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various references to passages of the Old Testament. It would seem that the Master had a three-fold purpose in thus recalling to the minds of His hearers the prophecies concerning the details of the suffering and ignominy that should be heaped upon the Messiah. First, in order that the people might recognize that He was the Messiah when they should see Him suffer all those things that had been foretold of the Messiah by the seers of old. Second, to sustain and strengthen the faith of those who already looked upon Him as the Messiah, so that when these things should come to pass they might not be scandalized in Him. They would then be prepared to accept His sufferings and death as a necessary consequence of His Messiahship. Third, as St. Cyril explains in his commentary on the Gospels, "to convince them that He foreknew His Passion, and of his own accord came to it."'234 These latter two purposes were exemplified in the words which Christ spoke to His Apostles immediately after the Last Supper. As they left the supper-room to proceed to Mount Olivet, the Master said to them: "All you shall be scandalized in me this night. For it is written: I will strike the shepherd, and the sheep of the flock shall be dispersed."235 The Apostles were acquainted with this prophecy of Zacharias, but now for the first time they were enabled to realize their application to the Master whom they have learned to know and love.

Another prediction of Christ's Passion is recounted by St. Luke, which was made by the Saviour only to the chosen twelve. Taking them apart He said to them: "Behold, we go up to Jersualem, and all things shall be accomplished which were written by the prophets concerning the Son of Man. For he shall be delivered to the Gentiles, and shall be mocked, and scourged, and spit upon: And after they have scourged him, they will put him to death; and the third day he shall rise again."'236 The Apostles, despite their knowledge of these prophecies concerning the Messiah, and their conviction that this Messiah was no other than the Master whose cause they had espoused, had evidently never before connected these things with the person of Christ. The Master in recalling these prophecies to their minds on this occasion, carefully prepared the way for apperception, the easy linking of the two ideas,

234 St. Thomas, Catena Aurea, Vol. V, p. 617. 235 St. Matthew, XXVI, 31; St. Mark, XIV, 27.

but though the Apostles may have followed His thought and understood His meaning, their emotions no doubt hindered them from comprehending fully the lesson which the Master wished to impart. They could not bear to think that He whom they so loved and whose power they had seen exemplified so frequently, could be thus seized and ill-treated even by His enemies. St. Luke adds "And they understood none of these things, and this word was hid from them and they understood not the things that were said.'


In the Saviour's interview with Nicodemus, as recorded by St. John, we find another reference to a significant event of the sojourn of the Israelites in the desert. This ruler of the Jews had come to Jesus by night to question Him concerning His origin and His doctrine. The Master explained to him the necessity of baptism and faith in Son of God, who had been sent by the Father for the redemption of mankind. In indicating the means by which the redemption was to be accomplished, the Master said: "And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the desert, so must the Son of Man be lifted up: That whosoever believeth in Him may not perish; but may have life everlasting."238 Now, Nicodemus, as the Saviour stated in an earlier part of the discourse, was "a master in Israel", a teacher of the Mosaic law. This mention of the lifting up of the serpent at once called up a train of apperceiving ideas, the murmurings of the Israelites in the desert because of the lack of food and water, the punishment meted out to them in the form of fiery serpents, the death of many as the result of poisonous bites, the repentance of the Israelites for their sin, their petitions to Moses to beg his intercession with God, and the command of the Lord to make a brazen serpent as a sign, so that those who looked upon it might live. The new idea now presented by the Master to be connected with this apperception mass was, that as the brazen serpent secured life to those who looked upon it, so would the glance of those who would look with love and confidence upon Christ nailed to the cross, obtain for them the life of the soul. Nicodemus was thus enabled to recognize the spiritual significance of this text of the Book of Numbers.

After the resurrection of our Saviour, when He appeared

237 St. Luke, XVIII, 34.

to the two disciples on their way to Emmaus, the prophecies of the Old Testament were the means used by Him to solve their doubts and allay their fears. They explained to the Master how their hopes had been thwarted; that this Jesus of Nazareth, "a prophet mighty in work and word," who they hoped would prove to be the Redeemer, had been condemned to death and crucified. The Master rebuked them with the words: "O foolish and slow of heart to believe in all things which the prophets have spoken. Ought not Christ to have suffered these things and so to enter into his glory?''239 He then began with Moses and cited all the prophets, expounding to these incredulous disciples all the passages that related to the sufferings and death of the Messiah. When He had finished His recital of prophecies, being constrained by the two disciples, He consented to partake of a repast with them, and they recognized Him in the blessing and breaking of bread. Here again we see how the Master prepared the minds of these men by citations from the Old Testament, then linked these with His own person by an action which convinced them of His identity. These two disciples, as St. Luke tells us, hastened back immediately to Jerusalem to communicate the good news of the apparition of Christ to the rest of His followers. Scarcely had they joined their companions when the Master stood in their midst. Once more He recalls to their minds the Messianic prophecies and says: "These are the words which I spoke to you while I was yet with you, that all things must needs be fulfilled, which are written in the law of Moses, and in the prophets, and in the psalms, concerning me. Thus it is written, and thus it behoved Christ to suffer, and to rise again from the dead the third day. "240

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A sufficient number of examples has been cited to indicate the importance of the references to the Old Testament in the teaching of our Saviour. He, who knows the minds and hearts of all men, and is aware of the standards used by them in their judgments, realized that there was no other piece of literature, sacred or profane, that was comparable in the eyes of the Jewish people to the Hebrew Bible, which contained the history of their forefathers, the laws given to them by

239 St. Luke, XXIV, 25-26.

Jehovah, the God of Israel, and the prophecies of their seers of many centuries. It was the height of their ambition to become proficient in the knowledge of these Sacred Writings, and most of their educational endeavor was directed toward this end. Possessed of a thorough appreciation of this fact, the Master used the best means of reaching both their minds and their hearts by appealing to the Sacred Text, indicating the points of belief and practice therein contained to which they clung so tenaciously, and leading them from the knowledge of the "letter of the law that killeth" to an understanding of "the spirit of the law that giveth life."



In the parable we have perhaps the most characteristic feature of the teaching of our Divine Master. With no other educator of ancient or modern times is this method of teaching so intimately associated; in fact, the mere mention of the term parable immediately brings to the minds of those acquainted with the Sacred Writings, those pages of Holy Writ wherein the most profound truths are presented by means of familiar and commonplace objects. Herein we find the best example and the most perfect development of this method of teaching. Etymologists derive the term parable from the Greek verb rapaẞáλλew, to throw, or to place side by side, hence the meaning of the word to compare. In the parable, therefore, there is contained either literally expressed or implied, a comparison of two or more objects for the purpose of indicating the resemblances existing between them. The parable, however, differs from the simile or metaphor in that it is a developed, drawn-out comparison, and not a brief, single statement of a similarity of objects.

The purpose of the parable is to illustrate a supernatural truth by means of images from the world of nature and human life. According to Fonck, four elements are necessary to constitute a parable: 1) the discourse must have a certain internal independence and completeness; 2) it must contain a higher supernatural truth; 3) this truth must be clothed in figurative language, and 4) there must be a comparison between the truth and its image. 241 Hence, "the Gospel parable," he says, "is the illustration of a supernatural truth by means of a simile given in a complete self-dependent discourse. It is precisely because of its use of images that the parable is such an effective means of teaching, for its fundamental principle is therefore necessarily "from the concrete to the abstract, from the known to the related unknown." Our Divine Master realized fully its value as a


241 Fonck, The Parables of the Gospel, p. 21. New York, 1915. 242 Ibid., p. 22.

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