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This is the first Sunday of Lent, one of the most sacred seasons in the Church. Each year since 2010 we have presented prayers and readings for these Sundays, and in 2011 and 2012 these are enhanced with audio Imagery. You’ll find these by typing Lent in the Search Box at the top right of a post.
You might call today’s post a prelude to the readings. It is the second in a series on The Names of Jesus. The series was introduced early this week to honor Pope Benedict’s retirement, whose books on Jesus are mentioned below. The Pope tells us that he wrote these books to help us re-discover Jesus. He has accomplished this with beautiful narrative and exceptional detail.
In researching these names, I focused on The Encyclopedia of Catholicism, The History of World Religions, Pope Benedict’s books, Jesus of Nazareth; Jesus of Nazareth: Holy Week From the Entrance Into Jerusalem To The Resurrection; and the last in the series, The Infancy Narratives. Valentin Tomberg’s Christ and Sophia continues to be an inspiration, offering lesser known, esoteric ideas about The Mystery of Golgotha. This is a beautiful and enlightening presentation on the foundation of Christianity.
The Names of Jesus
According to Catholicism and many Christian teachings, Mary, a young virgin from Nazareth in Galilee was visited by the Angel Gabriel, who announced to her “Hail, Rejoice.” For Pope Benedict, this marks the beginning of the New Testament. Mary is to bear a child to whom the angel assigns the titles “Son of the Most High” and “Son of God.” This is followed by a series of promises, which reveal how the conception is to take place. “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you (in Judaism this refers to the Shekinah); therefore, the child to be born will be called holy, the Son of God.” (Lk 1:35)
In reaction to the angel’s greeting Mary is “troubled and pensive, but what follows is not fear but an interior reflection on the angel’s greeting,” notes the Pope. She ponders over what the greeting of God’s messenger could mean and asks how this will be, since she has known no man. She is betrothed to Joseph, but has not yet lived with him. In spite of the magnitude of what this young virgin has been asked, she replies “Let it be to me according to your word.” (Lk 1:38; 2:19,52)
“Soon after, an angel appears to Joseph in a dream–admittedly a dream that is real and reveals what is real,” states the Pope. “This shows us an essential quality of the figure of Saint Joseph: his capacity to perceive the divine and his ability to discern. The message conveyed to Joseph is overwhelming and it demands an extraordinarily courageous faith.” Then Joseph is assigned another task. “Mary will bear a son and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.” The name Jesus (Joshua) means “YHWH is salvation.” The divine messenger who spoke to Joseph in the dream then explains the nature of that salvation, “He will save his people from their sins.” (Mt 1:21)
In the New Testament, the name Jesus is used as a synonym to the person of Jesus and it is in his name (i.e. the power of his name) that the disciples baptize and work miracles.
This establishes the given name of Jesus and the announcement of two other names describing his lineage, “Son of the Most High and Son of God”.
As Jesus begins healing the sick and performing miracles, people assign him names that help them gain an understanding about this young man from Nazareth. They know he has no rabbinical training so cannot grasp how he comes to what he preaches or the special skills he demonstrates as a speaker and leader.
The designation Christ is soon attached to his given name and he is called both Jesus Christ and Christ Jesus. Another designation used by his disciples is The Christ. It is important to realize that Jesus uses none of these names in relation to himself. There are a few exceptions, which will be noted.
Christ comes from the Greek, Christos, “the anointed one,” according to the Encyclopedia of Catholicism. Pope Benedict defines it as equivalent to the Hebrew title, “Messiah,” a term meaning the promised one, who is to come.”
Jesus Christ and Christ Jesus were used by those experiencing or hearing of the miracles and healings Jesus was performing.
The Christ is how his disciples acknowledged him. (Mk 8:29; Acts 5:42, 9:22; Rom 5:6) Among Jesus followers, this use became Jesus proper name. (Ga 1:6; Hebrews 9:11)
Lord comes from Kyrios and had become a paraphrase for the divine name in Judaism.
Son of Man is, according to Pope Benedict, a mysterious term Jesus used for himself, a term he utters 14 times in the Gospel of Mark alone. In fact, in the whole of the New Testament, Son of Man is found only on Jesus lips, with the exception of the vision of the open heavens granted to the dying Stephen, “Behold I see the heavens open and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God.” (Acts 7:56)
Son refers to Jesus as Son of God.
Son of God and Son of the Most High relate to Jesus life within the Holy Trinity, a doctrine that declares there is one God indivisible and insoluble in three Divine Persons, Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Valentin Tomberg tells us in Christ and Sophia that “the Father thought all thoughts, and no longer creates new thoughts, for all the ideas, even to the end of the world, were thought or created by him in the very beginning. But the thoughts of the Father would have remained as mere thoughts unto eternity if the Son had not breathed life into them.”
There are numerous references to these terms in Christ and Sophia by Valentin Tomberg. All are indicated in the book’s extensive index. This book is a magnificent, insightful and esoteric presentation of The Mystery of Golgotha. It is also valuable reading for all seeking the female presence in the life of Jesus and the founding of Christianity.
May you have a holy Lenten season. Barbarah
P.S. The hallmark of Imagery is that is offers opportunities for a deep encounter in a brief period of time. Consider using the Audio Imagery of the prayers and readings as your daily practice for Lent, especially if you are burdened with time constraints. During these trying periods Imagery is a best friend. (To retrieve the Lent Imagery, type Lent, 2012 in the Search box in the upper, right corner of the post.)