This is my penultimate entry for the week. Saturdays will be my Blogging Sabbath, unless it's an especially nice day in terms of readings or saints!There's a lot of lovely theology to wrestle with today, so I'd like to get down to it...but as it turns out, our Saint of the day helps us out in this thought process
St. James the Lesser
Ahh yes, the ever so mysterious St. James! No, not the son of Zebedee mentioned in scripture -Matthew 4:21- but one they called "the Less". He is also known by the title of James the Just, a denomination to have been given on account of his eminent sanctity. This is the James who is said to be a relative -brother?- of Jesus, who was one of the people to whom Jesus would have appeared to after resurrection. This is the James that was also supposedly responsible for the book of James, but scholars are not in full agreement over that particular point. Most agree that he was probably in charge of the Church in Jerusalem -thus becoming the city's first Bishop-.
His piety was renowned among the Jewish population, so much that he was respected, and admired by many, even if the local population became rather furious with his beliefs. He would eventually be stoned to death for those beliefs which he was given the opportunity to recant, and instead, used the opportunity to preach that one truth that bugged his oppressors so much : " Jesus Christ was the son of god, crucified, resurrected, and is now sitting at the right hand of the Father". Following those words, he was hurled into an angry mob which stoned him to death. So not just one of the early apostles, but one of the early Martyrs of the Church.
Read more: http://www.ewtn.com/saintsHoly/saints/J/stjamesthelesser.asp#ixzz2SBzg2xj2
The reason why St James's testimony is so important, is that the Early Christians had many problems trying to convince people of who this Jesus was. As we've seen this week in the book of Acts, there were many arguments around the call to follow Jesus in a Jewish world, and even more so in a pagan world. The situation for the missionaries was as challenging in Rome and Greece as it was in Palestine, because as we see in our first reading to day, there was a lot of ideas that surrounded Christ's presence among us that disturbed Gentiles.. Prominent among these disturbing ideas, was the resurrection of the dead. Like many Jews of the time, the pagans didn't believe this was possible. It's questionable whether they even believed in heaven. But first things first...the challenge was convincing people that such a thing was done. This was a fine line to be walking for Paul, but his letter to the Corinthians, he lays out the argument that we can't believe in a Christ that came to save us, and not believe in HIS own resurrection. (never mind dealing with the afterlife for now. All they wanted to help the people see was that Jesus was resurrection from the dead had to be fact.) Not an easy task.
And yet, not as hard as it was for Jesus to communicate the simple yet complex idea of his bond to the father. Jesus Makes it so plain in today's Gospel...there's no two ways about it. The Apostles ask him -in previous readings- what is the way to the Father, and Jesus puts it out there " I AM THE WAY, THE TRUTH, THE LIGHT". Any ambiguity there? None that I can see. And yet, the apostles, they doubt. And who can blame them.
Because after all, what is Jesus saying?
That he is at one with the Father.
So basically, he's saying he's not human right, since he's from the Father?
But clearly he is human, since they saw him, interacted with him, in the case of his parents, saw him get born, and grow...in the case of everyone else, watched him die
Right. So, if he's human then, he can't be divine, right?
Right...I mean...now I'm confused.
And that I imagine was the conversation that was had for centuries after Christ's life. This is why we needed the council of Nicaea in 325 -mentioned yesterday- in the first place. There were too many heresies out there that either denied Jesus' humanity, or his divinity. BOTH need to be embraced. If we say he wasn't fully human, then what was his sacrifice about? If he say he wasn't divine, then he's just another guy...the full package needs to be accepted. And Again, I say poor disciples. But of course, once they saw him come back to life...then people like St James would be eager and willing to lay down their lives, because they had seen the Truth, The Way, and the Life and were ready to offer their lives for it!
|1 Corinthians 15: 1 - 8|
|1||Now I would remind you, brethren, in what terms I preached to you the gospel, which you received, in which you stand,|
|2||by which you are saved, if you hold it fast -- unless you believed in vain.|
|3||For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received, that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the scriptures,|
|4||that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the scriptures,|
|5||and that he appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve.|
|6||Then he appeared to more than five hundred brethren at one time, most of whom are still alive, though some have fallen asleep.|
|7||Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles.|
|8||Last of all, as to one untimely born, he appeared also to me.|
|Psalms 19: 2 - 5|
|2||Day to day pours forth speech, and night to night declares knowledge.|
|3||There is no speech, nor are there words; their voice is not heard;|
|4||yet their voice goes out through all the earth, and their words to the end of the world. In them he has set a tent for the sun,|
|5||which comes forth like a bridegroom leaving his chamber, and like a strong man runs its course with joy.|
John 14: 6 - 14
6Jesus said to him, "I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father, but by me.7If you had known me, you would have known my Father also(Bloger's note: This is one of the only translations I've seen that puts the verb in the past tense. Most other editions will say " If you know me, you will know the father) ; henceforth you know him and have seen him."8Philip said to him, "Lord, show us the Father, and we shall be satisfied."9Jesus said to him, "Have I been with you so long, and yet you do not know me, Philip? He who has seen me has seen the Father; how can you say, `Show us the Father'?10Do you not believe that I am in the Father and the Father in me? The words that I say to you I do not speak on my own authority; but the Father who dwells in me does his works.11Believe me that I am in the Father and the Father in me; or else believe me for the sake of the works themselves.12"Truly, truly, I say to you, he who believes in me will also do the works that I do; and greater works than these will he do, because I go to the Father.13Whatever you ask in my name, I will do it, that the Father may be glorified in the Son;14if you ask anything in my name, I will do it.