Who is Jesus?

Who is Jesus?

Prayer at Gathsemene

In chemistry,
He turned water to wine.

In biology,
He was born without the normal

In physics,
He disapproved the law of gravity
when He ascended into heaven;

In economics,
He disapproved the law of
diminishing return by feeding 5000 men with
two fishes & 5 loaves of bread;

In medicine,
He cured the sick and the blind
without administering a single dose of drugs,

In history,
He is the beginning and the end;

In government,
He said that He shall be called
Wonderful Counselor, Prince of Peace;

In religion,
He said no one comes to the Father
except through Him;

So. Who is He? He is Jesus!

Join me and let’s celebrate Him; He is worthy.

The eyes beholding this message shall not behold evil,

The hand that will send this message to everybody shall not labor in vain,

and The mouth saying Amen to this prayer shall smile

Remain in God and seek his face always.


In God I’ve found everything!

The Greatest Man in History

Jesus had no servants,
yet they called Him Master.

Had no degree,
yet they called Him Teacher.

Had no medicines,
yet they called Him Healer.

He had no army,
yet kings feared Him.

He won no military battles,
yet He conquered the world.

He committed no crime,
yet they crucified Him.

He was buried in a tomb,
yet He lives today.

I feel honoured to serve such a Leader who loves us!

If you believe in God
and in Jesus Christ His Son.

Send this to all whom you care for.

Let someone know of the works of Our Lord JESUS.

Let the whole world appreciate the Lord of Lords.

Do not hesitate to spread the

Jesus bless u- Amen!!

FAITH CONFERENCE 2013: Skit by Jesus Youth

FAITH CONFERENCE 2013: Skit by Jesus Youth

Jesus at Twelve 24
Jesus at Twelve 24 (Photo credit: Waiting For The Word)
Jesus H. Christ
Jesus H. Christ (Photo credit: angelofsweetbitter2009)
Stained glass at St John the Baptist's Anglica...
Stained glass at St John the Baptist’s Anglican Church http://www.stjohnsashfield.org.au, Ashfield, New South Wales. Illustrates Jesus’ description of himself “I am the Good Shepherd” (from the Gospel of John, chapter 10, verse 11). This version of the image shows the detail of his face. The memorial window is also captioned: “To the Glory of God and in Loving Memory of William Wright. Died 6th November, 1932. Aged 70 Yrs.” (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Corcovado jesus
Corcovado jesus (Photo credit: @Doug88888)

Lenten Message of the Holy Father Pope Benedict XVI – 2013 (Malayalam Translation)

Lenten Message of the Holy Father Pope Benedict XVI – 2013

(Click here for Malayalam Translation)

Here is the Malayalam translation of the Lenten Message of the Holy Father Pope Benedict XVI for the year 2013. The theme of the message focuses on the compelling relationship between faith and charity; between believing in God, the God revealed by Jesus Christ, and the charity that is the fruit of the Holy Spirit and that leads us to the horizon of a deeper openness to God and neighbour.

Conference of Religious India (CRI)

CRI (Conference of Religious India)

Origin and Development of CRI

 “Major Superiors can usefully meet together in conferences and councils, so that by combined effort they may work to achieve more fully the purpose of each institute, while respecting the autonomy, nature and spirit of each. They can also deal with affairs which are common to all, and work to establish suitable coordination and cooperation with Episcopal conferences and individual Bishops”. (Canon 708)

With the coming into existence of an independent nation, the Church in India had to rely on its own sons and daughters for her vitality and mission. God blessed us with numerous vocations to Religious Life. Drawing inspiration from Pope Pius XII, the Major Superiors of Religious Institutes in India met in conference, separately at first as men and women in 1960-61, and then jointly in 1962. In 1963 the Holy See formally erected CRI by approving the Statutes. The same year it became a registered society under the Societies Registration Act of 1860.

Growing along with the “aggiornamento” of Vatican II, CRI Became an effective means of renewal during the 1960’s, as indicated by the themes of the National Conferences :

Chastity in the modern world (1961); Sanctifying Grace (1962); Religious Poverty, Training of Religious (1963); Religious Life and Liturgy (1965); Religious Obedience (1966); Renewal and Adaptation (1967)

The 1970’s and 1980’s saw an effort and effective contribution towards the re-orientation of Apostolate. This was indirectly influenced by the “Church in India Today” Seminar (1969) and the Synod of Bishops on “Justice in the World”. (1972). Based on the experience gained, and the reading of the signs of the time, the Statutes went in for a revision and a new Statute was approved in 1980. With it, structural modifications began. The Brothers became a distinct section. The permanent Secretary system changed to a National Secretary, with a specific term of office, and responsibilities. An independent Secretariat came into existence with additional Religious staff other than the National Secretary. Financial restructuring facilitated more effective functioning of CRI. The theme of the National Assemblies during the 1980’s, and their statements, indicate the prophetic role of religious leadership in the country:

The 1992 National Assembly in Calcutta called for a breakthrough from prophetic animation to prophetic action that can bring people-centred and issue-based dynamics into the organisation. Consequently, the Assembly called for the revitalisation of CRI at all levels. The rationale of the revitalisation was the situation of the poor in our country, and the prophetic voice that speaks within us as Religious. The five-fold thrust of revitalisation was

(1) the cry of My people; (2) proclamation in deed; (3) prophetic – activist leadership; (4) liberation movement thrust; (5) solidarity in networking

The Regional and Local levels were strengthened, with structures and specific objectives, aimed at making the CRI an instrument capable of responding more precisely to the needs of the Religious, of the Christian community and of society as a whole.

Though the CRI is a conference of Major Superiors, it is perceived as a body of 1,15,000 religious leaders spread all over the country, and involved in the lives of every group of people.

Mission & Vision

“Major Superiors can usefully meet together in conferences and council, so that by combined effort they may work to achieve more fully the purose of each institute, while respecting the autonomy, nature and spirit of each. They can also deal with affrairs which are common to all, and work to establish sutable coordination and cooperation with Episcopal conferences and individual Bishops”. (Canon 709)

Goals of CRI

1.To bring together the major superiors of Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life, So that they share the experiences, challenges and concerns of their religious commitment and get mutually enriched.

2. To make combined effort to achieve more fully the purpose of each Institute, while respecting the autonomy, nature and spirit of each (CIC c. 708).    

3. To deal with matters common to all Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life, especially those affecting consecrated life in India, and to work to establish suitable co-ordination and co-operation with various Episcopal bodies and with individual bishops (CIC c. 708)

4. To promote fellowship at all levels of the Christian community in a spirit of humble service and in collaboration with all sections of the people of God and all people of good will.

Functions of CRI   

The goals of CRI are to be achieved more specifically through the following objectives and corresponding functions.

1. To focus the attention of the religious constantly on their common mission within the Church, according to their own charism and context of the complex Indian reality:          

a. By helping its members bear witness to the unique role of the contemplation of the Father in the mission of Christ; and by supporting the emergence of new forms of religious life in harmony with the Indian spiritual reality;

b. By fostering in the religious, both a sense of belonging to the local Church and a genuine concern for and openness to the needs of the universal Church;         

c. By developing among the religious, both a sense of belonging to the local Church and a genuine concern for and openness to the needs of the universal Church;

d. Urging them to proclaim the Good News of Jesus Christ, leading people to an explicit acceptance of Christ in the Church if the Spirit so calls them;

e. Bearing witness to Christ’s preferential love for the poor and the marginalized in the choice of their apostolic work and target groups;

f. Calling for a sense of urgency to share their Christ experience with those of other faiths, in a spirit of mutual dialogue, and with non-believers, in a search for common basic values;              

g. Involving the process of inculturation in all aspects of life and work: liturgy, spirituality, theology, value systems, lifestyle, etc.

h. Demanding that the religious keep abreast of the Indian situation and assume their duties as citizens of a country beset with many problems, among which stands out the need for national integration; and

i. Furthering research into those spiritual and cultural values, a deeper understanding and assimilation of which is imperative for religious to be more authentic and relevant Christian witnesses in the local context.         

2. To pool resources and coordinate efforts:      

a. By Enabling its members through regular meetings and timely communications to share common concerns and to set and review goals;

b. By encouraging inter-institutional collaboration in those aspects of the Church’s activities, which call for coordinated efforts.                

3. To provide opportunities for consultation and dialogue:           

a. With the laity in a spirit of openness and trust, so that common problems can be resolved in a sense of mutual interdependence;            

b. With its own members and other groups, including government authorities when needed.   

4. To offer service:         

a. By Helping the religious to grow in all aspects of religious life and particularly in the convictions that their commitment requires of them: a deep life of prayer and the spirit of contemplation;

b. By assisting its members in their task of formation and in the renewal of religious life;

c. By providing opportunities for major superiors to develop their role as animators and leaders;

d. By fostering the study of those trends and developments within the Church which affect the role of religious and by encouraging the formulation of guidelines for action related to them.   

5. To Promote relationship:                        

a. CRI does not interfere with the legitimate autonomy of each Institute and the responsibility of the respective superiors; however, being a forum for communion among the religious, it can have an inspirational role and be a dynamic element for religious life in India.

b. Relations with bishops: CRI acknowledges the authority of individual bishops as per the provisions of Canon Law and of the various episcopal bodies of India and other episcopal bodies, and works in collaboration with them in matters of common concern for the Church in India.

c. At the level of the universal Church, CRI loyally accepts the unique role of the successor of Peter and readily follows the directives of the Apostolic See.

Conference of Religious India (CRI)
Address : Masihgarh, New Friends Colony P.O.
Okhla, New Delhi – 110 025
Phone : +91 11 2692.3911, 2691.9550
Fax : +91 11 2691.8932
E-mail : cridelhi@gmail.com
The nearest Railway Station is Nizamuddin (NZM).
The landmarks are Holy Family & Escort Hospitals

Saint Joseph / St Joseph / St. Joseph

Saint Joseph

Saint Joseph with the Infant Jesus, Guido Reni (c. 1635)
Born Bethlehem,[1] c.90 BC[1]
Died Nazareth, July 20, 18 AD[1] (traditional)
Feast March 19 – Saint Joseph, Husband of Mary (Western Christianity), May 1 – St Joseph the Worker (Roman Catholic Church),The Sunday after the Nativity of the Lord (Eastern Christianity)
Attributes Carpenter’s square or tools, the infant Jesus, staff with lily blossoms.
Patronage The Catholic Church, unborn children, fathers, immigrants, workers, against doubt and hesitation, and of a happy death, Vietnam, Philippines. Many others; see [3].

Joseph (Hebrew יוֹסֵף, “Yosef”; Greek: Ἰωσήφ) is a figure in the Gospels, the husband of Mary the mother of Jesus and the guardian of Jesus Christ. In Roman Catholic, Eastern Orthodox and Anglican Christian traditions he is regarded as Saint Joseph.

The Pauline epistles, generally considered the earliest extant Christian records, make no reference to Jesus’ father; nor does the Gospel of Mark, generally considered the first of the gospels.[2] The first appearance of Joseph is therefore in the gospels of Matthew and Luke. Each contains a genealogy of Jesus tracing his ancestry back to King David, but the two are from different sons of David; Matthew follows the major royal line from Solomon, while Luke follows a minor line from Nathan, another son of David and Bathsheba. Consequently all the names between David and Joseph are different. According to Matthew “Jacob was the father of Joseph,” while according to Luke, Joseph, or possibly Jesus, is said to be “of Heli.” Some scholars reconcile the genealogies by viewing the Solomonic lineage as Joseph’s major royal line, and the Nathanic lineage in Luke to be Mary’s minor line.[3][4]

Matthew and Luke are also the only gospels to include the infancy narratives, and again they differ. In Luke, Joseph lives in Nazareth and travels to Bethlehem in compliance with the requirements of a Roman census. Subsequently, Jesus was born there. In Matthew, Joseph was in Bethlehem, the city of David, where Jesus is born, and then moves to Nazareth with his family after the death of Herod. Matthew is the only Gospel to include the narrative of the Massacre of the Innocents and the Flight into Egypt: following the nativity, Joseph stays in Bethlehem for an unspecified period (perhaps two years) until forced by Herod to take refuge in Egypt; on the death of Herod he brings his family back to Judea, and settles in Nazareth. After this point there is no further mention of Joseph by name, although the story of Jesus in the Temple, in Jesus’ 12th year, includes a reference to “both his parents”. Christian tradition represents Mary as a widow during the adult ministry of her son. The gospels describe Joseph as a “tekton” (τέκτων); traditionally the word has been taken to mean “carpenter”,[5] though the Greek term evokes an artisan with wood in general, or an artisan in iron or stone.[6] Very little other information on Joseph is given in the gospels, in which he never speaks.

Joseph is venerated as a saint in the Catholic, Eastern Orthodox, Oriental Orthodox, Anglican, and Lutheran faiths. In Catholic and other traditions, Joseph is the patron saint of workers and has several feast days. He was also declared to be the patron saint and protector of the Catholic Church by Pope Pius IX in 1870, and is the patron of several countries and regions. With the growth of Mariology, the theological field of Josephology has also grown and since the 1950s centres for studying it have been formed.[7][8]


Paul and the canonical Gospels

Holy Family with the Holy Spirit by Murillo, 1675-1682.

Joseph in the New Testament

The epistles of Paul are generally regarded as the oldest extant Christian writings. These mention Jesus’ mother (without naming her), but do not refer to his father – other than God (Romans 15:26 etc.). The oldest gospel, that of Mark, also does not mention Jesus’s father. Joseph first appears in the Gospels of Matthew and Luke, generally regarded as later than Mark. Luke may name Joseph’s father as Heli, although Lightfoot, Adam Clarke and others read “of Heli” as an elipsis, saying that Mary was “of Heli.” Matthew names Joseph’s father as Jacob, which parallels the Old Testament Joseph (whose father was also named Jacob) and, according to Spong (2007), is in keeping with that gospel’s depiction of Jesus as a second Moses.[2] This theme is developed further in the infancy narratives, which, like the genealogies, have the function of establishing Jesus as the promised Messiah, the descendant of David, born in Bethlehem. If the Solomonic major royal line in Matthew is correct then Joseph’s father was named Jacob (or James), coincidentally the name given to the James (or Jacob) oldest of the four “brothers of Jesus” mentioned later in Matthew.

Like the two differing genealogies the infancy narratives appear only in Matthew and Luke, and take different approaches to reconciling the requirement that the Messiah be born in Bethlehem with the tradition that Jesus came from Nazareth. In Matthew, Joseph obeys the direction of an angel to marry Mary and then to flee to Egypt to escape the massacre of the children of Bethlehem planned by Herod the Great, the tyrant who rules Judea.[9] Once Herod has died, the angel tells him to return to Galilee instead of to Bethlehem, and so Joseph takes his wife and the child to Nazareth and settles there.[10] Thus in Matthew, the infant Jesus, like Moses, is in peril from a cruel king, like Moses he has a (fore)father named Joseph who goes down to Egypt, like the Old Testament Joseph this Joseph has a father named Jacob, and both Josephs receive important dreams foretelling their future.[2] In Luke, Joseph already lives in Nazareth, and Jesus is born in Bethlehem because Joseph and Mary have to travel there to be counted in a census. Luke’s account makes no mention of angels and dreams, the Massacre of the Innocents, or of a visit to Egypt.

The last time Joseph appears in person in any Gospel is the story of the Passover visit to the Temple in Jerusalem when Jesus is 12 years old, found only in Luke. Like the infancy narratives the story is didactic, emphasising Jesus’ awareness of his coming mission: here Jesus speaks to his parents (both of them) of “my father,” meaning God, but they fail to understand.(Luke 2:41-51).

None of the Gospels mentions Joseph as present at any event during Jesus’ adult ministry. The synoptic Gospels, however, share a scene in which the people of Nazareth, Jesus’ hometown, doubt Jesus’ status as a prophet because they know his family. In Mark 6:3, they call Jesus “Mary’s son” instead of naming his father. In Matthew, the townspeople call Jesus “the carpenter’s son,” again without naming his father, and again he has brothers named James, and Joses, and Simon, and Judas (Matthew 13:53-58). In Luke 3:23 “And Jesus himself began to be about thirty years of age, being (as was supposed) the son of Joseph, which was [the son] of Heli,” and Luke makes no mention of any brothers (Luke 4:16-30). In Luke the tone is positive, whereas in Mark and Matthew it is disparaging.[11] This incident does not appear at all in John, but in a parallel story the disbelieving Jews refer to “Jesus the son of Joseph, whose father and mother we know” (John 6:41-51).

Joseph is not mentioned as being present at the Wedding at Cana at the beginning of Jesus’ mission, nor at the Passion at the end. If he had been present at the Crucifixion, he would under Jewish custom have been expected to take charge of Jesus’ body, but this role is instead performed by Joseph of Arimathea. Nor would Jesus have entrusted his mother to John’s care had her husband been alive.[1]

Gospel harmony

A sample Gospel harmony of the episodes of the life of Saint Joseph in the canonical Gospels, in summary form of harmonies for the four gospels.[12][13][14] See the gallery below for artistic depictions of some of these events.

Number Event Matthew Mark Luke John
1 Joseph lived in Nazareth Luke 2:4
2 Genealogy of Jesus Matthew 1:1-17 Solomon to Jacob Luke 3:23 Nathan to Heli
3 Joseph Betrothed to Mary Matthew 1:18
4 Angel visits Joseph (1st dream) Matthew 1:20-21
5 Joseph and Mary travel to Bethlehem Luke 2:8-15
6 Birth of Jesus Matthew 1:25 Luke 2:6-7
7 Temple presentation Luke 2:22-24
8 Angel tells Joseph to flee (2nd dream) Matthew 2:13
9 Flight into Egypt Matthew 2:14-15
10 Angel tells Joseph to return to Nazareth (3rd dream) Matthew 2:19-20
11 Joseph and family settle in Nazareth Matthew 2:21-23 Luke 2:39
12 Finding Jesus in the Temple Luke 2:41-51
13 Holy Family John 6:41-42

Professional life

St. Joseph the Carpenter, by Georges de La Tour, 1640s.

Jesus is identified in the Gospel of Matthew 13:55 as the son of a τέκτων (tekton) and the Gospel of Mark 6:3 states that Jesus was a Tektōn himself. Tekton has been traditionally translated into English as “carpenter”, but is a rather general word (from the same root that gives us “technical” and “technology”) that could cover makers of objects in various materials, even builders.[15] But the specific association with woodworking is a constant in Early Christian tradition; Justin Martyr (d. ca. 165) wrote that Jesus made yokes and ploughs, and there are similar early references.[16]

John Dominic Crossan puts tekton into a historical context more resembling an itinerant worker than an established artisan, emphasizing his marginality in a population in which a peasant who owns land could become quite prosperous. Other scholars have argued that tekton could equally mean a highly-skilled craftsman in wood or the more prestigious metal, perhaps running a workshop with several employees, and noted sources recording the shortage of skilled artisans at the time.[17] Geza Vermes has stated that the terms ‘carpenter’ and ‘son of a carpenter’ are used in the Jewish Talmud to signify a very learned man, and he suggests that a description of Joseph as ‘naggar’ (a carpenter) could indicate that he was considered wise and highly literate in the Torah.[18]

At the time of Joseph, Nazareth was an obscure village in Galilee, about 65 km from the Holy City of Jerusalem, which is barely mentioned in surviving non-Christian texts and documents.[2][19][20][21][22] Archaeology over most of the site is made impossible by subsequent building, but from what has been excavated and tombs in the area around the village, it is estimated that the population was at most about 400.[23] It was, however, only about 6 kilometres from the city of Tzippori (ancient “Sepphoris”), which was destroyed by the Romans in 4BC, and thereafter was expensively rebuilt. Analysis of the landscape and other evidence suggest that in Joseph’s lifetime Nazareth was “oriented towards” the nearby city,[24] which had an overwhelmingly Jewish population although with many signs of Hellenization,[25] and historians have speculated that Joseph and later Jesus too might have traveled daily to work on the rebuilding. Specifically the large theatre in the city has been suggested, although this has aroused much controversy over dating and other issues.[26] Other scholars see Joseph and Jesus as the general village craftsmen, working in wood, stone and metal on a wide variety of jobs.[27]

Modern appraisal

The name of Joseph is found almost exclusively in the genealogies and the infancy narratives.[28][29] The variances between the genealogies given in Matthew and Luke are explained on the basis that Matthew’s genealogy traces his legal descent, according to Jewish law, through St. Joseph; while Luke’s genealogy traces his actual physical descent through Mary.

Modern positions on the question of the relationship between Joseph and the Virgin Mary vary. The Eastern Orthodox Church, which names Joseph’s first wife as Salome, holds that Joseph was a widower and merely betrothed, but never married, to Mary,[30] and that references to Jesus’ “brothers” are to children of Joseph and Salome. The position of the Catholic Church, derived from the writings of Saint Jerome, is that Joseph was the husband of Mary, but that references to Jesus’ “brothers” should be understood to mean cousins or step-brothers. In both cases, the church doctrine of the Perpetual Virginity means that Joseph and Mary never had sexual relations. The Protestant churches, following the tenet of Virgin Birth but not that of Perpetual Virginity, hold no strong views on the subject.[31]

Later apocryphal writings

The canonical gospels created a problem: they stated clearly that Mary was a virgin when she conceived Jesus, and that Joseph was not his father; yet Joseph’s paternity was essential to establish Jesus’ Davidic descent, and he and Mary were so much husband and wife that only divorce could dissolve their union (Matthew 1:19).[32] The theological situation was complicated by the gospel references to Jesus’ “brothers and sisters” (repeated in Paul, where James is called the “brother of Christ”), and by the fact that he was described unambiguously by John and Mark as “Joseph’s son” and “the carpenter’s son.”[32] From the 2nd century to the 5th writers tried to explain how Jesus could be simultaneously the “son of God” as well as the “son of Joseph”.[32]

The first to offer a solution was the apocryphal Protoevangelium of James, written about 150 AD. The original gospels never refer to Joseph’s age, but James presents him as an old man chosen by lot (i.e., by God) to watch over the Virgin. Jesus’ brothers are presented as Joseph’s children by an earlier marriage, and his years and righteousness explain why he has not yet had sex with his wife: “I received her by lot as my wife, and she is not yet my wife, but she has conceived by the Holy Spirit.”[33]

The Protoevangelium was extremely popular, but it leaves open the possibility that Joseph might have had relations with Mary after the birth of Jesus (“she is not yet my wife…”). A few centuries later the developing doctrine that Mary was a virgin not only at the time of the conception and birth of Christ, but throughout her life, meant that this possibility had to be excluded. The apocryphal History of Joseph the Carpenter, written in the 5th century and framed as a biography of Joseph dictated by Jesus, describes how Joseph, aged 90 (the Protoevangelium had not given Joseph a specific age), a widower with four sons and two daughters, is given charge of the twelve year old Mary, who then lives in his household raising his youngest son James the Less (the supposed author of the Protoevengelium) until she is ready to be married at age 14½. Joseph’s death at the age of 111, attended by angels and asserting the perpetual virginity of Mary, takes up approximately half the story.[34]


Main articles: Holy Family and Josephology
A series of articles on
JosephologyGuido Reni 042.jpg
General articles
St. JosephHoly FamilySaint Joseph’s Day
Prayers & Devotions
Sisters of St. JosephJosephite FathersOblates of St. Joseph
Papal Documents
Redemptoris CustosQuamquam Pluries

Together with the Blessed Virgin Mary and the Child Jesus Joseph is one of the three members of the Holy Family; since he only appears in the birth narratives of the Gospels, Jesus is depicted as a child when with him. The formal veneration of the Holy Family began in the 17th century by Mgr François de Laval.

Pope Pius IX proclaimed Saint Joseph the patron of the Universal Church in 1870, the unofficial patron against doubt and hesitation, as well as the patron saint of fighting communism, and of a happy death[citation needed]. Having died in the “arms of Jesus and Mary” according to Catholic tradition, he is considered the model of the pious believer who receives grace at the moment of death, and prays especially for families, fathers, expectant mothers (pregnant women), travelers, immigrants, house sellers and buyers, craftsmen, engineers, and working people in general.

The earliest records of a formal devotional following for Saint Joseph date to the year 800 and references to him as nutritor Domini (educator/guardian of the Lord) began to appear in the 9th century, and continued growing to the 14th century.[35][36][37] Saint Thomas Aquinas discussed the necessity of the presence of Saint Joseph in the plan of the Incarnation for if Mary had not been married, the Jews would have stoned her and that in his youth Jesus needed the care and protection of a human father.[38][39]

In the 15th century major steps were taken by Saint Bernardine of Siena, Pierre d’Ailly and Jean Gerson.[35] Gerson wrote Consideration sur Saint Joseph and preached sermons on Saint Joseph at the Council of Constance.[40] In 1889 Pope Leo XIII issued the encyclical Quamquam Pluries in which he urged Catholics to pray to Saint Joseph, as the patron of the Church in view of the challenges facing the Church.[41]

Josephology, the study of the theology of Saint Joseph, is one of the most recent theological disciplines.[42] In 1989, on the occasion of the centenary of Quamquam Pluries Pope John Paul II issued Redemptoris Custos, i.e. Guardian of the Redeemer which presented Saint Joseph’s role in the plan of redemption, as part of the “redemption documents” issued by John Paul II such as Redemptoris Mater to which it refers.[43][44][45][46]

Feast days

Main article: Saint Joseph’s Day

Holy Family by Raphael, 1506.

March 19, Saint Joseph’s Day, has been the principal feast day of Saint Joseph in Western Christianity,[47][48] since the tenth century, and is celebrated by Catholics, Anglicans, many Lutherans and other denominations.[49] In Eastern Orthodoxy, the feast day of Saint Joseph is celebrated on the First Sunday after the Nativity of Christ.

In 1870, Pope Pius IX declared Joseph patron of the universal Church and instituted another feast, with an octave, to be held in his honour on Wednesday in the second week after Easter. This was abolished by Pope Pius XII, when in 1955 he established the Feast of “St. Joseph the Worker”, to be celebrated on 1 May. This date counteracts May Day, a union, workers and socialists holiday and reflects Joseph’s status as what many Catholics and other Christians consider the “patron of workers” and “model of workers.” Catholic and other Christian teachings and stories about or relating to Joseph and the Holy Family frequently stress his patience, persistence, and hard work as admirable qualities which believers should adopt.

Pope John XXIII added the name of Joseph to the Canon of the Mass. The 19 March feast is a solemnity and is transferred to another date if impeded (for instance, if it falls on a Sunday, which must fall in Lent). The 1 May celebration is an optional memorial, and so is omitted if impeded. (However, the 1 May celebration is 1st class in the Tridentine calendar, so in it St. Joseph the Worker was celebrated on 2 May in 2008 because 1 May was Ascension Thursday and in 2011 because 1 May was in the Easter octave.)

Places, churches and Institutions

Many cities, towns, and locations are named after Saint Joseph. According to the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency, the Spanish form, San Jose, is the most common place name in the world. Probably the most-recognized San Joses are San José, Costa Rica, and San Jose, California, United States, given their name by Spanish colonists. Joseph is the patron saint of the New World; of the countries China, Canada, Korea, Mexico, Austria, Belgium, Croatia, Peru, Vietnam; of the regions Carinthia, Styria, Tyrol, Sicily; and of several main cities and dioceses.

Many churches, monasteries and other institutions are dedicated to Saint Joseph. Saint Joseph’s Oratory is the largest church in Canada, with the largest dome of its kind in the world after that of Saint Peter’s Basilica in Rome. Elsewhere in the world churches named after the saint may be known as those of San Giuseppe, e.g. San Giuseppe dei Teatini, San José, e.g. Metropolitan Cathedral of San José or São José, e.g. in Porto Alegre, Brazil.

The Sisters of St. Joseph were founded as an order in 1650 and have about 14,000 members worldwide. In 1871, the Josephite Fathers of the Roman Catholic Church were created under the patronage of Joseph, intending to work with the poor. The first Josephites in America re-devoted their part of the Order to ministry within the newly-emancipated African American community. The Oblates of St. Joseph were founded in 1878 by St. Joseph Marello. In 1999 their Shrine of Saint Joseph the Guardian of the Redeemer was named after the Apostolic exhortation Redemptoris Custos.[50]

Prayers and devotions

Altar of St. Joseph, Billafingen, Germany.

In the Eastern Orthodox Church, during the feast day of Saint Joseph the following hymn is chanted:

Verily, Joseph the betrothed, saw clearly in his old age that the foresayings of the Prophets had
been fulfilled openly; for he was given an odd earnest,
receiving inspiration from the angels,
who cried, Glory to God; for he hath bestowed peace on earth.

In the Catholic tradition, just as there are prayers for the Seven Joys of Mary and Seven Sorrows of Mary, so there are also prayers for the seven joys and seven sorrows of Saint Joseph; these include prayers for daily protection, vocation, happy marriage, happy death, and hopeless cases;[51] specific prayers, novenas and devotions include the Prayer to Saint Joseph and the Novena to Saint Joseph.[52] St. Francis de Sales included Saint Joseph along with Virgin Mary as saints to be invoked during prayers in his Introduction to the Devout Life,[53] Saint Teresa of Avila attributed her recovery of health to Saint Joseph and recommended him as an advocate,[54] and Saint Therese of Lisieux stated that for a period of time, every day she prayed to “Saint Joseph, Father and Protector of Virgins…” and felt safe and protected from danger as a result,[55] and Pius X composed a prayer to Saint Joseph which begins:[56]

Glorious St. Joseph, pattern of all who are devoted to toil,
obtain for me the grace to toil, in the spirit of penance,
in order to thereby atone for my many sins…

There is a belief that planting a statue of St. Joseph on a house will help sell the house.[57] This belief is held by some theists as well as atheists, but traditional Christian teachings view it as superstition and not a devotion.[58]

In art

Nativity by Martin Schongauer (1475-80)

Up to about the 17th century Joseph tends to be depicted as a man advanced in years, with grey hair, often balding, occasionally frail and with arthritic fingers and a sharp nose, a comparatively marginal figure alongside Mary and Jesus if not entirely in the background, passive other than when leading them on their flight to Egypt. Joseph is shown mostly with a beard, not only in keeping with Jewish custom, but also because – although the Gospel accounts do not give his age – later literature tends to present him as an old man at the time of his wedding to Mary. This depiction arose to allay concerns about both the celibacy of the newly wedded couple,[59] the mention of brothers and sisters of Jesus in the canonical Gospels,[60] and Joseph’s other children spoken of in apocryphal literature – concerns discussed very frankly by Jean Gerson for example, who nonetheless favoured showing him as a younger man.[61]

In recent centuries – in step with a growing interest in Joseph’s role in Gospel exegesis – he himself has become a focal figure in representations of the Holy Family. He is now often portrayed as a younger or even youthful man (perhaps especially in Protestant depictions), whether going about his work as a carpenter, or participating actively in the daily life of Mary and Jesus as an equal and openly affectionate member.[62] Art critic Waldemar Januszczak however emphasises the preponderance of Joseph’s representation as an old man and sees this as the need, ” to explain away his impotence: indeed to symbolise it. In Guido Reni‘s Nativity, Mary is about 15, and he is about 70 – for the real love affair – is the one between the Virgin Mary and us. She is young. She is perfect. She is virginal – it is Joseph’s task to stand aside and let us desire her, religiously. It takes a particularly old, a particularly grey, a particularly kindly and a particularly feeble man to do that. It takes a Joseph. Banished in vast numbers to the backgrounds of all those gloomy stables in all those ersatz Bethlehems, his complex iconographic task is to stand aside and let his wife be worshipped by the rest of us. He is God’s cuckold. And art has no choice but to point this out – while, of course, appearing not to.” [63]

Saint Joseph sleeping, Nativity by Gentile da Fabriano

Full cycles of his life are rare in the Middle Ages, though the scenes from the Life of the Virgin or Life of Christ where he is present are far more often seen. The Mérode Altarpiece of about 1425, where he has a panel to himself, working as a carpenter, is an early example of what remained relatively rare depictions of him pursuing his métier. Some statues of Joseph depict his staff as topped with flowers, recalling the non-canonical Protoevangelion‘s account of how Mary’s spouse was chosen by collecting walking sticks of widowers in Palestine, and Joseph’s alone bursting into flower, thus identifying him as divinely chosen. Several Eastern Orthodox Nativity icons show Joseph tempted by the Devil (depicted as an old man with furled wings) to break off his betrothal, and how he resists that temptation. There are some paintings with him wearing a Jewish hat.

Gallery of life in art

In music

See also

Wikimedia Commons has media related to: Saint Joseph


  1. ^ a b c d Catholic encyclopedia on Saint Joseph
  2. ^ a b c d Spong, John Shelby. Jesus for the non-religious. HarperCollins. 2007. ISBN 0-06-076207-1
  3. ^ Luke by H. A. Ironside 2007 ISBN 0-8254-2919-6 pages 73-75
  4. ^ Basic Theology by Caldwell Ryrie, 1999 ISBN 0-8024-2734-0 pages 279-280
  5. ^ [1]
  6. ^ Google booksJoseph, Mary, Jesus, Lucien Deiss, Liturgical Press, 1996, ISBN 0-8146-2255-0, ISBN 978-0-8146-2255-1
  7. ^ P. de Letter, “The Theology of Saint Joseph”, The Clergy Monthly, March 1955, Online at JSTOR
  8. ^ For the use of the term, see: A Thomistic Josephology by James J Davis 1967, University of Montreal, ASIN B0007K3PL4
  9. ^ Matthew 1:18-2:18
  10. ^ Matthew 2:19-23; Luke 2:39
  11. ^ Vermes, Geza “The authentic gospel of Jesus” (London, Penguin Books, 2004) Chapter 1: Narratives and commands, p. 1-37.
  12. ^ Gospels in harmony
  13. ^ Life of Jesus
  14. ^ Steven L. Cox, Kendell H Easley, 2007 Harmony of the Gospels ISBN 0-8054-9444-8
  15. ^ Dickson, 47
  16. ^ Fiensy, 68-69
  17. ^ Fiensy, 75-77
  18. ^ http://www.jstor.org/pss/1453874?cookieSet=1
  19. ^ Ehrman, Bart D. Misquoting Jesus: The Story Behind Who Changed the Bible and Why. HarperCollins, 2005. ISBN 978-0-06-073817-4
  20. ^ Crossan, John Dominic. The essential Jesus. Edison: Castle Books. 1998. “Contexts,” p 1-24.
  21. ^ Theissen, Gerd and Annette Merz. The historical Jesus: a comprehensive guide. Fortress Press. 1998. translated from German (1996 edition)
  22. ^ Sanders terms it a “minor village.” Sanders, E. P. The historical figure of Jesus. Penguin, 1993. p. 104
  23. ^ Laughlin, 192-194. See also Reed’s Chapter 3, pp. 131-134.
  24. ^ Reed, 114-117, quotation p. 115
  25. ^ Reed, Chapter 4 in general, pp. 125-131 on the Jewish nature of Sepphoris, and pp. 131-134
  26. ^ Fiensy, 74-77
  27. ^ For example, Dickson, 47
  28. ^ Vermes, Geza. The authentic gospel of Jesus. London, Penguin Books. 2004. Epilogue. p. 398-417.
  29. ^ Funk, Robert W. and the Jesus Seminar. The acts of Jesus: the search for the authentic deeds of Jesus. HarperSanFrancisco. 1998. “Birth & Infancy Stories” p. 497-526.
  30. ^ Holy Apostles Convent (1989). The Life of the Virgin Mary, the Theotokos. Buena Vista: Holy Apostles Convent and Dormition Skete. pp. 64. ISBN 0-944359-03-5.
  31. ^ See, e.g., David Brown. “Commentary on Matthew 13:56”. Commentary, Critical and Explanatory, on the Whole Bible. Retrieved 2009-01-07. “An exceedingly difficult question here arises—What were these ‘brethren’ and ‘sisters’ to Jesus? Were they, First, His full brothers and sisters? or, Secondly, Were they His step-brothers and step-sisters, children of Joseph by a former marriage? or, Thirdly, Were they cousins, according to a common way of speaking among the Jews respecting persons of collateral descent? On this subject an immense deal has been written, nor are opinions yet by any means agreed. For the second opinion there is no ground but a vague tradition, arising probably from the wish for some such explanation. The first opinion undoubtedly suits the text best in all the places where the parties are certainly referred to (Mt 12:46; and its parallels, Mr 3:31; Lu 8:19; our present passage, and its parallels, Mr 6:3; Joh 2:12; 7:3, 5, 10; Ac 1:14). But, in addition to other objections, many of the best interpreters, thinking it in the last degree improbable that our Lord, when hanging on the cross, would have committed His mother to John if He had had full brothers of His own then alive, prefer the third opinion; although, on the other hand, it is not to be doubted that our Lord might have good reasons for entrusting the guardianship of His doubly widowed mother to the beloved disciple in preference even to full brothers of His own. Thus dubiously we prefer to leave this vexed question, encompassed as it is with difficulties!”
  32. ^ a b c Everett Ferguson, Michael P. McHugh, Frederick W. Norris, “Encyclopedia of early Christianity, Volume 1”, article Joseph, p.629
  33. ^ Luigi Gambero, “Mary and the fathers of the church: the Blessed Virgin Mary in patristic thought” pp.35-41
  34. ^ “The History of Joseph the Carpenter”. Comparative Religion. Retrieved 2007-05-06.
  35. ^ a b The liturgy and time by Irénée Henri Dalmais, Aimé Georges Martimort, Pierre Jounel 1985 ISBN 0-8146-1366-7 page 143
  36. ^ Holy people of the world: a cross-cultural encyclopedia, Volume 3 by Phyllis G. Jestice 2004 ISBN 1-57607-355-6 page 446
  37. ^ Bernard of Clairvaux and the shape of monastic thought by M. B. Pranger 1997 ISBN 90-04-10055-5 page 244
  38. ^ The childhood of Christ by Thomas Aquinas, Roland Potter, 2006 ISBN 0-521-02960-0 pages 110-120
  39. ^ Aquinas on doctrine by Thomas Gerard Weinandy, John Yocum 2004 ISBN 0-567-08411-6 page 248
  40. ^ Medieval mothering by John Carmi Parsons, Bonnie Wheeler 1999 ISBN 0-8153-3665-9 page 107
  41. ^ Vatican website: Quamquam Pluries
  42. ^ Sunday Catholic Magazine October 4, 2009
  43. ^ Foundations of the Christian way of life by Jacob Prasad 2001 ISBN 88-7653-146-7 page 404
  44. ^ Vatican website: Redemptoris Custos
  45. ^ Cradle of redeeming love: the theology of the Christmas mystery by John Saward 2002 ISBN 0-89870-886-9 page 230
  46. ^ Divine likeness: toward a Trinitarian anthropology of the family by Marc Ouellet ISBN 0-8028-2833-7 page 102
  47. ^ Roman Missal
  48. ^ Calendarium Romanum (Libreria Editrice Vaticana, 1969), p. 89
  49. ^ 19 March is observed as the Feast of Saint Joseph, Guardian of Jesus, the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, the Lutheran Church – Missouri Synod, the Wisconsin Synod, and the Evangelical Lutheran Synod. Some Protestant traditions also celebrate this festival.
  50. ^ Mention Your Request Here: The Church’s Most Powerful Novenas by Michael Dubruiel, 2000 ISBN 0-87973-341-1 page 154
  51. ^ Devotions to St. Joseph by Susanna Magdalene Flavius, 2008 ISBN 1-4357-0948-9 pages 5-15
  52. ^ Favorite Prayers to St. Joseph Tan Books, ISBN 978-0-89555-446-8
  53. ^ Introduction to the Devout Life by St. Francis de Sales ISBN 0-7661-0074-X Kessinger Press 1942 page 297
  54. ^ The interior castle by Saint Teresa of Avila, Paulist Press 1979, ISBN 0-8091-2254-5 page 2
  55. ^ The Story of a Soul by Saint Therese De Lisieux Bibliolife 2008 0554261588 page 94
  56. ^ Ann Ball, 2003 Encyclopedia of Catholic Devotions and Practices ISBN 0-87973-910-X page 449
  57. ^ Applebome, Peter (2009-09-16). “St. Joseph, Superagent in Real Estate”. New York Times. Retrieved 2010-06-24.
  58. ^ Saint Joseph: His Life and His Role in the Church Today by Louise Bourassa Perrotta 2000 ISBN 0-87973-573-2 page 130
  59. ^ cf. Mt 1:25a
  60. ^ cf. Matthew 12:46-50, Mark 3:31-35, Luke 8:19-21; Matthew 13:55, Mark 6:3; cf. section above
  61. ^ Shapiro:6-7
  62. ^ Finding St. Joseph by Sandra Miesel gives a useful account of the changing views of Joseph in art and generally in Catholicism
  63. ^ Waldemar Januszczak, No ordinary Joe, The Sunday Times, December 2003 [2]


Saint Joseph (Mariahilfer Kirche, Vienna, Austria)

Further reading

  • Guardian of the Redeemer (Redemptoris Custos) by Pope John Paul II, St. Paul Books and Media (January 1, 1989) ASIN: B002AQ5E08

External links

Preceded by
Ancestry of Jesus – Father of Jesus Succeeded by

God the Father

God the Father, Cima da Conegliano, Circa 1510-17.
God the Father, Cima da Conegliano, Circa 1510-17. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

God the Father is a title given to God in modern monotheist religions, such as Christianity, Judaism and Bahá’í, in part because he is viewed as having an active interest in human affairs, in the way that a father would take an interest in his children who are dependent on him.[1][2][3]

In Judaism, God is described as father as he is said to be the creator, life-giver, law-giver, and protector.[4] However, in Judaism the use of the Father title is generally a metaphor and is one of many titles by which Jews speak of and to God.[5]

Since the second century, Christian creeds included affirmation of belief in “God the Father (Almighty)”, primarily as his capacity as “Father and creator of the universe”.[6] Yet, in Christianity the concept of God as the father of Jesus is distinct from the concept of God as the Creator and father of all people, as indicated in the Apostle’s Creed where the expression of belief in the “Father almighty, creator of heaven and earth” is immediately, but separately followed by in “Jesus Christ, his only Son, our Lord”, thus expressing both senses of fatherhood.[7]

The Islamic view of God sees God as the unique creator of the universe and as the life-giver, but does not accept the term “father” in reference to God, as well as in regard to his relationship to the prophet Isa, i.e. Jesus in Islam.[8]



An image of God the Father by Julius Schnorr, 1860.

In modern monotheist religious traditions with a large following, such as Christianity, Judaism and Bahá’í, God is addressed as the father, in part because of his active interest in human affairs, in the way that a father would take an interest in his children who are dependent on him and as a father, he will respond to humanity, his children, acting in their best interests.[1][2][3] Many monotheists believe they can communicate with God and come closer to him through prayer – a key element of achieving communion with God.[9][10][11]

In general, the title Father (capitalized) signifies God’s role as the life-giver, the authority, and powerful protector, often viewed as immense, omnipotent, omniscient, omnipresent with infinite power and charity that goes beyond human understanding.[12] For instance, after completing his monumental work Summa Theologica, St. Thomas Aquinas concluded that he had not yet begun to understand God the Father.[13] Although the term “Father” implies masculine characteristics, God is usually defined as having the form of a spirit without any human biological gender, e.g. the Catechism of the Catholic Church #239 specifically states that “God is neither man nor woman: he is God“.[14][15] Although God is never directly addressed as “Mother”, at times motherly attributes may be interpreted in Old Testament references such as Isa 42:14, Isa 49:14-15 or Isa 66:12-13.[16]

Although similarities exist among religions, the common language and the shared concepts about God the Father among the Abrahamic religions is quite limited, and each religion has very specific belief structures and religious nomenclature with respect to the subject.[17] While a religious teacher in one faith may be able to explain the concepts to his own audience with ease, significant barriers remain in communicating those concepts across religious boundaries.[17]

In the New Testament, the Christian concept of God the Father may be seen as a continuation of the Jewish concept, but with specific additions and changes, which over time made the Christian concept become even more distinct by the start of the Middle Ages.[18][19][20] The conformity to the Old Testament concepts is shown in Matthew 4:10 and Luke 4:8 where in response to temptation Jesus quotes Deuteronomy 6:13 and states: “It is written, you shall worship the Lord your God, and him only shall you serve.”[18] However, 1 Corinthians 8:6 shows the distinct Christian teaching about the agency of Christ by first stating: “there is one God, the Father, of whom are all things, and we unto him” and immediately continuing with “and one Lord, Jesus Christ, through whom are all things, and we through him.”[19] This passage clearly acknowledges the Jewish teachings on the uniqueness of God, yet also states the role of Jesus as an agent in creation.[19] Over time, the Christian doctrine began to fully diverge from Judaism through the teachings of the Church Fathers in the second century and by the fourth century belief in the Trinity was formalized.[19][20]

The Islamic concept of God differs from the Christian and Jewish views, the term “father” in not applied to God by Muslims, and the Christian notion of the Trinity is rejected in Islam.[21][22]


Main article: God in Judaism

The Biblical Tetragrammaton, the Hebrew Name for God the Father.

In Judaism, God is called “Father” with a unique sense of familiarity. In addition to the sense in which God is “Father” to all men because he created the world (and in that sense “fathered” the world), the same God is also uniquely the patriarchal law-giver to the chosen people. He maintains a special, covenantal father-child relationship with the people, giving them the Shabbat, stewardship of his oracles, and a unique heritage in the things of God, calling Israel “my son” because he delivered the descendants of Jacob out of slavery in Egypt[Hosea 11:1] according to his oath to their father, Abraham. In the Hebrew Scriptures, in Isaiah 63:16 (ASV) it reads: “Thou, O Jehovah, art our Father; our Redeemer from everlasting is thy name.” To God, according to Judaism, is attributed the fatherly role of protector. He is called the Father of the poor, of the orphan and the widow, their guarantor of justice. He is also called the Father of the king, as the teacher and helper over the judge of Israel.[23]

However, in Judaism “Father” is generally a metaphor; it is not a proper name for God but rather one of many titles by which Jews speak of and to God. In Christianity fatherhood is taken in a more literal and substantive sense, and is explicit about the need for the Son as a means of accessing the Father, making for a more metaphysical rather than metaphorical interpretation.[5]


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Main article: God in Christianity

Since the second century, creeds in the Western Church have included affirmation of belief in “God the Father (Almighty)”, the primary reference being to “God in his capacity as Father and creator of the universe”.[6] This did not exclude either the fact the “eternal father of the universe was also the Father of Jesus the Christ” or that he had even “vouchsafed to adopt [the believer] as his son by grace”.[6]

Creeds in the Eastern Church (known to have come from a later date) began with an affirmation of faith in “one God” and almost always expanded this by adding “the Father Almighty, Maker of all things visible and invisible” or words to that effect.[6]

By the end of the first century, Clement of Rome had repeatedly referred to the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, and linked the Father to creation, 1 Clement 19.2 stating: “let us look steadfastly to the Father and Creator of the universe”.[24] Around AD 213 in Adversus Praxeas (chapter 3) Tertullian provided a formal representation of the concept of the Trinity, i.e. that God exists as one “substance” but three “Persons”: The Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.[25][26] Tertullian also discussed how the Holy Spirit proceeds from the Father and the Son.[25]

The Nicene Creed, which dates to 325, states that the Son (Jesus Christ) is “eternally begotten of the Father”, indicating that their divine Father-Son relationship is seen as not tied to an event within time or human history.

There is a deep sense in which Christians believe that they are made participants in the eternal relationship of Father and Son, through Jesus Christ. Christians call themselves adopted children of God:[27][28]

But when the fullness of the time had come, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, that we might receive the adoption as sons. And because you are sons, God has sent forth the Spirit of His Son into your hearts crying out, “Abba, Father!” Therefore you are no longer a slave but a son, and if a son, then an heir of God through Christ.

The same notion is expressed in Romans 8:8-11 where the Son of God extends the parental relationship to the believers.[28] Yet, in Christianity the concept of God as the father of Jesus is distinct from the concept of God as the Creator and father of all people, as indicated in the Apostle’s Creed.[7] The profession in the Creed begins with expressing belief in the “Father almighty, creator of heaven and earth” and then immediately, but separately, in “Jesus Christ, his only Son, our Lord”, thus expressing both senses of fatherhood within the Creed.[7]


God the Father by Girolamo dai Libri c. 1555. The triangular halo represents the Trinity.

To Trinitarian Christians (which include Roman Catholics, Eastern Orthodox, and most but not all Protestant denominations), God the Father is not at all a separate god from God the Son (of whom Jesus is the incarnation) and the Holy Spirit, the other Hypostases of the Christian Godhead.[29][30][31] However, in Trinitarian theology, God the Father is the “arche” or “principium” (beginning), the “source” or “origin” of both the Son and the Holy Spirit, and is considered the eternal source of the Godhead.[32] The Father is the one who eternally begets the Son, and the Father eternally breaths the Holy Spirit.[24][32]

As a member of the Trinity, God the Father is one with, co-equal to, co-eternal, and con-substantial with the Son and the Holy Spirit, each Person being the one eternal God and in no way separated, who is the creator: all alike are uncreated and omnipotent.[24] Because of this, the Trinity is beyond reason and can only be known by revelation.[30][33]

The Trinitarians concept of God the Father is not pantheistic in that he not viewed as identical to the universe or a vague notionthat persists in it, but exists fully outside of creation, as its Creator.[34][29] He is viewed as a loving and caring God, a Heavenly Father who is active both in the world and in people’s lives.[34][29] He created all things visible and invisible in love and wisdom,<and man for his own sake.[34][35]

The emergence of Trinitarian theology of God the Father in early Christianity was based on two key ideas: first the shared identity of of the Yahweh of the Old Testament and the God of Jesus in the New Testament, and then the self-distinction and yet the unity between Jesus and his Father.[36][37] An example of the unity of Son and Father is Matthew 11:27: “No one knows the Son except the Father and no one knows the Father except the Son”, asserting the mutual knowledge of Father and Son.[38]

The concept of fatherhood of God does appear in the Old Testament, but is not a a major theme.[39][36] While the view of God as the Father is used in the Old Testament, it only became a focus in the New Testament, as Jesus frequently referred to it.[39][36] This is manifested in the Lord’s prayer which combines the earthly needs of daily bread with the reciprocal concept of forgiveness.[39] And Jesus’ emphasis on his special relationship with the Father highlights the importance of the distinct yet unified natures of Jesus and the Father, building to the unity of Father and Son in the Trinity.[39]

The paternal view of God as the Father extends beyond Jesus to his disciples, and the entire Church, as reflected in the petitions Jesus submitted to the Father for his followers at the end of the Farewell Discourse, the night before his crucifixion.[40] Instances of this in the Farewell Discourse are John 14:20 as Jesus addresses the disciples: “I am in my Father, and you in me, and I in you” and in John 17:22 as he prays tothe Father: “I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one.”[41]


Main article: Nontrinitarianism

A number of nontriniatarian traditions reject the doctrine of the Trinity, but differ from one another in their views, variously depicting Jesus as a divine being second only to God the Father, Yahweh of the Old Testament in human form, God (but not eternally God), prophet, or simply a holy man.[42] Some broad definitions of Protestantism include these groups within Protestantism, but most definitions do not.[43]

Mormon depiction of God the Father and the Son Jesus.

In Mormon theology, the most prominent conception of God is as a divine council of three distinct beings: Elohim (the Father), Jehovah (the Son, or Jesus), and the Holy Spirit. The Father and Son are considered to have perfected, material bodies, while the Holy Spirit has a body of spirit.[44] Mormons believe that God the Father presides over both the Son and Holy Spirit, but together they represent one God.

Mormons officially consider the Godhead a Divine Council, the Father being over the Son and Spirit in time and power. This conception differs from the traditional Christian Trinity of co-equal and co-eternal members; in Mormonism, the three persons are considered worthy to be members of godhood by being united in will and purpose.[45] Mormons often refer to this Council as the “Godhead” to distinguish it from the traditional Trinity.[46] As such, the term Godhead has a different meaning than the term as used in traditional Christianity.[47]

In Jehovah’s Witness theology, only God the Father is the one true and almighty God, even over his Son Jesus Christ. While the Witnesses acknowledge Christ’s pre-existence, perfection, and unique “Sonship” with God the Father, and believe that Christ had an essential role in creation and redemption, and is the Messiah, they believe that only the Father is without beginning. They say that the Son had a beginning, and was “brought forth” at a certain point, as the Father’s First and Only-begotten, and as the Father’s only direct creation, before all ages. They believe that all other things were created through the Son, in the service of God the Father.[48]

Jehovah’s Witnesses emphasize God the Father, in their services, studies, and worship, more than Christ the Son. In their theology, they teach that the Father is greater than the Son.[49][50] The Witnesses, though they do give relative “worship” or “obeisance” (Greek: proskyneo) to Jesus as God’s Son and Messiah, and pray through Him as Mediator, do not give him the same degree of worship or service as they give to God the Father.[51][52]

Oneness Pentecostalism teaches that God is a singular spirit who is one person, not three divine persons, individuals or minds. Father, Son and Holy Spirit are merely titles reflecting the different personal manifestations of the One True God in the universe. When Oneness believers speak of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, they see these as three personal manifestations of one being, one personal God.[53][54]

Other groups include Sabbatarian traditions, such as the Living Church of God and the Philadelphia Church of God, Armstrongism, the Unitarian Christian Association, Binitarianism, etc.


Main articles: God in Islam and Shirk (Islam)

God, as referenced in the Qur’an, is the only God and the same God worshiped by members of the other Abrahamic religions, Christianity and Judaism. (29:46).[55] However, though Islam accepts the concept of God as creator and life-giver, and as the unique one, Islam rejects the term “father” in reference to God, particularly in regard to his relationship to the prophet Isa, i.e. Jesus in Islam.[8]

The Qur’an states:[56]

“Say: He is God, the One and Only; God, the Eternal, Absolute; He begetteth not, nor is He begotten; And there is none like unto Him.” (Sura 112:1-4, Yusuf Ali)

In Islamic theology, God (Arabic: Allāh) is the all-powerful and all-knowing creator, sustainer, ordainer, and judge of the universe.[57][58] Islam puts a heavy emphasis on the conceptualization of God as strictly singular (tawhid).[59] God is unique (wahid) and inherently One (ahad), all-merciful and omnipotent.[60] The Qur’an asserts the existence of a single and absolute truth that transcends the world; a unique and indivisible being who is independent of the entire creation.[56]

Other religions

Although some forms of Hinduism support monotheism, there is no concept of a god as a father in Hinduism. A genderless Brahman is considered the Creator and Life-giver, and the Shakta Goddess is viewed as the divine mother and life-bearer.[61][62]

God the Father in Western art

Depiction of God the Father (detail), Pieter de Grebber, 1654.

For about a thousand years, no attempt was made to portray God the Father in human form, because early Christians believed that the words of Exodus 33:20 “Thou canst not see my face: for there shall no man see Me and live” and of the Gospel of John 1:18: “No man hath seen God at any time” were meant to apply not only to the Father, but to all attempts at the depiction of the Father.[63] Typically only a small part of the body of Father would be represented, usually the hand, or sometimes the face, but rarely the whole person, and in many images, the figure of the Son supplants the Father, so a smaller portion of the person of the Father is depicted.[64]

In the early medieval period God was often represented by Christ as the Logos, which continued to be very common even after the separate figure of God the Father appeared. Western art eventually required some way to illustrate the presence of the Father, so through successive representations a set of artistic styles for the depiction of the Father in human form gradually emerged around the tenth century AD.[65]

By the twelfth century depictions of a figure of God, essentially based on the Ancient of Days in the Book of Daniel had started to appear in French manuscripts and in stained glass church windows in England. In the 14th century the illustrated Naples Bible had a depiction of God the Father in the Burning bush. By the 15th century, the Rohan Book of Hours included depictions of God the Father in human form. The depiction remains rare and often controversial in Eastern Orthodox art, and by the time of the Renaissance artistic representations of God the Father were freely used in the Western Church.[66]

See also

Wikimedia Commons has media related to: God the Father


  1. ^ a b Calling God “Father” by John W. Miller (Nov 1999) ISBN 0809138972 pages x-xii
  2. ^ a b Diana L. Eck (2003) Encountering God: A Spiritual Journey from Bozeman to Banaras ISBN 0807073024 p. 98
  3. ^ a b Church Dogmatics, Vol. 2.1, Section 31: The Doctrine of God by Karl Barth (Sep 23, 2010) ISBN 0567012859 pages 15-17
  4. ^ Gerald J. Blidstein, 2006 Honor thy father and mother: filial responsibility in Jewish law and ethics ISBN 0-88125-862-8 page 1
  5. ^ a b God the Father in Rabbinic Judaism and Christianity: Transformed Background or Common Ground?, Alon Goshen-Gottstein. The Elijah Interfaith Institute, first published in Journal of Ecumenical Studies, 38:4, Spring 2001
  6. ^ a b c d Kelly, J.N.D. Early Christian Creeds Longmans:1960, p.136; p.139; p.195 respectively
  7. ^ a b c Symbols of Jesus: a Christology of symbolic engagement by Robert C. Neville 2002 ISBN 0-521-00353-9 page 26
  8. ^ a b The Concept of Monotheism in Islam and Christianity by Hans Köchler 1982 ISBN 3-7003-0339-4 page 38
  9. ^ Floyd H. Barackman, 2002 Practical Christian Theology ISBN 0-8254-2380-5 page 117
  10. ^ Calling God “Father” by John W. Miller (Nov 1999) ISBN 0809138972 page 51
  11. ^ Church Dogmatics, Vol. 2.1, Section 31: The Doctrine of God by Karl Barth (Sep 23, 2010) ISBN 0567012859 pages 73-74
  12. ^ Lawrence Kimbrough, 2006 Contemplating God the Father B&H Publishing ISBN 0-8054-4083-6 page 3
  13. ^ Thomas W. Petrisko, 2001 The Kingdom of Our Father St. Andrew’s Press ISBN 1-891903-18-7 page 8
  14. ^ David Bordwell, 2002, Catechism of the Catholic Church,Continuum International Publishing ISBN 978-0-86012-324-8 page 84
  15. ^ Catechism at the Vatican website
  16. ^ Calling God “Father”: Essays on the Bible, Fatherhood and Culture by John W. Miller (Nov 1999) ISBN 0809138972 pages 50-51
  17. ^ a b The Names of God in Judaism, Christianity, and Islam: A Basis for Interfaith Dialogue: by Máire Byrne (Sep 8, 2011) ISBN 144115356X pages 2-3
  18. ^ a b Early Jewish and Christian Monotheism by Wendy North and Loren T. Stuckenbruck (May 27, 2004) ISBN 0567082938 pages 111-112
  19. ^ a b c d One God, One Lord: Early Christian Devotion and Ancient Jewish Monotheism by Larry W. Hurtado (Oct 25, 2003) ISBN pages 96-100
  20. ^ a b A History of the Christian Tradition, Vol. I by Thomas D. McGonigle and James F. Quigley (Sep 1988) ISBN 0809129647 pages 72-75 and 90
  21. ^ The Concept of Monotheism in Islam and Christianity by Hans Köchler 1982 ISBN 3-7003-0339-4 page 38
  22. ^ Christian Theology: An Introduction by Alister E. McGrath (Oct 12, 2010) ISBN 1444335146 pages 237-238
  23. ^ Marianne Meye Thompson The promise of the Father: Jesus and God in the New Testament ch.2 God as Father in the Old Testament and Second Temple Judaism p35 2000 “Christian theologians have often accentuated the distinctiveness of the portrait of God as Father in the New Testament on the basis of an alleged discontinuity”
  24. ^ a b c The Doctrine of God: A Global Introduction by Veli-Matti Kärkkäinen 2004 ISBN 0801027527 pages 70-74
  25. ^ a b The Trinity by Roger E. Olson, Christopher Alan Hall 2002 ISBN 0802848273 pages 29-31
  26. ^ Tertullian, First Theologian of the West by Eric Osborn (4 Dec 2003) ISBN 0521524954 pages 116-117
  27. ^ Paul’s Way of Knowing by Ian W. Scott (Dec 1, 2008) ISBN 0801036097 pages 159-160
  28. ^ a b Pillars of Paul’s Gospel: Galatians and Romans by John F. O?Grady (May 1992) ISBN 080913327X page 162
  29. ^ a b c International Standard Bible Encyclopedia: E-J by Geoffrey W. Bromiley (Mar 1982) ISBN 0802837824 pages 515-516
  30. ^ a b The Oxford Handbook of the Trinity by Gilles Emery O. P. and Matthew Levering (27 Oct 2011) ISBN 0199557810 page 263
  31. ^ Critical Terms for Religious Studies. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 1998. Credo Reference. 27 July 2009
  32. ^ a b The Westminster Dictionary of Christian Theology by Alan Richardson and John Bowden (Jan 1, 1983) ISBN 0664227481 page 36
  33. ^ Catholic catechism at the Vatican web site, items: 242 245 237
  34. ^ a b c God Our Father by John Koessler (Sep 13, 1999) ISBN 0802440681 page 68
  35. ^ Catholic Catechism items: 356 and 295 at the Vatican web site
  36. ^ a b c The Trinity: Global Perspectives by Veli-Matti Kärkkäinen (Jan 17, 2007) ISBN 0664228909 pages 10-13
  37. ^ Global Dictionary of Theology by William A. Dyrness, Veli-Matti Kärkkäinen, Juan F. Martinez and Simon Chan (Oct 10, 2008) ISBN 0830824545 pages 169-171
  38. ^ The International Standard Bible Encyclopedia by Geoffrey W. Bromiley 1988 ISBN 0-8028-3785-9 page 571-572
  39. ^ a b c d The Doctrine of God: A Global Introduction by Veli-Matti Kärkkäinen 2004 ISBN 0801027527 pages 37-41
  40. ^ Symbols of Jesus by Robert C. Neville (Feb 4, 2002) ISBN 0521003539 pages 26-27
  41. ^ Jesus and His Own: A Commentary on John 13-17 by Daniel B. Stevick (Apr 29, 2011) Eeardmans ISBN 0802848656 page 46
  42. ^ Trinitarian Soundings in Systematic Theology by Paul Louis Metzger 2006 ISBN 0567084108 pages 36 and 43
  43. ^ Encyclopedia of Protestantism by J. Gordon Melton 2008 ISBN 0816077460 page 543
  44. ^ “Godhead”, True to the Faith (The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints), 2004. See also: “God the Father”, True to the Faith (The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints), 2004.
  45. ^ Robinson, Stephen E. (1992), “God the Father: Overview”, in Ludlow, Daniel H., Encyclopedia of Mormonism, New York: Mcmillan, pp. 548–550, ISBN 0-02-904040-X
  46. ^ Dahl, Paul E. (1992), “Godhead”, in Ludlow, Daniel H., Encyclopedia of Mormonism, New York: Mcmillan, pp. 552–553, ISBN 0-02-904040-X
  47. ^ The term with its distinctive Mormon usage first appeared in Lectures on Faith (published 1834), Lecture 5 (“We shall in this lecture speak of the Godhead; we mean the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.”). The term Godhead also appears several times in Lecture 2 in its sense as used in the Authorized King James Version as meaning divinity.
  48. ^ Insight on the Scriptures. 2. 1988. p. 1019.
  49. ^ Revelation Its Grand Climax, Watch Tower Bible & Tract Society, 1988, pg 36, “In the songbook produced by Jehovah’s people in 1905, there were twice as many songs praising Jesus as there were songs praising Jehovah God. In their 1928 songbook, the number of songs extolling Jesus was about the same as the number extolling Jehovah. But in the latest songbook of 1984, Jehovah is honored by four times as many songs as is Jesus. This is in harmony with Jesus’ own words: ‘The Father is greater than I am.’ Love for Jehovah must be preeminent, accompanied by deep love for Jesus and appreciation of his precious sacrifice and office as God’s High Priest and King.”
  50. ^ The Watchtower, April 15, 1983, pg 29, “Why is God’s name, Jehovah, missing from most modern translations of the Bible? Superstition that developed among tradition-bound Jews caused them to avoid pronouncing God’s personal name, Jehovah. This has contributed to worldwide ignorance regarding the divine name. Added to this has been Christendom’s tendency to focus attention on the person of Jesus Christ, thus relegating Jehovah to second place in their triune godhead.”
  51. ^ “Should you believe in the Trinity?”. The Watchtower. 1989. Retrieved 13 April 2012. “Chapter: Is God Always Superior to Jesus?”
  52. ^ Watchtower 1984 9/1 p. 25-30.
  53. ^ James Roberts – Oneness vs. Trinitarian Theology – Westland United Pentecostal Church. Retrieved 13 April 2012.
  54. ^ See also David Bernard, A Handbook of Basic Doctrines, Word Aflame Press, 1988. ISBN 0-932581-37-4 needs page num
  55. ^ F.E. Peters, Islam, p.4, Princeton University Press, 2003
  56. ^ a b Vincent J. Cornell, Encyclopedia of Religion, Vol 5, pp.3561-3562
  57. ^ Gerhard Böwering, God and his Attributes, Encyclopedia of the Quran
  58. ^ John L. Esposito, Islam: The Straight Path, Oxford University Press, 1998, p.22
  59. ^ John L. Esposito, Islam: The Straight Path, Oxford University Press, 1998, p.88
  60. ^ “Allah.” Encyclopædia Britannica. 2007. Encyclopædia Britannica
  61. ^ Gods, Goddesses, and Mythology Set by C. Scott Littleton 2005 ISBN 0-7614-7559-1 page 908
  62. ^ Fundamentals of the Faith by Peter Kreeft 1988 ISBN 0-89870-202-X page 93
  63. ^ James Cornwell, 2009 Saints, Signs, and Symbols: The Symbolic Language of Christian Art ISBN 0-8192-2345-X page 2
  64. ^ Adolphe Napoléon Didron, 2003 Christian iconography: or The history of Christian art in the middle ages ISBN 0-7661-4075-X pages 169
  65. ^ James Cornwell, 2009 Saints, Signs, and Symbols: The Symbolic Language of Christian Art ISBN 0-8192-2345-X page 2
  66. ^ George Ferguson, 1996 Signs & symbols in Christian art ISBN 0-19-501432-4 page 92

Is the Church necessary for salvation?

Is the Church necessary for salvation?

Dr George Karakunnel

                “This holy Council first of all turns its attention to the Catholic faithful. Basing itself on scripture and tradition, it teaches that the Church, a pilgrim now on earth, is necessary for salvation: the one Christ is mediator and the way of salvation; he is present to us in his body which is the Church. He himself explicitly asserted the necessity of faith and baptism (cf. Mk. 16:16; Jn.3:5), and thereby affirmed at the same time the necessity of the Church which men enter through baptism as through a door.  Hence they could not be saved who, knowing that the Catholic Church was founded as necessary by God through Christ, would refuse either to enter it, or to remain in it.”  (Dogmatic Constitution on the Church, no.14)

                “Those who, through no fault of their own, do not know the Gospel of Christ or his Church, but who nevertheless seek God with as sincere heart, and, moved by grace, try in their actions to do his will as they know it through the dictates of their conscience – those too may achieve eternal salvation. Nor shall divine providence deny the assistance necessary for salvation to those who, without any fault of theirs, have not yet arrived at an explicit knowledge of God, and who, not without grace, strive to lead a good life.” (Dogmatic Constitution on the Church, no.15)

The answer is “Yes” but that’s the easy part. Explaining why it’s “Yes” is more difficult. Because the Church is the Body of Christ, it embodies the presence of Christ and carries on his redemptive work for all of humanity. In that sense, the Church is indeed necessary for salvation, that is, in the same way that Jesus Christ himself is necessary for salvation. But does that mean that only those who profess faith in Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior can be saved?

            Jesus himself gave us the beginning of an answer to both questions when he said. “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord’, will enter the kingdom of heaven. But only the one who does the will of my Father in heaven” (Matt 7:21). Confessing the Lordship of Jesus, therefore, isn’t in itself sufficient for salvation. But even if it’s not sufficient, is it absolutely necessary? Later in the twenty-fifth chapter of Matthew’s Gospel Jesus narrates the parable of the sheep and the goats in which he implies that many who enter the kingdom of heaven will not even have been aware of the Lord. Rather, they will only encounter the Lord anonymously, as it were, in the hungry, the thirsty, the homeless, and all others in need.

            Catholic belief and teaching about salvation, therefore, is that no one is saved apart from the redemptive work of Jesus Christ on behalf of all humanity, but that it is possible to be the beneficiary of that redemptive work even if one does not confess Jesus as Lord and Savior, which means even if one is not a member of the Church, Catholic or non-Catholic.

            That wasn’t always the understanding of the Church’s role in salvation, however. In the first three centuries the saying. “No salvation outside the Church”, was used exclusively as a warning against Christians who had separated themselves from the Church by heresy or schism. Historians have found no instance where that same warning was issued against the pagan majority in the Roman Empire. It was only after Christianity became the official religion of the Empire in the fourth century that the saying began to be applied to Jews and pagans as well. The naive assumption was that, by this time, the Gospel had been preached to the whole world. Those who still had not accepted it were culpable and, therefore, heading for damnation. This was the view associated especially with Fulgentius, bishop of Ruspe, in the sixth century, and it remained standard Catholic teaching for almost a thousand years. The Council of Florence in 1442 used Fulgentius’ formula in its own teaching. With the discovery of America, however, only fifty years after Florence, it became clear that the world was much larger than had been thought. There were still many thousands – perhaps millions – of people who had never heard of Jesus Christ. Only gradually thereafter did the hard-line teaching of Fulgentius and others yield to a broader, more ecumenical view of salvation outside the Church.


            At first, a distinction was made between members of the Church in re (that is, actual, baptized members) and members of the Church in voto (that is, people of good will who remain outside the Church through no fault of their own). All those who are saved because of some relationship with the Church, whether in re or in voto. The Second Vatican Council went a step beyond that position. It recognized in its Decree on Ecumenism that non-Catholic churches are a “means of salvation’, although “they derive their efficacy from the fullness of grace and truth entrusted to the Catholic Church “ (n.3). The council also recognized in its Declaration on the Relationship of the Church to Non-Christian Religions that the “Catholic Church rejects nothing which is true and holy in these religions” (n.2). Salvation, brought by the different religions as the Church understands, is related to the one economy of salvation under Jesus Christ.  This is the present day inclusivist approach which replaced a rather exclusivist approach of the past.

            Does the Church, then, play any necessary role at all in the salvation of the world? Yes, says the Council, it is the “universal sacrament of salvation” (Dogmatic Constitution on the Church, n.48; Pastoral Constitution on the Church in the Modern World).  Not only are all people related to the Church by the grace which the Holy Spirit offers them, but the Church itself is a sign and instrument of their salvation. And that is the newer, more ecumenical, more universal meaning of the traditional saying, “No salvation outside the Church”.

Ecclesia in Asia: An Evaluation

Ecclesia in Asia


Ecclesia in Asia is a document issued by Pope to serve as a blueprint for the expansion of the Roman Catholic faith in Asia. It summarizes ideas and conclusions of the Special Asian Synod held in Rome from April 18 to May 14, 1998. It was officially promulgated by Pope John Paul II in New Delhi, India on November 6, 1999.

The document stated that “just as in the first millennium the Cross was planted on the soil of Europe, and in the second on that of the Americas and Africa, we can pray that in the Third Christian Millennium a great harvest of faith will be reaped in this vast and vital continent of Asia.”

We Asian peoples like to think in symbols and images, and do not indulge so much on analytic reasoning or speculations; we prefer evocation to demonstration, intuition to argumentation, wisdom to science. There several cultures here, different kind and coloured people here, numerous languages exist here and the philosophy and theology and the very mind set of the people are different from that of the west. Having in mind all these context of cultural and linguistic veracity of the people of Asia Pope John Paul II inspired by the Holy spirit write this document as it was clear from the very title itself Post-synodal apostolic exhortation Ecclesia in Asia of the Holy Father John Paul II to the bishops, priests and deacons, men and women in the consecrated life and all the lay faithful on Jesus Christ the saviour and his mission of love and service in Asia: “…that they may have life, and have it abundantly” (Jn 10:10)

1.  The Structure of the Document

The Exhortation is composed of seven parts dealing with the following themes: the Asian context, Jesus as Savior, the Holy Spirit as Lord and Giver of life, proclamation of Jesus in Asia (with a focus on inculturation), communion and dialogue for mission (with a focus on ecumenical and interreligious dialogue), the service of human promotion, and Christians as witnesses to the Gospel.

The long document concludes as “The peoples of Asia need Jesus Christ and his Gospel. Asia is thirsting for the Living water that Jesus alone can give (Jn 4:10-15). The disciples of Christ in Asia must therefore be unstinting in their efforts to fulfill the mission they have received from the Lord, who has promised to be with them to the end of the age (Mt 28:20). Trusting in the Lord who will not fail those whom he has called, the Church in Asia joyfully makes her pilgrim way into the Third Millennium.”

The content of the document is the following:


The Marvel of God’s Plan in Asia (1)

Background to the Special Assembly (2)

The Celebration of the Special Assembly (3)

Sharing the Fruits of the Special Assembly (4)

 Chapter I – The Asian Context

Asia, the Birthplace of Jesus and of the Church (5)

Religious and Cultural Realities (6)

Economic and Social Realities (7)

Political Realities (8)

The Church in Asia: Past and Present (9)

 Chapter II – Jesus the Saviour: A Gift to Asia

The Gift of Faith (10)

Jesus Christ, the God-Man Who Saves (11)

The Person and Mission of the Son of God (12)

Jesus Christ: the Truth of Humanity (13)

The Uniqueness and Universality of Salvation in Jesus (14)

 Chapter III – The Holy Spirit: Lord and Giver of Life

The Spirit of God in Creation and History (15)

The Holy Spirit and the Incarnation of the Word (16)

The Holy Spirit and the Body of Christ (17)

The Holy Spirit and the Church’s Mission in Asia (18)

 Chapter IV – Jesus the Saviour: Proclaiming the Gift

The Primacy of Proclamation (19)

Proclaiming Jesus Christ in Asia (20)

The Challenge of Inculturation (21)

Key Areas of Inculturation (22)

Christian Life as Proclamation (23)

 Chapter V – Communion and Dialogue for Mission

Communion and Mission Go Hand in and (24)

Communion within the Church (25)

Solidarity among the Churches (26)

The Catholic Eastern Churches (27)

Sharing Hopes and Sufferings (28)

A Mission of Dialogue (29)

Ecumenical Dialogue (30)

Inter-religious Dialogue (31)

 Chapter VI – The Service of Human Promotion

The Social Doctrine of the Church (32)

The Dignity of the Human Person (33)

Preferential Love of the Poor (34)

The Gospel of Life (35)

Health Care (36)

Education (37)

Peacemaking (38)

Globalization (39)

Foreign Debt (40)

The Environment (41)

 Chapter VII – Witnesses To the Gospel

A Witnessing Church (42)

Pastors (43)

The Consecrated Life and Missionary Societies (44)

The Laity (45)

The Family (46)

Young People (47)

Social Communications (48)

The Martyrs (49)


Gratitude and Encouragement (50)

Prayer to the Mother of Christ (51)

2. An Evaluation of the Document

2.1 Truly Asian, Authentically Christian

While the Pope sees the crux of the matter as doctrinal (Christo-centrism), the bishops’ interventions saw their problem as not with Jesus the Christ – who is widely accepted and loved by Asians – but the presence of a foreign Church burdened by a colonial past. Ecclesia in Asia finds it strange that Jesus the Asian, has become a foreigner in Asia (EA 20). Apart from the indigenous Churches in the Near East and Kerala, most remaining Churches are the result of colonial expansion and missionary outreach working hand-in-hand. Whatever the nuances, however great the social contribution of the mission Churches in the past, however heroic the sacrifices of cross-cultural missioners over the centuries, the fact remains in stark clarity: the Latin Churches of Asia are a foreign presence. They are alien in the official dress of its leaders; alien in its rituals; alien in its formation of cultic and community leaders in foreign thought patterns in seminaries whose professors are foreign-educated; alien in its large, often rich, institutions among people who are generally poor; above all alien in that Christians have had to uproot themselves from their own cultural identity in order to claim a “hybrid” Christian one. This is a major issue for most Asian bishops. However, Ecclesia in Asia mentions it in passing in a single sentence as though the problem was over:”… the Church in many places was still considered as foreign to Asia, and indeed was often associated in people’s minds with the colonial powers” (EA, 9).

Ecclesia in Asia is surely right in placing Christ at the center rather than the Church, whether Latin or Oriental. This is not to separate Christ from his body, the Church, but rather to accept the Church as sign, sacrament and instrument of Christ’s saving presence. The eternal, incarnate, redemptive, cosmic presence of Christ can neither be confined to, nor controlled by the Church. The central problem is neither Christ nor his acceptance/rejection by his fellow Asians. The key missiological problem is rather the Western Church’s alien tone and idiom inherited from colonial times. As for the how of mission we need time, patience and perseverance in order to move away from insulated, devotional practices and re-invent ourselves as dynamic diaspora living out a dialogue of life and action.

2.2 A New Way of Being Church

Another way of making the point for the Asian Synod to have a lasting impact, the Asian Churches must, with courage and creativity, find new ways of being Church, and hence construct an alternative ecclesiology. This ecclesiology, in a sort of Copernican revolution, de-centers the Church in the sense that it makes the center of the Christian life not the Church but the reign of God. Their mission is not to expand the Church and its structures in order to enlarge the sphere of influence for the Church but to be a transparent sign and effective instrument of the saving presence of the reign of God, the reign of justice, peace, and love, of which the Church is a seed. As the Exhortation puts it well: “Empowered by the Spirit to accomplish Christ‘s salvation on earth, the Church is the seed of the kingdom of God, and she looks eagerly for its final coming. Her identity and mission are inseparable from the kingdom of God he Spirit reminds the Church that she is not an end unto herself: In all that she is and all that she does, she exists to serve Christ and the salvation of the world” (EA, 17).

2.2.1 Church as a Communion

The Church, both at the local and universal levels, is seen primarily as “a communion of communities, where laity, religious and clergy recognize and accept each other as sisters and brothers.” At the heart of the mystery of the Church is the bond of communion uniting God with humanity and humans with one another, of which the Eucharist is the sign and instrument par excellence. In this ecclesiology there is an explicit and effective recognition of the fundamental equality among all the members of the local Church as disciples of Jesus and among all the local Churches in so far as they are communities of Jesus’ disciples and whose communion constitutes the universal Church. The communion (koinonia) which constitutes the Church, both at the local and universal levels, and from which flows the fundamental equality of all Christians, is rooted at its deepest level in the life of the Trinity in whom there is a perfect communion of equals.18 Unless this fundamental equality of all Christians is acknowledged and lived through concrete policies and actions, the Church will not become a communion of communities in Asia. Living out this fundamental equality is particularly difficult in Asia, not only because the insistence on the hierarchical structure of the Church tends to obscure and minimize it but also because it goes against the class consciousness of many Asian societies.

2.2.2 Discipleship of Equals

 The understanding of pastoral “discipleship of equals” leads to the second characteristic of the new way of being Church in Asia, that is, the participatory and collaborative nature of all the ministries in the Church: “It is a participatory Church where the gifts that the Holy Spirit gives to all the faithful – lay, religious, and cleric alike -are recognized and activated, so that the Church may be built up and its mission realized. This participatory nature of the Church must be lived out not only in the local Church but also among all the local Churches, including the Church of Rome, of course, with due recognition of the papal primacy. In this context it is encouraging to read in the Exhortation the following affirmation: It is in fact within the perspective of ecclesial communion that the universal authority of the successor of Peter shines forth more clearly, not primarily as juridical power over the local churches, but above all as a pastoral primacy at the service of the unity of faith and life of the whole people of God” (EA, 25). A “pastoral primacy” must do everything possible to foster co-responsibility and participation of all the local Churches in the triple ministry of teaching, sanctification, and service in the Church and must be held accountable to this task so that these words do not remain at the level of pious rhetoric but are productive of concrete structures and actions. Only in this way can the Church’s teaching office and the pope’s ministry of promoting unity be effectively exercised, learning from the varied and rich experiences of being Church from all corners of the globe and welcoming respectful but frank warning and correction when errors of intellectual narrowness, moral arrogance, and  spiritual blindness have been committed.

2.2.3 A Dialogical Spirit

The third characteristic of a new way of being Church in Asia is the dialogical spirit: Built in the hearts of people, it is a Church that faithfully and lovingly witnesses to the Risen Lord and reaches out to people of other faiths and persuasions in a dialogue of life towards the integral liberation of all. The universal church must have in mind the necessity of this triple dialogue. In the dialogue with the Asian cultures (inculturation), the Exhortation highlights the areas of theology, liturgy, and the Bible (EA, 22). In the dialogue with other religious traditions, the document emphasizes ecumenical and interreligious dialogue. It quotes approvingly proposition 41 of the Synod: “Interreligious relations are best developed in a context of openness to other believers, a willingness to listen and the desire to respect and understand others in their differences. For all this, love of others is indispensable. This should result in collaboration, harmony and mutual enrichment” (EA, 31). In the dialogue with the poor, the Exhortation affirms the necessity of the preferential love of the poor (in particular, the migrants, indigenous and tribal people, women and children), defense of human life, health care, education, peacemaking, cancellation of foreign debts, and protection of the environment (EA, 32-41). There is no doubt that if the Christian Church is to become truly of Asia, Asian Christians must be engaged, relentlessly and wholeheartedly, in this triple “dialogue of life and heart” and in this way fulfill their inalienable right and duty of proclaiming Jesus to their fellow Asians.

2.2.4 Being a Prophetic Sign

The fourth and last feature of the new way of being Church in Asia is prophecy: The Church is “a leaven of transformation in this world and serves as a prophetic sign daring to point beyond this world to the ineffable Kingdom that is yet fully to come” As far as Asia is concerned, in being “a leaven of transformation in this world,“ Christianity must give up its ambition, so enthusiastically endorsed in many missionary quarters at the beginning of the twentieth century, to convert the majority of Asians to Christ. The report of the demise of Asian religions was premature and vastly exaggerated. In Asia, where Christians still form but a minuscule part of the population after four hundred years of mission, and where non-Christian religions have recently staged a vigorous revival, the prospect of a massive conversion of Asians to the Christian faith is utterly unlikely. Christians in Asia must come to terms with the fact that they are destined to remain for the foreseeable future a “small remnant” who must journey with adherents of other religions toward the eschatological kingdom of God.

The objective of the Church‘s mission of “making disciples of all nations” (Mt 28:19) in Asia cannot therefore be adding as many members to the Church as possible, even though baptism in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit” (Mt 28:19) remains the desirable outcome of the Church‘s mission. Rather, the primary task of the Church is to become a credible prophetic sign” of the coming reign of God. This new focus of the Church‘s mission must be the light guiding the ordering of its priorities and the choice of its policies which must not aim at serving the internal interests of the Church but the proclamation of the Gospel through the triple dialogue.

The significance of the Asian Synod and Ecclesia in Asia lies,  not so much in what they say as in the recognition that the Churches of Asia have come of age and must continue to pursue the task of becoming Asian, relentlessly, courageously, creatively. Only in this way can the Christian Church fulfill its missionary vocation which is the task of the entire Church.33 It is only by living out a new way of being Church that Asian Christians will make true what the Exhortation states as a fact: “Contemplating Jesus in his human nature, the peoples of Asia find their deepest questions answered, their hopes fulfilled, their dignity uplifted and their despair conquered” (EA, 14).

2.3 Ecclesia in Asia and the Biblical Pastoral Ministry

In EA, the explicit reflection on our ministry comes in chapter IV “Jesus the Saviour: Proclaiming the Gift”, in the section, “The Challenge of Inculturation” (nos. 21-22). Among the key areas of inculturation, priority is given to theological inculturation: “The Synod expressed encouragement to theologians in their delicate work of developing an inculturated theology, especially in the area of Christology.” (EA 22) This is to be undertaken “with courage and faithfulness“. The thrust of the document in this section is on the inculturation of the Good News. The word inculturation, culture and related words appear one hundred and one times in the document.

3.0 Conclusion

The significance of the Asian Synod and Ecclesia in Asia lies not so much in what they say as in the recognition that the Churches of Asia have come of age and must continue to pursue the task of becoming Asian, courageously and creatively. Only in this way can the Christian Church fulfill its missionary vocation which is the task of the entire Church. It is only by living out a new way of being Church that Asian Christians will make true what the Exhortation states as a fact: “Contemplating Jesus in his human nature, the peoples of Asia find their deepest questions answered, their hopes fulfilled, their dignity uplifted and their despair conquered” (EA, 14). What the Pontifical Biblical Commission says about the actualization of the Bible is valid for a dialogic approach to biblical pastoral ministry. “In any case, the risk of error does not constitute a valid objection against performing what is a necessary task that of bringing the message of the Bible to the ears and hearts of the people of our time” (Interpretation of the Bible in Church, p.117). A dialogic proclamation of the word is not a clearly defined task. It is a venture of hope. It will become an adventure of the Church in Asia. Today we are here to plant the seeds of a future visioning. Our task is to greet from distance that future and to keep sowing the seeds and nurture their growth. May this Apostolic Document strengthen us for such a mission.


  1. Pope john Paul II, Ecclesia in Asia, 1999.
  2. Losservatore Romano, november, 1999.