Saturday, July 31, 2010

July 31, 2010 - Catechism 422-429

Jesus the Messiah being the Son of God was not what the Jews were expecting.  The Messiah was something that they did expect, but not the way that Jesus came.  A very specific and historic description of who Jesus is.  Like the song they play at Christmas sometimes says, what a strange way to save the world.  Born of a lowly family, a carpenter by trade.  Christianity spreads, not because of perfect orators and brilliant speeches, although there have been those, but because normal people have come to believe and feel so strongly that this belief fills their lives.  They are so full, they cannot help sharing it with everyone and people that they touch become believers because they see the sincerity of the believer.  I think that is where we struggle the most today.  We do not live life with Christ so fully present that it flows to others.  We keep our faith hidden.  We are told religion is something that is a private matter.  That is not how Christianity spread throughout the world.  That is not how a group of fishermen, laborers, and sinners helped make Christianity so powerful.  

Friday, July 30, 2010

July 30, 2010 - Acts 16:25-17:15

So, here we get some more adventures of Paul and Barnabas.  We see Paul again using the Old Testament readings to show why Jesus is the Messiah.  You get the sense that anyone with an open mind and heart to Paul is converted.  Those that were never going to be convinced anyway because if Jesus is the Messiah then they would lose their influence and power are the ones that don’t come to believe.  They stir up crowds and mobs and force Paul to move.  I think we must keep that in mind.  No matter how much we may talk or pray for a certain person, if they do not have an open heart, Christ cannot come to them.  I am not saying we should stop praying or trying, but Christ cannot come to someone that is not open to Him.  I think sometimes we may get frustrated when dealing with people that do not have an openness and we are confused to why they won’t change.  Pray that God opens their heart, because without that first step, there is no door for Jesus to walk through. 

Thursday, July 29, 2010

July 29, 2010 – Isaiah 21-22

Not sure what to make of this reading.  We have news that the Babylonians are defeated, but most of Chapter 22 talks about God seeing that Jerusalem did not have faith in Him.  They secured their borders and this and that, but did not look to God.  We know that this is not the end of the conquerors, so the celebration will be short lived because the Assyrians are going to be right on the heels of the Babylonians.  The celebration is not for a victory but more a reprieve.   Eliakim is made to be someone who will be a great leader for the future.  I can’t recall ever hearing about his name before.  But God warns them that is he should fail, things will be worse off than they would have been.  Judging by what the Assyrians do, Eliakim must not have succeeded as well as they hoped.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

July 28, 2010 – Exodus 6

So, no reflection today.  I spent the time adding to the Bible Family Tree.  The last name mentioned, Phinehas (son of Eleazar), is the 25th Great Grandson of Adam so far.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

July 27, 2010 – Catechism 410-421

O happy fault which gained for us so great a Redeemer.  What a great attitude to have when we see things in the world that we cannot understand.  When we witness horrific things and hear the “how can a loving God allow this”.  Christ’s sacrifice gave us the opportunity not to get back to where Adam and Eve were, but to go beyond that.  We have the opportunity to receive graces beyond what was taken away by the Devil’s envy.  When we think about God making good out of bad, that is His biggest “Good out of Bad”.  When the fall happened, God told them right after that He would set things right.  When people ask the question why did God allow the Fall, we see the answer in these paragraphs.  He allows free will, He cannot receive true love without it, and even with the Fall, He created a way to bring us even closer to Him through Christ.  What a gift and miracle Christ is.    O happy fault which gained for us so great a Redeemer.

Monday, July 26, 2010

July 26, 2010 – Acts 15:36 - 16:24

A couple of things. We just had a the discussion in Acts about whether the Christians had to be circumcised or not. The decision came that it was not necessary. Then Paul has Timothy circumcised because his father was a Gentile. It appears he did this in order to win over the Jews that they were preaching to. But what does this mean about Paul’s faith. There are a couple of times here where Paul is not shown in the best light. He does not want to take Mark on the journey and so splits with Barnabas. He loses patience with the women following them. And he apparently going or trying to go where the Lord does not want him to because he is turned away and finally gets sent in a certain place by a dream. And in the same sequence he is beaten and arrested for preaching about the Lord. Paul appears to be a mixed bag. Looking at that, what are we to take away from it. That God does not want a perfect servant, He understands we have our faults, He knows we are not going to get it right all the time, but He wants us to strive forward in His work. He will use even our mistakes to do His will. Be persistent and always strive to move forward, I think that is what we can take from Paul in this reading.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

July 25, 2010 – Sirach 39

A couple of questions that we always seem to bring up in our minds are seen as foolish to ask here.  What is the purpose of this?  The answer is that everything is chosen to fulfill a need.  Nothing happens out of the sight of God and nothing is done that He will not use for His greater good.   This is not as good as that.  Not as much a question but asking ourselves why this is not as good as another thing.  The answer, God will show everything’s worth at its proper time.  I see it as, we can ponder the big question WHY about things, but only in order to gain a deeper understanding of God and His mysteries.  To swell on it or become obsessed with the WHY this or that happens will not gain you anything.  God’s ways are not our ways.  We must trust in Him and do our best to join in His work and not question it. 

Saturday, July 24, 2010

July 24, 2010 - Exodus 5

It is a wonder that the South did so well with slavery. It just seems so unproductive to use that as a source of your work force. What is the motivation of the workers. I know it does work and has been used since there was one group of people more powerful than another, but I don't understand how it was successful. And here, we not only see slavery, but the punishment to the slaves was to take away there building materials. It is a completely illogical solution. God said that He would harden Pharaoh's heart, but did that include his intelligence. I guess his arrogance could have blinded him to correct decisions. I can remember times when I have made bad decisions because I "knew" I was right about something. I guess that puts the Pharaoh's decisions in a little clearer light, just a bigger scale.

Friday, July 23, 2010

July 23, 2010 – Catechism 404-409

We are contracted or given original sin because of the actions, personal in nature of Adam and Eve. It is nothing that we do, but an effect of Adam's choice that effects his very nature and thus effects our very nature. Concupiscence, or the effect original sin has on us is something that, because it effects our very nature, stays with us, even after Baptism has washed away the separating effects of original sin. The Church does not teach that man can escape original sin nor does it teach that original sin's influence makes man unable to choose God. The Church teaches that original sin is inherited in all of us, but we can choose God's path, it is just a challenge for us. Because of the break that original sin caused, the devil does have a strong influence on us, because we are vulnerable to him. To ignore this fact is dangerous. The greatest achievement the devil ever had was convincing the world that he does not exist. I don't know where that comes from, but I have heard it and thought it explains that point pretty well. We are at war with evil. The war is not new, but has gone on from the beginning of man and will continue through the end of days. We are in the battle fields, in our jobs, our families, our schools, even in our churches. Know that the enemy is strong, do not take him lightly. Know also that victory has already been one and take confidence in that.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

July 22, 2010 – Acts 15-15:35

A controversy between the believers in the early Church and how they handled it.  They didn’t split apart, they asked for the Church leaders to decide.  And they did, not on their own, by by listening to God and the Holy Spirit.  Verse 28 says that the decision was that of the Holy Spirit.  And the followers humbly accepted the interpretation and followed the rule laid out by the Apostles.  This letter taken by Paul to Antioch tells the church their what they are suppose to do.  To my knowledge, that letter is not one of the Epistles.  But the church of Antioch followed it.  How does a Bible Alone believer merge those two things.  The early Christians of Antioch were following things taught not from the Bible, but a letter written to them by the Leaders of the Church.    

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

July 21, 2010 – Sirach 1-2

Most of this talks about having faith in the Lord, even in times of great trial.  That great trial is necessary to test our faith like gold in fire.  But it got me thinking.  A lot of people find their faith in times of trouble.  It would be better if a person had a strong faith going into a bad situation and it is likely that the situation would not seem as bad if they did have a strong faith, but you hear a lot about people, who in their darkest hours, turned to the Lord and found their faith.  That is all well and good, but what this made me think of is how we forget God in our triumphs.  This passage should not be about sticking with God even in the hard times when He may be all you have left, but sticking with God when things are going well and you are surrounded by all your heart may desire.  That is when turning to the Lord may be the hardest.  That is when I really feel tested.  When you have nothing left but God, turning to Him seems like an only option.  But for someone who has, maybe turning to God is the last thing on their mind.  We hear about being tested with fire and we always see that as a suffering or a lose of things.  Have we ever looked around and thought that we are being tested by all the we have been given. 

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

July 20, 2010 – Exodus 4

Moses fled from a serpent.  What do we think of this.  Moses was out shepherding.  While shepherding, a person must be brave and willing to save the sheep from wild animals and other dangers.  You won’t think a simple snake would cause Moses to flee.  So, I can see two explanations.  One, Moses was startled because the serpent had just been a rod and the change added to his attitude.  Or second, the serpent is not a snake that we think of normally but a larger much more disturbing monster type.  This idea of a serpent was brought up one time when we were discussing the Garden of Eden.  It is a serpent there as well, but it is hard to believe that Adam or Eve would have been convinced by a snake.  It is much more believable that they were either convinced by something more vicious or ferocious.  I find it easier to think that the serpent is not just a normal snake, so it is a little easier to see Moses flee from something more ferocious than a normal snake.  Then again, it makes sense that a rod would turn into a snake since that have similar shapes.  Moses not wanting to do it helps us relate to when we feel God calling us to do something.  We don’t always want to do what God may be wanting us to do, but God doesn’t always ask us to do things we want or things that are easy.  Keep Moses in mind when we are looking at what God may be asking of us.  

Monday, July 19, 2010

July 19, 2010 – Catechism 396-403

Adam’s sin was so great it will stain us until the end of time and is only trumped by the Grace Christ gives us by dying on the Cross. Without the Resurrection, there is nothing for us to preach about. Such a wonderful gift it is, a gift we cannot contemplate. Here at the end we have a brief description of why Catholics baptize infants. The Grace of that baptism was away that stain of Adam’s sin which we are all born with. So, infants have this on them, even without making any choice of their own to commit sin. We all had that when we were born. To wipe that away from our Children as soon as possible and start their lives with that gift of Grace that they receive is a beautiful thing. Something that is to be celebrated as much as a birthday. I was baptized on March 9th, Paul was May 17th. It is an important day to know and the fact that Michelle and I made that decision for Paul does not take away God’s Grace. We make many decisions for Paul, that is our responsibility. Should we withhold the Grace of God from him until he can make a decision on his own. That doesn’t seem to flow from the message of God’s infinite Love for all.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

July 18. 2010 – Acts 14

You don’t often see someone survive a stoning. And to get up and preach afterwards. That is something. And we see in Verse 23 that Presbyters were appointed for the different Churches. These are what we today consider our priest. So, we see that churches did not just form and run themselves. They do not pick their own priest and start up. The Churches sprung from the Apostles and Paul and were given leaders to run them. I know of someone who got together with a group of others and formed their own Christian Church. First of all, I don’t understand where you get the notion that you know it better than anyone and decide to do that. Second, I don’t know why anyone would join because you don’t have the authority to teach them. As soon as they don’t like what you say, they leave, and you are a complete hypocrite if you say anything because that is exactly how you got started. Here we see Churches being started by those closest to Jesus and in the letters and other books we see that if these Churches veered away, they were brought back into conformity with the true teaching. When there are issues they are take to the Apostles or there are councils held. When was the Church you go to founded, by who, for what reason. Where do they get their authority to teach you what they teach you.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

July 17, 2010 – Amos 8-9

The phrase that stuck to me is a famine of the word of God.  What does that look like.  I was trying to place what we are going through now.  But there is no shortage of the Word of God.  There are thousands of different Bibles, different translations, and many thousands of different translations.  So, maybe famine in the normal sense, doesn’t work, but this made me think of the “isn’t it ironic song”.  Being in the middle of a flood and dying of thirst.  We have all this different literature and people preaching different ideas.  Some good, some not so good, but are people listening.  Of course, some are, but who many are really listening.  I think some people don’t believe in Christianity because there are so many different ideas thrown out there about what it truly is.  I have heard that the Catholic Church is in decline because over the last 40+ years it has been made a Protestant Church.  Speaking of ironic, the idea or hope was to be more inclusive to make the Church greater but people have seen the Church’s wishy-washy stance as a confirmation that it is no different than other denominations and have left.  Can you imagine if there were one unified Church and the voice it would bring.  Instead we have 30,000+ denominations.  Thus, Christianity is dying of thirst in the middle of a flood, a famine of the Word of God.  

Friday, July 16, 2010

July 16, 2010 – Exodus 3

“I AM”.  The name of God.  A name that to me means always everywhere.  I was looking at some of the early church writers discussing the name and reasons why it is.  One of the reasons is that there can be no name for God since He is the creator of all.  He is outside and beyond all things so no name could be appropriate.  Another explanation is that for something to have a name, there must be something before it that names it.  Since there was nothing before God, He does not have a name.  Those seem logical, but for me it just makes sense for a God that is always everywhere, I AM best describes God.  Wherever you are, whatever you are doing, to your furthest imagination, He is there and says I AM.  It is a simple name, yet profound and theologians have spent lifetimes unraveling it.  “Tell them I AM sent you.”     

Thursday, July 15, 2010

July 15, 2010 - Catechism 391-395

We saw in the story of Joseph how God can work through the evil done by others. Satan is powerful, but our retreat last weekend we talked about different ways to battle back. One of the most powerful ways and one that we do not take advantage of enough is calling out to the Lord, OUT LOUD. Whether we are shy or embarrassed, calling out to the Lord is a strong defense against Evil. Although praying inside your own mind has power and grace that come from it, praying out loud is more powerful. You never see Jesus expelling demons by thinking to Himself that they should leave. He calls to them out loud to be gone. Next time you are struggling with something or feel tempted by any wrongful desire, try calling to the Lord OUT LOUD.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

April 14, 2010 - Acts 13:26-13:52

I couldn’t think of anything to write about for this reading so I took a closer look at it verse by verse. I tried seeing if there was anything that jumped out at me. Verse 48 ends with “All who were destined for eternal life came to believe.” That sounds a lot like something that could be quoted in argument of a predestination theology. I have never heard it used in that way so I cut and pasted that into goggle. Guess what. The first result is an entire study on this verse by a convert to Calvinism who says his conversion started with this verse. I don’t know what to think of this verse, or this section of this verse. The footnotes don’t give any aid and I don’t have a Bible in front of me so I am relying on the internet version. So, I have kept digging around and I didn’t get much help. I came across a blog that was criticizing Dave Hunt’s interpretation of this verse. Dave Hunt is a Christian who has written entire books about the Catholic Church being the whore of Babylon. But the blog itself, at least the part that interested me, on its top heading had the following phrases. Sola Scriptura, Sola Gratia, Sola Fide. I guess I can see how Bible alone and Faith alone may work, but how do grace alone and faith alone work. You can have two things alone. Looking for some discussion on this one. I don’t think the idea of predestination makes any sense when looking at Jesus’ teachings as a whole. I know God knows what is going to happen, but that does not affect our free will. How does this particular verse fit into that idea and what would be your response to a person who believes in predestination over the idea of free will.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

July 13, 2010 – Isaiah 49-50

Oh, to be able to have the confidence that we should in the Lord.  To not rebel, to not turn back.  To face those that would speak ill of God and stand up for our faith.  How often to we shirk from those opportunities.  I had an experience this weekend where God gave me a “well trained tongue.”  We were in Adoration and we were taking turns praying over individuals.  I took the opportunity to try to really allow God to speak His words through me.  I closed my eyes and tried to listen and whatever came to mind I said.  And it was awesome.  In one case I spoke some encouraging words about what someone was working on that they were having issues with.  Then I got the sense to tell someone to think about a certain vocation.  I later found out this person had been thinking about that vocation and really thinking about it.  I didn’t know that going it, but God can give us a well trained tongue if we allow Him to, if we get out of His way, if we are open to taking a shot.  It was one of the most powerful prayer moments I have had at the time, finding out the next day what my words had actually meant to those I was praying for made it that much more powerful.           

Monday, July 12, 2010

July 12, 2010 – Exodus 2

Well, my family tree has a bit of a gap now.  There is no lineage through this period of slavery.  We know that Joseph and his generation has died.  I have heard that 400 years of slavery took place before Moses, but that isn’t listed here.  We know that Moses comes from the Levites, but we don’t know his parent’s names. 

And if you ever watch a movie about Moses, “The Ten Commandments” or “Prince of Egypt”, they spend a long time with Moses’ background and growing up and his relationship with Ramses.  We see that they take a lot of liberties because Moses is born, grows up, flees, gets married, and has children in one chapter.   

Sunday, July 11, 2010

July 11, 2010 – Catechism 385-390

We can not understand the true extent of evil without out first recognizing God’s love.  Only with Jesus coming and the infinite Grace that comes with His sacrifice can we understand Adam’s fall and the change it made in all humans to follow.  It struck me that Augustine could not find a source of evil until he became a Christian.  If you read that too quickly, you may come away thinking Christianity is bad, but all it shows is that without Truth in the world everything becomes ok.  So, for all the ideas that we think moral relativism is something new, it is not.  Augustine realized it.  Without Truth, anything can be made valid by the most powerful.  Anything can be made to be good if it obtains a means that is seen as good.  But Christ shows us that there is a Truth and that opposite is an evil and it does exist.  There are things in the world that are wrong and sin does exist, evil exist.  And the Truth is not something that changes.      

Saturday, July 10, 2010

July 10, 2010 – Acts 12:20-13:25

The footnotes say that this Herod ruled from 41-44 A.D. so we are looking at the Church, now 10+ years old.

We see Paul preaching in the synagogues. I like how they always seem to start with a background on Israel. They probably already know it, but Paul is using it to help them realize the obvious, or what should be obvious, way it points to Christ. I am listening to a book by Scott Hahn, that talks a great deal about the road to Emmaus story. Here Jesus begins to reveal Himself in the same way. Starting with what Moses wrote and going through all the prophets He explained to them why what happened had to happen. The idea that the Old Testament is necessary to understand the new can be seen here in the way Paul begins his preaching about Jesus.

Friday, July 09, 2010

July 9, 2010 – Tobit 11-12

Here we continue with some of the story of Tobit and his son. Last we read that Tobias had prayed with Sarah and he was not killed as the 7 other men before him, with the help of Raphael. Now we see the healing of Tobit and the departure of the angel. The part that interests me is where Raphael says that he is the one to read the prayer to the Glory of the Lord. The prayer of Tobit and Sarah, their petitions, where brought to the Lord by an angel. This is what Catholics believe to be possible not only with the angels, but with the saints in Heaven and especially with Mary. We ask them, those we believe are so close to God, to petition Him on our behalf. Here we see the result of those who offer these petitions with a great faith.

Thursday, July 08, 2010

July 8, 2010 – Exodus 1

Usually you don’t see slavery as something that happens gradually over time. It is usually something that is done to captives or those that are conquered. Here, though, it starts off as discrimination, then goes farther, then into slavery, which leads to genocide. It probably isn’t the best comparison, but in our country, we started off with slavery, when that ended it was turned into discrimination, and that has lessened into us electing a black president. He could be seen as a Joseph type, we just went the other way. Slavery is something that we, at least most of us, have never had to deal with. We see the discrimination and may think it is not as bad as it was or ignore it sometimes, but it is not slavery. To have an entire race of people living under the thumb of another is totally foreign to me.

Wednesday, July 07, 2010

July 7, 2010 – Catechism 374-384

What it would be like to experience life as it was intended, as Adam and Eve first experienced life. To not have those three built in temptations that swamp our consciousness; pleasure of senses, want of possessions, and self assertion contrary to reason. Our every minute is saturated with these temptations in different forms and for the most part we fall prey to them in big or small ways. To reflect on life without them, that unimaginable peace, is to reflect on our future existence in Heaven with the Lord where these temptations will have no hold on us.

Tuesday, July 06, 2010

July 6, 2010 – Acts 11:19-12:19

It seems a short and not very dramatic end for James when he was one of the big three of the apostles. He is simple executed. I wonder why we do not get the angel’s name. I wonder why only some get recognized with names. I wonder why this time Peter goes into hiding after his escape and other times he goes back to preaching right away. Was it because of James’ death and Peter did not want to die. Earlier, he did not appear to fear death. Maybe the angel gave him instructions to get away. It just seems like a different approach then before when he escaped.

Monday, July 05, 2010

July 5, 2010 – Isaiah 66

Isaiah ends giving us two images, those that follow God and those that do not. And from the beginning of the chapter we see it is not those that follow God by deed alone, but those that follow Him in their heart. There is a great moment in a person’s life when they experience the difference between doing a good thing because they think they have to and doing a good thing because they want to, when there is no motivation at all, when it is completely genuine. I volunteer a lot of my time to the Church. I would be lying if I said that I am doing it because I want to or am genuine at all times. I do my best to try and maintain that attitude, but it is not always there. I can tell the difference in my attitude, interactions, and the results when I am there with the attitude that I must be there. We must always seek to do God’s will because we want to do God’s will. When our actions are done without that ingredient, it is like the sacrifices described at the beginning of the chapter, sacrifices that God does not except.

Sunday, July 04, 2010

July 4, 2010 – Genesis 50

So, Joseph wasn’t the oldest but died with at least some of his brothers still alive.  And with his line going to the forth generation while he was still alive, the other lines must have done the same.  That means this was a large group when Joseph died.  Why didn’t they leave.  It obviously is not the farthest trip in the world (It has been made at least 4 times in the last few chapters), yet they stayed after Joseph died.  Not only are they growing in Egypt, but he Canaanites are growing in the land that they are suppose to be in.  Knowing the story, we can see that God is just laying the stage for a huge miracle and saving His people from slavery, but try to forget that we know what is going to happen.  What motivated these people to stay away from their home.  Wealth, land, goods, power, seem to be easy answers.  But didn’t they have that where they were.  Just something I was thinking about.     

Saturday, July 03, 2010

July 3, 2010 – Catechism 369-373

The world today has some very twisted ideas when it comes to what a “man” and a “woman” are.  It seems more and more that we are clouding the line.  From acceptance of homosexual acts as completely normal to creating new laws for the transgendered, we have lost touch with the foundational facts.  Man and Woman are different.  Not better or worse, but different, and meant to be.  Whether we can blame the direction we are going on men who were too overbearing on women for centuries or the movement of women trying to become the men of society to the extreme, it does not end well.  God created them man and woman because their union is a special union which gives us an image of perfection in the Trinity and brings forth life to the world. 

The shift has lead to a world where single parents have become almost a majority.  Children were not meant to be raced that way and only time will tell how this has effected the generations for years to come.  It isn’t hard to see that the baby boomers ideas of free love and contraception has birthed Generation X’s ideas of friends with benefits, boody calls, and abortion as a means of birth control.  Men and Women are different.  No matter what we do, that fact does not change.  Embracing it for the beautiful thing God intended it too be is the path we must turn to.  To struggle against what is natural and true will only lead us further down the path we are going.  And it is not liberating, it is destructive.   

Friday, July 02, 2010

July 2, 2010 – Acts 10:24-11:18

One thing I don’t understand about the Bible, among many, is why it repeats stories so often.  I would imagine if they only told every story once, the Bible would be about he size of a regular novel instead of the Lord of the Rings trilogy.  So I was trying to think of a reason why this story had to be told twice.  We heard it as it happened, then we get Peter’s retelling in the very next chapter.  I understand that the other followers needed to hear about why Gentiles were being baptized, but couldn’t it have been summed up by “then Peter told them what happened.”  I am trying to find a difference in the two stories that might explain it or some other significance, but it may be to late or I am thinking about it too much. 

Thursday, July 01, 2010

July 1, 2010 - Sirach 35

I thought of two things while reading this, both similar.  First, how we are called to give joyfully.  Sometimes it feels so hard to give or let go of that envelope in the collection basket on Sunday.  For whatever excuse is running though your head at the time, we feel the urge to not give.  We are not only called to give, but give joyfully.  We are reassured that we will be paid back in God’s own way, which will not likely be a way we expect. 

The second thing that came to mind was about not bribing God.  It may not seem like a bribe in the normal sense, but when you come to those times in your life when you feel backed into a corner and cry out to God saying “if you get me out of this I won’t do A, B, or C anymore.”  That is bribing God.  That is not what He wants.  He wants our freely given gift before we ever come to that point and chances are if we had freely given ourselves to Him, we would not be in a corner trying to bribe our way out.