I’ve been preoccupied this week with the birth of my first local great-nephew last Thursday and various deadlines, meetings and events at work. Evan Robert’s first pictures should be showing up in my Flickr sidebar soon. He’s going to be baptized on the feast of John the Baptist and my nephew and his wife were pleased that his name (Welsh for John) ties in so well to the feast. I love knowing that my love for liturgical and scriptural connections is rubbing off on the next generation!
I’ll have some thoughts on the rich lectionary readings for the Ascension during the week. In the meantime, my friend and coworker Katie Carroll offered this piece in our print publication, also called Bringing Home the Word. I liked it so well that I asked her to share it here as we move into Ascensiontide:
“The Discovery Channel recently aired a feature called The Lost Tomb of Jesus. Director James Cameron (of Titanic fame) posited that the grouping of names found on six ossuaries (limestone coffins) in a single newly discovered tomb made it statistically probable that the tombs were those of Jesus of Nazareth; his brother, Joseph; Jesus’ wife, Mary Magdalene; and Jesus and Mary’s son, Judah. Though cognizant that Christians believe that Jesus rose from the dead, Cameron dismisses such narrow thinking and suggests that the resurrection and ascension might have been spiritual, rather than physical, events, and thus, his thesis is in no way contrary to Christian theology.
“Where does one begin?
“Catholic theology flatly denies that Jesus had any siblings. The doctrine of Mary’s perpetual virginity make this impossible. No matter how many times secular fortune-seekers try to portray Mary Magdalene and Jesus as spouses, there is simply no evidence to support such a theory, much less that they had a child together. The apostles worshiped Christ, spent their lives in service to him and, for the most part, died martyrs’ deaths. Is it likely they would have failed to notice or report that God left a family behind?
“St. Paul was kind enough to spell out for us the significance of Christ’s resurrection. In his First Letter to the Corinthians, he writes: “If Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile.” He cites in other letters the testimony of more than five hundred disciples, eyewitnesses to the resurrection, most of whom were still living when Paul wrote. The infant church had centuries of theological obstacles to overcome, but it was certain that Christ rose from the dead and ascended into heaven.
“Though we are often removed from it, doctrine does matter in the everyday lives of Christians. It is no small thing to love our enemies, forgive those who hurt us or sacrifice for others; doctrine assures us that we have a very good reason for doing it. Christ’s passion, death and resurrection are proof that his message is true—our sins can be forgiven, we can be better people and we can make the world a better place. Christ’s ascension, which we celebrate today, gives us some idea of how to do that. ‘Why do you stand looking up toward heaven?’ the angels ask the disciples at the ascension. Jesus himself has instructed them to preach the gospel, not to stand idly about, gaping at the miracles they have witnessed.
“Authentic faith starts with the relationship between us and God, the ‘vertical’ dimension of faith. But Christianity insists on the ‘horizontal’ dimension as well—reaching out to others with the gospel, whether we’re preaching it or living it. This latter dimension is the difference between a litany of doctrinal declarations which for some passes as faith, and a living relationship between God and humanity in Christ. Our faith is nourished by our private time with God—at Mass, in prayer, when reading Scripture, but it is practiced in our interactions with others—at home, at work, when we think no one is looking. Knowing our faith and its basis is invaluable (we could all spend more time with our Bibles or the Catechism of the Catholic Church), but living out our faith brings life.” —Kathleen M. Carroll
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