The Pope’s mission to teach the truth is inherent to his position as guide of the Church. All of the baptized turn to him for words of eternal life, which, we know God has willed, should come to us through Christ’s Vicar. So, over the centuries, the Roman Pontiffs have carefully undertaken the task of preaching, aware that no one can do so with greater efficacy, authority and celestial blessings than they themselves. To this end, they even sought the collaboration of the most renowned theologians at their time, to ensure that their work be carried out to perfection with the aid of the doctrinal certainty of these collaborators.
This office of teaching must be exercised in meticulously sound fashion, for what is expected of those who are called to teach the truth is – needless to say – that they teach the truth! What if Saint Peter, for example, had proclaimed doubtful doctrines in his famous sermons recorded in he Acts of the Apostles, later sending Saint Mark to clarify, before the congregation, what he had really meant to say?… You see, the Head of the Church meant one thing, but since it is being wrongly interpreted, we had better say he really meant quite another… If such a situation had cropped up in Saint Luke’s narration, we would take it as an apocryphal interpolation, fit to shock any pious ear, for nothing could be less suggestive of the assistance of the Holy Spirit, who always accompanies the authentic servants of the Word.
The Catholic world has received quite an affront with Francis’ recent homily, delivered on the Tuesday of the fifth week of Lent, in Casa Santa Marta. The readings were beautiful and most profound, and needful of due homiletic explanation to aid their understanding by the faithful, in keeping with unflawed theology. Francis put a new spin on the episode of the bronze serpent in the desert mentioned in the Book of Numbers (21: 4–9), and most especially Christ’s being made sin for us on the cross: He said that Jesus was dirtied by sin, and implied that the serpent symbolizes our faults. Some considered his words a wonderful development in biblical hermeneutics; others, outright heresy, while still others wondered what was the exact meaning he wished to convey with that jumble of ideas. Numerous requests for clarification arrived at the Denzinger-Bergoglio desk. True to our quest to present the authentic Magisterium of the Church, we attentively examine, here, the teachings of the masters of sound doctrine, and the matter becomes clear on its own. Hence, we invite each individual to draw his own conclusions…
Sin is the work of Satan and Jesus defeats Satan by ‘becoming sin’ and from there he lifts up all of us. The Cross is not an ornament or a work of art with many precious stones as we see around us. The Cross is the Mystery of God’s annihilation for love. And the serpent that makes a prophecy in the desert is salvation, it is raised up and whoever looks at it is healed. And this is not done with a magic wand by a God who does these things: No! This is done through the suffering of the Son of Man, through the suffering of Jesus Christ. (Morning meditation, Domus Sanctae Marthae, March 15, 2016)
Note: The original Spanish text of Francis’ words uses ‘manchado por el pecado”, which translates as “stained by sin” (see here). The English translator of the Vatican Radio text tried to preferred to use “dirtied by sin” for some reason.
Enter the various parts of our study
II – Was Christ stained in assuming our nature? He emptied himself, humbled himself, but was not stained: On the contrary, he bore the faults of the human race to save us
III – Accusing Christ of having sin is sheer blasphemy
IV – The gravity of sin is known through the death of Christ on the cross. Sin is incompatible with his human and divine nature
I – What is the true significance of the serpent mentioned in Num 21:4–9? How can it be compared to Christ on the Cross?
II – Did Christ become stained in assuming our nature? He emptied himself and humbled himself, but was not stained: on the contrary, being innocent, He suffered for the sins of the human race to save it
Note: Saint Thomas Aquinas offers three reasons explaining why Saint Paul said, of Christ, that “he made him to be sin”: