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From: Hebrews 2:14-18

Jesus, Man’s Brother, was Crowned with Glory and Honor Above the Angels

[14] Since therefore the children share in flesh and blood, he himself likewise par-
took of the same nature, that through death he might destroy him who has the
power of death, that is, the devil, [15] and deliver all those who through fear of
death were subject to lifelong bondage. [16] For surely it is not with angels that
he is concerned but with the descendants of Abraham. [17] Therefore he had to
be made like his brethren in every respect, so that he might become a merciful
and faithful high priest in the service of God, to make expiation for the sins of the
people. [18] For because he himself has suffered and been tempted, he is able
to help those who are tempted.


14. As in the prologue of St John’s Gospel (In 1:12-13), “flesh” and “blood” apply
to human nature in its weakened condition. Jesus has assumed man’s nature:
“He has taken it on without sin but with all its capacity to suffer pain, given that
he took a flesh similar to sinful flesh; he ‘shared therefore in flesh and blood’, that
is, he took on a nature in which he could suffer and die—which could not occur in
a divine nature” (St Thomas, “Commentary on Heb.”, 2, 4).

Christ chose to submit to death, which is a consequence of sin, in order to des-
troy death and the power of the devil. The Council of Trent teaches that, as a re-
sult of original sin, man “incurred the wrath and indignation of God, and conse-
quently incurred death [...] and, together with death, bondage in the power of him
who from that time had the empire of death” (”De Peccato Originali”, Can. 3; cf.
Rom 5:12; 6:12-14; 7:5; etc.). To explain this power of the devil, St Thomas com-
ments: “A judge has one kind of power of death: he can punish people with death;
a criminal has a different kind of power of death—a power he usurps by killing an-
other [...]. God has the first kind of dominion over death; the devil has the second
kind, for he seduces man to sin and leads him to death” (”Commentary on Heb.”,
2, 4).

Addressing Christ and his cross, the Church sings, “O altar of our victim raised,
/ O glorious passion ever praised, / by which our Life to death was rendered,
/ that death to life might thence be mended” (Hymn “Vexilla Regis”). The death
of Christ, the only one who could atone for man’s sin, wipes out sin and makes
death a way to God. “Jesus destroyed the demon”, St Alphonsus writes; “that
is, he destroyed his power, for the demon had been lord of death on account of
sin, that is, he had power to cause temporal and eternal death to all the children
of Adam infected by sin. And this was the victory of the Cross that Jesus, the
author of life, by dying obtained Life for us through that death” (”Reflections on
the Passion”, Chap. 5, 1).

15. Christ has freed men not from physical but from spiritual death and therefore
from fear of death, because he has given us certainty of future resurrection.
Man’s natural fear of death is easily explained by his fear of the unknown and his
instinctive aversion to what death involves; but it can also be a sign of excessive
attachment to this life. “Because it does not want to renounce its desires, the
soul fears death, it fears being separated from the body” (St Athanasius, “Oratio
Contra Gentes”, 3).

The fear of death which some people in the Old Testament had can be explained
by their not knowing what fate awaited them, and by the possibility of being com-
pletely cut off from God. But physical death is not something to be feared by
those who sincerely seek God: “To me to live is Christ, and to die is gain,” St
Paul explains (Phil 1:21). “Don’t be afraid of death. Accept it from now on, gene-
rously...when God wills it, where God wills it, as God wills it. Don’t doubt what I
say: it will come in the moment, in the place and in the way that are best sent
by your Father-God. Welcome be our sister death!” (St. J. Escriva, “The Way”,

16. “It is not with angels that he is concerned”: the original text says literally “he
did not take angels with his hand”, “ did not catch hold of”, “did not take [the na-
ture of angels]”; meaning that Christ took to himself a human nature, not an an-
gelic nature. St John Chrysostom explains the text in this way: “What does he
mean by ‘take with his hand’; why does he not say ‘took on/assumed’ but in-
stead uses the expression ‘took with his hand’? The reason is this: this verb has
to do with those who are in pursuit of their enemies and are doing all they can to
catch those who are in flight from them and to seize those who resist. In other
words, humankind had fled from him and fled very far, for it says ‘we were very
far from God and were almost without God in the world’ (Eph 2:12). That is why
he came in pursuit of us and ‘seized us for himself’. The Apostle makes it clear
that he did all this entirely out of love for men, in his charity and solicitude for us”
(”Hom. on Heb.”, 2).

“This single reflection, that he who is true and perfect God became man, sup-
plies sufficient proof of the exalted dignity conferred on the human race by the
divine bounty; since we may now glory that the Son of God is bone of our bone,
and flesh of our flesh, a privilege not given to angels” (”St Pius V Catechism”,
I, 4, 11).

17. This is the first mention of the central theme of the epistle, the priesthood of
Christ. Because he is God and man, Jesus is the only Mediator between God
and men, who have lost God’s friendship and divine life on account of sin; he ex-
ercises this mediation as High Priest; his Love saves men by bridging the abyss
which separates the sinful stock of Adam from God whom it has outraged.

It first refers clearly to our Lord’s human nature: he is in no way different from
men (except that he is not guilty of sin: cf. Heb 4:15). “These words mean that
Christ was reared and educated and grew up and suffered all he had to suffer and
finally died” (Chrysostom, “Hom. on Heb.”, 5). “He partook of the same food as
we do,” writes Theodoret of Cyrus, “and he endured work; he experienced sad-
ness in his soul and shed tears; he underwent death” (”Interpretatio Ep. Ad
Haebr.”, II).

Christ the Priest is able perfectly to understand the sinner and make satisfaction
to divine Justice. “In a judge what one most desires is mercy,” St Thomas writes,
“in an advocate, reliability. The Apostle implies that both things were found in
Christ by virtue of his Passion. Mankind desires mercy of him as judge, and
reliability of him as advocate” (”Commentary on Heb.”, 2, 4).

Christ’s priesthood consists in making expiation by a sacrifice of atonement and
a peace-offering for the sins of men: he takes our place and atones on our behalf:
“Christ merited justification for us [...] and made satisfaction for us to God the
Father” (Council of Trent, “De Iustificatione”, Chap. 7).

18. Suffering can link a person to Christ in a special and mysterious way. “The
Redeemer suffered in place of man and for man. Every man has his own share in
the Redemption. Each one is also called to share in that suffering through which
the Redemption was accomplished. He is called to share in that suffering through
which all human suffering has also been redeemed. In bringing about the Redemp-
tion through suffering, Christ has also raised human suffering to the level of the
Redemption. Thus each man, in his suffering, can also become a sharer in the
redemptive suffering of Christ” (John Paul II, “Salvifici Doloris”, 19).

Christ’s main purpose in undergoing his passion was the Redemption of mankind,
but he also suffered in order to strengthen us and give us an example. “By taking
our weaknesses upon himself Christ has obtained for us the strength to overcome
our natural infirmity. On the night before his passion, by choosing to suffer fear,
anguish and sorrow in the garden of Gethsemane he won for us strength to resist
harassment by those who seek our downfall; he obtained for us strength to over-
come the fatigue we experience in prayer, in mortification and in other acts of de-
votion, and, finally, the fortitude to bear adversity with peace and joy” (St Alphon-
sus, “Reflections on the Passion”, Chap. 9, 1).

A person who suffers, and even more so a person who does penance, should re-
alize that he is understood by Christ. Christ will then console him and help him
bear affliction: “You too some day may feel the loneliness of our Lord on the
Cross. If so, seek the support of him who died and rose again. Find yourself a
shelter in the wounds in his hands, in his feet, in his side. And your willingness
to start again will revive, and you will take up your journey again with greater de-
termination and effectiveness” (St. J. Escriva, “The Way of the Cross”, XII, 2).

Source: “The Navarre Bible: Text and Commentaries”. Biblical text from the
Revised Standard Version and New Vulgate. Commentaries by members of
the Faculty of Theology, University of Navarre, Spain.

Published by Four Courts Press, Kill Lane, Blackrock, Co. Dublin, Ireland, and
by Scepter Publishers in the United States.

5 posted on 02/01/2013 9:43:24 PM PST by Salvation ("With God all things are possible." Matthew 19:26)
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To: All

From: Luke 2:22-40

The Purification of Mary and the Presentation of Jesus in the Temple

[22] And when the time came for their purification according to the law of Moses,
they (Joseph and Mary) brought Him (Jesus) up to Jerusalem to present Him to
the Lord [23] (as it is written in the law of the Lord, “every male that opens the
womb shall be called holy to the Lord”) [24] and to offer a sacrifice according to
what is said in the law of the Lord, “a pair of turtle-doves, or two young pigeons.”

Simeon’s Prophecy

[25] Now there was a man in Jerusalem, whose name was Simeon, and this
man was righteous and devout, looking for the consolation of Israel, and the Holy
Spirit was upon him. [26] And it had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that
he should not see death before he had seen the Lord’s Christ. [27] And inspired
by the Spirit he came into the temple; and when the parents brought in the child
Jesus, to do for Him according to the custom of the law, [28] he took Him up in
his arms and blessed God and said, [29] “Lord, now lettest thou thy servant de-
part in peace, according to Thy word; [30] for mine eyes have seen Thy salvation
[31] which Thou hast prepared in the presence of all peoples, [32] a light for re-
velation to the Gentiles, and for the glory to Thy people Israel.”

[33] And His father and His mother marvelled at what was said about Him; [34]
and Simeon blessed them and said to Mary, His mother, “Behold this child is
set for the fall the rising of many in Israel, and for a sign that is spoken against
[35] (and a sword will pierce through your own soul also), that thoughts out of
many hearts may be revealed.”

Anna’s Prophecy

[36] And there was a prophetess Anna, the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of
Asher; she was of a great age, having lived with her husband seven years from
her virginity, [37] and as a widow till she was eighty-four. She did not depart from
the temple, worshipping with fasting and prayer night and day. [38] And coming
up at that very hour she gave thanks to God, and spoke of Him to all who were
looking for the redemption of Jerusalem.

The Childhood of Jesus

[39] And when they had performed everything according to the law of the Lord,
they returned to Galilee, to their own city, Nazareth. [40] And the child grew
and became strong, filled with wisdom; and the favor of God was upon Him.


22-24. The Holy Family goes up to Jerusalem to fulfill the prescriptions of the
Law of Moses—the purification of the mother and the presentation and then re-
demption or buying back of the first-born. According to Leviticus 12:2-8, a woman
who bore a child was unclean. The period of legal impurity ended, in the case of a
mother of a male child, after forty days, with a rite of purification. Mary most holy,
ever-virgin, was exempt from these precepts of the Law, because she conceived
without intercourse, nor did Christ’s birth undo the virginal integrity of His Mother.
However, she chose to submit herself to the Law, although she was under no ob-
ligation to do so.

“Through this example, foolish child, won’t you learn to fulfill the holy Law of God,
regardless of personal sacrifice?

“Purification! You and I certainly do need purification. Atonement and, more
than atonement, Love. Love as a searing iron to cauterize our soul’s uncleanness,
and as a fire to kindle with divine flames the wretchedness of our hearts” (St. J.
Escriva, “Holy Rosary”, Fourth Joyful Mystery).

Also, in Exodus 13:2, 12-13 it is indicated that every first-born male belongs to
God and must be set apart for the Lord, that is, dedicated to the service of God.
However, once divine worship was reserved to the tribe of Levi, first-born who did
not belong to that tribe were not dedicated to God’s service, and to show that
they continued to be God’s special property, a rite of redemption was performed.

The Law also laid down that the Israelites should offer in sacrifice some lesser
victim—for example, a lamb or, if they were poor, a pair of doves or two pigeons.
Our Lord, who “though He was rich, yet for your sake He became poor, so that
by His poverty you might become rich” (2 Corinthians 8:9), chose to have a poor
man’s offering made on His behalf.

25-32. Simeon, who is described as a righteous and devout man, obedient to
God’s will, addresses himself to our Lord as a vassal or loyal servant who, having
kept watch all his life in expectation of the coming of his Lord, sees that this mo-
ment has “now” come, the moment that explains his whole life. When he takes
the Child in his arms, he learns, not through any reasoning process but through
a special grace from God, that this Child is the promised Messiah, the Consola-
tion of Israel, the Light of the nations.

Simeon’s canticle (verses 29-32) is also a prophecy. It consists of two stanzas:
the first (verses 29-30) is an act of thanksgiving to God, filled with profound joy
for having seen the Messiah. The second (verses 31-32) is more obviously pro-
phetic and extols the divine blessings which the Messiah is bringing to Israel
and to all men. The canticle highlights the fact that Christ brings redemption to
all men without exception—something foretold in many Old Testament prophecies
(cf. Genesis 22:18; Isaiah 2:6; 42:6; 60:3; Psalm 28:2).

It is easy to realize how extremely happy Simeon was—given that many patri-
archs, prophets and kings of Israel had yearned to see the Messiah, yet did not
see Him, whereas he now held Him in his arms (cf. Luke 10:24; 1 Peter 1:10).

33. The Blessed Virgin and St. Joseph marvelled not because they did not know
who Christ was; they were in awe at the way God was revealing Him. Once again
they teach us to contemplate the mysteries involved in the birth of Christ.

34-35. After Simeon blesses them, the Holy Spirit moves him to further prophecy
about the Child’s future and His Mother’s. His words become clearer in the light
of our Lord’s life and death.

Jesus came to bring salvation to all men, yet He will be a sign of contradiction
because some people will obstinately reject Him—and for this reason He will be
their ruin. But for those who accept Him with faith Jesus will be their salvation,
freeing them from sin in this life and raising them up to eternal life.

The words Simeon addresses to Mary announce that she will be intimately
linked with her Son’s redemptive work. The sword indicates that Mary will have
a share in her Son’s sufferings; hers will be an unspeakable pain which pierces
her soul. Our Lord suffered on the cross for our sins, and it is those sins which
forge the sword of Mary’s pain. Therefore, we have a duty to atone not only to
God but also to His Mother, who is our Mother too.

The last words of the prophecy, “that out of many hearts thoughts may be re-
vealed”, link up with verse 34: uprightness or perversity will be demonstrated by
whether one accepts or rejects Christ.

36-38. Anna’s testimony is very similar to Simeon’s; like him, she too has been
awaiting the coming of the Messiah her whole life long, in faithful service of God,
and she too is rewarded with the joy of seeing Him. “She spoke of Him,” that is,
of the Child—praising God in her prayer and exhorting others to believe that this
Child is the Messiah.

Thus, the birth of Christ was revealed by three kinds of witnesses in three diffe-
rent ways—first, by the shepherds, after the angel’s announcement; second, by
the Magi, who were guided by a star; third, by Simeon and Anna, who were in-
spired by the Holy Spirit.

All who, like Simeon and Anna, persevere in piety and in the service of God, no
matter how insignificant their lives seem in men’s eyes, become instruments the
Holy Spirit uses to make Christ known to others. In His plan of redemption God
avails of these simple souls to do much good to all mankind.

39. Before their return to Nazareth, St. Matthew tells us (2:13-23), the Holy
Family fled to Egypt where they stayed for some time.

40. “Our Lord Jesus Christ as a child, that is, as one clothed in the fragility of
human nature, had to grow and become stronger but as the eternal Word of God
He had no need to become stronger or to grow. Hence He is rightly described
as full of wisdom and grace” (St. Bede, “In Lucae Evangelium Expositio, in loc.”).

Source: “The Navarre Bible: Text and Commentaries”. Biblical text from the
Revised Standard Version and New Vulgate. Commentaries by members of
the Faculty of Theology, University of Navarre, Spain.

Published by Four Courts Press, Kill Lane, Blackrock, Co. Dublin, Ireland, and
by Scepter Publishers in the United States.

6 posted on 02/01/2013 9:44:22 PM PST by Salvation ("With God all things are possible." Matthew 19:26)
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