Jacob's Ladder

“How do you know me?” (John 1:46),

The encounter between Jesus and Nathaniel is one example of how the evangelists layered in the identity of Jesus with scriptural texts that went all the way back to the patriarchs and to the promise made to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. Even in those ancient texts, the promise of the Incarnation was first hinted at in imagery and stories Jesus would in effect fulfill centuries later.

The Odor of Sanctity

“They were fishermen” (Matt 4:17).

When Pope Francis said that shepherds should smell like their sheep, he made his point with sensory clarity. Bishops should get out of their chancery offices and liturgical rounds to spend time with their people. Anyone who has been around sheep or can conjure up the smell knows that they exude a pungency that stays with you, defines you as their shepherd.

Jacob's Ladder

“He took the little girl by the hand and she arose” (Matt 9:26).

The theme of heaven and earth coming together begins in Genesis, when God expresses concern that Adam and Eve might become “one of us” if they eat of the tree of life. Later, the human ambition to create a tower that will reach up to heaven is thwarted. Even though God has risked the divine identity by sharing the divine image and likeness with humanity, divine prerogatives are withheld. But it is gradually revealed as the red thread of salvation history that God intends to share the fullness of life with creation.