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 The Twelve Apostles

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PostSubyek: The Twelve Apostles   10th March 2013, 15:51

St. Peter

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Peter: Simon, son of Jona, born in Bethsaida, brother of Andrew, a fisherman; called Cephas or Peter by Christ who made him the chief of the Apostles and head of the Church as his vicar; named first in the listings of Apostles in the Synoptic Gospels and Acts of the Apostles; with James the Greater and John, witnessed the raising of Jairus' daughter to life, the transfiguration, the agony of Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemani; was the first to preach the Gospel in and around Jerusalem and was the leader of the first Christian community there; established a local church in Antioch; presided over the Council of Jerusalem in 51; wrote two Catholic Epistles to the Christians in Asia Minor; established his see in Rome where he spent his last years and was martyred by crucifixion in 64 or 65 during the Neronian persecution; in art, is depiced carrying two keys, symbolic of his primacy in the Church; June 29th (with St. Paul), Feb. 22 (Chair of Peter).

The following is taken from "The Apostles" by Otto Hophan, O.F.M. Cap.

In the mother church of all Christendom, St Peter's in Rome, there stands a statue of Simon Peter, magnificent and impressive, depicted in all his apostolic majesty and authority as the first shepherd of the Church, keeping watch down through the ages. He lifts his right hand in blessing, commanding the near and the far, urbs et orbis. In his left hand he holds the heavy golden keys that bind and loose. Under his arm rests the holy burden of the Gospel which he spread over Jerusalem, all Judea, and Samaria, to the ends of the earth, and which caused him to journey to the vast and ancient city of Rome, his second home. What a great leader! What a highly gifted and religious person Simon Peter must have been!

St. Peter's Church in the Vatican, the greateat house of God in the Christian world, is one of the largest and most majestic creations of man. It rises above the relics of this apostle with a thrilling exultation, a worthy monument of this sovereign of the early Christian world. Rising up into the air in large letters in the chapel of Michelangelo are the words of our Lord Jesus Christ to Peter, which shall never pass away even if heaven and earth should pass away: "Tu es Petrus! Et super hanc petram aedificabo Ecclesiam meam.-Thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my Church.

On an important feast day, when the successor of Peter is carried into the cathedral to the loud shouting of a restless and surging crowd, when the silver trumpets ring out during the Consecration of the Mass, when the high priest turns to bless the people, then does Peter, first of the unbroken chain of pontiffs, inspire the awe of the thousands who have come to meet their intercessor-Peter, who now, in eternity, touches the hem of God's garment. How mighty and majestic is the statue of Peter! How mighty and majestic was Peter the man!

Peter's Personality

As one leaves behind the great city of Rome, the statue of Peter, and the great basilica, and turn his attention to the Gospels, he finds that the simplicity of this man, the lightning of God flashing around him, leaves him speechless. So expressive, in this fisherman that He should make him, and only him, the pastor of His flock and the father of His kingdom, the foundation of His Church and the ruler of all Christianity. If the man of the century had been Paul, or the genial John, or even James, who was so vehemently energetic-although these also were not fully deserving of such a great honor-one could understand it better. But Peter? Who was this fisherman, Simon Peter?

Peter's Home and Family

Peter's home was neither Rome nor Athens, neither Jerusalem nor Tarsus, but the very small and insignificant town of Bethsaida. Situated on the eastern shore of Lake Genesareth. This is also called the Sea of Galilee and the Lake of Tiberias. The lake was thirteen miles long and six miles wide and forms the eastern coast of Galilee, the northern and most fertile region in Palestine. It was also the home of Philip the tetrarch. Very possibly, too, his home town could have been another, a very small Bethsaida on the western shore. In either case, however, Bethsaida is well-known in world history today only because Peter was from there.

During the years of Christ's public life, Peter was living in the neighboring city of Capharnaum, occupying a house there. Here the Lord humbly came and went as though He were at home. The traits and mannerism of Peter's native land were distinctly stamped on this prince of the apostles. On no other disciple of Christ was this Galilean character so strongly impressed. He had a very noticeable Galilean accent, which helped to betray him to the bystander at the time of his denial of Christ. Josephus Flavious, a Jewish historian of the first century, described the Galileans as enthusiastic, impetuously determined, and fired with spirit. Only the Judeans considered this people to be lawless and ignorant.

St. Peter's family ties were thoroughly simple. His father's name was Jona, or John-a spelling or writing mistake in the Greek transcription of Matthew's Gospel may be the reason for this difference. He was a quiet man, going about his business unnoticed, neither a councilor nor a financier, neither a politician nor a man of in fluence. But then the glance of the Lord fell upon his son, so his name will also endure as a star until the end of time: "'Blessed are thou, Simon, son of Jona!...Simon, son of John, dost thou love me?'"

The Gospels make mention of the quiet brother of Peter, Andrew, whose honor it was to be called together with Peter by the Lord to an apostolic mission. The two brothers were dedicated to the witnessing of the Gospels, the word of God. One of the first miracles of Jesus was the curing of Peter's mother-in-law, who was ill with "a great fever," as Luke, the doctor, diagnosed it in his Gospel.

The wife of Peter is never expressly mentioned in the Gospels. St Jerome conjectured that she may have died early. Perhaps it is for this very reason that Peter's mother-in-law, after her miraculous cure, was so busy and zealous in her work, serving the Guest, since there was no other woman in the house to see after the home affairs. Other commentators, however, propose that the "wife" of Peter should be understood as his "sister," whom Paul in his First Epistle to the Corinthians mentioned as a servant of Peter, helping him on his apostolic journeys. Clement of Alexandria reported that Peter accompanied his wife even to martyrdom, exhorting and encouraging, "Remember the Lord!" Jerome also wrote about the growing children of Peter. Very specifically, the conversions of a daughter of Petronilla also related this. The actual account is to be found in the "Acts of the Martyrs Sts. Nereus and Achilles." However, this holy Petronilla probably was related to the family of Petronius, who in turn belonged to the celebrated Roman family of Flavius.

Peter's Profession and Calling

By profession Peter was a fisherman. A fisherman certainly cannot be called a poor man, and by no means a beggar. Peter himself wanted to do away with such pious exaggerations. At all times he owned a house, a boat, and all the gear necessary for his work. He hired, most likely as day-laborers, the fisherman Zebedee and his family. A man who came from a background of utter poverty could not have walked so boldly and self-confidently up to the Lord when He called and have said, "'Behold, we have left all and followed thee.'"

We have left all! The sea, the wide blue sea, Peter gave up for the Lord, and in exchange was plunged headlong into the dirt and squalor of the streets and cities. Often later, as he walked through Antioch and Corinth and Rome, burdened with the cares and anxieties of the infant Church, he recalled his days on the sea. But it was the sea that prepared Peter for the storms and gales and furies, for the problems and difficulties of the universal Church.

Considering the origin, the domestic circumstances, and the social surroundings of this common fisherman, one would hardly prophesy the very high office heaven and earth were to bestow upon this man. Undoubtedly through the centuries many a common man has risen in his youth from the guidance of sheep to the guidance of men. Yet Peter possessed a personal, though not exceptional, natural talent which raised him above mediocrity. He had a lively and brilliant spirit, a quick and impetuous will, and, above all, a warm heart. He was a simple, upright person who, as he earlier had cared faithfully for his family and himself, later did not spare himself in looking after the new-born Church. His was a practical life: first things first. He planned boldly; his goals were high. If they were not completely rejected, they were at least opposed and discouraged. But Simon Peter could also persevere.

All this is evident from what Peter wrote about St. Paul:

Just as our most dear brother Paul also, according to the wisdom given him, has written to you, as indeed he did in all his epistles, speaking in them of these things. In these epistles there are certain things difficult to understand, which the unlearned and the unstable distort, just as they do the rest of the Scriptures also, to their own destruction.

By the high priest's Peter was judged as an "uneducated and ordinary" man. Although these Jewish religious rulers by no means opposed all groups and cultures, even St Paul was poorly depicted by them, as his life bears out.

How very little there is in the Bible about Peter's home life is best shown by his discourses in the Acts of the Apostles, so exclusively devoted to the word of God. There was at least one awkward handicap that remained with the fisherman from Bethsaida through his life, and this he had learned at home. It was his speech. The crowds in the streets of Jerusalem made fun of the halting delivery, the unpolished language and speech of the Galileans. Their dialect always reveal their origin.

Consequently, everything about Peter was plain and simple- with the exception of his divine mission. As a fisherman, he was not great hero of world-wide importance, no masterful genius who advanced to great height. Ancient pictures show Peter with an ordinary man of the street. One wonders why this uninfluential man was called to full such an influential and extraordinary office.

Undoubtedly this unadorned picture of simplicity has its golden side too. If one pays close attention to this picture of St Peter in the Gospels, he will be completely captivated by the magic of his unfeigned sincerity and cordiality, by his purity of intention. After the miraculous catch of fish, how quickly and willingly he poured out his soul before the Lord, with unconcealed cealed astonishment, with bare humility; "'Depart from me, for I am a sinful man, O Lord.'" And still he himself did not forget to mention some of the complimentary words of our Lord to him, which Mark-who wrote down Peter's words-recorded for all posterity, as did the other evangelists. To the very depths of his soul Peter was a simple, unpretentious, pure person.

Does the reason behind our Lord's seemingly unwise choice perhaps lie in the fact that Christ Himself laid down the essential criterion for leadership: "'Let him who is greatest among you become as the youngest, and him who is the chief as the servant'"? Simon had to be at once great and small, the first and the last. Peter had a balanced character, a straightforward nature, as a defense against the severe temptations of self-praise- a praise which the Lord wanted him to have. In this ordinary man our Lord pointed out the directions He wanted this important and difficult office to take, lest it deteriorate into sheer pretentiousness, lest it become as meaningless as a piece of blank paper, let it lose sight of reality and become entagled in theories and problems.

There could have been a vastly different Peter, as Augustine so brilliantly and profoundly observed.

Peter was a fisherman...had God chosen an orator, the orator would have said, "for my rhetoric I was chosen." Or had He chosen a politician, the politician would have said, "For my politics I was chosen". Or even had God chosen a ruler, the ruler would have said, "for my powerful position I was chosen." Or even had God chosen a ruler, the ruler would have said, "For my rhetoric I was chosen." Or had he chosed a politician, the politician would have said, "For my politics I was chosen." Or even had God chosen a ruler, the ruler would have said, "For my powerful position I am chosen." Nevetheless, our Lord said: "Give me that fisherman. Give me that unlettered man. Give me that unlearned man. Give me that man with whom the politician never once would have stopped to speak. This one give me, and if I cannot fulfill what I wish, at least it will be clear that I have only myself to blame. Although I will call an orator and a politician and a ruler also just the same with a fisherman am I certain to remain myself."

It was on the River Jordan that our Lord first called the son of Jona. Perhaps Peter belonged to the group following John the Baptist, as did the other apostles, Andrew, John, and probably even Philip. There on the Jordan John the Baptist aroused their hope and desire for the Messias:

"'Make ready the way of the Lord'.... In the midst of you there has stood one whom you do not know. He it is who is to come after me, who has been set above me, the strap of whose sandal I am not worthy to loose.

There, on a beautiful spring day, Andrew came dashing, out of breath and full of joy, calling to his brother, "We have found the Messias." And then Jesus and Peter stood next to each other for the first time.

Peter was curious, unsuspecting-as most men of his time were. Jesus was thinking, pondering the importance of this moment which would last till the end of time. His glance caught Simon as a summer sun pierces a cloud. Looking off into the distance, Jesus said, speaking more to Himself than to Peter, "'Thou art Simon, the son of John: thou shalt be called Cephas (which interpreted is Peter).'" Simon stood there, speechless. How could he possibly have surmised that this meeting with Jesus was to lead him away from his narrow and short paths down to the sea onto the wide and endless highways of the whole world?

Many months later there was a second calling, for the first apostles were not yet permanent followers of Christ, even after the first days on the Jordan. They were still more concerned about their daily needs. Their work seemed more important, more urgent. Their thoughts ran back to the fish in the sea. This then, was the situation when Christ came back a second time to lay His hand on Peter, this time, however, to call him away forever.

Troubled and annoyed, the men crouched on the shore, for the whole night through they had toiled but had taken nothing. Christ was glad to have arrived when their spirits were so low, in an hour of despair. "'Put out into the deep, and lower your nets for a catch,'" He ordered. Christ was by no means a fisherman, but they listened to Him. They were thinking He never would have dared to command such a hopeless attempt in broad daylight. Suddently the nets begain to sink into the water like lead, and they became so full and heavy that they pulled down on the boat and the boat began to tip and sink.

They enclosed a great number of fishes, but their net was breaking. And they beckoned to their comrades in the other boat to come and help them. And they came and filled both boats, so that they began to sink.

The calling of the first four apostles, Peter, Andrew, James, and John, is related by Luke at the same time he relates the events surrounding this miraculous catch of fish. In this way the calling is full of meaning, and the catch of fish profoundly symbolic. Now Peter was to fish for and catch men. His comrades were to come and help him. And for all their toil and perseverance Christ was to grant these fishers of men such an overwhelming success that the boats were soon to sink with an overabundance. All three Synoptics make special note of this sudden change in the lives of these apostles, how they were so quick and prompt to act with Jesus, how "at once they left the nets and followed him." Only a few weeks after this, then, Christ chose these four men, together with eight others, as His apostles. At the head of them was Simon Peter.

Peter's Temperament and Character

The Gospels make three brief and seemingly unimportant remarks about Peter; nevertheless, they throw a new light on his character. These three events occurred after Simon Peter was chosen as an apostle and before he acknowledged Christ as the Son of God, or before the day they entered the district of Caesarea Philippi, the greatest day in Peter's life.

The first happened on the way to the house of Jairus. "A great crowd was following him and pressing upon him.' Near our Lord, but almost lost in the throng of people, there was a poor woman who had an incurable hemmorrhage. She was able to reach out and touch the seam of Christ's garment.

And Jesus said, "Who touched me?" But as all were denying it, Peter and those who were with him said, "Master, the crowds throng and press upon thee, and dost thou say, 'Who touched me?'

The second instance recounted in this part of the Gospel took place on the night after Jesus miraculously fed a crowd of five thousand people. It happened on the stormy sea. Very late at night, during the fourth watch, Jesus approached the aposltes. He was walking on the turbulent water.

And they, seeing him walking upon the sea, were greatly alarmed, and exclaiming, "It is a ghost!" And they cried out for fear. Then Jesus immediately spoke to them saying, "Take courage; it is I do not be afraid." But Peter answered him and said, "Lord, if it is thou, bid me come to thee over the water." And he said, "Come.' Then Peter got out of the boast and walked on the water to come to Jesus. But when he saw the strong wind, he was afraid; and as he began to sink he cried out, saying, 'Lord, save me!" And Jesus at once stretched forth his hand and took hold of him, saying to him, "O thou of little faith, why didst thou doubt?"

There is yet a third instance. It happened in a crowd of Scribes and Pharisees. Jesus reprimanded the Pharisees very sharply:

"What goes into the mouth does not defile a man; but what which comes out of the man defiles a man."... But Peter spoke to him, saying, "Explain to us this parable.'

These three brief observations, then, point out another characteristic feature of Peter: his was a quick, impetuous, and blustering personality. He was an out spoken person with a sanguine temperament, impressionable and adaptable. Often he would change his mood and state of mind without notice. He was the first to speak and the first to act, but the last one to think before he spoke or acted. Peter was often been represented as a man of choleric temperament, but actually he lacked the very essence of such a person, which is the headstrong, obstinate persistence in the conquest of any obstacle, to have persevered in any such obstinacy.

Peter's actions were swift and impulsive. One minute he was quiet; another, vivacious. At times he was prudent; at others, rash. On numberous occasions the evanglists noted his individuality.

When our Lord first foretold His passion and death, Peter was the one who chided Him.

Still again, at the solemn occasion of the Transfiguration, he knew he had to say something, and the first thought he had was, “’Rabbi, it is good for us to be here. And let us set up three tents, one for thee, and one for Moses, and one for Elias.’” St Mark let it be known that he thought Peter spoke out of turn, as he commented, partly rebuking, partly excusing. “For he did not know what to say, for they were struck with fear

Another time, when a tax-collector asked Peter, “’Does your Master not pay the didrachma?’” he answered quite promptly, without thinking. “’Yes’”

Peter was quick to point out anther’s mistakes, but he did so with a spirit of forgiveness. He was also the first to ask pardon for an offense

“Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? Up to seven times?” Jesus said to him, “I do not say to thee seven times, but seventy times seven.”

When Christ was washing the feet of the Twelve at the Last Supper, it was Peter who broke the silence and commanded, “’Thou shalt never wash my feet!’” And then only a matter of seconds later, after Christ had spoken, he changed his mind completely and begged, “’Lord, not my feet only, but also my hands and my head!’”

Again at the Last Supper, after Christ had told the apostles that one of them would betray Him, Peter could not stand the suspense of being in the dark. So he immediately motioned to John-“whom Jesus loved,” and who “was reclining at Jesus’ bosom”-and told him to ask who the traitor was.

It was Peter, and only Peter, who solemnly swore to the Lord, “’Even though all shall be scandalized, yet not I.’” Then even more violently he shouted, “’even if I should have to die with thee, I will not deny thee!’” Shortly thereafter he sat calmly and warmed himself by the fire and denied that he had ever known Christ.

On the Mount of Olives, Peter rushed quickly to our Lord’s defense, waving his sword above his head. He “struck the servant of the high priest, and cut off his ear”-the “right ear,” as Luke, the exacting doctor, did not forget to mention. But then suddenly Peter drew back and caused no further trouble.

Although Peter was impetuous and rash, he had a kind heart. Throughout Mark’s Gospel, the most vivid and dramatic of all four, Peter’s temperament shines forth most clearly. Already in early Christian art this stirring and restless quality was brought out in Peter’s facial expressions. On a fragment of a tomb in St. Sebastian’s Church in Rome, the construction of which was begun in the fourth century, Peter is depicted as a nervous old man

Properly, therefore, the question may again be asked, this time more sharply: Was Peter, this stormy and sometimes impulsive man, capable of being the leader and very foundation of Christ’s Church? What a shifting and changeable foundation on which Christ chose to build His Church! This man was made a shepherd: he wanted to pardon but seven times; he demanded not only his feet, but also his head to be washed, he wielded the sword with a fiery passion. How unfortunate, how pitiable the defenseless flock this shepherd was to guide and care for!

Still, Peter’s vigorous and direct manner was well suited for his office. He was well fitted for the many and various tasks he was to encounter. It was this directness of character that made Peter a clear-sighted and shrewd apostle, a sympathetic and understanding apostle. It was this very character that gave Peter a certain sixth sense. He was the first to burst out with his confession of Christ. He discovered and understood the meaning of the Word before the others. He could make a quick resolution; he could act immediately; and he could get results

The grace of God put to good use this natural tendency of Peter. He was the first of all the Twelve to confess and proclaim Jesus as the Messias and the son of the living God. His versatility had a beneficial and lasting effect on the leadership of the Church. As a shepherd, he tended the flock of Christ, was quick to look after its welfare, passionately defended it in time of trouble, and all this without pompous formalities, without longwinded verbosity. With one glance he could see the heart of the matter, both sides of the picture. Immediately he would separate truth from falsehood, the good from the bad. He was not slow to adapt himself to changed conditions, and this versatility kept him from being obstinate in foolish matters. Flexible though he was, he stood where Christ had placed him, as a rock in the midst of seething waves. He braved and defied the surging waters, but let them wash away his old habits and faults

He could become very angry (as Malchus found out when Peter cut off his ear) or very sad. His quick and hasty nature permitted him to calm down as quickly as he had flared up, and his goodness soon atoned for his mistakes. In an old Coptic manuscript is found a beautiful and appropriate judgment of Peter: “He was a compassionate person, always ready and willing to absolve.” Certainly Peter’s flexible and amiable nature complemented and balanced the rigidity and austerity of his office

Peter’s Denial

Nevertheless, Peter’s amiable temperament would have been his downfall, his ruin and destruction, if our Lord had not led him by the hand time and time again, just as He once took the sinking doubter by the hand and helped him out of the stormy sea. Peter, the apostle with a truly sanguine character, the apostle with a natural tendency to be unstable and unreliable, shows himself through the entire Gospel to be weak in times of difficulty. He failed when trouble threatened.

His sinking into the seething swells of the sea stands as a symbol of his unsettled nature. Even when Christ spoke openly for the first time about his passion and death-the most difficult mystery of our Lord’s life for the Jews and the apostles to understand-Peter protested: “And Peter taking him aside, began to chide him, saying, ‘Far be it from thee, O Lord; this will never happen to thee.’” But the result of this protest was frightening to Peter: Jesus “turned and said to Peter, ‘Get behind me, satan, thou art a scandal to me; for thou dost not mind the things of God, but those of men.’” Still it was only six verses before this that the same Jesus called Peter “blessed.”

But even one who does not stand before the cross and take up his own cross may also, as Peter was doing, profess the glory and magnificence of the divinity of Christ. Such a person has no more favor with Christ than Satan, for he, as the tempter to the desert, only tries to draw our Lord away from the will of His Father to the power and grandeur of the world. A mere passive praise of the life of Christ without an active participation in it is hypocrisy

Christ’s new doctrine of the cross, which annoyed and scandalized every Jew, also confused the disciples. Even they need reassurance. So “about eight days after these word’ our Lord took the first of the Twelve, Peter, James and John and went up Mount Thabor where he showed them the brilliant illumination of the Transfiguration. Here Jesus permitted the hidden springs of His divinity to burst open and flow radiantly over the mountain top, brighter than a snowcap gleaming in the noon sun

The Epistle which Peter addressed to the faithful of the Christian communities of Asia Minor approximately thirty-five years after this event shows the indelible impression the Transfiguration made on him. He regarded this brilliant miracle as one of the most important reasons for the belief in Christ, the God-Man.:

For we were not following fictitious tales when we made known to you the power and coming of Our Lord Jesus Christ, but we had been eyewitnesses of his grandeur. For he received from God the Father honor and glory, when from out the majestic glory a voice came down to him, speaking thus: “This is my beloved Son in whom I am well pleased.” And this voice we ourselves heard borne from heaven when we were with him on the holy mount. And we have the word of prophecy, surer still, to which you do well to attend, as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts

However, the distress and the pain of doubt was not completely taken away by the Transfiguration on Thabor. On the contrary, it was only to prepare Christ’s followers for the complete belief which was to come later. Even as they were descending from the mountain, the Lord brought up this dark mystery once more. And He found, to be sure, the same lack of understanding among the apostles as before.

This fundamental lack of sympathy-indeed, the indignation here-helps to explain the saddest hour in Peter’s life-he denial. In Peter’s denial that weakness erupted which had already made itself manifest with the announcement of the Passion. Even at the Last Supper the Lord had warned Peter urgently, “’Amen I say to thee, today, this very night, before a cock crows, twice, thou wilt deny me thrice.’” Peter, nevertheless, replied self-confidently, “’Even if I should have to die with thee, I will not deny thee!’” Jesus remained silent, like a person who knows that the course of events will prove him right. And how fearfully if did prove Him to be right!

Even on the Mount of Olives, an hour after the protestation, “’Even though all shall be scandalized because of thee, I will never be scandalized,’” and “Lord, with thee I am ready to go both to prison and to death,’” to be sure, “’I will lay down my life for thee!’ “-the very next hour after this bold affirmation, the hero slept! James, too slept-even John slept! How could John, above all, sleep? And yet it was neither to James nor even once to John, the apostle of love, that Jesus made a special reproach as, trembling and spattered with blood, He confronted them. But to Peter! To Peter He spoke, “’Simon, dost thou sleep? Couldst thou not watch one hour?’” It was with the abruptness of a catastrophe that that which happened after this occurred. After the disturbance on Mount Olivet he was in the courtyard of the high priest. It was his friend John who had taken him in. Inside the court the Master was being tried and judged. Out side the court Peter stood, lost and afraid, in front of the stern-looking soldiers.

Then a maidservant, a weak, babbling portress, approached him . She had piercing eyes. She was pert with Peter, and accused him. “’Thou also wast with Jesus the Galilean.’” Peter could not catch his breath. He wanted to speak. He could not. He stuttered. “No!” What had he said? His thoughts ran wildly and he wanted to take back that heinous word, but he saw the crown around him like a pack of wolves. Again he lost his breath, stuttered, stammered, was silent. It was better to be silent and to say nothing.

And so this “no” hung over him like a ghost, like the hollow gongs of the strike of twelve floating through the midnight darkness. Peter was spotted. The shy maidservant was interested in calling him forth. She insisted. One could easily notice this strange and awkward person. How out of place he was! Nervous, full of fear and anxiety, he began to leave, but another maidservant met him on the way and took him back to the fire. Here he tried to compose himself, and quietly he mixed with the servants. He tried to avoid any attention. But for a second time the fateful and disastrous question was put to Peter: “ ‘Art thou also one of his disciples?’”

Here now was another chance. Now perhaps he could extinguish that burning “no”. But Peter was already sinking into the sea, wind and waves pounding and covering him. And Christ was not near enough to help him. The storm grew worse. He was drowning. “And again he denied with an oath, ‘I do not know the man! But still, contrary to the words of his mouth, his eyes begged for mercy, showed how helpless he really was.

Both irritated and amused by the apparent contradiction, the crown closed in on their victim. Peter had already betrayed himself by his broken speech. He was sinking deeper and deeper, helplessly. Unmercifully they pushed him still deeper: “’ Surely thou also art one of them, for even they speech betrays thee. Already he had uttered two horrible “nos”. To breathe just one “yes” was no longer possible. Then after a relative of Malchus, whose ear Peter had slashed off with his sword, stepped up and accused him and testified against him, the lonely disciple was completely lost. “He began to curse and to swear: ‘I do not know this man you are talking about. ’”But even his solemn oath sounded like breaking glass, clashing and clattering like the highest window of a cathedral thrown down against the stone of the street.

The crowd gathered around him, not saying a word. Their very silence accused him loudly, louder than a brood of moaning owls trapped in a hollow cave. They had discovered him. They had him. Peter was captured. And out of this silence came the crow of a cock, a lonely cock awakening the silence in the lingering dusk of early morning; and all heard the cock crow. Then it was still again. Peter suddenly remembered. Never had he felt more miserable

Even if one read more than a hundred times the words written about Peter’s denial, each time he still wants to weep for this good apostle. Peter “went out and wept bitterly.” The Greek text say “eklausn pikros,” which means he not only wept but sobbed. The chief priests and the elders, who were seated in the court to pass judgment on the accused, looked up in surprise. As Jesus was being led away, He also raised His had and turned to look to the corner from where the sobbing came. “And the Lord turned and looked upon Peter.” Already in His eyes there shone the glimmer of forgiveness.

But can we shame Peter? Should we be the ones to blame him? He who is without sin may cast the first stone at him. The apostle’s struggle for truth against his weakness was heart-moving. Of all the disciples with Christ when He was attacked in the Garden of Gethsemane Peter alone rushed to his Mater’s defense.” Jesus commanded him to put his sword away. Peter did not obey gladly, but he did obey. The Master was able to help Himself. But He did not help Himself.

Thoughtlessly, full of fear, the great disciple ran to his beloved brethen, to the dangerous den of Satan. Now all was past. Still, was this all? Under the ruins of real belief and a deep blossoming as a field of saffrons, buried beneath an avalanche. Only with words had Peter denied Christ, his Master, but not with his heart, for a cold heart cannot weep. His belief and love were soon to be revived, even stronger than at first. Here was the pillar of the Church, three times broken, three times rebuilt! Was Peter to be the solid and stable foundation rock of Christ’s Church?

Primacy of Peter

Peter was called Simon, a very common name among the Jews. It would be very close to our name of “John.” But when Jesus met this fisherman on the River Jordan, He gave him another name, “Cephas.” Nevertheless, Christ did not explain His reason yet or show the real meaning of this second name.

In the New Testament, Peter is called at first only Simon, then gradually Simon Peter, then Peter alone. Speaking of the apex of Peter’s mission, Matthew and Luke called him Simon Peter. All four evangelists generally used this double name, which expressed both the personality and the office of Peter. After Christ’s Resurrection and Ascension, as Peter’s mission came more exclusively, especially in the Acts of the Apostles. St. Paul, too, used “Cephas,” denoting Peter’s very position. But our Lord Himself came back to the fisherman’s earlier name, Simon, when He warned or reprimanded him, first before the denial, and then after his sleep during His agony in the garden.

Just as significant as this new name is the position Peter’s name has in the four lists of the apostles in Scripture. His is always the first name. Matthew plainly emphasized this: “These are the names of the twelve apostles: first Simon, who is called Peter.” This is surprising, for one could expect Andrew, who was the one who took Peter to Jesus, or John, the most beloved of the Twelve, to be first on the lists. Without exception, however, it is always Peter whose name heads the lists. He received the highest honor of the already privileged few, the Twelve whom Christ himself chose. He was among the three who were given special favors on several occasions. And the greatest privilege and honor was that he was the first of the first.

Often the evangelists distinguished Peter from the others: “Peter, and those who were with him”; Peter and the other disciples; Peter and the Eleven. Throughout the Gospels there is the unwritten opinion that Peter was the spokesman and representative of the others. When Christ spoke to the crowds gathered on the shores of Lake Genesareth, He got into “one of the boats, the one that was Simon’s.” It was Peter whom our Lord directed to pay the temple tax. Of the Twelve at the Last Supper, Peter was the first to have his feet washed by our Lord. Who would dare to say that the evidence of this honor was only accidental? The evangelists, however, left no doubt whatsoever about this intended distinction when they wrote about the promise of the keys.

Primacy of Peter Promised

Caesarea Philippi is the place where Peter’s sun shone the brightest. A few weeks before Christ and His disciples entered this district, after the defection of a whole multitude on the synagogue at Capharnaum, Simon Peter swore his allegiance to his Master: “’We have come to believe and to know that thou art the Christ, the Son of God.’” This profession of faith was but a prelude to his full credo.

When the Lord proceeded toward the north, across the borders of the Holy Land and into Caesarea Philippi, He finally put the critical question to His follower: “’Who do men say the Son of Man is?…But who do you say that I am?’” Then the first of the follower of Christ opened up as an eagle taking to flight and poured out his soul. Up and up, higher and higher, he soared as though trying to shake off the bonds of human words! Not John the Baptist, not one of the prophets, not Jeremias, not Elias was the answer, but one even greater than all of these. Peter could go higher. He had approached Christ’s messiahship and divinity and was blinded by the everlasting brilliance of these two highest, snow-covered mountain peaks. He did not hesitate any longer: “Thou are the Christ, the Son of the living God.’”

This confession to Jesus of Nazareth was so much above all human comprehension that Jesus Himself was surprised: He exclaimed with joy, “’Blessed art thou, Simon Bar-Jona, for flesh and blood has not revealed this to thee, but my Father in heaven.’” These words of Christ rolled and swelled through the air as a flood tide freeing itself through a broken dike. The fullness of God rushed over the poor fisherman standing helplessly near the edge of the sea of time:

"And I say to thee, thou are Peter, and upon this rock I will build my Church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. And I will give thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven; and whatever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever thou shalt loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven."

What power was at that moment placed into the calloused hands of a fisherman! No ruler in the world ever possessed such tremendous authority. Not merely Peter’s belief is the rock foundation, but Peter himself! Christ’s words to him were forcible and penetrating: “’I say to thee, thou are Peter, and upon this rock I will build my Church.’” My Church! The Church of Christ is one, built on a rock, Peter, so invincible that even the very gates of hell, the hostile and evil powers of destruction-“the gateway of the underworld.” To translate more literally and exactly-will never have the power to overcome it.

And Peter had the keys! They belonged to him alone, a symbol of his authority. They signify neither earthly power nor earthly riches, but the truth, the grace, the happiness of the kingdom of heaven. Peter is to the kingdom of heaven

the door and the doorkeeper and he has the keys to the door. He is the eternal doorkeeper and the eternal bearer of the keys. And I can assure you he is no jailer, but rather a guard of everlasting freedom (Peguy)

Peter could bind and loose. And even more thought-provoking, his judgment was final. It last forever. It is not questioned in heaven, for ‘’it shall be bound also in heaven, and it shall be loosed also in heaven..’” It is a frightful power, unlimited. Christ founded this power and bestowed it upon a certain few. These few were Peter and the Eleven: “’Amen I say to you, whatever you bind on earth shall be bound also in heaven….’” Without Peter the Eleven lost this power; but without the Eleven Peter retained it.

Great, indeed inconceivably great, was the power of Peter, the rock on which the Church was founded. Through his belief in Christ, the Son of the living God, he laid down his life as an everlasting foundation. He held the keys of the kingdom of heaven; to him our Lord entrusted the gold ark of truth. As lawgiver and judge, he could find forever and loose forever.

Christ never actually used the words “the primacy of Peter,” but today’s theologians show how the origin of the term was easily derived from the Gospel itself. The same is true of his other prerogatives-the primacy of honor, the primacy of jurisdiction. These are not without good foundation and reasoning.

Matthew recorded these proofs of the papacy. However, Mark omitted them, but this is readily understandable, for he wrote what Peter dictated, and Peter was compelled by his humility to pass over them. However, Luke also made no reference to them. Could these words of Matthew, then, possibly be a later interpolation? Still, they are found in all the manuscripts of Matthew’s Gospel, even the oldest. The play on words of “Kepha”-rock-is possible only in the original Aramaic. They are not a later insertion. Did Matthew by chance exaggerate when he wrote about Peter just to make him appear more brilliant than Paul?

One can quietly read through the Gospel and find the answer. Matthew was careful when he recorded these important words; “’Thou art Peter (the rock) and upon this rock I will build my church.’” Precisely this word “Peter”-Kephas,” or “rock” is found not only in Matthew, but in all four Gospels of the New Testament in one particular passage. And in all four Christ was speaking only to Simon Bar-Jona. Here the apostles’s own personal name was lost and forgotten. Christ renamed him “rock,” and Matthew, Mark, Luke, John, and even Paul were careful to note this. This in itself shows that it was not Matthew’s exaggeration, nor a latter addition to the original text, but the full intention of Christ Himself to make this fisherman the foundation of the new Church.

And there is more proof. There is a passage in Luke that echoes Matthew 16:18:

“Simon, Simon, behold, Satan has desired to have you, that he may sift you as wheat. But I have prayed for thee, that thy faith may not fail; and do thou, when once thou has turned again, strengthen thy brethen.”

These words were spoken directly to Peter as Christ was predicting the denial. So after Peter turned again, after he found his way once more, he was to strengthen his brethen. This was his mission. Is this support and strengthening of the others in their faith not the very same thing that Matthew expressed when he wrote, “Thou are Peter, the rock”?

Primacy of Peter Bestowed

Even more important and more heart-moving are the words of the evangelist John concerning the primacy of Peter. Matthew and Luke related our Lord’s promise of the primacy. John recorded its fulfillment, which took place after the Resurrection, during those days filled at once with joy and melancholy. The risen Savior appeared to seven of His disciples by the Sea of Tiberias. They had just made a sudden and remarkable catch of fish; certainly they must at this time have recalled their first miraculous catch of fish. In quiet awe of their risen Master, the uneasy group sat down to breakfast. He was a stranger, but they knew Him. “And none of those reclining dared ask him, ‘Who are thou?’ knowing that it was the Lord.”

Then Jesus took Peter off to the side, Once again they stood face to face, as they did on the Jordan, as they did a few weeks before in the courtyard of the high priest. Peter’s heart stopped beating. His most difficult hour had come. He certainly was glad and relieved that his Master had forgiven him. Already on Easter morning Christ had sent the women who were at the tomb specifically to Peter with a message for him. Luke explicitly stated that the Lord appeared to Peter, to Peter alone, before He appeared to the other apostles. The Lord was good and merciful to Peter, and His goodness and mercy endures forever. Never will the “rock’ crumble! The Savior could even then have taken this promised power and authority away from him. He could have given it to another, perhaps to John, who stayed with his dying Master to the very end through the storm of the Crucifixion on Calvary.

Then “Jesus said to Simon Peter, ‘Simon, son of John, dost thou love more than these do?’” Peter was astounded. The Lord had asked him, Peter, about love! “Yes, Lord, thou knowest that I love thee.’” Peter felt let down and lost. How could the Lord possibly begin to imagine that “these” might love Him “more” than he love Him? Quietly Jesus said to him, “’Feed my lambs.’” Peter’s eyes, full of joy, but somewhat alarmed, beamed with pride. In spite of his denial and desertion he was to feed the flock of Christ.

And the Lord “said to him a second time, ‘Simon, son of John, dost thou love me?’” Then Peter was confused, bewildered, even embarrassed. Did the Lord really doubt? How could the Master have any reason to doubt His faithful servant? Quickly, loudly, firmly he repeated his answer, as if to drown out that unhappy oath and curse in the courtyard of the high priest still ringing in his ears, “ ‘Yes, Lord, thou knowest that I love thee.’” Jesus “said to him, “Feed my lambs.’” Kindly, with mercy and pardon, the Lord reprimanded Peter. Now Peter could breathe freely again.

Yet, “a third time he said to him, ‘Simon, son of John, dost thou love me?’” Peter could not hold himself back anymore. He wept. He wept as he did when the cock was crowing. Throwing himself down, he protested, and swore, and entreated, and begged, “’Lord, thou knowest all things, thou knowest that I love thee.’” Yes, the Lord knows all. He knew that even the very one who had denied Him also loved Him. The third time Jesus said, “’Feed my sheep.’”

Meaning of the Word “Love”

In the Greek text there are two different words for the term “to love.” Each has a slightly different connotation. But the English translation of this passage avoids this difference by using one word, ”love,” for the Greek words “agapan” and “philein”; the Latin text, however, distinguishes by using “diligere” and “amare” respectively. When our Lord questioned Peter, He used the word agapan. Agapan (diligere) denotes a love of respect and reverence, of awe and esteem. But Peter invariably answered all three times with the word philein. Philein (amare), on the other hand, denotes a love of feeling and sentiment, of affection and attachment.

After the denial Peter did not dare to promise his Master again a real agapan, a love ready to sacrifice. But Christ was pleased and satisfied with Peter’s love. When Peter fed the lambs and sheep of Christ’s flock, he proved by his vigilant care and ceaseless concern that his philein, a love of sentiment, was also an agapan, a love of reverence. It was not only a heartfelt love, but also an active love.

And here the profound “bilingual” conversation between the Master and the servant on Lake Tiberias is concluded. Three times Jesus asked Simon whether he loved Him. And three times Simon said he loved Him. This was much more than a mere reconciliation after the apostle had denied that he knew the God-Man. The three questions and answers should be for all ages an expression of the primacy of Peter. The mission of the leader of the apostles was to care lovingly for and to love carefully the flock of the Good Shepherd. He was charged to guard it in the time of peril, to feed it in time of need, to help it in the time of difficulty, but not to domineer. He had to be a knight, a servant of the servants of God-servus servorum Dei!-not the chief.

Even so, Christ was not preventing him from having full authority in His Church. The Saviour Himself spoke of the “rock” and the “keys,” of the power to “bind” and to “loose.” But all power in the Church begins and ends with God, and therefore it begins and ends with love, for God is pure love. For this very reason Peter was made the foundation of the Church, that he could feed the lambs and sheep. For this very reason Peter was given the keys, that he could open the gates of heaven and close the gates of hell. “Simon, son of John, do you love me?…If you love Me, then feed My flock!…”

After the last soul of Christ’s Church has been lovingly cared for, then will we understand more fully why our Lord entrusted this high office to a man who once fell by the wayside. The first leader of the new Church exercised his authority from day to day, but only with the constant recollection and realization of his own human weakness. Neither proudly nor heartlessly did he take up his new duties, but as one who himself was burdened with weak flesh. And because he was weak, Peter was “able to have compassion on the ignorant and erring.” His human weakness also kept him on his guard gain pride.

Just as St. Paul had to endure a thorn in his flesh, a messenger of Satan to torment him, lest the greatness of his revelations made him proud, so St. Peter always felt the thorn of his denial, nor did his greatness make him proud. Only God could build a solid foundation on a weak rock. This is a fine example of divine irony; God chose a weak man, so that in this weak man His strength would be glorified. Peter, the weak man chosen by God, is not to be praised in himself. God alone is to praised, and then His chosen instrument is praised insofar as he is united with, and strengthened in, Christ, the God-Man.

Peter in the Acts of the Apostles

Books have been written about the apostle Peter which present information gathered exclusively from the Gospels. Others take their information from the Acts of the Apostles alone. Here both sources are being used in order to obtain a fuller and clearer picture of the first of the Twelve. To a certain extend the Gospels only touch upon what Peter did. The Acts, however, give a larger insight into the personality of this apostle. The words of Peter in this part of the New Testament are copious. The first eleven chapters have sometimes been referred to as the “Acts of Peter.”

After Christ’s Ascension into heaven, surprisingly, but understandingly, the first head of the infant Church immediately took up the reins and began to drive forward. Peter-not John, not James, not another of the Twelve-was in the first place, in the leading and decisive position.

Peter ordered another apostle to be chosen to take the place of the betrayer, Judas, and even pointed out the essential qualities the new candidate had to have.

Peter delivered the first public sermon on the first Pentecost.

Peter performed the first miracle of the apostolic Church when he healed a lame beggar.

Peter stood up before the rulers, elders, scribes, Annas, Caiphas, John, Alexander; he stood up before all in the council chamber and let the dawn of morning shine upon these men of darkness:

“Jesus Christ of Nazareth…(He is) ‘the stone that was rejected by you, the builders, which has become the corner stone.’ Neither is there salvation in any other.”

Peter called down the justice of God upon the hypocritical Ananias and Sapphira, and they both fell dead in his presence. He went with John from the mother church in Jerusalem to Samaria to visit and to confirm. He made the first apostolic excommunication when he met Simon, the unrepenting magican.

After the conversion of Saul, Peter made the first journey through Judea, Galilee, and Samaria. The very important decision to receive the first Gentile, Cornelius, into the Church was made by Peter.

And Peter was the one who stood up at the council of the apostles, the first Church Council in Jerusalem, and interpreted and explained the Law of Moses as it applied to the Gentiles:

“Why then do you now try to test God by putting on the neck of the disciples a yoke which neither our fathers nor we have been able to bear? But we believe that we are save through the grace of the Lord Jesus, just as they are.”

At all the important turning-points of the apostolic Church Peter was there to bind and to loose, to close and to open. He stood as a rock, as Christ had said. God Himself sanctioned in heaven what Peter bound or loosed on earth.

And the multitude of men and women who believed in the Lord increased still more, so that they carried the sick into the streets and laid them on beds and pallets that, when Peter passed, his shadow at least might fall of some of them.

The apocryphal “Acts of the Apostles” go one step beyond Luke’s historically true narration about Peter’s leadership. Naively they narrate how Peter supposedly established a different province and separate office of the Church for each apostle.

An Ethiopic "Acts of Peter" even goes into detail, falsely maintaining that Peter installed Simon, the son of Cleophas, in Jerusalem and Bartholomew in the "Oasis"; Andrew he sent to Greece and Philip to Africa; James and Thomas were appointed to India; Jude Thaddeus was given a domain in Syria; and John had his province in Ephesus. But these legends which conceal Peter's real authority, his historically true work.

More surprising than his authority itself is the manner in which Peter exercised this authority in the Acts. Here it clearly manifested that not only the office of Peter matured, but also his person. In no other apostles after the first Pentecost is the change so patent as it is in Peter. When one reads the Gospels, he cannot help but fear what will happen when this bold and uneducated fisherman takes up his office. How astounded the reader is as the contrast takes form in the Acts!

From rash to clever, from weak to strong, from uneducated to docile-was this same Peter? Was this the same man who only a few weeks earlier had shriveled up on from of a shy maid-servant? Was this the same apostle who denied Christ and swore, "'I do not know this man'"? And now, before thousands he proclaimed with a loud voice, "'God has made both Lord and Christ, this Jesus whom you crucified.'" In front of the high council, in face of certain imprisonment, torture, and death, he spoke out clearly and with equal wisdom:

"Whether it is right in the sight of God to listen to you rather than to God, decide for yourselves. For we cannot but speak of what we have seen and heard."

When the high authorities wanted to suppress this new doctrine, even if it meant using force, Peter was quick to remind them with sublime and simple and straightforward words of the centuries-old Christian conscience, "'We must obey God rather than men.'" Was this Peter the Peter of the Gospels?

He never retracted his words so courageously delivered, not when they imprisoned him, not when they threatened to kill him and the whole group of apostles, not even when he was already impatiently waiting for the morning of his execution by Herod. He showed the same promptness and conscientiousness in directing the internal affairs of the Church, such as the well-handled, dangerous situation conjured up by Ananias, Sapphira, and Simon Magus.

Amid internal and external trials, Peter was truly the "rock." In the Gospels he sank in the face of wind and wave; in the Acts he stands firmly, making true his words, "'Lord, with thee I am ready to go both to prison and to death!'"

Peter and Paul

At one time a question arose in the young Church concerning the admission of Gentiles into the ranks of Christianity. Thus began what has often been called the "conflict at Antioch," a conflict with a long and painful history. It is profoundly symbolic that Peter had to suffer for the growth of the young Christian community and its formation into the universal Church. This was the cross of the first pontiff.

With the baptism of the first Gentile, Cornelius, Peter had made a great decision: the Gentiles as well as the Chosen People had a place in the kingdom of God.

"You know it is not permissible for a Jew to associate with a foreigner or to visit him; but God has shown me that I should not call any man common or unclean...Can anyone refuse the water to baptize these, seeing that they have received the Holy Spirit just as we did?" And he ordered them to be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ.

This far-reaching decision only too soon brought this criticism and reproach of the Jews down upon the leader of the apostles, but he remained firm in his decision.

In this instance Peter used his authority with tact and discretion. His words were not loud and sharp; he did not thunder and bluster, "Sic volo, sic jubeo, stet pro ratione voluntas!" rather he "began to explain the matter to them in order." It was an understanding but firm Peter who justified this practice so difficult for all to comprehend. He explained,

"If God gave to them (the Gentiles) the same grace as he gave to us who believed in the Lord Jesus Christ, who was I that I should be able to interfere with God?" On hearing this they held their peace, and glorified God, saying, "Therefore to the Gentiles also God has given repentance unto life."

This conflict, the question of whether a Gentile cold be a Christian, flared up a second time. The same circle of narrow-minded Christian Jews insisted on teaching : "'Unless you be circumcised after the manner of Moses, you cannot be saved."" Strongly opposed to this doctrine, Paul and Barnabas tied to check it with all the apostolic power and vigor they had. This unsolved question was brought up at the council of the apostles in Jerusalem in the year 49. The atmosphere tingled with excitement. Discussions were long and forceful, for the question was a weighty one, and the answer would affect the Christian world for ages to come.

The apostles and presbyters debated. Again Peter was there, no longer a soldier wielding a sword but a leader who was prudent and discreet, thoughtful and considerate. He finally stood up to give a decision on the question, and it was made in favor of the Gentile Christians:

"God, who knows the heart, born witness by giving them the Holy Spirit just as he did to us; and he made no distinction between us and them, but cleansed their hearts by faith. Why then do you now try to test God by putting on the neck of the disciples a yoke which neither our fathers nor we have been able to bear?

But this first Church Council had not settled the issue for all time. There was more to the problem, and soon the gaps and loopholes begin to appear, and to widen. In his Epistles to the Galatians, St. Paul added a further note. The council had made no clarification about the practice of the Jewish Christians adhering to the Covenant of the Old Testament. There had seemed to be no immediate necessity to make such a clarification. The Jewish Christians faithfully held on to the Old Law, and this set them apart from the converted Gentiles. Naturally, this led to tension and trouble where the two lived side by side. And Peter found himself between the two.

Soon after the apostles had returned from the meeting in Jerusalem, Peter set out for Antioch, and there, unafraid, he cared for the Gentiles, even eating with them. But in his Epistle St. Paul reproved Peter,

For before certain person came from James, he used to eat with the Gentiles; but when they came, be began to withdraw and to separate himself, fearing the circumcised.

This was a weakness of Peter.

But was this really weakness? After all, the good apostle found himself in a difficult position, caught between the Jewish Christians and the Gentile Christians. If he ate with the Gentiles, he alienated himself from the Jews. If he sat at the table with the Jews, he hurt the Gentiles. Already twice he had settle disputes in favor of the Gentiles. So was it not only human and pardonable if this third time he made just one concession the Jews? Anyway, was the matter not unimportant, an ordinary, day-to-day problem, or a mere misunderstanding?

Paul's sharp eyes, however, certainly say deeper into the question. He made it clear that Peter was not to accept the Gentiles one day and then exclude them the next. As it was, Peter considered them only as second-class Christians. Despite the fact they were promised freedom from the laws of the Jews, they were obliged to change their way of life to the Jewish mode of living if they wanted to be included in Peter's circle of friends when the Jews were present. This, however, was a deadly danger, which could have been fatal for the entire mission of converting the Gentiles. It was betrayal of the very being of Christianity, the existence of which was not sustained by the letter of the Jewish law printed on paper, but by the shedding of the blood of Christ crucified.

Already the example of Peter had left a dangerous crevice in the rock-like friendship of the Christians at Antioch. Along with Peter other Christian Jews withdrew from the Gentiles circles; and even Barnabas, a disciple from the ranks of the Gentiles, left his own. Provoked at this situation, Paul wrote, in the Epistle to the Galatians,

But when Cephas came to 'Antioch, I withstood him to his face, because he was deserving of blame...But when I saw that they were not walking uprightly according to the truth of the Gospel, I said to Cephas before them all: If thou, though a Jew, livest like the Gentiles, and not like the Jews, how it is that thou dost compel the Gentiles to live like the Jews?

It would be difficult to erase this sharp and bitter statement or to soften this hard and swift blow. But what harm can it do to realize that Peter and Paul were only human? Actually Paul was right. Had St. Paul not intervened, Peter's actions would have caused a disaster: the Christian Jews might have gone back to Judaism and the converting of the Gentiles would have been halted. Paul dared not be silent. He had to remove the impending danger. Nevertheless, one could also be of the opinion that Paul might have spoken in a more conciliatory tone-fortiter in re, suaviter in modo-firmly, but gently. However, Paul was always firm in his intentions and just as firm in his actions, full of energy and vigor.

In the heat of this ordeal the gold of Peter's character shone forth. Humbly he accepted Paul's sharp, public censure. He did not seek refuge behind his authority. He did not try to excuse or justify himself, nor did he dispute with Paul. This passage in Galatians shows that Paul won a complete victory in this mater of the difference between himself and Peter. The rebuked apostle did not retort. And shortly thereafter, in the closing of his second Epistle, St. Peter wrote "our most dear brother Paul." These are almost the very last words of Simon Peter that have been recorded.



Jn 3:16 For God so loved the world, as to give his only begotten Son; that whosoever believeth in him, may not perish, but may have life everlasting.
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PostSubyek: Re: The Twelve Apostles   10th March 2013, 15:52


How noticeable is the change in this son of Jona from the first of the Gospels to the last of the Epistles! Only his simplicity was consistent throughout, and this simplicity is the beautiful ornament of his authority, which he exercised so humbly that he endured much criticism and censure. He neither feared his task nor avoided his duty. Truly St. Peter's humility is no less worthy of admiration than St. Paul's frankness.

The convert from Tarsus, however, did not leave the scene proud and boasting. His friendly ties with the fisherman from Bethsaida remained firm. This incident at Antioch has certainly occasioned too much talk and imagination. There are even those who would interpret Paul's remark as evidence and proof against the primacy of Peter. They see in this conflict the expression and explosion of two opposing tendencies in the early Church. And soon they are speaking of "Peterism," and then "Paulism." Others attempt to maintain that the conflict between Peter and Simon the magician, in Samaria and later in Rome, is merely a camouflage of the conflict between Peter and Paul. The Bible itself refutes such an interpretation.

The same Epistle to the Galatians which reports this conflict between the two apostles also testifies to Paul's recognition and acceptance of the authority of Peter. He acknowledged that he must go to Jerusalem to see Cephas, and he stayed with him for fifteen days. He classed Cephas among "the men of authority" from whom he received the sanction of this mission to preach to the Gentiles. And the incident itself at Antioch is much more a proof for the prominent position of Peter in the first years of the Church than it is against it. It was precisely because St. Paul knew and understood and recognized Peter's position that he demanded from him so impetuously and pitilessly an immediate end to his current course of action.

St. Paul did not oppose the authority of Peter, but rather the dangerous way in which this leader of the Church was handling that authority. He did not want dissension in the Church; he wanted unity and friendship between the Gentiles and this "man of stone" on whom the Lord had founded His Church. No one could have been more opposed to Petrine and Paulistic factions with the Church than St. Paul himself. When he was reforming the various factions in the Christian community of Corinth="I am of Paul," or "I am of Apollos," or "I am of Cephas," or "I am of Christ"-St. Paul wrote to them,

Now I beseech you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you all say the same thing; and that there be no dissensions among you, but that you be perfectly united in one mind and in one judgment... Has Christ been divided up? Was Paul crucified for you? Or were you baptized in the name of Paul?

The liturgy and Christian art from the first century down to the present day emphasize the friendship between Peter and Paul. In a sermon St. John Chrysostom called the two "the apostle team." Ancient pictures depict them as brothers, and in pictures of the Twelve painted since the third century they occupy the places of honor of the immediate right and left of the Lord. In the liturgy their feast is celebrated on the day of their death, June 29. However, because of the great distance between the two churches of St Peter and St. Paul in Rome and the difficulties of holding services in both on the same day, the feast was divided, and June 30 was made the day on which to honor St. Paul.

Whenever St. Peter is named on the liturgical calendar, St. Paul is also mentioned. It may be that art and the liturgy have drawn from legend, especially from the "Acts of Peter" and the "Acts of Paul," which originated between the years 170 and 250. These legends go far beyond the personal friendship of Peter and Paul. The two supposedly became contemporaries in Rome with joint responsibility in one mission; they were confined in the same prison and underwent the same punishment; they suffered a common death on the same day. Poetic fantasy is the only authority for these legends, but nevertheless they would not have arisen had not a truly sincere friendship existed between the two apostles or had there been a constant friction between them.

It is the evangelist Luke who unites Peter and Paul as brothers in the first and second parts of the Acts of the Apostles. The Acts is the first complete picture we have of Peter and Paul together. In spite of the day at Antioch, they were not opponents. They were neither rivals nor enemies, but rather two rays from the one divine Sun. They were one voice with two echoes, preaching the one divine Word over the mountains and valleys of the earth. Christ was one in both, and both were once in Christ. To Him, all in one and one in all, be honor and glory!

Peter's Mission

After the Ascension of the risen Savior until the year 42 or 43, Simon Peter stayed and worked with the other apostles in Palestine. St Luke recorded in the Acts Peter's visits to the churches in Judea and Galilee and Samaria.

A passage in Galatians may have been the basis for the supposition that Peter and Paul divided various lands between themselves, and that Peter preached the Gospel only to the Jews and Paul to the Gentiles: "They saw that to me was committed the gospel for the uncircumcised, as to Peter that for the circumcised." But actually the apostolate was not so rightly exclusive. Peter preached not only to the Jews, but also to the Gentiles. One of his first sermons he delivered in the house of Cornelius, a Gentile. On the other hand, Paul journeyed not only to the Gentile, but also to the Jews.

The persecution of Herod Agrippa in the year 42/43 was the divine signal for the apostles to leave the small corner of Palestine and go out to the four corners of the earth. After the martyrdom of James the Great, Peter was saved from a similar fate by an angel. While the guards were drowsy with sleep, he stumbled through the prison door, which opened itself before him. Wondering if it was reality and not just a dream or a vision, he soon found himself in the street, a free man. Immediately he made his way to Mark's house in Jerusalem, where many had gathered to pray. After relating the story of his escape, and before he departed, he merely said, " ' Tell this to James (the Younger) and to the brethren.' "

Luke certainly did not make a very precise report; apparently he was trying to maintain Peter's secrecy: "And he departed, and went to another place." About this other place much has been conjectured. According to an old, but certainly not completely reliable tradition, Peter at that time had already gone to Rome. It was during the first years of the reign of Emperor Claudius (41-54). The Bible itself confirms this, and the Epistle of the Apostle Paul to the Romans, written during the winter of 57-58, presupposes a flourishing Christianity in Rome. The journeying Paul excused himself for not being able to come to Rome as he had intended. Perhaps this is an allusion to Peter as the first pastor of Rome.

Around the year 50 the Jews were banished from Rome by a royal decree. During this exile from Rome, Peter made a journey to Jerusalem (49-50) to attend the first Church Council. After this meeting Peter set out for Antioch in Syria where his open conflict with St. Paul was to occur. This historian Eusebius considered Peter the founder of Christianity in the community of Antioch. Jerome called him the first bishop of this city. Gregory related that Simon labored for seven years in this capital of Syria. And the liturgy solemnizes February 22 as the feast of the bishopric of Peter in Antioch. The conflict at this Syrian city merely stands as a reminder of Peter's labors as a bishop. But Ignatius, a bishop martyred around the year 110, named Evodius rather than Peter as first bishop of this capital. And Ignatius himself was the second bishop of this see.

After leaving Antioch, where he spent a considerable amount of time, Peter traveled through the provinces of Pontus, Galatians, Cappadocia, Asia and Bithynia, districts of present-day Turkey. Later he wrote two Epistles to the faithful of these Christian communities of Asia Minor. In these letters he scarcely permitted himself any personal reference or remarks to the faithful, but his numerous missionary works in this district are mentioned.

The legends concerning the apostolic works of Peter and his brother Andrew in this region on the Black sea and in surrounding areas are very old. They were acknowledged as early as Origen (185-254). A local tradition from Sinope in Pontus testifies to the long stay and numerous works of the two brothers apostles. According to this same tradition the two separated in Sinope, Peter traveling to the West, Andrew traveling to the East.

At this time the missioner also visited Corinth. His stop in this city even gave rise to a faction that misunderstood Peter-"I am Cephas," Clement of Rome alluded to this visit, and Dionysius, bishop of Corinth, in his letter to a Roman community of Christians between the year 170 and 175 quite expressly testified to the apostolic works of Peter in Corinth:

Both (Peter and Paul), as seedlings of our community, have instructed our Corinth. In life manner they have instructed Italians also. And now they have died as martyrs.

Peter in Rome

Of special significance are Peter's sojourn and activity in Rome. The traditions of the Oriental and Occidental Church testify with one voice to these , and to the death of St. Peter in Rome. An earlier testimony of the Western Church is found in the writings of Bishop Dionysius. But already a decade before this, Pope Clermont of Rome (81-96) wrote in his exhortations to the Christians community of Corinth about the offerings "of the good apostles, Peter and Paul, who withstood torments and tortures as a magnificent example for us (in Rome).

In a letter to the Romans, St. Ignatius, bishop and martyr (98-110), spoke of these two leaders of the Church as the teaching authority of the Church in Rome: "I do not command you as Peter and Paul." And St Irenaeus, bishop of Lyons (177), testified in detail that Peter and Paul preached in Rome and established Christianity there.

To this testimony of the spoken word is added the silent, but no less important, proof of old Christian monuments. A whole group of sarcophagi in Rome of the third, fourth, and fifth centuries have various scenes of Peter's life pictured on them. As early as the first century the remembrance of Peter was more evident and active in Rome than in any other community of the East or West. A singularly important proof of the fact that Peter worked and died in Rome is the location of his tomb. Around the year 200, Gaius, a Roman priest, pointed out to one of the teachers of a heresy that he could show the heretic "the signs of victory" of the graves of the apostles, Peter's in the Vatican, Paul's on the way to Ostia.

To our own century was allotted the task of rediscovering Peter's tomb. It was uncovered under the Altar of the Confession in St. Peter's basilica, exactly where the earliest reports of traditions had promised it would be. The research and investigation, which lasted for almost ten years, were made public in November, 1951, in the monumental two-volume work: Esplorazioni sotto la Confessing di S. Pietro in Vaticano.

This laborious and painstaking excavation, approximately twenty-three feet under the present-day floor of St. Peter's uncovered a large pagan burial place. This discovery confirmed the old Roman tradition that Peter was buried on a Vatican hill in a pagan cemetery. In this great necropolis, over which a beautiful mausoleum was built around the year 50, stands a comparatively small part, the campo centrale, which lies under the middle aisle of St. Peter's. It this central section, directly under the main altar, the main research was concentrated.

In this place three distinct groups of graves were discovered, from different ages, in different forms, with different adornments. One of these sepulchers, which according to the recent findings, dates back to the first century and resembles in its form a capuchin's cowl, is, significantly, set above all the others. This one grave, a small, plain surface, but very conspicuously placed, remained unopened evening the middle of the second century when a great number of rich, pagan burial places covered this district. Apparently the other graves were grouped around this one grave as closely as possible, on all sides of it, under it, and later, as the level of the floor changed with remodeling, and reconstructions, even it. Around the middle of the second century a wall, the so-called "red wall," was built around this burial place to protect it. Under this "red wall" the remains of another wall were found which served also as a protection and an embellishment of this distinguished grace.

Throughout the centuries which followed, this small place remained the central point. Even in the second half of the second century it was known as monument of honor, as the priest Gaius made mention. The tropaion remained until the fourth century when Emperor Constantine had the basilica of St. Peter erected. "During the persecution of Emperor Valerian, around the year 258, the mortal remains of the apostle Peter were removed to a place of interment in the Vatican hill, just as the remains of the apostles Paul were taken to the road to Ostia for protection. Such a place was the catacombs of St. Sebastian on the Apian way. As the persecutions diminished, these relics war again restored to their original places of honor.

This recent research and excavation threw light also upon the great technical and psychological difficulties Constantine must have encountered when we set out to build the great basilica. But these difficulties are in themselves proof that the choice of a site for St. Peter's Church was not made on the basis of usefulness alone. The site chosen was appropriate, but practically it was almost unwise to build on that spot. The building site of this mammoth monument, directly above the grave of St. Peter, was chosen on the basis of good authority. After many years of research and study and digging to find the grave of Peter, the late Pope Pius XII, giving an audience on December 19, 1951, could say that the goal attained had far surpassed the expectations of scholars, and that the historical and theological value and significance of this unique, archaeological discovery could escape the notice and attention of no one.

Peter himself gave evidence that he resided in Rome: "The church which is at Babylon, chosen together with you, greets you; and so does my son Mark." This "Babylon' was a cryptic designation of the city of Rome, as attested to as early as the ages of Papias, Clement of Rome, Jerome. In those days there was a Babylon in Western Asia or the Near East, on the Euphrates River, and there was an important city with the same name in Egypt. But Peter could have been referring to neither of these; it has never been known that he worked in either of the two. On the other hand, the Rome of that time was often called Babylon by the persecuted Christians. For example, this is true in various passages of St. John's Apocalypse. Mark's stay in Rome is , in addition, confirmed by other testimony.

This was the chosen community of "Babylon"! Cries of fright, terror, horror echo between the lines written about early Rome. But one has only to reread the first chapter of the Epistle to the Romans, the short but exact description of the vile immorality of the first century Rome, and he will not only hear but also understand these frightening and terrifying and horrifying cries:

As they have resolved against possessing the knowledge of God, has given them up to a reprobate sense, so that they do what is not fitting; being filled with all iniquity, malice, immorality, avarice, wickedness; being full of envy, murder, contention, deceit; malignity; being whisperers, detractors, hateful to God, irreverent, proud, haughty, plotters of evil; disobedient to parents, foolish, dissolute, without affection, without fidelity, without mercy.

It seems Peter came to Rome the first time during the reign of Emperor Claudius (41-54), and the second time during the reign of Nero (54-68). Claudius was a whimsical, narrow minded specimen of all that is odd. He tolerated the regiment of his first wife, Mescaline-an impudent character whose shamelessness became a byword-and put up with an army of Gripping, his niece and second wife-an ambitious criminal who later on was to poison the emperor with her own hand in order to bring Nero, a son by her first marriage, to the throne.

The name of Nero became synonymous with murderer. He schemed. He contrived. He was a hypocrite. Anything good he stifled and suppressed, unless it furthered his unprecedented self-indulgence. Before food and drink he loved sensuality and blood, and slow torture. He poisoned his stepbrother Britannic. With typical cowardice and hypocrisy, he murdered even his mother, the last of his own family he had left. The one who raised him to the throne, he slew his first wife, a stepsister, Octavia, and kicked to death his second wife, Poppea Sabina, a Roman matron. He was a mad brute, good only at displaying an unprecedented extravagance, and for this profligacy the poor of the entire Roman Empire had to suffer. With certainty can he be accused of the horrible catastrophe of burning Rome in the year 64, as Tacitus implied. He made a definite effort to draw all suspicion away from himself by accusing the Christians in the city. But the eternal glow of the glory of the innocent martyrs has long since smothered the last flickering coal of the burning Babylon

What did the humble fisherman of Bethsaida accomplish with his cross and Gospel in such a Babylon? Did his words of admonition, his message from the crucified Christ, Saviour and Redeemer, go unheeded and unheard there in the midst of the blatant pomp, lust, and sensuality of the powerful but degenerating empire? Was his voice drowned by the waves and shells of paganism even more hopelessly than when he at one time sank into the deadly jaws of the sea? Let it not be forgotten that St. Peter him self called it the "chosen community of Babylon." a flower in a swamp, a dawn breaking through a stormy night.

Today the old Rome lies in ruins. Many of its rulers went down in history under a curse. Over the tomb of this simple fisherman is arched a huge dome of triumph. Nor far from this magnificent creation a bold obelisk towers up into the heavens. Even our modern warfare, so sweeping, sudden, and all-destructive, has not damaged them. Christus vincit, Christus regnat, Christus imperat! Were this monument and its victorious inscription and even the mammoth pillars and vaults of the great basilica someday to fall by the evil deeds of men, the rock on which Christ built His Church would never break. Till the end of time and through all eternity Christ will be the Victor, Christ will be the Ruler, Christ will be the Lord!

This is Rome, the Eternal City, the Rome of Peter and the Rome of Paul and the Rome of the martyrs. Christians kiss its holy ground which has drunk the tears and blood of the apostles and martyrs. Thankfully we pray the Credo that Peter and Paul brought to the lands of the West from the East, from the rough and rugged hills of the sunrise to the smooth and level plains of the sunset. Peter and Paul, safeguard your Credo for the whole world!

Peter Discourses

The teachings of St. Peter have been directly preserved in his eight discourses in the Acts of the Apostles and in his own two Epistles. Certainly these "discourses" from the Acts are only extracts, very brief sketches by St. Luke; but they do not falsify the thought of Peter, nor are we left with an incomplete picture of the apostles's style and temperament. They are truly worthy documents of the words of 'Simon, valuable records of an old tradition handed down to posterity. They are the oldest discourses, even two decades older than the first Epistle of Paul, the earliest stream freed by a warm spring sun from the hold of a white-cold winter.

Compared with the Pauline Epistles, or even the Gospel of St. John, the sermons of Peter are simple; but they are no poorer in content. Peter's influence can be felt throughout the entire New Testament.

These eight discourses-which are only too infrequently noticed and utilized-are the following: the speech delivered before the choosing of Matthias as an apostle, the discourse on the first Pentecost, the admonition to the people after the miraculous cure of a lame beggar; the two appeals of self-defense before the high priest; the talk in the house of Cornelius; the explanation at Jerusalem concerning circumcision and the address at the first Church Council of the apostle.

There are three of these discourses which stand out above the others: the bold sermon before the vast crowds on Pentecost; the direct answer to the curious troublemakers on the temple porch called Solomon's after the healing of the lame beggar; and the beautiful explanation, brief but meaningful, of the mission of Christ to Cornelius.

What is so striking in all eight of these is their strong connection with and dependence of the Old Testament. Peter worked tirelessly to point out the Old Testament proofs for the New Testament. He constantly quoted from the books of the Old Testament. In his first discourse, when speaking to the apostles about choosing another apostle to replace the betrayer Judas, he saw in the incident a fulfillment of a prophecy from the Book of Psalms. Pentecost was foretold already by the prophet Joel, and also by the psalmist David. While speaking to the people at the temple, the apostles, who had just worked a miracle by healing a crippled beggar, stated what " ' God fulfilled what he had announced by the mouth of all the prophets.'"

St. Peter used the same approach in his discourses that Matthew had used in his Gospel. Both used the Old Testament to prove the teachings of Christ to the Jews. It has been said that the Old Testament became meaningless after Christ, but even the first pontiff of the Church condemned such a false opinion. The New is contained in the Old; and in the New is the Old fulfilled

The main theme of all Peter's sermons is Jesus Christ. All his thoughts are directed to Him, and everything he says is derived from the words of His Master. To such an extent are Peter's discourses centered around Jesus that, if the Pauline Epistles or even the Gospels were lost, one could reconstruct the life of our Lord from these simple and plain speeches.

What St. Peter spoke to Cornelius remains today as a compact summary of the Gospels:

"He sent his word to the children of Israel, preaching peace through Jesus Christ (who is Lord of all). You know what took place throughout Judea; for he begain in Galilee after the baptism preached by John; how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and with power, and he went about doing good and healing all who were in the power of the devil; for God was with him. And we are witnesses of all that he did in the country of the Jews and in Jerusalem; and yet they killed him, hanging him on a tree. But God raised him on the third day and caused him to be plainly seen, not by all the people, but by witnesses designated beforehand by God, that is, by us, who ate and drank with him after he had risen from the dead. And he charged us to preach to the people and to testify that he it is who has been appointed by God to be judge of the living and of the dead. To him all the prophets bear witness, that through his name all who believe in him may receive forgiveness of sins."

Just as the preaching of Christ was very chose to the heart of the St. Paul, so was the Resurrection of Christ to Peter. In his discourse before the people as well as in his self-defense before the high priests, Peter came to speak about this basic truth and fundamental doctrine of Christianity. His sermons on Pentecost is in its essence an Easter morning sermon. This special calling to preach the glory of the Resurrection of our Lord, particularly to his Jewish listeners, was not only a theological necessity, but also a psychological one; he had to free his audience of the shock and scandal of the cross.

It was Peter who was always proving that Jesus, despite His Crucifixion, was the true, prophesied Messias. The divinity of Christ is referred to by Peter in his discourses again and again. Jesus is the "Holy One," "the Holy and Just One," "the author of life," the "Lord of all" or simply the "Lord." "'Neither is there salvation in any other.'" "'Him God exalted with his right hand to be Prince and Savior.'" Peter had anticipated and struck out against what Paul and John later were also to combat.

There is still a third thought that dominated the words and thoughts of Peter: the Redemption. This the prophets had foretold, and in Jesus Christ it was fulfilled. "'Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit,'" so the Pentecost sermon resounds, exhorting, admonishing. In Peter's words the Christian credo shines brilliantly, like a morning breaking over the horizon.

Peter's Two Epistles

The Petrine Epistles go beyond the discourses recorded in the Acts of the Apostles. The first begins with greetings "to the sojourners of the Dispersion in Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia and Bithynia." The Christian communities of these countries in the north and northwest of Asis Minor, some of them established by St. Paul, were in a very trying position. The pagans considered them as evildoers, and the converts suffered because of their "godless wickedness" in a truly Christian manner.

By Silvanus, the faithful brother as I account him, I have written to you thus briefly, exhorting and testifying that this is the true grace of God. Stand firmly in it.

This Epistle sounds like an echo from the Sea of Tiberias: "'Feed my lambs...Feed my sheep'" As the shepherd of the entire flock of our Lord, the prince of the apostles admonished the faithful, more with love than with logic, to patience and perseverance. The very first thought is surprising: the nobility of the Christians. More masterful words about the dignity of man have scarcely ever been written:

You know that you were redeemed from the vain manner of life handed down from your fathers, not with perishable things, with silver or gold, but with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot...You, however, are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a purchased people; that you may proclaim the perfections of him who has called you out of darkness light.

Peter gave the persecuted a second reason to remain steadfast in the faith: the power of good example.

In like manner also let wives be subject to their husbands; so that even if any do not believe the word, they may without word be won through the behavior of their wives.

The grace and strength to perservere in the good through thick and thin in the midst of these earthly temptations comes from God. With the ardent and sincere desire to do good which was uppermost in the minds of the apostles and the first Christians, Simon Peter wrote about the last judgment and the coming of the Lord, the end of all toil, affliction, distress:

Christ also died once for sins, the Just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God...Baptism now saves you...through the resurrectin of Jesus Christ; who is the right hand of God, swallowing up death that we might be made heirs of eternal life; for he went into heaven, Angels, Power and Virtues being made subject to Him.

The first Petrine Epislte has always been recognized as genuine and authentic; the second, however, did not achieve universal recognition until after the fourth century. The contents and form of the second Epistle of St. Peter differ considerable from the first. Nevertheless, there are many internal marks and characteristics that help to establish its reliability. It is so candid and honesy that one can not maintain it is mere fraud. The composer and sender introduced himself in the first lines as

Simon Peter, a servant and apostle of Jesus Christ, to those who have obtained an equal privilege of faith with ourselves through the justice of our God and savior Jesus Christ.

The second Epistle written by St. Peter can be dated in the year 66, for the apostle and marytr (imprisoned in Rome before his death in 66 or 67 was already speaking openly of his impending death:

As long as I am in this tabernacle, I think it right to rouse you by a reminder, knowing as I do that the putting off of my tabernacle is at hand, just as our Lord Jesus Christ signified to me.

The status of the Christian community among the pagans in the north and northwest of Asis Minor had changed since the first Epistle had been written-"This, beloved is now the second epistle that I am writing to you"-but the change was not for the better. These varied circumstances make the difference in form and content of this second exhortation more easily understandable. The menacing evils were no longer the earlier external threats and dangers, but rather now internal ones, the false doctines of lying teachers:

But there were false prophets also among the people, just as among uyou there will be lying teachers who will bring in destructive sects. They even disown the Lord who bought them... Because of them the way of truth will be maligned. And out of greed they will with deceitful words use you for their gain.

These teachers of false doctrine preached an "evangelical freedom" which enjoined the disavowal of, and the breaking off from, the legitimate ties with the Church. Earlier the apostle St. Jude, with sharp words against false teachers, had warned the faithful in his own community of the spreading heresies. Publicly these heretics preached to the Gentiles converts of Asis Minor, leaving a dangerous gash on the body of the Church, and soon a poisonous infection had set in.

The second Episle of St Peter is in perfect harmony with that of St. Jude, the apostle Thaddeus. The two so resemble each other that it would seem Peter copied Jude's sharp and direct style:

Rash and self-willed, such men (false prophets) in their deriding do not regard majesty... But these men, like irrational animals created by nature for capture and destruction, abuse what they do not understand, and will perish in their own corruption...For what that true proverb says has happened to them, "A dog returns to his vomit," and "A sow even after washing wallows in the mire."

The fighting disciple of Christ counteracted this distortion of Christianity by preaching the second coming of Christ, the end of the world. This is the main theme of the English. It casts a light on the confusion of darkness shadowed by the clouds of heresy. There were those who scornfully denied Christ's second coming, saying with mockery,

"Where is the promise or his coming? For since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of creation."

Then Peter, drawing from the Old Testament, explained and gave testimony of the last judgment, and continued,

But, beloved, do not be ignorant of this one thing, that one day with the Lord is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day. The Lord does not delay in his promises, but for your sake is long-suffering, not wishing that any should perish but that all should turn to repentance.

Then Peter made a mysterious allusion to the end of the world, another synoptic piece of writing comparable to the Apocalypse:

But the day of the Lord will come as a thief; at that time the heavens will pass away with great violence, and the elements (The elements! How surprisingly this old word is used in a scientific modern sense!) will be dissolved with heat, and the earth, and the works that are in it, will be burned up...But we look for new heavens and a new earth, according to his promises, wherein dwells justice.

And how did St. Peter end this second Epistle? How could he have ended it, except with a thought about Christ? With this doxology of his beloved Master the writings of this faithful, tired and old apostle are brought to a close:

But grow in grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. To him be the glory, both now and to the day of eternity. Amen.

And soon St. Peter's very life was drawn to an end.

Peter's Death

Spring with its blue sky and warm sun bedecked the shores of the sea of Tiberas when the Master asked the strong, young fisherman three times whether he loved Him. The Good Shepherd looked out into the distance, as if seeing a vision, and said to the prince of the disciples,

"Amen, amen, I say to thee, when thou wast young thou didst gird thyself and walk where thou wouldst. But when thou are old thou wilt stretch forth they hands, and another will gird thee, and lead thee where thou wouldst not."

Suddenly Peter was caught us with a strange feeling and fear of future. These words of Christ concernng the disciples's death stood before him as a high, creviced mountain he was to climb alone. Quickly

turning around, Peter saw following them the disciple whom Jesus loved, the one who, at supper, had leaned back upon his breast and said, "Lord, who is it that will betray thee?" Peter, therefore, seeing him, said to Jesus, "Lord, and what of this man?"

This man was John.

One can hear the supplication in Peter's question. He knew it was going to be difficult to be alone, to walk the way alone. He knew it would be a way he did not want to walk, not as easy way. Peter was to lead the way, alone, and he was to prepare the way for the others, alone. but Sacred Scripture itself states,

It is better therefore that two should be together than one; for they have the advantage of their society. It one fall, he shall be supported by the other. Woe to him that is alone: for, when he falleth, he hath none to lift him up.

If Peter could have gone through life with his friend John, he would have gladly and willingly gone where he had not wanted to go. John could have helped him carry the heavy keys. John could have helped him up if he fell. Would it not have been a great blessing if God had joined Peter and John as cooperating partners on the long winding way of life? Peter was the power and the law; John was the love and the spirit. What a happy union these two followers of Christ could have achieved! Long and far did the pair travel together through the Acts of the Apostles. These first two of the Council of Jerusalem were apparently bound together by a deep friendship; Peter and John went into the temple together; Peter and John were the first to be imprisoned and released together; and Peter and John left Jerusalem and went to Samaria together to pray and call down the Holy Spirit. They were together in prayer, together in suffering, together in work. Their one apostolic way had been a beautiful one. But the day came when this one way divided. The will of God came before the will of man.

Earnestly, almost unwillingly, did the Lord answer Peter's interrogative plea about John: "'If I wish him to remain until I come, what is it to thee? do thou follow me.'" Peter had to follow the Lord without John, and now he had to take a way, again alone, that he did not want to travel, especially not without John. After this incident-over which hangs so much dark secrecy and mystery, and even a feeling of resentment-the evangelist added a startling remark, expressive and positive: "Now this Jesus said to signify by what manner of death Simon Peter should glorify God."

What the Messias had predicted to Peter by the sea of his home was fulfilled thirty-five years later in distant Rome. The old apostle "stretched his arms out" over the cross of wood with which his executioner "girded" him. Legend has passed down the incident of the "Quo vadis": Peter was fleeing the Roman community, the wicked, sinful city, at the urging and pleas of the faithful. But at the gate of the city he met the Lord, burdened with the cross, and Peter quickly asked his Mater, "Quo vadis, Domine?" "Whither art thou going, Lord?" Jesus answered him, "To Rome to be crucified again." Peter looked at the Lord and understood immediately what He meant, and turned to go back to carry his own cross, to be crucified.

Again in Rome, Peter could not repeat his earlier denial of his Master, could no longer flee his cross. Once before this apostle had been led to, and stood before, a shy maidservant and had shuddered. And now he was led to, and stood before, the arena of Nero and shuddered, the arena in which Christian Jews were martyred before an amused, pagan crown-" 'And another will...lead thee where thou wouldst not.'" But also once before Peter had drawn his sword and longed to defend his master single-handed against an army. And now he drew himself up and longed to defend his Master with the painful embracing of the cross.

Eusebius has written that this apostle and martyr pleaded to be crucified upside down since he felt unworthy to die in the exact manner in which Christ had died. With blood flowing from his eyes he looked up to heaven. In his second Epistle he had consoled the Christians, "The Lord does not delay in his promises." No, the Lord did not delay! A smile came over the dying martyr's countenance. Daily the pagans celebrated a wild "triumph" similar to that of the Jews on Good Friday.

Succession of Peter's Primacy

The death of St. Peter raised the question of the permanence of his office on the Church. A recent book by a Protestant scholar points out unreservedly that the Lord Himself endowed Peter with power and authority. It was on Peter alone that the Church was founded. The primacy of the prince of the apostles was willed and bestowed by Christ Himself. But still quite emphatically, even vigorously, this same Pretestant author denies there was a successor of Peter. With the death of Peter, even with his departure from the mother community in Jerusalem, the office of Peter supposedly became extinct.

Such an assumption appears doubtful from the very beginning. If Christ made Simon Peter the cornerstone of His Church-and indeed He did-then did He not intend the completed structure to remain a permanent establishment? but this would have been impossible without a permanent foundation. A foundation is laid but once. It must be a substantial one, sound, lasting, permanent.

The words of Christ to Simon Peter at the promise and investiture of the primacy are proof enough for all ages to come.

"'Upon this rock I will build my Church.'" Did Christ intend His Church, built on rock foundation, to collapse at the death of Simon? Only Simon died. Peter did not die. He lives on today and will live on to the end of time.

"'I will give thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven.'" If, however, the hands of Peter grew tired and stiff, did these keys suddendly not fit the locks? There must always be one in the Church who hold the highest authority, who can close and open, who can bind and loose.

"'The gates of hell shall not prevail against it.'" For hundreds of years the gates of hell, the power of evil, have assailed the Church. And they will storm and attack for hundreds more to come. Was there any possible reason why the Church no longer needed protection from the raging furies of Hell after the death of the first pontiff? How then could the promise of Jesus be fulfilled?

"'Feed my lambs...Feed my sheep.'" Did Christ mean only that flock which pressed around Peter during the apostle's own lifetime? But if it was the flock of sheep of all times that He meant-and indeed it was-then how could Simon have guided it over the rough mountainside of the world after his death? Shephers die, but flocks live on. New shepherds are born, but flock continue to grow without ceasing. These words spoken by Christ, and recorded by Matthew (16:18) and John (21:15), did not stop with Peter; rather, they began with him.

The last consideration, but not the least, is this: could Christ and His apostles possibly have been of the erroneous opinion that the end of the world was near at hand? Many passages in the New Testament refute such an interpretation. We read:"'The bridegroom was long in coming''; "'But after a long time the master of those servants came'"; and "'This gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in the whole world, for a witness to all nations; and then will come the end.'" If the Lord had thought that the end of the world were immediately at hand, then why did He go to the trouble of establishing His Church, and all this with so much solemnity?

Christ did not explicitly speak of the "successor of Peter," or the popes,or bishops. But this is understandable from the fact that He did not wish to make known the time of His second coming. Had Christ spoken of successors, it would have been an indicaton that the day of the last judgment lay in the distant future. Even though such an allusion would have been small and seemingly meaningless, it nevertheless would have fixed a definite duration for the office and mission of Peter and the other apostles. Till the end of time, whether soon or in the distant future, he should be the foundation of the Church.

Peter received fullness of power and authority for the Church. It has endured since his death, and will continue to endure until the Messias comes again. When Peter was dying, he laid the keys down, and another was chosen to come and pick them up. This successor also died, and then came a third,and so it went on through the centuries, and goes on today.

When the Lord, "after a long time," returns to his servants, He will no longer need a vicar on earth. Then will all missions and offices be fulfilled. Then will Christ Himself, now and forever the invisible Head of His Church, feed and love us in the visible glory of His Epiphany.

We need only watch and wait. Thus concludes Otto Hophan's information from "The Apostles."

The following three paragraphs is taken from the doctor, St Leo the Great, taken from Terry H. Jones on the Calendar of the Saints on St Peter's feast day on June 29th. This website can be also found through the homepage of Doctors of the Catholic Church.

Out of the whole world one man, Peter, is chosen to preside over all nations and to be set over all the apostles and all the fathers of the Church. Though there are in God's people many bishops and many shepherds, Peter is thus appointed to rule in his own person those whom Christ also rules as the original ruler. Beloved, how great and wonderful is this sharing in his power that God in his goodness has given to this man. Whatever Christ has willed to be shared in common by Peter and the other leaders of the Church, it is only through Peter that he has given to others what he has not refused to bestow on them.

Jesus said: "Upon this rock I will build my Church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it." On this strong foundation, he says, I will build an everlasting temple. The great height of my Church, which is to penetrate the heavens, shall rise on the firm foundation of this faith.

Blessed Peter is therefore told: "To you I will give the keys of the kingdom of heaven. Whatever you bind on earth shall be bound also in heaven. Whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed also in heaven."

No pope had a more serious and tremendous devotion toward St Peter as Leo the Great. This was during the time of great duress, persecutions and grave dangers from Attila the Hun. He thought to capture Rome but was stopped through St Peter's intercession from decimating and pillaging Rome and the Vaticum. Read about the Doctor, St Leo the Great, in the link below

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From a sermon by Pope Saint Leo the Great

Peter's family was very simple and His father's name was Jona, or John. The Gospels make mention of the quiet brother of Peter, Andrew, whose honor it was to be called together with Peter by the Lord to an apostolic mission.

The wife of Peter is never expressely mentioned in the Gospels. St Jerome, doctor of the church, conjectured that she may have died early. There was a name of Petronilla in the Acts of the Apostles, but we are unsure of this person.

As Peter was called, so are we. We should remember that all have a sacred calling and special office as Peter did, for all scripture informs us that we are a chosen race, a royal priesthood and a holy nation.

St Peter said that it is noble to announce the praises of Him who called us out of darkness into His wonderful light in His own inimitable manner. Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia!

Jesus rose from the dead by His own divine power on Easter Sunday. His body shone like the sun. His wounds flashed like precious jewels and were a scene of adorable beauty.

Christ's body was glorified and united to His soul. His body took on spiritual qualities of immortality, beauty and glory. His divinity shone through His glorified body.

The resurrection was the final completion of glory on earth for Jesus as God-Man. It was also the absolute proof of the power of our faith and its victory over death for all believers. It was also the beginning of the glorious life that was due to Him as the Son of God and the reward of His life of suffering.

Shortly thereafter, Jesus appeared to His disciples by the shore and had breakfast with them. When they finished eating, Jesus said to Peter:

Simon, son of John, do you love Me more than these others do?

Peter said yes. After Jesus asked him the same question two more times, Peter said:

Lord you know everything; you know that I love You.

Jesus told Peter to feed His sheep.

After this morning meal, Jesus conferred the primacy upon him in all its fullness and majesty in the presence of the other apostles.

Sometime later and during the Easter liturgy Peter said:

You know what has happened all over Judea, beginning in Galilee after the baptism that John preached, how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and power. He went about doing good and healing all those oppressed by the Devil, for God was with Him.

Peter continues:

We are witnesses of all that He did both in the country of the Jews and Jerusalem. They put Him to death by hanging him on a tree. This man God raised on the third day and granted that He be visible, not to all the people, but to us, the witnesses chosen by God in advance, who ate and drank with Him after He rose from the dead.

St Peter, the fisherman, pictured above with a huge key in his left hand was selected by Jesus Christ as the first appointed leader of the Church. He received the first commission to establish the Church with full authority from Christ. Peter is the first pope and that is why genuine Catholics look to the popes, down through the centuries, for guidelines and directons.

Peter proclaimed Jesus as the Messiah and Jesus told Him He would be the "rock" to build God's Church. Our Lord also told him that no mortal man told him to say this.

These words gave to St Peter and his successors an extraordinary mandate and ecclesiastical power to "bind and loose". It was Peter's faith and gift from God that allowed him to live this truth and also be crucified for it.

It is consoling to know for us sinners that Peter misunderstood Jesus' gift to him. It took Jesus' sternness to correct him. His prayers for Peter were that he would not fail in his mission and ministry.

The Gospel tells us that at least once, Jesus called Peter a "satan" because he was not thinking as God but as a human being. This tells us indirectly that human beings have the power of the Holy Spirit that Jesus promised to guide our thinking and reasoning process and that it's very easy to be misled especially when we misunderstand the role of the suffering Messiah's mission from our heavenly Father.

Peter had to learn much about forgiveness, without any limits, and humility, as all Christians must, if they are to extend the Church of God as Peter did. This requires not mere human knowledge but divine knowledge.

We learn from St Peter's epistles in the New Testament that human beings need to be sober and vigilant because, in addition to the weakness of human nature and worldly concerns, we have an opponent, the Devil, who roams abound like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour.

Peter's wise advice for all with no exception is to be thoughtful, caring and prayerful. This requires one to be obedient, humble and act as a servant toward all human beings and the Church. It has been purchased for us by the suffering servant, Jesus Christ, the Redeemer and Savior of the human race by His achieving His Father's will, but it requires our cooperation and goodwill.

The feast day of Saints Peter and Paul are celebrated together on June 29th. The opening prayer on their Solemnity states:

These men, conquering all human fraility, shed their blood and helped the Church to grow. By sharing the cup of the Lord's suffering, they became the friends of God.

A second opening prayer.

God our Father, today you give us the joy of celebrating the feast of the apostles Peter and Paul. Through them your Church first received the faith. Keep us true to their teaching...

They lived together and both were martyred about the same time. Peter held the keys of authority and Paul held the sword that represented the word of God etched and ablazed into fourteen New Testament books.

Listen and reflect on the Acts of the Apostles when Peter was thrown in jail after the resurrection.

Peter was thus detained in prison, while the Church prayed fervently to God on his behalf. During the night before Herod was to bring him to trial, Peter was sleeping between two soldiers, fastened with double chains, while guards kept watch at the door. Suddenly an angel of the Lord stood nearby and light shone in the cell. He tapped Peter on the side and woke him. "Hurry, get up!" he said.

With that, the chains dropped from Peter's wrists. The angel said, "Put on your belt and your sandals! This he did. Then the angel told him, "Now put on your cloak and follow me." Peter followed him out, but with no clear realization that this was taking place through the angel's help. The whole thing seemed to him a mirage. They passed the first guard, then the second, and finally came to the iron gate leading out to the city, which opened for them of itself.

They emerged and made their way down a narrow alley, when suddenly the angel left him. Peter had recovered his senses by this time, and said, "Now I know for certain that the Lord has sent his angel to rescue me from Herod's clutches and from all that the Jews hoped for."

The solemn blessing or prayer over the people and for you the reader of these words on this feast day of Peter and Paul.

The Lord has set you firm within his Church, which he built upon the rock of Peter's faith. May be bless you with a faith that never falters. Amen.

The Lord has given you knowledge of the faith through the labors and preaching of St Paul. May his example inspire you to lead others to Christ by the manner of your life. Amen.

May the keys of Peter, and the words of Paul, their undying witness and their prayers, lead you to the joy of that eternal home which Peter gained by his cross and Paul by the sword. Amen.

Peter was the first apostle to be listed on this website and it began during Easter 2003. It was shortly after the first Easter that Peter received the primacy. The resurrected Jesus subtly reminded Peter that he had denied His Master three times during his trial and that is why He asked Peter three times if he truly loved Him now.

In receiving the keys that Jesus bestowed upon him, this signified neither earthly power nor worldly riches but the truth, light and life of Christ. It is an awesome power of authority and unlimited. Without Peter the Eleven do not have this this power but without the Eleven, Peter retained it. Christ never actually used the word "the primacy of Peter," but theologians show how the origin of the term was easily derived from the Gospel itself.

Peter assummed the leadership role most mindful of his past failures and denials. Peter, the weak man, chosen by God, is not to be proud but compassionate toward others all his life for the very reason that the Master had forgiven him and was compassionate toward him. As soon as Jesus ascended, Peter took full reign of his role as the head of the apostles and ordered another apostle to be chosen to take the place of the betrayer, Judas, and even pointed out the essential qualities the new candidate had to have that is listed in the Acts of the Apostles.

The Acts of the Apostles, especially the first eleven chapters, have also been referred to as the "Acts of Peter". From these pages we see the personality of Peter whereas the Gospel only mentioned what he did. From these pages we see Peter using his authority for the opening of doors and the feeding of members with the keys that Christ commissoned him with. Peter was nuturing the flock and building up new growth in membership and in leading the other Eleven in specific directions.

What was Peter's lasting vocation and under what circumstance was Peter chosen to be an apostle?

Let us listen to Luke's gospel:

Now it came to pass in those days, that he (Jesus)went out to the mountain to pray, and continued all night in prayer to God. And when day broke, he summoned his disciples; and from these he chose twelve (whom he also named apostles): Simon, whom he named Peter, and his brother Andrew, James and John...

Peter's name always heads the list of names of the apostles and there is never any doubt who is the leader of the group. St Paul would always have a leading position in the Church through his writings, example and missionary work but Peter is the foundation and the rock of the Church with full authority, leaderhip and primacy. Most important of all, Christ said that He would built His Church upon the rock of Peter.

When the Master prayed all night to God, the night before he chose the apostles, we can be sure He made the right choice. He made the right choice with Peter, Judas and the rest. All creatures have a free will and although many will choose wisely, some will not, but that doesn't offset the factor that creatures have full freedom. Imagine the pleading and petitioning in this very important decision by Christ in the selection of His first twelve apostles. This action of Christ is a sign to inform us that the time to make important decision should always be preceded by prayer to God to obtain the best results and let there be no time limit on it but according to our strength, seriousness and sincerity.

Paul highlighted the Resurrection of Jesus as the preaching of Christ was at the heart of Paul's thought. The divinity of Christ is referred to by Peter in his discourses again and again. Jesus is the "Holy One," "the Holy and Just One," "the author of life," the "Lord of all" or simply the "Lord."

Of special significance are Peter's sojourn and activity in Rome. The traditions of the Oriental And Occidental Church testify with one voice to these, and to the death of St Peter in Rome.

He was buried on the Vatican Hill in Rome about the year 64 AD. Accurate research maintains that Peter's remains are buried beneath St Peter's Basilica.

The Vatican empire, Vatican City and the History of the Church and the Papacy are fascinating, intriguing and incredible stories that fill volumes. There have been only two pope doctors:

Saints Gregory the Great and Leo the Great.

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Both pope-doctors leadership was exemplary. Both had a deep devoton to St Peter and they received heavenly assistance to support their leadership and the Church though St Peter's holy intercession.

Some of the popes down through the century have not been good. In fact, a few have been notoriously bad. However, Christ stands behind the Church and its leadership because Christ knew the weakness of human beings, its sins and crimes. Nevertheless, He said that Peter would be the "rock" (His office) and gives us the assurance and confidence that the "gates of hell" will never prevail against the Church. We have God's invincible words.

Listen to the same invincible words that St Peter Damian said about the Church: "The mystery of holy Church's inward unity can never be marred in its integrity." Any human being, even the pope, can sin but the Church's oneness in the direction of where God wants the Church to be directed and lead is guided by God's almighty Spirit. There is no doubt that devils have lived in the Vatican and in the Church but Christ stands behind the Church and its leadership with sure protection, care and infinite love because of God's promise.

St Peter was pope for 34-37 years, 25 of them in Rome and in prison. Peter will undoubtably keep the record for the longest number of years serving as pope. Of the Church's 264 popes, the following pontiffs follow him in numbers of years as head of the Church: Leo XIII, (25 years), Pius IX, (31 years), and our current pontiff, John Paul II, (24-25 years as of 2003-2004).

There is a miraculous legend associated with a relic of St Peter that is kept at the Basilica of St Peter in Vincoli, Italy. As the story goes, Peter was imprisoned in Rome for nine months at the Mamertine Prison near the Forum. A chain found nearby was reported to be that which bound the Apostle. This miraculous chain was described in Act 12:6, whereby the heavenly angel caused the chains to be loosened from St Peter. Thereafter, he walked out of his prison and into the light of freedom. It is said that Eudocia, wife of Emperor Teodosio, found these chains and sent part of them to Constantinople and another part to Rome as a gift to her daughter Eudossia, In turn, Eudossia gave the relics to Pope Leo the Great. At the time, another chain in Rome was claimed to be that which had bound St. Peter. After Pope Leo compared the two chains, it is reported that they miraculously fused into one link again. Later on, the Empress Eudocia built the Basilica at Vincoli to house and preserve this precious relic.


Jn 3:16 For God so loved the world, as to give his only begotten Son; that whosoever believeth in him, may not perish, but may have life everlasting.
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PostSubyek: Re: The Twelve Apostles   10th March 2013, 15:54

St. Andrew

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Born in Bethsaida, brother of Peter, disciple of John the Baptist, a fisherman, the first Apostle called; according to legend, preached the Gospel in northern Greece, Epirus and Scythia, and was martyred at Patras about 70; in art, is represented with an x-shaped cross, called St. Andrew's Cross; is honored as the patron of Russia and Scotland; Nov.30.

From the Apostles by Otto Hophan, O.F.M. Cap.

Chapter Two

Having considered the life and martyrdom of the apostle Peter, we now direct our attention to his brother Andrew. The difference of personality here is comparable to the difference between a rough, stormy sea and the quiet, peaceful shore. Andrew the apostle was a man of courage, valor, and manliness. Even his name has a noble meaning, coming from the Greek word "andreios", which is translated "brave". It was already a common name among the Jews two centuries before Christ. This meaning of his name influenced the artists of the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries, for the earliest painted conceptions to portray him as a man of valiant stature and virile countenance.

Serious and quiet and manly was Andrew the apostle-andreios, the brave one. Painters imbue every aspect of Peter's brother with power and strength. The qualities of firmness and resolution and determination characterize this disciple of Christ. He aspired to reach the mountaintops. "Andrew was not small, but big, a little stooped, with a large nose and high eyebrows"-so a ninth-century biography described him. These characteristics were gathered from earlier sources. "Not small, but big"-how well these words describe his character also!

The gospels have little to say about Andrew, but this absence of words is significant in itself. He was what the name means, but he lacked those sharp and unpleasant traits that often enough only disfigure and deform brave men. He was neither rude nor harsh, neither crude nor brusque. Spognoletto saw this apostle in the proper perspective when he painted him as a quiet, earnest, friendly old man holding a fish on a rod with his large and strong right hand. It was not the fisherman who caught this most holy fish, but rather it was Christ Himself who called and captured Andrew.

Andrew, the First Apostle

Andrew was the brother of Simon Peter. Whether he was younger or older than Simon is not certain. One is inclined to consider him as the younger of the two, despite his well-balanced personality and agreeable nature. He lived, together with Simon, in the highly honored house in which our Lord Himself stayed as a guest during His journey to Galilee. This abode served as Christ's first-church and pulpit.

It is possible that, after the early death of his father Jona (John) of Bethsaida, Andrew left his native village and went to Capharnaum. Here he lived under his brother's roof, with Simon and the latter's wife, children, and mother-in-law. Perhaps this domestic situation is what prompted Christian peoples of long ago to choose Andrew as their patron saint for good marriages and for good weather.

Still, it could be that this pair of brothers with the same occupation only worked together. Both were fishermen, and together they managed a modest but always profitable trade, as the Gospel indicates. At the time the abundance of fish in Lake Genesareth and the flourishing business in fish at the markets assured them a good income.

It is certainly noteworthy that our Lord chose some of His first apostles from the ranks of ordinary fisherman. Different walks of life were well-represented in the college of apostles: James the Younger and his brother Thaddeus were farmers; Paul was a scholar; Matthew-not to mention Judas was a trader and businessman. But at least six of the twelve were fisherman. Only those who knew the currents and tides, the wind and weather, only those not blinded by the sun or frightened by a storm, only those who were observant and patient as fishermen, could be good and useful apostles. Since Andrew, with his brother Simon, could cast his nets into the quiet, blue sea and after many long hours draw them out, sometimes full, sometimes empty, he was already well-instructed in the beginnings of the apostolate. The two brothers had never surmised that one day they would dedicate the rest of their lives to the Ichthys, Jesus Christ.

Possibly, of course, such a pious thought was not too far from their minds. They must have had a stong inclination toward religion. The Gospels do not present this pair only on the sea as fishermen; they are also on the Jordan with John's disciples. The preaching of John the Baptist-" 'The kingdom of heaven is now at hand'"-aroused these two brothers from their simple and quiet life. They were made ready, and they listened for the footsteps of Him who was to come. And it was here with John the Baptist that Andrew met Jesus. It was the great hour of his life. Andrew did not have to search long for the Messias, for Jesus was soon to come to him.

No one explains or describes this meeting more beautifully than the evangelist John, who was with Andrew at that time, but who did not mention his own name:

John {the Baptist} saw Jesus coming to him, and he said, "Behold, the lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world! This one who has been set above me, because he was before me." And I did not know him. But that he may be known to Israel, for this reason I come baptizing with water."

And John bore witness, saying, "I beheld the Spirit descending as a dove from heaven, and it abode upon him. And I did not know him. But he who sent me to baptize with water said to me, "He upon whom thou wilt see the Spirit descending, and abiding upon him, he it is who baptizes with the Holy Spirit.' And I have seen and have borne witness that this is the Son of God."

Again the next day John was standing there, and two of his disciples. And looking upon Jesus as he walked by, he said, "Behold the lamb of God!" And the two disciples heard him speak, and they followed Jesus.

But Jesus turned around, and seeing them following him, said to them, "What is it you seek?" They said to him. "Rabbi (which interpreted means Master), where dwellest thou? He said to them, "Come and see." They came and saw where he was staying; and they stayed with him that day. It was about the tenth hour.

Now Andrew, the brother of Simon Peter, was one of the two who had heard John and had followed him.

Andrew was, with John, the first of all to follow Jesus. For this reason many old manuscripts gave him the title of honor "the first-called." His name heads the list of millions who were to follow Christ. Here the proverb was true: "A name is an omen." A name can indicate much. Whoever dares to follow Christ must be andreios-brave, an Andrew.

Andrew was also the first of the apostles to call and bring others to Christ. "He found first his brother Simon and said to him, "We have found the Messias (which interpreted is Christ).'" And he led him to Jesus." This same brother of Andrew was later, in a critical hour of his life to confess before Jesus, "'Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God.'" Certainly this confession of Peter is a climax in the public work of Jesus; it is much more mature and profound than Andrew's loud and happy summons to Peter to go and meet the promised Redeemer. But the credit for having planted the word of the Messias, Christ, the anointed one, in the soul of his brother as the seed of faith belongs to Andrew. His was the honor of introducing Jesus to Simon, and Simon to Jesus. He was given the privilege of "fishing" the first man. From the very beginning, Andrew was truly a "fisher of men," an apostle.

It is not surprising that such a high-minded and courageous man as Andrew left everything to follow the Redeemer. However, almost a year after the first meeting with Jesus on the River Jordan, Simon's brother had returned to the sea, to his boat and his fishnet. But his thoughts were no longer on his work. Secretly, Andrew hoped to return to Christ, hoped Christ would return to him. And then Christ did return. This time the Messias called, not just for one journey or for one sermon or for one miracle, but for a lifetime with Him.

St Luke's account of the calling of the first disciples also includes the miraculous catch of fish. In great astonishment, Andrew stared with the others at the teeming wonder in the nets. After they had taken nothing the whole night, the Lord, who was no fisherman, told them to try once more. They did, and caught so many fish that their nets, which could not hold them all, began to break; and they had to call for help.

On the Jordan it was the personality of Jesus that won Andrew; here on Lake Genesareth it was Jesus' divine power. He heard his brother stammer in embarrassed confusion: "'Depart from me, for I am a sinful man, O Lord.'" But the Messias had come to call Peter, not to send him away. "And he said to them, 'Come, follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.' And at once they left the nets, and followed him." The small boats rested on the shore, deserted. Andrew was puzzled and saddened when some others left the Lord and walked away. He had come to the shore to embark on the sea of life; it was a wider, deeper, brave, andreios. He was Andrew, the first one, the great one.

Andrew holds a prominent place in the four listings of the apostles in Holy Scripture. His name is always among the first four, at the top of the lists, together with the three in whom Jesus especially confided. The evangelists Matthew and Luke place Andrew in the second place, immediately after Simon Peter, even before James and John. In the Canon of the Holy Mass his name also comes immediately after those of Peter and Paul, the two leaders of the apostles. Pope Gregory the Great even added his name in the Embolismus (prayer) after the Pater Noster, along with the names of Mary, Peter, and Paul, whose intercession we request for special favors. Today, Andrew also holds a special place among the faithful; the many and various customs still observed over the world on St Andrew 's Day, November 30, testify to this. Andrew holds a place of preeminence among the apostles, and in some respects he is the first among the apostles.

Andrew, the Silent Apostle

It is very surprising that Andrew remains so silent throughout the Gospels. He is heard even less in the Acts of the Apostles. None of his work remain. No Epistles he wrote has been preserved. In addition to the occasion on which he was called to the apostolate, he is mentioned only three other times in the Gospels.

The first occured on the shores of the Sea of Tiberias where Jesus miraculously fed a crowd of five thousand. The apostles stood helplessly before the hungry masses who followed Christ, Philip was partly dejected and partly frightened when Christ asked him where they could buy enough bread to feed so many. He hesitated to answer, "'Two hundred denarii worth of bread is not enough for them, that each one may receive a little.'" Then, unobstrusively, almost shyly, Andrew inquired about the provisions on hand. He could report only a pitifully meager result: " 'There is a young boy here who has five barley loaves and two fishes.'" and then, feeling almost personally responsible that there was so little to offer, he apologetically added, " 'But what are those among so many?'" And quickly he stepped back again to stand quietly on the side.

A second appearance of Andrew is mentioned by St John who- as one might conclude from seeing the two together on the Jordan-always kept a loving eye on this friend of his youth. There were certain converts from among the pagans who had come to Jerusalem to worship God on the day of the Passover. It was Christ's last celebration of this great feast of the Jews, only days before His passion and death. These proselytes approached Philip and inquired, "'Sir, we wish to see Jesus'" The somewhat fussy Philip did not want to take this to the Lord. He could refuse and forget. So, undecided, he took their request, his cause of anxiety, to Andrew. He did not go to Peter, or to John, but to the benevolent Andrew, his close compatriot.

In this seemingly unimportant incident Andrew showed his real character. He did not approach the Lord apologetically, but with an air of importance: "Andrew and Philip spoke to Jesus." The evangelist did not mention whether Jesus granted them their request or not he observed, however, that the Lord looked at Andrew and said, "'unless the grain of wheat fall into the ground and die, it remains alone. But if it die, it brings forth much fruit.'"

The third incident in which Andrew played a part, although only a cursory mention is given to it, occured several days after the second, The Lord had prophesied the destruction of Jerusalem, an event that upset every Jew to the depths of his soul.

And as he was sitting on the Mount of Olives, opposite the temple, Peter and James and John and Andrew asked him privately, "Tell us, when are these things to happen, and what will be the sign when all these will begin to come to pass?"

Apart from these three passages, Andrew remained silent and in the background of the Gospels. This is astonishing. How often and how importantly Peter spoke out! How naively James and John, the sons of Zebedee, had pressed forward: "'Grant to us that we may sit, one at thy right hand and the other at thy left hand, in thy glory.'"Such a presumptuous request from Andrew cannot be imagined.

But more curious and unusual is the fact that our Lord Himself let Andrew stand by in silence. Jesus had not called him to a place of superiority among His disciples; it was his brother Simon, who owed his acquaintance with Jesus to Andrew, whom our Lord had called to be the leader of the apostles. But would not Peter's brother also have been capable of holding the keys of the kingdom of heaven, even more fit than the impetuous Peter? And it was not Andrew whom our Lord permitted to rest on His bosom, but John. Did Andrew therefore love his Master less than John? No. He too experienced with John the joy of the "tenth hour."

Andrew simply did not belong to the circle of the entrusted three whom our Lord especially had chosed to witness the most important hours of his life; at least not directly as did Peter, James, and John. When Christ was raising the daughter of Jairus to life, certainly this apostle was waiting with the other eight outside the small room. With them he remained behind also when our Lord took Peter, James, and his brother John and ascended Mount Tabor for the Transfiguration. Even in the Garden of Olives, Andrew had to remained with the other apostles; he was not permitted to go off a distance with our Lord and the privileged three-although he might have been the only one to keep a watch and pray and not fall asleep.

The fact that Andrew was sometimes with the three "elite" apostles and sometimes with the other eight is clearly revealed in the four list of the apostles in Holy Scripture. In St. Mark's Gospel and, what is more surprising, in St Luke's Acts, his name is placed fourth on the list and not in the second place. In these two lists the sons of Zebedee assume the place of honor and Andrew is seemingly crowded out on the brink of the first group. Since Mark's Gospel is based on the words of Peter, it may have been Peter himself, Andrew's brother, who was responsible for this, as Peter may not have wanted to praise a member of his own household. Luke placed St John in the second place on his list to show John's important position in the Church.

It it no accident John twice mention Andrew together with Philip, as is shown in the two passages cited above. In the four scriptural enumerations of the Twelve, Philip is always the fifth apostle mentioned, the first of the second group. Andrew, fourth on the lists, often sought the company of his companion, Philip the farmer, when he could not go along with the privileged three. St Andrew was one of the first, but the last of the first; and he was one of the silent men of greatness, a great man of silence.

It cannot be said that our Lord considered Andrew less important than the first three apostles. On the contrary, what seems to be an oversight on the part of Christ is a great act of trust and confidence. Andrew was the first one to be called, the first born apostle. Between Jesus and him there was a good understanding-and what better testimony is there of this than a silence?-a good understanding such as exists between a father and his oldest son. An oldest son understands the father, even if he is with him in all places and at all times. He know what he wants without special order and instructions. He is loved even when there are no special favors. There is a silence between them, but no two could be closer. This, it can be rightly judged, was the relationship between Jesus and Andrew, a silent understanding and love, a real happiness.

The lesson Scripture teaches through this position of the apostle Andrew is that the one who holds a place of honor must not always be the one to speak; and if he is the first, he should also be as the last. It is easier to fall from a high place than from a low place. Andrew, the great last one, showed that it is possible, though difficult, for a great person to practice true humility. He lived according to the words of the Lord: "'Let him who is greatest among you become as the youngest, and him who is the chief as the servant.'" Prosperous and happy is the group that has more great men than high positions; for it is much better if a great man has a small position than if a small man has a great position.

Andrew, the Strong Apostle

Nothing is known about the apostolic works of Andrew from Holy Scripture. The Gospels tell us nothing. The Acts make no mention of what he did or said at the first Church Council; after his name is mentioned of what he did or said at the first Church Council; after his name is mentioned, St Luke is completely silent about him. There is, however, no reason to doubt that Andrew, even though he did not share in the glory, did take full part in the work.

Actually, the very first apostolic work performed by any of the apostles was Andrew's introduction of his brother to Christ. It was also Andrew who tried to mediate for the Gentiles. How he exerted himself when he was in the midst of the harvest! The Breviary praises him on his feast day: "Andrew made a countless number of convert for Christ through his preaching and miracles." And well can the eloquent words of St Paul's Epistles to the Romans be applied to Andrew:

"For whoever calls upon the name of the Lord shall be saved." How then are they to call upon him in whom they have not believed? But how are they to believe him whom they have not heard? And how are they to hear, if no one preaches?... but I say: Have they not heard? Yes, indeed, "Their voice has gone forth into all the earth, and their words unto the ends of the world."

The apocryphal "Acts of Andew and Matthew," a writing from the latter half of the second century, designated as the missionary district of Andrew "the town of cannibals," and also called "the town of dogs." These so-called "Acts of Andrew and Matthew"-which often were continued, translated, and rewritten into "Acts of Bartholomew," and "Acts of Paul and Andrew"-are full of pious fables and tales and are scarcely worthy to be quoted. These diverse and numerous "Acts," however, can be sifted to find the one historical kernel of fact, namely, that Andrew and another apostle-there is good reason to believe it was Simon Peter-preached the Gospel in the land of a primitive people.

Eusebius (270-339), the father of Church history, recorded that the uncivilized country of Scythia was Andrew's missionary field. Although the exact boundaries of this ancient land cannot be determined with certitude, it was approximately the district of present-day South Russia. This account, however, is questionabe. No trace or sign of Christianity in Scythia during the first three centuries has ever been established as authentic. This ancient region had scarcely any Jewish colonies to which Andrew could have turned; the wild and uncultivated indigenous population-"the town of cannibals"-would certainly not have been susceptible to the Gospel.

On the other hand, it is probably true that, as related in other equally old and similar reports, Andrew labored with his brother, Simon Peter, in countries adjacent to Scythia, in such places as Bithynia and Pontus and especially Sinope, districts to the south and east of the Black Sea. The First Epistle of St Peter the Apostle is addressed "to the sojourners of the Dispersion in Pontus, Galataia, Cappadocia, Asis and Bithynia." Some later and rather legendary biographies name Lydia, Kurdistand, and Armenia as the fields of Andrew's apostolic mission. It is quite possible that at a later date his apostle journeyed to the west of Bithynia, through Thrace, Macedonia, and Greece, going as far as Achaia, which today is called the Peloponnesus.

Many times the paths of Andrew and Paul must have crossed. Paul may have labored more than the others-"I have labored more than any of them"-but he did not labor alone. It was Paul's nature to seek out virgin soil, as he wrote to the Romans: "I have not preached this gospel where Christ has already been named." In his fields many seeds were sown, took root, blossomed, and bore ripe fruit. Paul was indeed the first to plough many a field and sow the seed of Christianity; nevertheless, others followed him to cultivate and irrigate and reap the harvest. This was necessary, or Paul would have labored in vain. In Andrew, the word of our Lord was fulfilled:

".. the sower and reaper may rejoice together. For herein is the proverb true, 'One shows, another reaps.' I have sent you to reap that on which thou have not labored. Others have labored, and you have entered into their labors.

In Greece, in the seaport-town of Patras, the apostolic labors of Andrew were also greeted with persecution. A "Letter of the Priest and Deacons of Achaia concerning the Martyrdom of St Andrew" clearly explains the death of this holy apostle. This circular letter-it is used as a lesson the Breviary on the feast of St. Andrew-it is not to be confused with the spurious "Acts of Andrew" mentioned previously. It can be traced to the end of the fourth century, and the main contents can be dated back even further to a reliable source concerning the lives and sufferings of the apostle. While Andrew, as bishop of Patras (at that time Patrae) in Achaia, was preaching the Gospel, he was condemned to die on the cross by the governor (helladarchen) Aegeates (also Aegeas). So that the pangs of torture would be the more excruciating and prolonged, he was scourged, the sentence was carried out, but not without the people begging his judge to have mercy. Andrew continued to live for two days on the cross. Thousands ran to the place of execution and pleaded for his release. Even the brother of the governor, Stratocles, is said to have tried to reason with the ruler, but to no avail.

After the martyrdom of this apostle, a Samaritan woman buried his body. In the year 356 his relics were transferred to the imperials city of Byzanantium, later called Constantinople, and today Istanbul. In 1462 these relics were taken to Rome, and the two brothers, martyred apostles, Simon Peter and Andrew who had slumbered many a night next to each other in a boat as fishermen on the Sea of Galilee, once again were united. Though their bodies are at rest, these brothers are still wide awake fishers of men.

Varied and wonderful were the ways in which these fisherman gave themselves up to the holy Ichthys. The exact year of Andrew's death is shrouded in obscurity. Strange to say, the apocryphal works agree in asserting that Andrew died at the time of Mary's Assumption into heaven. Andrew's feast has been celebrated on November 30th since very early times.

The circular letter of Clerus of Achaia which portrayed the death scene of this brave Apostle in stirring and impressive phrases:

When Andrew was led to martyrdom, he looked up at his cross and cried out loudly and clearly, "O good cross! From the limbs of the Lord you have received your eternal form, the long awaited, ardently loved, constantly sought cross! Now my yearning soul is ready. Take me away from mankind and give me to my Master. Through you may He receive me Who has redeemed me through you."

In the Spring of his year on the Jordan, John the Baptist once called out to his disciple Andrew, "'Behold the lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world.'" And the Lord Himself only a few days before His Crucifixion answered a request of Andrew with the words concerning the "grain of wheat" that "must die if it is to bring forth much fruit." The expiatory death of Christ may have been more directly meaningful to Andrew than to many other apostle, more profoundly significant to him than to his brother Simon, who at one time made a vehement protest against the cross. Andrew, on the contrary, greeted the cross with joy: "Salve Crux!" It is a hero's greeting. Even if he stuttered and stammered it out, he would be no less heroic. Every submission to the cross, no matter how easy or difficult, is a noble deed. Whoever says "Salve" to his cross is also Andreios, an Andrew, the brave one.

The cross on which St Andrew died was not a regular cross. It had the shape of the leter X. X is also a Greek letter, the initial letter of the word for Christ. An X signifies a cross. An X signifies Christ. He who is fastened to his cross is also fastened to Christ, united with the Mystical body of Christ. And he who wants to be united with Christ must also be united with the cross. Our Lord Himself required, "If anyone wishes to come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me.'"

Cross is Christ! Christ is cross! Our cross is to bring us to the image and likeness of Christ, to give us "to our Master," as Andrew prayed so beautifully. Another apostle, Paul, expressed the same secret of the cross in profound words: "With Christ I am nailed to the cross. It is now no longer I that live, but Christ lives in me. Salve Crux!-I greet thee, my cross! I welcome thee, my cross! I yearn for thee, my cross.

This concludes the chapter Two on Saint Andrew.

The following is a playback from different sources

As Jesus was walking by the sea of Galilee, He saw two brothers, Simon who is now called Peter, and his brother Andrew, casting a net into the sea; they were fishermen. He said to them: "Come after Me, and I will make you fishers of men. At once they left their nets and followed Him." This is the narration from St Matthew.

Before this took place, Andrew had met Jesus. We are told by the Beloved Apostle, St John the brother of James, and the writer of the fourth gospel that Andrew had been a disciple of John the Baptist. In fact, the Baptist pointed Jesus out one day to others when Jesus was near the Jordan River. John, cried out "Behold the Lamb of God". When Andrew heard these words of John the Baptist, he and probably John the Evangelist began to follow Jesus.

Jesus saw them follow Him and turned around and said to them: "What are you looking for? They said to Him, Teacher, where are you staying? Jesus said to them. Come and see for yourselves."

This event happened before Jesus came around again and called Peter and Andrew from their boat. Some time had past before and each of the Gospel writers explained their respective callings in different manners.

We do not hear of St Andrew in the Gospel again until the multiplication of the loaves. As in the case of nearly all the Apostles, the Gospels give us little information about the life or holiness of St Andrew. What is most important is that he was called to be an Apostle, to proclaim the Good News, to heal with Jesus' power and lead others to Jesus through his life and sacrifices.

That's exactly what Andrew did for Jesus and humanity. He gave his life to the Rabbi from Nazareth, he followed Him during His lifetime and eventually died for Him on the cross. Other sources tell us of the marvelous things that happened because of St Andrew.

Research indicates that Andrew's name is mentioned twelve times in the Bible and there were seven incidents in the New Testament about Andrew. Unlike his brother, Peter, it is believed that Andrew never married since he lived with Peter and his family at the beginning of his ministry.

The brother of Peter was also the first of all to follow Jesus. For this reason many old manuscripts gave him the title of honor, "the first-called". Andrew was also the first of the Apostles to call and bring others to Christ. Andrew later told his brother, Peter: "We (meaning himself and John) have found the Messiah", which meant the "Christ" or the One who was foretold to come for whom the Jews were waiting.

Reading after Andrew had stayed with Jesus and had learned much from him, he did not keep this treasure to himself, but hastened to share it with his brother Peter. Notice what Andrew said to him: "We have found the Messiah, that is to say, the Christ". Notice how his words reveal what he has learned in so short a time. They show the power of the master who has convinced them of this truth. Andrew's words reveal a soul waiting with the utmost longing for the coming of the Messiah, looking forward to his appearing from heaven, rejoicing when he does appear, and hastening to announce so great an event to others. To support one another in the things of the spirit is the true sign of good will between brothers, loving kinship and sincere affection.

From a homily above on the Gospel of John by Saint John Chrysostom.

The following ten paragraphs are breathtakingly and beautifully described by the best selling author of "The Incorruptibles" and taken from Joan Carroll Cruz's other book entitled "Mysteries, Marvels, Miracles in the lives of the saints."

The oldest relics known to have exuded manna are those of St Andrew the Apostle. It is believed that St Andrew labored in Turkey and Greece, where his life ended in the city of Patras on November 30 in the year 60. According to the Greek document that was translated by St Gregory, Bishop of Tours (d. 594), the manna first presented itself on the anniversary of the Apostle's death as a perfumed oil that flowed from the sepulchre. Sometimes the manna took the form of a powder that collected on the tomb. For years the oil was so abundant that at times it dripped from the tomb and flowed down the aisle of the church.

The relics were moved about the year 357 to Constantinople, and there also the manna continued to flow. Cardinal Baronio commented at the time that the entire Christian world knew about the substances that collected on the Apostle's tomb. The manna was gathered as a relic and as such was distributed.

At the time of the fourth Crusade in 1204, Cardinal Peter of Capua collected the bones of the Apostle in a silver urn and brought them to safety in Italy, where he placed them in the Cathedral of Amalfi. A century later an elderly gentleman worshiping in the church was somehow alerted to the miracle and notified the priest. A white granular substance was discovered inside the tomb, and when this substance was applied to a man, his vision was restored after several years of blindness.

Sometime later the location of the tomb was "lost to oblivion" until January 2, 1603. A stonemason, while working in the church, discovered a slab of marble with the inscription Corpus s. And. ap.After being recognized by the bishop, the relics were interred with a notarized document signed by the mayor and many witnesses. Unfortunately, the tomb was again lost to memory.

The relics were delivered from obscurity on January 28, 1846, when restorations were being conducted in the church. Work on the flooring had progressed very slowly, since the masons had heard that a treasure had been buried centuries before. After they removed some stones from a wall, the marble slab and the urn were discovered. The next day, in the presence of the archbishop, the document of 1603 was found in the urn with the relics of the Apostle. To prevent their being misplaced again, the urn was removed to the main altar, and there the relics are still found. A silver basin rests beneath the urn to collect the manna.

Since that time manna has been collected punctually on the 28th of January, the anniversary of the relic's discovery, when the substance never fails to appear. Some years there is a great quantity; other years, less. In addition to the anniversary when the relics were found in the Basilica of Amalfi, the manna is also collected during the main holidays of the basilica: the 26th of June and during the month of November, which is dedicated to the Apostle - and especially November 30, the anniversary of his martyrdom.

A chronicle started by Bishop Bonito in 1908, which has been maintained to the present day, contains a record of the phenomenon and the amount of manna collected. Under the date of November 29, 1909 it is recorded that two silver bowls and a glass vial were needed to collect the flow of manna.

Of particular interest is what took place on November 30, 1915. The canonical secretary, Antonelli, tried to collect the manna, but found none. Responding to an inspiration, he and those with him began to recite the Miserere . After the third recitation of this prayer the manna began to collect. In later years it was found that the recitation of the Creed also produced a quantity of manna. Even today, if the manna fails to appear (with the exception of January 28, when it always appears), the Creed is recited - with maraculous results.

An exceptional amount of manna was found on January 28th, 1933. The flow continued until 15 vials were filled with it.

Some may argue that the manifestation is due to the natural causes, but the skeptic should consider that the chronicle, which is still kept, presents a phenomenon that has been constant, not related to season, not fixed to a liturgical rite, and which takes place at all times of the year. Moreover, it has occurred in three countries: Greece, Turkey and Italy, all of which have different climatic conditons. Just as Jesus multiplied in Andrew's presence the five barley loaves and two fish, so it is that the good Lord has multiplied in a wondrous way the manna of St Andrew - a phenomenon that has spanned more than fourteen centuries.


Jn 3:16 For God so loved the world, as to give his only begotten Son; that whosoever believeth in him, may not perish, but may have life everlasting.
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PostSubyek: Re: The Twelve Apostles   10th March 2013, 15:56

St. Matthew

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A Galilean, called Levi by Luke and John and the son of Alphaeus by Mark, a tax collector, one of the Evangelists; according to various accounts, preached the Gospel in Judea, Ethiopia, Persia and Parthia, and was martyred; in art, is depicted with a spear, the instrument of his death, and as a winged man in his role as Evangelist; Sept. 21 (Roman Rite), Nov 16 (Byzantine Rite).

Listen to the homily taken from a Doctor of the Church, St Bede, the Venerable on a homily on St Matthew. This can also be found on the Calendar of the Saints on the Internet found at:
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"Jesus saw a man called Matthew sitting at the tax office, and he said to him: Follow me." Jesus saw Matthew, not merely in the usual sense, but more significantly with his merciful understanding of men."

He saw the tax collector and, because he saw him through the eyes of mercy and chose him, he said to him: "Follow me." This following meant imitating the pattern of his life - not just walking after him. Saint John tells us: "Whoever says he abides in Christ ought to walk in the same way in which he walked."

"And he rose and followed him." There is no reason for surprise that the tax collector abandoned earthly wealth as soon as the Lord commanded him. Nor should one be amazed that neglecting his wealth, he joined a band of men whose leader had, on Matthew's assessment, no riches at all. Our Lord summoned Matthew by speaking to him in words. By an invisible, interior impulse flooding his mind with the light of grace, he instructed him to walk in his footsteps. In this way Matthew could understand that Christ, who was summoning him away from earthly possessions, had incorruptible treasures of heaven in his gift.

- from a homily by Saint Bede the Venerable

The following links provides insight on St Matthew:

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”Matthew” by Ronald D. Witherup, published by New City Press, in 2000, at the location of 202 Cardinal Rd, Hyde Park, NY. 12538, is an excellent resource. He lists 12 major themes listed below that St Matthew employs that can be used for reflection and prayer. This is the Mattean world of “The Gospel of the Kingdom”.

1-Prophecy and Fulfillment: God’s plan was foretold by the prophets and finds its fulfillment in Jesus.

2-God’s relationship to Jesus: God is a loving father whose primary desire is for mercy and not sacrifice. Jesus is the faithful and obedient Son. Compared to St Mark, Matthew highlights the Father/Son relationship 40:2.

3-Emmanuel: Jesus is God-with-us who abides with his people forever down to the tiniest remnant of faithful ones.

4-Jesus, the messiah: Jesus has the power in word and deed to heal people and bring them to salvation.

5-Universalism: Jesus brings salvation to all including the Gentiles.

6-Righteousness: God desires humans to live ethical upright lives for which they will be held accountable.

7-Final Judgment: A time of separating the good and bad accompanied much apocalyptic images about fire, weeping and gnashing of teeth.

8-Discipleship: Following Jesus is not easy and it will involve humility, suffering and rejection in Jesus’ ministry.

9-Faith and Doubt: Believing in Jesus often is accompanied by questions and doubts. Fear is the real enemy of faith.

10-Conversion: Encountering Jesus requires acknowledging one’s sinfulness and accepting God’s forgiveness and forgiving others.

11-Prayer: Prayer should be simple, regular, humble and heartfelt.

12-Evangelzation: Jesus sends his disciples into the world to baptize and make disciples proclaiming the gospel message.

The following is taken from Father Otto Hophan's book entitled "The Apostles" and listed in the sources on the website of the Doctors of the Catholic

Chapter Seven

The feast of the apostle and evangelist Matthew is observed in the Roman Church on September 21. On this date, day and night are so evenly divided that in many parts of the world twelve hours are light and twelve hours are dark. This day has proved to be just as symbolic for Matthew as December 21 has proved to be for Thomas, the doubter, the companion and neighbor of the first evangelist. For this December day is the shortest day of the year, when the dark prevails over the light, when the sun sinks the earliest.

Glancing at the four scripture lists of the apostles, one notices that Matthew was placed right in the middle. He was the bridge between the first six and the last six apostles. The golden mean characterized his nature and his work, too.

Christian art has associated the symbol of a man with wings with this evangelist, because he began his Gospel with the genealogy of Jesus Christ. This symbol is very helpful in pointing out the nature of Matthew. He was a man who was just as human as the other apostles. He had his shortcomings; he was not perfect. Nevertheless, he was a man with wings for he raised himself up with the wings of his own good will, and with the more powerful wings of a strengthening grace, above his human weakness and human frailty.

Matthew, the Tax-Collector

Matthew-possibly from the Hebrew word "mattai," meaning "gift of God"-had a double name, Matthew Levi. Both Mark and Luke introduced this apostle in their Gospels as Levi. In his own Gospel this evangelist referred to himself simply as Matthew, the name by which he is known to Christians today.

Naturally the question was raised whether the Levi in Mark's and Luke's Gospels was the same person as the Matthew who wrote a passage concerning himself in the first Gospel. Nevertheless, if one compares these three passages with each other-Matt.9:9-13; Mark 2:13-17; Luke 5:27-32-and also the passages that immediately precede and follow the accounts of the apostle’s calling, he could no longer doubt that Matthew and Levi are two names for one and the same man. Not only is the frame the same, but so is the picture. All three accounts agree. Moreover, Matthew himself alluded to the fact that he was known by two names. When he recorded how he was called to the apostolate by Christ, he referred to himself as "a man named Matthew." But this hint becomes clear only if the Greek text is translated literally: "Matthaion legomenon"- "the so called Matthew." In other words, his name was Levi, but he was surnamed Matthew, "mattai," the gift of God." Levi, the so-called Matthew!

St Jerome was fully aware of the difference between Mark's and Luke's account of this apostle’s name on the one hand and that of the first evangelist on the other hand. In his commentary of St. Matthew's Gospel he made the clever observation,

Out of honor and respect for Matthew the other evangelist did not want to name him by his commonly known name so they said "Levi." The apostle called himself "Matthew" and "tax-collector." By this he wanted to show he was converted to a better life. He himself had suddenly changed from a tax-collector to an apostle.

It is also conceivable that the first evangelist, after his conversion, preferred the significant name of Matthew-"gift of God"-to his other name of Levi. Today the name Levi connotes money and business. Levi was the tax-collector. Matthew was the apostle. Isodad of Merv, relying on an old Oriental tradition, reported that "this change of names (fully intentional) was made because the Lord wanted to take the Jewish prejudice away from Matthew, lest he be a swindler and enemy of God."

The evangelist Mark called Matthew Levi, "the son of Alphaeus." This has led many to assert that Matthew was the brother of the apostles James the Less, who also was the son of an Alpheus. St. John Chrysostom was of the opinion that these two apostles were not only brother, but also tax-collectors. Yet the Gospels give no basis for such a relationship, neither that of brother nor that of fellow-worker. It was only a coincidence that both their fathers happened to have the same name.

With Matthew, a real individual, a unique personality entered the group of apostles. He distinguished himself from the apostles who were called before him in that he was not an unknown fisherman but a tax-collector who held a position in his society and had money. The early life of this apostle was not recorded in the Gospels. Matthew entered the circle around our Lord quite suddenly and unannounced, but the accounts of his calling permit these a posteriori conclusions. It seems that Matthew was also older than the other apostles, for a position such as Matthew occupied demanded a long and arduous struggle.

Certainly Matthew, the first evangelist, had a better education than the other apostles. From this he can correctly be called "the most valuable of all the Twelve." His profession as a tax-collector presupposed a thorough apprenticeship. He had to learn to write, to read, and, what was so dull, to count, to add, to subtract, to multiply, and to divide. There were figures and calculations, many figures, figures first and last, before and after all, and almost nothing else but figures. Later he had to run the money-tables. He had to know prices and rates and charges, the price of grain and oil, the value of the fish which the sons of Zebedee brought to him, the worth of pearls that our Lord Himself mentioned in the Gospels.

At the time when the young Peter and Andrew, James and John, with their fathers, John and Zebedee, were casting off into the sea, under sun and storm, the old Alpheus was sending his young son to a schoolroom where he studied among books and papers. There Levi learned how to be shrewd and clever, or, as the saying goes, to be "fit for life." And actually Matthew was much more cultivated than the staunch and hard-working fishermen on the sea. Their trade brought them comfort and well-being, but Matthew's business could raise him much higher, lead him to wealth and riches.

Matthew owned two houses when he made his appearance in the Gospels. There was his office with the commercial firms outside the city, "the tax-collector's place." And he had a private home inside Capharnaum, a large villa that was very spacious. It was so big and roomy that when invited for the Lord and others to enter, he "gave a great feast for him at his house; and there was a great gathering of publicans and of others, who were at the table with them." No poor man with a small house could have done this.

"A great gathering of publicans and of others!" Matthew maintained many and influential social contacts. In this respect also he differed much from the other apostles. Regularly he came to the princely court in Tiberias to settle his accounts with Herod, the ruler of the land. There he learned politics, the "inside stories," plots and schemes, scandals. Many a high and mighty lord in need of some "quick cash" he rescued from social embarrassment. They were indebted to him; he controlled their bows and smiles of thanks like puppets on strings. But what did Peter or John or Philip know about this "better business"? Matthew knew only too well. Even the most lordly of lords would dance his dance before him for money.

Certainly the gloomy chapter in the life of Matthew began when he became a tax-collector. Only God knows how he came to this infamous profession. Perhaps he took it up at the wish or command of his father; maybe a friend interested him in trying it out. It might have been his own idea-perchance it was his craving for money. In order to give a true and just explanation of this disreputable profession of collecting taxes, one must first remember its very questionable existence. It is necessary to consider all the information. Only then can one evaluate the nobility of Matthew the tax-collector.

In the Roman Empire taxes were not collected directly from wages, nor was there a state official or comptroller to oversee the levy. Rather the state leased its tax rights to the highest bidder. Therefore, the lessee had to assess a high rate of tax in his area if he did not want to come out in the red.

Often the price, especially for a large district, was so great that an individual could not assume the responsibility alone. A number of these bidders, therefore, quite frequently united and formed companies. Many of these, in the Roman Empire, belonged to wealthy brotherhoods of knights. They divided up their provinces into smaller districts and sublet their purchased rights to their tax-collectors, or publicans. Matthew was one of these smaller collectors. They also were forced to pay high prices still higher taxes from the poor laboring man. It was not a vicious circle, for it ended with the working class, upon whom it lay like a crushing burden.

It is understandable how such a system, which did relieve the government of many troubles and headaches, opened the door to many abuses. Certainly there existed duties and taxes and tariffs fixed by the State, but these were not nearly enough to eliminate the avarice, fraud, and extortion of the collectors. In fact, such vices were accepted behavior among tax-collectors.

Therefore the voice of the people against these tax-collectors and publicans was very bitter and severe. They were esteemed as "the bears and wolves of human society." To say "tax-collector" was to say "thief." Cicero maintained that the grave dissatisfaction of the people arose, not from the public act of imperial taxation as such, but from the manner in which these taxes were levied. He named the tax-collector's profession the worst of all possible trades. And to this profession Matthew Levi had dedicated himself.

The Jews considered the occupation of a tax-collector an outrageous disgrace. For the pagan Roman authorities, for this hated force occupying Jewish territory, the publicans collected taxes! A Jew was impoverishing other Jews, and for foreigners, for pagan foreigners, at that! That was not only deception and robbery, but also a crime against their homeland and their religion. A conscientious Jew asked himself the question whether it was permissible for him even to pay a tax to the emperor. And then these wretched collectors came along, these traitorous "collaborateurs"-as they would have been called, borrowing an expression from the stock of words used during and after the World Wars-and out of greed they dared to exact a tribute from the chosen race of God!

The Talmud did not conceal the Jewish disdain and contempt for the tax-collector. In lawsuits these collectors could act neither as judges nor as witnesses. Their families were avoided, had poor reputations, were considered without honor. No Jewish young man, if he were loyal, would think of taking the daughter of a publican to wife. It was even forbidden to receive alms from one of these despised officials, or to change money through him. A good Jew would not defile himself with such scandalously earned money. The Jews might even have doubted whether a tax-collector or a publican were really serious, whether he did not really regret what he was doing, and by that fact alone was capable of salvation.

So the tax-collectors were excluded from civil as well as from religious society, as least de facto, if not de jure. They were named in one breath along with murderers, assassins, thieves, robbers, criminals, and harlots. Everything was charged against them. It was not wrong to deceive them, swindle them, rob them. That was only a just revenge in return for their unjust oppression of the people.

In the Gospels this scorn of the Jews for the publicans and tax-collectors was made quite evident. When Christ was speaking of fraternal correction, He said, "'And if he (one's brother) refuse to hear them (witnesses), appeal to the Church, but he refuse to hear even the Church, let him be to thee as the heathen and the publican.'" When speaking to the Pharisees in the parable of the two sons, He said, "'Amen I say to you, the publicans and harlots are entering the kingdom of God before you.'" John the Baptist who was prompted to admonish the publicans very bluntly when they came to him, "'Exact no more than what has been appointed you. '"

Even after realizing all this, one can still understand how Matthew Levi can be exonerated. He was not salaried by the pagan Romans. At the time of our Lord their basic sovereignty practiced in Capharnaum, which seems to have been his home. Occupying the tax-collector's position there, he was therefore subject to the tetrarch of Galilee, Herod. But this was the Herod whom the Jews rejected as an intruder despite all his flattery. He was the Herod who played the abominable role in the New Testament as an adulterer, murderer of John the Baptist, and judge of Christ on Good Friday. Was Matthew not many times inwardly disgusted when he sat together with this criminal to settle his accounts, when this insolent and lewd imbecile grinned and winked his lascivious and red-with-wine eyes while asking for a fatter purse the next time?

Had also Matthew, the tax-collector, fouled and dirtied himself with those unjust gains?

The Gospels offer no explicit information here. Matthew did not make that betraying and fatal protest-to excuse oneself is often to accuse oneself-that his colleague, Zacchaeus, a leading publican in Jericho, offered to the Lord: "Behold, Lord, I give one-half of my possessions to the poor, and if I have defrauded anyone of anything, I restore it fourfold.'" Matthew was also a deeply religious man. The Gospel which he was to write later is full of citations from the Old Testament. He had a deep belief and a great trust in the word of God. Nevertheless, it was very difficult for him, so fully engrossed in his endangering profession and surrounded by so many evil examples, to keep himself completely spotless and without fault.

The beautiful words of the Lord at the feast in the house of Matthew concerned the sick who need a physician. They appear to have been spoken also for the benefit of this public servant who had just been called to follow Christ. Commenting on the First Gospel, St John Chrysostom did not hesitate to take for granted that "the service at the table at that banquet was obtained by injustice and avarice."

Yet, whatever Matthew's secret feelings may have been, the people did not make any careful distinction. He was still a tax-collector like all other tax-collectors. He was a swindler, a thief, a traitor. His profession was held in such ill repute that the evangelist Mark and Luke were indulgently silent about his earlier occupation when they listed him with the other apostles. And when they had to mention his name when relating the account of his calling, they attempted to cover up for him by using the name of Levi instead of Matthew.

Without a doubt, the apostle Matthew had to suffer for his public position. Possible there were evenings when he returned home with his pockets full and sat with his head in his hands while, breathing heavily, he thought over the events of the day. He could still see the hostile glances of the people, and their clenched fist. He could still hear the dirty money hit the street when it was thrown to him as they would throw garbage to a hungry dog. Of what use was all this money to him, if his own people outlawed him? He heard a voice coming from the depths of his soul, and later he recorded those words: "'For what does it profit a man, if he gains the whole world, but suffer the loss of his own soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul?'" His soul! Did Levi weep then?

If only he could begin anew! How satisfied he would have been with a poor boat, a clear conscience-he, the poor rich man! But is there a bond more difficult to break than the clutch of wealth? Yet there was One who was soon to call him away from his life as tax-collector and criminal once and for all.

He was to be banned from all "lawful reckoning" in the company of his friends and companions, for whom business transactions and money were important in a real but secondary way, as a means to the primary source of all wealth, the wealth of the beatific vision and happiness in heaven. It was impossible for him to escape. His yearning soul fluttered like a bird with clipped wings in a cage. If only his good will would grow other wings which could lift him out of himself, over his old self, to the new and splendid heights above the old riches of the earth!

In those last months in the tax-collector's place, the gathering place for all gossip and rumors, the people had been speaking more and more frequently of a new prophet, Jesus of Nazareth. Had he understood correctly?

And his fame spread into all Syria; and they brought to him all the sick suffering from various diseases and torments, those possessed, and lunatics, and paralytics; and he cured them. And there followed him large crowds from Galilee and Decapolis and Jerusalem and Judea, and from beyond the Jordan.

For several weeks, then, this new and renowned prophet had been residing in Capharnaum. He had spoken with the fisherman, Simon-the Son of John-and then He left again. A few days before it had happened-and Matthew could not forget it-that this Jesus, with a large following, passed by the place of the tax-collector. How had it all come about? Matthew never could fully explain it, but suddenly Jesus and Levi were standing next to each other, face to face, just for a second. Now Matthew knew why the crowd was following Him. His eyes had pierced the depths of the tax-collector's soul as a ray of the sun penetrates the dust-filled air of a gloomy room. The glance of the Messias had fallen upon him; like the sun, it was bright and magnificent. Matthew considered. For one brief moment he was ready to follow Him. But no!

No! Matthew knew what the prophets and theologians thought about him, the publican-what they had to think. Then suddenly he heard what he could not believe, what he wanted to hear, what he had thought was impossible for him ever to hear. The trained ear of Matthew, the shrewd collector, could tell, even from a distance and in a noisy crowd, who was coming by His step, or who was speaking by His voice. It was God, the prophet! The quiet Levi began to tremble. He made a mistake. Then Jesus came nearer and stopped before him, looked at him and spoke to him. He spoke only two words. but these two words changed the whole world for Matthew: "'Follow me.'"

Later Matthew included in his Gospel two quotations from the prophet Isaias concerning the works of Jesus. These selections demonstrate the objectivity which is so characteristic of the first evangelist's Gospel. He usually held back his own personal knowledge and experience of the greatness of God, but this was not completely concealed, for its echo can be heard in his quotations from Isaias: "' The people who sat in darkness have seen a great light; And upon those who sat in the region and shadow of death, a light has arisen.'" And, "' He himself took up our infirmities, and bore the burden of our ills.'" Was the evangelist thinking of himself here?

That this description of the soul, mind, and heart of the tax-collector before his calling is more than mere supposition and conjecture, the apostle himself showed by his account of his call: "Now as Jesus passed on from there, he saw a man named Matthew sitting in the tax-collector's place, and said to him, 'Follow me.' And he arose and followed him." With a jerk he knocked back his chair, to which he had been nailed fast for years, and shoved the drawer of the money-chest shut with such a bang that the whole till clinked and clanked and clattered, and all the weighty papers that lay before him were quickly rumpled and crumpled by his trembling hand. Matthew was excited. He "followed Him"-he, the rich, tax-collector who had been living in luxury and abundance, followed Him, who had nothing, Him, who had "nowhere to lay his head." A man, even a man as old as Matthew and with his experience, would not have behaved so if he had thought that this call to a new life was not a true salvation, a source of real happiness.

It must have been a great torture that filled his publican's soul and prepared him for the grace that was given him. St John Chrysostom remarked about the grace that the Holy Spirit, wisely and patiently awaiting the right hour, gave him:

Christ called Matthew when He knew that he would come. Therefore, He did not call him immediately in the beginning, when his heart was still somewhat difficult to approach, but after He had worked a number of miracles, and His fame was widespread, and when He knew he was inclined to obey.

This auspicious flight from money to the Gospels, this fortunate conversion of the tax-collector into a disciple, filled Matthew with such joy that he prepared a big banquet to celebrate his departure from his old way of life. He himself concealed the fact that there was a joyous occasion for this useful prodigality. But St. Luke did not hide it: "And Levi gave a great feast for him at his home; and there was a great gathering of publicans and of others, who were at the table with them."

Neither Peter nor Andrew, nor the sons of Zebedee, nor Philip nor Bartholomew had begun their new life with such festivities as those with which Matthew began his. They simply were not able to do it. Not even at the wedding feast of Cana was there such an all-out celebration as there was at Matthew's banquet. At the table in the house of Levi, where the multitude of Levi's colleagues had gathered, Christ was not called upon to work a miracle and produce more wine, as happened at Cana. The poor had gathered at the wedding feast, the rich publicans and tax-collectors were not there. At the banquet of Matthew the rich had gathered, but Christ also was there. For God nothing is ever too much; there is never a sinful waste. This was divine prodigality; it was as generously extravagant as Mary Magdalene's precious ointments. Only a Judas would complain.

As he partook of the feast, Matthew's heart was overflowing with joy. The Lord had rescued and freed him from money. Now he could be poor with God and rich with God! Only the divine hand can free a man, even a man of good will, from the bonds of wealth's slavery and give him wings to soar to the heights of God. In the portrait of Matthew painted by Rubens, the apostle is pictured as a poor soul in purgatory being taken up to paradise by an angel. The torments and tortures of purgatory for Matthew were the months he spent collecting taxes, but the hand of God mercifully lifted him up to the paradise of an evangelical life.

It is extraordinary that in the college of apostles it was not Matthew, the experienced businessman, who handled the money-purse. Indeed, he was only too glad to stay away from money. This task fell to Judas. Both apostles had dealt with money, but what different ways they traveled! Matthew abandoned his money to follow the Lord: Judas betrayed the Lord to win money, all of thirty pieces of silver. Of the four evangelists, Matthew alone carefully noted how many pieces Judas was paid.

With greater emphasis than was used in the other three Gospels, the first Gospel stressed how money became the down-fall of Judas. From the accursed transaction until the hour in which the sanctimonious hypocrites who posed as priest took up the unclaimed and ownerless purse from the temple floor to buy a burial place for strangers, Matthew kept recorded of the whereabouts of those thirty pieces of silver. Had he, the former tax-collector, foreseen the outcome? With the anxiety and concern of a man who knew the curse of money, he may have observed Judas' inclination to money. He may have spoken very seriously to him and warned him about this.

Unlike St. John, Matthew wrote about Judas without becoming passionately enraged. He could understand Judas even better than could the disciple of love, and was able to feel sorry for him. When looking at the apostle who betrayed the Master, he may have shuddered at the thought of what his own fate would have been had not the mercy of the Lord ransomed and rescued him. Certainly Matthew was only too glad to grasp the outstretched hand of Jesus.

In the Gospel according to St. Matthew there is a fuller account also of the use of, and necessity for, money than in the other three Gospels of the New Testament. Money is good only when it is put to a good use, when it is at the disposal of love and, what is more important, justice. The words of our Lord concerning money must have made a very deep impression on Matthew. Later the evangelist recorded these words:

"But when thou givest alms, do not let they left hand know, what thy right hand is doing, so that thy alms may be given in secret; and thy Father, who sees in secret, will reward thee... Do not lay up for yourselves on earth, where rust and moth consume, and where thieves break in and steal; but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither rust nor moth consumes, nor thieves break in and steal. For where thy treasure is, there thy heart also will be... You cannot serve God and mammon."

The calling of this apostle certainly had another side to it, the Lord's side. His call was a gross insult, socially speaking-an unheard of provocation to all "better" circles. Jesus heroically took upon Himself a hazardous enterprise when He called this publican. None other of all His disciples, not even Judas, humanly speaking, was so unbearable as Matthew. The other followers may have been painfully perplexed and confused when their Master asked this tax-collector to walk side by side with them. After all, they were respectable people from good and honest families.



Jn 3:16 For God so loved the world, as to give his only begotten Son; that whosoever believeth in him, may not perish, but may have life everlasting.
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PostSubyek: Re: The Twelve Apostles   10th March 2013, 15:57


The Scribes were not able to contain their shock and astonishment. Immediately before this, they had been irritated and vexed in Capharnaum when Jesus absolved a paralytic from his sins. " 'Why does this man speak thus? He blasphemes. Who can forgive sins, but God only?'" And how He dared to accept a publican and sinner into His small circle. Christ neither feared nor hesitated even to sit at the same table with a whole group of them. All the tax-collectors from the surrounding areas cautiously crawled out of their corners and crouched in the presence of the light of the miracle of grace as wounded animals creep from their shelters and cringe in the face of the light of the sun of day. In Matthew's vocation they all felt called and dignified.

"And the Pharisees and their Scribes were grumbling, saying to his disciples, 'Why do you eat and drink with publicans and sinners?'" The answer of Jesus was so essential and beautiful that all three Synoptics wrote it down: "' It is not the healthy who need a physician, but they who are sick. For I have come to call sinners, not the just.'" But St Matthew alone here noted a further remark: "'But go, and learn what this means: I desire mercy, and not sacrifice.'"

These few words became the overture to the works of Jesus, the primary source of accord throughout the four Gospels when read as one book. They anticipated the magnificent fifteenth chapter in St. Luke's Gospel, the trilogy of divine mercy, which appropriately has been named the heart of the third Gospel. These three short parables say everything to everyone. They expressed to the Pharisees and Scribes Jesus' vindication and His rejection of their ideas. They expressed to the tax-collectors and publicans His advice for, not His sanction of, their lives. They expressed to the apostles and disciples His supreme legislation for their apostolic labor.

The calling of the tax-collector, Matthew Levi, has therefore a universal importance and significance based on principle. The spirit of the Gospels becomes quite evident in it. This apostles became a brilliant example of divine mercy for "the publicans and sinners" of all ages. He was called to be the ray of hope for all who might be tempted to doubt or despair because they have gone so far astray; for the Messias came to help especially all sinners, the sick. After every sin that is committed, there is also the mercy of God, besides the justice of God, that is inflamed; even if the sinner does not want it and refused it, or has blinded himself to it, God puts it at the sinner's disposal.

Many months after Levi's calling, Jesus compared the Pharisee and publican:

"Two men went up to the temple to pray, the one a pharisee and the other a publican. The Pharisee stood and began to pray thus within himself: 'O God, I thank thee that I am not like the rest of men, robbers, dishonest, adulterers, or even like this publican. I fast twice a week; I pay tithes of all that I posses. " But the publican, standing afar off, would not so much as lift up his eyes to heaven, but kept striking his breast, say, 'O God, be merciful to me the sinner!

Was the Lord thinking of Matthew when he made this comparison? And what did Matthew think when he heard the Lord say this? He wept, and his heart swore that he was not worthy of such mercy.

After Matthew's calling, the Gospels mention this apostle only once. This was not many weeks after the call, when Christ appointed and commissioned the Twelve. The publican was at that time one of the few chosen as an apostle, not merely as a disciple, one among hundreds of followers. He was one of the Twelve Jesus chose "that they might be with him and that he might send them forth to preach. To them he gave power to cure sicknesses and to cast out devils."

St. Matthew recorded a fuller account in his Gospel than the other evangelists of our Lord's discourse to His apostles before their first mission: "'And as you go, preach the message, "The kingdom of heaven is at hand!" Cure the sick, raise the dead, cleanse the lepers, cast out devils.'" Then he wrote down a sentence that only he, the tax-collector, took the trouble to record: "'Freely you have received , freely give.'" Knowing Levi, who can keep from smiling when reading this? "Freely you have received..." And only Matthew, the former Levi, continued so meticulously, "'Do not keep gold, or silver, or money in your girdles, no wallet for your journey, nor two tunics, nor sandals, nor staff; for the laborer deserves his living.'"

"The laborer deserves his living!" 'What did the poor in the surrounding areas think when Levi, known only too well as the sly fox, entered their houses as a holy apostle with the greeting, "Peace be to this house"-he who earlier had been guilty of causing so much pain and hardship and anger over abominable money? And yet it must be admitted that Matthew humbly accepted this apostolic trial. Ironically, it was his experience as a tax-collector that taught him his tact and understanding of people. No less than the trade of a fisherman was his profession a necessary preparation for his apostolate.

If one reads, compares, and mediates on the lists of apostles, it will occur to him that Matthew was one of the few apostles who stood alone and apart from all the others. With the exception of Thomas, Judas, and Matthew, all the Twelve were bound together through an alliance or friendly relation. Did the Lord, therefore, perhaps place the quiet Matthew and the oppressed Thomas side by side so that they could be for each other comrades and neighbors? Both Mark and Luke named Matthew before Thomas when they listed the apostles in their Gospels. But in the first Gospel, Matthew assigned himself the position immediately after Thomas.

In the Acts of the Apostles there was recorded no further information about the apostle Matthew's life, and tradition has passed down only a few isolated and inaccurate facts. Certainly this is an indication that for many years after the Lord's Resurrection he remained with the other apostles to work among his own people, the Jews. How long this went on cannot be exactly determined from the account of Eusebius. Clement of Alexandria thought it was fifteen years.

It was also Clement of Alexandria who related that the apostle Matthew led a severely ascetic life by partaking neither of meat nor of vegetables, but only of grains. But perhaps here the Church Father confused the apostle Matthew with the apostle Matthias-it is not uncommon even today to hear these two names being used interchangeably-for the latter, according to the testimony of Eusebius, supposedly preached perpetual abstinence from meat. Still, if Matthew, the happy host and entertainer, had been such a strict ascetic, would he so unembarrassed have recorded the words of the Lords: "'What goes into the mouth does not defile a man; but that which comes out of the mouth, that defiles a man'"?

Concerning the land of the apostolic labors of Matthew, the many and various apocryphal Acts present confused and inconsistent accounts. Older traditions named Arabia, Persia, and especially Ethiopia-also called Abyssinia-as the missionary field of this apostle, a tradition which the Roman Breviary appropriated for the feast day of the apostle. Traditions originating in more recent centuries had him working among the Parthians, and also the Macedonians. In the "Acts of Andrew" Pontus was named as his place where Matthew labored together with Andrew; there it is recorded that Andrew saved Matthew from the cannibals who wanted to consume him.

The way in which he died is also a matter for conjecture. According to a remark made by Heracleon, a Gnostic, in the middle of the second century, Matthew did not want to stand "before the judges to testify." This opinion implies that he did not want to suffer martyrdom but wanted to die a natural death, as did the apostles Philip and Thomas; Clement of Alexandria also held with this tradition, and passed it on. Other legends on the contrary, explained-often with verbose descriptions which did not easily lend themselves to quotation or memorization-that Matthew was stoned or burned to death. But the most repeated legend maintained he was beheaded.

The Roman Breviary borrowed from the apparently more recent passio Matthaei, a detailed record of the Ethiopic legends concerning Matthew. In this account the apostle was reported to have converted the royal family and the entire district under its rule by working the miracle of raising Iphigenia, the daughter of King Aeglippus, from the dead. Nevertheless, Hirtacus, the brother and neighbor of the converted king, had Matthew killed by the sword because the apostle had opposed his intention to marry Iphigenia, his niece.

The remains of Matthew supposedly were taken from Ethiopia first to Paestum, an Italian village on the gulf of Salerno, and in the tenth century to Salerno itself, where they are honored today.

Knowledge of the latter life of the apostle Matthew is as insufficient as his Gospel, which he wrote for all ages, is important. It was this work which made him an important apostle-after Peter and John, the most important of all the Twelve. Renan has called Matthew's Gospel "the most important book of universal history."

The profession and natural ability of this publican, this man of the writing-table, enabled and disposed him to comprehend and record in his Gospel the events of Christ's life. He was especially eager to take note of and remember the inspiring teachings of Christ, and he performed this service for the Lord thankfully and gladly. In this the mystery of his calling can be seen in a new light: Matthew, the publican, recorded worthily and exactly the words and deeds which he had seen and heard; he was called to become the patron and living example of that was permitted to write according to Divine Providence about our Lord Jesus Christ.

Matthew, the Evangelist

The Gospel according to St. Matthew was explicitly referred to by Papias around the year 110: "Matthew collected in the Hebrew language (Aramaic) the discourses (ta logia) of the Lord. He translated (ermeneusen) them as well as he could." To testimony Irenaeus added his own: "Matthew put forth a Gospel among the Jews in their own language, as Peter and Paul (orally) preached the good tidings (Gospel) in Rome and established the Church."

An interesting oddity was mentioned by Pantaenus, the headmaster and teacher of the Catechetical School of Alexandria, who around the year 200, traveled to "India," that is, to Arabia, or the southern part of the present-day Arabia: "The Gospel of the evangelist Matthew, written in the language of the Hebrews was brought to them (the "Indians") by the apostle Bartholomew." The apostolic collaboration between Matthew in Ethiopia and Bartholomew in the sections of India adjacent to Ethiopia (as was mentioned in the chapter on Bartholomew) was also noted in Ethiopic legends concerning Matthew. Origen, one of the very learned Fathers of the Church, noted the traditions concerning Matthew's Gospel:

From the tradition concerning the four Gospels, which alone were recognized without discussion by the whole Church of God, I have come to learn that the first Gospel was written by Matthew, the former tax-collector and later the apostle of Jesus Christ. He composed it in the language of the Hebrews for the Jews converted to the Faith.

The Fathers of the Church were one in testifying to the fact that Matthew was the first of all the four evangelists to write down the Gospel. The exact year in which he did this cannot be ascertained, but certainly it was completed before the year 70, the year which saw the destruction of Jerusalem and the dispersion of the Jewish people into the wide world. An old tradition from the East asserted, "Matthew wrote his Gospel during the reign of Emperor Claudius, in the year 42, nine years after the Ascension of the Lord."

The previously mentioned testimony of Papias-"Matthew wrote down the discourses of the Lord"-was interpreted by advocates of rationalism as a mere "collection of sayings" which differed from what we know and accept today as Matthew's Gospel. But it is not difficult to show how wrong this is, for the Greek expression, ta logia, signified discourses as well as deeds, according to the use of the word prevalent at the time of the Church historian. Papias himself, for example, at one time referred to the contents of Matthew's Gospel as "the discourses and deeds of the Lord," and at another time, however, only as logia. For Papias logia also meant "Gospel."

Actually all of Christian antiquity knew nothing of a "collection of sayings" of Matthew which was different from the Gospel we have today. Both Irenaeus and Eusebius explicitly and without hesitation confirmed that Papias was speaking of the first Gospel as we know it today. And it is also justifiable from the contents to call Matthew's Gospel logia-discourses, speeches, or thoughts of the Lord-because of all three Gospels of the Synoptics, it is Matthew's which is composed mostly of the words of Christ. Frequently this evangelist abbreviated or even passed over the words of Jesus in order to include more of His actual words while teaching.

The original text of St. Matthew's Gospel, written in his native Aramaic-the "Hebrew tongue"-was lost very early. This is easy to understand, for over those Jewish-Christian communities for which Matthew wrote his Gospel, storms of the Jewish War and then of the false teachers were soon raging. It is tragic that Christianity in the evangelist's own homeland never developed beyond that first short spring.

The first Gospel, however, did live on, though gradually it was falsified by legends. In the fifth century it had developed into the so-called "Hebrew Gospel"-also called the "Nazarene Gospel"-which St. Jerome, the great scholar of the Bible (d.419 or 420), was able to examine in two copies.

On the other hand, Matthew's Gospel had the good fortune to have an excellent, first-rate Greek translator. Skillfully he recast the Aramaic original into an elegant Greek version. This translation was made before the turn of the first century, for traces of it can be found in the works of the Church Fathers written before the end of the first century. The Greek translator of Matthew's original Aramaic text-"Who it was cannot be established," remarked Jerome-could also have examined in the sixties the original Greek texts of the Gospels of Mark and Luke. It may have been that when he translated the parts of Matthew's Gospel which are common to the other Synoptics, he consulted these two texts. Certain linguistic peculiarities characteristic of the Greek version of Matthew's Gospel show a dependence on the style of Mark's Gospel.

The Biblical Commission of Rome, on June 19, 1911, gave the explanation that the Greek translation "substantially" agreed with the Aramaic original. This conviction was held by all the writers of Christian antiquity. Without exception the oldest manuscripts of the Bible and all the old translations of the Bible attributed the first Gospel as we know it today to the evangelist Matthew. Other favorable testimony can be found in such sources as the "Didache"-the "Teachings of the Twelve Apostles"-composed around the year 100. There are also the writings of the Fathers of the Church: Clement of Rome, who wrote about the year 95; Ignatius of Antioch, who died in 107; Polycarp, martyred around the year 156; and above all, Justin, apologist and martyr. These have written comments on and allusions to the first Gospel, and together they form a mosaic that shows the truly great respect for the first Gospel that existed even in the first years after apostolic times.

The Gospel of St. Matthew, meanwhile, answers for itself. If one opens this book, even if only to the first page, he immediately meets the tax-collector, Matthew. The humble manner in which the first Gospel speaks of this apostle betrays him as its author. The minute details and exact knowledge of the geographical, historical, political, and religious conditions and circumstances of the Chosen Land at the time of the Lord, as well as the thorough knowledge of the Sacred Writings of the Old Testament, show unequivocally that the writer was a Jewish Christian contemporary of Jesus.

The life of Jesus in the Gospel of Matthew was portrayed plainly and soberly, often without a detailed sketch of the place and time of an incident. At times it was written without a vivid description of the surrounding circumstances, without any interesting peculiarities. St Mark wrote intuitively, with great temperament and spirit. St Luke was intimate and cordial when he took up his pen.

To illustrate this, one can compare the accounts of Matthew and Mark concerning the raising of Jairus' daughter from the dead. Without color, Matthew wrote:

As he was saying this to them, behold, a ruler came up and worshipped him, saying, "My daughter has just now died; but come and lay thy hand upon her, and she will return to life." And Jesus arose and followed him, and so did his disciples.

In describing this same event, about which Matthew recorded only the essentials, Mark wrote with more precise details:

And when Jesus had again crossed over in the boat to the other side, a great crowd gathered together to him; and he was by the sea. And there came one of the rulers of the synagogue named Jairus. And seeing Jesus, he fell at his feet, and entreated him much saying, "My daughter is at the point of death; come, lay thy hands upon her, that she may be saved and live." and he went away with him, and a great crown was following him and pressing upon him.

A comparison of Matthew's and Mark's accounts of the desertion of the disciples on the Olives also shows the difference between them. Matthew wrote simple, "Then all the disciples left him and fled." But Mark added more:

Then all his disciples left him and fled. And a certain young man was following him, having a linen cloth wrapped about his naked body, and they seized him. But leaving the linen cloth behind, he fled away from them naked.

Because of this impersonal style, the first Gospel has been suspected of rationalism. It has been said that an eyewitness of the events would certainly have composed his account more vividly. Yet, is not this objectivity itself an indirect and internal proof of the authenticity of the first Gospel? Not every author of Scripture-we must thank the Holy Spirit for this!-wrote in the same style and with an identical vocabulary. The grace of divine inspiration was not a word-for-word revelation, though there are a few who would not agree with this. God relied on the human individualities of His authors to complete and formulate with human words His inspirations. So Matthew wrote as Matthew.

It is Matthew's personality and individuality that shows between the lines of the first Gospel. This apostle had been a tax-collector, a sober realist. His life had been filled with calculations and computations, accounts and bills. Who does not know that men of mathematics and finances restrict themselves to, and are satisfied with, a strict adherence to fundamentals and essentials, to objectivity and practicality, that such men seldom permit their imaginations to appear? It is precisely this lack of imagination in the first Gospel that points to Matthew as the author. While writing down the accounts in his Gospel, St. Matthew was wont to forget many of the merely embellishing details. At times he shortened his descriptions so much that they sometimes became almost meaningless. It is for this very reason, however, that his Gospel is so impressive: it is solemn. It has the austere quality of a Byzantine portrait, the stern sound of a liturgical hymn. This was St. Matthew, the tax-collector, the apostle, the inspired author, writing his Gospel.

So much did Matthew suppress in his Gospel everything that was personal that a reading of his writings can teach us almost nothing positive about his life as a financier.

The acquaintance, however, with matters concerning money and business, which is quite evident in the fist Gospel, betrays the author of the first book of the New Testament against his will. Just as the detailed statements about health and sickness, known only to a physician, reveals the true St. Luke, so do the frequent and detailed remarks about money show the real Matthew. These particular instructions of Jesus remained especially vivid in the thoughts of the former tax-collector.

In no less than twelve passage of his Gospel Matthew wrote about money and coins. John wrote about this but twice. The sober tax-collector and the beloved eagle! Even in his description of the crib of the Child Jesus in Bethlehem, St. Matthew mentioned "gold." He was the only evangelist who recorded the miraculous finding and payment of the temple tax for Christ and Peter. Only Matthew wrote down the parable of "a treasure hidden in a field" and "'a merchant in search of fine pearls. When he finds a single pearl of great price, he goes and sells all that he has and buys it.'" Was Matthew thinking of his own calling to the kingdom of heaven?

Only Matthew explained how the unmerciful servant, who owed the king ten thousand talents, was released and forgiven his debt. "'But as that servant went out, he met one of his fellow-servants who owed him a hundred denari, and he laid hold of him and throttled him..." and neither released him nor forgave him the debt. Only Matthew told of the "'householder who went out early in the morning to hire laborers for his vineyard. And having agreed with the laborers for a denarius a day, he sent them into his vineyard.'" Only Matthew wrote down the parable about "'a man going abroad, who called his servants and delivered to them his goods. And to one he gave five talents, to another two, and to another one...'" But to the "wicked and slothful servant" the master, after he had returned, said angrily, "'"Thou shouldst therefore have entrusted my money to the bankers, and on my return I should have got back my own with interest."'" It can easily be understood why this evangelist was so concerned about matters financials, and it should not be surprising that this concern showed itself in his Gospel.

It is true that Mark and Luke also wrote about business and money when the occasion demanded it. Yet a comparison of the first Gospel with the second and third shows that Matthew expressed himself in passages that are common to all three Synoptics with a fine difference from Mark and Luke. For example, in the account of Christ's sending the apostles on their first mission, St. Luke recorded ""Take nothing for your journey, neither staff, nor wallet, nor bread, nor money...'" But St Matthew, recording this same incident wrote, "'Do not keep gold, or silver, or money in your girdles, no wallet for your journey...'"

All three Synoptics recorded the incident concerning tribute at Caesar, St. Luke wrote, "'Show me a denarius.'" St Mark wrote, "Bring me a denarius...'" But St. Matthew did not merely use the uncertain term of denarius. He wrote, "'Show me the coin of the tribute." So they offered him a denarius." For him, the former tax-collector, it was not immaterial whether he was speaking of either this or that coin, or simple of money.

No other evangelist was so expert, so pedantic and precise in his accounts involving the value of money as Matthew. His well-trained ear could hear the difference in the clink of different coins. After many years he could remember whether our Lord had spoken of a talent, or a mna, a stater or a denarius or a drachme, an assarion or a quadran." In his Gospel Matthew mentioned ten different piece of money. Mark name only five; Luke, six. Certainly the first Gospel carries the unmistakable mark of its author, Matthew the tax-collector.

Also in the first book of the New Testament the Jewish preference for the numbers three, seven, eight, and fourteen-considered to be "holy" numbers-is often plainly evident. Even in the very first chapter, three groups of fourteen generations of the ancestors of our Lord Jesus Christ were recorded. This life of Jesus before His public ministry was based on seven prophecies; the discourse on the sea, on seven mysteries; the prayer of our Lord, on seven petitions, The accounts of Christ's miracles were divided into three groups of three, with two exhortations inserted between the groups.

Here the entire sketch and outline of the first Gospel becomes evident. It was planned and written according to definite numerical proportions, as was characteristic of the Jewish manner of portrayal. Matthew, the tax-collector and evangelist, had a great love for analogies, and took much trouble to plan and arrange similar words and incident side by side. He arranged his holy subject matter-at least in the large middle section of his Gospel (4:12-18:35)-logically and schematically, not chronologically as St. Luke did, "after following up all things carefully from very first, to orderly account." This tendency to follow a mathematically planned schema may have been a habit left over from the evangelist's earlier work as a collector of taxes. He was obviously determined to arrange his Gospel more beautifully than he had carried out his earlier role in the tax-office.

So, in the middle section of his Gospel, St. Mathew collected and arranged the discourses of the Lord in five large groups, of which the Sermon on the Mount is the most important. It was to the Sermon on the Mount that he joined various others of the Lord's discourses-as a comparison with St. Luke's chronological account shows-to form one beautifully united composition. Similarly, he assembled the miracles of Jesus into coherent accounts, many of which, however, were loosely bound together only with tote-then.

It can readily be seen that this more logical than chronological method of recording the events of the Gospel did not falsify or endanger historical truth. On the contrary, it has invest Matthew's Gospel with a noble clarity and a dignified compactness.

The Holy Gospel according to St. Matthew was significantly arranged into three main parts: a prelude, the crisis and clarification, and a conclusion. The author begin his Gospel (1:1-4:11) with the genealogy of Jesus and an account of a few incidents in Christ's childhood. In the second part (4:12-18:35) our Lord offered His Messianic holiness to the people: the beginning of His labors in Galilee, the Sermon on the Mount, the call and mission of the apostles, and the evidence of His miracles. And the people rejected the Messias; John the Baptist's deputation and Christ's witness concerning him, the laments and threats of Jesus, and the aggression and blasphemy of the Pharisees. Christ separated the faithful from the unfaithful and gathered them into His Church: the parable of the kingdom of heaven, the beheading of John the Baptist, Jesus' return to the faithful, the founding of the Church on Peter, and the instruction of the apostles. In the conclusion of the Gospel (19:1-28:20) the evangelist included: Jesus in Judea and Jerusalem, Palm Sunday, the cleansing of the temple, Christ's passion, death and resurrection, and Easter.

St Mathew wrote this Gospel "for the Jews," as the Church Fathers so often stated it. He wrote it for those who had entered into the spirit of the New Testament, and also for those who persisted in the Old Law. Keeping this fact before our eyes at all times, we can evaluate the first Gospel properly. This first book of the New Testament has many Old Testament characteristics. The very first chapter, the genealogy of Jesus Christ, which seems so dry to modern man, is like a venerable vestibule to the whole New Testament. It is like a solemn and impressive procession of all the nobility of the Old Testament into the New where they meet Jesus Christ, "the Son of David, the son of Abraham. Abraham begot Isaac, Isaac begot Jacob, Jacob begot Judas and his brethren..."

Again and again and again prophecies from the Old Testament flash through the pages of Matthew's Gospel like sparks of lightning to prepare the way to Christ for the Jews, who were so close to the Old Law, "Now all this came to pass that there might be fulfilled what was spoken by the Lord through the prophet..." "So he... withdrew into Egypt... that there might be fulfilled what was spoken by the Lord through the prophet..."

There are no less than seventy such references to and citations of the Old Testament made by Matthew; by Mark, eighteen; by Luke, nineteen; by John, twelve. The same consideration for his Jewish readers prompted Matthew to mention explicitly in his Gospel the words of our Lord concerning His attitude toward the Law of the Old Testament. This Mark and Luke did not record."' Do not think that I have come to destroy the Law or the Prophets. I have not come to destroy, but to fulfill.'" Then six times the evangelist wrote,"' You have heard that it was said to the ancients... But I say to you...'"

In his Gospel, Matthew sought to convince the Jewish people that Jesus was the Messias promised by the Old Law and the Prophets. His Church was the long-awaited and ardently desired Messianic kingdom. Never tiring, the evangelist also brought into prominence the words of Christ that so irritatingly contradicted the Jews' false and distorted notions of an earthly and national Messias.

"Blessed are the poor in spirit... the meek... they who mourn... they who hunger and thirst for justice...the merciful... the pure of heart...the peacemakers...they who suffer persecution for justice' sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven."

These words hurt the Jews.

"Blessed are you when men reproach you, and persecute you, and speaking falsely, say all manner of evil against you, for my sake. Rejoice and exult, because your reward is great in heaven."

Matthew recorded more of Jesus' words for the benefit of his Jewish reader: "'I praise thee, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, what thou didst hide these things from the wise and prudent, and didst reveal them to little ones... The kingdom of heaven is like a grain of mustard seed... This indeed is the smallest of all the seeds...The kingdom of heaven is like a treasure hidden in a field.'"

In spite of Jesus' poverty, in spite of the scandal and shock of the cross, He was the Messias foretold by the prophets. The contrasts in the life of Jesus were not spelled out so often or so clearly in any other Gospel as in Matthew's. Christ was persecuted by Herod, honored by the Gentiles. He was baptized as sinner, glorified by the Father. He was tempted by the devil, served by angels. He was crucified as a criminal, witnessed by nature and man as the "living Son of God."

Moreover, Matthew certainly must have provided some answer to that painful mystery, the chosen people's rejection of Jesus as the Messias. It was the same mystery which St. Paul dwelt on in the ninth, tenth, and eleventh chapter of his Epistle to the Romans. Both Matthew and Paul suffered from the rejection of their own people. Saddened, St. Paul quoted Isaias, "' All the day long I stretched out my hand to a people unbelieving and contradicting.'" Matthew was saddened, too, as became evident in the course of his historical accounts; the criminal indifference of the ruler toward the new-born infants; the Jews' envy of the learned; their abominable hatred of the dead; their last malice against the resurrected Savior.

Matthew, the reserved evangelist, unsparingly recorded the justice of our Lord with His enemies, a justice which came down like a thunderstorm over the "blind guides" leading the "blind men." "'Woe to you, Scribes and Pharisees...'' Eight times woe to you! What horrible echoes of the Eight Beatitudes in the beginning of Matthew's Gospel! And the people themselves were not without guilt: "'The kingdom of God will be taken away from you and will be given to a people yielding its fruit.'" Matthew alone noted the dreadful cry of the Jewish race to the pagan Pilate, as he washed his hand: "'His blood be on us and on our children.'" The horrible echo of this cry has never stopped rebounding; it has been heard most loudly in our own century!

It might seem that a Gospel written for the Jews of the first century would have not personal value for our present generation. Matthew's Gospel, however, is limited neither by decades nor by centuries. It remains in the first place, before the other Synoptics, not only by succession, but also by significance. It was written for all ages, and therefore-perhaps especially-for our own age.

Matthew's strict formality, a consequence of his reserved objectivity, has caused his Gospel to be called the "academic Gospel." Its special value for Christianity today lies in its explanation concerning the Messianic kingdom. As opposed to a purely earthly kingdom of the Messias, which the Jews of the first century demanded of Christ as a paradise on earth, and the ideas of which surrounds us today on all sides, Matthew's Gospel stressed the spirituality of the true Messianic kingdom.

Matthew recorded the discourses of Jesus concerning His kingdom in more detail than the other writers of the Gospels, just as John dwelt especially on the divinity of Christ. Here, and not elsewhere, lie the reasons for the objection sometimes made against Matthew's Gospel, against this "Church Gospel," as Renan so expressively called it. In the Gospel of Matthew the Church founded by Christ is clearly placed more in the foreground than in the others. "'Thou are Peter, and upon this rock I will build my Church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. And I will give thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven...'" These words resound through the First Gospel.

It is symbolic that the legend which has assigned each of the twelve articles of faith to one of the twelve Apostles has placed the article concerning the Church on Matthew's lips: "Credo in sanctum, ecclesiam catholicam-I believe in the holy, Catholic Church." The first Gospel is the "Catholic" Gospel herein lies another reason why this Gospel has a special value for us today-for it belongs to all, embraces all, conciliates all, unites all. All are "chosen people." In the Messianic kingdom there are no races, no classes, no castes.

It is not only an historical fact, but also very symbolic, that in the beginning of Matthew's Gospel the Gentiles, knelt before "the newly born king of the Jews" and worshipped Him. The last words of Christ recorded at the close of the final chapter were: "Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations..." "Catholicity" is the beginning and the climax and the end of Matthew's Gospel.

"All power in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 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 all days, even unto the consummation of the world."

Matthew was both tax-collector and evangelist. How powerfully this combination is expressed in the statue of Matthew standing in the Lateran! Disdainfully the apostle's foot treads on the spilled money-bag; his eyes and his heart attend to the Holy Book that rests on his knees. He is an example and a reminder for all to stand above things material, to turn from the world to the Holy Gospels and, with the grace of God, to become worthy of them. Matthew, the first evangelist to write a Gospel, offers us his own book. For, "' not by bread alone does man live, but by every word that comes forth from the mouth of God."'"


Jn 3:16 For God so loved the world, as to give his only begotten Son; that whosoever believeth in him, may not perish, but may have life everlasting.
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PostSubyek: Re: The Twelve Apostles   10th March 2013, 15:58

St. Thomas

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Thomas (Didymus): Notable for his initial incredulity regarding the Resurrection and his subsequent forthright confession of the divinity of Christ risen from the dead; according to legend, preached the Gospel in places from the Caspian Sea to the Persian Gulf and eventaully reached India where he was martyred near Madras; Thomas Christians trace their origin to him; in art, is depicted knelling before the risen Christ, or with a carpenter's rule and square; feast, July 3 (Roman Rite), Oct. 6 (Byzantine Rite).

There are many hundreds of interesting sources about St Thomas the Apostle on the Internet. One site that contains a beautiful homily by the Pope-doctor, St Gregory the Great, and ten other links is:

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The following is taken from Chapter Eight from "The Twelve" by Otto Hophan, O.F.M. Cap. Information on this book is found in the doctoral resources/link on the Doctors of the Catholic Church website at:

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St Thomas the Apostle is often wronged. Whenever his name is heard, one tends to think of a skeptic, a doubter. "He is a doubting Thomas" has become a byword. We have become accustomed, through the centuries, to judge this apostle on the basis of his one sin of disbelief, just as Judas is so often seen only in connection with his betrayal. Peter's denial was as evil as Thomas' doubt, and yet no intelligent person immediately connects the name of Peter exclusively with his sin. Just as there is much more to know about Peter than his denial, so there is much more to know about Thomas than his one doubt. We know that Peter was more than a sinner. And Thomas was more than a sinner. He was an apostle, chosen by the Lord, one of His followers.

For centuries St. Thomas has been represented as the patron and forerunner of all skeptics and doubters and grumblers and fault-finders. Actually, this is a gross and serious injustice to a man whose life was so bitter, and who had to suffer his distress for our sake. For this skepticism and lack of faith in Thomas was not so much an attitude or arrogrance as an exemplification of that ordinary foolishness which God in His mysterious wisdom uses to provoke His creatures to reflect upon the majesty of divine wisdom. St. Thomas' doubt was conceived in sorrow, born in painful hesitation, and grew into a blessing. Before this apostle can be properly judged, one must remember not only that he doubted, but also why his sadness made him hesitate to believe. The generous crown of God's mercy must also be kept in mind.

Thomas, the Doubter

As already indicated, whenever one hears the name of the apostle Thomas mentioned, he probably begins to grow suspicious of him. Twice St. John called Thomas by a surname, "Didymus"-literally, "the twofold one," or freely translated into English, "the twin." One might even try to interpret the meaning of this expression as an indication of a personality at least mildly schizophrenic. But such an opinion would be groundless, and completely incorrect, as any thorough and thoughtful examination of the texts will show. Actually, St John was only explaining Thomas' Aramaic name to the Greek reader of his Gospel: Thomas, that is (in Greek), Didymus, the Twin.

Certain idle legends have spread the gossip that the twin brother of Thomas was Eleazar, or that his twin sister was Lysia. In the spurious "Acts of Thomas" even Christ Himself was put forth as the twin brother of Thomas. Christ and Thomas were supposedly so much alike that they were often mistaken for one another.

Such a ridiculous fable may well have taken root in a tradition of the Church at Edessa. According to this tradition, the proper name of the apostle Thomas was Jude-Jude being an other name for Thomas, that is, Didymus, or the Twin. And this led to a confusion with the apostle Jude, who was known by many titles: Thaddeus, a brother, or cousin, of the Lord. Quite abruptly, then, these legends assumed that this Jude was Thomas, a brother, even a twin brother, of the Lord.

Sacred Scripture has not passed down any information concerning the origin, parents, or early life of Thomas. He was the first one of the Twelve to enter the Gospels practically unnoticed, the leader of the silent, almost mute, apostles. The first seven apostles had been mentioned before their calling, but Thomas' name appears for the first time in the lists of the apostles like a ray of the sun on the edge of a forest, which no one had noticed before.

Legend has it that Thomas was an architect. Since the thirteenth century, artists have associated the carpenter's square with this apostle, who has been made the patron of builders. Scripture, nonetheless, suggest that he was a fisherman, not a full-fledged owner of a business, as were Peter and Andrew and the sons of Zebedee, but a helper. This supposition coincides with other statements that Thomas came from a poor family of the tribe of Juda or Issachar.

Perhaps Thomas' restrained and insecure nature resulted from the poverty of his daily life. In the fourth Gospel this apostle appears as an outspokenly melancholic person. St. John, the painter of many true and beautiful portraits, recorded a few very significant words about Thomas in three passages. Despite their brevity these words reveal the whole nature of this man. The Synoptics mentioned only the name of Thomas: Mark and Luke in the eighth place on their lists, and Matthew in the seventh. In the Canon of the Mass and in the Litany of the Saints, and also in the Acts of the Apostles, he is portrayed as an especially important witness of the Resurrection; he is placed before Philip and Bartholomew and Matthew, not after them, as he was in the Gospels.

Although his apostolic companions stood on his right and on his left, Thomas nevertheless remained almost alone and lost in the rank and file of the apostles. When he compared himself with the others-as melancholic persons like to do-he emerged only as their inferior. Had the other apostles assumed any privilege or prerogative he might have rightly claimed as his own?

Peter was the first in authority; John was the first in love. Andrew and James could sun themselves in the distinctions of their respected brothers. Philip had his happy friend Bartholomew, and Bartholomew could rely on Philip. Matthew was a rich and skilled man. James the Less, Jude Thaddeus, and Simon were closely related to the Lord, and certainly they came after Thomas-yet it was only the fine tact of Jesus that made Him appoint these last places to His own relatives. And finally, Judas Iscariot, an unpleasant and sinister character, again and again enjoyed the trust of all, in that he was permitted to carry the money-purse.

St. Thomas alone was without a title. He was the lonesome apostle, the last of all. If one mediates on the passage of the Gospel which conern the apostle Thomas, he will see that these suppositions-they are no more than this-are not without basis, though taken from a wide range of possibilities.

The first appearance of Thomas in the Gospels occurred immediately before the account of the raising of Lazarus from the dead. Jesus had just fled from Jerusalem to escape stoneing and seizure by the Jews. He had gone to Perea. The grieving sisters of Lazarus, Mary and Martha of Bethany, had sent a special messenger to Him to inform Him that their brother lay very ill. To this news our Lord gave the dark and mysterious answer. "'This sickness is not unto death, but for the glory of God, that through it the Son of God may be glorified.'" Again it is not always for us to have a clear understanding of the ways of God. Lazarus was a very close friend of Jesus; but instead of going to him immediately, our Lord "remained two more days in the same place. Then afterwards he said to his disciples. "Let us go again into Judea.'".

The disciples were startled and confused. "'Rabbi, just now the Jews were seeking to stone thee; and dost thou go there again?'" And after Jesus spoke to them about the "sleep" of Lazarus, they stuck to their refusal to understand, the real meaning of that word. They tried to find a plausible reason not to return where they might be notices by the hostile Jews. "'Lord if he sleeps, he will be safe.'" Despite their fear and anxiety and insistence on retaining their safe position, our Lord did not hesitate to fulfill His dangeous mission of mercy. He left no doubt about the "sleep" of Lazarus. "So then Jesus said to them plainly, "Lazarus is dead.'" Then Thomas, the sad and faithful fellow-disciple, spoke out with the bravery of a martyr, "' Let us also go, that we may die with Him.' " Thomas, the apostle full of love and melancholy and courage!

Thomas was already expecting the worst. He was not led on by a consoling illusion, nor did he let himself be deceived, as the others, by palms or hosannas. He saw the dark storm, the darkest storm, forming on the horizon. When the Lord, despite all the urging and reminding of the disciples, wanted to "go again into Judea," Thomas was not going to let Him go alone. Let us all go and die with Him!

It was certainly not this way with Peter after our Lord's first prediction of His Passion. Peter feared for his Master, and for himself, too; "'Far be it from thee, O Lord; this will never happen to thee"" Thomas' remark was much more serious and realistic, much more mature, like a grain of corn ready to die for a new life, which dips to the ground to return to the place from where it came. In Leonardo Da Vinci's "Last Supper" St. Thomas-the second on the left of Christ-was portrayed fervently assuring the Lord of his faithfulness.

A similarly melancholic thought, spoken by Thomas at the Last Supper, was recorded by the evangelist John. The disciples were very dejected, thinking about being separated from their Master. Christ went out of His way to comfort them. His first words of solace concerned their reunion in the mercy of the Father.

"Let not your heart be troubled. You believe in God, believe also in me. In my Father's house there are many mansions. Were it not so, I should have told you, because I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, and I will take you to myself; that where I am, there you also may be."

In order to remind them of His earlier words, and at the same time to entice them to forget the oppressing silence and begin to talk with Him, He immediately added, "'And where I go you know, and the way you know.'"

Of all those present at the Last Supper no one questioned the words of the Master. Only Thomas, shaking helplessly, admitted, "'Lord, we do not know where thou are going, and how can we know the way?'" Quite correctly he said "we." For certainly the others had not thoroughly understood the Lord's methods and objectives. Even St. Paul could exclaim, "How unsearchable his ways!" The others, however, did not have the courage to let their inner feelings of insecurity be known before all. Not even the bold Peter spoke up!

Thomas, who suffered more painfully than the others in that he could think more deeply than the others, did not hold back his questions. With sincerity and frankness he opened up his melancholic soul to the Lord. Christ, full of compassion for and understanding of the inner torture of one He had called, gave him an answer, which belongs among the most royal of the whole Gospel. He permitted this gloomy speculator a glance into His divine knowledge. The Lord even let him see into the hidden and unknown depths of the Trinity when He answered Thomas:

"I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father but through me. If you had known me, you would also have known my Father. And henceforth you do know him and you have seen him."

For this illuminating glance into the future, eternal life in the Father and the Son, and into the way, Christ, Himself, that leads to his life, we must thank Thomas. It was the tormenting doubt of this apostle and his frank and courageous questions that occasioned our Lord's lesson.

The apostle Thomas suffered a third time, even more painfully than before, in the torment of his doubt right in the middle of all the joy and alleluias of the first Easter week.

Thomas had experienced and foreseen the long hours of Good Friday with inexorable clarity, more clearly perhaps than any other apostle except Judas. Both apostles, the melancholy Thomas and the traitorous Judas, knew from the depths of their radically different hearts the fate of the Lord that was so near at hand. But Thomas-and perhaps Judas, too- had a hope hidden in the depths of his heart that the Redeemer could master and change this difficult destiny. Nevertheless, when the suffering of Christ had run its courses-capture, judgment, crucifixion, death--Thomas was struck by the heavy blow of reality. This was too much for him. He could not withstand the weight of this burden.

Good Friday had made the other apostles waver in their faith. Disbelief was all around them. They could have had a secret hope that Christ would come back to them, but this seemed impossible; they could not convince themselves that there would be a resurrection. The Gospels show that the apostles gave no indication that they had the slightest hope for the Resurrection of Christ. In the end they did not yield to their dreams, but simply to the bare facts. Christ was crucified. The Messias was gone.

After Christ had arisen, He appeared first to Mary Magdalene. "She went and took word to those who had been with him, as they were mourning and weeping. And they, hearing that he was alive and had been seen by her, did not believe it." " ...They were mouring and weeping... and did not believe it." The disciples on the road to Emmaus also were disturbed and sad. When the Lord Himself, on the first evening of Easter, appeared to the gatherered apostles, "they were startled and panic-sticken, and thought that they saw a spirit. And he said to them, 'Why are you disturbed, and why do doubts arise in your hearts?'"

In that hour of His first meeting with all, the Lord offered them the most obvious proof of His identity, which Thomas was soon afterward to demand to see: "'See my hands and feet, that it is I myself. Feel me and see; for a spirit does not have flesh and bones, as you see I have.'" The sun of that first Easter passed over these men as a night of thunder and wind passes over mountains. The sun was already growing dim below the horizon, but just as it golden ray linger on show-capped mountains and on the clouds, a scene almost too beautiful to be real, so "they still disbelieved and marvelled for joy..." until "he had eaten in their presence..."

It was the fate of Thomas, and Thomas alone, the one of all the apostles who needed and waited most eagerly for Easter, not be present when the risen Saviour appeared. This first bliss and ecstasy was not meant by God to be his. For Thomas, God had reserved a special meeting, and the apostles's joy and rapture was to be all the greater for it. Here was the same special blessing of the lost sheep and the prodigal son.

"Now Thomas, one of the Twelve, call the Twin, was not with them when Jesus came." Why not? Was it mere chance? "St. John was considerately silent and did not mention why this embarrassed and embittered apostle had left his companions. Too cruelly was his hope shattered and torn from him. He was robbed of his trust. What was Thomas out looking for? When the other apostles in brotherliness and happiness brought to him, lost in his dangerous solitude, the alleluia of their joy and ecstasy-"'We have seen the Lord!'"-Thomas remained bitter. He was not about to take a chance and believe this merely on hearsay. He was determined not to be deceived again. Then, more than ever before, he was a skeptic and pessimist.

Moreover, Thomas thought, if the Lord had really risen, why did the Master of all the Twelve appear to all the others, and not to him? Was his not as worthy as the others? Admittedly, he was the last of the Twelve, but nevertheless, was he not one of the Twelve? did our Lord have no concern for Thomas? Did He not have him close at heart, whether the apostle believed or not?

And so Thomas fell to the last place, behind all the others. He was entangled in doubt, provoked by resentment, filled with bitterness. "'Unless I see in his hands the print of the nails'"-but for three years he had seen; seeing was not enough, was not reliable, was not certain; seeing could deceive-"'and put my finger into the place of the nails, and put my hand into his side, I will not believe.'"

Thomas cast a dark shadow over the apostles' Easter joy. What would have happened if a fate similar to the fate of Judas had threatened him? The others tried to remove the dangers of the precipice of disbelief. Peter came and explained a hundred times what Easter meant. He tied to encourage Thomas by confessing his own sin of denial. And Andrew came. And John came. The disciples from Emmaus came, but it was all in vain; Thomas was obstinate. He had laid down his conditions, and he was not about to back down.

Though weary, Thomas stood firm. He could not change. He wanted to be part of that union which Christ Himself had given them, and shared their joy, but he stood off to the side, away from the others, undecided, thinking, confused. Pain is the price of doubt and uncertainty. No one could help Him except the Lord, God Himself. The apostle's salvation hung on the mercy of God.

The feast of the apostle Thomas is celebrated on the shortest day of the year, when the sun gives no warmth and is long hidden behind the dark of morning and quickly swallowed up by the dark of evening. In the soul of Thomas the light was dim and dull; he doubted whether the bright sun of summer would ever rise again.

"'Peace be to you!'" It was the Lord, the Messias, the Redeemer! It was Christ, the Master! His voice rang out through the closed room like the first bells after a silent Holy Week. Thomas could not move or talk; he was suddenly hot and afraid, suddenly sorry that he had ever doubted; but he was full of joy to see what he had not believed. It was the Lord!

It was really and truly the Lord! He alone could enter into closed rooms and closed souls. For the sake of Thomas He had returned to show himself, for He is the Good Shepherd who goes "'after that which is lost, until he finds it.'" And an apostles was so valuable to Christ that he came back to make Himself manifest just for one. Already He had led Peter away from his sin and back to Himself. And Thomas meant just as much to Christ as Peter. The risen Savior lifted His apostle out of doubt and resentment, and took him back into His joy and peace. "'Peace be to you!'"

Word for word the resurrected Christ took up Thomas' conditional obtinacy: "'Bring here thy finger, and see my hands; and bring here thy hand, and put it into my side.'" The Lord's rebuke was like a fragrant balm. ""'And be not unbelieving, but believing'"-fidelis, true and faithful, as the Latin and Greek texts more profoundly say it.

The sudden silence in the room seem endless. It seemed as if Jesus and Thomas were there alone. Never have divine reality and human doubt been so close, face to face, as here. Thomas, the poor ambassador of doubt, was to see and comprehend the pacification of all doubters. He saw the glorious body of the risen Christ, and the red stains of His wounds in His hands. He saw the wound of His side, the opening to the heart of God. He saw the pierced heart like a glittering ruby gleaming through the precious wound. This was enough. The sharp pain and joy that suddenly pierced his own heart removed the necessity that he should first touch, then believe, what he saw. he could no longer doubt. He believed.

Besieged by the tangible reality of the Lord, and even more by the love of the Lord, which is the highest form of spiritual reality, Thomas fell to his knees. He sobbed. He opened his soul to his risen Master, and poured forth all his unspoken laments, unasked questions, pent-up feelings, and silenced desires."'My Lord and my God!;'"

My Lord and my God!

Thomas could say no more, No one of the other apostles had ever called the Lord "God" with such significance. Not one had ever confessed Him to be God so fully and openly, not even Peter in Caesarea Philippi. The doubting and suffering Thomas was the first of all to see the divinity of Christ. Even on Mount Tabor the privileged apostles had not so fully comprehended their glimpse of the beatific vision. Ironically it was the doubting apostle whose joy of Easter was finally the greatest. It was his poor and sinful soul, so full of the need of God's love, that led him to his Lord and God.

The evangelist John closed his Gospel with the account of Jesus' manifestation to Thomas. What John recorded after this in the twenty-first chapter-the manifestation of Jesus to His apostles at the Sea of Tiberias-is only a supplement, an after-thought. The last words of Jesus to Thomas ring out as a powerful Amen, summarizing the entire Gospel for the thousands of years of faith and belief that follow "'Because thou hast seen me, thou hast believed. Blessed are they who have not seen, and yet have believed.'"

This not seeing and yet believing is the grace of God. In his Epistle, St Peter marveled at this open miracle:

Him [Jesus Christ], though you have not seen, you love. In him, though you do not see him, yet believing, you exult with a joy unspeakable and triumphant; receiving, as the final issue of your faith, the salvation of your souls.

For the strengthening of all who believe, whether they see or not, Thomas was called to be an apostle-he who believed only because he had seen. It was the Divine Providence, not mere chance, that this one apostle was not present with the others on that first Easter evening. His doubt was intended either as a hindrance or as a solution to our doubts. In his uncertainty our uncertainties are to be wiped away. Obstinately he persisted in his unhappy doubt so that we might be happy in our grace of belief. So we are obliged to thank the unbelieving Thomas. For our sake did he suffer his doubt, one of the most excruciating torments of the soul. Through this apostle we can see, without doubt, without uncertitude, how Christ's wounds are our salvation.

Truly Thomas was a Didymus, a Twin, for with his confession of God, his profession of faith, we were born.

It is rather ironical that the liturgy on December 21, only a few dayss before Christmas, places St. Thomas, the gloomy ponderer, before the crib of the Child of Bethlehem. Here, before the divine Child, the apostle Thomas, speaking through the sages for people with sad and troubled hearts, prays his child like prayer: "'My Lord and my God!'"

Thomas, the Apostle

In Holy Scripture there are recorded no further accounts of the apostle Thomas. Tradition has passed down no Epistle that he might have written. But could Thomas have departed from the New Testament more beautifully than with his confession to the Lord and God, Jesus Christ?

Tradition strongly favors the East, the land of the rising sun, as the place of his apostolic labors. In Syrian and Armenian legends he appears as the leading apostle in the Orient. Older accounts, dating back to the time of Origen (d. 253), speak of the apostolic works of Thomas among the Parthians. The Medes, Persians, Hyrcanians, and the Bactrians also were named. Today this comprises the districts of Iran, Iraq, Afghanistan, and Baluchistan.

Since the middle of the fourth century, even Catholic commentators have followed more recent legends, according to which Thomas pressed on even farther, into the missonary field that today is India. This is not incompatible with the older traditions. In India the opinion has never lost ground, and is prevalent today, that Thomas passed through the "streets of silk," that is, through Persia and Tibet. Approximately in these same years many Jewish-Christians, refugees, were entering Cochin by way of the sea. Here Thomas labored until he later left for Travancore.

An old Syrian tradition named St. Thomas as "the guide and teacher of the Church in India, which he founded and headed." The so-called "Thomas-Christians," who maintained themselves up to our own age on the coast of Malabar-in 1937 seven hundred thousand of these faithful reunited with Rome-claim the apostle Thomas as their spiritual father. However, not all critical studies consider it certain that Thomas labored in India."

The accounts, teeming with miracles, of Thomas' apostolic labors, are uncertain and, for the most part, purely fantastic. Few apostles have been so heavily burdened with such imaginative legends as the unbelieving Thomas. All these legends were certainly much influenced by the apocryphal "Acts of Thomas," which were composed in the first half of the third century, in Gnostic circles, probably in Edessa, and which were soon reworked by the Catholic Syrians and Greeks. Briefly its content was this:

As the apostles separated to go to all parts of the world, Thomas was assigned, by lot, to India. But this apostle, timid, nervous, distressed, refused to go there. Then he was bought as a slave from the Lord Himself by the Indian merchant, Abbanes, who was looking for an architect, according to the instructions of his king, Gundaphar. (There actually was as Indian King Gundaphar who reigned somethime between the year 20 A.D. and 50 A.D., as attested to by inscriptions on the coins of that period.) On the trip to India with Abbanes, Thomas was silent.

The king immediately placed a great trust in this stranger, an "architect." He put at his disposal great wealth for the planning and building of the royal palace. But Thomas donated the entire sum set aside for this construction to the poor on the basis that by this course of action he had built a great palace in heaven for the king. To the furious soverign his deceased brother appeared and testified to the reality and glory of the heavenly palace built by Thomas. Life was then miraculously restored to the brother of the king, and the two were immediately converted and baptized by the apostle Thomas.

This legend continues: Thomas went farther, into the neighboring kingdom. There he persuaded the ever-increasing number of wives in the royal household to turn to abstinence and temperance instead of to married life. (This misogamy is typically Gnostic, a characteristic frequently noticeable in the "Acts of Thomas.") King Mazdai, therefore, had him speared by four soldiers. Even today this manner of death is a constitutional punishment in Siam for the political crime. Tradition named "Calamina" as the place of death, a place, however, that certainly is not proven. It is possible that it has some connection with the large "Thomas Mountain" near Mailapur, the alleged place of death, upon which a church in honor of St. Thomas was built in 1547. On the altar there is found the stone cross of Thomas with inscriptions dating from the sixth to the eighth centuries.

In all legends concerning St. Thomas, it is difficult to separate truth from fiction. The Gnostic Heracleon, in the middle of the second century, asserted that Thomas died of a natural death. For centuries the Church in Edessa has been boasting of his grave, which in a sermon by St. John Chrysostom was numbered among the four known graces of apostles. Indian legends tried to justify this claim by maintaining that the relices of this apostle were taken to Edessa in the third century. Then they were reported to have been taken, in the year 1258, from Edessa to Chios, a Greek island. And later they were moved to Ortona, where they are still honored today.

Various writings have also been attributed to the apostle Thomas, all of which, however, are supurious. A "Gospel of Thomas," which originated in Gnostic circles, has been lost. However, it seems that fragments of this work have found their way into another "Gospel of Thomas," which is preserved today, a rather large collection of babblings about the childhood of Jesus. For example, the Child Jesus is portrayed at play on the Sabbath, forming little birds from clay; and when a Jew complain to Joseph that the sacred Sabbath was being broken by this action, the divine Child clapped His hands and the clay birds quickly flew away. The value of these and similar fictitious tales can be seen in the serious approach Matthew and Luke took in their Gospels when they wrote of the infancy and childhood of Jesus.

Another work that supposedly goes back to St. Thomas is a spurious "Apocalypse." This originated under the title "Epistle of Our Lord Jesus Christ to the Disciple Thomas." This writing was condemned as early as the end of the fifth century by Pope Gelasius I. It picked out at random bits of gossip and rumors of the terrors and horrors of the last seven of the thirty days of darkness before the Last Judgment.

This apostle has also been connected with the legendary "Epistle of the Lord to King Abgar of Edessa." Supposedly Thomas himself wrote this epistle at the explicity command of Jesus. Then, after the Ascension of Christ, he sent Thaddeus, one of the seventy-two disciples to Abgar in order to cure this ruler of a serious illness.

The true words of the Gospels concerning the apostle Thomas present a more reliable basis for a description of the apostolic works of this laborer for Christ than the artificial apocryphal writings. There are those modern fanatics who have not hesitated to speak their thoughts: Thomas was not qualified for life, or his life was hardly worth living. What could such a melancholic person do for mankind, who only made life miserable for himself and for others? But going beyond the surface, we can clearly retort: how great and abundant the works of such men, if only a good, kind, and patient hand helps them over their crises! After that miracle of divine mercy on the second evening after Easter Sunday, Thomas was at long last free from the burden of his own self; thereafter, he belonged only to his Master, the Lord. Then he bore the burden of gratitude, such a great and heartfelt gratitude that it continues into eternity. He is indebted to the mercy of God for remaining an apostle instead of becoming an apostate.

Just as the compassion of the Lord was a thorn for Paul, the wounded persecutor, so it was for Thomas, the hurt skeptic. It is deeply symbolic that, according to history or legend, these two apostles worked on the most distant lands, Thomas on the borders of the Orient, India, and Paul on the borders of the Occident, Spain. Their burning and urgent love for Christ drove both of them farther and farther, for theirs was a thirst for souls that could not be quenched until it reached the edges of the sea.

The apostolic preaching of Thomas was certainly mild, indulgent, almost mellow, like the clear, joyful ring of a bell which had been cast and molded with much silver after being painfully proceed over a flaming heat. From his own experience Thomas knew of the fruitless ways of the hearts of men. In an essay by an Oriental father of the Church concerning the judgment in the Valley of Jehoshaphat, the Lord speaks to Thomas and kindly admonishes him.

Here Jesus spoke aloud what Thomas had spoken again and again in the silent depths of his heart. This apostle, knowing the full meaning of pity, had suffered too much not to be able to understand others whose hearts had been torn apart. But was it merely an understanding? Thomas, tormented by doubt, over whom, nevertheless, the glorious sun of Easter had risen and shone with a special splendor, was able not only to understand human sadness, but also to transfigure it into heavenly bliss.

Of the twelve articles in the Apostles' Creed, legend has symbolically attributed to Thmas this one: "He descended into hell, and on the third day He arose again from the dead." Not melancholy or mere compassion did he have to spread, but also a glorious alleluia, the alleluia that he had drawn from the heart of the Lord, as from a fresh spring, with his own squivering hand.

The heart of the Lord glows with love. The evangelists noted how closely two of the apostles relied on the heart of the Lord: John and Thomas, the beloved apostle and the unbelieving apostle. It would seem as if the suffering doubter would have penetrated the depths of his returned Master's heart much deeper than the disciple whom Jesus loved. It would seem as if the doubter's great torment and need of love would have pressed him even deeper into that comforting heart. A beautiful legend has passed down the saying that the hand of Thomas which was placed into the side of the risen Savior remained red with the stain of blood for the rest of the apostles's life. Never was he able to forget the sight of that wound. It remained red before his eyes; he could not forget ; he could not doubt.

Rubens created a moving portrait of Thomas. A weary and gentle countenance looks down on anyone who looks up to him. His face is thin with pain. It is wrinkled from doubt and thought and care. His eyes are tired from the many sleepless nights he spent and the many tears he wept. But through all of this the joy of seeing the risen Savior appears. The way, which was once so dark and gloomy, was again illuminated by the splendor of the glory and joy of his returned Master. Then did eternal goal become clear.

What a beautiful picture of Thomas! His belief was restored, his struggle conquered. His way was enlightened, and his goal came closer and closer into view. He could see the wound in the side of the Lord and the wounds in His hands; he could see the heart of the Lord where all rest and unrest meet.

This was St Thomas the apostle, who accepted a special grace and turned his doubting into his salvation.

The information below is minimal because nothing certain is known of St Thomas except a few words about him in the Gospels.

St Thomas' words are perhaps the most beautiful ever said by a mortal: "My Lord and My God!" Thomas' eyes didn't tell him that Jesus was God; it was his faith. Thomas uttered this famous statement of faith when Christ showed him His wounds and asked him to touch Him. This event took place a week or two after the resurrection. That is when Thomas cried out in awe or disbelief as if it were too good to be true. He certainly didn't comprehend what he was saying. It was a profound pouring out of his heart to a Man standing before him who he knew had been crucified about fourteen days ago.

When we see something that is spectacular and incredible, we gasp and exclaim from the heart more than from the head. This living Man was Almighty God and Thomas' whole life experiences could not understand how it could happen. But it was real, so real, that he would spend his whole life living that belief in many thousands of ways until he finally died for it and became a martyr.

There are many positive facts to say about St Thomas that makes the 'doubting Thomas', that he is so much noted for, seems almost insignificant. Who has not doubted Christ either explicitly or inexplicitly? Who has not sinned as perhaps Thomas?

The Apostles were huddled together, except Thomas, the first time that Christ appeared to the Apostles after the resurrection. Why? They were afraid and completely unnerved. They were very scared that what happen to the Leader could happen to them. The Romans didn't fool around when they wanted someone out of the way. The Apostles also knew that it was Caiphas and the ruling priests that didn't want anyone associated with Christ or what he preached. Perhaps the Apostles were wondering who was going to be eliminated next? Afterall, they were Jesus' followers. If they killed the disciples' Leader, what would prevent them from coming after them? Both groups, the Romans and/or the ruling religious priests didn't want anyone stirring up trouble and both groups felt Christ infringed on their power. We remembered how Herod had attemped to killed the Infant Jesus because the Messiah might draw some of Herod's power to Himself.

Anyhow, the Apostles remained locked up and hidden because they wanted the best possible security. Their Leader was gone and so was their confidence. Together they could support and protect each other and they were not alone.

On the other hand, Thomas wasn't afraid and certainly not hiding nor seeking the solace of the other disciples. He was aloof, alone and perhaps unafraid to venture out and be bold and brave. Thomas was a realist and knew that dangers and death catches up with everyone. He had previously offered to die for Christ at an earlier time when Christ was alive. Now that Christ was not present, it didn't make any difference to him. If we read the gospel we find that Thomas was unafraid to die for Christ.

Another incredible testament to Thomas' real faith and sincerity was when he openly said (John 11:16) to the other Apostles near him: "Let us also go to die with him." The occasion was when Jesus proposed to go to Bethany after Lazarus had died. Since Bethany was near Jerusalem, this meant walking into the very midst of his enemies and to almost certain death.

Because of the experience of Thomas when the Lord appeared to him the first time after the resurrection, Jesus tells us today: "Blessed are those who have not seen and have believed". We think Thomas was blessed because he saw the risen Christ but no, Christ tells us that we are more blessed because we are unable to see the risen Christ but have a far deeper contact and intimacy with Him through the gift of faith especially when we practice it daily. Jesus is saying: seeing with our eyes doesn't lead to faith. Believing with our hearts and seeing with the eyes of our souls leads to faith.

We know more about the life of Thomas after Calvary than we do about any of the other apostles except for Peter and John from their inclusion in the "Acts of the Apostles". Ruffin informs us that Thomas' ministry takes place almost entirely outside of the Roman Empire and nearly all our sources about him are non-Western including: Osroene, Armenia, Iran, India and Southwest Asia.

The synoptic gospel writers mentioned Thomas only as one of the Twelve.

St John relates four incidents two of which I have already stated. One of the other mention of Thomas is his reply to Jesus taken from St John's gospel from 14:1-4. Jesus told the Apostles: "You know the road that leads where I go." Thomas asked: "Lord we do not know where you are going. How can we know the way?"

From this question of St Thomas comes one of the most often quoted statment of Jesus Christ: "I am the way, and the truth, and the life: no one comes to the Father but through me". (Jn.14:6) Thousands of books have been written on the "Way" "Truth" and "Life". In this reply to Thomas, Jesus reveals the life of the Father and indirectly the life of the Spirit who Jesus would send and leads us to the Father after his ascension to Heaven.

Jesus reveals the noble and majestic Trinitarian Life of God because of Thomas' question. Jesus tells us that the only way to the Father is through Him. Afterall, who could possible know more about the Father than He who sent Jesus to us to be our Redeemer and Savior? Jesus as Redeemer and Savior followed the way of the cross. The cross surrounded Him from His birth and never stopped pursuing Him everywhere when He was in the public eye. His thirty years living in the shadow of Joseph and Mary helped him to prepared for those 3 years running and hiding because of his radical message and challenges.

When Pilate asked Jesus: What is truth? it was a rhetorical question and he probably didn't believe Jesus when He said He was the Truth. When Jesus said that He was the Life, He was referring to the life of God within Him or the Holy Spirit who He would send when He went to the Father after the Ascension. The solemn feast of the Trinity is a great solemnity celebrated on June 15th, in the year 2003, the same day as Father's Day.

The final time that Thomas is mentioned in the gospel is during a fishing expedition and Thomas' name is mentioned and we learn nothing of his personality from this incident after the resurrection.

Many would attest that Thomas had one of the most active ministries of any of the Twelve. Again, C. Bernard Ruffin in his book "The Twelve" says that Eusebius wrote that almost immediately after Pentecost, Thomas was instrumental in evangelizing many of Osroene, which lay to the north of Palestine, in what is now eartern Turkey, between the Roman and Iaranian Empires.

The earliest source for knowledge of Thomas' ministry in India is a Syriac document, probably written in Edessa around A.D. 200, known as the "Acts of Thomas" however, the Church doesn't accept it although it is based on historical fact. According to Ruffin, when merchants and missionaries from Portugal arrived in India in the sixteenth century, they were astonished to find a flourishing community of Christians who steadfastly maintained that their Church, the Church of Malabar, had been founded in the first century by St Thomas. Some scholars scoff at these traditons. Christianity in India, they say, dates only from the fourth century, when missionaries arrived in Syria.

The entire next paragraph is taken from the "Twelve" and I quote:

"In A.D. 69, Thomas settled permanently in Mylapore. He was by then at least in his sixties and getting too old for extensive travel under rugged and primitive conditions. Allowing for some exaggeration in the Rabban Song and other sources, the apostle conducted a ministry similar to Paul's, with extensive travel and many miraculous occurences. Even the Hindus considered him a "holy man." According to "The Acts of Thomas": "The apostle (St Thomas) was very much like Bartholomew and James the Righteous, given to fasting and long periods of prayer. He is said to have eaten only bread and water and never to have owned more than one garment at one time. This leads one to speculate that he too had once been a disciple of the Baptist".

According to the traditions of the "St Thomas Christians" of Malabar: "Thomas forbade any sort of pictures or images, but decorated his houses of worship with the symbol of the cross. This is interesting in light of the fact that the cross did not emerge as a religious symbol in the Roman Empire until the fourth century, after the Emperor Constantine abolished it as a means of execution."

According to most Indian traditions, Thomas died of stab wounds on July 3, A.D. 72. The Brahman priests of Mylapore feared that Christianity would eclipse Hinduism. They were absolutley correct.

Based upon a 1992 Graphics by CNS if the world were a village of 1,000 people, there would be only 131 Hindus. Christians would number 329, Muslims, 174 and the Buddhists would have 61. Christianity totals about 1/3 of the world's population. Jesus continue to tell us: Go out to all the world and tell the Good News. Living out and practicing our faith is far more important than anything in the whole world both for ourselves and others if we are going to have an impact in helping others to know Jesus as St Thomas did. Each person, in their own unique manner, can proclaim Christ by their love that they share in prayer and action for others.

It was reported that several Brahman priests found St Thomas praying in a cave near his home and wounded him with a spear. The apostle dragged himself out of the cave, struggled some distance to a nearby chapel and in the presence of several of his disciples, grasped a stone cross. According to an account noted by Marco Polo, Thomas prayed, "Lord, I thank Thee for all Thy mercies. Into Thy hands I commend my spirit," and entered into rest. So closed the remarkable career of a remarkable man, a man who should be remembered not for being a "doubter", but for his faith and zeal.

One of the great marvels about St Thomas the Apostle is taken from Joan Cruz's book entitled Mysteries, Marvels and Miracles in the Lives of the Saints . Cruz list only two Apostles and the other one is St Andrew and the mystery of the manna already cited under that Apostle.

After Pentecost, St Thomas the Apostle (d. circa 72)is known to have traveled extensively in spreading the Faith, and to have eventually made his way to India. It is believed that he died eight miles outside of Madras, near the shore of the Bay of Bengal, by being pierced by the sword of a pagan. Located on the spot of execution is a stone engraved with a cross that was seen to ooze blood on December 18, 1558, and to have continued on that day each year with various interruptions until the year 1704.

The phenomenon first took place during the offering of Holy Mass and lasted four hours. Diocesan officials certified that at the end of the bleedings the stone turned a glistening white before returning to its original black.

Authors thinks that Thomas, who suffered more painfully than the other Apostles in that he could think more deeply than the others, did not hold back his question to Christ. With sincerity and frankness he opened up his melancholic soul to the Lord.


Jn 3:16 For God so loved the world, as to give his only begotten Son; that whosoever believeth in him, may not perish, but may have life everlasting.
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PostSubyek: Re: The Twelve Apostles   10th March 2013, 16:01

St. Philip

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Philip: Born in Bethsaida; according to legend, preached the Gospel in Phrygia where he suffered martyrdom by crucifixion; May 3 (Roman Rite), Nov. 14 (Byzantine Rite).

Philip feast day is celebrated with James the Less on May 3rd. Philip came from the same town as Peter and Andrew, Bethsaida in Galilee. Jesus called him directly, whereupon he sought out Nathanael and told him of the "one about whom Moses wrote".

Like the other Apostles, Philip took a long time coming to realize who Jesus was. On one occasion, when Jesus saw the great multitude following Him and wanted to give them food, he asked Philip where they should buy bread for the people to eat? St John comments, "Jesus said this to test him, because He Himself knew what He was going to do" Philip answered, "Two hundred days' wages worth of food would not be enough for each of them to have a little".

The following links provides insight on St Philip: [You must be registered and logged in to see this link.]

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Reverend Otto Hophan, O.F.M.Cap. whose book "The Apostles" I have used rather exclusively categorized Philip, Nathanael Bartholomew, Matthew and Thomas as "The Reserved"

And he appointed twelve that they might be with him and that he might send them forth to peach. To them he gave power to cure sicknesses and to cast out devils. There were... Philip, and Bartholomew, and Matthew, and Thomas...(Mk.3:14-18>

Chapter Five

Matthew and Luke, in their accounts of the choice and mission of the twelve, named Philip immediately after John. John and Philip-two names, two men, two apostles, two worlds! On these pages shine the lights of eternity about which John wrote in his Gospel and in his Apocalypse. Our Lord had revealed a deeper knowledge of His divine secrets to John than He had to Philip. So deep was God's inspiration that the evangelist could begin his Gospel with the words: "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God; and the Word was God."

How appropriately the beloved disciple is symbolized with an eagle! This symbol would not be fitting for Philip, his neighbor and companion, for this apostle was a calm and sober person, a simple and practical man. He pondered the tangible and visible realities of life. He was neither poet nor mystic, was neither favorable to nor opposed to pomp and ceremony. Wisely had our Lord chosen His Twelve. They were not men of one age, but of all ages, though no two of the Twelve were the same. But they were still one in Christ. Nor did Christ want Philip to be another John. Only Divine Providence knows the ways that are not of men.

Literally, Philip means "friend of a horse." And indeed it seems logical that the kingdom of God on earth would need not only an eagle, but also a horse. In an old piece of writing passed down through the ages under the title "Concerning the Faithful"-which, it has been said, was composed by Hippolytus (d.235)-all the apostles are referred to as "steeds of God". "For these steeds have donned the secret of holiness, carrying the word for the riders and bringing them to the goal of truth." A horse of God! It is a rather blunt, almost uncouth, title, but a significant one, anyway, even for the apostles of today

Strange to say, the apocryphal Acts attributed to Philip certain traits that appertain only to John. For example, Philip supposedly called down fire upon the unbelieving inhabitants of Hierapolis; certainly the reserved Philip would not have done this. Such an act would seem more typical of John's sometimes violent witness to the Gospels. The struggle against the false teachers among the Ebionites at the end of the first Christian century was also attributed to Philip, but it is known that John led this attack. This confession probably took root from an old tradition that both John and Philip were apostles laboring in Asia Minor.

Philip's Position

The first three evangelists gave no special account or detailed information about Philip. they merely recorded his name. In the four enumerations of the twelve apostles in Holy Scripture, Philip's name was placed each time in the fifth position. This fact has a meaning of its own. Philip did not belong to the first group, to the specially honored and privileged four. Yet after these, he was without a doubt the first one to be considered. The order in which our Lord chose and called His disciples already placed this good companion of John in the fifth place. This apostle became the leader of the second group of apostles: Philip, Bartholomew, Matthew, Thomas.

It has never been stated what special missions were assigned to the three distinct groups of apostles and their leaders during the public works of Christ. The Lord confided in the first group during the most trying hours of His life. Yet certainly the other two groups also had their own particular mark, and were given their own missions to perform.

Concerning the home affairs of the apostle Philip, there is information available in the letter of Polycrates of Ephesus written to Pope Victor around the year 190. The apostle was supposedly married and had three daughters. Two of them were said to have died virgins and martyrs. The third was buried in Ephesus. Papias, a bishop of Hierapolis around the year 130, also mentioned these three daughters, whom he knew personally. However, here there was probably an erroneous exchange made between Philip the apostle and Philip the deacon. The latter was often mentioned in the Acts of the Aposltes.

This deacon Philip was also call "the evangelist," which title, in early ecclesiastical usage, referred to a missionary preacher of the Gospels. St. Luke noted that Philip, one of the seven deacons, "had four daughters, virgins, who had the gift of prophecy." It can readily be seen how, at a later time, the daughters of the deacon Philip were regarded as those of the apostle. But it is certain that the daughters and labors of Philip recorded in the Acts by St Luke belonged to the deacon and not to the apostle.

The Gospels make only a single remark about the home of Philip: he was from Bethsaida, a fisherman's village, either on the north or on the west shore of the Sea of Galilee. Our Lord chose three apostles from this small, unimportant village. And yet, this mark of distinction did not save it from the flash of divine anger, but rather increased and intensified the heat of vindication.

Then he began to reproach the towns in which most of his miracles were worked, because they had not repented. "Woe to thee, Corozain! woe to thee, Bethsaida! For if in Tyre and Sidon had been worked the miracles that have been worked in you, they would have repented long ago in sackcloth and ashes. But I tell you, it will be more tolerable for Tyre and Sidon on the day of judgment than for you. And thou, Capharnaum, shalt thou be exalted to heaven? Thou shalt be trust down to hell!"

Even the unemotional Philip may have wept when he heard his Master's curse upon his own home. It is clear that God's favor does not justify those who are guilty of sin through their own fault.

This mention of Bethsaida is so worded as to have yet more meaning, for it indicates Philip's relation and close connection with Andrew. "Now Philip was from Bethsaida, the town of Andrew and Peter." One gets a glimpse of the close relationship between Philip and Andrew in John's Gospel. Yes, the assumption is justified; Andrew had brought to Philip, his companion, the first news of the Messias. Andrew's zeal had won over his brother, Peter, for Christ. Immediately after bringing his brother, he introduced Philip to the Lord. "The next day he was about to leave for Galilee, and he found Philip. And Jesus said to him, "Follow me."

The determined, even commanding, tone of this calling is surprising. Of all those called by the Lord, Philip was the first to be commanded so explicitly and emphatically. "'Follow me'" Even Andrew and John were not called like this; they were invited. Was this brief command completely oblivious of Philip's own thoughts and desires and plans? The ways of God are not the ways of man. Still Christ knew the character and personality and disposition of each of His disciples. Wisely, kindly, He considered them individually.

The account of the calling of the Twelve shows yet another bond of friendship between Philip and another apostle, Nathanael Bartholomew. It may seem strange that this shy apostle had two friends, one on his right and one on his left. But experience has shown that men with such a nature easily make affectionate friends. They feel in themselves the necessity to adjust their own natures and manners in a perfect friendship. The lists of the apostles in the Gospels and also that in the Canon of the Mass pay honor to this friendship, for Philip; and Bartholomew are in each named together. Even in apocryphal literature is this true: Bartholomew accompanied Philip on his missionary journeys; he stood by him in the face of martyrdom. As friends, these two apostles often spoke together ow what was dear to their hearts; certainly they must have confided in each other their secret desire to follow the Messias. And now the long awaited hour had come. One brought the joyful news to the other: the Messias had come! Truly this was a great hour for their friendship, for Christ the Lord is the great mountain to which every close and deep friendship leads.

Wedding guests were about to enter Cana. Bartholomew was standing before the gate of the city as Jesus came by with Philip. Then this new disciple of Christ spotted his friend ahead, and "Philip found Nathanael, and said to him, 'We have found him of whom Moses in the Law and the Prophets wrote, Jesus the son of Joseph of Nazareth.'" But this confession was not such a gushing fountain as was Andrew's exclamation of joy: "'We have found the Messias!'" Philip was more scholarly, sounded more like a book. Nathanael replied roguishly: "'Can anything good come out of Nazareth?'" Then one sees the real Philip, how he loved, how he lived. He did not not deliver a long discourse about Jesus. He spoke as a man of reality, a man of practical experience and of personal knowledge. Philip answered Nathanael, "'Come and see.'"

Philip, the Individualist

The first clue to Philip's personality can be taken from the Gospel of St John. The evangelist recorded three incidents in the life of Philip for the Christian communities in Asis Minor. These faithful were as closely bound to Philip as they were to the father of their faith. These three accounts, then, have rendered it possible for us to get a glimpse of this apostle, who seemed so wont to remain in the background.

The first is found in John's explanation of the miraculous multiplication of five barley loaves and two fishes.

The scene and circumstances which the Gospel describes were full of pathos. There were five thousand men, not counting the women and children. "Jeus had lifted up his eyes and seen that a very great crowd had come to him..." He knew that they were hungry. He Himself was a man and had felt the pangs of hunger. "He said to Philip, "Whence shall we buy bread that these may eat?'" There was a gleam of a smile in His eye. He knew what was happening and what would soon happen. He did not need Philip's advice to solve the problem. Yet this quiet and reserved apostle, the economist, was asked to solve the problem of feeding five thousand with next to nothing.

Jesus questioned Philip only to awaken in him a slight expectation of the miracle He was about to perform. "But he said this to try him, for he himself knew what he would do." Yet Philip had not heard the hint in Jesus' voice; he was not a man with deep foresight. On the other hand, he could calculate. With one glance it was clear to him that "'two hundred denarii worth of bread is not enough for them, that each one many receive a little.'" Perhaps there were about two hundred denarii in the purse that Judas carried, but why should so much money be spent? The able economist in him was conscious of an unprofitable investment; according to Philip's estimate, the whole deal seem like an unwise one.

Nothing move Philip. Nothing sidetracked him from his quiet deliberation, so that he would have become confused and angry. He thought in terms of "reality," not of miracles.

The second passage concerning the apostle Philip is found in the Gospel for Palm Sunday.

Now there were certain Gentiles [Greeks] among those who had gone up to worship on the feast. These therefore approached Philip, who was from Bethsaida of Galilee, and asked him, saying, "Sir, we wish to see Jesus."

Perhaps it was Philip's Greek name. Or perhaps, as the Gospel seems to indicate, it was because Philip came from Bethsaida, and they were from his home town. Or perhaps it was simply chance that those Greeks, God-fearing Gentiles, went to Philip, and not to one of the other apostles, with their request. In any case, they had not known the apostle well, had not known how fussy he was. Gentiles wanting to see Jesus of Nazareth? Indeed!

Philip was faced with a ticklish situation. Had not Jesus Himself instructed the apostles, "Do not go in the direction of the Gentiles'"? Had He not at first refused to hear the daughter of the Canaanite woman: "'Let the children [Israelites] first have their fill, for it is not fair to take the children's bread and to cast it to the dogs [Gentiles]'"? How often had the Messias repeated that He had come to establish the kingdom of God first for the children of Israel!

With that annoying exactness so frequently and abundantly found in dry and dull personalities, Philip considered the problem. But he did not solve it himself. "Philip came and told Andrew." And Andrew, bolder and more generous, quite different from Philip, saw no difficulty in the Gentiles' request. "Andrew and Philip spoke to Jesus."

A third passage contrasts the Lord's sober and lofty ideas with Philip's awkward and clumsy behavior at the Last Supper.

The upper room could not hold the words of Christ:

"I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father but through me. If you had know me, you would also have known my Father. And henceforth you do know him, and you have seen him."

Never has a brighter light for mankind shone through the mystery surrounding God as in the words of Christ at the Last Supper. They are comparable to flashes of lightning which break through the night and weakness of the human spirit when it is face to face with the secrets of God.

But right in the middle of all the solemnity Philip interrupted, "'Lord show us the Father and it is enough for us.'" He had not grasped the deep thought of the words of the One about to be crucified. Three years were not enough. And Jesus had little time left. What Philip could see and count he could understand: the visible and tangible-that would be enough. He wanted to use the Father, of whom Jesus spoke, in visible form, as Abraham, and Jacob and Moses saw Him."'It is enough.'" There was no need for all that which was so difficult to grasp, the invisible. And for all Philip's naive imprudence Jesus reproached him gently, but firmly, "'Have I been so long a time with you, and you have not known me?'"

In a work entitled "Stomateis"-literally "Tapestry"-Clement of Alexandria, the much-read and widely traveled ancient Christian writer (d.214), commentator of Holy Scripture at the end of the second century, cited yet a fourth passage supposedly spoken by Philip. He wrote that, according to an old tradition, Philip was the disciple who asked whether he could not follow Christ after he had first seen to some personal affairs: "'Lord, let me first go and bury my father.' But Jesus said to him, 'Follow me, and leave the dead to bury their own dead.'" In all probability this irresolute disciple who spoke these words really was Philip, the quiet procrastinator. Jesus, who could demand from any man what the Father demanded, roused the apostle from his calm deliberation with no uncertain command: "'Follow me.'"

For all that, the good apostle Philip would be shown to be hard and undeserving of his calling if he were to be depicted only as a somber practitioner, statistician, Philistine.

Much remains to be said before a more complete picture of Philip can be drawn. Despite his sober and practical nature, this apostle was also full of energy, heart, and depth. These characteristics, were merely hidden and controlled. Philip was not ostentatious, but on occasion his true, inner self struggled out, as a confined spring breaks the earth for the first time and arduously has to search out its own new way. Many people who appear morose suffer painfully from their "Philip-natures," which make it almost impossible for them to bring into the open their real, inner goodness.

A warm wave of joy ran through Jesus when Philip answered Nathanael in minute detail, "'We have found him of whom Moses in the Law and the Prophets wrote, Jesus the son of Joseph of Nazareth.'" And at the multiplication of loaves and at the meeting with the Greek Gentiles there was not only deliberation, but also a real anxiety. On the surface Philip's answer shows his economic and practical concern. But on a second reading the undertones of a heartfelt concern and anxiety can readily be heard: "'Two hundred denarii worth is not enough for them, that each one may receive a little.'" And Philip did not send the Greeks away, but put them off until a later time. Their request caused him much trouble and inconvenience. He approached the problem quite formally, but their desire "to see Jesus" was still his concern.

Philip, the reserved individualist, possessed more spirit than he has been credited with. At times he has been misrepresented as the speaker of an abundance of empty words. A love shown by act and deed is incomparably more valuable than a deluge of good words. "My dear children, let us not love in word, neither with the tongue, but in deed and in truth." Full and perfect is the love of word united with the love of action, joined by one and the same warm pulsation of the heart. So it was with the Lord. He showed mercy to the multitudes both by word and by deed. He not only felt pity for them in His heart, but also worked miracles for them out of His love.

The real depths of Philip have been most beautifully revealed in the very words that seemed the most naive: "Lord, show us the Father.'" Bossuet rightly remarked, "In the entire Gospel there is scarcely a higher or more courageous request than this one." Philip longed to learn the real secret of the Father and the Son. It was as if Philip, the apostle enwrapped in the tangible and visible realities of life, had felt the insufficiency and incompetency of his own nature. Now, suddenly and ambitiously, he desired to delve into the depths of the mystery of God. The more he associated with "denarii" and "bread" and "Gentiles," the more he needed the close alliance and intimate contact with the divine secrets. And the Lord, who had not formed the individualities of His apostles by an exact measure and diagram, led Philip from the narrow confines of his practical reason and understanding to the great breadth and depth and height of God.

When Philip came to his Master to intercede for the Gentiles, who longed to see the Messias, Jesus disclosed to the apostle the insights and solution of the sublime mystery of the Redemption: "Unless the grain of wheat fall into the ground and die, it remains alone. But if it die, it brings forth much fruit.'" And at the Last Supper Jesus led Philip to his question that He might lead him further yet to the heights of the Trinity:

"Have I been so long a time with you, and you have not known me? Philip, he who sees me sees also the Father. How canst thou say, 'Show us the Father'? Dost thou not believe that I am in the Father and the Father in me?"

The visible presence of Jesus upon earth was a transparency of the Father. What vision of the Father did Philip long to see? Christ Himself is the reflected splendor of the Father, the glorious manifestation of the Father. These solemn words of the Lord to Philip, however, go even deeper into the inner mystery of the Trinity, which the Greek theologians call "perichoresis," a "circulation," literally a "going around." God the Father and God the Son and God the Holy Spirit do not have different natures. They possess with each other one and the same divine Nature. Therefore, they are with one another, in one another, the Father in the Son, and the Son in the Father, three divine Persons in one Nature. No one Person can exist outside the other, for God is one. Yet this coexistence of the three divine persons is not fixed, immovable state, but a triumphant circle, an eternal going forth and an eternal coming back to the prime source. Scheeben explained that each of the three divine Persons is, in His nature, a central and focusing point, which the remaining two possess, and in which They are bound to each other, inseparably, one.

Into such depths of the Divinity our Lord led Philip. The evangelist John only wrote down the words that Philip had instigated. Philip was not, like John the apostle, an "eagle," but he resembled him in his ardent desire to reach the heights of an eagle. And by reaching for the eagle, he attained perfection and eternal happiness. And then suddenly Philip could see."'It is enough'". It was more than enough!

Philip, the Laborer

Holy Scripture is completely silent concerning the works and death of the apostle Philip. The so-called "Acts of Philip"-an apocryphal, unreliable source which originated at the turn of the fourth century and still exists today in various fragments and in different compositions-record a plethora of works ranging form the strange and odd to the supernatural and miraculous. In them he is credited with having preached Jesus Christ to three hundred Greek philosophers in Athens who wanted to hear the apostle's argumentation. The dependence of this statement on a discourse of the apostle Paul in the Areopagus immediately comes to mind. There is a close similarity, and it is understandable how such a legend could have originated.

Then, according to these Acts, Philip was miraculously taken to Carthage. Here again there is a perfect parallel between the apostle Philip in the apocryphal Acts and the deacon Philip in St Luke's Acts. The deacon, after baptizing an Ethiopian eunuch, suddently disappeared and was found in Azotus. The apostle reputedly preached the Gospel in Gaul, but evidently Galatia was meant, a country next to Phrygia, where Philip labored much. Dramatically, and with an unhealthy prejudice for pious sensationalism, the main works of the apostle in Scythia and Phrygia, and particularly his death, were depicted. There is no historical value in these fables. These "Acts of Philip," together with other such reliable sourcess, were explicitly condemned in a decree of Pope Gelasius (492-496).

According to the Roman Breviary the apostle Philip did labor in Scythia and Phrygia; this is supported by a very old tradition. Scythia, on the northern shore of the Black Sea, or what today is the Southern Ukraine, is said to have been the scene of the apostolic works of this apostle for twenty years. And in the district opposite this the apostle Andrew preached, he with whom Philip reputedly collaborated. In Scythia, Philip denounced the worship of Mars. According to history there were many such cults that originated among these peoples.

Phrygia, the second land visited by this apostle, the present-day center of Turkey, had Hierapolis as its rich and influential capital. The aforementioned letter from Bishop Polycratres of Ephesus to Pope Victor testified that Philip worked and died in Hierapolis. In addition, an incription found in the necropolis of Hierapolis alludes to a church dedicated to the apostle Philip. Two neighboring cities of this capital were Colossae and Laodicea. Both were mentioned in the New Testament: Laodicea appears in the Apocalypse of St. John; and the faithful in Colossae were the recipents of an Epistle from St Paul imprisoned in Rome. How closely the apostolic paths of John and Paul and Philip were allied! It is a matter for sincere regret that today these lands, where once the first five of the apostles labored so zealously-Peter and Andrew also toiled in these districts-have been robbed of Christ.

In apocryphal writings concerning the work of Philip, this apostle was repeatedly depicted with a serpent or a dragon. The worship of a serpent in these regions were actually a practice at that time. In Hierapolis the serpent was cherished as a sacred animal in the temple of a goddess. Therefore, artists in past centuries grew accustomed to portraying the apostle Philip in a struggle with a serpent. The statue of Philip in the Lateran reminds one of the apostle's triumph over the power of the coiling snake through the might of the cross. The weight of the cross will always crush the dragon.

A Gnostic work entitled Pistis Sophia, originating in the third century, also mentioned a "Gospel of Philip." It supposedly contained an account of the manifestation of the risen Saviour. This has not been included in the canonical writings of the New Testament. Such a "Gospel according to Philip" is a forgery of later times.

Just as the true and exact record of all Philip's labors is enshrouded in obscurity, so is this apostle's death. Clement of Alexandria affirmed that Philip, like the apostles Matthew and Thomas, died a natural death. Numerous others, however, maintained that he died a martyr. Accordingly, Philip has been reported as being crucified in Hierapolis at the age of eighty-seven, during the reign of Emperor Domitian. Others maintain that he died on the cross during the reighn of Trajan, who ruled from 98 to 117. His crucifixion was recorded as similar to that of Peter-upside down. What a coincidence that the three apostles from the beloved-and also cursed-city of Bethsaida were martyrs on the cross. How precious the cross must be in the eyes of Christ, that He sacrificed his first apostles on it!

The relics of Philip were supposedly brought to Rome, where they were placed, together with those of the apostle James the Less, in the church of the twelve apostles. This accounts for the fact that the Roman Church, for many centuries, celebrated the feast of these two companions on the same day, the first of May. Actually this is slightly ironical, for neither Philip nor James the Less were poets or bards of spring; both had dedicated themselves to the prose of life. Therefore, according to another tradition, their feast is not celebrated in the Greek Church in the spring, but rather on November 14.

The apocryphal "Acts of Philip" records a somewhat long and pompous prayer supposedly spoken by the apostle before his martyrdom. Its Gnostic origin is unmistakably evident, even in a later and modified Catholic version:

Christ, Father of Eternity, King of light, You have taught us in Your wisdom and have bestowed upon us Your judgment. You have given us the counsel of Your goodness. You are never separated from us. You have granted to us the presence of Your wisdom. Come now, Jesus, and give me the eternal wreath of victory over all the power and strength of the enemy! Do not permit darkness to surround me, that I may push through the flames of fire in the abyss!

These words remind one of a passage in St Paul's Epistle to the Ephesians, the sixth chapter, twelfth verse, but St Paul had much different thoughts in mind when he wrote:

For our wrestling is not against flesh and blood, but against the Principalities and the Powers, against the world-rulers of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickness on high.

Much simpler and more profound are the true words that Philip spoke in the Gospel:"' Lord, show us the Father and it is enough.'" Well might he have repeated this as a martyr before the gates of eternity. To the Father, to the last source of all, the inner desires of every man turn. "Denarii" and "bread" and "five thousand men" were not enough. God alone is enough!


Jn 3:16 For God so loved the world, as to give his only begotten Son; that whosoever believeth in him, may not perish, but may have life everlasting.
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PostSubyek: Re: The Twelve Apostles   10th March 2013, 16:03

St. Bartholomew

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Bartholomew (Nathanael): A friend of Philip; according to various traditions, preached the Gospel in Ethiopia, India, Persia and Armenia, where he was martyred by being flayed and beheaded; in art, is depicted holding a knife, an instrument of his death; Aug. 24 (Roman Rite), Aug. 25 (Byzantine Rite.)

According to Leonard Foley, O.F.M., Editor of the Revised Edition of Saint of the Day (Lives and Lessons for Saints and Feast for the New Missal) Bartholomew is mentioned only in the list of the Apostles in the New Testament. Some scholars identify him with Nathanael, a man of Cana in Galilee who was summoned to Jesus by Philip.

Again we are confronted with the fact that we know almost nothing about this Apostle from Scripture. However the few sentences that we do hear is all that is needed.

From the Master himself we learn that Nathanael is a true Israelite and that there is no duplicity in him. When Nathanael asked Jesus how He knew him, Jesus said: "I saw you under the fig tree." This statment so stunned Nathanael that he exlaimed "Rabbi (Teacher), you are the Son of God; you are the King of Israel."

No other Apostles by far expressed greater belief in Jesus upon their first encounter as Nathanael. Jesus stated it exactly right. This apostle was devout, holy and a true Israelite. Imagine calling someone a king and never having seen him before! How could anyone call Jesus the Son of God unless his mind and heart was completely enraptured by the love of God.

Jesus swept Nathanael completely off his feet by revealing to him some personal information that for him was truly amazing.

During this brief meeting with Nathanael, Jesus told him that he would experience greater things than with this first meeting.

Nathanael did see greater things. He was one of those to whom Jesus appeared on the shore of the Sea of Tiberias after his resurrection.

Taken from The Apostle by Otto Hophan, O.F.M. Cap. Found in the resources of [You must be registered and logged in to see this link.]

Chapter Six

Ripples of sunshine surround the name and figure of the apostle Bartholomew, whose full name was Nathanael Bartholomew. Every crown has at least one happy-go-luck character, and among the Twelve this was Bartholomew. The Lord Himself rejoiced to see this young man without guile enter His circle. Even today the name “Nathanael” suggests to us an agreeable and inoffensive person. Bartholomew lived on the brighter side of life, unruffled, serene, cheerful.

In the four lists of the Twelve in Holy Scripture this apostle was always called Bartholomew. In the Gospels his name was mentioned in the sixth place, immediately after his friend, Philip. In St. Luke’s enumeration in the Acts of the Apostles, Our Lord assigned Bartholomew and Thomas to the same group. Wisely did Divine Providence place these two individuals side by side, the optimist and the pessimist, the apostle of sunshine and spring with the apostle of doubt and cloud. Each in his own different way profited by this partnership. Thomas unburdened himself through Bartholomew, and it was to Bartholomew’s benefit that he was encumbered with Thomas, for through the doubter he was protected from the danger of becoming too free and lax.

It is very striking that the evangelist John never once mentioned an apostle by the name of Bartholomew in his entire Gospel. On the contrary he had much to say about a Nathanael, whom the three older evangelists, in turn, seemingly did know. John wrote about this Nathanael in the first and last chapter of his Gospel. Therefore Nathanael was with the other apostles for a long time, a proviso that Peter stipulated before choosing another apostle to replace Judas:

"Therefore, of these men who have been in our company all the time that the Lord Jesus moved among us, from John's baptism until the day that he was taken up from us, of these one must become a witness with us of his resurrection"

From the two passages in John there is no doubt that Nathanael had heard the apostles; in the first chapter and in the last, this apostle was counted with the known and recognized apostles. Also, his calling was clearly and fully explained. There is no reason to doubt that Nathanael was an apostle, or that Nathanael and Bartholomew are two names for one and the same apostle. For if the Nathanael mentioned by the evangelist John was one of the Twelve, then he could have been no other than the one called Bartholomew by the other evangelists. All the other apostles in the four scriptural list were given by one name. Since Bartholomew was named in the lists by his father's name, Bar-Tholmai, son of Tholmai, he alone is the only apostle who could have had the personal name of Nathanael.

There are yet more significant allusions in the Gospels. In the enumerations of the Twelve, Bartholomew was listen in the sixth place. This is the same position in which Nathanael was mentioned by St John in his Gospel. And finally, according to John, it was Philip who led Nathanael to Jesus. And Philip was always named by the other three evangelists together with Bartholomew. After all this, only one correct interpretation remains: Bartholomew and Nathanael are one and the same apostle. In early Christians ages St Augustine and Gregory the Great expressed the contrary opinion. But today their reasons for such a decision are no longer recognized as valid. Their arguments have not withstood the test of time.

There is no ready explanation why John used the name of Nathanael when speaking of this apostle, whereas the Synoptic used his father's name, bar-Tholmai. Yet it is clear from many biblical examples that it was a custom among the Jews either to name a son after his father or call him by his own name, Simon Bar-Tholmai. Yet it is clear from many biblical examples that it was a custom among the Jews wither to name a son after his father or to call him his own name: Simon-Jona, Bartimeus, Barnabas, Barsabbas, and many more.

Bartholomew, the Cheerful Apostle

It was necessary, first of all, to point out and to prove the identity of Bartholomew and Nathanael. The little that is known about this apostle is found only in the two verses that St. John recorded. The other evangelists gave no information about Nathanael save the name of his father. Perhaps this father, the old Tholma-the name means a "drill-blough" was such a well known and influential person that his son was simply called by his name. A legend concerning Bartholomew, recorded by Peter de Natalibus around the year 1372, corroborates such a supposition. According to this legend Bartholomew was a Syrian from a distinguished, royal family. But in this form the legend contradicts the Gospel.

A much earlier writing, from between the middle of the fifth and sixth centuries, the "History of the Sufferings of Bartholomew," paid special attention to externals. It noted this apostle's physical appearance and his refined clothing.

Bartholomew had black, curly hair, which covered his ears. His complexion was fair. He had big eyes and a rather large nose. His stature was well-balanced, not too small and not too large. He wore a white robe trimmed in crimson, and also a white cloak, the hem of which was embellished with red jewels.

Other passage recounted that Bartholomew kept his costly garment and even dared to wear it when he followed Christ.

It can easily be understood that such accounts, and others similar to this, from apocryphal and legendary literature, are certainly not trustworthy. They prove nothing, nor can they themselves be proved. Yet perhaps at times they may reflect a kernel of truth. One may conjecture that Bartholomew came from a wealthy family. This apostle was seemingly reared in a very wealthy atmosphere.

Legend and conjecture to the contrary notwithstanding, St John noted that Nathanael Bartholomew came "from Cana in Galilee." With no further apparent reason, many commentators immediately concluded that Bartholomew was the bridegroom at the wedding feast of Cana.

This apostle was probably a fisherman by profession. for as Simon Peter stood on the shore of the Sea of Tiberias after the Resurrection and said he was going out to fish, Nathanael called out with the other apostles, "' We also are going with thee.' "

St Augustine conjectured that Nathanael was a teacher of the law. He based his judgment on the manner in which Philip spoke to him . Philip wanted to persuade Bartholomew to go and meet the Messias: " ' 'We have found him of whom Moses in the Law and the Prophets wrote, Jesus the son of Joseph of Nazareth.' " Yet it is a bit difficult to conclude so much merely from this one passage. Still other commentators took for granted that Nathanael was one of the followers of John the Baptist, but such a conclusion can scarcely be proved by the Gospel.

The evangelist John wrote only a few lines-but what precious ones they are!-concerning Bartholomew. These brief statements do give an insight into the soul of this apostle. The Church has chosen this small segment of Scripture, which reflects a certain charm of the apostle, for the closing prayer of the Votive Mass of the Holy Angels. One might even wish that the Liturgy on the feast day of the apostle Bartholomew would also be taken from this cherished and solemn part of the Gospel.

"Philip found Nathanael...." It was not an accidental meeting; our Lord had intended that it happen thus. He himself said, " ' Before Philip called thee, when thou wast under the fig tree, I saw thee.' " Christ called Nathanael through Philip, and He had called Peter through his brother Andrew. It is the way of Divine Providence to call and guide us through others. God does not want to labor alone; in His wisdom and goodness He graciously grants man a share in the creation and guidance of things.

When Nathanael made his appearance in the Gospels, he did so with a touch of friendly sarcasm and smiling irony. Philip was advising Nathanael somewhat in detail and dogmatically, " ' We have found him of whom Moses in the Law and the Prophets wrote, Jesus the son of Joseph of Nazareth.'" Philip's friend objected to this way of putting it. The mischievous Nathanael replied discreetly, " ' Can anything good come out of Nazareth?' " Perhaps Nathanael spoke these words of mockery about Nazareth with certain contempt of familiarity that is so often found between two neighboring villages. Cana, the home of this apostle, lay only about nine miles from Nazareth.

Nazareth must indeed have been despised, however, and apparently it had an evil reputation. For that very reason the evangelist Matthew saw the prophesied abasement and humiliation of the Messias fulfilled in Jesus, because Jesus was reared in Nazareth . In all the books of the Old Testament the town of Nazareth was never mentioned. It was only a small, unimportant village. Its very name-literally "watch-tower"-indicates its size in contrast to a large market town.

A passage in Matthew's Gospel serves as an expressive example of the rude character of the inhabitants of Nazareth. When Jesus came

to his own country, he began to teach them in their synagogues, so that thy were astonished, and said "Where did he get this wisdom and these miracles? Is not this the carpenter's son? Is not his mother called Mary, and his brethren James and Joseph and Simon and Jude? And his sisters, are they not all with us? Then where did he get all this?" And they took offense at him. but Jesus said to the, " A prophet is not without honor except in his own country, and in his own house." And because of their unbelief, he did not work many miracles there.

Giving his account of this incident, St. Luke pointed out how these people of Jesus' own home town wanted to murder Him:

And all in the synagogue, as they heard these things, were filled with wrath. And they rose up and put him forth out of the town, and led him to the brow of the hill, on which their town was built, that they might throw him down headlong. But he, passing through their midst, went his way.

After Mary and Joseph returned from the flight into Egypt, they did not go back to Bethlehem. Divine Providence had directed them to Nazareth. In this village Jesus was reared, a village about which nothing good could be said, a village from which no good was expected. This is a thought of consolation to the many people who must remain and work in unimportant and disdained places, or in forsaken posts.

The welcome which Jesus nevertheless extended to Nathanael Bartholomew is surprising. No one of all the other apostles did our Lord receive so warmly and cordially.

Jesus could forget this cautious discipline's judgment against Nazareth and his prejudice against the Messias Himself. As He saw Nathanael coming, joyfully He could say, "'Behold a true Israelite in whom there is no guile. '" St. Augustine made the remark about this passage: ""A great testimony! That which was said neither to Andrew nor to Peter nor to Philip was said of Nathanael. How highly the Jews esteemed the honor of being an Israelite is easily seen in St. Paul's Epistle to the Romans and in his second Epistle to the Corinthians.

Still when our Lord greeted Nathanael, He did not say this disciple was merely an Iaraelite. He stressed that He was an Israelite without guile. It was not often that an Israelite received such praise. Even Jacob, the father of the tribe of Israelite, was no more than a man "without guile." Frankness and sincerity had ceased to be universal virtues of the Israelites; nevertheless, Nathanael was a simple and candid person. He did not act as others and pretend. He did not have "two-hearts, a fold in his heart where he saw the truth, and another fold where he engendered lies."

The few words of Nathanael recorded in the Gospel, then, were spoken from a true heart, and remain as fresh and clear as a spring. There was nothing artifical or affected in this follower of Christ, nothing made up or thought up on the spur of the moment. Jesus, the eternal truth, readily and gladly accepted this Isrelite who was without a shadow of pretense.

Nathanael was more surprised than flattered by Christ's words of praise. Startled, he immediately asked, "' Whence knowest thou me?'" Then our Lord cast a second, even brighter, ray of His infinite wisdom into the happy and perhaps too carefree soul of this fisherman. He wanted to rouse him from his contentment, to stir the very depths of his soul. "Jesus answered and said to him. 'Before Philip called thee, when thou wast under the fig tree, I saw thee.'"

What happened under that fig tree remained a secret between Jesus and Nathanael. Maybe it was a triumphant struggle. Maybe it was a decisive resolution. Maybe it was a brilliant confession. In any case, under that fig tree-Palestinians loved to plant fig trees around their homes-a profound, personal experience must have occurred.

The revelation of the Messias so stirred Nathanael that he was inspired to cry enthusiastically, "'Rabbi, thou art the Son of God, thou art King of Israel.'" Only an hour before he was laughing to think that Jesus from Nazareth was supposed to be the Messias, and now, after hearing only a few words of His infinite wisdom, he was paying Him homage. His confession far surpassed the blustering, joyful confessions of Andrew and Philip. Truly, Nathanael Bartholomew, the cheerful apostle, was an Isralite" without guile," without "a fold in his heart."

The meaning of this homage should not be overestimated. Yet it appears to be as great as Peter's confession of the Messias in Caesarea Philippi: "'Thou are the Christ, the Son of the living God.'" Nevertheless, in reality it was a long way between the Jordan and Caesarea Philippi, between the happy calling of the warm spring and the first belief of the hot summer. To the disciples on the Jordan, Jesus was the Messias, but their expectations of an earthly Messias were anything but spirtually refined. The apostles still had to withstand many difficulties, doubts, and conflicts before they were to reach their pure and unconditioned credo. The Lord said to Peter, "'Blessed art thou, Simon Bar-Jona...'" But He did not say, "Blessed art thou, Nathanael Bar-Tholmai..." Bartholomew's confession on the Jordan was the first spring, beautiful but frail. Jesus called him to mold him and to strengthen him.

"Answering, Jesus said to him, 'Because I said to thee that I saw thee under the fig tree, thou dost believe. Greater things than these shalt thou see.'" Then He turned also in the other, and continued, "'Amen, amen, I say to you, you shall see heaven opened, and the angels of God ascending and descending upon the Son of Man.'" Once before, the patriarch Jacob, the father of all Israelites, saw an angel ascending and descending. Nathanael and his companions, these Israelites without guile, were from then on to await the lasting, spiritual fulfillment of that vision of Jacob: Jesus in constant communication with heaven. The power of His words and miracles began and reached its completion in heaven. Jesus on earth and the Father in heaven were together, united, one in an eternal exchange of power and love.

Jesus is not, as Philip, so well, but wrongly, believed, "the son of Joseph of Nazareth." He is the "Son of God." "King of Isarel.""Knower of Hearts," as Nathanael praised Him. He is the Lord of Heaven and the Master of Angels. Nonetheless, one is glad to hear this practical confession which flows like a glittering mountain stream in spring in the first chapter of John's Gospel. Solemnly had this first chapter been opened: "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God; and the Word was God." And now the earthly echo of these words resounded triumphantly upon the eternal seething of waves: "'Rabbi, thou art the Son God, thou are King of Israel.'"

It is a pity that the evangelist John did not give a fuller picture of Nathanael in the first Chapter of his Gospel. With the exception of the brief mention of this apostle in the twenty-first chapter of the fourth Gospel, there is no other mention of him through the wide span between the first and last chapter. The evangelists, inspired by the Holy Spirit, limited themselves to a fuller account of the life of Jesus. The very fact that these comments were made so brief is already an indication of the direction in which their inspired thoughts were to venture.

One cannot go wrong if he keeps that happy meeting between Jesus and Nathanael before his eyes. Thoroughly honest, happy, cheerful, and inspired, he has been an inspiration to men of all ages. He was popular and much liked by the other apostles; his colleagues eagerly sought his friendship. Clear, truthful, and frank in everything, he was so simple that anyone could see through him. He was really the apostle without guile or deceit.

At the Last Supper revealed, "'One of you will betray me.'" No one thought of Bartholomew. Not even a slight suspicion was raised against him. Only sunshine and spring surrounded this apostle. When the disciples walked along the long, hot roads, with the Lord, tired and stickly with dust, and when the pressing of a crowd was so taxing that they could not find time even to eat, when they, along with the Lord, had no place to lay their head at night, there was Bartholomew, cheerful, tireless, and happy as ever. He alone of the followers of Christ could lift up their sinking spirits. Then the eyes of the Lord would benevolently fall upon this disciples as they had in the hour of their first meeting. Nathanael Bartholomew was called because of his natural ability to reflect the goodness, kindness, mercy, and love of the Savior.

For the melancholy Thomas, for the sober Philip, for the objective Matthew, it was a real blessing that Bartholomew occasionally led this second group of apostles to look at the brighter side of life. He put some cheer and life into this melancholy, sober and objective group. He brought the fragrance of spring and a bit of poetry into this somewhat too cool, somewhat too dry, somewhat too gloomy atmosphere. With his keen natural perceptiveness, he could brighten and enliven Thomas, tease and animate Philip, transfigure and perfect-Matthew. He could rub against all three of their natures and get away with it three times as often as any other apostle. It is good to stand to the sunshine, but it is better to be the sunshine for others. In doing all this, Nathanael did not overstep the fine border of tact. It is very striking how old legends again and again allude to this apostle's distinguished origin and refined speech. The silence of the Gospels also gives an indication of his quiet reserve. He could hold back his happiness lest he becomes too frolicsome, or even loud and boisterous.

This noble harmony of directness and reserve, of gaiety and courtesy, suggest the symbolism of the full name of this apostles, Nathanael Bartholomew. Literally the Hebrew name, Nathanael means "gift of God." Ever cheerful person is a gift of God to a friendship. Bartholomew means "son of a drill-plougher." A "Nathanael" must also be a "Bartholomew," a man who goes below the surface of things. And a "Bartholomew" must be a "Nathanael," a sunny gift of God that penetrates to the depths of life, but remains on the outside also, so that, once buried in these depths, it does not lose sight of the blue heavens from where it came, where the angels of God ascend and descend.

Bartholomew, the Courageous Martyr

Concerning the labors of the apostle Bartholomew we have only unreliable and partially contradictory statements. The earliest accounts have been lost. The first that have been preserved originated between 450 and 550 in the eastern provinces of the Byzantine Empire. They bear traces of Nestoriansim.

Still, a general picture of the apostolic labors of Bartholomew can be drawn from the Gospels. He who could recognize Christ in the first hour of his acquaintance with Him as the "Son of God" and "King of Israel" certainly went out into the world to preach what Christ had commissioned him to preach. He who had seen "greater things"-the life of Jesus, Easter Sunday, Pentecost-was certainly inspired to go into the world to preach. He was the happy messenger of our Lord Jesus Christ.

According to traditional versions of the Coptic and Arabic and Ethiopic Acts, the region in which Bartholomew labored lay in the "oases" of Egypt. An Armenian source named as the first six apostolic journeys of Bartholomew those to the county of "Eden," which today is Aden. Eusebius reported that Pantaenus, the founder of the Catechetical school of Alexandria, on a journey to "India" at the end of the second century, had entered a Christian community which was founded by the apostle Bartholomew. At the time "India" was understood as all the lands lying outside of, and east of, the Roman and Parthian Empires. This included not only present-day India proper, but also Abyssinia, the "prosperous Arabia," and Caramenia. In an interesting manner these Acts often portrayed Bartholomew in company with Matthew. According to the account of Eusebius just mentioned, this apostle had brought the Hebrew Gospel of Matthew into these regions.

According to the "Acts of Philip," Nathanael labored and suffered together with his companion and friend, the apostle Philip, in the Phryian city of Hierapolis. As a faithful friend, he stood by Philip even in martyrdom, and afterwards was taken to Lycaonia, which lay on the southeast border of Phrygia-to day this is the southeastern corner of Asia Minor. Barthlomew's work in Lycaonia among the Syrians was also mentioned and it is also reported that this apostle was crucified here. These legends prevail even today in the Greek Church. A sermon attributed to St John Chrysostom concerning the twelve apostles contained a remark to the effect that Bartholomew preached "temperance to the Lycaonians."

The "Acts of Andrew and Bartholomew" also made mention of the apostlic labors of these two disciples in the land along the shores of the Black Sea. In the "Acts of Matthew" it was Matthew who appeared as the apostolic companion of Bartholomew, so in the "Acts of Andrew" it was the apostle Andrew who assumed this position. These accounts gave rise to a tradition among the Armenians that Bartholomew was specifically sent to them as their own apostle. Moses of Chorene said, "Armenia was assigned to the apostle Bartholomew. He was martyred in the city of Areban." An Armenian source concerning the life and suffering of Bartholomew recorded that this apostle brought the Gospel first to the "Indians," and then to the Parthians, Medes, Elamites, and finally to the Armenians,

In a lesson from the Roman Breviary read on the feast of the apostle Bartholomew, are collected various and sundry bits of information:

The apostle Bartholomew, a Galilean, journeyed through the side of India that had fallen to him when the earth was divided up for the preaching of the Gospel. He proclaimed the advent of the Lord Jesus to those nations according to the Gospel of St. Matthew. After he had converted many to Christ in that region and had suffered many toils and difficulties, he came to Great Armenia.

Just as these various accounts concerning the place of this apostles's labors contradict each other, so do the statements concerning the nature of his death. The Roman Breviary, relying on such information, explains,

In Great Armenia Bartholomew led the king, Poplymius, and his wife, in addition to twelve cities, to the Christian belief. These conversions very much enkindled the jealousy of the clergy there. The priests succeeded in stirring up the brother of King Polymius, Astyages, to such an anger that he gave the gruesome order to have Bartholomenw skinned alive and then beheaded. In this martyrdom he gave his soul back to God.

The tradition concerning the flaying of this missionary in Armenia was spread by the Greeks, Latins and Syrians. Skinning alive was a form of Persian capital punishment, and therefore it points to Persia as the place of the last labors and death of the apostle. In the part of Syria which is under Persian sovereignty a tradition concerning the grace of the apostle Bartholomew has held its own.

Artists, as perchance Ribera and Rubens in their well-known pictures of Bartholomew (which hang in the gallery of Prado), therefore associated a knife with this apostle as his symbol. It was with a knife that he was flayed. Others, such as Bernini in his statue of Bartholomew (which stands in the Lateran), portray him holding his skin over his arm as he would carry a mantle. Michelangelo also created a very expressive portrait of the flayed apostle.

Christian antiquity, nevertheless, had other versions of the death of Nathanael. Among them was even a simple and natural death. According to a very old and widespread opinion this disciple was supposed to have been crucified-as were almost all those called on the Jordan. Some artists have depicted him on a cross, some of them even the same ones who had given him the knife as a symbol of his have been flayed alive. A local saying in Armenia maintains that he was beaten to death with clubs. According to an Arabian-Jacobean tradition he was thrown into the sea in a sack filled with sand at the command of King Aghiras.

Equally vague is any knowledge of the whereabout of Bartholmew's relics. An Armenian tradition maintained that his body was buried in Albanopolis-also written urbanopolis-a city of Armenia where the apostle is said to have suffered martyrdom. Then his remains were taken to Nephergerd-Mijafarkin. Around the year 580 these relics, or perhaps only a part of them, were carried over to the Lipari Islands near Sicily. Here legend has it that the relics of Bartholomew, sealed in a coffin, actually swam through the sea and landed on the shores of Lipari. Perhaps such a legend concerning this coffin swimming over the sea evolved and developed from another legend that related how Bartholomew was thrown into the sea in a weighted sack.

After a Saracen invasion of the Lipari Island in 838, these relics supposedly escaped by fleeing to Benevent. Then, in 983, through the maneuvering of Kaiser Otto III, they finally found their way to Rome. Here they were placed in the Church of Bartholomew on a small island in the Tiber. As late as 1238 the skull of this apostle was brought to Germany, to Frankfurt on the main river, and preserved in the Cathedral of Bartholomew.

Since the decree of the Congregation of Rites, dated October 28, 1913, the feast of this apostle was fixed to be celebrated on August 24 in the Roman Church. In the Greek Church it is celebrated on June 11. In the Orient this apostles's feast and also that of the transer of his relics are observed on different days. In Armenia both December 8 and February 25 were appointed as his feast days. In the Coptic and Ethiopian Church June 18 and November 20 are observed. And in the Jacobite Church the day set aside is August 29.

A Gospel, later proved to be spurious, also was attributed to Bartholomew. St. Jerome mentioned it in his introductory comments on the Gospel of St. Matthew. Today only fragments have been preserved. It allegedly contained the manifestation of the risen Savior's descent into hell, which was instigated by the questions of Bartholomew. Besides this, information concerning Mary's secret of God's Incarnation was included. The original Greek text sprang up on the Gnostic circles of Egypt in the third century. This version had nothing to do with the apostle Bartholomew.

Finally, we turn once again to the Gospel, to the hour in which the young and carefree Nathanael met the Messias for the first time. With flashing eyes and inspired lips he called out openly to Jesus, "'Rabbi, thou art the Son of God, thou art King of Israel.'" But this cheerful and lovable man had not surmised in the least what a tremendous burden he was to bear for the Son of God. He was portrayed by artist as a gray and stooped old man. For the Son of God he had gone half way around the world. Through the many long journeys. For centuries, even, his remains were not permitted the quiet rest of the grave.

In his hand he held the horrible knife with which he was allegedly skinned alive. It is not certain in what manner he died. Maybe he was flayed and maybe he was not. But it is certain that inwardly he had completely stripped himself of self and had become the faithful and devoted servant of the King of Israel. This shedding of the world right down to the very nerve-center was demaned by Christ Himself. Twice Matthew recorded Jesus' words about this:

"And if thy hand or thy foot is an occasion of sin to thee, cut it off and cast it from thee! It is better for thee to enter life maimed or lame, than, having two hands or two feet, to be cast into the everlasting fire. And if thy eye is an occasion of sin to thee, pluck it out and cast it from thee! It is better for thee to enter into life with one eye, than, having two eyes, to be cast into the hell of fire.

For this reason some like to represent Christianity as a big, dismal "no" to anything that might have the slighest trace of joy in it. It supposedly forbids the "yes" in life. But such men as Nathanael Bartholomew, who work and suffer the most for Christ, are the most joyful. Nathanaels are those without the guile of a pessimistic bearing, dressed-up heroism, or weary resignation. They know sadness and they know hope; they know the nakedness and on completeness of their own existence, and wait for the fulfillment of another life.

St. Paul, writing to the Christians of all ages, exhorted,

Let us conduct ourselves in all circumstances as God's ministers, in much patience; in tribulations, in hardships, in distresses; in stripes, in imprisonments, in tumults; in labors, in sleepless nights, in fastings; in innocence, in knowledge, in long-sufferings; in kindness, in the Holy Spirit, in unaffected love; in the word of truth, in the power of God; with the armor of justice on the right hand and on the left; in honor and dishonor, in even report and good report

Nathanael's appearance in the Gospel gives us the explanation for this rare and mysterious union of sorrow and bliss in the same person: "Greater things than these shalt thou see... You shall see heaven opened, and the angels of God ascending and descending upon the Son of Man.'"


Jn 3:16 For God so loved the world, as to give his only begotten Son; that whosoever believeth in him, may not perish, but may have life everlasting.
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PostSubyek: Re: The Twelve Apostles   10th March 2013, 16:05

St. John

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A Galilean, son of Zebedee, brother of James the Greater (with whom he was called a "Son of Thunder"), a fisherman, probably a disciple of John the Baptist, one of the Evangelists, called the "Beloved Disciple"; with Peter and James the Greater, witnessed the raising of Jairus' daughter to life, the transfiguration, the agony of Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemani; Mary was commended to his special care by Christ; the fourth Gospel, three Catholic Epistles and Revelation bear his name; according to various accounts, lived at Ephesus in Asia Minor for some time and died a natural death about 100; in art, is represented by any eagle, symbolic of the sublimity of the contents of his Gospel; Dec 27 (Roman Rite), May 8 (Byzantine Rite).

St John the Evangelist is the beloved Apostle. By tradition he is the author of the fourth gospel, letters and the Book of Revelation, the last book of the New Testament. John and his brother James responded to the call of Jesus immediately and even left their father, Zebedee, in the boat when Jesus said: "follow me".

These brothers were called "Sons of Thunder" possibly because they wanted Christ to swiftly punish those who treated them rudely or were mistreated. Little did they know at that time that followers of Jesus would be greatly persecuted, afflicted and murdered down through the centuries.

John was perhaps the youngest of the Apostles and remained with Jesus' mother, Mary, at the foot of the cross when nearly all of the other Apostles abandoned Him. He received Mary from Jesus immediately before he died on the cross and heard the words of the dying Savior before He expired when the loving Redeemer said to St John, son, behold your mother. St Joseph had died before Jesus' public ministry and Christ entrusted John to care for the only possession that Jesus had: His Mother.

Jesus could not adequately live without His mother on earth and for that reason He possessed and enjoyed the woman, Mary, His dearest mother, more than the entire heavenly court. She had given Him His own Flesh, the means that would allow all humanity to return to the kingdom of God. Giving up Mary stripped Him of His masterpiece, the love of His life and He saved her for Himself until next to His last breath. And then, when He had no more breath or time, He bestowed his most treasured possession on us. With His very last breath, He told His Father, His life was completed and surrended Himself to the mystery of God.

And the same time, the Crucified One, when he was hardly recognized, disfigured and hanged out to die, lovingly bestowed on Mary, St John and all humanity with him. He knew that nobody was more capable of sharing divine love to us than the woman who have given Him His earthly existence.

John and his brother James were fishermen and worked with their father and with Sts. Peter and his brother, Andrew. They probably lived in the same town of Bethsaida and they practiced their trade and business near the Sea of Galilee. Apart from that, we know little about John's early life except some writers claim that he was a disciple of St John the Baptist before Jesus came on the scene and that according to St Augustine, Doctor of the Church, John never married. From his earliest youth, John cultivated "singular chastity."

John's mother, Salome, was also a follower of Jesus and remained faithful to Him especially on Calvary along with many other women. We can not say that of the men. Salome was a disciple of the Lord and was known to speak up for her sons to Jesus as any mother would do to better their positions in Jesus' kingdom that was being formed. Hardly anyone at that time could imagine that Jesus' kingdom was to be of a spiritual nature and that any and all positions of honor would be one of servants to God's children and not necessarily one of leadership and authority.

The beloved apostle was favored by Jesus and was taken on special visits with Jesus that most of the other Apostles did not attend. John witnessed miracles of a private nature with his brother, James, and Peter, the head of the Apostles. John was definitely a member of the inner circle, however, John, nor anyone of the other Apostles, had a better understanding of Jesus' mission and ministry at that time.

Jesus occasionally scolded or corrected the Apostles and John was no exception. Once when a person was casting out demons in Jesus' name, John wanted Jesus to stop that person. Jesus told John that the man who was not against Him was in fact for Him and not to be hindered. The evangelist, St. Mark, wrote: No man who performs a miracle using My name can at the same time speak ill of Me.

Like nearly all the Apostles, John is hardly mentioned except for a few times in the gospels. St John stays clear about identifying himself when he writes about himself in the fourth gospel. The gospels are about Jesus not the Apostles. They accompanied Jesus in His journeys but the focus is on His words and actions and the theme of repentance, salvation and redemption through the new law of love toward God and His creatures.

Jesus made it clear that the new law of love did not replace the old law. God is first and foremost a God of order and law. What Christ said was that love is greater than fear of God. However, the fear of God is the beginning of wisdom. St Francis de Sales, Doctor of the Church, and often referred to as the 'gentleman' saint because of his tremendous kindness, said that we ought to love God to fear Him not fear Him that you may be able to love Him. Strictly speaking, Francis said it more elegantly: "We must fear God out of love, not love Him out of fear."

Moses gave us the law of the ten commandments directly from God. Jesus, who is the Son of God, gave us love of the law through a new commmandment made from the old commandments: love God and neighbor as He loved us.

John probably lived longer than any of the other Apostles and some traditions say that Mary lived to her late sixties or early seventies. John cared for her and watched over Mary in the manner that she wanted him to and traveled with Mary whenever she wanted him for extra protection. Although St John appears to have been the least traveled of the Apostles he took his responsiblity of caring for Mary, his parents and his relatives most serious.

This is some evidence that Mary went with John to Ephesus and may have live there for a while. She may have died there but there is another, perhaps stronger tradition, that indicates that she returned to John's house on Mount Zion in Jerusalem. According to this tradition, it was from there that the Virgin's body was assumed incorrupt, into heaven. This information is taken again from the "12 Apostles" by Ruffin.

St John probably died a martyr of desire at a very old age after some attempts on his life failed through divine intervention. St Jerome, Doctor of the Church, stated that John was nearly martyred at Rome and that he was thrown into a cauldron of hot oil, but somehow emerged unhurt.

In his later years, John seems to have made his home in Ephesus for the rest of his life. There were churches there that were mentioned in the Book of Revelations. John did some supervising and according to "The Constitution of the Holy Apostles", he ordained bishops as well as priests in each of the cities of Sardis, Philadelphia and Laodicea.

The gospel of John is quite different from the gospels of Sts. Matthew, Mark and Luke, the synoptic gospel authors. They would follow sort of lockstep together and John would focus on the earlier ministry of Jesus. John seems to write from a theological aspects and was forever highlighting the importance of loving one another and that God is love. C. Bernard Ruffin, mentioned above, indicates that John's gospel was written for Gentile believers and that John does include some severe statements such as the man who deliberately sins is a child of the devil. John does not hesitate to let us know that he is unafraid to mention God's threats along with His promises.

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The remaining part of John's life will focus on the fourth gospel, his epistles and the Book of Revelation.

The following is taken from "The Apostle" by Otto Hophan, O.F.M.Cap. and listed in the sources in the Doctors of the Catholic Church.

Chapter Four

John, the "beloved" apostle, was outstanding for his nobility and dignity. Although he ranked second in the college of the apostles, and his authority was less than that of Peter, he surpassed him in knowledge and love. St Augustine compared John to a mountain, who:

welcomed peace for the people. Mountains are the large souls, hills are the small souls. The smaller souls would not shelter the faith, if the larger souls, the mountains, were not to be illuminated by wisdom, so that they can share with the small what the small are able to contain.

In the four lists of the apostles, St John is among the first four, the favored among the chosen, the honored among the honored. In St Luke's Acts of the Apostles, his name is placed immediately after Peter's name. St. Paul considered him, along with James and Cephas, as one of the pillars of the Church. Both Scripture and tradition elevate John to a position that is sublime, noble and great. They awaken sympathetic admiration and respect for him in all his simple and quiet majesty.

In the Gnostic "Acts of John," dating from the second half of the second century, is found the earliest mention of a picture of John. It was supposedly so beautiful that Lycomedes, a devoted admirer of this apostle, surrounded it with idolatrous art, altars, wreaths, and lights. "Valde honorandus est beatus Joannes-truly venerable is St. John," is the description found in the liturgy. There is little basis in this for the daintiness and sentimentality with which John is portrayed. He was indeed the disciple of love, but his love was a manly love appropriate to the Son of Thunder.

Since the fourth century St. John has been called simply the theologian. Traditions has assigned to him the symbol of a proud and daring eagle, which, according to fable, flies straight to the sun, never wearied or blinded. John may well be compared to an eagle, for his thoughts soared higher than the thoughts of any other apostle.

John, the Eagle

John was not born of noble blood. He was the son of Zebedee and Salome, the brother of James the Elder. Like his father and brother, he was a fisherman. It is quite probable that he came from Bethsaida, as did the other pair of apostle-brothers, Peter and Andrew. God had chosen him while he was yet in his mother's womb, and willed to him the gifts of the Holy Spirit. The allusions to John found in the Gospels permit the assumption that he, like Peter, was self-supporting rather than poor. The Church Fathers considered him to be the youngest of all the apostles, since he lived longer than the others. It is likely that he owned his own house in Jerusalem, and that he took the Blessed Virgin there after the Crucifixion of her Son. He was highly respected; his influence was such that he had direct contact with the elite circle of high priests. John was pleasant and agreeable, an ideal partner for the rich young man in the gospels, whom the Lord looked upon, loved, and wanted to follow Him, but whose "face fell at the saying, and he went away sad, for he had great possessions." This man kept the Commandments of God, but did not have the apostle's selfless charity.

John did not attend great schools of learning. The rulers and elders judged him, along with Peter, as an "uneducated and ordinary" man, not trained in the rabbinical traditions and having no authority to teach. But this "idiote" was later to write books which scholars have studied and will continue to study for centuries.

The only teacher John had was nature, especially the sea. As he sailed, his eyes would scan the blue surface and distance horizon. He would listen to the rhythmical murmuring of the waves and the crashing fury of the sudden storms that came down on the sea. The imagery of the sea remained fresh and clear in his mind, and it appears in his accounts of the life and teachings of Christ. The observant reader of St. John's Gospel cannot help but notice how often this evangelist makes reference to water, the sea, fish, lightning and thunder, and clouds.

In the Apocalypse, a book filled with mysteries, St John veils in secrecy the unutterable visions of the next world. He shows a predilecton for the clear and simple language of a fisherman: he heard the voice of Jesus, "like the voice of many waters"; he heard the voice of angels, "like a voice of many waters, and like a voice of loud thunder"; he heard "a voice of a great crowd, and as the voice of many waters, and as the voice of mighty thunders." What no eye had seen, not ear had heard, this inspired author of revelation described in the language of a fisherman; the angel "showed me a river of the water of life, clear as crystal, coming forth from the throne of God and of the Lamb," John, who rose to greater heights than eagles fly, did not disdain simplicity of speech.

St John, observing the crown from his lofty position, sought out his counterpart. Here was an eagle soaring over the open plains in search of another eagle. Under the guidance of John the Baptist, the son of Zebedee prepared himself beforehand in prayer and penance for Him who was to baptize, not with water, but with the Holy Spirit and with fire. It is the example of an old eagle luring a young eagle away from his perch in such a way that the young will fly toward him and be blinded by the sun. As the Baptist, on a beautiful spring day, saw Jesus, the Messias, the one who was to come, he called, "'Behold the lamb of God!'" The Lamb of God! So indelibly was this word of the elder John imprinted on the mind of the young John that he himself, later, as an evangelist, spoke of Christ as the Lamb. With John, "Lamb" was an oft-repeated title for his Master-often set in always-modern poetry:

"Worthy is the Lamb who was slain
to receive power and divinity
and wisdom and strength
and honor and glory and blessing."
"To him who sits upon the throne, and to the Lamb,
blessing and honor and glory and dominions,
forever and ever."
"Salvation belongs to our God
Who sits upon the throne,
and to the Lamb."
"Now has come the salvation,
and the power
and the kingdom of our God,
and the authority of his Christ;
For the accuser of our brethren
has been cast down,
he who accused them before our God
day and night.
And they overcame him through the blood
of the Lamb..."

Many more times did John, the "eagle," call Christ the "Lamb." By the eagle was the Lamb described; by the eagle was the Lamb espied. Never again did the evangelist take his eye off his Master.

It was almost seventy years after the event that John wrote about his meeting with Jesus. "It was about the tenth hour." We know nothing of what was said between Jesus and John on that late afternoon and early evening. Their first words of love and joy have nowhere been preserved. But theirs was a meeting filled with the ecstasy of Easter bells swinging and ringing after long days of sad silence. The air they breathed became clearer than a Mediterranean sky. The ground they stood on became purer than a field of saffrons in spring. This was the meeting of Jesus and John. Other words of Jesus were later to be twisted, distorted, and rejected, but these first words were preserved, not for man, but from man, in the pure chalices of the souls of this holy pair.

One is glad for Jesus' sake, but more so yet for the sake of all mankind, that in John's first meeting with the Messias this beloved disciple represented us so nobly and ideally. He was our gentle but staunch advocate.

If one read beyond the pages in St. John's Gospel concerning the calling of the fishermen on the River Jordan, he immediately notices that the evangelist himself remains always in the background. John was at the marriage feast of Cana, but when he recorded this incident in his Gospel, he merely stated that Jesus "manifested his glory, and his disciples believed in him." And soon thereafter John witnessed the cleansing of the temple when our Lord drove out the money-changers: "And his disciples remembered that it is written, "The zeal for thy house has eaten me up.'" John stood quietly on the sidelines, a mere spectator, as Jesus and Nicodemus questioned and answered one another. After reading this gloom conversation, one get the impression that John had ceased to give the incident any deep consideration: "Now this is the judgment: The light has come into the world, yet men have loved the darknes rather than the light, for their works were evil."

Then the time came again when John, with the other first followers, felt that he had to turn away from the sublime life of Jesus and go back to Galilee to his nets and boats on the sea. Yet, this young fisherman, since he had spent time with Christ, no longer had his mind on his ordinary, daily affairs. No doubt he gave his father Zebedee many absent-minded answers. As the waves were filling his boat, he thought, still astonished and smiling, about the jars filled with water at the marriage feast of Cana, and how they were miraculously changed to wine, and he saw again the look of joy and surprise and puzzlement on the face of the chief steward. As the wind on the sea would suddenly sweep down from above, he remembered the words of Jesus to Nicodemus: "'The wind blows where it will, and thou hearest its sound but dost not know where it comes from or where it goes.'" Often as he spent sleepless nights, his thoughts were concentrated again and again upon the mysteriously clear words of Christ: "' He who does the truth comes to the light...'" Constantly he was recalling the words of the Messias to him, to his father Zebedee, to his brother James, and to his mother Salome. His thoughts were only of Jesus. He longed to see this great man once again, to do the truth, to come to the light.

After a ten-month-long advent time the Lord returned and told the two pairs of brothers, Peter and Andrew, James and John, to "'put out into the deep.'" St John, the most sincere of them all, may well have been the first to understand that this was more than a mere fishing excursion. "' duc in altum-put out into the deep.'" That was the signal for which the young disciple had waited so long.

It was with real joy, after that first miraculous catch of fish, that John pulled the boat onto the land, quickly fastened the nets, and followed the Lord forever, "in altum," into the deep, to the light. The eagle had an objective to reach, and this was Jesus, the Lamb. Yet each man who is like an eagle-like John-can reach out for our Lord Jesus Christ. A more courageous act could not be ventured, for even the most emboldened of souls can find neither a higher nor a worthier goal.

John, in contrast to the direct and practical Peter, was a man of great spiritual heights. He was more of a contemplative than an active minister of Christ. The very first venture of the young eagle was a flight to the limitless heights of the Trinity: "in the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God; and the Word was God." St Augustine, himself a "soaring eagle" marveled at this steep climb of John:

He surpassed all the summits of the earth, surpassed all the spaces of the heavens, surpassed all the heights of the stars, surpassed all the Choirs and Legions of angels. Had he not surpassed all which was created, he would not have come to Him, through whom all has been made.

"All things were made through him, and without him was made nothing that has been made." John never fell from these heights.

The biggest dissimilarity beween John and the other three evangelists lies in their use of language. In the writings of John, thoughts on the kingdom of God and the holy will of God are no more prevalent than they are in another New Testament writings. But the direct opposite is true concerning life from God, life in God, life by God, life for God. "Life," "light," "love," and their opposites, "death," "darkness," "hate," are the six fundamental concepts of the Johannine part of Scripture. The evangelist never tired of repeating them; they made up his language.

These concepts peculiar to John-especially his particular concepts of "Logos"-were taken up during the life of this apostle and absorbed into the philosophy of Philo, a Jewish Platonist, and into the religions of the Orient. John was limited-as were all scriptural writers-to the use of words of time to make manifest the truth of eternity. But he did not hesitate to take up the religious principles that were being taught at the time. He purified them and filled them with Christian contents, as one would fill empty vases.

"Life" and "light" were not in the religions of Mithras (an ancient Persian God), not in the cult of Dionysius (a God of Greek mythology), not in the adoration of an earthly king, but only in the religion in the God-Man, the King of heaven, Christ: "In him was life, and the life was the light of men." Jesus Christ was also the true "Logos" not as Philo and Heraclitus" considered themselves to be the logos, a medium state, created in time, between a god and the world. No, the true Word was "in the beginning" already, not created in time. He was "with God" as a separate personality, the Second Person of the Trinity. He was "in God" for the three Persons have one Divine Nature. "The Word was God" Himself. Thus St. John guided the intellectual tendencies of his age to Christ. As an eagle he could fly over the storm; as a fisherman he could battle the storm.

As an eagle can perch on the edge of a steep cliff without being in danger of falling to the depths below, so St John could study and master the brilliant philosophical systems of his contemporaries without falling into the errors of their thoughts. He had been one of the specially favored three who ascended Mount Tabor with Christ; there he gazed upon the splendor and grandeur and glory of the majesty of God. He was in the Garden of Olives; there he saw his Master's humanity in agony in the sweat of His brow.

It was in these places, not from Alexandrian philosophy, that John first received his bold idea: "And the Word was made flesh." During his life he was the closest of all to the secrets of Christ. There was no need for him to yield to the religion of others, neither Persian nor Greek, neither Babylonian nor Egyptian. He was strong enough that he had no need to stoop to the level of other religions and philosophies, but rather he brought them up to his own heights, into the light of the Lamb.

John, the eagle! The power of the eagle was the standard Jesus had chosen by which this apostle was to follow Him to the heights. But John could not do this by himself. St Augustine remarked,

Perhaps John himself did not say how it is, but how he could. He spoke as a man of God, truly as an enlightened man of God, but always as a man. Because he was enlightened, he said something. Had he not been enlightened, he would have said nothing. Because, however, he was an enlightened man, he did not say everything that is, but what a man can say.

John, the Son of Thunder

One may suppose that such a man as John, a man with a great mind, would live exclusively in the world of thought. A certain worthless type of art from years past portrayed John as a dreamy and effeminate youth, or at least stressed his intellectuality much more than his amiability-concerning which much still remains to be said. This disciple of Christ, despite his profundity of thought, was in no way a dry scholar. He was very much alive and very active. So extraordinary and prominent was the vitality and impetuosity of his character that our Lord Himself, when choosing the Twelve, surnamed him and his brother "Boanerges, that is Sons of Thunder." The reason that St John wrote so frequently about "life" in his Gospel and in his other writings may well be that the words of Christ concerning "life" interested and appealed to him, the apostle so full of vitality, of "life."

But in this same natural tendency lay a great danger for the vivacious apostle. It was St Augustine who spoke so beautifully of "the earthly atmosphere, that also surrounds the highest summits of human nobility." And John, the eagle, was also occasionally caught in this atmosphere of human weakness. This is evident in the highly ambitious request to occupy the first place in the kingdom of the Lord, which James and John put to Jesus-though it was James more than John who proposed this desire for glory.

This bold challenge was directed against Peter. Yet John was, then and later, a close friend of Peter, and he proved this friendship on the first Easter Sunday morning by his recognition of Peter's right to be first. He did not dare to enter the tomb before the first of the apostles. He strained to see into the tomb, even got down on his knees. He wanted to enter, but he waited for Peter to come and be the first to enter and see. By himself John would hardly have attempted to take the first place in the kingdom of heaven away from his friend. It was his brother James who had led him astray and brought about this blunder against humility.

On the other hand, the apostle at times used his thunderous temperament with a lack of charity and patience. The Gospels give two examples to show this. Together with his brother James, John was ready to demand that fire from heaven fall upon the unfriendly Samaritans and destroy them. And on another occasion, after the second prediction of the Passion and while Christ was speaking against ambition and envy, both Mark and Luke pointed out what John had to say: "Master, we saw a man casting out devils in thy name, and we forbade him, because he does not follow with us.'" But Jesus showed that such a zeal, such an unkind interest for the kingdom of God, would, in the course of centuries, by its own mistakes, work for Him, not against Him, and would soon be one with Him, bringing others to Him: "'Do not forbid him, because there is no one who shall work a miracle in my name, and forthwith be able to speak ill of me. For he who is not against you is for you.'" St. Paul had advanced further than John in this respect. In his Epistle to the Philippians this instruction of Christ was re-echoed: "Some indeed peach Christ even out of envy and contentiousness... But what of it? Provided only that in evey way, whether in pretense or in truth, Christ is being proclaimed."

John must have been at great pains to perfect his life, to tame and control his impetuosity, that he might walk in the holy way of the Gospels. His ardent and forward nature flashes even today from his many passages of his writings. He wrote, for example, even in his old age, that one should never greet a teacher of false doctrine, or received him into the home. Irenaeus recorded how John once sprang from the bath in Ephesus when the heretic Cerinthus stepped in. And the saying has been passed down through the centuries that he met another such teacher in Rome, and spoke to him quite sharply, "I know you well, you first-born of Satan."

But in this instance a deeper reason for his impatience becomes apparent. This intolerance, which knew no pity, did not come from obstinacy, but rather from a very deep love. Because John loved the Lord with an ardent heart, he turned against any abuse or insult to Christ with all the vehemence of his whole person. All this was not for himself, but for his beloved Master.

Yet John, with his zealous love for the Lord, learned that "'the Son of Man did not come to destroy men's lives, but to save them.'" Every work done for Christ deserves recogniton and acceptance. John, the Son of Thunder, struggled for this benevolent love. His own pen revealed this. As he was to speak again and again of love, he unknowingly revealed his own love for the God-Man and all the sacrifices he was called upon to make for this love. Suddenly his love for Christ no longer seems to thunder and fire and rage. It is a true love. It is a manly and mature charity.

Charity is patient, is kind; charity does not envy, is not pretentious, is not puffed up, is not ambitious, is not self-seeking, is not provoked; thinks no evil, does not rejoice over wickness, but rejoices with the truth; bears with all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.

John, the Beloved Disciple

The Son of Thunder was a disciple of love. What a seeming contradiction! And yet, as has been seen, the violent thunder and lightning cracked and flashed only from John's full and devoted love. It was not the violence or thunder that comprised his nature, his whole character and personality and temperament, but his vehement and impetuous love. In his own Gospel, written by his own hand, he called himself "the disciple whom Jesus loved" no less than five times.

Certainly the Lord loved the others too. At the Last Supper, when speaking of the New Commandment, Christ called His apostles "filioli" little children, and very significantly explained,

"No longer do I call you servants, because the servant does not know what his master does. But I have called you friends, because all things that I have heard from my Father I have made known to you."

Now they were full-fledged apostles. Now they knew Christ's secrets, and they were fully united with Him.

Still, between Jesus and John there remained a secret of intimacy-a real spirituality, a close spiritual union, a deep contemplation. Here was a secret love and understanding which the other apostles did not share. But the others-with the exception of Judas-recognized and respected this favor of love that John enjoyed. They neither questioned nor vied for John's first place with the Lord-as once Peter's first place of honor was challenged. Certainly it would have been better if the disciples had sought the place of John in the heart of their Master than the place of Peter in the majesty of God.

One might question the reason for this secrecy between Jesus and John. But God's love is above human understanding. Therefore we cannot delve into the inner secrets of this friendship which existed between Jesus, the Son of God the Father, and John, the son of Zebedee, a fisherman. Yet this beloved disciple's love for his divine Master was not inappropriate. He was an eagle and a Boanerges. And here is seen the kinship of his soul with the soul of Jesus, who came down from heaven by His own word to spread fire upon the earth, not that it might consume and destroy man, as John once thought, but that it might enkindle the hearts and souls of all mankind with a burning love for God. "'I have come to cast fire upon the earth, and what will I but that it be kindled?'".

The text of the liturgy on the feast of John the apostle, inspired by the convictions of the Fathers, shows how deep and strong Jesus' attachment and affection were for John especially because of his virginity. The aging John himself wrote in the Apocalypse about virgin men who "follow the Lamb wherever he goes." He himself was able to follow Him to the heights of the Trinity-"'Blessed are the pure of heart, for they shall see God.'" John was pure of heart, and John saw his God.

In his Gospel, St. John recorded three occasions on which his friendship with Jesus glowed the brightest. The first of these was Holy Thursday. To make preparations for the last evening of His life, Jesus chose two of his disciples who loved Him the most, each in his own way, Peter and John: "'Go and prepare for us the passover that we may eat it.'" His heart full of anguish, John prepared the paschal lamb. The lamb! He made ready the chalice for his Master; soon he also was to drink from this chalice.

As they settled themselves on the cushions in a semi-circle around the low table, Jesus called John to come and take the first place beside Him. A greater price had to be paid for this first place on the bosom of the Saviour than for the two places on the right and left of God in heaven-for which John and his brother had earlier asked. He was now so near to his divine Friend that he could hear and feel the beating of His pure heart that throbbed with love in that hour, like a white waterfall breaking from the mountains in early spring. "'I have greatly desired to eat this passover with you before I suffer.'" He was now so near to those holy lips that he could take up Christ's wonderful words like a precious vessel under a fountain, as Jesus spoke to comfort his disciples-and Himself-before the bitter and bloody pain of His suffering and death.

St John is the only evangelist to devote five complete chapters of his Gospel to the Last Supper, to Jesus' words of comfort, exhortation and farewell:

"I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I am coming again, and I will take you to myself; that where I am, there you also may be....I am the way, and the truth, and the life... If you love me, keep my commandments. And I will ask the Father and he will give you another Advocate to dwell with you forever.... I will not leave your orphans; I will come to you....But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things, and bring to your mind whatever I have said to you. Peace I leave with you, my peace I give to you....I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in me, and I in him, be bears much fruit....Abide in my love."

Why should it be improbable that this beloved disciple should be able to repeat word for word the thoughts of that last speech of Jesus, even after many decades? In that unforgettable hour our Lord had spoken directly into his ear, directly into his heart.

Halfway through the meal Jesus said solemnly, "'Amen I say to you, one of you will betray me-one who is eating with me.'" John felt the trembling run through Jesus. He quivered. Even today His statement about the betrayer stirs and moves and shakes us; the same is true in all four Gospels. Leonardo da Vinci has dramatically portrayed in his immortal "Last Supper"-fortunately restored in Santa Maria delle Grazie, in Milan-the tense excitement which seized the apostle when Jesus disclosed His horrible secret.

The few disciples reclining next to the Lord were especially nervous: John, Peter, and -and Judas! John bent forward. He looked at Peter. He looked at the Lord. "Is it I?" Peter did not move. He stared at Judas. He stared at the Lord. "Is it I?" Judas was caught between them. He was paralyzed. His eyes were wild. He was terrified. He felt the stares from those on his left, but dared not look to his left-"Is it I?" he heard someone say-and he could not move, even though he wanted just to glance to the left. He knew the eyes from the right warded him off-"Is it I?"-and he could not look to the right-"Is it I?"-nor did he even dare to look at Jesus. There was Jesus, his Master, God. Judas needed the silver. He needed all thirty pieces.

Jesus did not answer the frighten apostles.

The disciples therefore looked at one another, uncertain of whom he was speaking. Now one of his disciples, he who Jesus loved, was reclining at Jesus' bosom, Simon Peter therefore beckoned to him and said to him, "Who is it of whom he speaks?"

Peter had the keys to the kingdom of heaven; John had the keys to the secret in Jesus' heart. John,

therefore, leaning back upon the bosom of Jesus, said to him, "Lord, who is it?" Jesus answered, "It is he for whom I shall dip the bread, and give it to him."

Even today one can feel the intolerable and overpowering suspense and tension. One can see the eyes of the evangelist staring with fear and terror, when Jesus-as was customary for the master of the house who wanted to give one whom he loved special attention-"had dipped the bread: and "gave it to Judas Iscariot, the son of Simon.


The disciple of love and the disciple of treason! They suspected each other's secret, for both love and hate have sharp eyes. With malice and scorn Judas had followed the tender distinction of John. He envied, jeered, and scoffed under his breath. Hate twitched on his face. It was not easy for John to keep silent and observe this outrageous sacrilege, this malicious blasphemy, this stealthy act of a devil performed with the ease of a twisting snake. A year before this night, after Christ's discourse on the Eucharist at Capharnaum, the words of Christ had been deeply imprinted on John's mind:

"Yet one of you is a devil." Now he was speaking of Judas Iscariot, the son of Simon; for he it was, though one of the Twelve, who was to betray him.

After the anointing at Bethany-Mary "took a pound of ointment, genuine nard of great value, and anointed the feet of Jesus"-Judas, the betrayer, showed himself for the hypocrite he was:

"Why was this ointment not sold for three hundred denari, and given to the poor?" Now he said this, not that he cared for the poor, but because he was a thief, and holding the purse, used to take what was put in it.

John knew that, of one of the Twelve was to commit this unbelievable and monstrous atrocity, it could be none other than Judas. Only this "devil" and "thief" was capable of such a base and vile act. It could only be "Satan entered into him." Would that he dared to hurl himself on this betrayer! Jesus, however-who had hundreds of legions of angels at his disposal-did not choose to reveal the betrayer to the others. His divine mercy was extended even to His enemies. He hurried Judas on: "'What thou dost, do quickly.'" John He held back on His bosom. How great His mercy to Judas! The beloved apostle again leaned back onto the bosom and heart of the Lord, his young eyes filled with tears of rage and love. It is moving to think that Jesus in this difficult hour found a comfort in the friendship with His ardently loving follower. God was comforted in His grief by a fisherman's son!

"When, therefore, he had received the morsel, he went out quickly. Now it was night." Only Jesus and Judas knew how dark that night was, and how black.

But inside a night had never been so bright. After the betrayer had departed, light and love flowed as freely as a flood, unhampered by the darkness.

Jesus, knowing that his hour had come, to pass out of this world to the Father, having loved his own who were in the world, loved them to the end...And having taken bread, he gave thanks and broke, and gave it to them, saying, "This is my body, which is being given for you; do this in remembrance of me." In like manner he took the cup after the supper, saying, "This cup is the new covenant in my blood, which shall be shed for you."

Of all the apostle at the Last Supper, John was the closest to the heart and hand of our Lord, the first of all to receive the Body and Blood of Christ. John, then, became the first communicant. Here, between Jesus, the Author of love, and John, the apostle of love, the perfect union was consummated-"comunio", union with, united with, one with.

St John was the only evangelist to write down the beautiful discourse on the Eucharist after the miraculous multiplication of bead.

"He who eats my flesh, and drinks my blood, abides in me and I in him. As the living Father has sent me, and I live because of the Father, so he who eats me, he also shall live because of me."

What John recorded he had heard, and what is more significant, he experienced it on that first Holy Thursday, a great day in his friendship with Jesus. This was the first of three great days in the beloved disciples's friendship with his Master, as recorded by the evangelist himself.

The second day was Good Friday. One might think that John should be reproached severely, because, on the Mount of Olives, favored him by permitting him to take the first place at the Last Supper and to recline on His bosom, this disciple of love fell asleep. Then he deserted his Master and fled with the others. St Luke, the diagnosing doctor, excuses that incomprehensible sleep: He "found them sleeping for sorrow." And Jesus Himself was quick to look for a reason to pardon them: "'The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.'"

To summarize, Mark added, "Then all his disciples left him and fled." John, too, feeling a bit guilty, commented, "But Simon Peter was following Jesus, and so was another disciple." Peter went as far as the gate to the courtyard of the high priests, but this other apostle went right in. Before he had run away, had hidden himself; now he went right into the courtyard. He was John.

There John stood, waiting, his heart oppressed, full of anguish, awaiting the decision that was to fall upon his beloved Master. But why did John, Jesus' closest friend, desert the accused on the way of the cross, so that a compete stranger had to be forced to help our Lord? It was the disciple's last chance to do something. Or had Jesus asked a much more difficult deed of His beloved follower, a deed even more difficult than carrying two heavy wooden logs? Was it something, Christ Himself could not do then? In the courtyard did His eyes plead with John to go and bring His mother? Yes.

St John went quickly and brought Mary, the mother of Jesus, to Calvary. Did John comfort Mary, or did Mary except the will of the Father. "Thy will be done."

Yet one can breathe with some relief that Mary did not have to stand alone beneath the cross, suffering alone beside her Son. John, one of the Twelve, was there. He was not ashamed of the Friend who was condemned as a criminal. He did not fear for his own life as the other apostles did, for he realized more than the others that the crucified Saviour was his life. John had everything to gain by dying with the Lord whom he loved. He did not fear death, even nailed to a cross made from a tree.

John stood by the cross and listened to the iron hammer hit hard against the heavy iron nails. At every blow he felt the thud in the earth beneath his feet. His heart pounded with pain, as the Lord's had throbbed in John's ear only the night before. Christ had foretold all of this. He heard the soldiers rail at Him and revile Him, and blaspheme Him. He was alarmed and startled and could not understand when he heard the cry,"'Eli, Eli, lema sabacthani... My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?'" the cry of Him who was with God, who was God. But John persevered. He stood by his forsaken Friend. He stood by in an ecstasy of grief and love, as the soldiers came and "one of the soldiers opened his side with a lance," the same side where John had reclined and rested only the evening before. He saw with his own eyes how "immediately there came out blood and water."

John the evangelist, who not only witnessed the majesty of the Lord but also saw His heart, testified in his Gospel, "And he who saw it borne witness, and his witness is true; and he knows that he tells the truth, that you also may believe." He turned his eyes away from this small red streak of blood, drying purple on the white corpse, and he stared into the distance as though seeing a vision. He stared at the crowd, as the Scripture was fulfilled: "'They shall look upon him whom they have pierced.'"

The love of John followed the Lord in His death like the last, golden ray from a setting sun. Only Jesus knows what the fidelity of His friend meant to Him in those last hours of agony. At least one of the Twelve was there. Judas, the traitorous apostles, had sold Him for thirty pieces of silver. But John, the beloved apostle, bought Him back with love and persevered with Him to the end. The price was thirty-one times as much, plus infinity, and the reward was an eternity of happiness. John was the flower, the crown, the seal of the other disciples.



Jn 3:16 For God so loved the world, as to give his only begotten Son; that whosoever believeth in him, may not perish, but may have life everlasting.
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PostSubyek: Re: The Twelve Apostles   10th March 2013, 16:08


Then Jesus, so poor He no longer owned a garment with which to cover His sacred body- "'They divided my garments among them; and for my vesture they cast lots'"-opened up His heart and gave to John His last, His most beloved, His mother, Mary.

When Jesus, therefore, saw his mother and the disciple standing by, whom he loved, he said to his mother, "Woman, behold thy son." Then he said to the disciple, "Behold thy mother." And from that hour the disciple took her into his home.

Could one give a greater gift to a friend than his mother? Could one give a greater gift to his mother than his friend? Before the cross the destitute love of both was reunited in each other through the Lord. John was to care for Mary. Mary was to care for John. Mary could not have been provided for better than by John. John could not have been provided for better than by Mary.

It is easily understandable why Christian art has so often depicted this sublime trinity of love, Jesus, Mary, John. These pictures of Mary and John standing before the crucified Christ offer a deep and symbolic sight, and occasion much meditation for all Christianity: always will Mary look after the followers of Christ, whom He loves; and always should the followers of Christ, who love Jesus, take Mary to themselves.

The third great day of love for John was Easter, the first Easter morning. Certainly Holy Scripture reveals none of the brilliance and magnificence of the Resurrection in which John, like Peter, had a share. Even before the dark night had yielded to white morning with its burning glare, John's deep love had strengthened his belief in Christ's glorious Resurrection. When, early on Easter morning, before it was light, on the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene ran "to Simon Peter, and to the other disciple who Jesus loved," she cried breathlessly,

"They have taken the Lord from the tomb, and we do not know where they have laid him." Peter therefore went out, and the other disciple, and they went to the tomb. The two were running together, and the other disciple ran on before, faster than Peter, and came first to the tomb.

John, "the other disciple whom Jesus loved," was quick on his feet, yet not only his more agile feet but his more loving heart carried him on ahead of Peter. Tactfully John recognized the right of the superior and older apostle, Peter: "And stooping down he saw the linen cloths lying there, yet he did not enter." Peter, very officially, immediately noted the pertinent conditions and clues surrounding the grave: "And he went into the tomb, and saw the linen cloths lying there, and the handkerchief which had been about his head, not lying with the linen cloths, but folded in a place by itself."

Peter saw, and he thought. John saw, and he believed. "The other disciple ran on before, faster than Peter...." John was first on foot and first to believe. "then the other disciple also went in, who had come first to the tomb. And he saw and believed. " But John had to add, "They did not understand the Scripture, that he must rise from the dead." Peter was sadly silent. John was humbly silent.

John, the beloved disciple, was the first one at the Communion, the only one at the cross, the first one at the tomb. And most significant, he was the first one to believe. It was his great love that always placed John before the other apostles. How great the reward for a simple, persevering love!

This apparent priority John had over the other apostles is evident also from another event that occurred during this first Easter season. It was the second, so-called "forgotten," miraculous catch of fish-"forgotten," because the Synoptics did not record it. Almost everything was the same as it was at the first miraculous catch: again the Sea of Tiberias, again a group of apostles, again the long night without success. Then a stranger on the shore called out to them,

"Cast the net to the right of the boat and you will find them." They cast therefore, and now they were unable to draw it up for the great number of fishes.

Again there was a large and unexpected catch of fish. And again it was St. John who was the first to recognize the stranger as our Lord. Softly and excitedly he whispered to Peter, "'It is the Lord.'" John was the first to recognize the risen Christ because he was the first to love Him.

Here lies the important key to an understanding of the personality of John, as well as of his writings. The works of this evangelist were composed with much detail and exactness, a full and particular account of his subject. Although the Synoptics did not have a solemn, deep, and immense perspective, John did. What the earlier three writers of the Gospels many times only alluded to, hinted at, or suggested, John powerfully and brilliantly brought into the light. One could put forth many reasons for this difference: the different position from which John wrote; the different time in which he wrote; and above all, his own different, eagle-like, and noble mind that far surpassed those of his fellow-apostles. Certainly this is sufficient to explain the difference between John and the Synoptics; however, the answer to the Johannine question lies much deeper.

John was the disciple whom Jesus loved, loved more than He loved the others. Because he was the beloved apostle, he was also the knowing and wise apostle. The intellect sees only attributes, natures, conditions, and qualities; love sees essentials, substantials, fundamentals, and principles. Only he who is taken into confidence by the Author of love knows more than the others.

All the apostles were loved by Christ. Our Lord called them "'friends, because all things that I have heard from my Father I have made known to you.'" Still John surpassed them in love, and therefore he also surpassed them in knowledge. Here lies the final explanation of the Johannine question. In that first glance from the loving eyes of Christ, when John met Jesus on the Jordan, this apostle immediatley recognized the Messias. Therefore in the very beginning of the Johannine Gospel Jesus is proclaimed as the Messias, the Son of God.

With the unquenchable thirst of love John drank in the words of Jesus, and these words remained unforgotten, unforgettable, even to the end of John's life. They flowed ceaselessly from John's mind to his heart and soul; they flowed ceaselessly from his meeting on the Jordan to his standing before the cross to the end of his days in prison. With `the great spiritual depths of his love he felt the throbbing of Jesus' heart. With the great fervor and sincerity of his love he looked and saw the piercing of Jesus' side. With the heat and blood and water of Jesus' heart flowing over him, he was given a deeper knowledge and understanding than the other apostles were given. "Cucurrit citius-John, the disciple whom Jesus loved, ran faster...."

St. John put down in words in his first Epistle that which characterizes him: " is from God. And everyone who loves is born of God, and knows God. He who does not love does not know God; for God is love. If we love Him, we know Him. We love Him in order to know Him. The more we love Him, the more we know Him. And if we know Him, ever more ardently will we love Him.

John, the Companion-Apostle

In his Gospel, St. Luke placed John in the fourth place when he enumerated the twelve apostles. Then later this same inspired author, writing down the Acts of the Apostles, moved John up to the second position, immediately after Peter. When one compares these two lists of the same writer, this advancement of John's name is a very striking sign of the increasing importance of John in the infant Church.

St. Luke reported no detailed information about John in his Acts, as he did about Peter and Paul. Peter stood in the foreground. But John quietly moved up to stand next to Peter, his companion. the faithful grew silent in respect and awe when these two great apostles moved among the crowd. These two who once had been fisherman together on the Sea of Galilee, now together let down other nets in the deep sea of mankind, nets for Christ, whom both loved. Almost always now the two companions worked together: Peter, not with his brother James or one of the other apostles. Both journeyed, preached, and suffered together.

When Albrecht Durer portrayed John and Peter together in his stately painting, he was merely using his brush to depict a biblical truth. John assisted Peter in the curing of the lame beggar at the gate of the temple: "Peter, gazing upon him with John, said, 'Look at us." And he looked at them.... John shared the first cup of persecution and suffering with Peter when they were arrested, since the priest and Sadducees were "grieved because they were teaching the people and proclaiming in the case of Jesus the resurrection from the dead. And they set hands upon them and placed them in custody...

Again Peter and John were united when they answered the elders and Scribes, for:

seeing the boldness of Peter and John, ... they charged them not to speak or to teach at all on the name of Jesus. But Peter and John answered and said to them, "When it is right in the sight of God to listen to you rather than to God, decide for yourselves. For we cannot but speak of what we have seen and heard."

And, John walked beside Peter from Jerusalem to Samaria:

Now when the apostles in Jerusalem heard that Samaria had received the word of God, they sent to them Peter and John. On their arrival they prayed for them, that they might receive the Holy Spirit... Then they laid their hands on them and they received the Holy Spirit.

In this perfect union, Peter and John walked beside one another in the young Church: the apostle of stone with the apostle of love; the apostle who at first refused to permit the Lord to wash his feet with the apostle who eagerly reclined on the bosom of Jesus; the bearer of the keys with the eagle; the apostle who had denied Christ with the Son of Thunder who had desired the first place in heaven. Each of them was great in his own right: but together both were even greater. Through John, Peter could see and understand better the depths of the Lord; through Peter, John could see and understand better the trouble and anxieties of the flock. Peter atoned for the sin of his denial to John; John atoned for the sin of his pride to Peter.

Peter and John were one. What a blessing for the flock of Christ! What an honor for the Lord! How well these two heard Christ's priestly prayer to the Father for unity, the prayer he offered at the Last Supper. It was His last prayer before His passion and death:

"I in them and thou in me; that they may be perfected in unity, and that the world may know that thou hast sent me, and that thou has loved them even as thou hast loved me.

Another companion of John was the apostle James, his beloved brother, who suffered martyrdom by the sword of Herod in the year 42/43. Christ foretold this bitter suffering and death as He was speaking both to James and to John. "' Of my cup you {both} shall indeed drink..'" This passage has sometimes been misinterpreted, with the results that John was also supposedly killed in the same year as his brother, during Herod's persecution. Not only is there no biblical reference to John's death at this early date, but John does appear in Holy Scripture after his brother's death. Apparently John was not in Jerusalem at the time of Herod's persecution. He was on one of his many missions. In the middle of his apostolic labors he heard of the sudden and bloody death of his brother.

James, so full of life and strength and fire, was dead! Many pictures must have come to John in retrospect: the distant house of his parents, the blue sea, or the many evenings during which he lay silent and dreamed under the stars. John thought of his mother Salome; she would be weeping for her dead son. He thought of his father Zebedee; he would be lost in thought watching the distant horizon over the water, because the ways of the Lord are not always our ways and His will is not always our will. John grew tight inside. James was dead.

Now John would work for both. He knew then what the chalice meant, how the cup tasted. When he was younger, he had asked to drink from this cup. James also had asked. He had said he could drink from the cup of the Lord, and now he had drunk. John also was to drink from this cup, but when and where and how God alone knew and willed.

Holy Scripture names still a third apostle in connection with St John: St. Paul. They met, perhaps for the first time, in Jerusalem at the Council of the Apostles in the year 49. The Acts make no special mention of John during that meeting. There Peter spoke, but John had nothing to add. On the contrary, Paul, in his Epistle to the Galatians, proudly mentioned the expressed recogniton and consent he had received from John also, one of the "men of authority," to preach the Gospels: "... James and Cephas and John, who were considered the pillars, gave to me and to Barnabas the righthand of fellowhip..."

John and Paul walked side by side. What perfect models for the artist! John was the disciple whom Jesus loved; Paul, the disciple to whom Jesus called, "'Why does thou persecute me?'" John was the mystic; Paul, the revolutionist. And now both stood together, side by side. Both burned with one love for Christ was a candle with two wicks. Even in their spirituality the two were surprisingly similar. Their thoughts of Christ as times soared so high that it is difficult to see with human eyes which of the two has risen higher, John or Paul.

Often one sounded like the powerful echo of the other. John rejoiced over the Dinine Word, "All things were made through him, and without him was made nothing that has been made." And Paul answered,

He is the image of the invisible God, the first born of every creature. For in him were created all things in the heaven and on the earth , things visible and things invisible, whether Thrones, or Dominations, or Principalities, or Powers. All things have been created through and unto him, and he is before all creatures, and in him all things hold together.

What magnificent harmony, like that of two deep bells!

Much has already been written and said about Johannine and Pauline theology, but still much more remains to be studied and learned from these two eternal fountains of wisdom. No one can deny that John and Paul were neither foes nor rivals in their theology, but rather brothers and companions of one truth. They remain today like two bells with deep and harmonious tones-though each retains his individual melody-which ring in the same eternal Sunday, Christ, for all mankind.

Finally, John's most intimate companion was Mary, the mother of the God-Man, the mother of all Christianity. John cared for Mary as only a disciple of love could care for her. Nevertheless, Mary unselfishly guided John's tender attention away from herself and toward the flock of Christ. She was a queen who wanted to be waited on and served. She considered herself only as "the maidservant of the Lord," who knew nothing greater or holier than the word of God.

According to Scripture, John was often absent from Jerusalem. When Paul came to Jerusalem the first time, he met there only two apostles, Peter and James. And when Paul made his journeys to Samaria, St. John was out of the city for many months. Nor is John mentioned at the last journey of Paul to Jerusalem.

One cannot take for granted that the beloved apostle took the aging Mary along with him on his apostolic journeys. She remained in Jerusalem and was again alone as she had been in Nazareth, before the angel appeared. Just as she sacrificed her Son when He left her to begin His public mission, so she put no obstacle, nothing even so small as a soft plea, in the way of John's apostolate.

With Mary's blessing John went into the world to win it over for her Son, Jesus Christ.

John in Ephesus

After the first Church Council in the year 49, all traces of the apostle John in Holy Scripture are lost sight of for several decades. It is on the Apocalypse that he is again brough back into the light of biblical accounts. One finds him on Patmos, a small island in the Aegean Sea, situated more than sixty miles from Ephesus: "I, John..., was on the island which is called Patmos, because of the word of God and the testimony of Jesus."According to reliable accounts of early tradition, this young apostle had chosen Asia Minor as his missionary field after leaving Palestine. Situated in Ephesus as the spiritual head of the church there, he directed and governed the surrounding communities.

Ephesus was the most important city in Asia Minor, and perhaps even at that time the seat of the proconsul of the Roman province of Asia. Its advantageous position near the navigable Cayster River (today named Bayindir), which emptied into the Aegean Sea, and also at the junction of two Roman roads, made it a natural center for trade and commerce. It was the capital of the arts, but also of superstition and immorality, public worhsip of the goddess Diana, whose temple was numbered among the old wonders of the world.

But this same Ephesus was also chosen by God to be a center for the preaching of His divine word. Completing his second journey about the year 53, St. Paul visited this important city of the East and marked it for his main goal on his third journey. After a year he returned to Ephesus and labored until the year 57 with great success.

There was also a silversmith (Demetrius) in this same city who became wealthly by making and selling silver shrines of Diana, idols for the pagans. His business was soon on the road to ruin after Paul had begun to preach Jesus Christ and received many into Christianity. Before long, the pagans, aroused by Demetrius, rose up in protest against him, and the whole city was in turmoil. Later Paul was to leave the city, but the Christian community in Ephesus always remained in this journeying apostle's thoughts until he died in the year 67. He left his favorite follower, Timothy, with them. And he honored them with an Epistle when he was imprisoned.

The scriptural accounts of the works of Paul in Ephesus paint the scene in that world-important capital into which St. John entered. One can draw many conclusions about John from the Epistles of the apostle Paul. John had no part in the guidance of this Christian community before the martyrdom of St. Paul in 67. Had John been there in earlier years, Paul would not have made it a central point of his missionary labors, for Paul tilled only virgin lands. This active convert from Tarsus remained in Ephesus for three years, and after his departure he left Timothy to cultivate this new field of Christianity. John came to Ephesus apparently after the outbreak of the Jewish War, when, and because, it was virtually deserted after the death of Paul.

The stay of John in Ephesus has often been called into question, just as that of his friend and companion, Peter, in Rome has been doubted by some. Nor is the question of little or no consequence, for the very authenticity of the Fourth Gospel hinges and hangs on this; therefore it is of cardinal and paramount importance. The doubt was raised as early as the year 130, when Papias expressed his own doubt of John's audience. He was reported to have said that "John the theologian and his brother James were killed by the Jews."

If this opinion of Papias was correctly repeated by Philip from Sidon in the fifth century-serious considerations have also been raised against this-then the testimony of Papias in no way proves that John was not in Ephesus. Even Papias himself testified at another time that he had personally seen John, who was staying at that time, during the reign of Emperor Nerva (96-98), in Ephesus. It is impossible to reconcile this fact with the purported death of John together with his brother James in the year 42.

To this argument are added other important proofs from the second century. Justin Martyr, a Christian apologist who wrote about forty years after the death of the apostles John, stated, "With us {in Ephesus, where Justin defended the truth of Christianity against the Jew, Tryphone} was also a man with the name of John, one of the apostles of Christ, who foretold to him future revelation."

Also noteworthy, however mysterious, is the testimony of Polycrates, bishop of Ephesus around the year 190, who wrote to Pope Victor I that "John, who reclined on the bosom of the Lord and wrote a headband [the sign of the authority of a high priest], priest of the Lord, witness to the Faith, and teacher," was buried in Ephesus. Also Irenaeus, bishop of Lyons around the year 202, repeated with assurance that "John, the disciple of the Lord, who rested on the heart of Jesus, wrote a Gospel when he was in Ephesus." All this testimony is valuable since it goes back to St. Polycarp, a Church Father, who died around the year 156, and who was made bishop of Smyrna by St John himself.

Another evidence of John's presence in Ephesus is one with out words, a silent one, the ruins of a colossal church of St. John where Ephesus once stood. Although today this formerly great, proud and flourishing city lies fallen and neglected, a small and poor village has grown up in this same region. And the name of this small settlement alludes to John: Aya-Soluk-the town of the holy theologian.

John, the Presbyter

Still a second question remains to be clarifeid: whether another John, the "presbyter John," worked at the same time in Ephesus with the apostle John, or whether they were the same person.

This supposition again depends on the word of Papias. He explained, as he was wont to do, the statements of the "presbyter," a general term meaning "elder" or "ancient." And at times he seemingly referred to the apostle John:

If one approached, at any place whatever, who had been in contact with the presbyters, I carefully questioned him about the statements of the presbyters, what Andrew, what Peter, what Philip, what Thomas, what James, what John, what Matthew, or one of the other of the disciples of the Lord had said, and what Ariston and the Presbyter John, the disciple of the Lord, say.

Twice in this text a John is named. The first time the verb is in the past tense-"had said"-and the second time it is in the present tense-"say." Both could possibly refer to the apostle John, the one time as an apostle who had passed to the next life, the other time as a very much alive witness of the truth: the one time "the presbyter," the other time "the disciple of the Lord."

No commentator on Scripture of the first two centuries knew of a presbyter John other than the apostle. Bishop Polycrates, who enumerated the ranking men of the Church of Asia Minor in his letter to Pope Victor I, about the year 190, named this important John.

The first commentator to distinguish between two Johns was Dionysius, Patriarch of Alexandria around the year 250. After him the Church historian of the fourth century, Eusebius, who is not always reliable, named two different Johns, the apostle and the presbyter, the elder. But Eusebius was certainly prejudiced and led astray by his personal dislike of, and aversion for, the Apocalypse. From this Zahn concluded,

The existence of two different Johns, the apostle and the presbyter, neither Eusebius nor one of his followers was ever able to prove; moreover the contemporary existence of two disciples by the name of John in Asia, an assertion of Papias, is excluded, as are all other traditions about this. The presbyter John is really a miscarriage of the need of criticism and the defective exegesis of Eusebius.

The designation "presbyter," the old one, literally "the elder," for the apostle John was significant. He introduced himself in his second and third Epistles as presbyter: "The Presbyter to the Elect Lady and to her children whom I love in truth...The Presbyter to the beloved Gaius, whom I love in truth.

It is noteworthy that John was portrayed as the oldest of the apostles only in Oriental art, which took root in the traditions of the early Church. In contrast, the art of the West looked directly to the Gospel before representing him as the youngest of the apostle. John had once been the youngest, but now he was the oldest. His brother James was dead; Andrew, with whom he lived the "tenth hour," was dead; Peter, his friend and companion, was dead. All had gone to their reward with the Lord. And only John remained behind, as though forgotten or neglected by death. But then, writing the last words in his Apocalypse, John finally cried out, "Come, Lord Jesus!" The Lord had promised him to come quickly. For a little while longer John had to wait patiently.

As the oldest apostle, John was the Patriarch of the Church of Asia Minor, the father of bishops, the guardian of truth, the inspired writer of the last revelation. The beginning of the Apocalypse reveals the singular greatness of the presbyter John: "'What thou seest write in a book, and send to the seven churches, to Ephesus, and to Smyrna, and to Pergammum, and to Thyatira, and to Sardis, and to Philadelphia, and to Laodicea.'" Like the highest mountaintop outlined against a red sunset-glow and fading into the night, when all the lower hill-lands had already disappeared, John, and only John, could beam a brilliant ray of light and love from the apostolic times into the dawn of the approaching century.

John, the Prophet

On the shore of the island Patmos sat John, aged and alone. His tired eyes looked into the distance, and the powerful sea ceaselessly threw its white-capped waves before him. The Roman emperor Domitian, who ruled from the year 81 to 96, had exiled the last living apostle to this small island, which probably was a refuge for pirates also. At the end of the eleventh century a cloister was built on the steep, southern cliffs of the island in honor of the prophet John, who, on the threshold of the second century, his very threshold of time and eternity, shouted our what should soon happen. Even today one can see the slope of the hollow where John wrote his Apocalypse.

It will always remain a mystery why God, seemingly indifferent, relinquished His care and authority over His knight-the knight He so loved that He permitted him to rest on His bosom-to a tyrannous emperor. Suetonius, in his biography of rulers, sketched the character of Domitian with the comment:

He emerged [at the beginning of his reign] as a mixture of vice and virtue, until finally his virtues turned into vices. One might venture the supposition that, contrary to his innate nature, he was rapacious by force of necessity and blood-thirsty by force of fear. His cruelty was not only dreadfully great but also malicious and treacherous. There was not a more certain sign of a gruesome end than the mildness of the beginning of one of his speeches.

Suetonius pointed out the reason why the Christians, who were tolerated at first, fell into the arena of this imperial tiger: the taxation of the Jews and Christians was maintained at such a remarkably high level that many of them concealed their identity to avoid paying the tax. But there were also many informers. And this situation eventually gave occasion for the second persecution in the last years of the reign of the emperor, who also sacrificed the aging John.

Domitian was so crazed by power that he demanded he be called "lord and god." He was so diabolical that daily he would sit for an hour amusing himself by piercing the heads of little birds with a sharply pointed pick. He tore the evangelist of the divine word away from his beloved community of the faithful in Ephesus and permanently banished him to the isolated Patmos. Ours is the dilemma, whether to say: "What a catastrophe!" or "What a blessing!" At once to pity and to rejoice! "I... was on the island which is called Patmos, because of the word of God and the testimony of Jesus," John began to write his revelations.

Tertullian, one of the early writers of Church history who died after the year 220, made the first report that John, before he was exiled, was thrown into boiling oil, but nevertheless suffered no harm. The Roman Church makes a commemoration of this martyrdom on the sixth of May. Greek sources reveal nothing about this. And more than one of the opinions of Tertullian are questionable.

St. John wrote the Apocalypse in complete loneliness on Patmos, from his own experience of persecution suffered for the sake of Christ-"I, John, your brother and partner in the tribulation[s]... that are in Jesus...." These revelations are the prophetic words of consolation in the New Testament. St. John dedicated this book above all to the Church of his time, which certainly was as much in need of his comfort and strengthening as of his exhortations and reminders, his admonitions and warnings.

The young Church at the end of the first century stood in the midst of many storms. The persecutions of the Roman emperors, the hostilities of the pagans, and the hatred of the Jews raged against the first Christians. And, what was more dangerous, false teachers and vice were added to the fury. Above all their own disillusions and disappointments, the second coming of the Lord paralyzed them. How great the weariness and melancholy of the good grew has been made clear as the inspired author of Holy Scripture lamented,

I saw under the altar the souls of those who had been slain for the word of God, and for the witness that they bore. And they cried out a loud voice, saying, "How long, O Lord (holy and true), dost thou refrain from judging and from avenging our blood on those who dwell on the earth?

St. John consoled the disheartened brethren of his time-and indeed the Christians of all ages. He lift the veil over the future and let the triumph of Christ over the powerful kingdom of the Romans be seen. The Apocalypse, therefore, is full of pictures and allusions to the Roman Empire of the first century. Contemporaries of that age must have immediately thought of the seven hills of Rome when the last living author of Scripture wrote,

And I saw a beast coming up out of the sea, having seven heads and ten horns, and upon its horn ten diadems, and upon its heads blasphemous names....And the dragon gave it his own might and great authority... And all the earth followed the beast in wonder. And they worshipped the dragon because he gave authority to the beast...

Later the author revealed, "the seven heads are seven mountains..." The beast is a figure of worldly kingdom founded on sin and vice, persecuting Christ, oppressing His followers- pagan Rome. It was the idolatrous worship of the Roman emperors, the state religion, that had settle on the heights of Rome.

In the same way it was not difficult for the Christians to understand whom John meant by the other

beast coming up out of the earth, and it had two horns like to those of a lamb, but it spoke as does a dragon. And it exercised all the authority of the former beast in its sight; and it made the earth and the inhabitants therein to worship the first beast, whose deadly wound was healed.

The cryptic designation of Rome and Babylon, "'the great harlot who sits upon many waters, with whom the kings of the earth have commiteed fornication,'" was familiar to the first Christians. Earlier Peter had called Rome "Babylon" in his first Epistle.

The prophet John, seeing through the eyes of God, had discerned the panorama of all Christian history. In the trials and tribulations of those seven Christian communities of Asia Minor the destiny of all Christian ages was made manifest to him. The struggle which the Roman Empire had waged against the infant dragon and his other beasts direct against the one Church of Christ for "the thousand years" which lie between the first and second coming of the Messias. "And the dragon was angered at the woman, and went away to wage war with the rest of her offspring, who keep the commandments of God, and hold fast the testimony of Jesus."

It will always be difficult to deduce what is meant in the Apocalypse by the "thousand years." There is no question of a mistranslation of the singular for the plural-"thousand" for "thousands"-as the singular is clearly recognizable in more than one passage. One must be satisfied with the great perspective that John already opened: the devil will always watch for his beasts-one can correctly identify them as godless politics and godless science-will for all ages be at the service of the dragon.


the souls of those who had been beheaded because of the witness to Jesus and because of the word of God, and who did not worship the beast or his image, and did not accept his mark upon their foreheads or upon their hands... will be priests of God and Christ, and will reign with him a thousand years.

Therefore the Revelations of St. John are a great illustration and elucidation of the words of Jesus in the Gospel to Peter: "'The gates of hell shall not prevail against.'" With this consolation the last of the apostles sent Christianity onto the wearisome way through the centuries, wandering until the second coming of Christ.

When St. John, in his closing chapters, finally came to speak of the Last Day, his words are plainer still, and even more frightful:

And when the thousand years are finished, Satan will be released from his prison, and will go forth and deceive the nations which are in the four corners of the earth...And they went up over the breadth of the earth and encompassed the camp of the saints, and the beloved city. And fire from God came down out of heavens and devoured them. And the devil who deceived them was cast into the pool of fire and brimstone, where are also the beast and the false prophet; and they will be tormented day and might forever and ever.

One dare not infer too much from these mysterious revelations of St. John, and yet also not too little. The naive views reflected in the title-Apocalypse, Revelation, Manifestations-refer to definite times, above all, to the age of its composition. Yet, a specific explanation or application will always seem imaginative. In this book of secrets and mysteries a concrete understanding of single events or periods in the history of the Church and exact preferences-666-are not always to be found. On the other hand, if one were to be unfair with this prophetic book, the only one in the New Testament, he would want to see revealed in it nothing else except the general struggle waged between Christ and Satan.

The inspired writer could not have been satisfied to give only descriptions and past facts. He also felt compelled to write down what God revealed to him, not only for the oppressed Christian communities of his own time, but also at the same time for the threatened ages of the future. In that passage, which reminds one of Daniel and Ezechiel, the great prophets of the Old Testament, St John wrote down with ever new and fresh imagery what he saw before his eyes, the past and the present and the future. It was God who commanded him, " 'Write therefore the things that thou has seen, and the things that are, and the things that are to come hereafter.'"

The beloved apostle's prophecies are not a book filled only with consolations and compensations for the tragic in life here on earth. On the contrary, no book on earth enumerates so unsparingly the terrors and fear which will befall mankind. Seven seals of horror will be opened over them. Seven trumpets of terror will be sounded over them.

I heard the voice of a single eagle flying in midheaven, saying with a loud voice, "Woe, woe, woe to the inhabitants of the earth!" because of the rest of the trumpet-voices of the three angels who were about to sound the trumpet.

The seven signs of wrath will be poured out over them. Most terrifying is: "'Woe to the earth and to the sea, because the devil has gone down to you in great wrath, knowing that he has but a short time.'"

It is no sweet idyl, no dream from out of this world, that John revealed in the Apocalypse, but a compendium of the frightful reality of world history, that will never be without chaos. The real struggle of the Christian is the choice between a life in the world and a life of the world.

"Rise and measure the temple of God, and the altar and those who worship therein. But the court outside the temple, reject it, and do not measure it."

Still this book of revelations resounds with unfliching optimism. For above all the woe and melancholy of the earth John saw the throne of God in all its majesty. Stammering, weighing the words of the prophets of old, the prophet John, alone on abandoned Patmos, spoke of Him whom no eye has seen, no ear has heard:

Immediately I was in the spirit; and behold, there was a throne set in heaven, and upon the throne One was sitting. And he who sat was in appearance like to a jasper-stone and a sardius, and there was a rainbow round about the throne, in appearance like to an emerald.

And round about the throne are twenty-four elders sitting, clothed in white garments, and on their heads crowns of gold. And from the throne proceed flashes of lightning, rumblings, and peals of thunder; and there are seven lamps burning before the throne, which are the seven spirits of God. And before the throne there is, as it were, a sea of glass like to crystal, and in the midst of the throne, and round the throne, are four living creatures, full of eyes before and behind... And they do not rest day and night, saying, "Holy, holy, holy, the Lord God almighty, Who was, and who is, and who is coming."

The rays of the vision which John gazed upon appeared from "a door standing open in heaven," illuminating the terrors of the world. God, the Creator and Ruler of the world, is enthroned in His majesty, abiding in spite of all, over all.

God does not remain in His own happiness, far removed from earth, unconcerned with the dignity of man. He is not only over all that comes to pass, but also in all. He has entrusted to the "Lamb" the seven unbroken seals, the seven trumpets, the seven signs of wrath.

And I saw, and behold, in the midst of the throne and of the four living creatures, and in the midst of the elders, a Lamb standing, as if slain, having seven horns and seven eyes, which are the seven spirits of God sent forth into all the earth. And he came and took the scroll out of the right hand of him who sat upon the throne. And when he had opened the scroll, the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb, having each a harp and golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints.

And they sing a new canticle, saying, "Worthy are thou to take the scroll and to open its seals. For thou wast slain, and has redeemed us for God with thy blood..."

The depiction of Christ in the Apocalypse is the most sublime in the entire New Testament. It even eclipses John's own Gospel. In this fact lies an internal proof for the authenticity of that Gospel. In the Fourth Gospel, John lays down the profound manifestation of Jesus but neither mysteriously nor secretively. In the Revelations of St. John, the inspired author sees Christ as He is in the next world. He sees through the eyes of God, without physical barriers:

I saw seven golden lamp-stands; and in the midst of the seven lamp-stands One like to a son of man, clothed with a garment reaching to the ankles, and girt about the breasts with a golden girdle. But his head and his hair were white as white wool, and as snow, and his eyes were as a flame of fire; his feet were like fine brass, as in a glowing furnace, and voice like the voice of many waters. And he had in his right hand seven stars. And out of his mouth came forth a sharp two-edged sword; and his countenance was like the sun shining in its power.

Thus Jesus will overcome the devil. The Lamb will defeat the dragon. The Alleluias from heaven in the Apocalypse drown out all the terror and horror of history. Already the great Babylon, the Rome of Nero and Domitian, has fallen. And Satan is waging a losing battle through "the thousand years" of Christian history; he has hindered, stopped, fettered. And when he springs for his last and most dreadful attack, once again he will be overthrown, then for all eternity.

And the devil who deceived them was cast into the pool of fire and brimstone, where are also the beast and the false prophet; and they will be tormented day and night forever and ever.

And then before the eyes of the prophet John, caught in ecstasy over his vision, "the new heaven and the new earth" appeared. Suddenly the reader cannot help but yearn for this other world for which he waits. No one has written more nobly of heaven than John in the last two chapters of his inspired revelations:

And I saw a new heaven and a new earth. For the first heaven and the first earth passed away, and the sea is no more. And I saw the holy city, New Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, made ready as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne say,
"Behold the dwelling of God with men,
and he will dwell with them.
And they will be his people,
And God himself will be with them as their God.
And God will wipe away every tear
from their eyes.
And death shall be no more;
neither shall there be mourning,
nor crying,
nor pain any more,
For the former things have passed away."
And he who was sitting on the throne said, "Behold, I make all things new!"

The comfort of this last book of the New Testament is that it has been given to Christianity as a viaticum for the "thousand years" before the second coming of Christ. In spite of crime and persecution and temptation, God is over all, and what is more, in all. The dragon and beast, whom God only tolerates, cannot go beyond the borders which Divine Providence has set up for them; they are harnessed in the yoke on their plain, their battlefield. And even though both good and bad, seemingly indiscriminately are permitted to stand side by side in this world, nevertheless Divine Providence has marked the faithful in a special way: "'Do not harm the earth or the sea or the trees, till we have sealed the servants of our God on their foreheads.'"

There may be an inclination to think that the truly apocalyptic ages is the end of the thousand years, when "Satan will be released from his prison, and will go forth and deceived the nations which are in the four corners of the earth..." We do not know. But we would do well to save ourselves from the evils in the world, which surround us, by standing on the firm ground of this consoling book of the prophet-apostle. It was written for us, for all ages, as well as for the oppressed Christian communities of Asia Minor near the end of the first century:

"Do not seal up [do not hold secret] the words of the prophecy of this book; for the time [fulfillment] is at hand. He who does wrong, let him do wrong still; and he who is filthy, let him be filthy still; and he who is just, let him be just still; and he who is holy, let him be hallowed still. Behold, I come quickly! And my reward is with me, to render to each one according to his works."

John, the Evangelist

All exiles at some time come to an end. Every sea has at one time carried a lost wandered to his home. Under Emperor Nerva, who revoked the diabolical edicts and decrees of his murdered predecessor, Domitian, John also was permitted to leave the lonely island of Patmos land and return to his flock in Ephesus. How gladly he would have gone to his home with the Lord! "Come, Lord Jesus! Still, his greatest work remained to be accomplished, the work which was soon to flash as a leaping fire in the night on the peak of the first century and enlighten all Christian ages. It was the Gospel, the Holy Gospel of Jesus Christ according to St. John the apostle.

It was a different John the faithful of Ephesus saw coming back. He was gray and old; his hands trembled a bit. According to legend, despite the fact that John wrote down his entire Gospel by himself, he was able to preach scarcely more than one and the same sentence, "Children, love one another!" His one and the same sentence, "Children, love one another!" His second and third Epistles, both very short, show how heavy and cumbersome the pen had become for this old man. Both times the author concluded. "I had much to write to thee; but I do not want to write to thee with pen and ink. But I hope to see thee shortly, and we will speak face to face."

A very old document, the Muratorian Fragment, dated from the end of the second century, explicity confirmed that John had written his Gospel at the urgent pleadings of the disciples and bishops. This same has been certified by other ancient Christian writers: Irenaeus, who died in the year 202; Clement of Alexandria, 214; Tertullian, 240; Origen, 254. And Jerome, who died in 420, wrote,

John, the apostle whom Jesus loved the most, the son of Zebedee, the brother of the apostle James whom Herod beheaded after the death of the Lord, has written a Gospel as the last of all requested by the bishops of Asia.

How fortunate it is for us that these first followers of Christ begged John for his Gospel!

The Synoptics, Matthew, Mark, and Luke, had already written three Gospels, three rays of the light of Christ. John recognized the truth of these writings. An old Oriental tradition, as told by Isodad of Merv, recounts that

because the brethen believed that the testimony of John was as credible as that of any other man, since he had walked with the Lord from the very beginning, they brought to him the three other books of the evangelist in order to learn from him what his opinion of these writings was. He praised the truth of these writings highly, and said that they had been written by the grace of the Holy Spirit.

But this same John also knew better than the others how much there was still to say about Him whom all the books of the world could not comprehend. "There are, however, many other things that Jesus did; but if every one of these should be written not even the world itself, I think, could hold the books that would have to be written."

The fullness of Christ is too powerful ever to be exhausted. Whatever will be said or written about Him-"Quantum potes, tantum aude, quia major omni laude, nec laudare sufficis!"-will always remain a poor shell dipped into an endless sea. Even John presented a mere glimpse of Christ, but the most brilliant, the most sparkling of all. To the words already spoken of Christ he might resound in the beginning silence as the ringing of bells echoes on the dark eve of a festivity. John, the tired and aging evangelist, raised himself up, forgot his weakness and old age, and plunged directly into the vastest sea he had ever set out upon: "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God; and the Word was God."

The legendary "Acts of John" dramatically picture the circumstances in which the beloved evangelist wrote his Gospel. Lightning flashed. Thunder rolled. The mountains trembled.

The disciple Prochoros fell half dead to the ground. John took hold of him with his hand, raised him up, and told him to sit down on his right. Then he prayer, opened his mouth, and gazing up to heaven, said, "In the beginning was the Word..." John stood to dictate; Prochoros sat to write. And so they labored for two days and six hours.

In the Epilogue of the evangelist's Gospel the inspired author gave the purpose of his writing with the words: "But these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the son of God, and that believing may have life in his name." Certainly with these last words the evangelist also wanted to attack the false teachers whose influence on the Christians was increasing steadily. His attack was waged primarily against the followers of Cerinthus, who preached Christ not as the God-Man, but as an angel-man. And he attacked the adherents of Gnosticism, who believed they alone had a special knowledge of the created world. There were even some of John the Baptist's disciples who were condemned by the evangelist for esteeming this forerunner of Christ more highly than Christ Himself-there was a large group of them in Ephesus.

The apostle, him a disciple of the Baptist on the Jordan-the one who was "not the Christ," nor "Elias," nor "the Prophet"-firmly but humbly directed the witness of Christ's forerunner against those blind disciples:

John [the Baptist] answered and said, "No one can receive anything unless it is given to him from heaven. You yourselves bear me witness that I said, 'I am not the Christ but have been sent before Him.'... He must increase, but I must decrease."

Nevertheless, it was not a vindication of the truth but an exposition of the truth that was the aim and concern of John the evangelist. The fiery Boanerges had also learned in his long life that the best refutation of erroneous ideas is the simple and lucid truth.

When one enters into the holy sanctuary of the Johannine Gospel, the same sense of awe comes over him that he perceives when he enters a colossal cathedral where the Blessed Sacrament is exposed, the candles are burning, and the Tantum ergo rings out. "Tantun ergo sacramentum-Let us bow down and adore such a great sacrament. " "Genitori Genitoque-To the Begetter and to the Begotten be praise and jublilation." "Genitori Genitoque" is the theme woven throughout John's Gospel: He who was in the Father from the beginning, consubstantial Son of God, "the only-begotten Son, who is in the bosom of the Father, " sent into the world by the Father, not "in order to judge the world, but that the world might be saved through him."

The profound Christians mysteries of the Trinity, the Incarnation, and the Redemption are found throughout the Fourth Gospel. The Prologue, the magnificent opening of the Gospel, gives a glimpse of what is to be seen in the holy sanctuary; the Word was in the beginning, that was with God, that was God Himself, was made flesh, and dwelt among us, and we saw His glory-glory as of the only-begotten of the Father; and of His fullness we have all received, grace for grace. What the three Synoptics reserved for the end of their Gospels, after testifying to Christ's many miracles, His Resurrection, and His Ascension, John placed on the very first page.

The Gospel according to St. John is distinguished from those of the Synoptics first in its presentation of the external events in the life of Jesus. Matthew, Mark, and Luke related the works of Jesus before the common people down in Galilee, the sermons of the kingdom of God. But John showed Jesus in another place, up in the capital city, Jerusalem, face to face with the leaders of the people, face to face with his enemies.

Upon examing the Gospel, one finds three main parts. The first part, chapters 1 to 4, dwells on the beginnings of the manifestation of Jesus: the witness of John the Baptist and the first disciples, the miracles at the marriage feast at Cana, the cleansing of the temple, the discourses with Nicodemus and the Samaritan woman, and the curing of the royal official's son. The second part, chapters 5 to 12, includes the development and increasing depth of Jesus' self-revelation through miracles and discourses: the cure at the pool of Bethsaida, the feeding of five thousand, the walking on the water, the healing of the man born blind, the raising of Lazarus from the dead, Jesus' discourse concerning His consubstantiality with the Father (a statement of His claim to divinity), the discourse on the Eucharist, and Christ's attendance at the Feast of Tabernacles and at the Feast of the Dedication. The third part, chapter 13 to 20, illustrates the perfection of the Teacher, Jesus' love: the washing of the feet, Jesus' farewell talk to His disciples, His priestly prayer for unity, and His suffering, death, and resurrection.

With the exception of the passion and death of Jesus, only four particular accounts are common to John's Gospel and those of the Synoptics. These are: the multiplication of the loaves, the walking on the sea, the anointing in Bethany, and the triumphal entry into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday. The evangelist John related much concerning the five journeys of Jesus to Jerusalem. The seven miracles performed on the way stand as mountains rising up on the horizon of the sea.

No less noticeable than these external differences are the internal idiosyncrasies of the Johannine Gospel as compared with the Synoptics. Through the first three Gospels Jesus walked as a simple and benevolent preacher of the people, full of sympathy for their needs, pity for their distress, patience for their slowness. Little by little He led them to the heights of faith and hope and charity. But the Jesus in John's Gospel, on the contrary, was the majestic Son of God, eternal, divine, one with the Father. He was portrayed as serious, rigid, and stern, like the Byzantine picture of Christ, which was truly inspired by John's sublime presentation of Christ-the "Pantokrator," the omnipotent Lord and Ruler over all mankind.

But is it not as though John had suppressed or kept secret the humanity of Jesus in his Gospel. Rather, the human nature and qualities of Christ were expounded to refute the Gnostics, who held that Christ's humanity was only an appearance, an illusion. The God-Man sat down, weary and exhausted, at the well of Jacob; He wept at the tomb of Lazarus; He was comforted by the love of John; He quivered and shook at the thought of death. Still, in John's Gospel the power of Jesus' divinity shone through his humanity as sunlight through a thin cloud. John also related the discourses of his Master more solemnly than the Synoptics related them. "'Amen, Amen, I say to you...'" Comparing Matthew's style in the sermon on the Mount and John's in the discourse at the Feast of Tabernacles, one quickly notices this difference, the difference between a rippling brook and a rushing torrent.

Skeptics seize upon this singularity of the Johannine Gospel as a welcome and hard-sought excuse to reject the Fourth Gospel as not genuine. The contentions centered around the question of reliability are soon enough shifted, even more illogically and fallaciously, to the very divinity of Christ. But even in the early centuries of Christendom the Church Fathers recognized this difference between the Fourth Gospel and the first three, and were certainly not disconcerted. They did call the Gospel written down by the apostle of love, "pneumatic," spiritual, in contrast to the Gospels of Matthew, Mark, and Luke, which they called "somatic," physical. They praised it as "the blossom and seal of the Gospels," as "a pillar of the Church."

But perhaps the most beautiful praise of all for John's Gospel was written by Origen:

We would venture to call the Gospels the first fruits of the entire Holy Scripture, and the Gospel of St John the first fruit of all the Gospels. Only he could have grasped such thought who rest on the bosom of Jesus, who was so close to Jesus and Mary.

The difference between the Gospels of John and the Synoptic Gospels-a difference, not an opposition-reveals a reality not an insoluble puzzle.

But what is unsolvable for the incredulous is the question of how a Gospel could be so well-known and popular in the Church as early as the first half of the second century-a Gospel that digressed so far from the earlier Gospels. As John sat down to write out his own account of the life of Christ, certainly he, the tired old man, did not want merely to repeat what had been said three times before. Rather, keeping the three Gospel before him, he fully intended to expand only on those pages of the life of Christ which were cut so short, the works of Jesus in Jerusalem. Therefore there was no other way but that his portrayal of Christ, even the framework, should have a different external appearance.



Jn 3:16 For God so loved the world, as to give his only begotten Son; that whosoever believeth in him, may not perish, but may have life everlasting.
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PostSubyek: Re: The Twelve Apostles   10th March 2013, 16:09


This different external frame-the spared city, the circle of responsible leaders, the ranks of the educated-immediately explains the different style of the delivery of Jesus' discourses. Down in Galilee with the common workers and uneducated people, Jesus could be the kind Saviour that He was. He could be full of love and sympathy when working miracles, full of parables and poetry when preaching, seeking to enter into hearts of the crowd. Up in Jerusalem with the authoritative circles and the educated theologians Jesus could be the divine Messias that He was, revealing from the beginning His divine nature, proclaiming His divine mission, preaching, answering, attacking.

There is yet another explanation for John's unique Gospel. Our Lord could not fully demonstrate to the older evangelists the deep meaning of Christianity still in its infancy. Therefore they related and explained the historical facts and deeds of the life of Christ without dwelling upon its deep, theological significance. St. Paul, looking back on the Christian community at Corinth in its infancy, which then was undeveloped and immature, could write,

And I, brethren, could not speak to you as to spiritual men but only as carnal, as to little ones in Christ. I fed you with milk, not with solid food, for you were not yet ready for it. Nor are you now ready for it, for you are still carnal.

St. John, writing his Gospel at the end of the first century, found himself in a different, more fortunate situation. Christianity was rapidly maturing, and was prepared for the fullness of Christ. It was not as if John had revealed truths completely unknown to the Synoptics. The Fourth Gospel coincides with the fundamental truths which the older evangelists had proclaimed earlier. John added no substantially new truths.

Matthew, Mark, and Luke also wrote about the person of Christ-which passages rightly have been referred to as "Johannine." Matthew recorded Jesus' words:

"All things have been delivered to me by my Father, and no one knows the Son except the Father; nor does anyone know the Father except the Son, and him to whom the Son chooses to reveal him."

The Synoptics also knew of the works of Jesus in Jerusalem. Matthew and Luke recorded Christ's vehement lamentation over that captial city:

"Jerusalem, Jerusalem! thou who killest the prophets, and stonest those who are sent to thee! How often would I have gathered thy children together, as a hen gathers her young under her wings, but thou wouldst not! Behold, your house is left to you desolate."

The Synoptics did not contradict John, and John did not oppose the Synoptics; he completed and perfected their Gospels with his own Gospel. What Matthew and Mark and Luke recorded about Christ also rings out in John's Gospel, but with deeper tones, a more profound perspective.

One might even say that John himself, in the course of so many decades, entered more and more deeply into Christ. The Christian never comes to a complete understanding of Jesus Christ. When in Him, he is always on the way to Him. He can arrive at Christ, but not fully grasp Him. In the Fourth Gospel John's own religious experience of the Gospels vibrates with the life of Christ. The works and words of the Lord became the spiritual property of the disciple of love. John pondered over these works and words and, enriched with the meditations of his soul and the love of his heart, he passed them on to all Christianity. He, the bosom friend of the Lord, made the words, and the very thoughts of the Lord his own. With the freedom that a close friendship gives, he passed these on to all posterity in his Gospel. Where could the thoughts and words of our Lord have been more faithfully preserved than in the heart of His friend, John?

Very significant is the manner in which the author of the Fourth Gospel began his first Epistles. As the Gospel, so the Epistles was opened with a proclamation of the truth of the Word:

I write of what was from the beginning, what we have heard, what we have seen with our eyes, what we have looked upon and our hands have handled: of the Word of Life. And the Life was made known and we have seen, and now testify and announce to you, the Life Eternal which was with the Father, and has appeared to us. What we have seen and have heard we announce to you, in order that you also may have fellowship with us, and that our fellowship may be with the Father, and with his Son Jesus Christ.

Indeed, even a mere glance at the Fourth Gospel would convince the unbiased reader of the honesty of the evangelist. He must notice how John's knowledge of the small, seemingly insignificant circumstances in the life of Christ was recorded so precisely. And if this is not enough, the reader should turn back and reread the account of the calling of the first disciples, the account of the healing of the man born blind, the account of the raising of Lazarus from the dead.

It is still more striking that in the entire Fourth Gospel the names of the evangelist John and his brother James, and even their own parents' names, are never mentioned once. In contrast to this, the older evangelists often explicitly made these names very prominent, especially the names of John and James. When St. John recorded something that concerned himself, he did it anonymously: "One of the other disciples" or "one of his disciples, he whom Jesus loved." This mute manner of writing about one of the most important apostles is understandable only if the evangelist was writing about himself, the apostle John. John was modest and unassuming. Bringing his Gospel to a close, the missionary of Ephesus wrote, "This is the disciple who bears witness concerning these things, and who has written these things, and we know that his witness is true." We, the faithful, after twenty centuries, know and believe it with him.

Whenever the Gospel is read in a Church, the faithful stand to show their honor and respect for the word of God. The priest kisses the book like a costly jewel. But at the end of almost every Mass, a passage from John's Gospel is read-"And the Word was made flesh..."-and all bend the knee, an even deeper sign of honor and respect.

Thank Divine Providence for presenting to mankind, through John, His last and most magnificent revelation. Thank Divine Providence that we can quench our thirst for God with the holy water that gushes down from the mountain top, covered with everlasting snow, melted by the Son of God through the warmth of John's love.

When the spiritual life of a good and pious soul is impoverished and grows weak and falls, the reason is that it has been drawing only from shallow and dangerious springs. John considered the Christianity of the end of the first century mature enough for the fullness of Christ. We also want to be ready for the great gift of revelation which John presented to us with the shaking hand of an old man, to be ready to receive the fullness of Christ, grace for grace.

John, the Pastor

Origen, a Church Father, expressed the beautiful thought: "John once wrote about the trumpet, in order later to sing through the Epistles."

St. John wrote three Epistles. The first-more a sermon or a meditation than an Epistle-was addressed to the Church in Asia Minor. It has been recognized since early times as being very similar to the Fourth Gospel. The second bears the address "to the Elect Lady and to her children," whereby John was speaking to, and honoring, a particular church no longer close to him. The recipient of the third was "the beloved Gaius," a very influential and worthy member probably of that community to which the second Epistle was sent.

The Epistles of St. John the apostle can well be considered the most stirring of all his writings-stirring, indeed, because in them the weariness of the aging apostle finally began to show. His hand could no longer force the pen forward. After only thirteen and fifteen sentences in his second and third Epistles respectively he had to stop writing and close. Nor did any new thoughts flash into his mind. The volcano from which the flood of the Apocalypse had erupted, and the heart from which the stream of the Gospel flowed, were growing dry, beginning to die.

These thoughs of the Gospel are repeated in the Epistles: light and darkness, truth and falsehood, love and hate, life and death. In the three Epistles John took over from his Gospel the same turns of expression, even whole sentences. He also forgot and repeated himself. John, the eagle! How could even an old man forget himself and repeat small, but essential, thoughts on the same page:

I am writing to you, dear children, because your sins are forgiven you for his names's sake. I am writing to you, fathers, because you know him who is from the beginning. I am writing to you, young men, because you have conquered the evil one. I am writing to you, little ones, because you know the Father. I am writing to you, fathers, because you know him who is from the beginning. I am writing to you, young men, because you are strong and the word of God abides in you, and you have conquered the evil one.

Despite this human frailty John set himself out to write his Epistles. His love and concern for the children permitted him no rest. The corruption and enticement of worldly pleasures menaced them; there were quarrels and false teachers among their own ranks. As a pastor already standing under the morning glimmer of eternity, John did not abandon his flock. As a patriarch he gave them his last bequest: believe in the Lord and He will love you and you will love Him and also your brothers.

Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ is born of God. And everyone who loves him who begot, loves also the one begotten of him. In this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God and do his commandments...If anyone says, "I love God," and hates his brother, he is a liar. For how can he who does not love his brother, whom he sees, love God, whom he does not see? And this commandment we have from him, that he who loves God should love his brother also.

A more impressive picture of John the pastor could not be painted than the one seen in his own three Epistles. The prophet of Patmos, who had a gigantic, panoramic view of all history, did not immediately forget to care for his flock which was struggling against the "lust of the flesh", and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of Life." The evangelist, who was so enraptured by the triumph of the Eternal Word, confessed, "I have no greater joy than to hear that my children are walking in the truth.

Clement of Alexandria, who died in the year 214, added a further account of John's joy in his care for the flock that surrounded him, and Eusebius took this up into his Church history:

When John, after the death of the tyrant, returned from the island of Patmos to Ephesus, he visited, by request, the neighboring regions to appoint bishops or to organize a whole community or to choose clerics from among men set apart by the Holy Spirit. There he also glanced upon a young man with a beautiful and strong body, and a pleasant speech, and an ardent spirit. And directing his eyes to the bishop there, John said, "This young man I commend to you from the bottom of my heart and I ask the community and Christ to witness my call." The bishop took the recommended youth into his house, educated him, sheltered him, cared for him, and finally baptized him. But then he grew cold and indifferent to his vigilance.

The young man, enjoying freedom too early, fell into the corrupting company of a loose companion, into the habitually evil ways of one his own age. Lovable though he was, he turned off the right way for a wild, fiery steed. With the help of his companion, he formed a band of robbers of which he made himself, the leader, violent, brutal, blood-thirsty.

After a time John was called again to the city. Then he said to the bishop, "I demand the young man back." the bishop answered, "He is dead to God!" The apostle tore off his garment, struck himself on the head, and rode away from the church, as he was, in the direction of the robber. He did not run, or approach to speak with care, but called out, "Take me to your leader!" As he recognized John upon arrival, he shyly turned to flee. But John, forgetting his old age, quickly ran after him and cried out, "Why do you run away from me, your father, a defenseless old man? Have pity on me, son! And if it becomes necessary, I will gladly go to my death for you, as the Lord has gone to his death for us.

When the robber heard this, he remained standing next to him with downcast eyes. Then he threw his weapons away and, trembling shed bitter tears. He embraced the old man. And the apostle fell to his knees before the young man and kissed his right hand to show that by repentance all was made clean. Then he led the young man back to the church.

Who was the greatest: John the prophet, John the evangelist, or John the pastor?

John, the Saint

John died during the reign of Trajan. It was probably in the year 98 or 99, almost seventy years after the Resurrection of Christ. He was almost a hundred years old when he died. Like the first father of mankind, John, the patriarch of Christianity, was blessed with a long life. He had developed and strengthened himself in and through his young Christian life.

John's unusually advanced age made his contemporaries think that he never would die. Did not Jesus Himself once say that this must be true? When our Lord predicted to Peter his sudden and painful death, Peter immediately turned around and looked at John and, full of fright and jealousy, asked, "'Lord, and what of this man?'" Jesus gave Peter a certain and definite answer: "'If I wish him to remain until I come, what is it to thee?'" Not everyone understood these words of the Lord. Rumors were spread: John as immortal. In the last year of his life, this apostle added a final postscript to his Gospel to clarify the rumor that had taken root in these mysterious words that the risen Savior had spoken.

This saying therefore went abroad among the brethen, that that disciple was not to die. But Jesus had not said to him, "He is not to die"; but rather, "If I wish him to remain until I come, what is it to thee?"

John did not attempt a long explanation, but simply repeated the words as his Master had spoken them. Jesus had not said that this disciple would not die, but only that, if he were not to die, nobody, not even Peter-who only minutes before had been given his great primacy in the Church of Christ-would have anything to do with it. Reading these last words of John, once again one feels the mystery of John's love for Christ.

According to legend, John lay down in his grave as he felt death coming near. A painting by Lucas Cranach the Elder, a German artist, beautifully portrays this self-burial of John: the tired apostle is slowly climbing the stairs to worship God for the last time on earth before a praying congregation, and he is going by himself to meet death. "Come, Lord Jesus!" Above, a child is lighting the last candle on the altar.

The apostolic age was over. The last snow on the mountain-top had melted, and the peak stood rock bare. But was it gone forever? The great Augustine, who died in the year 430, wrote that trustworthy men had come to him and swore that they say the grave of John rising and sinking as if breathing. How beautifully symbolic! The breathing of John, the disciple of love, lasts through all Christian ages! John is to remain with us until the Lord comes again.

The burial of John in Ephesus was testified to by Polycrates, a bishop, around the year 190. The grave of the apostle was famous. Apparently, when Constantine wanted to construct a new church over the place of burial, it was opened. There was found only dust, "manna" and therefore the legend arose that John was taken up into heaven bodily.

The Church celebrates the feast of St. John on December 27, the season of the birth of Christ. It is, as it were, a way of thanking the evangelist for composing the words we pray at the Christmas Mass: "In the beginning was the Word... and the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us." In the early Church all three of the great apostles, Peter, James, John, were honored by a celebration of their feast on this day. They were the first-born of Him whose fullness they had received before all the others. Literally John means "God is merciful." By the fifth century this noble name was as common as it is today-often sadly mutilated to an unrecognizable form-and most likely it was the most widely used and best-known name.

A painting by Ruebens portrays John with a chalice. According to tradition a high priest from Ephesus should have given John a chalice filled with poison to determine whether the apostle was truthful and holy. As John blessed it, the legend continues, a snake crawled out. But in Rubens' picture the snake is gone and only the holy chalice is depicted.

John and the chalice! Once-how far in the past was that golden time of John's first love!-the Lord asked his beloved disciple, "'Can you drink of the cup of which I am about to drink?'" And at the Last Supper he sat next to the Holy Grail as the words of transubstantation filled the upper room: "'This cup is the new covenant in my blood..'" And only a few hours later in the garden beyond the torrent of Cedron he heard his Master implore, "Father, if thou art willing, remove this cup from me...'" And on Calvary, John formed a chalice with his own hands to catch the holy blood of the God-Man that was shed from the cross.

John had drunk of the cup. His life was filled with labors for Christ. He suffered and loved to the end. The chalice is the symbol of his close friendship with the Lord.

On St. John's Day the Church presents the faithful with a chalice of golden wine: "Drink the love of St. John."

St. John, intercede for us that we, like you, may thirst for His chalice, and drink, and be filled with the love of Jesus Christ!


Jn 3:16 For God so loved the world, as to give his only begotten Son; that whosoever believeth in him, may not perish, but may have life everlasting.
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PostSubyek: Re: The Twelve Apostles   10th March 2013, 16:10


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A Galilean, son of Zebedee, brother of John (with whom he was called a "Son of Thunder"), a fisherman; with Peter and John, witnessed the raising of Jairus' daughter to life, the transfiguration, the agony of Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemani; first of the Apostles to die, by the sword in 44 during the rule of Herod Agrippa; there is doubt about a journey legend says he made to Spain and also about the authenticity of relics said to be his at Santiago de Compostela; in art, is depicted carrying a pilgrim's bell; July 25 (Roman Rite), Apr 30 (Byzantine Rite).

The following is taken from "The Apostle" by Otto Hophan, O.F.M.Cap. and listed in the sources in the Doctors of the Catholic Church.

Chapter Three

James had much in common with Andrew, his neighbor and forerunner in the college of apostles. Yet the two differed considerably in their characters and manners. James was also a fisherman on the Sea of Galilee, and had worked on the water with Andrew and Simon Peter for many years. The Gospels indicate that the two fishermen's families even shared the same boats and fishing equipment, and managed their affairs together.

When our Lord had brought about the miraculous catch of fish, and Simon and his brother Andrew were not able to take in the overabundance alone, :"they beckoned to their comrades in the other boat to come and help them. And they came..." And so it was to be later on. When Peter, as a fisher of men, drew in his overflowing nets, he called to his former companions on the sea; and they came to share the weight of his burden, the overwhelming joy of his work.

James had a brother who also heard the apostolic calling. He was John the Evangelist, whose symbol is an eagle, whose wings one day were to carry him to greater heights than James would reach. James was to stand below in the shadows, just as Andrew did. It may be that Andrew and James owed many of their special favors and privileges to their prominent brothers. But James was neither quiet nor shy-and herein lies the difference between him and the silent Andrew-for he was born to be a great leader.

James, the Bold Apostle

James and John were the sons of Zebedee. Literally this name means "gift of God." Here the evangelist explicitly pointed out the father in order to distinguish this James from another apostle with the same name, James the son of Alpheus. This other James, the Son of Alpheus, was named James the Younger, or the Less (minor), by the evangelist Mark. He was called younger because he was called by Christ to the apostolate after James the son of Zebedee was called, and also because he was younger in age. Therefore, John's brother was usually called the elder-in Latin, major. Traditionally literally, major, is "the greater one."

The first surname-the Lord gave him yet another-indicates the nature of James' personality and character. He was indeed James the Great, high-minded and ambitious, even haughty at times, a man of stature and influence, an active apostle. The picture of him that Rubens painted depicts him as a man of strength, an upright man full of expression and energy.

Both James and John were gifted with this great characteristic from their infancy. Their father Zebedee, truly the "gift of God," must have been a generous and noble man, although he was a humble, unknown fisherman. His aspirations were high, and in the hour in which his sons were called by the Lord he saw his hopes fulfilled. It happened suddenly. Jesus called not only one of his sons, but both of them, and both at the same time. The Messias literally took James and John away from their boats and nets. "And they left their father Zebedee in the boat with the hired men, and followed him," St Mark observed.

How Zebedee had yearned and waited for this hour! The great spiritual joy in his soul overwhelmed the bitter sorrow that struck at his human love for his own two sons. In that hour he had opened up his heart. He watched them following Christ, and was silent. His own sons were no longer his own; they were the Lord's. But he wanted them to go with Jesus. Neither did he try to change their minds, nor did he hold them back. He knew they would ascend to greater heights with Jesus than they would with him in the fishing boats on the sea. And he was well able to adapt himself to his work without his sons. Zebedee was a great father. Rarely does a parent offer his children to God so nobly.

Salome, the mother of James and John, was also a noble-minded woman. It was more difficult and heart-breaking for her to give up both her sons to the distant apostolate at the same time than it was for Zebedee, but she also made the sacrifice very bravely. Soon she herself became a follower of Christ, and along with other pious women, she ministered to the Lord in the best way she knew how. She persevered and remained with the crucified Christ on Calvary. As a mother, she knew further sorrow when she saw that her son John was the only one of all the twelve apostles to stand by the cross. Where was James? Such parents are truly "gifts of God."

James is not mentioned at the calling of the disciples on the Jordan. John, his younger brother, was there. One of them had to remain at home to help Zebedee, and the elder son knew from past experience that in such cases favor fell upon the younger. Yet James profited by the merits of his brother John, as Scripture shows us. When the beloved disciples returned home, he spoke breathlessly about Jesus, the Son of God, the King of Israel, whom he had met on the Jordan with the sons of Jona. It may have affected James very deeply that he too could not have been there. Must he remain a fisherman, mending and washing nets for the rest of his life? He also felt a calling to higher things. If only the Messias would have walked past him, he would have gone with Him immediately! He waited.

Almost a year passed before the Lord returned to call James and his brother John to follow Him forever. Like the rays of a red sun coming up from the edge of the sea, the light of the Messias had already shone upon Simon and Andrew. It now struck James and John:

And going farther on, he saw two other brothers, James the son of Zebedee, and his brother, John with Zebedee their father, mending their nets; and he called them. And immediately they left their father, and followed him.

When speaking of the selection of the Twelve, which followed the above-mentioned callings by a few months, St. Mark made the brief but significant remark, "There were...James the son of Zebedee, and John the brother of James (these He surnamed Boanerges, that is, Sons of Thunder)." To be sure, our Lord gave a surname to Simon also; He renamed him Peter, the "rock." Just as "Peter" indicates an office, so "Boanerges" describes a character. James and John had such thundering and flashing natures, such stormy dispositions and almost reckless manners, that our Lord purposely added this surname, which is half praise and half censure.

The Gospels give two examples of the impetuous and presumptuous natures of the sons of Zebedee. The first occurred on a journey to Jerusalem through Samaria, Jesus "sent messengers before him. And they went and entered a Samaritan town to make ready for him; and they did not receive him, because his face was set for Jerusalem." Once before, when Jesus had left Jerusalem and approached their town, they welcomed Him, they "came to him, and they tried to detain him, that he might not depart from them... They besought him to stay there; and he stay for two days." But now their attitude was quite different, just the opposite of that previously shown Him. Since He had "set His face" to the capital city which the Samaritans so hated, they refused even to receive Him.

Certainly all the apostles were indignant about this violation of the obligation to show hospitality to a traveler. Now "when his disciples James and John saw this, they said, 'Lord, wilt thou that we bid fire come down from heaven and consume them?'" What a horrible desire! Both apostles, the two brothers, wanted to destroy this Samaritan citya. What they had in mind was even worse than the devastation and annihilation inflicted upon mankind by modern warfare. And these were apostles of the New Law! Had Christ spoken the Sermon of the Mount in vain? Had they not listened? Or had they not understood Him then? " 'But I say to you, love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who persecute and calumniate you...'".

Both James and John should have remembered the judgment and punishment that the prophet Elias called down upon the messengers of the disloyal and rebellious King Ozochias because they made a similarly inhuman request. Jesus did not enforce his teachings with fire and fist. "But he turned and rebuked them." In some biblical manuscripts-the statement is missing in the best Greek, and in some Latin, manuscripts-our Lord added, "'You do not know of what manner of spirit you are; for the Son of Man did not come to destroy men's lives, but to save them.'" The Sons of Thunder-how fitting the surname of these two brothers!

How rash and fiery this pair of brothers could be is shown in another Gospel incident. On their last journey to Jerusalem, when Christ made His triumphal entry into the city, the sons of Zebedee boldly approached their Master and asked Him, "'Grant to us that we may sit, one at thy right hand and the other at they left hand, in they glory.'" But before considering and passing judgment on this enigmatic and brazen act, one should read it in its context. Immediately before this, our Lord had predicted His passion and death for the third time:

"We are going up to Jerusalem, and all things that have been written through the prophets concerning the Son of Man will be accomplished. For he will be delivered to the Gentiles, and will be mocked and scourged and spit upon; and after they have scoured him, they will put him to death; and on the third day he will rise again."

Even in this extremely grave hour in the life of Jesus, James and John brought up their selfish desire. They could only hear the prophecy of the Resurrection, which they thought would certainly be the long-awaited beginning of the Messias' glorious kingdom on earth. Their request was directed sharply against Simon Peter, to whom our Lord earlier had promised a position of honor and authority. They actually wanted to take Simon "down a notch."

Once before in Holy Scripture, a certain James had caused another to lose a special right and privilege. The patriarch James, or Jacob, inflected this loss on his brother Esau, from whom he stole the right of the first-born, the special blessing of their father. And Esau called out bitterly, "Rightly did they name him Jacob; already twice has he outwitted me." In an old Ethiopic "Acts of the Apostles," James the apostle is similarly chided: "You are as the sole of my foot, an oppressor."

In another part of the Gospels, the evangelist Matthew recorded the same incident in a different light. There James and John very modestly had their mother, Salome, approach the Lord to ask for this special favor. (What some mothers will not do to please their sons!) The good Salome may have felt quite embarrassed and ashamed to make such a plea, but her womanly logic told her she had to set such questionable affairs straight and bring them to a definite conclusion before they went too far. Besides, had she not given her two sons to the Lord? And, if this thought did not enter her mind, had she not herself ministered to Him? Were her sons not as eager and as qualified as the other apostles to occupy the first places in the kingdom of heaven?

The ambitious desire of the sons of Zebedee stirred up discord and ill feeling among the other apostles. "And when the ten heard this, they were indignant at the two brothers." The impetuous and presumptuous natures of these two may have been particularly burdensome to the college of apostles.

Clement of Alexandria explained the uniqueness of the death of the apostle James, casting a light on the painfully restrained temperament of this son of Zebedee. On the way to the place of execution his accuser followed him and pleaded for pardon. James considered only a moment, then embraced him and said, "Peace be with you." Joined with his former enemy, the bold apostles welcomed the blow of the sword of martyrdom. Nor was John by any means the sweet disciple he is so often depicted to be in representations which are sometimes worse than poor calendar-art. James and John, the sons of Zebedee, were until death Boanerges, Sons of Thunder. They were virile and robust apostles, men, and any saccharine interpretation to the contrary repulsively contradicts Sacred Scripture.

Some of the spiritual writers and many teachers-God bless their innocence!-do not hesitate to exhort their readers and students to turn away from such ambitious and thunderous natures. Therefore it must astonish them, and with them any scrupulous and narrow-minded souls, that the Lord used a different, far-seeing pedagogy with James and John. These two sons of Zebedee received a certain general precedence and preference. In all four scriptural lists of the apostles they are placed among the first group, the first four. St. Mark places James in the second place, immediately after Peter. Throughout the Gospels James is portrayed as a prominent and distinguished apostle.

In the house of Jairus, at the miraculous raising from the dead of Jairus' daughter, our Lord "allowing no one to follow him except Peter and James, and John the brother of James." Jesus took only Peter, James and John to Mount Tabor. There they saw all the magnificence and majesty of the Lord. James had John wanted to share in this sitting at His right and left. He took Peter, James, and John with Him into the Garden of Olives to drink of His chalice. But they did not; they slept. Later they were to drink of His chalice, and they drank boldly. In addition to these few occasions on which the first three apostles were granted special privileges by our Lord, there may have been many more about which we do not know.

By this, then, Jesus Himself indicated that He wanted these three apostles to be men of greater influence and importance than the others. And He chose the three most daring, the three most thunderous. Only the great-minded could understand Him, the greatest of all. Only the great were capable of comprehending the deep meaning in this lesson which He set before them.

Certainly Jesus did not stifle James' bold and daring ideas. He did not let this valuable man stand idle, but encouraged him to persevere in his own natural ways. Certainly James, like his brother, John, had a fair amount of common sense. Although he may have been proud, but he was also courageous. Who would throw away a nugget of gold because he found it in a clod of dirt? Who would fell a productive tree because its form was crooked? A man's manners may differ according to the culture of his environment, but whatever the circumstances, if his actions are done for God, the value of them cannot be destroyed.

Extraordinarily gentle, therefore, was our Lord's answer to the daring and presumptuous request of the sons of Zebedee. Even though they had removed themselves so very far from the spirit of the Gospels, He did not speak to the two brothers in an imperious tone. He neither censured them, rebuked them, nor reprimanded them; but He rejected their daring petition with an illusion to divine predestination:

Christ did not want to restrain the two brothers in their efforts to reach greater heights; He wanted to direct these efforts to another goal. He did want to quench their thirst before they had drunk of the chalice."'Can you drink of the cup,'" He lured them on, " 'of which I am about to drink?' " Here, in the drinking of the cup, in the sufferings which accompany friendship with Jesus, James was to stand the test of his greatness. He who wants to share in the majesty of God must first drink of the cup of the Lord, share His cross.

Christ used this occasion also to instruct the other apostles about true greatness. The indignation of the remaining ten became apparent to the sons of Zebedee. These others felt the prick of the thorny ambition of Salome's sons. Our Lord did not will to replace their ardent zeal with a sense of sufficiency and self-complacency. He wished them to strive for the highest goal in life, but he also wanted to give them a new purpose in their striving:

"You know that those who are regarded as rulers among the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great men exercise authority over them. But it is not so among you. On the contrary, who ever wishes to become great shall be your servant; and whoever wishes to be first among you shall be the slave of all; for the son of Man also has not come to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many."

The simple and easy way to enter the kingdom of God is to persevere along the road of service, whether the way is rutty or paved. So the Master of the Twelve welcomed this occasion. While answering the request of James and his brother John, He laid down a fundamental principle for His disciples that serves as a new appraisal of value for all ages. In the kingdom of Christ, too, there are those who are first, but on earth these must be as the last.

When Jesus asked, " 'Can you drink of the cup...?' " James answered quickly and self-confidently, " 'We can.' " Surprised and glad, Jesus looked deep into the heart of James, His daring son of Thunder. In compassion, He prayed for this courageous apostle.

James, the Martyr

Time passed, and nothing happened. James had done nothing conspicuous or outstanding in the ranks of the apostles. Then Christ was crucified, and all was over. Before the risen Savior's manifestation in Galilee, this apostle had returned, with his coworkers, to his fishing. There on the sea everything seems to be as it had been before the Messias came. Yet something was missing. The Resurrection gave Jesus back to His apostles, but only for awhile. After the Ascension, the fearful little group had retreated to an upper room to await the first Pentecost. Suddenly "fire from heaven" fell upon them, the true and holy and heavenly fire that purifies. James left his hide-out with the others and went to the far regions of the world preaching the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

The Breviary praises this apostle in the lesson read on his feast day: "After the ascension James preached the divinity of the Lord in Judea and Samaria and converted many to Christianity." But all the others did this, also. He drank from the cup of the Lord, but so had all the others drunk from this chalice.

During the first persecution of the Church that was instigated by Jewish leaders-"the high priest... and a party of Sadducces"-he was seized and arrested, imprisoned and scourged. But the others endured this, too. Later "they departed from the presence of the Sanhedrin, rejoicing that they had been counted worthy to suffer disgrace for the name of Jesus." No longer did the words that James had spoken to the Lord remain without meaning.

The second persecution took place when Stephen, the first martyr of the infant Church, was stoned to death that he might join the crucified God-Man. How significant it is that we should celebrate St. Stephen's birthday on December 26, the day after the birth of Christ!

The third persecution was that of Herod Agrippa 1. There were three Herods, and of these three the first was the most diabolical. There was a curse on all generations of this family, bearing out the biblical allusion to the inheritance of a debt.

The grandfather of Herod Agrippa 1 was Herod 1, so-called the Great, ruler from 40-4 B.C. His reign glowed with success, but his character was tinged with darkness. He was sly, crafty, cunning. He literally sought to slaughter the infant Church in the cradle when he murdered the children of Bethlehem, the Holy Innocents. Agrippa's father, Aristobolus, along with another one of his brothers, was executed by the other Herod because he was suspected of treason.

The uncle, Herod Antipas, who ruled from 4 B.C. to 39 A.D. as tetrarch of Galilee and Perea, was an incestuous adulterer and the murderer of John the Baptist. Early on the morning of Good Friday he derided the accused Christ; he jeered and scoffed and sneered at him.

This was the sinful ancestry of Herod Agrippa, king of the Jew from 41 to 44 A.D. He spent a dissipated childhood, first in the courts of his grandfather Herod and later in Rome, where he became acquainted with sin and vice. through the favor and good will of his equally immoral friend, Emperor Caligula, who ruled from 37 to 41 A.D,, he seized the tetrarchate of his deceased uncle, Philip, and also that of Lysanias. Through plots and intrigue, he took over the province and jurisdiction of his uncle, Herod Antipas, who was forced into exile. Finally he appropriated the rule of Idumea, Judea, and Samaria from Emperor Claudius. This powerful sovereign united under his scepter the entire district that was once his grandfather's. Not less powerful an enemy of the Church, he appeared to have it in his power to crush the Church with the mere nod of his head.

The Acts of the Apostles briefly states the reason for the persecution of Herod Agrippa: "It pleased the Jews." The majority of the Jews were dissatisfied with the power and rule of Agrippa. A rabbi had even prohibited him from entering the temple. Nevertheless, the king meant to disarm his enemies through crafty and cunning concessions, and thus gradually gain for himself the sympathy of the people. In view of this ambition he persecuted the unpopular and hated Christians to please the Jews. Just as his uncle, Herod Antipas, for politico-diplomatic reasons, previously had turned our Lord over to Pilate, so this Herod also, became of bribery, turned the respected men of the apostolic Church over to the Jews: "Now at this time Herod the king set hands on certain members of the Church to persecute them. He killed James the brother of John with the sword..." It was around Easter time in the year 42.

Herod looked upon James-and with good reason-as a special capture. It is justifiable to assume that this fervid Son of Thunder, by his zeal for Christ, had made himself particularly odious to the Jews. They wanted to dispose of him more than of any other. James the apostle was enemy number one. What a vast amount of seed James had sown for Christ! And now, before he had time to reap harvest, before he had time to taste of the sweet cup, he was struck down by the blow of a criminal. Could God not have cared for and protected the men who wanted to carry out His divine plan? Lord, where are Your friends?

And one can ask still another question here, which leaves no peace of mind until answered. Herod "proceeded to arrest Peter also,...intending to bring him forth to the people after the Passover." Was it to bring him forth to the people or to cast him forth to the dogs? But Peter was miraculously rescued and freed by an angel. Why had God sent no angel to James? Was James not worthy of the same miracle? Inscrutable are the ways of the Lord! The mission of James was completed in his martyrdom for Christ, and immediately he received his reward. But Peter and the other apostles still had a whole world to win.

In the bloody death of James the light of divine wisdom is perceptible. Once James had assured the Lord that he could drink of His bitter chalice: God took him at his word. Martyrdom and persecution were to be the sign for the apostles to go to all parts of the world. According to very old and reliable sources, the apostles had confined their work, for almost twelve years, to the little corner of Palestine. Now the persecution of Herod Agrippa had spread over the entire land of the Jews. Peter "departed, and went to another place." This he did as soon as he was freed from his prison cell, and most of the other apostles followed his example.

James, however, lay in his blood next to the temple in Jerusalem. Since the days in Samaria, this son of a fisherman had longed passionately to prepare the way for the Lord, but this privilege was not to be his any longer. His death served God in another way, though it is not ours always to understand at first glance the ways of Divine Providence. The martyrdom of St. James finally set into action the proselytizing of the whole world. By this noble death the apostle James became "the Great" and "the First." Here is heard the echo from the Gospels: " ' Whoever wishes to become great among you shall be your servant, and whoever wishes to be first among you shall be your slave.' "

Often later, when oppressed and persecuted, the other apostles were to recall the martyrdom of their brother, James. Of these sufferings, Paul could truthfully write,

From the Jews five times I received forty lashes less one. Thrice I was scourged, once I was stoned, thrice I suffered shipwreck, a night and a day I was adrift on the sea; in journeying often, in perils from floods, in perils from robbers, in perils from my own nation, in perils from the Gentiles, in perils in the city, in perils in the wilderness, in perils from the sea, in perils from false brethren; in labor and hardships, in many sleepless nights, in hunger and thirst, in fasting often, in cold and nakedness.

Indeed Paul suffered, but James had suffered even more for Christ than the others. His martyrdom was a living encouragement to them. His ambitious nature had at one time hurt the others, but he was to prove that he really was first, not the first in authority, as Peter, and not the first in labors, as Paul, but the first in death.

James, the Journey Apostle

The early death of this follower of Christ-he died before the first council of the apostles in 49 A.D.-was not conducive to the development of legends concerning him. Old apocryphal works restricted themselves to a depiction of his works, his sphere of life, his circle of acquaintances, and his martyrdom, all in Jerusalem. Theodomir, Bishop of Iria in Galicien around the year 772, was the first to record the definite statement that James suffered martyrdom in Jerusalem after his return from Spain. His mortal remains may have been taken first to Joppe, and from there across the sea to Iria in Spain, by the apostle's followers and disciples. Subsequently, Iria received the name Compostella, which many consider to be a shorter form of Giacomo Postolo- James the apostle-or San Jago de Compostella.

In the year 1082 a stately building was begun over what was believed to be the grace of this apostle-martyr. Santiago de Compostella must be classed with Jerusalem and Rome as one of the three great attractions today for tourists on pilgrimage. From the tenth to the fifteenth centuries pilgrimages to the grave of James were world-famous. Only the pope could release one from a solemn promise to make a pilgrimage to Santiago. Innumerable are the churches and shrines and fountains dedicated to St. James on the roads leading to Santiago. James the Elder was at one time the most popular of all the apostles, today he is the patron of Spain and the patron of pilgrims.

No one can begrudge the gallant Spaniards the honor of claiming this courageous apostle for their own. Their great devotion to this saint has been passed down for centuries, but the legends concerning his labors in Spain are scarcely tenable. These legends had a late origin. The rich Spanish literature from the fifth to the eighth centuries is completely silent about James' journey to Spain. A remark in the Epistle at that time, about the year 58 A. D., had not yet been opened up to Christianity: "But now, having no more work in these parts..., when I set out for Spain I hope to see you as I pass through..."

Another traditional belief which was questioned was the transference of the relics of the apostle James to Compostella in Spain. Pope Leo XIII, in the year 1884, recognized its authenticity. In the early Church, the feast of James the Elder-there is another opinion that maintains this was a feast of James the Less-was observed on December 27, together with that, of Peter and John. It was considered as a companion-feast in connection with Christmas. Today the feast is celebrated on July 25, supposedly the day on which the relics of St James were taken to Spain. Many customs have arisen around this date: a day for a celebration, a day to begin picking apples, a day to begin the harvest-St James' Day, the harvest day; St James Day, the cutting day-and in the European mountains it is a holiday for shepherds.

Since the twelfth century James has always been portrayed as a muscular pilgrim, with a pilgrim's scrip and staff which indicates a widespread knowledge of the legend that he did journey to Spain. He was the first apostle to complete a mission for the Lord. Indeed he was the first to see the "majesty of the Lord, " for he was the first to drink in martyrdom.

We also are pilgrims, far from the Lord. In this life we have no lasting state; the future is always uncertain. When we, as James, drink of our cup, then we, too, shall come to our distant home, tired and happy. In the Votive Mass for Pilgrims the prayer is said:

Lord, we beseech Thee, remain with us, and graciously let the journey be spent in your holiness, that in all changes of this way and of this life it may always find your protection and help.

This grant us through the petition of your holy pilgrim and apostle and saint, James. Amen.

St Anthony Messenger Magazine had an excellent article by Wynne Crombie in its July 2003 edition about St James the Apostle titled "Journey Spain's Road to Compostela." I will quote it in part and imagine the author is speaking and writing about his visit and interviewing as he goes.

For centuries, faith-filled pilgrims have braved the route to Santiago de Compostela. Even today, the famous Cathedral of St. James draws them.

Ever since the relics of St James were discovered, pilgrims have been trekking the Camino from the Pyrenees in France to Santiago in the northwestern corner of Spain.

At the height of its popularity, in the 11th and 12th centuries, the city was receiving over half a million travelers a year. People of all classes and walks of life come to visit the shrine of St James the Apostle, making this the third-holiest site in Christendom, after Jerusalem and Rome.

The complete Spanish portion is about a six-week journey.

As the Legend goes, it began in the early days of Christianity when James the Apostle had been sent to evangelize Spain. When he returned to Jerusalem in 44 A.D., King Herod had him beheaded. After Herod refused permission to have St James' body buried, the saint's disciples, Theodore and Athanasius, pirated the body and cast it afloat upon an unmanned boat.

As the legend goes, an angel led the boat across the sea and up the river Ulla to the capital of Roman Galicia to a place where there was a cemetery, or compostum. It became known in time as the Compostela, or field of stars.

Dr Jose Cernadas, a professor of medieval history, teaches a class on the Camino at the University of Santiago, where the author met him. His class discusses the legends as well as the facts.

"The problem," he says, "is that we are not really sure that St. James is the one buried in the cathedral. From a historical point of view, people from the Middle Ages believed that St. James is the one buried here.

Dr Cernadas also mentions one of the Compostela's most renowned tourist. "One of the first pilgrims was St Francis of Assisi," says Dr. Cernadas. "What we know is that he came to Compostela and founded the monastery of St. Francis.

"Is the journey safe?" the author asked? "Perfectly," Dr. Cernadas say, "even for a woman traveling alone. And the experience can be a magical and profoundly human one. There is always the camaraderie of shared experiences. Without a doubt, it is spiritual, cultural and historical-all of that."

Pope John Paul II visited Mt Gozo in 1993. A large granite monument stands as a testimony to that event. On one side a copper plaque commemorates the pilgrimage of John Paul to Santiago. St Francis' journey is honored on the other side.

The first place the pilgrims view their final destination is on Mt. Gozo (Mount of Joy), just outside the city. We drive up on a warm Santiago day to experience the final mile of the Camino for ourselves. As we walk along that last mile, villages blend together. It is a rural way of life, as it has been for centuries.

In recent years a religious awakening for the Compostela pilgrimage has occured, most due to the celebration of the "Holy Years." The Ano Santo Compostelano, a yearlong celebration, occurs whenever the 25th of July (the feast of St. James)occurs on a Sunday. The last celebration was in 1993 when Pope John Paul II came to Santiago to open the Puerta Sacra, or sacred door. The next one comes up in 2004.

Nothing prepares you for the sight of the twin spires of the Cathedral of St James. The first part was consecrated in 1105, and the rest in 1211. The outside is encased in 18th-century splendor, but the inside is strictly Romanesque gilt and gold.

The author conclues by saying that "we come away with the intense belief that, in spite of the absence of concrete proof, the bones of St James are indeed in the tomb. Such faith could not exist otherwise."


Jn 3:16 For God so loved the world, as to give his only begotten Son; that whosoever believeth in him, may not perish, but may have life everlasting.
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PostSubyek: Re: The Twelve Apostles   10th March 2013, 16:13

St. Simon

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Simon: Called the Cananean or the Zealot; according to legend, preached in various places in the Middle East and suffered martyrdom by being sawed in two; in art, is depicted with a saw, the instrument of his death, or a book, symbolic of his zeal for the Law; Oct. 28 (Roman Rite). May 10 (Byzantine Rite).

Taken from Otto Hophan, O.F.M Cap.

The apostle Simon was the least known, and one must constrain himself lest he say the least important, of all the apostles. In all Sacred Scripture there is nothing else said of him beyond the mention of his name. And even this name, Simon-from the Hebrew, shim'on, literally, "heard"-he had to share with another Simon in the circle of the apostles. The duplication of names among the apostles is surprising: Simon Peter and Simon the Zealot, James the Great and James the Less, Jude Thaddeus and Judas Iscariot. Simon Peter was the first, the great, the rock foundation of the Church. It would seem that the greatness of this first Simon completely overshadowed Simon, the unknown, the last of the Twelve.

When the Lord spoke to Simon-"'Blessed art thou, Simon,'" and, "'I have prayed for thee, Simon,'" and "'Simon, dost thou love me?'"-He always meant the other Simon, the first, not the last. The unknown apostles was only like the distant echo, the humble shadow, of the first apostle so burdened with dignities and honors. Just as the Patriarch Jacob had anticipated everything for his brother Esau, so Simon Peter did for this apostles. He wanted to bring this overlooked Simon nearer to the Christian spirit with a special love. Both are among the great apostles in the kingdom of heaven.

Simon, like Jude Thadeus, was prefigured in the Old Testament by two bearers of his name. The first was Simeon, the second son of the Patrirch Jacob. Simeon was severely rebuked and punished bcause of the thoughtlessness and foolish ardor by which he took revenge on the Sichemites for an unlawful act one of them had committed against his sister, Dina. When the land was divided and distributed, he inherited no place of his own for his tribe, but was allotted only scattered places in the land of the tribe of Juda as places of residence. On his deathbed, Jacob made known the unimportant and dependent positions he had assigned to the tribe of Simeon and Levi. He said that his reason was the disgrace of their act:

Simeon and Levi brethen: vessels of iniquity, waging war. Let not my soul go into their counsel, nor my glory be in their assembly: because in their fury they slew a man, and in their self-will they undermined a wall. Cursed be their fury, because it was stubborn: and their wrath because it was cruel. I will divide them in Jacob, and will scatter them in Israel.

The tribe of Simeon was almost lost in history of the Chosen People in Canaan. Its leader was never a well-known support of the kingdom. Judith, the heroine of Simeon's tribe, saw the good rather than the bad in the vengeance of her forefather's people:

O Lord God of my father Simeon, who gavest him a sword to execute vengeance against strangers, who had defiled by their uncleaness, and uncovered the virgin unto confusion..., assist, I beseech Thee, O Lord God, me a widow.

The other Simon, who was a forerunner of the apostle Simon, was the Maccabaean Simon, leader of his people between the years 142 and 135BC.; he was surnamed "Thasi," which means "the zealot". He was from the lower classes. Although he was the second son of Mathathias, this Simon served under his younger brothers Judas and Jonathan. When Johathan, however, was captured, imprisoned, and slain, it was Simon who took over the guidance and command of the people.

Both of these men of the Old Testament were prophetic of the apostle Simon. Their characteristic traits were deeply impressed upon this unknown, almost forgotten apostle.

Simon, the Unknown

We know nothing certain about the home of the apostle Simon. Matthew and Mark called him "the Cananean," most probably to distinguish him, not only from Simon Peter, but also from many others with the same name at that time. This led many, even St Jerome, to assume that Simon came from Cana. Greek and Coptic commentators, therefore, identified this apostle with the Nathanael mentioned by St John, who came from Cana. Yet Nathanael was another name for the apostle Bartholomew (as shown in the first pages of chapter six). Still others held that this "Simon the Cananean" was the bridegroom at Cana, for whom the Lord worked His first public miracle by changing water into wine. This opinion is also with a solid foundation.

The expression "the Cananean"-derived from an Aramaic word quana, literally, "to be zealous"-does not purport an inhabited place, but rather a political party. St Luke expressed the same meaning with the Greek word Zelotes-an anti-Roman, Jewish zealot. The context of the Gospel and also the history of this party point to Galilee as the home of Simon; but a more definite statement than this cannot be made on the basis of reliable information.

Little is know about the family of this apostle; yet there are reasons to believe that he was a "brother of the Lord." Both Matthew and Mark mentioned a Simon as the brother of Jesus. When Christ returned to Nazareth and began teaching in the synagogues, the astonished people queried, "'Is not this the carpenter..., the brother of James, Joseph, Jude and Simon?'"

In the lists of the apostles, all three Synoptics mentioned a Simon together with James and Jude. When St Mark enumerated the names of James, Jude and Simon as brethen of the Lord, he used the same sequence that he used in his list of the apostles. This is further evidence that Simon, the brother of the Lord, was an apostle like James and Jude, also brethren of the Lord. In other words, there is supported only one Simon in question here.

This assumption is supported by Hegesippus' statement that a Simon, the second bishop of Jerusalem, was a son of Clopas, the brother of the foster father St Joseph. Clopas, or Cleophas, is to be identified with Alpheus, the father of James the Less (as explained in the first pages of chapter nine). Following this supposition, one may conclude that the apostle James, Jude, and Simon were "brethren" of Christ, either close or distant cousins. In Simon's case, this mark of distinction is hidden and obscure; his older and more influential brothers preceded him even in his home life. They made the decisions and answered the questions. For him, the last, the youngest, there remained nothing but to stand quietly by, almost unseen. His name means "heard," but as yet he was unheard, and unheard of.

The calling of the apostle Simon has not been recorded. He stood among the crowd of disciples on the mountain when the Lord chose the Twelve. Perhaps his two older brothers, James and Jude, were displeased when their "little brother" kept following them. One of the three should have been home helping their father, Alpheus, for a farmer is never without work and the need of help throughout the year. Annoyed and vexed, like Eliab, the older brother of the young David, they also may have upbraided the young Simon:

Why camest thou hither? And why didst thou leave those few sheep in the sheep? I know thy pride, and the wickedness of thy heart: that thou art come down to see the battle.

Simon stared with large, astonished eyes when our Lord called from the crowd of men a Simon, the first to follow Jesus, then the noble Andrew, then the ardent James, then the brave John. His biggest surprise was yet to come. The Messias called his brother James. This was an undreamed of honor for the family. And what was more, he immediately called his brother Jude. With dignity they walked past their younger brother, Simon, who beamed with pride and glowed with joy. Then men surrounded Jesus as ten diamonds adorn a crown. Would the Lord call any others? If so, whom would He choose? And Christ said, "Simon." Simon was confused. He hesitated. Then he was embarrassed. There were many there named Simon. And Jesus repeated, "Simon," and hesitating, added, "the Zealot." Simon the Zealot? An unbelieving surprise and astonishment ran through the crowd as "the Cananean" approached the group around the Lord.

Matthew and Mark placed Simon as the eleventh one on their list of the apostles. Only Judas Iscariot came after him. Possibly our Lord had called Judas before Simon, making Simon the very last-for only the betrayer's sacrilegious crime may have prompted the evangelists to place him behind all the other apostles. One has to feel sorry for Simon that he should be named in the same breath along with Judas Iscariot, the betrayer of the Messias. Many times it may have been very difficult to be near his gloom neighbor. He did not know why. When the Master sent the Twelve on their first missionary journey, "two by two," Simon possibly accompanied the apostle who later hanged himself.

In the "Last Supper" of Leonardo da Vinci, Simon was portrayed at the far left. One gets the impression that he reached his position and held his place only with difficulty. He stood quietly and patiently behind all the others.

We know nothing certain, absolutely nothing certain about Simon's apostolic works. None of these were recorded in the Gospels, or in the Acts of the Apostles. Nor did he leave behind him even a few verses of a short Epistle, such as his brother Jude wrote. Not a word was spoken to Simon, nor did he ask a single question which the evangelists deemed important or worthy enough to be recorded. Brief remarks of Thomas and Philip and Jude Thaddeus at the Last Supper were noted and remembered and written down with care for all posterity. But the zealous apostle had only a silent role to play in the circle around Christ. It seems he had nothing else to do except to be there.

When the apostles returned to their Master after their first active work preaching the New Law, they could not wait to tell all they had seen and heard. Eagerly they reported everything to Him, what they had said and taught. But when Simon came into their ranks, all accounts and questions, and Christ's advice, suddenly came to a halt. Never do we read of a distinction alotted to Simon, never of an appearance made by him. Perhaps on Palm Sunday, Simon was one of the two whom Jesus sent ahead of Him into a village to untie and bring the ass and the colt that the Messias might enter Jerusalem as the prophets had foretold. This unknown apostle never stood out from the rest, was neither prominent nor distinguished. He was always in the group, together with the others, almost without a personality, only an apostle, only one of the Twelve. Just this remaining quiet, obscure, unknown has become a mark of his character.

The relics of this apostle Simon have been preserved in the Vatican. But who of the hundred of thousands of thousands who visit St Peter's in Rome think of Simon, the unknown apostle? For the first Simon, Simon Peter, the basilica was built. His statue has been kissed in reverence so often that over the years the foot of it has been completely flattened. The eleventh apostle, on the contrary, has long since been enjoying undisturbed quiet.

Simon, the unknown apostle, is the patron of the countless Christians who go through life without fame, without a name. He is the patron of the army of unknown workers in the vineyard of the Lord, who toil in the last places for the kingdom of God. He is the patron of the unknown soldiers of Christ, who struggle on the disregarded and thankless fronts. No one notices, no one praises, no one rewards this obscure and often misunderstood apostles-no one except the Father, who sees through all obscurity, who understands all misjudgments.

Was Simon the Zealot, the last apostle, less deserving of praise than Simon Peter, the first apostle, the leader of all the Twelve, because we know so little about him? He also was one of the Twelve, as good as the powerful Peter, as good as the noble John. For him also were the words of our Lord intended:

"You are my friends if you do the things I command you. No longer do I call you servants, because the servant does not know what his master does. But I have called you friends, because all things that I have heard from my Father I have made known to you."

Christ may have honored this unknown and seemingly unimportant apostle with many special words. But He may have spoken so softly that none of the others heard what these words were and therefore could not repeat them, or record them, when Simon remained humbly in the background. It was this unknown apostle who had a special likeness to the unknown Son of God. And for this very reason Simon may well have had a better understanding of the Messias and His heavenly kingdom.

Simon himself was certainly not annoyed that he stood in the last place, nor did he work the less for it. He also made sacrifices and journeyed without "'gold, or silver, or money in your girdles, no wallet for your journey, nor two tunics, nor sandals, nor staff; for the laborer deserves his living.'" And he preached, "'The kingdom of heaven is at hand!'". He would "'cure the sick, raise the dead, cleanse the lepers, cast out devils.'" He was neither crippled by self-pity nor paralyzed by an inferiority complex in his apostolic labors. It was this unknown Simon who carried a title with him into the lists of the apostles in the Gospels, a title that is more surprising in him than it is for any other apostle: the Zealot.

Simon, the Zealot

The name Zelotes, a Zealot, has a political meaning, and in no way does it denote the virtue of zeal. Zealots were a Jewish sect that openly resisted the Roman hold of the Jews in Palestine. They strove for freedom and independence. A certain Judas from Galilee is regarded as the founder of this group. When a personal tax was imposed on the Jews in the year 7 A.D. by Quirinius, a Roman governor in Syria, this Judas incited a revolt. The ensuing insurrection was not successful and the outcome, as recorded in the Acts of the Apostles, was unhappy.

Gamaliel, a Pharisee and teacher of the Law, advised against a vigorous suppression of the newly founded Christianity, reasoning that the Messianic movement would destoy itself if it had not stemmed from God. Speaking to the Sanhedrin, Gamaliel recalled,

"For some time ago there rose up Theodas, claiming to be somebody, and a number of men, about four hundred, joined him; but he was slain, and all his followers were dispersed and he was brought to nothing. After him rose up Judas the Galilean in the days of the census and drew some people after him; he too perished, and his followers were scattered abroad."

The Zealots were defeated, but their aim and purpose did not die out. The smoldering ashes of their fight for liberty sporadically flickered into flame as the fervor of the dispersed groups of Zealots made itself felt. They lost their war, but volunteer insurgents were never lacking. Desparately they would stoop to blow the blackening coals, to reflame one small fire here, the one there, hoping for one violent wind that would make for a towering flame against their hated enemies.

There were two distinct groups of Zealots, the political and the religious.

The religious band considered the strict observance and fulfillment of the Mosaic Law the indispensable preliminary condition for the restoration and renewed prominence of the Jewish nation. Before this, their liberator, the Messias, who was promised by God, would not appear. In this respect perhaps St Paul himself belonged to the party of Zealots, for he acknowledged "And I advanced in Judaism above many of my contemporaries in my nation, showing much more zeal for the traditions of my fathers.

The second distinct group of Zealots, the more violent and aggressive faction, freely assumed a political attitude toward all questions. They were not willing to resign themsleves and to wait in quiet submission until, in the providence of God, the day of freedom would dawn and the hope of Israel would be illuminated and fulfilled. The only decisive arbitration between them and their godless enemies was to be the sword.

These firebrands were held in check for ten years. The clenched fists of the Romans beat down any insurgent who dared to move suspiciously. And the official parties of the state, the Sadducees and the Pharisees, formally avoided them by closing their eyes, turning their backs, and walking away. Nevertheless, the revolutionary element was ultimately successful in unchaining its forces and spreading the sweeping fire of the Jewish War. The longer they were suppressed, the bolder they became, the more vigorous, and even the more powerful. They paraded under the cloak of religious zeal in order to commit their political crimes. The rich and refined Sadducees, influential because of their nobility and wealth, and the proud but prudent Pharisees, whose primitive ardor degenerated into hypocrisy and fanaticism, opposed a war with the Romans. They knew it was hopeless.

This apprehension of the leading circles was expressed in the Gospels. They feared Christ, not only because of what He preached, but also because of what the Romans would do when He gained a following:

"If we let him alone as he is, all will believe in him, and the Romans will come and take away both our place and our nation... It is expedient for us that one man (Christ)die for the people, instead of the whole nation perishing."

The Zealots feared the Romans; nevertheless,they wanted to rebel against them at any price, even the price of blood spilled on the ground where it turned cold and black and hard, as empty of life as dirt that blows away in the wind. They seized a fortess, and in Jerusalem they refused to make the customary offering to the Roman authorities. This was the spark that inflamed the Jewish War. For this the Zealots had to suffer a horrible punishment.

When Galilee was subjected to Vespasian in the year 67, the Jews fled from the Romans on rafts on Lake Genesareth. But the Latin warriors caught them; after the battle, the blue water turned purple with blood. (This was the peaceful lake which Christ had crossed many times.) Six thousand five hundred Zealots lost their lives in this attack, and Vespasian had one thousand two hundred others massacred in the arena. Six thousand were sent to the Isthmus of Corinth, and thirty thousand were sold. Altogether, 80,700 fell, shed their blood, and died; and 36,400 sold.

Even more horrible was the butchery in Jerusalem. Here the Zealots had conducted a reign of terror, masterminded by John of Gischala. With the help of the Idumeans, they had murdered twelve thousand men. The revenge for this was cruel and brutal. According to the perhaps somewhat exaggerated account of the Jewish historian, Josephus Flavius, 1,100,000 Jewish people perished in the conquest and acquisition of Jerusalem. And 97,000 were taken prisoners and were either sold or slaughtered for the sport of the gladiators and the amusement of the pagans.

Only by understanding this political background can one realize what the calling of Simon the Zealot as one of the Twelve meant. Certainly all the apostles, not only Simon alone, were interested in the political movements of their age. As ardent, freedom-loving Galileans, they all longed for the day of their liberation. The long-awaited Messias, the great Son of David, was to be for them the One who conquered the foreign power on their soil in a valiant battle, the One who was to establish the great Jewish kingdom. Even such a spiritual man as the priest Zachary, the father of John the Baptist, waited for the Messias to bring 'Salvation from our enemies, and from the hand of all who hate us.'"

At the last supper, when the apostles still misunderstood the Messianic mission of Christ, they were enraged to hear that their Leader would be "reckoned among the wicked"; and with flashing eyes they were immediately ready to fight: "'Lord, behold here are two swords.'" Some of the apostles had never forgotten the instructions of John the Baptist, who had impressively and forcibly enough preached that men should turn from corrupt politics to religion:"'Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.'" Thanks to this education, and to the firm instructions of the Lord, they gradually learned that the Messianic kingdom was a spiritual one, the kingdom of heaven on earth. But they could not give up all claims to and hopes for a restoration of the Jews' political and national power.

Even before the risen Savior's Ascension into heaven, they troubled Him with the question, " 'Lord, wilt thou at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?'" They were so inspired by Jesus that they courageously renounced the world, house and home, wife and children. But in return they eagerly expected first places in the Messianic kingdom for themselves and their families.

Three times in the Gospels the freedom-conscious Jews tried to make Christ the leader of a national movement for a Jewish empire. And each time the apostles were with the crowds.

After Christ had miraculously fed five thousand, the large masses immediately sought "to take him for force and make him king," but "he fled again to the mountain, himself alone."

Before the Feast of Tabernacles they wanted Him to go to Jerusalem, elevate Himself, and " 'manifest thyself to the world.'" But Jesus postponed that journey to the capital burdened with political tensions, and "he stayed on in Galilee. But as soon as his brethren had gone up to the feast, then he also went up, not publicly, but as it were privately."

The third time it seemed as though the Zealots had succeeded in persuading Jesus to accept the plan they had for Him: for His was a truly triumphant entry into Jerusalem. There were shouts of hosanna: "Save us." Save us! People ran to strew palms ahead of Him. But here too Jesus had anticipated the political interpretation of his triumphal entry by a small, almost jovial detail: He rode on a donkey. He did not ride high and mighty on a strutting steed. Anyone contemplating a revolution does not come on a slow beast. And this donkey may even have annoyed and vexed Simon the Zealot. What wise and kind irony it would have been if he, the most industrious of all the apostles in provoking a political seizure of power, had been the one to bring the ass and colt to Christ!

The evangelists did not indicate whether Simon had belonged to the political or to the religious party of Zealots. Perhaps he acquired this title by his passionate faithfulness to the Law of the Old Testament and earned the same praise that the "zealous upholders of the Law" were given by St James. This religious zeal, however, edged very close to politics.

Actually, it was "the brethren of Jesus" who, before the Feast of Tabernacles, wanted to instigate a public and political demonstration. Possible the complete silence of this eleventh apostle in Holy Scripture can be explained by his insistence on maintaining a strongly political position. The Lord Himself often refused to let His kingdom fall into the empty hands of worldly politics. "'My kingdom is not of this world. If my kingdom were of this world, my followers would have fought that I might not be delivered to the Jews.'". He did not want Himself and His work endangered by a Zealot.

Simon must have been restrained in the group of apostles so that he would not follow the example of his namesakes in the Old Testament and overzealously succeed in causing more trouble than good. In a completely silent and austere novitiate, which offered him neither special problems nor attention, he was to refine his fervor and ardor. But what was more important, he was to prove and preserve his zeal.

Here the great personal value of the apostle Simon the Zealot shines forth. That the Lord called him as one of the Twelve, despite his political inclinations, indicates that this apostle was prized highly for his untiring ambition and his high ideals. Christ was taking as much of a risk when He chose Simon as He took when He called Matthew. By calling a tax-collector who worked for the dominating Romans, Jesus laid Himself open to the criticism of the crowds striving for independence and freedom. By calling a Zealot who worked against the dominating Romans, He laid Himself open to the suspicions of the leaders striving for power in official circles.

How could these two, Matthew and Simon, the tax-collector, and the Zealot, face each other in the same small group of apostles? Each came from a different world. Were they rivals, foes? The tax-collector was a slave to the Romans whom the Zealot attacked. And yet Christ brought the tax-collector and the tax-dodger together in the same group and united them as His disciples. So great is the power of His love and the foresight of His wisdom that He receives both tax-collectors and zealots into His service. The Master had a mission for each, and His mission was one.

The moral greatness of the apostle Simon showed itself in his perseverance, in a steadfast persistence which the Lord recognized as faithfulness. No apostle, with the exception of Judas, was so bitterly disappointed in his Master as was the expectant Simon. A disappointment shattered Judas; another disappointment perfected Simon. This zealous apostle's desire for an earthly kingdom founded by the Messias burned more fervently in him than in the others. The people, so intent on freedom, may often have approached and spoken to Simon, asking him to convince the Messias to win success for them in their struggle for independence. But Christ had never held out the possibility, or even hinted that it was possible that He would fulfill such a wish. Intentionally and purposely Simon was placed in the eleventh place, where he had nothing else to do but to be silent.

Despite Christ's firm refusal to grant to Simon his lifelong desire, Simon persevered in following his Master. Again and again he opened up his heart to the Messias, and one by one he made known his wishes. Judas, on the contrary, would not reveal his wants and needs, and he ended up a criminal, betraying his Master. He who is such a zealot that in his zeal he can choose only God is certainly a true and capable apostle of Jesus Christ. Such zeal becomes an unyielding power that rises above secondary ends, and silently spends its whole strength in striving for Christian perfection

Simon, the Unknown Zealot

Legends concerning the apostle Simon are as contradictory as those concerning his brother Jude Thaddeus. The most plausible of all, however, is the account that Simon, after the death of his oldest brother, James, in the year 62, succeeded him as bishop of Jerusalem.

The Church historian Eusebius recored Hegesippus' statement, made around the middle of the second century, that a Simeon, son of Clopas, was the second bishop of Jerusalem. Nicephorus Callistus also listed this Simeon as the second bishop of Jerusalem. The first account states that this apostle held his office for twenty-three years; the second, for twenty-six years. The validity of this information is strengthened by an old Abyssinian tradition. Accordingly to this, the apostle Simon the Zealot, after zealously laboring in Samaria, become bishop of Jerusalem, and there he suffered martyrdom on the cross. The Roman Breviary, however, observes the feast of the apostle Simon separately on October 28th, and that of a Simeon, bishop of Jerusalem, on February 18.

Simon's apostolic labors as bishop of Jerusalem coincided with the siege, conquest and destruction of the Holy City. Simon might often have envied James, his martyred brother and predecessor, who was spared the grueling experience of watching the devastation of the holy places. Christ had warned,

"And when you see Jerusalem being surrounded by an army, then know that her desolation is at hand. Then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains; and let those who are in her midst go out...

Remembering this, Simon promptly fled with his flock of the faithful to the pagan city of Pella in Perea, where the threat of war was not imminent.

This was the first evacuation of Christian refugees commanded by the Good Shepherd Himself, out of deep concern for His faithful flock. What was Simon the Zealot thinking during his flight? Once he, too, had been an active member of the Zealots, who now brought such horrors and atrocities upon the land and the people. It had been difficult for him to make known to God the desires of his heart. Now, as divine justice burned in a rage over Jerusalem, he saw how good it was that he had opened up his heart to the Lord. His soul glowed with fervor and thanksgiving that Christ had called him away from this dangerous Zealotism, and had turned him toward zeal for the house and flock of the Lord.

It is also possible that Simon, both before and after he occupied the bishopric of Jerusalem, spread the Gospel to other lands. The Epistles of St Paul present a clear picture, showing how far and wide apostolic labors and actually spread the Faith. The other apostles, too, not only St. Paul, strove to fulfill the words of their Master: "Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations...'" and, " '... you shall be witnesses for me in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria and even to the very ends of the earth.'"

Legends have portrayed this reserved Simon crossing many different and distant lands. It is not possible to pick out the historical kernels of truth from the large bin of fable, nor to sift out the weedly seed of imagination that grew to overshadow almost smother the stalks of truth. The apocryphal "Acts of Andrew" place him as Andrew's companion in the countries on the Black Sea. Two places on the shore of this sea-the city of Bosporus, on the Tauric Chersonese, and Nichopsis, on the Caucasus Mountains-claim the apostles Simon's grace. In the regions of Caucasis there are Georgian and Armenian traditions which support this. After collaborating with Andrew and Matthew, it is said, Andrew permitted Simon to return to Sevastopol, a city on the Black Sea in the Crimea.

There is always the possiblity that these legends accidentally borrowed tidbits here and there from legends about Simon Peter. Both were often called merely Simon, and according to other very old legends Simon Peter did work in these same districts together with his brother Andrew. From here Andrew went to the East and Simon Peter to the West. So it is not difficult to understand how various legends concerning Simon Peter might have been confused with those of Simon the Zealot.

The "Acts of Simon and Jude" identified the scene of Simon's apostolic labors as Babylonia and Persia (as already explained in the previous chapter on Jude Thaddeus). Centering their activity in Babylon, Simon and Jude journeyed through the twelve provinces of the Persian Empire. Yet even in these legends the shadow of the first Simon, Peter, can be traced. It was in "Babyon"-to be understood as a cryptic designation for Rome-that Peter wrote his first Epistle at the time when this Babylonian city was besieged by vice, false teaching, and immorality. Perhaps, therefore, legend has attributed the real Babylon to Simon the Zealot as the field of his missionary activity because Simon Peter had worked in the symbolic Babylon.

According to these legends, Simon suffered a martyr's death in the "city of Suanir". Yet a Persian city with this name is not known. There is the possibility that some connection existed between Suanir and the "Suanen" in Colchis, an ancient country on the eastern shore of the Black Sea in Transcaucasia.

A third, general opinion, which later Greek commentators in particular followed, placed the region of Simon's apostolic labors in Egypt, Libya, Mauretania (an ancient kingdom in northwestern Africa, and later a Roman province), and even in Britain. The Roman Breviary also mentions Simon's missionary labors in Egypt, and after this portrays Simon working with Jude Thaddeus in Persia.

An account of Hegesippus revealed that Simon was martyed under Trajan in the year 107 at the age of a hundred and twenty. It is not probable that this account is very accurate. If it were, Simon would have lived three years longer than John, whom tradition has long recognized as the last apostle to die.

Most of the conflicting reports of Simon's death named crucifixion as the manner of martyrdom. A small, impressive picture from the monologues of Basil II portrayed him on the cross in the clothing of a high priest, looking away from the city of Jerusalem to the wide spans of the world. Simon the Zealot had protested against the prophesied cross of Christ no less vehemently than the other Simon: "'Far be it from thee, O Lord; this will never happen to thee.'" His thoughts were not of a cross but of a crown. but the joyfully and willingly opened up his heart and soul to the instructions of the Lord, until he was united with Christ, even on the cross. There was no limit to his love for the Master. Without reserve or hesitation he confided in the Messias.

Other traditions maintained that Simon became a martyr by being sawed to pieces. Lukas Cranach did not hesitate to paint a vividly picture of this horrible death. Therefore, the symbol of this apostle is a saw, and out of reverence he has been made the patron of those who work with wood-somewhat less emphatically than the apostle Thomas, whose symbol is a carpenter's square and who became the patron of architects. In this respect, too, the apostle Simon is, and remains, the eleventh.

Certainly the various accounts of traditions and legends concerning Simon are confused and unreliable. Yet taken together they all have one common basis: they point to an apostle who was a Zealot, not only before he was called by the Lord, but also afterward, in his missionary works and apostolic labors. Whether he spread the word of God in the land of the "Suanen" or in Babylonia, whether he was crucified or was sawed to pieces, this unknown apostle was full of zeal. He was and remains the unknow Zealot.

The real beauty of this apostle's life lies in this very fact, that he could be so actively zealous and still remain so unknown, so that Christ alone was known and remembered. For this he is known all the more in heaven.

Simon's special grace was to persevere in Christ, as Christ increased and he decreased.

Many who must work in obscurity lose their ardor and zeal. We would do well to follow the example of Simon by going out into the world to become unknown, while Christ becomes known.

Profound, therefore, is the lesson to be learned from this simplest of all the apostles: when we are not thanked, not remembered, not known, we should rejoice for the sake of Christ, and not only to persevere in, but increase, our zeal.

"Take heed not to practice your good before men, in order to be seen by them; otherwise you shall have no reward with your Father in heaven.

"Therefore when thou givest alms, do not sound a trumpet before thee, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and streets, in order that they may be honored by men. Amen I say to you, they have had their reward"

Mind the things that are above, not the things that are on earth. For you have died and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ, your life, shall appear, then you too will appear with him in glory.

The following paragraph is taken from Leonard Foley, O.F.M. from his book Saint of the Day. Simon is mentioned on all four lists of the Apostles. On two of them he is called "the Zealot". The Zealots were a Jewish sect which represented an extreme of Jewish nationalism. For them, the messianic promise of the Old Testament meant that the Jews were to be free and independent nation. God alone was their king, and any payment of taxes to the Romans-the very domination of the Romans-was a blasphemy against God. No doubt some of the Zealots were the spiritual heirs of the Maccabees, carrying on their ideals of religion and independence. But many were the counterparts of modern terrorist. They raided and killed, attacking both foreigners and collaborating Jews. They were chiefly responsible for the rebellion against Rome which ended in the destruction of Jerusalem in A.D 70.


Jn 3:16 For God so loved the world, as to give his only begotten Son; that whosoever believeth in him, may not perish, but may have life everlasting.
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PostSubyek: Re: The Twelve Apostles   10th March 2013, 16:15

St. Jude

Jude Thaddeus: One of the Catholic Epistles, the shortest, bears his name; various traditions say he preached the Gospel in Mesopotamia, Persia and elsewhere, and was martyred; in art, is depicted with a halberd, the instrument of his death; Oct 28 (Roman Rite), June 19th (Byzantine Rite).

The below paragraph is take from Father Foley, O.F.M. in his book on the "Saint of the Day."

Jude is so named by Luke and Acts. Matthew and Mark called him Thaddeus. He is not mentioned elsewhere in the Gospels, except, of course, where all the apostles are referred to. Scholars hold that he is not the author of the epistle. Actually, Jude had the same names as Judas Iscariot. Evidently because of the disgrace of that name, it was shortened to "Jude" in English.

Taken from author Otto Hophan's book, "The Apostle". This book is listed in the source page on the site:

Chapter Ten

The Apostle Jude Thaddeus had a name that was as famous and honorable in his day as the name Judas is infamous and heinous today. Many great men of the Old Testment were named Judas, or Judah. The two most distinguished were Judah, one of the sons of Jacob and the father of the tribe of Juda, and Judas Maccabaeus, the heroic Jewish warrior who fought against the Syrians. Many traits of these two men of the Chosen People were reflected in the apostle Jude. Because these names, however, are clouded with so much secrecy and mystery, one is almost forced to conclude that they inevitably stamped on their bearers characters as unchallengeable as the preconceived ideas promulgated in the heated arguments of biased and unlettered people.

When Judah, the son of Jacob, was born, his pious mother joyfully called out, "'Now will I praise the Lord.' And for this she called him Juda." Although he was not the oldest son of Jacob, he had a leading position among his brothers-thanks to his somewhat permanently predetermined character. His part, however, in the story of his brother Joseph in Egypt was a laudable exception. Here he bravely and staunchly opposed the demand of the others. Instead of fratricide, he proposed the lesser of two evils-to sell his brother to Madianite merchants for twenty pieces of silver.

Later there was to be another Judas who received silver for the life of another-the betrayer, Judas Iscariot. The silver pieces numbered thirty.

The dying patriarch Jacob marked his son Judah as the forefather of the Messias with this blessing:

Juda, thee shall thy brethren praise. thy hands shall be on the necks of thy enemies: the sons of thy father shall bow down to thee. Juda is a lion's whelp: to the prey, my son, thou are gone up. Resting thou has couched as a lion, and as a lioness. Who shall rouse him? The sceptre shall not be taken away from Juda, nor a ruler from his thigh, till he come that is to be sent: and he shall be the expectation of nations.

These words of power and valor prophetically point also, as it were, to the apostle Jude Thaddeus whose whole life was centered on them

Also powerful and important was the other great Judas of the Old Testament, the third son of Mathathias. Because of his heroic deeds, by which he distinguished himself in the Jewish struggle in the second century before Christ to maintain their religious freedom, he was surnamed Maccabaeus. (This word probably comes from the Aramaic maqqaba, which means "hammer"-signifying the vigor of his forecful attacks against the Syrians.) In glorious battles he conquered the huge armies of the godless King Antiochus IV, which were led by the commanders, generals, and governors, Nicanor, Gorgias, Timotheus, Bacchides, and Lysias. He successfully took possession of the Holy City, Jerusalem, after battling the hostile pagan occupation forces. Sacrifice and worship to the God of Israel, as the Law prescribed, were returned to the purified and reconsecrated temple.

The heroic deeds of this Judas remained vivid in the memory of the Jewish people. At home Jude Thaddeus heard his father and grandfather recounting the feasts of this great warrior. And in the synagogue he quietly listened on many Sabbaths to sermons inspired by the life and religion of this national hero. When the apostle later found himself in difficult situations, he could look back on his ideal. Then was Jude pround of his name, which so many brave and courageous men before him had borne. Here was his pattern, his blueprint. He also would be a "lion's whelp" and a "Maccabaean," a "hammer" for his age.

This noble name, however, was sadly spotted and stained by another Judas, also an apostle, the betrayer of Christ. There was no hope of ever having the name vindicated again. His heinous and ignominious crime was too deeply impressed on this name, and so corroded it, that they have never been separated, not even after many centuries. They are doomed to be as one until the end of time. No longer does Judas mean "I will praise the Lord," as Lia joyfully called out, but rather "I have sold the Lord for thirty pieces of silver," as Judas dispairingly moaned. No Christian is willing to bear the name of Judas, for even today the name bears a curse.

Both Jude Thaddeus and Judas Iscariot were apostles of Christ. Twice St Luke named them next to each other. When the Lord called "Judah," did both turn to look? But perhaps there was a slightly distinguishable tone in the Master's voice. When the unbelievable news spread like wildfire on Good Friday-the apostle "Judah" betrayed the Messias and then hanged himself-many may have thought that Jude Thaddeus was the guilt one.

The betrayer had also disgraced the name of Judas Maccabaeus. As an atonement for this offense, Catholic people since the eighteenth century have devoutly honored the holy namesake of this unfortunate betrayer with a special trust. The apostle Jude Thaddeus has become the patron of Christians troubled with cares and anxieties, patron of Christians who are on the verge of despair.

Jude, the Brother of the Lord

Even in the Gospels the evangelists were embarrassed to mention the name of Judas. Their prejudice is quite apparent. In the one passage in which St John spoke of Thaddeus, he hurried over the name, and was quick to add, "Judas, not the Iscariot... Even more striking is the fact that both Matthew and Mark never mentioned the full name of this apostle, Jude Thaddeus, but merely called him by his surname, Thaddeus. One can correctly assume that the evangelists wanted to reestablish a good name for this apostle among his companions and especially among the people. By using only his surname, they could remove any stigma his name might have given him.

St. Luke was the first to mention this apostle by his proper name, but not without affixing a light to this dark and gloom name: "Judas Jacobi"-literally, "Jude of James." At first one might think that Jude was the son of James, but, as the English translation of this passage show, he was "Jude, the brother of James." That these two were brothers is shown in several passages in Holy Scripture. Both Matthew and Luke referred to them as brothers, and Jude himself wrote in the beginning of his Epistle that he was "the brother of James."

This James, whom St. Luke, in his two list of the apostles, was quick to distinguish from Judas Iscariot, must have been a well-known Christian and a highly esteemed person. In view of the fact that James the Great was already dead for twenty years, it is not plausible to maintain that it was he who was meant. In support of this, it should be noted that previously James the Great was mentioned only as the brother of John, never as the brother of Jude. Jude Thaddeus was the brother of James the Less, the bishop of Jerusalem. It is also noteworthy that the evangelists Matthew and Mark placed James the Less and Thaddeus next to each other in their lists of the apostles. At the same time, the question whether James and Jude were blood brothers or only brothers in the sense of cousins cannot be answered with certitude and must be left unsolved. In any case, this famous James helped to brighten the gloom name of Jude.

There was another ray of light that fell upon this good Jude, who had the misfortune of sharing the same name with the betrayer of Christ. He was not only the brother of the distinguished James, but also a "brother" of the Lord Himself. The Nazarenes asked about Jesus, " 'Is not this the carpenter...the brother of James...(and) Jude?'" It is not improper to think that this apostle played and prayed with Jesus in the happy days of their youth. They might well have run and rambled together on the way to the great feasts in Jerusalem. Full of fear, Mary looked for the lost, twelve-year-old Jesus, and she may have first sought out His cousins, Jude and James-where and when had they seen Him last; where and when had they last been together? This apostle, too, like James, was closely related to Jesus. In his Epistle he called himself "the brother of James," but, with shy reserve, not brother of the Lord, but "servant of Jesus Christ."

Jude, the Farmer

Jude Thaddeus was married before he was called by Christ. According to an observation of Nicephorus Callistus, which Eusebius quoted in his history of the Church, this apostle was supposedly the bridegroom at the marriage feast at Cana. But this statement is certainly questionable, even though it explains very well the presence of Jesus and His mother at the wedding banquet.They were showing a great respect to this relative by attending and sharing with him the joy of the occasion.

Also in the work of Eusebius the report about the two grandsons of Jude, Zoker and James, whom Domitian had summoned to Rome to stand trial, was recorded in a section concerning James the Less. They lived as simple farmers on the arable land of Palestine, and had to pay the emperor a thousand denarii as revenue from the yields and profits of their small nine and a half acres. Their grandfather, Jude Thaddeus, certainly may have labored on this land. His Epistle, like that of his brother James, is the writing of a farmer. It is forcible, almost rough, neither fine nor delicate, with images from scenes of life in the country. He compared heretical and false teachers with men who lead themselves to pasture-"banqueting together without fear, looking after themselves"-and with "clouds without water, carried about by the winds," and with "trees in the fall, unfruitful, twice dead, uprooted."

Jude was a farmer. Before he, as an apostle, sowed the seed of the word of God over the wide spaces of the earth, he, as a farmer, spread the grains of barley and corn on the soil of the land laid open by a plough. How well he could understand the following parables of Christ!

"Behold, the sower went out to sow. And as he sowed, some seeds fell by the wayside, and the birds came and ate them up. And other seeds fell upon rocky ground, where they had not much earth; and they sprang up at once, because they had no depth of earth; but when the sun rose were scorched, and because they had no root they withered away. And other seeds fell among thorns; and the thorns grew up and choked them. And other seeds fell upon good ground, and yielded fruit, some a hundredfold, some sixtyfold, and some thirtyfold."

"The kingdom of heaven is like a man who sowed good seed in his fied; but while men were asleep, his enemy came and sowed weeds among the wheat, and went away. And when the blade sprang up and brought forth fruit, then the weeds appeared as well. And the servants of the householder came and said to him, 'Sir, didst thou not sow good seed in the field? How then does it have weeds?' He said to them, 'An enemy has done this.' And the servants said to him, 'Wilt thou have us go and gather them up?' 'No' he said, 'lest in gathering the weeds you root up the wheat along with them. Let both grow together until the harvest; and at harvest time I will say to the reapers: Gather up first the weeds, and bind them in bundles to burn; but the wheat gather into my barn.'"

"The kingdom of heaven is like a grain of mustard seed, which a man took and sowed in his field. This indeed is the smallest of all the seeds; but when it grows up it is larger than any herb and becomes a tree, so that the birds of the air come and dwell in its branches."

"Thus is the kingdom of God, as though a man should cast seed into the earth, then sleep and rise, night and day, and the seed should sprout and grow without his knowing it. For of itself the earth bears the crop, first the blade, then the ear, then the full grain in the ear. But when the fruit is ripe, immediately he puts in the sick because the harvest has come."

In the fields of His cousins, our Lord had been able to observe all of this.

In November, after the torrents of the first early rains had fallen, Jude harnessed his strong oxen and slow donkeys to plough the packed soil and furrow the old earth new and black for the bright seeds of corn and barley.

In February, when the sun was beginning to beat down, he wound his way through the rowed vineyards, cutting away the wild, pink shoots, the barren, blossomless sprigs and the dead, dry twigs, so that the good vines might bring forth more fruit.

In March, when an early spring parch began to show yellow and age the earth, he patiently awaited the refreshing rains that tasseled the green cornstalks, filled the ears, and hardened the barley hulls.

In April, in the beautiful but short-lived spring, he planted his garden with squash, pumpkins, cucumbers, beans, turnips, onions, garlic, leek, anise, mint, and caraway.

In May, when the feeding grain was low, he began to cut out the thin and stubby cornstalks at the ends of the rows and sides of the fields for feed; and he began to cut and bind the tanned grain for threshing, and later winnowed it with huge, flat scoop shovels in the evening wind that threw the dusty chaff and husks to the air.

In June, after the grain was harvested and the dead fields were gleaned by the poor, he had the sheep to pen and shear and brand before letting them run, skinny, without their wool, back to the hills.

In August, when the sun was losing its heat, he toiled in the vineyards, snapping off the purple bunchs of grapes, packed them into the presses and drew off the red blood of the grapes, which was soon to ferment into dark, autumn wine.

And in September, when evenings grew redder, the figs shriveled ripe and the olives, the last fruits to cling to life, died black to yield a soft oil from the presses.

Then the farmer Jude could repair his sheds and sharpen his tools. And he could rest.

So the year was filled with toil and worry. The rain and the sun were not always right, and Jude was not a rich farmer. His grandsons, Zoker and James, honest and loyal, stood before Domitian on trial because the thousand denarii which their household earned were spent for their own livelihood and taxes. The taxes were heavy. There were times when the farmer was obliged to deliver over a third of his harvest in corn and wine and oil, and at times it was as much as a half. Herod Antipas, in whose service Matthew, a companion of Judas Iscariot, worked as a tax-collector, every year drew from his comparatively small tetrarchy thousands of dollars, then worth five times more than money today.

To the Romans, the Jews had to pay a land-tax and a personal tax. Ten years before Christ entered his public life, Jewish delegates had gone to Rome to ask for an alleviation of this heavy taxation. The people were continually pressed by the ever-increasing demand for more money, with which the select few could glitter with rich splendor and lie drunken and basely debauched. The grandiose and lavish edifice of the ambitious Herodian family gorged down huge sums, which were bought with the sweat and blood of the poor. The simple farmer Jude certainly nodded his approval of the Lord's words when He warned the rich, "'But woe to you rich! for you are now having your comfort.

Yet Jude Thaddeus was satisfied and happy in his home on the land. Conscientiously he conformed to his duty to make a pilgrimage to Jerusalem three times a year for Easter, Pentecost and the Feast of Tabernacles. But he was only too glad to return to his own village in Galilee. Perhaps it was Cana, or it could even have been Nazareth. In the Holy City there was too much noise and bustle. The crowds were large and impatient; the market place was dirty and confusing. There was no quiet. The world was filling itself and theaters, race tracks, and arenas, with lust of the eyes, lust of the flesh, desires of worldly pleasure. If only God were willing that he would not have to go out into the world!

Jude wanted to live in his own small and quiet village and with his own family. Here his farm blossomed and flourished. Here his wife was contented and his children played. And yet, the day was near when he was to leave his loved family, to give up his peaceful home, and to choose instead the homelessness of the streets. This was an heroic sacrifice for a farmer. Jude Thaddeus was a courageous man. When he was called to follow the Lord as an apostle, to leave his wife and children, his home and fields, he gave his commitment courageously and went out to be a messenger of the kingdom of God.

Jude, the Courageous

At first glance, it is difficult to see, from Holy Scripture, how the apostle Jude Thaddeus was a bold hero. Neither the Gospels nor the Acts fo the Apostles mention anything about him other than his name-with the exception of one short sentence in the Fourth Gospel. Yet this name is rich with information, full of meaning, and opens the door to an insight into the apostle's personality. The evangelists Matthew and Mark called Jude by his surname, but this was not given to him by the Lord, as Simon Peter and the Sons of Thunder received theirs at their calling to the apostolate. Jude was much younger when he was first given a descriptive surname. His parents and close friends called him "Thaddeus," or as some older manuscripts have recorded it, "Lebbeus."

Thaddeus and Lebbeus actually have the same connotation. Both names are derived from Aramaic words: Thaddeus from "thad," meaning bosom," and Lebbeus from "leb," meaning "heart." His name, therefore, means "the courageous," "the stouthearted, " "the bold." Certain texts of the Gospels gave the apostle all three names: Jude Thaddeus Lebbeus. Thus St. Jerome called him "trinomius," the trinomial one. This surname was meant first of all to distinguish Jude from Judas Iscariot; the same time it reveals the apostle's nature. For had there been no basis for it, Jude would not have been given the honorary title Thaddeus, the "bold and daring one."

Courage, and even audacity, was certainly a characteristic peculiar to the Galilean individuality. A Roman philosopher admired this people's fearlessness. They defied all tyrants and stauchly adhered to their beliefs. There is an old saying that with the Judeans money came before honor, and with the Galileans honor came before money. This proverb gives a glimpse of the subtle difference between Jude Thaddeus and Judas Iscariot, the first slight divergence in the path that eventually led the two to such widely separated ends. The traitorous Judas, very reserved and quiet about his Judean origin, placed money before his ideal. The courageous Jude, from Galilee, placed faithfulness and honor before pieces of silver. He was so brave that his bravery must have astonished even the Galileans, for they called him simply Thaddeus, the courageous one. He was the bravest of the brave! And this name followed him into the lists of the apostles in Sacred Scripture.

The Epistle of St Jude is a lasting proof that this apostle was what his name signified. He had an energetic, valiant, and spirited personality. He was vigorous and stouthearted, a credit and an honor to his patrons, the father of the tribe of Juda and the Maccabean warrior. In the baptistry at Ravenna, Italy, a mosaic from the fifth century has been preserved, which reproduced an interpretation of the early Christian life surrounding this apostle. In this portrayal Jude Thaddeus looks rather tense and taut, full of energy and determination.

How the eyes of Thaddeus must have flashed when the Lord, foretelling opposition, spoke of strength and courage:

"Behold, I am sending you forth like sheep in the midst of wolves. Be therefore wise as serpents, and guileless as doves. But beware of men; for they will deliver you up to councils, and scourge you in their synagogues, and you will be brought before governors and kings for my sake, for a witness to them and to the Gentiles...

"Therefore, do not be afraid of them. For there is nothing concealed that will not be disclosed, and nothing hidden that will not be made known. What I tell you in darkness, speak it in the light; and what you hear whispered, preach it on the housetops. And do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. But rather be afraid of him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell...

"Do not think that I came to send peace upon earth; I have come to bring a sword, not peace... He who finds his life will lose it, and he who loses life for my sake, will find it."

This one apostle, Jude Thaddeus, radically threw all timidity aside and ignored the defamation aimed at Christianity as if it were a transaction for people with affected natures, for good-for-nothings, for men neither worthy nor capable of life. Christ had called to follow Him a man who was bold and brave, whose name was Thaddeus.

But Jude Thaddeus was not the only aposle with such a nature. There were James and John, whom Christ named "Boanerges," Sons of Thunder. There was Simon Peter, whom He made the "rock" of His Church. There was the other Simon, who was called the "Zealot". And all were men, who sacrificed totally, completely,and suffered more than seemed humanly possible. Christ demanded strong men; He was able to endow weak men with strong natures through graces. The strong could feel themselves touched by Christ; the weak could feel themselves drawn to Him. The power of Jesus is so great that He can perfect the strong as well as the weak.

Holy Scripture has not disclosed any heroic acts which might have borne out the significance of his renowned name, not burdens which he might have carried with a brave heart, no dangers and storms against which he showed a bold front. Still, one is inclined to assume that Jude earned his reputation for courage in the resistance movement of his country. At the time of Christ, Galilee stirred with the fever of political unrest. The Galileans, like growling lions, like oxen enslaved in harnesses, bore the yoke of the whipping brutality of the Roman occupation forces. Jewish fanatics, the Zealots, the "Maquis"-French guerrilla fighters against Hilter's Nazis-of their age, as it were, sought with wild wrath to provide themselves with a violent self-defense. They annoyed and harassed the Romans whenever and wherever and however they could. They also took revenge on their own people who were deserters and traitors. These volunteer fighters constantly attacked, now here, then there, not everywhere, then nowhere. They were not easily captured.

One of the twelve apostles, Simon, probably a brother of Jude Thaddeus, was surnamed "the Zealot." It is possible that Jude, too, took part in this national movement. Perhaps he also lived through may sudden surprise attacks-the blitzkriegs of the first century-that could have cost him his life, had he been captured. Maybe it was in this resistance that he acquired his name, Thaddeus, the bold. Frequently, early commentators of Scripture called Jude "the Zealot," too. Here he may have been confused with his brother, Simon, but this confusion may also have had a real basis.

Jesus had taken a certain risk in calling such men into the circle of the Twelve, dynamic men with explosive characters, a Jude Thaddeus, a Simon Zealot. But it was just such natures that He needed for the building of His heavenly kingdom on earth. He wanted courageous heroes, holy adventurers, undaunted warriors, brave soldiers of God. Thaddeus and Simon had the same good intentions that all the other apostles had, but both also had given a false interpretation to the coming Messianic kingdom. For the the Messias was the long-awaited liberator of an oppressed race, the glorious liberator from the foreign, Roman domination. Our Lord did not condemn His disciples for their erroneous ideas nor repudiate their hope, but rather He encouraged them while perfecting their own knowledge and, above all, redirecting their purposes.



Jn 3:16 For God so loved the world, as to give his only begotten Son; that whosoever believeth in him, may not perish, but may have life everlasting.
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PostSubyek: Re: The Twelve Apostles   10th March 2013, 16:17


The Gospels record only one speech made by "Judas, not the Iscariot." Our Lord's answer accompanied the apostle's question. This passage speaks significantly of the kingdom of God. It was Thursday evening, during the Last Supper. Jesus was speaking to His disciples to comfort them, for they were sad when He spoke of leaving them. He spoke of a lasting and permanent unity with them. " 'I will not leave you orphans; I will come to you. Yet a little while and the world no longer sees me. But you see me, for I live and you shall live.'" The world! You! The flood of Christ's discourse rushed on, but Jude Thaddeus stopped listening. He went back and pondered on these mysterious words. He could not understand. And after awhile, he interrupted, "'Lord, how is it that thou art about to manifest thyself to us, and not to the world:?'"

Although these are the only words of Jude which have been recorded in the Gospels, nevertheless they flash like lightning from the depths of his heart and soul, and for a brief second they lighted the true faith of this almost unknown apostle. Jude Thaddeus was inspired by Christ, enraptured, filled with enthusiasm. He was impatient and impetuous to see Christ's "manifestation." And therefore it was a tormenting enigma to him, a bitter disappointment, that the Lord should manifest Himself only to the small circle of the Twelve, only "to us," and not to the public, "to the world."

Five days before this, on Palm Sunday, he found it unbelievable and unintelligible that Jesus should enter Jerusalem and receive such a magnificent welcome worthy only of a national hero, and still not take command of the city. How this Jude of the New Testament burned to lay "his hands on the necks of his enemies," as the Patriarch Jacob had prophesied of the father of the tribe of Juda! How he burned to be able to purge the Holy City of the pagan enemies, as Judas Maccabaeus had done, and to give it back to the God of Israel.

Why do You not manifest Yourself to the whole world? This impatient question is approriately placed side by side with the demand of the "brethren of Jesus," of whom Jude Thaddeus was one, which was indignantly thrust upon the Lord before the Feast of Tabernacles:

"Leave here (from this forlorn corner of Galilee) and go into Judea that thy disciples also may see the works that thou dost; for no one does a thing in secret if he wants to be publicly known. If thou dost these things, manifest thyself to the world."

That Jesus did not immediately make manifest His divine dignity and majesty, that He did not annihilate His enemies with one stroke of the hand, that He did not establish a vast and powerful kingdom on earth, all this ran against the concepts of the bold and daring Jude. He could not understand. And this was the question, the only question, in the mind of the apostle Thaddeus.

As Jesus continued to speak at the Last Supper, after Jude had interrupted, it seems He neither answered nor even referred to the apostle's questioning objection:

"If anyone love me, he will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our abode with him. He who does not love me does not keep my words.

And yet, in the depths of this answer lies the solution to the question that worried and tormented this Galilean farmer who was following Christ. The courageous Jude Thaddeus longed for the appearance of the dominion and majesty of Jesus. Jesus promised a manifestation of the Father and the Son in the souls of the faithful. This indwelling of God, however, is reserved for those who love God. The materialistic world that does not really love, therefore, cannot see this spiritual manifestation of divine glory.

St Augustine commented,

There is, therefore, a certain manifestation of God, which the godless can in no way perceive, since they do not share in the manifestation of the Father and of the Holy Spirit. The manifestations of the Son they could have had, but only those in the flesh; and flesh, by its very nature, is not the spiritual manifestation, nor can it remain with them forever, but only for a short time, as it is created; it is for judgment, not for joy; for punishment, not for reward.

These sublime words of the Lord showed Jude Thaddeus the path to the future. The Lord did not curtail the heroism of this courageous apostle. No one stifled him less than the Messias, who encouraged him and perfected him. This apostle was to remain a bold force and an undaunted warrior, yet his goal was not to be in the establishment of a short-lived and foolhardy kingdom of the world, but in the spreading of the eternal and spiritual kingdom of God in the world. Not politics, but the coming and the abiding of the Father and of the Son and of the love of the Holy Spirit in the souls of all mankind was the mission worthy of his brave heart.

Jude, the Writer

Among the sacred writings of the New Testament there is found an Epistle written by Jude. This Epistle has been attributed to the apostle Jude since early times, and for good reasons. It was boldly and powerfully written, and only a Thaddeus, a courageous one, could have written it. The whole Epistle is only tweny-five verses long. Origen praised it: "Jude wrote a short Epistle, but one filled with words of heavenly wisdom. The apostle addressed it "to the called who have been loved in God the Father and preserved for Christ Jesus.

The author was apparently addressing the Jewish Christians of Palestine and Syria, for the lines, few though they are, are filled with references and allusions to the Old Testament. Other religious books were quoted, those known only to the Jews, such as the "Book of Henoch"-an apocryphal work which Jude did not sanction save for the one prophecy contained in it-and another concerning Moses. The author himself gave the reason for this writing:

For certain men have stealthily entered in, who long ago were marked out for this condemnation, ungodly men who turn the grace of God into wantonness and disown our only Master and only Lord, Jesus Christ.

After distorting and misrepresenting the Christian freedom from the law of the Old Testament, which was demanded by Paul and decided upon by all the apostles, these false teachers rejected the Old Law completely. They spurned any obligation of conscience, and preached a life without restraint, a life enjoyed to the full, a life of impulse and instinct and whim and desire-this was their new and true "gospel." St. Paul had already taken issue with these people, these "enemies of the cross of Christ. Their end is ruin, their god is their belly, their glory is in their shame, they mind the things of earth." Peter also, in his second Epistle, pronounced the supreme anathema upon this unrestrained licentiousness and unbridled libertinism which their brazen vice impudently masked with the hypocritical misnomer of "Christian freedom."

In the gospel of his second chapter of his second Epistle, St. Peter defined and described these heretics with the Church:

They regard as pleasure their daylight revelry; they are spots and blemishes, they abound in wantonness while banqueting with you. They have eyes full of adultery and turned unceasingly towards sin. They entice unstable souls; they have their hearts exercised in covetousness; they are children of a curse. They have forsaken the right way and have gone astray.... These men are springs without water and mists driven by storms; the blackness of darkness is reserved for them. For by high-sounding, empty words they entice with sensual allurements of carnal passion those who are just escaping from such as live in error. They promise them freedom, whereas they are the slaves of corruption; for by whatever a man is overcome, of this also he is the slave.

While writing this second Epistle, Peter made good use of the writing of Jude Thaddeus. the second chapter quoted above, when compared with Jude's Epistle, clearly shows this dependence and utilization. The work of Peter reads like a rewritten and somewhat modified text of the smaller Epistle, which he copied and, so to speak, simply presented as his own. From this it can be seen that the head of the apostles, the first in authority, had a great respect for his companion-apostle. Simon Peter and Jude Thaddeus indeed were both strong and bold warriors of God!

The Epistle of St Jude was written between the years 62, the year in which James the Less died, and 67, the date of the composition of the second Epistle of St Peter. According to the testimony of Hegesippus, as long as James the Less was at the head of the Church in Palestine, it was unsullied by false teachers and heretics from within.

The Epistle of Jude begins with a vibranting fanfare, "exhorting you to contend earnestly for the faith once for all delivered to the saints." The entire Epistle is an earnest warning, with references to examples from the Old Testament against false teachers. He pointed out the divine judgments and how God had punished such men in the past. The author used a language that was bold and powerful, even severe and blunt. It is reminiscent of the wrath often pronounced by the prophets of the Old Testament:

In like manner do these men also defile the flesh, disregard authority, deride majesty....But these men deride whatever they do not know; and the things they know by instincts like the dumb beasts, become for them a souce of destruction. Woe to them!...These men are stains on their feasts, banqueting together without fear looking after themselves;...wild waves of the sea, foaming up their shame; wandering stars, for whom the storm of darkness has been reserved forever....These are grumbling murmurers walking according to their lusts. And haughty in speech, they cultivate people for the sake of gain.

In those words, Thaddeus, the courageous apostle, can be recognized. He did not sneak and spy, but was boldly frank. Nor did he have the haughty bearing of aloof royalty; he was humbly direct. With the heavey step of a farmer he walked among our Lord's flock, looking out for its welfare. He was not interested in fame and glory. His one thought was to make "every endeavor to write to you about our common salvation." When this salvation was in peril, he grasped the situation with vigor, proceeded without ceremony, and acted with spirit to preach fearlessly and without anxious concern, proper or improper, what the grace of God commanded him. God inspired him and directed him. Here it becomes apparent that the courage of the apostle Jude Thaddeus was a grace from God.

The Lord's instructions and exhortations at the Last Supper had been heard and heeded by Jude. It was not from an innate inclination for strife, nor from a desire for controversy, nor from a sudden explosion of a quick temper that this apostle set out to write his Epistle. Excusing himself in the very beginning, he wrote, "I found it necessary to write to you, exhorting you to contend earnestly for the faith..." It was not the strife that weighed heavily on his heart and soul, but the "common salvation," for which, however, he certainly did not fear or shun contention," for God he was ready to fight. Surprising, however, are his instructions for a practical attitude and behavior toward false teachers, whom he had attacked with such sharp and strong words based on high principles. Their salvation also lay heavy on the soul of this stout-hearted apostle:

And some, who are judged, reprove; but others, save, snatching them from the fire. And to others be merciful with fear, hating even the garment which is soiled by the flesh.

The old Epistle of Jude was written for our own age, too; for our modern civilization, so affected by materialism, is very much influenced by morally primitive pagans who adore only the flesh. Perhaps Jude was writing for us in the twentieth century more than any other age. His words have a special significance and importance for us. Many sermons against the moral abuses of today can be based on this small but important part of the Bible.

The conclusion of the Epistle comes as the first full-voiced Gloria of Easter Week. This beautiful praise of the glory of God rings out as the thankful echo of our Lord's words at the Last Supper. It was then that Jesus spoke to Jude, the apostle called Thaddeus, about the coming of the Father and the Son into souls of those who love God and who have been blessed by Him.

Now to him who is able to preserve you without sin and to set you before the presence of his glory, without blemish, in gladness, to the only God our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord, belong glory and majesty, dominion and authority, before all time, and now, and forever. Amen.

Jude, the Apostle

The apostolic labors of Jude Thaddeus, like those of most of the other apostles, are surrounded with darkness. What is recorded about these works is as thoroughly muddled and entangled as the accounts concerning his three names. All this has given rise to much confusion. The only credible and reliable conclusions are those drawn from the apostle's own Epistle. Here Palestine was indicated as the main missionary field. In this country the two farmer brothers, James the Less and Jude Thaddeus, had ploughed up fallow land and furrowed it anew. They worked hard and applied themselves wholeheartedly. But what a small world it was then! This reaping the harvest of grain under the sun before the rain fell was only a preparation for the time when they were to reap the harvest of souls for Christ, under a bursting storm, before the divine splendor appeared for eternity.

Assuming from the Epistle that Palestine was the field of Jude's missionary activity, Nicephorus Callistus noted that this apostle labored in Judea, Galilee, Samaria, and Idumea. Jude labored in Galilee! There his good and aging wife and his sons lived. They were still culivating the fields that once belonged to him. There his grandsons, Zoker and James lived. They still run and clung to their grandfather when he returned, dusty and tired, from his apostolic journeys. And yet on other days he left his much-loved homeland and gave himself over completely to the will of God to preach in other areas. This was the personal sacrifice of the apostle.

Syrian authors have reported that the missionary field of the apostle Jude Thaddeus was centered around Edessa, a city now name Urfa, in southeastern Turkey. The Armenians, whose vast empire included Edessa in the year 90 B.C., named the apostles Jude Thaddeus and Bartholomew, in a hymnal of the thirteenth century, as their "first illuminators."

A rare document from the archives of Edessa, quoted by Eusebius, presented a correspondence between Christ and Prince Abgar V of Edessa. Abgar begged the Lord to come to him in Edessa in order to cure him of his sickness. Christ answered that he had been sent by the Father to Israel alone. Yet after His Ascension He would send one of His disciples to Edessa. Later-so Eusebius explained-the apostle Thomas sent Thaddeus, one of the seventy-two disciples who was also named Addeur, to Abgar. The "Doctrine of Addeus" a later continuation of this old legend compiled around the year 400, added the further account that the messenger of Abgar had painted the picture of Christ. Nothing more need be said about the authenticity of his letter. Here also Eusebius confused the apostle Thaddeus, one of the Twelve, with Addeus, one of the seventy-two disciples, the founder of the Church at Edessa.

Other legends maintian that Jude Thaddeus first labored among his own people in Palestine, and then journeyed through the neighboring lands, Arabia, Syria, Mesopotamia. These legends certainly have a greater probability than the others. He is said to have suffered martyrdom in Berythus (now Beirut, capital of Lebanon) or in Aradus in Phoenicia. However, most Greek commentators concluded that this apostle died a natural death.

The ten books of Craton, a pupil of the apostle (which writing can be dated from the beginning of the fourth century), placed Thaddeus, along with his brother Simon, in Persia. The two were apostolic missionaries together in this vast and powerful empire. Depite the incessant hostilities of two Magi (members of a priestly caste), Zaroes and Arfaxat, the success of the two apostles was colossal. Some of the legends that have arisen from this older legend are too fantastic to deserve repetition. In Babylon they converted and baptized sixty thousand men, not counting women and children. In thirteen years the two passed through the twelve provinces of the Persian Empire.

When the apostles entered the city of Suanir, they were called upon to offer sacrifice in the pagan temple to the sun and the moon. Both explained that the sun and the moon were only creations of the one true God, whom they preached. They drove the demons out of the pagan's idols, two black, hideous figures, and the evil spirits fled, howling and blaspheming. The both priests and people assailed the two apostles. And Jude said to Simon, "I see my Lord Jesus Christ calls us." A shower of stones and a barrage of sticks killed them-therefore artists have portrayed Jude with a stick in his hand.

King Xerxes, as the legend continues, supposedly had the bodies of these two apostles-martyrs taken to the city in which he resided. There he ordered that a beautiful, eight-sided church be constructed out of marble. He had their bodies preserved in a silver sarcophagus placed in a small room plated with gold. The building should have been completed in three years, and consecrated on the day of the apostles' death, July 1.

These Latin legends, which drew heavily from the old writings of Craton, are used in the Roman Breviary as lessons for the feast of the apostles Simon and Jude. In the Roman Church these two apostles have been honored together on the same day for many centuries, as are James and Philip, and Peter and Paul. The relationship between Jude and Simon, alluded to in Scripture, and their common labors and death, witnessed by legends, may well be the basis for their common feast. Their feast day comes in last autumn, October 28. This calls to mind the serious words in Jude's Epistle: "... trees in the fall, unfruitful, twice dead, uprooted...," and autumn "...clouds without water, carried about by the winds..."

At the conclusion of the life of an apostle there is almost always a feeling of disappointment and dissatisfaction: more certain and exact information is noticeably lacking. Certainly there were many great words and works of the apostle Jude Thaddeus which were not intended for our knowledge by Divine Providence. Yet we do know that he was a courageous apostle. Only God, who sees from eternity, knows his complete life; the world knows little. Perhaps this is the real meaning of that limited manifestation of God. It is both a comfort and a reminder to recall the words of Christ to Jude Thaddeus that He would not manifest Himself to the world as He would to the apostles. But" 'if anyone love me, he will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our abode with Him.'"

This ends Chapter Ten of Father Hophan's book: "The Apostle".

Simon is mentioned on all four lists of the apostles. On two of them he is called "the Zealot". Jude is so named by Luke and Acts. Matthew and Mark called him Thaddeus.

These two bold and brave apostles feast are celebrated together as a reminder that we cannot receive too often. According to Father Foley, that I have quoted elsewhere, holiness does not depend on human merit, culture, personality, effort or achievement. It is entirely God's creation and gift.

God needs no Zealots to bring about the kingdom by force. Jude, like all the saints, is the saint of the impossible: only God can create his divine life in human beings. And God wills to do so, for all of us. Click on their names above for details about these two apostles who Christ chose to establish and build his Church. Let us be reminded of Blessed John XXIII words: "On my shoulders, on the shoulders of all priests, all Catholics, rest the solemn duty of working together for the conversion of this impious world."


Jn 3:16 For God so loved the world, as to give his only begotten Son; that whosoever believeth in him, may not perish, but may have life everlasting.
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PostSubyek: Re: The Twelve Apostles   10th March 2013, 16:20

St. James the less

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James the Less: Son of Alphaeus, called "Less" because he was younger in age or shorter in stature than James the Greater; one of the Catholic Epistles bears his name; was stoned to death in 62 or thrown from the top of the temple in Jerusalem and clubbed to death in 66; in art, is depicted with a club or heavy staff; May 3 (Roman Rite), Oct 9 (Byzantine Rite).

James the Less feast day is celebrated with St Philip on May 3rd. This James is called James, Son of Alphaeus. According to Fr Foley, O.F.M. who I have quoted previously, we know nothing of this saint but his name, and of course the fact that Jesus chose him to be one of the twelve pillars of the New Israel, His Church. He is not the James of Acts, son of Clopas, "brother" of Jesus and later bishop of Jerusalem and the traditional author of the Epistle of James.

The following links provides insight on St James the Less: [You must be registered and logged in to see this link.]

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The follow is taken from : "The Apostle,: by Otto Hophan, O.F.M.,

Chapter Nine

James the Less, firmly fixed in the ninth place in all four lists of the apostles, was made the leader of the third group of apostles, which was comprised of the brethren of Jesus-and His betrayer. St Mark called him "the Less" in order to distinguish him from the other apostle named James, the son of Zebedee and brother of John. He is also called "the Younger". It seems he was not so old as Jacobus major-James the Great, the Elder-and perhaps he was smaller in stature-the Latin word minor can mean either younger or smaller, or both. The symbolic meaning of the apostles's word will come to light in the course of this chapter.

The men of this last group before us not only new faces, but also new characters among the ranks of the Twelve. Many have become accustomed to calling all of the apostles simply "the poor fishermen of Galilee. " But actually the group around Christ was comprised of men not only of many very different temperaments and personalities, but also of various professions. They came from different social circles. Some were rich; some were poor. With the calling of this third group of apostles, tillers of the soil also were given a voice in changing the whole world. James, Jude Thaddeus, and Simon were farmers.

The Gospel itself does not explicitly justify such a conclusion. With the exception of the names of these three relatives of Jesus, nothing else was mentioned about them. Only about Jude Thaddeus did St. John record a few words. On the other hand, James and Jude left two Epistles behind them in the New Testament, both of which indirectly disclose much about their personalities and attitudes. These allusions surround the Epistles as the fragrance of the blooming fields, the fat of the earth, and the dew of heaven surrounded Esau. The background schemes, descriptions, comparisons, allusions: all point to laborers of the land as their authors. No rough fisherman, no clever tax-collector, not educated scholar, but only a farmer, who was devoted to nature, and its care and cultivation, could write such sentences at these:

...The rich man... will pass away like the flower of the grass. For the sun rises with a burning heat and parches the grain, and its flower falls and the beauty of its appearances perishes...If anyone does not offend in word, he is a perfect man, able also to lead round by a bridel the whole body. For if we [-we!-] put bits into horses' mouths that they may obey us, we control their whole body also... Be patient, therefore, brethren, for the coming of the Lord. Behold, the farmer waits for the precious fruit of the earth, being patient until it receives the early and the late rain.

The supposition which such language awakens is confirmed by an historical document of Hegesippus, which was stored away by the Church historian Eusebius in the middle of the second century. According to this historical record, Domitian, who ruled from 81 to 96, summoned Zoker and James, two grandsons of the apostle and brother of the Lord, Jude Thaddeus, and grandnephews of the apostles and brother of the Lord, James the Less, to come to Rome, because they were suspected of high treason. In the course of their official interrogration, the two named their allotted property, about nine and half across of arable land, and showed him their calloused hands. Domitian who had feared them as dangerous relatives of Jesus of Nazareth, set them free, unharmed, to return to their home.

If one bears in mind that, according to Jewish custom, possessions of a family are inherited only by blood relatives, then he will readily understand that the grandfather, Thaddeus, and his brothers, James and Simon, had already worked those nine and a half acres by the sweat of their brow.

The Lord called both fishermen and farmers to be His apostles. How significant it is that brothers had lived by much work, and even more by patience! Neither the one nor the other had complete control over his success, for both worked with nature, which God alone controls, This was a good preparation for the apostolate, for the fishing and cultivating of souls for their divine Creator. The farmer worked on the firm and solid land; the fisherman had to ply his trade on the uncertain surface of the sea. The former was less flexible, and also less adaptable, than the latter. The farmer was slow to act, thoughtful, considerate, and persevering. His occupation certainly helps to explain the conservative speech of James the Less.

James, the Brother of the Lord

In all four lists of the apostles, this younger James was named the "son of Alphesus: to distinguish him from the other James, the "son of Zebedee. Hegesippus also called this Alpheus Clopas, Cleophas. Perhaps this was a second name. Possibly it is merely a different form or pronunciation of the same name. This opinion that Alpheus was also called Cleophas finds some support even in the Gospels. Mark and John recorded several of the names of the pious women who stood by the cross on Calvary. Among them Mark names a "Mary the mother of James the Less." John, however, wrote, "Now there were standing by the cross of Jesus him mother and his mother's sister, Mary of Cleophas," meaning, Mary the wife of Cleophas.

It is quite possible that these two seemingly different Marys were one and the same person. Mark distinguished her from other Marys by naming her son; John, by naming her husband. Then, however, Alpheus must necessarily be taken to be the same person as Cleophas, for James the Less was definitely the son of Alpheus and Mary; and this Mary, as pointed out before, was the wife of Cleophas. Concerning this Alpheus Cleophas there was no reference made in Scripture. Many commentators conjecture he was the Cleophas to whom the risen Savior appeared on the road to Emmaus. Hegesippus was of the opinion that he was the brother of St. Joseph, the foster father of Jeus. This would already establish a certain affinity between James and Christ.

The mother of James and the wife of Cleophas, Mary, was explicitly called "his [Christ's] mother's sister" by St John. Perhaps she actually was a sister of Mary, the mother of God-this presents the difficulty of explaining two sisters with the same name in one family. Possibly they were cousins. Or it could be that there was an affinity by marriage, the wife of Celophas being the sister-in-law of the Blessed Virgin Mary, In any cae, they were related.

The close relationship of this noble wife with the mother of Jesus is vividly expressed in their sharing in the life and sufferings of the Lord. In his account of the Crucifixion, St. Matthew praised the pious women who

were there, looking on from a distance, who had followed Jesus from Galilee, ministering to him. Among them were Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James and Joseph, and the mother of the sons of Zebedee.

Mary, the mother of James, stood beneath the cross with the brave and faithful few, embracing her sister. Mary comforted the mother of God, assuring her that she would not be abandoned and alone, even though her son was dying on the cross. She was with Mary Magdalene at the tomb, and together they were the last to leave the grave on the dark evening of Good Friday. She was with Mary Magdalene and Salome when they went to the tomb in the gray dawn of Easter morning to take their gifts of love, spices and ointments, to anoint the body of their crucified Messias. And therefore she was among the women to be blessed with the first "Lumen Christi," the first Easter alleluia. She also went with the others to bring the happy news to the apostles.

James had a good mother, a faithful follower of Christ who ministered to Him during His public life until the cross, even until the grave. Like most of the apostles of all ages, he was prepared by his mother for the apostolate of Christ. The holy woman deemed it a great grace and blessing and honor to be able to offer her son to God-and how sad and pathetic the mother who refuses this rare privilege!

The writings of the new Testament also mentioned brothers of James. When recording the accounts of Good Friday and Easter, St. Mark once spoke of "Mary the mother of James the Less and of Joseph," and another time, simply "the mother of Joseph," and a third time, only "the mother of James." The author of the Epistles of St. Jude the Apostle introduces himself as "the brother of James." The close relationship between Jude (Thaddeus) and James was noted in Luke's lists of the apostles.

James, Jude, Joseph, and Simon are first encountered as brothers in the Gospels, where they were called "brethren of Jesus." When Jesus had returned to Nazareth, to His native country, and was teaching in the synagogue, the people there, who knew Him well, were offended and astounded. And these people could say, "'Is not this the carpenter, the son of Mary, the brother of James, Joseph, Jude, and Simon?'"

The question immediately arises, "In what sense is the term brethren of Jesus used in this passage, and in a few other similar passages of the Gospels?" Much has been written discussing only the one question as to whether the James called the brother of the Lord was the same man as the apostle, James the Less, the son of Alpheus.

Since the Gospels so repeatedly speak of many "brethren of Jesus," one can immediately presume that natural brothers are not meant, but more distant relatives of Jesus. In the Gospel, Mary's supreme intention is made evident: "'...I do not know man.'" Since very early times, the Church has defended and preserved the Gospels's testimony of the virginity of Mary like a precious pearl. The expression "brother of Jesus," therefore, in no way stands as proof of the opinion that this term signifies a blood relationship.

Even today in the Orient, as it was centuries ago, the word brother has more than one meaning. It not denotes brother, but it can also mean nephew, cousin, brother-in-law, and even a friend or comrade or companion. When the names of the parents are given, it can be concluded that the term means "brother" in the normal sense. But never are the "brethren of Jesus" meant to signify sons of Mary. The people of Nazareth emphasized that Jesus was the Son of Mary, and this they did in the same sentence in which His "brothers" were named.

Yet the plea of Christ on the cross to John remains at first puzzling: "'Behold thy mother.'" And He consoled His mother Mary: "'Woman, behold thy son'"-thy son, not a son. But here the only logical interpretation of this relationship is a close spiritual union. If Mary had had other sons, our Lord would not have entrusted John alone with the care of His lonely mother. All would have immediately expressed not only their right, but also their duty to see after her. Meanwhile, the evidence that the "brother of Jesus" not only can be understood as "cousin," but even must be taken in that sense, is certainly make clear by James the Less, "brother" of the Lord. For in all probability-implying practical certitude-James the apostle of the Lord.

In the introductory chapter of the Acts of the Apostles, St. Luke named only two men called James, not three: James, the son of Zebedee, and James, the son of Alpheus. In the twelfth chapter he recorded the death of the elder James. After that the sacred writer spoke simply of a James: he no longer found it necessary to distinguish him from any other James. These passages, however, show clearly that this James was well-known and much esteemed, that he was a leader of the Church at Jerusalem. Had St. Luke been speaking of a third James, distinguishing between James the Less and James, the brother of the Lord, he would have pointed this out as he had before James the Great was martyred.

The Epistle to the Galatians confirms this same interpretation. St. Paul was speaking of his first visit to Jerusalem after his conversion, to see Peter. He continued, "But I saw none of the other apostles, except [in Greek: ei me] James, the brother of the Lord." Here Paul testified that James, the brother of the Lord, was one of the apostles. This is the natural and logical interpretation; and any other is labored and artificial.

Finally, if this James had not been one of the apostles, his position in the early Church would not have been understandable. Those who refuse to accept that James, the brother of the Lord, was the apostle, James the Less, are forced to admit that this "James, even though he was not received by the other apostles into their group after the death of the son of Zebedee, nevertheless... maintained an apostolic position." Cullmann made the statement, certainly indefensible, that, when Peter departed from Jerusalem, he left his special rights behind him with James.

James the Less, the brother of the Lord, was James the apostle. This is the only conclusion possible if this "brother of Jesus" is unequivocally to be shown to be the son of Alphesus and Mary, the sister of Jesus' mother. He is not the son of the mother of God, nor a son of Joseph by an earlier marriage-as the legendary accounts of the so-called Proto-Gospel of the Apostle James claimed. Only with this interpretation is James shown to be a son of the "sister" of the mother of Jesus and a relative of the brother of Joseph, the foster father of Jesus.

The Greek Church sees in these "brothers of Jesus" the sons of Cleophas, the sons of the brother of St. Joseph. The Roman Church, on the other hand, recognizes them as the sons of that Mary who was the sister of the Blessed Virgin Mary. Yet these two different interpretations concerning the nature of their relationship are not diametrically opposed: they can be harmonized. For in virtue of Mary's marriage with Cleophas, referred to by St John (19:25), these " brothers" were related to Jesus as well as to the Virgin Mary and St. Joseph.

In the course of the Gospels the brethren of Jesus often assumed relationship with the Lord, which relationship stood in direct contrast to that of the other apostles with Jesus Christ, their leader.

St. Mark, for example, wrote,

And his mother and his brethren came, and standing outside, they sent to him, calling to him. Now a crowd was sitting about him, and they said to him, "Behold, thy mother and thy brethern are outside, seeking thee." And he answered and said to them, "Who are my mother and my brethren?" And looking around on those who were sitting about him, he said, "Behold my mother and my brethren. For whoever does the will of God, he is my brother and sister and mother."

And St. John observed in the middle of his Gospel, "For not even his brethren believed in him." Here Jesus again referred to relatives, but not blood brothers; and obviously these brethren were not the two or three He had chosen to be apostles. These distant relatives were also His "brothers." Meanwhile, the text does not rule out the idea that those of His brethren who were raised to the nobility of the apostolate found it especially difficult to believe in Jesus. Psychologically that is understandable, inevitably natural. For these kin of the Lord, those companions who traveled daily with Him in His youth, those comrades who played with Him and shared His hardships, those who possibly even enjoyed the same bed and table with Him, those familiar relatives, then, humanly speaking, lived too close to Jesus.

According to an old tradition, the mother of these sons, Mary, the wife of Cleophas, after the early death of her husband went to live with her sister, the mother of Jesus, in the house at Nazareth. Her sons never even notices their noble and serious cousins's unusual superiority. And now they were only too happy with Him, naively proud that such a great one should come from their own poor group. Yet, for a full comprehension and appreciation of the spiritual and divine mission of Jesus these relatives, precisely as relatives, had a longer and more difficult way to travel than the other aposles.

Christ's relatives were placed at the end of the four lists of apostles. Tactfully our Lord assigned His cousins to the last places, but it may also have been their painful hesitation to believe that classed them in the last group. Peter, the first among the ranks of the apostles, was also the first in faith. In the first Epistles to the Corinthians, St. Paul mentioned that Christ "was seen by James, then by all the apostles." The "Hebrew Gospel" recorded that, after the Last Supper, James made a vow not to eat any bread until he had again seen Jesus as the risen Saviour. Did James, by chance, need a special strengthening in his faith, as Thomas did, or even more than Thomas did? As Thomas was physically absent when Christ appeared to the apostles, did James, though present, fail to believe the first time?

It may be supposed that James did not thoroughly believe in Jesus his cousin, as "the Lord and God" until he had met Him face to face after the Resurrection. His personal contact with Jesus was merely an external one, not a true inner union. Many times this proved to be an obstacles to and a hindrance for Jesus' grace. Blood is less-minor! than grace. He who is united with Jesus in faith and love is really His brother, sister, even mother, like Mary, who was bound to Him in body and soul.

James, the Bishop of Jerusalem

James the Less is comparable to a late-rising star which begins to shine only after the other stars fade beyond the horizon. In the Gospels, in the first ten years of the history of the apostles, almost nothing was heard of James. But after the martyrdom of James the Elder in the year 42, and after the flight of Peter from Jerusalem "to another place," he suddenly came into the light of history. In the exciting night of his miraculous escape from prison, Peter went to the house of Mark and left the instruction, "'Tell this to James and to the brethren.'" This special emphasis on James already pointed to his prominent position in the Mother Church at Jerusalem. St. Paul also named him as a "pillar" of the Church.

Eusebius, the Church historian, expressly stated that James was the first bishop of Jerusalem, a fact which is clearly evident throughout the Acts of the Apostles. And as often as St. Paul spoke of his journeys to Jerusalem, he mentioned James, once as the only apostle present in Jerusalem, and certainly as the leader of the Church in that city. This truly holy city was certainly the most important post of the apostolic Church. Here the Lord Himself labored, suffered, rose from the dead, and ascended into heaven. It was the heart of Christianity in the first years of Christ's Church. Jerusalem was intended to have the honor which later was granted to Rome. It lost this privilege through its own fault. According to an old prophecy, "the law shall come forth from Sion: and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem." "'Jerusalem, Jerusalem! thou who killest the prophets, and stonest those who are sent to thee...! There will not be left here one stone upon another that will not be thrown down.'" From the city that tried to murder God the kingdom of God was removed by the divine hand to another hand.

Realizing this, then, we must have a great respect for James, in that this apostles, and not Peter, not John, not Andrew, maintained the care and guidance of the Church in the condemned city. This was also the opinion of St. John Chrysostom and St. Jerome. His relationship to the Lord and, even moreso, his unusual respect and zeal for the Old Law made him appear to his apostolic companions as the most capable person for the difficult take of cultivating and nourishing the wonderful tree of Christianity on the stony ground of Judaism.

In an old Syrian writing. "The Teaching of the Apostles," the important role of James was expressed in these uncommonly solemn words,

Jerusalem and all the surrounding regions of Palestine, the provinces of the Samaritans and the Philistines, the districts of the Arabs and Phoenicians and the people of Caesarea, received the inspiration of the priesthood from the apostle James, the law-giver and leader of the Church of the apostles, which was established at Jesusalem, on Sion.

Yet, on account of, or rather despite, the dignity and majesty of the bishopric in Jerusalem, the heavey burden it involved cannot be overlooked. James had the most important, and perhaps the most difficult assignment with the apostolic church. In this city lived the murderers of the Lord, whose hatred still burned and glowed. With the horrible fanaticism of hypocritical religious they persecuted the apostles, too, who were considered as betrayers of their old religion, deserving only to hang from crosses. Only the calm and wise high priest in the Sanhedrin, Gamaliel, a Pharisee and teacher of the Law, saved the apostles from the fate of their Master. He reasoned and argued from similar occasion the past. For his own sake he defended the apostles, and asked for a merely passive resistance to them. Yet he was not heeded, and at that time his words merely occasioned a new and bloody persecution.

The noble deacon Stephen, the first martyr of the early Church, was a holy warning for the apostles, and for all Christians, to keep themselves always ready to die for Christ. His stoning was actually the signal for a "great persecution against the Church in Jerusalem," which was led by Saul, the persecutor who "was harassing the Church" and causing much terror and horror among the first Christians. The anger and prejudice that raged in Jerusalem against the community of Christ's faithful for ten years after the Resurrection was equalled only by the other persecution accomplished by King Herod Agrippa I. "Seeing that it pleased the Jews," Herod had James the Elder executed; and he intended to do the same to Peter.

As bishop of Jerusalem, James the Less had a sorrowful office to fulfill. He waited as Daniel waited in the pit, in the midst of lions which could attack at any hour. In a Coptic martyrology there is a statement that when the world was divided into districts to be evangelized, James chose the land of the pagans. That is only legend; yet, pondering about that city over which the Lord had lamented, he might well have looked into the distance where his companions had gone and were bringing in a richer harvest for Christ, while he remained in Jerusalem, the city of the East and of the West, sunrise and sunset, the city of light and darkness, birth and death.

Nevertheless, the mission of James the Less was a lofty one, the most praiseworthy of all. He could lead to Christ the chosen remnant of the Jews to whom God had given His promise of final conversion, the ultimate triumph of God's mercy. James' success can be seen from his straightforward words to Paul: " 'Thou seest, brother, how many thousands of believers there are among the Jews, all of them zealous upholders of the Law.'" One might inquire how James was able to reap this gratifying harvest for Christ from such a stony field flattened by hail. Apart from the grace which had left in the midst of the disbelief of Israel "'... seven thousand men, who have not bowed their knees of Baal,'" it was St. James the Less, with his piety and devotion and his repect for the sensitive feelings of the Jews, who won over this remnant of the people.

All the sources emphasized the holy life of St James. In the fifth book of his Commentaries, Hegesippus wrote,

From the time of Christ until our own day he was called "the Just One" by all. He was holy even in his mother's womb. Wine and intoxicating beverages he did not drink, yet he ate some things still living. He used no shears on his head, he did not rub himself with oil, nor did he frequently public baths. He alone was permitted to enter the sanctuary [of the temple]. From many kneelings his knee grew hard like those of a camel. Because of the superabundance of his justice, he was called "the Just One and the defending wall of the people."

Such asceticism, which surpassed that of the Parisees-James was a life long Nazarene, bound by a certain vow of self-denial-made a deep impression on the Jewish people. Even in the time of St Jerome (d.420), there was a tradition that crowds of Jews pressed around James to touch the seam of his garment. Such was the man called to be apostle as well as bishop of Jerusalem for the race that clung to its religious customs so obstinately that they rejected and condemned the Messias. This people, nevertheless, saw in James a living example that to say yes to Christ was not treason, but a fulfillment of the Old Law.

No one knelt longer in the temple than James, who could be found there day or night, like the Anna the prophetess. No one was more faithful to the Law than James. Even today, one can see this reflected in his Epistle, which many say-thought quite incorrectly-is more Old Testament than New Testament. This bishop of Jerusalem had a great respect for the Covenant of the Old Law, and his Epistle is full of allusions to the writings and history of the Chosen People. This apostle, true to the Law and quite conservative, was like a bridge from Divine Providence to Jerusalem, a last grace for that city. James, who had become a part of both Testaments, was like a second Moses, who was to lead the people from the Old Testament into the Promised Land of the New Testament. In this lay the singularity and importance of James, apostle and bishop of Jerusalem.

Certainly the Old and New Testments, the synagogue and the Church, came alarmingly close together in James. In such a situation would the Old Testament not override the New? Would the Church be able to free itself from its dependence on the Temple? The history of the first sects, the Ebionites and others, shows how dangerous the adherence of the Jewish Christians to their own religious customs could become. People do not "'pour new wine into old wine-skins, else the skins burst, the wine is spilt, and the skins are ruined. But they put new wine into fresh skins, and both are saved.'"

The Church belongs to the world, not only to the small corner of Palestine. And for the world, Divine Providence chose another apostle, Paul. St Paul was the father of the Gentile Christians; St James was the leader of the Jewish Christians. James the Less upheld Jerusalem; Paul, the convert, was assigned to Rome. Therefore, were these two opponents? Or were they brothers and collaborators with different instructions from the same Christ?

James, Opponent or Brother of Paul?

Holy Scripture certainly rules out the opinion that James was a "narrow-minded Jewish Christian." Nor was he "the odious man" for Paul. Indeed, James personally respected the Mosaic Law to the last letter, but he also esteemed very highly all Christian principles. He knew salvation came from Jesus, not Moses. Paul was his "brother." Actually this was heroic of James, for Saul, the young wolf, had once raided the flock at Jerusalem: "entering house after house, and dragging out men and women, he committed them to prison." It is not to be denied that between James and Paul there was some tension and discord, which did not arise because of personal faults, however, but because of differences in their missions.

Three times in the history of the apostles, James and Paul were mentioned together. The first time was at the Council of the Apostles. Here the most weighty question in the history of the Church was discussed and decided: whether the Gentile Christians were bound by the Law of Moses. Already Peter had made use of his full authority to bind-and to loose-and explained,

"Why then do you now try to test God by putting on the neck of the disciples a yoke which neither our fathers nor we have been able to bear? But we believe that we are saved through the grace of the Lord Jesus, just as they are."

Then all eyes fell on James. Both sides, some hoping for the Jews, others favoring the Gentiles, waited breathlessly. What was the opinion of this distinguished and most conservative of all the apostles? Which view would he adopt?

James arose, and spoke:

"Brethen, listen to me. Simon has told how God first visited the Gentiles to take from among them a people to bear his name. And with this the words of the prophets agree, as it it written,
'After these things I will return
And will rebuild the tabernacle of David
which has fallen down,
and the ruins thereof I will rebuild, That the rest of mankind may seek after the Lord,
and all the nations upon these things."
'To the Lord was his own work known
from the beginning of the world.'
Therefore my judgment is not to disquiet those who from among the Gentiles are turning to the Lord; but to send them written instructions to abstain from anything that has been contaminated by idols and from immorality and from anything strangled and from blood. For Moses for generations past has had his preachers in every city in the synagogues, where he is read aloud every Sabbath."



Jn 3:16 For God so loved the world, as to give his only begotten Son; that whosoever believeth in him, may not perish, but may have life everlasting.
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PostSubyek: Re: The Twelve Apostles   10th March 2013, 16:21


The first recorded words of James we have are great words: the Gentiles were not to be burdened more than they already were. It was not easy for this bishop of the Jews to open the door for the Gentiles to the freedom of the children of God.

About five years later, St Paul, in his Epistle to the Galatians, wrote about this meeting of the apostles: "... James and Cephas and John, who were considered the pillars, gave to me and to Barnabas the right hand of fellowship, that we should go to the Gentiles, and they to the circumcised..." Here he names James in the first place, even before Peter. It was the voice of James St. Paul had feared the most. In this question, what James, the bishop of Jerusalem, said was doubly important, for James was a Jew, and bishop of the Jews, favoring the Gentiles. It can never be said how large or small the following of Christ would have been had not these two submitted and complied. But the love of Christ is capable of uniting even a James and a Paul.

If one reads the explanation of James more carefully, he will perceive that the apostle did not arrive at his decision without much doubt and hesitation. His heart was inclined to say no. But he was fair and faithful. A question that concerned God Himself, and the prophets, and the lives of others, Christians until the end of the world, he could not decide in favor of his personal feelings alone. Still, he certainly could not curtail his four conditions. These restrictions were meant only to remove any offense or scandals that the Jewish Christians might have felt from the actions of the Gentile Christians. In the interest of the Christian community, these four "indispensable" burdens were incorporated into the apostles' decree and sent to the Gentiles with the argument, "'Keep yourselves from these things, and you will get on well.'" Thus, a brotherly understanding with the Jewish Christians was taken into consideration.

The first two of these four provisos-taking no part in pagan sacrifices and observing complete abstinence from the immorality that was a part of the daily life of the pagans-were not at all difficult for the Gentile Christians to understand and observe. But neither understandable nor feasible were the other two demands, that they were not to eat meat unless it was pure according to Jewish law, and that blood was forbidden. It is noticeable that St Paul never pressed these points in his Epistles to the Gentiles.

One would like to find just a brief note of remembrance of Paul in James' speech. St. Paul sat at the gathering of the apostles, weary and tired from his many and long missionary journeys. Yet James made reference only to Peter, even though "Barnabas and Paul told of the great signs and wonders that God had done among the Gentiles through them.

The second time James and Paul were mentioned together was in the Epistle to the Galatians on the occasion of the conflict at Antioch (cf.pp.31-35). Provoked, Paul reproved Peter for his shameful conduct: "For before certain persons came from James, he used to eat with the Gentiles; but when they came, he began to withdraw and to separate himself, fearing the circumcised."

"... Certain persons came from James!..." It cannot justly be concluded from this passage that James, an honest, sincere, and prudent apostle, was responsible for the agitation of the Jews in the church at Antioch. This bishop of the church was not contriving to have Peter led back from the freedom and impartiality of the Gospels into the narrow confines of the Law. Yet again and again the indignant and reluctant words of Paul point to James as if he were the man to whom Judaism constantly appealed for a chief witness to the injustices inflicted upon the Gentiles. While James himself strictly adhered to the Law, his own example was quickly snatched up by those hostile to the apostles working with the Gentiles.

Actually James had never taken the freedom of Peter or Paul, and sat down at the same table with Gentile Christians to eat pork or even roasted fowl. He was painfully exact in adhering to the foods which Moses had listed in the eleventh chapter of Leviticus. He may even have admonished the Jewish Christians not to let themselves be disconcerted by the liberties enjoyed by the gentile Christians, to remain loyal to the manners and morals of their forefathers. James was a Jew for the Jew. but he was not like Paul, who, more broad-minded, was also a Gentile for the Gentiles. And in this sense-but only in this sense-James was brought into the conflict at Antioch by Paul.

The third time James and Paul stood next to each other was recorded in the twenty-first chapter of the Acts of the Apostles. Paul brought a large number of Gentiles of the Christian community at Jerusalem to James. Here the generous heart of Paul showed itself. Concerning this last visit of this apostle of all peoples to the Holy City, St. Luke could write with joy

On our arrival at Jerusalem the brethren gave us a hearty welcome. On the next day Paul went with us to James, and all the presbyters came in. After greeting them, he related in detail what God had done among the gentiles through his ministry. they praised God when they heard it, and they said to him....

But once again there was a hesitation, a limitation. Once again there was a demand, and again it stemmed from Christian charity and was made with the best of intentions. The entire Jewish world had heard what Paul was preaching. "'They have heard about thee that thou dost teach the Jews who live among the Gentiles to depart from Moses, telling them they should not circumcise their children nor observe the customs.'" That was an exaggerated generalization.

Paul had a great respect for the Jews, and for that very reason he permitted his disciples, Timothy, to be circumcised. Yet he made no secret of what principles he followed: the Law was no more important as a means toward salvation for the Jewish Christians than for the Gentile Christians. Such a dangerous opinion certainly set the Jew against him. The converted apostle even had to fear for his life, especially on the great feast of Pentecost, when Jews from all over the world had gathered in Jerusalem.

Out of concern for Paul's life, James quickly suggest a proposal. The apostle of the Gentiles did not have to flee. James was ready to protect Paul.

"What then? The multitude is sure to assemble, for they will hear that thou has come. So de what we tell thee. We have four men who are under a vow; take them and sanctify thyself along with them, and pay for them that they may shave their heads; and all will know that what they have heard of thee is false, but that thou thyself also observes the Law."

This proposal was really a demand. Paul, and the four men who were burdened with him, had to bring an ewe, a male lamb, and a ram to offer as a suitable, unbloody sacrifice. Then only was the Nizarite vow fulfilled, which found its official confirmation in the shaving of the head. Yet, Paul may have been strongly opposed to the whole affair. He was not against the vow itself, for earlier he himself had freely made such a vow.

In the actual circumstances, however, such actions implied the admission that no injustice as being committed. His actions became a victory for his foes and an unholy confusion for the converted Gentiles. James may have spoken to Paul with kind words about the possibility of encountering such misgivings and scruples. At the Council of Jerusalem James had painfully given his approval to a solution that benefited the Gentile Christians. And now should Paul not being a sacrifice for the Jewish Christians? again love was triumphant for Christ. Again faith was victorious for His one Church.

Then Paul took the men, and the next day after being purified along with them he entered the temple and announced the completion of the days of purification, when the sacrifice would be offered for each of them.

The good advice of James the Less, which only confirmed the peril surrounding Paul, proceed to be unfortunate for the apostle from Tarsus. Even though he had fulfilled his vow, Paul was seized in the temple, and was almost killed right then and there. But he escaped. Did he have James to thank for this? Yes, James had made possible Paul's journey to Rome, for the latter's imprisonment, which last two years, ended with his journey to Rome. God had prepared Paul's path to Rome through James: Jerusalem, the cradle of Christianity, sent the good tidings to the corners of the earth.

Paul, in turn, occasioned the destiny that was to be James'. Eusebius recorded that the Jews, when they saw themselves defrauded by Paul's appearance as a Roman citizen before the emperor, took revenge on James. After Paul's clever escape, they murdered James in his place. So St. Paul became a martyr through St. James, and St. James became a martyr through St. Paul.

The Epistle of James

The Epistle of St. James the Apostle is the first of the seven Catholic epistles. They are called Catholic-universal-in order to distinguish them from the fourteen Pauline Epistles. They are not like Paul's Epistles, because they were not addressed to isolated communities or individuals (except for the second and third Epistles of St. John). For the most part they were written as encyclicals, or circular Letters, and were intended for wider distribution. The sequence of these seven Epistles in the Bible today-two of Peter, three of John, and one each from James and Jude Thaddeus-is for the most part patterned on the enumeration of these apostles as St. Paul listed them in the above-mentioned passage of the Epistle to the Galatians: James, Cephas, and John, to whom Jude must be added. This sequence also corresponds to the probable dates of composition-again with the exception of Jude's Epistle.

The Epistle of James, the first of the seven Catholic Epistles, is also the first writing of the New Testament as a whole. It can be dated even before the Council of the Apostles at Jerusalem, as early as the year 48, for no mention is found of a solution to the weighty question, whether the Mosaic Law applied to gentile converts or not. And this problem, which was soon to stir the Christian communities, was not settle until the year 50, at the Council of Jerusalem. That the Epistle must be very old follows from the fact that St. Peter made us of it while writing his own first Epistle. To illustrate this, one can compare James 1:3 with 1 Peter 1:7 or James 4:10 with 1 Peter 5:6.

The author introduced himself as " James, the servant of God and of our Lord Jesus Christ." He did not refer to himself as an apostle, nor did he call himself brother of the Lord. But this humble concealment of the great honor of bearing such a complimentary title only serves to indicate that the Epistle is authentic. Any other unknown or unimportant James would have appended such a token of distinction to help conceal his false identity and support his claim to fame. James the Less, on the contrary, "the real James"-this well-known phrase was originally coined for James the Great during the controversy concerning the genuineness of his relics-had no need to display his prerogatives. His name immediately won him full authority.

James did claim authority. compared with the Pauline Epistles, James' is relatively small; it has only one hundred and eight verses. Yet there are fifty-four commands to be found in this one Epistle: one demand for every two verses. These demands were seriously and forcibly put forward. they were not meant as mere advice presented on a gold en platter by hands gloved in silk. They were demands meant for the anti-social, the unjustly rich:

Come now, you rich, weep and howl over your miseries which will come upon you. Your riches have rotted, and your garments have become moth-eaten. Your gold and silver are rusted; and their rust will be a witness against you, and will devour your flesh as fire does. You have laid up treasure in the last days. Behold, the wages of the laborers who reaped your fields, which have been kept back by you unjustly, cry out; and their cry has entered into the ears of the Lord of Hosts. You have feasted upon earth, and you have nourished your hearts on dissipation in the day of slaughter. You have condemned and put to death the just, and he did not resist you.

James himself stood before the people as a living example of that justice and ascetic moderation which he preached. With these powerful words-they also reveal the farmer in him-James could call out to the people of his age. And he still calls out to the people of another age-to us!

The Epistle of James was addressed to "the twelve tribes that are in the Dispersion." Among them were the Jewish Christians exiled from Palestine, dispersed beyond the confines of the Holy Land. It was written above all for those in Phoenicia and Syria. because he cared for his flock, the bishop of Jerusalem did not confine himself to those souls before his eyes. His concern was extended to those Christians of the "twelve tribes" who were living in foreign lands and were in danger. At that time these Jewish Christians did not know the great perils that were to confront them some fifteen years later. After this time St. Paul wrote to them in his Epistle to the Hebrews, exhorting them to persevere in Christ, comforting them in their trials.

The first faithful, however, already faced the beginnings of this crises. Their first fervor had dimmed to a faint and feeble flame. Inconsistent conduct of life, external oppressions and afflictions, had weakened these Jewish converts living so far from Jerusalem. With his Epistle James wanted to lead his fellow believers back to their original zeal.

Esteem it all joy, my brethren, when you fall into various trials, knowing that the trying of your faith begets patience. And let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and entire, lacking nothing.

The Epistle of James does not have the personal touch which marks the Pauline Epistles. Therefore some have looked upon it as a collection of James' pious sayings, which clash with each other and do not follow a logical train of thought. Martin Luther had a strong antagonism to this Epistle because it contradicted his personal teaching on Justification by faith alone and diametrically opposed his own theological whims-this he named it a "straw Epistle." He rejected it also because of its form: "The Epistle confusedly throws one thing into another."

Yet James' words are extremely practical. The Epistle lacks the form of a composition written upon a master's desk, but it did assume a natural style in that is author was a farmer. This peculiar form, in turn, testifies to a deep understanding of the problems concerning Christian life. with a deep insight and understanding of the positions of the rich and poor,the apostolic author described them:

My brethren, do not join faith in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ to partiality toward persons. For it a man in fine apparel, having a glad ring, enters your assembly, and a poor man in mean attire enters also, and you pay attention to him who is clothed in fine apparel and say, "Sit thou here in this good place"; but you say to the poor man, "Stand thou there," or "Sit by my footstool"; are you not making distinctions among yourselves, and do you not become judges with evil thoughts?

Because of its special emphasis on the social environment and the problems of its age, the Epistle of St James has become the biblical forerunner of the encyclical Rerum Novarum and Quadragesimo Anno and Mater et Magistra.

The passage concerning the importance and power of the tongue has remained a classic for all ages:

If anyone does not offend in word, he is a perfect man, able also to lead round by a bridle the whole body...Behold, even the ships, great as they are, and driven by boisterous winds, are steered by a small rudder wherever the touch of the steersman pleases. So, the tongue also is a little member, but it boasts mightily. Behold, how small a fire-how great a forest it kindles! And the tongue is a fir, the very world of iniquity. The tongue is placed among our members, defiling the whole body, and setting on fire the course of our life, being itself set on fire by hell. For every kind of beast and bird, and of serpents and the rest, is tamed and has been tame by mankind; but the tongue no man can tame-a restless evil, full of deadly poison. With it we bless God the Father ; and with it we curse men, who have been made after the likeness of God. Out of the same mouth proceed blessing and cursing. These things, my brethren, ought not to be so.

The only biblical testimony we have of the sacrament of Extreme Unction, a very important passage, is found in the Epistle of James:

Is any one among you sick? Let him bring in the presbyters of the Church, and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord. And the prayer of faith will save the sick man, and the Lord will raise him up, and if he be in sins, they shall be forgiven him.

the main concern of the Epistle, which can be so demanding, is a living practice of Christian deeds as opposed to an empty faith alone. That harmful separation of religious theory and religious practice, the dangerous gap between faith and good works, cannot be more forcibly condemned:

But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves....Religion pure and undefiled before God the Father is this: to give aid to orphans and widows in their tribulations, and to keep oneself unspotted from this world...What will it profit, my brethren, if a man says he has faith, but does not have works? Can the faith save him...? So faith too, unless it has works, is dead in itself.

In this matter, once again, it seems that James and Paul were in conflict. These words of the bishop of Jerusalem have been interpreted by some as a direct contradiction of the profound thoughts on faith, sin and justification with which the author of the fourteen Epistles, especially in the Epistle to the Romans, retorted. Though a prejudiced or poorly educated critic might not be convinced, it is nevertheless clear that St Paul did not contradict St. James, but completed and supplemented his theology. He was not discarding good works, as opposed to faith, for salvation, but rather was stressing one over the other to bring a lopsided scale back into balance.

For we reckon that a man is justified by faith independently of the works of the Law...Now to him who works, the reward is not credited as a favor but as something due. But to him who does not work, but believes in him who justifies the impious, his faith is credited to him as justice.

The antagonism between these two apostles in their Epistles is only an apparent one. Both used the same words: faith, works, justification. But they used them in a different sense, or for a different specific reason. Paul praised a living faith, and James rebuked a dead faith. Paul placed no value in the works of the Law of Moses, and James explained the great significance in the works of the Law of Christ. Paul was indebted to grace for the first call to justification, and James urged a cooperation with grace so that justification would be strengthened. What the learned and scholarly Paul taught with sublime theological precision was in no way contradicted by the practical reminders of the simple and straightforward James. And what James wrote, Paul approved. James taught that faith alone, without good works, was not enough for salvation. Paul taught that good works alone, without faith, were not enough for salvation. The two agreed that both faith and works,or works and faith, were necessary for a Christian life, for justification in the eyes of God.

There was, then, neither, contradiction nor conflict between these two teachers of Christian doctrine. Their teaching is the same, though each emphasized a different aspect of the one doctrine. They approached it in a different manner because of the different spiritual needs of two separated groups united in Christ. Paul stressed the importance of grace; James, deeds. It is only logical and sensible that, because of the varying demands of the different erroneous practices which had crept into the various communities, there should be a different approach or stress in these Epistles. James wanted to spur on the followers of Christ who were shying away from Christian deeds. Paul wanted to hold back the followers of Christ who were overemphasizing Christian deeds.

Besides all this, there was also a wide gap between the personalities of these two apostle of Christ; and this shows itself in their writings. In a dazzling flash before the gates of Damascus, Saul, the persecutor of Christ, was converted. He knew better than all of the other apostles the weakness of man and the power of God. Grace, not the Law, had brought him to Christ. This religious experience continued to vibrate throughout all his writings. James, on the contrary, had not experienced this abrupt transition. He was led slowly to Christ, for "the Law has been our tutor in Christ." Therefore he had no motive to stress grace over the Law, as the converted persecutor had.

The personality of James the Less, therefore, is truly reflected in his Epistle, the only writing we have of this apostle.

In his language we find his attitude before and after he was called by Christ to be an apostle. In his thoughts we see his spirituality. In the First Epistle to the Corinthians, St. Paul recorded that which shows him to be in full agreement with the teaching of James: "But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace in me has not been fruitless-in fact I have labored more than any of them, yet not I, but the grace of God with me."

James, Great in the Kingdom of Heaven

The Epistle to the Hebrews, which St Paul wrote to the Jewish Christians about the year 63, one year after the death of St James the Less, shows the difficult position James was in during his last years as bishop of Jerusalem. The great danger of falling back into Judaism was besetting the Jewish converts. The Jews' fanatical hatred again Christ was again awakened with renewed vigor. The first rumblings of the Jewish War could be seen and heard in the distance, the beginning of the endless flow of Christ's blood on them and on their children.

With a heavy heart James saw the destiny of his race being fulfilled. Their time was up. Forever Judaism was to stand in the sullen shadows of Good Friday, red with the blood of the Messias. "Away with Him!" they can cry again and again, but Christ is nailed fast. The tree of the cross has never stopped growing; its dark shadow is reaching the ends of the earth; and His blood flows over the highest mountains, into the deepest valleys, and across the widest plains where Judaism can never escape. "Away with Him!" they can cry. But Christ is nailed fast.

How James had grieved and troubled himself over this people-more than any other apostle-that they might find the way to Christ! He was patient with them and gave them every possible consideration. let he wound their religious feelings. Earlier he had gone to great lengths to placate the Jews when the apostles were gathered in Jerusalem for a council. Nevertheless, he could expect from them only the lot which the Lord had prophesied to His disciples: "'They will expel you from the synagogues. Yes, the hour is coming for everyone who kills you to think that he is offering worship to God.'"

Even James, and James alone of all the apostles, was murdered by the Jews. In him, the apostle and brother of the Lord, Christ Himself was once again rejected. The day of James' death was the final seal of Good Friday.

We possess two very old statements about the death of the apostle James, one from Josephus Flavkus, the Jewish historian, the other form Hegesippus, the Church writer. The first recorded the fact that, after the death of Festus, the governor of the province, there was no official representative in the land. Then the fanatical high priest, Ananus II, took advantage of this vacancy to destroy James, the brother of Jesus. He summoned him and a few others before the high priests, accused them of violating the Law, and sentenced them to be stoned. This was in the year 61 or 62, about thirty years after the Ascension. Epiphanius maintained that James was then ninety-six years old.

Hegesippus embellished Josephus' historical account with a few particulars, borrowed partly from legends, partly form the Gospels and Acts of the Apostles. According to his account, the Pharisees demanded from James that he mount the pinnacle of the temple-one cannot help but compare this with the account of the devil's temptation of Jesus-during the Easter season and make it clear to the people that Jesus was really not the Messias. Seemingly James consented. But when he reached the top of the temple, he preached before all the people that Jesus was the Messias, the Judge of the world. The Jewish leader, humiliated and enraged, immediately had James thrown down from the roof of the temple, and had his half-dead body stoned. James, as Stephen, prayed for his executioners.

This partly legendary account of Hegesippus continues: when a priest, shocked by the heroism of the apostle, tried to ward off this mad brutality-"Let off!" a fuller grabbed his felting stick and crushed the apostle's head. Therefore, artists have portrayed a club on the pictures of St James as a symbol of his suffering and martyrdom. His body was buried next to the temple, where, at the time of Hegesippus, "its pillars" were erected.

According to a statement of Gregory of Tours, the grave of James the Less was on the Mount of Olives, where Zachary, the father of John the Baptist, and the old Simeon were supposedly buried side by side. When Justinian II, who ruled from 565 to 578, had the relics of this brother of the Lord removed to the newly constructed Church of St James in Constantinople, the remains of Simeon and Zachary should also have been moved there. St Jerome, however, who was thoroughly familiar with such places, knew nothing in his time of any grave of James on the Mount of Olives. A later tradition maintained it was in the Valley of Jehoshaphat, southeast of the temple. The hollow (hewn from a rock there), which encloses other graves, is pointed out today as the "grave of James."

Since the sixth century, the Roman Church has celebrated the feast of the ascetical James the Less on the same day as the feast of the sober Philip, on May 1. The common feast of these two apostles, who walked together neither in Holy Scripture nor in apocryphal literature, is explained by the fact that in the sixth century a basilica was built in Rome in their honor. From this church-degli apostoli-we have grown accustomed to hearing their names together. This church was consecrated on May 1; after that, this date became the commemoration day of these two apostles, Philip and James the Less, in the Roman Rite.

Meditating on the life of this holy apostle, James the Less, one cannot help but think of his venerable relics, which lie near the temple, broken as a holy vessel of a last grace, a martyr of both the Old and New Testaments. Then years later the temple itself was broken and crushed as a punishment for the persistent refusal of grace. The Gospel, however, took its unhampered course, without provisos and stipulations, for all people in the entire world.

Divine Providence benevolently spared James the pain of living through and witnessing the destruction of Jerusalem, the final down fall the old era. Nevertheless, as a holy entreaty, James, the apostle of a faltering Judaism, stands before our own ages, before our own souls, to turn our own imminent destruction into an ascension to Christ, to admonish us to do good works and to accept the grace of God that we may be justified.

For if God has not spared the natural branches [Israel], perhaps he may not spare thee either. See, then, the goodness and the severity of God: his severity towards those who have fallen, but the goodness of God toward thee if thou abides in his goodness; otherwise thou also wilt be cut off.

The lesson of James, the apostle of a dying race, was less great-minor!-than that of his brother and partner, Paul, the apostle of many living races ascending to Christ. But it was no less difficult, and James fulfilled his divine mission nonetheless faithfully. Even he, the Less, is great in the kingdom of God!


Jn 3:16 For God so loved the world, as to give his only begotten Son; that whosoever believeth in him, may not perish, but may have life everlasting.
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PostSubyek: Re: The Twelve Apostles   10th March 2013, 16:23

St. Matthias

A disciple of Jesus whom the faithful 11 Apostles chose to replace Judas before the Resurrection; uncertain traditions report that he preached the Gospel in Palestine, Cappadocia or Ethiopia; in art is represented with a cross and a halberd, the instruments of his death as a martyr; May 14 (Roman Rite) Aug. 9 (Byzantine Rite).

St Matthias was not one of the original Apostles but was chosen by the other Apostles and Peter when Judas left their rank. According to Act 1:15-26, during the days after the Ascension, Peter stood up in the midst of the brothers (about 120 of Jesus' followers). Now that Judas had betrayed his ministry, it was necessary, Peter said, to fulfill the scriptural recommendation: "May another take his office." "Therefore, it is necessary that one of the men who accompanied us the whole time the Lord Jesus came and went among us, beginning from the baptism of John until the day on which he was taken up from us, become with us a witness to His resurrection" Act 1:21-22.

They nominated two men: Joseph Barsabbas and Matthias. They prayed and drew lots. The choice fell upon Matthias, who was added to the Eleven.

Matthias is not mentioned by name anywhere else in the New Testament.

The above information is taken form "Saint of the Day" by Fr Foley O.F.M.

The following links provides insight on St Matthias: [You must be registered and logged in to see this link.]

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The following is taken from Otto Hophan, O.F.M.Cap. "The Apostles". Information on this book can be found in the sources listed in the below link:

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In those days Peter stood up in the midst of the brethen,... and he said,..."Therefore, of these men who have been in our company all the time that the Lord Jesus moved among us, from John's baptism until the day that he was taken up from us, of these one must become a witness with us of his resurrection."

...And they drew lots between them, and the lot fell upon Matthias; and he was numbered with the eleven apostles (Acts 1:15-26).

The Apostle Matthias represents the brightening of the darkness, the bridging of an abyss, the beginning of a new epoch. He was not one of the original Twelve. After Judas fell from the ranks of the apostles, Matthias was there to take his place. He became the first apostle chosen after the death of the crucified Christ. Often this apostle is compared with Benjamin, the youngest son of the Patriarch Jacob. Benjamin was the last-born son of the aging Jacob, and with him the number of his father's sons was brought to twelve. Matthias is also mentioned in the Canon of the Mass, but last, almost too late. He is not placed, with the other apostles, before the transubstantion of the bread and wine into the Body and Blood of Christ, but after the Consecration, after the commemoration of the others. For him is reserved a singular apostolic homage and reparation.

The date of the feast day of the apostle Matthias is symbolic in itself. In the Latin Church he is commemorated on May 14, and in Leap Year, on the intercalary, or substitute, day itself, February 25. For Matthias was a substitute and had to fill in a black void.

The apostle Matthias is a source of joy to Christian hearts. It would have been depressing if the noble group of the twelve apostles had ended with the criminal face of Judas. Instead, this gentle and venerable old man closed the ranks of the Twelve. Attention is instinctively turned away from the wretched Judas and directed toward this last, good apostle.

Matthias was mentioned only once in the entire New Testament: the resplendent hour when he was chosen as an apostle. This fleeting hour came out of the darkness, remained for a time in the light, and sank again into obscurity. The usually loquacious apocryphal works remained almost completely silent, knowing and offering little about him.

The compilier, or better, the author of various legends concerning Matthias was a monk who worked during the twelfth century in a monastery in Trier, in the Rhineland of Germany. He must have breathed a sigh of relief after he had applied himself so industriously and painstakingly in seeking out the deed of this apostle. And in his own way, he managed to surmount many encountered difficulties, which will be noted later on. The short passage concerning the selection of Matthias as an apostle, recorded in the Acts of the Apostles, is, despite its brevity, full of allusions to the personality and position of this apostle. And from this it is possible to assemble a distinct picture.

Matthias before the Drawing of Lots

The election of Matthias was overshadowed by the distress and indignation occasioned by the vile act of the betrayal by Judas. More than forty days had passed since the unforgetable events of the first Holy Week. The apostles were still dazzled, first from the terrifying horror of their Master's sufferings and death on the cross, and then from the glorious splendor of His Resurrection. There had been Good Friday and Easter Sunday, the death, the burial, the resurrection, their own shame of denial and desertion, and the joy of repentance and forgiveness. And then the apostles had just returned from the scene of the Ascension. Their eyes were still blinded by the magnificent splendor of the open heavens, and they could still hear the last, solemn words of the Lord ringing in their souls:

"you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you, and you shall be witnesses for me in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria and even to the very ends of the earth."

Although St. Luke had little to say about most of the apostles in the so-called "Acts of the Apostles," he did mention the names of all chosen apostles of the newly founded Christianity in the beginning of his book. It was like a solemn procession from the Ascension as

they mounted to the upper room where they were staying Peter and John, James and Andrew, Philip, and Thomas. Bartholomew and Matthew, James the son of Alpheus, and Simon the Zealot, and Jude the brother of James.

One apostle had defected. The good Jude, the brother of James, was no help in removing the memory of the betrayer. It was his name that made them recall the other Judas, the accursed apostle from Kerioth. The traitor was no longer there, but the memory of him weighted on the minds and hearts of all. The glory of the Resurrection and the brightness of the Ascension had not been able to remove the stain and blemish from the circle of the Twelve. It was in this very upper room that the Lord had spoken words so unbelievable that they still could not fully comprehend them: "'One of you will betray me.'" They still imagined they could see the betrayer as he sneaked away along the wall and ran into the night.

Those days were filled with silence, the holy silence before the sudden storm of Pentecost. Again and again Judas was mentioned, and the recurring thought of the betrayal troubled and disturbed them. This thorn had to be removed; this scandal had to be wiped away. Their group was branded, and not until public reconciliation for the betrayal had been made would they be deserving of the coming of the Holy Spirit. There should be another to illuminate the darkness caused by Judas. There should be another to fulfill what Judas failed to do. As soon as the Lord had left them, as soon as they had been placed on their own, even before Pentecost, they had to undertake the urgent business of electing a replacement for Judas. How confused and distressed the betrayer had made the college of apostles!

Peter's discourse, delivered before the election of Matthias, adduced much more than a merely psychological reason for this immediate action:

In those days Peter stood up in the midst of the brethren (now the number of persons met together was about a hundred and twenty), and he said, "Brethren, the Scripture must be fulfilled which the Holy Spirit declared before by the mouth of David concerning Judas, who was the leader of those who arrested Jesus; inasmuch as he had been numbered among us and was alloted his share in this ministry. And he indeed bought a field with the price of his iniquity and, being hanged, burst asunder in the midst, and all his bowels gushed out. And it became known to all the residents of Jerusalem, so that the field came to be called in their language Haceldama, that is, the Field of Blood. For it is written in the book of Psalms, "Let their habitation become desolate and let there be none to dwell in it." And, "His ministry let another take."

The view assumed by Peter in this discourse is quite surprising: the need for selecting another apostle stemmed not so much from the command of the Lord as from a prophecy that had to be fulfilled. Yet Jesus Himself may had applied this passage from the Psalms to Judas during those forty mysterious days between the Resurrection and the Ascension, when "He opened their mind, that they might understand the Scriptures. To the Jewish mind-and the same compelling ground for such as event than the fulfillment of the word of God. The election of another apostle fulfilled what the Holy Spirit Himself and prophesied and what Christ had clearly intended. Twelve, the Lord had chosen as apostles, not thirteen, but twelve. No one belonged to the Chosen People of the Old Testament who had not descended from one of the twelve tribes of Israel. The Israel of the New Testament was witnessed, for Christ, in a more spiritual manner by the twelve apostles. "And the wall of the city has twelve foundation stones, and on them twelve names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb."

St Augustine pointed out the great significance in the fact that there were exactly twelve apostles. He found a profound significance in this number, which was highly esteemed as a holy number at that time: three was the holy number of God; four, of the world, Three plus four and three times four symbolically signified the work of God in the world and with the world. Therefore seven were holy numbers.

The four directions of the world, east and west and north and south were called into the Trinity by baptizing in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.

Peter, however, a simple fisherman, did not propound such lofty and ingenious concepts before the election of Matthias. He only knew of the prophecy in Holy Scripture that, according to the decrees of Providence, a twelfth apostle had to be chosen. The light of Judas had burned out, and it had to be lighted once again. Once again the deserted office of the betrayer should be occupied.

Rubens, a master artist, portrayed Matthias with a meditative and humble demeanor. Many times Matthias may have pondered and reflected on the mystery of his calling to the apostolate. Another apostle had to become an apostate, that he might become an apostle. The dead branch of Judas had to be broken away from the living vine of Christ, that Matthias might be grafted in its place.

"I am the true vine, and my Father is the vine-dresser. Every branch in me that bears no fruit he will take away; and every branch that bears fruit he will cleanse, that it may bear more fruit."

But if some of the branches have been broken off, and if thou, being a wild olive, art grafted in their place, and hast become a partaker of the stem and fatness of the olive tree, do not boast against the branches.

Matthias shared in the grace of Judas, and the sin of the traitorous apostle became a blessing for him. This "felix culpa" was advantageous, not for Judas, but for Matthias. What Judas squandered was now entrusted to Matthias; what Judas should have accomplished was now to be completed by Matthias. Matthias humbly bowed his head. He prayed with the astonishing words which his great brother, Paul, who was soon to follow him into the apostolate, had used when, struck down on the way to commit a crime and no longer a stranger, but a friend to the mysterious decrees of Divine Providence, he prayed: "Oh, the depth of the riches of the wisdom and of the knowledge of God!"

When we are unduly concerned about the mystery of grace, which is taken away from unworthy men, even from an entire nation, and "given to a people yielding its fruits," we can recall St Paul's praise to God, our great and incomprehensible Creator:

How incomprehensible are his judgments and how unsearchable his ways! For "Who has known the mind of the Lord, or who has been his counsellor? Or who has first given to him, that recompense should be made him?" For from him and through him and unto him are all things. To him be the glory forever.

Conditions of the Selection

There is scarely a passage in Sacred Scripture that paraphrases the conditions necessary for the office of an apostle so simply and positively as the discourse of Peter before the selection of the apostle who would replace Judas. He demanded of the candidate for the apostolate three requisites, without which no one could be considered; he must be called; and he must accept his calling; and he must be sent. Furthermore, the new apostle had to have proved himself to be a prominent and distinguished person. It is also noteworthy that the conditions set down by Peter were in full accord, down to the last letter, with the apostolic mission set for in the Gospels.

As St. Mark recorded the choice of the Twelve, he also pointed out the office and mission of an apostle. Christ

called to him men of his own choosing, and they came to him. And he appointed twelve that they might be with him and that he might send them forth to preach.

Being chosen and called by Christ, following Christ, and being sent forth to preach for Christ: these alone could make one an apostle.

For this reason, Peter's remark is an echo of the Gospel:

"Therefore, of these men who have been in our company all the time that the Lord Jesus moved among us, from John's baptism until the day that he was taken up from us, of these one must become a witness with us of his resurrection."...And they prayed and said, "Thou, Lord, who knowest the hearts of all, show which of these two thou hast chosen to take the place in this ministry and apostleship from which Judas fell away to go to his own place."

With a special emphasis, St. Peter stressed the second quality necessary for every aspiring candidate to the apostolate of Christ: perseverance and sincerity in imitating, from the beginning to the end, the perfect life of Christ. His princely simplicity was a refutation of the suspicious rumors, circulated by heathen infidels, that the apostles were confidently deceitful men, if not downright impostors, who had fallen victims to their own imaginative ideas. Peter demanded from an apostle a thorough and sober knowledge of Jesus, a stable and prosaic recognition of the Messias. He was to be prompted neither by fickle and fleeting fantasy nor cursory and vagabond dreams. A new apostle had to be able to face a world of realities, not stereo types. Neither great erudition nor a fiery ambition was desired of the substitute apostle, but simply objectivity and Christian impartiality, with a mind and heart and soul open to Christ.

It was thirty years later, when Peter, nearing death and writing for the whole of Christianity, repeated and confirmed these thoughts: "For we were not following fictitious tales when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we had been eyewitnesses of his grandeur."

This apostolic union with Christ is based on the third fundamental requirement of the apostle, the mission to preach for Christ by preaching Christ Himself. An apostle should be none other than a witness for Christ, and his testimony must come from the bottom of his heart. "'One must become with us of his resurrection.'" Peter declared, because all of Christianity depends on the Resurrection of the Lord. Without a living heart, the body is but loose and lifeless dust. Peter himself spoke of nothing else before Pentecost. This was his Easter sermon. The new apostle, who was to preach Christ with the others from then on, must have experienced the miracle of Easter. But this was not all. Because an apostle had to preach not only the glory, but also the truth of the risen Savior, the candidate had to be one of them from "'John's baptism until the day that he was taken up,...'" from the beginning of the public life and works of Jesus until His death and resurrection.

The first requirement of the new apostle was demanded of Matthias: God's call. " 'Thou, Lord who knowest the hearts of all, show which of these two thou hast chosen...'" The Eleven did not dare to select the successor of Judas, aided only by their own judgment and responsibility, and their own sympathies, "'You have not chosen me, but I have chosen you.'" This fundamental principle of the Lord had to remain the standard for the choosing of a substitute apostle. The office in the apostolate was of such great responsibility and dignity that no one except God could, or should, have conferred it. "An apostle, sent not from men nor by man, but by Jesus Christ and God the Father who raised him from the dead": thus St. Paul justified his own calling to the apostolate.

It is this last requisite that reveals the small difference between Matthias and the other apostles. The Eleven were called directly by Christ during our Lord's public life. Matthias was also chosen by Christ, but not directly as were the others. God inspired the remaining Eleven to elect Matthias, and they cast lot; thereby a too narrow and inflexible concept of an apostle was eliminated. The three conditions necessary for the apostolate, however, undoubtedly remained in a real sense: Jesus' call, the following of Christ, and the mission. That the first conditon, the Lord's call, had to be fulfilled, has a great and far-reaching importance, not only for the calling of the first eleven apostles, but also for the election of Matthias (and later for that of Paul).

This call can also come about through the direct inspiration of Christ, as was demonstrated when Matthias was chosen. This paved the way to the apostolate for Paul. Herein lies perhaps the greatest significance, the most far-reaching result, of that simple selection of Matthias. Yet another conclusion may be drawn from this: the Twelve were once again firmly united. Soon another was to enter their ranks with the full claim and title to be as true an apostle for Jesus Christ as the Twelve, not merely an apostle in the wider and more general sense. The simple Matthias completed the list of the Twelve, and at the same time he prepared the way for the most powerful of all the apostles, Paul.

The picture of this apostle can best be seen against the background of the calling of the first apostles. The words of Peter recorded in the Acts illuminate that apostle who appears in Scripture almost as briefly as Joseph. Matthias, therefore, was one "'of these men who have been in our company all the time that the Lord Jesus moved among us, from John's baptism until the day that he was taken up from us...'" He was capable and qualified to "'become a witness with us of his resurrection.'"

These words, recorded in the Acts of the Apostles, enable us to reconstruct to some extent the life of the apostle Matthias. He was near the Messias from the very beginning. Perhaps he, like many of the other apostles, had already belonged to the group around John the Baptist. Certainly he left his home and occupation when Jesus entered into his life, and followed the Lord through the streets. He heard the words spoken by Christ in the Sermon on the Mount, His words spoken from the boat on the sea. He saw the sick being healed by Jesus, and the devil cast out of the possessed. The dead arouse; the lame walked; the crowds were fed through the miraculous multiplication of loaves and fishes.

Matthias remained faithful to Jesus in that critical hour after the discourse on the Eucharist in the synagogue at Capharnum. Some of "his disciples were murmuring at this...From this time many of his disciples turned back and no longer went about with him." Matthias, too, heard Jesus say that one of the Twelve would betray the God-Man, but while he persevered and listened and believed, he did not know that he would be the one to replace the traitorous apostle. Even then Christ could see the grace of Judas' vocation being refused by His apostle and being unconsciously accepted by another disciple. As the Lord entered in spirit into the darkness of His sufferings, so Matthias stood by His Master in spirit and followed Him. He was astounded before the empty tomb and marveled at the glory of the risen Redeemer; he was truly a faithful disciple during all the long days filled with fear and anxiety between the Lord's coming and His return to them.

Eusebius, the Church historian, recorded that Matthias was enrolled by the Lord Himself into the group of seventy, or seventy-two disciples. This is quite probable. The apostle and the disciples had the same mission, although their office was not the same. If Christ's words to the apostles, spoken before He sent them on their mission, are compared to His words to the disciples on a similar occeasion-Matthew combined both to form one discourse-it can be recognized without difficulty, that both apostles and disciples were sent forth into the same difficulties and dangers. The words to the disciples were every more serious and urgent than those to the apostles. Luke joined these words directly to Christ's lament over the impenitent towns. "'I send you forth as lambs in the midst of wolves,'" He said to the disciples.

The disciples, however, did not received so privileged a position as was bestowed upon the apostles. As the Lord called by name the small circle of those to whom He entrusted the apostolate, His voice was noticeably softer, so that all others could not hear, not even Matthias. Matthias did not received the promise of one of the twelve thrones and the office of judging one of the twelve tribes of Israel. He was also not admitted into the quiet hours of trust which the Lord granted only to the Twelve. When He walked with them through the rustling fields, or took them out into the blue sea, or gathered them into the upper room and addressed them as "friends" and "little children," Matthias was not there.

The disciple Matthias was heroically faithful to the Messias when he persevered through the heat and burden of the day "all the time that the Lord Jesus moved among" them. Not working for position and gain, he never grew weary in his patience, but labored tirelessly, remained cheerful, remained a simple disciple of Christ quietly bearing a heavy burden. He neither hoped nor strove to be raised to the apostolate, but it is clear that Matthias must have proved himself among the large group of seventy disciples in striving for Christian perfection. For it is a high tribute that he should have been chosen as a candidate for the apostolate from among so many-"Now the number of persons met together was about a hundred and twenty." The great esteem of all for him is immediately evident.

Certainly many of the disciples would have been only too glad for the chance, had the lot fallen upon them. Perhaps many unconsciously showed their true human natures at that first ecclesiastical election. Yet the serious speech of Peter and the descending light of the Holy Spirit pointed to the most worthy of them: he who labored "'all the time that the Lord Jesus moved among us, from John's baptism until the day that he was taken up from us..."".

Matthias during the Drawing of Lots

And they put forward two: Joseph, called Barsabbas, who was surnamed Justus, and Matthias. And they prayed and said, "Thou, Lord, who knowest the hearts of all, show which of these two thou hast chosen to take the place in this ministry and apostleship from which Judas fell away to go to his own place." And they drew lots between them, and the lot fell upon Matthias; and he was numbered with the eleven apostles.

This passage in the Acts of the Apostles is immediately interesting and important, because here the inner structure of the Church is clearly seen. It took place before the first Pentecost, before the actual birth of the Church. There are three elements: monarchic, hierarchic, and democratic.

The monarchy of the Church rested in Peter. As soon as Christ had ascended to heaven, this first apostle naturally stood at the helm, controlling the rudder, as he had earlier on the sea of Galilee in the fishing boat. The first pages of the Acts sound like the echo of the last pages of the Gospels:

"Simon, son of John, dost thou love me?... Feed my lambs...Simon, son of John, dost thou love me?... Feed my lambs...Simon, son of John, dost thou love me?... Feed my sheep.

Peter was the initiator, the speaker, and the leader in the election of another apostle. He was the head, the first. He was the Vicar of Christ on earth.

At the same time a symbolic arrangement is to be found in this, that this Peter, the first leader and rock foundation of the Church, in his first official act as head of the church had consideration for the second element of the Church. He thought anxiously of the hierarchy. Not to Peter alone, but to the Twelve was the Church entrusted, to men called and chosen by Christ from the large gathering of His faithful followers. Though many were called, not all, but few, were chosen to bear public witness to the Resurrection. According to a remark of the apostle Paul, the risen Saviour, after appearing to Peter, and then to the Eleven, "was seen by more than five hundred brethren at one time." And yet, it was by the choice of the apostles that Matthias was officially recognized and commissioned to be a witnes of the Resurrection. He alone was delegated and empowered by them to preach Christ as an apostle. For in the very basic organization of the Church there is a holy class-hierarchy literally from the Greek, "keeper of sacred things"-of posts and offices which are held in reserve only for the chosen.

Nevertheless, at this first official function of the Church performed by the pastor and hierarchy, a strong democratic element can easily be noticed. Any capable and worthy man, irrespective of social standing, can be chosen to ascend to occupy a higher, reserved positon in the Church. And there is yet a more solid basis for pointing out the democracy in the Church: the entire community gathered at that time, "about a hundred and twenty," were permitted their say. They selected the two candidates for the apostolate. The Church of Christ was comprised not only of Peter and the Twelve, pontiff and bishops, but also of the community of the faithful. It was Peter, the "monarch," who addressed the first Christians as

a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a purchased people, that you may proclaim the perfections of him who has called you out of darkness into his marvellous light.

It would be proper to digress even somewhat farther from the apostle Matthias here and to examine the limits and functions of the monarchic, hierarchic, and democratic elements in the Church through the centuries. At various times in Church history, one or the other of these elements has come to the fore. Always, however, since the election of Matthias as an apostle, there has been a single supreme authority guilding and commanding and assiting "holy people of God." All, however-Peter, the Twelve, the one hundred and twenty faithful-willingly submitted to the command of the Father, the voice of the Son, the light of the Holy Spirit-the grace of God: "'Thou, Lord, who knowest the hearts of all, show which of these two thou has chosen...'"

In the encyclical Mystici Corporis Christi, Pope Pius XII explained,

Peter was only the Vicar of Christ. Therefore there is only a single head of this body, namely, Christ. He it is, who infuses the light of faith into the faithful. And He it is, Who enriches the pastors and teachers and especially His Vicars on earth with the supernatural gifts of knowledge, judgment, and wisdom.

What is so striking about the selection of Matthias to us today is the manner in which the apostles sought to discover the divine command; they cast lots. The apostles felt they were no different form the believing Jews. The lot as a means of learning the will of God played as big a role with the people of Israel as it did with other races. It was used in the Old Testament: the Promised Land was divided up by lot among the various tribes and families; the choosing of Saul as the king was also determined by lot

The apostles, therefore, were adhering to the practices of the Old Testament when they sought to learn by lot whom the Lord willed to be the apostle to replace Judas. The casting of lots happened in such a way that the names of the two candidates were written on small pieces of tablet and shaken in an urn. He whose name fell out of the urn first was the one chosen.

Of the two candidates between whom the great decison was to be made, Matthias was noticeably placed second. Joseph, called Barsabbas-the son of Sabbas-as unknown to us as Matthias, was placed in the first place with the honorable Roman surname Justus-from the Latin, "the righteous, or upright, one." One might conjecture that there were those present at the election who, had the decision been left up to them, would have chosen Joseph as the apostle. But the will of God was otherwise. There was tension and suspense for a moment when the name first fell out of the urn. It was Matthias'. Why? "'Thou, Lord, who knowest the heart of all...!'"

Humble and kind, the honest Joseph may have extended his hand to Matthias to wish him well. Humble and serious, the pensive Matthias took the place desert by Judas. Now he was one of the Twelve, an apostle, another Christ, chosen by Christ to continue and perpetuate His work on earth until the end of time, for all mankind. He belonged to the Twelve, who were preceded by the twelve tribes of Israel, the foundation stones of Jerusalem. He owed his calling, not to his own worthiness, but to the divine grace of Jesus, to the betrayal of Judas. A sigh of relief went through the young Church. The one who had sold himself to the evil spirit had finally been effaced. The Twelve, who were now prepared for the Holy Spirit, were again twelve.

As soon as Matthias was chosen as an apostle, he fell back into obscurity.

He experienced with the others the fiery and joyful grace of Pentecost. And with the others he suffered arrest and scourging by the Jewish leaders, and rejoiced that he "had been counted worthy to suffer disgrace for the name of Jesus." He journeyed and preached and healed, but not a single word more was dedicated to him in Holy Scripture. He was simply one of the Twelve. Even the spurious writings of the apostles rarely considered anything about Matthias worth mentioning. There are various Greek, Coptic, and old Latin legends concerning this apostle, but almost always they stem from a confusion of Matthias with Matthew and attribute the words and works of the former tax-collector to the wrong apostle.

How unknown Matthias was even in the Latin Church until the eleventh century is shown by the fact that in ten centuries only two sermons commemorating his feast have been preserved. One was given by an abbot from the monastery of Monte Cassino in the ninth century; the other has been attributed both to St Augustine and to the Venerable Bede. Even the writers of Christian antiquity-such as Paulinus of Nola, Venantius Fortunatus, Victor of Capua-who gathered information concerning the burial places of the apostles, had not a word to record about Matthias. Eusebius spoke of an unreliable "Gospel of Matthias," which may have originated in Gnostic circles during the first half of the second century in Egypt, the esoteric doctrines of which Christ supposedly revealed to Matthias.

Certainly Matthias labored in Judea. Perhaps his labors may not have been widely published, since he was a humble and reserved disciple and wanted to exercise his authority unnoticed and practice his new office quietly under the supreme direction of the older apostles. Lacking more precise and detailed information, legends could only conjecture and suggest that this silence was due to the fact that Matthias died very early. Clement of Alexandria thought that this apostle died a natural death. He also reported that Matthias-others credit Matthew with this-held the opinion that one must severly mortify the body and handle it very roughly.

In view of this almost complete silence about Matthias for a thousand years, it is all the more surprising, when, in the eleventh and twelfth centuries, there suddenly appeared some very detailed and explicit information about him. His origin, works and martyrdom were fully described, and all the circumstances surrounding the history of his relics were appended. These legends of Matthias originated in Trier. The author, a monk from Trier between the years 1127 and 1148, used as his main source of information an old Hebrew writing concerning the "deeds of St Matthias," which he obtained from a Jew. His "translation" is nevertheless a ponderous-but well-meant falsification, an amateur forgery, contrived and designed purely as an edifying discourse.

These legends concerning Matthias are the most recent of all legends about the apostles. In them is found the information that Helena, born in Trier, the mother of Constantine, should have requested that Agricus, who died in the year 332, be made bishop of Trier. To him she gave the seamless robe of Christ (such a garment is still displayed on occasion in Trier as recently as 1959), a nail from the true cross, and the relics of the apostle Matthias. These relics were then forgotten, and not until the year 1127 were they once again discovered. In the Middle Ages the popularity of a flourishing pilgrimage to this apostle's grave, the only grave of an apostle in Germany, spread over a wide area. Yet, St. Mary Major in Rome also lays claim to the relics of the apostle Matthias.

Following various legends, artists have represented this apostle with an axe-occasionally a hatchet, or lance, or sword-as the instrument with which he was tortured. Matthias can be only too happy with these symbols, for they have made him the patron of butchers and builders.

Leaving these uncertain and unsatisfactory legends on which our faith has no dependence, we return once again to conclude with the brief statements in the Acts of the Apostles. Matthias stands there, as solemn and silent as Holy Saturday. The Good Friday has passed; the sin of Judas has already been atoned for.

Yet Matthias is much more than a Holy Saturday; he was chosen as a witnesss of the Resurrection. He is a witness of the Resurrection, not only like the other apostles, but also in another sense. His mere presence among the other apostles is a living proof that Christ does not die but lives on, even though He was betrayed by one of His own apostles, and was crucified by His own people.

Christ died on the cross of a tree. Judas died on a tree of a cross. The betrayer died and remained dead. The Redemmer died, and rose again, and lived on in Matthias, and lives on in His new apostles, in other Christs.

Judas Iscariot betrayed our Lord and St Matthias replaced him by the company of the Apostles. To complete the list of the original Apostles, in addition to St Paul, the Author, Father Otto Hophan included Judas in his book.

Chapter Twelve

Judas Iscariot was one of the twelve apostles, but today he has no monument in the Lateran as all the others have. No calendar give a date for his feast day. No people in the entire world claim him for a patron; no country boasts of the honor of considering him as its first missioner.

After slowly studying the first eleven apostles, one is at first taken aback when he comes to Judas Isacriot. It is like a sudden eclipse of a noon sun, a night in the day. One is tempted to cover this name with silence, lest the dark horror of his crime be reflected upon the eleven good apostles. They also were burdened with human weakness, but they accepted the grace of God and became princes in the kingdom of heaven.

Artists of the early Christian centuries deliberately avoided Judas when honoring the other eleven apostles. Only the symbol of disgrace, the purse, which concealed the thirty pieces of silver, was depicted. They wanted Judas to disappear behind the others, and after that they did not want to awaken any memories of him. But this apostles has, contrary to their hopes, remained neither silent nor hidden, nor even obscure.

The evangelists, true historians, revealed that Judas, too, was an apostle, one of the Twelve, although they seemingly hesitated to do so. Yet they have given us a deeper insight into this apostle than into some of the good apostles; and in this lies the wisdom for these four inspired historians. Next to this man of darkness they placed a light, and the light was from Christ, and the light was Christ. The sin of Judas is important for us, insofar as it forever remains a reminder and a warning of the horror of sin.

This last of all the apostles, whose life is shrouded with mystery, for the most part disturbs and provokes us. This is evident in the vast world of literature that touches upon Judas. Apart from the three great apostles, Peter, Paul, and John, there is not nearly so much written about any of the disciples as there is about the betrayer of Christ. What was only a possibility in every disciples of Christ became a reality in "Judas Iscariot, who turned traitor." The evangelists were quick to note this even when they merely listed the names of the apostles. Very early a simple and clear outline was given of the character and personality of this unfortunate apostle, the betrayer who sold his Master.

The Temptation and Sin of Judas

There are those who have maintained that Judas was a cunning and obscure person from the very beginning of his calling to the apostolate. They assumed that only his avarice and eagerness for gain made him follow Christ. But such an assumption is certainly not compatible with the Gospels. Christ emphatically said, "'You have not chosen me, but I have chosen you...'" Judas, too had Christ to thank for the grace of his vocation, not himself. Would Christ have made him a friend an apostle, if Judas had been a criminal and a traitor from the very beginning? Would Christ have invited him to stand next to Him and sit at His table, if Judas were and continued to be a hardened sinner? Would Christ have entrusted to him the pearls of the Gospels, if Judas were and remained a sly thief? No.

The Gospels give no reason to doubt that the original intentions of Judas were pure and simple. He also was earnest, zealous, and sincere; he believed and he depended on Christ. God had inspired him, and Judas accepted the grace of faith. He, too, made sacrifices. He journeyed the apostolic way with "no wallet, no bread, no money." It was troublesome and difficult; it was inconvenient and cumbersome. But there was nothing he would not do for Christ. Many villages of Galilee and Judea first heard of the Messias through Judas. Many of the sick were healed through Judas. Many of the lame were cured through him. And sometimes he, too, was not thanked.

Jesus Himself trusted Judas as much as He did the other apostles. But the evangelists did not reveal this, for in all four lists of the apostles Judas was placed at the end, each time called the betrayer. The Gospels were written down long after Judas Iscariot had hanged himself, and the inspired authors rightly placed him in the last place. It is possible, however, that the Lord had given Judas a much higher position, before many of the Twelve. Even the evangelist testified that Jesus had put so much trust in this apostle that He appointed him to the very important position of treasurer.

The defection of Judas, however, had taken root even before Christ called him. Even in his home life he had learned a talent that later was to be so fatal for him. He was the son of a certain Simon from Kerioth, a town of Palestine. No less than ten times in the Gospels was he called Iscariot-from the Hebrew ishqeriyoth, meaning "man of Kerioth." This city, which Judas brought into disrepute forever, was either the present-day Kariyut, near the old city of Silo in Ephraim, or Queriot-Hesron, today named Karjetein, about twelve miles south of Hebron. In either case, it was a city in Judea in southern Palestine.



Jn 3:16 For God so loved the world, as to give his only begotten Son; that whosoever believeth in him, may not perish, but may have life everlasting.
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PostSubyek: Re: The Twelve Apostles   10th March 2013, 16:24


Therefore, Judas was a Judean. Even here he was set apart from all the other apostles, for they were Galileans. It can be rightly conjectured that the different origin of Judas estranged and alienated him from the Eleven; the warm feeling of friendship between him and the others was noticeably absent. Even today the Judeans are very reserved, forever estimating, calculating, bargaining, and somewhat avaricious. It was the one Judean among the otherwise Galilean apostles who carried the money-purse, and finally sold the life of Christ for all of thirty pieces of silver. What a mysterious and often horrible heritage environment and customs can perpetuate for centuries!

Certainly all of the apostles, not Judas alone, had their human weaknesses, their fragilities, their faults, even their sins. They have been mentioned on many pages of this book: Peter was an extremist, alternating between left and right; James was ambitious; John was impatient; Thomas was distrusting-and there were others. But all of them were willing to be changed by Christ. They were other Christs striving for Christ-like perfection. Thankfully our Lord prayed His priestly prayer for unity: "'Not one of them perished except the son of perdition...'"

Here the mystery of Judas becomes even more mysterious and alarming. If all the other apostles decreased while Christ increased, how did it happen that Judas alone tried to increase while he wanted his Master to decrease? For, since he was not a wicked man before his calling, he must have grown evil while in the company of the Lord. This is difficult to imagine and believe. And what is most frightening and startling is that anyone, even one very closed to God, can sin and fall into the grasp of a devil. How can such an atrocity be explained?

Misleading and incompatible with the judgments of Holy Scripture is the opinion that Judas was acting in good faith when he betrayed his Master. Those who uphold this interpretation maintain that the apostle wanted to force the hesitating Christ to accept and use His power. He supposedly wanted to rid the God-Man of His humanity by bringing about his death. As early as the second Century a Gnostic sect arose that considered Judas to be a hero, even a martyr, who merited honor, not condemnation. Similarly eccentric attitudes are found in some of today's accounts of the life of Christ.

Traditionally the sin of Judas has been interpreted as one of avarice. Certainly money did play a big role in his life. At the anointing at Bethany it was Judas who hypocritically few into a rage over the "wastefulness" of Mary Magdalene: "' Why was this ointment not sold for three hundred denarii, and given to the poor?'" John, the bitterest opponent of Judas, made the sharp and blunt remark: "Now he said this, not that he cared for the poor, but because he was a thief, and holding the purse, used to take what was put in it."

It is possible that Salome, the mother of John, together with the other ministering women, thought it odd and strange that the purse was often so noticeably empty whenever they had to buy necessities. The old, certainly spurious, Coptic "Gospel of Bartholomew" noted that Judas was accustomed to bring the money entrusted to him to his wife. And the poor he sent away empty-handed. Matthew, who earlier was a tax-collector, was also aware of the connection between betrayal and his greed for money:

Then one of the Twelve, called Judas Iscariot, went to the chief priests, and said to them, "What are you willing to give me for delivering him to you?" But they assigned him thirty pieces of silver. And from then on he sought out an opportunity to betray Him.

Nevertheless, it would be too simple a solution to explain such a heinous crime merely and entirely against the background of the greed of an unhappy apostle. He who sinks so deep under the weight of money, especially only thirty pieces, has first set his soul on a boggy swamp. Thirty coins of silver was a paltry price for such an unbelievable deed. A man who had been thinking of nothing else but wealth would have had nothing to do with the Lord, who had nothing, who was so poor He did not have a place to lay His head. Judas’ avarice was not his real sin, but only the symptom of a yet more serious offense against God.

A third opinion held that a political attitude prompted Judas Iscariot to act, and caused his downfall. Certainly Judas pictured Jesus as the overthrower of the foreign dominating Palestine, as the victorious king of a new Jewish empire. And the Roman armor weighed more heavily on this Judean than it did on the eleven Galileans. After the removal of Archelaus from office in the year 6 A.D., Judeans was subjected to direct Roman administration. Yet, the other apostles, too, placed a great political hope in the Messias. Why did none of the others, not even the politically minded Simon, the Zealot, fall? They, too, were disappointed. Why would the crushed political dream crush only Judas?

Although political aspirations may not have been the deepest root of Judas’ sin, again and again they reveal the real nature of this apostle-turned-traitor. Judas did not have Jesus as his central thought, but himself, his own glory and prestige, his own power; and if his scheme failed, it was money and gain. Judas was like an old, freed slave who did not know how to live without his chains and shackles. He forgot how to live normally: his slavery had become an almost necessary part of his life. His self-seeking ego enslaved him. This was the sin of the traitorous apostle from Kerioth; and his gluttonous greed for glory and power, for fame and money, were only the black rays emitted from his defeated ego, which neurotically twisted away from the reality of the God-Man.

The ugly mask of Judas, which hid the real face Christ first saw, was not thick enough at first to smother him. But he could not see the light of the word and example of his Master as clearly as the other apostles. This darkness frightened Judas, and, foolishly afraid to turn to Christ for help, he clung to himself, But in his fear he panicked, lost all hope, and hooded his already masked face; he was blinded, and he smothered himself to death.

There was a world of self-made circumstances that befriended and encouraged Judas, and tempted his soul, which was ever sinking deeper into, and growing darker in, his frustrated ego. More and more frantically and brutally he pushed himself to the center, eventually looking upon Christ as a means to an end for his own self. He followed Him only as far as and as long as it was advantageous for his own interest to do so. And when there was no more to hope for from Jesus, when the Lord became an obstacle rather than a help to his ego, he sold Him for as little as thirty pieces of silver. Judas had nothing over himself except his won self.

Certainly this is a human way of thinking. The evangelist, inspired by God, went beyond the physical limitations of man, and twice remarked, “Satan entered into Judas.” After the first appearance of the Messias, Satan tired, with truly diabolical ambition, to strike this dangerous foe from the field before he could be thrown out of the world by Him. But Satan had lost the battle . Now he once again found a way. He could get back at Christ through Judas. For he who locks himself up, as did Judas, surrender himself to condemnation by opening the door to the devil.

Old pictures naively depict Judas Iscariot with a devil on his back or with a black halo. Here spiritual factors were expressed with painted symbols. The power of darkness made an alliance with this apostle and occasioned an act that far surpassed any human wretchedness. For there are sins that can be committed only with the direct help of hell.

Even the words of Sacred Scripture, however, do not give a clear insight into the mystery of Judas. Only in eternity was the complete darkness of the human mind enlightened for the evangelists, and there the gruesome secret which had been partially manifested to them was full revealed. God the Father had preordained that in the chalice of His Son’s suffering not even this most bitter hardship should be lacking-the betrayal-and it was one of His own apostles who betrayed Him. The betrayal, therefore, had to take place. Often the Lord spoke of this necessity: “That the Scripture may be fulfilled, ‘he who eats bread with me has lifted up his heel against me.’” And, “’The Son of Man indeed goes his way, as it is written of him; but woe to that man by whom the Son of Man is betrayed!’” Peter, speaking before the apostles chose Matthias, also recognized this divine foreknowledge revealed by the prophets; “’Brethren, the Scripture must be fulfilled which the Holy Spirit declared before by the mouth of David concerning Judas, who was the leader of those who arrested Jesus.’”

The power of our human eyes cannot penetrate the secrets of divine foreknowledge or the mysteries of created free will. Never will we, by human intelligence alone, fully understand how the eternal will of God and the created will of man exist side by side. We only know-and it suffices to know this-that God’s foreknowledge in no way interferes with man’s free will, or his responsibility to use this free will. Although the betrayal “had” to happen, the betrayer did not “have” to act. It did not “have” to be Judas Iscariot. The act was necessary, but the actor was free. Judas freely chose to do what God knew from all eternity he would will to do and actually do. Therefore, after Christ said, “’The Son of Man indeed goes his way, as it is written of him, “’He also warned, “’Woe to that man by whom the Son of Man is betrayed! It were better for that man if he had not been born.’”

Anyone reflecting on the sin of Judas easily becomes disturbed and depressed. How unstable man is , even an apostle, once he has surrendered to the folly and weakness of his own heart, to the voice of Satan! How unchangeable man is, once he has abandoned himself to the almighty will of God! But giving oneself to God, not to Satan-is this not also one’s salvation? Judas was lost because he had buried himself within himself and was firmly captured and bound by his own ego. He who unites himself completely with God cannot be torn away from God. And certainly this complete union is a grace that must be given by God. Gere curam mei finis! Your hands, Lord, I commend my soul!

The Despair and Fall of Judas

No one becomes an intimate friend or a hostile enemy all at once; the final act of betrayal was preceded by a gradual development. The poisonous germ of Judas’ sin would not have spread and grown into that monstrous deed if certain acts and events and circumstances had not prepared the way. So many possible evils lie dormant in and around man, neither stirred nor awakened throughout life. Disappointed in Jesus, allured by greed, baited by Christ’s enemies, offended by a censure, unmasked, vexed, ashamed, Judas lost himself in error and confusion. He doubted, was dazed, became delirious, until it was no longer possible for him to turn back.

The first time the ugly sin of Judas became apparent was during our Lord’s beautiful discourse on the Eucharist in the synagogue at Capharnaum, shortly after the miraculous feeding of five thousand. On the evening before, Jesus had refused the worldly crown of a king, which the people had want to force upon Him. In the discourse itself He bluntly renounced all political and mundane wishes:

“I am the living bread that has come down from heaven. If anyone eat of this bread he shall live forever; and the bread that I will give is my flesh for the life of the world.:”

After his explanation, public opinion suddenly turned against Jesus: “From this time many of his disciples turned back and no longer went about with him.” Then the Messias put critical question to His twelve apostles: “Do you also wish to go away?’” Peter was quick to reaffirm his trust and belief in the Master:

“Lord, to whom shall we go? Thou hast words of everlasting life, and we have come to believe and to know that thou art the Christ, the Son of God.”

But Judas was there, too, He could not yet follow the deserting disciples. Peter walked up to the Lord, but Judas stood off to the side. Peter clung to the Lord, but Judas clung to himself. He was stunned and in pain. He could not pardon Jesus for refusing a worldly kingdom. He could not forgive Jesus for destroying all his dreams of a worldly power with one shattering blow. He could not excuse Jesus for rejecting all worldly fame and honor and glory. Judas was disappointed in Jesus.

For the beautiful confession of Peter, Christ had only a harsh answer: “’Have I not chosen you, the Twelve? Yet one of you is a devil.’” And St. John immediately noted, “Now he was speaking of Judas Iscariot, the son of Simon; for he it was, though one of the Twelve, who was to betray him.” The chasm between Jesus and Judas was quickly growing wider and deeper-already unfathomable-but with a free will and the grace of God, not irreparable. Perhaps even then Judas had not surmised that he himself was the “devil”-a devil, because he was like Satan who had tempted Christ on “a very high mountain, and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and the glory of them.

It is difficult to comprehend why Judas, despite his awakening to a disillusionment, remained with the Lord. Did he still have hopes that his wishes would be granted? He had placed everything in this Man from Nazareth, who could work miracles, do the impossible. He probably thought it would be foolish to jump away too quickly after he had waited this long, thereby throwing away any chance he might have later on.

This hypocritical perseverance was the beginning of the betrayal.

For a full year Judas persisted in this dangerous and increasingly overpowering attitude. The longer it lasted, the clearer it became to him that Jesus would not fulfill his worldly hopes and expectations. More and more Christ began to speak of the might and authority of His enemies, and how He would suffer and die under their force and violence. More than once on Palm Sunday, during the almost majestic and certainly glorious entry into the capital city of Palestine, this apostle rejoiced. The streets were filled with wild and loud jubilation, the wild and loud joys of a liberated people. Judas followed closed behind; and as he went, he felt his heart pounding power through his veins,. He became hot with excitement.

Judas felt powerful. Buy the humble Jesus soon vexed him, and this irritation became a sore on his soul. The merciful miracles Christ performed for the lame and the deaf and the blind were repugnant to him, the mild and nonaggresive sermons of Christ on the kingdom of heaven, disgusting. He found the goodness and kindness of Christ odious. Full of wrath, Judas could not wait to free himself from the group of apostles, to which he inwardly no longer belonged. The favorable moment would soon present itself. Judas waited.

After the rising of Lazarus from the dead in the previous spring, the chief priests had made the firm and formal resolution: Jesus must die. They argued, “’ It is expedient for us that one man die for the people, instead of the whole nation perishing.’” This criminal decree was repeated and confirmed in the course of the following weeks, “for they were afraid of him,” and “they sought a way to destroy him.” But each time the same difficulty foiled the plans of the clever and conceited high priests, and blocked their way. “But they found nothing that they could do to him, for all the people hung upon his words.” And “they feared the crowd.”

What could they accomplish with a vast crowd against them? The mass of His faithful followers surrounded Him, and was stronger than the wall around the city. Had it come to a showdown in the streets, the hot temper of the Oriental rabble would have crushed the priests. How great the sympathy of the people was for Jesus showed itself here. The public summons and warrant for Christ’s arrest was given without success. Although weeks before this “the chief priests and Pharisees had given orders that, if anyone knew where he was, he should report it, so that they might seize him,” there was no traitor in the whole country who would betray Him. There was no one-except one of the Twelve.

Judas was well aware of the dangerous position of Jesus, for often he had heard it mentioned among the group of apostles. When did his diabolical design to get rid of his Master first flash into his mind? Even Judas may have been shocked at first, when Satan entered his heart from the depths of hell, seeking entrance into his soul with the proposal of a betrayal. Yet, cannot even a slave of rage and passion successfully put such a hideous temptation of Satan out of his mind? Every temptation is accompanied by a grace.

Judas argued with himself. What would he do wrong, if he delivered his Mater up to the authorities? Did they not have a right and a duty to guard the safety and security of the public? Would he not be preserving the land and the people from a state of unrest and revolt? Had the Master Himself not clearly predicted His fate and destiny, and even called upon prophets to prove it? What would be so bad if he did gain from his action, for he would only be serving the official government? And so Judas turned and twisted his abominable plan, until eventually he thought he was completely in the right and Christ was completely in the wrong.

Certainly one’s first crime is always the hardest. When Judas glanced furtively at Jesus, he shuddered. He felt guilty and ashamed of his intention. He was still afraid, but the Lord was good and generous to him. The Messias could not fail to notice that Judas had been changing for a year, growing more silent and pent up. But Jesus was always the same. His eyes always fell upon Judas with kindness and love, and they pleaded with this apostle; He did not speak harshly to him. Christ overheard the insulting and scornful words, prompted only by a worried conscience, which Judas spoke to the others. And what is more difficult to comprehend, He knew Judas was cheating with the money. When James and John wanted to report this to their Master, they were quickly silenced by Jesus, who never withdrew His trust from the thief. He held His heart open until the last possible moment. Could Judas really betray the Lord, his Master? There are certain crimes that one simply cannot commit, even if he wants to commit them.

Then something occurred which tore away the last restraint of Judas: the anointing at Bethany, only six days before the Passover.

Mary therefore took a pound of ointment, genuine nard of great value, and anointed the feet of Jesus, and with her hair wiped his feet dry. And the house was filled with the odor of the ointment.

This extravagant homage of love must have thrown Judas into a rage. To sell the ointment would have profited him three hundred denarii. Still, Mary’s outpouring of love wounded Judas even more deeply than the thought of lost money, for nothing hurts hatred more than praise and love for the one hated. And this Mary gave to her Lord, whom Judas could no longer bear. She poured forth her tears, and “genuine nard of great value,” and her whole heart and soul at His feet. Judas raved and raged until he turned red, then white, with anger.

At the anointing at Bethany, Jesus spoke strangely: “’She has anointed my body in preparation for burial.’” This the naïve apostles from Galilee did not comprehend. For burial? They soon forgot. But the apostle from Judea now knew, and could not forget. The time had come for him to desert his Master and plan how to do what he was to do. Why should he hesitate and consider any longer? Had the Lord not exposed him before everybody? Was it not too late now to do anything else?

When Judas hypocritically referred to the poor, to whom he said he would have given the money from the sale of the alabaster jar of ointment, Jesus answered,

“Why do you trouble her? She has done me a good turn. For the poor you have always with you, and whenever you want you can do good to them; but you do not always have me.”

Judas felt ashamed; he could not face the others, and he could no longer hide his hatred or pose as a saint. He felt cut, and the cut was deep. He quickly took advantage of this holy prodigality on the pretext that it was a grave injustice to the poor, so that he could do what he had determined to do for a long time.

Both Matthew and Mark linked the betrayal directly to the anointing at Bethany. As soon as Christ had finished answering the diabolical excuse, Judas suddenly saw very clearly the course he must take.

Then one of the Twelve, called Judas Iscariot, went to the chief priests, and said to them, “What are you willing to give me for delivering him to you?” But they assigned him thirty pieces of silver. And from then on he sought out an opportunity to betray him.

The high priests, who were frozen numb and motionless with astonishment, joy, and satisfaction, were not so stingy as the niggardly Judas was to them. Thirty pieces of silver, about a hundred and twenty denarii-one denarii was worth about a day’s wages then-was a large sum of the small service to which Judas bound himself. He had nothing else to do except to inform the enemies of Jesus and when Christ would be without a protecting crowd. And yet Judas was a mercator pessimus, the worst kind of tradesman possible.

It has been maintained by some, who based their opinion on a passage in the second book of Moses, that Judas demanded the same price for the Lord that one would have received for a slave. Yet, this sentence in Exodus does not give the price of a slave as such, but the amount to be paid if the ox of one slave injures another slave. “If he assault a bondman or a bondwoman, he shall give thirty pieces of silver to their master, and the ox shall be stoned.”

Judas sold his Master for much less than the customary price of a slave, which usually was five hundred denarii. (But if a beautiful or well-trained and talented slave was being sold, the price ranged between twenty-five thousand denarii and one hundred seventy-five thousand denarii.) Judas, the most distressed and last of all the apostles, demanded only thirty pieces of silver for the blood of the God-Man. Peter, the first of the apostles, placed this holy blood far above that unstable and perishable value:

You know that you were redeemed from the vain manner of life handed down from your fathers, not with perishable things, with silver or gold, but with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot.

Thirty pieces of silver! And then this blood of the Savior and Redeemer ransomed the whole world of the past and the present and the future.

Actually the traitorous apostle had not wanted to execute the betrayal so hastily. Emphatically the masterminds behind the plot stipulated, “’Not on the feast, or there might be a riot among the people!’” Nevertheless, the Lord, who relinquished Himself, seemingly helpless, to the malice of men, is powerful enough to define and determine the very hour of their evil work. And it was right on the feast, when the trumpets of the temple announced that the festive offering was completed, that Jesus, the true Easter and sacrificial Lamb who takes away the sins of the world, was slain.

On the previous evening Jesus had enjoyed the Easter lamb with His disciples, yet that last, intimate celebration of love was darkly overshadowed by the thoughts of Judas. Even at the washing of the feet, when He, the Lord and Master, knelt before His betrayer and cleansed the feet to which the mud and dirt from the path of the betrayal still clung, Jesus sadly lamented to the Twelve, “’And you are clean, but not all.’”

The discourse that followed the washing of the feet gives the impression that Jesus would soon speak about the work and dignity of this apostle. Yet no sooner; had He sat down at the table than His thoughts of the betrayer began to break through:

“Amen, amen, I say to you, no servant is greater than his master…. I do not speak of you all. I know whom I have chosen; but that the Scripture may be fulfilled, ‘He who eats bread with me has lifted up his heel against me.’ I tell you now before it comes to pass, that when it has come to pass you may believe that I am he.”

And finally His soul cried out, loud and clear. It was rare for John to record the expressions of Jesus which told of the strong emotions in the Lord’s heart: “When Jesus had said these things he was troubled in spirit and said solemnly, “Amen, amen I say to you, one of you will betray me.’” Here the most bitter and painful suffering of Christ began to show. It was not so much the disdain and derision of the people, not so much the hate and heckling of His enemies, not so much the scourging and crowning of thorns and crucifixion, but the betrayal by “one of you,” that increased the agony of Christ. Not even the soldier’s lance pierced the God-Man’s heart so brutally as the sudden thrust of the betrayal by one whom Jesus still loved.

In Leonardo da Vinci’s “Last Supper,” the storm caused in the souls of the disciples by the announcement of the betrayal was comparably portrayed. “Is it I, Lord? Is it I, Lord? Is it I, Lord? The shocked apostles began to ask Him one by one. Only John asked, “’Lord, who is it?’”

One does not know which should be the more surprising: the innocence of the apostle of the apostle John, who did not suspect the apostle Judas; or the craft of the apostle Judas, who had concealed his thoughts and feelings with such a tangled web of hypocrisy that the apostle John was suspected on account of his curiosity. Peter could not cope with the suspense and uncertitude. He nodded at the beloved disciple, who reclined on the bosom of the Lord, and said to him, “’Who is it of whom he speaks?’” Then Jesus revealed to the apostle of love, and to him alone, who the betrayer would be:

“It is he for whom I shall dip the bread, and give it to him.” And when he had dipped the bread, he gave it to Judas Iscariot, the son of Simon.

John’s heart stopped beating, and he grew pale. He knew Judas was capable of such a thing, and that he would actually do it. What merciful consideration and tact the Lord had! The offering of a morsel of bread was nothing striking or extraordinary in itself, nothing to arouse the suspicion of the others. On the contrary, it was an act of love and respect of the host to the guest-today somewhat comparable to a toast. It was a tacit permission for one to leave before the common breaking of bread by all present. Jesus did not betray His betrayer. He did not come to justice with him, as He had done the day before with His enemies in the temple. He did not show His anger by drawing a sword, as Peter would soon do.

The patient consideration of Jesus only enhanced and strengthened the impudence of Judas. This arrogant apostle even dare to try the boundless mercy of the Lord, and asked, “’Is it I Rabbi?’” Jesus looked at him, and He saw through him as only God can perceive all that lies behind a blackened soul. And Christ quietly gave him an answer: “’Thou has said it.’” Then, pleading, He slowly added, “ ‘What thou dost, do quickly.’”

Jesus had had enough of Judas; He chose the when and where. In order to prevent any misunderstanding of the statements of the other evangelists, John observantly noted that this entire event between Jesus, John and Judas at the table went unnoticed, or at least was not understood.

But none of those at the table understood why he said this to him. For some thought that because Judas held the purse, Jesus had said to him, “’buy the things we need for the feast”; or that he should give something to the poor. When, therefore, he had received the morsel, he went out quickly. Now it was night.

Which was greater, the mercy of the Lord, or the wickedness of Judas?

Judas understood what his Master wanted to say to him. He saw himself being unmasked by Christ, and, what infuriated him even more, he knew he was unmasked in front of John. The whispering of Jesus and John did not escape his sharp eyes; he was exposed. He crumbled like a decayed corpse first exposed to the light and air after months of death. The two were discussing him, and he hated each one on account of the other.

Judas had had enough of Jesus. As a meteor leaves no illuminated sky, falls into darkness, and speeds to its own destruction, Judas plunged away from Christ, into the night, to begin to die. “Now is was night.” The darkness of the night frightened him, but he did not stop. He hurried through the black night to the enemies of the Lord, and he alarmed them with the sudden warning that there was not a minute to lose: Jesus knew of the whole plan; the people would probably revolt; arms were either ready or on their way; the first posts were already assigned. The alarmed high priests may even have suspect Judas, for he was nervous. This was his first big crime. And the darkness of that hour, which God had chosen for them, must have gripped them, for God is also the Master of the night.

After the sudden departure of Judas, Jesus also had one more work to perform, the institution of the Holy Eucharist.

It is an old, controversial question, whether Judas may have received the Eucharist, whether he was the first Christian to communicate and receive the Body and Blood of the God-Man. The “Communion of Judas” is a well-known topic for sermons. With good reason, however, most scriptural commentators today agree that Judas left before the institution of this most holy sacrament. Matthew and Mark placed the account of the betrayal before this great and magnificent mystery. But St. Luke recorded the words concerning the betrayer immediately after the passage relating the institution of the sacrament, not before. However, his reason for this was only to connect the Paschal meal of the Old Testament and the Eucharistic Communion of the New Testament in one coherent paragraph. Therefore, he held the intervening events, such as the accounts of the betrayal and the contention among the apostles, until immediately after the more important passage on the institution of the Holy Eucharist.

The hour of the greatest and last love-“Jesus…loved them to the end”-Jesus wanted to spend alone with His “friends,” His “little children,” without the betrayer. Judas had excommunicated himself. Jesus rejoiced as the oppressing shadows were softened and soon disappeared from the room of light.

When, therefore, he [Judas] had gone out, Jesus said, “Now is the Son of Man glorified, and God is glorified in him. If God is glorified in him, God will also glorify him in himself, and will glorify him at once.”

So each, Jesus and Judas, had “soon” done “what they wanted to do”: Jesus, the work of the sacrifice before the first communion; Judas, the work of the betrayal before the last kiss.

St. Augustine commented,

What you want to do, do quickly! These are the words more of a ready and willing heart than of an unwilling soul. These words do not express the punishment of the betrayer so much as they reveal the price of the Redemption. Christ spoke these words, not from an eagerness for the destruction of the faithless, but much more from the desire for the salvation of the faithful. Judas surrendered Christ. Christ Himself sacrificed Himself. Judas pursued the transaction of selling Christ. Christ pursued the act of redeeming mankind. What you want to do, do quickly, not because you can do it, but because He, who wills it, can do everythings.

The stain of Judas’ sin grew deeper and blacker as he led “a great crowd with swords and clubs” through the quiet night of the Passover. Luke carefully noted that Judas “was going before them.” It was not enough for an apostle who became an apostate to follow the mob; he led them. Did Judas feel out of place, uneasy, guilty? There are times when all lights in the hearts of men grow dim, and dull, then dead. With heartless and cold apathy, Judas offered himself as the key figure in the capture:

Now his betrayer had given them a sign, saying, “Whomever I kiss, that is he; lay hold of him, and lead him safely away.” And when he came, he went straight up to him, and said, “Rabbi!” and kissed him.

Judas kissed Jesus! The betrayer kissed the Betrayed! Here there is little one can write. One can only bury his face in his hands and meditate.

In his painting of the betraying kiss, Giotto portrayed the meeting between Jesus and Judas with staggeringly strong emotion. Never have divine mercy and grandeur, and human vileness and depravity, been so close as they were in that hour of darkness in the Garden of Gethsemane on the Mount of Olives. Never has there been a longer second in the history of time than there was when Judas kissed Jesus. Judas, with the twisted face of a criminal, with the broad back of an animal, with the disguising cloak of a hypocrite, clutched Jesus as a wild beast seizes its prey. Judas could not have fallen any lower than he fell while embracing Christ. Yet, in that very position, without moving, he could have elevated his soul from the abyss of blackness by repenting, and Christ’s joy would have been greater than it was with all the other Eleven. The betrayer embraced the Redeemer, but refused to be sincere about it. In Judas, Jesus experienced what men are capable of, the power of man’s free will.

The Lord stood there quietly, majestic and sad. His eyes could still pierce the depths of the apostle’s blackened soul in the darkness of the night, and there He saw the shattered seal of His own name, for no apostate, especially an apostle-apostate, can successfully eradicate the name of God indelibly impressed upon his soul. Should the God-Man have called down the twelve legions of angels at His disposal, that they might have struck down the betrayer? Should He have turned the sword of Peter from the unimportant ear of Malchus to the criminal and masterminding head of Judas? Should He Himself have vehemently repelled this traitorous apostle?

In the sermon on the Mount, Christ had ordered the Christian of the New Law “’not to resist the evildoer; on the contrary, if someone strike thee on the right cheek, turn to him the other also.’” On the Mount of Olives He Himself suffered more cutting insults. In return for the crime of the betrayal He offered His love and forgiveness. There was a moment of silence. Then Jesus asked, “’Friend, for what purpose hast thou come?’” But He already knew. He was asking Judas to repent. Again there was silence. Judas could scarcely keep from sobbing. Again the Lord asked, “’Judas, dost thou betray the Son of Man with a Kiss?’”

Jesus and Judas then separated. By delivering Christ’s body into the murderous hands of His enemies, Judas had fatally wounded his own soul. He could never forget these last words of his Master: “Friend!… Judas!…” And the Messias calmly raised His hands to be bound by His enemies. Was there anything worse that could happen to Him? The psalmist wrote,

For if my enemy had reviled me, I would verily have borne with it. And if he that hated me had spoken great things against me, I would perhaps have hidden myself from him. But thou a man of one mind, my guide, and my familiar, who didst take sweet meats together with me: in the house of God we walked with consent.

But thou!…

Did Jesus and Judas, after their meeting in the Garden of Gethsemane on the Mount of Olives, turn back yet once more to look at each other? Judas still had the thirty pieces of silver. That was his reward. But he still had to pay for his sin. The price was not only the silver, all thirty pieces, but much more, his life.

The Price and Punishment of Judas’s Sin

When one looks upon Judas in the midst of his sin of betrayal, he cannot help but think that this infamous man was never capable of a good act, and never would have been, had he lived. This makes it all the more surprising when the objective Matthew explained further, “Then Judas, who betrayed him, when he saw that he was condemned, repented…”Judas repented! Perhaps we have judged this apostle too harshly, thinking that his repentance was useless and valueless. According to the evangelist’s statement, his repentance stemmed from “betraying innocent blood.” And how bitterly serious Judas took his regret and remorse was shown by his conduct. He took every measure within his power, ran every which way, even the most difficult, to undo his crime. But why did he not take the easiest way, to the cross of Christ, where his soul could have been washed clean with the very blood he betrayed? Or was the way of the cross, perhaps, the most difficult way for him?

What led Judas, almost as quickly as Peter was led, from guilt to shame and repentance? People today have lived through much more morose and brutal examples of wickedness, and hardly felt it, much less sorry enough to repent. It is evident that the many words of Jesus were not completely lost in the soul of Judas, but only confused and obstructed. The blood of the Lord flowing from Calvary may also have touched the sin of Judas. Matthew hinted at the reason: Judas woke up to the fearful position he was in, when he saw the terrible and horrible consequences of his criminal act. He was confused, then startled. Already on Mount of Olives he realized, contrary to his plans and expectations, that the Lord had not opposed His enemies with weapons and miracles. He had let Himself be led away to the slaughter like a lamb.

Where were the tumult and revolt by which Judas had justified his traitorous actions before his conscience and his employers? Christ was innocent, harmless; He was not guilty. Nevertheless, the high priests had already condemned Him to death. Judas had not considered this; he had not wanted it to end this way. He, who always clung so tightly to his money, ran with “the thirty pieces of silver to the chief priests and the elders, saying, ‘I have sinned in betraying innocent blood.’” In one last desperate attempt to tear the holy, innocent Lamb, ready to be sacrificed on the cross, from the hands of the slayers, he pleaded, protested and implored. It was all in vain. The ruthless high priest were furious: “’What is that to us? See to it thyself.’” Judas was paralyzed with fear. “And he flung the pieces of silver into the temple, and withdrew…”

In spite of everything, the incident was very distressing and tormenting, even dangerous, to the enemies of the Lord in those critical hours. Everything was happening quickly and all at once. They were anxious lest their plan might yet fail, and their great foe escape. Judas, the main witness of the charge, broke down. Pilate, the judge, hesitated, and publicly admitted, “’I find no guilt in him.’”

Hypocritically the high priests picked up the disclaimed pieces of silver, which lay on the porch of the temple like the vomit of a diseased soul.

“It is not lawful to put them into the treasury, seeing that it is the price of blood.” And after they had consulted together, they bought with them the potter’s field, as a burial place for strangers. For this reason that field has been called even to this day, Haceldama, that is, the Field of Blood.

Matthew also noted that the prophecy of Jeremias was fulfilled:

And they took the thirty pieces of silver, the price of him who was priced, upon whom the children of Israel set a price; and they gave them for the potter’s field, as the Lord directed me.

This field of Blood-a translation of the Aramaic name Haceldama-has been, through all the centuries, up to our own day, a silent but permanent testimony of the innocence of Jesus. Even today there is a field with this name, to the south of Hinnomtales, that serves as a burial place for strangers. One readily notices that Matthew recorded the sin of Judas as the last warning of God to blinded and beguiled leaders. If they do not hear and heed, they will bring themselves to an everlasting indictment, an eternal damnation.

St. John Chrysostom, commenting on the heartless words, “See to it thyself,” addressed himself to the chief priests and elders:

Excusing yourselves, you accused yourselves. You threw the entire blame upon the betrayer and persisted in the sacrilege and even joined the crucifixion to the betrayal. What prevented you from giving up this outrageous act according to the words addressed to the betrayer? In this, however, you great guilt endures, that you did not relinquish this satanical scheme, and you foolishly wanted to cover yourselves with the cloak of a feigned ignorance.

The high priests were hard and harsh, stern and severe. Driven to despair, Judas “went away and hanged himself with a halter.” In the Acts of the Apostles, Peter seems to be relating a deviation from one of these statements of Matthew: “’And he indeed bought a field with the price of his iniquity and, being hanged, burst asunder in the midst, and all his bowels gushed out.’” With irony, Peter could designate Judas himself as the owner of the piece of ground that was bought with the money of his sin. Perhaps his death occurred in such a way that Judas-a burden too horrible even for a tree of the earth-was plunged by a sudden jerk and violent jolt to the depths below, so that the other details mentioned by Peter also happened.

After Judas was given up to his fate by those who paid for the murder of Christ, perhaps he desperately waited and watched to see what would happen. He stood off at a distance, hoping ashamed, and saw his Master before Pilate: “Ecce Homo!” He heard the furious storm of the rabble mockingly choosing between Jesus and Barabbas. Wildly he threw up his arms and yelled for Jesus. But Judas stood alone. He stood in the middle of the frenzied shouting: “’Crucify him! Crucify him! His blood be on us and on our children.’” His blood, His innocent blood, was the blood that he, Judas had betrayed. Judas was deserted and alone. He ran away. If Judas had only not run away, but rather to the bleeding feet of the Messias, to Him who once forgave Mary Magdalene, and who could for give a thief, and a robber, and even His own betrayer! “Friend..! Judas…!”

But Judas did not seek out Jesus, nor could he find Jesus in his sin. Rather he sought only himself, and in his sin he found only himself. Judas needed someone-he was deserted, and alone. Here he fell into a second, and even greater sin. Judas despaired. He was completely lost in the grip of Satan, for Christ, already dying on the cross, could have forgiven the sin of the betrayal, but not even Christ can forgive the sin of despair. Did Judas finally repent? Or was he damned for all eternity?

Dante, the great poet of the Middle Ages, assigned the lowest place in the region of “ice’ in the “Hell” of The Divine Comedy to the traitorous Judas. And the sin of Judas was heartless, and cold , full of unfeeling and pitiless scheming, plotting, cunning. It was not a thoughtless act of passion or greed for money.

Nevertheless, dare we ask the question: Was Judas unquestionably damned, unconditionally condemned to hell, as certainly as the Messias was condemned, through Judas, to die on the cross? The Lord was very stern and serious when He spoke of the destiny of the betrayed! It were better for that man if he had not been born.’” Here Jesus made use of a proverb concerning an unfortunate man and applied it to Judas. Even more hopeless is another statement made by Christ in His priestly prayer for unity at the Last Supper. Praying to the Father for the apostles, He affirmed, “’Not one of them perished except the son of perdition.’” And again, speaking to Pilate, Christ, said, “’He who betrayed me to thee has the greater sin.’” And in the passage in the Acts of the Apostles concerning the choosing of Matthias as the apostle to replace Judas, it is similarly repeated that “’Judas fell away to go to his own place.’’

Yet, do these words of Sacred Scripture unequivocally speak about an eternal fate of Judas in the next world, or perhaps merely about his calling to the apostolate and his temporal lot in this world? At the last meeting of Jesus and Judas, the Master called this apostle His friend. Judas had tried everything to stop the consequences of his act. He, who was so closely attached to money, even wanted to give back the thirty pieces of silver.

In the Old Testament, Joseph generously pardoned his brothers who had sold him into Egyptian slavery for twenty pieces of silver: “You thought evil against me; but God turned it into good, that he might exalt me, as at present you see, and might save many people.” The crime of Judas was more atrocious than the disgraceful trading of Joseph, yet what a beautiful triumph it would have been for the blood of Christ, which was shed for the forgiveness of the sins of the world, if it had brought back the betrayer, without whose act it would not have been shed, from the long way of that tree to the judgment seat of God!

We know nothing certain about the eternal judgments of God, but we do know God is just and merciful. The sin of Judas is like a monument erected to remind us of God’s infinite justice, if Judas did not finally repent and was damned, and of God’s infinite mercy, if perhaps he received and accepted a last grace, and found redemption and salvation.

The place of Judas among the Twelve is like a long night that stands motionless. Why did the Lord call into this small group one who fell away from Him as a shrunk and shriveled piece of unripened fruit from a tree, completely useless? But Judas was not made an apostle in vain. He must be as much a witness for Jesus Christ as the remaining Eleven. This apostle, who betrayed his Lord and Master, also preached, and perhaps more effectively than the others: “’I have betrayed innocent blood.’” It is Judas, the apostle laden with crime, who must testify to the innocence of Christ for all mankind.

How eagerly Judas, tortured with great pain, would have fallen upon a fault of Christ! What relief a single sin of his Master would have been to his guilty conscience!

The other apostles are bright stars in the dark heavens of the earth, which give testimony of the light they have received from the Messias, the Son of God. Judas is the night, and the heart-rending cry of the night bears witness for the light. This is the punishment of the sin of Judas; this is the price of the sin of Judas.

Jesus was the Light; Judas, the darkness. Sadly we look into the secret of the sin of Judas, which some men carry locked in their hearts. Joyfully we look into the mystery of the love of Jesus, which all men should bear openly in their souls.

Judas betrayed innocent blood with a horrible sin for the greed of silver; Jesus sacrificed His innocent blood with infinite love for the forgiveness of that sin.


Jn 3:16 For God so loved the world, as to give his only begotten Son; that whosoever believeth in him, may not perish, but may have life everlasting.
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PostSubyek: Re: The Twelve Apostles   10th March 2013, 16:27

St. Paul - Apostle to the Gentiles

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Paul: Born at Tarsus, of a tribe of Benjamin, a Roman citizen; participated in the persecution of Christians until the time of his miraculous conversion on the way to Damascus; called by Christ, who revealed himself to him in a special way; became the Apostles of the Gentiles, among whom he did most of his preaching in the course of three major missionary journeys through areas north of Palestine, Cyprus, Asia Minor and Greece; 14 epistles bear his name; two years of imprisonment at Rome, following initial arrest in Jerusalem and confinement at Caesarea, ended with martyrdom, by beheading, outside the walls of the city in 64 or 67 during the Neronian persecution; in art, is depicted in various ways with St Peter, with a sword, in the scene of his conversion; June 29 (with St Peter), Jan 25 (Conversion).

I - Saul's (Paul's) background and first experience of Jesus Christ.

II - Recovery from blindness, Paul's baptism and effects.

III - How Paul's entire life changed after his conversion.

IV - Paul's unabated zeal, peace and love for Jesus Christ, the Church and its members.

V - How Paul's writings reveal his transforming union with God.

The following is taken from "Lives of the Saints" by Butler and edited by Michael Walsh with a forward by Cardinal Basil Hume, O.S.B., Archbishop of Westminster, Harper & Row, Publishers, San Francisco.

The Apostle of the Gentiles was a Jew of the tribe of Benjamin. At his circumcision on the eight day after his birth he received the name of Saul, and being born at Tarsus in Cilicia, he was by privilege a Roman citizen. His parents sent him when young to Jerusalem, and there he was instructed in the law of Moses by Gamaliel, a learned and noble Pharisee. Thus Saul became a scrupulous observer of the law, and he appealed even to his enemies to bear witness how conformable to it his life had always been. He too embraced the party of the Pharisees, which was of all others the most severe, even while it was, in some of its members, the most opposed to the humility of the gospel. It is probable that Saul learned in his youth the trade which he practised even after his apostleship - namely, that of making tents. Later on Saul, surpassing his fellows in zeal for the Jewish law and traditions, which he thought the cause of God, became a persecutor and enemy of Christ: he was one of those who took part in the murder of St Stephen. In the fury of his zeal he applied to the high priest for a commission to arrest all Jews at Damascus who confessed Jesus Christ, and bring them bound to Jerusalem.

Saul was almost at the end of his journey to Damascus when, about noon, he and his company were on a sudden surrounded by a great light from Heaven. They all saw this light, and being struck with amazement fell to the ground. Then Saul heard a voice which to him was articulate and distinct, though not understood by the rest: 'Saul, Saul, why dost thou persecute me?' Saul answered, 'Who are thou, Lord?' Christ said, 'Jesus of Nazareth, whom thou persecutest. It is hard for thee to kick against the goad.' Christ told him to arise and proceed on his journey to his destination, where he would learn what was expected of him. When he got up from the ground Saul found that though his eyes were open he could see nothing.

There was a Christian in Damascus much respected for his life and virtue, whose name was Ananias. Christ appeared to this disciple and commanded him to go to Saul, who was then in the house of Judas at prayer. Ananias trembled at the name of Saul, being no stranger to the mischief he had done in Jerusalem, or the errand on which he had travelled to Damascus. But he went to Saul, and laying his hands upon him said, 'Brother Saul, the Lord Jesus, who appeared to thee on thy journey, hath sent me that thou mayest receive thy sight, and be filled with the Holy Ghost'. Immediately something like scales fell from his eyes, and he recovered his sight.

Saul arose, was baptized, and ate. He stayed some days with the disciples at Damascus, and began immediately to preach in the synagogues that Jesus was the Son of God, to the great astonishment of all that heard him, who said, 'Is not this he who at Jerusalem persecuted those who called on the name of Jesus, and who is come hither to carry them away prisoners?' Thus a blasphemer and a persecutor was made an apostle, and chosed to be one of the principal instruments of God in the conversion of the world.

God can change sinners to saints immediately or after a delay. We do not believe that Paul became a saint immediately but we know that he was filled with the Holy Ghost that would enable him to become a potential follower of Jesus and leave his former way of life that had been directly opposite. Paul was blind and helpless. He didn't despair. He prayed. He was in the house of Judas at prayer before his baptism. Paul was praying when he was blind.

This dramatic converson of Saul to Paul can happen to anyone when we are humble, ask the right questions and obey God who will lead us to be told what to do with our lives.

Obviously, this particular type of conversion is most unusual but God is all-powerful and can change a murderer to follow after Him. All things are possible with God and Jesus comes after us in His special way which will benefit us, and God means business. Naturally, we must be open, sincere, follow directions and listen to the light that breaks in upon us.

This light hit Saul and the others but it was only Saul who heard the voice. Why? We do not know.

God can communicate to us but we must want to hear the message and respond to it. Saul cooperated with the grace of conversion. How do we know this? Paul was helpless. Paul was devastated. Paul was humiliated. Yet, Paul was praying. Paul allowed the light to penetrate him and prepare him to accept conversion.

This was only the first day of his conversion. Every day humans need to convert, receive the light, hear the words of God and act on them to be pleasing to God.

This example of Paul is given to us to assure us that no matter how much we may currently oppose God, God wants to win us as Jesus won Paul to be his special friend and follower. It can happen even when we are friends or foes of God, when we hate Christians as Saul did, and even if we have persecuted the Church of Christ. God still wants us to cooperate with grace as St Paul did. He shows us the way and the possibilites from his life which we will now relate.

The above conversion of St Paul is a major turning point of his life. From that experience nothing remained the same. It was as mysterious in coming as it was in the swiftness that it came.

The below writing is taken from a Franciscan Priest, Leonard Foley, O.F.M., from his book named: "Saint of the Day".

Paul's entire life can be explained in terms of one experience - his meeting with Jesus on the road to Damascus. In an instant, he saw that all the zeal of his dynamic personality was being wasted, like the strength of a boxer swinging wildly. Perhaps he had never seen Jesus, though he was only some years older. But he had acquired a zealot's hatred of all Jesus stood for, as he began to harass the Church: "... entering house after house and dragging out men and women, he handed them over for imprisonment" (Act 8:3b). Now he himself was "entered," possessed, all his energy harnessed to one goal - being a slave of Christ in the ministry of reconciliation, an instrument to help others experience the one Savior.

One sentence determined his theology: "I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting" (Act 9:5b). Jesus was mysteriously identified with people - the loving group of people Saul had been running down like criminals. Jesus, he saw, was the mysterious fulfillment of all he had been blindly pursuing.

From then on, his only work was to "present everyone perfect in Christ. For this I labor and struggle, in accord with the exercise of his power working within me". (Colossians 2:28b-29). "For our gospel did not come to you in word alone, but also in power and in the Holy Spirit and [with] much conviction" (1 Thessalonians 1:5a).

Paul's life became a tireless proclaiming and living out of the message of the cross: Christians die baptismally to sin and are buried with Christ; they are dead to all that is sinful and unredeemed in the world. They are made into a new creation, already sharing Christ's victory and someday to rise from the dead like him. Through this risen Christ the Father pours out the Spirit on them, making them completely new.

So Paul's great message to the world was: You are saved entirely by God, not by anything you can do. Saving faith is the gift of total, free, personal and loving commitment to Christ, a commitment that then bears fruit in more "works" than the Law could ever contemplate.

This famous missionary to the Gentiles pictured above is a grand model for all creatures for all have fallen from God's graces. Paul was called as we are today by God to show forth the talent and gifts that God has given us. This will happen when we surrender to the Almighty's all powerful will and are sorry for past sins and seek God with our whole heart and soul as Saul did.

Paul is a testament that God pursues us relentlessly to make us holy and pleasing to his Church and humanity even when we have persecuted both. He is the first great missionary to the Gentiles after his dramatic conversion. Paul reminded the Gentiles that they were still God's chosen people and children of the promise. He never lost sight of his deep Jewish roots but he strongly emphasized that the law was superceded by the Christ who alone can save us with His peace and power.

St Paul had witness this saving power and grace by a blinding light from the heavens. This was an experience that left him blind and helpless. Jesus appeared to him in a vision that changed his entire life.

Paul had been the most Pharisaic of Pharisees, the most legalistic of Mosaic lawyers. When he submitted to Christ, Paul became Christ's champion and would preach the gospel to the non-Jewish population as no other before him.

No one of Christ's followers became more zealous and courageous nor more traveled than this mighty warrior for Christ. Paul endured persecution, humiliation and daily suffering and weakness. He had many daily trials, tribulations and testing periods as Christ's ambassador.

Christ transformed Paul gradually through His confrontations and hostilities as he went about preaching, writing and defending the Man-God, Jesus Christ. He had never seen Him in real life, but certainly through faith came to understand and experience His profound union with Him.

Anyone who reads St Paul will understand that he was raised up to a very high level of knowledge and love of God. His writings in the New Testament in Romans reveal the righteousness of God.

In Corinthians 1 and 2 Paul explains that Jesus is the rock that followed Israel and the triumphant One who gives victory.

Paul knew through his experience that Christ is the liberty that will set one free which he described in Galatians.

In Ephesians, Paul elaborates how Christ is the head of the Church and a marvelous example of the Mystical Body.

Through the epistles of Philippians and Colossians, he tells us that Jesus is our true joy and completeness.

In Thessalonians, the Messiah is our ultimate hope and patience and discipline for survival.

One of Paul's recruits is young Timothy, and through those two books named after him, Paul assures us of the importance of our faith in Jesus and its stability.

By means of the last three epistles, Titus, Philemon and Hebrews, Paul highlights that Christ is the truth, our benefactor and He is our perfection.

No saint was more articulate, bold or daring. The Spirit moved and motivated his every step. He was tortured, tried and tested with untold beatings and finally was decapitated after many years of imprisonment and crosses. He bore them all lovingly and considered it a priviledge to suffer for his brother, Jesus.

The Basilica of St Paul outside the Walls, the second largest Roman church after the Vatican, stands near the bank of the Tiber River. It stands on the burial place of the Apostle to the Gentiles and has never ceased to be the destination of pilgrims and ordinary visitors. St Paul was buried in the small graveyard adjacent to Via Ostiensis, not far from the area called Ad Aquas Salvias (nowadays known as Three Fountains) where he was martyred in 67AD.

From the book entitled "The Basilica of Saint Paul Outside the Walls" by Anna Maria Cerioni-Roberto Del Signore, we find this statement in the Introduction: "Paul is the greatest announcer of the mystery of salvation and the unequalled doctor of the mystical Body of Jesus Christ which is the Church."

"Above all we must not neglect the fact that Saint Paul's Tomb lies below the high altar (in the Basilica-as Peter is in the Vatican). It was St Paul, joint patron saint of Rome, apostle who brought the Gospel to the Nations, who tegether with Peter the Prince of the Apostles offered God the supreme proof of his Christian love by turning the soul of Rome purple with his own blood."

A statue of St Paul grasping a long sword crossing his heart stands in front of the Basilica. His lifelong work of speaking, living and writing the holy words and examples of Jesus Christ was his daily passion. He cherished Christ's words with his whole heart, mind and soul and lived them to the fullest. Like St Peter, the other Prince of the Apostles, Paul fought the good fight in spreading the faith through his life and death and persevered to the end, revealing his great love for God and neighbor.

Life and creation cry aloud and reflect the infinite beauty and glory of the infinite Creator. God is Savior of the world and redeems all peoples with His holy coming, life and resurrection. Jesus Christ is the Lover of life and offers us peace even amidst death, war and crime.

Paul's mission and that of anyone who generously imitates Jesus, will find abundant and unlimited peace and love in their lives. This powerful and consoling joy, energy and force will move, drive and unite one completely with Our Lord and Savior in doing God's holy will.

Union with God is the highest possible state that any creature can attain and it is readily attainable if one is single, married, secular, religious or clergy. It is a blissful state amidst any pain, suffering and sorrows inherent in life. It doesn't matter how young or old you are or even if you are disabled or able. There are no educational requirements for lovers or those who ardently seek union with God except desire, goodwill and charity toward all. God is holy and infinitely desirous of everyone to be robed in that same holiness.

God, you are clothed with light,
As with a garment fair,
And in your holy sight
The saints your beauty wear;
The heav'ns and all therein express
The glory of your holiness.

Give me a robe of light
That I may walk with you:
Bright as the stars are bright,
Pure as their light is pure;
Whose texture sin shall never stain,
But ever undefiled remain.

O Christ, I lift my eyes;
Your love for me I own;
In your great sacrifice
Remains my hope alone;
The robe is mine, my soul to dress,
Of everlasting righteousness.

The above Hymn taken from the "Magnificat" Publication, Edition, May 2003.

The writings of the Apostles to the Gentiles are brought to the attention of the faithful more than any other writer. In the liturgical readings throughout the year Paul's writings are constantly before us. Today some question the Pauline origins of several of his epistles. Be that as it may, all of his fourteen books remain an integral part of the canon of the New Testament endorsed by the universal Church. No one need ever doubt the authenticity and genuineness of the Bible that is sanctioned by the Church.

The coverage and rich text of what Paul writes about is comprehensive and homilists sometimes have a tendency to explain and expound on the epistle readings more than the elegant beauty of the gospel that seems simple, ordinary and stark. Jesus' words in the gospel are deep and boundless, yet plain. We sometimes cannot plumb the eternal depths and meaning because our God's words are spoken in parables and stories.

Paul's theology and philosophy are not textbookish. What Paul wrote about, he experienced so much so that he was quite unable to put into words the spiritual experience given to him by God's Spirit.

Paul often speaks about the heights, depths, width of topics that are beyond his own comprehension. He admits of speaking and writing about a certain wisdom. It is not a wisdom of his times or ours. It is God's wisdom which is always mysterious and a hidden wisdom. Of this wisdom, "eye has not seen and ear has not heard", nor has it so much as dawned on humankind what God has prepared for those who love Him.

God revealed this wisdom to Paul and us today through the same Spirit because the Spirit scrutinizes all matters, even the deep things of God. Paul tells us: who knows a man's innermost self but the man's own spirit within him? Similarly, no one knows what lies at the depths of God but the Spirit of God.

Christians know that that all Scripture is inspired by God. For that reason, when we read Paul or any of the inspired authors of the Old or New Testaments we might be reading it for the very first time even though we may have heard and read it previously. The reason for that is because the Spirit of God makes all things anew! What we may gain in understanding, meaning and interpretation may be so surprising that it seems that we have never understood or seen it in this new manner.

The subjects that Paul covers are quite broad in many books of the New Testament. Reading Paul is different than reading any non-biblical writers primarily because one is reading inspired words. This doesn't mean that other writers are not inspired but the Bible has always held a preeminent place in sacred reading.

The below is taken from Joan Carroll Cruz'z book entitled "Mysteries, Marvels and Miracles in the Lives of the Saints. Published by Tan Books and Publishers, Inc., Rockford, Illinois 61105.

Chapter 33 is named "Wells, Springs and Holy Water" and the section of St Paul starts by saying:.

An underground oratory of four rooms located beneath the church of Santa Maria in Via Lata contains paintings of the imprisonment of St Paul (d.circa 65), as well as remnants of an ancient building. Here is found a fountain which is said to have appeared miraculously in answer to the prayers of St. Paul when he baptized his converts. During the Middle Ages this well was frequently used when there were water shortages in Rome.

The Roman church of San Paolo Alle Tre Fontane (St Paul of the Three Fountains) was built in the 16th century over the spot where St Paul was beheaded. In the sanctuary is the low marble column to which the Saint is said to have been bound at the time of his execution. Also found there is a marble block on which he was beheaded. St Gregory the Great mentions the execution of St. Paul and the place of execution, but sometimes later, legend tells that the decapitated head bounded on the grassy slope, legend tells that the decapitated head bounded on the grassy slope. At the three places where the head of the Saint touched, fountains sprang up which are now protected by three small marble buildings.

For information on spiritual reading of Paul or anyone click on the below link for details and scroll down to the section entitled: Spiritual Reading and Praying with the Doctors.

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The above link focuses primarily on spiritual reading. This link is a companion website to the Apostles site.

The remaining information on St Paul, the Apostle to the Gentiles, will center on his writings along specific themes. The first will be the theme of the Cross. The cross is central to Christianity and without the cross there is no real Christianity.

After Saul's conversion, Paul was plagued by crosses, trials and dangers. Even after Paul was baptised by Ananias, he was feared by many. Even Ananias, who was reluctant to baptized him, feared him. It was really the words of our Lord to Ananias that strengthened him to baptize Saul.

Consider how Paul is treated after his conversion when he starts to preach. In the "Acts of the Apostles," chapter thirteen, Paul and Barnabas are run out of town by hostile forces.

In the quote below from 2Cor 11:24-30, we hear the many dangers he faced throughout his lifetime and journeys.

Five times, I have received at the hands of the Jews the forty lashes less one. Three times I have been beaten with rods; once I was stoned. Three times I have been shipwrecked; a night and a day I have been adrift at sea; on frequent journeys, in danger from rivers, danger from robbers, danger from my own people, danger from Gentiles, danger in the city, danger in the wilderness, danger at sea, danger from false brethren; in toil and hardship, through many a sleepless night, in hunger and thirst, often there is the daily pressure upon me of my anxiety for all the churches. Who is weak, and I am not weak? Who is made to fall, and I am not indignant? If I must boast, I will boast of the things that show my weakness.

Consider the seven types of dangers that St Paul faced above. This is not to mention anything of the more deadly spiritual battles that the saints confront with the seven capital sins that are of a spiritual nature. Paul is writing of his experience with physical, not spiritual, dangers.

It would be very easy for anyone to accuse Paul of being full of spiritual pride. He was a leader before his conversion and he was a leader after his conversion. Grace builds on nature, it doesn't destroy it. Paul was very proud of being considered among the twelve Apostles of the Lord and at the same time considered himself the least of the Apostles for having persecuted the Church of God. His humility kept any pride in check. Paul tells us repeatedly that we need to cling to the cross of Jesus in humility because it is only in the cross that we should glory.

The Apostle to the Gentiles had every reason to envy his upbringing and education. He was a Roman citizen and by far the best educated of all the apostles. However, he fully understood that the Rabbi of Life, whom he never personally saw, spiritually taught him to imitate Him and always take the position of a servant as the Master and Teacher of Life had done.

Paul had every reason to express anger on how he was treated in an effort to help others know more about Jesus. He knew not to give vent to his passions. He tells us to put to spiritual death what is earthly in us, especially passions.

The preaching of Paul reveals that covetousness is to be avoided and shunned always for it is a form of idolatry.

On the last three capital sins of gluttony, sloth and lust, Paul tells us that "I pommel my body and subdue it, lest after preaching to others I myself should be disqualified."

Paul continues: "Put to death (spiritually) therefore what is earthly in you such as immorality, impurity, evil desires..."

Finally the saint tells us to cleanse ourselves from every defilement of body and spirit because those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.

The man of Tarsus is sometimes referred to as the Apostle of suffering, not because he suffered more but because his suffering is perhaps described more extensively. God has a distinct way of allowing each of us to bear what we are able but the Almighty never gives us that which we are not able to cope with or beyond our strength to endure. His grace is always sufficient for us. At least on one occasion Paul asked God to deliver him from one trial that was more troublesome to him but the reply was "my grace is sufficient for you". Another time he writes that "by the grace of God, I am what I am."

Through his trials and suffering, Paul is made to understand the reason for pain and he writes to us stating that we are carrying in our body the death of Jesus so that the life of Jesus may also be manifested. Paul assures us that God will comfort us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.

Christians should not waste their pain. We don't waste our pleasure. Give all to God. God wants all of us especially the more difficult parts for these truly show our goodwill toward God's will when we are tested and tried. Paul goes on to earnestly plead with us in the "Epistle to the Romans," words of encouragement and wisdom regarding suffering and pain and what to do with it.

And now, brothers, I beg you through the mercy of God to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice holy and acceptable to God, your spiritual worship. Do not conform yourselves to this age (or any age) but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, so that you may judge what is God's will, what is good, pleasing and patient under trial, persevere in prayer.

The theme of the Mystical Body of Christ runs through Paul's thoughts and words as he writes, especially when it come to the cross, pain and suffering. When we offer ourselves up as a living sacrifice we are uniting ourselves to the crucified Savior and helping others through a redemptive role as Christ did. Our part is only small but it is nevertheless important. We make up in some small way, if that is possible, what is lacking in the sufferings of Christ. Obviously nothing was lacking from Christ because He was perfect and eternal but since Christ suffers now no more, Christians are a prolongation or extension of Christ's redemption for humankind when we offer them in Jesus' name.

In conclusion I will quote from the book entitled "They Bore the Wounds of Christ" by Michael Freze, S.F.O., published by Our Sunday Vistor Publishing Division, Huntington, Indiana.

All the great minds in the history of the Church are unanimous in proclaiming that devotion to the Cross of our Lord is both meritorious and necessary for the advancement in the spiritual life. This is one devotion that every victim soul has made a vital part of his life, and one that every Christian is called to follow, whether they follow the ordinary path that God has willed for them, or for those called to the higher mystical states.

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Jn 3:16 For God so loved the world, as to give his only begotten Son; that whosoever believeth in him, may not perish, but may have life everlasting.
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