For People Seeking Wholeness

Adoration-of-the-Magi

To think of goodwill from God to the world is to think universally.  I remember fondly from my old church in Portland, Oregon called Imago Dei (Image of God) how the slogan was “to take the whole gospel to the whole world”.  That summed up much of what is intended in the brighter spots to Christian history.

But Christian history has to have a template and God gives one in the gospel.  As wonderful as it was for Peter to be the first person to preach the gospel post-resurrection that is not the first example touched by the presence of the Divine.

And behold, the star that they had seen at its rising preceded them, until it came and stopped over the place where the child was. They were overjoyed at seeing the star, and on entering the house they saw the child with Mary his mother. They prostrated themselves and did him homage. Then they opened their treasures and offered him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh. (Matthew 2:9-11).

These magi were spiritual seekers.  They had a mixed bag of what had been figured out before discerning the star of Bethlehem but it seems clear that they had humility going for them quite well.

They were overjoyed at seeing the star—- Why does it say they were overjoyed at the end and not at the beginning of their journey?  It is is simply because there was a sense of fulfillment in that the star had taken them to the fulfillment of all their desire to see this great king.  This fulfillment, like any true spiritual fulfillment, is in the discerning of Jesus and his will.

on entering the house they saw the child with Mary his mother—- With the perspective we have now of semitic peoples for centuries leading up to that time we can apply what we know of the role of the queen mother.  The recognition of hierarchy in the royal courts of those people had a place for the queen mother that was higher in distinction than the king’s wife.  Joseph was not chopped liver but they knew that the infant was a fully endowed king and thus no figurative crown on his head.  Mary, however is named because she would be the gaberah (great lady) as the queen mother would be know.  Matthew had the proper theological hindsight to note it this way.

They prostrated themselves and did him homage— This is where discerning how Jesus is Lord turns into action.  Seek him.  Find him.  Worship him.  In prostrating they lay themselves down on the ground in vulnerability and surrender.

opened their treasures and offered him— Recall the words of Jesus where he said where your treasure is there is your heart also.  This is their gateway action example for us on going from servile fear like a slave to relationship.  Relationship is the heart of the gospel.

gifts of gold—- St. Ireneus stated in Against Heresies that gold is a symbol of royalty, frankincense is in the latria (worship) of God and myrrh Jesus’ humanity.  It is also noteworthy according the Ignatius Study Bible that myrrh was used to anoint levitical priests for service.  In summary, this interpretation could point to those symbols of speaking of Jesus as God incarnate and as a royal priest.

I began this commentary about the whole gospel to the whole world.  It is fitting to point out two things that we learn from this passage.  If one were to take away one element of the three gifts of the magi you would have an incomplete teaching of the completeness in Jesus being Lord and Savior.  No divinity means that his atonement has a limit to at best a year since his priesthood and sacrifice would be of a finite being.  No royalty means that Jesus cannot reign in our hearts much less the world.  And if one were to take away Jesus’ humanity we would not be seeing a chance of adoption in Christ through the gospel.  All of Jesus must be presented by his Church and it must be unwavering.

The second thing I would point out that just as there is a holistic vision of Jesus to be appreciated there is a holistic treatment by God to the world that is implied.  These magi were easterners but they were led by a miracle and the rays of truth in their hearts to encounter Jesus the Son of David.  On the first day that Jesus drew non-amniotic fluid breath there is a chance for the world to come and adore him.  He is always the same and never changing.  The invitation each day, each season is there to give him our all as he gave his all.  It is no coincidence that Bethlehem means house of bread and Jesus described himself in the bread as broken for all who would have salvation in him.

What is stopping us in turn from the chance to come and adore Jesus?  If we see him as distant, who moved?  And if you see a star guiding you out of your comfort zone towards Jesus, even if it is that small voice in your heart, what is lost and gained if you go with that?  These are the questions worth the asking in all ages.

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Shadows of Things To Come

HInts

Dear Reader,

Below is my paper for my second class in the Kino Catechetical Institute.  For those who are unfamiliar about typology, it is looking at one thing that foreshadows what is fulfilled later.  This is a term used for where Old Testament stuff points to New Testament.  The words in bold are from the assignment itself and I had to write comments that support each thesis statement. Enjoy!

Thesis #1

Typology is is integral to the relationship between the Old Testament and the New Testament because Christians read the Old Testament in the light of Christ crucified and risen.  

  • Christians therefore read the Old Testament in the light of Christ crucified and risen. Such typological reading discloses the inexhaustible content of the Old Testament; but it must not make us forget that the Old Testament retains its own intrinsic value as Revelation reaffirmed by our Lord himself.105 Besides, the New Testament has to be read in the light of the Old. Early Christian catechesis made constant use of the Old Testament.106 As an old saying put it, the New Testament lies hidden in the Old and the Old Testament is unveiled in the New (CCC129).
  • Abraham offered his only son who was conceived in the context of his covenant to God.  He reasoned that God was able to raise even from the dead, and he received Isaac back as a symbol” (Hebrews 11:19).  Also it should be noted that Isaac carried his own wood for the altar of sacrifice while Jesus carried his cross for his sacrifice that was followed through with to the end.
  • In the Old Testament there are physical signs that point to the sacramental life that is lived out in the Church: the New Testament quhal (assembly).  The circumcision that comes with Abraham points to the circumcision of the heart when one is baptized per the gospel.  The Passover meal is fulfilled in the Eucharist.
  • There are Christophonies that could be interpreted in the Old Testament.  `The rock that is present in the wilderness is a shadow of things to come in Christ as indicated in 1 Corinthians 10.
  • The righteousness of God, forensically applied to Adam and Eve after the fall when the Lord slaughters animals and clothes them with skin points to the righteousness of God in Christ that is appropriated in the New Covenant.  “My flesh is true food, and my blood is true drink” (John 6:55).

Thesis # 2 

Man encounters the Holy Trinity in the liturgy.  

  • Liturgy is a term used for work in the economy of salvation.  Therefore one could say that there was a liturgical work done in creating man since it is said, “Then God said: Let us make[e] human beings in our image, after our likeness” (Genesis 1:26).
  • Also in the work of creation is shows that the Spirit of God hovered over the waters.  Every time God spoke in that context Jesus was the reflection of that spoken work because he was the Logos, or Word, that finalized the Father’s will.
  • When Moses encounters God in front of the burning bush he is in front of the I AM.  The voice is of the Father, the fire is the Holy Spirit and the fact that this agriculture burns but is not destroyed is like Jesus being the Bread of Life that is not consumed to nothing.
  • In the liturgical act of levitical sacrifice, the lamb slaughtered before God the Father is a shadow of things to come with Jesus as the Lamb of God.  The Holy Spirit came down as a cloud over all liturgical habitations in the Old Testament.
  • Hundreds of years before God introduced himself as the I AM, the patriarchs, especially Abraham, “called on the name of the Lord” in context of building altars (Genesis 12:8, 13:4, 21:33, 26:25).  His action with the altar pointed to the fullness of Deity.
  • “There he built an altar and called the place El-Bethel, for it was there that God had revealed himself to him when he was fleeing from his brother” (Genesis 35:7).  This pointed to a context of thanksgiving that is fulfilled in the revelation of God in Christ.  Here Jacob builds the altar that points to the pattern of thanks as shown in the todah meal in Hebrew or eucharistia in the Greek.

Thesis #3 

Covenant relationship is significant to the one’s understanding of the Old and New Testaments.  

  • The progression of covenants through the Bible show a larger and larger scope of application.  God steps up an area of influence in stages that correspond to covenants (see Understanding The Scriptures page 15).
  • God related in covenant to Abram When the sun had set and it was dark, there appeared a smoking fire pot and a flaming torch, which passed between those pieces [split pieces of animals sacrificed for covenant]. On that day the Lord made a covenant with Abram” Genesis 15:17-18a”.
  •   A covenant is implied later when the Red Sea is parted for Israel to walk through under the leadership of Moses who was a type of Christ. The parts of the Red Sea are like the pieces in the Abraham passage above.  They were baptized into a new covenant (1 Corinthians 10:2).
  • Because Abraham understood he had a covenant with God that was actualized with Isaac, he had hope that God would have Isaac carry on where he had uncertainty and stress when he had to send Ishmael away.  No covenant, no peace with the son of the bondwoman.
  • When God communicates to Israel his faithfulness he assures how longstanding his presence is due to the covenant with the patriarchs.  This is significant because God reinforces that covenant goes beyond death.  Israel even applies this to the Gibeonites and their descendants and lets them live in peace.