Chapter I, § 12
(extract). A Stained-glass window from Lombardy: The Synagogue in the presence of eternity.
[…] Finally, the
lady in purple is truly distressing (the synagogue as figured on the stained-glass window) present in two symbolic synchronics:
in the first, as ‘venerable synagogue’ she is present during the peak moment of the passage from the Old Pact to the
New, as duly recognized by all the Fathers and Doctors of the Church, as mentioned above: “In Christ’s death the
old law reached its fulfilment, as per His own words before dying: ‘All is fulfilled’. [Ioan.,
14:31].” (St. Thomas Aquinas, Summa Theol., III, q. 47, a. 2)
His sorrow is therefore
that of Abraham, of all the Patriarchs, of Moses, of David, of all the Prophets, hence of all the men of God, called by God to
seal and confirm an eternal alliance in the promised Messiah. All the Patriarchs and Prophets were in some way present, each in
his own time, at the bloody death of Christ, the Messiah they had seen and foreseen, as mentioned in the preceding chapters, and
as St. Thomas ratifies with authority: “After sin belief in the mystery of Christ was explicit not only for the incarnation,
but also in respect of the resurrection, by which humankind is freed from sin and from death. Otherwise they (the Jewish elders)
would not have prefigured the passion of Christ with sacrifices, both before and after the promulgation of the law”.
“And of these
sacrifices the elders explicitly knew their significance; whereas the simple people had of them a confused knowledge believing
that they were disposed to make ready for the future Christ” (Summa Theol., II-II, q. 2, a. 7).
Hence, in the first meaning
we see, in the tearful Synagogue (depicted in the stained-glass window of St. Alexander’s), Abraham’s pain when, heading
towards Mt. Moria [See Gen., 22:2: “Go to the land
of vision”, the Hebrew ‘Land of Morijja’. It is the hill of Sion where Salomon built the temple of the Lord,
identified by II Paral., 3:1: “Salomon therefore began building the house of the Lord in Jerusalem, on mount Morijja”,
The vision is that of the cross.] to proceed with the sacrifice of his young son, he sights – in a spiritual
vision – the cross of Christ.[“The patriarch Jacob’s
prophecy on Christ: “In wine he washes his garments his robe in the blood of grapes.” (Gen., 49:11b). He
did in fact wash with his own blood the garment of our body with which He had covered himself” (St. Gaudenzio of Btrescia,
bishop, Treaty II; CSL 68, 29).]
We see Jacob’s pain
who had prophesized of Christ. We see Moses’ pain who had written of Abraham and of Jacob and who had raised up the bronze
serpent in the desert. [Symbol of Christ, see John, 3:14,
where Christ is revealed by the bronze serpent of Numbers 21:4-9.] We see the pain of David, divine poet,
who cried the Passion of the Lord, psalm XXI, with each excruciating detail and in psalm XV his Resurrection.
On the other hand, apart
from many other places in the scriptures, this universal sorrow is foreseen in the episode of the Transfiguration of Our Lord:
in the sense that those same Moses and Elias that there represented the Law and the Prophets and who were truly present in spirit
beside Christ transfigured, were in fact speaking with him precisely of the imminent Passion and death, and their words were words
that can only spring from adoring souls, quivering with trepidation, contemplating the coming terrible event which would free
them from hell (see Chapter 15, p. 68). [...]
The lady in purple does
non only represent the ‘venerable Synagogue’ propedeutic and nearly the source of the Church, so well depicted in
Padua by Giotto as the eldest sister who retires to the background, but also represents the enemies of Christ: all the sinners
in general, but more particularly the Jews who led him to such a dreadful death, ‘Satan’s Synagogue’ mentioned
by St. John in the Apocalypse. [Apoc., 2:9b; 3:9b.]
This latter Synagogue, as the former, also cries but its crying is very different, it is caused to the same pain Judas suffered
when, repentant, he hang himself. [Matt., 27:3-5: “Then
Judas, which had betrayed him, when he saw that he was condemned, repented himself, and brought again the thirty pieces of silver
to the chief priests and elders, Saying, I have sinned in that I have betrayed the innocent blood. And they said, What [is that]
to us? see thou [to that]. And he cast down the pieces of silver in the temple, and departed, and went and hanged himself”.]
repentance St. Leo the Great says: “Rightly so, as foretold by the prophet, his prayer became sin: because, having carried
out the crime, the conversion of the impious man was so perverted that he sinned with his own penitence. The sorrow of this poor
wretch, as that of the damned, did not bring him to true repentance but to loathing of his own self and to desperation”.
Origen notes that: “conscience
is never totally silent, even for the wicked. Judas’ remorse proves this, even before the Resurrection of Jesus could stress
more so the awfulness of the deed. Maybe, after having satiated the fury of his greed, Judas remembered what Jesus had said many
times about his leaving and his resurrection and he was horrified”.
“[Regarding the hanging
we must mention that] the tempter at first induces to evil softening the gravity; then, once committed the evil act, brings
to mind the gravity of it with a sense of pride and desperation so as to finally attract the soul to extreme excesses. Judas had
enough time to repent and could have begged forgiveness from who had said “I do not want the death of the sinner”
but he denied himself forgiveness by choosing death”. [...]
What is said about Judas
is valid also for the sinners princes of the Sanhedrin and for Israel: that is, for the prosecutors and killers of Jesus who,
like Judas, were moved by the greed for power and for the reign of Israel and were stubborn in their sin. Judas and the Sanhedrin
had in common the same dreams of power and glory, so much so that they both yearned for a Messiah triumphant over the Romans,
as we have seen, and both of them, disappointed in the humble Nazarene, wished to make away with him in order to wait for the
other, one more in keeping with their expectations. Thus what is said about Judas is not valid for all those of the Sanhedrin
who repented, if any. Apart from these latter, all the others are explained by the perverse Synagogue, the one depicted by Benedict
Antelami and by the Maestro of Strasburg and also the one recognizable in the stained-glass window of Milan. What is said about
Judas is also valid for all the sinners of the universe and of the century who are hardened in their sins. Not for nothing Antelami
groups them all in the darkness of the same ‘synagogue night’.
Of darkness it really is.
The dark colour purple which always distinguishes these depictions is in fact not for mourning but for the blindness, the clouding
over the whole person: from the intellect it stretches like a shadow over all the senses which, as Origen notes, do not feel and
do not measure sin for what it truly is. [...]
The contrast of this darkness
with the bright colours of the four first Christians under the cross (the Virgin, Mary Magdalene, Mary of Cleopha and John), is
huge and semantically strong. Here the dominating hues are cobalt blue, golden yellow and especially ruby red, the three primary
colours. These colours are positive, lively, dominating, solar and, to use once again a musical figure, they belong to a ‘major
tonality’, that is a dazzling and regal register. These are specifically the colours that most suit those that are under
the cross and from there look towards a future life, exuberant and solar, that springs from the cross itself.
Chapter III, §
48. Is it correct to speak of Deicide? At this point let us discuss this.
The present Preacher to
the Papal household, Fr. Raniero Cantalamessa, OFM Cap., during his Good Friday homily in 1998 affirmed what many believe, that
“all of us” are to be blamed of deicide (and homicide). Under the venerable vaults of St. Peter’s major basilica,
on the day commemorating the agony and death of Our Lord, his words – like the words just read by the Jesuit Cardinal and
Doctor in Biblical Exegesis – are circumspect, elegant, insinuating: “Do we therefore want to continue to talk
of deicide? That’s fine, considering that according to the Gospels and to our Dogma deicide did take place; but we all know
that not only the Hebrews are to blame: we all are”. [...]
The Gospels and Dogma would
seem safe, although it’s not clear if the objectivity of deicide is thus recognized. “A deicide” it seems,
the friar admits, upon checking and searching well, “did occur”: we’re not yet at an official denial,
but the relativity of the judgement is suggested; in fact, for the moment, it is only a judgement related “to our Dogma”,
that is ‘to what Catholics believe’. A serious kind of relativism which is instrumental to more serious acts still.
The Preacher to the Papal
household then suggests that we can, yes, speak of Deicide; but we can also not speak of Deicide; actually, it would be better
not to do so. In fact, we are all co-responsible. The good friar forgets that the Gospels and Dogma (not only ours, that is, relative
to us that accept it, but universal as universal is truth), more than testifying and arguing Deicide, do indeed indicate those
responsible: all of us, yes, to a certain general extent are responsible for the death of Christ, because of our sins that mystically
pierce him and kill him: “But the LORD has caused the iniquity of us all to fall on Him.” (Isaiah 53:6)
As mentioned above, He
certainly dies bearing the sins of all humankind to pay for the offences to the Father. However, the good friar forgets that Scripture
and Dogma recognize degrees of minor responsibilities for cities with many sins (Sodom, Gomorrah, Tyrus, Sidon) and degrees of
major responsibilities for cities conspicuously faithless (Chorazin, Capharnaum, Bethsaida) - Luke, 10:12-15: ["But
I say unto you, that it shall be more tolerable in that day for Sodom, than for that city. Woe unto thee, Chorazin! woe unto thee,
Bethsaida! for if the mighty works had been done in Tyre and Sidon, which have been done in you, they had a great while ago repented,
sitting in sackcloth and ashes. But it shall be more tolerable for Tyre and Sidon at the judgment, than for you. And thou, Capharnaum,
which art exalted to heaven, shalt be thrust down to hell".] [...]
Moreover: there is quite
a difference in responsibility between those who participate in tears, at least for their own state of fallen sons of Adam but
blood-confessors of Christ (John the Baptist), those who participate for their own even if inexistent weakness as sinners (Simon
Peter during the Passion), and those who actively participate in homicidal ideas, hate for proposals of humility, of abnegation
and of charity offered by the Lord (Judas Iscariot, possessed by Satan).
Chapter III, §
49. Are the compassionate equally Deicide as the cruelly impious?
“Then Pilate said
unto them, Why, what evil hath he done? And they cried out the more exceedingly, Crucify him” (Mark 15:14). Does
the Capuchin Friar want us to believe that the responsibility of a crazed crowd with sentiments of unquestionable homicide is
the same as that of Pilate who does his best to take The Man away from them, at least with respect to justice, as even St. Thomas
To make another example:
the pious ears of all those present on that day under the Vatican Basilica’s vaults cannot but have noticed the trampling
of the principle of contradiction upon equalling the responsibility of deicide of the pious women who tearfully approached the
Victim to wipe his bloody face and alleviate his unspeakable suffering, to the responsibility of deicide of the high priests,
the scribes and the elders, full of envy, instigators of hate, slanderers, false to the core, who in the throng crowded to torture,
spit, mock and strike the Lamb. [...]
God the Father delivered Christ to his passion” (Summa Theol., III, q. 47, a.3) Then “God did not spare
His Son, but for us all delivered him to death” (Rom., VIII, 32). Is God therefore also deicidal? Many atheists,
mocking not only faith but also reason, have always maintained this theory.
Instead: this is precisely
the act for which God, with incessant and prudent pedagogy, has prepared His people throughout the centuries: to comprehend the
humiliation not only desired by a man’s will, by Jesus the Man (already something apparently unnatural, as discussed in
previous paragraphs), but the humiliation that is the example and cause of the former: that desired by divine will. Despite the
fact that Christ himself prophesized his passion three times, even the apostles did not act adequately but ‘ran away’
because the Anointed One, delivering himself up to the enemies rather than fighting them, totally scandalized and overturned
their expectations of a glorious and dominating Messiah.
What would the Holy Father
have heard if under the vaults of St. Peter’s Basilica the Dominican St. Thomas himself had preached? He would have listened
to a true and reasoned doctrine, that is: “the same act must be judged differently by its goodness or malice as by the
different motives it generates from. The Father in fact delivered Christ to his death moved by love, and so did Christ himself:
and for this they are praised and glorified. Judas instead delivered Him for greed, the Jews for envy, Pilate out of mundane fear,
that is fear of the Emperor: and for this they are blameworthy” (Summa Theol., III, q.47, a.3, ad.3). [...]
It is from the different
roots that the good and the evil can be arranged in order and evil organized by the different grades of guilt. When we say that
the Father offered the Son because “moved by charity”, we mean three things: first, that “with His eternal
will he preordered the passion of Christ for the redemption of the human being; second, that he inspired the will to suffer for
us, instilling in him charity; third, that he did not save him from the passion but exposed him to his persecutors”
Why are the Jews then indiscriminately
accused of deicide and not only their leaders?
According to the preacher,
“Melitone of Sardi must be blamed for this accusation, as he was the first to speak of this during a homily on Good Friday
(when Good Fridays were celebrated in reverence to the Scriptures) in the second century in Asia Minor – an extract was
read during yesterday’s Liturgy of the Hours”. [Melitone,
Bishop of Sardi, in Lydia, during the reigns of Antonino Pio and Marco Aurelius, died before the year 190. He was renowned as
‘prophet’ and did much writing (also to the emperor Marco Aurelius) with a noteworthy patriotic spirit. The homily
to which the Preacher refers is one much appreciated on the Passion of Our Lord which particularly addressed the divinity of Jesus.
It is therefore possible that – like the Apostle John – also the good bishop Melitone, in his thesis, while bringing
up reasons toward the important cause of the divinity of Christ, also produced arguments relative to the carnality and worldliness
of his denigrators and adversaries and for this reason, like the Apostle, cannot be appreciated by today’s ecumenists.]
Therefore not only does
Carlo Maria Martini (whom we have mentioned in preceding pages), successor to the bishop’s throne once occupied by bishops
such as Ambrose, Charles Borromeo and Schuster, alter the divine inspiration of the Holy Scriptures to a-critical echoes
of pagan sentiments but, also a preacher of today blames a preacher of yesteryear – renowned for virginal sanctity –
as being “the first responsible for the indiscriminate accusation of deicide of a whole people” which, one supposes,
is instead considered totally innocent of this grave act, or at the least as guilty as the rest of us.
Chapter III, §
50. Sons of Abraham or Sons of the Synagogue?
Must we be reminded of
what was the soul of the Jews in Jesus’ times? To those Jews their Lord himself revealed this: “This man is the
heir (an acknowledgement of the divine birth of Jesus) come, let us kill him” (Matthew 21:38); “but
now have they both seen and hated both me and my Father” (John 15:24): once again confirming his divine birth,
Jesus underlines that the Jews hated also the Trinity: “Me and My Father”.
As does the Lord, also
Simon Peter does not ‘discriminate’ between the people and the leaders: “Fellow Jews and all of you who live
in Jerusalem (…) This man was handed over to you by God's set purpose and foreknowledge; and you, with the help of wicked
men, put him to death by nailing him to the cross. (…) (Acts II, 14:23). St. Paul, speaking in the Synagogue
of Antioch in Pisidia, is also of the same line of thought: “For they that dwell at Jerusalem, and their rulers, because
they knew him not, nor yet the voices of the prophets which are read every sabbath day, they have fulfilled [them] in condemning
[him]. And though they found no cause of death [in him], yet asked Pilate that he should be slain” (Acts, 13:27).
Hence, first: deicide is
not the invention of the eminent and very religious bishop of Sardi “eunuch and prophet filled by the Holy Spirit”,
whose only fault is that of having spoken before Vatican Council II, but rather it is a fact well testified by Scriptures: by
Christ, by Peter, the first pope, and by Paul, the apostle of the people and therefore, in a way, also our apostle. [...]
Second: deicide, for the
Scriptures, is indiscriminate. To want it this way are those same authors: a whole people that does not dissociate with its princes
and priests but wholly and consciously participate in the decisions taken: “Then answered all the people, and said, His
blood [be] on us, and on our children” (Matthew, 27:25).
“Sons of Abraham”
are the people who embrace the faith of Abraham, so the “Sons of the leading priests” are all those who embrace their
directives, their rules and regulations. The leading priests were persistent in their declaration before Christ: “They
answered and said unto him, Abraham is our father” (John 8:39). The falseness of this declaration is relevant,
in fact “But now ye seek to kill me, a man that hath told you the truth, which I have heard of God: this did not Abraham”
They had disowned the faith
of Abraham: a faith in a God able to come down to earth, as foretold, maybe even in a manger found in a stable, on the outskirts
of the smallest of towns in the smallest and most oppressed realm; maybe even able to die, as foretold, tormented and defiled.
They had disowned and replaced it with a faith in an idol god that would have paid them back for all the humiliations suffered
under the Romans, that would have overwhelmed them with riches, with glory, with power. All of these things were never foretold.
All of these things have nothing to do with God, nor with Scriptures, nor with Abraham.
“Let the blood of
this humble, poor, pacific, spiritual and abstract king fall upon us and our children! Anyway, it is not blood but meaningless
water that runs out! We and our children will wait for a strong, powerful and invincible Messiah, for the revenge on all the nations
that have oppressed us”. [...]
They will soon refute this:
“We have no king but Caesar” (John 10:15): in order to not to have to recognize their divine king, they
opt for the earthly one and, through him, for all the other earthly kings. This will last until the day they will utter another
decree: “We have no other king but Jesus Christ”.
For this reason they will
wander from realm to realm: nowhere near the spirit of the true wanderer, Abraham, who roamed the earth because, one: he belonged
to heaven and two, he was led by the heavens to search earth for an abode worthy of heaven; they will wander the earth because
they have imprisoned themselves to the earth having refused the Heaven that was amongst them (St. Thomas, Lectio super Ioannem,
n. 2409). [...]
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