Where’s the Cross Papa?

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This is the end scene from the Pope’s new video where each religious person holds out a symbol of their faith. The Christian is holding a baby Jesus.

Where’s the crucifix?

There is nothing wrong with a statue of the baby Jesus but the crucifix is the defining visual representation of Christianity. It is where our salvation occurred. It is the ultimate expression of love.

What a shame they decided not to include a crucifix. Come to think of it, due to the well positioned sheet of paper and folded hands, there is not one cross visible in the entire 1 min 30 second video. Why is this?

Was it done because of the politically correct fear of offending someone? Yes, this sounds likely. Is it because the death and resurrection of Christ blows all other religions completely out of the water? (Because it does, doesn’t it?!)

You see, the cross is the most incredible, loving, paradoxical event ever to have taken place – so much so that no other religion can even come close.

What I think has happened in this video is that they have watered down Christianity to appease and fit in with the other religions. This is firstly an insult to Christ, secondly an insult to the pursuit of  truth, and thirdly an insult to the pursuit of true tolerance.

The cross is too truthful, too loving, too challenging to be used in a politically correct video. Much better to present Christianity as the post Vat 2 fluffy little baby Jesus that anyone under the age of 50 got served up in primary school and few advanced beyond.

Presenting the different religions as equal is wrong. They are not equal, and they have very different interpretations of what LOVE means. If they really do want to see what brutal, real, honest, tough, agape is, then they need to take a good long hard look at the cross, because the cross IS love.

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Father Dylan’s Sermons – The Epiphany

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By Father Dylan James.

Mt 2:1-12
Today we recall the wise men, the “magi” who came from the East to worship the baby Jesus, bringing gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh.
I’d like to describe to you what most scholars considers to be the reason WHY they KNEW to come and do this. No-one else came, no other long list of foreign kings and dignitaries came. So why did THESE men come? The gospel text tells us that these men came because they saw the star (Mt 2:2). And yet, EVERYONE would have seen the star, but only these few knew what the star meant?
Why?
They knew because they had been attentive and listened to other things that the Lord had said. But what?

The two things we know about these men are that they were from “the east” (Mt 2:1) and that they are called “magi”, which doesn’t mean so much ‘magicians’ as ‘wise men’ of the religion of ‘the east’: magi of the pagan seer ‘Zoroaster’.
As we know, God had been preparing His Chosen people, the Jews, for His coming as the Messiah, for His birth.
But, God had also been preparing other people to come to recognise this Jewish Messiah, recognise Him because He was to be the saviour of ALL peoples. And, one of the ways He prepared others to recognise this Jewish Messiah as their Messiah too was in a prophecy made by the pagan seer Zoroaster. Zoroaster said, as we can read in their pagan texts:
“A VIRGIN will conceive and bear a son, and a STAR will appear blazing at midday to signalise the occurrence… When you behold the star follow it… Adore the mysterious child, offering him gifts with profound humility” (the magi Zoroaster).
And so, they saw the star, they brought gifts, and they did homage.

We can note this as an example of the Christian claim: there are elements of truth in other religions, but they are only verified as true in as much as they lead to the FULLNESS of truth, lead to Him who said He was truth itself: “I am the way, the truth, and the life”(Jn 14:6).

So, these wise men came. But they only were able to do what they did because they were attentive to what had been said. If they hadn’t been attentive then they would have been like everyone else and just seen a star without knowing what it meant.
We might make a comparison with the other small group that the gospels record as having come to do homage to the baby king of the Jews: the shepherds (Lk 2:15-16). They also had heard a message, from angels. They too listened and obeyed.

And let us note something else that both the wise men and the shepherds had in common: JOY at finding Jesus (Mt 2:10-11, c.f. Lk 2:20).

Let me close by applying this to ourselves.
We, too, have heard a message from God, handed down to us in the Scriptures.
We, too, can choose to either be too busy to pay attention (like those who saw the star but didn’t know what it meant),
Or, we can be attentive to the call of the Lord, come to Him, and find joy in worshipping Him.
He is the fullness of what we are yearning for. And we can find it, and find joy in it, if we are just attentive to what has been made known.
“Magi from the east came to Jerusalem and asked, ‘Where is the one who has been born king of the Jews? We saw his star when it rose and have come to worship him.’ ”(Mt 2:1-2).

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‘Why the Ox and the Ass?’ Fr. Dylan James’ Christmas Homily.

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By Father Dylan James.

For my Christmas homily this year I’d like to drawn your attention (c.f. Benedict XVI, The Infancy Narratives, p.69) to two of the figures in our nativity set, in the Christmas crib here. Because the statues in the traditional Christmas crib are not random, rather, they are full of great meaning –meaning that lets you and me see various things about what Christmas is all about.
The two statues I want to mention are probably the two figures you’d think, at first glance, are the least important. The ox and the ass, which for those of you who don’t know your farm animals, is basically a cow and a donkey.
These two figures are in every nativity set. But, let me note a curious detail: the Gospels them don’t mention them. The Gospel says that the baby Jesus was “laid in a manger” (Ml 2:7) because there was “no room in the inn” (Lk 2:7) and so He was born in a stable. But the Gospels don’t tell us which animals were in that stable. A manger would have been full of soft hay, for the animals to eat, and the Christian tradition has obviously imagined what sort of animals would have been there. And the choice of an ox and an ass is not random –it symbolises something.

On one level, the fact that ANY animals are pictured with the baby Jesus is deeply significant: it tells us what this child is all about. This child is the Lord God Almighty entering His creation. It is about the restoration and union of that damaged creation with its Creator. The baby Jesus started His human existence in the womb of the blessed Virgin Mary, but He existed before her, He existed before all His creation. Thus Scripture calls Him, the eternal Son, “the first-born of all creation”(Col 1:15).

We all experience the fact that we live in a broken and suffering world. Thus the importance of the promise of the Old Testament that a child would be born who would bring about the RESTORATION of His creation. The prophecy of Isaiah thus pictures a child leading harmony between the lion and the lamb, the wolf and the goat, with the child able to put His hand into the snake’s lair (Isa 11). Another prophecy pictures the Lord being recognised between two living creatures (Hab 3:2) while Isaiah himself refers to the “ox” and the “ass” knowing “it’s master’s crib”(Isa 1:3).
As Scripture says elsewhere, all creation is yearning for this revelation with groaning and “eager longing”(Rom 8:19). And so the statue of the ox and ass here in our crib set symbolise this.

But there is another symbolism too. A symbolism that relates to humanity. Because pious tradition has identified the ox and the ass as symbolising both the Jew and the Gentile coming to same one Lord God. It is not just one human race, or just one type of animal, that Jesus has been born for, but for ALL of us –for you and for me.

Let me offer one final piece of symbolism. St Augustine notes that the manger is what the ox and the ass EAT from, where they get their hay. The fact that the baby Jesus was laid in the manger is symbol of Him coming to be the new food, “the Bread of Life”(Jn 6:35) as He would later say of Himself.
He has come among us, He has been born as one of us, that He might feed us. All of humanity has a SPIRITUAL hunger, a longing for more than this world’s material order. Today many fill our stomachs with turkey, and our trees may have a multitude of worldly possessions under them as presents. But there is more to us that such things.

We are made for love. Made to love, and made to be loved. And to be loved in the most solid and dependable manner by the Creator God come among us. And He HAS come and been born and been laid in the manger.

What the ox and the ass in the manger set signify is the fulfilment of such a need. We long for the Creator to come and enter His creation, to teach us, to heal us, to feed us, to love us. The animals, the ox and ass, symbolises that all creation has come to recognise and be at peace with the Creator born as one of us. “Today a saviour has been born to us, Christ the Lord”(Lk 2:11).

Edmund’s Friday F.A.S.T. – Bring the Infant Jesus (literally) with you this Sunday

Edmund Adamus

Edmund’s Friday F A S T – Family Actions – Spirituality Thoughts

A former leader of the IBM Executive School once commented, A worthwhile mission properly articulated galvanises ordinary people with extraordinary even explosive results’. Yesterday, the new working documents – Lineamenta – for the Ordinary Synod of Bishops scheduled for October 2015 were issued. As usual, it’s not exactly bedtime reading, but it – and all the commentary that will ensue from it – will undoubtedly occupy a lot of time and attention of many folk.

So why do I open this week’s Friday FAST with an insight from someone totally unconnected with Catholicism? Well, because I believe that as we approach this Third Sunday of Advent – traditionally known as Gaudete Sunday – joyfully anticipating the Christmas festival – there is no better way to remind ourselves of how well God the Father chose to articulate his mission to redeem humanity than by allowing His Son to become a vulnerable, precious unborn and newborn baby.

One Third Sunday of Advent tradition which has been popular in Italy for many years and now is spreading across the world is called ‘Bambinelli Sunday’. Families are invited to bring their own small figure of the Infant baby Jesus from their family crib to be blessed during the Sunday Mass. In this way, the children, parents and grandparents are able to focus on what the Advent preparations should be about – which is on the very day which marks our expectation and rejoicing of the Birth of Our Lord.

So I would encourage all of us to bring the figure of the Infant Christ from our cribs to Mass with us this Sunday and even if it’s not a tradition in our country – let’s ask the priest after Mass to bless the figure to add a new dimension to the Spirit of Christ entering our homes and hearts in the final days of Advent. This is something that grandparents might encourage their grandchildren to do too! Who knows, like the man from IBM said, our little gesture could even have ‘explosive’ results spiritually for us, way ahead of what next year’s synod might have by 2016!

– Edmund Adamus
Director, Office of Marriage and Family Life – Diocese of Westminster