This blog is an attempt to provide interesting and worthwhile Catholic Adult Education materials, either texts or podcasts I have produced myself, or links to other good resources.
I am doing this for several reasons. One is to act as a means of distributing to interested people recordings I have already made. Another is to advocate for Adult Catechesis within the Catholic Community, which I believe is sorely neglected in most parishes, despite the priority it is given in official Catholic documents on Catechesis.
The third topic of “Joy to the World” is ‘Gabriel on a Rescue Mission’, Luke 1:5-38. The picture above shows the lesser-known of these two visits, that of the angel to Zecharaiah, who was to become the father of John the Baptist. in our discussions we compared and contrasted the two recipients of the angelic message, Zachariah and Mary. In Mary’s reply to the angel, “Let it be with me according to your word” we see the foundation of her faith and trust in God, and the foundation of all devotion to Mary.
The second topic of “Joy to the World” is ‘Two Kinds of Searchers’, Matthew 2:1-23. The first searchers are the Wise Men who come to worship Jesus, and the second are King Herod and his followers who seek to destroy him. Thus even in the Infancy stories the Gospel writers show how the coming of Jesus will bring controversy and division.
The painting of the Epiphany (by Bonfigli) above seems strange because it also depicts the crucifixion of Jesus. Why spoil the gentle story of Christmas with the brutality of Good Friday? Because Matthew’s Gospel is already “casting the shadow of the cross” over the nativity, in the story of Herod’s persecution,and the flight to Egypt. Read this excellent article from The Tablet by Bishop Nicholas DeMarzio, on this picture.
“Joy to the World” Part Two:
I couldn’t help adding one more picture, this by Brother Mickey McGrath, of “The Flight Into Egypt”. I love the Holy Spirit up in a tree!:
Finally, a musical recommendation which copyright forbids me from publishing. Try to find the version of “We Three Kings” by Patti Smith. It is very dark, so it reflects the tone of the story very well! Just in case you question my reference to a feminist punk rocker, do you know that Pope Francis has asked her to sing for him at Christmas? I bet she sings it then!
In the last few weeks a new movie in the ‘Left Behind’ series has been released, based upon the (in)famous series of novels by Tim LaHay and Jerry B. Jenkins, which depict the end of the world based upon a fundamentalist (and anti-Catholic) interpretation of Scripture.
Chapter 24 has the tone of Apocalyptic literature, as Jesus describes the calamities and tribulations to come. These teachings always stand as a warning about speculation of when the End Times of the Last Judgement will come, but include a warning to be ready when they do. This includes the Parable of the Unfaithful Servant (24:45-51), the parable of the Wise and Foolish Virgins (25:1-13, pictured above and below, from the cathedral at Magdeburg in Germany), and the Parable of the Talents (25:14-30).
Perhaps best known of all these teachings is another parable of judgement, the Separation of the Sheep and the Goats (25:31-46), which places compassion for the poor at the center of divine judgement.
Then follows the betrayal, arrest, trial and crucifixion of Jesus, which is truly “the greatest story ever told”. His resurrection is reported briefly, and his disciples were “fearful yet overjoyed”.
Matthew’s Gospel ends with the so-called Great Commission (28:19-20),
“Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, until the end of the age.”
Thus the Gospel ends as it begun, with the declaration that Jesus is “Emmanuel” – “God-is-with-us”.
These chapters begin with a sequence of well-known parables, such as the Lost Sheep (18:10-14) and the Unforgiving Servant (18:21-35), which show the necessity of mercy and forgiveness. By chapter 21 Jesus’ arrest is approaching and this is reflected in several parables about rejection, such as the Parable of the Tenants (21:33-43) and the Wedding Feast 922;1-14). This sequence ends with Jesus lament over Jerusalem, as he is about to be rejected (23:37-39).
Matthew 11-17 includes his third major discourse, the Parables Discourse. These include such well-known stories as the Parable of the Sower (13;1-9), the Weeds among the Wheat (13:24-30), the Mustard Seed (13:31-32).
A notable event is Peter’s Confession of Jesus, which tells us who Jesus is (“the Messiah, the Son of the Living God”) and in which Peter is appointed to be “The Rock” and the foundation of the Church. Immediate afterwards comes a prediction of the Passion, an implication of what it really means to be the Messiah.