Wednesday, March 31, 2010

March 31, 2010 – Psalms 117-118

There is a power point that was sent to me in an email one time that talked about these two Psalms and 119.  It was talking about the middle of the Bible when you look at chapters is Psalm 118.  The shortest chapter in the Bible in 117.  The longest chapter is 119.  Here is a link to one I found similar to it.  I agree that it is neat if it all works out, but there are a few things that put it into question.  First, when they first wrote the Bible, there were no chapters, so the fact that this is the center chapter means only that.  Not that it is the center of the Bible.  To do that you would need to look at the verses (which I did one time, I will see if I can find that somewhere).  Second, the power point says that 118:8 is then the center.  But there are 29 verses, so 15 would be the center verse.  And third, they don’t use the full Bible.  They use the King James Version, which leaves out several books.  So, while it is neat and makes a good email, just thought I would point out something that I saw when I received it.  

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

March 30, 2010 – Genesis 27-27:29

This is a strange way to earn your father's blessing.  It reminds me of Odysseus and his crew getting out of the Cyclops lair.  I think it also shows the influence mothers had on their sons.  You see a lot of that in the Old Testament foreshadowing Mary and her relationship to Jesus and the Catholic devotion to her and asking her to pray for us and take our petitions to her Son.   

Monday, March 29, 2010

March 29, 2010 – Catechism 172-184

Faith is a foretaste of what is to come.  I like that.  Take the moment when you can remember your faith being its strongest.  That is a foretaste of a life in heaven with God.  Reflect on that and try to remember what brought you to that point.  You may not be able to recreate it, but you may be able to learn how to get to that point or close to it more often. 

Sunday, March 28, 2010

March 28, 2010 – Matthew 20:17-21:17

The sons of Zebedee's mother was with Jesus.  So, not only do we see that women traveled with Jesus, but James and John’s dad lost most of his family if not all of them to following Jesus. 

Here, near the end, on His way to Jerusalem, they still are oblivious as to what Jesus is asking them to do.  The sons thinking they can sit at His right and left.  The other ten being jealous.  Them telling the blind to be quiet and quit asking for help.  How often, as people trying to follow Jesus, do we still get it so so wrong. 

And we see in verse 21:16 that Jesus quotes a scripture similar to what we read yesterday.  Out of the mouths of babes.  When Jesus uses the Old Testament in His teachings it really encourages us to read and study them.  Only then will we begin to know and understand Him better.    

Saturday, March 27, 2010

March 27, 2010 – Psalms 8-9

Out of the mouths of babes.  Humans are made the master of all other things on Earth, yet we are told we must receive God like a child in order to inherit the Kingdom.  We believe that we gain knowledge and wisdom as we get older, but it is at our baptism that we were our cleanest and move away from that point with our every sin.  Be like a child just makes much more sense being able to watch Paul.   

Friday, March 26, 2010

March 26, 2010 – Genesis 26

We see more stories here about telling people your wife is your sister for fear of death and arguments over wells. Like father like son I guess. Abraham taught Isaac that this is how you survive when you are in other people’s territory. But do see that Isaac does not leave the land like Abraham did when the famine hit. And he benefits by his wealth increasing and making a peaceful pact with his neighbors.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

March 25, 2010 - Catechism 166-171

Faith is a gift from God for us all to use in order to return to God.  But it is not just something we get and it is automatic.  It is something that is grown and nurtured.  The job of the Church is to help nurture and grow that gift inside of us.  That is why God established the Church on Earth.  To allow a place for us to go to help us increase our faith.  How strong would our faith be if there were only one Church on Christ with no divisions.  As it is today, there are so many churches saying so many things that leads to a decrease in our faith of what is Truth.   

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

March 24, 2010 – Matthew 19:16-20:16

We talked about faith alone earlier and here is another reading that talks about being saved.  What must I DO to enter the Kingdom.  Obviously this person believes in Jesus, but Jesus doesn’t say that if you believe in me that will be enough.  He says you must follow all the commandments and more. 

I understand there are verses if read on their own can seem to say that faith alone is enough.  But read in the context of Jesus’ own teaching, having faith in Him does not seem to be the key.  It is very, very important.  I agree 100% with that.  But it alone?

I see yesterday’s reading about the vineyard God made for us relates to Jesus’ parable.  I love the end of this one.  Are we jealous of God’s generosity.  How foolish a notion is that, yet I know I am jealous of what God has given others.  I struggle with that all the time.  

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

March 23, 2010 – Isaiah 61-63

Prepare the way of the Lord.  My little guide said that today’s reading matched tomorrow’s in that the Lord would enter riding a colt.  I didn’t see that language, but I did see the prepare the way language.  I can only assume tomorrow is about Jesus entering Jerusalem.  Fitting that Sunday is Palm Sunday. 

Monday, March 22, 2010

March 22, 2010 – Genesis 25

First of all, I didn’t realize that Abraham then has a third woman that he has children with.  You hear about Isaac and Ishmael and their two mothers, but you never hear about this third.  I guess it gets glossed over because the focus soon becomes Jacob and Esau. 

Why do we think Esau cared little for his birthright.  You would think because he is the oldest and a hunter, I am assuming he is aggressive and competitive, he would strongly want his birthright.  It just doesn’t seem to fit.  A lot of new names to put into the family tree.  I will do that tomorrow.   

Sunday, March 21, 2010

March 21, 2010 – Catechism 160-165

I understand that faith is important.  This section talks about how there is no salvation without faith.  But he whole notion of faith alone just confuses me.  I understand that someone with a great faith will show it through there actions, and that is the Catholic belief, but it seems unnecessary to perform actions when you believe in faith alone.  You can act in anyway you want, as long as believe in God and believe Jesus was the Son of God, you will be saved.  That just doesn’t seem to be enough to save us.  It isn’t there are faith hope and love and the greatest of these is faith.  Wouldn’t that be what it says if we are saved by faith alone.  And faith or having faith is in and of itself an action. 

It is also a very difficult thing to keep our faith in the face of difficult times.  That is when we are told to look to examples of Abraham and Mary and the difficult steps they took based on faith in a God they trusted. 

Saturday, March 20, 2010

March 20, 2010 – Matthew 18:21-19:15

We had the reading about the servant who was forgiven his debt but refused to forgive his debtor a Sunday or 2 ago so I won’t say anything on that.  It should just all help us step back and think about when we judge others.  Something I am constantly trying to work on.

The marriage lesson is what I would really like to focus on.  Marriage is not something that should be divided unless it was not valid to begin with.  This teaching is why the Church does not allow divorces.  They allow annulments when there is some proof that the marriage was not valid in the first place, but not divorce. I have always wondered why divorces are so high, I believe it is because they are so easy to get.  But I think it may also be a bigger reason that marriages are too easy to get.  When people get married and aren’t ready for it then they are almost setting themselves up for divorce.  And don’t feed me any bull about living together first to test the waters.  Any stat you look at says couples that live together before marriage get divorced at a very high rate.  Really the only stat that shows a quality of keeping a marriage together is whether God is a part of their lives and their relationship. 

Divorce is not the problem that needs to be fixed or the right we need to worry about.  That is why the Pharasees were on wrong track.  Out concept and understanding of marriage needs to change.  We spilt up whenever things get difficult.  “In the beginning it was not so.”   

Friday, March 19, 2010

March 19, 2010 – Isaiah 5

Happy Solemnity of St. Joseph

The first part of this about the vineyard makes me think about our country. Obviously I can’t comment on what is was or is like to live in other countries because I have been born and raised here. But when God talks about building a great vineyard and giving it everything that it needs, it sounds like the way our country started. We had a revolution based on freedom and equality and won the right to live as free people. But it just seems that we have taken our freedom and the gifts God has given us for granted and made it into something ugly. Now we see freedom as the ability to do whatever we want or makes us feel good. And I am not just talking about sex or drugs, but it is much broader than that. Government leaders, those in charge of businesses and banks, sports stars are examples in the public eye, but everyday people who bought mortgages they should not have or are in incredible credit card dept, we are all taking freedom for granted. We had all the foundation to make God’s vineyard on that showed the world that freedom was a beautiful thing lead the world towards a place where everyone should be free. What we are showing the world is that when you give people freedom they will take advantage of it and run amuck.

Everything swings on a pendulum. We had freedom and less government regulations and it went south and we are all suffering for our greed. Now it seems like people believe giving government more control is the answer because the individual does not know how to control themselves. If that happens there will be another swing when we get tired of too much government. Look at the mess we have made of our vineyard. It does appear that god has torn down our hedge rows and is allowing outside forces to come in and “giving up” is not the right term, but letting us grow wild or getting ready to plow us under and start anew. Let us pray for God’s patience so that we have a little bit more time to try and produce some good fruit from our vineyard before it is too late.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

March 18, 2010 – Genesis 24:42 – 24:67

Someone had commented earlier about Rebekah’s trust in God.  That seems very evident in this part.  She is willing to go right away with the servant and very willing to marry Isaac once she is there.  When compared to Sarah’s lack of faith at certain times, we see her in contrast very trusting.  We will have to see how Isaac acts in comparison to his father.   

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

March 17, 2010 – Catechism 150-159

Happy St. Patrick’s Day

Faith is the belief in all that God has revealed. Right out of the gate, people limit themselves when they pick and choose what they want to believe. There is a lot I don’t understand, but that will always be the case. Why should I limit my faith or beliefs to only things I understand. That doesn’t make any sense to me and is why I don’t understand Cafeteria Catholics, speaking as a former Cafeteria Catholic.

This section is a lot clearer after listening to the talks about St. Thomas Aquinas. He talked a lot on how reason is not contradictory to faith and how they are intertwined and use each other to increase both. I like Para. 57. For all the things we find difficult and confusing, that doesn’t make any of it untrue. God cannot lie and therefore all revelation is true. Our lack of understanding doesn’t affect the truth no more than someone’s unbelief can affect its truth.

Science and faith cannot contradict because they were created by the same God. We should study all sciences with confidence knowing that this premise will always be there. If we ever find ourselves in a situation we think science or reason is contradicting our faith, pray that we are humble enough to admit that we may not have all the answers in the universe correct and we may not understand everything the way it really is.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

March 16, 2010 – Matthew 17:14 – 18:20

The temple tax story always threw me. I don’t understand what it is trying to say. If anyone has any ideas I would love to hear them.

A lot to chew on in 18. The more I watch Paul, the more this idea of acting like a child means more. I watch him being so dependent on Michelle and I. He can do a lot on his own, but nothing that would allow him to survive very long. We are his only source of livelihood. That is how God wants us to look at Him.

I believe we have already talked about the punishment in store for those that encourage and lead others to sin. It is brought up again here. We sometimes hear about this difference between the sinner and the person that leads them to sin when dealing with abortion. And it is always wrong, but there are situations when a women doesn’t know all of her choises or where she is pressured into it where her culpability is less. Not so with the promoters or pushers of abortion who know what they are doing or the Dr. who performs it. The weight of that sin is different.

Monday, March 15, 2010

March 15, 2010 - Isaiah 3-4

3:9 their sin like Sodom they vaunt, They hide it not

This line stuck out to me.  It is like they were proud of their sin.  I see that in the world today.   All over, but a great example is postings on facebook of pictures of partying and drinking and being stupid.  People are proud of their sin.  What is wrong with us that we would do that. 

Sunday, March 14, 2010

March 14, 2010 – Genesis 24:15-24:41

Don’t have much to say on this one.  Don’t really see why Rebekah would let a complete stranger put a ring in her nose, but other that that it is mostly retelling Abraham's commands to the servant. 

Saturday, March 13, 2010

March 13, 2010 – Catechism 142-149

So we move on from talking about the Scriptures to going through our Profession of Faith.  It begins with I believe.  If you were just reading this section about Abraham and had not just read his whole story like we have, you would think he always did everything that God asked him to do.  We know that it was not that simple.  He did leave his land, or his dad did and he continued the journey.  He settled where God wanted him to, but left a couple of times.  He believed God would give him decedents, but was impatient and had a child with his wife’s handmaid.  He did follow though with being willing to sacrifice his son and made it absolutely clear that Isaac was not to leave the land like he had, but it was not always a smooth road following God’s plan.  We see in Mary on the other hand someone who followed without mistake.   

Friday, March 12, 2010

March 12, 2010 – Matthew 16:13-17:13

Once again, there is a lot in this very small section of the Gospel.  I will focus on just a few verses.  16:17 is a very important verse for Catholics.  I didn’t realize it until just recently.  I was listening to a couple of different things and they all related to this verse and the idea of God revealing things to the Church and the infallibility of the Pope on certain matters.

First, the idea of things we as humans can learn about the world around us on our own verses those things that are revealed to us by God.  I listened to a series talking about St. Thomas Aquinas and his studies on philosophy.  I never really thought about the difference or I thought I had missed the point of the whole lecture until I read this and started to think about it.  Peter’s statement is not something he figured out on his own.  The idea that God would become man and dwell among us in the form of His only Son, that notion is not something we can determine on our own.  That is something that must be revealed to us by God.  There are many things about religion that can be shown through our own knowledge.  This is commonly known as natural law.  But most of the keys to our religious beliefs are things that cannot be proven by our own knowledge and seem preposterous if only seen from the limits of human knowledge. 

Those things we believe are things given to us through revelation.  This is what was given to Peter.  God revealed to Him who Jesus was so that he could make this proclamation.  This gift of revelation by Peter is a piece of the argument for the Pope’s infallibility when he makes certain statements.  We believe the God reveals truths to him, similar to what God did for St. Peter.  There is a lot more to Aquinas than that and I may throw some more in as I see it applying and as I continue to try and understand it.       

Thursday, March 11, 2010

March 11, 2010 – Wisdom 15-16

The metaphor of the potter and the clay is one that is used to show that God created us and when something messes up in the making, we can be reshaped and when we are what He wants us to be, we are put into the fire to make us either become a good piece of useful pottery or shatter because the fire creates breaks in our imperfections.

That metaphor meant much more to them than it does to us because we don’t see a lot of potters anymore.  But here we see the same occupation being used to show the foolishness of making our own gods.  They worshipped things that they made with the same material that they made a pot out of earlier that day.  They could not move, breath, or help, yet these pieces were worshipped as gods. 

Think about that when you think about the great value we give our material things.  Things that we use and make.  Things that cannot do anything on their own, yet we let them control our lives as if they do have some force or power.  We let these inanimate objects influence almost every action in our lives.  It is a great thing to look at the potter and ask why we believes we can make a god out of clay.  The reading also talks about the evil that is in this person’s heart in order to do this so that he can have others worship his creation.  Be mindful of that when we start to change our actions in order to gain some material thing.  And pray for those that spend their lives trying to get people to worship material things in order to make their money. 

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

March 10, 2010 – Genesis 23 – 24:14

So, we see that Abraham has learned his lesson on trusting God and leaving the land that God has told him to be in.  He doesn’t leave, he sends his servant.  And he expressly forbids his son to leave.  We will see that they don’t leave, at least I can’t think of them leaving, until Joseph leaves as a slave, not be choice. 

Tuesday, March 09, 2010

March 9, 2010 – Catechism 131-141

So my little Bible study is just me trying to do what the Catechism tells me.  We are suppose to study and dig into the Bible.  The rest is just a review of Sacred Scripture that we have already looked at.  I like the reviews.  It gives us a chance to refresh what we have just gone over, but it also limits ideas I have to write about. 

Monday, March 08, 2010

March 8, 2010 – Matthew 15:21-16:12

Sometimes I don’t know where they get these footnotes.  Obviously we are not bible scholars and have not spent years learning theology and the like.  So, we rely on the footnotes to give us a better understanding of what is going on in the story.  But the footnotes only say that this is likely just a repeat of the telling of the feeding 5,000.  That seems totally unlikely.  Why would Matthew waste time telling the same story again.  That doesn’t happen with other things.  And is it completely unlikely that Jesus fed a large group of people following Him more than once.  He gives Himself in the Eucharist throughout the world everyday.  I was just looking through the footnotes and found myself totally unsatisfied and disappointed with their explanation.  “Its a repeat”. 

Sunday, March 07, 2010

March 7, 2010 – Isaiah 2

Overawe - to restrain or subdue by inspiring awe.  I saw this word at the end and wasn’t exactly clear on its meaning.  I almost thought it was a typo. 

You always read about the Cedars of Lebanon.  I really didn’t know anything about them.  Looked them up on Wikipedia.  They were a candidate for one of the 7 wonders of the world and are pretty much a national symbol of Lebanon. 

Saturday, March 06, 2010

March 6, 2010 – Genesis 21:22 – 22:24

This story not only shows us Abraham’s faith in God, but is a foreshadowing of God’s own son and His sacrifice.  A couple of lines really jumped out at me this time.  “Thereupon Abraham took the wood for the holocaust and laid it on his son Isaac's shoulders.” 22:6.  Very reminiscent of the cross Christ would carry.   “God himself will provide the sheep for the holocaust."22:8.  Relating to God giving us Jesus and Jesus being seen as the Lamb of God.

We had mentioned earlier about when Abraham goes against God’s commands, he usually does so because he is afraid or untrusting of other people and their actions.  is this scene, there is no one else involved.  Just him and God. 

Another reflection to think about is what was going through Abraham’s mind the 3 days they traveled to the mountain.  That entire trip he knew he was heading toward the end where he was going to sacrifice his son.  Relate that to God who knew from before time that he was going to have to sacrifice His only son. 

A few additions at the end there to the family tree.  Here is the web site link.

Friday, March 05, 2010

March 5, 2010 – Catechism 120-130

The Canon of the Bible.  The list of books that make up what we know as the Bible.  The list as Catholics know it today was not compiled until the 300’s.  It stayed that way until Luther removed certain books from the list. 

I love how they specifically tell us that the Old Testament is an important part.  I think sometimes people only focus on the New Testament.  You can not read and understand the New without the Old.  They are connected and one Scripture.

Thursday, March 04, 2010

March 4, 2010 – Matthew 14:22-15:20

The story of the boat at sea is one that I have always liked. I was reading St. Thomas Aquinas’ take on it and he has a reflection different from how I ever looked at it. The story is an analogy to our Christian history. Jesus departs from the Apostles and sends them on their boat. This is similar to Jesus’ Ascension and the Church being “one its own”. But what is Jesus doing. He has gone up the mountain to pray, we can speculate that He was praying for the Apostles in the boat. What do we think Jesus is doing right now. Up in Heaven praying and offering Himself for us. The Church is the boat, out in the stormy sea of the world being battered and punished. The Apostles are scared and fearful. I am sure Church leaders throughout history have been scared and fearful of the world around them.

Then at a moment of great terror after long hours of battling the storm, Jesus comes towards the boat. What is the reaction of those on the boat. At first it is fear and untrusting. They have been persuaded by the storm and the world to not trust themselves and so at the first sight of Jesus appearance they do not trust their own sight. St. Thomas discusses that this will be the way it may come about at the end of time when Jesus returns. The world has made us lose faith and trust and we will not recognize Christ return. But He will reassure the Church with His words.

St. Thomas doesn’t go into what Peter does, or maybe I just missed it, but if you follow the analogy out, towards the end, St. Peter will be required to take a leap of faith. Obviously it will not be St. Peter himself, but you can see that it could be the successor of St. Peter. This will require the successor to walk out to where Christ is. Note that the storm has not subsided when Peter leaves the boat. He is walking through the storm. Then the wind shakes his faith and he begins to sink. In the end, the successor will have his faith challenged and will have to rely on Christ for help. And Christ will help.

Once Christ makes it to the boat, then the storm stops and all is at peace and those on the boat bow to worship Him. Sounds a lot like what will happen upon Christ return and defeat of the evil in the world and the new world to come. One where the is not evil and the Lord is Lord, Heaven come down to Earth. Just thought that was a new take on a tale we have heard many times. Give you something new to chew on.

Wednesday, March 03, 2010

March 3, 2010 – Isaiah 1

We had a portion of this chapter as the 1st Reading at Tuesday’s Mass. We can obviously see that God is not pleased with Israel. It appears they continue to follow the law about rituals and sacrifices, but He is saying if your heart does not have the right disposition, it does not matter. During lent, this is a great reading for us to reflect on as we think about the things we may be sacrificing as we move towards Easter. What is our disposition when to sacrifice. Are we doing it with the right intentions, the right frame of mind, are we headed in the right direction, or are we wasting our time because the sacrifice is not one that is pleasing to God, one that will bring us closer to Him.

Tuesday, March 02, 2010

March 2, 2010 - Genesis 20-21:21

So, once again we see Abraham telling people Sarah was his sister. Is it a distrust in the Lord or a distrust in man that causes him to do so. Is there a difference between the two. I have a very hard time trusting people. But God put these people in my path for some reason. Am I suppose to trust them and their intentions. Is that a showing of how I trust God. I am going to have to reflect on that for a while.

Monday, March 01, 2010

March 1, 2010 – Catechism 109-119

Exegesis – critical explanation or interpretation of a text or portion of a text.

I will try to start using these different types of interpretation throughout my reflections. I think we already do it, we just don’t label it or know what it is called. Here are what I understand the 4 ways to be.

Literal – What the author meant to be understood. This cannot not be known without knowing the author’s background, context, and intended audience. There can be a lot, and has been, of misinterpretations because people have not read things literally or as the author intended. We cannot read the Bible and understand it if we act or interpret it as if it were written in our day in age. It was written at its earliest 1900 years ago and at its oldest possibly 3500 years. We have new ideas, new words, new definitions for the same words. We must be careful not to read our own thoughts and idea into the Bible our own ideas. I agree it is tough to do.

Allegorical – How events and situations point to or reveal things about Christ. Seeing things in a way that helps us better understand the Mystery of Christ.

Moral – Using the events of the Bible to better teach us how to live our lives. B – Basic I – Instructions B – Before L – Leaving E – Earth is a straight forward way of looking at this way of Interpretation.

Anagogical – Using the Bible to help us understand our eternal future and what is to come. We are told we cannot comprehend what God has in store for us, but we are able to get some ideas when we look at the Bible and interpret it using this sense.