Wednesday, 5 May 2010
Fruits of Lectio Divina - May 5
We honour the with great joy today, the holy Pontiff Pius V, a defender of the faith amidst confusion and error.
The Holy Gospel is taken from St. Matthew 16:13-19.
On a historical note, Caesarea Philippi was called Paneas, but in AD 14, Phillip the Tetrarch, renamed it in honour of the Emperor Caesar Augustus. Therefore, already in this scene we have the presence of Rome, the same city that will rule over the Christian world in charity.
'Jesus came into the quarters of Caesarea Philippi' initially I disregarded this phrase, it did not seem to me to have anymore relevance than mere locational information. Our Lord's whole life and every feature of it has teaching value.
Mere historical placement? Yet, St. John Chysostom highlighted a very significant aspect of this journey,which led me to a fuller meditation. Our Lord left the land of the Jews to enter in a territory named after the greek god for desolate places 'Pan'. In order to embrace the truth, to receive and nourish it with love, one must leave behind what is familiar, what seems natural, what seems secure A self abandonment must occur, a leap into the arms of the living God who created and redeemed us. A life of sanctity can not occur when one is submerged in the rabble and noise of the city, of the crowd. It was only while suffering hunger, thirst and despondency, that purification could transpire, which eventually led them into the promised land. Yet, we Christians have a greater hope, a treasure shored in our Father's house, where moth can not eat away at, or thieves break in and steal. Our Lord through the darkness of our night, wishes to cleanse the soul of all impurities, imperfections, to create a temple where the Blessed and Undivided Trinity can dwell.
The Apostles when asked who the Son of Man is, refer to him in existing patterns of Jewish thought. The world has attempted, and continues to do so, to mold our Lord and His unique mission into its image to suit specific ideologies, however something new has appeared on the earth. He was merely a prophet or a holy man. Nothing more.
Denis the Cathusian (1402 – 1471) believed they regarded our Lord as:
John the Baptist on account of His prodigies.
Elias because the Jews expected the holy man to return to them (Mal. Behold I will send you Elias. Because of His miracles and as a result of His zeal and determination for the truth.
Jeremiah, as He was regarded as saintly, and was sanctified in the womb before birth, and because of the great love of His brothers (He is a lover of brethren).
One of the prophets, namely Isaias, for His eloquence and His preaching of the truth.
Although surrounded by inadequacy in their opinions of Him, the Eternal Father reveals the truth concerning His beloved Son. Our Saviour expected the Apostles, the ones who had spent so much intimate time with Him, who had propounded the mysteries of the Kingdom to them, to believe more than the faithless Jews. He had conferred on them great power to heal the sick and cast out devils, yet their minds were still polluted by falsehood. Jesus, a prophet (the one promised in Deuteronomy) is more than one simply called and filled with the Holy Spirit as from without. He is the natural Son of the living and true God, from whom the Holy Spirit, the bond of love (copula), proceeds with the Father, and who does not participate in the divine life by grace but by His very essence. The other judgements are not worth the dignity of the incarnate Logos, and it is Peter alone who confesses the true faith. The Father ratifies what our Lord had already done when He called Peter 'Rock' earlier on in His ministry. The Unbegotten One elected from all eternity to place Saint Peter as the Prince of the Apostles, the man who would have the Church, the spotless bride of His Son, built upon himself. Even though, it is Peter who at divine prompting acknowledges the truth, yet how many of us would have chosen this weak, cowardly man to spread the message of the Good News to the rest of the world? Yet, one can not scrutinise the ways of the Most High, who chooses the foolish and pitiable in the world's eyes to shame the proud and the strong.
Let all nations look to the See of Peter, Rome, who rules with divine right over the Church, upon whom the people of God depend. This privilege (and burden) continues with the blessed Apostle's successors, and no man can be saved if he be unwilling to submit to the Roman Pontiff, the Vicar of Chirst. Within the sea of discontent, social changes, disorientation and turmoil, the Servant of the Servants of God valiantly confesses what God has handed on to the saints once and for all. If the Holy Roman Church be the very basis of the Church, She can never be counfounded, or fall into heresy, if so, what would happen to the little stones built upon her?
Our Good Master established His Church, His Body to announciate the salvation brought about by His Cross, and He pledged to guard her, as a good bridegroom, from all contamination of error. Jesus is intimately concerned for each of us, and through His divine power, will not abandon His Bride, the sacrament of salvation, 'the gates of hell shall not prevail.' As the Lord never deceives, nor can be deceived, His promise will never be reneged. The light shines forth from the First See, to convert the world to the love of the Redeeming Creator.
Although later given to the whole group of the Apostles, initially a right given freely to Peter, that is, to bind and loosen, is of great benefit. The Holy Father in virtue of his election to the Apostolic See, can bind souls, which is of greater importance than earthly kings who can only restrain and liberate limbs. This most sacred power may refer to absolution, excommunication, dispension of vows/promises and indulgencies among others.
May the Holy Mother of God, the Queen of Heaven, protect the Holy Father and guide him to proclaim the Faith with devotion and love.
God Bless our Pope, the great, the good.