By Fr. James Farfaglia
Who is this man that has divided history into two parts? Who is this man that has divided nations? Who is this man for whom many of his followers have given their lives rather than deny him? In this Sunday’s gospel narrative Peter tells us who he is: “You are the Christ” (Mark 8: 29). There is no historical doubt about the actual existence of Jesus of Nazareth. But, Jesus asks the apostles “Who do people say that I am?” (Mark 8: 27).
(Catholic Online) – The purpose of this Sunday’s liturgy is to get us to contemplate the person of Jesus Christ so that we can know him more deeply. Knowledge leads to love, and love to imitation. Jesus, who is the way, the truth and the life, must be the center, the criteria and the model for our daily lives. This is what it means to be a disciple of Jesus.
Had Jesus of Nazareth been a Roman or a Greek, certainly his contemporaries would have left behind statues in his honor. However, because the Jews had a strict understanding of idolatry, their interpretation of the Mosaic Law did not allow them to make any images whatsoever of any human person. It would have been interesting if we had been left something that would illustrate the physical attributes of the Lord.
Throughout the centuries, there has been much discussion on the subject. The Shroud of Turin and Veronica’s veil tell us a lot about his Middle Eastern features; however, our faith is best served by depending on the one authenticated source, the Gospels.
His body was strong and so was his soul. During the hours of tribulation in Gethsemane, he persevered in profound prayer while the apostles slept. When Joseph of Arimathea requested his body for burial, Pilate was surprised to discover that Jesus had died so quickly. Pilate knew that he had encountered a strong Galilean.
Jesus did not display his divinity in the manner of the mythical figures of Greek and Roman literature. He did not fly from place to place as though he were some sort of superman. Amazingly, in him the supernatural and the natural were interwoven. His divinity seemed so simple and normal.
No mysterious beams of light, flashes of lightning, or peals of thunder occurred as he performed his miracles. Instead, it was enough for him to touch, or be touched.
Only once did he show the magnificence of his divinity before a select group of apostles. Even then, during the Transfiguration, the experience was brief, simple, and discreet.
Aside from his physical attributes, Jesus knew exactly what he wanted. He was one with his mission. Everything that he did proceeded from his passionate desire to fulfill the will of the Father.
Unlike the complicated discourse of many philosophers and religious leaders, Our Lord’s teaching is simple and easy enough for everyone to understand. However, the message is so clear and precise that his words are irresistible to all those who listen.
Who is this man that has divided history into two parts? Who is this man that has divided nations? Who is this man for whom many of his followers have given their lives rather than deny him? In this Sunday’s gospel narrative Peter tells us who he is: “You are the Christ” (Mark 8: 29).
Tacitus (54-119 A.D.), Suetonius (75-160 A.D.) and Pliny the Younger (61-115 A.D.) of the ancient Roman Empire all give written historical testimony about the existence of Jesus. Jewish thinkers Philo (died after 40 A.D.) and more importantly Flavius Josephus (born 37 A.D.) also gives written historical testimony about Jesus and his work.
There is no historical doubt about the actual existence of Jesus of Nazareth.
But, Jesus asks the apostles “Who do people say that I am?” (Mark 8: 27).
When we consider all that Jesus said and did, we are faced with the dilemma that C.S. Lewis wrote about in his book Mere Christianity: either Jesus is a liar, a lunatic, or he is who he says that he is: the one true God.
Keep in mind that Jesus of Nazareth fulfilled 1,093 prophecies of the Old Testament.
What do we need to do in order to truly know Christ Jesus?
Above all, we must be open. Far too many people attempt to live Christianity based upon their own terms. They do not come to the Lord with open minds and hearts. Far too many remove pages from the Scriptures and reduce Christianity to their own comfort level.
When we are completely open, the Holy Spirit floods our souls with his loving and peaceful … Read more.