Theology

The Paul Understanding of Jesus

The Paul Understanding of Jesus

By Fr Habib Jajou
Chaldean Catholic Mission
London 2011

Introduction

Paul the Apostle, who first persecuted the followers of our Lord, converted on the road to Damascus and become, with St Peter and St James, leaders of the early Church. He is the Apostle of the nations, wrote many letters to Christians in Ephesus, Corinth, Galatia, Rome, and Thessalonica. They were like a net of spiritual communications at that time (52 – 62A.D.)

He deeply understood Jesus as the promised Christ and Lord, Son of God who was born to save us. He teaches us that we take our origin from two men: Adam and Christ. . . Adam, he says, became a living soul, Jesus a life-giving spirit…’

What did he say more regarding that, how did he understand of Jesus and changed his convictions? I will try to explain that through his several letters.

I the Letter to the Ephesians 4:17-32: the Old Man and the New Man

According to St Paul, God has forgiven us in Christ. He proclaimed and taught that truth is only in Jesus Christ. He wants us putting away the old self, and putting on the new one. The old man was corrupted through deceitful desires. The new man follows the truth (Jesus Christ), in God’s way, in righteousness and holiness of truth.

He confirms that Christians all are like members in a family where Jesus is the Head. Faithful can not be perfect by his/her effort, rather by believing and following the God’s plan for reconciliation which has been fulfilled through Jesus Christ. Jesus, who is the only Savior, by his power of the Holy Spirit, works and guides us for perfection.

II the Second Letter to the Corinthians 5:11-21:
The Apostolic Mission is to serve the Reconciliation

The community in Corinthians made a misunderstanding of St. Paul. They considered that being Christians means complete freedom , but to what extend? Paul says: ‘God has reconciled us to himself through Christ’, and ‘reconciled the world to himself in Christ’ (2 Cor. 5: 18-19) this reconciliation means forgiving our trespasses. So every believer has to serve the reconciliation missionary over the world. This demands a religious duty on them as members of the early Church. According to Paul, God made Jesus Christ to be sin for us. This is the cost of reconciliation; so believers should fight sin in their daily life, especially Son of God was crucified for us sinners. The first fruit of the members of the community is forgiving every one insults.

St Paul did not know Jesus physically; rather the Lord was sighted to him. He expresses how much the love of Christ has impels him. The reason is that because Jesus died for all especially for him sinner. So he, members of the early Church, and all believers must die and only rose by Christ. Faithful must live for Jesus, and they have to, spiritually, know him more and more. This knowledge will make believer a new creation.

III the Letter to Galatians 4:1-7:
The Law was for the bondage and we have liberated

The communities of Galatia wished to adopt a rigid obedience to the Jewish Law but, St Paul warned them that if they (who were Jews) refuse his proclamation, there will be no longer place for them to accept Jesus Christ in there lives. He confirms on faith more than the works of the Law. Whatever man tries to work according to the Law, he/she is not able to get perfection.

St Paul says that, before being faithful, we were ‘enslaved to the elemental powers of the world’ (Gal 4: 3) Son of God was sent to ransom us. He declares that he has been crucified with Christ, and he is now living with the Risen Christ (Gal 2: 19-20). So that, believer is no longer son of sin, rather of God. This means also that they are Jesus’ brothers or sisters. We are free by the Spirit of God (the Holy Spirit) who is also Spirit of Jesus, so that we are heirs by Christ.

IV the Letter to the Romans

Chapter 3:21-26: Christ is ‘the Righteousness of God’ for all believers

In this first part of St Paul’s Letter, he declares the bright side of his proclamation which he already has outlined in (1: 16-17). He depended on Scripture, ‘St. Paul professes that “Christ died for our sins in accordance with the scriptures.’(CCC601). He proclaimed the God’s Plan, which has been fulfilled; God sent His own Son ‘in the likeness of sinful flesh and for the sake of sin, He condemned sin in the flesh.’ (Rom 8: 3). Jesus is ‘the righteousness of God’ who ‘has been manifested apart from the law’ (21) where the Law and the Prophets have testified him.

Really all human beings are sinners. They have been created according to God’s image and likeness. Despite they are still having God’s image, but no longer His likeness. As a result, they are far from the Grace of God, and in need to trust and obey His Divine Plan.

Listeners to the St Paul’s proclamation have to believe and follow Jesus in order to obtain the God’s righteousness. St Paul focuses on the word (righteousness); he used it for more than forty times in his letter to Romans. This righteous is by Jesus Christ, thus He is our redeemer.

These words were like a Good News for people; they believed that Jesus really was present among them (Romans 1: 3-4). The Apostle of the Nations was always begin with the reality, which is the Resurrection of Jesus ‘I am not ashamed of the Good News’ (Rom 1: 16) How does Jesus do that? By his lovely solidarity with the sinful humanity, so he becomes the head of humanity. He presented his life as a sacrifice to the Father to redeem all human beings.

The expiation rite in the Temple was like an image to the Christ’s one. But, by the Cross of Christ, which is the Cross of Salvation, every human can obtain righteous. How this has been done? The answer is: ‘”God put forward as an expiation by his blood”. So, in Christ’s humanity “God was in Christ reconciling the world to himself.”’ (CCC433)

Chapter 5: ‘we have been justified by faith’ in the Cross of Salvation

In this second part St Paul confirms that the new life in Christ (the Second Adam) is certain. And we justified by our faith in the Lord Jesus Christ not by our poor works. By this Justification we have peace with God. This is even with our afflictions. But, what afflictions do? According to St Paul, they produce endurance, then, character, after that hope, which isn’t disappoint.

Jesus died for the ungodly; and by his death, the reconciliation, by his life; the redemption. All the grace that we have is from God; however, we receive it by Jesus. Despite many were sinners, Jesus obedience to the plan of the Father made them righteous.

Chapter 6: 1-11 ‘we died to sin’

The fact that we were baptized to be buried with him, means also we live to the new life. This is because our savior was raised by the glory of the Father, and we have united with him in his death and life. Our old man -the first Adam- was crucified with him, but we have a new life for the sake of God by him who lives forever.

Life

Worth mentioning, St. Paul rarely uses the word (life) in chapters 1-4, while between chapter 5 and 8, 25 times. Life, in his letter, has a scatological impression. It means shearing life with the Risen Christ. But, there is no new life only by triumph on sin and Law. Certainly, there is a new life with the Risen Christ, but this is threatened by suffering in the world (5: 3-5) and moral weakness (6-9). The best for Christian is priding of the Cross of the Christ who by the Cross we have been reconciled.

Conclusion

We have seen how St Paul has converted after living experience of encountering the Risen Christ. He was like a blind, and then experienced the Divine light. This light has enlightened people of every city in Asia Minor and Greece which have welcomed him. So as a result of his success, he merited being the Apostle of the nations.

Jesus Christ, who was persecuted by Paul, has become his Lord, the Son of God, and the Risen Lord, the righteousness of God. He loved, forgave, and reconciled him with the Father. The Cross has become Cross of Salvation. So Paul putted away his old self, died to sin, and followed the truth after leaving the Law which was for the bondage. St Paul was certain that Jesus crucified not for him, rather for all human beings. St Paul proclaimed that the redemption from sin is justification through Faith more than doing many works. However, his mission was a fruit of his freedom by the Spirit of Christ and his Apostolic Mission was to serve the Reconciliation

Today, St. Paul’s Journey is a symbol of how our journey should be. So to follow him, we have to confirm in our teaching that the misery which oppresses human beings because evil can only be understood according to the first Adam’s sin. Proclaiming the Kingdom of God through the teaching of St. Paul is to enlighten the world that there is no truth only in the second Adam, Jesus Christ.

References

36. The New Jerusalem Bible, Pocket Edition published (1990), Darton, Longman & Todd Ltd.
37. The Holy See (2007) Catechism of the Catholic Church, Geoffrey Chapman.
38. Maryvale Institute (2007), Introduction to the New Testament, Birmingham. Chap 5.

Pope: Lent, the temptation to remove God from ours lives and the world

Pope: Lent, the temptation to remove God from ours lives and the world
Benedict XVI said that Lent means building our lives “not outside” the Lord, “as if He did not exist.” The “desert” is the place of man’s weakness, but also a place where we experience the presence of God. From tonight the Pope and the Roman Curia begin their Lenten retreat preached by Cardl. Laurent Monsengwo Pasinya, Archbishop of Kinshasa.
Vatican City (AsiaNews) – ” The temptation has always been present in human history to remove God, to order our lives and the world on our own, relying solely on our own abilities.” The season of Lent is a time when with “patience” and “humility” we follow “the Lord every day, learning to build our life not outside of him or as if He did not exist, but in Him and with Him, because He is the source of true life”. Benedict XVI summed up the meaning of the liturgical season of Lent, now in its first Sunday, in front of thousands of pilgrims gathered in St Peter’s Square for the Angelus. 

Referring to the Sunday Gospel (Mark 1:12-13), which narrates Jesus’ period in the desert, the pope explained that the desert “has different meanings”: ” It may indicate the state of abandonment and loneliness, the “place” of man’s weakness where there are no supports and certainties, where temptation becomes stronger. But it may also indicate a place of refuge and shelter, as it was for the people of Israel who escaped from slavery in Egypt, where we can experience the presence of God in a special way. Jesus “ remained in the desert for forty days, tempted by Satan” (Mk 1.13). St. Leo the Great says that “the Lord willingly suffered the attack of the tempter to defend us with his help and to teach us by his example” (Tractatus XXXIX, 3 De ieiunio quadragesimae: CCL 138 / A, Turnholti 1973, 214-215)”.

Continuing to comment on the Gospel, the Pope added: “This is the time of fulfillment. The kingdom of God is at hand” (Mk 1.15), He announces that something new happens in Him: God speaks to man in an unexpected way, with a unique and concrete closeness, full of love, God becomes incarnate and enters the world of man to take sin upon himself, to overcome evil and bring man back into the world of God. But this proclamation is accompanied by a corresponding request for such a great gift. In fact, Jesus adds: “Repent and believe in the Gospel” (Mk 1.15), it is an invitation to have faith in God and to convert our lives each day to his will, directing all our actions and thoughts towards good. The season of Lent is a time to renew and strengthen our relationship with God through daily prayer, acts of penance, works of fraternal charity”

Before concluding his reflections, he asked everyone to pray for the week of spiritual exercises that he and the Roman Curia begin tonight. The preacher chosen for this year is Card. Laurent Monsengwo Pasinya, Archbishop of Kinshasa (Democratic Republic of Congo). The theme of the meditations will be “The communion of the Christian with God -” And our fellowship is with the Father and His Son, Jesus Christ “(1 Jn 1.3).”

How We Teach Meaning of The Church Basing on The TRINITY

How We Teach Meaning of The Church Basing on The TRINITY

 Fr Habib Jajou

London 2011

 

We believe that the church is the Body of Christ. She is the Bride and Jesus the Bridegroom. But the Church also has many meanings, in this article I will try to explain the meaning of the church depending on the essential role of the Trinity; Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. I will depend on the book of the Catechism of the Catholic Church.

 

I- Symbols of the church from the Old Testament

 

The church, which has been established by our Lord Jesus Christ, has a Trinitarian symbol in the Old Testament. This is because she has an origin in the plan of the Holy Trinity (CCC758). The three visitors, who appeared to Abraham and promised him that his wife Sarah will have a son (Gen 18) (CCC761); were symbol of the Trinity who will be with the people of God forever.

 

The goal of Jesus Christ to His people through the Church is to share in the divine life of the eternal Father. This life needs the Holy Spirit who glorifies the Church when Christ comes again. Church is like yeast, or a seed (CCC767), or a little flock in the world, have a mission to proclaim the kingdom of God to all nations. God’s people have special characteristics, so they are distinguished from the world. Every one want to be a member of this church must be born again of water and of the spirit.

 

II- Trinity in the Holy Prayer

 

When Jesus Christ taught His disciples the Holy Prayer, He demands us knowing that God is our Father by the Holy Spirit power. By Jesus Christ, His Son, we also, and by the adoption of the Holy Spirit, become His sons and daughters. This filiation will not come to exist without remaining in Jesus. Remaining branches in the vine is a symbol of that (John 15: 4-5) (CCC787). This abiding is through the Holy Spirit, who Jesus has promised the church, His bride.

 

III- The Pentecost

 

Fifty days after the Crucifixion, Church has been brought to the world when the twelve disciples were all together in one place and were filled with the Holy Spirit (CCC767). The Holy Spirit bestowed upon them the spiritual gifts to present glory with Jesus, to the Father (CCC799).   

 

Believers are able to become people of God only when they born by the Holy Spirit as a Christ faithful where Christ is the head and leader of the Church (CCC792, Col 1: 18). This is same as the head of the human body; it should be a temple for the Holy Spirit (CCC790). Jesus Christ and the church are one, and the Holy Spirit makes the church the Temple of lively God. The Holy Spirit is the principle of every real action in this body (the body of the church). One can practice this through the Sacraments, virtues, and the charismatic gifts (CCC798). All the gifts are from the Holy Spirit in order to glorify the Father in our life.

 

IV- Love

 

Love is the base of the relationship between God the Father and Jesus Christ, head of the Church. So we have to love Jesus because he first loved us as the apostle John said (1John 4: 19). This love is a fruit of the work of the Holy Spirit in our hearts (CCC798). It makes us a priestly nation, Father’s Priests.

 

By this love, members of a church become one with Jesus Christ since He is the High priest and they should also be a holy priesthood as St. Peter said in his letter (1p 2: 5). The mutual love between any bridegroom and bride is a symbol for the mutual love between Jesus Christ as the Bridegroom and the Church as the Bride (CCC789 & 796). There is no life to any local church without having love which is her breath; I mean the presence of the Holy Spirit, same as the presence of love between the soul and the body in any human being.

 

Sun as a star sends its light full of energy to support almost all life. We can use the concept of standard to explain a bit little about Trinity; suppose the sun is a symbol for the Father, its light, the Son Jesus, and its energy, the Holy Spirit.

 

We have seen that how the Holy Trinity (our Father, Jesus our brother, and the Holy Spirit who live life of love inside our hearts) is encountering us, people of God, through the Holy Church forever.

 

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