Tuesday, November 30, 2010

November 30, 2010 – Sirach 12-13

You can get a real sense of the world before Christ.  The world is without a real sense of Godly love and hope.  Especially the first part of Chapter 12.  No good come to him who comforts the wicked, refuse the sinner.  This is not Christ message.  We cannot read the Old Testament and disregard things like this as obsolete because it appears to contradict what Jesus taught.  This shows a view of the world before Christ.  Love your enemies was not on their radar.  Turn your cheek, forgive 7 times 70, this was not the religion that they believed in.  Jesus came out of this tradition and fulfilled what they taught, but the rules set down before Christ were rules to protect the Israelites from sin because they did not have Christ salvation to save them if they fell into sin.  Christ is a net that gives us new life when we fall.  Sirach knew nothing of this net, so his advise is to stay as far away from evil and sin so that you won’t fall, because if you fall, there was not the redemption we know today.

When reading this I was reminded of Jake Spoon.  (If you don’t know who that is you really need to watch Lonesome Dove.)  He was a man who went along with wrong crowd just to get from point A to point B.  He didn’t do anything wrong himself, yet paid the penalty for being with them when they were caught.  It is very important that we be diligent about the people we spend our time with. 

If 13:21 isn’t about the most true statement in the Bible, nothing is.  When a rich man speaks, people will support him, even if is odious (highly offensive; repugnant; disgusting).  How often do we see people of power saying whatever they feel, wrong, right, or even malicious and getting away with it.  They are held up because they are rich and powerful, we don’t even care what they say, only that it was said by somebody rich and important.  There are few out there who stand up to correct the rich and powerful and the ones that do, we don’t trust because they are rich and powerful to and we think they are lying for their own good.   

Monday, November 29, 2010

November 29, 2010 – Exodus 40

We just finished our renovations of our church here in town.  Several other churches have either had renovations or new buildings entirely.  Sometimes I wonder how much prayer goes into it.  I love our new church, yet, the plan was for something much more elaborate.  Money cut things, but it is still a beautiful church.  Some new churches are big and practical with nice offices, but remind me of big barns or machine sheds.  I am always curious how much prayer goes into the construction.  If you have a chance to go to Europe and Rome you will see churches that were built with prayer.  Churches that have meaning behind everything you see.  Here we see Moses erect the Dwelling exactly as God told Him to and God dwelt there.  God appears pretty picky about where He is going to stay.  I just wondered if those that build the modern church barns asked God if that is what He wanted.

While I was writing I can up with a counter to what I was saying.  The Dwelling is a pretty basic tent with a divide.  It is not elaborate and that is God wants, so maybe the “barn” churches are closer to God’s dwelling than you think.  In response I would tell them to look at the Temple that God is going to tell them to build and how elaborate that will be.  This was a temporary dwelling meant to be taken down and moved all over the desert.  If you are building something you hope will last, the dwelling Moses built in the desert might not be the model to go from.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

November 28, 2010 – Catechism 612-617

Christ death as a sacrifice is something that we can understand partially in thinking about things we may give up in our lives or sacrifices we may make for others.  But we cannot clearly understand it without looking back at the Jewish tradition of sacrifice that was initiated by God dating back to Cain and Able.  They idea of sacrificing something in order to show commitment or to seal a covenant was in the very fabric of Jewish life. 

Every sacrifice made before Christ was an imperfect one that left something to be desired.  Christ was a perfect sacrifice, once and for all, for the sins of the world.  It was meant to unite us with God, to bridge the gap caused by man’s fall.  But we were given Christ by God to become the sacrifice.  God, as with all sacrifices, gives us what we offer up.  When we give up something for whatever reason or offer it up to God, we are offering God what He gave us to offer.  It seems illogical that we should receive something in order to give it up, but that is the Mystery of God and what we are called to.  God did not send Christ to the human race to stay with us forever and continue to heal and teach us, but in order to sacrifice Him to God as the perfect sacrifice in order to bridge that gap.  When we are asked to give something up, let us think about who we received it from and who we are giving it up for.  God may put things in our life for the sole purpose of sacrificing them.  We should not resist that call. 

Saturday, November 27, 2010

November 27, 2010 – Mark 5:21 - 5:43

I love the story of the woman with the hemorrhages.  It really speaks to us about praying and praying with faith.  The crowds were all around Jesus and bumping into Him, brushing up against Him, but they weren’t healed.  The woman reached out and touched Him with faith and was healed.  When we pray just to pray and don’t really have the faith behind it, we are like those in the crowd.  Nothing happens, we are not healed.  But when we pray with faith, power will flow from Christ into our lives.  What an awesome gift, the power of Christ.  And when it flows into our lives, it cannot help but overflow into those lives we come into contact with.  And notice that Christ doesn’t physically do anything.  He is just there.  But when He is touched with faith, power flowed from Him without His actively doing anything.  It works the same for us.  We must make that step and reach out to Him with faith. 

They ridiculed Him when He said she was only sleeping.  Were these the same people that knew the father had gone to fetch Christ.  Maybe they are the ones that recommended it.  Yet, once she is dead, they lose their faith in God’s power.  Not only do they lose their faith, they go beyond doubt to ridicule.  Imagine the looks on their faces when the daughter walks out of her bedroom.  Again, it goes back to the faith a person has in Christ and how firmly we live our lives based on that faith. 

Friday, November 26, 2010

November 26, 2010 – Sirach 11

v2 – What does the world say about this one.  The world is probably concerned about our looks more than almost anything, yet we are not suppose to praise anyone for their looks.  And when you think about it, a person’s looks have very little to do with anything they have done.  Sure you can have all sorts of surgeries to try and enhance your appearance, but most the time you come out looking fake and plastic, not improved.  A person naturally gifted with good looks received them from God and to give them praise or credit for it is giving it to the wrong person. 

v6 – A bit of a warning to all those that want to be celebrities.  Do we ever notice how people enjoy watching them fall, how they relish in their struggles on the way down.  We all have ups and downs in life, but those that put themselves out in the spotlight to get that feeling of fame and fortune also have to endure public disgrace when they falter, and they will because we all do.  But things that go wrong in my life are private.  However much they may want their privacy, they knew going into it what could happen.  The craving to be known is just too tempting. 

Thursday, November 25, 2010

November 25, 2010 – Exodus 39

What I found interesting is the making of gold, a rock, into thread.  They are told to make the gold into a leaf, I am assuming that means really, really thin and then to make thread out of it.  I find it hard to understand how you take a mineral and make it into a thread.  And then to work with it as you would with yarn, I would imagine it would be very delicate and brittle.  Can you imagine a shirt or tie or pants made from gold thread.  Actually, with the way the world views things I am surprise you don’t see it. 

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

November 24, 2010 – Catechism 606-611

We see in Christ the perfect example of complete commitment to the will of God.  I reflected just yesterday about the importance of listening to the Will of God in our own lives because God does have a plan for us, just as Jesus knew and understood that God had a plan for Him.  Even though it was not an easy or blissful plan, it was the one God willed and the one that brought about His greatest gift of love. 

Do we ever think about the real difference between having something taken from you and giving it up.  Christ says "No one takes [my life] from me, but I lay it down of my own accord."  I think we have talked before about giving things up before we are forced to do it and they greater joy it can bring.  I agreed with Michelle that once we had children, I wouldn’t smoke another cigarette.  That is being forced into something.  Sept 07 was my last cigarette and Paul was born April 09 so I was able to stop on my own.  The result is the same, but they effects and the ripples that flow from it are different.  Christ death would not mean the same thing if He had not allowed it to happened, if He would have fought it, or become the military leader that people wanted Him to and died in battle.  We mourn and celebrate those that have died in battle, but all the more we celebrate those that in particular freely chose to sacrifice themselves for others.  It is in that moment when you choose to do something that is important.  We should never wait until we are forced into it.   

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

November 23, 2010 – Mark 4:21 - 5:20

First, the idea that the swine were driven to their death by the evil spirit.  This is what evil spirits want to do, drive us to our doom.  They are not always powerful enough to do it immediately, like they do with the weak minded swine, but you can see their intention when they are placed in the swine.  The more we allow evil to dwell in and around us, the more influence we allow it and the closer we may come to doom.  Where as the more we fight it, control it, and seek the Lord, the further we stay away, the closer to light we get.  This appears that Jesus was showing us evil’s intention if we allow it to do what it wants. 

Secondly, the healed man that wanted to follow Christ.  Christ says no.  This goes to show us that we all have a vocation that God has in mind for us.  This man wanted to be a person that sat at the feet of Christ and was taught.  Jesus had different plan for him and sent him back to his home to preach about Jesus.  We all have a path God intends for us, that we were made specifically for, and that we were given the gifts to achieve.  We may want to talk ourselves into another path sometimes that isn’t intended for us, but we need to really listen to God for that calling, like the healed man did. 

Monday, November 22, 2010

November 22, 2010 – Sirach 8-9

Ch 8:18 is a message to all our young, and sometimes old, people that think that YouTube, Facebook, twitter and the like are a great way to get exposure.  You shouldn’t do things in front of strangers unless you are ready for them to whatever they please with it.  And you never know who is recording you these days with all the phones, which really aren’t phones anymore.  We must always be on our guard that we only do things we are proud of or that will not be embarrassing.  I know it is hard not to be embarrassing sometimes, but we should never open ourselves up to that on purpose.  If you do something accidentally and someone happens to catch it and embarrasses you, that is unfair and on their conscience.  But if you seek attention by doing something inappropriate and get caught on film, you really have no one to blame but yourself. 

This is also a guide for who to surround yourself with and who not to hang around.  It is a very simple and old guide, but I can’t really think of anything better or more appropriate that could be said.  It seems like with most the reading in Sirach, the world is in disagreement with Sirach’s advise.   

Sunday, November 21, 2010

November 21, 2010 – Exodus 38

A talent is roughly 57 lbs.  29 talents would be 1653 lbs. of gold used.  A shekel was around 11 grams.  So 8030 grams of gold, or a little over 17.7 lbs.  So  1670.5 lbs. altogether.  Gold is around 990 an ounce.   So we are looking at $26,460,720 in the gold that was used for the Dwelling.  Just a little interesting fact.  I posted this picture before, but thought it might be helpful again since this is the description of the outer walls of the Dwelling. 

Saturday, November 20, 2010

November 20, 2010 – Catechism 599-605

Don’t you really think there had to be someone, besides Christ, who knew the Scriptures well enough and was in Jerusalem at the time and was just thinking, “oh man, this can’t all be coincidence that all these things are happening”.  Obviously, when the Holy Spirit came, the Apostles were aided in their understanding of how the Old Testament revealed what was going to happen to Christ, but I just picture the one person who was seeing things clicking into place.  I imagine even if he had said anything the authorities would have treated him as we treat the Conspiracy Theory types today.  Pushing him off to the side as a nut or disregarding him.  I think that might make an interesting movie adaption of Christ life, from the perspective of the Conspiracy Theory person who is ignored but those in authority.  As one thing after another is fulfilled he goes and pleads his case and is continually thrown out.  I would watch it anyway. 

Christ died for all.  It isn’t mentioned in this section, but I love the Scripture that talks about us giving our lives for a person.  That we might be able to bring ourselves to do that if we really felt that the person was a good and decent person and worth risking our life.  And that is really just for risking our life.  It would be even more difficult, even for a good person, if it was guaranteed that we were going to die.  We might not be able to do that for the best person we know.  Yet Christ died for us, while we were still sinners, knowing we would still sin, knowing we would turn away from Him, knowing people would hate and ridicule Him, He died for all. 

Friday, November 19, 2010

November 19, 2010 – Mark 3:20 - 4:20

Who is the strong man?  Satan I believe.  What is his strength?  Sin.  So, what is Jesus saying when He says before you can plunder the house, first you must tie up the strong man.  What I think He is saying is that we fear sin and death.  Our greatest fear is death and what comes after.  We may try to ignore it and live our lives like we are not concerned about it, but everyone fears death.  Sin and death are were Satan has his strength.  Until something comes and gives us power over sin and death so that we do not fear it, we cannot battle Satan or plunder his home.  Christ came to tie up the Strong Man.  By His coming, His dying, His rising, He has conquered sin and death and given us the freedom to not fear them.  With Satan tied up, we are free to do God’s will, do God’s work and plunder Satan’s home.  But if you do not accept what Christ did, you are allowing yourself to fear sin and death, to be essential guarded by Satan, so that you cannot be plundered away by Christ.  You are a statue on Satan’s book self that he wants to keep and as long as he is free and able to roam and guard that shelf, Christ cannot save you.  We must let Christ come in, tie Satan up, and steal us away, take away that fear of sin and death, so that we can be His. 

The parable of the Sower and the seeds.  We did catch a glimpse of this yesterday talking about seed on rocky ground.  It is always a good parable to reflect on and where we are at in our life.  What type of ground we are.  Also, we have to be available or look for the seeds.  What this parable neglects to mention is the area of ground that the Sower doesn’t go to.  Obviously nothing is going to grow there because there are no seeds being sown.  This teaches us two things.  First we must be planting seeds.  We may be the only person someone will have to plant a seed and we don’t know what type of ground you have until you start planting those seeds.  Second, we must be open to sowers.  We may be the most fertile ground out there, but if we aren’t looking for seeds or putting ourselves out there, we won’t get any seeds to grow in our ground.  We must always be looking to grow our faith, learn new things, learn why things are the way they are, listen to teachers, and be available for seeding.  Our else we may just be a really fertile vacant lot. 

Thursday, November 18, 2010

November 18, 2010 – Sirach 40

V15 - Seeds with no roots – Remember this for tomorrow’s reading

We see it reaped over and over again how important it is to have a good wife.  Marriage, that bond, that relationship, that small family community is so important to the well being of not only those growing up in the household, but  the community in which they live.  That being said, I read an article today that shows our nation is taking the opposite view when it comes to marriage and families.  http://www.catholicculture.org/news/headlines/index.cfm?storyid=8337

Among the study’s key findings:

•in 2008, 52% of adults were married (vs. 72% in 1960)

•in 2008, 26% of adults in their 20s were married (vs. 68% in 1960)

•only 32% of Americans believe that premarital sex is wrong (vs. 68% in 1969)

•63% of Americans believe that a same-sex couple with children is a family

•60% of mothers with children under three are in the labor force (vs. 34% in 1975)

•41% of babies born in 2008 were born to unmarried mothers (vs. 5% in 1960)

That last one is what really shocked me.  The whole understanding of what a family is, is being destroyed and swept away.  This is not something that’s effects will be felt immediately but something that will not have its true weight felt for years and generations to come.  Pray that things turn around.  God intended for children to be brought up in a home with a mom and a dad and a marriage that is committed and lived out in with faithfulness and love.  Where will the “family” definition go if this trend continues or will the word family mean anything.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

November 17, 2010 – Exodus 37

What is the significance of almond blossoms?  Straight from Wikipedia http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Almond

In the Old Testament, the almond was a symbol of watchfulness and promise due to its early flowering, symbolizing God's sudden and rapid punishment of His people; in Jeremiah 1:11–12, for instance. In the Bible the almond is mentioned ten times, beginning with Book of Genesis 43:11, where it is described as "among the best of fruits". In Numbers 17 Levi is chosen from the other tribes of Israel by Aaron's rod, which brought forth almond flowers. According to tradition, the rod of Aaron bore sweet almonds on one side and bitter on the other; if the Israelites followed the Lord, the sweet almonds would be ripe and edible, but if they were to forsake the path of the Lord, the bitter almonds would predominate. The almond blossom supplied a model for the menorah which stood in the Holy Temple, "Three cups, shaped like almond blossoms, were on one branch, with a knob and a flower; and three cups, shaped like almond blossoms, were on the other...on the candlestick itself were four cups, shaped like almond blossoms, with its knobs and flowers" (Exodus 25:33–34; 37:19–20). Similarly, Christian symbolism often uses almond branches as a symbol of the Virgin Birth of Jesus; paintings often include almonds encircling the baby Jesus and as a symbol of Mary. The word "Luz", which appears in Genesis 30:37, is sometimes translated as "hazel", may actually be derived from the Aramaic name for almond (Luz), and is translated as such in some Bible versions such as the NIV.[33]

Here we have the making of the Ark of the Covenant.  From reading the description and remembering the movie, Indiana Jones seems pretty accurate in their making of the Ark.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

November 16, 2010 – Catechism 595-598

It is somewhat a funny notion that the Jewish leaders wanted to kill Jesus because they were accusing Him of revolting against Rome.  One must die for the salvation of the rest.  How completely right he was about Jesus and yet completely misguided.  Jesus did die for the salvation of all.  One did have to sacrifice for the many, but not in the way he was thinking.  It is also interesting that the Jewish leaders turn to Rome so quickly to condemn Christ but would not too soon down the road accept a revolutionary against Rome.  This goes back to their love of power and the position they held.  Jesus teaching was to be humble and obedient.  Future Revolutionaries would preach power and control and the expulsion of Romans from Jerusalem.  They sided with the one that would give them more power and thus Jerusalem was destroyed by the Romans 40 years after Christ died, along with the Temple which has never been rebuilt. 

Here we see that not only does the Church not teach any type of anti Semitic teaching but to the contrary holds Christian believers more responsible than any Jew for the death of Christ.  How much more should a person love and adore and follow the teaching of Christ when a person believes He is God than someone who does not.  Therefore when a professed Christian sins against God, it is all the more hurtful and we are all the more responsible for driving the nails in His hands.     

Monday, November 15, 2010

November 15, 2010 – Mark 2:18-3:19

2:19 – We are not suppose to fast on Sundays and Feast Days in the Church.  These are times of celebration.  Jesus understands and teaches us there are times for fasting and there are times for celebration. 

2:21-22 – I don’t know if I have ever really gotten these parables.  Is he talking about the old laws of the Jews and what Christ is teaching.  That seems to go with the context.  Is He saying that this is not a new teaching or a new religion (new wine or unshrunken cloth) which would destroy the old way.  What He is teaching is a fulfillment of the old law so that it is not destroyed but made better (patching shrunken cloth with shrunken cloth) or filled up (putting old wine in old wine skins).  If you remember that Jesus also says that not a single letter of any of the old law will be undone until it is fulfilled, this interpretation makes a little bit of sense.  

2:27 – We need the Sabbath.  I think we have talked about this before.  The Sabbath was made for us because we need to rest and give ourselves time to reflect on God and grow closer to Him.  The world treats it as another day and thus we have a busy world where everything is go, go, go.  God intended for us to take this day and give it to Him so that we could recharge and regroup and be filled with His grace and energy so that the rest of our week we could do His will. 

3:2-6 – Once again we see that the leaders are completely clouded by their love for power.  If you are not suppose to work on the Sabbath, look at what Jesus actually does.  He says four words, “Stretch out your hand”.  That doesn’t seem like work to me, yet they plotted to kill him because of it.  Doesn’t it seem like more “work” to plot to catch someone doing something and then plot to kill Him on the Sabbath. 

Also, I love when one line can stump them.  “Is it lawful to do good on the Sabbath rather than to do evil?”  They have absolutely nothing to say to this because they know they are in the wrong. 

Sunday, November 14, 2010

November 14, 2010 – Sirach 7

v23 – This one just came up today.  Paul was jumping off the fireplace ledge so I put him in the pack and play, that is kind of our time out area.  It has worked for some things, when he is throwing toys or playing with the blinds.  Well, he climbed out of the pack and play and flopped on the floor.  It was the first time we have seen him do that.  Makes me think we need a new time out and makes me a little more nervous about him being in the crib.  But it is hard to punish him when he is doing something wrong because he is just exploring and learning, but I see the wheels spinning inside his head sometimes when he is thinking about doing something we told him not to.  I probably won’t bend his neck, but I do try to be as firm as I can.  It is a tricky thing to be good at.

v27-28 – I have been trying to be better at talking to my family.  It is a new thing, but I need to get better at it.  I don’t think I have ever thought about my mom’s birth pangs.  It is not something we can really grasped because we have no memory of it.  We can see some of the sacrafises our parents made while we were growing up and what they did for us, but those things they did before we have any memory, those may have been some of the hardest, and we take it for granted because we don’t really know anything about it.  I will remember when Paul was born and what Michelle went through, but I really don’t know what my parents went through.  The Bible tells us not to forget those things and let’s know there is nothing we can ever do for what they have done for us. 

v33 – Here we see a reference to praying for or showing kindness the dead.  Anytime the Bible talks about praying for the dead, it is supporting the Catholic theology behind purgatory.  Quick run through, if a person is in Heaven, they don’t need your prayers, if they are in hell our prayer cannot do them any good.  Any prayers or showing of kindness to the dead has to be for a third group. 

Saturday, November 13, 2010

November 13, 2010 – Exodus 36

This reminds me a lot of the book of Nehemiah.  There, the Israelites rebuilt the city of Jerusalem by the Spirit of God moving them to work hard and together to get it done faster than anyone thought.  Here we see God working through people to get things done.

We see that the experts go about the work exactly as the Lord instructed Moses.  I have a drawing of the Dwelling in a past post.   A cubit is roughly 17 1/2 to 20 1/2 inches long.  So a sheet that is 28 cubits long by 4 cubits wide is roughly  40-48 feet long and 6 to  7 feet wide.  10 of those sheets (5 each sewn together edge to edge making them 30-35 feet long and 40-48 feet wide.)  This would be used to make the wall and half the ceiling.  It was connected at the top to the other set of five.  So, this was not a small structure they were putting together.  Now keep in mind that they were going to be taking this up and down with them as they traveled.     

Friday, November 12, 2010

November 12, 2010 – Catechism 587-594

Jesus and the life we are called to live is a  stumbling block for those that do not think they need a Savior.  Think about that when you see news stories about keeping Christ out of schools or government.  Think about that when you see shows about everybody hooking up.  Think about that as we enter Advent and prepare for Christ coming.  The people that don’t want to talk about Christ have a motivation.  If they start to believe, they couldn’t live the way they are now.  They enjoy the material things, the immoral things, they think it makes them happy.  The world does not want Christ because the world doesn’t think it needs to be saved.  That is where the Pharisees were. 

To have our sins forgiven, we must first accept the fact that we are a sinner.  In a world where everything is acceptable, this becomes the hardest thing to accept.  The Pharisees had an issue with thinking they were sinners which is why they found it so hard to accept Jesus.  Sinners, on the other hand welcome Him because they know they need His mercy.   

Christ had the ability to forgive sins.  He gave all His authority and power to the Apostles.  Why if not for the Sacrament of Reconsiliation.  Why do this if we are not suppose to confess our sins out loud to someone who can forgive them.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

November 11, 2010 – Mark 1:32 - 2:17

We all know the story of the paralytic being lowered through the roof and Jesus healing him.  But recently I was looking at it from a different view.  The friends of the man and their actions are what brought about his healing.  Think about it, first they had to carry him from where ever he was.  Then they had to fight the crowds.  When they couldn’t actually get through the crowds they risked their own lives climbing on the roof.  They also risk getting into trouble by damaging someone else’s home.  Then they lowered the man down.  Not one of these steps they had to take and not one of them was actually done by the man who was healed. 

A couple of things I take from this.  First, we can have a very strong impact in someone’s life.  Whether through praying for them, giving them advise, taking them to Church with you, or just being there for them when they need you, you can have an impact.  We sometimes may think we are too small potatoes to be able to make a difference, but that isn’t true.  People are depending on you, whether you realize it our not.  They are looking to you to be a friend that can carry them to Jesus because they may not be able to get there on their own. 

Secondly, I picture Jesus at his house the next day fixing His roof.  And I picture these five helping Him, the 4 that carried him and the man that was healed.  We never get any stories about Jesus when He was just living normal life, but you would have to think He would not have left without the roof being fixed, He was a carpenter after all.  I just picture Him working really hard, but with a smile, laughing and being joyful in His labor.  I picture the paralytic jumping around, showing off things that he had not been able to do in who knows how long.  And the 4 friends, being so happy that they took the time and the effort not only to bring their friend to Christ, but to grow in their relationship with Him as well.  Don’t be afraid to grab someone’s stretcher and help take them were they need to go.  You may be saving a life and filling yours with the love of Christ. 

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

November 10, 2010 – Sirach 6

Verse 6 fits me to a tee.  I know a lot of people, but I don’t have a lot of really close friends or at least people that I share things with.  Then on the other hand, I give talks and write this blog so that there aren’t a lot of secrets to me.  I think Michelle sometimes wonders why I share things about myself so readily, yet sometimes find it hard to share things on a more personal level.  I think sometimes I worry about the skeletons that may be in my closet and if I talk about them openly they aren’t as worrisome or they are not in the closet anymore.  We are always fearful of the scary things that hide in the closet, but I think that is because we don’t know when they are going to come out.  If we don’t keep them in the closet, then we control them to an extent.  But I do feel there is a strange contradiction in me because I feel free enough to talk about very personal things in talks I give yet I don’t trust a lot of people to share things with them individually.  I don’t know why that is. 

The second part of this is about discipline and describing her on a personal level as someone we need to strive to be close to.  The world today teaches us the exact opposite and that we need to act on every impulse and to deny ourselves of anything is to suppress our feelings and cause us harm.  Look at what you gain from discipline.  Find wisdom, await her bountiful crops, you will learn.  We are told to stoop and carry her, put her yoke on our neck.   Discipline is the only way to truly learn things.  We learn nothing by doing whatever we want.  We gain nothing by being handed everything we need on a silver platter.  Without discipline, everything is unruly.  Do not so easily cast aside discipline when you run into her, for without her you will never gain knowledge and wisdom. 

Tuesday, November 09, 2010

November 9, 2010 – Exodus 35

Here we see Moses come back down and instructs Israel on what to do as far as the Dwelling.  And once again we see the change in the Israelites and their willingness to cooperate.  The first time we heard God’s list of things that were needed we talked about giving generously.  Everyone is asked to give what they feel they can.  One curious thing I thought about was the fact that they still had gold to give.  If I remember right, they had given all their gold to Aaron for the calf.  But we see again that God specifies that some people will have skills that He has given them for certain task.  I just think that is a reassuring idea.

Monday, November 08, 2010

November 8, 2010 – Catechism 583-586

The relationship between Jesus and the Temple is an interesting one.  The Temple, for the Jews, was such an important place.  It was where God came to earth to be with them.  It was an indication that they were the chosen people.  When Jesus comes, all that changes.  God no longer uses the Temple because God comes to them in a different way.  What is interesting is that Jews, even to this day, in their beliefs, need a temple to perform the proper sacrifices.  But they have not had a temple since 70 AD when it was destroyed by Rome.  Their entire religion has been without one of its most essential pieces for almost 2,000 years.  I don’t know what how a Jewish person feels about that and I don’t know how the religion goes along without that, but from looking at the Old Testament and seeing how important that is to the Jewish religion, to now have that any more seems like a pretty large gap.

I do know there are attempts or have been attempts to rebuild the Temple again.  Obviously none have succeeded.  I read a book once that indicated the Jews rebuilding the Temple is one of the signs that the end of the world is coming.  I don’t know anything about that, it is just something I have always been curious about how Jews today see the lack of a temple.

Sunday, November 07, 2010

November 7, 2010 – Mark 1 - 1:31

We begin our second Gospel, the shortest one.  Mark begins on the very verge of Jesus’ ministry.  It starts with John the Baptist, then Christ Baptism, John’s arrest, Jesus in the desert, calling the first Apostles, Healing on the Sabbath, and healing Peter’s mother-in-law.  Pretty jammed packed for 31 verses.  I guess the thing that sticks out to me is the Peter had a mother-in-law.  This means that Peter had a wife.  There is nothing written about her in the scriptures, but I heard that it is believed that she was martyred around the same time as St. Peter in Rome.  I found this segment in a writing,  The Stromata (Book VII) by Clement of Alexandria (150-215).

They say, accordingly, that the blessed Peter, on seeing his wife led to death, rejoiced on account of her call and conveyance home, and called very encouragingly and comfortingly, addressing her by name, "Remember thou the Lord." Such was the marriage of the blessed and their perfect disposition towards those dearest to them.”

November 6, 2010 – Sirach 3

Verses 20-23 made me think about all those people out there who have all the “right answers”.  I get upset sometimes when I don’t understand something.  Regardless of what is right or wrong or whether something was an accident or not, I like to understand why something happened.  That goes for how things work, why things look the way they do, basically everything.  I like to tinker with things to see how they tick.  I often come to a point where it is beyond me how things go.  Either I am not smart enough to get it or I have been thinking about it too long and can’t see the answer.  That is a very frustrating place for someone who likes to understand things.  These verses let us know that there are going to be things that are beyond our understanding.  That is sometimes hard to accept, but it warns us not to reach beyond out limits.  When we try to go beyond what we are suppose to, we can begin to lead other astray.  Stick within our limitations and accept the fact that things are beyond us, as hard as that may be. 

Friday, November 05, 2010

November 5, 2010 – Exodus 34

Moses goes back up the mountain for another 40 days. This time when he comes back the people are waiting for him and not in revolt. So, we have an improvement there. There appears to have been a different connection between Moses and God this time around because when Moses came down the first time he did not radiate from his face like this time. None of the rules really changed this time around, just reiterating the commandments. I guess what it makes me think about is the people below. They saw miracles and wonders of God, were fed and led by God, God had even won them military victories, yet the first time Moses went up the Mountain, they abandoned God. Then the Levites and others that sided with Moses put those that did not to the sword and now when Moses comes down the mountain, they are waiting for him. I just makes you think about some of the stories we will read about in the Old Testament and the fact that we may see God as a butcher sometimes with some of the actions taken by the Israelites. I guess we have to look at it in the context of the time it took place and it appears that violence is the only thing that really got the people’s attention. If they didn’t fear for their safety, they felt comfortable just abandoning God.

We can see that a lot in our world too. Sometimes it takes something violent and drastic in order to really get people’s attention about an issue. That is why we have some of the disasters and tragedies we do, because people didn’t pay attention to the smaller signs pointing in the right direction. I wish we didn’t need the big wake up calls, but sometimes we really ignore or run over smaller signs. And even big signs, if they do not threaten some kind of violence, may be ignored. And then, even if there is violence, but it doesn’t pertain to us in particular, it can be ignored. God really does try to send us signs to set us on the right path if we are open to them, but there are a lot of times when we don’t pay attention.

I don’t talk a lot about politics here, but this relates, I think, to what some democrats (unemployed democrats) were feeling Wed. There were signs that things they were doing were unpopular, but they pushed through. There were other elections that showed voters were going to get rid of people doing unpopular things, they pushed through. Now they are sitting at home wondering what happened. The question is, have they learned anything or are they still under the impression that it was just a fluke. We are blessed in this country that power can shift in our government without violence. Most countries cannot have a political party take control without some bloodshed, America is different. But that also can lead to people not learning anything. Sometimes people do not learn anything unless they feel like they are going to lose something. I am not promoting Revolution or Civil War, but it did take war to gain our freedom and end slavery. The point is that many people won’t really change their attitudes until something really jolts them from their position. What that is, is different for everybody, but I think it is true for everybody. Time will tell whether what happened Tuesday was jolting enough to change anyone’s thinking. My guess is no and if you listen to any news about the President’s speech, it doesn’t seem to have changed his mind.

Thursday, November 04, 2010

November 4, 2010 – Catechism 577-582

Jesus tells us that those who teach His ways will be great in Heaven.  Those that do not will be called least.  I think this looks again at the authority a person has to teach and how teachings that disagree with each other, in certain cases, cannot coexist under God’s law. 

This describes the relationship between Jesus and the Pharisees and other scribes.  They had such an arrogance about them, thinking that they knew exactly what all the laws meant and thought they were doing a perfect job of following them.  They could not see who they were struggling with and who they were arguing against.  And it is obvious they were over matched in the very simple ways Jesus reduces their arguments and tricks.  “Let him without sin cast the first stone”, “Give to Caesar what is Caesar’s, and God what is God’s.”  They would spin these questions and hypotheticals and think they had Jesus cornered, and with a simple line or two or a parable completely turn things around. 

Do we ever find ourselves arguing with God about things going on in our lives.  Have we ever been refuted by something very simple that we couldn’t see because we were so sure we were right or so determined to do things our way.  Let us take a lesson from the Pharisees and understand that arguing with God is never going to get the result we desire.

Wednesday, November 03, 2010

November 3, 2010 – James 4-5

Lot’s in here.  Are you a lover of the world?  You cannot serve both God and mammon.  Here, we have gone over material things and living our lives for them before, but I don’t know if it has been put like this before.  In looking at what enmity means, it is a complete divide or separation.  The footnotes make note that having any material things is not what this is condemning, but the love of them or the focus of our life to get them is going to completely separate ourselves from God.  

Are you a judge or a doer of the Law?  I have to work very hard to not judge people.  It is one of the things I struggle with the most.  I don’t know if I have ever thought about it in this way.  When you judge, you are putting yourself in a new position.  You do not become a doer anymore.  A judge cannot be a doer also because the judge must be above the action.  There is a conflict if the judge is also part of the action because of the attachments and emotions that come from being a doer.  We are not qualified to judge because we are made for the doing.  I do catch myself more (which is one of the reasons I know I do it too much) and really try to focus on thinking about where they are at, why they may be doing what they are doing, understanding that I cannot know their mind set or their culpability, and then trying to reflect on my own actions and trying to learn from the situation.  Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t and in my job I am in a position to really see people that many people can judge very harshly.  I hear a lot that “I would never do that” or “I can’t believe anyone would do that”.  It is easy to think and say this, but we are not made for this job.  There is one judge, and it is not me, thank God. 

Do we make our own plans?  I have the benefit of being married, so I get told what my future plans are.  That isn’t entirely true, but we do need to realize that the future is out of our control and in the control of someone who knows what’s best for us.  Let us always end all our plans for the future with “let your will be done Lord”.  We may be surprised how things turn out and also how we aren’t worried as much anymore. 

Ch5v14 – points very clearly to the Sacrament of Anointing of the sick.  And also that it is to be done by a priest (presbyter). 

V16 speaks of confessing our sins to one another, not some notion that we can confess our sins to God alone in prayer and be forgiven. 

V20 an act, done by a person, can cover a multitude of sins.  This is contradictory to the idea of faith alone and the idea that we are only saved by believing in Christ.  This verse says that there is some action I can do (bring somebody back to the faith) that will cover a multitude of sins.  It is God’s mercy and grace that allows this and it is His grace that we receive from the action, but it is my action that opens that door.  I am interested in what everyone’s take is on that verse. 

Tuesday, November 02, 2010

November 2, 2010 – Sirach 4

Perform works in meekness.  I think it is often hard to think of something abstract like wisdom as a person or material thing we should long for and love, but the Bible seems to do that a lot, especially with wisdom.  I think we are so accustomed to getting information quickly, relying on others to inform us, or just not caring to learn, that if we are suppose to have a relationship with wisdom, it is a very bad one.  When we get the opportunity to learn about something, let’s not complain and think “oh wo is me” but maybe treat it as an opportunity to reconnect with that old friend wisdom that we are suppose to love, seek, and hold fast to.

Monday, November 01, 2010

November 1, 2010 – Exodus 32:21 – 33

Aaron seems pretty pathetic here.  When confronted he claims that he through all the gold into the fire and out came the calf.  He does not want to take responsibility for the making of the calf.  Then it talks about Moses’ foes.  It appears there was some divide of in the group, as is depicted in movies and maybe Aaron was just easily swayed.  Then all the Levites rally to Moses and slay their kinsmen.  Doesn’t this sound like they killed all the other Israelites.  The footnote says they only killed those that were especially guilty of idolatry, but that isn’t the sense you get from reading it.  But they can’t have killed them all or else there would only be one tribe left.  For this loyalty the Levites would be given the duty to be special servants to the priest and be consecrated to the Lord.  They wouldn’t receive any land in the promise land.  In our day and age, that would be seen as the worse end of the deal.  You did what you were suppose to do, your reward is no land and you must serve the Lord.  You that broke the rules, you get land of your own.  We must realize what an honor it is to serve the Lord and also the responsibility and harm and seduction that came to those that had the land.  The Levites were not given land so that their focus would be God.  You relate it somewhat to the celibacy of priest in the Church and where their focus is. 

Even Moses cannot see the face of God and live.  He can look at God’s back as He moves away.  This probably is wrong, but I thought of Medusa and not being able to look at her face to face, but you could look at reflections and be ok.  We think we are so high and mighty and we sometimes think we should be able to be on par with God.  We need to understand that we cannot.  God humbled Himself to become man in Christ so that He could Sacrifice Himself for us.  And God humbly becomes the Eucharist so that we can partake of Him in the Mass to form a more perfect union with Him and be able to Adore Him in Adoration.  That is for our benefit.  We are not able to look at God face to face and live.  Lord help us understand humility and our place.