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Archive for April, 2008

Here is a good picture of the altar and setup for the Papal Mass.

The Mass was a great success!

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The crowd goes wild when they see Pope Benedict XVI.

Here are a series of photos as the Holy Father enters the ballfield.

The Pope is processing toward the altar.

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Beep! Beep!

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Well, here is proof of my presence at the Papal Mass.  My face got a bit sunburned.

I am looking toward the areas where my parish had ticketed seats.

Seeing the Pope was fun and moving, but getting to and from the stadium was tough! 

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The day Mr. Heston died my brother John called me from Baltimore. My brother John and I met Mr. Heston at a book signing in DC a number of years ago. We were told by the store owners, “Just get your books signed, no talking!” Anyway, he came early and sat at a small table waiting for visitors. Guess what? The store manager had made a mistake with the date for the newspaper announcement. Nobody showed up and there was no line! Mr. Heston called us over, pulled out a few folding chairs and invited us to sit with him. The manager was ticked but only grimaced. We had the great actor to ourselves for about half-an-hour. We talked about a number of things, especially the old Hollywood and how things had changed. He signed a pile of books and the pictures we had brought. He said that he never charged people for autographs and that such was a duty to the people who counted themselves your fans and kept you employed. When the word got around town who was there people started to show up and we said our goodbyes.

He is remembered alternately for his religious films and his cult science fiction. That makes him a very special man to a wide range of fandom. May he rest in peace. He was a man who tried to be moral and who believed in Jesus Christ as Lord. That is pretty good in my book… and he kept his gunpowder dry!

  • BEN HUR CARTOON (2003)
  • A MAN FOR ALL SEASONS (1988)
  • THE AGONY & THE ECSTASY (1965)
  • THE GREATEST STORY EVER TOLD (1965)
  • BEN HUR (1959)
  • THE TEN COMMANDMENTS (1956)

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I was a young adult, 20-21 years old in 1980, and I thought this was a magical film. Little did I know that in 2008, it would still remain a favorite. Always somewhat embarrassed by the language at times, it had the comedy, action and music that tickled the funny bone, pumped the adrenaline, and filled us with moving beats and rhythms!

Almost 30 years later, the music is now the stuff of legend!

The Original MEN IN BLACK, and could they drive and sing… on a mission for God!

Shake a tail feather!

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The reading from Acts sets the stage before the Church’s first council. Gentiles had become believers and yet the matter of circumcision was hindering their entry into the Church. Pharisees who had accepted Christ believed that one had to become Jewish prior to becoming Christian. Paul and Barnabas came to Jerusalem to discuss the matter with the Apostles and presbyters there. Later the gravity of Christ and the new rite of initiation, baptism, would prevail. Jesus is everything for the believer. Jesus in the Gospel speaks of himself as the vine and how we are the branches. His life flows through us. Our faith and works bear fruit because we are a part of Jesus and he lives in us. Everything that Jesus is and does have value.

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FREEMAN NICHOLAS PATRICK FREEMAN (Age 17) On Tuesday, April 1, 2008, of Springfield, VA, beloved son of Stephen and Cecilia Freeman; brother of Kenneth, Matthew, Elena, Mary, and Juliana Freeman. He is also survived by many aunts, uncles, cousins, and close friends. Friends may call at FAIRFAX MEMORIAL FUNERAL HOME, 9902 Braddock Rd., Fairfax, VA on Friday, April 4, 2008 from 2 to 4 and 7 to 9 p.m. Mass of Christian Burial will be celebrated on Saturday, April 5 at St. Bernadette Catholic Church, 7600 Old Keene Mill Rd., Springfield, VA at 10:30 a.m. Interment Fairfax Memorial Park Cemetery. Contributions may be made to Messiah U.M.C. Endowment Fund, 6215 Rolling Rd., Springfield, VA 22152 or St. Bernadette Catholic Church.

I went to school with Nick’s mother, Cecilia. “I am so sorry. What a terrible tragedy. I have remembered him at Mass and will keep him in my prayers. May God uphold the family during this difficult time.”

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Steven says: The New Testament teaches one must be a penitent believer to be baptized (Mark 16:16; Acts 2:38; 8:36-38). Babies do not meet these conditions.

Here is my response:

Dear Steven,

It was well after the Reformation that certain groups of Christians (separated from the Catholic Church) stopped baptizing small children. The problem was that while mention of “whole households” coming to the Lord and being baptized can be found in the Scriptures, the clear practice of the early Church testified in subsequent documents (indicating the practice of infant baptism) was swept aside as “merely” tradition. Unlike Catholics, Protestant churches gave no credence to such living tradition or to the writings of the Church fathers as a second font of revelation. Having said this, Lutherans, Anglicans and the Protestant communities making the initial break from Rome often retained the practice of infant baptism. Those that changed the practice also proposed a somewhat altered definition of baptism and in many cases eliminated or altered the notion of original sin and its effects. I was surprised a number of years ago to discover Baptists who had never gotten around to being baptized. They did not practice infant baptism and some adults never sought it out. They felt it was enough to answer an altar call and to read the Bible. Similarly, I have known Presbyterians who made faith professions but have not been formally baptized.

Catholics and certain mainline traditions regard baptism as a sacrament. Other ecclesial communities consider it an ordinance by which a public expression of faith is made. Meaning no ill-will to our non-Catholic brothers and sisters in Christ, we find such a view of baptism has terribly impoverished. Catholics view baptism as transformative in itself. We die with Christ (go under the water) to rise with him (to emerge from the water). The baptismal font in Catholic churches is regarded as the womb of the Church. We believe that sanctifying grace is offered, as well as the many actual graces. Original sin is remitted and we become adopted sons and daughters to the heavenly Father. Adults who are baptized are also forgiven of actual or personal sins. We believe that in faith and baptism, we are born again, made temples of the Holy Spirit, and are transformed to the likeness of God in Christ Jesus. We also believe that baptism incorporates the believer into the mystical body of Christ, the Church. We see baptism as the doorway to the sacramental life.

You cite Acts 2:38 where Peter said, “Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.” This is not evidence against infant baptism or proof that the “penitent believer” must be an adult. Catholics do not dismiss the issue of faith, but rather view it both corporately and personally. We do not come to God alone. The faith of parents and godparents is that which brings a child to the waters of baptism. Later, after the child has reached the age of reason, we hope that he or she will see the other sacraments on initiation: Holy Eucharist and Confirmation. The pledge of faith and the renunciation of sin and Satan made by parents and others will one day be made by the child when he or she stands before the bishop in the midst of the Church. Note what is added in the very next verse (Acts 2:39): “For the promise is to you and to your children and to all that are far off, every one whom the Lord our God calls to him.”

You cite Mark 16:16 and yet this is understood as part of the general mission mandate of the Church. We preach to those who can understand. “Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved; whoever does not believe will be condemned.” The matter of babies is not specified here. If you want to be a literalist, this text would seem to imply that babies (who cannot believe) must by necessity be condemned. Most Baptists would never say such a thing, so already they appreciate that the verse has a few unspoken nuances. The Apostolic and early Church baptized babies with the understanding that parents would nurture faith in their children. They could not endure the terrible possibility that their children, who often died before the age of reason, might forfeit eternal life. When the child grew up it was their hope that grace would prevail and the child would profess his or her faith with the rest of the community. Catholicism has a strong emphasis upon the Church as the sacrament of salvation, our place of encounter with the risen Christ. This stands very much against the tendency after the Reformation toward a more individualistic and privatized faith. Catholics feel bonded one to the other and especially to their children. Our holiness and sinfulness can either assist or harm others in their faith journey. Salvation comes not just for particular people but for the New Jerusalem or People of God. The Church stands both convicted and rewarded before Christ as the royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people set apart— the breaking-in of the kingdom of God.

You cite Acts 8:36-38 which is the story of the Ethiopian eunuch who is baptized by Philip. However, note that the eunuch was given only the barest instruction prior to baptism. He is baptized with the confidence that any seed of initial faith would grow over time. Verse 37 reads: “And Philip said, ‘If you believe with all your heart, you may [get baptized].’ And he said in reply, ‘I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God.’” However, note that this verse has been expunged from most new bible translations because it was added to later Western texts. The oldest and best source documents are missing it!

Whole households were baptized in the Apostolic and early Church, these no doubt included children. St. Irenaeus (130-202 AD) speaks about it in regards to infants “born again to God”. [See Acts 16:15; Acts 16:31-33 & 1 Cor. 1:16].

Peace!

ANTI-CATHOLICISM: Baptism & Born Again

INSTRUCTION:  Baptism & Confirmation

QUESTION: On Baptism

QUESTION: On Baptism of Children

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Discussion Between John Sheahan & Father Joe Jenkins

JOHN:  If it has always been taught that the Catholic church contains all the theological truths and is necessary for salvation, why is it that the pope is visiting with ecumenical leaders, worshiping in mosques and embracing false religions?

FATHER JOE:  The Catholic faith does indeed insist that all salvation truth subsists in the Church. But, did you hear what the Pope said to them? We have to share the world with these people. When it comes to certain values, peace and the dignity of human life, there can be much cooperation. Understanding one another, not necessarily always agreeing, is important in this regard. The Holy Father took things a step further, and laid claim to what Catholics bring to the table, that Jesus Christ is redeemer and makes all the difference as the source of grace and life. Jesus is our hope. He stressed the need for people of different religions to seek objective truth.

JOHN:  Being civil with false religions is one thing, but taking part in any of their services has always been against the Catholic faith.  The Catholic church is no longer actively trying to convert non-Catholics to the faith and that is a big problem.

FATHER JOE:  Yes, you are correct, Catholics are forbidden to actively participate in the worship rituals or celebrations of false religions. We have no argument about that. But I take exception to the notion that the Church is no longer actively seeking the conversion of such non-Catholics to the true faith. The Holy Father was cordial to the non-Christians at the John Paul II Cultural Center last week. He accepted their gifts and spoke about the need for dialogue and cooperation, especially to better our society and for peace. He thanked them for their hospitality. The Holy Father did not recommend religious indifferentism or deny the Church’s missionary mandate.

JOHN:  The Church led by Pope Benedict has taken the approach that a person need not be part of the Catholic church to be saved, and this is heresy.

FATHER JOE: 

Indeed, he said the purpose of the Pope John Paul II Cultural Center was to offer a “Christian voice” to those of many faiths (or none) who sought the answer to the ultimate questions about meaning and purpose in the world.

First, given freedom of conscience and a plurality of faiths, he noted a history of
inter-faith prayer services, but such would not represent a uniform religious ritual forced upon others. Christians would be allowed to pray in their own distinctive way without pollution from the foreign faith content of non-Christian religions. Second, joint initiatives in charity activities that benefit the poor and hurting would present no doctrinal threat whatsoever. Third, a shared voice on important public issues would give Catholics a better opportunity for vital political gains. These three interfaith activities result in an enhanced mutual understanding and promote the common good. We can work together to further those ethical values discernable with human reason.

The Holy Father has no doubt observed that religious liberty allows the Catholic Church to flourish in the United States. He writes about religious freedom, saying that all members in society must work “to ensure that citizens are afforded the opportunity to worship peaceably and to pass on their religious heritage to their children.” Such freedom does not deny evangelization and efforts applied along with divine grace for the conversion of souls.

Pope Benedict XVI is NOT ashamed of Jesus Christ and the Gospel! He states clearly:

“Confronted with these deeper questions concerning the origin and destiny of mankind, Christianity proposes Jesus of Nazareth. He, we believe, is the eternal Logos who became flesh in order to reconcile man to God and reveal the underlying reason of all things. It is he whom we bring to the forum of inter-religious dialogue. The ardent desire to follow in his footsteps spurs Christians to open their minds and hearts in dialogue (cf. Lk 10:25-37; Jn 4:7-26).”

The Holy Father is not afraid of dialogue, because he trusts that the “voice of truth” will reveal God’s relationship to us and the world. It is hinted, but left prudently unsaid, that this truth will be none other than that which we already trust and have given a name in Christ. That which is false will fall away.

Where has Pope Benedict XVI ever said that anyone can be redeemed and saved apart from Jesus Christ? You assume too much. Just because we do not want to force conversions with burning coals and the rack is no evidence that Jesus is now “optional” to salvation. Part of the argument about the new petitions for Jews in the Tridentine Mass is because the Holy Father and the Church still insists that no one is saved apart from Christ. All are called to know and love him.

Your comment is hard for me to read given that your detraction against the Pope is so very savage and, I am sorry to say this, sinful for one who purports to be a good Catholic. Have you not read the many things the Pope has written? Have you listened at all to his words of reflection and correction? Maybe you are too angry to see the wonderful signs of hope that follow this successor to St. Peter. You are presumptuous in the way the Protestant reformers once were in their mockery of the Pope. The end result was that they were estranged from full communion in the true Church.

JOHN:  Although the pope may not have kissed the koran this time, it is a known fact and I have pictures that show Pope Benedict wearing white moslem slippers and bowing toward Mecca in other visits. How many missionaries gave their blood rather than even bow their heads to a pagan statue?

FATHER JOE:  You make too much of white slippers and signs of human respect. He does not go out of his way to offend Muslims; it is enough that he suffers their rebuke when he speaks about peace and basic truths. Or have you forgotten the cries of millions of radicals, “Death to the Pope!” The only word I have for your nit-picking is “petty”. You are obligated as a Catholic to give obedience to the Church and the Holy See. You are to show respect to his shepherds. The teachings of the Holy Father, and certainly we are dealing here with matters of faith and morals, are to be given religious assent by believers. And please do not quote me dead popes. It is the Church and the Magisterium that has the privilege of interpreting them, not you or me. I am ashamed of traditionalist Catholics who read Church documents with the same methodology as anti-Catholic Protestant fundamentalists interpret the Bible. We follow a living Pope.

JOHN:  This most recent visit by the Pope was very alarming for me as a Catholic for many reasons. The first is that Our Blessed Mother Mary was never mentioned by the pope in any of his dialogue. He never mentioned praying the rosary or wearing the scapular as was urged by Our Lady of Fatima.

FATHER JOE: 

You say that you are alarmed by the Pope’s visit. Let us look at your purported reasons:

1. “Our Blessed Mother Mary was never mentioned by the ‘pope’ in any of his dialogue[s].”

It seems to me that the Pope spoke about Mary appropriately a number of times. He mentioned several years ago in the so called RATZINGER REPORT some six reasons why Marian devotion and faith were important. Have you forgotten? On his recent visit to Washington, DC, I heard him with my own ears speak about the Blessed Mother:

EVENING PRAYER AT THE SHRINE – “We began by celebrating Evening Prayer in this Basilica dedicated to the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary, a shrine of special significance to American Catholics, right in the heart of your capital city. Gathered in prayer with Mary, Mother of Jesus, we lovingly commend to our heavenly Father the people of God in every part of the United States. / Contemplation of the mysteries of the Rosary releases all their saving power and it conforms, unites and consecrates us to Jesus Christ (cf. Rosarium Virginis Mariae, 11, 15). / As I conclude my words to you this evening, I commend the Church in your country most particularly to the maternal care and intercession of Mary Immaculate, Patroness of the United States. May she who carried within her womb the hope of all the nations intercede for the people of this country, so that all may be made new in Jesus Christ her Son.”

MEETING WITH THE BISHOPS – “Dear Brother Bishops, with these few observations, I once more encourage all of you in your ministry to the faithful entrusted to your pastoral care, and I commend you to the loving intercession of Mary Immaculate, Mother of the Church.”

Here are a few random words from prior to his visit:

FEB. 15, 1008 [OUR LADY OF LOURDES] “Mary is the model of total abandonment to the will of God” and, in following her example, Christians learn to place their entire existence in God’s hands, including their joys and sorrows, hopes and disappointments in an awareness that trials, pain and suffering enrich the meaning of our pilgrimage on earth.”

AUG. 24, 2007 [ASSUMPTION] “Dear brothers and sisters, after being taken up into Heaven, Mary did not distance herself from us but continues to be even closer to us and her light shines on our lives and on the history of all humanity. Attracted by the heavenly brightness of the Mother of the Redeemer, let us turn with trust to the One who looks upon us and protects us from on high.”

Sep 10, 2006 [MUNICH FAIRGROUNDS] “Throughout her earthly life, (Mary) was the Woman who listened, the Virgin whose heart was open towards God and towards others. The faithful have understood this since the earliest centuries of Christianity, and therefore in all their needs and trials they have confidently turned to her, imploring her help and her intercession with God.”

As for praying the rosary or wearing the scapular, the first is noble and witnessed by his example of prayer in the Shrine and in the Popemobile. As for the scapular, many of us wear the Brown Scapular of Mount Carmel and not the Green Scapular of Fatima. Many of us pray the rosary fruitfully without recourse to “private” revelation. You complain too much. You have something against this Pope and will do whatever you can to malign him. This is a sickness of the soul and might even be demonic in origin. Yes, even the devil can distort religiosity for his twisted purposes. You are placing your personal vendetta ahead of the Holy Father’s authority as chief Apostle and successor of St. Peter. He is the Vicar of Christ. Who are you by comparison? I suspect that Mary is not pleased. You can be disappointed in what was said or not said. But, you should not judge the one to whom you owe filial respect and obedience.

Prior to the Holy Father’s visit, my god-daughter at CUA and students from around the world prayed the rosary with the Pope. It was beautiful with reflections for each of the mysteries. That was also carried on television, but I suspect your bigotry has erased it from your memory. He prays the rosary with tens of thousands of pilgrims who stand vigil beneath his window at the Vatican. Did you listen to that by radio or real audio on the web? He speaks of the rosary as that “traditional Marian prayer which helps us to understand better the central moments of salvation realized by Christ”. He exhorts the sick to turn to Mary and to entrust “all your needs to her”. He tells married couples “to make the praying of the rosary in the family a moment of spiritual growth under the maternal gaze of the Virgin Mary”. I recall from a few years ago that Pope Benedict XVI had this to say about Fatima: “Although anxieties and sufferings have not been lacking, and there are still reasons for apprehension about the future of humanity, what the ‘Lady in white’ promised to the little shepherds is consoling: ‘In the end, my Immaculate Heart will triumph.’” I believe the same. This is the truth from the Pope. You seem to disagree with him. You have rejected the cry of Pope John Paul against fear and now you repudiate Pope Benedict and his hope in Christ. I stand with Peter and the Church. Where do you stand?

JOHN:  Secondly, statistics show that 70% of so called Catholics in this country do not believe that bread and wine are truely turned into the actual body and blood of Christ at mass (transubstantiation). By denying this or any one dogma of the Catholic church, a member is automatically excommunicated by their actions and is no longer a Catholic yet the pope ignored this huge problem and never addressed it. Not only this but, the pope allowed known pro-abortionists and non-Catholics to receive “communion” at his mass, violating another rule of the Catholic faith.

FATHER JOE:

2. “Statistics show that 70% of so-called Catholics in this country do not believe that bread and wine are truly turned into the actual body and blood of Christ as ‘mass’ (Transubstantiation).”

The Holy Father was not the one who gave the pro-abortion politicians holy communion. He has urged, even back when he was a Cardinal, that such people are not suitably disposed for the sacrament. However, bishops have been passive to the question. Even a Pope is limited in his authority in regards to how another bishop operates his diocese. As for the REAL PRESENCE, he has written extensively about the Eucharist and his reverence in offering Mass has visibly demonstrated the truth about transubstantiation. Most Catholics clamoring to see him have embraced this great truth without qualm or reservation. The students at CUA had an evening of Eucharistic adoration the night before the Holy Father’s visit. They did this as a testimony to their Catholic faith. The Holy Father went immediately to the Eucharistic chapel in the Shrine and prayed there. The Holy Father had this to say to his bishops at Vespers at the Shrine:

“Time spent in prayer is never wasted, however urgent the duties that press upon us from every side. Adoration of Christ our Lord in the Blessed Sacrament prolongs and intensifies the union with him that is established through the Eucharistic celebration (cf. Sacramentum Caritatis, 66). Contemplation of the mysteries of the Rosary releases all their saving power and it conforms, unites and consecrates us to Jesus Christ (cf. Rosarium Virginis Mariae, 11, 15). Fidelity to the Liturgy of the Hours ensures that the whole of our day is sanctified and it continually reminds us of the need to remain focused on doing God’s work, however many pressures and distractions may arise from the task at hand. Thus our devotion helps us to speak and act in persona Christi, to teach, govern and sanctify the faithful in the name of Jesus, to bring his reconciliation, his healing and his love to all his beloved brothers and sisters. This radical configuration to Christ, the Good Shepherd, lies at the heart of our pastoral ministry, and if we open ourselves through prayer to the power of the Spirit, he will give us the gifts we need to carry out our daunting task, so that we need never ‘be anxious how to speak or what to say’ (Mt 10:19).”

Oops, not only did the Pope speak about the Eucharist and the participation of the men in holy orders with the high priesthood of Jesus Christ, he also mentioned the breviary and the rosary. I guess you must have slept through this part of the Pope’s visit. Otherwise, you would be guilty of outright lies. Last I heard, bearing false witness still broke the commandments!

JOHN:  Father, please open your eyes and stop following this new ecuemenistic faith that is being called “Catholic”. It is not Catholic by a long shot. I urge you Father, to go back and read some of the stories of the lives of the saints such as Saint Dominic or Saint John Vianney and you will see again what true Catholicism is. The current pope and his hierarchy have been taken over by bad men that continue to propagate heresy after heresy and people are sucking it up because they have either forgotton or never knew what real Catholicism is. This is all part of the one world church that will eventually be the seat of the anti-christ. Remember God said in the bible “when I come back there will only be a handful left that still have the faith”. How can this be if the catholic church is 65 million strong in America? The reason is because the Catholic church today is a mere shell for looks only. Again, I urge you Father to please look hard at this and reconsider.

FATHER JOE: 

Ecumenism does not utterly describe or exhaust my faith or modern-day Catholicism. How dare you beseech a priest to violate his conscience and to disobey the bishop and Church to which he has solemnly promised obedience under pain of mortal sin? You sir are very much mistaken about many things. If you reject Pope Benedict then you reject Peter. That means that YOU are guilty of the charge which YOU level against me. You may be Catholic by baptism, but any who would break away from this Catholic fold under Pope Benedict, traditionalist or not, has more in common with Martin Luther than with Pius V. Accidentals change, but the deposit of faith remains safe and secure. I pity you for not recognizing the difference. If you want to cast your lot with schismatic groups and excommunicated bishops, well, that is your business. But I will not damn myself for you or anyone else. I have read the lives of the saints and I also know my religion. Pope Benedict XVI has, himself said, that we might see a smaller but more faithful Church in the future. However, the remnant that will be faithfully awaiting Christ’s return is not in your band of renegades. I will pray that you will find enlightenment from the Holy Spirit, repent of your sins against Christ’s Church and shepherds, and return one day to the safe harbor of faith.

As things stand right now, you are no more worthy for Holy Communion than the pro-abortion politicians you abhor. They would murder innocent children. You would rob the children of the true Church and usher forth spiritual death.  I will fervently pray for you.

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This past Sunday we read about the calling of the first deacons in the Church. Today we hear about how the Apostles (the first bishops of the Church) appointed priests to shepherd the people of God. “They appointed presbyters for them in each Church and, with prayer and fasting, commended them to the Lord, in whom they had put their faith.” The Apostles and later the bishops would retain overall jurisdiction over the areas of their charge, but priests would serve the communities in their name. We find a Catholic unity and structure in the early Church that is still familiar to us twenty centuries later. Our Lord goes to the Father but the Church will forever be bonded in the peace of Christ. We are his living body. We express this oneness in the Lord at every Mass with the sign of peace. “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you.”

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Jesus identified himself with the Father, pointing to his own identity as a divine person of the Trinity. Our Lord extends something of his authority to men; it is in this light that the Gentiles confuse Barnabas with Zeus and Paul with Hermes. The Gospel relates from the mouth of Jesus: “Whoever loves me will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our dwelling with him.” The pagans are on the verge of idolatry and yet their instincts are correct, it is by divine power that the Apostles accomplish miraculous healing. The Lord Jesus is present and continuing his ministry through his emissaries.

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