Tag Archives: four last things

Easter Sunday: Heaven has won; choose your side.

Very early in the morning of the first day of the week, that is Sunday morning, three of the four women who had stood at the foot of the cross, head off to the tomb where Jesus is supposed to be.

Mary Magdalene has a jar of ointment, and possibly Mary Salome too, with Mary Cleopas going with them to assist.

Where is the Blessed Mother? Why has she not gone with them? Well, she is with John, (who is the son of Mary Salome) and the reason she doesn’t go to anoint the body of her Son, is because she has very likely already seen Him.  Tradition has it that Jesus first came to His Mother after the Resurrection. This would have been a deeply personal meeting, not to be recorded in Scripture.

I have heard some people who are apparently Christian, who insist that Jesus did not honour His mother. He did. He was without sin, and breaking the fourth commandment, the very commandment He was part of composing, was not something He did.  He could hardly demand that we honour both our physical parents, and our spiritual ones, if He did not do so Himself.

The women had waited through the Sabbath-Passover. They could not make either the Sabbath observances, nor the Passover celebration as they were unclean. They had touched a dead body, with blood on it as well. Even now they are observing the law on burial. Jesus could not receive the rituals of burial, the washing before annointing, because he was covered in blood, and he had died a criminal, and he was seen as cut off from Israel. So, no washing allowed.

You will notice the women took ointment but no water or cloths.

Jesus is risen, and the women are the first witnesses. Just as shepherds were the first witness of His birth, Jesus is overturning the legal silliness of the manmade traditions. Shepherds and women were not allowed to be witnesses in court. When you read the story of Susannah (Dan 13) you will see she was unable to speak on her own defence, the boy Daniel had to speak for her – and he did.

Those of you doing my lesson set Via Guade will get more details about all of this but I thought I would point out a couple of things here that have come up in radio shows recently. One person asked how the Law of the Sabbath was changed so that Christians began to meet on a Sunday. Well, this is the moment. The Lord’s Day is the day of Resurrection, the Eighth Day or Day of Completion/Accomplishment/Consumation. The New Paschal Liturgy of the Lamb of God, the Lamb who stands as though slain (See Rev) is done on Sunday.

That same day Jesus meets with Cleopas and his companion (probably Luke) at the house in Emmaus, where Mary, Cleopas’ wife probably served them. Then Jesus took the bread and blessed it and broke it and…vanished from their sight.

Then they knew Him in the breaking of the Bread and their hearts burned within them.

So every Sunday, on the Lord’s Day we gather to break bread, to know Him in the breaking of the Bread, and to receive Him wounded but raised- the Lamb standing- Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity. This is Heaven on earth.

It is not merely a symbol – although it is also a symbol. The early Fathers and the teaching of the Church from the very beginning understood the real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist.

Day 3 of the Divine Mercy Novena.

Holy Week; Saturday- the harrowing of hell.

Saturday is a silent day. We wait.

But Jesus did not rest on this Sabbath. He had flung open the gates of heaven and was welcoming Home those who had waited in the place of the dead in a firm hope that He would bring them salvation and Life. For God says “I AM the Lord of the living, not the dead.” The saints and angels in Heaven are not dead.

 Traditionally the first two people to be taken to heaven were Adam and Eve.  Icons showing what is called “The Harrowing of Hell,” tend to show Christ taking the hands of Adam and Eve as they step up from their graves. The victory is vast, but not yet complete. These sould have reached their true home but are still in spirit, seperated from their bodies. Christ will show what the Resurrection, the Life in Abundance is – He will rise again so that all of us can receive him, not just spiritually, but completely, Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity.

There is some kind of pre-message of the bodily resurrection when many of the ‘dead’ saints of the Old Covenant, got up and walked around Jerusalem declaring the judgement of God.

When it comes to the Four Last Things, the harrowing of hell is really not part of it, as Christ didn’t go to hell as such but to Hades or Sheol as the Jews called it – the abode of the dead. This seems to have been a place other than heaven, which was closed to them, nor hell, which is for those who reject God and His commandments, nor purgatory, which is a place for heaven. It seems to have been a place of waiting. Those who were destined for heaven were then taken there.

There is still not a clear answer, that I have found, about where Elijah and Enoch are staying, who were assumed to heaven. Now, we know that Our Blessed Mother is in heaven having been assumed, so chances are that Elijah and Enoch are too. Jesus told St Bridget of Sweden that He took Elijah to paradise- which could be heaven. If anyone knows the answer let me know.

There are those who think that as Jesus died and (possibly) rose that He shut the gates of hell; that no one goes there. This is wishful thinking, and the Church has never taught this, and Jesus did not spend so much of His ministry warning about going to hell, if no one was going there.

Scripture, the words of Christ, the letters of Paul and the teaching of the Fathers, make it very clear that we “must work out our salvation in fear and trembling.” There is no Free Pass to Heaven. Every single saint in the history of the Church who has received a vision of hell has said that people are there. No one is sent there – all who go choose it. Avoid the place. Love God, turn to His Mercy.

I heard an athiest recently getting very worked up because he said God sends people to hell because they have worshipped false gods, even though they had never heard of Him. This is ridiculous of course, but he went on with even more anger about the Truth of God; that a man who has committed the foulest crimes, sitting on death row, need only be sorry and he gets to go to heaven. I was very confused by this rant – surely the fact that God forgives any sin, no matter how heinous, if we but turn to His Mercy, is a GOOD thing.

Let’s do that.

Day 2 of Divine Mercy Novena

Holy Week; Good Friday – Four Last Things; Judgement, Death Heaven and hell

We adore Thee oh Christ and we bless Thee,

because by Thy Holy Cross, Thou hast redeemed the world.

Good Friday covers the Sorrowful Mysteries of the Rosary, four of the Dolors of the Sorrowful Mother and the Stations of the Cross.

The First Sorrowful Mystery is the Agony in the Garden where Christ prays to be released, but ends with “But Thy will be done.” He is so distressed at what He knows is ahead of Him that He suffers hematidrosis where He shed the first drops of His Precious Blood for us, sweating it out of His Body.

As we reach the First Station where Christ is condemned to death, it must have seemed to those who loved Him, that hell was let loose and heaven was going to loose this battle.

The battle between heaven and hell is truly in full swing as Christ is scourged and crowned with thorns. Dressed up as a mock king, he is our Bridegroom and as such He is presented to us with the words, “Ecce homo.”

But Satan knows he has not won yet and in the mouths of those present he demands the Son of Man be crucified, for hell rejoices in cruelty and murder. And I am not saying those who yelled for cricifixion were not personally responsible for those words. They were, and Christ had said it is what comes out of a man’s mouth that makes him unclean.

But just as when Jesus touched the dead, He did not become unclean as Jewish law would have it, the body was cleansied and raised instead. And just as when Jesus touched the sick or bleeding, He did not become unclean, He cleansed the other, and healed them, so as He accepts the cross, it is transformed from an intrument of death, to the Tree of Life.

As Christ walks the road of His Passion, and Our Blessed Mother walks beside Him, I can’t help wondering if some of those enemies began to question whether they had done the right thing. Judas certainly understood he had done something awful, but he still didn’t understand what he could do about it. As Jesus left a trail of blood along the way, was Satan afraid? Did he realise his defeat yet? How many of those who were touched by His blood on that road, instead of becoming ritually unclean, found they were cleansed instead?

By the end of the Crucifixion when Jesus had consumed the cup to its dreggs (see Scott Hahn on the Fourth Cup) and said “It is finished,” there was hardly a drop of blood left in Him. Finally St. Longinus pierces His Sacred Heart with the spear and out comes Blood and Water.

He is taken down and laid in the arms of His Moher, now our Mother, whose suffering is not over yet. She must hold her battered, dead son in her arms.

Jesus told St. Bridget of Sweden that He received 5,475 wounds for us. I don’t know whether this was all physical or whether He includes the wounds of heart and mind, on our behalf, or whether it is a symbolical number. We meditate on the Five Wounds often, but we must not forget the sweating, the scourging and the crowning with thorns (Sorrowful Mysteries), nor the falls that hurt His knees and shoulders under the weight of the cross. (Stations).

Darkness had come over the land and there had been an earthquake which Josephus tells us broke the lintel above the Holy of Holies in the Temple so the curtain was torn and the empty cube left open for all to see.

Jesus is laid in the tomb. Our Lady told St. Bridget that she did not sew up the shroud around the body of her Son because she knew He would not stain His grave. The battle was stilled for a moment, but in the silence of the Sabbath eve, something was happening.

At the end of Veneration the Eucharist is taken, veiled to the tabernacle in the Lady Chapel. The sanctuary is stripped bare, the altar cloths removed, along with the tabernacle curtain and the tabernacle itself is left empty and open.

Day 1 of the Divine Mercy Novena

Holy Week; Maundy Thursday; the Four Last Things – heaven.

Jesus Christ, the Son of God, was and is heaven on earth to us. He brought us the perfect love, life and truth of God and offered us the grace and opportunity to partake of that for all eternity. Then He showed us the way there.

I don’t want to get into the discussion of the Last Supper as Passover or not Passover, or New Passover here – but if you are wondering about it, check out the Holy Father’s words on the matter. It seems he has struck theological gold on the matter.

At the Last Supper, Christ gathers His chosen twelve and begins what Dr. Scott Hahn and others have noted as a Passover liturgy. Washing the feet of the apostles, was the work of a servant or slave towards honoured guests. (In those dry and dusty places, having a foot wash meant coming to the host’s table with clean fresh feet, free of the dust of the road) Then having commanded the apostles to serve others likewise (and Judas was sitting there with his ‘non servam’ thoughts) he set about the institution of the Eucharist.

Jesus brings heaven to earth by  ensuring, in this liturgy, that He is always with us. He is the bridegroom, and he gives His Body in wholeness to His bride.

He is God and we know from Scripture and elsewhere that when God speaks – so it is. “Let there be light!” God said and there as light, “This is My Body,” said Jesus and it is His Body.  St Augustine wrote of the miracle of Christ’s Presence in the bread and wine, how He held Himself in His own hands and offered Himself as the sacrificial priest to the Church.

There is a side issue here, that I have heard asked on Catholic radio by protestants who phone in. How, can Jesus be in His body at the table and offer His body in the bread and wine? The first obvious answer is, “well He’s God,” but that’s a bit flippant. The answer lies in the fact that God is outside of time. He is not bound by either the pagan cyclical time or Christian linear time. He can offer His sacrifice of Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity at the Last Supper because the time is irrelevant. The other answer is that the Holy Eucharist is the Risen Christ, in His Risen (but still with the wounds of His love) Body. We are not receiving a dead body to eat (something the pagans of the time thought Christians were doing – cannibalism), but we receive and eat the Living Christ, in His Body and Blood, just as when St John saw the Mass being said in Heaven, he said that on the altar “the Lamb standing as though slain.” So, the Lamb stands up, because He lives.

When we do His will on earth as it is in Heaven, when we made Heaven on earth it is in the Eucharist, which gives us the grace and life in us that Jesus promised in John 6, so then we can make a little heaven on earth for others.

But of course Judas was there too. It seems he did receive the Eucharist and then left the room to go and betray Christ.  Many commentators call those Catholics who receive Christ at Mass and then rush out of church without any thanks, “doing the Judas shuffle.” St Paul warns that those who receive the Eucharist unworthily are guilty of the blood – that means are guilty of murder. We cannot receive the Eucharist unless in a state of grace. Thank God for Confession :)

Heaven is a family, and families gather around a table to be fed. God is the Father, Christ the father and brother and He gave us His own mother to be our mother. In establishing His kingdom on the rock of Peter, Christ made the Church a family too. The pope is the Holy Father, our spiritual father, much as St. Joseph became the foster father of Jesus, so now Jesus gave Peter the role of foster father of the Church, who must strengthen his brothers as they too become fathers.

Our Lady is the model of the Church as bride and mother. Into this Jesus gives us His Body as He promised. It is part of the promise “I will not leave you orphans.”

As a family we repeat the words of the centurion, (apparently the revised Mass will have the proper translation at last!) “Lord, I am not worthy that You should come under my roof, but only say the Word and [I] shall be healed.” And He does and we are. We get to be right there with Him, consumed by love- and that love of God is heaven.

PS tomorrow is the first day of the Divine Mercy Novena.

Holy Week; Spy Wednesday; Four Last Things – hell.

I know the Four Last Things tend to be said in the order, Death, Judgement, Heaven and then hell, but on the day Judas sells Jesus out for the price of a slave, Heaven is not the subject is it?

Judas seems to me to be the very embodiment of the mystery of iniquity. He turns against the very person who truly loves him more than anyone who has ever lived. Judas turns away from this love, and sells Christ out for the price of a slave. Judas who had seen the healings, the feeding of the 5000 and heard the teaching, being right there, and still, he rejects it all for a bag of silver coins.

Judas shows us hell on earth. He is a good Christian as far as anyone externally could tell. He followed Christ, was one of the chosen twelve and was destined, so it seemed, to be a bishop, and great leader for the fledgling Church. But then he gets bitten with pride and envy, and instead of going to his Lord for healing, help and forgiveness, he nurses his resentments, and especially his envy of what he perceives Jesus to have, and finally, in pride, heads off to do the unthinkable.

There is something very disturbing when we look at that moment when Judas asks, “What will you give me?” of the priests of the Temple.

From the very beginning the Liar and Murderer attacked the priesthood. He entered the first temple, the Garden, and targeted the bride to force the priestly bridegroom to act. The Tree of Life was ignored as the first high priest caved to sin.

But God allowed the priesthood to remain. Cain made even worse use of his priestly role, first through his refusal to sacrifice anything of worth and then when he sacrificed the very best in mockery of God, by murdering the good priest Abel.

Nevertheless the priesthood remained, embodied in the holy Melchizedek (meaning king of righteousness) who made the sacrifice of bread and wine.

But we do not see the temple in any structural form again until Moses is instructed to build the tabernacle and ark in the desert. The priesthood of the first born is still preserved among the children of Israel even in their time in Egypt. But in the desert, where God tests them, it is broken.

The priesthood is so badly compromised before the tabernacle that God is about to destroy the lot of them. Moses, who is standing with God in the mountain acts as the bride and holds back the arm of justice.

However when he returns to the people and sees the golden calf, he is so angry he breaks the tablets of the Law. The apostate priests are executed and the priesthood is handed only to the children of Levi, the tribe Moses, Aaron and Miriam, belong to.

There is no sign of the return of the priesthood of Melchizedek until the time of David and Solomon. As a special dispensation Samuel anoints David as priest so he can make the sacrifice. (You may remember that Saul would have received the honour if only he had waited on God’s time).  Then Solomon is anointed as priest-king after David, and, as his father sang in the psalm “You are a priest forever, a priest of the order of Melchizedek.” Remember prophecies tend to have a now and then fulfilment. Solomon is a type of Christ, the priest king who builds the great Temple. But in his apostacy he became a type of anti-Christ, betraying his oath, his anointing and his God.

After the exile and rebuilding of the Temple and more war, came the Temple Jesus knew. Herod built this magnificent and holy facade, not for the glory of God, but for his own aggrandisement with the Jews. He had built a temple or two for the Roman gods for the same political reason.

Into this temple came the priesthood of Levi to worship God. It is still a holy place even though Herod built it. But as Jesus grows in His hidden life, so the priesthood becomes more corrupt and worldly. There is even some view that Caiaphas manages to hold onto the seat of Moses for so many years, against the tradition, because pagan Rome has put him there.

John the Baptist is a priest, the son of the man who was High Priest in the year he was conceived. At the age of 30 he takes on his priestly role and begins his mission in the desert. Then when Jesus reaches the age of 30 He goes to the priest John to be baptised and receive His own priesthood; the priesthood of the son of David, of Melchizedek of old.

Jesus then calls twelve men to take on the new priesthood of the New Covenant and Judas is among the chosen.

The corrupt priesthood of the Temple needs to end, just like the corrupt priesthood in the desert ended. Moses shouted, “Who is on the Lord’s side?” And they chose.

So too Judas chose. Not service or sacrifice, but power and wealth. In selling Christ for the price of a slave, Judas becomes the slave. Then “it would have been better had he never been born.” (Matt 26:24)

If you really want to understand the horror, fire and darkness of hell, imagine standing before Jesus Christ the just judge and hear those words from His mouth, “It would have been better for [this one] had they never been born.”

[footnote: I think I should say here that the Church has never declared who is in hell. Not even Judas. While some private revelations have hinted that he is in hell, the Church has chosen not to speak on this.]

Holy Week Tues; Wise and Foolish Bridesmaids; Four Last Things, more Judgement and a glance of Heaven.

The whole symbolism of Holy Week is wrapped in Christ as Bridegroom imagery. The Bridegroom enters the bridal city, which is dressed to greet Him, waving palms and crying Hosanna. In His great love and Passion for her, He will pour Himself out, every last drop, witholding nothing, for her sake. Then He will both remain and return.

In the story of the wise and foolish bridesmaids, Jesus tells how His Kingdom will be. It is a wedding banquet in which the bride awaits her groom, who appears to be late. The wise bridesmaids each hold their lamp of faith, and keep it fueled, caring for it and making the required effort to keep the little flame alight, until he comes. The foolish girls, have better things to do, resting, being idle, rather than paying attention to the sputtering flame that dims and goes out.

The parable is pretty clear and straightforward, but even so, there are still some strong symbols. First, of course, is Jesus reiterating His role as the Bridegroom. Just as Adam was the first Bridegroom in the Garden-Temple, so Christ is the Second Adam, the Bridegroom whose new Covenant is the Church, His bride, symbolised in the Blessed Mother, the New Eve, who is not a birdesmaid, but the Bride.

Jusr as Mary is with Jesus, but sort of hidden, all through holy week, her presence only really being felt at the time of the Passion, she is like the bride who is veiled until, as the Bridegroom said from His cross “It is consumated.” He pours himself out for her, and she shares in all of it. Her suffering is joined to His.

This is the story from the Garden, where Satan’s malicious plan was to attack both the sacrificial priesthood of Adam and in so doing attacked marriage, the giving of the bridegroom to the bride for giving life. Adam’s sin, his refusal to suffer for his bride, is redeemed when both Christ the bridegroom and His mother the bride suffer to the enth degree for our sake. Then death is defeated and Satan looses after all.

When Jesus tells the parable of the ten bridesmaids, it is the Groom who comes late. The bride is there in the banquetting hall. She is ready. The bridesmaids are supposed to be her maids, so that they can assist her at the Wedding. Five, do as they should, keeping their lights lit, oil ready. But the other five are actually not just unprepared for the Groom, they have failed to serve the bride as her beloved would have them do.  They have slept, sure that someone else will carry out the necessary tasks. Then at the last moment, they demand the others give to them, who have given nothing. They are not ready, because they don’t love.

Holy Week Monday- Cleansing the Temple; Four Last Things: Judgement.

The first Sunday after Easter is Divine Mercy Sunday, where Jesus invites us all to accept His Mercy. But if we read what He said about this, we soon see that this isn’t a free-for-all to heaven. Those who will not accept Mercy will get just Judgement. And those who refuse mercy will find the justice very just indeed.

There are two jusdgements that God will give. The first is called the “particular judgement” which we each receive on an individual basis at the moment of death. At that moment the soul knows where they belong. Those who have carried their cross and repented of all things before death can enter heaven. Those who have carried their cross but still have sins to expiate will be in purgatory. (1 Cor 3:15). All those who must suffer in purgatory have the joy of knowing they are saved, and Heaven awaits them.

Finally those who have refused to seek truth and have gone their own way, leaving their cross uncarried, and refusing to assist others to carry theirs, choosing death over life , will go to hell.

At the end of time Jesus will retutn to “judge the living and the dead.” Here will be what is called The General Judgement. When all people’s, all nations, will be judged. This will not change the particular judgemennt of anyone but those alive at this moment will receive their particular judgement at the same time. Then we will all be raised, either to everlasting life or to everlasting death. 

The only places left for existance will be Heaven and hell, for even purgatory is temporary.

John puts the cleansing of the Temple on the second day of the week. John’s whole Gospel shows the Bridegroom as the I AM who fulfils the Old Law to the last dot. At the end of the second day of creation God did not say it was good.  Yet we see from the other days of creation that all that God made was good, so what kept Him silent on day 2?

Rabbinic tradition tells us that on the Second Day God tested the angels. He put before them His plan for Manking and Lucifer, said “Non servam!” (I will not serve) and so fell.  “I saw Satan fall like lightening,” says Jesus as God cleansed heaven.

When Jesus sees the Court of the Gentiles used as a market place, preventing the gentiles coming before God, He is angry. He makes a whip and throws the self seekers out. There are some Bible scholars who believe this cleansing happened more than once, as the sellers did not repent of their behaviour; and as an illustration of just how corrupt the temple authorities had become.

The Temple and Jerusalem are symbols of the world. The destruction of the temple and the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 AD came as Jesus had said it would. It has been taught from early days that this was a Parousia, a presence of God and His judgement happened when God used the army of TItus to destroy what was left after the abject self destruction of Jerusalem. I think it was Jospehus who reported how horrified Titus was when he entered Jerusalem. How the degredation of the people was almost complete, to such an extent that he was more thorough in the destruction out of sheer disgust.

It is believed, that no Christians were left in Jerusalem at this time, having sold up, shared out and fled, long before the famine and troubles began. They had listened to the prophecy of Jesus and knew more or less what was coming; the end, the Parousia of God.

Jesus warned over and over again that He would return as the just judge, and that we had better be ready. In His Divine Mercy, he calls us to His Sacred Heart, to be healed from our sins by the blood and water from His wounded side/heart. But He does not force anyone. He invites, He came to a number of saints and sent His Mother to still more, warning, inviting, commanding even – and gets such little response. (See St Margaret Mary Alacoque and St Faustina).

In the Gospels He is very clear. Matthew records the Parable of the sheep and the goats (Matthew 25:31-46) Here those who have loved Him have shown this love in their sacrifice and care for the sick, vulnerable, needy and so on. These people who took care of others even when they didn’t feel like it, are the ones who get heaven as their reward. Those who knew God, they understand who He is, but have done nothing for their neighbour; too inconveient, got better things to do etc- get their reward – hell.