Translated from the original by Ana Giménez.
Through prayer of recollection we are trying to go deep down in our life going together with Teresa of Jesus. We have decided to follow Jesus of Nazareth from His “Sacred Humanity”.
We are told that we must learn to live from the “centre”, and not from a superficial existence.
By learning to recollect ourselves, we are starting to be able to live every moment here and now. We know we are not “empty” and that a great wealth lives within us, we are a castle dwelt by God Himself and by our conscience. The most intimate of every one´s being lives accompanied by the mystery of God.
Jesus Christ from the Old Testament I
It can be a good moment to gain an insight into the knowledge for those we want to know, love and follow our Lord Jesus Christ. I know that the main question must be answered by every person. I only intend to give a few hints, in case anyone might be interested. To introduce Jesus of Nazareth we have to go back to Jewish culture of His time, as it happens with any person we want to know.
The Jewish people kept orally and for centuries the most important events of their History. In the 6th century BC they lived an event which marked them forever
Nebuchadnezzar ´s troops entered in Jerusalem and deported the most important people in Babylon in three successive waves.
That tragedy didn´t discourage them, among all the suffering of those who were left without anything, they started to think about what had happened.
The adventure started previously, when Abraham left his land and God promised him to come along with him and to always love him, without a repentance ever of His commitment.
As time went by, Abraham´s descendants expanded greatly and ended up being slaves of the Egyptians.
Helped by Moses, an exceptional man, they were able to break free from slavery and for 40 years they went around the desert in search of the Promised Land.
On Mount Sinai they came to an Agreement with their God: He promised them His affection and care and they had to keep certain laws which would help them to live: the commandments of the Law of God were born. Promise and Agreement are the core ideas of a religion of salvation. Jesus from Nazareth favoured the first one without disregarding the second one. Christianity takes part in Jewish History, with a God Who is made known to the History of a group of people, God´s People. He stablishes with the believer a new Agreement. The definite one.
In Babylon´s desert, the ones who were in favour of monarchy put their History in writing and the Pentateuch books were born with the exception of Deuteronomy, written later on. They wrote other books from the Old Testament, telling what had happened from the arrival to the promised land “a land flowing with milk and honey”(Exodus 3:8).The ones in exile were able to look up into the past so as to understand themselves, they recalled the historical memory with their lights and shades, with their glorious deeds and numerous cases of infidelity to the Agreement they had promised. These books are on the cultural Jewish basis which Jesus inherited from Nazareth, especially the Pentateuch, or the books of the Law.
There was another group in exiled made up of the priests.
The most important one was the priest and prophet Ezekiel.
They preferred a priest to a king leading the People of God. They discovered something that we may often experience: in bad moments we have the impression that God withdraws from us.
God didn´t live with us any more to this side of the vault of heaven, it seemed that He had abandoned us, He now lived on the other side of heaven and to enter in contact with Him we had to follow a few requirements. Priests looked at heaven and had the experience of a distant God.
They reacted in the opposite sense searching a God within themselves. The unfaithfulness in accomplishing the Agreement were frequent throughout time. Ezekiel believed as other prophets did that they had no choice but to renew the Agreement and introduce the Law into their hearts:
- “For I will take you out of the nations; I will gather you from all the countries and bring you back into your own land. I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you will be clean; I will cleanse you from all your impurities and from all your idols. I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh. And I will put my Spirit in you and move you to follow my decrees (…) You will be my people, and I will be your God. ” (Ez. 36: 24-28).
To carry out the task of the flesh heart there was the need of getting inside and savour the word of God. When The Lord calls him and sends him to mission He tells him:
- “He said: ‘Son of man, I am sending you to the Israelites, to a rebellious nation (…) Say to them, “This is what the Sovereign Lord says.” And whether they listen or fail to listen – for they are a rebellious people (…).And you, son of man, do not be afraid of them or their words. Do not be afraid, though briers and thorns are all around you and you live among scorpions. Do not be afraid of what they say or be terrified by them, though they are a rebellious people. You must speak my words to them, whether they listen or fail to listen, for they are rebellious. But you, son of man, listen to what I say to you. Do not rebel like that rebellious people; open your mouth and eat what I give you. ’Then I looked, and I saw a hand stretched out to me: ‘Son of man, eat what is before you, eat this scroll; then go and speak to the people of Israel.’ 2 So I opened my mouth, and he gave me the scroll to eat. Then he said to me, ‘Son of man, eat this scroll I am giving you and fill your stomach with it.’ So I ate it, and it tasted as sweet as honey in my mouth.” (Ez 2:2-3:1-3).
In conclusion, the new agreement with God has to change our hearts, or as the New Testament tells us till we “have the same mindset as Christ Jesus”( Philippians 2:1-5) Faced with a distant God to savour the word of God till it tastes as sweet as honey in our mouths.(equal to recollection prayer , the one we are practising)
Both groups, monarchic ones and priests ones, had inherited an old problem. It was the legacy received from our ancestors, they called it reward problem. What happened was that children inherited the sins from their parents; if my father had been a criminal, the son was also a criminal, both things and bad things were inherited.
Another prophet who had witnessed and announced Babylon´s exile disaster, the great Jeremiah, didn´t find it fair this perception of things. During the exile they thought about the problem over again and without really noticing it, they invented something essential in the whole Bible and in Jesus of Nazareth: the person.
Equality of all human beings as they were created in God´s image and likeness.
Monarchic ones wrote in the book of Genesis 1:26-28:
- And God saw that it was good. Then God said, ‘Let us make mankind in our image, in our likeness, so that they may rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky, over the livestock and all the wild animals, and over all the creatures that move along the ground. ’ So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them. God blessed them”
The responsibility of one´s acts is the own man´s responsibility, and not of their ancestors, those things are not inherited.
The person is full of dignity, his/her conscience can´t be violated, able to communicate with God as the person has been created to His image and likeness.(Teresa tells us that every one of us are a live painting or sculpture , having Christ death and risen as a model ).
The priests reached to the same conclusion through the prophet Ezequiel in chapter 18, 4:
- “For everyone belongs to me, the parent as well as the child – both alike belong to me. The one who sins is the one who will die”.
The Discovery of the concept of person marks a turning point in Jewish and Christian History. The arrival of Greek thought in Palestine with Alexander the Great just confirmed and revitalised the concept, taking into account that slaves had not reached the right to be persons.
In Jesus of Nazareth the Discovery is evident, He is able to abandon 99 healthy sheep to go in search of the lost one. Dignity of the person from the moment of its conception till after death.
The human being is full of beauty, till he becomes heaven in Teresa´s theology.
(To be continued)