Annunciation-Day Faith


Let’s try to hear the Archangel Gabriel’s words as Mary heard them, letting go of our knowledge of subsequent events.

You will bear a son, who will be called Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of David his father, and he will rule over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end.

Now, Mary had faith as pure as anyone has ever had. But she also certainly had a practical turn of mind. Her subsequent question aimed solely at the immediate logisitcal difficulties. Usually no man means no baby.

Had Mary not thought in such humble, practical terms, she might have asked: “Hold on. What are you talking about? Can you please explain the meaning of your grand phrases?”

Son of the Most High. Throne of David. House of Jacob. Endless kingdom. Sounds grand. But what exactly does it all mean?

Now, one thing Mary certainly understood immediately, with no need of explanation. The angel was telling her that she was to give birth to Moshiach.

Bar Elyon (Son of the Most High), throne of David = Messiah. Mary certainly instantly understood this much: The angel was telling her that she would give birth to the Messiah.

1967-Cadillac-EldoradoClear as a bell. Except for the fact that the entire New Testament drips with evidence that, while the Jewish people awaited the Messiah with eager longing, they hardly had a clear consensus about what the Messiah would do exactly.

Kick out the Romans. Distribute raisin cakes. Make the High Priests more honest. Sing better than King David himself. Bring an end to history. Give a new beginning to history. Not a lot of clarity there.

So, back to the Blessed Mother: One thing did immediately happen. She got pregnant. She said Yes to the angel, and she got pregnant. So she knew that the angel did not lie. She had the Messiah in her womb. Then, nine months later, more proof came: the shepherds and wise men arrived, making momentous declarations about the baby.

But, putting ourselves once again in Mary’s sandals: Wouldn’t all these proofs that Yes, He is the Messiah–wouldn’t they have made the obscurity and total normalcy of the ensuing years all the more mysterious? She knew He was the Messiah. But He grew up and became a carpenter.

If it were you or me mothering this Messiah, we would certainly be thinking, “My boy’s the Son of the Most High. Where’s my Cadillac? Why aren’t I rich and famous, like Queen Elizabeth?”

Mary watched her only Son, the Messiah, be crucified and then die in agony.

‘But the angel said something about the throne of David and an endless kingdom… What the…?’

Mysterium fidei. In the gospels, don’t we hear the Lord Jesus trying to get the people to grasp this over and over again? The mission of the Messiah is a mystery of faith. The only Cadillac involved is the interior Cadillac that carries us straight to the throne of the heavenly Father, the Cadillac that does us more good than a million Rolls Royces.

Believing. Like Mary believed, without understanding, from Word One spoken by the Archangel Gabriel, all the way through to Easter Sunday morning.

Ha-Mashiach, Ben Elohim Chayim

Mount Hermon
Mount Hermon

Delightful co-incidence to read on the same day (at Holy Mass) from Numbers about the waters of Meribah and from Matthew about Caesarea-Philippi. Because water flows in great abundance at Caesarea-Philippi. The snows of Mount Hermon melt in the sun, fresh water rushes down, and forms the headwaters of the Jordan River.

Moses struck the rock twice. In other words, after the first strike, he doubted.

the_passion_of_the_christBut the Lord Jesus did not have to ask St. Peter twice. Who do you say that I am?

Ha-Mashiach, Ben Elohim Chayim.

The water burbled. The mountain rose above them majestically. They stood at the northernmost point of the Holy Land. In every way, they found themselves at the source, the fountainhead, the wellspring. From here, life and vigor flow. At this point, everything begins, with youth and promise and undying potential for growth.

The Water of Life does not cease to flow. Jesus: Ha-Mashiach, Ben Elohim Chayim. The fountain of divine grace has opened up in the world. It will flow forever.

You don’t have to ask us twice, Lord! We believe with St. Peter. We believe with the Church founded on Peter the Rock. You are the Christ, the Son of the living God!

Indigo + the Lord, the Son of David

Yesterday, we heard St. Paul remind St. Timothy, “Beloved, remember Jesus Christ, a descendant of David.”

One of the Church’s favorite prayers comes from the lips of the blind beggar. He cried out to Jesus, “Son of David, have pity on me.”

The Messiah, the Son of David.

But, today…

We hear the Messiah ask: “David Himself calls the Christ ‘Lord.” So how is He David’s son?”

How is the Lord the son of David? Good question.

I mean, the Lord is the Son of David. There is no doubt that Jesus Christ was born of David’s tribe. Mary and Joseph had to travel south to Judah for the census, because they were not natives of Galilean soil. They returned to their homeland, to the city of David.

So how is the Lord the son of David? After all, there is also no doubt that God was born in Bethlehem. Back in 1000 BC, King David prayed to God—the same God Who, once in royal David’s city, was laid in a manger bed.

So: How? People, what is it called? Almighty God became the descendant of David by the mystery of the…

Incarceration? The Incantation? The Intubation?

Infatuation? Installation? Instigation? Imputation? Impetration? Inoculation? Inter-lineation? Indigo-tincturation?

Incarnation. Jesus Christ. True God and true man. One Person in two natures, without confusion, without change, without division, without separation.


In the conversations with His fellow Jews, which the Lord Jesus had prior to His Passion (which St. John recounts), we behold Christ’s patient insistence on consistency.

…Ok, dear brethren. We are Jews. That means we believe that God dealt personally with our forefathers. He revealed Himself by inspiring our prophets. We venerate our Scriptures precisely because we believe that the human authors did not write them by virtue of their own native intelligence, but by inspiration from heaven.

Papa Benedicto visited this cerro of Cristo Rey on Sunday
We judge the authenticity of a prophet by the fruit of his works. False prophets, who claim to have divine inspiration but really don’t—their labors ultimately come to grief. They get revealed as frauds, sooner or later.

Meanwhile, the true prophets accomplish great things. They heal. They bring peace. They teach with selfless wisdom and devotion.

Now, okay. You stand here before me because you have been captivated by the things I have done. You acknowledge that the signs of truth and genuine heavenly inspiration have accompanied me throughout my ministry among you.

Praise God! But listen, this is what I am telling you: I am actually here on a unique mission of divine love. Everything that came before merely prepared the way for this moment. It was I who called Abraham. I gave Moses the Law. I inspired the prophets.

Now, you can’t very well turn around and call me a blasphemer when the whole reason you are here is that you believe in the good things that I have taught and done.

All I am asking for, my friends, is consistency: Either believe me when I tell you that I am the eternal Son of the eternal Father, and relax and be happy. Or find a way to explain how a demon-possessed crank could heal lepers, feed the multitudes, bring peace to demoniacs, liberate sinners, and raise the dead.

Just be consistent, that’s all I ask. I mean you no harm. I carry no weapon.

…So they did what any normal group of people does when confronted with pure, calm reason in the face of their passions and prejudices. They killed Him.

December Decision

We face a choice. We have to make a decision.

In the malls, the “holiday” music has already been tinkling through the speakers for a week or two. Pretty soon we will be called upon to clink our glasses with Andre. Or to sit on Santa’s lap. Or to swipe Visa and MasterCard 24/7, until the stores close at midnight on December 24.

I do not claim to understand how “Black Friday” got it’s name. But something dark and terrible and menacing has indeed overtaken the month before Christmas. For many Americans, December has become a month of stress and futility.

We can, dear brothers and sisters, find an amazing irony in all this. We have to find it, because if we don’t, the sad pointlessness of ‘holidays’ without religion will give us the blues, big time.

Continue reading “December Decision”

Woe to you Pharisees, you fools!

(Luke 11:40)

In the beginning, man fell away from God. Many generations passed, during which the silent sky stretched over human history. Then God called Abraham.

The friendship between the Lord and Abraham was so pure and intimate that succeeding generations had a very difficult time getting a grip on it.

Fundamentally, Abraham lived with his heart lifted up to the Lord, trusting in His gracious promises. Abraham did not fret that he would die before the promises were fulfilled. Instead, his pure heart rejoiced in simple trust. God is good. He will provide.

This faith of Abraham, the faith of Israel, reaches into the absolute epicenter of the human soul. It is as invisible as God Himself.

Over the course of the history of the Chosen People, the holy faith manifested itself in different external trappings. The law written on the inner heart of man was spelled out in stone on Mt. Sinai. Abraham’s religious acts were carried out perpetually in the Temple in Jerusalem. King David ruled the people with the same faith, and he sang it in the Psalms.

Then the Israelites were driven into exile by their enemies. All the external trappings were taken away. The Temple was razed to the ground. The line of kings was broken.

But the pure faith of Abraham endured. It had always been directed to the future anyway. The faith and hope of the Israelite lived on, through the war-torn centuries that followed the exile, when the Jews found themselves back in the Holy Land, but nonetheless oppressed by one pagan empire after another.

The living guardians of the faith of Abraham were the Pharisees. Their teaching and example protected their disciples from the worldliness and cynicism of the pagans. The post-exilic Jewish monarchy could lay no real claim to the inheritance of King David, and the priestly class just went through the motions. In other words, the traditional institutions of the Chosen People had been completely corrupted by outside influences.

But the Pharisees guarded the separateness of the chosen nation. “Pharisee” means ‘separate from the heathen.’ They taught Jews how to keep their homes and towns quiet, hidden enclaves of pure faith.

Except when they didn’t. Except when they took their place right alongside all the other sons of Adam. Except when they, too, fell prey to vanity and greed. Except when their ‘pure’ observances covered over their selfishness and meanness.

Christ reserved his harsh words for the ones who came within millimeters of the truth, but missed it. He expressed nothing but patient compassion for humble sinners who knew perfectly well that they fell far from the mark. But the ones who got close enough to being right that they forgot that God is God and we are not? That’s how you make the Son of God mad.

Abraham rejoiced to look forward to the day of Christ. Abraham believed in the fulfillment to come. The Pharisees guarded the faith of Abraham so ferociously that, when the Messiah came, they tried to lock Him outside the house.

Mother Helps the Timid

Zechariah prophesied that the Messiah would enter Jerusalem seated on a male colt, the foal of a donkey.

The time came for this prophecy’s fulfillment. St. Matthew recounts that the Lord Jesus had his disciples bring to Him both the young colt AND the mother donkey.*

Christ knew that the trip up to Jerusalem would be too much for the little animal to manage by himself. The colt would need the comfort of its mother’s presence. It would be a pretty intimidating ride up to the city. So the Lord had the mother walk alongside the colt.

Guess what? The Lord knows that we are, each of us, a little feeble of foot. The trip up to Jerusalem would be too much for us to handle individually. Contemplate the Passion of the Son of God? Terrifying. I would stop dead in my tracks, and turn around and make a break for Bethphage.

The Lord does not leave us in solitude to enter the dark holy of holies of our religion. He leads us in with our mother, the Church, right beside. We make our way through the breathtaking and excruciating events of Holy Week together, the Church united in prayer throughout the world.

*Click HERE for a full apologetic exegesis regarding this detail.

Instructions for Lent

Pretty cool cover of a lovely song:

Here is a homily for the First Sunday of Lent:

In the original Lent, the Lord Jesus spent forty days praying and fasting in solitude. The devil came to tempt Him. Christ rebuffed the devil by quoting Scripture three times.

1. “Man does not live by bread alone.”

2. “You shall worship the Lord your God, and Him alone will you serve.”

3. “You shall not put the Lord your God to the test.”

Let’s see who is really on-the-ball. When the Lord quoted these words of Scripture, which book of the Bible was He quoting? All three verses come from the same book.

Continue reading “Instructions for Lent”

Marmion explains…

Not sure you understand Advent? Blessed Columba will help you:

All the Old Testament is a prolonged Advent, the prayers of which are summed up in this prayer of Isaias:

Drop down dew, ye heavens, from above, and let the clouds rain the just…Let the earth be opened and bud forth a Savior!

The idea of this future Redeemer fills all the Ancient Law; all the symbols, all the rites and sacrifices prefigure Him; all desires converge toward Him. The religion of Israel was the expectation of the Messias.

But the greatness of the mystery of the Incarnation and the majesty of the Redeemer demanded that the revelation of Him to the human race should only be made by degrees…

It was by a dispensation, at once full of wisdom and mercy, that God disclosed this ineffable mystery only little by little, by the mouth of the prophets.

When the human race would be sufficiently prepared, the Word, so many times announced, so often promised, would Himself appear here below to instruct us.

(from Christ in His Mysteries)

Are you OR aren’t you?

The Council Fathers and Mothers?

Isaiah 45:18: Thus says the LORD…the designer and maker of the earth, who established it, not creating it to be a waste, but designing it to be lived in.

…Turning the earth into a wasteland is certainly a sin.

On the other hand, “environmentalism” has become an ersatz religion.

And the religion is having a big and strange meeting just in time for Christmas.

How better to celebrate the season, whatever anyone wants to call it, than to hurry off to Copenhagen to bail out the world and solemnize the doctrines of environmentalism, the newly emerging world religion…Hence Copenhagen, which the environmentalists envision as their version of Vatican II. (Wesley Pruden)

…Perhaps you’re wondering why you don’t read more about the Washington Wizards here.

The reason is that Tom Knott’s grim assessment of the season is painfully true…

…One lovely day on a lush hillside near the Sea of Galilee, Jesus of Nazareth raised a man from the dead. The news of this created quite a stir.

Nain in Galilee
Meanwhile, St. John the Baptist was languishing in a dungeon in a remote military fortress, east of the Dead Sea.

St. John’s disciples, always jealous of his prerogatives, visited their teacher and told him about the latest wonder that the Nazorene had worked in Galilee.

Now, St. John knew that Jesus is the Christ. The Baptist knew this before he was even born, when he leapt in his own mother’s womb at the approach of the newly pregnant Blessed Mother.

St. John was a clever, fatherly teacher. He wanted his disciples to realize for themselves what he himself knew. So the Baptist sent them off to Christ with a question.

The gospels do not report anything about the disciples ever coming back with the answer–because it was never about St. John getting an answer. It was about formulating the perfect question, so that the truth could be revealed.

Ruins of Herod's Machaerus
Ask Jesus, “Are you the One who is to come, or should we look for another?”

Are you the Christ or not?

Either He is, or He isn’t. Questions like, “Are you a great holy man and a teacher of righteousness?” or “Do you coexist and tolerate all people?” do not really get to the heart of the matter.

Tell John what you have seen and heard: the blind regain their sight,
the lame walk, lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, the poor have the good news proclaimed to them.
(Luke 7:22)

In other words: I can be as subtle as your teacher can be. He and I know the truth. Now you do, too. Messiah is here.