Thursday, April 9, 2015

Post- Resurrection Catechesis

This morning at Mass I had the privilege to hear part of the Resurrection account of Jesus in the Gospel of St. Luke.  There are many juicy bits in the passage, and I will leave a complete exegesis and explanation of the Gospel reading to people smarter than myself; however, I would like to focus on one small part of the Gospel.

"Then he said to them, 'These are my words which I spoke to you, while I was still with you, that everything written about me in the law of Moses and the prophets and the psalms must be fulfilled.' Then he opened their minds to understand the Scriptures, and said to them, 'Thus it is written, that the Christ should suffer and on the third day rise from the dead, and that repentance and forgiveness should be preached in his name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem" (Luke 24: 44-47).  I give you the broader passage for reference.

What a beautiful passage during this Easter Week.  However, the passage has a gaping hole.  "Then he opened their minds to understand the Scriptures," and leaps to the conclusion: that Christ should suffer and on the third day rise.  So how does He open the Scriptures to the Apostles?  We can infer that most likely Christ said things that were not written down by Luke the Evangelist.  St. John the Evangelist sheds some light on this.  He writes, "But there are also many things which Jesus did; were every one of them to be written, I suppose that the world itself could not contain the books that would be written."  John is alluding to the fact that Jesus is God; of course we cannot capture in a human book all that the "Logos" has done (See John 1 In the beginning was the Word).  However, I am sure it would also be a tall task to record all of Jesus' actions from the Annunciation until His Ascension.  Luke simply says that Christ opened the Apostles' minds to understand the Scriptures.  I think we can logically infer that He said things which were not written down, and they were passed down in the early Church. 

So how exactly did Christ teach the Apostles about how the Old Testament is fulfilled?  What passages of the Old Testament did He quote?  What did He say?  Well, I do not know.  There is a good reason I do not know: I was not there in the presence of Christ in Jerusalem when he appeared to his Apostles.  It would have been a lot easier if I had, but I live today. 

I am not trying to be snarky, but eventually we must realize that we can only infer what Jesus said: perhaps referencing Isaiah and the suffering servant, or how Melchizedek is a foreshadowing of Christ, or how God saved the people in the wilderness from the Seraph Serpents by posting a serpent on a stake, and all who looked upon it were saved (the Church recognizes this as a foreshadowing of the Crucifixion).  Perhaps He illuminated their minds with other references to Him and His suffering.  The Church, in Her 2,000 year history, has elaborated very well how the Old Testament is fulfilled in the New Testament.  This post will never intend to reiterate everything, but to give my little thought on this one passage that struck me today in the Gospel.  What I can say is that we can infer what the first post-Resurrection Catechesis actually looked like, 2,000 years after the momentous event.

Praised be Jesus Christ, now and forever.  May you remain close to the Sacred Heart of Jesus through the Immaculate Heart of Mary.

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