Thursday, September 30, 2010

September 30, 2010 – Exodus 24

Everything the Lord has commanded we will do.  I haven’t counted, but I wonder how many times the Israelites say that in the Old Testament.  You have to imagine that each time they say it, they do mean it.  What changes.  What is the thing that makes them give up on God so often.  I think it is fear.  They are afraid that God is not going to protect them or hear their cries.  Yet, we know that they have seen God work wondrous miracles and has saved them, yet they falter so easily.  Is that our reason when we do not trust God.  Are we afraid that He is not going to protect us or hear us.  What is it about fear that makes it so strong we can ignore the things we have seen God do in our lives.  What is it about fear that makes us doubt and deny things that we have sworn we would never doubt or deny.  Fear is a powerful thing and one that can never be taken lightly.  But we are called to have no fear, because we already know who has won the victory.  But it is still a struggle.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

September 29, 2010 – Catechism 525-530

The Christmas mystery.  God becomes an infant in the poorest of settings not only to show us how to be humble, but also to show us that we must be like children.  The innocence of a child is something that cannot be explained in words and I never really appreciated until spending hours with a child.  Watching Paul interact with new things, seeing him learn new things, his innocence is obvious.  Even the things he does that we tell him not to, you must not judge him.  His motivation is not malice.  He is completely innocent of anything wrong.  He is also completely dependent on us.  God became a child to show us that being a child is not something that is inferior to adulthood.  Christ said let the children come to me.  Children are not a lesser type of being, but the greatest and most innocent of beings.  God wants us to seek to get back to that. 

You don’t really think about it, but Jesus, from the very beginning had many more issues with His own people, the Jews, than with others.  During these moments after His birth we see the Magi adore Him and Him leaving into Egypt, both Gentile groups.  That is because Herod, a Jew, was trying to kill Him.  I don’t have anything profound reflection on that point, I just never made that connection before.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

September 28, 2010 – 1 Thessalonians 5

Paul closes his letter with a quick how to live a Christian life.  V 9 and 10 talk about who Christ died for.  It uses the word us several times.  Some might interpreted that as strictly meaning Paul and the Thessalonians.  I think it means all of us, every single human that has ever existed.  If it does mean everyone, if goes in the face of the idea of double predestination (The theology that God has destined some for heaven and some for hell).  Clearly it says that “God did not destine us for wrath, but to gain salvation.”  The goal for all of us, God’s will and want for all of us, is to share eternity with Him.  That is why we were created, but we had the fall.  That is why Jesus came, but we must follow what He taught.  God wants us with Him, all of us.  We need to take Christ death personally, because that is how Christ meant for it to be.  It was done for each of us and all of us. 

v. 18 talks about the will of God.   In all circumstances give thanks, for this is the will of God for you in Christ Jesus.  This gives me no suggestion that the will of God is forced upon me or anyone.  There is a clear instruction and we are told what God’s will is, but there appears a clear choice that we can chose not to do it.  God’s will is the plan that will bring us to Him, but we chose to do it or not at our own peril.

Monday, September 27, 2010

September 27, 2010 Ecclesiastes 1

v. 13 made me think.  The task that we do, day in and day out.  The work that has been done, throughout the millennium, this is what God gave us to do.  Go back to Gen. 3:17-19.  Men were punished to toil without satisfaction in what was produced.  Here we see someone’s reflection on thousands of years of that.  When you think about what God was saying to Adam, He was telling them that in the Garden, the relationship they had with God was complete.  When that relationship was breached, a hole was made in man.  That hope can only be filled by God.  But man cannot unite themselves with God.  Remember that this comes before Christ.  So, what man does is attempt to fill their lives with worldly things in order to fill this hole they know they have but can’t seem to satisfy.  The writer realizes that nothing worldly can fill that hole.  And he doesn’t just mean material things, but worldly knowledge cannot fill it either. 

Fast forward 2300 years.  We see people are still trying to fill that hole that is there.  If you are blessed enough to understand that God is the only thing that fills that hole and that Jesus came to give us the ability to put God in the hole, then you are ahead of most.  Most the world still is looking for worldly things to fill that hole that has been there since Adam bit the apple.  While we read through this, think about how the world tries to fill our lives, every waking, and sometimes sleeping, moment with worldly things.  We must push back that tide and allow God to fill the hole that only He can.  All things are vanity, and that is the way it always will be. 

Sunday, September 26, 2010

September 26, 2010 – Exodus 23

Here we see the Lord’s plan  for giving the land of Canaan to the Hebrews.  The thing I found most interesting was that He would not conquer them all in one year.  This was because the land was so vast it could not be maintained by the small number of Hebrews.  The Lord would give the land to them slowly as they grew in numbers so that they would be able to maintain it.  When you think about that strategy, it makes me think if other military people or conquerors had thought about that.  When you look at empires throughout history and how some expanded very quickly, but then would fade quickly as well.  God knew that in order to maintain a nation, the conquering had to happen slowly.  Babylonians, Assyrians, Greeks, Roman, Huns, Napoleon, Hitler, all appeared to conquer lands rather quickly and built up large nations, but could they maintain any stability, were they long lasting.  Some were longer than others, but none for more that 400-500 years, at least at their largest, and many didn’t last long at all.  Their eyes were bigger than their stomachs or they bit off more than they could chew as the sayings go.  God did not want that for His nation.  He wanted it to be a nation that would endure. 

v. 2 – Here we have, “If everyone else jumps off a bridge will you?” put in a different way.  We see that peer pressure is not some new and modern idea.  In the desert on Sinai they had to be taught that peer pressure is not a good reason to be doing something and that following the crowd when they are doing something wrong is not a good excuse. 

Saturday, September 25, 2010

September 25, 2010 – Catechism 519-524

Thoughts on the two basic sections here.  First, the idea that Christ did everything He did for each of us as an individual.  As the mysteries, all the teachings, everything is not only for the world as a whole, but also for each of us on a personal level.  There is something very reassuring about that.  It is also something that people find very hard to accept.  In a world of sound bites and where everyone is just a small part of the grand scheme, where you are a number and not a person, the idea that something can be done for the individual is becoming foreign.  Everything that is beneficial must benefit as many people as possible or it doesn’t get off the ground.  The world appears to miss the trees for the forest.  Faces of each person blur and blend into the masses.  God does see things as the big picture.  He sees all peoples of all times of all universes simultaneously.  How, I don’t have a clue.  But just as mysteriously, He knows each individual in the most intimate and personal way.  He knows us and our thoughts better than we do.  He does not miss the forest for the trees or the trees for the forest but mysteriously sees both perfectly.  He is watching over and guiding me as I type and is watching over you as you read, whenever that may be. 

Secondly, the idea that everything up and until Christ birth was pointing towards that event.  I think there are a lot of times when we discard or give second billing to the Old Testament because we focus so much on the New and the Life of Christ.  This is important, but we cannot understand the New Testament without knowing and digging into the Old.  Everything that happened and was said was the journey that needed to occur in order to get to Christ.  We see it over and over that God would not give the Hebrews quick cures to what they wanted.  Like children, He guided them, step by step.  By picking up the New Testament without an understanding and appreciation for the Old, we are going to make the mistakes of the Hebrews.  We need the lessons God taught them to prepare ourselves for the concluding lessons we receive from Christ. 

Friday, September 24, 2010

September 24, 2010 – 1 Thessalonians 3-4

I don’t know a great deal about the rapture and the ideas behind it.  It is my understanding that in most cases there will be some moment when believers are taken away and there will be those that are left behind for whatever the next step has in store.  If that is the case, where does Paul’s writing fit into that.  From verses 15-17 in chapter 4, Paul appears to be saying that believers will be left behind until the coming of the Lord.  Only after the dead have been taken up and rise first, then those that are left will be caught up to heaven.  But that is only when the Lord comes down and we meet Him in the clouds.  That appears to be talking about the end times.  So, what is the idea of a time before then when believers are taken.  It appears that if Paul had a chose, he would not be taken, but remain and be left until the end when the Lord comes.  Like I said, I don’t know a lot about rapture theology, I just don’t get the sense that Paul would have wanted to be taken before the Lord came down.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

September 23, 2010 – Nehemiah 13

Nehemiah has left town to go back to Babylon for a report or something to the king.  We don’t really know how long he was gone, but while he is gone, things fail pretty badly in Jerusalem.  The three main things Nehemiah fixes are the misuse of temple areas and the Levites, the working on the Sabbath, and the marrying of foreign people.  Not so much with the Levites, but with the other two, he points out directly that these sins were the exact reason that Jerusalem fell in the past.  After all the rebuilding, the reading of the law, the unifying cheering and celebrating, they go back to making the same mistakes.  What this makes me think about it how feelings don’t last.  What really comes to mind is religious retreats and where they are effective and where they appear flawed.  Retreats are generally a positive thing and I owe a lot of to retreats for many of the good things in my life.  They are an opportunity to meet people, grow in faith, gain confidence, learn, heal, and just get closer to God. 

Where retreats sometimes or maybe even often fail is that they are many times based on feelings.  People come off retreats feeling great, perhaps feeling different than they have ever felt.  That, in and of itself is not a bad thing, but if it stops there, it is almost always doomed to failure.  The reason is the feelings are not permanent and as soon as the good feelings go away, a person is left searching for what a way to get that good feeling back.  Retreats, I don’t believe, set out to only change feelings.  Many have talks that talk about a change of heart or Metanoia or a complete turning around of one’s life.   A step in that direction is often taken, but if it is not supported or enhanced after the retreat is over, people will quickly fall back into old ways.  Here we see the Hebrews that had a great emotional experience and had feelings of change and committed to it.  But when Nehemiah left, so did their support and encouragement and when the feelings leave, so did the change.  Let us remember that commitments and changes that occur based on feelings will disintegrate when those feelings disappear.  When our lives change for the better, when we make a turn towards God, we cannot stop, we must continue to grow, or we will find ourselves like seeds falling on rock or in thorns, and that change will soon wither away.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

September 22, 2010 – Exodus 22

No deep thoughts, just a couple of things I found interesting. 

v. 2 – A thief that could not pay back his restitution was sold to pay it.  Sounds like he became a slave.  This sounds very similar to the idea in Seinfeld when Jerry and George were coming up with ideas for their pilot show.  Although this was done, if you remember from the last chapter, it is not permanent.  It is for 6 years and on the 7th they are released.  Also, the idea of breaking into someone’s home at night is not foreign to us, me especially being the victim of burglaries twice, but we must remember where they were.  They were on the move in the desert.  I would imagine they are living in tents if anything.  I just can’t see a burglar getting into a tent.

v. 7 – If a thief is not caught, the owner has to swear that he has not taken the item from someone.  I had to read this a couple of times to make sure I was reading it right.  So, the owner must show that the item he says was taken was actually his and that he did not get it wrongly. 

v.12 – If the animal you steal is attacked by a beast, you must bring the carcass to the judge to prove it.  Not only does this seem like an embarrassment to the criminal that gets caught, but I believe contact with a dead animal was something that made a person unclean, so this has a double punishment in it. 

v. 15 – Wouldn’t this law stop a lot of the pre-marital sex that occurs in the culture today.  If you take a females virginity, you must marry her.  I am all for bringing this one back.  Sex has become so common place in our world that it isn’t seen as something that is important or that has repercussions, let alone the fact that it is one of the most sacred things a couple can share.  This would definitely bring the back with the vengeance.

v. 18 – We think that the perverse things people do these days are new or getting worse.  But this would not be a rule if people were not doing it.  Not only do the motivations for sin not really change over the years but the actions that they promulgate don’t really change either.

v.28 – This order is something that will come back into play.  When Israel fails God, He changes this first born to just the clans of the Levites.  They become set apart as servants of God, servants of the priest.  But in the beginning it was suppose to be the first born of all the tribes in recognition of God taking the first born of all the Egyptians. 

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

September 21, 2010 – Catechism 512-518

Happy Feast of St. Matthew

It appears I am going through one of those cycles again.  I have spans where things are more reflective, then spans where all I am doing it debating Catholic doctrine.  I think it is important to do both, but I never intended for this to be a place of constant debate.  But that being said, I found it hard to really reflect on these paragraphs without slipping back into the discussions we have been having on Sola Scriptura.  Simply put, there is a lot about Jesus’ life that is not in the Bible.  Not just the years that He was growing up, but much of the 3 years of His ministry.  If the Bible alone is accurate, are we to assume that Jesus just repeated the same lessons over and over for 3 years.  That doesn’t seem likely.  Into what category are the lessons Jesus taught that are not in scripture.  You can not say they are not important, every word Christ uttered had meaning…..Long pause….I am not really sure where I was going with that, kind of thinking out loud.  Nothing else seems to be clicking.  A little brain fried.  It feels like I am in 5 or 6 different debates at once.   

Monday, September 20, 2010

September 20, 2010 – 1 Thessalonians 1-2

If you read the introduction and the sections of Acts it talks about you get a sense of when Paul wrote this letter.  Paul was beaten and imprisoned in Phillpi and let out after the earthquake had freed them, but they did not escape.  If you remember the prison guard was stopped from killing himself by Paul and then converted.  After leaving Phillpi, they go to Thessalonica.  There, being sought for disturbing the peace, they went to Beroea.  From there Paul went to Athens, but Silas and Timothy stayed behind.  They were sent back to Thessalonica and caught up again with Paul in Corinth around the year 51.  It was after getting the report on Thessalonica that Paul writes this first letter.  By everything that I have seen, this is the first of the letters Paul writes, I don’t think I planned it that way, but then again I am not the one in charge. 

The beginning is just greeting, but when we get into the second chapter, Paul tells us about his history with them.  The verse that jumped out to me in particular was verse 13.  Paul gives thanks to God that they have been given the Word of God and that it is at work in them who believe.  Be aware of how they received the Word of God.  Not through the letter he is sending them, but by “receiving the word of God from hearing [him].”  How does the idea of sola scriptura interpret this.  Paul is saying that the words he spoke were the actual words of God.  In this sentence he not only says that the written word is not the only way God communicates to us, but also that God can speak and teach through humans speaking.  If  Sola scriptura is the doctrine that the Bible contains all knowledge necessary for salvation and holiness, how is Paul speaking the Word of God.  Logically, if Paul says he was speaking the Word of God, he believes it was without error because there is no error in God.  If he believed in the idea of Sola Scriptura would it not say they were saved from the word of God they received from reading his letters.  The point is that this verse, in the Bible, I believe, makes a strong case against Sola Scriptura.  Looking forward to what everyone has to say about that verse.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

September 19, 2010 – Nehemiah 12 

This is quite an appropriate reading for today.  We just got done celebrating the rededication of our renewed church.  The Bishop came, there was great music, Holy oil was used to anoint the altar, the walls.  Everyone was so excited to be a part of the finished product.  And this was kind of the culmination of 5 years of work.  It was nice to celebrate it. 

It makes me think of closure.  We often hear about that when it comes to the end of a relationship or the death of a loved one.  We hear people talk about needing closure in order to move on the the next step.  I think you may need it for something like this as well.  It is not a sad day in any way shape of form, but it is something that was a process that has been completed.  For 5 years some have lost a lot of sleep trying to get this together, now it is finished.  Hopefully our celebration today will help them with their closure so that the parish can move on to the next challenge.

I would imagine it would be easy for those who spent so much time and effort to want to go back and evaluate.  Like with anything that we devote time to, when it is over there is an emptiness.  Let us pray for the leaders of our church who have brought about something beautiful, that they take the time to step back, enjoy the accomplishment they helped to achieve, and then close that book and get ready for the next challenge.  With a church so holy and beautiful, it is only a matter of time, and may already be, that the Devil will attack.  We must have our faces forward and alert, not looking back at what has already been accomplished.       

Saturday, September 18, 2010

September 18, 2010 – Exodus 21

Here we see a reference to thirty pieces of silver.  That comes up again as the price Judas receives for selling out Jesus.  It is the price that the owner of a slave would receive if that slave was killed by being gored by somebody's bull.  We see that Christ was sold for the price of a slave. 

It the inspirational Bible I have, it mentions in the footnotes that although the Hebrews had slaves, they did not consider them property and treated them humanly.  But it says in verse 21 that the slave is the owner’s property.  Just found that interesting looking at the footnotes.

It also talks about that even though slavery is mentioned and rules were given about it by God, the is never support given for slavery.  God never commands them to have slaves or the slavery is completely ok.  That seems to me like a cop-out.  Slavery was allowed, not because God didn’t want to take it away from them or make it illegal, but for some other reason.  As I stated in one of my comments before, God has a reason for everything He does.  Nothing is said or omitted without a reason.  What do I think God allowed slavery with the Hebrews for.  Allows a foreshadowing of Christ as slave.  Helps them see the lowly and their faith.  If slavery is used as a punishment, it will keep all humble. 

I think we may be judging the past by the rules we have today.  The idea laid out in the Declaration of Independence were pretty unique.  The idea that all men are created equal and that they all have the same rights was not the world of these Hebrews. 

Then again, Truth never changes.  Basically, I don’t have a good answer to any of the questions the reading got me reflecting on.  But there is plenty there to think about.           

Friday, September 17, 2010

September 17, 2010 – Catechism 520-511

Two basic thoughts come from reading this.  First, reflecting on Mary’s yes, and in so doing, realizing that she could have said no.  Whatever you believe of Mary, you can reflect on her total obedience to God.  She had free will, as we all do.  The free will of Mary’s was, at the time of Christ Annunciation, in line perfectly with God.  Her will and God’s will, running on the same track.  I have heard people talk about what Mary was shown or what information she was given at the time of her choice.  Everything from she knew exactly what was going to happen to Christ to she was only shown herself holding Christ after the cross.  Even if she was shown or knew nothing, she knew that by accepting this, Joseph was going to see a pregnant woman that is supposed to be his wife and know that he is not the father.  She knew she could possibly be stoned for being pregnant outside of marriage.  But she believed, and her faith was such, that she followed God’s will, wherever it might lead.  Whether you believe that you should ask Saints to pray for us or not, you must agree that Mary is a model to be followed as an example of being faithful and obedient to God’s will. 

Secondly, it talks about the Church’s virginity.  The Church reproduces children into the world.  Its spouse is God.  There is no Earthly union that the Church could have that would allow it to produce for 2,000 years.  Only union with God would allow it to survive.  I was also reflecting on the idea of a Spiritual church, or a church united in spirit but not physically united.  That is how Christianity can be described by some. 

The question is can something of Spirit produce something physical.  In thinking about Mary and Jesus, I don’t think so.  God needed a physical person to create Jesus as both fully God and fully Man.  Without that human physical connection, God could have Jesus come down to Earth, but He would not have been fully Human and His sacrifice would not have been the same.  I believe the same follows with the Church.  It cannot be something that is fully spiritual.  That Church will only produce Spiritual Christians.  In order to be in the world, change and shape the world, the Church needs to be Physical.  God needs to unite Himself with a Physical Church in order to bring Himself into the world in a real way.     

We talked about Mary being fully united, her will completely in line with God’s.  There was no division in her.  Only through that instrument, could Christ come into the world.  Only through a Church that has a similar description can Christ come into a world.  A divided Church cannot be the spouse of God.  Just as Mary’s will united with God, so must God’s Church.  And God’s will is not fragmented.  There is no division, no disagreement, no contradictions in God’s will.  

Thursday, September 16, 2010

September 16, 2010 – Acts 28

Here we see Paul arrive in Rome, try to convert the Jews, and with his last statement, assure them that because they have not turned, God will, and was already, going to the Gentiles.  I wonder why it stops there and does not go on to talk about his martyrdom.  According to one timeline I saw, after this 2 years, Paul was released, went to Spain, Britain, and other places, then was arrested again, held for another 2 years and martyred at that time.  As we go through the letters, I will look in more detail as to when they are written.  I wanted to do Acts first so we can get a foundation for where Paul was when writing his letters.  It appears from the timeline that all but 2 were written during Acts.  Titus and 2 Timothy, it says, come after this time.  Looking ahead, our first letter will be 1 Thessalonians. 

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

September 15, 2010 – Nehemiah 11

Another step in the plan to rebuild Jerusalem.  It makes me think about New Orleans a little bit.  That is the closest thing I can think of to the destruction of a city.  And people have really gotten together to rebuild it.  The way I read this chapter, it is like taking every American family, at least groups of extended families, and picking a smaller section of each of those families to go and live in New Orleans to rebuild it.  I don’t know if it correlates completely, but can you imagine the tensions and growing pains of all the different groups being thrown in like that.  Here, they are at least all Jews, but some have been separated for years, either by divisions in Israel or during the exile.  So, even though they all shared certain beliefs, you are still getting a lot of different ideas and experiences all thrown into one walled in city.  I am sure they had their growing pains as well.  

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

September 14, 2010 – Exodus 20

The Ten Commandments.

-You shall not have other gods besides Me.  We have talked about it several times, the idea that a god may not be something you normally think of as gods.  It is what we give our time and energy to, money, power, other people perhaps.  These things, if they become the focus of our lives, become gods to us and fall under this commandment. 

-You shall not carve idols.  This one is brought up a lot because Catholic Churches have many statues of  Jesus, Mary and the Saints.  These are not idols that we worship, which is what was being done in Egypt and what the Jews do with the golden calf.  These statues are a remembrance of those that have come before us, to remind us of them, to help us live by their example.  It is a similar idea of having pictures of loved ones in your home.

-You shall not take the name of the Lord in vain.   This may be one that is most abused because it is perhaps seen as so minimal or not as significant.  It is not the third because it is insignificant.  At the name of Jesus every knew shall bend.  Holy is the name of the Lord.  The Jews would not even say the name of the Lord because it was so sacred.  We need to rethink how we throw around the Lord’s name. 

-Keep Holy the Sabbath Day.  This is another one we push under the rug.  It was just a few reflections ago where I talked about this, so I won’t go into detail again.  Just think about what we may be able to do ahead of time so that we can open up our Sundays to God. 

-Honor your Father and your Mother.  I fail at this one I think.  For some reason we think that when we get out from under our parents rule, this one goes out the window.  There is no time limit on the commandment. 

-You shall not kill.  This would also encompass all the right to life issues and how your support or opposition has led to the death of others.  We can be held responsible for things we  are not aware of if our actions lead to a act somewhere down the chain. 

-You shall not commit adultery.  I got a question about living together outside of marriage.  Besides statistics saying that it is not helpful to the security of a marriage, I was trying to think of other arguments against it.  One thing people always use to support it is the convenience.  I was talking to Michelle about that and was saying, for the most part, it is not difficult to be a Christian.  We are not persecuted, we usually don’t get fired for our beliefs, people generally don’t care about our religion, for better or worse.  For someone to say I don’t want to follow this rule because it is inconvenient is just ridiculous.  You are not just suppose to follow those rules that are easy for you to do.  You are suppose to follow the rules, period.    

-You shall not steal.  I think the struggle I have with this one is being lazy at work or wasting down time I might have.  I am getting paid, yet not really being productive.  I think I have gotten better and I think getting more organized helps.  We need to think about when we waste other people’s time, time is money, and that is a form of stealing. 

-You shall not bear false witness.  People don’t take this very serious.  Speaking as a lawyer, I can tell you that people lie as easily as the tell the truth.  Most probably are so lost in their lies they may not know truth anymore.  Gossip is another thing that falls into this category. 

-You shall not covet your neighbor’s house.  I am always catching myself being jealous of what others have.  We need to know that God has given us what we need.  The grass is always greener on the other side idea is going to lead someone to a life where they never find satisfaction.  There will always be something we don’t have.  

Monday, September 13, 2010

September 13, 2010 – Catechism 496-501

Born of a virgin. I am guessing that all Christians believe this to be true of Mary. Jesus came without the seed of man but by the power of the Holy Spirit so that we would know He truly was God. All Christians believe this even though, as the Catechism states, it is “a divine work that surpasses all human understanding and possibility”. So, the idea of the virginity of Mary was not only not accepted by some pagans and Jews, but mocked and seen as incomprehensible. It was not something that was put in the Christian belief to make it easier for converts to believe and convert. It is something difficult to understand and can only be accepted through faith. I guess I find it difficult to understand why the Jews found it so hard to believe when their prophets foretold that it would happened.

Mary, Ever-Virgin. This is one that many do not agree with. I guess I never read about the Church’s teaching about Mary’s “virginal integrity” even during Jesus’ birth. That would explain the idea or thought that Mary did not experience child bearing pains that other women would. That idea is also one of the connections to her sinlessness because woman were told they would experience pain in child birth because of sin.

Paragraph 500 spells out very clearly the Church’s argument against the idea of Mary having other children. Brothers and Sisters do not always mean that people share parents. Even today people call each other brother or sister when they may not be any relation at all. The paragraph footnote points to Genesis examples, so I thought I would go over those to clarify.

Gen 13:8 So Abram said to Lot, "Let's not have any quarreling between you and me, or between your herdsmen and mine, for we are brothers.; - They are not brothers. Lot is the son of Haran, Haran the son of Terah. Abraham was the son of Terah. So, Abraham was Lot’s uncle, not brother.

Gen 14:16 And he brought back all the goods, and also brought again his brother Lot, and his goods, and the women also, and the people.; Speaking about Abraham bringing back things after defeating the kings that captured Lot.

Gen 29:15; And Laban said unto Jacob, Because thou art my brother, shouldest thou therefore serve me for nought? tell me, what shall thy wages be? Laban was son of Bethel, Bethel the son of Nahor, Nahor was the son of Terah. Jacob was son of Issac, Issac the son of Abraham, Abraham was the son of Terah. So, these two shared a great grandfather, but they were 3rd cousins or 2nd cousins once removed. Not brothers.

And in case you may be thinking it is something the translation, the last two scripture quotes are from the King James Version and the first is the NIV. So, the fact that the Bible says Jesus has brothers is not a air tight argument against the Catholic Church’s teaching that He did not. It could have meant His relation, as the term brother is used in other places in the Bible.

If you still choose to believe that Jesus had brothers or sisters and that they were Mary's children, explain to me your explainations for these two Scriptures.

Luke 2:41-49. Jesus is 12 years old and went down with His family. There is no mention of brothers or sisters here.

John 19:25-27. If Jesus had brothers or sisters, why would He give the responsiblity of His mother to John. That would have been an incredible insult to his siblings. You might think that all of His brothers or sisters had already passed, but Jesus' brothers are mentioned being around at Pentacost. It makes no sense to give Mary to John if she had other children still living.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

September 12, 2010 – Acts 27:13 - 27:44

Arr, a shipwreck without pirates. We just had a reading in Mass about the centurion and his faith in Christ even though he was a Roman soldier. Here we have a similar situation where those that are not believers, but Roman guards of Paul, have faith in what Paul is saying. They basically put their life in his hands, at least the second time around, as Paul tells them they didn’t listen to him the first time around. It does sound like the ship was in pretty bad shape. I don’t know much about boats, but to put ropes around the bottom of the boat to hold it together, sounds pretty dyer. Yet, you get the sense that Paul is pretty calm the whole time. Reminds you of Jesus and the Apostles on the stormy sea. Although Paul does not calm the storm, he does say that if they stay with him they will be fine. His travels have now taken him to just south of Italy.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

September 11, 2010 – Nehemiah 10

I was thinking of all the people professing what they believe, out loud and as a community.  It reminds me of Sunday Mass when we say the Creed.  As a united group, we profess what we believe.  That isn’t usually said during daily masses unless it is a Feast Day.  The Creed is saved for when the entire community is together to profess it as one.  That is what this profession reminded me of. 

Also, giving your first fruits.  That is a big deal to God.  We often think of the 10% being the number that is important.  Give God 10% and you have met your obligations.  But that is not what God ask us to tithe.  The TOP 10%.  Our first fruits.  The best of our earnings goes to God in thanksgiving.  I am not sure exactly how that works with money.  My paycheck comes all at once and the government actually takes my first fruits before I ever get a chance.  I think it means that giving of our money should not be the last thing on our budget that we give when we might have some left over.  It needs to be at the top, right there in front of mortgage payments.  Some may say that “I need to pay the mortgage and other bills to live, no such need for tithing.”  If you find yourself feeling that way, maybe look at what you are spending your money on.  Granted water bills, electric bills, etc, need to be paid, but how are you living your life to create those bills.  Are your lights and TV always on creating hire than necessary electric bills.  Do you really need the internet access on your phone that creates your higher phone bill.  Why don’t you have the money to give.  Obviously, times are tough and some do not have the money to give because they have lost their jobs or something else.  That is not who I am talking to.  They are in need of assistance the Church can give because others give to the Church.  No, my refection is for those who have and think they need all the pleasures money can buy and then realize when they have paid their high bills to live that life, they have nothing for the Church.  Think about where your first fruits are going, not with only money, but time, effort, and your life in general.  God wants your first fruits because that is why He gave them to you and that is what He can do the most with.    

Friday, September 10, 2010

September 10, 2010 – Exodus 18:13 – 19

The power of organization.  The “Jethro System”.  Still in great use today.  When I was first reading this I was thinking of our court system.  Many small items are taken care of at the bottom. If there is a disagreement on bigger things it goes up the chain, eventually to the top, in our case the Supreme Court.  Thinking about that comparison and how many Catholics are on the Supreme Court, I would think things would look a lot different than they do.  6 of 9 Justices call themselves Catholic.  The newest 3.  There have only been 12 Catholic Justices and that includes the 6 sitting right now.  Imagine if they voted and decided according to Catholic teaching and how that would filter down.  Of course the pessimist in me realizes if they followed Church teaching, chances are they would not have made it to the Supreme Court. 

This episode with not allowing anyone up the mountain may not mean as much to us now, but it probably did not too long ago.  This whole idea that only certain people could be near that Lord was a basic fact in the Latin Mass of the Catholic Church.  The priest, deacons, and servers were the only ones allowed up around the alter.  With changes, now, depending on your church, almost anyone is allowed to be up around the alter.  It is something to think about when we realize God is there.  Things need to be taken more seriously and reverently than they are.    

Thursday, September 09, 2010

September 9, 2010 – Catechism 490-495

First, there are many different translations of the Bible. Luke 1:28 is translated as the angel greeting Mary as favored one, highly favored, full of grace. The greeting is interpreted by Catholics as pointing to Mary being without original sin. Gen. 3:15 points to a time when a woman would have enmity between her and Satan.  This an extreme hostility, I have also heard it defined as a complete separation.  We as Catholics believe that woman described is Mary.  It would seem logical that if God were going to bring Jesus into the world, the womb that would hold Jesus would be in a woman that was not under the stain of original sin.  I hear the argument that Mary's sinless nature is not in the Bible.  Besides this greeting, I don't really know of any other verses that elude to it.  But, we believe Jesus was sinless.  How many verses say that directly.  I can only find 2.   Hebrews 4:15 and in 1 Peter 2:22.  You would think Jesus being sinless would be in there more often.  But what does it mean if it wasn't mentioned.  Mary isn't mentioned in any of the letters.  Does that mean the Apostles ignored her.  That the early Church didn't honor her.  (I know I am not even a year into this Bible study, but when it is done, I want to do something similar with the early Church Fathers.)  That just isn't so. 

Ephraim the Syrian

"You alone and your Mother are more beautiful than any others, for there is no blemish in you nor any stains upon your Mother. Who of my children can compare in beauty to these?" (Nisibene Hymns 27:8 [A.D. 361]). 

Ambrose of Milan

"Come, then, and search out your sheep, not through your servants or hired men, but do it yourself. Lift me up bodily and in the flesh, which is fallen in Adam. Lift me up not from Sarah but from Mary, a virgin not only undefiled, but a virgin whom grace had made inviolate, free of every stain of sin" (Commentary on Psalm 118:22–30 [A.D. 387]).

The dogma itself was not issued until 1854, but dogmas do not change what the Church teaches.  The Catholic Church does not invent teachings.  The Catholic Church only proclaims what the Holy Spirit inspires it to proclaim.  The Sinlessness of Mary is something that was accepted and believed by the Earliest Christians and only expressed in dogmatic form when necessary to express what the Catholic Church has always held to end confusion.

And Mary was saved from Original Sin by Christ.  I hear it said that why does Mary say that the Lord is her savior if she was without sin and why did they offer sacrifice in the temple after Jesus was born if she was without blemish.  The answer to the first is best described with the image of walking down a street that has a puddle of mud in the middle of it.  If you fall into the hole, someone can pick you out of it and wipe you clean.  That is one way to be made clean.  There is also the way of stopping the person from falling into the mud hole before they get dirty.  This is how Mary was saved.  And Jesus mercy and grace that was earned at the cross is not only for those that come after.  With that He opened the gates to Heaven for those that had come before and were waiting for that moment.  There is no reason to limit God’s mercy and say that this mercy could not have been given to Mary at her conception. 

As for Mary offering sacrifice if she didn’t need it, Jesus was baptized in the Jordan.  Do you really think He needed that.  It was to be an example of following the laws set out by God.     

I don’t express the theology behind this very well and I am not the most elegant writer.  The above I wrote as I was just going through the paragraphs.  This is my summary.  The argument that Mary sinlessness is not in the Bible is, I feel, a weak argument.  The word Trinity is not in the Bible.  There is no mention of a Rapture.  And other items are not specifically in the Bible, but our interpretations from reading the Bible.  But people Believe them. 

Besides the fact that it makes logical and reasonable sense for God to want the woman that carries Jesus to be made sinless, why do people doubt God’s power.  People believe she became pregnant even though she was a Virgin, they believe Jesus brought Lazarus from the dead.  But they say it is beyond God’s power to create a woman without sin from her conception.  I think that is putting limits on a God that the Bible tells us all things are possible through.  Let the discussions begin. 

Wednesday, September 08, 2010

September 8, 2010 – Acts 26:19 - 27:12

The statement about letting him go if he had not appealed to Caesar got me thinking.  There are many things that are against the law that we don’t do.  But are there things that the law makes us do that we know are wrong.  Not examples of things we think are wrong but are still legal, like divorce or abortion, but things that we think are wrong but are forced to do.  This person wants to let Paul go, but he cannot because of the law.  I was trying to think of examples.  I am coming up with nothing.  But it is something to think about.  And I guess it is something to thank God for that we live in a country where it is hard to come up with an example where the law forces us to do things we think are wrong.   

Tuesday, September 07, 2010

September 7, 2010 – Nehemiah 9

We read here the history of the Jewish Church, from Abraham to Nehemiah.  reading from such a large period of time written over in just a short chapter you get a keen sense of the ups and downs in God’s people throughout their journey.  What it made me think of is why would we think we are any different.  Our culture makes us believe that we are never suppose to be down.  Up, up up and away at all times.  We are told our lives must be always ups, our country will be always up, the world itself should be always up and positive.  That is such a farce.  There is a purpose to down and there is a reason for downs.  In this history we read that when Israel disobeyed God, they were hit with downs.  Either other countries attacked or they were put into some type of suffering.  They would call out to God and in His infinite mercy He would bring them back up.  The world appears to be turning its back on God.  Why would we not expect a downer type world.  Yet all we hear is to always be positive, almost ignore the bad things or faults of the world. 

But that is not the scariest part.  The scariest part is that when there have been down times people have called out to God.  It appears our world is turning everywhere but God for the answers.  If that continues, I fear that we have not seen how far down we can go.  We will continue to sink until we turn to the only true answer.  Only then will God bring us from the abyss.  Let us all pray we don’t have to hit rock bottom before we realize where the only answer lies.    

Monday, September 06, 2010

September 6, 2010 – Exodus 17 - 18:12

So, it doesn’t really describe it here very well, but is this the place where Moses struck the rock twice and was the reason he was not able to enter the promise land.  I think that is the reason, but it doesn’t mention anything here about striking it twice.  While I was reading it, I was interested that of food and water, the Israelites complained about food first over water, even though they would have died from thirst first.  I may be reading more into it than is there, but what it makes me think is that they were not that bad off when they actually complained.  They had packed provisions to last a while, they were just tired of them and wanted something different.  Water is water, can’t do much with that, but food has variety.  I think they were not on the verge of starving, but only tired of what they brought and sought to test the Lord.  Then seeing that the Lord would provide food, they sought to test Him again.  Not out of a dying thirst, but out of (I don’t know the best word for it but pride may be close to what I am thinking).  From reading it, you may picture that there is this huge group that are in dyer straits.  With further reflection, I just don’t see that.  I really see them testing God out of pride or selfishness, not need. 

Sunday, September 05, 2010

September 5, 2010 – Catechism 484-489

Alright, if you are still following along and reading the Catechism postings as well as the Bible ones, we are going to start a section, that if you just glance ahead, we get into some more less agreed upon territory.  If you are not Catholic or think of yourself as Catholic but have issues with the Church’s teachings, I ask that you read the following with an open heart.  I will try to give my take on the teachings, but smarter people than me wrote it, so I would encourage you to really read the paragraphs carefully.  As we saw in the audio talk I dissected, many people get the Catholic Church’s teachings wrong when they argue against them.  Here we have it from the Church itself.  If you don’t agree with its teachings, that is one thing, but I would encourage everyone to learn what the Church actually does teach, not just what someone thinks the Catholic Church teaches. 

As we go through these paragraphs, I would appreciate it if any non-Catholics would tell me which paragraphs they do not accept as true.  I will try to guess, but I am not familiar with non-Catholic teachings. 

The fullness of time.  Jesus came into the world at precisely the time God intended.  As He stated right after the fall, there would be a redeemer that would be sent to heal the wound created by their fall. 

Fecundate - to make prolific or fruitful, to impregnate or fertilize.  Had no idea what that word meant so here is the definition if you didn’t as well. 

So, the Holy Spirit is with Jesus from the very beginning, it is only Its manifestation that takes place gradually over a period of time.  This makes sense in looking at how God deals with things in the Old Testament.  Nothing is done quickly and people are taught things over the course of time. 

I think it is important to keep that first statement about Mary in mind anytime there is a discussion about her.  Anytime someone says that Mary is taking away or being called on in place of or instead of Christ, they are misinterpreting Catholic teaching.  Everything having to do with Mary is helping us to Christ or pointing to Christ.  She is never the end.  She is a guide to Jesus.  Remember this as a foundation for all of the Church’s other teachings. 

Saturday, September 04, 2010

September 4, 2010 – Acts 25:13 - 26:18

I think this is the third time we are hearing Paul’s conversion story.  But what got me thinking was his introduction.  He was talking about being in Jerusalem for a while.  Talks about growing up with his people and in Jerusalem.  Do we know how old Paul was.  Different things I looked at say Paul was born between 2 and 10 AD.  So, he might have been a little young to be in the crowd condemning Jesus, but you would imagine he was in the city at the time because of the feast.  You don’t hear it mentioned, but what if he was one of Jesus actual persecutors, not just a persecutor of His followers.  I have always just thought of Paul as someone coming after Jesus.  You have to think about them not being too far apart in age and Paul must have known something of what happened if not aided in it somehow, whether one of the many crowd or a student of one of the leaders. 

Take that a step further, Jesus knowing Paul was in the crowd and knowing what He was going to have him do in the future.  Imagine Paul one of the crowd screaming “Crucify Him” and Jesus looking at him with those eyes (I think I could write pages about what it must have been like to look into those Eyes) with all of His love and knowing what a tool he was going to be.  Just a thought that I had never pictured before.       

Friday, September 03, 2010

September 3, 2010 – Nehemiah 8

I don’t understand the setting up of booths.  I know there is a Feast or Celebration of Booths that the Jews celebrated, but I don’t know much about it.  I wonder is this is also part of where Peter comes up with the idea of setting up booths for Moses and Elijah during the Transfiguration.

Here we also see the idea of celebrating feast and not being sad.  The Catholic Church has many Feast days throughout the calendar year, besides those of Christmas and Easter.  Or adult leadership at Lifeteen takes advantage of these days to celebrate with each other.  I feel in doing so we not only build community, but also our faith.  God wants us to fast and be solemn, but He also wants us to celebrate, and more then just twice a year.  Obviously we don’t do it for 7 days, but if we didn’t have jobs and other responsibilities, we could give it a go, all for the Lord.       

Thursday, September 02, 2010

September 2, 2010 – Exodus 16

First, it appears that this chapter is more of a section about manna and could be placed anywhere.  It does not necessarily appear chronologically.  2 reasons I say this is the end talks about them eating the manna for 40 years.  We haven’t had God tell the people that they will be in the desert 40 years.  So, the author is describing this for us as a past event and assuming we already know what happens after this.  Secondly, they place the urn of manna in front of the ten commandments, which they haven’t been given yet.  Later, the urn will go inside the ark with the ten commandments.

I like how God makes it so that they do not have to do work on the Sabbath.  We often think about not working on the Sabbath as something me must do or choose by forcing ourselves not to do something.  Maybe if we step back and see exactly what God is taking out of our lives or giving to us at other times so that He is making it easier for us to rest.  A silly example, but one that could happen.  You go out to eat Sat. night and the portions are bigger than you thought.  So, you are able to take leftovers home and do not have to make lunch for yourselves Sunday.  If that has ever happened to you, have you ever stopped to thank God for helping you keep your rest on the Sabbath.  With that in mind, try to think what you can do Sat. to make things easier Sunday so that you can better keep the Lord’s Day Holy.     

Wednesday, September 01, 2010

September 1, 2010 – Catechism 476-483

Mostly the end is a recap, but the idea of Christ's two wills is a little hard to understand.  Christ has a will that is divine and in complete union with God the Father because they are one in the same nature.  There can be no dividing those two wills, along with the will of the Holy Spirit.  They are united.  Then, Christ human nature has a completely human will.  It is completely separate will from the divine.  But Christ human nature was so obedient, that even though they are completely separate, the one follows the other perfectly.  But it is not because they are connected or untied in any way other than being a part of Christ, but link together because of the obedience of Christ human nature.  That is our example.  We must be obedient, we must seek to form our will to that of God’s.  They will not be the same or connected, but our goal is to so closely follow God’s that you can not tell the difference.  That is what we need to strive for and Christ is our example.