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From Tabor to Calvary: Did God Abandon Jesus?

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Dr. Marcellino D'Ambrosio - Free Lenten Resources!From Tabor to Calvary:

"Did God abandon Jesus?"

by Marcellino D'Ambrosio


Right Click, Save Target As - TransfigurationTo Listen to the PodCast of From Mt. Tabor to Calvary, Click here!





Transfiguration, Passion, Mel Gibson, Dr. Marcellino D'Ambrosio

This examination of the relationship between the Transfiguration and the Passion of Christ, between Mount Tabor and Calvary, makes for helpful reading either for the Feast of the Transfiguration on August 6 or during Holy Week and Lent.


Appearances can be deceiving.  After all, Jesus was just another Galilean.  His hands were the rough hands of a workman.  People in Nazareth knew his mother.  Some even remembered the man they thought was his dad.


Yet when Jesus went up on Mt. Tabor with his three closest disciples, his appearance changed.  The glory of his divinity suddenly became visible, shining through his humanity, dazzling his overwhelmed disciples.


But then two others showed up--Moses and Elijah.  Of all the great figures of the Old Testament, why them?  The Jews were not abstract but rather very concrete thinkers.  When they thought about the first five books of the Bible, “the Law,” or “Torah”, they thought of a person – Moses.  When they considered the Bible’s prophetic writings, the greatest prophet came to mind-- Elijah.  The Law and the Prophets.  That was the Jewish way of saying “the Bible.”  Moses and Elijah witness to Jesus because all of Scripture witnesses to him.


But what did the three of them talk about?  His miracles?  His teaching?  Neither.  They spoke about his “departure” soon to be accomplished in Jerusalem.  This is what is predicted and described in a mysterious way all throughout the Law, the Prophets, and the Psalms, namely his march straight through indescribable suffering and death on his way to resurrected glory.


Crucifixation of Christ, Trasfiguration on Mt. Tabor

One thing that has troubled many people about his passion are his words from the cross “My God, my God, why have you abandoned me?” (Matt 27:46). Some have even read into this a mistaken theology that Jesus, taking our place, experienced the most terrible consequence of our sin, namely being cut off from communion from the Father, separated from God and his grace.  Not a chance.  That fact that Jesus bore our sin cannot mean this.  He is not a sinner.  His communion with the Father and the Spirit can never be interrupted.  The cloud overshadowing the disciples there was the same cloud of the Spirit that overshadowed Mary at the annunciation.  The voice of the Father resounded forth from it. The Father and the Spirit were with Him on Mt. Tabor.  The Father and the Spirit were with Him on Golgotha. 


So how do we take Jesus’ words?  They are a quote from a psalm.  In fact the ancient Jewish practice was to designate a particular psalm not by a number but by its first few words (we still do this with conciliar documents such as “Lumen Gentium”).  There is a psalm in fact that begins with this phrase, Psalm 22.  Make this psalm part of your meditation on the passion this Lent.  In a remarkable way it predicts the mockery that is hurled upon Christ that fateful day, the piercing of his hands and feet by a pack of “dogs” (a uncomplimentary term used in those days to refer to gentiles), the gambling for his clothing, even his eventual deliverance by the God who hears his cry.  So Jesus, from the cross, is proclaiming what is manifest in the transfiguration: “all the law and the prophets bear witness to me and to what is happening right now.”


This is why Jesus came.  This is why for ten chapters in Luke’s gospel, Jesus is resolutely making his way towards Jerusalem (Lk 9-19).  His teaching and his miracles are remarkable.  But if he had not laid down his life for us, if he had not been raised from the dead, we’d still be in our sins.  The entire drama of human history finds its center and its meaning in these few tumultuous days.


The Passion of Christ by Mel Gibson

Some have asked why Mel Gibson’s movie was only about Jesus’ passion, and not the entire life of Christ.  This is the reason.  Theologically, the page dividing the New and Old Testaments is not the gold-edged one between Malachi and Matthew, but rather the crimson-tinged page of the passion.


And if you’ve see this movie you understand why Peter, James, and John needed the glory of Tabor before enduring the horror of Golgotha.



This was originally published in Our Sunday Visitor as a reflection on the readings for the 2nd Sunday of Lent, cycle C (Gen 15:5-18; Phil 3:17- 4:1; 9:28-36).  It is reproduced here with the permission of the author.


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40 Days, 40 Ways: A New Look at Lent

40 Days, 40 Ways

Move beyond the typical “giving something up” and take a fresh look at Lent. Marcellino D’Ambrosio offers forty ideas, activities, and devotions designed to strengthen your spiritual life and help Catholics get the most out of Lent. Each idea is accompanied by a short reflection expanding its deeper spiritual meaning and a challenge to help you incorporate that idea in practical ways. 

Each copy is autographed!

Call for special bulk orders for Lenten Studies!

I Believe - The Heart of Catholic Faith

First given as a Lenten retreat, this is an awesome 4 session program to revitalize your faith and prepare you for the joy of Easter. Great for individuals or families or small groups. The workbook is a treasure of discussion questions, devotions and spiritual exercises that can serve as an easy-to-follow roadmap through the Lent or Holy Week that will break you out of stale patterns and enrich both your prayer and your understanding of the central truths of the Catholic faith, empowering you to share that faith with others.



Early Church Fathers - VOL II
The Early Church Father Vol IIDr. Marcellino D’Ambrosio, host of EWTN’s Early Church Fathers TV series, continues to acquaint us with the colorful personalities of the earliest Christian teachers, making their dynamic message accessible, enjoyable, and relevant to the challenges of everyday life. This, the second volume of series, consists of shows produced in 2006 and covering fascinating personalities such as the courageous St. John Chrysostom, the outspoken bible scholar, Jerome, and 17 other heroes of the Early Church.


Heaven, Hell and Purgatory
Heaven, Hell and Purgatory, Dr. Marcellino D'AmbrosioHow could a loving God ever condemn someone to hell for all eternity? If Jesus paid the price for our sins, why would anyone need to experience Purgatory before entering heaven? What awaits us in heaven and why should we be excited about going there? If you've ever been stumped trying to answer these questions, you need to get a recording of this talk which contains thought provoking insights guaranteed to inspire and clarify. 45 minutes, followed by questions and answers.

Retail Price - $8.95

Who Needs Confession? Dr. Marcellino D'Ambrosio, Catholic ChurchWho Needs Confession?

Since this talk dispels many of the common misconceptions about this sacrament, it has helped many find their way back to confession and has helped others find greater fruitfulness and frequency in their celebration of this sacrament.

Retail Price - $8.95

Getting More Out of the Mass

Getting More out of the Mass, The Eucharist, Sacrifice, Dr. Marcellino D'Ambrosioby: Marcellino D'Ambrosio, Ph.D.

Discusses the ways Jesus is truly present in the Mass with an especially clear and compelling explanation of Christ’s real, bodily presence in the Eucharist. Includes practical tips on making each mass a more life-changing and empowering event.

Liturgy of the Hours - (Set of 4) Leather | Free Shipping | No Tax
 The Liturgy of the Hours complete Four 4 volume leather set, Divine Office or Breviary of the Roman Catholic Church This complete set of THE LITURGY OF THE HOURS in four volumes is Leather bound and sold only as a set. This is the perfect way to delve deeper into the Church Fathers and the History of the Church-- one of the best possible Lenten activities. FREE SHIPPING -- No TAX!









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