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Saint Cardinal John Henry Newman
Saint Cardinal John Henry Newman
Jesus, Son of David
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Jesus, Son of David

One of the main titles of our Lord is the messianic title of Son of David. It is the second of twelve titles for our Lord that Cardinal Newman presents as a reflection for Good Friday. The title Son of David, however, does not mean much too most people today since they are not familiar with the Old Testament figure of King David and the promise made to him that his house or family kingdom would last forever (2 Kings 7).

Newman explains how the Jews expected a Messiah that would descend from the house of David through Mary, a descendant of David:

The Prophet Isaias had foretold; “there shall come forth a rod out of the root of Jesse;” Jesse was the father of David, the King of the Jews—and by “rod” or plant is meant the Blessed Virgin; “there shall come forth a rod out of the root of Jesse, and a flower shall rise up out of his root” (Isaias xi. 1); by the flower of the plant is meant our Lord the son of the Blessed Mary.

Newman indicates that by David’s kingdom is meant a spiritual kingdom in which Christ will reign.

“And the Spirit of the Lord shall rest upon Him” (verse 2); this the Holy Ghost did at His Baptism. And Jeremias says: “Behold the days come, and I will raise up to David a just Branch, and a King shall reign, and shall be wise, and shall execute judgment and justice in the earth. In those days Juda shall be saved … and this is the name that they shall call Him—the Lord our Just One” (Jeremias xxiii. 5-6). Hence the Jews when disputing whether our Lord were the Christ, said, “Doth not the Scripture say, that Christ cometh out of the seed of David?” (John vii. 42).

Next Newman continues with some comments on the tragic course of history of the Jewish people, using words which could possibly give rise to misunderstanding and hurt even though this was far from his intention. There can be no doubt that Newman was aware that the one who passed sentence on Jesus was Pontius Pilate, the Roman governor, compelled by the Jewish leaders, but he writes that the Jewish people rejected Christ. In doing so he chose to use the collective “we” to express the solidarity that exists both in good and in evil.

He expressed these thoughts in the following words:

It was the glory of the Jews that the promised Saviour, the Christ, the Sacrifice and Propitiation of the whole human race, the Almighty Liberator, was to be of their race and country—yet, dreadful to say, when He came, they rejected Him, they put Him to death. “He came unto His own, and His own received Him not” (John i. 11). And as they rejected Him, He rejected them.

For many years until the twentieth century the Jews had no homeland of their own, yet they remain God’s chosen people, for whom Newman invites us to pray:

O seed of Abraham, O Son of David, O Adonai and leader of the house of Israel, who didst appear to Moses in the burning bush, and didst on Mount Sinai deliver to him Thy Law; O Key of David, and sceptre of the house of Israel, who openest and no one shutteth, who shuttest and no one openeth; visit not, O dear Lord, the sins of the fathers upon the children, continue not Thy wrath for ever (…) O remember not those old Priests and Scribes, the Pharisees and Sadducees, remember not Annas and Caiphas, Judas, and the insane multitude who cried out “Crucify Him.” In wrath remember mercy.

Newman concludes his prayer with a touching reference to Jesus’ parents, to the patriarchs and to King David, all of whom were Jewish. The Jewish people are our fathers in the faith. We share with them in the patriarchs, the promises and the prophets.

Although Newman does not explain in detail why Jesus is called the Son of David he invites us to see how the Scriptures prepared the people for the Messiah who would descend from David. And that Messiah is Jesus, the Son of David, whom we ask to bless the Jewish people and Christians as we seek to know and serve God each day with greater faithfulness and love.

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With this indwelling of the Holy Spirit, we have the indwelling of Christ in our souls. Christ is born in us. The Holy Spirit makes us children of God, crying out Abba Father, and restores in us the likeness of Christ.

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A Guide to John Henry Newman will interest educated readers and professors alike, and serve as a text for college seminars for the purpose of studying Newman.

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Endorsement by Neyra Blanco (Amazon)
I bought this book for my son and he loved it, he wrote this review and urged my to submitted: “I think this book has a very beautiful message, because it shows how the young Newman was so determined to achieve his dream of becoming a priest, but even after his dream he continued to work in the church with passion until the day he died, it’s so admirable that even Newman so old and so weak still had that urge to continued his work of being a priest. And the book is well written with words not too complicated with very enjoyable texts and well illustrated pictures. I highly recommend this book for a 5th grader.  

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Endorsement by Christopher Moellering (Goodreads, September 14, 2019)
In Passion for Truth Fr. Vélez gave us an outstanding biography of Cardinal Newman. In this work, he provides a concise overview of his thought and his devotion. This is a great work for someone who, perhaps hearing of Newman for the first time because of his beatification 13 October, 2019, wants to know more about this English saint.Vélez is a wonderful writer in his own right, and the frequent quotations from Newman round out the work nicely. I especially appreciated the frequent citing of Newman’s Meditations and Devotions, which show a different side of his spirituality than his more well-known works, Development of Christian Doctrine and the Grammar of Assent.

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Take Five: Meditations with John Henry Newman, endorsement by Illow M. Roque (Amazon, September 3, 2010)
“There is a time to put direct inquiry on hold and give ourselves to prayer and practical duties.” Sound advice from one of the earlier, thought-provoking reminders in this sparkling gem of a book: Take Five | Meditations with John Henry Newman, written by Mike Aquilina and Fr. Juan R. Vélez and published by Our Sunday Visitor. This particular paragraph, referenced above, which begins with a direct quote from soon-to-be canonized priest, cardinal and poet, John Henry Newman: “Study is good, but it gets us only so far . . .” is actually the 15th in a series of 76 concise, logically organized meditations moving from the elementary to the sublime. Each meditation–one per page–is built upon the great man’s writings and remarkably rich spirituality. Whether taken whole in one reading or in part page-by-page over a course of weeks and months, these wonderfully insightful meditations will open up, even to the busiest reader in the midst of the world, a unique pathway into prayer and contemplation. My advice to spiritual inquirers at all levels, from the novice to the spiritually adept, is to follow the authors’ recommendation to use this book as a guide for daily prayer and meditation. The structure of the book itself is ideal: first, the authors introduce us to Cardinal Newman, the man, where we are given the opportunity to get to know him through a brief sketch of his life and spirituality at the beginning of the book. This is something readers will likely find themselves referring to again and again, prompting many, I suspect, to even wider explorations of this most gifted Christian leader. Then comes the meditations, consisting of a short summary of Newman’s thoughts on subjects taken, as the authors explain, from various salient points for which Newman is justly remembered: The pursuit of objective religious truth; Teaching on the Virtues; Defense of the Catholic Church; A devout spiritual and moral life; and Generosity and loyalty in his friendships, which sets the topic and tone for each meditation to follow. Each meditation consists of an excerpt taken from Newman’s thirty-plus volumes of writings and diaries. Next comes three brief and extremely useful sections entitled: “Think About It,” which establishes a prayerfully resonant tone throughout the book; “Just Imagine,” which provides a vivid, prayerful experience of the Scriptures that tie in, and finally, “Remember,” a pithy summation which the authors suggest may be used as a daily aspiration. Each meditation is given its own page, which makes it ideal for daily reflection for readers on the go. This book is a must have for every serious Catholic who wants to take their faith to the next level, which is to respond appropriately to the universal call to holiness and seek interior union with God.
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