Sorrows of Mary
Blog Manuscript Draft Version 1.7
This blog manuscript is continually but infrequently updated and expanded as time allows. Updates and revisions come from the unpublished manuscript that is a continual work in progress begun in January 2019. So keep watching for sneak previews of new material and changes of both additions and corrections. The book is planned to be published mid to late 2020, and hopefully in various formats.
Mea culpa : this manuscript blog contains a very rough sketch of the overall plan of the material which is rendered a brevis at times, and some portions requiring much editing, corrections and expansion and does not reflect the current state of the unpublished manuscript. Remember this is only intended as a sneak preview. It is offered here merely to inspire and warm hearts in lectio divina.
Mary : The Sea of Sorrow.
Reflections of Fra Anonimo, a Third Order Carmelite
Light of Mary illuminate me,
Light of Mary guide me,
Light of Mary protect me,
Light of Mary envelop me,
Light of Mary fortify me,
Light of Mary console me,
Light of Mary embrace me,
Light of Mary clothe me,
Light of Mary touch my heart,
Light of Mary purify me,
Light of Mary form me into the image of your dearly beloved son, Jesus.
I am shedding upon you the rays of Light from my Immaculate Heart so that you may walk along its light-filled path.”
The biblical texts are translations by Fra Anonimo, T.O.C., intended to reflect the original intention of the sacred author as they were meant to be read had they been living and writing today.
God sent Mary to correct the errors of the First Holy Family, Adam, Eve and their first born child, Cain. Eve gave us Incredulity by refusing to trust God and believe His holy words and so acted accordingly falling into sin rebelling against what God had told her. Adam gave us Idolatry, worshiping creatures before God, for he knew Eve fell and loving her more than God he followed her. Cain gave us fear and anger, afraid his labors were not very pleasing to God, and after his saintly brother Abel's birth, it was he rather than Cain, who pleased God more, so he slew him in a rage of jealousy. This is our spiritual heritage all born into Original Sin.
Sacred Scriptures are God’s divine revelations that teach us about His divine nature, and His plan for our salvation. The many texts of the canonical Catholic Bible are all intimately integrated and linked in a sacred bond in unity, truth, beauty, and love. Lectio divina, the reverent, prayerful and soulful reading of them radiates these qualities of its unity, truth, beauty, and love filtering them through our minds and hearts; nourishing, strengthening, and purifying us to grow into perfect conformity to the Divine Image of God, in God's plan of salvific restoration. This of course is accomplished in baptized souls who ardently and sincerely desire to encounter the Lord with pure minds and consciences. Frequenting the sacraments, praying the Divine Office also called the Liturgy of the Hours, and Lectio divina are the greatest means to accomplish this together with the Most Holy Rosary of Our Blessed Mother, which is a very special form of Lectio divina intended to be prayed either as a scriptural rosary reflecting on various verse of Sacred Scripture for each bead or in deep reflection during prayer recalling the Gospel texts within your heart. This small book is intended to aid ardent and sincere souls accomplish God’s call to a deeper and more profound love adoring the Most Blessed Trinity and His aura of Light and Might, our Mother Mary, His perfect immaculate and glorious image.
As we follow the history of God’s salvific plan through the New Testament and its inextricable links to the Tenach or Old Testament we are in awe of this intimate integration of revelation that opens up brilliant light, the splendor of the truth, Christ himself. Let us encounter Him in silent reflective and contemplative prayer.
Luke 1:26-38 "On the 25th day of the month of March, 7 B. C., the archangel Gabriel was sent from God 27 to a virgin from a city in Galilee called Nazareth, who was betrothed to a man named Joseph, and the virgin’s name was Mary, and they were both descendants of the house of David. 28 The angel said, “Hail, "full of the grace of God" The Lord is with you.” 29 She was deeply taken at what was said and so she reflected in discernment regarding what sort of greeting this might be. 30 The angel said to her, “Do not let your heart be troubled Mary, for you have found great favor with God. 31 Behold, you will conceive and bear a son, and you shall name him Jesus. 32 He will be great and will be called Son of the Most High, and Almighty God will give him the throne of his ancestor David, 33 and shall rule over the house of Jacob in a never ending kingdom.” 34 Mary said to the angel, “How can this be possible? I do not know man!” 35 The angel replied, “The Holy Spirit will descend upon you, and the power of Almighty God will overshadow you. The child to be born will be the Holy One, the Son of God. 36 Behold, your own blood relative, Elizabeth, who was called barren, has also conceived a son and is now in her sixth month; 37 for nothing is impossible for God.” 38 Mary said, “Behold, I am the handmaiden of the Lord. May it be done to me just as you have said.” With that the angel disappeared.
1. The Sixth Month
The sixth month is the period of Elizabeth’s pregnancy equivalent to the month of March in the Gregorian calendar. The day is learned by inference as the 25, day, and the year being that of 7 B.C., a date precise and extrapolated from sacred scriptures which we shall see unfolds later on in these reflections.
2. Archangel Gabriel
Gabriel is an archangel revealed in chapters eight through ten in the Book of the Prophet Daniel, who reveals the meaning of the mysteries of God to holy people of divine predilection. Luke has revealed him previously when he was sent to Zechariah while performing his priestly duty in the Temple in Jerusalem while Simeon ben Boethus was high priest.
3. Nazareth of Galilee
Mary lived with her father Heli at their family home in Nazareth, a very tiny settlement in Lower Galilee. This region north of Judea has a history of devout Jews afire with zeal for God and Israel. It was a conquered territory by the Hasmoneans at least a century and a half before Mary was born. There were large cosmopolitan cities in the region like Sepphoris and much later on Tiberius that attracted non Jews and their culture. Sepphoris was just north of Nazareth. It was also set apart geographically from Judea by Samaria and Perea, which had a population that did not follow the traditions of the Jews in Judea. Galilee itself is a mountainous region usually separated as Northern Galilee or Upper Galilee and Southern Galilee or Lower Galilee. The latter is where Nazareth is located just east of Mount Tabor along the Jezreel Valley and Plain in the environs northeast of Mount Carmel.
Herod was the petty client king of Roman rule in Galilee and favored Greek Dionysian cultic practices, which he followed in a syncretism mixing Judaism with foreign cultic beliefs. Because he executed the High Priest Hyrcanus II in 30 B.C., Jews of the David line fled into hiding and it seems tenable that Heli located there for safety.
Perhaps the most significant aspect of Mary’s abode is the fact that Galilee was called in the time of Isaiah “Galilee of the nations”, signifying it was a geographic region of mixed ethnicities and religious practices including pagans or Gentiles. Moreover, Judea was considered pure and holy and the land from where the Messiah would come, not Galilee and its little village of Nazareth. When Jesus is hailed as “Jesus of Nazareth” it was merely to point out his contradiction to social expectation and impugned him as a lesser Jew who associated with pagans from his region. However, his nativity greeted by Gentiles from the East, as well as after the resurrection the fact Jesus came from “Galilee of the nations,” revealed God’s divine plan of evangelization among the Gentiles.
4. A Virgin
Mary was a virgin at Nazareth betrothed to a man named Joseph.
Mary was a consecrated perpetual virgin. She and Joseph both planned to marry practicing perpetual continence living in purity. There were societies amongst the ancient Jews at that time that had members that lived as perpetual consecrated virgins, both male and female. They were not unique in regards to this since it was practiced among some few devout. Jesus will continue in his life to practice continence. This truth is clearly evident and logical for Luke first informs us that Mary was engaged to Joseph and normally a young bride should expect to bear children with her husband. However, Mary asks the angel “How can this happen since I do not know man?” Her question reveals the arrangement living in continence and leaves no doubt about it.
His greeting and announcement caused Mary alarm and concern. But, how can this be? St. Luke’s Gospel records Mary’s response to Gabriel’s message. “How shall this be done, because I know not man?” (Luke 1:34). Mary gave herself completely to God consecrated as a perpetual virgin. She was frightened at his words. God reassured her through Gabriel saying : "Be not afraid!" She obeyed - and her sorrow was turned into ecstatic joy!
Joseph and Mary were Anawim or “the poor in spirit,” who like the holy ones at Qumran, prayed throughout the day begging God to send his Messiah. Now, an angel, the glorious St. Gabriel, the Archangel, sent from the throne of God announces to Mary at Nazareth that she is to bear a son.
5. Betrothed to Joseph
Jewish marriages were often arraigned between families. The parents of Mary formed an agreement with family of Joseph. This marriage contract was and is still called a ketubah. This was a series of agreements giving the terms of marriage to be offered and accepted and then approved which gave sanction to the betrothal under Jewish law in a sort of giving the seal of approval it was in compliance with all the Torah. It was also known that some married couples at this time were known to live in total abstinence from sexual activity living in continence as a pure and spiritual couple. This is why Mary expresses a right to know how such a birth can come to be when she is a virgin and does not know her husband. This makes no sense in any other interpretation. It is only normal, expected and natural for a young bride to show common sense and expect to bear a child so beautifully described by the archangel Gabriel. But Mary a consecrated perpetual virgin desired to understand God's request properly in order to give her consent legitimately since ignorance of or an incorrect or faulty understanding would void her consent. So Mary wished to be crystal clear about this and then gave her decision that eternal "Yes" Fiat voluntas tua.
6. Davidic Line
Mary is called by God to become the mother of the Messiah, the Only Begotten One. (c. f . Luke 1:26-38)
Mary, daughter of Heli, is a royal princess of the house of David. The Gospel of Luke gives the genealogy of Jesus from the line of King David showing Heli as the father-in-law of Joseph. This is also made clear that the mother of the Messiah would be of King David’s line found in Psalm 132:11.
The Lord swore to David a sure oath, from which he will not turn back:
“A son, the fruit of your body, will I set up upon your throne.” Psalm 132:11
Jewish law holds that the mother determines the religion and rights of the son. This is known as matrilineality, which Orthodox Jews believe hark from the time of Moses in oral tradition, whereas Conservative Jews hold that it dates to the Tannaitic period (10-70 A.D.). The matriarchal line is clear in both the Psalms and St. Luke’s Gospel combined supporting both views.
The two genealogies of Jesus in Matthew and Luke are identical in that they give the maternal and paternal genealogies respectively. Matthew gives the genealogy in the Hebraic tradition from Abraham 1764 BC who historically was identical with Hammurabi of Ur. This traces out Mary's maternal ancestry and signals that by naming several women. Each generation is 42 years with 14 generations in each portion or segment of time to the Babylonian captivity and to the birth of the Messiah. Whereas Luke gives the genealogy of Mary's father's ancestry in the royal line of kings from where would come the Messiah. Luke portrays Jesus in iconic vignettes : "Jesus of Nazareth" who comes to redeem the world form "Galilee of the nations" signifying redemption of the world and gives the genealogy of Galileans who have a long history of freedom fighters to restore Judaism. These two chart and map the ancestry of the Messiah from his mother and her family. Her legal husband Joseph, was merely the guardian and so his genealogy is not rendered since he did not procreate the Messiah, but the Holy Spirit alone, without human seed.
7. Troubled At His Word.
Mary, the model of all contemplatives was absorbed in contemplating God and his law day and night. While in prayer her heart opened in adoration towards God for His salvific plan of sending a Messiah through a virgin revealed in the Book of Isaiah. Mary never imagined herself to be that virgin but rather desired to be her handmaiden since all of Israel was waiting in great expectation at that time. While in prayer the Archangel Gabriel appeared with the announcement from the throne of God beginning with his greeting. But Mary "was troubled at his word."
The glorious St. Gabriel, the Archangel, greeted Mary as χαῖρε, κεχαριτωμένη, ὁ κύριος μετὰ σοῦ, usually translated as ”Hail, full of grace, the Lord is with you.” These translations do not adequately express the fuller meaning of the angelic greeting. Gabriel hailed Mary as filled with God and every grace proper to God alone. We find this description of Mary foreshadowed in The Book of Wisdom 7:25-30 “For she is an aura of the might of God and her being radiates the purity and glory of the Almighty; therefore nothing sullied enters her. For she is the brilliance and splendor of eternal light and truth, the spotless mirror of the power of God, the image of His goodness. For she is fairer than the sun and she surpasses the brightness of every constellation of the starry skies of night. Compared to light she outshines it overshadowing the nights’ darkness, for wickedness can never prevail over Wisdom.”
This angelic greeting was never given to any mortal simply because everyone falls short of the fullness of every grace of God. All that is, except Mary. That is why the greeting disturbed her causing her to ask herself what manner of greeting might this be? Mary’s self-image was that of God’s lowly servant never estimating or comparing her worth or dignity for her heart’s focus was not on herself but on the awesomeness of God.
Naturally, she was troubled at Gabriel’s greeting and her heart discerned what spirit this might be. What spiritual agent greeted her? What suggestions might this spirit offer to influence her will? Mary knew that Almighty God willed communication between angels and humans. Bad angels attempt to lure us into their rebellion, while good angels endeavor to make us their compliant companions in obedience to the divine will.
"Discernment of spirits" is the term given to the judgment whereby it is possible to determine from what spirit the impulses of the soul emanate, and it is easy to understand the importance of this judgment both for self-direction and the direction of others.” (Catholic Encyclopedia)
God bestows on us His intuitive light “gratis data”, which He gave to Mary to its fullest. Mary knew that good angels come to intensify the love of God and that God Himself can flood the soul with light and joy.
This angelic greeting is the only occurrence in the entire Bible for the use of the Greek word κεχαριτωμένη. It is found in the ancient Greek language as an adverb of the Greek χαριτω, which means “to show grace to anyone” and as a gloss on έπιχαριττως, which is to be pleasing. Scholia on Aristophanes, Acharnenses, 867. (Liddell, Scott, Jones 946). The pagan Greek use is within Aristophanes’ third play written circa 425 B.C., where Dikaiopolis of Athens miraculously obtains peace with the Spartans, thereby ending the Peloponnesian war.
A parallel can be drawn to the situation in ancient Israel dominated and ravaged by Greeks, which was followed by that of the Romans. Mary would be the protagonist miraculously obtaining peace with Israel’s enemies. However, the Messianic kingdom is neither an earthy geographic one nor one of a political kingdom, but rather, the spiritual realm of every human soul warring with the world of sin, death, and the devil. In light of divine revelation we see the Lord’s choice of such a strategic word singularly used as a hapax legomena to dramatize and elevate Mary’s significance as essential for the miraculous peace of mankind.
So, the word κεχαριτωμένη suggests the purity and graciousness of Mary to everyone seeking their salvation from sin and eternal death.
The phrase "full of grace" in Greek is "plaras karitos," and it occurs in only two places in the New Testament; neither one is in reference to Mary. This unique Greek word κεχαριτωμένη, expresses the fullness of grace of God alone, which is not proper to any human being except Mary since she alone received all the salvific merits and graces of her son before he was conceived in her mother’s womb. “From the first instant of her conception, she was totally preserved from the stain of original sin and she remained pure from all personal sin throughout her life," (CCC, 508). Mary instantly understood after her initial disturbance that God was her Savior who kept her pure and filled with every good grace and blessing. That is why she exclaimed in her Magnificat, “My spirit rejoices in God my Savior”.
When Mary said "Yes" to God's salvific plan to be the mother of the Messiah at that very instant she became inextricably linked to every human being throughout all time. Learning Elizabeth her mother's sister was given the miraculous gift of a child she immediately made haste to visit her. We are all blood relatives to Mary through her son Jesus Christ, our Creator and Redeemer and seeing our need as she had that of her aunt she makes haste to help us too. Mary visits not only Elizabeth but her unborn child in her womb and her uncle Zachariah. Mary and Jesus, who at that time was living in her womb, visits everyone in Zachariah's house. Jesus and Mary also visit us in our needs and not only us but our whole house. Even if you live alone you were not born alone because you have parents and they too have family. Everyone is a member of their immediate family of blood relatives and also of the larger family of mankind. God never visits us to the neglect of others in our family, our home, but sheds his grace and peace on everyone who like Elizabeth, the infant St. John, and Zachariah joyfully await and greet Him and His mother with open hearts.
Mary felt both joy and sorrow hearing her elder cousin Elisabeth was in her sixth month. (Luke 1:36)
Mary was certainly delighted to hear Elizabeth was in her sixth month. She knew how disappointed she had been having been barren throughout her marriage with Zechariah. She knew what great joy Elizabeth must be experiencing. And as she was reflecting on that she realized after six months Elizabeth must be very tired. Her compassionate heart thought more about Elizabeth's needs than anything else. She deeply desired to help her manage the home and bring gifts and provisions. She immediately took stock on what she would need for the trip and sent for Joseph since he was her legal protector as her betrothed. She wanted to tell him about her role as mother of the Messiah and planned to tell him when they arrived at Zechariah’s house. She knew Elizabeth’s pregnancy was linked since the angel told her. Elizabeth learned the message given to Zechariah that their son would be the herald of the Messiah. Bust she did not know who his mother would be. Whereas Mary knew the mother and so went to her in great haste.
Mary makes haste to visit Elizabeth (Luke 1:39-56)
Ein Karem, the traditional site of the house of Zachariah and Elizabeth is located 90 miles south of Nazareth in a district of western Jerusalem just 4 miles northwest of Bethlehem. The journey from Nazreth to Ein Karem took about four days weather permitting. This theatre of Mary’s journeys in the heartland of the Jews Mary would make again and again in tears and sorrow.
Traveling roads without a large escort was dangerous and so risky that women were forbidden to travel alone. The poor always travelled with relatives so that a woman would be safe and secure from violence as she travelled through the hill country and once arriving to their destination would be safe going through the city. In Mary’s case her father Heli whom Saint Luke tells his name, us was in her complete charge under the law and her betrothed Joseph also bound under the law in the betrothal ketubah. For Jewish men in this period of history had both Greek and Hebrew names to be accepted among Gentile society and some by mere cultural absorption were very commonly multilingual speaking and writing Greek, Hebrew, Aramaic, and other foreign languages to survive in commerce and trade and establish themselves in society beyond mere social etiquette.
Mary and Joseph together with their servants and a few other relatives gathered to form their caravan for the journey bring provisions and a small flock of chickens and sheep for it was planned to celebrate Passover with them since Mary wanted to stay until Elizabeth gave birth that June.
Mary suffered the inconvenience of traveling through the hill country in order to visit Elizabeth. Mary brought with her money, foodstuffs, and various gifts and other provisions. Her betrothed, Joseph, accompanies her since he is her spouse and protector under Mosaic Law.
Mary makes haste aware Elizabeth is now over due to have someone help her. She quickly gathers everyone and everything together to get to Zechariah’s house as soon as possible. All her focus, energy and prayers are aimed at getting to help Elizabeth and share the joy of motherhood together.
Zachariah Mute as a Punishment. (Luke 1:18-20)
Zachariah was a typical Jewish priest who when confronted by the Lord himself face to face remained obstinate and incredulous at his words. This we see in the Gospel accounts when Jesus taught he was opposed by the priestly class. Yet before Jesus preached he sent his Spirit to change Zachariah and in turn also the high priest Simeon who knew of the miraculous vision after seeing Zachariah pale and mute and shaking to his core. Writing on a tabula rasa with a stylus he told him what had happened. This was the beginning of a new era of change within the Sanhedrin. Simeon now is open to the Messiah and awaits his arrival. He already learned from Zachariah that his son was the herald of the Messiah. So when infant St. John is circumcised and his parents present him in the Temple he awaited the Messiah knowing Jesus would appear with his parents six months later just as Zachariah told him since he had Mary and Joseph as guests in his home while Elizabeth was expecting.
Zachariah was serving his week to attend the altar of incense inside the Temple of Jerusalem during the great festival of Sukkot or sometimes called Booths, Tabernacles, or Ingathering, celebrating their harvest of crops in memorial of their forty years wandering in the desert. Jews celebrated this festival with lulav, i.e., a date palm frond bound together with aravah (aravot), i.e., willow, and with hadass (hadasim) which is myrtle. They also carried etrog, which is a citron or lemon. This particular holy day was perfect for singling out Zachariah since the feast has direct significance and rich symbolism of his personal life and that of his wife Elizabeth. Elizabeth was like her husband advanced in age beyond childbearing, which means she had to be about forty in Jewish culture since women typically were betrothed in their teens and many had their first born children when they were seventeen or eighteen. So Elizabeth was barren into her ripe old age probably was forty years of age the same significant number of years the Jews wandered through the desert in the Negev. The citron fruit symbolized her bitterness of shame and barrenness. However the date palm frond and the myrtle and willow symbolized the cure. For dates are sweet and so is the good news that she would conceive and bear a son. The myrtle and willow were well known and highly attested to medicines in antiquity and so the angel's news to Zachariah was the medicinal cure. With all this joy and festive celebration of a holy day during prayer receiving an angel with such wonderful news from God Zachariah was incredulous and was struck dumbfounded, i.e., mute until the child be born.
Mary was filled with excitement as she approached Zechariah’s house. She quickly entered and was greeted by Zechariah and Elizabeth. Mary could see he was mute and Elizabeth explained. Mary, immediately felt deeply for him aware of the pain, suffering, and embarrassment he must feel after learning he was made mute as a punishment by the Archangel Gabriel for his disbelief in God's divine plan.
Mary ever silent herself prayed Zechariah would have his faith increased and perfected. She knew his needs and immediately set herself to pray for him.
Elizabeth Reveals Mary's Pregnancy. (Luke 1:43)
“Why should the mother of my Lord come to me?”
The embarrassment Mary must have felt when Elizabeth calls her "the mother of my Lord" in front of Joseph. The deed is done. She must now find a way to explain - but instead she turns to God to do this. The woman of silence and mystery trust exclusively in God to resolve the situation.
Joseph contemplated divorcing Mary (Matthew 1:19)
Mary felt deeply for her betrothed who, feeling so unworthy to be her spouse and guardian of her and the Messiah considered divorcing her privately. Who among us is worthy to receive salvation, forgiveness, mercy, and to be given grace beyond all measure in eternal life in heaven? Her prayers for Joseph brought God's immediate remedy sending an angel to reveal to him His will to keep Mary as his wife.
Jewish marriages were often arraigned between families. The parents of Mary formed an agreement with family of Joseph. This marriage contract was and is still called a ketubah. This was a series of agreements giving the terms of marriage to be offered and accepted and then approved which gave sanction to the betrothal under Jewish law in a sort of giving the seal of approval it was in compliance with all the Torah. It was also known that some married couples at this time were known to live in total abstinence from sexual activity living in continence as a pure and spiritual couple.
This is why Mary expresses a right to know how such a birth can come to be when she is a virgin and does not know her husband. This makes no sense in any other interpretation. It is only normal, expected and natural for a young bride to show common sense and expect to bear a child so beautifully described by the archangel Gabriel. But Mary a consecrated perpetual virgin desired to understand God's request properly in order to give her consent legitimately since ignorance of or an incorrect or faulty understanding would void her consent. So Mary wished to be crystal clear about this and then gave her decision that eternal "Yes" Fiat voluntas tua.
This is why Joseph became frightened when he accompanied Mary to visit Elizabeth and Zechariah and they were greeted " In a loud voice she exclaimed: “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the child you will bear! But why am I so favored, that the mother of my Lord should come to me?" Joseph was also present hearing this and knew the child with Mary was by the Holy Spirit. They agreed to be celibate and now the ketubah is broken by God himself --- so in fear and trembling he wished to divorce her quietly! But God has other plans! God reveals that the ketubah is not violated and God did not break it because the only way the ketubah could be broken and violated is between the man and the woman breaking the agreements carefully agreed upon, recorded and blessed by both patriarchs of each family. And they did not! -- so the ketubah remained intact pristine, pure as Mary and Joseph, and the child is purity incarnate, the floodgates of God's saving infinite ocean of mercy.
Joseph and Mary obedient to Roman law and consequently went to Bethlehem, the city of Joseph's family to register according to law.
This is no mere occurrence of chance but intimately integrated and linked in a sacred bond to God's salvific plan.
The Census (Luke 2:1)
Quirinius served as governor in Syria in 7 B. C. an inscription in the Epigraphic Museum, Rome, tells of a man whose name is not intact served twice, which leaves him as the prime candidate since it has an external witness in Luke.
Joseph and Mary obedient to Caesar's law went to Bethel, the native town of Joseph, to record his household for the census. The hardship of an expectant mother journeying through the hill country for such a great distance caused Mary to suffer the stress of such a trip.
Chimham from Gilead
The so-called "Inn of Chimham" (Jeremiah 41:17), was originally probably only a khan or lean-to, i.e., a quickly made shelter, which in Hebrew is called geruth, or gidhroth “sheep pens” which he built for his possession of Bethlehem, which David gave to him as a reward for his loyalty in accompanying him to Jerusalem after the defeat of Absalom (1 Kings 2:7. It has been supposed that, considering the stationary character of Eastern institutions, it was in the stable of this inn or caravanserai that our Savior was born (Luke 2:7).
After this I shall return
and rebuild the fallen hut of David;
from its ruins I shall rebuild it
and raise it up again,
so that the rest of humanity may seek out the Lord,
even all the Gentiles on whom my name is invoked.
Thus says the Lord who accomplishes these things,
known from of old.
The Nativity reveals how God, the Omnipotent desired to become man being born a helpless, vulnerable, and dependent infant. He also revealed simultaneously and inextricably that He would only do this in Mary's arms, in Mary's care and that of St. Joseph.
Christ was born on Christmas Day, which the church celebrated these past two thousand years and documented on the calendar in the 4th century. The day of his birth is biblical but very very difficult for a non biblical scholar to understand it. How do we know the day he was born? Simple, but complex. When did Zachariah offer incense in the Temple? It was during his week in the priestly line of Abijah the eighth division of priests created by King David, with his lot falling in the first week of the seventh month called Tishri in Hebrew or its equivalent in the Gregorian calendar to September 18-24 well known as the third feast celebrated in Jerusalem Sukkot or Booths. We know through the divine revelation of the archangel Gabriel that God empowered him with the gift to sew his fertile seed with his wife Elizabeth the following day September 25, when his service was finished. Consequently we know Saint John the Baptist was born the following nine months June 25. So if he is 6 months older as Gabriel announced to Mary that Elizabeth was in her sixth month then Jesus was born December 25. Some Skeptics will argue that this is all contrived speculation and calculation regarding dates and times.
But we are not surprised by the miraculous arrangements of dates and times and that God in his creation of the universe established the winter solstice when the sun appears the brightest in the sky, providing this so-called star of Bethlehem, rather than some constellation or other star. For the Son of God has the brightest star in the sky, which gives us life and light like Christ himself. After all if God could not do this arrangement how can anyone be expected to be believe that God became flesh this way just as the Catholic Church has always taught through the texts of its sacred scriptures which all of Christendom calls the New Testament.
This is also clear in John's Gospel Prologue 1: 1ff "The first principle and cause of all created being and existence was the Word, and the Word eternally was with God, for the Word is God. He is the Life and Light of all created human beings. His Light outshines the darkness, which can never overtake it but succumb to His Almighty will and reign.
The earliest inscription dating 336 A.D. records December 25, as the official birthday of Christ. This continued through the Roman Empire throughout history. For example, the Holy Roman Emperor Justinian I codified the date December 25, as the official birthday of Christ since the 6th century as both a civil and a religious holiday.
The Magi we are told by Matthew came from the east. The sun rises in the east and sets in the west so it is only natural they followed the sun's path as they journeyed towards it going west.
But beyond all these considerations should be the first the apostles had who knew Jesus and his mother. They believed in him. They were among the devout Jews who awaited the Messiah. They awaited the virgin who would conceive and bear a son. When they found him they also found his mother. Luke 11:27 records how even the disciples and crowds who followed Jesus would publicly proclaim and exclaim “Blessed is the womb that bore you and the breasts that gave you suck.” Interest in Jesus’ birth was always an important issue from the very beginning and it is only natural. The Church always celebrated the birth of Jesus Christ and they had with them after the resurrection Mary who told them all about it as we read portions in the Gospel first written by Saint Luke and some years later on by Saint Matthew. But that is a subject for another reflection and one that finds much opposition going through the survey of studies in biblical literature.
No room in the Inn. (Luke 2:1-18)
“Sons have I raised and reared, but they have disowned me!” Isaiah 1 :3
Joseph of the House of David and his wife, Mary, who is also of the House of David are rejected by their own kinsmen at the Inn. This is contrary to the Jewish custom of hospitality, which welcomes strangers. Selfishness, disinterest, and cold heartedness cause such pain and suffering for those in need to be neglected.
No room in the Inn refers to the inn or cell of our hearts. Souls burdened by attachments cling to earthly attractions and are always in peril of being chocked to death by the weeds and thorns growing about where the Word of God, the seed, fell upon this portion of the path where dangers of these vices struggle to dominate you destroying every thought of self-mastery and keeping you from virtue. “The rich he has sent away empty handed,” says our Lady in her Magnificat. They are filled-up there is no more room. Keep your heart opened to Jesus Christ who is love itself. And when the heart is open hands open up and let go of material goods for the service of Christ and His Church and for the benefit and good of others. Open hearts spiritually mature seeing all things in their proper perspective in relationship to God and are detached from everything that is not God and His Mother, who alone is our gate to Him.
Born in a Stable (Luke 2:1-18)
“An ox knows its owner, and an ass its master’s manger.” Isaiah 1 : 4
Mary suffered the inconvenience and poverty of conditions and circumstances to bear her child in a proper place. The filth and odors of a stable confronted Mary and Joseph preparing a hygienic environment to birth the child and lay him to rest.
Indeed, how difficult for those who find it inconceivable the infinite supreme God whom Abraham met in his encounter as three men whom Abraham understood as the ehad the One True God revealing himself this way how any Jew could come to terms with this infinite God becoming born a man with body, soul, and his divine spirit remaining on earth in him and in heaven united with the Godhead. Yet Abraham himself would never have doubted this. Let us pray then that all sons and daughters of Torah open their minds and hearts and allow this amazing Lord of Light and Love enter and fill the cell of their heart with his salvific fragrance.
Wrapped in swaddling.
The paterfamilias of the House of David is Jesse, a weaver, father of King David. The family kept the tradition of being the finest weavers and embroiderers, a thousand year old tradition in which Mary was raised and taught how to weave, embroider, and loom yarns into the finest cloth. While visiting Elizabeth she and her cousin loomed or wove their sons their white linen swaddling cloths. These cloths were a cubit wide and 4 cubits long or eighteen inches wide by six feet long. Mothers would wrap their newborn children into swaddling to keep them warm, clean and prevent the child from scratching themselves and their mother.
Christ Lay in a Manger (Luke 2:1-18)
In December 2019 Pope Francis had the late antique period relic of the wooden manger sent to the Terra Sancta Museum, which serves as a sort of sacrarium for relics of uncertainty relegated to this hallowed storage place since they were venerated and cherished by the faithful for centuries. The main reason for this is that the Holy Land venerates the manger of stone in the Church of the Nativity, which has a more certain provenance and deserving of veneration, which it has also through many centuries.
How Mary suffered to place her child in a manger as a crib. God wished this she knew. This sign showed her that her child would be the nourishment for our souls, broken and fallen, which rendered us much like the beasts around them.
The circumcision of Jesus took place by law on the eighth day in the 10th Jewish month of Tebet, January 2 on the Gregorian calendar.
The High Priest in the Temple of Jerusalem, Simeon ben Boethus, served from 22 B. C. to 7 B.C., was the priest who served as the mohel and performed the circumcision of Jesus. Simeon demonstrates a profound understanding of the Messiah and his destiny as well as that of his mother and all the children of Abraham. Simeon's eyes were opened to Jesus as the Messiah since he served as the mohel and performed the brit milah or circumcision ceremony, which required metzitzah b'peh (Hebrew: מְצִיצָה בְּפֶה), or oral suction on the wound according to the Talmud, Tractate Shabbos, 133b.  Consequently, Simeon was the first person to partake in the Eucharist tasting the blood of Christ and eating his flesh. Simeon obviously believed in spirit, angels, and the resurrection from the dead. Herod deposed him because of family plots to seize his throne, which Simeon failed to warn him about.
In the 11th month of the Jewish calendar or Shebet, on February 3 in the Gregorian calendar, Mary met Hannah an elderly widow who lived consecrated to God in the Temple at Jerusalem. She served to assist mothers with their ritual bath in the miqvah, which was required by Mosaic law forty days after giving birth. She could not help but see Mary was still a virgin and came to understand she is the virgin who was prophesied to be the mother of the Messiah.
The Prophecy of Simeon (Luke 2:34-35) This is the same Simeon ben Boethus who was present when Zachariah received his vision in the Temple from the Archangel Gabriel that he was to father the forerunner of the Messiah, despite his age and his wife having been barren. So Simeon already served as mohel for the infant John the Baptist, and so was expectant to see the infant Messiah.
Joseph and Mary obedient to God's law presented Jesus in the Temple.
The Magi were in Jerusalem when the infant Christ was presented in the Temple in that same city. Their paths nearly crossed. Simeon refused to tell Herod where the Messiah was prophesied to be born. Herod seeing his refusal accused Simeon of conspiracy against him in a plot to have his life and so he deposed him. Returning to the Temple God orchestrated a happy meeting. Simeon had been waiting to see the infant Messiah once more and his parents whom Zachariah had already told him about and caused him to visit and circumcise Jesus on the eighth day. Now thirty-two days later Simeon was overwhelmed with joy. "Now you let your servant go in peace."
The Holy Family forced into political exile fled into Egypt. (Matthew 2:13-14) Mary and Joseph suffered the loss of their homeland, homes, families, friends, life with all its possessions and their work at home.
Six weeks after Jesus was born at Bethlehem Magi came to worship the king whom they knew was born according to their astronomical calculations and sightings in the sun.
The night the Magi had slept near the Holy Family after their initial visit Matthew tells us the Magi were warned in a dream by an angel to bypass Herod and return home by an alternate path that would evade them completely. Joseph too had a similar dream from an angel warning him to flee into Egypt for the child was being hunted by Herod. What is obvious is that the Holy Family was surprised by their visit and asked how they chanced finding them. The Magi no doubt told them they saw the sun in the orbit around winter solstice and was guided to Judea naturally thinking the newborn king must be in the imperial palace. Arriving at court Herod was humiliated and embarrassed that he had no new issue and wondered very perplexedly to himself who could possibly be his rival! He immediately summoned the high priest and Sanhedrin president, and its members, his wise men, to inform him and his guests where the newborn king would be born. They told him Bethlehem. He could barely restrain himself from ordering his army to march on that town and lay siege to it slaughtering every inhabitant. Keeping a public face he asked the Magi who had been journeying for some long time now just when the sign first appeared. Obviously it had first appeared December 25th 9 BC, three months after the annunciation of the angel Gabriel to Zachariah regarding the grace of the birth of a son in his and his wife Elizabeth's old age, who would be the precursor or herald of the Messiah. Consequently Herod had his calculation handed to him unwittingly by the Magi, who later would regret that, and so he used this when he ordered the slaughter of all boys 2 and younger. The Magi left them and Herod sent no scout to trail them and waited several days before giving his order to attack Bethlehem. As the Magi traveled toward Bethlehem rays of sunbeams pointed the very spot to where Jesus lay in a crib in a relative's house. The Holy Family were able to locate Joseph's relatives and found them home and were invited to stay. Sharing their story the Magi were unwittingly alarming Joseph and Mary opening them up to remark that Herod would neither take this lightly nor lying down and that he'd be up to something. Certainly the thoughts flooding all their minds gave rise to the need to discern God's will for which they prayed. God many times reveals to us in our sleep and in their cases it was certain.
The Massacre of the Innocents (Matthew 2:16-18)
“Let my eyes stream with tears day and night, without rest, Over the great destruction which overwhelms the virgin daughter of my people, over her incurable wound. If I walk out into the field, look! Those slain by the sword” (Canticle of Jeremiah 14:17-21)
Herod's son Archelaus ruled, and Joseph was afraid to return to Bethlehem (Matthew 2:22). They remained in Egypt until 5 A.D., when Jesus was twelve going as customary to Jerusalem first for Pesach, i.e., Passover.
Mary and Joseph knew what it was like to live in a powerful and cruel society. They lived in fear of persecution and punishment from rival authority. They returned to Israel but could not yet go into Jerusalem or any part of the kingdom of Judea because of Archelaus.
Jesus most probably grew up his first twelve years in Alexandria (modern Iskandria) Egypt in the Jewish district called the Museum. It was there the great sages of the Temple were educated and undoubtedly where Jesus was educated as well. When they returned to their native land it was upon the occasion of Passover most probably 5 A.D. when he was 12 years 3 months old. [born December 25 BC 7, based on Zecharias week offering incense and Simeon ben Boethus as High Priest (d. 7 BC) It was in Egypt that Mary learned from the Pakistani and Indian foreigners who were brought into Egypt by the Romans to cultivate cotton, which was not indigenous, how to weave in herringbone, which was their technique loomed on a ground loom. The difference between the swaddling cloth woven in typical Israel method which became the adult males sash cloth called a sudarion is distinctive from that of the man's white linen four corner garment in Hebrew called a takrikim (see Gamaliel I) with tzitziot, (now in modern times radically modified and shortened called a tallit). These were the clothes of a son of the Torah who received them from his parents at age twelve.
Jesus remained in Jerusalem though his parents left among their friends and relatives journeying to their family home in Nazareth, Galilee.
Surely Mary and Joseph spoke to Jesus instructing him where to go to join in the caravan and meet up with them on the way back home. Our heavenly Father instructed Jesus otherwise and so he remained in the Temple in order to enlighten the rabbinic schools current with new ways of interpreting the law with authentic justice and to understand something about his messianic mission without revealing himself as the messiah.
He visited the Temple daily and sat with the rabbis and Sanhedrin listening to them and asking them questions. We are given a very clear portrait of Jesus characterized like Socrates the great Greek philosopher who taught asking questions. This is clear since Luke carefully chose his words telling us that Jesus asked them questions and they were amazed at his answers. Students who do not know the subject matter ask questions to learn. Wise men ask questions to discern how the person they are talking with thinks about a subject. After giving Jesus their viewpoint he apparently discussed what they said giving his viewpoint for which we are told they were all amazed at his answers.
Jesus is lost in the Temple at Jerusalem (Luke 2:41-52)
After the massacre of the children at Bethlehem Joseph and Mary kept Jesus concealed out of sight from those who would do him any harm. Now, his missing status has brought their worse nightmare alive.
The memory of Simeon's prophesy "Your own heart a sword shall pierce" was continually in Mary's thoughts while searching those three days wondering where Jesus was, or if he was safe and sound, or if he had fallen victim to evil hands.
"Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets and stone those sent to you" Luke 13:34 We recall these words spoken by Jesus and found in the first Gospel ever written, Luke, assisted by Mary, the Mother of God. This particular first clause of the saying of Jesus was probably an adage at the beginning of the first century. Mary must have had these very thoughts worrying about Jesus' safety.
This was the dark night of the senses Joseph and Mary went through feeling the pain of loss of the presence of God since Jesus was now absent. The second sign of the dark night of the senses is the tremendous difficulty concentrating in prayer since they were overwhelmed with worry. The third aspect of the dark night of the senses is the burning desire to seek and find God and love Him. This dark night of the senses was their first passion to suffer for Jesus.
"Son, how could you have done this to your father and me? Jesus was immediately taken to tenderness happy to see his mother yet saddened to see that she and Joseph had suffered so much from worry, fear and grief that something tragic might have happened. After all he knew Simeon warned her he would be a contradiction and meet with martyrdom, and that her own heart too would be pierced. And so now it has and so sorrowfully. Jesus was taken to heart and looked at mother with loving eyes and ever so gently with a lump in his throat rhetorically posed this question : "How is it you were looking for me?' Surely his heart was rent and eyes brimmed with tears. And again another query in rhetorical form : "Didn't you know I would have to be found in my father's house? He was heartbroken to have saddened them so. Yet Jesus knew the Father was preparing them for that great day. This was their early rehearsal. For Jesus it was a foretaste that impressed in his mind and heart lifelong. He could see all through the following years they were always on the look out, worried and preoccupied about his whereabouts and safety. They loved him so tenderly knowing in their home God dwelled as a man and as servants did nothing in life but adore him and care for him to the utmost. So the sorrow they felt was overcome by their joy that day finding him safe and sound in the temple. But life from now on would always be bittersweet. They could not go back to Egypt now, there was no running away. The time for safe times is now over and the greatest adorers of God, Mary and Joseph would suffer all the way to placing him in his own tomb, freshly wrought and hewn by his own hand. That is why he became known as "Joseph of the "Greatest Disciple" (in Galilean dialect Ari'mathea (fem. case), and that was Mary.
Yet, the innocent Mary and Joseph did not quite hear and understand the message, not to worry, "I will be safe in my father's house." "When the time comes I will let you be the first to know." Surely he must have reminded them countless times not to worry. But they knew they were warned by the Father through the angels and dreams, and Simeon, countless times these thoughts ran through their minds in parental form thinking above the child's thoughts knowing what is best for him and what is in his best interest despite his counsels contrariwise. They were not merely his parents, but his guardians, his home, his hearth, his family that adores him perfectly. It was Jesus lair. Later on he would compose a ditty comparing the safety of his family life to that he would have in Judea : "though foxes have lairs, meaning Herod, and birds have nests, meaning the temple priests, the son of man has nowhere to lay his head, in Jerusalem society, that is.
Mary and Joseph know what it is to have lost a child. This time he was found after three days of stressful searching. The second time witnessing the most indescribable horrific torturous death by execution. Parents who loose a child have them as their companions and guides to wait things out in prayer and for those who have permanently lost a child of any age they are there to be their support. We admire the parents of St. Maria Goretti, a young virgin raped and murdered by an adult man who after raping her stabbed her many times savagely until she died. The Goretti family forgave her murderer and in the process the man converted and died a holy death living in a monastery. So no loss of a child will be an end in itself for Joseph and Mary can bring God's grace to all parents who mourn like they did for the Goretti family.
Prepare a road for the Lord. Every valley shall be filled and hill leveled. Saint John was not talking about geography or topography but about our interior heart the same as Jesus taught about cleansing the cup on the inside. Prepare then the inner cell of your heart to encounter the Trinity united with love to love and to be love
John the Baptist is arrested.
Saint John the Baptist only asked the question "Are you the one or must we look for another?" simply because he was imprisoned and could no longer see what was happening on the outside of his jail cell, and only heard the twisted reports from his jailers that Jesus was a drunkard, a glutton and one who is implicated as one that is a grafting corrupt politician taking bribes because his best friends are all tax collectors. John already had certainty about Jesus previously pointing him out to Andrew and John saying "Behold the lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world". But locked up hearing vicious rumors suffering in the dark with stench and rats and poorly fed and abused, alienated not being released by the Messiah he began to doubt. This is really a very very important narrative for the spiritual life of everyone who has certain fixed ideas thinking the Messiah is coming to save the day, my day! But God works in mysterious ways and allows our days of expectations to fail miserably because we got things all wrong, mixed up with others ideas rather than discerning God's way. This was true even for St. John whom Jesus said : "no greater man ever born of a woman . . . " yet Jesus himself was born of a woman, and we know Jesus did not mean John was greater than himself, true God and true man. So we need to carefully reflect on these passages in a deeper more spiritual manner like a contemplative Carmelite or any other prayerful person who understands Jesus words "Unless you hate mother and father . . and so on . . you cannot be my disciple." This is exactly what this narrative is all about. John has perhaps his father Zacharias' ideas circulating in his thoughts, or the ideas of Qumran, or his mother Elizabeth's notions might not have been so different than Salome, the mother of Saints John the evangelist and James, who asked Jesus to place her sons on thrones next to Jesus in his kingdom. We must cleanse our inner cup of all attachments to what we think and strip ourselves of any self importance in God's plan of salvation because He is the savior and we are merely the saved who believe in Him and follow his Gospel.
"Nazareth! Can anything good come from there?" (John 1:46)
This quote from the Apostle Nathaniel reflects the sentiment in Judean society towards Nazarenes. This bias against Galileans among the Judeans was the result of the track record Galilee had for producing revolutionaries, false messiahs, and trouble for Judea. It was hurtful for Mary to see herself, her son, and husband be labeled as troublemakers from Galilee in Judean society.
Nazarenes attempt to throw Jesus off a cliff (Luke 4:29)
Mary was cut to the heart to see her townsmen bent of killing Jesus.
Jesus predicts his Passion and death the first time. (Matthew 16:21-23; Mark 8:31-33;)
They have no wine. (John 2:3)
Mary's compassionate heart felt deeply for the newlyweds discovering they ran out of wine. She was a guest of great honor being the great-aunt of the groom, Simon, whom later on Jesus would give him a new name, Peter.
Salome asks Jesus to place her sons at his right and left side in heaven. (Mark 9:33-37; 10:35-40)
Herod was not a practicing Jew but celebrated Dionysian cultic worship which gave free license to sexual gratifications which led him to live a debauched life marrying his brother's wife.
The iconography of this Herodian oil lamp in the Terra Sancta Museum is Dionysian with asinose motif, that is a cluster of grapes and the ivy leaf motif. The latter was used as a brand on the Jews under the tyrant Ptolemaic Philopater which the Maccabees revolted against. Nicanor proposed to erect a Dionysian temple on the site of the Temple of Jerusalem. Plutarch mentions the rite among the Jews in Quaestiones convivial.4.6. Tacitus, History, seems to have conflated Jews with Christians denying this since they were too diverse. Nice example. Some or all of the designs seem impressed by stamped molds.
Herod beheads John the Baptist.
Many disciples leave Jesus. (John 6:60-66)
Mary was very sorrowful to see so many disciples leave her son after he taught them about the Eucharist.
Scribes murmur Jesus blasphemes. (Matthew 9:3)
Jesus accused by Pharisees of keeping bad company of sinners and tax collectors. (Matthew 9:9-10)
Jesus accused of being a sorcerer in league with the devil. (Luke 11:15)
Nazarene family of Jesus thinks he is insane. (Mark 3:20)
Nazareth was cosmopolitan with rich culture from Greek and Roman influences and this in turn influenced religious sentiments. The piety and preaching of Jesus among his own townsmen was very mixed with some who considered him crazy. It was hurtful to Mary knowing not only her townsmen but also especially family members thought Jesus crazy. Since Mary was the perfect disciple and mirror of her son these comments were certainly hurled against her as well.
Woman caught in adultery. Mary grieved when Jews picked up stones to execute sinners.
Nicodemus is secretly a disciple for fear of the Jews. (John 19:38)
*30. Place as final solution putting plots first
Caiaphas' judgment regarding Jesus was that : "it is better for you that one man die for the people than that the whole nation perish.” (John 11:50)
When Mary learned of Caiaphas' plan to kill Jesus she was pierced through with shock and horror.
"He came to His own and His own did not receive Him." (John 1:11)
"The stone rejected by the builders has become the cornerstone." (Psalm 118:22; Matthew 21:42; Acts 4: 11; Mark 12:10; 1 Peter 2:7)
Jesus predicts his Passion and death a second time. (Matthew 17:21-23; Mark 9:30-32)
Jesus not welcome at a Samaritan village (Luke 9:51-56)
Jesus accused of being a glutton and a drunkard. (Luke 7:34)
Rich young man departs Jesus (Matthew 19:16-22)
Jesus condemns Capernaum. (Matthew 11:23)
Jesus considered filthy since he violates ritual purification customs. (Matthew 15:1-20)
Pharisees and Herodians protest Jesus entering the Temple by exiting. (Mark 3:1)
Jesus accused of breaking and violating the Sabbath. (Mark 3:2) Earlier in Luke 6:6-11 they bait him on a Sabbath with a man with a withered hand.
Jerusalem Temple Jews tried to stone Jesus (John 8:49)
Mary was horrified that the Jewish leaders in Jerusalem wanted to have Jesus stoned to death.
Jesus prophesied the destruction of the Temple of Jerusalem (Luke 21:5-38; Matthew 24:3;)
Jesus accused of abolishing the law. (Matthew 5:17)
Pharisees take advantage of vulnerable people. (Mark 12:38-20)
Jews attempt to trap Jesus (Mark 12:13) Luke 6:6-11 “But they became enraged
and discussed together what they might do to Jesus.”
Jesus predicts his Passion and death a third time. (Matthew 20:17-19)
The death of Lazarus. (John 11:1-44)
Jesus wept hearing Lazarus died. Mary was also close to Lazarus and shared in the grief of his passing.
Jews laugh at Jesus. (Luke 8:53)
Jews demand that Jesus give a sign. (Matthew 12:38-45; 16:1-4; Mark 8:11)
Woes against Scribes and Pharisees (Matthew 23:13-36)
see all six woes 955-956
Jesus condemns Chorazin and Bethsaida. (Luke 10:13-15)
Jewish Temple leaders corrupted the Temple like a band of thieves. (Matthew 21:13)
Jesus condemns the traditions of the Pharisees (Mark 7:1-13)
Jesus predicts destruction of the Temple of Jerusalem.
Belligerent Jews challenge and provoked Jesus demanding by what authority does he act? (Matthew 21:23-24)
“they challenged me and provoked me. Although they had seen all my works.” Psalm 95
Jesus reveals to Mary and Joseph his time has come and that Joseph should begin to carve his tomb in Jerusalem.
Why was this ointment not sold for three hundred denarii and given to the poor?" (John 12:5-6)
Jesus reveals the anointing is for his death.
Conspiracy to betray Jesus (Matthew 26:14-16)
Jesus laments over Jerusalem (Matthew 23:37-39)
Pharisees get false witnesses to testify against Jesus. (Mark 14:53-56)
One of you is about to betray me (John 13:21, Matthew 26:21, Mark 14:18)
Mary and the other women relatives of the Apostles were present during the Last Supper. Mary suffered hearing her son say that one of his intimate friends was about to betray him.
The devil entered Judas
“Before the cock crows, Peter, you will deny me three times.”
Judas Betrays Jesus (Luke 22:3-5)
One of Mary's spiritual sons, Judas, betrayed Jesus for money.
Jesus suffers his agony in the garden of Gethsemane.
The agony in the garden was the dread Jesus had to become the "Man of Sin" taking every "No" to God into his very depths and making it his own. God sent an angel to strengthen Him showing Jesus every soul saved by this heroic act of death on the cross to purify the souls of mankind in order to enter the heaven. Most wrongly think that the passion and all its tortures and physical cruelties were the worse part of Jesus task to save mankind and the cosmos. The worse suffering of Jesus is right here in the garden of Gethsemane taking the black filth and stench of sin into the Holy of Holies.
Jesus worried about his apostles begging them to wake up and keep vigil watch with him.
Jesus asks Peter to pray that he not enter into temptation. Yet minutes later he attempts to slay Malchus.
Jesus is arrested and beaten by the Jewish Temple guards.
“They take me by surprise and strike me and tear me to pieces.” Psalm 35:15
Garden of Gethsemane a fight breaks out.
Peter Denies Jesus (John 18:13-27) cutting off the ear of Malchus!
Since Simon-Peter was a zealot and refused to allow his beloved Master and Lord be arrested he drew his sword in his wild temper like his grandfather. When Malchus, a member of Annas’ inner circle and key member of the Sanhedrin and arresting party was led by the traitor Judas into Gethsemane to point him out using the traditional Jewish kiss of Shalom Peter spotted them. And so Peter struck Malchus intending to kill him in a single stroke. But the angels of God intervened so that he merely grazed him severing his ear. Jesus instantly yelled out “Stop!” Loudly telling Peter “Those who live by the sword shall perish by the sword!” This was not the first time Jesus told us that since nonviolence is the foundation of his teaching. But this was his last time to tell and because of that we never forgot it again.
Seeing Malchus so frighten and wounded, Jesus lovingly looked into his eyes while picking up his severed ear and instantly healed him. Malchus was in double shock. First he was still stunned being so powerfully struck by a sword from a burly fisherman, and the second shock was the unconditional love of gentle Jesus who healed his body and soul with his single stroke of his blessed and saving hand.
Malchus left the arresting party and remained alone in the garden that night while the rest went off to the home of Annas and Caiphas. Weeks later he joined the apostles and other disciples and was made a deacon in the infant Church. His brother became a priest. Malchus, who came to arrest Jesus and have him crucified, was the very first among us to pay with his own life giving witness to the Sanhedrin about Jesus being the promised Messiah. Just a few months ago in October of this year 2019 the Master and Lord of all sent his angels to inspire my contemporary Jewish clansmen to uncover in excavation the very site of a Church built in honor of St. Malchus, at Ramat Beit Shemesh. History, in the Acts of the Apostles, records him not by his Hebrew name but his Greek, Stephan, his Greek pet name meaning “Crowned” as a royal poet reciting the Messianic promises throughout history, and as a royal “Crowned” martyr for Christ. Ironically it was the president of the visiting Damascene Sanhedrin named Saul who had Malchus cast out of Jerusalem and stoned as a heretic blasphemer. This same Saul would follow in Malchus’s footsteps and take the Greek and Roman name Paul. Malchus’s brother as I said became a priest and took his brother’s body and brought it home some 18 miles southwest to bury it where the Church stands today.
One of Mary's spiritual sons, Peter, denied Jesus three times.
Jesus punched in the face by Temple guard when he gave his first reply.
Jesus was still arrested and went on to be condemned by Caiphas and Annas. After they tore their garments in condemning hatred for Jesus they then cracked Jesus on his skull producing an orbital rim fracture of the superior wall above his left eye and then gouged that eye out mocking his teaching "If your eye causes you to sin pluck it out!" (Matt 18:9) Undoubtedly, they also mocked him doing likewise making him a eunuch for the kingdom. (Matt 19:12)
Jesus condemned by Sanhedrin in mock trial. (Matthew 26:57-68)
They had a guard bring them a red-hot brass stylus and branded Jesus on the forehead with the letter “Xi” (see above Greek letter) signifying the “Cross” (Xylon) and the “Gallows,” for all condemned prisoners were to be turned over to the Roman authorities and executed by crucifixion under Roman law. The brand is where you get the phrase "He is a marked man" meaning a man condemned to die.
Prisons were typically unkempt, rat infested, damp, dark, dank, and stank. Prisoners were chained together and tortured randomly taking the victim by surprise. After meting out sporadic torture and punishment prisoners were exhibited during festivals for public scorn, condemnation, and finally executed.
Jewish Temple guards blindfold Jesus striking him repeatedly on his face.
The sudarium used to blindfold Jesus by the Jewish guards who beat him mercilessly all night before handing him over to Pontius Pilate is now in Oviedo, Spain. This is half of the sudarium used to wrap the infant Jesus by Mary laying him in a manger. Mothers wove this in traditional Jewish weave with S-twist linen yarn, unlike the foreign weave of the Shroud now at Turin which Mary learned while in exile for twelve years living in Alexandria, Egypt. The temple guards took Jesus' sudarium off his waist since Jewish men wore them as a sash and money belt with their tachrichim (Hebrew: תכריכים), i.e., long white rectangular four cornered linen garments (amphimaschalos) with tzityiot in each corner (modern modified Jewish garment now called a prayer shawl or tallit). This tachrichim is Jesus seamless garment which today we call the Shroud at Turin. After removing Jesus' sash cloth, i.e., his sudarium they tore it in half using only half to blindfold Jesus as they played a mimic child's game of mockery called Kollabismos "Play the prophet" "Who struck you now". Each time they punched him, or whacked him with a rod. The darkest blood stain on the left covered his left eye socket since that eye was gouged out.
Jewish Temple guards beat Jesus with iron rods.
The Jews hand Jesus over to Roman authority to have him executed.
When the Temple guards brought Jesus into custody of the Roman guards he was already bloodied, beaten unrecognizable, and near fatally wounded with a fractured skull and blinded in his left eye. The long tradition of Christian art typically show Jesus without a scratch before Pontius Pilate since the excoriating and inhumane beatings he received by the Temple guards somehow were misunderstood and were skipped over since the Roman lashing and crowning with thorns seemed all the more severe and egregious.
The dialogue between the Jewish and Roman authorities was a conflict of power, control and dominance. When the dialogue between Rome and Jesus is viewed Christ is a submissive servant, not rebellious. Pilate in all justice could not find any cause for capital punishment demanding execution.
When Jesus was tortured in the Roman prison there were three other prisoners present who witnessed him silent while being cruelly and severely beaten. Two of them were infamous villains one named Barabbas and the another unnamed who was caught with him. A third prisoner was a common thief, who observing Jesus was converted to see that he was no ordinary man but a man who could endure extreme punishment with grace and dignity while being ridiculed as a king of another world. Later on as two of these convicts hung on the cross alongside Jesus the one who saw the holiness of Christ will beg him for mercy when he comes into his kingdom.
The Romans did not hesitate to torture prior to execution. Typically these prisoners were given a severe beating with fists, kicks, and rods, being flogged with the flagella, stabbed with pins, reed pen or stylus, and sometimes also branded on their forehead and might also receive a the punishment of putting out the eyes, ripping out the tongue, knocking out their teeth, or cutting off ears and genitals. (cf. Galen, On Passions and Errors of the Soul, translated by Paul W. Harkins, 38-39)
And they shall scourge him, and put him to death: and the third day he shall rise again. (Luke 18:33) Mary heard her son's prediction about his Passion, Death and Resurrection, time and time again whenever he reminded his apostles and disciples about it. For Mary it was a reminder harking back to the prophesy of Simeon when Christ was an infant presented in the Temple at Jerusalem that he was destined to be a sign of contradiction, rejection and be pierced. Simeon also told her that she too would have her heart pierced by this suffering and the tragedy of his Passion.
“For he scourges and then has mercy” Tobit 13:2
Jesus was scourged in our place and since he paid our debt he has shown us his saving mercy. “He scourged you for your iniquities, but will again have mercy on you all.” Tobit 13
Having blinded Jesus, fatally cracking his skull, swelling his left cheek with brutal beatings with rods and fists while blindfolded with half his sudarium (now in Oviedo), delivering him covered head to toe in purple bruises, and now with a glaring branded forehead Xi as a condemned prisoner Pilate had little or no choice but to comply with the tyranny of the Sanhedrin and their cronies brought before the Roman bench demanding on the top of the lungs “Crucify him!” “Crucify him!” Had Pilate not handed Jesus over to the Jews saying "Crucify him yourself!" Jesus would have died from the wounds from the Jews alone. But God's plans are mysterious.
Jesus was given a second round of brutal torture from the Romans who satirized him as a king and one soldier shaving the left mustache off Jesus' left side with his pugio, a dagger all Roman soldiers kept as a sidearm then carved the word REX on his left upper lip either with that blade or the pin of the fibula used on his sagum, or cloak and then crowned him with a thorny local prickly weed, gundelia tourneforti, and it seems bound it to his head with hot molten wax whose dark drips are clearly visible along Jesus' right side of his head and face on the Shroud.
The Romans now played their version of Kollabismos "Play the prophet" "Who struck you now" crowning him and having each soldier of the centurion guard striking him repeatedly on the head spitting at him mocking him in fake genuflections scorning him. "Your own people want you dead Jew King!" For this their derision was heighten by mimicking the betrayal of Julius Caesar when he was stabbed to death. Instead of daggers or pugiones they struck him with rods. Jesus was already with a concussion having been brutally beaten by the Jews. Now the Romans. Our Lord could scarcely endure much more.
Release Barabbas! (Matthew 27:20-21)
Mary suffered to hear the crowd loudly yelling for the release of Barabbas the criminal rather than see her son released.
They shouted all the louder "Crucify him!" (Mark 15:14)
Mary was cut to her very depth hearing her people demanding Jesus be executed in the most disgusting and horrible manner by crucifixion.
“Let his blood be upon us and on our children.” (Matthew 27:25)
We have no king but Caesar! (John 19:15)
Mary remembered Gabriel's revelation "his reign will have no end." (Luke 1:32-33) She beheld her royal son, the King of Creation, now denied by the Temple leaders and totally rejected.
I will therefore punish him and release him.” (Luke 23:22) Mary heard Pilates decree to physically punish her beloved son with scourging and beatings. Her heart was pierced. When the Roman guards removed him into Fortress Antonia her mind raced with fear for Jesus knowing how brutal and cruel these guards could be. She stood outside with John waiting to catch sight of Jesus when he would exit, but instead, they heard the horrific sounds of the raucous inside with guards swarming on Jesus beating him, whipping him and the sounds of Jesus weeping, shouting, and crying in agony.
Jesus takes up his cross.
“We give glory t you, Lord, who raised up your cross to span the jaws of death like a bridge by which souls might pass from the region of the dead to the land of the living.” (St. Ephrem, Sermo de Domino nostro, 3-4, 9: Opera edit. Lamy, I, 152-158)
Jesus and Mary on the Via Crucis. (Luke 23:27; Mark 15:40)
Mary and a large group of women disciples met Jesus as he carried his cross. Mary wept most bitterly since her weeping was mirrored in the words of Jesus to the women who were present "Daughters of Jerusalem, do not weep for me; weep rather for yourselves and for your children." (Luke 23:28) By obeying Jesus these women are weeping for their children imitating Mary, who weeps for her son. Jesus hold Mary as the model to imitate as he did before in Matthew 12:48-50.
St. John of the Cross citing Mat 24:19 "Woe to them who will be with child in those days, and to them who will be nursing." in Ascent of Mount Carmel, 1.10.2 sees this passage as revealing how appetites weaken a person's virtue comparing them to shoots sprout around a tree sap its nutrients and strength.
They strip Jesus and divide his garments casting lots.
The Crucifixion - Mary stood standing near the Cross. (John 19:25) Mary helplessly watched her son suffering, writhing in horrific pain, loud cries and tears, chocking, gasping for breath.
Today you will be with me in paradise. (Luke 23:43) Mary hearing these words wept. She knew Jesus was about to die and would be gone. Her sorrow turned to joy thinking about salvation opened up to a common thief and criminal signaled in salvation opened up to everyone.
The jeering crowd scoffs at Jesus with disrespect and ridicule. (Mark 15: 29-32; Matthew 27:32-44) Mary had to bear the added torment of the arrogant sinful crowd as they exhibited their hatred and rejection of Jesus.
"It is finished."
"Father into your hands I commend my spirit."
“Death had its own way when our Lord went out from Jerusalem carrying his cross; but when by a loud cry from that cross he summoned the dead from the underworld, death was powerless to prevent it.” (St. Ephrem, Sermo de Domino nostro, 3-4, 9: Opera edit. Lamy, I, 152-158)
The Deposition of Jesus From the Cross - ( Ἀποκαθήλωσις) (John 19:38-42) Mary cradles her dead son in her arms her heart broken with grief, shock and horror.
The Burial of Christ. (John 19:41)
Mary laid her son in his white linen tallit, i.e., his garment she wove for him for his twelfth birthday when he became "Son of the Torah" customarily used by all Jews as their burial shroud. Her tears mixed with Christ's bloodstains now preserved at Turin as his funerary memorial testament that ingeniously conserved a photographic negative of him post mortem. The swaddling cloth she also wove while visiting Elizabeth in which she wrapped Jesus at birth is now used as the cloth that covered his head in the tomb. She echoed her son's words "My soul is sorrowful to the point of death." (Matthew 26:38)
Judas commits suicide by hanging. (Matthew 27:1-10)
Mary already overwhelmed by grief now must bear the shocking horror of the suicide death of Judas.
Roman guards bribed to claim disciples took the corpse of Jesus. (Matthew 28:11-15)
Prosopagnosia is a condition where the brain cannot recognize faces of people like St. Mary Magdalene and the disciples on the road to Emmaus would could not recognize his face Easter Sunday morning.
Thomas incredulous. (John 20:24-31)
Mary was hurt to see Thomas doubt the credulity of the apostles who eyewitnesses Jesus' post resurrection appearance to them.
Temple leaders imprisoned Peter. (Acts 5:17-26)
Mary wept when she heard her spiritual son Peter was arrested. She knew they wanted to kill him just as they did to her son Jesus. Mary prayed and he was miraculously freed.
There broke out a severe persecution of the Church in Jerusalem,
and all were scattered
throughout the countryside of Judea and Samaria,
except the Apostles.
Devout men buried Stephen and made a loud lament over him.
Saul, meanwhile, was trying to destroy the Church;
entering house after house and dragging out men and women,
he handed them over for imprisonment. (Acts 8:1-8)
St. Paul, as Rabbi Saul, persecuted the Church and had many Christians arrested and tortured. The persecution of the Church caused Mary much sorrow.
Stoning of Stephen (Acts 7:54-60)
Mary wept to see her spiritual children persecuted and Stephen become the first martyr victim.
James killed by Herod (Acts 12:2) Mary sees her dear spiritual son, James, killed. Mary understands the Church is modeled after her son, Jesus, and like him will be crucified in every age. Jesus taught they would be handed over just as he was (Matthew 10:17, 19)
Peter imprisoned by Herod. (Acts 12:5)
Mary sees her dear spiritual son, Peter, like Jesus, again imprisoned. She grieves in deep sorrow for him.
“for the Lord listens to the needy and does not spurn his servants in their chains.” Psalm 68
“In times past there were false prophets among God’s people, and among you also there will be false teachers who will smuggle in pernicious heresies. They will go so far as to deny the Master who acquired them for his own, thereby bringing on themselves swift disaster. Their lustful ways will lure many away. Through them, the true way will be made subject to contempt. They will deceive you with fabricated tales , in a spirit of greed. Their condemnation has not lain idle all this time, however; their destruction is not asleep. Did God spare even the angels who sinned? He did not! He held them captive in Tartarus – consigned them to pits of darkness, to be guarded until judgment. Nor did he spare the ancient world – even though he preserved Noah as a preacher of holiness, with seven others, when he brought down the flood on that godless earth. He blanketed the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah in ashes and condemned them to destruction, thereby showing what would happen in the future to the godless. He did deliver Lot, however, a just man oppressed by the conduct of the unprincipled in their lust. (day after day that just one, good as he was, felt himself tormented by seeing and hearing about the lawless deeds of those among whom he lived.) The Lord, indeed, knows how to rescue devout men from trial, and how to continue the punishment of the wicked up to the day of judgment.” 2 Peter 2:1-9
The Lord knows how to rescue the devout from trial and to keep the unrighteous under punishment for the day of judgment, and especially those who follow the flesh with its depraved desire and show contempt for lordship.
Bold and arrogant, they are not afraid to revile glorious beings, whereas angels, despite their superior strength and power, do not bring a reviling judgment against them from the Lord. But these people, like irrational animals born by nature for capture and destruction, revile things that they do not understand, and in their destruction they will also be destroyed, suffering wrong as payment for wrongdoing. Thinking daytime revelry a delight, they are stains and defilements as they revel in their deceits while carousing with you. Their eyes are full of adultery and insatiable for sin. They seduce unstable people, and their hearts are trained in greed. Accursed children! Abandoning the straight road, they have gone astray, following the road of Balaam, the son of Bosor, who loved payment for wrongdoing, but he received a rebuke for his own crime: a mute beast spoke with a human voice and restrained the prophet’s madness.
These people are waterless springs and mists driven by a gale; for them the gloom of darkness has been reserved. For, talking empty bombast, they seduce with licentious desires of the flesh those who have barely escaped from people who live in error. They promise them freedom, though they themselves are slaves of corruption, for a person is a slave of whatever overcomes him. For if they, having escaped the defilements of the world through the knowledge of [our] Lord and savior Jesus Christ, again become entangled and overcome by them, their last condition is worse than their first. For it would have been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness than after knowing it to turn back from the holy commandment handed down to them. What is expressed in the true proverb has happened to them, “The dog returns to its own vomit,” and “A bathed sow returns to wallowing in the mire.” 2 Peter 2:9-22
In St. Luke's Book of Acts of the Apostles we find that Peter was martyred sometime after the Council of Jerusalem in AD 49, since there is total silence about Peter following it. Although no canonical record has survived about Peter's death beginning a century later legends about it began to emerge.
Paul thwarted at Philippi (1 These 2:2)
"Fresh from the humiliation we had suffered at Philippi" Mary suffered together with the apostles in their sacred commission to spread the Gospel and increase the Church throughout the whole world.
Matthew 7:15; 24:11, 24. Beware of false prophets who come to you in sheep’s clothing while underneath they are ravenous wolves.
Rebels within the Church
“18 Children, it is the last hour;[d] and as you have heard that antichrist is coming, so now many antichrists have come; therefore we know that it is the last hour. 19 They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would have continued with us; but they went out, that it might be plain that they all are not of us.” 1 John 2:18-19
“. . . savage wolves will come among you, and they will not spare the flock.” Acts 20:29
We have seen the savagery of the wolves in the Church’s sex scandals, and in efforts to confuse doctrine, devotion, and truths of every sort. St. Paul VI was given the gift to verbalize this casting it into an exhortative maxim “It is as if from some mysterious crack, no, it is not mysterious, from some crack the smoke of Satan has entered the temple of God.” June 29, 1972 homily.
“And from your own group, men will come forward perverting the church. To draw the disciples away after them. Acts 20:30
Henry VIII divided the Church in England transforming it into the Church of England and he being King is its head. Fr. Martin Luther, OSA, divided the Church undermining the authority of the Holy See, corrupting Catholic doctrine and leading cities and massive defection from the Catholic Church. There are also more subtle divisions on the parochial level that seep into married lives of the parish itself. Those that divide put their faith in man in themselves, and not in Christ and His Church. They remind us to be ever vigilant of our own devotion and fidelity and loyalty to Jesus Christ and His Church. Christ demands of us to accept without hesitation all the doctrine of the Catholic Church and to know it, study it, reflect on it, and practice it with devotion, not half-heartedness or mere lip service. We were not called to be nominal Catholics, but evangelizers of all whom we meet even if it is only a warm friendly greeting shining the light of Christ into their hearts
1 John 2:18 "Many deceitful men have gone out into the world, men who do not acknowledge Jesus Christ as coming in the flesh. Such is the deceitful one! This is the antichrist! Look out that you yourselves do not lose what you have worked for;"
1 John 2:21-22 “Anyone who is so “progressive” that he does not remain rooted in the teaching of Christ does not possess God . . . If anyone comes to you who does not bring this teaching, do not receive him into your house; do not even greet him, for whoever greets him shares in the evil he does.”
The Corruptors of the Faith
“Another parable he proposed to them, saying: The kingdom of heaven is likened to a man that sowed good seed in his field. But while men were asleep, his enemy came and over sowed cockle among the wheat and went his way. And when the blade was sprung up, and had brought forth fruit, then appeared also the cockle. And the servants of the good man of the house coming said to him. Sir, didst thou not sow good seed in thy field? Whence then hath it cockle? And he said to them: An enemy hath done this. And the servants said to him: Wilt thou that we go and gather it up? And he said: No, lest perhaps gathering up the cockle, you root up the wheat also together with it. Suffer both to grow until the harvest, and in the time of the harvest I will say to the reapers: Gather up first the cockle, and bind it into bundles to burn, but the wheat gather ye into my barn.” Matthew 13:24-30
The Super Apostles
2 Corinthians 11:5
The Scum of the Earth
1 Corinthians 4:13
The Great Divisions of the Mystical Body
The Age of Discrimination, Bigotry, and Hate Crimes
Divorce is the result when human culture takes the sacred and antiseptically neutralizes it reducing it into contractual terms that are social mores with civil courts to execute and ratify their terms.
The Age of Human Slavery, Trafficking, and Disposable Human Life
Reproductive organ mutilations
18th Century Slave Trade killed well over 15 million
The Age of False Enlightenment, or the New Age, or New World Order
Falsehood the new age truth
Faithful exchange the true faith for new ideologies of the powerful as in the days of the Maccabees. This we shall see through the remaining chapters of this book is the common thread until the great deception at the end of human history.
The Age of Annihilations, Exterminations, and Genocides
The planned orchestrated and execution of the destruction and eradication of any ethnic, racial, religious, ideological, political, or national population.
The Age of Great Wars
The false notion that technology has advanced war efforts to kill greater numbers is dispelled through the study of history.
Lushan Rebellion killed 36 million
Mongol Wars killed 60 million
Yuan Wars killed 30 Million
Taiping Rebellion killed 40 million
U. S. Civil War
Death Camps Auschwitz, Dachau
Soviet Cold Wars
What technology has provided in the mass murder effort for the diabolically insane tyrants is the speed of execution and of course its global viewing via instantaneous media access.
The Age of Nuclear Devastations
Armor piercing arrows and ballasts
Stirrups balanced archers
Gun-powder in the 10th century A.D.
Canon in the 13th century
Death-Gas in the 1840’s
Alfred Nobel 1860 dynamite
The Death Ray in 1920
The Quest for Kryptonite
Oppenheimer Atom Bomb
Bigger Better Bombs
Francis Visit to Japan 2019
The Age of False Liberations
The Age of Prometheanism
Test tube babies
In vitreo fertilization
Mass hysteria – War of the Worlds 1930
Cyborgs and Robotics
Bionic Men and Women
The Age of Murder and Abortion
The Great Abomination of Mass Murders where any given society demands its legal right to execute by death any unborn. Those societies becomes loveless, heartless, merciless, and life is viewed as cheap.
The Age of Terrorism and Hostages
The Age of Lawlessness, Weapons and Irresponsibility
The American “Wild West” and Sergio Leone’s so-called “Spaghetti Westerns” popularized the theme of uncivilized geographic regions where social laws were either not yet established or else were weak and controlled by the mighty who were lawless men. But lawlessness in its reality is not limited to times past but very much alive in the present.
Mass shootings in Churches and Schools
The Age of Recklessness, Piracy, Plundering, and Pollution
The Age of Poisoning the Earth and its Fruits
The Age of Church Scandals
Ah! Sinful nation, people laden with wickedness, evil race, corrupt children! They have forsaken the Lord, spurned the Holy One of Israel, apostatized.” Isaiah 1 :
“I have written something to the church; but Diotrephes, who likes to put himself first, does not acknowledge my authority. So if I come, I will bring up what he is doing, prating against me with evil words. And not content with that, he refuses himself to welcome the brethren, and also stops those who want to welcome them and puts them out of the church. Beloved, do not imitate evil but imitate good.” 3 John 9-11
Forgiveness Sunday of St. John Paul II
The Age of Doubt
Know this first of all, that in the last days scoffers will come to scoff, living according to their own desires and saying, “Where is the promise of his coming?* From the time when our ancestors fell asleep, everything has remained as it was from the beginning of creation.” They deliberately ignore the fact that the heavens existed of old and earth was formed out of water and through water by the word of God; through these the world that then existed was destroyed, deluged with water. The present heavens and earth have been reserved by the same word for fire, kept for the day of judgment and of destruction of the godless.
But do not ignore this one fact, beloved, that with the Lord one day is like a thousand years and a thousand years like one day. The Lord does not delay his promise, as some regard “delay,” but he is patient with you, not wishing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance. But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, and then the heavens will pass away with a mighty roar and the elements will be dissolved by fire, and the earth and everything done on it will be found out.
Since everything is to be dissolved in this way, what sort of persons ought you to be, conducting yourselves in holiness and devotion, waiting for and hastening the coming of the day of God, because of which the heavens will be dissolved in flames and the elements melted by fire. But according to his promise we await new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells.
Therefore, beloved, since you await these things, be eager to be found without spot or blemish before him, at peace. And consider the patience of our Lord as salvation, as our beloved brother Paul, according to the wisdom given to him, also wrote to you, speaking of these things as he does in all his letters. In them there are some things hard to understand that the ignorant and unstable distort to their own destruction, just as they do the other scriptures.
Therefore, beloved, since you are forewarned, be on your guard not to be led into the error of the unprincipled and to fall from your own stability. But grow in grace and in the knowledge of our Lord and savior Jesus Christ. To him be glory now and to the day of eternity. Amen.
The Great Deception and Apostasy
Catechism of the Catholic Church, Numbers 675-676
Before Christ's second coming the Church must pass through a final trial that will shake the faith of many believers.574 The persecution that accompanies her pilgrimage on earth575 will unveil the "mystery of iniquity" in the form of a religious deception offering men an apparent solution to their problems at the price of apostasy from the truth. The supreme religious deception is that of the Antichrist, a pseudo-messianism by which man glorifies himself in place of God and of his Messiah come in the flesh.576
The Antichrist's deception already begins to take shape in the world every time the claim is made to realize within history that messianic hope which can only be realized beyond history through the eschatological judgment. The Church has rejected even modified forms of this falsification of the kingdom to come under the name of millenarianism,577 especially the "intrinsically perverse" political form of a secular messianism.578