Interesting

When did Galilee become part of Iudaea? When did it become separate?

When did Galilee become part of Iudaea? When did it become separate?



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According to Wikipedia, Galilee "briefly became a part of it[i.e. Iudaea province], then separated from it for two to three centuries". When did these two events happen? Sources encouraged.


According to Wikipedia, after the death of King Herod Agrippa in 44CE Galilee and Peraea were incorporated into the province of Iudaea.

Over the next century there were no less than 3 major Jewish revolts. The last one was such a serious blow to Roman prestige that when Emperor Hadrian finally suppressed it, he decided the best way to prevent any further recurrence was genocide. Judiaisim was outlawed, the province and its Jewish name were wiped from the map, and its territory combined with Syria into Syria Palestina. In 193 Syria-Coele and Syria Phoenice were split from that. Its tough to tell on the rough maps I have access to, but it looks like the latter of the two new territories contained Galilee (or at least parts of it).


Origin Origin of the Pharisees During the time of Zerubbabel and Ezra there was a clear call to separation from foreigners and anything unclean. Some verses that clearly indicate separation during this time period is: Ezra 6:21 "Then the children of Israel who had returned from the captivity ate together with all who had separated themselves from the filth of the nations of the land in order to seek the LORD God of Israel." Neh 9:2 "Then those of Israelite lineage separated themselves from all foreigners and they stood and confessed their sins and the iniquities of their fathers." Although it is not absolutely clear when the name of "Pharisees" had actually been given to a religious group within Judaism, it seems like during these early times there were those who had intended to preserve the Law by having a stricter view of uncleanness, not only from the uncleanness of the heathen but from that with which they believed had affected the great portion of Israel. As the priests and scribes were attempting to determine the inner development of Judaism after the captivity they apparently became more and more separated from the ways of the foreigners as the Lord had prescribed. Sometime during the Maccabean period, groups within Judaism had sharply contrasted with each other and two religious parties were developed from them. The Sadducean party came from the ranks of the priests, the party of the Pharisees from the scribes. The Pharisees were more concerned with legal issues and the Sadducees with their social position. It appears that during the Greek period, the chief priests and rulers of the people began to neglect the law the Pharisees united themselves and became an association that made a duty of the law's meticulous observance. They appear in the time of John Hyrcanus (135-105 B.C.) under the name of "Pharisees," no longer on the side of the Maccabees but in hostile opposition to them, because the Maccabeans' chief concern was no longer the carrying out of the law but extending their own political power. The Pharisees had won the favor of the nation, and even Queen Alexandra, recognizing religious authority and seeking her own peace for her people, abandoned the power to the Pharisees even though Alexander Jannaeus had tried to exterminate them with the sword. This was a major turning point which brought the whole conduct of internal affairs into their hands. All the decrees of the Pharisees put away by Hyrcanus were reintroduced, and they completely ruled the public life of the nation. This continued for generations to come. Even with the changes of government under the Romans and Herodians the Pharisees maintained their spiritual authority. Although the Sadducean high priests were at the head of the Sanhedrin, the decisive influence upon public affairs was in the hands of the Pharisees. This is an interesting quote from Emil Schurer: "They had the bulk of the nation as their ally, and women especially were in their hands. They had the greatest influence upon the congregations, so that all acts of public worship, prayers, and sacrifices were performed according to their injunctions. Their sway over the masses was so absolute that they could obtain a hearing even when they said anything against the king or the high priest, consequently they were the most capable of counteracting the design of the kings. Hence, too, the Sadducees, in their official acts, adhered to the demands of the Pharisees, because otherwise the multitude would not have tolerated them" -Schurer, History of the Jewish People in the Time of Christ, Part. 2, 2:28). Edinburgh: T. & T. Clark, July 1987.. That much we know. The question of who exactly the “Galileans” were during Biblical times is a much more complicated matter. The origins and identity of the people dwelling in this northernmost part of Israel at the time of the Second Temple remains an unsolved and fascinating riddle of history-made even more interesting by the fact that the Galilee was the venue for most of Jesus’ ministry. In the time of our Lord, Galilee embraced more than one-third of Western Palestine, extending “from Dan on the north, at the base of Mount Hermon, to the ridges of Carmel and Gilboa on the south, and from the Jordan valley on the east away across the splendid plains of Jezreel and Acre to the shores of the Mediterranean on the west.” Palestine was divided into three provinces, Judea, Samaria, and Galilee, which comprehended the whole northern section of the country (Acts 9:31), and was the largest of the three. It was the scene of some of the most memorable events of Jewish history. Galilee also was the home of our Lord during at least thirty years of his life. The first three Gospels are chiefly taken up with our Lord’s public ministry in this province. The entire province is encircled with a halo of holy associations connected with the life, works, and teachings of Jesus of Nazareth. It is noteworthy that of his thirty-two beautiful parables, no less than nineteen were spoken in Galilee. And it is no less remarkable that of his entire thirty-three great miracles, twenty-five were wrought in this province. His first miracle was wrought at the wedding in Cana of Galilee, and his last, after his resurrection, on the shore of Galilee’s sea. In Galilee our Lord delivered the Sermon on the Mount, and the discourses on The Bread of Life, on ‘Purity, on Forgiveness,’ and on Humility. In Galilee he called his first disciples. Among the most interesting debates in the field of Biblical studies is the question of who-or rather, of what-those disciples were. That the debate continues with undiminished interest is due to the fact that the more we look into the background and nature of Jesus’ Galileans, the less we can say about them with absolute certainty. One major question is exactly how “Jewish” the Jews of Galilee really were in the Post-Exile period. For most laymen, the question itself is somewhat surprising. They would ask, “Hasn’t Galilee been Jewish since the Twelve Tribes conquered Israel in the 13 century BCE?” The best answer to this question is, yes and no. The problem can be traced back to historical developments in Ancient Israel, long before the time of Jesus. Galilee was settled by the tribes of Zebulon, Naphtali, Issachar and Asher. The region later belonged to David’s kingdom and then to the northern nation of Israel. The situation was straightforward enough until the Assyrians under Emperor Tiglath-Pileser III conquered Israel in 733 BCE, and obliterated the kingdom entirely under his successor Shalmaneser V in 722. Most historians believe that the victorious Assyrians, as was their custom, evacuated and relocated the entire population out of the Galilee and replaced them with other peoples from their far-flung empire. Out of Jewish sovereignty for the next 600 years, the Galilee returned to Jewish political control when the Hasmonean rulers conquered the region and added it to their short-lived kingdom-along with Idumea, the ancient kingdom of Edom, east of the Dead Sea. One school of scholarship says that John Hyrcanus forced the Gentile Galileans and Idumeans to convert to Judaism more or less at sword-point, marking the one and only forced mass conversion to Judaism’s in its 4,000 year history. Thus, in Jesus’ time, the Galilee contained many Jews whose ancestors had only been Jewish for about a century. Another school of thought, however, says that when the Assyrians conquered Israel and evacuated the Galilee, they left the land virtually empty. Says Religion Today contributor Paul Flesher: At this moment, Galilee drops out of history for the next 600 years. To be sure, 2 Kings 17 tells of the resettlement of Samaria, but Galilee is not mentioned. Archaeological research now reveals this was not just an oversight of the Biblical writers. Surface surveys indicate no human occupation of the Galilee during the sixth and seventh centuries BCE. A few scattered, small settlements began to appear in following centuries, mostly military outposts and a few small farming communities which sent their harvests to the coastal cities. The same conclusions can be drawn from the excavations of major sites as well. So Galilee remains essentially empty for more than half a millennium following the Assyrian invasions. The archaeological evidence reveals a sudden change about the start of the first century BC. Over a period of a couple decades, dozens of new villages appear. This indicates that a new, rather large, population comes into Galilee. The trend continues for the next half century or so, with many new settlements appearing and then growing larger. Who were these new inhabitants? These new archaeological findings indicate that they were transplanted Judeans. The ancient historian Josephus relates how Alexander Jannaeus, the King of Israel from 102 to 76 BC, extended the northern boundary of his Judean-centered country into Galilee during his reign using military means. The archaeology reveals that the new inhabitants were Judeans. First, the currency of the region is now that of the Judean Janneaus and his successors it is not that of the coastal cities or of Damascus further north in Syria. Second, excavated village areas reveal the same interest in religious purity common among Judeans, with ritual baths cut out of the bedrock and houses that contained stone bowls, cups and plates that were impervious to impurity. Third, the Galileans followed a Judean diet in that they did not eat pork no pig bones are found in the garbage dumps. So the archaeological research of recent decades now shows that the Galilean population of Jesus’ time were descendants of Judean immigrants of a century or so earlier. Whether it had been Jewish migrants from Judea or a Galilean peasantry forcibly converted to Judaism that ultimately became the “Galileans” of Jesus’ day, one thing seems reasonably clear: they were considered different in many respects from Jews living farther to the south, closer to Jerusalem. L. Michael White, Professor of Classics abd Director of the Religious Studies Program University of Texas at Austin, The term Galilean seems to have been used in a variety of ways in this period. To some, it just mean an outsider, or someone who’s not really an old Jew of the traditional sort. Precisely because the Galilee had traditionally been Jewish at the time of the Maccabean Revolt a hundred or 150 years before Jesus. A lot of the problem was apparently due to religion. Says theologian Frederick Bruner : Galilee was not just geographically far from Jerusalem it was considered spiritually and politically far, too. Galilee was the most pagan of the Jewish provinces, located as it was at the northernmost tier of Palestine. This distance from Zion was not only geographic Galileans were considered by Judaeans to sit rather loosely to the law and to be less biblically pure than those in or near Jerusalem. Judean Pharisees, in particular, were less than impressed with Galilean observance of the fine points of Jewish religious observance. While praised for their passionate identification with Judaism and the Jewish people, their ignorance in law and disinterest in study was an almost never ending source of fuel for Judean snobbery. The Jerusalem Talmud records the despair of the great First Century sage, Yohanan ben Zakkai, at having been asked no more than two questions about Jewish law during his 18-year posting in the Galilee: “O Galilee, O Galilee, in the end you shall be filled with wrongdoers!” (Shabbat 16:7, 15d). The population of Galilee was composed of strangely mingled elements-Aramaean, Iturean, Phoenician and Greek. In the circumstances, they could not be expected to prove such sticklers for high orthodoxy as the Judeans. Their mixed origin explains the differences in speech which distinguished them from their brethren in the South, who regarded Galilee and the Galileans with a certain proud contempt. Regardless of their origins, however, the points about Galileans on which virtually everyone could agree was their fierce attachment to what they regarded as Judaism, their uncompromising patriotism, and their unstinting courage. Perhaps no sector of the Jewish population fought the Romans with more valor, refusing to surrender even when Judeans were ready to come to terms. As the great contemporary Josephus recorded, Galileans were “always able to make a strong resistance on all occasions of war for the Galileans are inured to war from their infancy …. nor has the country ever been destitute of men of courage.” If you enjoyed this article please be sure to sign up for our newsletter at the bottom of the page! 1) Who were the “Assyrians” and what was the extent of their empire? 2) Could one of the “Lost Tribes” that are occasionally discovered in places like northeast India and central Africa be the descendants of the people evacuated from the Kingdom of Israel by the Assyrians? 3) What does Judaism say about the people called “Pharisses” and “Sadduccees” in the New Testament? 4) What happened to these groups after the destruction of the Second Temple? 5) Does the fact that Jesus chose a “low status” place for his ministry have any relevance for our times? The Historical Influence of Jesus

Among the influences that shaped Western Civilization, there’s probably no story more significant than the “Jesus Story.” Even for religious skeptics, the historical influence of Jesus of Nazareth is the result of arguably the most influential life ever lived.

Jesus was raised in humble Jewish surroundings in Roman-controlled Judea and Galilee, he never traveled more than 200 miles from his birthplace, he had a small group of simple followers, and he was killed for violating the religious laws of his own people. He never received political power, he never raised an army, and he never conquered territory. By historical standards, Jesus didn’t cut it as an influential figure in political, economic, or military power.

So, why the powerful influence — even today?

Why does about a third of the world call themselves his followers about 2,000 years later?

There must be something more to the story surrounding the historical influence of Jesus…

Who is Jesus of Nazareth?

Setting aside religious assumptions, what do historians really know about the “Jesus Story?” What does history tell us about Jesus of Nazareth?

Jesus was born in Bethlehem about 2,000 years ago. For his first thirty years or so, he lived a traditional Jewish life in Nazareth, working with his father as a tradesman. During this period, all of Israel was under Roman control.

When Jesus was about 30-years-old, he started his public ministry around the Sea of Galilee. He was known for powerful teaching and a series of recorded miracles. Over the next three-plus years, his reputation spread throughout the region, although he tried to keep a low profile. The Roman rulers of the Jewish provinces and the religious leaders of the Jewish people kept an eye on him. But why…? It seems his main teachings in public were:

  • God loves us.
  • Love each other.
  • People have unique value.
  • The Kingdom of God has come to earth.
  • God will judge us in the end.
  • God forgives those who ask.

For some reason, Jesus became more and more of a perceived threat to the “organized religion” of the day.

As a result, the Jewish leaders asked the Roman leaders – who were in control at the time — to execute him. There were official trials, but the Romans determined that Jesus was innocent of any crime against Rome. The religious leaders persisted with political arguments and ultimately persuaded Pontius Pilate, the Roman governor of the area, to approve the execution.

Jesus was mocked, tortured, and hung on a wooden cross just outside Jerusalem. His simple followers scattered. Three hours later, he was dead.

Historical Influence of Jesus

It would seem that the historical account of Jesus – and any long-lasting historical influence – should end right there… with his death.

We know that something happened – something caused his scattered followers to reconnect – reengage — spread the word about Jesus again.

Within a couple months, there were thousands in and around Jerusalem that became his disciples. Within a couple centuries, there were hundreds of thousands in the Mediterranean region that called themselves “Christians” – or followers of Jesus Christ. In 325 AD, Christianity became the official religion of the Roman Emperor Constantine. Within 500 years, Greek temples to pagan gods were being converted to Christian churches all over the Roman world.

What could have happened to cause such a powerful movement in the name of one simple man?

Growth of Jesus’ influcence

Indeed, about one-third of the world is considered “Christian” today. That’s a pretty staggering number – that’s a pretty influential life after nearly 2,000 years. Yes, some religious institutions have confused and cluttered the original message of Jesus over the centuries, but his simple life and powerful words still speak for themselves.

That’s why we spent over two years producing this series of Drive Thru History. We returned to the original texts – the Gospels – and the original landscape – Israel – and take the time to explore the history, geography, and culture surrounding the life of Jesus. The question, “Who is Jesus?” obviously still matters. Against all odds, the historical influence of Jesus continues to expand throughout the world.


The History of Eucharistic Adoration: Development of Doctrine in the Catholic Church

The phenomenal growth of devotion to the Real Presence of Christ in the Holy Eucharist has puzzled not a few sincere people. Nocturnal Adoration societies, Perpetual Adoration groups, national associations of the faithful promoting organized visits to the Blessed Sacrament, Holy Hours before the tabernacle, monthly, weekly and even daily exposition of the Eucharist in churches and chapels, in one country after another, have become commonplace.

What to make of all of this? Is this another form of pious eccentricity, or is it founded on authentic Catholic doctrine and grounded on the solid rock of Christian revelation?

It is authentic Catholic doctrine and it rests on the unchangeable truth of our revealed faith. But it needs to be explained, and the explanation is a classic example of what we call development of doctrine.

By development of doctrine, we mean that some divinely revealed truth has become more deeply understood and more clearly perceived than it had been before. Under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, whom Christ promised to send to teach us, the Church comes to see more deeply what she had always believed, and the resulting insights find expression in devotion of the faithful that may have been quite uncommon in the Church's previous history. The whole spectrum of Christology and Mariology has witnessed such dogmatic progress. Adoration of the Eucharist, therefore, is simply another, though dramatic, example of doctrinal development.

Always implied in such progress is that, objectively, the revealed truth remains constant and unchanged. But through the light of the Holy Spirit, the subjective understanding of the truth becomes more clear, its meaning becomes more certain and its grasp by the believing mind becomes increasingly more firm.

Our purpose in this short study is to show how the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist has undergone a marvelous development over the centuries. We are now witnessing what can only be described as the work of the Holy Spirit, Whom Christ promised, "the Father will send in My name. He will teach you all things, and bring to your mind
whatever I have said to you" (John 14:25).

APOSTOLIC TIMES TO THE EARLY MIDDLE AGES

Belief in the real, physical presence of Christ in the Eucharist grew out of the teaching of the evangelists and St. Paul. They made it plain to the apostolic Church that the Eucharistic elements were literally Jesus Christ continuing His saving mission among men.

John and Paul were especially plain. The skepticism of Christ's followers, when He preached the reality of His Body and Blood as food and drink, made John record the fact that "many of His disciples withdrew and no longer went about with Him." Seeing this, Jesus asked the Twelve, "Do you also want to leave me?" Simon Peter did not
understand any more than those who left Christ, but his loyalty was more firm. "Lord," he answered, "to whom shall we go?" (John 6:66-68).

Paul's letter to the Corinthians rebuked them for making the Agape, which should have been a beautiful sign of unity, into an occasion of discord. He reminded them that the Eucharist is no ordinary food. It is actually the Body and Blood of Christ according to "the tradition which I handed on to you that came to me from the Lord Himself" (I Corinthians II: 23-26).

At the turn of the first century, Ignatius of Antioch, on his way to martyrdom in Rome, had to warn the Christians not to be taken in by the Gnostics--a good modern term would be "visionaries," who denied the Real Presence. Ignatius said these people abstained from the
Eucharist because they did not accept what true Christians believe, that in the Eucharist is the same Jesus Christ Who lived and died and rose from the dead for our salvation.

Under the impact of this faith, the early hermits reserved the Eucharist in their cells. From at least the middle of the third century, it was very general for the solitaries in the East,
especially in Palestine and Egypt, to preserve the consecrated elements in the caves or hermitages where they lived.

The immediate purpose of this reservation was to enable the hermits to give themselves Holy Communion. But these hermits were too conscious of what the Real Presence was not to treat it with great reverence and not to think of it as serving a sacred purpose by just
being nearby.

Not only did they have the Sacrament with them in their cells, but they carried it on their persons when they moved from one place to another. This practice was sanctioned by the custom of the fermentum, that certainly goes back to as early as 120 A.D. The rite of fermentum was a particle of the Eucharistic bread (sometimes dipped in the chalice) transported from the bishop of one diocese to the bishop of another diocese. The latter would then consume the species at his next solemn Mass as a token of unity between the churches. It was called a fermentum not necessarily because leavened bread was used but because the Eucharist symbolized the leaven of unity which permeates and transforms Christians, so that they become one with Christ.

Already in the second century, popes sent the Eucharist to other bishops as a pledge of unity of faith and, on occasion, bishops would do the same for their priests.

As monasticism changed from solitary to community life, the monks received something of the same privilege of carrying the Eucharist with them. They would have it on their persons when working in the fields or going on a voyage. The species was either placed in a small
receptacle (chrismal) worn bandoleer-fashion, or in a little bag (perula) hung around the neck under their clothes. Irish and British manuscripts make frequent mention of the practice. It was not only to have the hosts ready for Communion but also to insure safety against robbers and protection against the hazards of travel.

The life of St. Comgall (died 601) tells how on one occasion he was attacked by heathen Pietists while working in a field. On seeing the chrismal around his neck, the attackers did not dare touch him for fear of some retaliation since they surmised (as the narrator says) that Comgall was carrying his God. The saint was so moved by the experience that he exclaimed, "Lord, you are my strength, my refuge, and my Redeemer."

As early as the Council of Nicea (325) we know that the Eucharist began to be reserved in the churches of monasteries and convents. Again, the immediate reason for this reservation was for the sick and the dying, and also for the ceremony of the fermentum. But naturally its sacred character was recognized and the place of reservation was set off from profane usage.

From the beginning of community life, therefore, the Blessed Sacrament became an integral part of the church structure of a monastery. A bewildering variety of names was used to identify the place of reservation. Pastoforium, diakonikon, secretarium, prothesis are the most common. As far as we can tell, the Eucharist was originally kept in a special room, just off the sanctuary but separated from the church where Mass was offered.

Certainly by the 800's, the Blessed Sacrament was kept within the monastic church itself, close to the altar. In fact, we have a poem from the year 802, telling of a pyx containing the Sacred Species reserved on the high altar of the abbey church at Lindisfarne in England.

The practice of reserving the Eucharist in religious houses was so universal that there is no evidence to the contrary even before the year 1000. In fact, numerous regulations are extant which provided for protection of the sacred elements, as the wording went, "from profanation by mice and impious men." The species were to be kept under lock and key and sometimes in a receptacle raised high enough to be out of easy reach of profaning hands.

It is interesting to note that one of the first unmistakable references to reserving the Blessed Sacrament is found in a life of St. Basil (who died in 379). Basil is said to have divided the Eucharistic Bread into three parts when he celebrated Mass in the monastery. One part he consumed, the second part he gave to the monks, and the third he placed in a golden dove suspended over the altar.

This would suggest that, though we have less access to Oriental sources, the Eastern monasteries were centuries ahead of the West in reserving the Eucharistic elements in the monastic church proper and not only in a separate place.

Among the treasures of Monte Cassino that seem to have been destroyed during the Second World War were two small ancient tabernacles, one of gold and the other of silver. They were gifts of Pope Victor III (died 1087), who had been abbot at Cassino before his election to the papacy.

BERENGARIUS TO ST. FRANCIS OF ASSISI

Toward the end of the eleventh century we enter on a new era in the history of Eucharistic adoration. Until then the Real Presence was taken for granted in Catholic belief and its reservation was the common practice in Catholic churches, including the chapels and oratories of religious communities. Suddenly a revolution hit the Church when Berengarius (999-1088), archdeacon of Angers in France, publicly denied that Christ was really and physically present under the species of bread and wine. Others took up the idea and began
writing about the Eucharistic Christ as not exactly the Christ of the Gospels or, by implication, as not actually there.

The matter became so serious that Pope Gregory VII ordered Berengarius to sign a retraction. This credo has made theological history. It was the Church's first definitive statement of what had always been believed and never seriously challenged. The witness came from the abbot-become-pope, whose faith in the Blessed Sacrament had been nourished for years in a Benedictine monastery.

Gregory's teaching on the Real Presence was quoted verbatim in Pope Paul VI's historic document Mysterium Fidei (1965) to meet a new challenge to the Eucharist in our day--very similar to what happened in the eleventh century.

"I believe in my heart and openly profess that the bread and wine placed upon the altar are, by the mystery of the sacred prayer and the words of the Redeemer, substantially changed into the true and life-giving flesh and blood of Jesus Christ our Lord, and that after the consecration, there is present the true body of Christ which was born of the Virgin and offered up for the salvation of the world, hung on the cross and now sits at the right hand of the Father, and that there is present the true blood of Christ which flowed from his side.They are present not only by means of a sign and of the efficacy of the Sacrament, but also in the very reality and truth of their nature and substance."

With this profession of faith, the churches of Europe began what can only be described as a Eucharistic Renascence. Processions of the Blessed Sacrament were instituted prescribed acts of adoration were legislated visits to Christ in the pyx were encouraged the cells of anchoresses had windows made into the church to allow the religious to view and adore before the tabernacle. An early ordinal of the Carmelites included the words "for the devotion of those in the choir" when referring to the reservation of the species.

From the eleventh century on, devotion to the Blessed Sacrament reserved in the tabernacle became more and more prevalent in the Catholic world. At every stage in this development, members of religious orders of men and women took the lead.

The Benedictine Lanfranc, as Archbishop of Canterbury, introduced from France into England numerous customs affecting the worship of the Real Presence.

St. Francis of Assisi, who was never ordained a priest, had a great personal devotion to Christ in the Blessed Sacrament. His first admonition on the Holy Eucharist could not have been more precise.

Sacred Scripture tells us that the Father dwells in "light inaccessible" (I Timothy 6:16) and that "God is spirit" (John 4:24) and St. John adds, "No one at any time has seen God" (John 1:18). Because God is a spirit He can be seen only in spirit "It is the spirit that gives life the flesh profits nothing" (John 6:63). But God the Son is equal to the Father and so He too can be seen only in the same way as the Father and the Holy Spirit. That is why all those were condemned who saw our Lord Jesus Christ in His humanity but did not see or believe in spirit in His divinity, that He was the true Son of God. In the same way now, all those are damned who see the Sacrament of the Body of Christ which is consecrated on the altar in the form of bread and wine by the words of our Lord in the hands of the priest, and do not see or believe in spirit and in God that this is really the most holy Body and Blood of our Lord Jesus Christ.

It was this clear faith in Christ's presence in the Eucharist that sustained Francis during his severest trials. It was this same faith which inspired a whole new tradition among religious communities of women. Convents had the Sacrament reserved for adoration--apart from
Mass and Holy Communion.

Feast of Corpus Christi

There was nothing startling, therefore, when Pope Urban IV, in the thirteenth century, instituted the feast of Corpus Christi. When establishing the feast, the Pope stressed the love of Christ who wished to remain physically with us until the end of time.

In the Eucharist, said the Pope, "Christ is with us in His own substance." For "when telling the Apostles that He was ascending into heaven, He said, 'Behold I am with you all days, even to the consummation of the world,' thus comforting them with the gracious promise that He would remain and be with them even by His bodily presence" (August 11, 1264).

Urban IV commissioned Thomas Aquinas to compose the Liturgy of the Hours for the feast of Corpus Christi, to be celebrated annually on the Thursday following Trinity Sunday.

Three hymns which Aquinas composed for the feast are among the most beautiful in the Catholic liturgy. They express the unchangeable faith of the Church in the abiding Presence of her Founder on earth. They also explain why the faithful adore Christ in the Blessed
Sacrament. All three hymns are part of the Divine Office. They are best known by each of their last two verses, which have become part of the treasury of Catholic hymnology.

O Salutaris Hostia is an act of adoration of Christ the Saving Victim who opened wide the gate of heaven to man below.

Tantum Ergo Sacramentum is an act of adoration of the Word-made-flesh, where faith supplies for what the senses cannot perceive.

Panis Angelicus is an act of adoration of that Wondrous Thing where the lowly and poor are fed, banqueting on their Incarnate Lord and King.

Aquinas, like the Church, never separated the Eucharist as Sacrifice, Communion and Presence. But, with the Church, he also realized that without the Real Presence there would be no real sacrifice nor real communion. Aquinas assumed that God became man so He might offer Himself on Calvary and continue to offer Himself in the Mass. He became man that He might give Himself to the disciples at the Last Supper and continue to give Himself to us in Holy Communion. He became man to live in flesh and blood in Palestine and continue to live now on earth as the same Jesus Who died and rose from the dead and is seated at the right hand of His heavenly Father.

Chapter III

MIDDLE AGES TO THE COUNCIL OF TRENT

Since Pope Urban IV instituted the feast of Corpus Christi, the bishops of Rome had been vigilant to protect the Church's faith in her Founder's unceasing presence on earth in the Holy Eucharist. But every time a new difficulty arose, it became a stimulus to making this faith more clear and meaningful, in a word there was increased development of Eucharistic doctrine.

Before the Council of Trent

A variety of situations occasioned papal declarations of the
Eucharist.

In the fourteenth century, the Armenians asked Clement VI for financial assistance to pay the heavy subsidies laid on them by the reigning sultan. Correspondence with the Armenian bishops made him wonder if they professed the full Catholic faith. Among other propositions he required them to accept was the statement that, "After the words of consecration there is present numerically the same (idem numero) Body of Christ as was born of the Virgin and was immolated on the Cross" (September 29, 1351).

Twenty years later, a theoretical question was raised that had serious practical implications. Some writers speculated whether Christ still remained in the Eucharist when the sacred species were desecrated. Pope Gregory XI demanded rejection of the following statements:

If a consecrated Host falls or is thrown into a sewer, the mud, or some other profane place, even though the species remain, the Body of Christ ceases to be present and the substance of bread returns.

If a consecrated Host is eaten or consumed by a rodent or some other animal, even while the species remain, the Body of Christ ceases to be present under the species and the substance of bread returns (August 8, 1371).

More serious was the problem created by the so-called Calixtines in the fifteenth century. They claimed that the whole Christ is not received unless the faithful receive Holy Communion under both forms, including the chalice. This time, the General Council of Constance decided to "declare, decree and define" as an article of faith that "the entire Body and Blood of Christ are truly contained both under the species of bread and under the species of wine." This definition was confirmed by Pope Martin V (September 1, 1425). The implications for the exposition and adoration of the Eucharist are obvious.

The Council of Trent

By the sixteenth century, the whole spectrum of Catholic belief in the Holy Eucharist was challenged by the Reformers. As a consequence, the Council of Trent treated this subject exhaustively. Every aspect of the Sacrifice of the Mass, Holy Communion and the Real Presence was clarified and defined.

For our purpose, the Council's teaching on the Real Presence was historic. It was the dawn of the most significant development of Eucharistic doctrine since apostolic times. Even a few sentences from Trent are revealing.

The other sacraments do not have the power of sanctifying until someone makes use of them, but in the Eucharist the very Author of sanctity is present before the Sacrament is used. For before the apostles received the Eucharist from the hands of our Lord, He told them that it was His Body that He was giving them.

The Church of God has always believed that immediately after the consecration the true Body and Blood of our Lord, together with His soul and divinity, exist under the species of bread and wine. His Body exists under the species of bread and His Blood under the species of wine according to the import of the words. But His Body exists under the species of wine, His Blood under the species of bread, and His soul under both species in virtue of the natural connection and concomitance which unite the parts of Christ our Lord,
who has risen from the dead and dies now no more.

Moreover, Christ's divinity is present because of its admirable hypostatic union with His body and soul. It is, therefore, perfectly true that just as much is present under either species as is present under both. For Christ, whole and entire, exists under the species of bread and under any part of that species, and similarly the whole Christ exists under the species of wine and under its parts.

Given this fact of faith, Trent could logically go on to declare that, "The only-begotten Son of God is to be adored in the Holy Sacrament of the Eucharist with the worship of latria, including external worship. The Sacrament, therefore, is to be honored with extraordinary festive celebrations (and) solemnly carried from place to place in processions according to the praiseworthy universal rite and custom of the holy Church. The Sacrament is to be publicly exposed for the people's adoration." Approved by Pope Julius III (October 11, 1551), these conciliar statements became the foundation for dogmatic and devotional progress ever since.

DEVELOPMENT OF EUCHARISTIC ADORATION

As we have seen, there had been reservation and adoration of the Blessed Sacrament since the early days of the Church. But with the Council of Trent began a new era in the devotion of the faithful to Christ's Real Presence in the Eucharist.

The Forty-Hours Devotion

Before the end of the sixteenth century, Pope Clement VIII in 1592 issued a historic document on what was called in Italian Quarant' Ore (Forty Hours).

The devotion consisted of forty hours of continual prayer before the Blessed Sacrament exposed. Introduced earlier on a local scale in Milan, the Bishop of Rome not only authorized the devotion for Rome, but explained how it should be practiced.

We have determined to establish publicly in this Mother City of Rome an uninterrupted course of prayer in such wise that in the different churches [he specifies them] on appointed days, there be observed the pious and salutary devotion of the Forty Hours with such an
arrangement of churches and times that, at every hour of the day and night, the incense of prayer shall ascend without intermission before the face of the Lord.

About a century later (1731) his successor, Clement XIII, published a detailed set of instructions for the proper carrying out of the Forty-Hours' devotion, for example:

—The Blessed Sacrament is always exposed on the high altar, except
in patriarchal basilicas.

—Statues, relics and pictures around the altar of exposition are to
be removed or veiled.

—Only clerics in surplices may take care of the altar of exposition.

—There must be continuous relays of worshippers before the Blessed
Sacrament and should include a priest or cleric in major orders.

—No Masses are to be said at the altar of exposition.

Gradually the Forty Hours devotion spread throughout the Catholic world. Proposed by the Code of Canon Law in 1917, the new Code states that in churches or oratories where the Eucharist is reserved, "it is recommended (commendatur) . . . that there be held each year a solemn exposition of the Blessed Sacrament for an appropriate, even if not for a continuous, time so that the local community may more attentively meditate on and adore the Eucharistic Mystery" (Canon 942).

Perpetual Adoration

The term "perpetual adoration" is broadly used to designate the practically uninterrupted adoration of the Blessed Sacrament. The term may mean several things:

—The adoration is literally perpetual, so that someone is always in prayer before the Holy Eucharist.

—The adoration is morally perpetual, with only such short interruptions as imperative reasons or uncontrollable circumstances require.

—The adoration is uninterrupted for a longer or shorter period, a day or several days, as in the Forty-Hours devotion.

—The adoration is uninterrupted in one special church or chapel.

—The adoration is uninterrupted in different churches or chapels in a locality like a diocese or a country, or throughout the world.

Some writers trace the first beginnings of perpetual adoration to the late fourth century, when converts to the faith in some dioceses were to adore the Blessed Sacrament exposed for eight days after their baptism. It is certain, however, that even before the institution of
the feast of Corpus Christi, not only religious in convents and monasteries but the laity practiced Eucharistic adoration.

After his victory over the Albigenses, King Louis VII of France asked the Bishop of Avignon to have the Blessed Sacrament exposed in the Chapel of the Holy Cross (September 14, 1226). The throng of adorers was so great that the bishop decided to have the adoration continue day and night. This was later ratified by the Holy See and continued
uninterrupted until 1792 during the French Revolution. It was resumed in 1829.

It was not until after the Council of Trent, however, that perpetual adoration began to develop on a world-wide scale. We may distinguish especially the following forms.

Cloistered Religious Institutes were founded for the express purpose of adoring the Holy Eucharist day and night. Some, like the Benedictines of the Perpetual Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament in Austria (1654), took a solemn vow of perpetual adoration.

Apostolic Religious Institutes were started to both practice adoration themselves and promote perpetual worship of the Eucharist among the faithful. Thus began the Congregation of the Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary, and of the Perpetual Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament of the Altar. Formally approved in 1817, its aim is to
honor and imitate the four states of Christ's life to be honored and imitated by the exercise of adoration of the Eucharist.

Men's Nocturnal Adoration societies began on an international scale in Rome in 1810 with the founding of the Pious Union of the Adorers of the Most Blessed Sacrament. They spread throughout Europe and into North and South America. Their focus was (and is) on perpetual adoration in the strict sense.

Perpetual Eucharistic Associations of the faithful go back to the seventeenth century. One of the earliest was started by Baron de Renty in 1641 at St. Paul's parish in Paris. It was a perpetual adoration society for ladies. At Boulonge in France (1753), the parishes were divided into twelve groups representing the twelve months of the year. Each group contained as many parishes as there were days in the month it represented. Each church in every group was assigned one day for Eucharistic adoration.

Among the apostles of perpetual adoration for the laity, none has had a more lasting influence in the modern world than St. Peter Julian Eymard. In 1856 he founded the Blessed Sacrament Fathers in Paris and two years later, with Marguerite Guillot, he established the Servants of the Blessed Sacrament, a cloistered contemplative congregation of women. Peter Eymard's published conferences on the Real Presence have inspired numerous lay associations. They have taken his words literally when he said, "In the presence of Jesus Christ in the Most Blessed Sacrament, all greatness disappears, all holiness humbles itself and comes to nothing. Jesus Christ is there!"

Visits to the Blessed Sacrament

Not unlike perpetual adoration, so the history of visits to the Blessed Sacrament is best known from the monastic spirituality of the early Middle Ages. In the thirteenth century Ancren Riwle, or Rule for Anchoresses, the nuns were to begin their day by a visit to the
Blessed Sacrament.

Priests also, who had easy access to the reserved Holy Eucharist, would regularly visit Our Lord in the Blessed Sacrament. Thus the martyr, St. Thomas a Becket (1118-1170), in one of his letters writes to a friend, "If you do not harken to me who have been wont to pray
for you in an abundance of tears and with groanings not a few before the Majesty of the Body of Christ" (Materials, V, 276).

By the fourteenth century, we read how the English mystic, Richard Rolle, strongly exhorts Christians to visit the nearby church as often as they can. Why? Because "In the Church is most devotion to pray, for there is God upon the altar to hear those who pray to Him
and to grant them what they ask and what is best for them" (Works, I, 145). Church historians tell us that by the end of the century, the practice of people visiting the Blessed Sacrament became fairly common.

One of the sobering facts of the Reformation is to know what happened when the English Reformers separated from Rome. At first they did not forbid the clergy to reserve some of both species after the Lord's Supper ceremony--to be taken to the sick and the dying. But before long, reservation of the Eucharistic elements became rare. This was to be expected after the Thirty-Nine Articles (1571) declared that transubstantiation was untrue and that the Eucharist should not be worshiped or carried about in procession.

Three hundred years later, the Anglicans, who started the Oxford Movement, restored continuous reservation of the Eucharist and encouraged visits to the Blessed Sacrament. Credit for this return to Catholic Eucharistic piety belongs to the Anglican Sisterhood of St.
Margaret, founded in 1854. The community records show that soon after its foundation the Sisters were making daily visits to the Eucharist in their oratory and, about the same time, Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament was introduced.

In the Catholic Church, visits to the Blessed Sacrament have become a standard part of personal and communal prayer. The first Code of Canon Law urged the "faithful to visit the Most Blessed Sacrament as often as possible" (Canon 1273). The new Code is more specific.

Unless there is a grave reason to the contrary, a church, in which the Blessed Eucharist is reserved, is to be open to the faithful for at least some hours every day, so that they can pray before the Blessed Sacrament (Canon 937).

Members of religious institutes are simply told that each day they are to "adore the Lord Himself present in the Sacrament" (Canon 663, #2).

Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament

As with other Eucharistic devotions, Benediction, as it is commonly called, began in the thirteenth century. It was strongly influenced by the establishment of the feast of Corpus Christi. Two hymns, especially O Salutaris Hostia and Tantum Ergo, composed by St.
Thomas Aquinas, became part of the Benediction service.

One aspect of the history of Benediction that is not commonly known is its early association with devotion to the Blessed Virgin. This was already expressed in the Pange Lingua for the First Vespers of the Corpus Christi liturgy, saying, "To us He was given, to us he was born of a pure Virgin." Except for Mary, there would have been no Incarnation, and except for the Incarnation there would be no Eucharist.

As related by historians, by the early thirteenth century there were organized confraternities and guilds in great numbers, whose custom was to sing canticles in the evening of the day before a statue of Our Lady. The canticles were called Laude (praises) and were often
composed in the vernacular or even the local dialect of the people. In the hands of such people as the Franciscan Giacopone da Todi (1230-1306), these hymns helped to develop a native Italian literature. The confraternities were called Laudesi.

With the stimulus given by the Feast of Corpus Christi, these Marian canticle meetings were often accompanied by exposition of the Blessed Sacrament. What began as a practice to add solemnity to the Marian devotions became, in time, a distinctive form of Eucharistic piety.

In France these Marian canticle sessions were called Salut, in the Low Countries Lof, in Germany and England simply Salve. They were gradually combined with exposition of the Eucharist, especially when the Blessed Sacrament was carried in procession and/or the sick were blessed with the Holy Eucharist. When people made out their wills, many included bequests for the continued support of these evening song-fests honoring Our Lady and would specify that the Blessed Sacrament should be exposed during the whole time of the Salut. The generations-old practice of blessing the sick with the Holy Eucharist at Lourdes is merely an extension of this combining of Benediction with devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary.

Eucharistic Congresses

As public demonstrations of faith in the Real Presence, local Eucharistic congresses go back to the Middle Ages. But the first international congress grew out of the zeal of Marie-Marthe Tamisier (1834-1910) a French laywoman who from childhood had an extraordinary devotion to the Blessed Sacrament. She called a day without Holy Communion her Good Friday. Having several times tried unsuccessfully to enter a religious community, she spent much of her life spreading devotion to the Real Presence. Inspired by the conferences of Peter Julian Eymard and directed by Abbe Chevier of Lyons, she first
promoted pilgrimages to shrines where Eucharistic miracles were reported to have taken place. Finally the first international Eucharistic Congress was held at Lille in 1881. At the fifth Congress at Toulouse in 1886, over fifteen-hundred bishops and priests, and
thirty-thousand of the laity participated.

By now international congresses have been held on all the continents, including Africa, Asia and Australia. Pope Paul VI attended the thirty-eighth and thirty-ninth Eucharistic congresses at Bombay in 1964 and Bogota in 1968. Pope John Paul was to have attended the centenary congress at Lourdes in 1981, but was prevented because of the assassination attempt on his life on May 13th of that year.

National congresses have become widespread. During one of these, at Bogota in 1980, Pope John Paul II synthesized the role which, in God's providence, a Eucharistic congress is meant to serve.

The Eucharistic Congress is first and foremost a great community act of faith in the presence and in the action of Jesus in the Eucharist, Who remains with us sacramentally to travel with us along our ways, so that with His power, we can cope with our problems, our toil, our suffering.

From this moment let us unite round the consecrated Host, the divine Pilgrim among pilgrims, eager to draw from Him the inspiration and strength to make ours the needs and aspirations of our emigrant brothers.

The Eucharistic Congress should demonstrate particularly and highlight the fact that the People of God here on earth lives by the Eucharist, that it draws from It its strength for everyday toils and for the struggles in all spheres of its existence (June 30 and July
9, 1980).

More than a century of experience has verified this judgement of the Pope.

WHY DEVELOPMENT OF EUCHARISTIC DOCTRINE

We now move from considering development of Eucharistic adoration to progress in Eucharistic doctrine. The two forms of development are related, but they are not the same.We may say that, historically, the growth in devotion led to development of doctrine. But saying this is not yet proving it. And our purpose from here on will be to show how the blessings experienced by the faithful from their worship of the Blessed Sacrament led, under the Church's guidance, to a phenomenal growth in understanding the Real Presence as a marvelous source of grace to those who believe.

Basic Premises of Doctrinal Development

The Second Vatican Council will go down in history as the Council of dogmatic progress. It was exactly four hundred years since the close of the Council of Trent (1563), when the Second Vatican Council opened (1962).

During these four centuries, one after another of the cardinal mysteries of the Christian faith had grown immensely. The essential deposit of faith has remained the same, of course. But the meaning of this faith had developed to a degree that has scandalized many, been misunderstood by others and, we may say, is recognized by relatively few.

It is not surprising, therefore, that Vatican II should have laid down the basic principles for dogmatic development. After declaring that divine revelation, found in Sacred Scripture and Tradition, has been entrusted for safekeeping by the Church, the Council goes on to
say that there is more to the Church's role than just preserving revealed truth. Her mission is also to provide for growth in assimilating this truth. The revealed deposit "that comes from the apostles makes progress in the Church, with the help of the Holy
Spirit."

There is a growth in insight into the realities and words that are passed on. This comes about in various ways. It comes through the contemplation and study of believers who ponder these things in their hearts. It comes from the intimate sense of spiritual realities which they experience. And it comes from the preaching of those who received, along with their rights of succession in the episcopate, the sure charism of truth. Thus, as the centuries go by, the Church is always advancing towards the plenitude of divine truth, until
eventually the words of God are fulfilled in her (Dogmatic Constitution on Divine Revelation, II, 8).

Among the ways that the Church has grown in her understanding of the Sacrament of the Eucharist, we shall concentrate on only one, namely "experience."

Experienced Benefits of Eucharistic Adoration

The Council of Trent declared that Christ should be worshiped now in the Eucharist no less than He had been in first century Palestine. Why? Because in the Blessed Sacrament "it is the same God Whom the apostles adored in Galilee" (Decree on the Holy Eucharist, chapter 5). The adorableness of the Eucharistic Christ, therefore, is an article of the Catholic faith.

What has become increasingly clear, however, is that Christ in the Eucharist is not only adorable but entreatable. He is not only to be adored, like Thomas did, by addressing Him as, "My Lord and my God." He is also to be asked for what we need, like the blind man who begged, "Lord, that I may see," or approached like the woman who said to herself, "If I can even touch His clothes, I shall be well again." By now countless believers have begged the Savior in the Eucharist for what they needed, and have come close to Him in the tabernacle or on the altar. Their resulting experience has profoundly deepened the Church's realization of how literally Christ spoke when He promised to be with us until the end of time.

The experience has been mainly spiritual: In giving light to the mind and strength to the will, in providing graces for oneself and others, in enabling weak human nature to suffer superhuman trials, in giving ordinary people supernatural power to accomplish extraordinary deeds.

Sts. John Fisher (1469-1535) and Thomas More (1478-1535) were strengthened in life and prepared themselves for martyrdom by fervent adoration of the Blessed Sacrament. In one of More's prayers, published after his death, we read, "O sweet Saviour Christ, by the
divers torments of Thy most bitter Passion, take from me, good Lord, this lukewarm fashion or rather key-cold meditation, and this dullness in praying to Thee. And give me Thy grace to long for Thy Holy Sacraments, and especially to rejoice in the Presence of Thy
blessed Body, sweet Saviour Christ, in the Holy Sacrament of the Altar, and duly to thank Thee for Thy gracious visitation therewith."

St. Francis Xavier (1506-1552) after preaching and baptizing all day would often spend the night in prayer before the Blessed Sacrament.

St. Mary Magdalen dei Pazzi (1566-1607) was a Carmelite nun from the age of seventeen. She recommended to busy people in the world to take time out each day for praying before the Holy Eucharist. "A friend," she wrote, "will visit a friend in the morning to wish him a good day, in the evening, a good night, taking also an opportunity to converse with him during the day. In like manner, make visits to Jesus Christ in the Blessed Sacrament, if your duties permit it. It is especially at the foot of the altar that one prays well. In all
your visits to our Savior, frequently offer His precious Blood to the Eternal Father. You will find these visits very conducive to increase in you divine love."

St. Margaret Mary (1647-1680), a Visitation nun, found before the Blessed Sacrament the strength she needed to endure what witnesses at her beatification process declared were "contempt, contradictions, rebukes, insults, reproaches, without complaining, and praying for those by whom she was ill-treated."

St. Alphonsus Liguori (1696-1787), patron saint of confessors, wrote a whole book on visits to the Blessed Sacrament. He advised, "withdraw yourself from people and spend at least a quarter of a hour, or a half-hour, in some church in the presence of the Blessed Sacrament. Taste and see how sweet is the Lord, and you will learn from your own experience how many graces this will bring you."

St. John Vianney, the Cure of Ars (1786-1859), told his people, "Our Lord is hidden there in the tabernacle, waiting for us to come and visit Him, and make our requests to Him. In heaven, where we shall be glorious and triumphant, we shall see Him in all His glory. If He
had presented Himself, before us in that glory now, we should not have dared to approach Him but He hides Himself like a person in prison, who might say to us, 'You do not see Me, but that is no matter ask of Me all you wish and I will grant it."' The Cure of Ars
spent most of his long hours in prayer before the Blessed Sacrament. During his homilies, he would often turn towards the tabernacle, saying with emotion, "He is there!"

So the litany of witnesses to the power of the Real Presence went on. By the time of the first international Eucharistic Congress in 1881, the evidence was more than sufficient for the Church's magisterium to speak extensively on the subject.

THE CHURCH'S MAGISTERIUM

It was no coincidence that international Eucharistic Congresses came into existence because of the experience of the faithful. As mentioned before, it was a laywoman, Marie-Marthe Tamisier, whose personal awareness of the spiritual energy available from the Real Presence that Providence used to bring about the first international Eucharistic Congress at Lille, in France, in 1881.

In the papal brief which Leo XIII addressed to those attending that Congress, he spoke of the "great joy" he had in commending the bishops who organized the assembly. He approved its purpose, namely "of repairing the iniquities wreaked upon the Most Holy Sacrament and of promoting Its worship." He praised the laymen for "the great extension of the work of Nocturnal Adoration" and for the report of "how this salutary institution is taking root, progressing and bearing fruit everywhere."

The key factor, according to Pope Leo, is that Eucharistic Adoration is bearing supernatural fruit wherever the practice is nourished by the faith of the people.

St. Pius X's devotion to the Real Presence, biographers say, was at the heart of his historic promotion of early and frequent Holy Communion. On the day of his canonization, Pope Pius XII identified the source of his predecessor's apostolic genius: "In the profound
vision which he had of the Church as a society, Pope Pius X recognized that it was the Blessed Sacrament which had the power to nourish her intimate life substantially, and to elevate her high above all other human societies" (Quest' ore di fulgente, May 29,
1954).

Anticipating the publication of his decree on frequent, even daily, Communion (December 20, 1905), Pius X requested that the international Eucharistic Congress that year should be held in Rome. It was the sixteenth in sequence and the first one in the Eternal City. The Pope opened the Congress with the Mass which he celebrated and then participated in the procession with the Blessed Sacrament.

Popes Benedict XV and Pius XI carried on the papal tradition of encouraging adoration of the Holy Eucharist, and prayers of expiation and petition to Our Lord in the Blessed Sacrament.

It was Benedict XV who issued the first Code of Canon Law in 1917 which legislated the reservation of the Blessed Sacrament in "every parish or quasi-parish church, and in the church connected with the residence of exempt men and women religious" (Canon 1265, #1). It was this same Code which encouraged the private and public exposition of
the Holy Eucharist.

Pope Pius XI associated the worship of Christ in the Blessed Sacrament with expiation for sin. St. Margaret Mary had been canonized in 1920, just two years before Achille Ratti was elected Pope. In 1928, he wrote a lengthy encyclical on Reparation to the Sacred Heart. Its whole theme is on the desperate need to plead for God's mercy, especially through the Holy Eucharist. During her prayers before the Blessed Sacrament, Christ revealed to Margaret Mary "the infinitude of His love, at the same time, in the manner of a mourner." The Savior said, "Behold this Heart which has loved men so much and has loaded them with all benefits, and for this boundless love has had no return but neglect and contumely, and this often from those who were bound by a debt and duty of a more special love."

Among the ways to make reparation to the Heart of Christ, the Pope urged the faithful to "make expiatory supplications and prayers, prolonged for a whole hour-which is rightly called the 'Holy Hour"' (Miserentissimus Redemptor, May 8, 1928). It was understood that the Holy Hour was to be made even as the original message was received by St. Margaret Mary, before the Holy Eucharist.

Pope Pius XII

With Pius XI's successor, we begin a new stage in the Church's teaching on the efficacy of prayer addressed to Christ really present in the Sacrament of the altar.

A year before his election to the See of Peter, Cardinal Pacelli was sent as papal legate to the international Eucharistic Congress at Budapest in Hungary. It was 1938, a year before the outbreak of the Second World War. The theme of Pacelli's address at the Congress was that Christ had indeed left this earth in visible form at His Ascension. But He is emphatically still on earth, the Jesus of history, in the Sacrament of His love.

Pius XII published forty-one encyclicals during his almost twenty year pontificate. One feature of these documents is their reflection of doctrinal development that has taken place in the Catholic Church in modern times. Thus, development in the Church's understanding of herself as the Mystical Body of Christ (Mystici Corporis Christi, 1943) in her understanding of the Bible (Divino Afflante Spiritu, 1943) in her understanding of the Blessed Virgin (Deiparae Virginis Mariae, 1946), proposing the definition of Mary's bodily Assumption into heaven.

The Encyclical Mediator Dei (1947) was on the Sacred Liturgy. As later events were to show, it became the doctrinal blueprint for the Constitution of the Liturgy of the Second Vatican Council.

Nine complete sections of Mediator Dei deal with "Adoration of the Eucharist." This provides the most authoritative explanation of what the Pope describes as "the worship of the Eucharist," which "gradually developed as something distinct from the Sacrifice of the
Mass."

It seems best briefly to quote from these sections and offer some commentary.

1. Adoration of the Eucharist. The basis for all Eucharistic devotion is the fact that Christ in the Blessed Sacrament is the Son of God in human form.

The Eucharistic Food contains, as all are aware, "truly, really and substantially the Body and Blood together with the Soul and Divinity of Our Lord Jesus Christ." It is no wonder, then, that the Church, even from the beginning, adored the Body of Christ under the
appearance of bread this is evident from the very rites of the august Sacrifice, which prescribe that the sacred ministers should adore the Most Holy Sacrament by genuflecting or by profoundly bowing their heads.

The Sacred Councils teach that it is the Church's tradition right from the beginning, to worship "with the same adoration the Word Incarnate as well as His own flesh," and St. Augustine asserts that: "No one eats that flesh without first adoring it," while he adds that "not only do we not commit a sin by adoring it, but we do sin by not adoring it." (Mediator Dei, paragraph 129-130)

Everything else depends on this primary article of faith: that the Eucharist contains the living Christ, in the fullness of His human nature, and therefore really present under the sacred species and in the fullness of His divine nature, and therefore to be adored as God.

2. Dogmatic Progress. There has been a deeper grasp by the Church of every aspect of the mystery of the Eucharist. But one that merits special attention is the growing realization, not only of Christ's sacrificial oblation in the Mass, but of His grace-filled presence
outside of Mass.

It is on this doctrinal basis that the worship of adoring the Eucharist was founded and gradually developed as something distinct from the Sacrifice of the Mass. The reservation of the Sacred Species for the sick and those in danger introduced the praiseworthy custom of adoring the Blessed Sacrament which is reserved in our Churches. This practice of adoration, in fact, is based on strong and solid reasons. For the Eucharist is at once a Sacrifice and a Sacrament: but it differs from the other Sacraments in this that it not only produces grace, but contains, in a permanent manner, the Author of grace Himself. When, therefore, the Church bids us adore Christ hidden behind the Eucharistic veils and pray to Him for the spiritual and temporal favors of which we ever stand in need, she manifests
living faith in her divine Spouse who is present beneath these veils, she professes her gratitude to Him and she enjoys the intimacy of His friendship (131).

The key to seeing why there should be a Eucharistic worship distinct from the Mass is that the Eucharist is Jesus Christ. No less than His contemporaries in Palestine adored and implored Him for the favors they needed, so we should praise and thank Him, and implore Him for what we need.

3. Devotional Development. As a consequence of this valid progress in doctrine, the Church has developed a variety of Eucharistic devotions.

Now, the Church in the course of centuries has introduced various forms of this worship which are ever increasing in beauty and helpfulness as, for example, visits of devotion to the tabernacle, even every day, Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament solemn
processions, especially at the time of Eucharistic Congresses, which pass through cities and villages and adoration of the Blessed Sacrament publicly exposed. Sometimes these public acts of adoration are of short duration. Sometimes they last for one, several and even
for forty hours. In certain places they continue in turn in different churches throughout the year, while elsewhere adoration is perpetual, day and night (132).

To be stressed is that these are not merely passing devotional practices. They are founded on divinely revealed truth. And, as the Pope is at pains to point out, "these exercises of piety have brought a wonderful increase in faith and supernatural life to the Church
militant upon earth."

Are these practices liturgical? "They spring from the inspiration of the Liturgy," answers Pius XII. "And if they are performed with due decorum and with faith and piety, as the liturgical rules of the Church require, they are undoubtedly of the very greatest assistance
in living the life of the Liturgy."

Does this not confuse the "Historic Christ" with the Eucharistic Christ? Not at all, says the Pope.

On the contrary, it can be claimed that by this devotion the faithful bear witness to and solemnly avow the faith of the Church that the Word of God is identical with the Son of the Virgin Mary, Who suffered on the Cross, Who is present in a hidden manner in the
Eucharist and Who reigns upon His heavenly throne. Thus St. John Chrysostom states: "When you see It (the Body of Christ) exposed, say to yourself: thanks to this Body, I am no longer dust and ashes, I am no more a captive but a freeman: hence I hope to obtain Heaven and the good things that are there in store for me, eternal life, the
heritage of the Angels, companionship with Christ" (134).

Among other forms of Eucharistic devotion recommended by Pope Pius XII, he gave special attention to Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament. He spoke of the "great benefit in that custom which makes the priest raise aloft the Bread of Angels before congregations with heads bowed down in adoration and forming with It the sign of the cross." This "implores the Heavenly Father to deign to look upon His Son who for love of us was nailed to the Cross and for His sake and through Him willed . . . to shower down heavenly favors upon those whom the Immaculate Blood of the Lamb has redeemed" (135).

Pope John XXIII

Unlike his predecessor, John XXIII did not publish any extensive documentation on the Eucharistic Liturgy. But he took every occasion to urge the faithful, especially priests, to pray before the Blessed Sacrament.

In the life of a priest nothing could replace the silent and prolonged prayer before the altar. The adoration of Jesus, our God thanksgiving, reparation for our sins and for those of all men, the prayer for so many intentions entrusted to Him, combine to raise that priest to a greater love for the Divine Master to whom he has promised faithfulness and for men who depend on his priestly ministry.

With the practice of this enlightened and fervent worship of the Eucharist, the spiritual life of the priest increases and there are prepared the missionary energies of the most valuable apostles.

All the while that he was urging priests to pray before the altar, the Pope reminded them that "the Eucharistic Prayer in the full sense is the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass" (Encyclical Sacerdotii Nostri Primordia, August 11, 1959). After all, without the Mass there would
be no Real Presence. We might say that Christ's abiding presence in the Holy Eucharist is an extension of the Eucharistic sacrifice.

On the eve of the Second Vatican Council, Pope John participated in the Corpus Christi procession of the Blessed Sacrament in Rome. On that occasion, he composed an earnest prayer for Christ's blessings on the forthcoming Council.

O Jesus, look upon us from your Sacrament like a good Shepherd, by which name the Angelic Doctor invokes you, and with him Holy Church. O Jesus, good Shepherd, this is your flock, the flock that you have gathered from the ends of the earth, the flock that listens to your word of life, and intends to guard it, practice it and preach it. This is the flock that follows you meekly, O Jesus, and wishes so ardently to see, in the Ecumenical Council, the reflection of your loving face in the features of your Church, the mother of all, the mother who opens her arms and heart to all, and here awaits, trembling and trustful, the arrival of all her Bishops (June 21,
1962).

Words could not be plainer. They could also not be more authoritative. The Vicar of Christ was teaching, by example, how effective prayer to our Lord in the Eucharist can be not only for ourselves personally, but for the whole Church of God.

Pope Paul VI

Although Pope John XXIII opened the Second Vatican Council and lived through its first session in 1962, he did not promulgate any of its sixteen documents. That was done by his successor, Pope Paul VI.

The first conciliar document issued by Paul VI was the Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy (December 4, 1963). Less than two years later, just before the last session of the Council, he published the encyclical Mysterium Fidei (September 3, 1965). It is a remarkable document in several ways.

—It was issued during the Second Vatican Council.

—It opens with a glowing tribute to the Council's Constitution on the Liturgy.

—It praises those who "seek to investigate more profoundly and to understand more fruitfully the doctrine on the Holy Eucharist."

—But then it goes on to give "reasons for serious pastoral concern and anxiety." Specifically, Paul VI says that opinions are being spread which reinterpret "doctrine already defined by the Church," and in particular "the dogma of transubstantiation" (I).

Most of the encyclical, therefore, is a doctrinal analysis of the Real Presence. By all accounts, it is the most extensive and penetrating declaration in papal history on two articles of the Catholic faith: the corporeal presence of Jesus Christ in the Blessed Sacrament and His communication of grace through this Eucharistic presence now on earth.

1. The Real Presence. If we are to understand the sacramental presence of Christ in the Eucharist, "which constitutes the greatest miracle of its kind, we must listen with docility to the voice of the teaching and praying Church." What does the doctrine and devotion of the Church tell us? This voice, which constantly echoes the voice of Christ, assures us that the way Christ is made present in this Sacrament is none other than by the change of the whole substance of the bread into His Body, and of the whole substance of the wine into
His Blood, and that this unique and truly wonderful change the Catholic Church rightly calls transubstantiation. As a result of transubstantiation, the species of bread and wine undoubtedly take on a new meaning and a new finality, for they no longer remain ordinary
bread and ordinary wine, but become the sign of something sacred, the sign of a spiritual food. However, the reason they take on this new significance and this new finality is simply because they contain a new reality which we may justly term ontological. There is no longer
under the species what had been there before. It is something entirely different. Why? Not only because of the faith of the church, but in objective reality. After the change of the substance or nature of the bread and wine into the Body and Blood of Christ, nothing remains of the bread and wine but the appearances, under which Christ, whole and entire, in His physical reality is bodily present (V).

Of course this presence is beyond our comprehension. Of course it is different from the way bodies are naturally present and therefore can be sensibly perceived. Subjectively, we cannot see or touch the Body of Christ in the Eucharist. But objectively (in reality) and
ontologically (in His being) He is there.

2. Communication of Grace. Once the Real Presence is properly recognized, it is only logical to conclude that we should worship the Savior in the Blessed Sacrament. It is equally logical to expect Him to confer blessings on a sinful world by His presence among us. Three passages in Mysterium Fidei make this conclusion perfectly clear.

In the first statement, Pope Paul recalls the teaching of St. Cyril of Alexandria (died 444) who had been so active in defending the physical union of Christ's humanity in the Incarnation as well as in the Eucharist. The reason is that the Eucharist is the Incarnate Son
of God who became, and remains, the Son of Mary.

St. Cyril of Alexandria rejects as folly the opinion of those who maintained that if a part of the Eucharist was left over for the following day, it did not confer sanctification. "For" he says, "neither Christ is altered nor His Holy Body changed, but the force and power and revivifying grace remain with it" (VI).

Once the elements of bread and wine have been consecrated and transubstantiation has taken place, the living Christ remains as long as the Eucharistic species remain. Then, because Christ is present, His humanity remains a source of life-giving grace.

In his second statement on the Eucharist as a channel of grace, Pope Paul carefully distinguishes between the Eucharist as Sacrifice and Communion, and the Eucharist as Presence.

Not only while the Sacrifice is offered and the Sacrament is received, but as long as the Eucharist is kept in our churches and oratories, Christ is truly the Emmanuel, that is "God with us." Day and night He is in our midst, He dwells with us, full of grace and truth. He restores morality, nourishes virtues, consoles the afflicted and strengthens the weak (VI).

These verbs—restores, nourishes, consoles and strengthens—are all forms of divine grace which Christ confers by His presence in the Eucharist.

In his third statement on the efficacy of the Real Presence, Paul VI adds the final touch to his teaching. No doubt the living Savior in the Blessed Sacrament is there "full of grace and truth." But there must be a responsive faith on our part.

Anyone who approaches this august Sacrament with special devotion, and endeavors to return generous love for Christ's own infinite love, will experience and fully understand—not without spiritual joy and fruit—how precious is the life hidden with Christ in God, and how
great is the value of converse with Christ. For there is nothing more consoling on earth, nothing more efficacious for advancing along the road of holiness (VI).

The important word in that last sentence is "efficacious." Provided we approach the Real Presence with believing love, Christ will perform wonders of His grace in our lives.

Pope John Paul II

Building on the teaching of his predecessors, John Paul II has come to be known as the Pope of the Real Presence. In one document and address after another, he has repeated what needs repetition for the sake of emphasis: "The Eucharist, in the Mass and outside of the Mass, is the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ, and is therefore deserving of the worship that is given to the living God, and to Him alone" (Opening address in Ireland, Phoenix Park, September 29, 1979).

But the Pope has done more than merely repeat what had been said before. He placed the capstone on the Eucharistic teaching of the magisterium that we have been examining. He did so by explaining in the most unambiguous language that there is only one Sacrament of the Eucharist. Yet this one Sacrament confers grace in three different ways. Each manner of giving grace corresponds to the three forms in which the Eucharist has been instituted by Christ.

It is at one and the same time a Sacrifice-Sacrament, a Communion-Sacrament, and a Presence-Sacrament (Encyclical Redemptor Hominis, March 4, 1979, IV, 20).

The revealed foundation for this conclusion is the fact of Christ's abiding presence in the Eucharist. It is the "Redeemer of Man" who by His Passion and death on the Cross merited the grace of our salvation. But it is mainly through the Eucharist that the same Jesus
Christ now channels this grace to a sinful human race.

It is in this comprehensive sense that we can say, "the Church lives by the Eucharist, by the fullness of this Sacrament." This fullness, however, spans all three levels of its sacramental existence, where, by "sacrament" the Church means a sensible sign, instituted by Christ, through which invisible grace and inward sanctification are communicated to the soul.

The Mass is the Sacrifice-Sacrament of the Eucharist. As the Council of Trent declared, the Sacrifice of the Mass is not only an offering of praise and thanksgiving. It is also a source of grace: "By this oblation, the Lord is appeased, He grants grace and the gift of repentance, and He pardons wrongdoings and sins," the blessings of Redemption which Christ won for us by His bloody death on Calvary are now "received in abundance through this unbloody oblation" (September 17, 1562).

Holy Communion is the Communion-Sacrament of the Eucharist. As the same Council of Trent defined, Christ present in the Eucharist is not only spiritually eaten, but also really and sacramentally. We actually receive His Body and Blood, and we are truly nourished by His grace. It was Christ's will "That this Sacrament be received as the soul's spiritual food, to sustain and build up those who live with His life." It is also to be "a remedy to free us from our daily defects and to keep us from mortal sin" (October 11, 1551).

The Real Presence is the Presence-Sacrament of the Eucharist. How? The Real Presence is a Sacrament in every way that the humanity of Christ is a channel of grace to those who believe that the Son of God became man for our salvation.

Chapter VII

GRACE THROUGH THE HUMANITY OF CHRIST

The underlying theme of the Church's Eucharistic teaching is the fact of "Christ's consoling presence in the Blessed Sacrament. His Real Presence in the fullest sense the substantial presence by which the whole and complete Christ, God and man, is present" (Pope John Paul II, September 29, 1979).

Once this fact of faith is recognized, it is not difficult to see why prayer before the Blessed Sacrament is so efficacious. Indeed it explains why, without a second thought, Catholics have simply referred to the Real Presence as the Blessed Sacrament. It is a Sacrament, or better, it is the one Sacrament which not only confers grace but contains the very source of grace, namely Jesus Christ.

As we read the Gospels, we are struck by the marvelous power that Christ's humanity had in effecting changes in the persons who came into contact with Him. Already in the womb of His mother, He sanctified the unborn John the Baptist the moment Elizabeth heard the
voice of Mary. At Cana in Galilee, at His Mother's request, Jesus told the servants, "Fill the jars with water." When the steward tasted the water, it had turned into wine.

Jesus spoke with human lips when He preached the Sermon on the Mount, when He taught the parables, when he forgave sinners, when he rebuked the Pharisees, when He foretold His Passion and told His followers to carry the cross. Jesus touched the blind with human hands, and healed the lepers by speaking with a human voice. On one occasion a sick
woman touched the hem of His garment. "Immediately," relates St. Mark, "aware that power had gone out from Him, Jesus turned round in the crowd and said, 'who touched My clothes?"' The woman was instantly healed. Significantly, Jesus told her, "your faith has
restored you to health."

All through His public ministry, the humanity of Christ was the means by which He enlightened the minds of his listeners, restored their souls to divine friendship, cured their bodies of disability and disease, and assured them of God's lasting peace. That is what St.
John meant when, in the prologue of his Gospel, he said, "though the Law was given through Moses, grace and truth come through Jesus Christ." Why? Because Christ is the only-begotten Son of God who became flesh, and not only lived but, in the Eucharist, continues to live among us .

In order to draw on these resources of infinite wisdom and power, available in the Eucharist, we must believe. In the words of the Adoro Te, we can say: "I believe everything that the Son of God has said, and nothing can be truer than this word of the Truth. Only the
Godhead was hidden on the cross, but here the humanity is hidden as well. Yet I believe and acknowledge them both."

Those who can thus speak to Christ in the Eucharist will learn from experience what the Church means when she tells us that the Real Presence is a Sacrament. It is the same Savior Who assumed our human nature to die for us on Calvary and who now dispenses through that same humanity, now glorified, the blessings of salvation.

This study of the History of Eucharistic Adoration was done by a professional theologian. It is part of a planned series on the doctrinal foundations of the Sacrifice, Communion and Presence-Sacrament of the Holy Eucharist.

In an age of widespread confusion and disbelief, this document offers unprecedented clarity in the most important element of our faith. I recommend that it be prayerfully studied and widely circulated. It is thoroughly researched and well-documented, and promises to enlighten, instruct and inspire countless souls to an undying love of our
Eucharistic Lord.


Iron Age II (950–587 BCE)

A reconstructed Israelite house, 10th–7th century BCE. Eretz Israel Museum, Tel Aviv. / Photo by Talmoyair, Wikimedia Commons

Unusually favourable climatic conditions in the first two centuries of Iron Age II brought about an expansion of population, settlements and trade throughout the region. In the central highlands this resulted in unification in a kingdom with the city of Samaria as its capital, possibly by the second half of the 10th century BCE when an inscription of the Egyptian pharaoh Shoshenq I, the biblical Shishak, records a series of campaigns directed at the area. Israel had clearly emerged by the middle of the 9th century BCE, when the Assyrian king Shalmaneser III names “Ahab the Israelite” among his enemies at the battle of Qarqar (853). At this time Israel was apparently engaged in a three-way contest with Damascus and Tyre for control of the Jezreel Valley and Galilee in the north, and with Moab, Ammon and Aram Damascus in the east for control of Gilead the Mesha Stele (c. 830), left by a king of Moab, celebrates his success in throwing off the oppression of the “House of Omri” (i.e., Israel). It bears what is generally thought to be the earliest extra-biblical reference to the name Yahweh.

A century later Israel came into increasing conflict with the expanding Neo-Assyrian Empire, which first split its territory into several smaller units and then destroyed its capital, Samaria (722). Both the biblical and Assyrian sources speak of a massive deportation of people from Israel and their replacement with settlers from other parts of the empire – such population exchanges were an established part of Assyrian imperial policy, a means of breaking the old power structure – and the former Israel never again became an independent political entity.

Model of Levantine four-roomed house from circa 900 BCE / Photo by Nick Laarakkers, Wikimedia Commons

Judah emerged as an operational kingdom somewhat later than Israel, probably during the 9th century BCE, but the subject is one of considerable controversy. There are indications that during the 10th and 9th centuries BCE, the southern highlands had been divided between a number of centres, none with clear primacy. During the reign of Hezekiah, between c. 715 and 686 BCE, a notable increase in the power of the Judean state can be observed. This is reflected in archaeological sites and findings, such as the Broad Wall a defensive city wall in Jerusalem and the Siloam tunnel, an aqueduct designed to provide Jerusalem with water during an impending siege by the Neo-Assyrian Empire led by Sennacherib and the Siloam inscription, a lintel inscription found over the doorway of a tomb, has been ascribed to comptroller Shebna. LMLK seals on storage jar handles, excavated from strata in and around that formed by Sennacherib’s destruction, appear to have been used throughout Sennacherib’s 29-year reign, along with bullae from sealed documents, some that belonged to Hezekiah himself and others that name his servants.

In the 7th century Jerusalem grew to contain a population many times greater than earlier and achieved clear dominance over its neighbours. This occurred at the same time that Israel was being destroyed by the Neo-Assyrian Empire, and was probably the result of a cooperative arrangement with the Assyrians to establish Judah as an Assyrian vassal state controlling the valuable olive industry. Judah prospered as a vassal state (despite a disastrous rebellion against Sennacherib), but in the last half of the 7th century BCE, Assyria suddenly collapsed, and the ensuing competition between Egypt and the Neo-Babylonian Empire for control of the land led to the destruction of Judah in a series of campaigns between 597 and 582.


Hellenistic and Roman periods (333 BCE-70 CE)

The extent of the Hasmonean kingdom

Iudaea Province and surrounding area in the 1st century

In 331 BCE Alexander the Great conquered the Persian Empire. Upon his death in 323 BCE, the province of Yehud changed hands regularly between two Greek successor-kingdoms, the Seleucids of Syria and the Ptolemies of Egypt. Ptolemy II Philadelphus of Egypt (281-246 BCE) promoted Jewish culture: the Septuagint translation of the Torah was begun in Alexandria in his reign, which also saw the beginning of the Pharisees and other Jewish Second Temple parties such as the Sadducees and Essenes. ⎚] Antiochus IV Epiphanes of Syria (174-163 BCE), in contrast, when he gained control of Yehud, attempted complete Hellenization of the Jews. His desecration of the Temple sparked the Maccabee rebellion, which ended in victory for the Jews with the expulsion of the Syrians and the re-consecration of the Temple.

The Hasmonean kingdom established by the Maccabees was a deliberate attempt to revive the Judah described in the bible: a monarchy stretching over most of Palestine, defeating and absorbing (and forcible converting) the one-time Moabites, Edomites and Ammonites, and re-conquering the lost kingdom of Israel. ⎛]

In 64 BCE the Roman general Pompey conquered Jerusalem and made the Jewish kingdom a client of Rome. In 57-55 BCE Aulus Gabinius, proconsul of Syria, split it into Galilee, Samaria & Judea, with 5 districts of Sanhedrin/Synedrion (councils of law). ⎜] In 40-39 BCE Herod the Great was appointed King of the Jews by the Roman Senate. ⎝] and in 6 CE his successor, Herod Archelaus, ethnarch of Judea, was deposed by the emperor Augustus and Samaria, Judea and Idumea annexed as Iudaea Province under direct Roman administration. ⎞]

In 66 the Jews revolted against Rome. The rebellion was crushed and the Temple destroyed (70 CE) over 100,000 Jews died during the siege of Jerusalem, nearly 100,000 were taken to Rome as slaves, and many others fled to Mesopotamia and to other countries. In 132 a second revolt, Bar Kokhba's Revolt, began, led by Simon bar Kokhba, and an independent state in Israel was declared. By 135 this revolt also was suppressed, and the Romans reorganized Judaea as part of the province of Syria-Palestine.


Second Rejection In Nazareth

The account of Jesus’ second visit to the city of Nazareth begins in Mark 6:1.

Jesus went out from there and came into His hometown and His disciples followed Him. Mark 6:1 (NASB)

Jesus’ parents had fled to Egypt after they had been warned by God that King Herod would attempt to murder Him and every child under two years of age (Matthew 2:13-14). So they fled to Egypt in order to save Jesus. Later the family returned from Egypt after God told them that King Herod had died and directed them to return to Israel (Matthew 2:19-21). When the family returned, they settled in Nazareth, a city in the northern part of Israel in a region known as Galilee. Consequently, Nazareth became Jesus’ hometown. There He grew up from a child into an adult and then started His ministry.

Early in Jesus’ ministry He relocated His family (apparently after His father had died), from Nazareth to Capernaum (John 2:12-13). His sisters remained in Nazareth, perhaps because they were already married (Mark 6:3).

Why Did Jesus Return?

As we have already stated, sometime later in Jesus’ ministry, He returned to Nazareth to tell the people that He was the Messiah. They responded by attempting to murder Him. Later Jesus decided to return again. This study describes this second return. Jesus did not return to Nazareth because the city was important. In John 1:46, Nathanael reveals that the city was unimportant when he said,

Can any good thing come out of Nazareth? John 1:46 (NASB)

Nathanael’s comment was negative. Nazareth was nothing special. It was a small, isolated city in the Galilean hills. Jesus did not return because it was a large wonderful city. Dr. J. Vernon McGee makes this comment about Jesus’ return,

There are certain men in God’s work who do not want to go to a small place to minister. I’ve actually been criticized by some ministers and Christian workers for going to certain small churches instead of going to larger ones. My feeling is that our Lord set us an example here . . . There is a story about Dr. C. I. Scofield, the man who was responsible for The Scofield Reference Bible. He had been invited to speak in a church in North Carolina. Because it was a rainy night, about twenty-five people came to the meeting. The young preacher leaned over and apologized to Dr. Scofield for the small number who had come to hear his preaching and teaching. Dr. Scofield replied, “Young man, my Lord had only twelve men in His school and in His congregation most of the time. If He had only twelve, who is C. I. Scofield to be concerned about a big crowd?[1]

Jesus did not return because the crowd was large. He returned because He was concerned about the people. He loved the people. He was concerned that they were sinners who needed their sins forgiven. He was concerned that they were going to miss eternal life. It is possible that He also returned to visit His sisters.

From a human perspective, I am personally amazed that Jesus returned to a group of people who had wanted to murder Him. They had run Him out of town. Jesus demonstrated an important truth for us – God has not called us to avoid conflict in the ministry. Sometimes we think that trouble is a sign of God’s judgment or that we did something wrong. But the Christian ministry is spiritual warfare! We have witnessed this fact in the pages of the gospels. The religious leaders of Jesus’ day repeatedly rejected Him. They continued to reject the apostles even after Jesus left. They persecuted the apostle Paul, and the Roman politicians persecuted Christians for many years after the apostles.

In our next study we will discover that conflict and ministry go together. One who desires to serve God will suffer. We will suffer just because we serve Jesus. We will suffer because there is a spiritual battle. We will suffer for living a godly life. Conflict is part of the Christian life.

If they persecuted Me, they will also persecute you . . . John 15:20 (NASB)

Suffer hardship with me, as a good soldier of Christ Jesus. 2 Timothy 2:3 (NASB)

Indeed, all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will be persecuted. 2 Timothy 3:12 (NASB)

So Jesus returned to the city of conflict!

Those who never suffer are probably not in the battle. They may be passive Christians. Yet, God encourages us to seek peace and avoid conflict. There are some Christians, however, who are warriors. For them, everything is a crusade. They enjoy controversy and conflict. Those who suffer for doing wrong deserve it. 1 Peter 2:20 tells us that we gain favor with God when we suffer for doing what is right.

For this finds favor, if for the sake of conscience toward God a person bears up under sorrows when suffering unjustly. For what credit is there if, when you sin and are harshly treated, you endure it with patience? But if when you do what is right and suffer for it you patiently endure it, this finds favor with God. 1 Peter 2:19-20 (NASB)

The Sabbath

Some time after Jesus arrived in Nazareth, the Sabbath arrived and so Jesus went to the synagogue.

When the Sabbath came, He began to teach in the synagogue and the many listeners were astonished, saying, “Where did this man get these things, and what is this wisdom given to Him, and such miracles as these performed by His hands?” Mark 6:2 (NASB)

Many people were present, when Jesus started teaching. It is very possible that the people had come because they had heard that Jesus would be speaking. The listeners could not believe what they heard. They started asking one another, “Where did He get these things? Where did He get His wisdom? Where did He learn how to do these miracles?”

We can just imagine their thoughts. Surely, He got His wisdom from some other place or some tutor. We will discover later in John 7:15 that it was common knowledge that Jesus did not have any formal rabbinical education.

If Jesus were alive today, the questions might be something like this, “What commentaries does Jesus own? Did Jesus learn that from a tape, book, CD, or DVD? Did He attend a pastor’s conference or get His material from some famous rabbi or pastor?” Many today think that a seminary education is important to prepare men for ministry. While a seminary education can be helpful, it is not essential.

What is essential is a man’s love, faithfulness, and obedient walk with God and a never ending search of the scriptures in order to increasingly know God resulting in ongoing transformation into Christ-likeness. There are those in the ministry today who do not have formal education, but they really know the One who was the from the beginning (1 John 2:12-14). There have been some noted pastors down through history who had no formal theological education, but they have been terrific spiritual examples. For example, C. H. Spurgeon (1834-1892), a British preacher, had no formal education beyond Newmarket Academy. Another example is Dwight L. Moody (1837-1899), an American evangelist, who also lacked formal education. Formal education can be very helpful, but it is not essential.

Just as some today show disrespect for those without formal seminary training, the people in this small Nazareth synagogue showed disrespect for Jesus’ lack of formal education. They did not realize that schools can educate only the mind. Religious education cannot guarantee that the heart is in love with God or that the person is growing spiritually.

He Is One Of Us!

Then the people added another insult and rejection.

“Is not this the carpenter, the son of Mary, and brother of James and Joses and Judas and Simon? Are not His sisters here with us?” And they took offense at Him. Mark 6:3 (NASB)

Their message was simple. “He is, ‘Just one of us!’ Surely, He is nothing special.” In the Greek text, a definite article appears before “carpenter.” This implies that Jesus had been “the” carpenter or craftsman of the town. When Jesus had lived there’, He was the carpenter. Not only was Jesus the carpenter, but they also knew His family: Mary, James, Joses, Judas, and Simon. Note that Matthew 13:55 provides the same list of Mary’s children. Those who claim that these children were not the offspring of Mary do so without proof. There is no hint in these passages that these men were not Mary’s sons. Since Matthew 1:25 reveals that Mary had sexual relations with Joseph, it is difficult to argue that Mary never had children unless one chooses to discredit the apostle Matthew and the Holy Spirit who jointly wrote . . .

. . but kept her a virgin until she gave birth to a Son and he called His name Jesus. Matthew 1:25 (NASB)

Mary ceased to be a virgin after Jesus was born.

Prophet Without Honor

After the people rejected Jesus once again, He responded to them with these words,

Jesus said to them, “A prophet is not without honor except in his hometown and among his own relatives and in his own household.”‘ Mark 6:4 (NASB)

The people in the synagogue responded as some might today. Some discredit those whom they know in favor of those they do not know. Why will some churches select a man who has recently graduated from seminary, whom they do not know, and ask him to become their pastor even if they have a man who is highly gifted and capable of being their pastor sitting among them? We tend to highly value someone we do not know, only later to be often disappointed with them. Kent Hughes responds to our peculiar attitude with this account,

There are people who find it personally offensive if someone who – was one of them yesterday should have become much more today. Monlaigne, the famous French philosopher, politician, and writer, said that at home he was considered just a scribbling country proprietor, in the neighboring town a man of recognized business ability, and farther away a noted author. The greater the distance away, the greater he became.[2]

Those who heard and saw Jesus did not reject Him for lack of evidence but in spite of overwhelming evidence. They did not reject Him because they lacked the truth but because they rejected the truth. They refused forgiveness because they wanted to keep their sins. They denied the light because they preferred darkness. The reason for rejecting the Lord has always been that men prefer their own way to His.[3]

Unbelief

The people in Nazareth did not approve of His message. Therefore, they rejected Him. As a result, very few people came to Jesus for healing, and very few miracles were performed. That is the message of verses 5-6.

And He could do no miracle there except that He laid His hands on a few sick people and healed them. And He wondered at their unbelief. Mark 6:5-6 (NASB)

The first part of the passage seems to suggest that Jesus was unable to perform any miracles. However, the rest of the passage reveals that Jesus did perform healings when people came to Him. Since Jesus was the God-man who had divine power for healing, the passage should not be understood as an inability to perform miracles. Instead, we should notice that very few people came to Jesus for healing. Therefore, He was prevented from healing many. Few people were interested and so few people came. Few believed in Him! Should Jesus have forced many people to be healed anyway? The answer is obviously, “No!” Only a few people came to Him because the hearts of the others were unbelieving. They did not come because they had found reasons for rejecting Him. As a result, they missed some tremendous blessings.

We are told that Jesus was surprised by their unbelief. The rejection of Jesus Christ is not something that has started only during our lifetime. As we have already discovered, Jesus was rejected early in His ministry. Many religious leaders rejected Him, but not all of them. That is the testimony of history and the gospel accounts.

Therefore some of the Pharisees were saying, “This man is not from God, because He does not keep the Sabbath.” But others were saying, “How can a man who is a sinner perform such signs?” And there was a division among them. John 9:16 (NASB)

We will discover later in our study that the religious leaders would join together and devise a plot to get rid of Him.

Therefore the chief priests and the Pharisees convened a council, and were saying, “What are we doing? For this man is performing many signs. John 11:47 (NASB)

Many people did reject Jesus. The religious leaders contributed to His rejection. Others just refused to believe because they preferred their own way – darkness.

But many of the crowd believed in Him and they were saying, “When the Christ comes, He will not perform more signs than those which this man has, will He?” John 7:31 (NASB)

But though He had performed so many signs before them, yet they were not believing in Him. John 12:37 (NASB)

Jesus’ teachings and the rumors about His miracles should have encouraged them to respond, but they did not.

Conclusion

Why did Jesus return to Nazareth? Why did Jesus return to a city that had previously attempted to murder Him? I believe that Jesus returned because He loved them, desired to see them believe in Him, and gain eternal life. But in order to accomplish that goal, He had to be willing to suffer rejection!

Are you willing to suffer in your service for God? God has not called us to peace at all costs. Jesus returned knowing that the majority of the people in Nazareth did not welcome Him, but He returned anyway. God has called us to be peacemakers (Matthew 5:9). He has asked us to be at peace with all men as much as possible (Romans 12:18). If one is actively engaged in spiritual warfare and if one is doing what God has called him or her to do, then peace will not always exist. Warfare comes with serving God because the Evil One is waging spiritual warfare (Ephesians 6:12). The following words should ring in our ears and be memorized.

Suffer hardship with me, as a good soldier of Christ Jesus. 2 Timothy 2:3 (NASB)

Spiritual conflict (Ephesians 6:12) is unavoidable in the Christian life. Jesus, our God, has set the example. We must not shrink from telling others about Christ. We must not avoid spiritual conflict when wrong has occurred just because our culture or others in the church say conflict is wrong. There is a raging war between good and evil in our homes, churches, and nations. Sometimes spiritual warfare is an indication that one is a “good soldier” who is engaged in a conflict for 1) righteousness and 2) for the souls of those who believe in Jesus Christ. Be a good soldier! Jesus is our example!

References:

1. J. Vernon McGee. Matthew. Thru The Bible. Nelson Publishing Co.. pp. 83-184.
2. R. Kent Hughes. Mark. Crossway Books. 1989. vol. 1. p. 133.
3. John MacArthur. Matthew 8-15 . The MacArthur New Testament Commentary. Moody Press. p. 409.


Church of the High Middle Ages (800–1499)

The High Middle Ages is the period from the coronation of Charlemagne in 800 to the close of the fifteenth century, which saw the fall of Constantinople (1453), the end of the Hundred Years War (1453), the discovery of the New World (1492), and thereafter the Protestant Reformation (1515).

Conversion of Slavs

Saint Cyril and Saint Methodius Monument on Mount Radhošť / Wikimedia Commons

Though by 800 Western Europe was ruled entirely by Christian kings, Eastern Europe remained an area of missionary activity. For example, in the ninth century Saints Cyril and Methodius had extensive missionary success in Eastern Europe among the Slavic peoples, translating the Bible and liturgy into Slavonic. The Baptism of Kiev in 988 spread Christianity throughout Kievan Rus’, establishing Christianity among the Ukraine, Belarus and Russia.

In the ninth and tenth centuries, Christianity made great inroads into Eastern Europe, including Kievan Rus’. The evangelization, or Christianization, of the Slavs was initiated by one of Byzantium’s most learned churchmen—the Patriarch Photius. The Byzantine emperor Michael III chose Cyril and Methodius in response to a request from Rastislav, the king of Moravia who wanted missionaries that could minister to the Moravians in their own language. The two brothers spoke the local Slavonic vernacular and translated the Bible and many of the prayer books. As the translations prepared by them were copied by speakers of other dialects, the hybrid literary language Old Church Slavonic was created.

Bulgaria was officially recognized as a patriarchate by Constantinople in 945, Serbia in 1346, and Russia in 1589. All these nations, however, had been converted long before these dates.

The missionaries to the East and South Slavs had great success in part because they used the people’s native language rather than Latin as the Roman priests did, or Greek.

Methodius later went on to convert the Serbs. Some of the disciples, namely Saint Kliment, Saint Naum who were of noble Bulgarian descent and Saint Angelaruis, returned to Bulgaria where they were welcomed by the Bulgarian Tsar Boris I who viewed the Slavonic liturgy as a way to counteract Greek influence in the country. In a short time the disciples of Cyril and Methodius managed to prepare and instruct the future Slav Bulgarian clergy into the Glagolitic alphabet and the biblical texts and in AD 893, Bulgaria expelled its Greek clergy and proclaimed the Slavonic language as the official language of the church and the state.

Baptism of Vladimir / Wikimedia Commons

The success of the conversion of the Bulgarians facilitated the conversion of other East Slavic peoples, most notably the Rus’, predecessors of Belarusians, Russians, and Ukrainians, as well as Rusyns. By the beginning of the eleventh century most of the pagan Slavic world, including Russia, Bulgaria and Serbia, had been converted to Byzantine Christianity.

The traditional event associated with the conversion of Russia is the baptism of Vladimir of Kiev in 989, on which occasion he was also married to the Byzantine princess Anna, the sister of the Byzantine Emperor Basil II. However, Christianity is documented to have predated this event in the city of Kiev and in Georgia.

Today the Russian Orthodox Church is the largest of the Orthodox Churches.

Andrei Rublev’s Trinity / Tretyakov Gallery, Wikimedia Commons

Iconoclasm as a movement began within the Eastern Christian Byzantine church in the early 8th Century, following a series of heavy military reverses against the Muslims. Sometime between 726-730 the Byzantine Emperor Leo III the Isaurian ordered the removal of an image of Jesus prominently placed over the Chalke gate, the ceremonial entrance to the Great Palace of Constantinople, and its replacement with a cross. This was followed by orders banning the pictorial representation of the family of Christ, subsequent Christian saints, and biblical scenes. In the West, Pope Gregory III held two synods at Rome and condemned Leo’s actions. In Leo’s realms, the Iconoclast Council at Hieria, 754 ruled that the culture of holy portraits was not of a Christian origin and therefore heretical [54] . The movement destroyed much of the Christian church’s early artistic history, to the great loss of subsequent art and religious historians. The iconoclastic movement itself was later defined as heretical in 787 under the Seventh Ecumenical Council, but enjoyed a brief resurgence between 815 and 842.

Monastic Reform Movement

A view of the Abbey of Cluny / Wikimedia Commons

From the 6th century onward most of the monasteries in the West were of the Benedictine Order. Owing to the stricter adherence to a reformed Benedictine rule, the abbey of Cluny became the acknowledged leader of western monasticism from the later 10th century. A sequence of highly competent abbots of Cluny were statesmen on an international level. The monastery of Cluny itself became the grandest, most prestigious and best endowed monastic institution in Europe. Cluny created a large, federated order in which the administrators of subsidiary houses served as deputies of the abbot of Cluny and answered to him. Free of lay and episcopal interference, responsible only to the papacy, the Cluniac spirit was a revitalizing influence on the Norman church. The height of Cluniac influence was from the second half of the tenth century through the early twelfth.

The next wave of monastic reform came with the Cistercian Movement. The first Cistercian abbey was founded by Robert of Molesme in 1098, at Cîteaux Abbey. The keynote of Cistercian life was a return to a literal observance of the rule of Saint Benedict. Rejecting the developments that the Benedictines had undergone, they tried to reproduce the life exactly as it had been in Saint Benedict’s time, indeed in various points they went beyond it in austerity. The most striking feature in the reform was the return to manual labor, and especially to field-work, which became a special characteristic of Cistercian life.

Saint Bernard of Clairvaux, in a medieval illuminated manuscript / Wikimedia Commons

Inspired by Saint Bernard of Clairvaux, the Cistercians became the main force of technological diffusion in medieval Europe. By the end of the twelfth century the Cistercian houses numbered 500 in the thirteenth a hundred more were added and at its height in the fifteenth century, the order claimed to have close to 750 houses. Most of these were built in wilderness areas, and played a major part in bringing such isolated parts of Europe into economic cultivation.

Mendicant Orders

A third level of monastic reform was provided by the establishment of the Mendicant orders. Commonly known as Friars, mendicants are members of religious communities that live under a monastic rule but, rather than residing in the seclusion of a monastery, they emphasize public evangelism and are thus known for preaching, missionary activity, and education, as well as the traditional vows of poverty, chastity and obedience. Beginning in the twelfth century, the Franciscan order was instituted by the followers of Francis of Assisi, and thereafter the Dominican Order was begun by Saint Dominic.

Investiture Controversy

Henry IV at the gate of Canossa, by August von Heyden / Wikimedia Commons

The Investiture Controversy, or Lay investiture controversy, was the most significant conflict between secular and religious powers in medieval Europe. It began as a dispute in the 11th century between the Holy Roman Emperor Henry IV, and Pope Gregory VII concerning who would appoint bishops (investiture). The end of lay investiture threatened to undercut imperial power, for the benefit of Church reform, as the pope intended, and for ambitious noblemen as well.

Bishops collected revenues from estates attached to their bishopric. Noblemen who held lands (fiefdoms) passed those lands on within their family. However, because bishops had no legitimate children, when a bishop died it was the king’s right to appoint a successor. So, while a king had little recourse in preventing noblemen from acquiring powerful domains via inheritance and dynastic marriages, a king could keep careful control of lands under the domain of his bishops. Kings would bestow bishoprics to members of noble families whose friendship he wished to secure. Furthermore, if a king left a bishopric vacant, then he collected the estates’ revenues until a bishop was appointed, when in theory he was to repay the earnings. The infrequence of this repayment was an obvious source of dispute. The Church wanted to end this lay investiture because of the potential corruption, not only from vacant sees but also from other practices such as simony. Thus, the Investiture Contest was part of the Church’s attempt to reform the episcopate and provide better pastoral care.

Pope Gregory VII issued the Dictatus Papae, which declared that the pope alone could appoint or depose bishops, or translate them to other sees. Henry VI’s rejection of the decree led to his excommunication and a ducal revolt eventually Henry received absolution after dramatic public penance barefoot in Alpine snow and cloaked in a hairshirt, though the revolt and conflict of investiture continued. Likewise, a similar controversy occurred in England between King Henry I and St. Anselm, Archbishop of Canterbury, over investiture and ecclesiastical revenues collected by the king during an episcopal vacancy. The English dispute was resolved by the Concordat of London, 1107, where the king renounced his claim to invest bishops but continued to require an oath of fealty from them upon their election. This was a partial model for the Concordat of Worms (Pactum Calixtinum), which resolved the Imperial investiture controversy with a compromise that allowed secular authorities some measure of control but granted the selection of bishops to their cathedral canons. As a symbol of the compromise, lay authorities invested bishops with their secular authority symbolized by the lance, and ecclesiastical authorities invested bishops with their spiritual authority symbolized by the ring and the staff.

Sanctification of Knighthood

Knights Templar, organized to defend the Christian Holy Land / Wikimedia Commons

The nobility of the Middle Ages was a military class in the Early Medieval period a king (rex) attracted a band of loyal warriors (comes) and provided for them from his conquests. As the Middle Ages progressed, this system developed into a complex set of feudal ties and obligations. As Christianity had been accepted by barbarian nobility, the Church sought to prevent ecclesiastical land and clergymen, both of which came from the nobility, from embroilment in martial conflicts. By the early eleventh century, clergymen and peasants were granted immunity from violence—the Peace of God(Pax Dei). Soon the warrior elite itself became “sanctified,” for example fighting was banned on holy days—the Truce of God(Treuga Dei). The concept of chivalry developed, emphasizing honor and loyalty amongst knights, and, with the advent of Crusades, holy orders of knights were established who perceived themselves as called by God to defend Christendom against Muslim advances in Spain, Italy, and the Holy Land, and pagan strongholds in Eastern Europe.

The Crusades were a series of military conflicts conducted by Christian knights for the defense of Christians and for the expansion of Christian domains. Generally, the crusades refer to the campaigns in the Holy Land against Muslim forces sponsored by the Papacy. There were other crusades against Islamic forces in southern Spain, southern Italy, and Sicily, as well as the campaigns of Teutonic Knights against pagan strongholds in Eastern Europe. A few crusades such as the Fourth Crusade were waged within Christendom against groups that were considered heretical and schismatic (also see the Battle of the Ice and the Northern Crusades).

View over the walls of Krak des Chavaliers, near impenetrable crusaders’ fortress / Wikimedia Commons

The Holy Land had been part of the Roman Empire, and thus Byzantine Empire, until the Islamic conquests of the seventh and eighth centuries. Thereafter, Christians had generally been permitted to visit the sacred places in the Holy Land until 1071, when the Seljuk Turks closed Christian pilgrimages and assailed the Byzantines, defeating them at the Battle of Manzikert. Emperor Alexius I asked for aid from Pope Urban II (1088–1099) for help against Islamic aggression. He probably expected money from the pope for the hiring of mercenaries. Instead, Urban II called upon the knights of Christendom in a speech made at the Council of Clermont in November 1095, combining the idea of pilgrimage to the Holy Land with that of waging a holy war against infidels.

The First Crusade captured Antioch in 1099 and then Jerusalem. The Second Crusade occurred in 1145 when Edessa was retaken by Islamic forces. Jerusalem would be held until 1187 and the Third Crusade, famous for the battles between Richard the Lionheart and Saladin. The Fourth Crusade, begun by Innocent III in 1202, intended to retake the Holy Land but was soon subverted by Venetians who used the forces to sack the Christian city of Zara. Innocent excommunicated the Venetians and crusaders. Eventually the crusaders arrived in Constantinople, but due to strife which arose between them and the Byzantines, rather than proceed to the Holy Land the crusaders instead sacked Constantinople and other parts of Asia Minor effectively establishing the Latin Empire of Constantinople in Greece and Asia Minor. This was effectively the last crusade sponsored by the papacy later crusades were sponsored by individuals. Thus, though Jerusalem was held for nearly a century and other strongholds in the Near East would remain in Christian possession much longer, the crusades in the Holy Land ultimately failed to establish permanent Christian kingdoms. Islamic expansion into Europe would renew and remain a threat for centuries culminating in the campaigns of Suleiman the Magnificent in the sixteenth century. On the other hand, the crusades in southern Spain, southern Italy, and Sicily eventually lead to the demise of Islamic power in the regions the Teutonic knights expanded Christian domains in Eastern Europe, and the much less frequent crusades within Christendom, such as the Albigensian Crusade, achieved their goal of maintaining doctrinal unity. [55]

Medieval Inquisition

The Medieval Inquisition is a series of Inquisitions (Roman Catholic Church bodies charged with suppressing heresy) from around 1184, including the Episcopal Inquisition (1184-1230s) and later the Papal Inquisition (1230s). It was in response to large popular movements throughout Europe considered apostate or heretical to Western Catholicism, in particular the Cathars and the Waldensians in southern France and northern Italy. These were the first inquisition movements of many that would follow.

The inquisitions in combination with the brutal Albigensian Crusade were fairly successful in eliminating mass heresy. When they started, the heretical sects were quite strong and growing, but by the fourtenth century the Waldensians had been driven underground and the Cathars had been slaughtered en masse or forced to recant.

Rise of Universities

Modern western universities have their origins directly in the Medieval Church. They began as cathedral schools, and all students were considered clerics. This was a benefit as it placed the students under ecclesiastical jurisdiction and thus imparted certain legal immunities and protections. The cathedral schools eventually became partially detached from the cathedrals and formed their own institutions, the earliest being the University of Paris (c. 1150), the University of Bologna (1088), and the University of Oxford (1096).


Why The Conflict Between Jews and Samaritans?

This map shows Samaria at the time Jesus lived. Around 930 B.C. Israel divided in two. Samaria was part of the northern kingdom of Israel with Judea as the southern kingdom. The kings of Israel were mostly wicked. To keep their people from going to Jerusalem to worship, they set up two altars with golden calves, one in Samaria, and one way up north in Dan.

In 732 B.C., the Assyrians swooped in and conquered the northern kingdom. The Assyrians killed a lot of people, but many they carried off to Assyria. In their place, Assyria planted pagan Gentiles from around their empire and these Gentiles intermarried with remaining Israelites. Many of their descendants considered themselves Jews.

The Jews in Judea did not agree. They considered the Samaritans to be a mongrel race and saw many problems with the way they practiced Judaism. This offended the Samaritans. Then in 585 B.C. Judea itself was conquered and many of its citizens were carried off to Babylon. After 70 years of captivity, when Babylon was conquered by the Medes and Persians, the Jews were encouraged to return to Jerusalem and rebuild their temple.

Many were enjoying their life in Persia and chose to stay there or to move to other locations, but some did go back to Judea. They tried in fits and starts to rebuild their temple, and the Samaritans wanted to help. The Jews turned them down. The Samaritans began to interfere with the project by petitioning the kings of Persia. Bad feelings deepened between the Samaritans and the Jews.


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