Thursday, March 31, 2011

March 31, 2011 – 2 Corinthians 4:7 - 5:21

Obviously I am writing this one a little late because 5:7 reminds me of the first reading from this Sunday about not judging by human sight but seeing things as God sees them.  (It was the story of Samuel anointing David as opposed to his older brothers).

One thing this verse could be used for is in support of the theology of “Faith Alone”.  Someone could see this and say “see, here it is, the Bible says we walk by faith” and equate that to faith alone saves us.  The issue is that they do not take it in its full context.  First, this is in the context of talking about the actions we take (St. Paul in this particular case) and how they may be judged by others.  He is telling them that they do not know the hearts of men and that the actions, if taken solely on how the look on the surface, may be misjudged.  God sees into the intention, the heart of the person, and can correctly judge the merit of a man.  St. Paul is talking about the things he is doing and how he strives to do God’s will and regardless of what people think because they do not know his heart.  He is walking by faith, not human sight.  He is seeing as God sees, not man. 

Secondly, the faith alone person only has to go 3 verses down and read 5:10 to see that St. Paul is telling them that their works will be judged by Christ.   For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ; that every one may receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad.  5:10  How much clearer can it be that our works matter.  Faith alone cannot save a person if their works are judged as bad.  Faith and works go hand in hand.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

March 30, 2011 – Sirach 46 – 47

Here, we continue our brief history lesson for the reader.  It is interesting to read about them discussing their ancestors.  It sounds a lot like we would write about someone like George Washington or Abe Lincoln.  They look back and take them as an example as how to live their lives.  Sirach has been a book trying to teach the reader how to live, what to do or not do, and as it concludes, it looks back through history and picks the important people as examples of what it has been teaching throughout the book.  I am really looking forward to getting to read about Joshua and his conquest.  It is such a hard to understand part, the destruction of the cities in the land God gives Israel.  I am looking forward to spending some time with it. 

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

March 29, 2011 – Numbers 2

I redid the family tree.  Started with Jesus and worked backward from the line in Matthew Chapter 1.  This chapter had princes from the different tribes at the time of Moses.  Looking at Christ line and the Judah prince, this may be a bit off by a generation or two during the Egypt slavery times.

Monday, March 28, 2011

March 28, 2011 – Catechism 787-791

My focus will be on Paragraph 791.  Specifically the part about one body suffering, all suffering.  As a Catholic, I am a Christian.  If the Catholic Church is sick and suffering because of its failures on a human level, other Christian denominations should feel sympathy because we are all one Christian body.  But the opposite is felt.  There is almost glee shown when the Catholic Church is taken down a notch.  I have never understood that.  I don’t feel that other denominations speak Truth the way the Catholic Church does, but I do see the good that comes from them and pray for those that are involve and pray that they continue to grow.  We are all One Body, all the baptized, and as a body we suffer together.  Non-Catholics should mourn the brutal and unfair treatment the Catholic Church receives in the media and feel regret when Her sins are brought to light, not throw a party and kick Her when she is down.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

March 27, 2011 – 2 Corinthians 2:12 - 4:6

We are the aroma of Christ.  2:15.  Have you ever smelled something that you didn’t care for.  Perhaps a dirty diaper of a child. Or a plate that you defrosted chicken on that was left in the microwave for two days.  What is the reaction you have.  It is hard to describe in words, but we all know that exact feeling.  You try to stop breathing because you know that you don’t want to smell anymore than you have to.  You want to find whatever it is that smells and get rid of it, or in case of dirty diapers have your wife get rid of it.  You flee from the area if it isn’t something you are going to get rid of.  Now, think about how the modern world treats Christians.  They try to ignore us or not breath us in because they feel any relationship will only cause them more trouble.  They try to get rid of us, taking God our of schools and government.  They try to cover up God by making any portrayal of Christianity on TV or the movies a joke.  Or they flee and live a life completely denying that there is any sort of God or moral code.  That is what St. Paul is saying.  Living a Christian life and Christianity is the Aroma of Christ.  He describes it as the odor of death to those who are perishing.  Doesn’t that sound like the way the world treats Christianity.  Like someone would treat something that smells terrible. 

But to those who are Christians, the aroma is one of life, something that smells great.  Picture again what happens when you smell something good.  I have flowers in my office that don’t seem to really smell, which is sad.  I love the smell of flowers.  I love the way it smells after a summer rain.  I love the way it smells on a crisp morning.  You just want to breath in as much as you can.  You want it more and more.  You cannot soak up enough of it.  That is the way we are suppose to feel about Christ as Christians.  Are you taking in as much as you can or do you feel it is more like an obligation you have to meet on Sundays.  If you are the later, think about whether Christ is a sweet smelling aroma to you that you want around all the time or is it a dirty diaper you are obligated to change.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

March 26, 2011 – Sirach 45

As I said in the last post about the Levites resenting not having land, it appears that as we move through the story, some of the tribes will be jealous about not getting the priesthood.  Men will be jealous of Aaron and his sons and their authority and relationship with God.  Reflecting on what I talked about in the last post, the same question comes to mind, where they really jealous of the priesthood.  Did they know what that was about, the sacrifice that it would entail.  Or was it something that they just wanted the perks of being close to God but wanted all their land and inheritance as well.  I have people tell me on occasion that they find me to be a good role model for how I live my life and the time I give to the youth group and spend with my family.  They seem to be jealous of my life.  It makes me wonder if they really understand the things I do without in order to have that life.  Do they really want that, or do they want everything they choose over that life and a good relationship with God.  Do they want the priesthood and the land.  God appears to be saying that you must choose between the two.  It is echoed by Christ.  You cannot serve God and Mammon.  I don’t know if people really know the life I live or if they would really want it.  I love my life, even though there are moments when I want more material things.  But there are sacrifices I make in  order to have that life.  I don’t know if some realize that part of it.  Or world is not one that encourages sacrifice, it finds it unworthy of modern way of thinking.  But that is what it takes, to pick up your cross daily, whatever your cross is, and follow Christ.

Friday, March 25, 2011

March 25, 2011 – Numbers 1:28 - 1:54

The Levites always interested me.  I wonder what they thought of this whole arrangement.  You don’t get any land because you are to serve God.  Doesn’t matter what you want, if you are born into the Levite tribe, you serve God.  Would they have resented that fact or cherished it.  They earned it by being faithful during the trial while Moses was on Mt. Sinai, but did they realize they were getting any of the promise land out of it. 

In thinking about that, I relate it in a way to how we are called to live our lives now, as faithful Christians.  I love gadgets and electronics, but I don’t have a lot of them, or at least not he really great things.  I have a computer that works and I recently got a generic MP3 player because we cannot afford and IPod.  I took someone’s Receiver because I wanted to play music around the house and all the speakers I have collected for free or cheap throughout the years.  No cable, no texting, no apps on my phone.  There are just not a lot of perks I have when it comes to the stuff.  That is because we don’t have a lot of money to blow on those things.  Michelle doesn’t work and she stays at home, I am not a high price attorney because I want a job that allows me to be at home.  These are things we feel are important to the way we live and so we do without things.  All of the material junk that I would spend money on if I wanted it would only cause me to be corrupted anyway, or I least that is the likely scenario, so it is good that I don’t have those things.  It helps me to be a better father and husband and Christian.  We are called to not live a material life because our focus is suppose to be on God.  That is what God did for the Levites.  He took away their worry about land in order for them to focus on God.  I think at least some of them had to resent it at least a little because I know I find myself jealous of people that have those things that I cannot.  But when I really think about it, I know it is for my betterment. 

This also brings about the topic of priest not being able to be married.  It makes sense to me that their focus needs to be on the Church just as the Levites focus needs to be on God.  When God really wants you to focus on Him, He gives you the opportunity to do so, by taking away distractions.  Not having priest marry just seems very logical to me if you want leaders in the Church whose entire focus is on God and the Church.  That makes sense.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

March 24, 2011 – Catechism 781-786

I don’t think it is my fault that this idea of one Church keeps coming up.  We just are in the section of the Catechism that touches on this and the fact that it is something I feel strongly about.  Paragraph 782 has some language in it that when I read it, felt very familiar to language you get on the “belief” pages from non-denominational websites.  “One becomes a member of this people not by a physical birth, but by being "born anew," a birth "of water and the Spirit," that is, by faith in Christ, and Baptism” in particular will possibly raise some eyebrows being written in a Catholic Catechism. 

Still, what takes me back to thinking about the One Church and the lack of unity in the modern Christian Church is Paragraph 785.  “"The holy People of God shares also in Christ's prophetic office," above all in the supernatural sense of faith that belongs to the whole People, lay and clergy, when it "unfailingly adheres to this faith . . . once for all delivered to the saints," and when it deepens its understanding and becomes Christ's witness in the midst of this world.  The People are suppose to be prophets, speak for God to the World, and witness to the world what Christ was, is, and will always be and bring the world back to God.  Being a lawyer, I know what happens when witnesses don’t have the same story.  They become untrustworthy and people, the jury, is not convinced.  This is just another analogy about why there must only be one church and cannot be in contradiction to itself.  If the world outside it the jury and we are called by God to convince them that we are right, the Christ is God, that He died for our sins, the God loves us and wants to be with us, are they going to be convinced by witnesses that are telling different stories.  No.  Even non-lawyers have seen enough TV shows and have enough common sense to know that if a jury is given different stories from different witnesses, they will not be convinced.  Now, imagine they hear 30,000 plus witnesses.  The world will not be converted until the Christians are united.  And it cannot be a unity that is only connected based on the fact that Christ in God and came to redeem us.  That is great and I think most denominations would adhere to that, but unity needs to go further in order to convince.  As on the TV shows, the attorneys will dig deeper in order to find out if the witness really saw the same thing as another.  If the unity is only skin deep, the witness will not be able to get those details correct and the case will fall apart. 

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

March 23, 2011 – 2 Corinthians 1 – 2:11

For out of much affliction and anguish of heart I wrote to you with many tears, not that you might be pained but that you might know the abundant love I have for you. 2:4. I know that many, maybe not many, of you can disagree with what I write on here some times. I think this verse in one that I want to prop up as something I try to strive for. When I say things that people disagree with, I never want to upset people just to upset them, or argue just to argue (even though I do that to my wife every now and then), but do it because what I type I really truly believe and want others to believe it. I don’t want you to join my way of thinking because I get points or for “da winning”, but because I believe that this belief is how we get to Heaven and I want everyone I know to get to Heaven. It appears that Paul had disagreements with those Christians in Corinth and had told them when they were wrong and did so in a way that they have been offended or hate him. Why else would it bring him to tears. But he wrote it anyway because he loves them and wants them to follow Christ teaching correctly and so, if that means telling them they are wrong, that is what you do. I AM NOT ST. PAUL or even in the vicinity, but as I said, that is the attitude I want to strive for. So, if I say something that disagrees with you or makes you feel chastised, know it is not my motive. I am doing this for love of those I know and to reflect and think about the Scriptures.

What can we take from St. Paul chastising a group of Christians about what they were practicing. That St. Paul felt and believe that the Church must be united in practice and belief. What would St. Paul think of what the Christian Church today. What would St. Paul think of 30,000+ denominations teaching different things and all saying they are teaching the teachings of Christ. I just think the evidence of what St. Paul writes leads me to believe that St. Paul would think there should be one Church, one Teaching, one Belief. If you disagree with the Authority of the Catholic Church, do you disagree with the idea that St. Paul would be a person who would want one Church.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

March 22, 2011 – Sirach 43

The awesome power of God in nature.  The power of the sun, the precise movements of the moon, the beauty of a rainbow, all done by the power of God.  Still, I like how in the end it says ”Beyond these, many things lie hid; only a few of his works have we seen. “ 34.  Granted this was written before Christ and we have discovered many things in the world since then, but can we really say anything different.  There are places on this Earth still never explored by men let alone in the universe.  What is the percentage of the universe that we have seen, let alone can explain.  With that in mind we still have people claim it is all random or that there is nothing above humans or that we are like Gods.  What arrogance does a person have to think we know it all when there is 99% of the known universe that we haven’t even seen.  There are more things that we don’t know we don’t know than there are things we know. 

It makes you wonder about the knowledge that has been lost.  There is a lot written about history and we know some of what is in our past, but imagine all the knowledge that has been lost.  There are many who may say that any knowledge from the past is obsolete to our “brilliant” minds of today and our technology.  Do we really look around and see that knowledge has increased the peace in the world.  Has knowledge and technology increased our morals.  Or have we forgotten things that we thought held us back.  If we have forgotten lessens and morals that people had 100 or 200 years ago, what knowledge has been lost from before then.  How much do we lose to arrogance and the idea that I must do it on my own, to the notion that we must reinvent the wheel.  It may not have been the case in the past, but I feel today we look at the past with a smugness that may not have been there before.  We feel that history is boring, old fashioned, slow and unimportant.  We think we have all the answers and they are better answers than anyone else in the history of the world has had.  I just couldn’t disagree more. 

Monday, March 21, 2011

March 21, 2011 – Numbers 1 - 1:27

Well, I don’t know what happened to my family tree.  If you go to the link that I used to have it is someone else’s family tree of Adam and Eve.  I don’t know if it reset when I didn’t do anything for a while or what.  I will try to make another one when I get time. 

It is curious about the census.  Here God is telling them to take a census, at other times people get in trouble for counting the number of people. 

Sunday, March 20, 2011

March 20, 2011 – Catechism 774-780

Often people misunderstand the Sacraments of the Church.  They are the Ordinary means of Salvation.  They are the visible signs of God’s invisible Graces.  They bestow God’s Grace on us and establish that connection with God that is established during our lives and when we die will draw us to Heaven.  They are the practices, established by Christ and developed by the Church over the last 2,000 years.  They are not be taken lightly, which I must admit I have in the past, or ignored as some tradition with no effect.  They are not the only way to get to Heaven, the Catholic Church teaches, because God’s power is beyond limitation and He is in control and can save people in ways we don’t understand.  But they are the ORDINARY means to Salvation.  This is the method a person is suppose to use in order to walk the way of Christ in this life.  Some churches have some of the Sacraments, some have all of them in different forms, but it is in the Catholic Church that the 7 Sacraments are given and received in their fullness and have been for the life of the Church.  Does that mean all Catholics that receive the Sacraments are getting into Heaven?  Absolutely not.  Unlike some denominations, there is not theology about once saved, always saved.  A person can receive a true and proper Sacrament and fall from grace and separate themselves from God as quickly as they choose to.  The Sacraments are not some magic spell we receive and automatically become Holy.  They do bestow Grace on us that help us make decisions in line with God’s will, but the chose to allow those Graces to lead us in always in our hands.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

March 19, 2011 – 1 Corinthians 15:50 - 16:24

We are not suppose to worry about death or sin if we are in Christ.  With the resurrection, that will be the end.  We will be together with God for eternity.  This life is temporary.  If live this life like it is all there is, we will be living a life of sin and we should fear death and its sting.  If we strive for Heaven, if that is our focus, death will have no sting. 

We also see the realism of this letter with Paul telling us his hopeful schedule, it almost seems like Paul was on tour and had tour dates that he wanted to make.

Friday, March 18, 2011

March 18, 2011 – Isaiah 25 - 26

Chapter 25 is a pure description of the Crucifixion.  25:6 describes a mountain which has food and wines (body and blood) will be provided.  25:7 states it will destroy the veil that veils all people, I think this means sin which Christ destroyed.  Just finishing the book of Leviticus with Moses coming down the mountain, the Jews probably read this thinking that something would happen, the Messiah would come down from some large mountain.  They may not have been looking for a smaller mountain outside of Jerusalem.  Coming down a mountain or doing something on a mountain is littered throughout Christ life; Transfiguration, Sermon on the Mount, Crucifixion, Agony in the Garden. 

26:18 – I think it is interesting here that they understand that salvation cannot be brought about by humans.  They have not been able to bring about salvation and it says the inhabitants of earth cannot bring it.  God had to come in some form to save us.  They did not understand how the Messiah would come, but they believed it would come because they knew they could not save themselves.  They just could not fathom it would be done the way Christ did it.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

March 17, 2011 – Leviticus 27

I can’t make too much of this one.  It is kind of odd talking about the value of people, but we have to realize the time when we are talking about.  I still think the idea of everything resetting after 50 years.  I just imagine being in my house and if the time comes, someone knocks on my door and says, “this was my house before so you need to leave.” 

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

March 16, 2011 – Catechism 770 – 773

Many people will look at the Catholic Church and its claim as the “spotless bride” of God and just simply laugh.  It is easy to see why when we have such things that are sinful in the Church’s past, most recently the sex abuse scandal.  That is why it says “with the eyes of faith that one can see her in her visible reality and at the same time in her spiritual reality as bearer of divine life.”  I was trying to think of a way to explain this that even I understand.  Because it is the “mystery” of the Church, it is hard to come up with something that makes sense to us, but here is my shot.

The Catholic Church is made up of human and sinful people.  It has been that way throughout history, starting with our first Pope denying that he knew Christ.  The Catholic Church does not claim that it does not have sinners in it, but does claim that its teachings are from God and come from the fullness of Truth.  When it claim the Church is “spotless”, it is talking about the teaching arm of the Church, the part of the Church that receives revelation from God about what God wants us to do and how we are suppose to live.  This mysterious Church is the “spotless” part that gave us the teachings on the Trinity, the Books in the Bible, the teaching that Christ was fully God and fully Man.  This same “spotless” teacher gave us the Marian dogmas, the teachings on Transubstantiation, the Beliefs in Purgatory.  If you say that you do not feel the Church’s teaching can be correct because she is made up of sinners, think about this. 

I am a sinful person.  I am going to tell you right now that it is wrong to hit people in the face for no reason.  Does the fact that I am a sinful person change the statement from being more right or wrong?  Are you going to ignore what I say because I am a sinful person and therefore everything I say must be wrong?  If you go to a non-Catholic Christian church, you listen to the pastor and he teaches you how to live life according to his understanding of Christian teachings.  Do you believe him (or her)?  Are they not sinners?  The Catholic Church is not the sum of its sinful parts.  It is supernatural and mysterious and even though its members may be sinful, God protects its teachings from being false by His Grace and Power.  There is no other way the Church could have survived for as long as it has.  And it makes sense that God would have a teaching authority on the Earth to guide His people and that He would not establish that and allow it to teach error. 

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

March 15, 2011 – 1 Corinthians 15:12 – 15:49

Many people are repulsed or upset by the idea of the Resurrection of the body, the idea that in the end we will be raised up body and soul into Heaven or the Heaven that will come down to Earth.  Why is that?  It may be the fact that bodies rising from the dead have been so widely used in Hollywood in a certain way.  The walking dead is something to be frightened of and is grotesque.  I would agree that if the bodies that are buried were raised, then it is a frightening idea, but that is not what is written here.   Neither is that the teaching of the Church. The body that is resurrected and united with our soul at the end of all things is like a plant that grows from a seed.  Ask yourself if they look anything alike.  The seed is something that is usually brown, small, dying, and buried.  The flower grows, is beautiful, and alive.  They could not be more different.  Yet the seed is necessary for the flower, the death is required for the life.  Our resurrected bodies will be flowers grown from the seeds of our bodies that will be buried someday.  It will not be the walking zombies that we may imagine, closer to a perfect field of beautiful flowers soaking up the Light of a Perfect Sun.  Picture the tulip field in the Wizard of Oz, not Dawn of the Dead. 

The resurrection of our bodies to be united with our souls is a solid Biblical teaching.  Catholics believe that Mary’s body and soul are already united in Heaven with God.  We believe that she was given this special gift because of her yes to God and the special relationship she had with her son.  The idea that body and soul will be reunited in Heaven is not un-Biblical.  And the belief that Mary would be given this special privilege is not something I think is so hard to believe. 

The closes idea we have to what a body and soul reunited may be like is Christ at the Transfiguration.  It makes me wonder if (and I do not actually know the answer to this) Moses and Elijah also have their body and souls reunited in Heaven as a special gift for their service to God.  That is why they were there when Christ was Transfigured of the Mountain.  If the is true, then the belief that Mary is already in Heaven, body and soul, is even more believable.

Monday, March 14, 2011

March 14, 2011 – 2 Maccabees 12:26 - 12:46

This chapter is one of the ones used in support of Purgatory.  If you think about it logically, it makes sense.  We have a battle in which soldiers died.  When their bodies were discovered, it was found that they had idols of other gods on them, “which the law forbids the Jews to wear. So it was clear to all that this was why these men had been slain.” 12:40. So, the situation is that we have men that died and at the time they died they were in the process of doing something sinful.  If you are someone that believes in only Heaven and Hell, what happened to them? They should be in Hell, correct. Nothing sinful should enter Heaven and they died in a state of sin, so there is only one option for them.  But nothing that enters Hell can get out; it is an eternal punishment.  If the Jews believed in only Heaven and Hell, what they do next makes absolutely no sense.  “Turning to supplication, they prayed that the sinful deed might be fully blotted out.”  12:42 They ask that the sins of someone that has already died be blotted out.  If a person is in Heaven, they are sinless; if they are in Hell, there is no redemption.  If the Jews are praying that the sins of someone that has already died be blotted out, they must feel that there is a way for people that have died with sin still on them can still be purified and gain access to Heaven.  This is the Catholic understanding of Purgatory, a place that a person may go, after they die, if they still have sin or connections to the world that do not make them pure enough for Heaven, but are not in a state of separation from God to have chosen Hell.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

March 13, 2011 – Leviticus 26:14 - 26:46

Msgr. talked today about the correlation or use of deserts as symbols for the life we will get when we do not chose God.  The readings were about Adam and Eve’s fall.  Because they chose themselves over God, they were sent into the desert.  Because the Israelites tested God, they were sent into the desert for 40 years.  Because Israel did not choose God, they were sent into exile.  Repeatedly we see this image being used.  When you chose your will over God’s will, it can only lead to desert and wilderness and eventually death.  This reading goes right along with that idea.  God is saying desert is what you are going to get if you do not follow what I have told you. 

The part that kept jumping out at me was “"If, despite all this, you still persist in disobeying and defying me” 26:18, 27.  He says it twice.  There is a long list of punishments, and then if you still are not following Him, more will be stacked on.  And more if you continue.  It is as if the desert is infinite in front of you if you keep walking in one direction.  Your other chose is to turn around and start walking the other way and find paradise.  The problem is that we refuse to turn around.

Msgr. tied the Gospel today into all this by talking about Jesus going into the desert, which was the Gospel reading.  He went into the desert, where we are when we separated ourselves from God, to show us that you can make it out.  He went where He did not have to go, to show us what we needed to see.  When we are tempted, we need to turn to God and not give in to that temptation.  By doing this, by telling Satan to be gone, then will we find rest and angels will minister to us. 

Funny story about temptation I heard at a different homily.  A woman was at a store and saw a dress that was perfect.  Then she saw the price tag for $500.  She thought about all the bills, the groceries, fixing the car, and all the other things that needed to be paid for.  She struggled and struggled but finally gave in and bought the dress.  When she got home, she tried it on and showed her husband.  As husbands will do, the first thing out of his mouth was “How much did that cost”.  She told him $500.  “What!  Are you crazy!  What about all the bills and groceries and all the other things?”  She said, “The temptation was just too much.”  Therefore, he asked her “why didn’t you just say get behind me Satan!”  She replied, “I did.  Then he whispered in my ear, it looks great from the back as well.”

The moral is that temptations are not easy to overcome.  We must struggle against these temptations. This Lent we must put forth a greater effort to strive against those things that separate us from God. Even though most this chapter is about the woes God will bring to those that do not follow His commands, He will remember His covenant, His commitment to those that turn back towards Him and He is infinitely patient. 

Saturday, March 12, 2011

March 12, 2011 – Catechism 763-769

Lately on my reflections I have been going back and forth about the idea of God’s plan for having one church verses what we have now with all the different denominations. This visual of the Church being brought forth from the side of Christ like Eve coming forth from the side of Adam is another example of showing us that this way we have the Church today is not what God intended. There is only one Eve and from her all of us come. The man called his wife Eve, because she became the mother of all the living. Genesis 3:20. Just as Adam and Eve worked, together to bring about all things living, Christ and His Church work together to bring about God’s Kingdom here on Earth.

Friday, March 11, 2011

March 11, 2011 – 1 Corinthians 14:20 - 15:11

Since we have been talking about the different denominations and Gods plan for the Church, this reading also made me think of that. Having Christians in the form of all these different denominations seems a lot like walking into a church in which everybody is speaking in tongues, everyone saying something different and nobody really making sense. What happens to that person? “Then uninstructed people or unbelievers should come in, will they not say that you are out of your minds? 14:23. I understand that the Church has many parts and they are all important and a person could use that to describe the different denominations, but I think that is pointing more to the individual and denominations. Even though a hand may not be able to do the things the feet can do, but they cannot go in opposite directions. They cannot be in disagreement. The body, that is the Church, must agree and move in the same direction or else it will not produce. Plus, “since he is not the God of disorder “. 14:33

Thursday, March 10, 2011

March 10, 2011 – Daniel 2

I got this from Wikipedia. It is one theory from this prophesy.

“The identification of the gold head is not disputed, as the text clearly indicates that it represents Nebuchadnezzar himself, and by extension, the Babylonian Empire. However, in this view, the second kingdom, represented by the chest and arms of silver, is identified with the combined Medo-Persian empire (which commenced when the Persian king Cyrus the Great defeated Babylon.) The third kingdom, represented by the belly of bronze, is thought to be the Hellenic empire of Alexander and his successors. The fourth kingdom of iron legs then becomes the Roman Empire.”

Something that is not discussed in the different theories, or at least not discussed in a way that makes sense, is the reason the iron and tile are mixed. I think, in looking at the politics that Christ was dealing with in His time that could point to the Jewish authority that has some control during the Roman Empire. Christ being the stone that starts the toppling, but the weakness of the mixture allowed for the crumbling. Rome was so spread out that they began to have issues controlling their borders. Even though they set down the Jewish revolt in 70 AD by destroying Jerusalem, they border skirmishes continued and eventually led to Rome’s downfall. Meanwhile, Christianity grew to become a mountain that would envelope the world. Even though there is debate about this prophesy’s meaning, I think it is one of the most clear prophesies in the Old Testament.

I also think it is interesting that the King does not trust the wise men to tell him the meaning of the dream after he tells them what the dream was. He requests that they tell him what the dream was as well as its meaning.

This story is developed into one of my favorite Veggie Tale songs, or combination of songs, about Daniel and the Dream and the Rule and then the Lion’s Den.

Wednesday, March 09, 2011

March 9, 2011 – Leviticus 25:39 - 26:13

Why do we not do what God wants? The beginning of Chapter 26 lays out all the wonderful things God has in store as long as you follow the commands He has for you. Although this reading ends at verse 13, you probably have a hard time not glancing ahead to the first word on verse 14, BUT. I can imagine the next section is spelling out what happens when we do not follow God’s commandments. So, it is laid out for us pretty clearly. Do or do not, there is no try, as Yoda would say.

Then people will fall back on the excuse that we are not perfect and cannot possibly live a life that lives up to the standard. But that is what we are called to do and living that standard is possible if God is a part of every single aspect in our lives, because all things are possible with God. Do not become discouraged when you fail, resolve to do better next time and to bring God along to help. What a great message as we begin Lent and seek to improve our relationship with God. Remember to ask God what His plan is for you when making your decisions. He cannot help when you do not ask.

Tuesday, March 08, 2011

March 8, 2011 – Catechism 758-762

I thought I would start with this comment from one of our last post because we continue to look at the Church and God’s plan for it. These paragraphs talk about the foundations of the Christian Church in the very beginning of creation and the foundation God laid through Israel as His Chosen People.

"I honestly don't think God's focus is on any denomination or how big they are. I think he's more worried about if each and every person in those churches has a personal relationship with Christ and if the church's focus is helping them cultivate that relationship."

It makes sense to me that if God had a one and only chosen people throughout the Old Testament then He would continue to want a one and only group through the New Covenant. I understand that He wants everyone to come to Him and that He has an individual and unique relationship which each individual person, but where does that leave us. If all God is interested in is each individual as an individual, there is no guidance or foundation. I agree that I do not think it has anything to do with numbers, but the concern is that the church is helping to cultivate that relationship. To cultivate that relationship you want to help it grow. I go back again, and again, to the idea that God would develop a system where there are so many churches teaching so many things. If the churches responsibility is to cultivate that relationship, they cannot do so by teaching different things. That does not help growth but leads to weakness and death. If a church’s focus is on our growth in relationship to God, explain to me how it can be God’s plan to have so many different denominations.

I understand there are that there are questions as to the Catholic Churches authority and its claim that it is the Church with the Fullness of Truth. But I would have you think about this?  If it is not the Catholic Church, which church is it?  I do not feel people really reflect on that. They can be very critical of the Catholic Church, but they do not reflect on what is really at issue. If God formed a church on earth, and He its focus is on bringing us in relationship with God, and there is only One God, and He is Truth and without contradiction, how do you come up with a church that is not singular. Any conclusion that does not involve a singular church is contradicting the premises. If you disagree with the premises, which ones do you not agree with. That God formed a Church; that the Church’s focus in on bringing us back to God; that there is only One God; that God is not Truth. When you are reflecting on this, ask yourself if your church claims to be the One Church?

Monday, March 07, 2011

March 7, 2011 – 1 Corinthians 13 - 14:19

First, I always wondered what the sola fide believers think about 13:13. Faith, hope, and love remain, and the greatest of these is love. Being saved by faith alone does not seem to follow if love is greater than faith. If faith alone is enough to save you, it should be the greatest.

Recently I heard a priest talking about this section on love. He recognized it as a great examination of conscience. Think about your day or your week and then go along these descriptions of love. When have you not been patient or kind? When have you been quick-tempered or brooded over an injury? It is just a great way for us to reflect on our lives and see where we can find improvement and what we need to bring up in our confession.

There is often a misunderstanding of prophesy. Many people think that it must be about predicting the future. That is sometimes what it is, but a better way of describing it is speaking God’s Words. That is what it means to be a prophet. That is what Paul is telling us we should seek out. To be the instrument that God uses to speak His words to others.

Speaking in tongues is something that is very special and yet intimidating to experience. I have never done it myself, but have seen others doing it. I think the analogy that St. Paul uses here in trying to preach to someone that is foreign is a perfect way to describe what he is trying to say. If someone is speaking in tongues and no one understands them, it is like trying to talk to someone in a foreign language; your message will be lost on them.  But if there is someone there to interpret, then the message you are speaking can build up those around you.  As I said, I have never done this, but I have seen it and even though I do not really think it was ever interpreted, seeing the Spirit in action was something in and of itself.

Sunday, March 06, 2011

March 6, 2011 – Sirach 41-42

The thing I want to focus on is the end of chapter 42. The idea of God’s creation, the beauty in nature is such a powerful thing to let us know God exist. The number of different things in existence and their dependence on each other is something that cannot be explained absent God. God made nothing in vain. Everything has its purpose, its place.  Sometimes a Catholic might not be seen as an environmentalist because they do not stand up for animal’s rights as much as some people. But God calls a Catholic to help protect the environment because it is His creation. I am not the expert on ozone layers and green house gases, but I understand that the Earth is a fragile thing.

What really scares me is the talk of a point of no return; the idea that we will get to a point when the damage that we have done will be so severe that there will be no coming back from it. I think people see this as an end of the world issue. I do not see it that way. I see it as a changing of the world we know today. If we have forced things beyond a certain point, that does not mean we will not be able to live on Earth, it just means we may have to live differently. What if we are not able to grow the massive amounts of crops in the Midwest that we do right now? What happens if places like New Orleans and Florida become uninhabitable because of the severity of storms? These types of events are not unforeseeable. I think we hear a lot from people that say the environmental issues are bringing the end of the world and those that say they are all just science hoopla. I think the answer is somewhere in the middle and we need to prepare ourselves that things may be changing.  But we must protect God’s creation. He made it all and He never makes junk.

Saturday, March 05, 2011

March 5, 2011 – Leviticus 25 - 25:38

2 things I think this really points to.  First, relying of God.  You can plant things for 6 years and for an entire year, you cannot.  They must rely on God to supply enough in the 6th year that they will have enough for the 7th.  God says not only will you have enough for that year, but I will supply enough in the 6th year to last 3 years.  We worry so much about our nest eggs and saving for the “what ifs” that we lose our faith in God.  Then again, we are called to spend responsibly.  There is a balance there that we need to find.  I guess we need to reflect on how much stoke we are putting in our nest egg.  Are you not contributing to charities now and instead putting money away.  But every time I write something like that I think about Paul’s and Baby Koetters’ college fund and wonder what I am suppose to do.  Something to think about. 

Second thing is the way this would take away our connection to material things.  Imagine that every 50 years everything would reset.  Would people work so hard to build up their mansions and large homes if they new that it wasn’t going to be permanent.  Wouldn’t they spend more time trying to make their quality of life better.  And not only that, but they would be teaching their children to live for themselves.  The whole idea of being born with a silver spoon in your mouth would disappear because that silver spoon might not be there for long.  Each would have to get by on their own merits.  People might say this would hurt human progress.  We wouldn’t have the skyscrapers, all the technology, our modern comforts if people couldn’t build on the generations before.  But I don’t think that is necessarily true.  All the information would still be there, but the distribution of the ubber-powerful and the poor would not be there.  And those that are in power would be there because they made it there, not because their dad knew someone else’s dad and the smartest most qualified would rise to the top.  I just think God knew what a human mentality was when He came up with this system and tried to develop something that tried to keep human ambition and greed in check.       

Friday, March 04, 2011

March 4, 2011 – Catechism 753-757

Symbols of the Church are all over the Bible.  I think the easiest to really visualize is the Body analogy with the Head being Christ.  But it seems like that theme has been in these reflections recently, so I will look at one of the other ones. 

The Church as soil that Christ is using to make produce.  I am not sure if this is exactly how they meant it, but this is what I thought of.  The soil is us (kind of like the parable of the sower) but a little more to it.  It talks about the Old Testament believers and prophets.  They are kind of like the fertilizer that make the soil for fertile.  Without that history and understanding, we would not be as fertile or ready for things to grow.  Then we have the Mystery of Christ, actually making the plants grow.  We cannot make anything grow on our own.  Farmers plant their crops and then must totally rely on God to have things grow.  That is the same with the soil of the Church.  God makes things grow. 

What this makes me think of is the fact that we have so many different Christian denominations.  It is like trying to grow a lot of different types of plants all in the same flower pot.  The problem is that they are going to choke each other out.  There is only so many resources and nutrients in the soil and things will grow better when planted correctly.  So, ask yourself if you would be more impressed by many puny flowers or one flower that is flourishing and beautiful.  Follow that through to a non-Christian that is looking at Christian churches.  Wouldn’t the be more impressed, more likely to believe, by one beautiful and flourishing flower rather than a bunch of flowers that are puny and choking each other out.  Which type of growing did God have in mind for His Church.     

Thursday, March 03, 2011

March 3, 2011 – 1 Corinthians 12

I gave a talk just recently in which I used a good chunk of this chapter.  Figured I would just share it and not reinvent the wheel.  I thought about editing it to make it more reader friendly, but figured you could get the meaning.  It was given to our Lifeteen group and talks about acceptance, but it can be applied to all of us in all our lives. 

Seeing God in Others

Matthew 25:36-40 Then the righteous will answer him and say, 'Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? When did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? When did we see you ill or in prison, and visit you?' And the king will say to them in reply, 'Amen, I say to you, whatever you did for one of these least brothers of mine, you did for me

The question is, do we really see God in other people.  Are we able to understand and live our lives in such a way that we treat everyone around us as a person that is loved by God.  Everyone in this room is created to be loved by God and therefore deserves to be loved by each one of us.  Do we really feel that way.  Nathan talked a little bit last week about loving others.  It is the second part of Jesus’ commandment for us.  And he talked about how it is toughest with the people we may not get along with.  A great example of this is from St. Therese. 

How did St. Thérèse live this little way? One example is enough. “There is in Community a Sister who has the faculty of displeasing me in everything, in her ways, her words, her character, everything seems very disagreeable to me. And still she is a holy religious who must be very pleasing to God. Not wishing to give in to the natural antipathy I was experiencing, I told myself that charity must not consist in feelings but in works; then I set myself to do for this Sister what I would do for the person I loved the most. Each time I met her I prayed to God for her, offering Him all her virtues and merits…I wasn’t content simply with praying very much for this Sister who gave me so many struggles, but I took care to render her all the services possible, and when I was tempted to answer her back in a disagreeable manner, I was content with giving her my most friendly smile, and with changing the subject of the conversation…One day at recreation she asked in almost these words: “Would you tell me, Sister Thérèse of the Child Jesus, what attracts you so much towards me; every time you look at me, I see you smile?” Ah! What attracted me was Jesus hidden in the depths of her soul.” (Chapter 10, Clarke 222-223)

But in the world around us, living a life of seeing God in those around us is not the way we are told to live.  The world teaches us that there is a hierarchy.  At the top are the have a lots, below are the have some, next the haves, then the have nots, down to the have nothing at all.  Whether it is possessions, talent, skills, or even health, or culture is about what can you do for me or can you contribute to us moving forward.  If you can’t, then you really aren’t worth my time.  We see this, with abortion and euthanasia, but even in other types of actions.  Marriages that end because people become tired of each other.  Corporations leaving a certain place and leaving people out of work to make more money somewhere else.  What we talked about very dryly last Sunday with the socialism of government.  The entire notion, all of these things are connected to this idea, this mentality that we are only worth what we can do, what value we bring, how we help people.

That is completely the opposite of how we are called to see the world. 

Consider your own calling, brothers and sisters. Not many of you were wise by human standards, not many were powerful, not many were of noble birth. Rather, God chose the foolish of the world to shame the wise, and God chose the weak of the world to shame the strong, and God chose the lowly and despised of the world, those who count for nothing, to reduce to nothing those who are something, so that no human being might boast before God 1 Corinthians 1:26-29 

If that sounds vaguely familiar, it is from last Sunday’s readings.  God will take those that count for nothing, to reduce to nothing those who are something.  The world wants to discard those that are worth nothing.  God will elevate them. 

That is the teaching part.  That is what we are called to.  But what does this mean really.  Here is what I think it means here at Lifeteen and this can apply it everywhere, but let’s keep it simple.  Are you inclusive here at Lifeteen.  Are you welcoming to those that are here all the time and those that come for the first time.  To you reach out, or do you stay where you are comfortable.  The simple answer, the honest answer is that I stay where I am comfortable.  There are some of you I don’t talk to as much as others.  Why is that?  Because I know some of you more.  I try to be welcoming, but sometimes I do better than others.  And if you are one of the teens that I don’t know well, don’t think you are alone.  Rob and Jo have been around a while now, yet I don’t think I know them as well as I should.  I know Katrina very well because I very comfortable around her and I like being comfortable.  I really haven’t made the effort or taken the time to get to really know Rob and Jo. 

Does that make me a bad person, I don’t think so.  But here, at Lifeteen, the bar isn’t suppose to be “not bad people”.  The bar is Christ.  Would Christ take the time and make the effort to get to know them, absolutely.  So, I am not perfect, big shocker.  But what does that mean to you.  Who is here that you don’t know.  Whose face do you see around here every Sunday and you don’t know the person behind that face.  Is there somebody new here trying it out for the first time.  Are you going to be the one that makes them feel at home, or are you going to stay in your comfortable group.  Nobody here is naked and needs clothing, nobody is in prison and needs a visitor, at least not literally.  But they may be here looking for friendship, comfort, healing, God.  You are called to be that for them.  And when you are, you are that for Christ.  We are called to see Christ in everyone. 

But MILK, they are different than me.  Absolutely.  We are not identical and God did not create us to be that way.  As a body is one though it has many parts, and all the parts of the body, though many, are one body, so also Christ.

For in one Spirit we were all baptized into one body, whether Jews or Greeks, slaves or free persons, and we were all given to drink of one Spirit. Now the body is not a single part, but many. If a foot should say, "Because I am not a hand I do not belong to the body," it does not for this reason belong any less to the body. Or if an ear should say, "Because I am not an eye I do not belong to the body," it does not for this reason belong any less to the body. If the whole body were an eye, where would the hearing be? If the whole body were hearing, where would the sense of smell be? But as it is, God placed the parts, each one of them, in the body as he intended. If they were all one part, where would the body be? But as it is, there are many parts, yet one body. The eye cannot say to the hand, "I do not need you," nor again the head to the feet, "I do not need you."   1 Corinthians 12:12-21

We were all made very differently so that we can fulfill whatever God’s plan is for us.  Think about that when you think someone is so different from you that you couldn’t possibly hang out.  God made them exactly how He wanted them.  If you reject them because of their difference, you are pretty much rejecting God’s plan for them. 

Realize that the world has it completely backwards when it comes to this.  The world wants everyone to be exactly the same.  Same schools, teaching the same thing, taking the same test, watching the same TV.  When someone is different, they ridicule them for not being like everyone else.  When you do that, you have a Body that is all one part.  If the whole body is an eye, where is the hearing.  It’s a great question that the world doesn’t want to answer.  It is too busy trying to make everyone the same to think about what happens if that happens. 

We are all unique and God has done this on purpose, for His purpose.  We need to see God in others, see that God is working through others, and strive to be open to that.  Step out of the comfortable group were things are predictable, step into the uncomfortable world where you don’t know what is going to happen.  And this is about all of us.  I need to work on this as much as any of you.  But we need to do it to strengthen our Lifeteen community.  So, I challenge you, if you are sitting by someone you know or a group, watch the second half with someone you don’t know.  This is a social night, let’s be social.

Wednesday, March 02, 2011

March 2, 2011 – Sirach 38

v. 14 got me thinking about Doctors.  I have been hearing a lot about abortion lately.  But this just doesn’t make you think about abortion, but any kind of medical practitioner who does not have some type of moral basis.  They don’t have to be Catholic, but I would hope they would have some moral foundation that they start from.  When they look at a sick person, are they looking at someone they will work to make better or are they thinking about how much is this going to cost, how much am I going to make.  I understand that there are many doctors out there who do an excellent job of following their morals and treating patients with respect, but sometimes you wonder if they are a majority or a minority.  With the way the world is leaning to the side of secular thinking and taking God out of every aspect of our lives, I believe it is a fair question to question where our doctors morals really lie.  I am an attorney and I know what I was groomed to think in law school.  Even though we have ethics that we study and have to continue our education, I can’t say that we were taught that morals are the foundation of what we stand on.  The law may have started there, but laws are changed by majorities, and by ideas of “fairness”, and by whose money you have in your pocket.  And laws are what we have to follow.  I can argue that something isn’t morally correct until I am blue in the face, but if the law is not on my side I cannot win in a court room. 

I didn’t go to med school, so I don’t know the culture from which Doctors are churned out.  All I know is that when doctors don’t have morals as their foundation, the patient can take a back seat to profits or research or someone who is “more important” or “more valuable”.  It is scary sometimes thinking about the people that we lay our lives in the hands of and trust in them that they have the best in mind for us. 

Tuesday, March 01, 2011

March 1, 2011 – Leviticus 24

We see the idea of an eye for an eye as barbaric because of the physical violence that ensues, but have you ever thought about it as a means to stop the compounding of violence.  When someone is seeking revenge, don’t they tend to reach for a little bit more than what was taken.  You broke my phone so I’m going to break your computer.  The idea of payback leads further and further down a spiral.  This idea of eye for eye appears barbaric, but is there to stop the idea of escalating revenge.  If someone hits you, you get to hit them back, not shoot them.  We could say that we are to educated for that, but are we really.  When we see a story about road rage, what else is that.  Someone bumps somebody’s car so they go, pull them out of the car and beat them up.  Think about all the missile build up in the Cold War.  We build a rocket, so they built a bigger one, so we built a 1,000 big ones, then they built 10,000, so we build defenses to block all theirs and so on.  Eye for an eye is not about the severity of the punishment, but the limitations that is put on it.  Think about it that way.

I just did a reflection on the Eucharist and the Catholic teaching that only Catholics in good standing with the Church should receive.  This chapter talks about the things that are sacred being eaten only by those that are appointed to eat it because they are sacred.  It kind of points to that same idea.