“11 And it came to pass afterwards, that he went into a city that is called Naim; and there went with him his disciples, and a great multitude. 12 And when he came nigh to the gate of the city, behold a dead man was carried out, the only son of his mother; and she was a widow: and a great multitude of the city was with her. 13 Whom when the Lord had seen, being moved with mercy towards her, he said to her: Weep not. 14 And he came near and touched the bier. And they that carried it, stood still. And he said: Young man, I say to thee, arise. 15 And he that was dead, sat up, and began to speak. And he gave him to his mother. 16 And there came a fear on them all: and they glorified God, saying: A great prophet is risen up among us: and, God hath visited his people. 17 And this rumour of him went forth throughout all Judea, and throughout all the country round about.”
Mystical meaning: As the dead man was brought to life by the words of Christ, the sinner is brought to spiritual life by the words of Christ, the gospel. After the man was brought back to life, Jesus gave him to his mother and so it is that when one is brought to spiritual life by Christ, the Lord gives him to his mother, Holy Mother Church, and to the Blessed Virgin Mary, mother of all Christians.
I was recently reading John 19:34 in the Ignatius Catholic New Testament Study Bible and commenting on the verse where blood and water poured forth from the side of Christ it lists a Jewish Targum (a Jewish paraphrace/commentary) on Numbers 20:11, which sheds light on this mysterious passage in the New Testament. With a little digging I found the Targum referrenced in the Study Bible which read as follows:
“And Mosheh lifted up his hand, and with his rod struck the rock two times: at the first time it dropped blood; but at the second time there came forth a multitude of waters. And the congregation and their cattle drank.” (Targum on Numbers 20:11)
It should be noted that the water that poured forth from the rock in Numbers was used to sustain the life of the Israelites who became thirsty. The Targum also notes that at first blood came out of the rock. The story alone does not indicate why blood came forth from the rock, but reading this Targum in light of John 19:34 brings light to the Old and New Testament passages referrence above. Jesus is the rock referrence here in the Book of Numbers according to 1 Corinthians 10:4. And just as the blood and water that poured forth from the rock in the wilderness nourished the Israelites, so too the blood and water that poured forth from the side of Christ nourishes the Church, which is received by the faithful in Holy Communion where water is mixed with the presanctified wine. The sanctified water and wine then becomes the blood of Christ which is the eternal source of nourishment for the people of God! It is fascinating to see how the New Testament sheds light on the Old Testament!
Some people believe that the changes which were made to the liturgy after the Second Vatican Council go back to the council itself. I remember a visitor to my local parish was disgusted by the fact that some of our songs were sung in Latin as she made a comment along the lines of “we got rid of the Latin”, possibly implying that Latin became obsolete due to the Second Vatican Council.
One important thing to keep in mind when examining the liturgy that is celebrated in the average parish is that it is often several steps removed from the actual decisions made at the Second Vatican Council. The council decided that the liturgy needed to be reformed and laid down the principle and guidelines for the reform in the document Sacrosanctum Concilium. Yet the decisions of the council had to be applied to the Roman Missal and to parishes in the Latin Rite so Pope Paul VI organized a special consilium headed up by Archbishop Bugnini. This consilium did not always follow the guidelines laid out by the council which resulted in a new Roman Missal in 1969 that wasn’t always true to the guidelines of the Second Vatican Council. Thus, the actual current Roman Missal, the third edition of the 1969 edition, is in effect one step removed from the decisions the council made.
An additional step is made by most parishes which do not follow the Roman Missal in the celebration of the mass. Most of the time the average parish celebrates mass ignoring certain rubrics of the missal but many times there are rubrics which are completely violated. This means that many, if not most parishes, celebrate a liturgy that is twice removed from what the Second Vatican Council Fathers intended concerning the liturgy.
Therefore, it should never be assumed that what one sees taking place in the liturgy of one’s own parish is directly a result of the Second Vatican Council; often times, it is not and sometimes is opposed to the letter and the spirit of the council.
“What is there that I ought to do more to my vineyard, that I have not done to it? was it that I looked that it should bring forth grapes, and it hath brought forth wild grapes?” (Isaiah 5:4)
In this passage the prophet compares the people of Israel to a vineyard. He describes the vineyard as having been planted by God and having been provided everything necessary to bear fruit yet it became fruitless.
So it is with some in the Church, the new Israel. God has given us everything necessary to produce fruit; He has given us the Holy Spirit, who enables us to produce the fruit of the Spirit described in Galatians 5. Yet so often the very ones whom God has prepared to produce fruit become a wasteland. If we examine ourselves and find that we are among barren in producing good works then there is a solution…confession.
If we go to confession and sincerely ask for forgiveness then the Lord will forgive us of our sins through the priest and will unite us to Christ once again. Once we are restored to a right relationship with Christ we will be able to bear fruit, as He said: “I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.”
Therefore, let us examine ourselves to discern as to whether we are producing fruit. I we are found to be a fruitless vineyard on the Day of Judgment we will be “thrown into the fire” (Matthew 7:19) but if we confess our sins, remain in Christ and bear fruit then we will hear our Lord say “Come and share your master’s happiness” (Matthew 25:21).
Many Protestants believe that once one is saved by Christ then they are not able to fall away from grace and lose their salvation. In other words, they believe that if a person has truly been saved by Christ they will never choose to fall away from the faith.
Much can be said about this doctrine from a Catholic perspective and many Scritpures can be used to refute this view, but one that has caught my attention in the last few years is from the Book of Galatians 3:27 and Galatians 5:4.
Galatians 3:27 says that those who have been baptized have “put on Christ”. Clearly, Paul is talking to people who have been saved. Yet later on in Galatians 5:4 he rebukes these same people for trying to be justified by the works of the Law of Moses (in other words, saying that one has to become a Jew first before they can be saved). He tells them that if they try to be justified by the Law (of Moses) then they have fallen “away from grace” and have been “severed from Christ”. If then it is not possible to forfeit one’s salvation, then how can Paul say that the Galatians have put on Christ and later tell them that they have been severed from Christ? It is not as if they were merely affiliated with Christ by a false profession since Paul tells those that have put on Christ in 3:29 that “if you are Christ’s, then you are Abraham’s offspring, heirs according to promise.” Clearly these are people who have been united to Christ and have become children of Abraham, having been justified as their forefather Abraham was justified. And yet Paul tells the very people who have put on Christ and become offspring of Abraham that those who have attempted to be justified by the Law of Moses have been severed from Christ.
In light of these passages among others, as well as the tradition of the earliest Christians going back to the Apostles, Catholics teach that one can truly be saved and yet choose to forfeit their salvation if they so choose. It is a scary thing but God does not take away our will after salvation, if we are so inclined we can foolishly choose to reject Him.