|Frank J. Sheed|
1897 - 1981
As a result one can get better at Christian trivia all the way from alpha to omega, so why not share for learning and for fun. Here are some insights, considerations and reflections from the life of Christ in the early years that might be new to you. Since this blog is geared a bit toward men and men are simple creatures, I often like to use bullet points and pictures.
Ø Between the betrothal and a wife’s entry into her husband’s house, the marriage act was not customary among the Jews, but if it did take place, it was NOT sinful and a child born of it was legitimate. Only Josephs’ word of not being the father would have brought shame to Mary. All he needed to do was to trust God and take Mary as his wife.
Ø What was the first wedding Christ was present at? Cana? No; the wedding of Joseph & Mary; He was already conceived and therefore present. No royal wedding had ever had a glory to compare with that. Today the poorest Catholic can have the same presence within the context of a nuptial Mass.
Ø Mary had three months to spend at the house of Zechariah & Elizabeth, and Zechariah would have had access to the scriptures since he was a priest. In light of the supernatural events they had experienced in regard to the conception of their two children (Jesus & John the Baptist), never had three people better reason to carefully study the scriptures together. Imagine being a fly on the wall during that Bible study!
Ø One more piece of evidence that Mary was not just “anybody”. She is the only person, human or divine, that can say to God the Father, “Your son and mine”.
Ø At age six Jewish boys began school. His school teacher was spared one difficulty His parents may have felt. No doubt the boy Jesus was a good student, but the teacher would not have known there was anything special about the boy or what the angel Gabriel said to His mother. It would have been a difficult secret to keep for so many years.
Ø Imagine the boy Jesus reading the Old Testament, learning about the Messiah. It is hard to think the He did not discuss any of it with His parents as children would do. Imagine the dinner conversations! Once again, I envy the fly on the wall.
Ø Thirty years old and not married? Men of Palestine usually married around age 20. Fathers of eligible daughters in the area must have weighed Him up and found Him more than worthy. Many must have wondered why He was not married by now, but His mother knew. It was probably the only peculiar thing about Him at the time.
Ø To what human person did Jesus give the most praise? John the Baptist. “Among those born of women there is none greater than John” (Luke 7:28). Baptism was not something John had invented; almost all the main pagan religions had something like it as a way of spiritual cleansing. So what was special about John’s Baptism? Part of it was the insistence that the individual confess his own sinfulness.
Ø Why did Jesus wish to be baptized if it was about confessing sins? The second thing Jesus says in all the gospels, after the incident at the temple when he was twelve, was “Allow it now, for thus it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness” (Mathew 3:15). It may have simply been because He saw John’s ministry and Baptism as a high point of the Old Testament and as a Jew, wished to submit Himself to it before proceeding to establish a new order.
Ø After the baptism of Jesus, Sheed points out many interesting things about the duel in the desert between Jesus and Satan. The author reminds his readers that we humans do not have a fraction of the power and intellect of Satan, so he must have known that Jesus would probably not have fallen into his trap. Even we mere mortals get the feeling that if the goal was to get Jesus to sin, Satan could have done a better job.
So what might have been the real goal? Satan has a powerful intellect to be sure, but he is NOT all-knowing like God, so he may not have known exactly who Jesus was, nor had a clear understanding of the Trinity. Sheed suggests the real purpose of the temptation in the desert was to “study” Jesus, to learn more about Jesus through his answers and reactions, but Jesus would have known the real goal and left him frustrated, never giving any clear indication about who He was.
The early years covers about thirty years and the later only covers about three. I’ll continue with more insights from the later years in my next post. The baptism of Jesus is the luminous mystery that leads us to the proclamation of the kingdom of God on earth, a kingdom which requires a profound spiritual change from within to make possible. This would be the main theme behind all the teachings of Jesus in His public life in the last three years.