because it was almost certain that, due to Mary’s condition, Joseph would have to slow the donkey down and let the caravan disappear in the hope that another caravan would soon catch them up. In the meantime they were at the mercy of all the dangers. Fortunately, due to the Augustus’ decree there would be more caravans than usual, more people having to make the journey to their town of ancestral origin to register.
But the last day of the journey was the day of the Nativity. The very day when Jesus, our Saviour and Redeemer was to be born of Mary and join us in human form in the world which God the Father had created in perfection and which we have created into chaos. And it really is ‘we’. It is no good trying to put the blame onto the Israelites, or the Sanhedrin or anyone else. We may have been born two thousand years after the birth of Jesus but some of the mess he came to clear-up was made by ourselves, by our sins.
It might be suggested that, in those days, women were used to riding on donkeys, though it is hardly the best way for a pregnant woman to spend the day when her baby is to be delivered. But that was how Mary spent the day of her delivery. It must have meant that Joseph, seeing her discomfort, would have slowed down more and more until they were making very slow progress. That might have relieved Mary’s discomfort but meant that their arrival in Bethlehem was later than anyone else. Thus all the accommodation had been taken. We can imagine Joseph trying his best to obtain somewhere to stay but everywhere was already full. It is probable that, with plenty of customers, the landlords wouldn’t want to be bothered with a pregnant woman who would need more space and a midwife might have to be called.
Joseph must have been saddened beyond belief when he had to tell Mary that the only place he could find was a place where animals were kept. What would her reaction have been? One of complete acceptance of whatever God would provide. None of the Gospel stories mention a ‘stable’ but St Luke mentions that after he was born Jesus was ‘wrapped in swaddling clothes and laid in a manger’. From the word ‘manger’ has come the belief in ‘the stable’. The words of Isaiah ‘The ox knows its owner and the ass his master’s crib.’ Isaiah 1:3. gives even more emphasis to the belief in ‘the stable.’ The Greek translation of Habakkuk 3:2 is ‘Between two animals you will make yourself known.’ also gives rise to the tradition of two animals at the manger at Bethlehem.
But this is not what the Jews were expecting. Their expectations were of a leader who would come into the world to be a conquering King. One like the Machabees who would rid Israel of its Roman oppressors. The Jewish leaders had built up a list of six hundred and thirteen precepts which had to be meticulously followed. They covered everything from how to wash; what to wear and how to wear it; how to keep the Sabbath and even some rules like the Corban which denied parents the support of their children. (If a man made an oath of The Corban ‘offering’, then his money went to the Temple and not to assist his parents. It was made into a very serious oath which could not be broken.) None of these precepts and rules took into account the love which Jesus was to use as the main purpose of his teaching and his life on earth.
Our perception of The Nativity is clouded by Christmas cards showing a warm looking stable. We are not presented with the unhygienic conditions; the insects crawling over everything; the smell of the urine and dung from the animals, not a place to bring any baby into the world yet this is the most important baby ever to be born and is being born where God the Father chooses him to be born. So we have the first lesson of his ministry – poverty is not to be looked down on. Poverty and humility go hand-in-hand and are the cure for riches and pride.
I can meditate on Joseph and Mary approaching the stable and seeing the place where the birth was to take place. They must have tried to make a special space where things were somewhat cleaner and where Mary could have some privacy. Joseph would have lit a fire to give some heat and he and Mary would have had a meal of whatever food they still had after their long journey. They would have been used to praying together and as the time approached for the birth I can imagine them in deep prayer asking God the Father to take care of all the things for which they hadn’t been able to plan.
Eventually Joseph leaves Mary and goes to the stable entrance to keep watch in case anyone may happen to come. Mary is alone. All my readings regarding this moment agree that Mary had a most wonderful ecstasy which, when it was over, her baby had been born. Jesus was there in her arms. She spent some time privately adoring her baby who she knew was the Son of God. After a while she called Joseph who looked in wonderment at the baby and knelt to adore him. After kneeling for some time he asked Mary if he could hold the baby. As he took Jesus into his arms he was overcome with the realisation of the immense task he had undertaken on behalf of us all.
Some apocryphal narratives (Biblical writings not divinely accepted) suggest that Joseph went to fetch a midwife. But this does not agree with the understanding that Mary was alone at the birth. Saint Jerome, who translated the Bible into the Vulgate and must have been an incredible source of information said “No midwife was there; no women attendants lent their aid; she herself wrapped the child in swaddling clothes; she herself was both mother and midwife.”
Whenever the Pharisees and Sadducees thought of this moment it is certain that they would expect themselves to be among the first to be called to adore the long awaited Messiah. But that was not to be. Once again poverty and humility are the hallmark which will be repeated over and over again during Jesus’ ministry. It is to those carrying out the lowly task of looking after sheep that the message of the birth is first given. A choir of angels appear to them singing ‘Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace for those he favours.’ The shepherds had been told ‘Today…….a Saviour has been born…..he is Christ the Lord’ and they will find the baby wrapped in swaddling clothes and laid in a manger. Luke 2:7. Luke must, at some time, have met and conversed with Mary who told him all that had happened. His Gospel emphasises the poverty of the situation.
So the first visitors to the poverty-stricken trio of Jesus, Mary and Joseph are people equally poverty-stricken, shepherds. We must not take our eyes away from the continual poverty which is being shown to us. Let it take seed in our hearts and in our souls.
How did the shepherds find the actual stable where Jesus had been born? There must have been many stables in Bethlehem. But ‘stables’ were the one thing which the shepherds knew about better than anything else or anyone else. They were probably able to eliminate some of the stables - too many animals: no room – too open: no privacy – and some converted into crude living space for the crowds coming to register – and they would be left with only a few which could be the one they were looking for. So with their own knowledge and the guidance of the Holy Spirit they soon found the place of the Nativity. They would be in awe as they entered. What they beheld was a beautiful young woman, a man who was busying himself in trying to make the space clean and warm and, in a manger, a baby. Here was the Saviour which the angel had told them about. They knelt and adored and offered the simple gifts they have brought – some goats milk – some bread – some kindling wood for the fire – simple but practical gifts which exactly filled the needs of Jesus, Mary and Joseph.
After the shepherds had left Joseph suggested that Mary get some sleep while he kept watch. As Mary sleeps Joseph ponders the task he has undertaken. On behalf of us all he is to look after Jesus the Messiah and Mary the virgin. I can imagine him trying to come to terms with all that has happened and making fervent prayers for all the help he will need.
As soon as possible, when the crowds had dispersed, the Holy Family were able to move into a house in Bethlehem. Eight days after the birth Joseph arranges for a Rabbi to circumcise Jesus. The purpose of circumcision was a reminder of the covenant between God and his people. Surely God the Son should have been exempt. But Mary had not received any instructions of exemption, therefore her son underwent the rite and observed all that the law required. Thus when only eight days old the baby spills his blood and is named Jesus.
Joseph would have brought with him whatever savings he had and his carpentry tools so that he could continue to earn money while he waited for Jesus to become strong enough for the journey to Nazareth.
The Presentation in the Temple.
Forty days after the birth, Mary and Joseph took Jesus to the Temple. Firstborn males had to be consecrated to the Lord and an offering be made ‘if she cannot afford a lamb, she must take two turtle doves or two young pigeons……..’ Leviticus 12:8. Mary would be required to undergo ‘the rite of expiation….’ Leviticus 12:7. No mention is made of the redemption payment of ‘five shekels of silver’ Numbers 18:16, which was required for the firstborn son. The Jews were great traditionalists so it is doubtful that they had allowed this payment to cease. Joseph would have known of this necessary payment.
It is about six miles from Bethlehem to Jerusalem. Today, on a bus, it is a short journey. But two thousand years ago it would have taken some considerable time. So Joseph and Mary would have made an early start in taking Jesus to be Presented in the Temple. Even today it is possible to see the steps which they probably used to enter the area of the Temple. Simeon must have been a very special person for him to be told ‘….that he would not see death until he had set eyes on the Christ of the Lord.’ The Holy Spirit had guided him to be there when Mary and Joseph brought Jesus into the Temple. Simeon recognised the child, took him in his arms and recited the words which we know as the Nunc Dimittis which thanked God for keeping his promise and accepting an end to his life ‘…for my eyes have seen the salvation which you have made ready…..’
In my experience the most misquoted words in the Bible are those of Simeon. He is misquoted as saying “A sword will pierce your heart.” What he said was “A sword will pierce your soul….” Luke 2:35. If a mortal heart were pierced then the pain would cease at death. But when an immortal soul is pierced then the pain continues after death. Is that why Our Lady of Medjugorje is sometimes seen to be crying? She sees our sins continuing to hurt her son, the sword pierces her soul, and she cries.
Anna, a prophetess ‘came up just at that moment……..’ (Things don’t happen ‘just at that moment’ without the Holy Spirit being involved!) Because of the child Jesus she was inspired to speak words of praise to God.
By the time of the visit of the Magi the Holy Family had moved from the stable ‘And entering the house, they found the child with Mary his mother, and falling down they worshipped him.’ Matthew 2:11. Many suggestions have been put forward for ‘the star’: a comet (a small body of ice or dust moving around the solar system); the conjunction of two planets; a supernova (an exploding star). But an easier explanation, for those who will accept miracles, is that it was a sign sent by God to guide the wise men. The number ‘three’ came from the number of gifts which they offered. Gold to signify the kingship of Christ; incense his divinity and myrrh his redemptive suffering. In the Western Church the wise men have been named Caspar, Balthasar and Melchoir. They represent the Gentiles with Caspar being black and Balthasar and Melchoir white. Despite their wealth they had the virtue of humility and were not afraid to kneel and adore this child although the poverty must have been apparent. For prophecies we must look to Numbers 24:17. ‘A star will come out of Jacob’. Psalm 71:10-11 ‘The kings of Tarshish and of distant shores will bring tribute to him; and the kings of Sheba and Seba will present him with gifts. All kings will bow down before him…’ Psalm 71:15 ‘May the gold from Sheba be given to him…’ Isaiah 49:7 ‘Kings will see you and rise up, princes will see you and bow down’, and Isaiah 60:6 ‘Herds of camels will cover your land, young camels of Midian and Ephah. And all from Sheba will come bearing gold and incense and proclaiming the praise of the Lord.’
King Herod. (He was never actually a true king but only a vassal king. He held his power by repeatedly changing his allegiance to whoever happened to hold the reigns of power in Rome.)
Herod must have been extremely – two-faced! He was well known for his appalling brutality, even to his own children. They only had to step out of line for a moment (even in Herod’s imagination) and he had them slaughtered. But, wise though they were, the Magi were taken in by his apparent solicitude towards the Messiah. To ensure the child’s safety they are warned in a dream not to return to Herod and ‘…they returned to their country by another route.’ Matthew 2:12.
The Massacre of the Innocents.
When the Magi didn’t report back to Herod he was furious. He had lost his chance to go to Bethlehem and kill the ‘infant king of the Jews’. In his rage he ordered that in Bethlehem and the surrounding district all male children under the age of two should be killed. He based the age limit on what the Magi had told him – and added a generous margin to be sure that the ‘infant king;’ would not escape him. At that time Bethlehem would be very small and the number of children involved may not have been more than twenty or thirty. Nevertheless it was a cruel act and one carried out entirely due to pride and envy. Herod couldn’t bear the thought of anyone being ‘king’ except himself.
The Flight into Egypt.
After the Magi had departed Joseph received a message in a dream telling him that he and Mary and the Child must hasten into Egypt because of Herod’s mal-intent. That must have been a terrifying experience. Anyone who has seen the arid desert which they would have to cross will realise that it is no place for a Mother and child. Joseph had been intending to take the family back to Nazareth and was waiting till they were all strong enough. But that journey would have been easy compared to the one now facing them. They would have travelled to Nazareth with a caravan. Now they were alone and at the mercy of whatever terrors they might meet.
In the inhospitable desert the journey would have taken about a week. Bearing in mind the haste with which they left Bethlehem, one wonders how they managed to obtain any provisions for the journey. It is likely that they had insufficient of everything and suffered great privations as well as living in fear of being followed or at the possible terrors which all travellers had to face. To add to their difficulties it is very likely that Joseph would have taken with him the tools of his trade. How else is he going to support his family in a foreign country unless he can obtain work? But that meant an extra burden to be carried.
They arrive in Egypt. The Bible tells us nothing. It is only in the writings of the mystics that we learn something of their life as refugees: the privations, the racial discrimination resulting in Joseph having difficulty in obtaining work. Yet throughout their time in Egypt they maintained a loving empathy to all their neighbours.
The Return from Egypt.
After Herod’s death Joseph has a dream when he is told that it is safe to return thereby fulfilling the two prophecies ‘God has brought him out of Egypt’ Numbers 23:22 and ‘…..I called my son out of Egypt.’ Hosea 11:1. So, once more, the Holy Family have to undergo the journey though on this occasion they would be able to join one of the many caravans plying their way between Egypt and Israel. They return to Nazareth.
From the information contained in the Bible, such as the names of those governing Palestine and the Priests holding the top positions at that time, biblical experts are able to calculate, fairly accurately, the years when events took place. So they tell us that the flight into Egypt happened when Jesus was a few months old and the return when he was about one year old.
The Finding of the Child Jesus in the Temple.
Of the next eleven years we are told nothing. But knowing that Jesus is the Son of God it isn’t difficult to imagine his life and that of Mary and Joseph as being one of prayer and great love and for Jesus a period of intense learning. He would have watched his father working at his trade as a carpenter and eventually would have learnt the trade himself. We can understand the perfection with which he would have worked and the justifiable pride of St Joseph watching him. With Mary he would have studied the Biblical writings and learnt them so thoroughly that, later, he would be able to quote them from memory.
It is in Luke’s gospel that we learn of Jesus staying behind in Jerusalem while his parents were travelling back home after the Passover. The fact that they hadn’t actually seen him all day shows the normal relaxed atmosphere in which Jesus lived. Men and women travelled separately and each thought he was with the other. The ‘three days’ would be made up of one day travelling away from Jerusalem, one day travelling back, and one day searching. The anxiety which must have filled the hearts of Mary and Joseph cannot be exaggerated. They have been given, and have accepted, the task of caring for the Son of God and they had failed! It is too awful to think of.
Their journey back to Jerusalem must have been filled with terror. Their loss would have been discovered when they stopped for the night. Rather than waiting until the morning they would have set off straight away and travelled through the night with every shadow and every sound seeming to be a brigand or wild animal about to attack. By the morning they were back in Jerusalem and commenced their search. They would almost certainly have gone to the temple early in their search but Jesus was not there. They would have asked everyone ‘have you seen a small boy with this coloured hair, and this height, wearing these clothes’. Yes some may have seen a boy of that description which would give Mary and Joseph hope of finding him. Eventually, knowing of Jesus natural interest in everything spiritual and biblical, they return to the temple. At last their search is over and they see him sitting among the teachers and asking them such searching questions that they were amazed. Mary and Joseph must have been overjoyed and yet they had a question to ask Jesus “Why?” His answer “Why were you looking for me? Did you not know that I must be about my Fathers business?” What Jesus was telling them was that God the Father took precedence over his relationship to Mary and Joseph. ‘……..and they did not understand the word that he spoke to them.’ Why didn’t they understand? Why was it necessary for the meaning of Jesus’ words to be hidden from them? It is a mystery. We will find the answer to those questions the other side of the grave.
Life in Nazareth.
Jesus returned to Nazareth with his Mother and Foster Father. From this point Joseph is no longer mentioned in the gospels. He had carried out his job heroically and diligently. As well as being the bread-winner he had also been the guard and protector of Jesus and Mary. That he had passed on his carpentry skills to Jesus is borne out by Luke’s gospel ‘Is not this the carpenter, the son of Mary…..’ Matthew 13:55. So after the death of Joseph, Jesus was able to provide for his mother and himself. But it also means that he knew what it was like to do a day’s work, to try and meet demands of customers, to work under pressure when things were wanted urgently. Nazareth, which is built on a high plateau, was a notoriously difficult place to get to. (In early biblical times it had saved Nazareth from being invaded. The charioteers were unable to negotiate the steep hill.) But it would probably also mean that, like all tradesmen, Jesus wouldn’t always be able to obtain supplies. But try explaining that to your irate customer! Jesus would have had to learn all the skills of negotiation and pacification. He would not be protected from all the trials and tribulations which, as well as the craft itself, are part of having a job.
Luke’s gospel tells us ‘Now Jesus was about thirty years old when he began his ministry.’ Luke 3:23. So from the ‘finding in the temple’ until he came to be baptised by John there are eighteen years during which time Joseph died and Jesus worked as a carpenter. We can wonder at what conversations took place between Jesus and Mary. Would they both have known, from the earliest days, of all the traumas which they would have to face or did they learn of it a bit at a time? From my readings of the mystics it certainly seems that both Jesus and Mary knew exactly what was to happen. That Mary had to live knowing of the ultimate passion and death of her son is awful to contemplate. It is equally difficult to imagine how Jesus coped mentally on a day to day basis knowing that in a very short time, only three years after the start of his ministry, he faced the most painful death which man had been able to devise. We can also meditate on the conversations of Jesus and his mother as the time came for him to commence his ministry. Mary was losing the bread winner of the family, but, much more heartbreaking, she was losing her Son who was also the Son of God.
The Start of Jesus’ Ministry.
Mary would have known that the time would come when Jesus would commence his three year ministry. This meant that he would have to leave home leaving her with criticism from her neighbours who did not know where her son ‘had got this religion from’ and did not know how he could abandon his widowed mother. Working as a carpenter he had been the bread-winner. How would she survive without his support? As the time drew near Jesus and Mary must have spent time talking about the future – the next three years. Jesus would have saved up enough to be able to leave his mother sufficient for her day to day requirements. He would promise to come back to Nazareth from time to time. Later she would join the group of ladies who would accompany Jesus, his apostles and disciples looking after their daily requirements. We have cause for meditation on the day he left his Mother. What a sad parting that must have been.
Jesus commences his ministry by a sign of humility which, from the point of view of his relationship with God the Father, was unnecessary. He came to John for Baptism. The whole idea of Baptism is a release from sin – Jesus had never sinned. There is no doubt that The Baptist was endowed with many of the gifts of the Holy Spirit. So, as Jesus came towards him he knew that this was the Messiah. He would also be able to sense the perfect state in which Jesus lived. Which is why he asked Jesus to Baptise him rather than the other way round. But Jesus was both truly God and truly man and he was not prepared to short cut anything which men had to undergo even though, in his case, it was unnecessary. So Jesus is baptised by John and God the Father’s voice is heard “This is my Son, the Beloved; my favour rests on him.” Isaiah 42:1.
The Temptation in the Desert.
After his Baptism Jesus goes into the desert to fast and prepare himself for the three years ministry to come. Towards the end of the forty days he is tempted by the devil. The actual temptations: ‘being offered nourishment apart from God’, ‘testing God for the sake of self-indulgence’ and ‘denying God to follow false gods who serve the powers of this world,’ may not represent temptations which we can recognise but, for Jesus, especially in his weakened state, they were attractive temptations which would require his full strength of will to fight and overcome. Eventually the devil is vanquished and ‘angels came to attend him’ God the Father was ever watchful of his Son.
The Loyalty of John’s Disciples.
John had gathered disciples around himself. They recognised the saintly man that he was and had great loyalty to him. To these disciples this Jesus would be a threat. So John had to wean his disciples away from himself and to Jesus. This was made the more difficult by the fact that their methods of ministry were totally different. The Baptist favoured a life of sacrifice – little to eat and ragged clothing. Jesus favoured eating among the people, especially among sinners. Consequently he had to be clothed in a way which was acceptable to the people. So the Baptist’s disciples needed persuading to leave John and go to Jesus.
The Jealousy of the Priests and Pharisees.
The attitude of the Priests and Pharisees towards the Baptist and Jesus is sad. They are suspicious of the Baptist and his visually rough way of life but they are equally suspicious of Jesus’ quite opposite life-style and his contact with sinners. Their problem is that they have one thing firmly fixed in their minds and hearts – jealousy.
Jesus Gathers His First Disciples.
Now it was Jesus’ turn to gather some of the disciples around him. Some came from the Baptist, others were fishermen called from their boats. Jesus was able to see into people’s hearts and souls.
The Wedding Feast at Cana.
The “I am” Statements,.
John’s gospel did not include any of the parables. Instead he gives us Jesus’ seven “I am” statements.
1. I am the bread of life.
2. I am the light of the world.
3. I am the sheep gate.
4. I am the good shepherd.
5. I am the resurrection and the life.
6. I am the way, the truth and the life.
7. I am the true vine.
The Farewell Discource.
John’s gospel also gives us Jesus’ discourse before leaving the Cenacle. Jesus was aware of what was to happen in the Garden of Gethsemani. His apostles were not aware. What thoughts must have gone through their minds as they heard Jesus’ words. The main points were:
I will be with you only a little longer.
Where I am going you cannot come.
Jesus comforts his apostles.
The Vine and the Branches.
My words remain in you.
The world hates the disciples.
The coming of the Paraclete.
The disciples’ grief will turn to joy.
Jesus prays for himself.
Jesus prays for his disciples.
Jesus prays for all believers.
The Garden of Gethsemani.
They leave the Cenacle and make their way to the Garden of Gethsemani. Here Jesus commences His Passion. We are told that he was made to see all the sins of the world which he was to accept so that he could redeem us. The thought of what was in store leads him to ask his Father to be released from this burden. “…………yet not what I will but what thou willest.” As happened at the beginning of his ministry during the temptation in the desert happens again when an angel is sent to comfort him. His grief is heightened by the apostles falling asleep. During the Passover celebration much wine is consumed and it had made the apostles sleepy. They were unable to stay awake.
Despite all we might think and have read about Judas, it is certain that Jesus loved him as much as any other of the apostles. That makes it the more poignant that he should betray Jesus with a kiss. This is the moment when the apostles took to their heels in terror. This happening emphasises Jesus’ parable of the Ten Bridesmaids. Had the apostles being awake and prepared for action their reaction might have been very different. But awaking to the situation meant that they did what everyone does when caught unawares, ‘run away’.
Jesus Before Annas.
Jesus is taken to Annas who had previously been High Priest and is the father-in-law of Caiphas who is the present High Priest. It makes sense to let Annas use his experience to be the first to question Jesus. If Annas’ questioning could fix a charge against Jesus then it would speed up the process when he went before Caiphas. During the questioning an overzealous servant, perhaps trying to impress the officials, struck Jesus on the face. To the annoyance of Annas and his associates Jesus had been completely calm even after the servant hit him; he spoke to the servant asking him “….why dost thou strike me?” Due to the lateness of the hour, it was probably two hours after midnight before the questioning finished, it was decided to continue the proceedings in front of Caiphas and the whole Sanhedrin at dawn.
It is easy so for us to listen to the story of Peter’s denial and put the blame firmly on his shoulders. I think differently. If I share ‘original sin’ with Adam and Eve then I should also share Peter’s denial. It is certain that, had I been in the garden of Gethsemani, then I would have reacted like all the apostles and run away. It is equally certain that, like Peter, I would have wanted to ‘save my skin’ by denying any knowledge of Jesus. The cock crows for me, and whenever I sin, it continues to crow.
Jesus in the Dungeon.
It was now past Midnight and so that Jesus could not escape
during the night they kept him bound by the chains and ropes
and locked him in a subterranean dungeon. Scarcely any light penetrated into this prison. It was filled with uncleanliness and
stench. It had not been cleaned for many years. No-one thought
it worth cleaning as it was used to house the very worst of
Psalm 87, which is psalm of desolation, is a very suitable meditation at this sad, dark place.
Lord my God, I call for help by day;
I cry at night before you.
Let my prayer come into your presence.
O turn your ear to my cry.
For my soul is filled with evils;
my life in on the brink of the grave.
I am reckoned as one in the tomb:
I have reached the end of my strength,
Like one alone among the dead;
like the slain lying in their graves;
like those you remember no more
cut off, as they are, from your hand.
You have laid me in the depths of the tomb,
in places that are dark, in the depths.
Your anger weighs down upon me:
I am drowned beneath the waves.
You have taken away my friends
and made me hateful in their sight.
Imprisoned, I cannot escape;
my eyes are sunken with grief.
I call to you, Lord, all the day long;
to you I stretch out my hands.
Will you work your wonders for the dead?
Will the shades stand and praise you?
Will your love be told in the grave
or your faithfulness among the dead?
Will your wonders be known in the dark
or your justice in the land of oblivion?
As for me, Lord, I call to you for help:
in the morning my prayer comes before you.
Lord, why do you reject me?
Why do you hide your face?
Wretched, close to death from my youth,
I have borne your trials; I am numb.
Your fury has swept down upon me;
your terrors have utterly destroyed me.
They surrounded me all the day like a flood,
they assail me all together.
Friend and neighbour you have taken away:
my one companion is darkness.
There is no sadness in any other psalm to be compared with this, and no psalm ends on such a note. The final line of the psalm ‘my one companion is darkness’ agrees with the dungeon which I visited.
Jesus Before Caiphas and the Sanhedrin.
When Judas heard that Jesus had been found guilty and the sentence was crucifixion he did not need to wait for the political trial by Pilate. He realised the horror of what he had done. That realisation itself was enough for him to receive complete forgiveness. But Judas went into despair and decided on the ultimate loss of Hope by committing suicide. I, like many others, feel sorry for Judas. I can only leave him to God’s mercy and compassion.
Jesus Before Pilate.
A man in Pilate’s position must have felt to carry a lot of power and ‘power corrupts’. But along with the power came the ‘decision making’. To try and keep that to the minimum troops were every ready to deal with any uprising. If trouble could be ‘snuffed out’ before it became too difficult then Pilate’s position would be made easier and he was all for an easy life. The fact that Rome wanted to keep the Jews firmly in their place was the reason Pilate was in Jerusalem. Rome knew that the Passover was an emotional time for the Jews when troublemakers might try to cause problems. So Pilate had travelled from the beautiful Roman city of Caesarea Maritima to be where the action might be! His journey suddenly became necessary when the Sanhedrin present him with a troublemaker, a Galilean named Jesus. It took Pilate little time to realise that Jesus had done nothing to deserve the death penalty which he was asked to approve. In fact he was impressed by Jesus. His quiet manner, his open demeanour and eventually his strength of character after the scourging. Pilate had no love for the Jews especially when they made his life difficult which is what they were now doing. Whatever his admiration for Jesus it wouldn’t stand in the way of agreeing to the death sentence. But he would have liked to deny them their request! But for all the arguments he tried the priests and Pharisees had ready answers. Eventually they hit him where it hurt most by suggesting that Jesus was a threat to Rome. In doing so they lied! Referring to the occasion when they had asked Jesus whether it was right to pay taxes to Caesar they told Pilate that Jesus had said “No”. Jesus had done no such thing. Pilate tried one more thing. Learning that Jesus was from Galilee he sent him to Herod who had jurisdiction over that province and who happened to be in Jerusalem. Pilate hoped that Herod would deal with the problem. But that did not happen and Jesus was soon back into Pilate’s power. So he used his power by having Jesus scourged. This was not a Jewish scourging which would have been limited to thirty-nine strokes. The Roman scourging was much more severe. Scourging continued until the victim collapsed. The only factor which the scourgers had to abide by was that their victim must survive the scourging. Death was to take place on the cross. The Roman soldiers who were carrying out Pilate’s orders were probably getting bored. This Jesus was as much a nuisance to them as he was to Pilate. They had been up most of the night. They had been on ‘stand-by’ as the Jews seemed restive. They had had to escort Jesus to Herod and back. All in all the man was a thorough nuisance and it was about time they had their own bit of fun with him. One of the games they used to play was called ’The King’s Game’. The outline of the game can still be seen chiselled out on a stone slab in the Praetorium. But here they had a man who claimed to be a king. “Let’s honour him by making fun of him…….….…..let’s crown him using a crown of thorns”. So Jesus was appallingly ill-treated so much so that when he was returned to Pilate he was shocked at the sight and felt sure that here was his chance to appeal to the compassion of the crowd. As Jesus came out Pilate says “Here is the man” but, incited by the Pharisees and priests, the people shouted “away with him, crucify him.” At Passover time the people were granted the release of a prisoner but Pilate’s hope that they would ask for the release of Jesus came to nothing when the crowd chose to ask for Barabbas. He had taken part in a rebellion. Pilate was put under more pressure to release Jesus by his wife who told him of a dream where she had suffered a great deal because of him. The Pharisees’ final persuasive words were to point out to Pilate that he would be in trouble with Rome if he let Jesus go “Anyone who claims to be a king opposes Caesar.” That put Pilate in fear of his position as procurator! So he handed Jesus over to be crucified.
The Way of the Cross.
We can spare a thought for the two men crucified with Jesus. ‘One on the right and one the left giving the impression that the one in the middle was the worst criminal.’ It is possible that the execution of these men had been brought forward to fit in with the death of Jesus. It would make for a better spectacle to have three deaths rather than only one. So the two men would be feeling great bitterness towards Jesus, increased by the fact that Barabbas had been chosen for release instead of one of them. Matthew’s gospel tells us that the two men taunted Jesus. But Luke gives us the story of the ‘good thief’. How can these two versions be reconciled? Perhaps they both started out by taunting Jesus but then one of them, seeing the ‘majesty’ of Jesus’ crucifixion, was converted to ask for help which he received in abundance.
The Gateway to Calvary.
Inside the Russian Chapel of Alexander is the final gateway which Jesus would have passed through on his way to Calvary. By having the chapel built over it the gateway has been preserved and it is now possible to stand exactly where Jesus would have walked or stumbled or struggled on his journey. There was a tradition that if anyone thought the criminal was not guilty then they could stand in that gateway and proclaim the criminal’s innocence. The criminal would then be returned to the city to be re-tried. What would Jesus’ thoughts be as he approached that gate? There must have been people in the crowd whom he had cured. A blind person who could now see, a paralytic who could now walk and many others. Wouldn’t at least one of these come forward to defend Jesus ………………...but none did ………………. If we had been there what would we have done?
The rowdy procession reaches Calvary and preparations are made to crucify Jesus and the two criminals. Pictures show the criminals tied to their crosses with ropes while Jesus is nailed. Why the difference? Four hundred and fifty years earlier, in the book of Ezra we read, ‘And I have made a decree. That if any whosoever shall alter this commandment, a beam be taken from his house, and set up, and he be nailed upon it……’ (Ezra 6:11). So nailing to wood was something which was known as a punishment. But the reason why Jesus was nailed may be connected with having been helped by Simon of Cyrene. The cross beam which Jesus had been carrying would have been tied to him by ropes. These same ropes would be used to tie him to the cross. But when Simon took the cross, the ropes weren’t needed and went missing, dropped along the way. But nails were needed to fasten the cross beams to the uprights so nailing was the alternative way of fastening Jesus. It can be assumed that this would fit in very well with the chief priests and Pharisees who would enjoy seeing Jesus receiving the very maximum of suffering. After all, for the past three years, hadn’t he made them suffer with all his healing and derogatory speeches against them? ‘Let him suffer now; it is no more than he deserves!’ Our crucifixes usually show the nails passing through the hands. But nailing there would not work as the weight of the body would tear the hand. The nails would have been placed through the wrist. In so doing the nail would damage a sensory nerve which would cause tremendous agony. The stigmatist Theresa Newmann said that although she carried the stigmata in her hand it would not have been so with Jesus. The Holy Shroud of Turin confirms this and clearly shows the nail going through the wrist. We can spare a thought for Mary who had followed her son on his journey to Calvary. She has to watch as her son is brutally nailed to the wood. But who is to blame for this brutality? The soldiers were only doing their job. To them Jesus was a criminal. I am to blame. My sins have helped the tree to grow; have helped the nails to be made; have helped the hammer to be made and assist the soldier as he brings down the hammer onto the nail, piercing Jesus’ flesh. No-one else needs to be blamed. When meditating on the Fifth Sorrowful Mystery of the Holy Rosary I can imagine the three howls of pain as the nails are driven into Jesus’ hands and feet. What must it be like to be nailed to a cross? ’Everyone’s Way of the Cross’ by Clarence Enzler tries to explain it:-
Christ speaks “Can you imagine what a crucifixion is?
My executioners stretch my arms;
they hold my hand and wrist against the wood.
and press the nail until it stabs my flesh.
Then, with one heavy hammer smash, they drive
it through – and pain bursts like a bomb of
fire in my brain. They seize the other arm;
and agony again explodes.
Then, raising my knees
so that my feet are flat against the wood,
they hammer them fast too.”
How Long Was Jesus on the Cross?
Mark’s gospel tells us ‘It was the third hour when they crucified him’. (The third hour is 9.00a.m. which, if Jesus did not die till 3.00p.m., means six hours on the Cross. That is a contradiction of John’s account which tells us that it was ‘about the sixth hour’ 12.00noon. when Pilate handed Jesus over to them be crucified. Various hypotheses have been proposed to reconcile these two statements. One suggestion of biblical scholars is that Mark’s gospel contains a copyist’s error because the Greek numerals for three and six can be confused. Or it may be that Mark used Roman time, in which the appearance before Pilate would have been at 6.00a.m.and the crucifixion at 9.00a.m. But, although they started their days very early compared to our ways, they would have needed much time for all that was to happen. It would seem more likely that Jesus was crucified at 12.00noon, the sixth hour, and was on the cross for three hours until 3.00p.m., the ninth hour.)
The Seven Last Words.
“It is consummated.”
“Father, into Thy hands I commend My Spirit.”
Jesus dies on the Cross.
Jesus is Taken Down From the Cross.
While St John looks after Our Lady, whose sorrow is hard to imagine, it is left to Joseph assisted by Nicodemus, to go to Pilate and ask for the body of Jesus. Both were members of the Sanhedrin but were not party to death of Jesus. By becoming involved in helping the Mother of Jesus they were putting themselves at odds with the rest of the Sanhedrin. It was a very brave act of compassion. Pilate queried that Jesus was already dead. (This gives even more confirmation to Jesus having been only three hours on the cross. If it had been six hours Pilate would not have queried the death.) Permission is given and Joseph and Nicodemus prepare myrrh and aloes to carry to Calvary. In the meantime the soldiers had broken the legs of the two criminals to speed their deaths but when they came to Jesus they found him already dead so they pierced his side with a lance and blood and water flowed out. In order for this to happen the heart has to rupture so that the red blood sinks to the bottom while the watery serum remains on the top. Opening with the lance produces the two flows. But what it means in reality is that one of the causes of Jesus’ death was a broken heart caused by grief. On the return of Joseph and Nicodemus Jesus is lowered from the Cross and into the arms of his sorrowing Mother. But they must move quickly as it was getting near sunset and, with the next day being the Sabbath, all activity must cease. Nearby to Calvary was a tomb which Joseph had prepared for himself. Jesus’ body was taken there and after being anointed with the myrrh and aloes was wrapped in a burial sheet as was the custom among the Jews. Mary would be given some time to stay by the body of her son but eventually would have been kindly coaxed away so that the stone could be rolled over the tomb opening. Mary, John and the other men and women who had witnessed the Passion and Death of the Son of God made their way to the Cenacle where, possibly, the apostles had gathered.
The Sanhedrin’s Concern.
The Chief Priests must have been concerned that, at the moment of Jesus’ death, there was an earthquake and other strange happenings. Then they remembered Jesus’ words. “Destroy this temple and in three days I will raise it again.” So they went to Pilate and asked him to place a guard at the tomb on the pretext that his followers might come and take the body and claim that Jesus had risen from the dead. Pilate agreed and a guard was put in place also taking the extra precaution of putting seals on the stone.
No one saw Jesus in the act of rising from the dead. None of the gospel writers say how he emerged from the sepulchre; one of them implies that he did so without disturbing the stone rolled against the entrance, although his resurrection was accompanied by extraordinary signs: ‘And behold there was a great earthquake; for an angel of the Lord came down from heaven and drawing near rolled back the stone, and sat upon it. His countenance was like lightening and his raiment like snow’. Hence it was an angel who rolled away the stone, but the tomb was already empty, and that was why the stone was removed, because it no longer served any purpose. All four Gospel writers agree that the sepulchre was discovered to be empty very early Sunday morning. The soldiers sent by the Sanhedrists had been on guard. They would have been stretched out on the ground sleeping when the earthquake woke them. Terrified, they fled immediately, making for safety through the nearby city gate.
Jesus appears to Mary Magdalene.
The Holy Women planned to bring spices to anoint the body of Jesus. As they set off to buy them one of their number couldn’t wait but ran ahead by herself to the tomb. It was Mary Magdalene. But what she saw when she got there filled her with dismay. The round stone had been rolled away and the entrance stood wide open. She went to tell Peter. In the meantime the women had arrived at the tomb with the spices. They had been wondering how they would roll away the stone but discovered that it had already been removed. They entered the tomb and are confronted by two angels who tell them that Jesus had risen. They were naturally terrified and fled to the Cenacle to tell the eleven. (I wonder if, by this time, Jesus had appeared to his Mother who would know of the ‘resurrection’ and be more anxious than we can ever imagine to see her Son.) After hearing Mary Magdalene’s story Peter and John had rushed to the grave and saw the linen cloths and handkerchief folded in a place by itself. The way the cloths and handkerchief had been removed from the body made it clear that the body had not been stolen. Something much more dramatic was the reason for the empty tomb. By now Mary Magdalene had returned and standing weeping she hears a voice saying “Woman, why are you weeping?” And, thinking she was talking to the gardener she replied “Because they have taken away the body of the Lord, and I do not know where they have laid him!” The man was Jesus and he said “Mary!” Turning to him Mary said “Rabboni” and threw herself at his feet to embrace them.
The Women are Not Believed.
Cleophas, and another disciple, are despondently making their way to Emmaus. Jesus joins them, though they do not recognise who he is. He asks them why they are looking sad. They reply that he must be the only one who has not heard of the terrible things which have been happening in Jerusalem. Commencing with Moses and all the Prophets Jesus interprets the scriptures and things appertaining to himself. When they reach Emmaus the disciples urge him to stay. As they were at table they recognised Jesus ‘In the Breaking Bread.’ Then they realised who had been their companion on the way. They returned immediately to Jerusalem but they too were not believed.
Jesus Appears to the Eleven.
Finally Jesus appears to the eleven, except that it would have been to the ten, because Thomas was not with them! His appearance seems to have been miraculous. No doors were opened, he just ‘appeared in the midst of them’. Nevertheless he wanted to leave them in no doubt that he was real flesh and blood so he asks for something to eat and he is given some broiled fish and a honeycomb. Then he opened their minds so they might understand the scriptures. Later he appeared again so that Thomas might believe. It was then that he spoke the words which are directed at us all “Blessed are those who have not seen but have believed.”
“Peace Be With You.”
“It is the Lord.”
It is interesting to note that whenever the apostles were unsure what to do next they did what most of them knew more about than anything else – they went fishing! So it happens that they had returned to Galilee and were in the boat fishing. They had been out all night and caught nothing. At daybreak they see a stranger on the shore who asks them if they have any fish. Their negative response is replied by being told to play out the net on the right. They do so and make a catch of one hundred and fifty-three large fish. John, the apostle who Jesus loved realises who the stranger is and says “It is the Lord.” At this Peter threw himself into the sea and made towards land, the others followed in the boat.
The Primacy of Peter.
When they had all come ashore they found that there was some bread and Jesus had prepared a charcoal fire. Jesus said “Come and have breakfast.” This was the third time Jesus had appeared to them after rising from the dead. (This is my favourite place in the Holy Land. Whenever I have been there the sun has been shining. There is an outside altar protected from the sun by trees. There are stone seats set in a semicircle around the altar like a small amphitheatre. The birds are singing in the trees and the water of the Sea of Galilee can be heard lapping on the shore. Perfect peace. A Mass offered in that beautiful place is a Mass to be remembered for ever. There is also a statue representing two figures: Jesus and Peter.) It was here that Jesus purged Peter of his three denials by asking him three times, “Simon, son of John, do you love me.” Peter’s three positive responses leads to Jesus confirming Peter as the head of his Church on earth.
Of all the known religions only Christianity has the wealth of prophesy to prove its existence. As early as Genesis there are prophecies which have since been proved in Christianity.
Genesis 3:15. ‘I shall put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; it will bruise your head and you will strike its heel.’
Revelation 12:2 and 12 17.
Numbers 23:22. ‘God has brought him out of Egypt.’ Matthew 2:15.
Numbers 24:17. ‘A star will come out of Jacob.’ Matthew 2:2.
Deuteronomy 18:15 ‘Yahweh your God, will raise up a prophet like me…’
(These words indicate series of prophets but also are the basis for Messianic expectation which receives fulfilment in Jesus.)
Psalm 2:7. ‘He said to me, “You are my son, today have I fathered you “He trusted himself to Yahweh, let Yahweh set him free! Let him deliver him, as he took such a delight in him.”’ Matthew 27:39-44. Mark 15:32. Luke 23:35.
Psalm 21:1 ‘My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?’ Mark 15:34.
Psalm 21:14-15. ‘My strength is trickling away my bones are all disjointed my heart has turned to wax, melting inside me. My mouth is dry as earthenware, my tongue sticks to my jaw.’ John 19:28.
Psalm 21:18. ‘….….they divide my garments among them and cast lots for my clothing.’ Matthew 27:35. Mark 15:25. Luke 23:34. John 19:24.
Psalm 30:5 ‘….to your hands I commit my spirit.’ Luke 23:46.
Psalm 33:20. ‘Yahweh takes care of all their bones, not one of them will be broken.’ John 19:33 & 36.
Psalm 68:9. ‘…….for I am eaten up with zeal for your house….’ John 2:17.
Psalm 68:21. ‘To eat they gave me poison, to drink, vinegar when I was thirsty.’ Matthew 27:34. Mark 15:36. Luke 23:36. John 19:29.
Psalm 71. The entire Psalm is devoted to ‘The Promised King.’
Psalm 77:2 ‘I will speak to you in poetry, unfold the mysteries of the past.’
Psalm 109:1. ‘Yahweh declared to my Lord. “Take your seat at my right hand, till I have made your enemies your footstool.”’ Matthew 22:44.
Psalm 117:22. ‘The stone which the builders rejected has become the corner stone,’ Matthew 21:42.
Isaiah 1:3. ‘The ox knows its owner and the donkey his master’s crib.’
Isaiah 7:14. ‘Therefore the Lord himself shall give you. Behold a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and his name shall be called Emmanuel.’
Matthew 1:23. Luke 2:7.
Isaiah 9:2 ‘The people walking in the darkness have seen a great light.’ The ‘great light’ is Jesus and his salvation would be the ‘light’ for the Gentiles.
Isaiah 11:1. ‘A shoot will spring up from the stock of Jesse, a new shoot will grow from its roots.’ Matthew 1:6.
Isaiah 28:16. “Now I shall lay a stone in Zion, a granite stone, a precious corner-stone, a firm foundation stone, no one who relies on this will stumble.”
Matthew 16:18. & 21:42.
Isaiah 40:3. ‘A voice cries, “Prepare in the desert a way for Yahweh. Make a straight highway for our God.”’ Matthew 3:3. Luke 3:4. John 1:23.
Isaiah 40:11. ‘He is like a shepherd feeding his flock, gathering lambs in his arms, holding them against his breast……’ Matthew 18:12-14. Luke 15:4-7.
Isaiah 42:1-9. ‘Here is my servant, whom I uphold, my chosen one in whom I delight.’ A Messianic Psalm.
Isaiah 49:7 ‘Kings will see you and rise up, princes will see and bow down…’
Isaiah 50:6. ‘I have offered my back to those who struck me, my cheeks to those who plucked my beard. I have not turned my face away from insult and spitting.’ Matthew 26:67. Mark 10:34. Luke 22:63-65.
Isaiah 52:14. ‘As many people were aghast at him – he was so inhumanly disfigured that he no longer looked like a man…..’
Isaiah 53:3. ‘….he was despised, the lowest of men, a man of sorrows, familiar with suffering. Yet ours were the sufferings he was bearing.’
Isaiah 53:7. ‘Ill-treated and afflicted, he never opened his mouth, like a lamb to the slaughter-house, like a sheep dumb before the shearers he never opened his mouth.’ Matthew 26:63. & 27:12-14.
Isaiah 53:12. ‘Hence I shall give him a portion with the many, and he will share the body with the mighty………………….’ Matthew 26:26-28.
Mark 14:22-25. Luke 22:9-20.
Isaiah 53:12 Also interpreted as:- ‘He was taken for a criminal’. or ‘….being counted as one of the rebellious.’ Mark 15:28. Luke 22:37.
Isaiah 60:6 ‘Herds of camels will cover your land, young camels of Midian and Ephah. And all from Sheba will come bearing gold and incense and proclaiming the praise of the Lord.’ Matthew 2:1-11.
Isaiah 61:1. ‘The spirit of the Lord Yahweh is on me for Yahweh has anointed me.’ ‘He has sent me to bring the news to the afflicted, to soothe the broken-hearted.’ Matthew 11:4-5. Luke 4:18. & 7:22.
Jeremiah 23:5-6. “The days are coming,” declares the Lord, “when I will raise up to David a righteous Branch…..”
Jeremiah 33:14-16. “’The days are coming,’ declares the Lord, ‘when I will fulfil the gracious promise I made to the house of Israel and to the house of Judah.’”
Ezekiel 34:22. ‘I will save my flock, and they will no longer be plundered.’
Hosea 11:1 ‘….and I called my son out of Egypt.’ Matthew 2:15.
Micah 5:1. ‘But you (Bethlenhem) Ephrathah, the least of the clans of Judah, from you will come for me a future ruler of Israel.’ Matthew 2:6. Luke 2:4.
Zechariah 9:9. ‘Rejoice heart and soul, daughter of Zion! Shout for joy, daughter of Jerusalem! Look, your king is approaching, he is vindicated and riding a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey.’ Matthew 21:1-5.
Mark 11:1-11. Luke 19:28-38. John 12:12-15.
Zechariah 11:12. ‘So they weighed out my wages: thirty shekels of silver.’
Matthew 26:15. Mark 14:10. Luke 22:3-6.
Zechariah 11:13. ‘Yahweh said to me, “Throw it to the smelter, this princely sum at which they have valued me!” Taking the thirty shekels of silver, threw them into the Temple of Yahweh for the smelter.’ Matthew 27:3-10.
Zechariah 12:10. ‘They will mourn for the one they have pierced.’ John 19:37.
Zechariah 13:7. ‘Strike the shepherd, scatter the sheep!’ Matthew 26:31.
Many more prophesies can be found but the above are an example of the firm foundation on which the Christian Church is built.
The Psalms quoted throughout this work are given the Greek Septuagint numbering.
How many Roman Catholics believe in the Real Presence? On page 411 of The Message of Merciful Love, which contain Jesus’ words to Carmela Carabelli, the strong impression is given that few really believe. Instead the Eucharist has become ‘a souvenir, a simple memorial’ and from these erroneous thoughts come unconcern and sacrilege.
Sadly, in the Church today, the fashion is to regard Our Lord’s presence in the Eucharist as something that is not completely real, something that has only a symbolic meaning and this level of belief varies from person to person. But this is not the traditional teaching of the Church. Pope Paul VI in his encyclical ‘Mysterium Fidei’ wrote “In the course of the day, the faithful should not omit to visit the Blessed Sacrament, which, according to the liturgical laws, must be kept in the churches with great reverence. Such visits are a proof of gratitude, an expression of love, an acknowledgement of the Lord’s presence. Christ is truly the Emmanuel that is, GOD WITH US. Day and night He is in our midst, He dwells with us, full of grace and truth.”
What do we mean by the Real Presence? We mean that at the moment of Consecration, through the words of the priest, by the power of the Holy Spirit the Bread and Wine become the Body and Blood of Jesus. This miraculous change is made whilst still maintaining the appearance of bread and wine.
What proof do we have for this Miracle of the Eucharist?
Firstly we have the words of Jesus from St John’s Gospel:
“In all truth I tell you,
it was not Moses who gave you the bread from heaven,
it is my Father who gives you the bread from heaven,
the true bread; for the bread of God
is the bread which comes down from heaven
and gives life to the world.”
“Sir”, they said, “give us that bread always.” Jesus answered them:
“I am the bread of life.
No one who comes to me will ever hunger;
no one who believes in me will ever thirst.” John 6:32-35.
‘Meanwhile the Jews were complaining to each other about him, because he had said, “I am the bread that has come down from heaven.” They were saying, “Surely this is Jesus son of Joseph, whose father and mother we know. How can he now say, “I have come down from Heaven?’” John 6:41-43.
“I am the bread of life.
Your fathers ate manna in the desert and they are dead;
but this is the bread which comes down from heaven,
so that a person may eat it and not die.
Anyone who eats this bread will live for ever;
and the bread that I shall give
is my flesh, for the life of the world.”
Then the Jews started arguing among themselves, “How can this man give us his flesh to eat?” Jesus replied to them:
“In all truth I tell you,
if you do not eat the flesh of the Son of man
and drink his blood,
you have no life in you.
Anyone who does eat my flesh and drink my blood
has eternal life,
and I shall raise that person up on the last day.
For my flesh is real food
and my blood is real drink.
Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood
lives in me
and I live in that person.
As the living Father sent me
and I draw life from the Father,
so whoever eats me will also draw life from me.
This is the bread which has come down from heaven;
it is not like the bread our ancestors ate:
they are dead,
but anyone who eats this bread will live for ever.”
Now we refer to St Matthew’s Gospel:
Now as they were eating, Jesus took bread and when he had said the blessing he broke it and gave it to the disciples. “Take it and eat,” he said, “this is my body.” Then he took a cup, and when he had given thanks he handed it to them saying, “Drink from this, all of you, for this is my blood, the blood of the covenant, poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins.” Matthew 26:26-29.
Now from St Mark’s Gospel:
And as they were eating he took bread, and when he had said the blessing he broke it and gave it to them. “Take it,” he said, “this is my body.” Then he took a cup, and when he had given thanks he handed it to them, and all drank from it, and he said to them, “This is my blood, the blood of the covenant, poured out for many.” Mark 14:22-24.
Next from St Luke’s Gospel:
Then he took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and gave it to them, saying, “This is my body given for you; do this in remembrance of me.” He did the same with the cup after supper, and said, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood poured out for you.” Luke 22:19-20.
Those, then, are the references from the four Gospels and the words Jesus uses are very definite. Jesus was not a man to play with words. When he said “Take up thy pallet and walk” he wasn’t talking imaginatively but he meant what he said and many cripples did exactly that.
Other writings, of St Paul and early Christian writers confirm the Real Presence under the appearance of Bread and Wine.
St Paul in his First Letter to the Corinthians which probably preceded the Gospels wrote:- ‘For the tradition I received from the Lord and also handed on to you is that on the night he was betrayed, the Lord Jesus took some bread, and after he had given thanks, he broke it, and said, “This is my body, which is for you; do this in remembrance of me.” And in the same way, with the cup after supper, saying “This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Whenever you drink it, do this as a memorial of me.” Whenever you eat this bread, then drink this cup, you are proclaiming the Lord’s death until he comes. Therefore anyone who eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord unworthily is answerable for the body and blood of the Lord.’ 1 Corinthians 11:23-27.
St Justin in the First Century wrote:- ‘We salute one another with a kiss……
then is brought to the President of the brethren, bread and a cup of water and wine, which he receives; and offers up praise and glory to the Father of all things, through the name of His Son, and the Holy Ghost; …….and when the President and all the people have assented, they whom we call deacons give to each of those present a portion of the Eucharistic bread and wine, and water; and carry them to those who are absent.’
St Irenaeus C140.-.200 wrote:- ‘He declared that the chalice which comes from his creation was his blood, and he makes it the nourishment of our blood. He affirmed that the bread which comes from his creation was his body, and he makes it the nourishment of our body. When the chalice we mix and the bread we bake receive the word of God, the eucharistic elements become the body and blood of Christ, by which our bodies live and grow.’
A Fourth Century Catacheses wrote:- ‘On the night he was betrayed Our Lord Jesus Christ took bread and when he had given thanks, he broke it and gave it to his disciples and said “Take eat: this is my body.” He took the cup, gave thanks and said: “Take, drink: this is my blood.” Since Christ himself has declared the bread to be his body, who can have any further doubt? Since he himself has said quite categorically, “This is my blood,” who would dare to question it and say that it is not his blood?’
St Thomas Aquinas in the Thirteenth Century wrote:- ‘Since it was the will of God’s only-begotten Son that we should share in his divinity, he assumed our nature in order that by becoming man he might make us divine. Moreover, when he took our flesh he dedicated the whole of its substance to our salvation. He offered his body to God the Father on the altar of the cross as a sacrifice for our reconciliation. He shed his blood for our ransom and purification, so that we might be redeemed from our wretched state of bondage and cleansed of all sin. But to ensure that the memory of so great a gift would abide with us for ever, he left his body as food and his blood as drink for the faithful to consume in the form of bread and wine.’
Why then can there be any doubts that he meant exactly what he said by the words “This is my body - this is my blood?” The only reason is that Satan, who despises Jesus and doesn’t want us to believe, puts the doubts into our hearts, our minds and our souls.
One of the objections regarding the Real Presence is that it appears to be cannibalistic. The answer to that is Jesus’ unbelievable and perfect humility. How else can we explain his desire to offer his real body and real blood for us to eat and drink? If the choice to eat and drink had been ours then the objection would be proved. But the choice was that of Jesus and we cannot disobey.
A book with many stories of the Eucharist is ‘Eucharistic Miracles and Eucharistic Phenomena in the Lives of the Saints.’ By Joan Carroll Cruz. Published by Tan Book Publishers Inc. of Rockford in the U.S.A. This book is probably stocked by most Catholic Book shops. It contains forty-two stories regarding the Eucharist, and will make excellent reading for those who wish to make a further study of the often dramatic, true stories of the Eucharist. The miracles in the book date from the 8th century to the 20th century.
Here are an edited version of six stories from the book:
Miracle of the Eucharist. Lanciano 8th Century.
‘A monk, wise in the ways of the world, but not in the faith, was having a trying time with his belief in the Real Presence of Our Lord Jesus in the Eucharist. He prayed constantly for relief from his doubts, and from the fear that he was losing his vocation. He suffered through the routine of his priesthood day after day, with these doubts gnawing at him.
The situation in the world did not help his faith. There were many heresies cropping up all the time, which kept chipping away at his faith. They were not all from outside the church either. Brother priests and bishops were victims of these heresies, that were being spread throughout the Church. The morning, while he was having a strong attack of doubt, he began the Consecration of the Mass for the people of the town. He used the same size host which is used in the Latin Rite Mass today. After the consecration of the Host and Wine, what he beheld caused his hands to shake, indeed his whole body. He stood for a long time with his back to the people, and then slowly turned around to them.
He said “O fortunate witnesses to whom the Blessed God, to confound my disbelief, has wished to reveal Himself in this Most Blessed Sacrament and to render Himself visible to our eyes! Come, brethren, and marvel at our God so close to us. Behold the Flesh and Blood of our most beloved Christ.”
The host had turned into Flesh. The wine had turned into Blood.
All that happened one thousand three hundred years ago. Had that miracle taken place, and then the flesh and blood disintegrated, as would have been normal, the miracle would have been none the less a miracle. The priest’s faith had been renewed. The entire town, the whole country for that matter, became aware of the miracle. Pilgrims flocked to Lanciano to venerate the host turned into Flesh and the wine turned into blood. Belief in the Eucharist had been reborn.
But that is not all. The miracle is ongoing. The Flesh and the Blood, without the use of any form of preservative is still present in a reliquary at the Church were the miracle happened. Scientific tests carried out in 1970-71 show that the Flesh is real Flesh and the Blood is real Blood. Also the Flesh and Blood are of the same blood group as on the Holy Shroud of Turin.
It is impossible to truly appreciate the Eucharistic Miracle of Lanciano without seeing the impact it has on those who witness it. All questions and doubts about the Real Presence of Jesus in the Eucharist are defeated. After seeing the miracle one priest said “I can never raise the host or wine at the consecration again, without seeing my Lord’s very Heart between my fingers, His Blood alive in the chalice before me.”
On another occasion, after a priest had shown the Miracle to pilgrims he came to the foot of the altar and made the following observation: “Remember that this miracle that you have witnessed happens every day in every church in the world at the consecration of the Mass.”
Miracle of the Sacred Hosts. Siena 1730
In Siena on the eve of the Feast of Assumption thieves stole a ciborium containing 351 hosts. Three days later they were found in the ‘poor box’ of a nearby church. Every one was accounted for. They were dusty and dirty and it was decided not to use them for Holy Communion but to put them in a tabernacle and let them decay naturally.
Now, 273 years later, the hosts are as fresh as the day they were consecrated. They have not been protected from the elements and should have decayed as long ago as 1730!
In 1922 the church proclaimed the hosts to be a miracle of the Eucharist and they are kept in a reliquary to be venerated.
Miracle of Bolsena-Orvieto. Italy 1263
In the Middle Ages, in Bolsena, which is seventy miles north of Rome, a priest named Peter of Prague, who was on a pilgrimage to Rome, stopped off and asked to offer Mass in the Church of St Prestina.
He had doubts about the real presence and before Mass prayed about his doubts. At the moment of Consecration as he held the host up blood started to drip from the host onto the marble floor. In confusion, and not knowing what to do, he wrapped the bleeding host in the corporal and left the altar.
Pope Urban IV was staying at nearby Orvieto so Peter went to tell the Pope what had happened. The Pope sent a bishop to fetch the Corporal and Host from Bolsena. As the bishop approached Orvieto the Pope went out to meet him and when he saw the Blood Stained Corporal he knelt in adoration.
The Pope had the relic placed in the Cathedral of Orvieto and later instituted the feast of Corpus Christi ‘The Body of Christ’. The Blood Stained Linen remains in a special chapel of the cathedral in a gold reliquary. In the church at Bolsena can be seen the pieces of marble floor which the blood stained when it fell from the host.
The Miracle of Santarem. Portugal 13th Century.
There lived in the village of Santarem, 35 miles south of Fatima, a poor woman who was made miserable by the activities of her unfaithful husband. In her extreme unhappiness she consulted a sorceress, who promised deliverance from her trials for the price of a consecrated Host. After many hesitations the woman finally consented and visited the Church of St. Stephen. After receiving Holy Communion, she removed the Host from her mouth and wrapped it in her veil, intending to take it to the sorceress.
But, within a few minutes blood began to issue from the Host. The amount of blood increased so much that it dripped from the cloth and attracted the attention of bystanders. Seeing blood on the woman’s hand and arm and thinking her injured, several witnesses rushed forward to help. The woman avoided them, ran to her home, leaving a trail of blood behind her.
Hoping to hide the bloody veil and its contents, she placed them in a chest; but during the night she was forced to reveal them to her husband when a mysterious light issued from the trunk, penetrating the wood and illuminating the whole house. Both knelt in adoration for the remaining hours until dawn, when the parish priest was summoned.
News of the mysterious event spread quickly and attracted countless people who wanted to contemplate the miracle. Because of the furore, an episcopal investigation was promptly organised. The Host was taken in procession to the Church of St. Stephen, where it was encased in wax and secured in the tabernacle. Some time later, when the tabernacle was opened, another miracle was discovered. The wax that had encased the Host was found broken into pieces, and the Host was found miraculously enclosed in a crystal pyx. This was later placed in a gold and silver pear-shaped monstrance with a ‘sunburst’ of 33 rays, in which it is still contained.
After the approval of the ecclesiastical authorities, who saw no reason to condemn or suppress reports of the miracle, the Church of St. Stephen was renamed ’The Church of the Holy Miracle.’ It is here that the Host is still preserved and displayed for the admiration and veneration of pilgrims. In the nave of the church, high up on both sides, are ancient paintings depicting the miracle.
The Host is somewhat irregularly shaped, with delicate veins running from top to bottom where a quantity of blood is collected in the crystal. In the opinion of an eminent New Jersey physician, who has observed the miraculous Host many times over a period of years, the coagulated blood at the bottom of the crystal sometimes had the colour of fresh blood, and at other times dried blood.
The miracle has endured for over 700 years.
The Miracle of Hasselt. Belgium 1317.
Constant Vab der Straeten, a renowned historian who was for many years an officer of the cathedral of Hasselt, gives us a brief history of this miracle.
A priest from Viversel, helping the priests in the city of Lummen, was asked to bring the Holy Eucharist to a man of the village who was ill.Taking with him a Host in a ciborium, the priest entered the man’s house and placed the ciborium on a table while he went to speak with the family in another room.
While the priest was absent, a man in mortal sin wandered into the room, removed the cover of the ciborium, touched the Host then picked it up. At once the Host began to bleed. Frightened, the man dropped the Host into the ciborium and quickly departed. When the priest returned for the ciborium he found the cover removed, and he was astonished to see the Host spotted with blood.
At first undecided about what to do, the priest finally brought the ciborium and the Host to the pastor and related what had taken place. The pastor advised him to carry the miraculous Host to the church of the Cistercian nuns at Herkenrode approximately 30 miles away.
This convent, founded near Leige in the 12th century, was the first foundation of the Cistercian nuns in Belgium. Even during a time of decline in the Cistercian Order, this foundation continued to grow in size until it ranked among the most important convents in the Low Countries. Because of this venerable community’s reputation for holiness, the pastor apparently felt that the miraculous Host would be more appropriately enshrined in the convent’s church.
The priest journeyed to the Cistercian church, and as soon as he approached the altar and placed the Host upon it, a vision of Christ, crowned with thorns, was seen by everyone present. Our Lord seems to have thereby given a special sign of His willingness to be enshrined there. Because of this vision and the miraculous Host, Herkenrode quickly became one of the most famous places of pilgrimage in Belgium.
The Host was securely kept in the church at Herkenrode until 1796, during the French Revolution, when the nuns were expelled from their convent. During this dreadful time the Host was entrusted to the care of a succession of different families. It is said that it was once placed in a tin box and walled into the kitchen of a house.
In 1804 the Host was removed from hiding and taken during solemn services to the Church of St. Quentin in Hasselt. The picturesque church of Gothic architecture, dating from the 14th century, contains impressive paintings of the 16th and 17th centuries which recall events in the history of the miracle. But, much more important, the Church of St. Quentin still guards the miraculous Eucharistic Host of 1317, which still remains in splendid condition.
Dubna, Poland 1876. A very remarkable event is recorded to have happened on the fifth February 1876, in a small town in Poland called Dubna, during the celebration of the Forty Hours Devotion in the Church of The Blessed Virgin Mary.
Amid the terrors of the revolution, the church at Dubna had been fortunate enough to escape molestation, and that reason, added to the religious motives, contributed to make the number of religious worshippers thronging the edifice particularly large. As the Blessed Sacrament was exposed to the view of the multitude, soft brilliant rays of light began emanating from the monstrance, in plain sight of the people kneeling close the sanctuary. Then a wonderful apparition took place. The figure of the Saviour appeared distinctly in the place of the Host, and remained there throughout the entire forty hours. Catholics and heretics, some from motives of strong faith, others out of mere curiosity, went to the church to witness the miracle, until persons in every walk of life, and of every form of belief offered their solemn testimony to the fact of the manifestation. This wide acknowledgement brought the affair to the ears of the city officials and as a result the parish priest was called to give testimony before the director of police. The Governor of Schitomar being informed, it was forbidden under pain of imprisonment to speak of the apparition. But the witnesses were anxious to parade God’s work before the incredulous, and consequently they were content that God saw fit to exhibit His marvellous power on their behalf. A written statement of the miracle having been submitted by the priest to the bishop of the diocese, the latter requested that the event should be kept secret, lest the church should be closed by the civil authorities.
Another miracle was told to me by a priest who was also having doubts. He told me that soon after his ordination he had doubts and asked Jesus for a sign. Some time later he was offering Mass in a convent and had to take the Eucharist to a nun who was poorly in bed. The Ciborium was full which makes it very easy to spill Hosts. (As a Eucharistic Minister I know this to be the case. Hosts are very light and one has to be very careful not to spill them.) Everything went well till he was coming down the stairs when he tripped over the chasuble which was too long for him, and he fell down the stairs. When he got to the bottom his one concern was for the Sacred Hosts. He discovered that he was holding the Ciborium high above his head in his right hand. The cover had come off the Ciborium and was lying on the floor. The Cirboium was bent…….it must have had a heavy knock. But where were the Sacred Hosts? The priest looked around the floor expecting to find it covered in Hosts. But none were to be found. They were all safely in the damaged Ciborium. A miracle! The priest took that as the sign he had asked for. From that time he has never doubted.
So, when we talk of the ‘Real Presence’, we mean what we say. If we allow the ‘tempter’ to take over our minds and hearts and feed us with doubts then think for a moment of how those doubts must hurt Jesus. He has given us ‘His All’ and yet we are throwing it back in his face and saying “We don’t believe.” Is it any wonder that in various apparitions Our Lady is sometimes seen to be sad and crying? She, above everyone, knows how much her Son gives of Himself and she grieves out of sadness for her Son and for us.
We must help to dispel Our Lady’s grief and BELIEVE. Our BELIEF will show Jesus how much we love Him and will make up for years of unbelief and neglect.
Eucharistic Miracles and Eucharistic
Phenomena in the Lives of the Saints.
By Joan Carroll Cruz.
Tan Book Publishers Inc.
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