Tag Archives: Enoch

Sealed by God

Christ Pantocrator, 13th century Serbian icon

Monday of the Third Week of Easter

John 6:22-29

The next day, the crowd that remained across the sea saw that there had been only one boat there, and that Jesus had not gone along with his disciples in the boat, but only his disciples had left.

John 6:22

Whoosh! Jesus vanished like the wind without leaving a trace. Gazing across the Sea of Galilee, any “footprints” would have dissolved instantly in the crashing waves.

Not that the people fed by Jesus on the mountain surmised that the rabbi walked across the sea—what utter nonsense!—though he did miraculously multiply five loaves and two fish. Who knew what else Jesus could do? Like a collective Sherlock Holmes they noted (A) only one boat had been docked, (B) Jesus had not gone in the boat with his disciples, and (C) Jesus was missing. 

Other boats came from Tiberias near the place where they had eaten the bread when the Lord gave thanks. When the crowd saw that neither Jesus nor his disciples were there, they themselves got into boats and came to Capernaum looking for Jesus.

John 6:23-24

A brigade of boats rowed hotly in pursuit of their bread king.

And when they found him across the sea they said to him, “Rabbi, when did you get here?”

John 6:25

Not knowing what to make of Jesus’ appearance on the other side of the sea, the baffled people skirted the question, “How did you get here?” with a superficial “When?” 

Genuine, disinterested wonder in the marvels and person of Jesus was lacking in the crowd. Rather, impelled by fickle appetites, they chased him down for another free meal.  

Jesus answered them and said, “Amen, amen, I say to you, you are looking for me not because you saw signs but because you ate the loaves and were filled. 

John 6:26

Signs point beyond themselves to an imperishable good beyond the fleeting undulations of hunger and satiety. The miraculous bread of the outdoor picnic was supposed to stimulate the deepest hunger of the human spirit. 

Do not work for food that perishes but for the food that endures for eternal life, which the Son of Man will give you. For on him the Father, God, has set his seal.”

John 6:27

Bodily hunger necessarily drives people to work for food, but spiritual hunger is easily dulled and forgotten. Jesus presented himself, the Messianic “Son of Man,” as the very imprint of God the Father. Like an official declaration stamped and sealed (sphragizó) by the signet ring of a king, Jesus declared himself to be the very countenance and Word of God.

So they said to him, “What can we do to accomplish the works of God?” Jesus answered and said to them, “This is the work of God, that you believe in the one he sent.”

John 6:28-29

What kind of work is “believing” (pisteuó)? In the Hebrews Hall of Fame, Enoch is praised for believing, and Abraham for his extraordinary faith and obedience (Hebrews 11:5-12). Believing is not merely a cognitive assent, but a wholehearted trust in God even when his commands are incomprehensible, as with the sacrifice of Isaac. 

The “work” of believing is exemplified by Mary, Mary Magdalene, the women disciples, and John the Beloved standing at the foot of the Cross on Calvary. Like Abraham poised to slay his son on Mount Moriah they stood, not knowing the outcome of the crucifixion three days later. 

Paul preached that believing (pisteuó) the Word of God seals (sphragizó) the children of God with the Holy Spirit, making them unique imprints and icons of the Son of God (Ephesians 1:13).

Standing with Jesus in the best and worst of times surpasses logic and reason. Faith is a relationship and commitment to a person, Jesus Christ. 

-GMC

The Eye of God in the Heart

Abraham, Russian icon, Andrei Rublev Museum of Early Russian Art, Moscow, Russia

Saturday of the Third Week in Ordinary Time (Year I)

Hebrews 11:1-2, 8-19; Mark 4:35-41

Faith is the realization of what is hoped for and evidence of things not seen.

Hebrews 11:1

Is faith objective or subjective?

The New American Bible (Revised Edition) footnote to Hebrews 11:1 explains the difficulty of translating the original Greek words that it has rendered “realization” (hupostasis) and “evidence” (elegchos). The difficulty is existential and experiential. 

The Son of God united “flesh” (sarx) and divinity in his own person, an objective fact attested by Scripture, Tradition, and the Church, but facts do not produce faith of themselves. Even the devils “believe and tremble,” James writes (2:19).

Hupostasis unites object and subject—that which is believed and the heart that believes. As object, hupostasis means substance, being and reality. As a subjective experience, it means confidence, realization and conviction. 

Elegchos also carries objective and subjective meanings. As object, it means proof or evidence, and as subjective experience it means inner conviction. Translation is difficult because the choice of one word seems to exclude others. The NABRE has tried to include both the objective and subjective dimensions of faith in its translation.

From the point of view of spacetime, faith is related to hope in the realm of “not yet.” 

All these died in faith. They did not receive what had been promised but saw it and greeted it from afar…

Hebrews 11:13

From the point of view of eternity, faith rejoices “now” with the eye of God in the heart.

Abraham your father rejoiced to see my day; he saw it and was glad.

John 8:56

Heroes like Abraham walked with God, trusting in his “unseen” promises. Yet Abraham’s faith was as real and substantial as sight, Jesus attested two millennia after the death of the patriarch.

Genesis records that Enoch “walked” (halak) with God and “he was not, for God took him” (Genesis 5:24). The word for “walk” appears in Genesis 3:8 to describe God “walking” in the garden. God and the son of God walked together, an image of the Father and the Son: “The Father and I are one” (John 10:30). 

The seventh member of the genealogy in Genesis did not die, an early sign of the resurrection hope. Seven also indicates perfection and completion in the Hebrew covenant. 

By faith Enoch was taken up so that he should not see death, and “he was found no more because God had taken him.” Before he was taken up, he was attested to have pleased God. But without faith it is impossible to please him, for anyone who approaches God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him.

Hebrews 11:5-6

The possibility of resurrection kept alive by the memory of Enoch in the human heart enlivened the faith of Abraham many centuries later.

By faith Abraham, when put to the test, offered up Isaac, and he who had received the promises was ready to offer his only son, of whom it was said, “Through Isaac descendants shall bear your name.” He reasoned that God was able to raise even from the dead, and he received Isaac back as a symbol.

Hebrews 11:17-19

Faith is both objective and subjective. Faith is the life of God in the human heart. Faith is the still, quiet divine center in the midst of storms and trials.

Jesus was in the stern, asleep on a cushion. They woke him and said to him, “Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing?” He woke up, rebuked the wind, and said to the sea, “Quiet! Be still!” The wind ceased and there was great calm.

Mark 4:38-39

Faith is Jesus asleep, yet in command, in the inner boat.

-GMC

Hope in the Resurrection

Ascent of Elijah (Northern Russian icon, ca. 1290)

11th Week in Ordinary Time, Wednesday

Sirach 48:1-14, Matthew 6:7-15

According to statistics, the mortality rate is 100%. Four exceptions to this rule are recorded in salvation history:

Seven generations after Adam, Scripture records that “Enoch walked with God; and he was not, for God took him” (Genesis 5:24). 

The prophet Elijah was taken up in a whirlwind with a flaming chariot and horses (2 Kings:11).

Death could not hold the Lord Jesus Christ, who rose on the third day after his crucifixion and ascended into heaven forty days later.

Traditions East and West affirm that the Blessed Virgin Mary was assumed body and soul into heaven. (The East believes she “slept” peacefully before being assumed; the West believes she did not die.)

Enoch interrupted the downward spiral after Adam’s expulsion as a ray of hope piercing the darkness. Once a pattern sets in, human consciousness begins to accept it as normal and “natural.” However, “God did not make death, and he does not delight in the death of the living” (Wisdom 1:13). As long as there is one exception to a rule, the rule is not absolute. 

Enoch and Elijah kept alive in human consciousness the possibility of bodily resurrection, foreshadowing by their mysterious translations the resurrection of Christ and the assumption of Mary. The Sadducees, the high priestly class, had already given up hope in the resurrection, effectively nullifying the witness of Enoch in the first book of the Pentateuch which they revered. The flame of hope is so easily snuffed out in a fragile humanity grown old.

It takes the heart of a child to believe in Jesus’ promise of eternal life: “Amen, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will not enter the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 18:3). 

In praying the Our Father today, we may contemplate Jesus, the Blessed Virgin Mary, and Saints Enoch and Elijah in whom his will was done “on earth as it is in heaven.” The curtain separating heaven and earth was torn in two on the Cross, and the transfiguring Light of the Trinity shines everywhere. May we be granted eyes to see it. 

-GMC