Monday, June 25, 2012
Father Jerome Murphy-OConnor has a common sense breakdown....let's hope it's brief
Father Jerome Murphy-OConnor, a renowned expert on the New Testament, has what some are referring to as "a bold view of what happened in the Garden of Gethsemane." I would call it something else entirely: asinine. Demonic even. How about blasphemous?
In an article for the Catholic Herald which may be found here, Fr. OConnor is quoted as having said that Jesus suffered a "nervous breakdown" and adds, "When realizing the imminence of His own demise, Jesus was deeply distraught and troubled, out of control." A nervous breakdown, otherwise referred to as a "mental breakdown," is statically defined as "a specific acute time-limited reactive disorder." See here.
Jesus out of control? Jesus so distraught that he momentarily suffered from a reactive disorder?
Anyone even remotely familiar with the New Testament knows full well that Jesus was subject to emotions. We know that He wept when His friend Lazarus died. We know that He experienced various emotions. We read for example, "He began to grow sorrowful and be sad" (Mt 26: 37); that He "began to fear and be heavy" (Mk 14: 33); that He "looked round about on them with anger" (Mk 3: 5) and that He said, "I am glad for your sake" (Jn 11: 15). But Jesus was also free from concupiscence. As a result, His emotions could not be directed to a sinful object nor could they arise within Him without His consent. Jesus emotions were always completely under the control of His will and could never obscure or dominate His mind in any way.
Father Kenneth Baker, S.J., notes how, "In this regard there is a significant difference between His emotions and ours. For, our emotions arise spontaneously, often against our will, and sometimes totally dominate our power of reason. Thus, they can lead us into sin. Not so with Jesus. Jesus was capable of suffering and experienced emotions, but everything was under the control of His will which was totally obedient to His Father." (Fundamentals of Catholicism, Vol. II, p. 269).
This is the teaching of Saint Thomas Aquinas in his Summa Theologiae:
"Since the soul gives form to the body soul and body share the same existence, and when the body is upset by physical suffering the soul existing in the body is also indirectly affected. So because Christ's body could suffer and die, his soul too was affected by suffering. The soul is also affected, in a different sense, by activities it exercises by itself, or that belong more to it than the body. Knowledge and sensation are sometimes called affections of the soul, but the description applies most properly to emotions of the sense-appetite, which Christ possessed along with everything else natural to men. But whereas in us emotions often bear on unlawful objects, frequently anticipate the judgment of reason, and sometimes draw reason after them, in Christ they were always under reason's control."
And so, Father Murphy-OConnor is simply wrong. Jesus suffered no mental breakdown. He was never, even for the slightest moment, "out of control."