VOICE FROM THE SOUTH

emeterio barcelon - The Gospels
Fr. Emeterio Barcelon, SJ

The four Gospels are the heart of the New Testament. They recount the three years of teaching and ministry of Jesus on this earth. It recounts His miracles and His parables which were the core of His teachings, His crucifixion, death, and resurrection. It is followed by the Acts of the Apostles and the writings of the Apostles and the book of Revelation. The Gospels tell of His teachings and miracles and His claim that He is God and the people of Israel will not accept Him.

               Unlike Buddha, the Hindu teachers, and other teachers, including the prophet Mohammed, Jesus not only taught but claimed that He was God. In His teaching He taught that the most important commandment was to love God with all our hearts, with all our soul, and with all our strength. And the second is to love our neighbor as ourselves. This love has to include love of our enemies. We cannot practice revenge and the prayer He taught us, the Our Father, emphasizes forgiveness of those who offend us. If we love only those who love us, how are we better than the criminals who also love those who love them.  Besides teaching He performed miracles and forgave sins. The Jewish priests rightly accused Him of blasphemy if He was not God, for only God can forgive sins.  He raised back to life at least three individuals – the young girl, the son of the widow of Naim, and Lazarus. But the most important was His own rising from the dead.  Our faith is useless if He did not rise from the dead. He would have been a charlatan because He predicted that He would be killed and rise again.

               He cured all sorts of illness, He made the blind see, the cripple to walk, the deaf to hear and the paralytic to get up and walk. He cured the lepers and liberated from the devil those possessed and fed thousands with only a few loaves of bread and a few fish. After feeding five thousand men plus the women and children, they collected twelve baskets of left overs. The Jewish people expected a Messiah who would be powerful in terms of this world and liberate them from their Roman masters. But His liberation was primarily from sin against God.  Therefore He was a suffering Messiah and die through a most cruel death. But He rose again and promised to send us the Holy Spirit to guide us, His church.

               “Do unto other what you would have others do unto you” is probably His most prominent teaching but not the most important, which is to love the Father above all else. Although He showed His Apostles the vision of the Transfiguration where His face shone like the sun and the two greatest prophets of the Old Testament, Moses and Elijah, appeared beside Him, He asked them not to tell anyone of the vision until He rose from the dead after the crucifixion. In the garden of Olives just thinking of the suffering He was about to endure made Him sweat blood. On the Cross He forgave those who crucified Him: “Father forgive them for they do not know what they are doing.” Then He proceeded to endorse John to His mother; and His mother to John.

               The three synoptic Gospels were probably put down in writing about 85 AD or after the destruction of Jerusalem and the Temple by the Romans. The Gospel of John was later at about 95. Before that it was by oral tradition.

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