The Divine Lamp

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Archive for the ‘Lectures on the Passion’ Category

Videos: The Passion of Christ

Posted by Dim Bulb on March 31, 2010

Fr. Tom Welbers has up a number of videos on the Passion of Christ according to Paul and the Gospels.  I haven’t viewed these yet so I cannot speak concerning their quality, interest, etc.  Let me know what you think in the combox.  I’ve embedded the first three videos below, the remaining 14 can be found here.

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Commentary On The Passion According to John (18:1-19:42) By St Cyril Of Alexandria

Posted by Dim Bulb on March 30, 2010

Posted in Bible, Catechetical Resources, Catholic, Christ, Devotional Resources, fathers of the church, Lectures on the Passion, Notes on the Gospel of John, Quotes, SERMONS | Tagged: , , , , , | 1 Comment »

Lecture 3 on the Passion of Matthew (26:17-19)

Posted by Dim Bulb on February 18, 2008

To see “Lecture 1″ CLICK HERE. To see “Lecture 2” CLICK HERE.
As I noted in my first “lecture,” I highly doubt I’ll ever lecture on the Passion, but if I did here is an idea of what it might sound like:

26:17 Now on the first day of unleavened bread, the disciples came to Jesus, saying to him, “Where do you want us to prepare for you to eat the Passover?” He said, “Go into the city to a certain person, and tell him, ‘The Teacher says, “My time is at hand. I will keep the Passover at your house with my disciples.”’”The disciples did as Jesus commanded them, and they prepared the Passover. (WEB Bible)

Matthew tells us that it is the first day of the Feast of Unleavened Bread, which means it is also the Day of the Feast of Passover. But Matthew’s chronology here, like Mark’s, is somewhat confusing. In reality it is still the afternoon of the day of preparation,-late Wednesday afternoon, according to our mode of reckoning,- however, it should be noted that we find this same sort of imprecise time reference in Josephus and in rabbinical literature. It seems that in Jesus’ day Passover was popularly considered to begin with the slaying of the Passover lambs which took place in the early afternoon of the day of preparation.

Passover/Unleavened Bread was a pilgrimage feast, requiring that all male Jews of legal age travel to Jerusalem for its celebration. According to experts, in Jesus day the City of Jerusalem would more than double its population at this time. According to law the feast had to be celebrated within the city or its immediate environs, this meant that the inhabitants of the city were expected to open their homes so the pilgrims could celebrate the feast. We are not told whose house was used by Jesus when he celebrated the Passover, however, many think there is good reason to believe that it was the house of John Mark’s mother.

Matthew’s account of the preparation is quite simple in comparison to Mark’s. Gone is Mark’s detailed description of the man with the water bottle; gone also is his emphasis that the disciples who were sent for the preparation found things in the home just as Jesus said they would be. Mark wished to emphasize our Lord’s foreknowledge of events as a way of showing that Jesus was in full control of, and was fully aware of the situation about to befall him. We see a similar emphasis in his account of Our Blessed Lord’s entry into Jerusalem. Matthew’s account of these preparations is different. In both he emphasizes Jesus’ command and the disciples compliance. This is in keeping with a major theme of his relating to discipleship. Recall that in the infancy narrative St Joseph is portrayed as a model disciple who does what the Angel of the Lord commands him to do. Recall that Our Lord ended his Sermon on the Mount by describing the man who hears and does his word as being like a man who built his house on rock; and the man who refuses to hear and do is described like one who built his house on sand. Recall that the Gospel ends with Our Lord commissioning the Apostles to teach the nations “all that I have commanded.” St Matthew, I think, would not be very happy with the way in which some people partake of the Eucharist; or with those Bishops who allow them to do so.

“Go to Bethel, and sin;
to Gilgal, and sin more.
Bring your sacrifices every morning,
your tithes every three days,
offer a sacrifice of thanksgiving of that which is leavened,
and proclaim free will offerings and brag about them:
for this pleases you, you children of Israel,” says the Lord Yahweh. (Amos)

Is not such a thing an abomination in the eyes of the Prophet? In the eyes of God?

“Therefore thus will I do to you, Israel;
because I will do this to you,
prepare to meet your God, Israel.
For, behold, he who forms the mountains,
and creates the wind,
and declares to man what is his thought;
who makes the morning darkness,
and treads on the high places of the earth:
Yahweh, the God of Armies, is his name.”

Is not the sacrilegious partaking of the Sacrifice of Christ an offering of leaven-which is corruption-to God?

5:6 Your boasting is not good. Don’t you know that a little yeast leavens the whole lump? Purge out the old yeast, that you may be a new lump, even as you are unleavened. For indeed Christ, our Passover, has been sacrificed in our place. Therefore let us keep the feast, not with old yeast, neither with the yeast of malice and wickedness, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth. I wrote to you in my letter to have no company with sexual sinners; yet not at all meaning with the sexual sinners of this world, or with the covetous and extortioners, or with idolaters; for then you would have to leave the world. But as it is, I wrote to you not to associate with anyone who is called a brother who is a sexual sinner, or covetous, or an idolater, or a slanderer, or a drunkard, or an extortioner. Don’t even eat with such a person. For what have I to do with also judging those who are outside? Don’t you judge those who are within? But those who are outside, God judges. “Put away the wicked man from among yourselves.”

At the Liturgy we say as a community, “Lord, I am not worthy to receive you, but only say the word and I shall be healed.” Ought we not also say to ourselves the words of the Psalmist which our Lord showed to be a prophecy concerning himself and Judas? “He who ate my bread has lifted his heel against me.”
In sending the disciples to prepare the feast, Our Lord instructs them to tell the homeowner: “My time is at hand. I will keep the passover at your house with my disciples.” The time of which Jesus speaks is the time of his death and resurrection; but it is also the time in which the final, eschatological (end-time) age begins. It is a time which is simultaneously a time of judgment and a time of salvation.
When we celebrate our Passover, the Eucharist, Christ is present as the one who gives life (see john 6), but he is present also as the one who will come in judgment and who can bring judgment now:

For I received from the Lord that which also I delivered to you, that the Lord Jesus on the night in which he was betrayed took bread. When he had given thanks, he broke it, and said, “Take, eat. This is my body, which is broken for you. Do this in memory of me.” In the same way he also took the cup, after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Do this, as often as you drink, in memory of me.” For as often as you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes. Therefore whoever eats this bread or drinks the Lord’s cup in a way unworthy of the Lord will be guilty of the body and the blood of the Lord. But let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of the bread, and drink of the cup. For he who eats and drinks in an unworthy way eats and drinks judgment to himself, if he doesn’t discern the Lord’s body. For this cause many among you are weak and sickly, and not a few sleep. For if we discerned ourselves, we wouldn’t be judged. But when we are judged, we are punished by the Lord, that we may not be condemned with the world.

Ought we not then build our house on rock? Ought not the Bishops lead the sheep-even with the crook if necessary- rather than follow in their wake?
Posted by Dim Bulb.  Check out my other site for lots of great online books, articles and audio by going to CATHOLIC BOOKWORM and clicking on the various pages listed on the left.

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Lecture 2 on the Passion of Matthew 26:6-16

Posted by Dim Bulb on February 17, 2008

To see “Lecture 1” CLICK HERE
As I noted in my first “lecture,” I highly doubt I’ll ever lecture on the Passion, but if I did here is an idea of what it might sound like:

26:6 Now when Jesus was in Bethany, in the house of Simon the leper, cb(26,7);26:7 a woman came to him having an alabaster jar of very expensive ointment, and she poured it on his head as he sat at the table. cb(26,8);26:8 But when his disciples saw this, they were indignant, saying, “Why this waste? cb(26,9);26:9 For this ointment might have been sold for much, and given to the poor.”cb(26,10);

26:10 However, knowing this, Jesus said to them, “Why do you trouble the woman? Because she has done a good work for me. cj(26,11); 26:11 For you always have the poor with you; but you don’t always have me. cj(26,12); 26:12 For in pouring this ointment on my body, she did it to prepare me for burial. cj(26,13); 26:13 Most certainly I tell you, wherever this Good News is preached in the whole world, what this woman has done will also be spoken of as a memorial of her.”cb(26,14);

26:14 Then one of the twelve, who was called Judas Iscariot, went to the chief priests, cb(26,15); 26:15 and said, “What are you willing to give me, that I should deliver him to you?” They weighed out for him thirty pieces of silver. cb(26,16); 26:16 From that time he sought opportunity to betray him. (WEB Bible)

Our Blessed Lord was on the western slope of the Mount of Olives looking down upon Jerusalem and the temple when he uttered his End Time Discourse and his fourth passion prediction. Some time after this, perhaps as evening was drawing near, he headed east and crested the mount, descending a slight distance down it’s eastern side to the town of Bethany; a place where he has been lodging since his arrival in Jerusalem (21:17). He enters the house of Simon the leper,-possibly the man Jesus healed in chapter 8:1-4,- and he sits down, presumably to take a meal, though Matthew doesn’t tell us this. At some point and time, while he is thus sitting, a woman, possibly Mary of Bethany, the sister of Martha and Lazarus, enters and breaks the seal on an alabaster jar containing a very expensive ointment which she proceeds to pour over the head of our Lord.

The scene recalls to my mind an event from the infancy narrative; namely, the gifts, or, as Matthew calls them, the treasures of the Magi. Recall what the situation was then. The infant Jesus was facing the possibility of persecution and death and the hands of a ruler who was part Jewish and part Pagan. In the present narrative he is facing persecution and death at the hands of Jewish and Pagan leaders. Then he was presented with gold, a tribute fit for a king; soon he will be betrayed for thirty pieces of silver, a paltry sum, the price of a slave; consequently, it is as if he receives an anointing as did the kings in the Old Testament. Then he received from the Magi frankincense, a form of incense used by priests in the temple, the burning of which formed part of the Day of Atonement sacrifices; soon Our blessed Lord would perform the priestly service of offering himself in sacrifice; consequently, he is as it were, anointed as a priest. Then he was presented by the Magi with myrrh, a burial spice; now he is anointed for his death.

The woman’s action raises the indignation of the disciples. This is not the first time St Matthew has used this word in relation to them. Earlier in the Gospel, as a result of the third passion prediction, James and John sought glory for themselves while attempting to avoid the cross they were to pick up and follow Jesus with. This, Matthew tells us, made the other ten disciples indignant, not because they understood or appreciated better than James and John the significance of what was said by Jesus, but because they saw the brother’s action as an assault on their own expected glory. In the present narrative, although Jesus had just a few hours before told them they knew what was about to befall him, the disciples show that they still are not in touch with the reality, the significance, of what is looming. They stand in marked contrast to the woman. Soon they will hear Our Blessed Lord predict that their faith in him would be shaken, and they would be scattered; as a result, they would be unable to perform the function of disciples and anoint their teacher for his burial.

Judas’ betrayal reminds us of how the passion narrative began with the plotting of the leaders. The defection and betrayal of Judas is introduced in the Greek text of verse 14 with what is called and adversative conjunctive, usually translated into English by the words “then” or “now”. As a conjunctive Matthew intends us to see the defection of Judas as closely connected to the woman’s action. As an adversative, he wants us to see the connection as one of contrast and difference.

Judas is described as being one of the twelve, a designation which recalls the commissioning of the Apostles which we read of in chapter 10:

He called to himself his twelve disciples, and gave them authority over unclean spirits, to cast them out, and to heal every disease and every sickness. cb(10,2); 10:2 Now the names of the twelve apostles are these. The first, Simon, who is called Peter; Andrew, his brother; James the son of Zebedee; John, his brother; cb(10,3); 10:3 Philip; Bartholomew; Thomas; Matthew the tax collector; James the son of Alphaeus; Lebbaeus, whose surname was Thaddaeus; cb(10,4); 10:4 Simon the Canaanite; and Judas Iscariot, who also betrayed him.cb(10,5);

10:5 Jesus sent these twelve out, and commanded them, saying, “Don’t go among the Gentiles, and don’t enter into any city of the Samaritans. cj(10,6); 10:6 Rather, go to the lost sheep of the house of Israel. cj(10,7); 10:7 As you go, preach, saying, ‘The Kingdom of Heaven is at hand!’ cj(10,8); 10:8 Heal the sick, cleanse the lepers*, and cast out demons. Freely you received, so freely give. cj(10,9); 10:9 Don’t take any gold, nor silver, nor brass in your money belts. cj(10,10); 10:10 Take no bag for your journey, neither two coats, nor shoes, nor staff: for the laborer is worthy of his food.

Since nothing is told to us concerning the contrary we are to assume that Judas fulfilled this initial mission “to the lost sheep of the house of Israel” with fidelity. What has changed? Has he succumbed to greed? That may be part of it; but is there something more? Jesus, in defending the woman who anointed him has just spoken of the Gospel being proclaimed “in the whole world.” Is Judas offended that the Gospel is going to transcend the national and racial boundaries of Israel? Recall that the first time the murderous intention of the chief priests is mentioned in Matthew is when Jesus speaks the Parable of the Tenants to them and follows it up with the statement from Psalm 118 that the stone rejected by the builders would become the cornerstone, which led to the conclusion: “For this reason, I say to you, the Kingdom of God will be taken from you and given over to a people who will produce its fruit” (see 21:33-46).

What I’ve said concerning the motivation of Judas is speculative, the contrast between Judas and the woman is quite clear. Judas had been chosen to proclaim that Gospel which would immortalize the woman’s beautiful deed forever, but as a result of his decision to betray Jesus, he himself would be immortalized by the very same Gospel for his evil deed, in contrast to the woman’s, and to his everlasting disgrace.

Posted by Dim Bulb.  Check out my other site for lots of great online books, articles and audio by going to CATHOLIC BOOKWORM and clicking on the various pages listed on the left.

Posted in Bible, Devotional Resources, Lectures on the Passion | Leave a Comment »

Lecture 1 on the Passion of Matthew (26:1-5)

Posted by Dim Bulb on February 16, 2008

I highly doubt I’ll ever lecture on the Passion, but if I did here is an idea of what it might sound like:
26:1 It happened, when Jesus had finished all these words, that he said to his disciples, 26:2 “You know that after two days the Passover is coming, and the Son of Man will be delivered up to be crucified.”

26:3 Then the chief priests, the scribes, and the elders of the people were gathered together in the court of the high priest, who was called Caiaphas. 26:4 They took counsel together that they might take Jesus by deceit, and kill him. 26:5 But they said, “Not during the feast, lest a riot occur among the people.” (WEB Bible)

It is late morning or early afternoon on Wednesday of Passover week; or Holy Week, as we would say. It is a day known in the Catholic liturgical tradition as “Spy Wednesday” for, as St Mark tells us, it was the day on which the chief priests, scribes, and elders hatched their plan against Our Lord and, (quote) “Kept on looking for a way to arrest him.” According to Matthew, Our Blessed Lord has just ended his fifth great discourse of this Gospel. As at the end of the previous discourses Matthew provides a transitional passage into a narrative; here, however, the transition is rather emphatic: “When Jesus had finished all these words…” Matthew isn’t simply telling us that another sermon has come to an end, he is telling us that the teaching ministry of Jesus is now done, one thing only remains for him to do- to be delivered up and crucified on Passover; the great day of remembrance concerning what God had done for Israel, how he freed them from bondage so that they might serve and worship him. But the feast also pointed forward to a time Jesus was to inaugurate (the eschaton, or end-time), and to a future he was to secure for us, when, by his death, “he might bring to nothing” not a pharaoh, but him who had the power of death, that is, the devil, acb(2,15)nd might deliver all of them who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage” (Heb 2:14-15) and thus, transfer them from the kingdom of darkness into the Kingdom of the Son, his own kingdom (Col 1:13).

In telling us that Jesus had “finished all these words,” Matthew is alluding to Moses, the first great deliverer of God’s people, a type, a foreshadowing of our Lord. As I noted just a moment ago, Jesus has finished his fifth discourse of this gospel, and many have seen a parallel between the five great discourses found in Matthew gospel, and the five discourses which make up the bulk of the book of Deuteronomy. In that book, the last discourse ends thus: “Moses made an end (finished) of speaking all these words to all Israel…” (Deut 32:45). The parallel with the opening of the Passion Narrative is obvious. It becomes even more obvious when we realize that the only thing left for Moses to do is climb Mount Nebo, look out into the promised land he was forbidden to enter because of his disobedience, and die.

32:48 Yahweh spoke to Moses that same day, saying, cb(32,49); 32:49 “Go up into this mountain of Abarim, to Mount Nebo, which is in the land of Moab, that is over against Jericho; and see the land of Canaan, which I give to the children of Israel for a possession; cb(32,50); 32:50 and die on the mountain where you go up, and be gathered to your people, as Aaron your brother died on Mount Hor, and was gathered to his people: cb(32,51); 32:51 because you trespassed against me in the midst of the children of Israel at the waters of Meribah of Kadesh, in the wilderness of Zin; because you didn’t sanctify me in the midst of the children of Israel. cb(32,52); 32:52 For you shall see the land before you; but you shall not go there into the land which I give the children of Israel.”

Moses never achieved the full end for which he was chosen by God; he never led the People of God into the promised land, and in this sense he was a failure. But “the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men” (1 Cor 1:25). Even in his failure the great prophet pointed toward the Redeemer. It was left to Joshua, or, as we would say in Greek, Jesus, the son of Nun, to finish what had begun under Moses. In this way was foreshadowed the need for a greater exodus, a greater, covenant, a greater sacrifice, a greater redemption. In two days time our Blessed Lord, like Moses before him, will ascend a mountain to die. To most of those who witnessed the spectacle it no doubt appeared he was (in the words of a song popular a few years ago) “One more starry-eyed messiah” meeting “a violent farewell,” for he was condemned by both church and state, and, as it is written: “Cursed is anyone who hangs upon a tree” (Deut 21:23). But, as St Paul tells us, Christ “ransomed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us” (Gal 3:13). He was “delivered up for our trespasses, and raised for our justification” (Rom 4:25). He was “vindicated in the spirit, seen by angels, proclaimed to the nations,, believed in throughout the world “(1 Tim 3:16) .

All of this seems lost on the Apostles. They may indeed “know that after two days the Passover is coming, and the Son of Man will be delivered up to be crucified,” but it seems to have had no effect on them. Our blessed Lord has just announced his fourth Passion prediction. In the first, Peter had taken him aside and rebuked him for saying such a thing (Mt 16:21-23); in the second, the apostles were overwhelmed by grief ((17:22-24); in the third, James and John focused on the glory that would result from his death and crassly sought to capitalize on it. The other disciples were indignant with them, not because of the crassness of the sons of Zebedee, but because of their own crassness (20:17-28). They may indeed know what is about to befall their Lord, but, as the anointing a Bethany and other events in the passion make clear, they do not understand its full significance and are unprepared.

The Feast of Passover was instituted before the tenth plague on Egypt. God ordered the Israelites to sacrifice a lamb, put its blood on the door-posts of their homes, and eat the lamb within their homes, for he would on the night of its inaugural celebration pass through the land of Egypt, slaying all the firstborn, but he would passover the houses marked with the blood of the lamb. The Feast of Unleavened Bread was to begin on the same night as Passover and continue for seven days. The Exodus, motivated by the Passover of the Lord, was seen as a pilgrimage to God, and this pilgrimage was commemorated by the eating of unleavened bread for the speed with which the Israelites left Egypt did not allow them time to let their bread rise. As part of the preparation for the feast, the Jews had to rid their house of leaven. Since leaven was a corrupting corrupting agent and since the events inaugurated by the Passover were seen as a new beginning, the searching out of leaven from the home became a symbol of the need for the people to search out all that was corrupting their covenant life with God and with their fellow Jews. In Jesus’ day, and in our own, devout Jews would begin ridding their houses of leaven up to a week before feast began. They would take a candle and search out every dark corner, lest a crumb of bread be missed. Also, they washed every inch of the interior of their homes, but always with the understanding that such meticulous outward preparation was to be matched by an interior cleansing of their hearts. It is against this ceremonial and moral backdrop that the Jewish leaders plot their course of action. At a time when they should have been preparing for the celebration of the deliverance of the first-born from death, and the liberation of their people from bondage, they are planning to take away the liberty and the life of Jesus by arresting him, and having him put to death.

“‘But,’ they said, ‘not during the feast, lest a riot occur among the people.'” As we will see, however, God is not acting on their timetable.

Posted by Dim Bulb.  Check out my other site for lots of great online books, articles and audio by going to CATHOLIC BOOKWORM and clicking on the various pages listed on the left.

Posted in Bible, Devotional Resources, Lectures on the Passion | Leave a Comment »

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