Sisters of Mercy of Holy Cross

HC Blog

1st September 2014

Important events in the LIfe of Jesus of Nazareth

INTRODUCTION

This is an attempt to answer - to the extent possible - the frequently asked question of our contemporaries: "IF GOD IS LOVE AND ALL POWERFUL, WHY DOES HE ALLOW SO MUCH INJUSTICE, EVIL AND SUFFERING IN OUR WORLD?" The answer is based on what I have learned from Sacred Scripture, the tradition the Church and the ongoing revelation through the great Mystics and Saints of the Catholic Church as also my own life experience.

This article is all about the Divine origin of Jesus. It describes the intervention of Almighty God in his Incarnation and early Childhood, his deeds during his public life and his Passion, Death and Resurrection after three days. It tells us about the work of God's Holy Spirit, revealing the mystery of the Trinity, one God in three persons: the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.

During his three decades on Earth

Jesus Christ was born in Bethlehem about 2000 years ago to the Virgin Mary. Nine months earlier, Angel Gabriel had asked her whether she was ready to become the mother of the Son of God. After Mary agreed, the Holy Spirit came upon her and the baby Jesus started growing in her womb. The Angel also told her that her elder cousin, Elizabeth, was six months pregnant. Mary hastened to the hill country, to the home of Elizabeth. On Mary's greeting, the baby in Elisabeth's womb leaped with joy. Mary stayed with Elizabeth for three months until the child, "John the Baptist," was born.

When Mary returned to Nazareth, Joseph, who had been engaged to her, doubted her and planned to forsake her privately. However, Angel Gabriel came to Joseph to tell him that the child in Mary's womb was from the Holy Spirit and that he must give him the name Jesus, "because he will save his people from their sins." Then Joseph took Mary to his house and hence became the foster father of the Son of God. In this way, the Eternal Word - the Second Person of the Most Holy Trinity - the Son of God became 'the Son of Man.'

It was the will of God, the Father, that his Son should accept Human Nature so that he might redeem the human family from the power of Satan, from selfishness, sin and death. Jesus was born in Bethlehem, the city of king David. During that first Christmas night, God sent an Angel to give this good news to the shepherds. Then the choirs of Angels sang, "Glory to God in the highest and peace to his people on Earth, for today the Saviour is born to you."

God also revealed the birth of Jesus, the king of the Jews, through a star, to three Magi (Wise Men) from the East. They came from far to Jerusalem to search for him. They asked king Herod, where the future King of the Jews was born. Herod asked the scribes and they replied, "In Bethlehem, David's city." Herod decided to kill the child and told the wise men to inform him as soon as they found the child. The star led the Magi to the place where the child was, and they adored him and offered gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh. The Angel told the Magi, not to return to Herod, but to go back home by another way. The Angel told Joseph to flee from Herod into Egypt. Therefore, Joseph immediately took the mother and the child Jesus to Egypt. After the death of Herod, Joseph was directed by the Angel to return to his homeland. The little family returned to Nazareth in order to live there.

Joseph was a carpenter by profession. Mary, who had been educated in the temple from the age of three, taught Jesus the Sacred Scriptures.

When Jesus was twelve years old, his parents took him along to Jerusalem for the prescribed temple visit. Afterwards Mary and Joseph started back towards Nazareth with other villagers, but in the evening they found that Jesus was not in the group. They searched for him for three days and finally found him teaching in the temple of Jerusalem, where he was discussing the Scriptures with the scribes. Mary said to Jesus, "Child, why have you done this to us? Your father and I searched for you in great sorrow." Jesus replied, "Why did you think you have to search for me? Did you not know that I must be in my Father's house?" They did not understand him, but Mary kept his words in her heart. Jesus then returned with them to Nazareth and was obedient to them.

After Joseph's death, Jesus carried on the carpentry work in order to earn a living for himself and his mother Mary. Meanwhile, John the Baptist began to preach in the desert and baptized the people in the Jordan. Jesus was about thirty years old when he left Nazareth. He went to the Jordan river to be baptized by John. John recognized him and said, "It is I, who should be baptized by you." Before that meeting, John had already told his disciples that the one, whose way he was preparing, was so great that he was not even worthy to touch his sandals. Jesus insisted that it was the Father's will that he should allow himself to be baptized by John. John baptized Jesus and saw heaven opening itself and the Holy Spirit coming down on Jesus in the form of a dove. He heard the voice of the Heavenly Father, "This is my Beloved Son, listen to him."

Immediately after his baptism, Jesus was led by the Holy Spirit into the desert, where he fasted and prayed for forty days and forty nights. Jesus was hungry. Satan tempted Jesus and told him to change stones into bread to satisfy his hunger, to throw himself down from the top of the temple, so that angels could save him and people would consider him as sent from heaven and would willingly accept him. Then he showed Jesus all the riches of the earth. These he would give him, if he knelt down to adore him. Jesus rebuked satan, quoting Sacred Scripture and satan left him.

Sometime later, John pointed out Jesus to two of his disciples, John and Andrew, and told them, "This is Jesus the Lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world." At this, both disciples followed Jesus till he turned and asked them, what they wanted. They asked him, "Master, where do you live?" Jesus replied, "Come and see". They went with him and remained with him for the rest of the day. They, in turn went, full of enthusiasm, to their brothers and told them: "We have found the promised Messiah, for whom our nation has been waiting since so long". Jesus then chose both of them and ten others and invited them to remain with him. He taught them by word and example the values of the Kingdom of God.

When Mary and Jesus were invited to a wedding of one of their relatives, Jesus also took his disciples along for the marriage feast. Mary noticed that they were short of wine and told Jesus about it. She advised the servants to do whatever Jesus would tell them. Jesus directed them to fill six big stone jars with water. Then he changed the water into excellent wine and told the servants to bring some to the host and serve it to the wedding guests. This was the first miracle by which Jesus revealed his divine power to his disciples.

Jesus taught his disciples, and all who wanted to hear him, the secrets of the Kingdom of God. He worked many miracles in their presence. Because of this, the disciples accepted him as the promised Messiah. Jesus proved that he was the Lord of the Laws of Nature, not only through the miracle in Cana. He walked on the surface of the water and stilled the waves and the storm. He ordered the fish and the fig tree and they obeyed him instantly. By the multiplication of a few loaves of bread and some fish, he fed thousands, who had followed him into far off places, in order to hear his words and be healed by him. Jesus knew what was in the human heart. Of all the people who came to him, he knew what they really thought and felt. He healed all types of diseases. He had power over sin, satan and death. He raised from death to life a young man and gave him back to his widowed mother and also a dead girl to her sorrowing parents. He called his friend Lazarus out of his tomb, after he had been buried already for four days. Later, he would accept his own death freely, as foretold in the scriptures, and will rise again after three days. Through his life, teachings, and deeds, and by his suffering, death and resurrection, he saved mankind. He enabled all human beings everywhere until the end of time, to transform their own physical death into an eternal existence.

Many Jews believed in Jesus and recognized him as the long expected Messiah, but most of the religious leaders of the Israelites, Pharisees, Sadducees, scribes and the high priest hated him. They constantly tried to accuse him of breaking the law and wanted to kill him. Jesus stood against those oppressors of the poor. Instead of helping the common people, they used man made rules and traditions to oppress them. Jesus healed and taught with divine love and power, especially those whom the powerful of his time despised, such as the tax collectors, the lepers, the sick, women, children and the poor.

He healed the sick on the weekly holiday -the Sabbath. He said the Sabbath was made for man and not man for the Sabbath. He proclaimed openly and plainly that he is the Son of God and therefore, one with his eternal Father. And we? We are adopted children of God in and through Jesus.

When the disciples asked Jesus, how they should pray, he taught them the prayer, "Our Father."

THE LORD'S PRAYER

Our Father, Who art in heaven,
Hallowed be Thy Name. Thy Kingdom come.
Thy Will be done, on earth as it is in Heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread.
And forgive us our trespasses,
as we forgive those who trespass against us.
And lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from evil. Amen.

Most of the leading Jews considered Jesus to be a blasphemer, because he made himself equal to God and he said that he was the Lord of the Sabbath. Towards the end of the public life of Jesus, the leading Jews managed to win over Judas Iscariot, one of the apostles, so that he may betray Jesus on the Passover Night and help them to capture him.

Jesus knew what was in the heart of Judas Iscariot, yet he bore with him for three years without exposing him, but tried to win him for His Kingdom. During the Last Supper, which Jesus celebrated with his apostles, he washed their feet, including those of Judas. This way, he gave them an example of how they too must love, forgive and serve one another. Jesus celebrated the Pasha Meal as a thanksgiving and farewell meal.

Towards the end of the meal, he changed the Bread into his own Body and Wine into his own Blood. He directed them to eat and drink from it. By this ongoing miracle, he wanted to gift himself as spiritual nourishment to people of all lands, generations and times. The Eucharist became, in this way, the spiritual nourishment of his followers. By his Passion, Death and Resurrection and with the gift of his Body and Blood in the Eucharist, Jesus fulfilled his promise: "I will be with you till the end of time."

After the Last Supper, Jesus went with his apostles to Mount Olives to pray to his Father for strength during his coming passion. He knew all that would happen to him and his agony was so great that he sweated blood. But he said to his Heavenly Father, "Not my will, but yours be done". Meanwhile Judas, the traitor, reached the place with the Roman soldiers and the temple guards sent by the high priests carrying weapons and lanterns. Judas kissed Jesus as a sign for his capture. Jesus asked, "Whom do you seek?"When they replied, "Jesus of Nazareth", he answered, "I am He." That moment, they moved back and all of them fell to the ground. Jesus continued that there was no need for them to come with weapons to capture him as though he was an outlaw. Since he had been teaching publicly in the temple daily, they could have imprisoned him then. Peter in defense cut off the ear of Malchus, the servant of the high priest, with a sword.

Jesus ordered him to put his sword away. He healed the wounded servant of the high priest and said to Peter that he was ready to drink the cup of suffering, which his Father was offering him. If he was in need of help, he could ask the Father and he would send 12 legions of Angels," but how could the scriptures be fulfilled?" At this, the disciples fled. Jesus allowed himself to be captured and ill-treated as they took him to the High Priest Caiaphas. Among the many, who accused Jesus, there were no two witnesses agreeing. Jesus was silent. Therefore, the high priest ordered him to state under oath, whether he is the Messiah, the Son of God. To this, Jesus answered with a clear "yes" and added that he would sit at the Right Hand of God. Caiaphas then decided that no further witnesses were needed since they had heard the blasphemy from his own mouth. They declared that he had to die and then started to hit Jesus and spat at him.

Since the death penalty could only be given by the Roman Governor, they took Jesus to Pilate early morning and demanded from him to have Jesus crucified. The accusation of blasphemy would be of no use there, so they presented Jesus to Pilate as a political rebel. They told him that Jesus had declared that he was the Messiah, which means 'the King of the Jews' and even 'the Son of God'. When Pilate questioned Jesus, he replied that he was indeed a King, but that his kingdom was not of this world. He added that he was born to give testimony to the truth and that those who love the truth, would listen to him. When Pilate declared Jesus innocent and tried to free him, they shouted back, "You are no friend of Caesar if you set this man free, for he had made himself a king." They added that they had no king but Caesar. Fearing a riot and the disfavour of Caesar, Pilate then, washed his hands and said it was not he, but they, who were guilty of the blood of this Innocent one and handed him over to them to be crucified.

Jesus, who had told Pilate during the trial, that he would have no power over him if it was not given to him by God, now endured in silence his condemnation to death, his terrible scourging, and the crowning of his head with thorns and the insult and mockery that followed. They put a red mande around him in mockery as the King of the Jews and hit him repeatedly. He accepted the cross, which he was made to carry up to Calvary on his wounded shoulders. On the way, he fell three times under the cross in sheer exhaustion. He met his sorrowing mother, who was united with him in his surrender to the Father's will for mankind's redemption. He responded to the service of Veronica and to the weeping women of Jerusalem and accepted the help of Simeon to carry his cross right up to the top of the hill. He was deprived of his garment and was nailed to the Cross. During three hours of indescribable death agony on the cross, he forgave his torturers, saying, "Father forgive them, for, they do not know what they are doing." He also promised Paradise to a repentant criminal, who had been crucified with him. Finally, he gifted to John and to all of us, his Mother, who was standing under the Cross. To his last words belongs his surrender: "Father into your hands I commend my spirit."

At the moment of his death, the heavy velvet curtain in front of the Sanctuary in the Temple was torn in the middle from top to bottom, the earth shook, and darkness covered the earth. The Roman captain pierced the side of Jesus with a lance, and the last drops of blood and water flowed from that wound. The captain confessed, "This was indeed the Son of God."

Joseph of Arimathea asked for the dead Body of Jesus from Pilate and together with Nicodemus took him down from the Cross and placed him in his mother's arms. Then they put him in a new tomb in the garden and rolled a big stone before the entrance.

The high priest demanded soldiers from Pilate to watch the tomb because Jesus has said several times that he would rise from the dead after three days.

After the Sabbath, early morning the next day, the women came to the tomb with costly ointments and herbs. This was the first Easter Sunday. They found the big stone rolled away from the entrance and the tomb open, but Jesus was not there. An Angel told them that Jesus had risen from the dead as he had promised. Then Jesus appeared to Mary Magdalena and made her the first messenger of the Resurrection to his disciples and the Risen Lord spoke the following words to her, "I GO TO MY FATHER AND TO YOUR FATHER, TO MY GOD AND TO YOUR GOD."

For forty days, Jesus appeared to his apostles and disciples at different times and in different places. He ate with them to convince them that it was Jesus Himself and not some ghost. With his glorified Body, he came and went through closed doors.

On the 40th day, Jesus made an appointment with his apostles and disciples, men and women, about 500 of them, on the mountain of his Ascension into Heaven. He ordered them to remain in Jerusalem to wait for the Holy Spirit, whom he would soon send from the Father. Then he spoke the words of commission: "Go then to all people everywhere and make them my disciples; baptize them in the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit and teach them to obey everything I have commanded you. I will be with you always to the end of the ages. "After He had blessed them, he parted from them and was taken up to Heaven. Then they were filled with great joy, as they returned to Jerusalem to pray in the Temple. Then they went with Mary, the Mother of Jesus, to the Upper Room, where they had eaten the Passover meal with Jesus. They prayed, read the Sacred Scriptures and waited for the Holy Spirit. After nine days, on the first Pentecost Sunday, the Holy Spirit came upon them in the form of fiery tongues, which settled upon each one of them and filled them with joy and power.

All fear had disappeared and they proclaimed Jesus as the only Redeemer of the World and the High Priest of the New and Eternal Covenant. Peter spoke to the people who had come together because of the mighty Pentecost storm. All heard him speak in their own mother tongue. On that day, 3000 Jews were baptized. The disciples began to teach with courage and conviction what they had heard and seen during the past three years. They had the authority to work miracles just as Jesus had done. They rejoiced when they were persecuted for the Name of Jesus and later on, they gladly died as Martyrs.

This is a very short story of the life of Jesus of Nazareth during the three decades of his life on earth, which is incomparably more important for
the people of all continents and generations, than the lives of all
saints and sages of the whole human history. Jesus has done all things well and has fulfilled every promise just as he will fulfill his promises to all of us. He will come again in glory to judge the living and the dead. In the Sacred Scriptures, especially the New Testament, one can find the deeds and teachings of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, including his founding of the Church on Peter. The present 266th successor of St. Peter is Pope Francis.

The New Testament also informs us of the history of the young Church, the conversion of Paul of Tarsis, the teachings and letters of the leading apostles, the love and communion among all the Christians, their persecution and dispersion and their zeal to proclaim Jesus as Lord and Savior, wherever they went. It has the teaching of Peter, the letters of Paul, and some other leading apostles, and the visions of the Apostle John in the Apocalips.

The Bible, especially the New Testament, is the most precious book ever written. Together with the Tradition of the Church and the Sacraments, it is the most sacred and priceless treasure for mankind, because human beings are not created for this earthly life only, but for an eternal existence, in order to share the Glory of God in the communion of saints in heaven forever and ever.

All that God created was very good. Evil was not created by the all Holy God, but is the result of the permanent abuse of the free will, first by the fallen Angels and then by our first parents, Adam and Eve and by ourselves. Even God's hands are bound when people harm themselves by their own free will. God had compassion on humanity. He loved them so much that He gave his only Son for their redemption. Those who accept his Son as their Redeemer can gain divine life and peace in their souls while on earth and eternal communion with God after their physical death.

TO ANSWER THE QUESTION, WHY GOD ALLOWS EVIL, I can only think of two reasons: First, God, who is Love, as revealed in Creation and Redemption, wants to be loved in return by his creatures by their own free will. Secondly, God has the power and love to bring good out of evil for people of good will, who love God above all and who love their fellow human beings as they love themselves. The greatest example of this truth is the murder of the Son of God, Jesus Christ, which was permitted by God the Father. However, by Jesus' patient endurance of it all, in submission to His Father's will this terrible torture and death was turned by God the Father into the source of humanity's eternal redemption.

In order to inherit this eternal redemption, Jesus gave us the criteria on which we shall all be judged by him at the end of time. Read this criteria announced by Jesus Himself as recorded by the Evangelist Matthew (25:31-44).

God, the Father Almighty, has appointed His Beloved Son, the Risen Lord Jesus, King of Heaven and Earth and Judge of the whole human family at the end of time. Then Jesus will come again in Glory to judge the living and the dead. Through his incarnation, his deeds, passion, death and resurrection, Jesus has identified himself with all human beings. Therefore, he will consider everything done - or not done - to the least of his brethren as done - or not done - unto Him. Even if we shall never be able to love others as Jesus loved us, the Holy Spirit empowers us to love others as we love ourselves. Whenever we become aware that we have failed to do so, we can get the forgiveness of God for our sins of omission and commission by asking pardon of our Crucified and Risen Redeemer and try to make up for the neglect of the needy contemporaries.

Jesus died for sinners and he told us that heaven rejoices about every sinner who repents. With our God-given free will, the choice of asking and accepting the forgiveness of God before we leave this earthly life for eternity is ours.

Source: Jesus booklet by M. Johanna scsc, printed by Claretian Publications, ISBN: 978-81-89851-59-0 of 2014.

Posted By:M.Johanna, scsc