Q: How come Jesus prayed to God, if he is God?
A: We are quite aware that Jesus often prayed to his Father in heaven, as indicated in the Gospel narratives. These moments of prayer are lessons to us all.
Firstly, Jesus indicates to us that he is the Son of God and speaks directly to God the Father. Different moments in his life on Earth are chronicled in the Gospel stories indicating to us that Jesus was in constant contact with God the Father, doing the will of the Father, which was the Son’s will, too.
Secondly, through his prayer to God the Father, Jesus instructs us that we, also, have the ability to speak with God through prayer. A great saint, St. John Damascene, once said, “Prayer is the raising of one’s mind and heart to God, or the requesting of good things from God.” In his prayer to God the Father, Jesus demonstrates how we should pray, with an open mind and heart to God’s will.
Jesus shows us firsthand how we should be grateful that God listens to all of our prayers, even if sometimes his answer is, “No.” Remember, in prayer, we do not bend God’s will to ours, but instead allow God to bend our will to his.
A: You and I live in an era where we expect precision, no matter what the subject. When there is no precision, we become anxious and confused wondering just what to think. However, remember that calendars have been altered in different ways in the past 2,013 years to a point that it can be difficult to pinpoint the exact year of Jesus’ birth. While some theologians say that Jesus’ birth could have been as early as 6 B.C., others indicate the year A.D. 4.
What is most important here is that Jesus’ birth, that very first Christmas, is a historic fact. Jesus was born to Mary and to his foster dad, Joseph, in a manger in Bethlehem. As for the exact year, we have difficulty pinpointing the exact year of many contemporaries of Jesus, born around his birth, because of either the changing calendars or even an imprecise record. Remember, most people in the Holy Land, when Jesus was born, were unable to read and so had to share the word verbally before finally someone had the opportunity to write down the facts.
Q: When Jesus is on the cross he says, “My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?” Why does he say this? What does this mean?
A: The shortest and easiest answer is: Jesus died for us. To say a little more about this means that Jesus united with us in a very specific way. By not sinning himself, he took on all our own weaknesses and bore on his shoulders all of our sins. By saying these words which begin Psalm 22, he has united himself with us so that you and I can be reconciled to God. If you read on in Psalm 22, you realize that the psalm ends in very good news, for God will never leave us. It has been said also in ancient times that in order to make reference to an entire psalm, someone would mention the first few words of that psalm and then people would understand the entire meaning of what he said. Here, Jesus is reminding you and me that his dying on the cross is the greatest news of all for our salvation.
You may want to review Psalm 22 more thoroughly at Holy Week in 2014, April 13-18. As I have mentioned before, we must remember the Bible is the story of our salvation. In other words, the stories and the passages in the Bible are about us.
Jesus is the Son of God, but that does not mean he was immune from suffering or death. Jesus has offered us eternal life with him. He has saved us. No one is in his league. No one.
Q: Why did Jesus have to get baptized?
A: Here is a perfect segue from the previous question. The short version is: Jesus did it for us.
Jesus, who is fully human and fully divine, wants us to be members of his family. In other words, through Jesus’ baptism in the Jordan, we receive the Sacrament of Baptism. This is the first sacrament we all receive as Christians and is the first of three Sacraments of Initiation: Baptism, Eucharist and Confirmation.
Jesus did not need to be baptized in the Jordan, but we needed him to be baptized in the Jordan in order to have the Sacrament of Baptism.
At his baptism, Jesus’ true identity is acknowledged by God the Father and God the Holy Spirit. Here we have the Holy Trinity evident in this Gospel scene.
Jesus shows us that he is the author and source of all seven Sacraments we have in the Catholic Church. There are immeasurable supernatural gifts which greatly exceed anything you and I can create.
Q: Why wasn’t God down on earth with Jesus?
A: Here is a good question regarding the Holy Trinity. Jesus is the Son of God, and as we read in the Gospel according to John, “The Word became flesh and dwelt among us” (Jn 1: 14). Or, in another part of the Nativity story of Jesus where Joseph, in the midst of a dream, is informed by an angel that he will have a foster son and he will name him Emmanuel, which means, God is with us.
We also know that there are three persons and one God: God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit. And, God the Father was with his Son Jesus all the time.
I apologize if this answer has all of a sudden become somewhat confusing, but that can happen when we explore the mysteries of our faith.
In other words, God was with Jesus all along for Jesus is God, as Jesus exercised his ministry of salvation here on earth. Just as God the Father never left Jesus even when Jesus was on the Cross, he will never leave us.