Advent Horizon - The Historic Jesus
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This collection of Christian symbols includes drawings and descriptions of the most easily identified symbols of Christianity. The Latin cross is the most familiar and widely recognized symbol of Christianity today.
The Deeper Meaning of Advent in Latin
Though various forms of the cross existed, the Latin cross was made of two pieces of wood crossed to create four right angles. The cross today represents Christ's victory over sin and death through the sacrifice of his own body on the cross. Roman Catholic depictions of the cross often reveal the body of Christ still on the cross.
This form is known as the crucifix and brings emphasis to the sacrifice and suffering of Christ. Protestant churches tend to portray the empty cross, emphasizing the resurrected, risen Christ. Followers of Christianity identify with the cross through these words of Jesus also in Matthew ; Mark ; Luke :. The Ichthys or fish symbol was used by early Christians to identify themselves as followers of Jesus Christ and to express their affinity to Christianity. Ichthys is the Ancient Greek word for "fish. It is said to have been used by early persecuted Christians as a secret symbol of identification because it could be quickly sketched in the dirt with the toe of your sandal and just as quickly scraped out again.
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Followers of Christianity also identify with the fish as a symbol because fish frequently appeared in the ministry of Christ. They were a staple of the biblical times diet and fish were often mentioned in the Gospels. For example, Christ multiplied the two fish and five loaves of bread to feed 5, in Matthew Jesus said in Mark , "Come, follow me The dove is also a symbol of peace.
In Genesis 8 after the flood , a dove returned to Noah with an olive branch in its beak, revealing the end of God's judgment and the beginning of a new covenant with man. One of the most vivid symbols of Christianity is the crown of thorns, which Jesus wore before his crucifixion :. In the Bible thorns often represent sin, and therefore, the crown of thorns is fitting—because Jesus would bear the sins of the world. There are many symbols of the Trinity in Christianity.
The Borromean Rings—a concept taken from mathematics—are three interlocking circles that signify the divine trinity. A Borromean Ring falls apart if any one of the rings is removed. The word " trinity " comes from the Latin noun "trinitas" meaning "three are one. The Triquetra is an ancient pagan symbol found on Celtic period grave markers and stele that is used to represent a three-part interlocking fish symbol for the Christian trinity.
With so many references to God being "light" in Scripture, representations of light such as candles, flames, and lamps have become common symbols of Christianity:. Light represents the presence of God. God appeared to Moses in the burning bush and the Israelites in the pillar of flame. The eternal flame of God's presence was to be lit in the Temple in Jerusalem at all times.
In fact, in the Jewish Feast of Dedication or "Festival of Lights," we remember the victory of the Maccabees and the rededication of the Temple after being desecrated under Greco-Syrian captivity. Even though they only had enough sacred oil for one day, God miraculously causes the eternal flame of his presence to burn for eight days, until more purified oil could be processed.
Light also represents the direction and guidance of God. Psalm says God's Word is a lamp unto our feet and a light to our path. The Star of David is a six-pointed star formed by two interlocking triangles, one pointing up, one pointing down. It is named after King David and appears on the flag of Israel. While predominately recognized as a symbol of Judaism and Israel, many Christians identify with the Star of David as well.
The Historic Jesus
The five-pointed star is also a symbol of Christianity associated with the birth of the Savior , Jesus Christ. In Matthew 2 the Magi or wise men followed a star toward Jerusalem in search of the newborn King. From there the star led them to Bethlehem, to the very location where Jesus was born. When they found the child with his mother, they bowed and worshiped him, presenting him with gifts.
Bread and wine or grapes represent the Lord's Supper or Communion. Bread symbolizes life. It is the nourishment that sustains life.
In the wilderness, God provided a daily, saving provision of manna , or "bread from heaven," for the children of Israel. And Jesus said in John , "I am the bread of life. He who comes to me will never go hungry. Bread also represents the physical body of Christ. Wine represents God's covenant in blood, poured out in payment for mankind's sin.
Jesus said in Luke , "This cup is the new covenant in my blood, which is poured out for you. Believers partake of communion on a regular basis to remember Christ's sacrifice and all that he has done for us in his life, death, and resurrection. The Lord's Supper is a time of self-examination and participation in the body of Christ. The Christian rainbow is a symbol of God's faithfulness and his promise to never again destroy the earth by flood. This promise comes from the story of Noah and the Flood. After the flood , God placed a rainbow in the sky as a sign of his covenant with Noah to never again destroy the earth and all living creatures by flood.
By arching high over the horizon, the rainbow shows the all-embracing expanse of God's faithfulness through his work of grace. I have tried to recount in the preceding meditations three great waves of evangelization in the history of the Church. Other great missionary enterprises can certainly be recalled as well: the mission of St.
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Francis Xavier in the 16th century in the East — India, China, and Japan — and the evangelization of the African continent in the 19th century by Daniel Comboni, Cardinal Guglielmo Massaia, and so many others. Nevertheless, there is a reason for the selection I made that I hope has emerged in the course of our reflection. We can ask ourselves, therefore, who comprises the new group that allows us to speak of the proclamation today as a fourth wave of new evangelization?
The answer is the western world that has been secularized and in some respects is post-Christian. Paralleling the appearance of a new world to evangelize, we have also observed the emergence of a new category of heralds with each wave: bishops in the first three centuries especially in the third century , monks in the second wave, and friars in the third. Today as well, we can observe the emergence of a new category of primary agents in evangelization: the laity. This does not mean, of course, that one group displaces another but rather that a new component of the people of God is being joined to the others, while the bishops, with the leadership of the pope, always remain the authorized guides and the ones ultimately responsible for the missionary task of the Church.
I said that over the centuries, those to whom the proclamation was addressed has changed but not the message itself. I must, however, clarify this last statement. It is true that the essence of the proclamation cannot change, but its mode of presentation, the priorities, and the departure point of the proclamation can and must change. Let us summarize the unfolding progression of the gospel proclamation up to our time. In this second period, Jesus is no longer the one who proclaims but is the one proclaimed. That is what St.
We dare not reduce him merely to that!
It would mean forgetting the Resurrection. Let us picture the wake made by a large ship. It begins as one point, and that point is the ship itself, but it grows wider and wider until it spreads out across the horizon and touches the opposite shores of the sea. Acts An initial expansion of this one point occurs with the appearance of the four Gospels, written to explain that original nucleus, and then with the rest of the New Testament. After this comes the Tradition of the Church, with its magisterium, its theology, its institutions, its laws, its spirituality.
So now, if we want to evangelize a secularized world, there is a choice to make. Where do we begin? From some place within that expanded wake or from its initial point?
The immense wealth of doctrine and institutions can become a handicap if we are trying to present all of that to a person who has lost all contact with the Church and no longer knows who Jesus is. That would be like clothing a baby with one of those enormous, heavy brocaded copes that priests and bishops used to wear. Instead, it is necessary to help this person establish a relationship with Jesus. Those who respond to the proclamation will join themselves — today as in that day — to the community of believers. They will listen to the teaching of the apostles and will partake in the breaking of the bread.
Jesus is not accepted on the word of the Church, but the Church is accepted on the word of Jesus.
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This seems to me the best description of the situation of human beings in modern times who, having forgotten the cry of the kerygma that is full of meaning, find themselves having to scream their existential anguish in a vacuum. I would like now to explain why it is possible in Christianity to start over at any time from the point of the ship, without this being either a mental pretense or a mere exercise in archeology. The reason is simple: that ship is still sailing on the sea and its wake still begins with one point! Dare you believe a man uttering such incredible promise while he himself has not even a stone upon which to lay his head?
The true contemporaneity with Christ is something quite other than that: It is Christ who makes himself our contemporary because, having risen, he lives in the Spirit and in the Church. If it were up to us to make ourselves contemporaries of Christ, it would be a contemporaneity that was merely intentional; if it is Christ who makes himself our contemporary, it is a real contemporaneity. But Christ is immolated for him at the moment he acknowledges grace and becomes conscious of the life obtained for him by means of that immolation. The basis for this universal call to mission is already found in the Gospel.