THE NOW WORD ON MASS READINGS
for December 16th, 2013
Liturgical texts here
Christ in the Temple, by Heinrich Hoffman
WHAT would you think if I could tell you who the President of the United States will be five hundred years from now, including what signs will precede his birth, where he will be born, what his name will be, what family line he will descend from, how he will be betrayed by a member of his cabinet, for what price, how he will be tortured, the method of execution, what those around him will say, and even with whom he will be buried. The odds of getting every single one of these projections right are astronomical.
And yet, several men born in different generations and living in various places made over 300 prophecies Some scholars estimate over 400 prophecies, depending on interpretation regarding the coming Messiah with the exact detail I’ve described above, and much more. If you thought the odds above were high, then the odds that one man would fulfill every single one of those Old Testament prophecies are, well, unbelievable.
And yet, Jesus did fulfill them, including the one in today’s first reading:
I see him, though not now; I behold him, though not near: A star shall advance from Jacob, and a staff shall rise from Israel.
In the Gospel, the chief priests and elders question Jesus on what authority He acts. These religious leaders, more than anyone, should have recognized that Jesus was beginning to fulfill the prophecies of the long awaited Messiah. Why is it that the scholars of that day failed to recognize the signs of the times, and yet, a simple fisherman—Peter—was able to say:
You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God. (Matt 16:16)
It was a matter of the heart, as Jesus revealed when He prayed to the Father: “…although you have hidden these things from the wise and the learned you have revealed them to the childlike.” Matt 11:25
Indeed, we pray in today’s Psalm:
He guides the humble to justice, he teaches the humble his way.
It is no different today. The life, power, and presence of Jesus are firmly believed and felt by millions around the globe—both those with doctorates, and the unschooled alike—precisely because they believe with a childlike faith that “unlocks” the revelation of God.
…seek him with sincerity of heart; because he is found by those who do not put him to the test, and manifests himself to those who do not distrust him. (Wis 1:1-2)
And what He manifests most of all to the “humble” is that He is love and mercy itself. Those who have encountered Jesus in this way are changed: it is tangible and unforgettable.
Those who have met Jesus along the way have experienced a joy that nothing and no one can take away. Jesus Christ is our joy! —POPE FRANCIS, Sunday Angelus, St. Peter’s Square, Dec. 15th, 2013; Zenit.org
But to those who worship their intelligence and stand on the podium of pride, expect Jesus to say to them as He did to the high priests:
Neither shall I tell you by what authority I do these things.
Regardless, the attestation that Jesus is “the Messiah, the Son of the living God” is evident in hundreds of ways, from modern day miracles that inexplicably defy science and medicine, to the incorruptible bodies of saints, to the fulfillment of prophecies that defy the odds.
Here are just a few of the hundreds of prophecies that Our Lord Jesus Christ fulfilled to the letter. As you read these, ponder the fact that these details were penned hundreds of years before these events occurred. And let these facts inspire you to greater faith that He is Emmanuel: “God with us”.
PROPHECIES OF JESUS OF NAZARETH
(with New Testament cross-references)
How he would be born and His title:
Therefore the Lord himself shall give you a sign. Behold a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and his name shall be called Emmanuel. (Is 7:14/Matt 1:23)
Where he would be born:
But you, Bethlehem-Ephrathah least among the clans of Judah, from you shall come forth for me one who is to be ruler in Israel; Whose origin is from of old, from ancient times. (Mic 5:1/Matt 2:5-8)
Kings would come to honor him, bringing gifts of gold and frankincense:
…may the kings of Sheba and Seba bring gifts… They shall bring gold and frankincense, and shall bring good news, the praises of the Lord. (Ps 72:10; Is 60:6/Matt 2:11)
How he would enter Jerusalem and be received:
Exult greatly, O daughter Zion! Shout for joy, O daughter Jerusalem! Behold: your king is coming to you, a just savior is he, humble, and riding on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey. (Zech 9:9/Matt 21:4-11)
The Messiah would be betrayed by one who ate bread with Him:
Even my trusted friend, who ate my bread, has raised his heel against me. (Ps 41:10/Jn 13:18-26)
An allusion to the price of betrayal:
If the ox gores a slave, male or female, the owner shall give to their master thirty shekels of silver, and the ox shall be stoned… And they counted out my wages, thirty pieces of silver. Then the Lord said to me, “Throw it in the treasury — the handsome price at which they valued me.”. (Ex 21:32; Zech 11:12-13/Matt 26:1-16)
His Apostles would flee the garden:
Strike the shepherd that the sheep may be scattered… (Zech 12:7—Matt 26:31)
He would be rejected by His people:
Who has believed our message? To whom will the Lord reveal His saving power? He was despised and rejected – a man of sorrows, acquainted bitterest grief. We turned our backs on Him and looked the other way when He went by. He was despised, and we did not care. (Is 53:1,3; Jn 12:37-38)
He would be beaten and spat upon:
I gave my back to those who beat me, my cheeks to those who tore out my beard; My face I did not hide from insults and spitting. (Is 50:6/Mat 26:67)
Long before the Roman penalty of crucifixion was introduced, it was prophesied that the Messiah would be “pierced”:
Dogs surround me; a pack of evildoers closes in on me. They have pierced my hands and my feet, I can count all my bones… they look on him whom they have pierced. (Ps 22:17-18; Zech 12:10—Mk 15:20)
They would cast lots for his clothing:
They stare at me and gloat… they divide my garments among them; for my clothing they cast lots. (Ps 22:19/Jn 19:23-24)
He would die with sinners… two thieves:
…because he poured out his soul to death, and was numbered with the transgressors; yet he bore the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors. (Is 53:12/Mk 15:27)
The exact words of the mocking crowd:
All who see me mock me; they curl their lips and jeer; they shake their heads at me: “He relied on the Lord — let him deliver him; if he loves him, let him rescue him.” (Ps 22:8-9/Matt 27:43)
Despite his brutal death, and that the criminals beside him had their legs broken, not a bone of the Lord’s was touched:
He keeps all his bones; not one of them is broken. (Ps 34:20/Jn 19:36)
Even His final words were predicted:
Into your hands I commend my spirit. (Ps 31:6/Lk 23:46)
He would be buried in a rich man’s tomb:
And they made his grave with the wicked and with a rich man in his death, although he had done no violence, and there was no deceit in his mouth. (Is 53:9/Matt 27:57-60)
The Messiah will rise from the dead!
For you will not abandon my soul to Sheol, nor let your devout one see the pit. (Ps: 16:10/Acts 2:27-31)
Finding proof of God: Measuring God
- Evidence of God: In All of Creation
- Why “scientific reasoning” alone is A Painful Irony
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