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Punishing of the Rebels
Handling of the Keys
★ Reflexion on the Punishment of the Rebels and Handing of the Keys
For Pope Sixtus IV, in the cycle of paintings in the Sistine Chapel, the handling of the Keys was the most important work. Opposite, in the work of Botticelli, we see Aaron anointed with oil by Moses as the first High Priest of the Israelites - the Cohen Gadool, wearing the tiara, battling the rebels who didn’t accept his authority. The arch of Constantine bears the text: “No one takes this honor on himself; it needs a call from God, as in Aaron's case. Nec quisquam sumit sibi honorem, sed qui vocatur a Deo, tamquam Aaron.” In the work of Perugino, Jesus gives the keys of heaven and earth to Peter. A direct call for becoming His successor. The same keys that were in those days in the hands of Sixtus IV, who would defend as successor of Peter the Church against all evil. The keys of spiritual and temporal power. Those two works were given Sixtus IV his legitimation as supreme ruler over the Church, temporally as well as spiritually.
Personal, I believe for Pope Francis I, not the keys but the sermon of the Mount is the most important work of the lower part of the Sistine Chapel.
With some amazement, I’ve read the interview (1) between the most famous italian editor Eugenio Scalfari (Chief-redactor of the newspaper Repubblica and a strong non-believer) and Pope Francis I. We know, this interview is not the official point of view of the Church, but something that Pope Francis feels he needs to do; going in dialogue. Their conversation is intimate, and it reads far more like a spiritual experience than a political statement. And I was amused that in the dialogue Pope Francis I name was abbreviated with PF (Pope Francis) or ... was the PF a reference to the Ponti-Fex: He who build bridges?
Traditionally, those two keys, a golden one and an iron one are staying for the spiritual and temporal power of the Church. For having one of those two keys or having them both, nations over the history went in war (the battle of the investiture) and schismatic movements raised (protestants ...), creating distress for millions of people. But about what kind of power we are talking here? Is it the power of Moses who lift up his wand like Harry Potter (2) making that the rebels disappear in the earth? Is it the power of a Pope who can sell indulgences? Or is it the power of Love?
With the freedom that I have here, I would say that the power of Jesus is the power of living Love as being united through His sacrifice with His Father. So, if LOVE equals POWER, than we can read the two keys in a total different way. The golden key for the spiritual power is becoming the key of “spiritual love” and the iron key for the temporal power of the Church is becoming the key of “temporal love”.
The golden key of “spiritual love” is the key for opening our hearts to God, to let penetrate his grace and increase out faith (see Lumen Fidei) through prayers. A love that brought mystics in ecstacy, an experience of mystic self-transcendence. Just like we can see in the statue of Saint Theresa d’Avila by Bernini.
The iron key of “temporal love” is the key for opening all our hearts (the Pope and the faithful as well) to the others as we are finding in the Sermon of the Mount.
Lumen Gentium 34 tells us that also we, lay people have received a key.
By living Christ we all take part in His priestly function, from which the Holy Father is The supreme and eternal Priest, Christ Jesus, since he wills to continue his witness and service also through the laity, vivifies them in this Spirit and increasingly urges them on to every good and perfect work.
For besides intimately linking them to His life and His mission, He also gives them a sharing in His priestly function of offering spiritual worship for the glory of God and the salvation of men. For this reason the laity, dedicated to Christ and anointed by the Holy Spirit, are marvelously called and wonderfully prepared so that ever more abundant fruits of the Spirit may be produced in them. For all their works, prayers and apostolic endeavors, their ordinary married and family life, their daily occupations, their physical and mental relaxation, if carried out in the Spirit, and even the hardships of life, if patiently borne—all these become "spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ". Together with the offering of the Lord's body, they are most fittingly offered in the celebration of the Eucharist. Thus, as those everywhere who adore in holy activity, the laity consecrate the world itself to God.
But this we are doing in union with the successor of Peter (CCC 882)
The Pope, Bishop of Rome and Peter's successor, "is the perpetual and visible source and foundation of the unity both of the bishops and of the whole company of the faithful." ...
What follows is a selection of extracts from the interview between Pope Francis and Eugenio Scalfari: To purchase “Spiritual Love” through “Temporal Love”, the real spiritual and temporal power of the Church. A few thoughts of Pope Francis I: (1)
How to find Salvation:
The Son of God became incarnate in order to instill the feeling of brotherhood in the souls of men. All are brothers and all children of God. Abba, as he called the Father. I will show you the way, he said. Follow me and you will find the Father and you will all be his children and he will take delight in you. Agape, the love of each one of us for the other, from the closest to the furthest, is in fact the only way that Jesus has given us to find the way of salvation and of the Beatitudes." (page 56)
About the importance of Saint Francis for this Pope:
"Francis wanted a mendicant order and an itinerant one. Missionaries who wanted to meet, listen, talk, help, to spread faith and love. Especially love. And he dreamed of a poor Church that would take care of others, receive material aid and use it to support others, with no concern for itself. 800 years have passed since then and times have changed, but the ideal of a missionary, poor Church is still more than valid. This is still the Church that Jesus and his disciples preached about."(page 64)
About the organization of the Church
"I'm not Francis of Assisi and I do not have his strength and his holiness. But I am the Bishop of Rome and Pope of the Catholic world. The first thing I decided was to appoint a group of eight cardinals to be my advisers. Not courtiers but wise people who share my own feelings. This is the beginning of a Church with an organization that is not just top-down but also horizontal. When Cardinal Martini talked about focusing on the councils and synods he knew how long and difficult it would be to go in that direction. Gently, but firmly and tenaciously."(page 66)
About the goal of the Roman Catholic Church:
I believe I have already said that our goal is not to proselytize but to listen to needs, desires and disappointments, despair, hope. We must restore hope to young people, help the old, be open to the future, spread love. Be poor among the poor. We need to include the excluded and preach peace. Vatican II, inspired by Pope Paul VI and John, decided to look to the future with a modern spirit and to be open to modern culture. The Council Fathers knew that being open to modern culture meant religious ecumenism and dialogue with non-believers. But afterwards very little was done in that direction. I have the humility and ambition to want to do something." (page 65)
By following those advises, prayer and faith we will find “both Keys” in our hearts.
(1)Papa Francesco-Eugenio Scalfari: Dialogo tra credenti e non credenti, Enaudi, Torino, 2013, 174. (Thanks to Dott. Rudy Heinrich who gave me this book as present in name of Capitolina im CV, Rome)
(2)Harry Potter, Harry Potter and Deathly Hollous, part 2.
✤ On the centre front: Moses and Aron intervene in a riot taking place around sacrificial altar by hitting with censers
1 Now Korah son of Izhar, son of Kohath the Levite, and the Reubenites Dathan and Abiram sons of Eliab, and On son of Peleth were proud 2 and rebelled against Moses with two hundred and fifty Israelites who were leaders of the community, prominent at the solemn feasts, men of repute.3 These banded together against Moses and Aaron and said to them, 'You take too much on yourselves! The whole community, all its members, are consecrated, and Yahweh lives among them. Why set yourselves higher than Yahweh's community?'4 On hearing this, Moses threw himself on his face.5 Then he said to Korah and all in his party, 'Tomorrow morning Yahweh will reveal who is his, who the consecrated man whom he will allow to approach him. The one he allows to approach is the one whom he has chosen.6 This is what you must do: take the censers of Korah and all in his party,7 put fire in them and put incense in them before Yahweh tomorrow, and the one whom Yahweh chooses will be the consecrated man. Levites, you take too much on yourselves!'8 Moses then said to Korah, 'Now listen, you Levites!9 Is it not enough for you that the God of Israel has singled you out of the community of Israel, and called you to be near him, to serve in Yahweh's Dwelling and to represent the community by officiating on its behalf?10 He has called you to be near him, you and all your brother Levites with you, and now you want to be priests as well!11 For which reason, you and all in your party have banded together against Yahweh himself: for what is Aaron, that you should mutter against him?'12 Moses then summoned Dathan and Abiram sons of Eliab. They replied, 'We will not come.13 Is it not enough for you to have brought us away from a country flowing with milk and honey to kill us in the desert, without your making yourself our absolute ruler?14 What is more, you have not brought us to a country flowing with milk and honey and you have not given us fields and vineyards for our heritage. Do you think you can hoodwink these people? We will not come.'15 Moses flew into a rage and said to Yahweh, 'Disregard their cereal offering! I have not taken so much as a donkey from them, nor have I wronged any of them.'16 Moses said to Korah, 'You and all your party, come before Yahweh tomorrow, you and they, and Aaron too.17 Each will take his censer, put incense in it, and bring his censer before Yahweh -- two hundred and fifty censers. You and Aaron too will each bring his censer.'18 Each of them took his censer, put fire in it and placed incense on it, and stood at the entrance to the Tent of Meeting with Moses and Aaron.19 Then, Korah having assembled the whole community to confront them at the entrance to the Tent of Meeting, the glory of Yahweh appeared to the whole community.20 Yahweh then spoke to Moses and Aaron. He said,21 'Get away from this community. I am going to destroy them here and now.'22 They threw themselves on their faces and cried out, 'O God, God of the spirits that give life to every living thing, will you be angry with the whole community because one man has sinned?'23 Yahweh then said to Moses,24 'Speak to the community and say, "Stand well clear of Korah's tent." '25 Moses stood up and went to Dathan and Abiram; the elders of Israel followed him.26 He spoke to the community and said, 'Stand away, I tell you, from the tents of these sinners, and touch nothing that belongs to them, for fear that with all their sins you too will be swept away.'27 So they moved away from Korah's tent. Dathan and Abiram had come out and were standing at their tent doors, with their wives, their sons and their little ones.28 Moses said, 'This is how you will know that Yahweh himself has sent me to perform all these tasks and that I am not doing them of my own accord.29 If these people die a natural death such as people commonly die, then Yahweh has not sent me.30 But if Yahweh does something utterly new, if the earth should open its mouth and swallow them and all their belongings, so that they go down alive to Sheol, then you will know that they held Yahweh in contempt.'31 The moment he finished saying all this, the ground split apart under their feet,32 the earth opened its mouth and swallowed them, their families, all Korah's people and all their property.33 They went down alive to Sheol with all their belongings. The earth closed over them and they disappeared in the middle of the community.34 At their cries, all the Israelites round them took to their heels, saying, 'We do not want the earth to swallow us too!'35 Fire then shot out from Yahweh and consumed the two hundred and fifty men offering incense.
Punishing of the Rebels: Botticelli
Handling of the keys: Perugino
★ Biblical description of the punishment of Korah, Dathan and Abiram
✤ On the right against the wall: Two innocent sons of Korah, who was the ringleader of the rebels are floating on a cloud, being exempted from divine punishment
✤ On the centre top: Arch of Constantine with altered inscription: priesthood stems from divine calling
Heb 5:4 No one takes this honor on himself; it needs a call from God, as in Aaron's case.
Nec quisquam sumit sibi honorem, sed qui vocatur a Deo, tamquam Aaron.
★ Biblical description of Handling over the Keys to Peter
✤ On the left top: paying tribute + arch of Constantine
Mt. 17:24-27 (CCC 1900,2242)
24 When they reached Capernaum, the collectors of the half-shekel came to Peter and said, 'Does your master not pay the half-shekel?'25 'Yes,' he replied, and went into the house. But before he could speak, Jesus said, 'Simon, what is your opinion? From whom do earthly kings take toll or tribute? From their sons or from foreigners?'26 And when he replied, 'From foreigners,' Jesus said, 'Well then, the sons are exempt.27 However, so that we shall not be the downfall of others, go to the lake and cast a hook; take the first fish that rises, open its mouth and there you will find a shekel; take it and give it to them for me and for yourself.'
✤ On the right top: Attempted stoning of Jesus + arch of Constantine
30 The Father and I are one.31 The Jews fetched stones to stone him,32 so Jesus said to them, 'I have shown you many good works from my Father; for which of these are you stoning me?'33 The Jews answered him, 'We are stoning you, not for doing a good work, but for blasphemy; though you are only a man, you claim to be God.'34 Jesus answered: Is it not written in your Law: I said, you are gods?35 So it uses the word 'gods' of those people to whom the word of God was addressed -- and scripture cannot be set aside.36 Yet to someone whom the Father has consecrated and sent into the world you say, 'You are blaspheming' because I said, 'I am Son of God.'37 If I am not doing my Father's work, there is no need to believe me;38 but if I am doing it, then even if you refuse to believe in me, at least believe in the work I do; then you will know for certain that the Father is in me and I am in the Father.39 They again wanted to arrest him then, but he eluded their clutches.
✤ In the middle front : Jesus is handing the keys to Peter in front of the Octangonal Temple of Jerusalem
Mt. 16:13-20 (CCC 881- Lumen Gentium, 19)
13 When Jesus came to the region of Caesarea Philippi he put this question to his disciples, 'Who do people say the Son of man is?'14 And they said, 'Some say John the Baptist, some Elijah, and others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.'15 'But you,' he said, 'who do you say I am?'16 Then Simon Peter spoke up and said, 'You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.'17 Jesus replied, 'Simon son of Jonah, you are a blessed man! Because it was no human agency that revealed this to you but my Father in heaven.18 So I now say to you: You are Peter and on this rock I will build my community. And the gates of the underworld can never overpower it.19 I will give you the keys of the kingdom of Heaven: whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven; whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.'20 Then he gave the disciples strict orders not to say to anyone that he was the Christ.
✤ To the right in front: Baccio Pontelli and Giovannino dé Dolci: both are holding architectural instruments in their hands. Are they the architects of the Sistine Chapel?