Monday, January 31, 2011

January 31, 2011 – Catechism 702-708

I think sometimes we are so easily distrustful of things because we are lied to so much by the world that we find it hard to believe in the promises of God.  All the love, the hope, the healing, the peace that God offers, it feels so far away sometimes that we lose our trust in God.  We see this projection of our human feelings onto God when someone has a bad relationship with their father and therefore projects those types of emotions towards God the Father.  We all do the same with trust because the world has hurt us, made us syndical, made us hard and rigid.

We must try to remember in those times that in the beginning it was not so.  God cannot break a promise.  Even the smallest or most insignificant promise God has made must be fulfilled.  If we do not trust in this, we cannot trust in God at all.  We must put our very lives in His hands and trust in His promises, or we will fall into the crowd that disbelieves in Him.  As humans, we long for that comfort of being protected, held, loved, of not being lied to.  We seek these things in our relationships, in our money, our addictions or possessions.  But those things will not last and let us down and only harden our hearts all the more.  God already knows the end.  He has already won victory.  If we put that trust in Him, we will celebrate in His victory.  It is only be losing that hope, that trust in His promise that we will slip away and begin to seek those feelings we long for in things of this world.  The Holy Spirit is there to help guide us on that journey.  Between the beginning of all things and the fullness of time.  We must hold on to God’s promises in the midst of the storm.  Hold on for all we are worth, no matter how violent the storm gets, until in the fullness of time that storm passes, sin is defeated and we rest in the infinite peace of God.  Until then, HOLD ON!      

Sunday, January 30, 2011

January 30, 2011 – 1 Corinthians 1

We begin the letter with a short introduction and then right into one of the main issues, divisions in the Church.  I would encourage you to read the introduction to get a sense of when Paul wrote this and why.  I know there are some non-Catholics that read this, and I appreciate them and their views, and this may start a discussion, it may not.  I never really know when or what people are going to decide to pick up on and talk about. 

Paul sees a church divided.  Some are choosing this person to follow, some this person, it seems to be based on who they may have  been baptized by.  But there is no doubt that there are divisions and Paul is trying to correct them in this area. 

First thought from this.  I know some say that there are many different denominations, but we are all Christians and part of the church God created by believing in Christ.  That idea of an invisible church seems to be what they had in Corinth.  They had a Christian community with divisions, but all Christians, or they wouldn’t be reading Paul’s letter.  This letter was written to Christians and was telling them that there cannot be division in Christ Church.  How can a Christian read this and still follow the idea that you can have multiple Christian denominations believing different things.  I would like to know, when the Reformation was really getting started if anyone looked at this passage and inserted a couple of different names.  I mean that each of you is saying, "I belong to Calvin," or "I belong to Luther," or "I belong to King Henry," or "I belong to Christ."  Doesn’t the division in denominations seem to fit perfectly into what Paul is talking about. 

This is a little more off topic, but somewhat related.  I was thinking about the fact that we are betting our lives on these beliefs.  I don’t know why I was thinking that, but that is besides the point.  There are two options open to all Christians.  Option one, either one of the denominations is right and everybody else it wrong, or 2, we are all wrong.  There are just too many contradictions between all the groups that an answer where more than one is right doesn’t fit into a God who is perfect Truth. 

In the above arguments or discussion I left the Catholic Church out of it because I don’t feel it is as divided as the Protestant denominations, although there are some divisions.  Obviously as a Catholic I am betting that the Catholic Church has the right answers and way, but can I tell you 100% that I know it is absolutely correct.  I don’t feel I can.  I can tell you why I believe in it, and have throughout this blog, but there is a chance I am wrong.  I think there are things that make a lot more sense from the Catholic view point and there are things that are sometimes hard to explain and understand.  I am not some grand theologian, but just an honest person trying to find my way. 

Really, my curiosity is in this whole notion of the invisible church of Christ that all the different denominations claim they belong to.  I just don’t see how that fits with Christ teaching and with this particular passage.  

Saturday, January 29, 2011

January 29, 2011 – Isaiah 29

This is a very up and down chapter.  We start off with Ariel, or Jerusalem, is going to be set upon by many nations.  Like David before a city that he conquered, the armies will surround it and all hope will seem lost.  But at the last minute, through only the power of God, the city will be saved.  Then there is a section about even when this is done, the people will not believe it because they are like the blind, they are drunk but not because of drink.  They have not taken God’s mercy and love to heart.  But in the end, God will redeem them.

This chapter should give us hope.  When things are looking grim or there seems no way out, that is when we are to rely on God.  It is in those moments when only God can save us.  But we also hear that when we do not trust in God fully, when our hearts are hardened or our faith is weak, when we ignore God and try to figure it out on our own, God is still there.  He does not leave because we have been disobedient, but remains to save us still.

Wise confounded by the Word.  This is suppose to be the connection to tomorrow’s reading.  I guess it is referring to the part about trying to read the scroll.  It is sealed for those that can read and unsealed for those that cannot.  It is referring to all God’s works that were done and yet Israel still does not fully trust in God. 

I also liked the part talking about being a clay pot that feels the one that made us cannot really know anything about us.  That just seems silly to think, yet we often may feel that God can’t really understand what my struggles are.  That is one reason Christ came, so that we could find it easier to trust that God knows about our suffering and can relate to us on a more personal level. 

Friday, January 28, 2011

January 28, 2011 – Leviticus 16

I have to admit that I had no idea what “Azazel” was when I read through this.  I had heard about the idea of the scapegoat that the Jews had where they would sent one goat out into the wilderness to symbolize that their sins were leaving them, but I didn’t realize there was a character that it related to.  When you look it up on Wikipedia it talks about it being a possible fallen angle, a possible character of Satan, or other things.  But it relates to the idea that the Jews were sending their evil actions back to the one that gave these to them.     

Also seen as a foreshadowing of Christ.  He takes our sins upon Him and then is sent into hell, or the wilderness.  Unlike the goat, He rose from that wilderness to redeem us all, but the connection is there. 

Thursday, January 27, 2011

January 27, 2011 – Catechism 694-701

When I think of water I think of life.  It is the source that is needed for all life.  Here we see the Holy Spirit is like a well inside us that is a source of life.  And the water of Baptism instills in us that Grace of the Holy Spirit that can never be erased. 

I actually have to give a talk pretty soon on the “fire” of the Holy Spirit.  The part that I am pondering is the idea that fire changes everything it comes into contact with.  We burn wood and it turns to ash.  We light a candle and the wax melts away.  When the Holy Spirit touches us, we are changed in a way that we can not go back to.  We may try, but we can never return to that place in the same way because we are supernaturally different than we were before the Spirit changed us. 

Clouds are always pictured so light and fluffy and everything, it is sometimes hard to see them as the power of God.  The ones that bring storms and lightening maybe give us a sense of the power, but you don’t necessarily think “loving” God when you see those.  

The three unrepeatable sacraments.  So, a Protestant that may have been Baptized in their church and wants to become Catholic is not always Baptized again.  It depends on the ceremony of their baptism in the other church.  Also, once a person is ordained a deacon, priest, or bishop, they are always that.  They may be stripped of their duties as a clergy men or even excommunicated, but their ordination stays with them, even into the pits of Hell if that is their choosing. 

When it said the finger of God, all I could think of was God poking Satan in the eye. 

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

January 26, 2011 – Mark 15:42 – 16

I am not sure where I read or heard about it, while I was typing that I think I remember reading it in one of the Catechism passages, but there is no account of the Resurrection.  What an awesome and unexplainable that it must have been.  I think it is interesting that the stone was rolled away and not blown apart.  You have to imagine there was so much energy in the Resurrection and so much power that it could have just disintegrated the stone, yet it also had such a peace to it that it was simply rolled away by the power of God.  Infinite power and infinite peace at the same moment. 

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

January 25, 2011 – Psalms 109-110

The footnotes say that the prayer to God from 6-19 are from the servant against his persecutors.  But that isn’t what it appears because it starts after “My enemies say of me”.  I take it that the enemies are saying the prayer from 6-19.  In that light, it is kind of two groups both praying to God.  One, the poor and persecuted, and the other the accusers.  I thought this was really strange, but then I thought about all the times people on two sides of anything both pray to God for their side.  We see it a lot in sporting events, but even greater scenarios such as wars and battles.  Reflecting on that idea makes you realize that not only must you believe in the God you are praying to, but you must be acting in such a way that He will be on your side and you must be asking for what God desires of you. 

If you are asking God to help you in selfish or evil activities, God isn’t going to be there for you.  We see here that these accusers are asking God to help them punish someone who is doing God’s will.  God isn’t going to help them in this.  It makes you think about how far believing and praying to God will get you if that is all you think you need.  It appears that there must be a closer connection between you and God.  God cannot, will not grant everyone’s prayer (see Bruce Almighty for what happens when God says yes to everyone.)  Our prayers have to be directed by our connection to God’s will for us and our actions that show we are desiring to do God’s will.  Our belief and faith in God is essential, but that only gets us to a certain point, much like the accusers.  Those prayers are not heard over those of the one who believes in God and living the life of a servant of God.   

Monday, January 24, 2011

January 24, 2011 – Leviticus 15

I was trying to find out what this was talking about as far as a man with a chronic flow.  I don’t know how reliable everything I looked at was, and there wasn’t much, but the closest thing I found says it was what we call gonorrhea.  Which is interesting since I also read that they thought gonorrhea didn’t start until the middle ages.  But it makes sense, knowing what we know about it today and how it is spread, that God would try to isolate a person with it and that it is seen as something unclean because its spread is due to someone being promiscuous.   

Sunday, January 23, 2011

January 23, 2011 – Catechism 691-693

The Names of the Holy Spirit.  The Paraclete is one that I had never heard before until I came to Bloomington and got involved in Lifeteen.  Even then, it took some getting used to, since it seemed like a strange word to use instead of just saying Holy Spirit.  But now it has grown on me and even though I don’t say it a lot out loud, I do think about it more when I am praying.  The whole idea of calling the Holy Spirit to your side, like a companion, like a weapon, like a shield, like whatever you need at that moment.  It is a comforting thought, and all wrapped up in that one word. 

“But when he comes, the Spirit of truth, he will guide you to all truth. He will not speak on his own, but he will speak what he hears, and will declare to you the things that are coming.” John 16:13

The Holy Spirit is the Spirit of Truth.  How then can so many claim to be guided by the Holy Spirit and be in disagreement on so many moral truths.  That is something I just don’t understand.  There is only two explanations.  Either the Holy Spirit is not the Spirit of Truth, leading to God not being truth, leading to our faith being completely void of meaning, or people are not being led by the Holy Spirit when they think they are. 

Does that mean that they are evil.  I don’t think so.  It means that they may be simply listening to there own human understanding instead of the Holy Spirit.  That really makes them no different than someone when they sin and turn their back on God and what He teaches.  I think the difference is that when people become hard hearted and are so totally convinced that what they believe is right is right.  The question of what if they are not right frightens them so much that they are not open to the Holy Spirit moving in them.  The Holy Spirit can still do great things through them, but I believe it is all in an effort to bring them back to Truth, which there can be only one, if our faith in God is to have any strength. 

So, ask yourselves if you are open to being wrong.  Do you trust the Holy Spirit to guide you to the Truth.  Do you leave yourself vulnerable to God’s Grace.  Hardness of heart is something that will keep you away from God, we should not be so overly confident in our human understandings.  

Saturday, January 22, 2011

January 22, 2011 – Mark 15:6 - 15:41

I am a little behind in these postings and it really isn’t because I didn’t have time.  It is more because I couldn’t think of anything to write.  You would think that with the chapter being on the crucifixion I could think of plenty, but I had a block. 

What I was thinking about this morning is the difference in our mind set when we are giving something up or doing something new.  During Lent and during New Years, we often try to give something up that we feel is a vice or try to add something to improve our lives.  I was thinking about that in the context of the crucifixion and realizing that they are really one in the same.  Was Christ doing something to improve things or giving up something.  Both.  And when we give up a vice, we are actually doing something positive.  And when we add something positive to our lives, we are actually taking time away from something that is probably negative.  It appears that they are more two sides to the same coin then actually two different things.  I think I have always felt that when I am trying to give something up, I do so with such a negative attitude.  I am going to try harder next time to not focus on the giving up side of the coin as much as the positive adding something in my life side.  

Friday, January 21, 2011

January 21, 2011 – Psalms 22

Words spoken from Calvary

This psalms starts off so negatively and that is what we hear Christ say on the cross, but it ends so joyfully.  I don’t know if I have ever read this psalm in its entirety.  Think about this when we read about Christ on the cross tomorrow.  Christ knew these psalms by heart, along with most of the Jews, especially those that were devote.  Hearing Him begin this psalm would have brought hope to those that reflected on what He was saying.  Those that didn’t know would think He was separated from God, but it is entirely the opposite.  This psalm starts from the human perspective, a human understanding, that when things are at there worst, God has left us.  But the psalm is telling us that isn’t true.  God was there and “Did not turn away from me, but heard me when I cried out.” 

Those that think Christ quoting this and it being a separation are like those that mocked Christ on the cross.   They are ones who question cruelty in a world created by a loving God.  They question suffering and why it would exist if God loves us.  God doesn’t take away our suffering no more than he took away Christ suffering.  Suffering brings us to God so that we can “eat our fill”, “enjoy life forever”.  When Christ says this from the cross, He is reaching back into the scriptures to praise God.  In all His agony and suffering, He is teaching us from the cross that suffering is not to be avoided, being shunned is not a negative, being mocked or unpopular are not things that we should live our lives worrying about.  These are what bring us to God, how we show our love for Him and our willingness to not belong to the world.  I wish this psalm would be fully read at Mass around Easter so that we could really understand Christ words on the cross and the praise that He does during His most trying time. 

Thursday, January 20, 2011

January 20, 2011 – Leviticus 14:21 - 14:57

The leprosy of a house sounds a lot like mildew.  It starts to grow on the walls so you try to clean in, but it comes back.  Then you paint or plaster over it, and it may still come back if you haven’t cleaned it all the way.  This is the second thing, along with clothing, that can be unclean besides people.  I never realized that before.  What a shame to have to have your home destroyed because of leprosy.  No wonder those with leprosy were so shunned and kept out of the community.  Not only might you get it, but your home and clothing might have to be destroyed. 

With the way lepers were kept on the outskirts of a community, how does that compare with sin and sinners today.  It is almost the exact opposite.  Those that live sinful lives out in the open are not shunned or secluded, but brought into the fold, seen as popular, the cool group to be around.  What better example than the new movie coming out about friends with benefits.  It is those that are trying to live their lives avoiding sin that are seen as odd, secluded, shunned by the world.  I don’t know if I have ever thought about it that way.     

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

January 19, 2011 – Catechism 687-690

It is just so hard to comprehend that the God of the universe can be with us at all times by the Holy Spirit.  Granted, nothing is impossible with God, so I don’t as much have a hard time believing it, but understanding it.  And it is not the idea that we received the Holy Spirit and the gifts and then the Holy Spirit leaves.  The Holy Spirit is always there, guiding us and giving us Grace.  God is always there.  That is the part that is hard to realize.  Another part that I think is difficult is that it is the same Holy Spirit that came to the Apostles in the upper room.  That same Spirit that allowed them to do what they did is helping me write this right now.  That just hurts my head to think about sometimes, but fills my heart with joy and confidence. 

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

January 18, 2011 – Mark 14:43 - 15:5

There is a lot here, but the line that really stuck out to me is the last verse.  Pilot was amazed.  I was trying to think about what he was amazed at.  Was it the fact that Jesus would not answer His accusers.  Was it Jesus’ confidence in Himself and His innocence.  Was it just the feeling that came to someone that was close to Jesus.  Pilot was not a person that was necessarily threatened by Jesus message.  Rome was secure from small squabbles.  Pilot did fear the Jewish leadership and those that could cause the crowd to get out of control, but you don’t get that he senses that kind of a threat from Christ.  He might have even gotten a sense of peace from Him, maybe even encouragement that if he let Jesus go, his governing would be more peaceful.  Christ didn’t teach anything about throwing down Rome or its leaders, in fact, just the opposite.  If Pilot knew anything about what was going on, he would have some knowledge about what Christ had been preaching. 

I think in Pilot we see what fear can cause a person to do.  He did not act out of jealousy or greed as the Jewish leadership did.  He finds no guilt in Christ.  But he fears what will happen if he doesn’t obey the crowds.  It is the most important acts of peer pressure in history.  Peer pressure is all about fear of what people will do or think of you if you don’t go along with their actions.  Pilot is a coward for not following his own notions, but I don’t think that makes him unsympathetic.  The person of Pilot has always been somebody I felt very sorry for.  I don’t hear people talk about peer pressure as much as when I was growing up.  It seemed then that everything involved peer pressure.  I guess it is not the slogan of the day anymore, but I don’t think that means it isn’t still active, if not more so.  And one things I find in growing up is that peer pressure is not something that only applies to teenagers, which I kind of assumed growing up.  Peer pressure for adults maybe even more of an issue.  Maybe that is one reason we don’t bring it up as much.  Maybe adults that were preaching it realized they fall for it and adults don’t like to face their own issues, so the whole movement has faded away.  But as we can see, it is not something new, and it isn’t going away.  I think we need to realize what the things and people we surround ourselves with influence us.  Maybe we don’t take a look at where we are at and what we are doing enough.  Maybe we are too close to it to realize it is hurting us.  Peer Pressure is real, it is powerful, and it effects us all.  Be on your guard. 

Monday, January 17, 2011

January 17, 2011 – Isaiah 53-54

Men hide from association with Him. 

It is hard for us to read this and not think of Christ.  Chapter 53 almost sounds as if it were written by someone after Christ died, describing His death to people and the reason for it.  If you can, try to remove everything you know about Christ and try to read this from the view of Israel during Isaiah’s time.  What did they think he was talking about.  Who was this person that was coming.  It is right there that He was going to suffer and die for the sins of all and that God would be pleased with this. 

54:15 – I was trying to think back through history of the times when Christians might have been attacked.  In the Old Testament, we will see, that God uses the armies of Gentile nations to teach Israel a lesson.  But it appears that God promises that He will not use that method after Christ comes to teach Christ followers lessons.  Any attack on Christians is not from God.  And we are also told that they will not succeed, unlike attacks of the Babylonians or Assyrians when God was using them.  We have the examples of Christian Europe being attacked, but they were never completely successful in destroying the Church.  God may use other ways to help guide the Church, but it appears that, like His promise to not flood the world, He will not use attacks of armies as a method of teaching after Christ comes.   

Sunday, January 16, 2011

January 16, 2011 – Leviticus 13:47 - 14:20

I don’t understand how a decease like leprosy could stay on a piece of clothing, but it appears that it did by the explanation of that section. 

I was thinking about the people that bred and raised sheep and lambs during this period of time.  I wonder if it was like the big cattle farms and other domestic animal farms we have these days.  Obviously there was a huge need for these animals, but not only a need for any lamb, but lambs that would be considered unblemished or good enough to be sacrifice.  There was probably a lot a pressure to breed good quality sheep and mix two strong mates to continue strong traits and avoid bad genes.  I just know how diligent farmers are about raising animals these days and just think it must have been similar back then. 

You see a lot of the times where the priest will sprinkle the person with the blood of the animal.  We have times when we are sprinkled by Holy Water during Mass and I am assuming it has a connection with this, but why the water.  I understand that we would not want to be sprinkled with the Blood from the Chalice, but I am sure the Israelites didn’t really wanted to be sprinkled with the blood of a lamb.  I was just thinking about why we choose to be sprinkled with the Holy Water when if we follow the tradition of the Israelites in our Eucharistic celebration, it would seem to follow that we would be sprinkled with Christ blood. 

When writing that, it brought to mind the Passion movie by Mel Gibson and the part where the solider stabs Christ in the side and is covered by the blood and water that comes out. 

Saturday, January 15, 2011

January 15, 2011 – Catechism 683-686

No for the part of the Trinity that is the hardest part for us to wrap our heads around.  Yet, we all feel the power of the Holy Spirit in every good action we take and anytime our actions bring about some good thing.  Still, because it is not a physical thing that we can picture, we tend to move the Holy Spirit to the background.  We talk a lot about Christ, God is mentioned almost as much, but we try to avoid talking about the Holy Spirit.  I wonder why that is, because when you think about it, that is the part of the Trinity we have the most contact with.  The Holy Spirit is with us and guiding us in God’s will.  It is giving us the graces we need to make good decisions.  We meet Christ in the Sacraments, and those graces stay with us, but when we are not in liturgy, the Holy Spirit is the part that is with us during our everyday life.  We should all seek these fruits and gifts of the Holy Spirit in our lives.   

The seven gifts of the Holy Spirit are wisdom, understanding, counsel, fortitude (or courage), knowledge, piety, and fear of the Lord. You can find an in-depth discussion of each in The Gifts of the Holy Spirit.

The twelve Fruits of the Holy Spirit are charity (or love), joy, peace, patience, benignity (or kindness), goodness, longanimity (or long suffering), mildness, faith, modesty, continency (or self-restraint or abstinence), and chastity.

Friday, January 14, 2011

January 14, 2011 – Mark 14:10 - 14:42

A question was raised when I was discussing infant baptism.  Why did the Jews have to be Baptized if they were already circumcised, if Baptism is the new circumcision.  I think the answer appears pretty clearly in Christ speaking about the Eucharist.  “He said to them, "This is my blood of the covenant, which will be shed for many”  14:24.  Christ begins a new and eternal covenant that must be entered into.  Much like being circumcised entered the Jewish people into a covenant with God, being Baptized enters us into a covenant with God, but through Christ death and resurrection.  So, it becomes an eternal one.  The Jews, even though they were in covenant with God through their circumcision, would need to be Baptized to enter into the New Covenant brought about by Christ. 

I think the more interesting question is what was the meaning of John the Baptist baptism, since it took place before Christ death and resurrection.  What effect did it have.  I think that is explained by John himself when he says “I have baptized you with water; he will baptize you with the holy Spirit." Mark 1:8.  His baptism is a preparation for the Baptism Christ will bring about, a full and complete Baptism, that brings us into an eternal covenant with God through Christ. 

The hour of prayer and fighting sleep and Christ disappointment is something that I think about quite a bit during my adoration hour from 1-2 AM Thursday mornings.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

January 13, 2011 – Sirach 30

What I am about to say maybe makes no sense and isn’t based on any research, but just an observation that I thought about from this reading.  In my job, I see a lot of abused children.  And when a child is taken from a home, whether it was because of abuse or not, there are rules against any type of corporal punishment while the case is open.  Corporal punishment, in and of itself, is something that has been deemed ancient and ineffective by most things that I am told about or read.  Yet here we see that corporal punishment is an important part of raising children. 

In thinking about this, I was wondering if there is a connection between abuse and lack of corporal punishment.  When there is no corporal punishment on a child, they would tend to grow up less disciplined or even spoiled.  A parent would be required to have an increased sense of patience or just give up and allow the child to get away with more because discipline will not work.  This increased strain because a child pushes the envelope causes a parent to snap and lose control, leading to abuse.  Some may say that all corporal punishment is abuse, but I disagree.  I think there is a huge difference between the two and it mainly deals with the control the parent has.  When a parent loses their control, it becomes abuse.  I was just thinking that by taking corporal punishment out of parenting, children push parents further, causing parents to lose control, leading to abuse.  It doesn’t necessarily seem to follow that allow corporal punishment can decrease abuse of children, but I think there could be an argument made for that. 

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

January 12, 2011 – Leviticus 13:9 - 13:46

I wanted to talk about the connection between sin and leprosy, but I found this and it really says it much better than I could.

“Leprosy is a vivid and graphic physical picture of the spiritual defilement of sin. Sin is ugly, loathsome, incurable, and contaminating; it separates men from God and makes them outcasts. The instructions given to the priests in Leviticus 13 help us understand the nature of sin: Sin is inside us, deeper than the skin (Lev. 13:3); sin also spreads (Lev. 13:8); sin always defiles and isolates (Lev. 13:45-46); and just as leprous garments are fit only for the fire (Lev. 13:52, 57), so those who die clothed in sin will burn forever.”

I don’t know if there is a strong argument here for going to a priest for Reconciliation, but I think there is an argument. If sin is like leprosy, then to be declared clean from it a person must go to the priest. They could not speak to God and declare themselves clean. Also, if the priest decided that the leprosy was not gone, they were still declared unclean. A priest in Reconciliation, if they do not feel a person is actually repentant, they have the chose to not absolve them of their sin, i.e. they are still unclean.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

January 11, 2011 – Catechism 678-682

“The triumph of Christ's kingdom will not come about without one last assault by the powers of evil.”

I can’t help of think of movies, in this instance the Lord of the Rings movies, where the bad guys either have an extreme confidence and send everything they have for one last assault to totally obliterate their enemies.  It is in this moment when the shoe drops and they are defeated, at least in movies with happy endings, and because they put all their eggs into this final push, their defeat is total, a complete turnaround.  As I am thinking of movies where this takes place it gives us some idea that this understanding of God’s victory over evil is somehow inherent in our very nature.  King Arthur, (which was on TV Sunday night), Saving Private Ryan, Lord of the Rings, (in all three big battle scenes) the plot almost becomes cliché, yet that is where our hope lies.  But we must keep in mind that the “last assault” will be one that is completely and utterly intimidating.  Only those heroes with the most courage and faith and hope in their cause rise up to eventually see the other side.  Will we be ready to stand against that last assault, the tsunami of evil (that appears not so evil), the last push where Satan uses everything he has in an attempt to completely obliterate the light.  That will be a dark day, but the sunrise that comes after will never end.

Monday, January 10, 2011

January 10, 2011 – Mark 13:14 - 14:9

13:14 – Here we see the prophesy Christ gave letting the Christians know that when Rome came to attack Jerusalem, get out of Dodge. Therefore, when Rome came, around 70 A.D., not a single Christian was killed when they destroyed Jerusalem and the Temple. Christ telling them to get out of town sounds a lot like Him telling Lot to get out of Sodom and Gomorrah. Not to take anything, not to look back, not to hesitate once you realize it is coming.

14:3 – I was interested in how much spikenard would cost. John 12:3-6 talks about Christ being anointed with this oil and it being worth 300 days wages. Basically it is a year’s salary. I looked that up before I got to the part where it says it was 300 days wages in this chapter as well. But what I find interesting is that in John it says Judas was the one that makes a big deal about giving the money to the poor and the waste. Then, right after this, we see Judas going about his betrayal. Do we see part of Judas’ motivation. If you have ever seen “The Last Temptation of Christ” there is the theory that Judas was adamant that the Christ was to be a military hero, a captain that would lead Israel to defeat the Romans and make Israel a great nation. That seems to make a sense, if Judas was waiting for military build-up, which would require money, and sees that Christ does not care about saving money, it may have been the straw that broke his back. He seeks to make a little money and go it on his own, only to realize too late that he was on the wrong track.

Sunday, January 09, 2011

January 9, 2011 – Sirach 23

Some of you may not read the actual Bible chapters, so I wanted to put this in because I think this is a great prayer that we can all benefit from saying.

LORD, Father and Master of my life, permit me not to fall by them! Who will apply the lash to my thoughts, to my mind the rod of discipline, That my failings may not be spared, nor the sins of my heart overlooked; Lest my failings increase, and my sins be multiplied; Lest I succumb to my foes, and my enemy rejoice over me? LORD, Father and God of my life, abandon me not into their control! A brazen look allow me not; ward off passion from my heart, Let not the lustful cravings of the flesh master me, surrender me not to shameless desires.” Sirach 23:1-6

v. 15 – This I find most evident in construction workers and in the crude comedies that pass for entertainment these days.

v. 18-19 – How often do people only care about what the world thinks of them and do everything do hide their discretions. I have never liked Tiger Woods because I am a Phil Mickelson fan, but even I have to admit that he is an incredible golfer. But what was he thinking. Trying to hide all of his mistresses from not only his wife but from the world. Not only did he try to hide them, but tried to put up the façade of a family man and a role model. “Such a man will be punished in the streets of the city; when he least expects it, he will be apprehended.” 23:21 I wonder if Tiger would agree with that verse after what he was doing became clear. And yet, even his escapades are yesterdays news. He is back at golf and making his millions basically because, like many banks that the government bailed out, he is too big to fail for the PGA. I don’t know whether he has changed, whether he is going to go back to that life or not. But there are no secrets from God and his actions were known to God well before we all found out after Tiger hit a tree.

Saturday, January 08, 2011

January 8, 2011 – Leviticus 11:39 - 13:8

We see, and will continue to see, in chapter 13 the procedure for those with Leprosy and going to the priest to see if they could reenter the community. Hence, when Christ is called on by the 10 Lepers, His response is to go show yourselves to the priest (Luke 17:14).

What I really wanted to discuss, though, is Chapter 12 and more specifically, the new circumcision for Christians, or Baptism. Colossians 2:11-13, talks about the circumcision not administered by hand, the circumcision by Christ. It referring to Baptism. We see that God told Israel to circumcise newborns when they were 8 days old. This circumcision was an entering of this new born into a covenant with God by a physical act and by it they had a physical mark on them for the rest of their life. This chose was not made by them, but by their parents, and it is a command of God. If Baptism is the new circumcision, it is establishing a covenant between a person and God, it is leaving a mark on them that is permanent (however not physical), why is there an objection to infant Baptism. This is God’s command, that this be done to newborns and that parents make this decision for their children. There is nothing in the Bible saying infant baptism is forbidden, nor any specific language saying that infants are suppose to be baptized. But there is specific language that Baptism is a new circumcision and specific language that newborns are suppose to be circumcised.

Friday, January 07, 2011

January 7, 2011 – Catechism 673-677

674 makes it pretty clear that it is Catholic understanding that God is not finished with the Jewish people. Even though they rejected Christ in His first coming, they are still God’s chosen people and it appears that their conversion will be a part of Christ second coming in some way.

What do we think this final persecution will look like. Many point to the fact that more Christians were martyred in the 20th Century than all other centuries combined in their arguments that the end is near. Although the fact that there were those martyrs, I don’t think the two necessarily connect. First, there are just more people in general, so the numbers are inflated. Not they are not horrific numbers, just inflated. 10,000 people killed in the year 500 or 1000 or even 1500 would be much more staggering than that same number today. But really, I just think this persecution would be felt more worldwide. Although I feel shunned sometimes because of my faith, I wouldn’t call it persecution. I just think the persecution that will come before the end will be a bit more harsh. Although in thinking about that, I feel I am much more capable of withstanding persecution now, because of my increased knowledge of the Church and my increased faith, than I would have 4 + years ago. Not that I want it to start.

Because of the discussion about evolution and theology, I can’t help but have that on my mind when reading about the Anti-Christ and the idea that he will glorify himself and man in place of God. Some of the science and new age religions seem to be heading in that area and a person can see if an Anti-Christ is going to come in the form of a singular human leader (which is unclear that this is the form they will appear in) it would appear that something like those things are a foundation for him to appear.

It will not be the Church in some type of military victory over evil that will bring about the end of all things, but Christ coming alone in all His power. That should take away any motivation to be aggressive as far as trying to conquer lands of fight evil. We are called to be resistant of evil and persevere and evangelize, but it is a waiting game, a holding on until victory, which is already won, not an aggressive seeking towards achieving victory. I think that is something that is hard to realize and accept because waiting and not acting towards a goal is not in human nature.

A couple of words that I didn’t know or wanted to look up.

Millenarianism - the belief in a future millennium following the Second Coming of Christ during which he will reign on earth in peace: based on Revelation 20:1--5

Thursday, January 06, 2011

January 6, 2011 – Mark 12:28 - 13:13

The 2 Commandments of Christ. To love God and to love neighbor. For the longest time I was always a little confused by this because we are told to follow the 10 Commandments and this seems to change that. It was only recently in really looking at the 10 Commandments that you realize Christ doesn’t change them at all. Here is a reflection I did on the 10 Commandments so I won’t go into that again. The first 4 are all covered in Loving God. The next 6 deal with loving your neighbor.

I wondered why this person questioning Jesus did not become a disciple or was not made an Apostle. It just seems that he ask a question, believes Jesus answer as correct, Jesus compliments him, it just seems like someone who would be a good influence on the Apostles. It makes you think about why Christ picked the 12 that He did. Was it similar to the reasoning behind sending fewer troops into battle in one of the stories in the Old Testament. Judges 7 – “The LORD said to Gideon, "You have too many soldiers with you for me to deliver Midian into their power, lest Israel vaunt itself against me and say, 'My own power brought me the victory….By means of the three hundred who lapped up the water I will save you and will deliver Midian into your power. So let all the other soldiers go home." God picks the weak to topple the strong.” He picks those that are uneducated and untrained in order to show God’s power is what makes them strong. So this scribe, even if he was close to the Kingdom of Heaven, may have been said to preach and convert based on His own knowledge and strength, whereas a poor fisherman, in order to stand in front of the Jewish leadership and preach to them would need to rely on God alone.

And to go right along with that we have the teaching about the scribes seeking seats of honor. Christ needed the humble to be able to teach true love. This teaching of humility leads right into the lesson from the poor widow. It is so hard for us to give sometimes. Time, money, energy, anything, to something where we may not see a return. Even with our youth group sometimes, we put for efforts and do not always see results and sometimes you wonder if it is worth it. We have to keep in mind that God’s way is not always clear to us. The work, time, energy you put into something may not bring about visible results or the results that you intended, but God is working in you, if you are striving to do His will. As Christians, we should not be a results orientated people. The results are in God’s hands. If God wants something, it will happen without our help or completely in spite of our help. We are not, or should not, measure things based on results, but how much we are striving to do what God’s will is. If that is our goal, the rest is in God’s hands.

Wednesday, January 05, 2011

January 5, 2011 – Sirach 22

In these chapters with so many great lessons it is hard to reflect on the whole thing.  But one section stuck out to me. 

21-22 – It is about losing the trust of a friend.  It says you can draw your sword, in other words fight, but this can be reconciled.  Treachery on the other hand will drive a friend away.  I don’t have a lot of close friends because, well I don’t know why.  I think I have a hard time trusting, but I can’t really think of a time when a confidence has been badly broken that would give me that fear.  But I do really try to be a good listener to others and have been told I am.  I think that is because they believe I will not betray their confidence.  I think that is a great attribute to have.  Most the time I don’t really have an answer for a person, but they really just want someone they trust to listen to them.  I think with the way we are all virtually out there and available all the time, people don’t think they can trust anything to be private ever.  I think it is rare these days for people to trust anyone and it is so hard to get back once it is broken, I am proud of keeping that gift.  We should all strive to be that trusting ear for those that need it.  That is all a lot of people need these days.  We all communicate a lot, but not a lot of it is very genuine.  People are constantly out there talking, I think, in search of a trusting ear.  Maybe that is our calling these days.  In a world that spreads a person’s personal secrets all over the world in the blink of an eye, we are called to be a source of trusting ears for those that need to get things off their chest.  

Tuesday, January 04, 2011

January 4, 2011 – Leviticus 11 - 11:38

The footnotes talk about how some of the foods God made unclean were also for the well being to the people and to keep them from getting sick.  I have heard that most of the animals that were made available to eat were those same ones that the Egyptians worshipped as gods.  God was trying to tear them away from that way of living and lifestyle.  He was showing them that not only were these animals that you are used to worshipping not gods, but they are available for you to eat.  There is no better way to show that you are not to worship something than to put it below you on the food chain.  I guess the same could be said about making certain animals unclean.  Not only should you not worship them, but they are not even worthy enough to eat and contact makes you unclean.  Realize that Israel had been enslaved and living the Egyptian way of life for around 400 years, think back to before the pilgrims landed.  There must be some extremes taken in order to reshape the way these people think and live because it is engrained in them.  What will God need to do to make our nation change its course from the way of life we have come to accept as normal.   

Monday, January 03, 2011

January 3, 2011 – Catechism 668-672
“Already the final age of the world is with us, and the renewal of the world is irrevocably under way; it is even now anticipated in a certain real way, for the Church on earth is endowed already with a sanctity that is real but imperfect." Here we have this type of language about the irrevocability of what has and is happening. The world is in the process of coming to an end. There is nothing we can do to stop it. Advent is a time of preparation, did we? Are we ready if it were all to end today? It has been so commercialized sometimes, the end, and how it will happen. I guess I have always pictured it as something like a bunch of clouds forming out of nothing, but things don’t get dark like they would on a cloudy day, but brighter than a really sunny day because the clouds are giving off their own light. Then, after that, I really haven’t got any thoughts on what it will be.
But that really isn’t scripturally based because I believe there is descriptions that it will be like lightning lighting up the sky. If you picture a strike of lightning, it last milliseconds. A strike of lightning, which lights up the entire world, and then it is over. What if that moment caught you in a sin? What if you were in the middle of a mortal sin? It almost makes you want to quit your job and spend every waking second in a confessional or adoration so you are not caught off guard.
But we can’t do that. That is the lesson from the Transfiguration. We are called to go back down the mountain, to live our life in the world, but not be of the world. To live our lives on constant alert that judgment may come at anytime. To live that way is a great example for others and will lead many to God. That is how we are called to stay awake, because we don’t know when it will happen and pray that the moment finds us ready.

Sunday, January 02, 2011

January 2, 2011 – Mark 12 - 12:27
This is a parable that doesn’t really leave much to be hidden. Some parables are a little obscure or have a hidden message. They might leave some room for the authorities that Christ was talking to, to weasel out of or disregard. But this one is pretty point blank. The authorities were given God’s vineyard to tend, God sent servants to collect and guide and you beat and killed them. Now He will send His Son, and you will kill Him because of your selfishness and greed and “He will come, put the tenants to death, and give the vineyard to others.” Christ tells them this story knowing that their thoughts were specifically on trying to kill Him. How they must have squirmed in their cloaks.
Michelle was upset one time when she heard this reading about not being married after death. It is hard to hear if you are truly united with your spouse and have that commitment for life and hear that you aren’t married in Heaven. But that is a misunderstanding of what marriage is meant for. Marriage is a Sacrament that is meant for our Earthly life, meant to bring the spouses closer to God, not necessarily each other (but that is a by-product) and to create life. A person that thinks marriage is something that is meant to improve a person’s earthly life is seeing marriage similar to the Sadducees. Marriages, like all the Sacraments, are Earthly ways of achieving graces that are to point and lead us to Heaven. Once a person reaches the destination, signs are not required. Marriage is not necessary in Heaven because we have reached the final destination for which Marriage was one of the signs. We will know our spouses like we have never known them before in Heaven, but neither of us will want to be married because our entire will, effort, and attention will be directed towards God. That will be our focus and our motivation.

Saturday, January 01, 2011

January 1, 2011 – Sirach 21
V 11 - He who keeps the law controls his impulses. It is the start of a New Year and thus a time for New Year’s resolutions. Most the time we try to either take away a vice or add a virtue. This has to do with obedience and controlling our impulses, so our reading it apropos. I don’t know if New Year’s resolutions are something people like to keep to themselves or not, but I will share one that I am trying. I am going to try and always have a rosary in my pocket. It sounds simple enough, but the hope is that it will be a constant reminder to pray or keep God close. I wear a crucifix at all times around my neck, but it is sometimes forgotten because it is always there. How often do we reach into our pockets. Every time I do, bumping into that rosary will help to remind me to take that moment and think of God. It will always be there in moments when I am stressed, tired, angry, etc., when I need Him most. Hopefully it will help me control my impulses that are towards the bad as well.