Father Z takes a look at the latest hoof in mouth episode of the Pope:
I’ve been so busy in the last days that I haven’t paid much attention to some news stories floating around out there… and I have been the happier for it.
One story, however, could use some drilling, because it is causing some consternation.
On 27 Dec 2015 for the Feast of the Holy Family, Pope Francis said something (HERE) that made me scratch my head a little. Emphasis mine.
At the end of that pilgrimage, Jesus returned to Nazareth and was obedient to his parents (cf. Lk 2:51). This image also contains a beautiful teaching about our families. A pilgrimage does not end when we arrive at our destination, but when we return home and resume our everyday lives, putting into practice the spiritual fruits of our experience. We know what Jesus did on that occasion. Instead of returning home with his family, he stayed in Jerusalem, in the Temple, causing great distress to Mary and Joseph who were unable to find him. For this little “escapade”, Jesus probably had to beg forgiveness of his parents. The Gospel doesn’t say this, but I believe that we can presume it. Mary’s question, moreover, contains a certain reproach, revealing the concern and anguish which she and Joseph felt. …
Christ “probably had to apologize” for this “scappatella… fling, bit of fun, escapade”.
I think Francis is trying to emphasize the human drama of the moment in the Gospel so as to make the scenario more vivid to the people listening in that moment, rather than add a deeper teaching point to posterity.
For my part, I think people can handle reflections on Christ as Eternal Word made Savior rather than Eternal Word made Ferris Bueller.
No, scratch that. I don’t recall that Ferris apologized for his scappatella. He was a bad boy. The young Jesus was a good boy… who would have apologized. Right?
I’m not sure about that.
This is a good opportunity to drill more deeply into the Mystery of the Finding in the Temple, which I have done in the past in my Patristic Rosary Project. Let’s drill deeper.
First, consider what the Lord replied (Luke 2 – Douay):
And seeing him, they wondered. And his mother said to him: Son, why hast thou done so to us? behold thy father and I have sought thee sorrowing. And he said to them: How is it that you sought me? did you not know, that I must be about my father’s business? And they understood not the word that he spoke unto them.
In so answering His earthly parents, the Lord teaches that the Father’s will is the only thing to which He must be obedient. In humility, and according to filial piety/duty, He submitted Himself to Joseph and Mary. But in truth, a superior filial piety/duty guided Him.
The scene of the Finding in the Temple is one of the only bits of information we have about this era of the Lord’s early life in Scripture. Therefore, great writers and thinkers have given it their consideration.
With due respect to the person of the Roman Pontiff, I can’t square this supposition about an apology with what Fathers of the Church have to say about this striking moment in the youth of the Lord.
Frankly, what he suggested initially sounded to me a bit like Nestorianism. (NB: I’m not saying that Francis is a Nestorian but some dope or two out there will claim that.) Why? Nestorianism is Christological heresy that proposes a disconnect between Christ’s human and divine natures. Nestorius (+450 – influenced by Theodore of Mopsuestia – spit here) wanted to defend two natures in Christ against those who claimed that Christ had only one nature, a divine nature. Monophysites (“One nature-ites”) propose that Christ’s humanity was entirely absorbed by His divinity and therefore He had only one nature, divine. Against monophysites, Nestorians propose that Christ has two natures, loosely united in such a way that the Person Jesus is not identical with the God the Son but rather is united with the Son, who lives in him. A Nestorian Jesus would not have the same unity of intellect and will as the real Jesus. Such a Jesus could, therefore, be imagined as being apologetic for His acts, as not knowing what He was doing, as acting in His human nature in a way that is not consistent with His divine nature – of doing things for which he ought to have and would have apologized.
On the contrary, I respond, the Lord had nothing to apologize for in being concerned firstly with His higher duty. The Lord taught this to Mary and Joseph. Scripture says in a pointed way that Mary pondered Christ’s statement. “And his mother kept all these words in her heart.” She learned to see her Son in a new way.
Christ apologizing seems to me to contradict the point of His words to Mary.
Scripture doesn’t say: “And he said to them: How is it that you sought me? did you not know, that I must be about my father’s business? And they understood not the word that He spoke unto them. And therefore spoke Joseph unto Him saying, “Callest thou that an answer? What sayest Thou to Thy sorrowing mother?” And thereafter Mary, sorrowing, said “Thou art sooo grounded.”
And… does Christ apologize anywhere else in Scripture? Even when teaching hard teachings? His teaching in the Temple to His mother and Father was hard teaching, after all. Did He say in John 6: “This is the bread that came down from heaven. Not as your fathers did eat manna, and are dead. He that eateth this bread, shall live for ever. These things he said, teaching in the synagogue, in Capharnaum. Many therefore of his disciples, hearing it, said: This saying is hard, and who can hear it? But Jesus, knowing in himself, that his disciples murmured at this, said to them, Sorry! Hey! Wait! Don’t leave! I apologize!” Or in Matthew 19: “And I say to you, that whosoever shall put away his wife, except it be for fornication, and shall marry another, committeth adultery: and he that shall marry her that is put away, committeth adultery. His disciples say unto him: If the case of a man with his wife be so, it is not expedient to marry. And He replied, Verily, you are right. I take it back. I apologize.”
Let’s move on.
Venerable Bede says in his Homilies on the Gospels 1, 19:
“Clearly the abode in the hearts of the elect of the holy Trinity, the nature of whose divinity is one and indivisible, cannot be disparate. Therefore, when He was Sitting in the temple, the Lord said, “I must be about my Father’s business,” and this is a declaration of His power and glory which are coeternal with God the Father’s. [That isn’t something to apologize for.] However, when He returned to Nazareth, He was subject to His parents, and this is an indication of His true humanity as well as an example of humility. He was subject to human beings in that human nature in which He is less than the Father. Hence He Himself said, “I go to the Father because the Father is greater than I.”
Ambrose of Milan (+397) helps us sort out the Lord’s dutiful attitude of obedience to Joseph and Mary in view of His duties to God the Father.
Go here to read the rest. This incident on one level is not as serious as many misstatements, mistakes, errors and plain baffling sayings by the Pope. I doubt if the Pope meant any disrespect by his remark. I think it is merely an example of how he frequently makes statements that are half thought through, not realizing the implications of what he is saying.
On another level it is all too redolent of the lack of awe that people too often display today about Christ. He is not your pal or your good buddy. He is not some sort of ancient sage. He is not an error filled human like the rest of us. He is I AM, the creator of All, who died for us to free us from our sins against Him. The cavalier way people treat Christ today is a sin. If only some of the biggest fans of this Pope would treat Christ with the respect they accord his Vicar.