Sunday, October 31, 2010

October 31, 2010 – Catechism 571-576

Christ death and Resurrection is at the center of everything we believe.  Why was it done this way, why at this time, why, why, why?  The entire Paschal Sacrifice of Christ is a Mystery we will never fully understand in our earthly life.  But that does not mean it is something we should not dig deeper into, quite the contrary.  There is nothing more revealing than searching through the Mystery that is Christ Sacrifice.  Nothing makes us more humble and ready to repent than studying what Christ did and why.  Nothing makes us thankful to God than reflecting on Christ taking the place of us on the Cross.  That is why I where my crucifix every day.  To constantly remind me of what I am to be thankful for, what I need to reflect on and humbled by. 

From the very beginning of Jesus ministry He was seen as an enemy of those in power in the Jewish religion.  I just finished reading about St. Francis Xavier.  He was often ridiculed for spending so much time with the poor and uneducated.  Jesus was the same.  The poor, the sinners, the lepers, the unclean, spending time with them was seen as beneath those that consider themselves holy.  You would think that those “holier than though” types would have just left Jesus alone if they didn’t want to be dealing with them.  But similar to St. Francis, they are not satisfied by being “holier than though”, they must also be praised, honored, and adored by those poor and sinful.  When Jesus goes to them, telling them they are to inherit the Kingdom, makes them equal to all men because they are in the Image and Likeness of God, Jesus goes beyond helping the poor and moves into totally changing the world that these men controlled.  That was something they could not allow and, little did they know, had no way to stop, because the Truth is what the Truth is and no matter what they thought, did, or tried, nothing can change the Truth. 

Polemical means to be argumentative.  Not all of Jesus’ dealings with the Pharisees and Scribes were arguments and disagreements. 

Saturday, October 30, 2010

October 30, 2010 – James 2:14 - 3:18

James 2:26 For just as a body without a spirit is dead, so also faith without works is dead.
There was a debate about James 2:24 at the beginning of Aug., but this is the verse I wanted to discuss.  This post is pretty much the last post of the debate that I added and there were no comments after that.  So either it stumped them and they had to reflect on it or no one read it.  But here it is.

Faith and works are analogized with body and spirit. The Body is Faith and the Spirit is Works. So, I was thinking about these together and separate. What is a Body separate from Spirit? The verse says it is dead, but not looking at the verse, just thinking about it, it is a corpse, a dead body. There is still a body there, to be buried or cremated or whatever, but there is still a body that exists. What is the other side, a Spirit without a Body? Well, that is what we consider an angel. I guess you could also say that this will be our existence after we die. Put them together, Body and Spirit, and you have a living human person.
So, what is Faith Alone? A dead body. What is Works alone? A Spiritual Being which can be good or bad. Angel or Demon. Someone in Hell or Heaven or Purgatory. But when they are together you have a person who is alive, in our situation, alive in Christ.

What does this do with the idea of being saved by faith alone and that being shown by our works? If you use the analogy of the verse, that doesn’t seem to fit. You are not a dead body that is given a spirit to live, they are created in you at the same time. God works in the process along with your parents to give you life at your conception. One is not the product of the other in either way. They are complimentary to the whole.

Have you heard the saying “Do you kiss your mother with that mouth.”  This 3rd Chapter could change it to say “Do you praise God with that mouth.”  I used to curse a lot.  Working construction didn’t help, but that is only an excuse.  I have always known it was wrong, I just didn’t care.  I don’t curse now.  It has gotten to the point where I am uncomfortable around people that curse.  It is really an amazing shift when I think about where I have come from.  We reflected just recently on watching what we say.  This is just another reiteration of that. 

Friday, October 29, 2010

October 29, 2010 – 1 Maccabees 2:39 - 2:70

Here we see a description of Abraham and a list of other great heroes of the Old Testament.  It was reckoned to him as righteousness.  We should see this referenced in tomorrow’s readings. 

If you read the verses directly before you will see that they are telling the story of a group of Israelites that were camped and obeying the Sabbath and were attacked.  They did not defend themselves because they did not want to do any work on the Sabbath.  Here we see the same idea that the Pharisees have when they challenge Jesus about curing people on the Sabbath.  Here we see Mattathias saying that keeping Holy the Sabbath does not mean to lay there and be slaughtered.  Keeping the Sabbath Holy means to devote that day to the Lord, not to just do nothing.  I remember sometimes thinking that I would be keeping the Sabbath “rest” by watching TV all day or not doing my homework because that would be doing “work”.  There is a difference between a day of rest and a day of being lazy.  We will find any excuse to not do things, but keeping the Sabbath Holy is not a reason to do nothing. 

I there is the saying the idle hands are the devils playground.  We can a line that with Mattathias attitude.  If we take the Sabbath a day to just lay there, we are vulnerable to attack by evil things, much like those Israelites.  Mattathias is saying that the Sabbath is not a time to just lay there and be conquered, but a time to make the Lord known and give ourselves wholly to Him.  For Mattathias, that meant to defend his people militarily.  What does it mean for us.  Does it mean to spend more time in prayer, help more around the house, be nicer to those in our household, be more prepared for Mass, or something else.  It does not mean to sit on the couch all day and not do “work”.  Be careful that we do not twist the Sabbath in order to excuse our laziness. 

Thursday, October 28, 2010

October 28, 2010 – Exodus 31 - 32:20

Ch 31 v 6 Has the feel of the saying, “God won’t give you anything you and He cannot handle”.  Everything He ask us to do, He has either given us the tools to do or put people in our lives with the tools or skill to help us do them.  We should take a lot of confidence in the idea that if God calls us to do something, we will not be lacking in equipment or skill, only in our willingness to follow through. 

It doesn’t appear that Aaron needed much convincing to make the Golden Calf.  In the movies, during this scene, Aaron appears to be under a great deal of pressure and almost forced to make the calf, but that isn’t what I get from reading it.  He seems to be joining them in their wishes, not doing so under duress. 

Here we see Moses intercede for Israel.  We see language from the Lord similar to that told to Abraham about making him a great nation, from a single man.  Moses argues that if Israel is destroyed in the desert then Egypt will think God is evil to His own people.  And he brings up the promise to Abraham about the descendants that number as the stars.  So, God holds back His wrath but Moses does not.  He destroys the golden calf and makes the Israelites drink the remains.  I first thought that this was to show them that their god was made of material things that can be destroyed and disposed of.  But in thinking about it a little deeper, could this be an allusion to the Eucharist.  An imperfect eucharist, consuming of their god.   

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

October 27, 2010 – Catechism 561-570

These brief sections are a little bit difficult to write about because I have already reflected on the more detailed sections.  But I was struck by the notion that everything Jesus did and didn’t do had meeting.  P. 561 talks about His continual teaching even through His silences.  I don’t know if I have ever thought about that.  Do we ever think about what we say when we don’t say anything.  Isn’t it something like 90% of our communication is non-verbal.  We aren’t in the middle of a gospel right now, but the next time we read or reflect on the Gospels think about Jesus actions and silence.  What does He say when He doesn’t speak.  This might be a new way to look at something we may think we have read and reread a hundred times.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

October 26, 2010 – James 1 - 2:13

The trinity of evil – Desire-Sin-Death.  Talked about as being brought about by each other.  It starts off as a desire, then we give in to that desire it becomes sin, then sin, when not stopped, leads to death.   

v. 19 we get our relation to yesterday’s reading about being quick to listen but slow to act.  Thinking about what we say. 

Temptations do not come from God.  Have you ever heard yourself asking why God tempts me with this or that.  God never tempts us.  We tempt ourselves with things and the devil lures us with things, but God can only give us good.  I don’t think we take responsibility for our own actions enough.  We should never blame God for a situation we find ourselves in.  It might help to look for the ways God gave us to not get in that situation in the first place.  

The Word is planted in us and the Word will save our souls.  Sounds a lot like something a sola fide theology would point to.  But the next few verses talk about doing good things. 

Ch2. V 12 – The law of Freedom.  What does that mean.  We talked a couple of days ago that the freedom God gives us is not the freedom to do whatever we want but the freedom to choose God’s way.  To think that we are going to be judged based on the “law of freedom” makes us really have to think about how we are treating that freedom God has given us.   

Monday, October 25, 2010

October 25, 2010 – Sirach 5

Quick to Hear, Slow to Respond. 

v. 4 is something that many of us should think about.  Many times I have had the thought process of knowing I have done something wrong but gotten away with it.  Where does that road lead. 

v. 8 my talk this weekend I talked about not waiting for some other opportunity to make good choices or changing your life.  We never know when that chance may come.  The way I put it in a question is if today was your last, how would the relationships that matter most to you end?  Do we really think about that when we leave for school or work in the morning, when we say good night at night?  We need to think about our fragile lives more often and where we stand with people in case we never get that chance to make things right, to apologize, to say I love you.

How often do we wish we could take something back that we said.  How hard is it to reverse that course.  I am a person who sometimes does not have a filter between my brain and my lips and it does cause people pain and myself much guilt.  We must strive to think before we throw the daggers that our words can be.  They are not easily taken back and can never be unsaid. 

Calumny is a false and malicious statement designed to injure the reputation of someone or something

Sunday, October 24, 2010

October 24, 2010 – Exodus 30

What strikes you is the harshness of the punishment for not taking God’s rules seriously when going about the details for His buildings and ceremonies.  Do we think about this when we go to Church or the Adoration Chapel?  Are we dressed appropriately and are we taking it seriously, what we are there to do and what is going on.  I know there are times when I have not and there are times when Paul is a distraction for me, but I do strive to always try and take it seriously.  I have never seen anyone struck down for wearing inappropriate cloths into Church, but can a person really be taking it seriously when they show up in a T-Shirts and shorts.  We are not called to judge and we must guard against it and there are some who may be coming with the best intentions and in the most humble fashion and that is all they have.  This is not about them.  It is for those who cannot be bothered to “dress up” once a week to celebrate the Mass.  If you cannot take the time to dress in a respectful way for Mass, how can you convince yourself to give God time during Mass or outside of Mass.  The way we dress also influences our attitudes.  A person in T-Shirt and jeans is not someone who is about to do some serious contemplation or is ready to be obedient.  It is someone who is ready to relax and take it easy.  Mass can be a peaceful place, but it is not meant to be a place to come and hang-out.  Remember the severe punishments warned by God for those that took lightly entering the Sanctuary unworthily.  Let us remember why we are going to Church, what we are there to receive, and show some respect to the God who deserves all our love and devotion.  

Saturday, October 23, 2010

October 23, 2010 – Catechism 557-560

We just got off of a retreat, that is why these are coming late, in which we talked about the lives of Saints.  This visual of the poor and the children of Jerusalem paints a great picture of what many of these Saints gave their lives for.  Throughout the stories, they all gave their lives to help those that the world did not want to.  In one instance of St. Pier Giorgio Frassati, after he died, the streets were lined with the poor people that he had helped or was helping.  His family did not expect or even know really what he had been doing until the streets were lined with the poor.  Here we see Christ entering the city not to official pomp and celebration but to the crowds of children and poor.

Friday, October 22, 2010

October 22, 2010 – Galatians 5:13 - 6:18

The word freedom is thrown around a lot in order to justify many things.  Free to do, say, or act in whatever way I want.  Here we see a warning to not use our freedom as an opportunity of the flesh, to use the freedoms we have as an avenue to do what is wrong.  The freedom we have received from God is not a license to do whatever we want.   It is the ability to be free from the slavery of sin and to choose Christ.  No one is allowed to choose evil, that is not what freedom is.  Our freedom is limited to those things that God intends for us.  Those who want to live outside the rules and guidelines set up by God because they do not feel free inside those walls are not free, but slaves to sin.  Inside those walls are protection and assurance that if you stay inside of them, you will receive an eternal reward. 

Paul specifically talks about the desire of the flesh and its opposition to the Spirit.  The list is pretty extensive about what he means by desires of the flesh.  Look at that list and think about what the world is telling us about what they mean. 

Immorality – The world says there are not strict moral but morality is relative to each individual and their beliefs.

Impurity – Nothing is impure.  Sex before marriage, co-habitation, contraception, and adultery are taken as expected.  Homosexual actions are seen as human rights

Licentiousness – means to disregarding sexual restraints and goes along with impurity. 

Idolatry – We are called to spend all our time on a career, all our money on material things.

Sorcery – I think the world tells us we have to be wizards, but it definitely romanticizes vampires, wizards and other sorcery type characters

Hatreds – In a place where everything is accepted the only thing we are told to hate are those that don’t accept that everything should be accepted. 

Rivalry – the world loves competition and our entire economy is based on the idea that completion. 

Jealousy – Through ads and commercials we are told we should want everything our neighbor has and not rest until our house is bigger and better

Outbursts of fury – What gets ratings on TMZ and other shows are the outburst of celebrities when they lose control almost begging those in the spotlight to push their emotional limits until they snap

Acts of selfishness/Occasions of envy – Think only for yourself. 

Dissensions/Factions – How can this not exist in a world where everybody can have their own opinion about what is right and wrong

Drinking bouts/Orgies – The popularity of movies like the “Hangover” seem to paint a clear picture of what the world expects of us.

Instead of a do not list as Paul wants it to be, the world makes this a to do list of things all people should do and come to expect from others.  We are not called to that.  We are called to crucify these things, put them on the cross with Christ so that they can die with Him so that we can rise renewed.

If you fall into the trap of the world and become what they want you to, then they will boast of your flesh.  Paul tells us that they want us to live this life of acceptance of everything and anything is right, yet they do not live it.  This is most obviously reflected in the idea of tolerance.  IF they feel everything is acceptable, why is there anything wrong with what I believe in.  If the Catholic faith is just one of many beliefs, why should they bother to criticize it.  The problem is that they do not actually practice what they preach.  They do not believe that everyone can choose what to believe.  They want everyone to choose what they believe.  You can choose to believe whatever you want, as long as you do not disagree with them.  Think about the issue of homosexual marriage.  Do they really want just the freedom to be able to get married, is that really all that they are asking for?  No, they want to change the entire idea of what marriage is.  You cannot make homosexual marriage legal without changing the definition of what marriage is.  It is not a neutral thing, regardless of what some may say.  It is an aggression against the beliefs and tradition of what marriage has been from its beginnings.  You cannot change the definition of what marriage is without effecting everyone who has ever been married.  I no longer am a husband and father to my child.  I am a spouse and parent.  Those may just be words to some, but they have real and substantial value to me and to take them away from me and still say that something is neutral is a pure lie. 

Thursday, October 21, 2010

October 21, 2010 – Ecclesiastes 10:5 – 12

Really, it appears you can boil most of this book down into three verses.

12:8 - Vanity of vanities, says Qoheleth, all things are vanity!

This is repeated many times throughout the book and is the running theme. He has gone through different experiences in his life and told of his trying to live life the right way. However, whenever he see people striving to achieve things, he realizes that when they get them, they will not be able to take them with them when their life is over. Not only that, but the more you get, the more you want, and the more worries you will have in life. That is what the material world does to a person. It continually tells them you need this or that, you should never be satisfied with the things you have. Trying to gain all this things in life is a vanity, a chase after the wind. But not only material things, but attributes such as knowledge and wisdom are also vanity if achieved for the purpose of prestige in this life. Thus, physical and nonphysical, all things are vanity.

12:13-14 - The last word, when all is heard: Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is man's all; because God will bring to judgment every work, with all its hidden qualities, whether good or bad.

People will always write books about how to live life and to study them all is a strain. Here is the last word, the one that sums up them all. We see this today with all the self help books that are out there. What do they really tell you that is not contained in this verse. If we live life fearing God and keeping His commandments, this is man’s all. And we will be judged according to our every work. I love how it talks about a works hidden qualities. I take this to mean several things. First, a person can do a good work for the wrong reasons. I think I did this for quite a while in some of my work with TEC years ago. I was there either to help myself or impress people, not to help others really. Does that mean people weren’t helped, no. But if those works are judged by their hidden qualities, they will not be weighed as valuable as things I do now, which I feel have a more holy motivation.

Secondly, the hidden qualities could be those results we don’t see. In the “5 People you Meet in Heaven” book, one of the people is someone the character never met. He was killed in a car accident that occurred because the character, as a child, ran out into the street to get a ball. The person swerved to miss him and was killed in an accident. The character had no idea this had ever happened. What effect our actions have, for good or bad, we will never fully know. But that is something that we will be judged on and find out exactly what effect they had at our judgment. We must think very carefully about our every action because we do not know who is watching, who will be reacting, who will be imitating, and who may be effected. This is something we should never take for granted yet is something we may never think about as we go through our daily lives. Pray that we are ever mindful of our actions and their “hidden qualities” as we move through life.

As a secondary thought, the Protestant Bible has this book in its canon. What does the verse about bringing our every work to judgment fit into a sola fide theology.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

October 20, 2010 – Exodus 29

When it first talked about the young bull and two lambs I immediately thought about Christ and the 2 thieves.  Since we just talked about the transfiguration you could also think about Jesus and Moses and Elijah, or Peter, James and John.  The number three is an important one, but the way this was divided as 1 of one thing and two of something else to make three is what really made me think of those three sets of three.  The bull is used as the sin offering.  This would also point to Christ in the other sets of 3.  One of the rams is considered an ordination ram, which could point to Moses and the law in the set at the Transfiguration.  I can’t see where it describes what the third ram’s particular holocaust was, so I am not sure how that fits in. 

I think it is important to see how there are certain men set aside as priest with particular purposes.  We are all called to a priestly vocation.  We are called to share in Christ ultimate sacrifice by offering our own daily struggles in life as sacrifice to God.  In so doing, we are being “priest” in offering sacrifice to God.  But God sets aside special individuals to become Priest in a different way, to offer the Sacrifice of the Mass, which at its heart is a ceremony of sacrifice.  Only those ordained as priest are allowed to engage in this type of special sacrifice.  We see that tradition of picking out certain people for a particular priestly role of offering special sacrifices to God starting here with the choosing of Aaron and his sons. 

Why the laying on of hands of the animals before the sacrifice.  It is my understanding that with the laying on of hands, there was a transfer of something to the animal.  In the case of a sin offering, the sins of either an individual or the Israelite nation was transferred on to the animal and then sacrificed.  This was to get rid of their sins.  It was an imperfect sacrifice perfected in Christ who took on our sins and then offered Himself as Sacrifice to give us the opportunity to repent of our sins.  It is in studying these Old Testament traditions and beliefs that Christ sacrifice really comes into a fuller light. 

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

October 19, 2010 – Catechism 554-556

I have been asked before why Elijah and Moses.  The best answer I have heard, and I am then assuming it is the right answer but I am sure there can be other interpretations, is that Moses and Elijah represent the Law and the Prophets from the Old Covenant.  Jesus is the fulfillment of both the laws and prophesies of the covenant. 

This is a great story to be told at the end of a retreat.  The idea that we must go back down after such a great experience with God.  Our mission is down the mountain, we are not called to stay on the top.  It really is a great image after a retreat.

How did they know they were Moses and Elijah.  I think they wore name tags.  I think we will all where name tags in Heaven so there won’t be any of those awkward moments we have on Earth when we forget someone’s name when we should know it.  Where as in hell, there are no name tags and everyone’s name is on the tip of your tongue, so it is an eternity of awkward moments.  (I realize these reflections usually aren’t very funny.  That isn’t like me, so I think I will try and lighten things up a little more.  Granted 95% of any jokes will be funny to only me and completely corny.)

Monday, October 18, 2010

October 18, 2010 – Galatians 4:21 - 5:12

Faith working through love matters in Christ. It makes complete sense that a sense or internal idea needs an external process to show itself. Faith Alone cannot manifest itself. Faith needs action to be true and saving faith. I think everyone realizes this and you hear people say that true faith will produce good actions as a result, but they will still say we are saved by faith alone. Why can’t people see that they (faith and works) are essential to each other. This is what I do not understand.

You were running well, who hindered you from the truth. There is a truth, and truth by its definition cannot be divided or in multiples. There is one truth and when people who had once been running well are not running well anymore, who are they suppose to turn to. Who gets them back on track.

Can an entire church be off track. It appears so since this letter is to the Galatians, not just George the Galatian. The entire church was in danger of running away from the truth and Paul wrote them to come back to the Truth. Even a church must look outside of itself to some teaching authority to instruct it on what is Truth and which direction it should go.

There is a dire warning to those who do lead people astray from the Truth. They will bear the condemnation of those that they lead. My prayers go out to all those that lead people astray, but most especially for those that do so with an anger or hatred or malice towards the Catholic Church. They are souls most in need of our prayers.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

October 17, 2010 – Ecclesiastes 8 - 10:4

Ch 8 v. 12 – How much our soul is injured when we get away with something that is wrong.  How much are we encouraged the next time we come across a similar situation to do wrong again.  It would be so much easier if we were punished every time we did something wrong.  We would be so much less inclined to actually do things wrong if we didn’t think we could get away with it.  But, 99% of the time, we do.  We are on the honor system with God and every time we “get away” with something we are allowing ourselves to build up a wall between God and us. 

I think that is why Jesus wanted us to confess our sins out loud.  We cannot be our own referees because the fact that we sin means we cannot be our own judge.  Did you know that the Pope goes to confession.  I am not sure how often, but frequently.  Some of the holiest people I know go to confession the most.  You would think that would be the opposite, but it isn’t.  Not only the graces they receive, but the fact that they have someone to check up on them, that they are not their own judges, they are accountable for their actions, helps them be holy.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

October 16, 2010 – Exodus 28

Here we see the description of the priest garments and who were to be the special priest.  Aaron and his sons were set aside to lead specific task.  We will see that Aaron’s sons do not do the best job.  Eleazar will take over after his older brothers are removed.  I don’t have too much to add about this chapter except that I am sure there are reasons why the different garments are to be so exact and all the jewels used had reasons behind them.  I just don’t know what they are.   

Friday, October 15, 2010

October 15, 2010 – Catechism 547-553

I still don’t understand how some could see the miracles that Jesus performed and not be converted.  Every time I think about that, I then think of things that happen in our lives and then see how our faith is still frail.  Then we see that it discusses the reason for the miracles but that they were not as significant as Christ true purpose, free us from the slavery of sin.  When we only seek those miracles in life so that we do not have to suffer, we miss the point of the miracle. Unless we are asking for the miracle do help us lead others to Christ, chances are it will not be coming.  

Here we have an explanation of the Church’s teaching on Church authority and Peter’s authority.  I know some reading this do not believe in the Church’s authority and therefore do not give the Church’s teachings any significance.  Who started your particular church.  If your answer is Christ, how do you show your lineage or connection to Him.  If it is someone else, where did they get their authority to start your church.  The Catholic Church is a church started by Christ and handed to Peter with the authority to teach and lead Christ followers.  That is the foundations of the Catholic Church. 

Thursday, October 14, 2010

October 14, 2010 – Galatians 3:15-4:20

If someone were to only read this portion of the Bible I can see how Faith Alone could be believed.  “through faith in Jesus Christ the promise might be given to those who believe”.  The promise being inheritance promised to Abraham, that being that all nations will be blessed by his descendants, put another way, saved.  “that we might be justified by faith.”  “For through faith you are all children of God”.  And another line I think points to the idea of Once Saved always saved.  “no one can annul or amend even a human will once ratified”.  But I think mistakes in interpretation can be made either by only focusing on one line or taking a writing out of context. 

If you listened to the homily I linked to, Fr. Pacwa talked about why this letter was written.  The Galatians were moving backwards, wanting to follow Jewish law and traditions.  Paul is telling them that they do not need to follow the Jewish law because that was part of an Old Covenant.  When you have a New Covenant, you follow the new.  All the covenants that came after Abraham did not take away from Abraham, but the covenant that we make with Christ is a fulfillment of those covenants and so they are no longer necessary for our Salvation.  His focus on faith is to contrast what the Galatians are trying to do with works.  But there is nowhere in here that he says we are saved by faith alone.  We have to take all of Paul’s writings into account.  Just because someone writes a letter or gives a talk on one subject does not mean they want you to disregard all of their other works.  And the only place in the Bible we see Faith Alone is James 2:24 saying we are not saved by faith alone and Paul himself says that faith without works is dead. 

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

October 13, 2010 – Ecclesiastes 7

There are a lot of little tidbits of wisdom through this chapter and it reads like the book of Proverbs, but nothing really inspired anything in me until the last line.  Behold, only this have I found out: God made mankind straight, but men have had recourse to many calculations.  I thought that was a great line.  God’s path is straight.  All the deviations are ours.  Sometimes we find it so difficult to figure out why something happens or figure out how we need to get on the right track.  We are the ones who have complicated things.  Stay on God’s path and you walk a straight line.  What could be easier than that.  Yet we try and find our own way and leave the path and in so doing make it more complicated than it has to be. 

It also goes along with the shortest distance between two points is a straight line.  When we are on the path God has made for us, that is when we are closest to Him.  When we leave that path, it is no longer a straight line until we get back on it.  If we are not on the path, our distance to Him increases.  The further we move away, the further our distance from Him, the more complicated it can be to get back.  Think of those fidelity commercials and the green path that they lay out for their clients.  I particularly like the one where the guy leaves the office and immediately walks by a sports car dealer and is looking at them.  The agent says “stay on the path”, and he continues on.  We are told the same thing when dealing with God.  Don’t stray from the path because it is hard to get back on.  There are no short cuts, if you leave the path thinking you have found one, you are only getting more lost and confused.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

October 12, 2010 – Exodus 27

You can continue to see the picture of what God is telling them to build.  One question that might pop into your head when reading this is what would you need a shovel for.  And remember that question when we read on.  There will be times when Israel will be asked to make sacrifices on the altar.  They are usually burnt after they are offered or as a part of the offering.  And we are not talking about 1 or 2 or 10 goats.  We could be talking about 100’s or 1000’s of different animals being burnt.  Imagine the ashes and remains that would be left behind.  God not only instructs them on how to sacrifice to Him, but gives them the instructions and means to clean up afterwards. 

Monday, October 11, 2010

October 11, 2010 – Catechism 541-546

When we read the Old Testament we get a different sense of how people act and their attitudes.  We are reading Ecclesiastes and you get a sense of despair or hopelessness.  The world before and after Christ are two completely different worlds.  Before Christ, God had to do certain things to come to Earth and communicate with people.  Through angels, burning bushes, mountains enveloped in clouds, major things.  After Christ came, bring heaven to earth, we have Christ and the Holy Spirit around us much more frequently then those before Christ did. 

This is a great reason to be thankful and give praise, but it is also a reason to regret the things this world still chooses to do.  We have the opportunity and tools to be such a better world than those before Christ had, yet we waste it.  Whether we have gotten too used to having that Love and Goodness around us or we have just chosen to ignore it, the world after Christ has a much greater opportunity to be a loving and peaceful world than those that came before.  It is whether we chose to use it or not.

Everyone is called to enter the Kingdom of God.  This flies in the face of any theology that God has only chosen a select group that will join Him and there is nothing we can do to get on or off that list.  

Sunday, October 10, 2010

October 10, 2010 – Galatians 2:11 - 3:14

Ch 2 v 16 – Here is one of the verses that is pointed to when people start debating the Catholic teaching on works and justification.  First, Catholics do not believe that we can be saved by works alone.  That has never been a teaching of the Church.  Secondly, when you look at what Paul was arguing about with Cephas, also known as St. Peter, they are arguing about the “works of law”.  These were the works developed by the Jewish leaders throughout the centuries before Christ.  Not to eat certain things, not socialize with certain people, stay ritually clean.  The idea behind this was because of the Babylonian Exile.  The Jews knew that they had offended God by the way they lived.  When they returned from exile, they developed extreme rules so that they would just not sin, but not give themselves the opportunity to sin.  This is where Jesus and the Pharisees and Sadducees butted heads when the Apostles picked grain or Jesus healed someone on the Sabbath, or when Jesus ate at a sinners house or received water from a Gentile woman. 

Peter would act and share everything with the Gentiles up until the Jewish Christians showed up.  Then he segregated himself from the Gentile Christian.  Paul is saying that this was not correct.  Peter continued to be worried about these Jewish “works of law” that had been developed to keep them away from sin.  The issue with them is that they did not keep a person from sinning but actually led them away from Christ teachings of loving and serving everyone.  This dialogue does not take away from the theology that our works are a part of our salvation. 

Ch 3 v 5 – Paul makes a distinction here between two different types of works.  Works of mighty deeds and Works of Law.  Paul has a specific type of work when talking about works of law and says that they do not aid in our salvation.  Nowhere here does he say that there are no works that aid in our salvation or that faith alone is what justifies a person.   

This is also a piece of Scripture that is used to show that St. Peter was not the head of the Church.  But that is not what Paul says.  Just because he got in his face about something does not take away the authority that Peter had.  You could say that it supports his leadership role because Paul was concerned about the example that Peter was giving because he knew that people were following his example and teachings.  There are plenty of examples of people correcting their superiors when they are doing something wrong, a major correcting a general, the chief of staff correcting the President, but that does not take away their authority.         

Saturday, October 09, 2010

October 9, 2020 – Ecclesiastes 5-6

We see the same theme again in these chapters.  A man who lives long years but never takes the time to enjoy those things he works hard, better to be an infant born dead.  This book started out saying everything is vanity.  He is going through just about all the examples of what life may bring and showing how they do not satisfy.  Everything we do for worldly gain will only leave us with one more thing to do.  There is no rest for the wealthy man.  The more you have, the more there is for others to try and devour it.  Seek what you need, what the Lord provides you, not for an abundance of worldly goods, and you will find a peaceful and restful life. 

Friday, October 08, 2010

October 8, 2010 – Exodus 26

This is the best picture I could find of what we are reading about here.  But we have the description of the place where God is to dwell for the Israelites until a temple is built for him by Solomon, many many years from now. 

Thursday, October 07, 2010

October 7, 2010 – Catechism 535-540

We see in Jesus Baptism the same attitude that Peter has at the washing of the feet.  They do not think they are worthy to do what is being asked of them because of who they believe Jesus to be.  I don’t know if I have ever felt the humble.  When God calls me to do something, I usually take the bull by the horns and go for it.  I am trying to think of a time I thought God called me to something and I thought, “I am not worthy for this task.”  Now that I am thinking about that, I am not sure what to make of it.  I am very humble, or at least I have been told that, in some regards but I know in others I am pretty arrogant and really believe I can do it better that the average bear.  It is probably a dangerous prayer to pray, but I think I want the chance to think I am not worthy for something God calls me for, instead of thinking I can handle it without much trouble.  And after thinking I am not worthy, tackle it anyway because God reassures me that this is His will, like He did for John and Peter.  Well see what comes of that. 

What was Satan thinking.  Did he really think Jesus would sin.  It makes you wonder what Satan’s thought process was.  Did he know Jesus was God.  I think so.  Did he know that Jesus would not sin.  Obviously not, or he would not have attempted.  So, what does Satan think about God.  Is his understanding of God so twisted after eternity in separation and opposition to God that he forgot who God is.  Has it been so long twisting and manipulating humans with success, he thought he could tempt God.  We get so used to a way of doing things we forget that it used to be different.  Do you remember when phones had cords, mail was used to communicate, or New Kids on the Block was popular.  Its foggy to me too.  I think Satan has spent so much time not being challenged on earth, he really thought Jesus would give in.  He had no sense of God or Jesus’ obedient will or what lengths Jesus was going to go to defeat Satan. 

This makes me think about Christ crucifixion from Satan’s angle.  Satan was so long on earth that he had persuaded himself that in order for God to defeat him and his minions on earth, God was going to have to become a very powerful leader on earth and defeat him by force.  So, God sends Christ as a humble poor carpenter.  Christ preaches love and peace.  Satan offers Him power and nations, hoping to buy Him off with what he believes He is trying to get.  When he sees Christ becoming popular with the peasants and gaining followers, he possesses the powerful to kill Him, thinking he is defeating Him before He builds His army.  I don’t know if I have ever thought about Satan’s point of view.  He has such a complete separation from God that he cannot come up with any strategy that will ever defeat God.  He fights the way a human would fight, he cannot comprehend how God works.         

Wednesday, October 06, 2010

October 6, 2010 – Galatians 1 - 2:10

I think this may be a first so far.  This reading is actually the reading at Mass today.  Not only that, but here is a homily on EWTN about this letter from today’s Mass.

I really can’t write it any better.  I encourage you to watch.  A great explanation of the timeline of St. Paul, his confrontation with St. Peter about Gentile Christians, and very detailed description of what the letter’s purpose is about. 

Tuesday, October 05, 2010

October 5, 2020 – Ecclesiastes 3-4

Here we get the lyrics to the famous Turn, Turn, Turn song.  Everything has its time.  We have talked about that before, about waiting for God’s time on things that we may think we need or deserve right now. 

Ch. 3 v. 15 – Sounds like a physics lesson.  Isn’t there a theory out there that matter can not be destroyed, only changed.  This is saying a similar thing.  Everything that is, was before, it is only changed slightly, and everything that will be already was.  There is nothing new under the sun.  I don’t think the author meant for it to apply to physics, but that is what it made me think of.  It is so hard for people of this time to think that there is nothing new under the sun.  We really believe that with all our technology and gadgets, exploring space and the smallest molecules has effected the way we are as humans.  We still struggle with the same sins and issues that people have always dealt with.  They may take on the form of something else or dress in different cloths, but the underlying issues haven’t changed.  If you think the sin of abortion and how we treat those innocent human beings as not being actually human is some new concept for us as humans, take a look at the opinion of the US Supreme Court in its ruling on Dred Scott.  The way the court talks about slaves not being human but that their owners could do what ever they wanted is very similar language to that set out in Roe vs. Wade.  There is nothing new under the sun.   

Monday, October 04, 2010

October 4, 2010 – Exodus 25

v. 2 – Take up a collection and tell everyone to give what their heart tells them. What would happen today. This is often what a Church will say when they are taking up a special or second collection for a visiting missionary or something like that. How do we respond to that request. The Lord relies on us giving from what our heart tells us. We can be very generous when there is a disaster relief because our heart is moved. Is our heart hardened to things that may require our support but do not appear as urgent. Pray that our hearts are more open to God’s request of our giving and that we are more generous and listen to what our heart is telling us to give.

v. 18 – Make to cherubim. Many protestants are against the Catholic understanding of having statues of saints and angels in their churches. But God, right here, is telling the Israelites to put angels on top of the ark. Just because they are building these angels, does that mean they are worshiping them, are they idols. No, they are there to remind the Israelites about what is going to be in the Ark, that it is a holy place, protected by the angels. There is a very big difference between the making of these angels and the making of the calf coming up. The statues of saints inside a Catholic Church are not there to be worshipped but as a reminder not only of the life they lived but also that during the Mass we are participating in a Heavenly ceremony with those very saints. The statues help us visualize that which is the reality, that at Mass, Heaven is brought to earth and we celebrate as a Church united.

Sunday, October 03, 2010

October 3, 2010 – Catechism 531-534

The hidden life of Christ helps us relate to Him better. How can something that is completely unknown help a person. We can see how He lived a normal everyday life of a human being. In doing so, He can better understand our needs and wants, better help us when we petition Him, and know when we are asking for things we really need or things we may just desire. The fact that God spent time on this earth as a human gives us confidence in being able to have a relationship with Him. He knows what we go through because He has walked in our shoes.

Saturday, October 02, 2010

October 2, 2010 – 2 Thessalonians 1-3

Chapter 2 v 15 – How does Sola Scriptura interpret this verse.  It says to hold the traditions taught be Paul, both oral and written.  How can that possibly mean that exact opposite, to follow only what is written. 

Chapter 3 v 10 – This is one that is used a lot when talking about our government and the well fair system that we have.  Some say the government should help everyone that is poor, the other extreme is that the government shouldn’t be there to help, people should help themselves.  This verse falls somewhere in the middle, which is where I fall.  The government does have a duty to help people that are not able to help themselves.  Those that are disabled, military veterans who have been injured, children that are abandoned.  But there must be a line drawn somewhere.  Our government is now in the business of shelling out money to everyone.  Unemployment benefits being extended, pretty much forever, welfare checks given out without any real enforcement, food stamps and other things like that, being used in ways that are not appropriate.  I am not saying these are not good programs, but the way they are abused, the system needs fixing.  There are many that use these appropriately and use them to get back on their feet and then move on.  But there are some that use this as a crutch and do not move on.  When people become reliant on the government, they lose motivation to do for themselves.  When people show that they are unwilling to work, they should not be given aid.  I believe our government is slipping too far into the realm of helping everyone, regardless of their motivation.  That is not good for the country as a whole. 

Chapter 3 v 15 – This is the verse we need to remember when their are disagreements about our beliefs.  Do not treat each other as enemies, but admonish as a brother.   

Friday, October 01, 2010

October 1, 2010 – Ecclesiastes 2

The way I read this, he is talking about all the things he obtained through his wisdom.  So many more things then the fool or someone who was lazy and did not get all this wealth.  Yet when they both die, they leave Earth with the same amount of stuff, nothing.  This is a lament for working so hard to earn up material things that are going to be given to somebody else after we die.  If you are going to live life with the sole purpose of getting as much stuff in your possession as you can, you might as well be a lazy fool, because in the end, you take the same amount with you. 

Not only can’t you take it with you, but your large amount of possessions will drive you made with worry.  All your materials will be a constant worry for you so that the life you work so hard to gain will not be a life worth living.  Here again, you might as well be a lazy fool with no worries. 

This could probably be read that you can’t have anything material.  That isn’t how I see it.  I just see it as a recognition of what material goods actually are.  They aren’t something we should focus on strive for.  Yes, it is good to have goals and work towards things, but they should not consume us.  We are called to strive for something not of this world, and whatever we try and fill that hole with that is worldly will only leave us dissatisfied.