Sunday, November 13, 2022

Scriptural Hyperbole or Understatement? You Tell Me!

 “The desert and the parched land will exult; the steppe will rejoice and bloom… Here is your God, he comes with vindication; with divine recompense he comes to save you. Then will the eyes of the blind be opened, the ears of the deaf be cleared; then will the lame leap like a stag, then the tongue of the mute will sing” (Is 35:1,4-6). 

When younger, I just didn’t know what to make of scriptural passages like this. So much exaggeration! “Do people really believe this stuff? What is God thinking? Why do passages like this appear everywhere in the scriptures under His mighty inspiration, especially in the Old Testament books? Does He think we must necessarily accept His every word even if it’s clearly ridiculous?” I wondered aloud. After many years of hearing them at the Mass, my resentment gradually turned into indifference; my protest became a muffled groan. “O, well”, I would shrug my shoulders and sigh, “just another example of scriptural hyperbole!” 

Then something happened to me personally in the early nineties that changed everything. It was as though a bulb in my head had suddenly lighted up, or a veil that had covered my eyes for so many years since my birth had been lifted. Suddenly – miraculously - I began to understand God’s word! Like the Bride (the Church) in Song of Songs, to whom the fragrance of her Groom (God) “is like perfume poured out”, I found myself savoring every little word He said in the scriptures as though I could never have enough (SS 1:3). I wanted to find out more what He really meant, what the word in its original language referred to, what the immediate and overall contexts were, how the historical setting underlying those words would help me understand better the real message, etc. Slowly but surely, I came to realize that what I used to see as “exaggerations” or scriptural hyperboles were in fact gross understatements! 

Like a baby struggling to speak the adults’ language, we are only blabbering when it comes to expressing our feelings and experiences about God and the heavenly realities. As blessed as Prophet Isaiah is, he is struggling mightily to try to tell us what God has opened his eyes to see. In his gravely insufficient and inadequate human understanding and expression, he wants us to see what he sees – or what he is given by God to see. Completely overwhelmed and overpowered, he has to use the strongest words he can find from his repertoire of vocabulary to express his strong feelings and the unbelievable message from God.

What did Isaiah see? He saw “the glory of the LORD, the splendor of our God” (Is 35:2). He can’t quite put it in words what it is like to behold God’s glory. “The desert and the parched land will exult; the steppe will rejoice and bloom” is the best he can come up with to describe the awe and unspeakable excitement in the human heart on seeing God’s splendor. Is Isaiah’s description enough to capture the true picture, the out-of-the-world experience that he was able to behold with God’s permission? Probably not. But one thing is certain: what he is given to see and understand is many times more unbelievable and powerful than the few words that he managed to put together for us. In other words, his words are grossly understated. 

More specifically, Isaiah is talking about the coming of the Messiah. “He comes with vindication” because his mission is to un-do the devastation that Satan has inflicted on us through sin and death; “he comes to save you” because he is our Savior (v.4). Having experienced first-hand what Jesus did to me in the fore-mentioned personal conversion, I can embrace Isaiah’s words with no hesitation: “Then will the eyes of the blind be opened, the ears of the deaf be cleared; then will the lame leap like a stag, then the tongue of the mute will sing” (vv. 5-6). If anything, I find his words still inadequate, not because they are exaggerated but because they are grossly understated. They can’t really express the earthshattering experience that I personally went through. No, it’s not even close!

So, what was it that happened to me in the early nineties that turned exaggerations into understatements and made me literally a different person? This cursory Sunday reflection can’t possibly do justice to my long, personal conversion story. Therefore, I won’t go into the details here. But I do want to conclude by quoting the words of a nun whom I once considered a personal nemesis because she really minced no words in criticizing me before my conversion. In her view, my way of thinking was “too secular”, my mindset "too liberal". Looking back, I must admit she was absolutely right.

On a beautiful sunny morning after my conversion, in a special trip I made to the parish where she served, I shared with her how God’s word had transformed me. I talked non-stop for almost an hour because there were so many amazing things that had happened to me. I just had to get them off my chest. She listened intently and patiently until I finally stopped, almost exhausted with emotions. Smiling and squeezing my arm tenderly, she said, “Edmond, the Holy Spirit has touched your heart!” Touch my heart He did! In fact, He was more like a skillful surgeon who weaved his knife lovingly and magically to remove my heart of stone and give me a heart of flesh (Eze 36:26)!


Tuesday, April 5, 2022

In This Lent, Let Yourself Be Overwhelmed by God's Mercy

 "Reconciliation is not primarily our drawing near to God, but his embrace that enfolds, astonishes and overwhelms us" (Pope Francis' homily at the penance service with consecration of Russia and Ukraine to the Immaculate Heart of Mary).

Still wondering whether you should go to confession in this Lent? 

Whatever the reason is that stops you from going to confession, the Holy Father reminds us that confession is not primarily about our own human effort to "confess well" in order to "draw near to God", important as it is. It's more about God, our Father, reaching out to and embracing us, His waylaid children. 

God's mercy fills the confessional. So much so it overflows and overwhelms us. So, go! Just walk in with an honest and contrite heart. And let yourself be overwhelmed by God's mercy and forgiving grace!


Tuesday, March 15, 2022

Pope Paul VI's Case Against Contraception

 

Underneath embattled Kyiv, babies born to foreign parents via surrogate shelter in a basement

You may have read this unexpected news coming out of Ukraine. It's very sad. You feel for the new-born and helpless babies and the nannies taking care of them. It's essentially a babies production factory that was being moved to safety. As I reflected on this story, I thought of Pope Paul VI. Once again, it just proved how prophetic his encyclical Humanae Vitae (HV) was.

HV, published in 1968, is the classic teaching of the Church against contraception. Whether the topic is contraception or surrogacy, the bottom line issue is the same: Who controls life, man or God? With surrogacy, the answer, immoral and wrong as it is, is clear: man. According to the news report, the rich people in Italy, China, Canada, etc. wanted to have babies. They had money; the surrogate mothers in Ukraine needed money. So, they paid $17,500 to $25,000 to "buy and manufacture" the lives they wanted. They had the control over life, or at least they believed they did. They wanted it; they got it - using their money. And that's how much a life was worth: $17,500 to $25,000. In the world of surrogacy, life is something money can buy. It's been downgraded to become a merchandise, an object obtainable and disposable according to human wish. It has no dignity that the sacredness of life is endowed with by nature.

That's surrogacy. The same underlying principle is also violated in contraception. The couple gets to decide whether they want life or not. Use contraception if they just want the fun of the marital act. No contraception if what they want includes a baby. They resort to every means available to science and human intelligence: condom, contraceptive pills, sterilization, etc., with no regards to the dignity of the human body which has its natural system of life that is designed, created, and controlled by God.

Pope Paul VI understood that contraception crossed the fine line of man taking - or attempting to take - control of life, which is a sacred role that only God can play. He opposed contraception because he knew it was a violation of this basic principle (which is also the very first sin committed by Adam and Eve - eating the forbidden fruit because they wanted to be "like gods who know what is good and what is bad" (Genesis 3:5)). When the role of creating life is taken over by man, the creature, the dignity and sacredness of life is bound to be violated. Once this basic principle is forfeited, then other immoral practices that also violate the same principle will follow. Surrogacy, abortion, suicide, euthanasia, you name it. 

Pope Paul VI is truly a prophet in this regard.

Monday, March 7, 2022

“Go, and from now on do not sin anymore” (Jn 8:11)

 


A Special Sunday Reflection Written for Lent of 2022

“Let the one among you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her” (Jn 8:7). In response to Jesus’ words, the Pharisees “went away one by one” (8:9). As they considered themselves sparkling clean in faith and morals, their departure, unsightly as it was, was not an admission of sins but a deference to the Roman law which didn’t allow the Jews to administer capital punishment (cf. Ignatius Catholic Study Bible, New Testament, Jn 8:7, 18:31). 

In discussing this gospel account, people often focus on how wisely Jesus eludes the danger of the airtight trap that the Pharisees have set up against him. The logic of the plot goes like this: If, in response to their accusation of the woman’s adultery, Jesus rejects the stoning, he will be contradicting the Mosaic law. On the other hand, if he authorizes it, he will be violating the Roman law. In one simple reply, Jesus manages to extricate himself from this tangled web viciously weaved together by the Jews and cause their plot to backfire. The result is their unsightly departure one by one, demonstrating an admission of sins at least in optics if not in their hypocritical ideology.

In this reflection, we will focus more on the beautiful epilogue of the story. It concludes the theme of penance and reconciliation that has taken center stage for three consecutive Sundays of Lent in Year C of the lectionary, including the previous two (c.f. Foundations in Faith, 3rd and 4th Sundays of Lent, Year C). After a rather chaotic opening scene in which hate-filled and bloodthirsty people made fierce accusations against the adulterous woman and demanded public execution, the setting of the epilogue is one of peace and quietude. The clamoring crowd is gone. The adulterous woman finds herself alone, face to face with Jesus. Unlike the unforgiving and accusatory crowd, his tone is kind and understanding. Condemn her he does not. Instead, he sends her off with words that epitomize the true meaning of penance and reconciliation: “Go, and from now on do not sin anymore” (8:11). 

This adulterous woman, my friend, is you; she is me. How often have we been accused and condemned? Maybe not by a clamoring crowd, and certainly not by the Pharisees, but most definitely by our own consciences. Yes, adultery might not exactly be our sins. But let’s not kid ourselves, who are we to say that some of our transgressions aren’t just as bad and deadly or maybe even worse? “If you, LORD, mark our sins, Lord, who can stand?” – the psalmist’s confession resonates loud and clear in the hearts of those who care to listen (Ps 130:3). In the peace and quietude of the confessional, we hear the same assuring and forgiving words of our Lord: “Go, and from now on do not sin anymore”.

The good news is that our sins - all those skeletons that we keep checking again and again to make sure they stay hidden in the darkness of our closets – are forgiven! It is not because we have done anything to deserve God’s clemency. As St. Paul says in the 2nd reading, to “gain Christ and be found in him”, to be worthy of God’s forgiveness that enables us to live in communion with him, is “not having any righteousness of my own based on the law but that which comes through faith in Christ” (Phil 3:9). It’s simply by God’s grace that we are saved. Amazing grace, indeed! 

As we conclude this reflection, we must ask: What about all those unbelievable miracles that God promised to do in the first reading? “In the desert I make a way, in the wasteland, rivers” – where can we find them (Is 43:19)? As Isaiah has already explained in the same prophecy, God “put water in the desert and rivers in the wasteland for my chosen people to drink, the people whom I formed for myself, that they might announce my praise” (43:20-21). Anyone considered a member of “the people whom I formed for myself” – the Church – will be able to drink of this living water and live! The Holy Spirit is the “water” in the deserts of our hearts, the “rivers” in the wastelands of our souls. He is the water “flowing out from beneath the threshold of the temple” that became “a river that could not be crossed except by swimming” in Ezekiel’s vision (Eze 47:1, 5); the clean water that God will sprinkle “to cleanse you from all your impurities” (Eze 36:25).

It’s time indeed to announce God’s praise: “The Lord has done great things for us; we are filled with joy… Those that sow in tears shall reap rejoicing” (Ps 126:3, 5). We, the descendants of Adam and Eve, the ancient Church of God from time immemorial, are the people who sow in tears. We read of it clearly in the Old Testament books. But now is the time to reap rejoicing, for Christ, the Lord, is come!


Monday, December 27, 2021

When the Word of God Is Proclaimed

 


Can we feel the awesome power of the Word that is enough to crush our pride and literally wrestle our bodies down to prostrate to the ground?

The Liturgy of the Word is an important way that the Holy Mother Church uses to feed her lambs (cf. Jn 21:15).  The spiritual food that the Church faithful are served this Sunday is particularly nutritious. She gives us two distinctive scriptural narratives on the proclamation of the word of God: one by Ezra, a prominent postexilic leader from a scribe and priestly background; the other one by Jesus himself. Both are events of high drama, highlighting liturgical solemnity and structure in the order of worship that bear great resemblance to present day Catholic practice.

The first narrative takes place in an ancient setting that is filled with theatrics. Ezra, the scribe-priest, reads the Book of the Law to the remnant of Jews who have survived the Babylonian exile and captivity. Standing on a raised, wooden platform at one end of the open place before the Water Gate, he reads “from daybreak till midday”, and they listen attentively (Neh 8:3). What follows is a sequence of electrifying moments fitting for a Hollywood movie: Ezra “opened the scroll…all the people rose…[he] blessed the Lord, the great God, and all the people answered, ‘Amen, amen!’…then they bowed down and prostrated themselves before the Lord, their faces to the ground…all the people were weeping as they heard the words of the law” (Neh 8:5-9).

More than just an account of how ancient Israel renewed its Covenant with the Lord by proclaiming the sacred scriptures, the deliberate descriptions in the first reading give us a glimpse of Israel’s liturgical practice both in the temple and the synagogue (note 1). The solemnity is striking, and the reverence of the people in worship downright awe-inspiring. So many years later, this ancient narrative is still a great teaching tool that really shows us how to worship.

The second narrative, selected from the Gospel of Luke, contains a similar event that unfolds with no less drama in the synagogue of Nazareth, Jesus’ hometown, on the Sabbath. His disciples and hometown people, who know him well and watched him grow up, are all in attendance (cf. Mk 6:3). Enters Jesus, the Scribe-Priest by whom the whole Scripture was written, about whom all the prophets spoke, and in whom all the priestly sacrifices were offered and are still being offered. Known for his mastery of the Greek language and literary skills, Luke’s penchant for theatrics is a talent often overlooked by the scriptural scholars (note 2). His description of the drama that follows can easily dwarf the work of any Oscar winner of the best screenplay! 

Let’s revisit Luke’s words. Notice how in a matter of a few short verses, his depiction of a quick succession of hasty actions is enough to make any listener gasp for air. It’s as though a great mystery is unraveling before our very eyes: Jesus stands up to read. He is given a scroll of the prophet Isaiah. He unrolls the scroll, reads Isaiah’s prophecy on the Messiah’s mission which is “to bring glad tidings to the poor…liberty to captives…recovery of sight to the blind…let the oppressed go free…[and] proclaim a year acceptable to the Lord” (Lk 4:18-19). He then rolls up the scroll, hands it back to the attendant, and sits down. The eyes of all in the synagogue are looking intently at him (4:20-21).

In ancient Jewish tradition, when a rabbi “sits down” after reading the Scriptures, it means he is about to give a homily (note 3). Thus, in the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus “went up the mountain, and after he had sat down, his disciples came to him [and] he began to teach them” (Mt 5:1-2).  It’s not hard to picture how electrifying the atmosphere is when Jesus sits down in the synagogue. Anticipation is keeping everyone wait. With a little Hollywood hyperbole, we can almost see them huffing and panting under the weight of suspense. The silence is deafening; one can hear a pin drop. But deep in the hearts of those watching closely Jesus’ every move, speculations and murmurs are rising like a tidal wave: Isn’t this the carpenter, the son of Joseph and Mary? Don’t we know his brothers and sisters very well (cf. Lk 6:22, Mk 6:3)? What is he going to say? 

What he says next, according to Luke, is a very brief statement: “Today this scripture passage is fulfilled in your hearing” (Lk 6:21).  Need he say any more? Here he is, finally, the Messiah promised by Isaiah’s oracle! He has been anointed to bring glad tidings to those living in poverty, which is everyone spiritually speaking; and to perform healing and miracles, which in a very real sense is another way to see Messiahship. As if to prove his words, he leaves his hometown and performs many miracles soon after the synagogue incident (Lk 4:31ff, 5:12-26).

We are the remnant of Jews listening to Ezra’s proclamation of the word of God. This world is our Babylon, our exile. The same word of God is proclaimed to us at every Mass. Do we have the reverence to listen attentively? Are we moved by the Spirit to say in one accord “Amen, amen!” in response to the proclamation? Can we feel the awesome power of the Word that is enough to crush our pride and literally wrestle our bodies down to prostrate to the ground? Do we see Ezra in our Mass celebrant who speaks from a higher ground and makes us mourn and weep? 


Notes:

1. See Foundations in Faith, Year C, p.112.

2. New Jerome Biblical Commentary 43:4.

3. Dr. John Bergma, Everlasting Jubilee, Franciscan University of Steubenville Summer Conference, 2018.


Thursday, December 16, 2021

A Sword Will Pierce Your Own Soul (Luke 2:35)

 

Piercing indeed is the pain of not understanding your own child. But that was only one of many piercing pains Mary had to suffer in order to help Jesus accomplish the Father’s plan of salvation.

Conveniently located near the Galleria Termini, the Basilica of Saint Mary Major, built in the 5th C to commemorate the Council of Ephesus’ (431 AD) proclamation of Mary as the Mother of God, sat gracefully like an affable old lady, greeting every pilgrim who came east from Vatican City to admire her ancient and imperial Roman architecture, magnificent art works and mosaics, and rich collection of ancient burials (source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Santa_Maria_Maggiore#Architecture). 

Visiting this largest Marian church in Rome was one of the highlights of our family’s pilgrimage to Rome in 2007. A bitter chill greeted us as we got off the bus at the Termini. Armed with Mediterranean humidity and swirling winds, the Roman winter had its way of eating into your bones to cause you great discomfort. Snow was falling - an unusual sight at this time of the year - but accumulation was negligible. Christmas was in the air everywhere we turned. After a short and brisk walk in the cold, our family arrived at the Basilica to celebrate the Feast of the Holy Family. 

Fourteen years had passed us by since our family’s visit at Saint Mary Major. In between, we managed to return to Rome together as a family for one more visit in 2012, on the last leg of a cruise trip. Celebrating the Feast of the Holy Family this Sunday brings to mind once again our first experience of the “Eternal City”, especially our trip to Saint Mary Major as a family.

As parents, we owe it to our children to guide them to become the best persons that they can be. For the parents’ guidance to be effective in achieving its lofty goal, the children also owe it to their parents to respect and obey their instructions and orders. This reciprocal filial relationship, built on love, mutual understanding and trust, is crucial for establishing a loving and happy family. On this Feast of the Holy Family, the gospel reading might have left some people wondering if this foundational filial relationship was lacking in the Holy Family.

It’s hard to believe that people would doubt even the Holy Family! But their doubt is not without reason. They are puzzled by the behavior of the adolescent Jesus, which might be fitting for a self-seeking, freedom-craving teenage rebel, but not quite for the Son of God, who in his own teaching demands righteousness and perfection from all children of God because “your heavenly Father is perfect” (Mt. 5:48). 

Obviously, this cannot be the case. If this accusation against the adolescent Jesus had been true, then he would have violated his own divine commandment, i.e., honor your father and your mother. What really happened is that Mary tells her son he should have stayed close to his father, Joseph; to which Jesus replies: “I must be in my Father’s house” (Luke 2:49). What Jesus is saying to his mother is that his Father is not Joseph. Like all fathers on earth, Joseph’s fatherhood is only a pointer, pointing us to God, our Heavenly Father.  It is even more so for Jesus, who is God the Father’s only Son. Also, the Temple is the Father’s house, which is where Jesus has been the whole time when his parents went looking for him. In other words, what seems like Jesus’ filial disobedience is in fact his expression of a higher filial obedience to the Father. 

The main message that Jesus wants us to learn from this story is that ultimately the human family is only a transient pointer, pointing us to the Family of God, which already is present in the Church. This is why the church faithful must love each other as brothers and sisters. Like all the good things in this world that God gives us, our family is important and necessary for our good, both physically and spiritually. But we must not allow ourselves to become attached to it, and make the mistake of seeing it as the be-all and end-all. Such a mistake will cause us to overlook the real reason why family exists in the first place, which is to point and bring us to the Family of God. This is why Jesus says, “For I have come to set a man against his father, a daughter against her mother…Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me, and whoever loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me” (Mt 10:35-37).

Let’s conclude this reflection with a few more words on Jesus’ mother, the person in the story who took the blunt of Jesus’ seemingly offensive behavior. From this story, we see one more reason why we should love the Blessed Virgin Mary and honor her as the model and exemplar - her strong faith. Imagine living with God day-in-and-day-out, doing what you can as His mother to help Him accomplish His divine plan, which you don’t really understand! Not only does it take a strong faith, the experience also can be very painful, as has become evident in this childhood story of Jesus. Now we can understand better the words of Simeon who, moved by the Spirit, told Mary “a sword will pierce your own soul” (Luke 2:35). Piercing indeed is the pain of not understanding your own child. But that was only one of many piercing pains she had to suffer in order to help him accomplish the Father’s plan of salvation.


 

Monday, August 2, 2021

God Speaks Only One Word in the Whole Bible

And when the long-anticipated Christ event finally arrives, it often catches us completely by surprise: it comes with a theological significance and finality no scriptural readers could have expected.

 “Through all the words of Sacred Scripture, God speaks only one single Word”, and that Word is Jesus (CCC 102). The Church Fathers also taught that “one and the same Word of God extends throughout Scripture, that it is one and the same Utterance that resounds in the mouths of all the sacred writers” (St. Augustine, En. In Ps 103, 4, 1:PL, 1378). Personally, I like Pope Benedict XVI’s eloquent expression of this concept. He considers the Sacred Scripture, which is inspired by the Holy Spirit and written by many different sacred writers, “a symphony of the word, a single word expressed in multiple ways: a polyphonic hymn” (Verbum Domini 7). Jesus himself says just as much in his encounter with the two disciples on their way to Emmaus. He interprets to them what “all the scriptures” say about him, “beginning with Moses and all the prophets” (Lk 24:27). 

The Church has always read the Scripture on the understanding that the whole book is about Christ and points us to him. If something in the Scripture, especially in the Old Testament books, reminds us of Christ or bears resemblance to something he does or teaches in the Gospel, don’t see it as just an isolated “coincidence”. The resemblance or connection is often the Divine Author’s extraordinary literary expression, an integral part of His awe-inspiring narrative, meant to enlighten our mind, edify our faith, and draw us deeper into God’s unfathomable love and mystery. More importantly, their relationship is often sequential, one leading to the other, anticipating and heralding the final and definitive act in Christ. When the long-anticipated Christ event finally arrives, it often catches us completely by surprise: while the resemblance to the harbinger OT event is there, it comes with a theological significance and finality no scriptural readers could have expected. 

A good case in point is this Sunday’s readings. Both Prophet Elisha and Jesus are the architect of an incredible miracle. Elisha orders his servant to use “twenty barely loaves made from the first fruits, and fresh grain in the ear” to feed a hundred men (2 Kgs 4:42). When the servant objects because Elisha’s order seems so impossible, Elisha doubles down and promises that “They shall eat and there shall be some left over” (v. 43). The miracle happens just as Elisha has promised. In the gospel reading, Jesus orders his disciples to feed 5,000 men, which Philip considers as a mission impossible. “Two hundred days' wages worth of food would not be enough for each of them to have a little”, he protests (Jn 6:7). But the mission, seemingly impossible for Philip, is miraculously completed by Jesus using “five barley loaves and two fish”. When all said and done, everyone is full and leftover fragments collected are enough to fill twelve wicker baskets (Jn 6:9-13).

While both miracles are impressive and look similar, Jesus’ story is one that emerges from a Passover background. Central to the Feast of Passover, as we know well, is food consumption – the eating of the Passover lamb and unleavened bread (Ex 12:1-20). In ancient Jewish tradition, sharing meal is more than just a basic biological need driven by human appetite; it symbolizes unity and communion among the partakers of the meal. More importantly, its liturgical expression in relations with God communicates a divine will to strike a relationship of intimacy with the human party, as was the case in the ratification of the Mt. Sinai covenant, when Moses, Aaron, Nadab, Abihu together with the seventy elders of Israel went up the holy mountain where they “beheld God, and they ate and drank” (Ex 24:11; Theological-Historical Commission, The Eucharist, Gift of Divine Life, p.103). With this ancient Jewish tradition in mind, we recognize in Jesus’ miracle an added layer of mystique and significance: It points us to the unity, communion, and intimacy of the Eucharist.

Following the principle that one and the same Word extends through the Scripture, we can safely conclude from these two readings that Elisha’s multiplication of the loaves is a prelude or prefiguration, if you will, of Jesus’ multiplication of the loaves in John 6, pointing us to something bigger, more significant and definitive that Christ will bring. What’s that something? Note that Jesus’ multiplication of the loaves is strategically placed immediately before his extensive discourse on the “bread of life” in 6:35-59, which is by all accounts a discourse on the Eucharist (Ignatius Catholic Study Bible New Testament on John 6:1-14). Therefore, the two episodes can be seen as John’s one-two punch that introduces us to “the source and summit of the Christian life” – the Eucharist (CCC 1324).

In summary, it’s fair to say that Jesus’ multiplication of the loaves is prefigured by Elisha; its meaning and significance revealed and magnified by his discourse on the bread of life; its institution as a Sacrament liturgized in the Last Supper; its celebration faithfully carried out by the Church, his spouse. All of this has been mysteriously scripted by the sacred writers over the years in the course of the human history, under the inspiration of the Divine Author; and is finally “finished” by Jesus on the Cross, where the Body of Christ, the Heavenly Bread lovingly placed on a wooden holder for our consumption, is hung for all to behold and adore (Jn 19:30). Thus, the whole human history that has gone so wrong because of “the fruit of the tree” in the beginning, is finally set aright by the divine fruit of the tree – Christ on the Cross (Genesis 3:3).