Have a look at this scene from Charlie and the Chocolate factory;
There is a problem in Charlie’s relationship with Mr. Wonka because he and his granddad had taken something from the factory without permission. This disqualifies him from receiving the prize of a lifetime supply of chocolate.
What does Charlie do and what does this show?
In Catholic terms can you see, confession,contrition, repentance and forgiveness in this.
Our sin stands between us and God and damages our relationship with God. The actions of Jesus in his death and resurrection puts this right. We need to acknowledge our sins with genuine sorrow and repent,that is turn away from them, and receive the forgiveness which is offered us through Jesus Christ.
Wow! All that in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.
Have a look at Isaiah Chapter 52 vs 13 to Chapter 53 vs 12. Can there be any doubt that Jesus is being described here, the manner of His death and its purpose? (You might also want to look at Psalm 22)
Now it may seem strange to be looking for a description of Jesus in the old testament but the fit here is really very good. It’s so good that scholars had thought this part must have been written after Jesus, ie AD. But when a copy of the book of Isaiah was found in the Dead Sea scrolls and dated to 100 BC, it confirmed the text as we have it. (book ref Come with me through Isaiah by David Pawson)
So what does Jesus look like? In Ch 53 vs 2 it says, “He had no form or majesty that we should look at him, nothing in his appearance that we should desire him.”
In short He was ordinary looking, nothing special – a face you would pass over in a crowd. He was so ordinary that He lived unnoticed for 30 years before starting His ministry. When he started his ministry and was preaching in Nazareth, His home town, people said “Where did this man get all this? What is this wisdom that has been given to Him? What deeds of power are being done by his hands! Is not this the carpenter, the son of Mary and brother of James and Joses and Judas and Simon, and are not His sisters here with us?” And they took offense at Him. Mark Ch 6 vs 2-3
Even John the Baptist seems to have second thoughts and sends two disciples to Jesus to ask “Are you the one who is to come or are we to wait for another?” Read Luke Ch 7 vs 18-23 for the context.
Then when Jesus is brought before Pontius Pilate, Pilate is rather underwhelmed by Him and dismissive of Him. He sees no fault in Him and wants to release Him but there is a loud outcry from the Chief Priests and the guard and veiled threats. Pilate goes back and takes another look at Jesus and says “Where are you from?” Read John Ch 18 vs 28 to Ch 19 vs 16
These verses seem to confirm that Jesus was ordinary and of unspectacular appearance. It is the things he said and did that show Him to be otherwise.
Do what Pontius Pilate did, Take another look. The Gospel of Mark is a good place to start from.
And as it’s Advent have a look at this YouTube clip;
When I came across this scripture initially it made me smile and have a quiet chuckle. It seemed like a possibility for a Monty Python sketch. I pictured a group of people in a conspiratorial huddle. One says “Let us lie in wait for the virtuous man.” Another a bit puzzled asks “Why?” “Because he annoys us,” comes the answer.
I then began to wonder if virtuous people are annoying? I could see this being so if the virtue was false. An example being a story by Saki called “The Story-Teller” where the main character, Bertha, was horribly good and had three good conduct medals which prove to be her undoing. I thought “Lord save me from being horribly good”.
Yes, false virtue could well be annoying but this is not the virtue mentioned in the scripture. This is true virtue which seems to make others feel under judgement, even if that isn’t the intention, and can provoke a violent response. A simple example is how people who drink can be very disparaging about people who don’t.
Here’s the passage again; Wisdom Chapter 2 verses 12-20 Let us lie in wait for the virtuous man, since he annoys us and opposes our way of life, reproaches us for our breaches of the law and accuses us of being false to our upbringing.
He claims to have knowledge of God, and calls himself a son of the Lord.
Before us he stands, a reproof to our way of thinking, the very sight of him weighs our spirits down; his way of life is not like other men’s, the paths he treads are unfamiliar.
In his opinion we are counterfeit: he holds aloof from our doings as though from filth; he proclaims the final end of the virtuous as happy and boasts of having God for his father.
Let us see if what he says is true,let us observe what kind of end he himself will have.
If the virtuous man is God’s son, God will take his part and rescue him from the clutches of his enemies.
Let us test him with cruelty and with torture, and thus explore this gentleness of his and put his endurance to the proof.
Let us condemn him to a shameful death since he will be looked after – we have his word for it.
Powerful and prophetic words indeed, it sounds like the writer is talking about Jesus and the way his enemies treated him.
When I first became a Christian I noticed that Christians told quite awful jokes. Some years later I found that I was also telling awful jokes. For instance there was a cosmetic product called Oil of Ulay” which had changed its name to “Oil of Olay”. I said they must have done this with the Spanish market in mind. My hearers looked a bit gone out at me and then one said, “That’s a terrible joke.” I said,”Yes but you had to think about it for moment didn’t you.”
Now I may not regard myself as virtuous and God alone is good, but if you are wondering if you are making progress in the Christian life look at the quality of your jokes and avoid places of ambush.
For a meditation have a look at this song “Mansion Builder” by the group 2nd Chapter of Acts (good old youtube). For Jesus who prepares a place for us also prepares us for the place.
You know how it is, there I was doing a bible study on the Catholic Mass through the book of Revelation and a cross reference leaped out at me and set me thinking of something else. That reference was John 10; 9 “I am the door; if any one enters by me, he will be saved, and will go in and out and find pasture.”
So what does this “go in and out” mean? If we were thinking of Jesus as the door to heaven we would just be “in” as our eternal destiny. So where might we be going to a place of blessing through Jesus Christ and coming away again? The Church and in particular the Catholic Mass which is meant to be in union/communion with the Church in heaven as glimpsed through the lens of John’s revelation. Those things we see in the Church and the mass such as candles/torches/lampstands, incense, vestments, worship, forms of words, are all there in John’s revelation (as well as all the end-times stuff which is so fascinating). So what we are participating in is an image or reflection of the Church in heaven. If we then by a leap of imagination put ourselves on heaven’s side of this lens we are then looking from the Church in heaven to the Church on earth. Wow!!! That should enable us to go to Church with a certain sense of excitement, anticipation and awareness that we are going to a place of worship, that right relation between creature and Creator, and blessing. A taste of heaven on earth.
Consider Revelation 1: 10 “I was in the Spirit on the Lord’s day…”
What better place could we be. We come to the Father,through the Son,and in the Spirit – we offer our worship and we receive blessing, and this for a purpose – for our going out back into the world. The Lord’s day then becomes the beginning of the week when we are equipped and empowered for the task ahead rather than the end of the week and our being refilled because we are run down. As a reminder make sure you have a calendar that starts the week on Sunday rather than one that ends the week on Sunday.
Perhaps we can then see Sunday Mass as a mountain top experience (Matthew 17; 1-8) where we behold his glory, worship and receive blessing, and then go down the mountain for there is much to do. “Blessed will you be coming in, and blessed going out”
At mass this morning we had a reading from 1 Thessalonians 2:1-8. a bit that sprang out was,“You know very well, and we can swear it before God, that never at any time have our speeches been simply flattery, or a cover for trying to get money…”
This reminds me of some conversations I’ve had where people say that the church is corrupt and it’s all about money…etc. I try to point out that even if I held the church in my house we’d probably need a collection to cover the tea and biscuits. Then we might need to support someone in need or a full-time Priest or Minister. Can’t really do it without money – however we have to remember that the preaching of the Gospel comes first, the tea and biscuits are secondary. From the reading we can see that St Paul had the same problem and accusation – same then as now.
If you haven’t already guessed I like trains and there is something majestic about a steam train such as the A4 Pacific Sir Nigel Gresley above. This made me wonder, if I was to think what kind of steam engine I might be it would be the one below;
Because Jesus has died for us, when God looks at us he sees his own son. So in terms of steam engines though I might see myself as the little steam engine (Ivatt 2MT) , God sees me as the A4 Pacific (powerful express engine).
What’s more he says He is going to work in me to make me more like Jesus. In steam engine terms more like the A4 Pacific. That’s quite a refurbishment! PTL!
So this is my very first go at writing a blog. It will be various observations and thoughts on the Christian life from a Catholic perspective.
For example, last week at morning mass we had a reading from Judges 11 where Jephtha wages war against the Ammonites and the Spirit of the Lord comes upon him. He does however make a foolish vow that if he triumphs he will sacrifice the first thing that comes out of the door of his house. (Do you get the feeling that this will end badly?) What happens is that it is his daughter who comes out to greet him. Sadly rather than seeking the Lord for forgiveness for making such a foolish vow, which the Lord would have released him from, he fulfills the vow.
So what are we to make of this? Well the bible has plenty of examples of things people did wrong as well as right and this is one of those. This time of the Judges seems to be one of rather flawed characters being used by God to remedy a particular situation. We have Gideon the reluctant judge, Samson the judge ruled by his passions. Of the Judges one of the better ones was a woman Deborah (Judges Chapter 4). One of my favourites is Ehud, a left-handed man, and you find him in Chapter 3. Being left-handed myself there is that appeal as well as his courage and cleverness.
Anyways if we come round to application, what might we get from this.
“Help us Lord to do the things you really want us to do and save us from our flaws and failings so that we might become the people you want us to be. This we ask through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.”