PART THREE WHY DID JESUS DO IT? FOLLOWING ON






First published in 2013, this post follows on from the two re-posted yesterday.



Wednesday, August 28, 2013

PRIEST WRITES : "DESPITE WHAT JESUS SAID....." !

Father is the " Head of the School of Theology
McAuley Campus Banyo Qld
AUSTRALIAN CATHOLIC UNIVERSITY

Those Catholics whose Parish Newsletters are contained in "Majellan Sunday" covers were treated last Sunday to a little dissertation entitled "The Universal Kingdom" written by Father Gerard Hall S.M. addressing the Gospel Readings for the day , taken from Luke 13 : 22 - 30.

Readers will recall that the passage in question presents Our Lord in the course of His journeying toward Jerusalem preaching and teaching and healing as He goes. Then He is asked " Lord, will only a few be saved?"Our Lord does not directly answer the question posed . Rather He expands His response to go  into the attitude behind the question.The questioner  seems to be hoping that the number will be vast, so that he  might well hope to be included in the number. But Our Lord presents the proper approach to the matter : we must be zealous in our efforts to gain entry to the Kingdom of Heaven, not just hoping to scrape through in a general rush through wide-open Gates. 

No we must seek to ensure that we may get through the " narrow door" through our constant effort to live good lives. 

Jesus makes His response very personal addressing the questioner directly as " you" : 
                                "Strive to enter by the narrow door, you will begin to stand outside and knock at the door, saying "Lord, open to us." He will answer you " I do not know where you come from". Then you will begin to say " We ate and drank in your Presence , and you taught in our streets." But He will say " I tell you, I do not know where you come from ; depart from me all you workers of iniquity!"

Jesus goes on to say :
                                     "There you will weep and gnash your teeth, when you see Abraham and Isaac and Jacob and all the prophets in the Kingdom of God and you yourself thrust out. And men will come from East and West and from North and South, and sit at table in the Kingdom of God. And behold some are last who will be first , and some are first who will be last."

Now this is not nice to hear. It is literally intended and was said of course to the Jews of Jesus' time. As he had done on other occasions, Jesus was warning them of the failure of very many of them to do His Father's Will, to abide by the Covenant and thus merit Salvation. For those of His time, that involved recognising in Him the promised Messiah.His words forcefully intended to personalise the achievement of Salvation.Our Lord's reference to  "And behold some are last who will be first , and some are first who will be last."is  a reference to the Gentiles whom He will welcome into the Kingdom of God, His Church, and who may  later  gain admission to the Kingdom of Heaven, when many Jews may not.

But what does the Head of the School of Theology, MacAuley Campus Banyo, Australian Catholic University say :

" Despite what Jesus says about narrow gates.........."

Do words have meanings anymore?  A Priest begins a sentence " Despite what Jesus says!!!!!"

He goes on to re-package Our Lord's words for the Church of " nice" whatever it may cost in mangling the Truth:

" Despite what Jesus says about narrow gates, locked doors and being left outside, the final image is one in which the patriarchs and prophets are joined with peoples from the four corners of the earth.

Isaiah spoke about peoples of every nation and language coming together to worship God in the temple of Jerusalem . Jesus speaks rather of the feast in the Kingdom of Heaven. Then we are presented with another of His radical sayings :" The last will be first; and the first will be last" (Lk. 13:30)

Pope Francis has been telling us something similar. The Christian Church is called to be a poor , serving, lowly, church; a church of the poor and for the poor; a church which understands the struggles and reaches out to the the lives of ordinary people; a church that is less concerned about enforcing rules and more concerned about communicating the love and mercy of a tender-hearted God; a church that doesn't pre-judge who is and who is not in God's kingdom.

Nor is the church to be only concerned with its own members. Who can forget Pope Francis washing the feet of young prisoners, including females and Muslims, in the Roman prison on Holy Thursday?....." 
COMMENT

Boldly at first , but then with growing subtlety, the great Head of Theology completely "spins" Our Lord's words until the Truth and the meaning is lost, and something entirely palatable to the New Church of nice has been fabricated.

Let us get it very clear : Our Divine Lord was not being "nice" but being just. He was telling the Jews straight from the shoulder, what they ( and we by application ) needed to hear. He has brought the chance of Salvation to all, but Salvation must be earned by our lives lived in conformity to God's Will. Failing that, they ( and we) will be locked out - " weeping and gnashing  our teeth". 

The banquet is brought into view to highlight that very anguishing consideration, not to make us feel relaxed and comfortable. And the last/first, first/last prophesy is not used to comfort but to warn the Jews that their hitherto exclusive treatment is at an end.As such, it really has no direct application to us. Though we may usefully adapt it to apply in other ways.

The comments about Pope Francis' remarks on poverty are not directly relevant to this passage and drawing on them and expanding on them here, shows only that the writer is endeavouring to leap still further away from Our Lord's intentions onto some subject with which he is more at ease, and which better suits his purposes.

 He reaches to giddy heights of absurdity in this effort, when he again leans upon the convenient Pope Francis  after saying " Nor is the church to be only concerned with its own members." Here we see a "straw man" being set up - a Church ("church" - his aversion to capitalising the word may convey its own message) which is only concerned with its own members.

 But the Catholic Church has , since the first Pentecost always been concerned with non-members , with its mission "ad gentes" (to the peoples) whether it be Saint Peter in Antioch and Rome, Paul around the Middle East and Rome, Saint Thomas in India, later Saint Boniface in Germany, Saint Francis to the Mohammedans, Saint Augustine of Canterbury to the Angles,Saint Patrick to the Irish, Saint Francis Xavier to India and Japan, Matteo Ricci to China,Father Serra and the other Spaniards to North America and to South America, the Irish clergy to Australia, the Australian Clergy to Africa, Asia, South America and Japan, and now the Nigerian and Vietnamese Clergy to Australia - only concerned with it own members - what a load of mock academic propagandistic rubbish.


                                    AUSTRALIAN CATHOLIC UNIVERSITY BANYO ,BRISBANE
                              The series of radial buildings in the top left of the photo, 
                              now increased in number,constitutes the new Holy Spirit
                                                               Seminary Banyo.

The worrying part about this, is that Father Hall as Head of Theology, is lecturing at ACU's Brisbane Campus to future Catholic School Teachers and future Priests ( the Seminarians of Holy Spirit Seminary Banyo).

An examination of his website reveals some perhaps unsurprising quotes:

How did the Jewish people of Jesus' day understand his miracles? And, did they actually happen? In answer to the second question, there is much we cannot know..... "
".......The miracles attributed to Jesus are inexplicable, and will be logically dismissed of credibility, without this more refined worldview. In other words, the very notion of miracle needs redefinition. Rather than focus on causes, the newer definition is concerned with the religious significance attributed to remarkable events or deeds. Take for example the healing stories of Jesus. If such events occurred, they demonstrated out-of-the-ordinary powers. A religious explanation will state that God's power is evident in the healings. If it can be further demonstrated that some natural cause is at work in the process this does not, in itself, dismiss the remarkable nature and religious relevance of the cures. However, that is a response of religious faith that goes beyond scientific hypotheses and empirical data. Non-believers will find this explanation unconvincing. Yet, for religious believers, all the scientific explanations of the origins of the universe at the Big Bang only serve to increase rather than diminish their faith in the miracle of God's creation. 

It may seem that this has not taken us very far with regard to establishing the historicity of particular miracle-stories of Jesus. We know that Jesus is acclaimed as one who heals the blind, lame, lepers and the deaf; he casts out demons, raises the dead to life, calms the seas, walks on water and changes water into wine. We also know that the Gospel accounts do not pretend to historical accuracy: they reflect the faith of the early Church in Jesus who has power over death itself. This is to say that some serious editing has transformed original events into magnified versions of those events. By the time the Gospels are being written, few if any eyewitnesses are present to authenticate historical detail. Can we go further than this in our task of verifying the miracle-stories?"
"Many scholars suggest we can. They divide miracles into various categories: healings and exorcisms; raising from the dead; nature miracles. Generally, it is accepted there is high historical probability that Jesus did indeed heal and exorcise people. Among reasons for this judgment is the fact that the healings and exorcisms are from the earliest strata of the Jesus tradition. Second, they are unique, numerous and central to all Gospel portraits of Jesus. Third, opponents of Jesus do not deny his healing powers--they simply attribute those powers to other causes including, in one case, "the power of Beelzebul, the prince of demons" (Mk.3:22). Fourth, the ministry of Jesus' proclamation of God's reign is fully coherent with his role as healer and exorcist: the nearness of God's kingdom brings liberation from all kinds of oppression including sickness of body, mind and spirit.  

Scholars are more reluctant to attribute historical probability to nature miracles which parallel stories from other traditions. They suggest these stories are most likely applied to Jesus as a way of indicating his special divine status. Stories of Jesus raising people from the dead also receive an unenthusiastic reception on historical grounds--although a scholar as significant as John Meier does leave the way open for the possible historicity of Jesus raising the daughter of Jairus (Mk.5:21-43). This miracle-story, as written, is relatively unadorned by the kind of theological overlay that expresses early Christian faith. The position on the historicity of miracles taken here does not pretend to do more than outline the major features of contemporary scholarship in the field. It affirms that Jesus was in some sense a miracle-worker even though the question of the historicity of particular miracle-events remains unresolved. Our final task is to examine the significance of Jesus the miracle-worker within the framework of his public life and ministry.  

Miracles and Reign of God 

People have sometimes used the miracles as proofs of Jesus' divine status. As understandable as this may be, we can be fairly certain nothing was further from the mind of Jesus himself. In the context of everything we know about Jesus' public life and ministry, there is nothing to suggest he ever performs miracles to bring attention to himself. In fact, the Gospels show Jesus refusing this kind of self-referential miracle (Mk.8:11-12). The referent of Jesus' actions is always God-Abba-Father whose coming reign Jesus proclaims through word and deed. When events are proclaimed miraculous they are, from Jesus' own perspective, nothing more and nothing less than indications that God's healing, saving and redeeming power is not merely a reality of past and future, but something available to people in the here-and-now.  " 

".....Miracles are central to Jesus' ministry on behalf of the kingdom. Their purpose is not to divinise Jesus, but to reveal the power of God at work in unexpected ways. They call people to conversion of heart, vision and action so that they too become signs of God's dynamic reign in the form of fully inclusive, healing, liberating community. As recorded in the Gospels, miracles show how the mystery of God's plan demands faith, forgiveness, prayer and thanksgiving. The miracles also reveal that God's reign touches every aspect of life including bodily healing, spiritual wholeness and overturning human prejudice and unjust social systems. Finally, beyond questions of historicity, miracle-stories of Jesus raising the dead and nature-miracles point to the early Church's belief that Jesus reveals a God who is also sovereign over death and the whole creation. 
Conclusion 
It is important to realise the New Quest for the historical Jesus is ongoing and will never achieve total consensus. Notwithstanding differences of interpretation, the emerging pattern accepted by all recognized scholars today is that Jesus of Nazareth was a teacher and prophet who understood himself and was understood by others with respect to the parameters of first century Judaism. Within that context, he probably shared the contemporary belief in the immanent arrival of the end-times. However, Jesus' public ministry reveals something more important, namely, that the coming reign of God is "good news" for those who can receive it. He spoke about this in his teachings and parables and symbolised its reality through his healings, exorcisms and other wondrous deeds.  "

This is all very revealing of Father Hall's beliefs :

Jesus miracles- " And, did they actually happen? In answer to the second question,     there is much we cannot know. "
                                    "the very notion of miracle needs redefinition. Rather than focus on causes, the newer definition is concerned with the religious significance attributed to remarkable events or deeds. "
                                          "the Gospel accounts do not pretend to historical accuracy: they reflect the faith of the early Church in Jesus who has power over death itself. This is to say that some serious editing has transformed original events into magnified versions of those events. "
                                                       "The position on the historicity of miracles taken here does not pretend to do more than outline the major features of contemporary scholarship in the field. It affirms that Jesus was in some sense a miracle-worker even though the question of the historicity of particular miracle-events remains unresolved." 

                                                        "People have sometimes used the miracles as proofs of Jesus' divine status. As understandable as this may be, we can be fairly certain nothing was further from the mind of Jesus himself."


                                                        "Miracles are central to Jesus' ministry on behalf of the kingdom. Their purpose is not to divinise Jesus, but to reveal the power of God at work in unexpected ways. They call people to conversion of heart, vision and action so that they too become signs of God's dynamic reign in the form of fully inclusive, healing, liberating community. 


                                                          "The miracles also reveal that God's reign touches every aspect of life including bodily healing, spiritual wholeness and overturning human prejudice and unjust social systems. Finally, beyond questions of historicity, miracle-stories of Jesus raising the dead and nature-miracles point to the early Church's belief that Jesus reveals a God who is also sovereign over death and the whole creation. "


                                                           "the emerging pattern accepted by all recognized scholars today is that Jesus of Nazareth was a teacher and prophet who understood himself and was understood by others with respect to the parameters of first century Judaism. Within that context, he probably shared the contemporary belief in the immanent arrival of the end-times. However, Jesus' public ministry reveals something more important, namely, that the coming reign of God is "good news" for those who can receive it. He spoke about this in his teachings and parables and symbolised its reality through his healings, exorcisms and other wondrous deeds.  "



                                                   CHRIST IN MAJESTY

CONCLUSION


It is hard to escape forming the view that Father Hall is so anxious to play the academic that he avoids authentic teaching. He prances about with playful footwork, now quoting others, now almost making a statement, now almost owning a particular view, but never asserting the Church's teaching. As for the Historicity of the Gospels, Father Hall  is studious in one thing : he omits any mention of the Second Vatican Council's " Dei Verbum" which affirms the Historicity of the Gospels. 


When he does allow a particular point it is often not consistent with the Church's teaching or the Divinity of Christ. e.g. :  " he probably shared the contemporary belief in the immanent arrival of the end-times"

 Jesus did not " believe" ANYTHING  God knows EVERYTHING. 

Only a very troubled man could write : " Despite what Jesus says.....".Father's further writings  begin to outline the extent of his problems. One wonders what he might teach when lecturing the future Priests and  Schoolteachers of Brisbane?


One wonders what greater problems Australian Catholic University's Banyo Campus might harbour?  

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