Saturday, April 30, 2011

April 30, 2011 – Number 8

The footnotes point out the difference between being consecrated, which was what happened to the priest, and being purified, which is what occurred for the Levites. I have heard of different things you can do to consecrate yourself for different task and heard of people consecrating their children. Here we see the distinction pointed out my God.

We also see the use of water to purify people from their sins, a foreshadowing of Baptism. I was thinking about that and how this sprinkling of water is related to our Baptism. After they are sprinkled with the water, then hands are laid on them and the animals to be sacrificed. We see that the water is not sufficient of itself but only in relation to the sacrifice. Our Baptism is on its own sufficient because it is joined and points to the Sacrifice made once and for all by Christ. That sacrifice was sufficient to provide the Grace for all Baptisms to come. You can see the transition of this movement when you look at this ceremony and compare it with what John was doing in the Jordan. John did not offer sacrifices when he was baptizing because he understood he was only a foreshadowing of what was to come. That is why he explained why he baptized with water, but one would be coming that would baptize with the Holy Spirit and fire. Luke 3:16. But John does, I believe, understand that this baptism that he is performing is similar to what is described here in Numbers and that a sacrifice is necessary. That is why he says of Behold the Lamb of God. John 1:36. He understood that Christ was going to be the Sacrifice that would connect with Baptism.

Friday, April 29, 2011

April 29, 2011 – Catechism 830-835

Something I heard somebody explain today which makes a lot of sense to me and I am really surprised this is the first time I have heard it put this way.  Many denominations have the theology of Bible Alone.  These also take the stance that the Catholic Church is not correct on many of its teachings and interpretations of the Bible.  But there is a problem with this that really doesn’t make any sense when you think about it. 

First, the Catholic Church started with the Apostles.  There is a line of authority through the Popes and Bishops throughout the earliest years of Christianity.  When the Christian religion first started to grow, there was no division and they were all Catholics.  This is premise number 1.

Premise number 2 is the Catholic Church has certain teachings that they have believed since their beginnings.  For example, the teaching that the Eucharist is Christ actual Body Blood, Soul and Divinity. 

Premise number 3 is that the Catholic Church, through a number of counsels in the late 300’s, came up with the Canon of Scripture that we have today.  Although there is still disagreement about the Old Testament books (although there wasn’t any for 1000 years after the original Canon was decided) all Christians agree on the New Testament books. 

If you agree with these 3 premises, and I don’t know how you couldn’t, then in order to interpret the Bible in a way that goes against any Catholic teaching is to say that when the Catholic Church decided to develop the Canon of Scripture, they chose books that would go against what they were teaching.  How does that make any sense.  The counsels would never had chosen books that contradicted what the Catholic Church was teaching.  That would be shooting themselves in the foot.  To go with our example of the Eucharist, if the felt that John 6 was describing a symbolic eating of the flesh, but they were teaching that Christ is really present, why on Earth would they have put that in the Canon.  Basically they would not have.  The Counsels picked the books they believed to be divinely inspired and were commonly used in the liturgies that were already happening, but logically, they would have only chosen books that supported what they were already teaching.  To say that is not true is to ignore logic and to say the Catholic Church didn’t provide the world with the Bible we have today is to ignore History.    

Thursday, April 28, 2011

April 28, 2011 – Romans 2

6 - who will repay everyone according to his works.  Where is the sola fide interpretation of what this verse means.  Judgment measured out according to our works. 

Here we see this idea or argument of the Law being enough for salvation, that circumcision is necessary for salvation.  St. Paul is arguing against this idea and the whole idea that if you have the law you are closer to salvation than those that do not.  We can see this idea of the law not being enough in Christ teachings about things like divorce and doing good on the Sabbath.  He was teaching that obeying the laws on the outside, if your heart isn’t committed to God on the outside, is no avail.  If a person is uncircumcised but follows God in his heart, he can obtain salvation. 

And so we come to the cruces of the issue, do you need all these “rules” of the Church to get to salvation or can you just know Christ in your heart and that will be enough.  Many people interpret St. Paul as being a proponent of the latter.  It is their interpretation that this is exactly what St. Paul is saying when he is talking about the teaching on circumcision and that it is not necessary.  He is saying that all these teachings of the Church aren’t necessary either.  All you have to do is believe in Christ, have a relationship with Him, and that is enough.  Is that what he is saying.  Look closely at what St. Paul says about the uncircumcised. 

26-27   Again, if an uncircumcised man keeps the precepts of the law, will he not be considered circumcised? Indeed, those who are physically uncircumcised but carry out the law will pass judgment on you, with your written law and circumcision, who break the law.

He is saying that the uncircumcised are keeping the precepts of the law.  He isn’t saying there are no rules that shouldn’t be followed or that there are no authorities or all you need is a relationship with Christ, he is saying that some people who aren’t circumcised and living out the teachings of the law in a more appropriate way than those that are circumcised.  It is like saying a non-baptized person is living out the Christian faith according to their works and intentions of their heart better than the baptized Christian.  And that person can be saved before the baptized person.  He is saying that the non-Catholic may be living a more Christian life than the Catholic that isn’t living out their faith.  He is not saying the law doesn’t exist or that it isn’t important, it is extremely important.  But you must be fully living it out in your heart, not just on the outside.  That is the important fact that St. Paul is pointing to and it is the same point Christ was making.  Christ didn’t say that when He was teaching about doing good on the Sabbath to ignore the law and rules.  He said to obey those that sit on the chair of Moses, those that have authority and do what they tell you, but don’t live like they live because they can be hypocrites.  You must follow the rules and give your life to God both inside and out.   

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

April 27, 2011 – Songs 7-8

The book I talked about yesterday is by a priest named Father Roland E. Murphy.  He died in 2002 and was known for being a great teacher of the Old Testament.  The book is called “Seven Books of Wisdom” and is from 1960.  As with some other times before, I am just going to quote some from his book about what we are reading today.  The book has been very insightful so far and I look forward to digging into it some more. 

“True Love (8:6-7) has never been better described than in these lines:

Set me as a seal on your heart,

as a seal on your arm;

For stern as death is love,

relentless as the nether world is devotion;

its flames are a blazing fire.

Deep waters cannot quench love,

nor floods sweep it away.

Were one to offer all he owns to purchase love,

he would be roundly mocked.

The seal, worn as it was around the neck or on the finger, aptly expresses her affection; its use for signatures and identification shows that it is a symbol for the person.  The comparison between love and death emphasizes the relentless pursuit of each for its proper object.  Nothing staves off death; neither can love be defeated by the greatest obstacles. 

Chastity and Its Welcome (8:8-10) begins with the Bride quoting what her brothers have said about her.  Once they had put her to work in the vineyards (1:6) as  a protective measure.  They are concerned about her youth and marriage prospects; she needs to be protected.  They will test her:  if she is of easy virtue (a door), they shall guard her doggedly; but if she is virtuous (a wall), they will reward her.  Her proud answer to this is that she is a wall; she has been chaste and this has made her welcome to her lover.”   Seven Books of Wisdom by Fr. Roland E. Murphy, pg. 82-83

As I am finding out as I dig into some of the writing on the Bible, I don’t know a whole lot about a whole lot.  I still enjoy reading it on my own and coming up with my own thoughts, and am very excited when something I think I have newly thought of I read later by some scholar.  It makes me think I am on the right track.  But there is a lot out there.  I am trying to read more about the Bible to supplement my reading of the Bible which I encourage everyone to do. 

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

April 26, 2011 – Numbers 7:42 - 7:89

I don’t have anything to say about this reading because it is basically a repeat of the first half of the chapter.  But I do want to share something I never knew and just happened to read.  We spend a lot of time in the Old Testament and we just went through Sirach and just had a reading from Wisdom.  We still have most of Psalms and Proverbs.  I have just started a book that is about the Hebrew literature that these are written in.  Much of these Old Testament are written as Hebrew poetry. 

It doesn’t appear as poetry to us because we are so used to rhyming poetry and stanzas matching and all that.  It talks about the words aren’t suppose to match like that, but the subject matter of the sentences matches.  And they don’t necessarily say the same thing, sometimes they are the same, sometimes opposites, but always related.

A wise son makes his father glad, but a foolish son is a grief to his mother.

Ill-gotten treasures profit nothing, but virtue saves from death.    Proverbs 10:1-2

As you can see, the lines are contrasting, but saying the same thing.  I really always thought this was a very annoying way of writing and very difficult to read over a long chapter.  I never realized this was their way of writing poetry.  Keep this in mind as we read more Old Testament writing and see if you can catch the relationships between the lines and see the artistry that is in the writing beyond the lessons that are being taught. 

Monday, April 25, 2011

April 25, 2011 – Catechism 823-829

I don’t know how many times I am going to have to write about the one church, but we are still in these paragraphs, so that is what they are discussing. 

Something I had not thought about before is the HEART of the BODY of Christ.  We are all members and we have gone over that Scripture, but the heart is love.  That is what gets all the blood pumping to all the different parts.  We all know and understand how important the heart is.  And we get a sense of this from the wedding reading, Faith Hope and Love and the greatest of these is love.  Love is so vital to everything God tries to do with us and the success of any real change we may ever want to make.  It is also the reason that Love is what the Devil attacks so furiously and why the counterfeit love that is sold by the material world is at one time so tempting and at the sometime the most dangerous to our lives.  We must be on guard for counterfeit love and hold out for that real and eternal love we can only get from God.   

Sunday, April 24, 2011

April 24, 2011 – Romans 1

Happy Easter

Reading through the introduction and looking at the schedule, the end of May should be interesting.  This is where we will dig into Paul’s teaching on salvation by faith in Christ as opposed to works of law.  Many times this is used to “firmly” establish the theology of faith alone, but we will save that for then.

But here in the first chapter we see a very interesting argument that many may not understand or accept today.  Paul talks about the Gentiles before Christ and what was revealed to them about God.  Even though they were not given the revelation that was given to Israel, they were given all of God’s creation.  Paul says that you can come a great deal of the way to understanding God just by looking at the world around you and seeing how it works and fits together and understand that there is a power behind all that.  Knowing the world is enough, or should be enough, for a person to understand there is a God and they should seek that God. 

But Paul says that they turned their backs on this idea and instead “exchanged the glory of the immortal God for the likeness of an image of mortal man or of birds or of four-legged animals or of snakes.”  They chose idolatry.  By doing so, their lives went down a road of perversity that led to extreme disregard for the natural way of things.  This degradation of their bodies and lives is shown in the example of their sexual immorality, specifically pointing to homosexual actions.  And not only did they participate in actions of a homosexual nature, they suffered for indulging in them and it led to a rash of other sins. 

When people talk about homosexuality being a sin in the Bible, you always hear them talk about Leviticus 18:22 – “You shall not lie with a male as with a woman; such a thing is an abomination.”  The problem with focusing on this verse, even though it is there, is that people say that it is old Testament and not really applicable.  There is a great scene from West Wing, one of my very favorite shows, but also from back when I wasn’t too religious.  It makes the “old Testament and not really applicable” argument better for me.  I will put all the Bible quotes below.  Here is the link. 

Exodus 21:7 - "When a man sells his daughter as a slave, she shall not go free as male slaves do.”

Exodus 35:2 – “On six days work may be done, but the seventh day shall be sacred to you as the Sabbath of complete rest to the LORD. Anyone who does work on that day shall be put to death.”

Leviticus 11:6-8 – “and the pig, which does indeed have hoofs and is cloven-footed, but does not chew the cud and is therefore unclean for you.  Their flesh you shall not eat, and their dead bodies you shall not touch; they are unclean for you.”

Leviticus 19:19 – “Keep my statutes: do not breed any of your domestic animals with others of a different species; do not sow a field of yours with two different kinds of seed; and do not put on a garment woven with two different kinds of thread.”

He really goes after her and completely wins the argument and she is made to look the fool.  Obviously, the show is about the President, he is the main character, and he won most his arguments.  What is sad about the show, looking back, is that the President in a “Cafeteria Catholic” and doesn’t actually follow Church teaching on many occasions.  The show makes itself very scandalous that way it making it seem to be ok to be Catholic and pro-choice, pro-homosexual, pro-liberal, pretty much.  I don’t know if I would have been a fan of the show if it started now.  I think the acting was great and it was a really smart show, but I see right through all that stuff to what it really did to a vulnerable Catholic back then. 

Anyway, the point is that the Leviticus quote is not the only place in the Bible homosexual activity is said to be a sin.  The bigger point is not the St. Paul says it is wrong, but it is not natural.  Even a person that doesn’t believe in God but can see the world around them and how it works should be able to see that homosexual actions are not natural.  When they chose to ignore this basic instinct in a quest to satisfy what they are after, it only leads to more and more sin and harmful consequences.  What I take from St. Paul in this section is that when a person choses to ignore even the most basic of natural laws that are evident to everyone from the world God created, the genie is out of the bottle and you open yourself and others to a slippery slope where anything can be argued as acceptable.  When you take the most basic of natural laws and say it is not applicable, you open yourself up to a world where there are no laws, and some would say that is what people call the culture of death. 

If you have actually made it this far through, you may be offended.  That isn’t my point.  And I am not condemning anyone.  We are all sinners and have the sins we struggle with.  The Catholic Church does not label homosexuals as condemned persons anymore than anyone else.  It is the action, the homosexual act, that is sinful.  If you look at what St. Paul wrote and what is in Leviticus, the person must act out before the condemnation falls.  A person that struggles with homosexual tendencies has an incredible cross to carry that I cannot comprehend, but it is a cross they must choose to carry if they want to follow Christ.  Giving in to temptation is the sinful part.  Fighting the temptation and being successful with the help of God is the Grace filled part.  Pray for those that bear this burden and pray for our culture that lead and are leading so many astray.      

Saturday, April 23, 2011

April 23, 2011 – Wisdom 14

Idolatry leads to perversion.  This is what you are suppose to take from this reading and is somehow connected to tomorrow’s.  This entire chapter is about the idols that are created by man and worshipped.  I enjoyed the evolution it takes you on in the middle of the chapter.  A man loses a child, so he creates an image of the child and prays to it.  If the man is wealthy, his subjects began to pray to it.  As time passes, generations spread, this idol becomes spread.  Someone in the family tree becomes a leader and forces people to worship the idol, maybe not even knowing where the whole things started.  This comes from something not sinister, but out of sadness, but by the passing of time, people are born into it and become immune to thinking anything is wrong. 

Then you have the leaders that want to be worshipped as Gods in their presence.  Soon, they have enough land that not everyone can be in his presence, so they build statues to worship when they can’t be with him.  I especially liked those on a boat in a storm that pray to a wooden idol that is probably made of worse wood than the boat.  If you are going to pray to a piece of wood for help, might as well just pray to the wood of the ship which you have bet your life on.  The whole chapter just deals in the waste people put into manmade idols when nothing can come from it.  We must think about the idols in our lives that we use to try and fill the hole only God can fill and why we are so curious when they never seem to satisfy.  We always will come away empty when we try to fill the place in our life God made for Himself with something that is a counterfeit, manmade. 

7 – “ For blest is the wood through which justice comes about”.  This really brings to mind Easter and the Cross, but appears to be out of place in a chapter talking about the harm that comes from wood when used to create idols.  I couldn’t find anything really written about this other that people saying it appears to be a foretelling of the Cross.  I wouldn’t have thought there would be more. 

Friday, April 22, 2011

April 22, 2011 – Numbers 7 - 7:41

The foot note says that this type of repetition is likely because this is similar to a registry.  So, basically this is a receipt for the sacrifice to consecration the Dwelling.  Here is the list offered by each.

- one silver plate weighing a hundred and thirty shekels according to the sanctuary standard, filled with fine flour mixed with oil for a cereal offering

- one silver basin weighing seventy shekels, filled with fine flour mixed with oil for a cereal offering

- one gold cup of ten shekels' weight filled with incense;

- one young bull, one ram, one yearling lamb for a holocaust;

- one goat for a sin offering

- two oxen, five rams, five goats, five yearling lambs for a peace offering

Each day for 12 days they did this.  12 is obviously significant of the 12 tribes.  Obviously I skipped ahead to see how long the list lasted.  The chapter ends with Moses going into the tent after all this to speak to God. 

Thursday, April 21, 2011

April 21, 2011 – Catechism 820 – 822

It is fate I guess that the Catechism mentions Christ prayer for unity that takes place during the last supper (John 17) and it is Holy Thursday.  Although this may not be the focus of the Gospel at Mass (Washing of the Feet) or the Celebration of the Eucharist, it is a vital part of Christ Last Supper.  But I thought I would share a different perspective or take on the Washing of the Feet from Pope Benedict.  This is from his homily on Holy Thursday in 2008.  It relates to the Washing of Feet and the Sacrament of Reconciliation. 

“When the Lord tells Peter that without the washing of the feet he would not be able to have any part in him, Peter immediately asks impetuously that his head and hands be washed. This is followed by Jesus' mysterious saying: "He who has bathed does not need to wash, except for his feet" (Jn 13: 10). Jesus was alluding to a cleansing with which the disciples had already complied; for their participation in the banquet, only the washing of their feet was now required. But of course this conceals a more profound meaning. What was Jesus alluding to? We do not know for certain. In any case, let us bear in mind that the washing of the feet, in accordance with the meaning of the whole chapter, does not point to any single specific sacrament but the sacramentum Christi in its entirety - his service of salvation, his descent even to the Cross, his love to the end that purifies us and makes us capable of God. Yet here, with the distinction between bathing and the washing of the feet, an allusion to life in the community of the disciples also becomes perceptible, an allusion to the life of the Church. It then seems clear that the bathing that purifies us once and for all and must not be repeated is Baptism - being immersed in the death and Resurrection of Christ, a fact that profoundly changes our life, giving us as it were a new identity that lasts, if we do not reject it as Judas did. However, even in the permanence of this new identity, given by Baptism, for convivial communion with Jesus we need the "washing of the feet". What does this involve? It seems to me that the First Letter of St John gives us the key to understanding it. In it we read: "If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just, and will forgive our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness" (1: 8ff.). We are in need of the "washing of the feet", the cleansing of our daily sins, and for this reason we need to confess our sins as St John spoke of in this Letter. We have to recognize that we sin, even in our new identity as baptized persons. We need confession in the form it has taken in the Sacrament of Reconciliation. In it the Lord washes our dirty feet ever anew and we can be seated at table with him.”

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

April 20, 2011 – 2 Corinthians 12-13

12:19 – St. Paul says here that if you think that this whole time he has just been defending himself against other critics, that is a misunderstanding.  He is speaking in the place of Christ, of God.  Thus we understand times when the Priest at Mass or in the Sacrament of Reconciliation is speaking or is in the place of Christ.

We also have this understanding for the writing of Sacred Scripture that the authors were writing the words, but they were writing the words of God.  

Does St. Paul sound like someone that is tolerant of acts that are sinful.  Where do you think he would stand on the issue of abortion.  Would he say, “I am opposed to the act, but people can do with their body what they want.”  Would he say the same for pre-marital sex, homosexual acts, divorce.  The non-denominational sects point to St. Paul a lot for their understanding of “faith alone” and the theology of not having authorities telling us what and how to worship and what to believe.  These groups go on and on about being tolerant of those that have different beliefs and not wanting to be confrontational.  Is that what St. Paul sounds like.  13:2 “2: “I warned those who sinned before and all the others, and I warn them now while absent, as I did when present on my second visit, that if I come again I will not spare them”.  There is no tolerance in St. Paul’s voice for sinful actions and we should not accept sinful actions of others in the name of tolerance. 

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

April 19, 2011 – Song of Songs 3-4

3:6: What is that coming up from the wilderness, like a column of smoke, perfumed with myrrh and frankincense, with all the fragrant powders of the merchant?  This makes me think of Jesus with a couple of the references.  Coming up from the wilderness, like Christ coming out of the 40 days in the desert to start His ministry.  Then the myrrh (ointment used after death) and frankincense (signifying prayers to God) being two of the gifts given by the Magi.  The first half of the chapter is about God looking for His lover, His spouse and then finding it.  But after finding it you have this signal of Christ coming.  After this, you see a group of skilled warriors surrounding Christ and prepared to do battle.  It reminds me of what I talked about a couple of days ago about the Spiritual Warfare that we are called to fight.  You can see something like this and understand how the Jews were looking for a military leader to be their Messiah.  But Christ comes out of the Wilderness and surrounds Himself with warriors of a different set of skills.  They are armored with the words of Christ, the Word of God, a two edged sword.  This is the soldiers Christ recruited and is still looking for. 

4:7 is often used in conjunction with St. Paul in Ephesians  5:27: “that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish.”  It is used to show that the Church is unblemished, not necessarily its human parts, but its teachings and it Spirit.  What does St. Paul mean of a Church without spot or blemish if he does not mean there is a difference between the Church and the men that make up the Church.  St. Peter was a sinful man, Judas the betrayer, even St. Paul talks about struggling with doing what he doesn’t want to do.  How can the Church made up of these men be presented as spotless and unblemished unless there is a separation between what is meant by Church and the sinful men that make it up.

Monday, April 18, 2011

April 18, 2011 – Numbers 6

I think it is interesting that we have this whole chapter on the Nazirites, yet it doesn’t seem to be a connection to Jesus, the Nazarene.  There is mention of St. John the Baptist because he was called to live this type of life, and Samuel and Samson, but doesn’t it seem a huge coincidence that Jesus would come from Nazareth and there isn’t a connection really made to this life style.  There is mention that St. Paul might have lived this way for a period of time as well. 

Here is something that is just me thinking and is not something I found anywhere.  The Nazirite was someone set apart, living a life not connected to the normal way of living.  Could this be something, not related to Jesus, who was born in Bethlehem, lived in Egypt, came to Nazareth, but pointing to Mary, who was originally from Nazareth.  A Nazirite could be male or female, so Mary could have been.  And this points to her being set aside for a purpose, not partaking of normal lifestyle, pointing to her virginity.  It just seems like the two, Nazareth and Nazirite should be connected some how.     

Sunday, April 17, 2011

April 17, 2011 – Catechism 817-819

I wonder if people will be surprised with reading these few paragraphs.  It mentions the disagreements in the Early Church which I have talked about in watching a couple of movies and reading St. Paul’s letter to the Corinthians.  But it talks about how those did not divide the Church.  It was later when things came about that brought the divides that we see today.  Catholics are called to accept non-Catholic Christians as just that, but Christians nonetheless and pray for them to join the fullness of the faith.  There are many things that we agree on and there are a lot of Truths in their beliefs.  I gave a link to the two documents that are heavily sited in these three paragraphs. 

One thing I did want to mention is the tone that is used when talking about non-Catholic Christians.  It is with love and acceptance for where they are and the understanding that many of these divides happened many years before this generation was born.  Many have been born into a Christian understanding that they are going to find very difficult to leave or divert from.  But there is no blame or talk of damnation here.  That is not what you get sometimes when you hear about the Catholic church being called the whore of Babylon or the Pope being the Anti-Christ.  There are some that believe the Catholic Church is exactly the opposite of what it is.  Still, even in these Christian Churches there are the same agreed upon Truths that we share in unity and pray that we all come together.  It is a saddening thing when I think about the divided Church and the disagreements that started it all.  I do think it is valuable to reflect on, regardless of where you are at.

“3. Even in the beginnings of this one and only Church of God there arose certain rifts,(19) which the Apostle strongly condemned.(20) But in subsequent centuries much more serious dissensions made their appearance and quite large communities came to be separated from full communion with the Catholic Church-for which, often enough, men of both sides were to blame. The children who are born into these Communities and who grow up believing in Christ cannot be accused of the sin involved in the separation, and the Catholic Church embraces upon them as brothers, with respect and affection. For men who believe in Christ and have been truly baptized are in communion with the Catholic Church even though this communion is imperfect. The differences that exist in varying degrees between them and the Catholic Church-whether in doctrine and sometimes in discipline, or concerning the structure of the Church-do indeed create many obstacles, sometimes serious ones, to full ecclesiastical communion. The ecumenical movement is striving to overcome these obstacles. But even in spite of them it remains true that all who have been justified by faith in Baptism are members of Christ's body,(21) and have a right to be called Christian, and so are correctly accepted as brothers by the children of the Catholic Church.(22)

Moreover, some and even very many of the significant elements and endowments which together go to build up and give life to the Church itself, can exist outside the visible boundaries of the Catholic Church: the written word of God; the life of grace; faith, hope and charity, with the other interior gifts of the Holy Spirit, and visible elements too. All of these, which come from Christ and lead back to Christ, belong by right to the one Church of Christ.” Unitatis redintegratio 3 paragraph 1-2

Saturday, April 16, 2011

April 16, 2011 – 2 Corinthians 11:7 - 11:33

I talked about the movie, “Peter and Paul” before.  I did watch “St. Peter” and thought it was a much more accurate portrayal, yet still had some issues.  In “Peter and Paul” this portion of the letter to Corinthians is seemingly used to support one of the central plots of the movie.  St. Paul had gone out and made churches in many cities while the Apostles hid in Jerusalem.  After St. Paul did this, the Jewish Christians were upset and went to St. Paul’s churches and told them to believe differently that what St. Paul was teaching.  Basically here we have the teaching of faith alone verses maintaining the Jewish traditions.  I don’t argue that this was done and that there were disagreements between the early Church about what needed to happen with the Gentiles that converted.  This disagreement was taken up in Jerusalem’s first counsel and discussed in Acts.  It was resolved by St. Peter making a decision.  Even after that, there appears times when St. Paul chastised St. Peter for being a hypocrite at times for acting one way among the Gentiles and another among the Jews. 

All that being said, you really get a very harsh sense from St. Paul regarding Christians that are teaching other that what he taught.  He basically calls them Satan dressed like angels of light.  This just gives you a sense of how much he cared about the salvation of the souls that he preached to.  St. Paul appears to have one gear, and that is full out toward whatever goal is in front of him.  I do find that this comes across in the movie and he reflects on it being a flaw of his because he sometimes acts in selfishness.  He acted this way as a Jew, going fully to persecute the Christians when he felt they were blaspheming, and appears to have the same mentality after his conversion. 

The movie portrays him as being very bitter because there is a period of years after his conversion where he is not called upon to do anything and is abandoned.  This causes him, after he starts to preach again, to have a chip on his shoulder against the Jewish Christians.  The one thing I did find helpful from both movies is just the sense of the difficulty in the beginnings of Christianity and how completely different this belief was compared to what people were used to.  It gives you a real sense of awh in the fact that it started as small as it did and yet grew to where it did and is still around today.   

Friday, April 15, 2011

April 15, 2011 – Song of Songs 1 -2

The reading from chapter 2 is often heard at weddings, about the young gazelle and peering through the lattices.  The entire book is suppose to be a love letter to the significant other.  It may seem strange to think of our relationship with God, the Church’s relationship with God, Mary’s relationship with God, in this sensual sense.  It seems awkward.  But we must realize that God’s love in infinite and beyond our descriptions.  God allows these words to be inspired to help us understand in a small way how much He loves us.  The closeness of spouses is used over and over again as an example of how much God loves us.  The fact that the sexual act between spouses is the fullest sense of complete giving of one to the other, God uses this to help us understand His complete giving of Himself for us, also the complete acceptance by one is suppose to be our complete acceptance of God.  The fact that God uses marriage as this visual for us tells us that marriage is that important and sacred to God. 

All of this points to the reason the Catholic Church’s teaching are so inflexible when it comes to marriage.  Sex outside of marriage, contraception, homosexual marriage, divorce, and other accepted modern actions that the Catholic Church is under constant criticism for all stem from this belief in the importance of marriage.  It is one of the closest analogies and symbols of God’s love here on Earth.  Every attack on the sacredness of marriage is an attack on God’s love for us and how it is not really important.  You cannot understand the Love God has for us and accept the things that are destroying the fabric of marriage and not be in complete contradiction. 

Thursday, April 14, 2011

April 14, 2011 – Numbers 5

This may sound cruel and unfair, but after reading commentaries on this chapter, here are a few things to think about before we jump the gun.  At first, you may think that it is unfair because it only seems to place punishment on the wife that is unfaithful.  This is not the case.  Leviticus 20:10 "If a man commits adultery with the wife of his neighbor, both the adulterer and the adulteress shall be put to death.”  So a wife that is unfaithful goes through this testing process, a husband that is unfaithful in killed.  So, there is no gender bias here.  The reason this was done for wives is precisely because back then, women did not have the same protections or rights as men.  This law was made to stop men from just getting rid of wives if they suspected them of being unfaithful.  It was used to curb men’s passions and also to try to stop adulterous acts. 

Secondly, the water that was drunk was not water that would cause the hip to fall or thighs to waste.  The water was going to go in and out if there was no guilt in the woman.  Only if she was unfaithful would anything happen, and this was a miracle from God to show that she had been unfaithful. And if she wasn’t unfaithful, as compensation for being accused, it says that she will bear children.  Just some things to think about, because when I first read this I had reactions that may be similar to yours.  Once I look at some of the commentary and thought about it, you can see that these rules are all done for a reason and purpose. 

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

April 13, 2011 – Catechism 811-816

I don’t know how many more of the sections of the Catechism are going to be talking about the one church, but here is another section that speaks to the reasons and points to the logic of the One Church idea.  It mentions that there is a unity through charity or love among Christians, but also says that there must be a visible communion and creed following that laid down by the Apostles and their successors in the apostolic tradition.  I just finished watching a movie, “Peter and Paul” from the early 80’s.  I have seen bits and pieces on the Protestant TV Channel.  You can watch the whole thing online through YouTube.  It was really slanted towards the idea of “Faith Alone” and focused on Paul being the leader of the Church and Peter not being a leader until after Paul died and being inspired by Paul.  I enjoyed parts of it and I think it is useful to get a sense of some of the persecution and the real struggle that occurred in trying to start a religious movement.  But there were a lot of things that were taken way out of context to push the “Faith Alone” theology and in my eyes put down the Catholic Church.  The movie takes away any authority Peter might have had in the early Church, even though when you look at Acts, Peter is the one who first preaches and leads people.  The movie portrays the early Church being very small in Jerusalem, but we read early on in Acts that 100’s were baptized right after Pentecost.  Paul is given all the credit for going to the Gentiles, and although he is a great proponent of this, Peter actually does in first with the Conversion of Cornelius and his home.  Although there are disagreements between Peter and Paul and Peter is persuaded by Paul on certain things, the movie portrays a fractured church from the very beginning, looking very much like Christians today, split between faith alone and Catholics, with Paul and faith alone winning out and eventually drawing Peter in, preaching that Paul was right, faith alone is correct and then being martyred by being crucified upside down.  (The movie has this being done way out in the country side when tradition holds it was done in an arena as a spectacle.)  The real issue with the movie is that Paul never preached faith alone and that is not biblical.  Paul preaches against a divided Church and preached for unity.  Throughout the movie Paul appears to regret going against Peter at certain times and questions whether his idea of Faith Alone is coming from his own arrogance or pride.  These seemed to me some of the most genuine moments in the movie, but then it would go right back to him preaching this.  All and all, it was heavily slanted to be propaganda for a theology that is not based on Scripture and could really influence people if they watched this and took it as accurate.  I love Anthony Hopkins (who plays Paul) but I cannot recommend this movie.  I am going to start watching one called St. Peter starring Omar Sarif, also wholly online.  I will let you know if it is any better. 

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

April 12, 2011 – 2 Corinthians 9:11 - 11:6

Based on 10:4 I was thinking about Spiritual Warfare.  We don’t hear a lot about this idea, but we are constantly at war with the ideas of the world and basically Satan’s influence on us.  This warfare is the battle for people’s souls and it is one that we do not take seriously all the time.  In a homily I was listening to about Lazarus the priest was saying that what God cares about most of all in our souls.  He allows us to have pain and suffering to benefit our souls because He cares so much more for our souls than temporary pleasure we may think is so important in this life.  I found these things below regarding, at least in part, spiritual warfare.   

"For our weapons are not of the flesh." For what sort of weapons are of the flesh? Wealth, glory, power, fluency, cleverness, circumventions, flatteries, hypocrisies, whatsoever else is similar to these. But ours are not of this sort: but of what kind are they?… For though there should be strongholds,' he says, ' though fortifications, though any other thing whatsoever, they yield and give way before these weapons…For the fight was not equally maintained, but he conquered with great ease. Wherefore he did not say, 'we conquer and have the better,' only; but 'we even bring "into captivity;" ' just as above, he did not say, ' we advance engines against the "strongholds: "' but, ' we cast them down, for great is the superiority of our weapons." For we war not with words,' he says, but with deeds against words, not with fleshly wisdom, but with the spirit of meekness and of power. How was it likely then I should hunt after honor, and boast in words, and threaten by letters;' (as they accused him, saying, "his letters are weighty,") ' when our might lay not in these things?' But having said, "bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ," because the name of "captivity" was unpleasant, he presently afterwards put an end to the metaphor, saying, "unto the obedience of Christ:" from slavery unto liberty, from death unto life, from destruction to salvation. For we came not merely to strike down, but to bring over to the truth those who are opposed to us.”  St. John Chrysostom, Homily on 2 Corinthians. 

Wherefore it should be our ambition that the Word of Christ dwell in us richly. For it is not for one kind of battle only that we have to be prepared. This warfare is manifold, and is engaged with a great variety of enemies; neither do all these use the same weapons, nor do they practice the same method of attack; and he who has to join battle with all, must needs know the artifices of all, and be at once both archer and slinger, captain and general, in the ranks and in command, on foot and on horseback, in sea-fight and in siege. In common warfare, indeed, each man repels the enemy by discharging the particular duty which he has undertaken. But here it is otherwise; and if any one wishes to come off conqueror in this warfare, he must understand all forms of the art, as the devil knows well how to introduce his own assailants through any one spot which may happen to be unguarded, and to carry off the sheep. But not so where he perceives the shepherd coming equipped with accurate knowledge at all points, and well acquainted with his plotting. Wherefore we ought to be well-guarded in all parts: for a city, so long as it happens to be surrounded with a wall, laughs to scorn the besiegers, abiding in great security; but if any one makes a breach in the wall, though but of the size of a gate, the rest of the circuit is of no use, although the whole of it stand quite securely; so it is with the city of God.”  St. John Chrysostom, On the Priesthood. 

For the weapons of our warfare. The warfare corresponds with the kind of weapons. He glories in being furnished with spiritual weapons. The warfare, accordingly, is spiritual. Hence it follows by way of contraries, that it is not according to the flesh In comparing the ministry of the gospel to a warfare, he uses a most apt similitude. The life of a Christian, it is true, is a perpetual warfare, for whoever gives himself to the service of God will have no truce from Satan at any time, but will be harassed with incessant disquietude. It becomes, however, ministers of the word and pastors to be standard-bearers, going before the others; and, certainly, there are none that Satan harasses more, that are more severely assaulted, or that sustain more numerous or more dreadful onsets. That man, therefore, is mistaken, who girds himself for the discharge of this office, and is not at the same time furnished with courage and bravery for contending; for he is not exercised otherwise than in fighting. For we must take this into account, that the gospel is like a fire, by which the fury of Satan is en-kindled. Hence it cannot but be that he will arm himself for a contest, whenever he sees that it is advanced.”  John Calvin, Commentaries on 2 Corinthians

"The word here rendered strongholds (ochuromata) means properly -- fastnesses, fortresses, or strong fortifications. It is here beautifully used to denote the various obstacles, resembling a fortress, which exist, and which are designed and adapted to oppose the truth and the triumph of the Christian's cause. All these obstacles are strongly fortified [...] The whole world is fortified against Christianity; and the nations of the earth have been engaged in little else, than in raising and strengthening such strongholds for the space of six thousand years. The Christian religion goes forth against all the combined and concentrated powers of resistance of the whole world; and the warfare is to be waged against every strongly fortified place of error and of sin. These strong fortifications of error and of sin are to be battered down and laid in ruins by our spiritual weapons." -- Barnes. -- Ed.  Footnote 758 in John Calvin, Commentaries on 2 Corinthians

“The apostle Paul learned the Law of Moses and the prophets at the feet of Gamaliel and was glad that he had done so, for armed with this spiritual armor, he was able to say boldly "the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strongholds;" armed with these we war "casting down imaginations and every high thing that exalted itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ; and being in a readiness to revenge all disobedience." St. Jerome, Letter 53

So, I even through in some Calvin.  He did write and awful lot and even if I don’t agree with his theology, it doesn’t mean that some or most of what he may have wrote isn’t beneficial.  The part where he points out that those that choose to lead others, ministers, priest, any church leaders, are the standard bearers and the ones that will most fiercely attacked by Satan.  Is it any wonder why our priest are so vulnerable to struggles.  I know I feel that weight because I am a leader in our youth group and I know that because I am doing God’s work, Satan is looking to make an example of my failings.  St. John Chrysostom talks about a fortressed city, but Satan will find the weakness even if it is as small as a gate.  Many of these were written over 1,000 years ago.  When we really think about it, the fight against the world has not changed.  It may be more public, there may be new names, the weapons may be slightly different, but when you look at what they wrote, read what St. Paul wrote, and think about our struggles, you realize that the evil in the world is not too original.  Mostly the same old tricks and we still fall so easily.   

Monday, April 11, 2011

April 11, 2011 – Sirach 51

Gives seven degrees of humility,

the first of which is "to acknowledge oneself contemptible";

the second, "to grieve for this";

the third, "to confess it";

the fourth, "to convince others of this, that is to wish them to believe it";

the fifth, "to bear patiently that this be said of us";

the sixth, "to suffer oneself to be treated with contempt";

the seventh, "to love being thus treated." From St. Thomas Aquinas, Summa Theologica.

I ran across this looking at different things and thought it fit well with the chapter since it talked about seeking Wisdom and seeking wisdom requires humility.  Those that are not humble cannot find wisdom because they will refuse to believe they are not correct in their view.  The truest way to get to Wisdom is to being open to the idea that you may not be right, testing what you know, looking into opposing viewpoints and being honest with yourself.  I spent many years knowing I knew exactly what was right and wrong and really judging the people that held different ideas.  I find myself having completely changed my viewpoint on many things and not understanding what I was thinking when I was in that spot and befriending those I used to judge.  Now that I am here, in this spot, I must struggle against that arrogance that I know it all now.  I must continue to be open to Wisdom and continue to seek knowledge and discern Truth.  When we plant our feet in what we think we know, we are not open to Wisdom. 

That does not mean I am not confident in what I know.  I Trust that what I learn about is coming from knowledgeable sources and trust that the Truth of the Church cannot be overcome.  The fact that I believe the Truth is in the Catholic Church allows me to be open to the Truth and dive into others views and discuss them because I have faith in the Truth behind me.  But still, I must remain humble and open or I run the risk of missing the opportunity to share my faith because I reject someone because of what they may say or do.  I don’t know if all that came across the way I thought it in my head.  Basically I think there is a difference between being confident in what you believe and still being open to Wisdom so that we can grow and I strive to find that balance.  Without the balance, we plant our feet in what we ABSOLUTELY KNOW and we stop growing. 

Sunday, April 10, 2011

April 10, 2011 – Number 4

The sons of Caath or Kohath were given the most important of task.  They were responsible for carrying the most precious instruments and items of the Lord.  Along with the greatest responsibility, they also had the most severe punishment.  Touching any of these instruments or looking at them before they were covered would bring death.  “And when they came to the threshing floor of Nacon, Uzzah put out his hand to the ark of God and took hold of it, for the oxen stumbled. And the anger of the LORD was kindled against Uzzah; and God smote him there because he put forth his hand to the ark; and he died there beside the ark of God.  2 Samuel 6:6-7.  Here we see the repercussions for touching the Ark when you were not suppose to or when it was not covered.  Even though he was trying to do something good, doing so outside of God’s commands leads to death.  We should keep this in mind when we use the excuse that the ends justify the means.  If the means are outside the commands of God, it doesn’t matter if the ends is something we think would benefit God.  God does not want us to go outside His rules to get to an end.  Much as we may not understand God’s means to His perfect end, we may not always understand why we cannot push the envelope to get a good outcome.  But we are not called to understand God’s commands, only to humbly follow them and know that we are not God. 

Saturday, April 09, 2011

April 9, 2011 – Catechism 802-810

Instead of rehashing through my thoughts on the Church and its unity, I thought I would leave it to smarter people. I am in the process of reading Pope Benedict’s new book on Jesus concerning Holy Week. There is a section on Church unity based on his reflections on John 17:11, 21-23. “11: And now I am no more in the world, but they are in the world, and I am coming to thee. Holy Father, keep them in thy name, which thou hast given me that they may be one, even as we are one. 21: that they may all be one; even as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that thou hast sent me. 22: The glory which thou hast given me I have given to them, that they may be one even as we are one,23: I in them and thou in me, that they may become perfectly one, so that the world may know that thou hast sent me and hast loved them even as thou hast loved me.”  He starts by a quote from a book by Rudolf Bultmann, a famous German theologian who developed theology based on the idea that believing in only the bare fact of Christ crucified was necessary for Christian faith, called  demythology. I will start with his quote and then the Pope’s response. I am typing straight from the book, so any typos or errors are my fault.

“It is instructive to hear Rudolf Bultmann once again on this question. He says first of all – as we read in the Gospel – that this unity is grounded in the unity of the Father and Son, and then he continues: “That means it is not founded on natural or purely historical data, nor can it be manufactured by organizations, institutions or dogma; these can at best only bear witness to the real unity, as on the other hand they can also give a false impression of unity. And even if the proclamation of the word in the world requires institutions and dogmas, these cannot guarantee the unity of true proclamation. ON the other hand the actual disunion of the Church, which is, in passing, precisely the result of its institutions and dogmas, does not necessarily frustrated the unity of the proclamation. The word can resound authentically, wherever the tradition is maintained. Because the authenticity of the proclamation cannot be controlled by institutions or dogmas, and because the faith that answers the word is invisible, it is also true that the authentic unity of the community is invisible…it is invisible because it is not a worldly phenomenon at all””. (The Gospel of John, pp 513-14) quoted in (Jesus of Nazareth: Holy Week: From the Entrance Into Jerusalem To The Resurrection by Pope Benedict XVI, pp. 94)

This appears to be what I hear many people arguing, this invisible unity of all the Christians. Not only that, but also the rules and dogmas of the Church actually cause the disunity, which I have also heard. So, in a paragraph, we have the arguments against the One visible Church on Earth. Here is what the Pope writes next.

“These sentences are astonishing. Much of what they say might be called into question, the concept of “institutions” and “dogmas” to begin with, but even more so the concept of “proclamation”, which is said to create unity by itself. Is it true that the Revealer in his unity with the Father is present in the proclamation?  Is he not often astonishingly absent?  Now Bultmann gives us a certain criterion for establishing where the word resounds “authentically”: “wherever the tradition is maintained”. Which tradition one might ask?  Where does it come from; what is its content?  Since not every proclamation is “authentic”, how are we to recognize it?  The “authentic proclamation” is said to create unity by itself. The “actual Disunion” of the Church cannot hinder the unity that comes from the Lord, so Bultmann claims.

Does this mean that ecumenism (practice of promoting or fostering Christian unity throughout the world) is rendered superfluous, since unity is create in proclamation and is not hindered through the schisms of history?  Perhaps it is also significant that Bultmann uses the word “Church” when he speaks of disunion, whereas he uses the word “community” when considering unity. The unity of proclamation is not verifiable, he tells us. Therefore the unity of the community is invisible, just as faith is invisible. Unity is invisible, because “it is not a worldly phenomenon at all.”” (Jesus of Nazareth: Holy Week, pp. 94-95)

Here we see the Pope tackling Bultmann’s theory on unity. What I don’t think makes any sense is how proclamations can provide unity when the proclamations say different things, much like the question as to how do we know what proclamations are authentic.

“Is this the correct exegesis (critical explanation or interpretation of a text or portion of a text) of Jesus’ prayer?  It is certainly true that the unity of the disciples – of the future Church – for which Jesus prays “is not a worldly phenomenon”. This the Lord says quite distinctly. Unity does not come from the world: on the basis of the world’s own efforts, it is impossible. The world’s own efforts lead to disunion, as we can all see. Inasmuch as the world is operative in the Church, in Christianity, it leads to schisms. Unity can only come from the Father through the Son. It has to do with the “glory” that the Son gives: with his presence, granted through the Holy Spirit, which is the fruit of the Cross, the fruit of Jesus’ transformation through death and Resurrection. 

    Yet the power of God reaches into the midst of the world in which the disciples live. It must be of such a kind that the world can “recognize” it and thereby come to faith. While it does not come from the world, it can and must be discernible by the world. The stated objective of Jesus’ prayer for unity is precisely that through the unity of the disciples, the truth of his mission is made visible for men. Unity must be visible; it must be recognizable as something that does not exist elsewhere in the world; as something that is inexplicable on the basis of humankind’s own efforts and the therefore makes visible the working of a higher power. Through the humanly inexplicable unity of Jesus’ disciples down the centuries, Jesus himself is vindicated. It can be seen that he is truly the “Son”. Hence God can be recognized as the creator of a unity that overcomes the world’s inherent tendency toward fragmentation.

For this the Lord Prayed: for a unity that can come into existence only from God and through Christ and yet is so concrete in its appearance that in it we are able to see God’s power at work. That is why the struggle for visible unity of the disciples of Jesus Christ remains an urgent task for Christians of all times and places. The invisible unity of the “community” is not sufficient.”  (Jesus of Nazareth: Holy Week, pp. 95-96)

Friday, April 08, 2011

April 8, 2011 – 2 Corinthians 8 - 9:10

“Now what he says is to this effect; but was even an occasion to them of abounding, just as affliction was of feeling joy. For the poorer they were, the more munificent they were and contributed the more readily.' Wherefore also he admires them exceedingly, for that in the midst of so great poverty they had displayed so great munificence” (extremely liberal in giving; very generous).  From Homily 16 on Second Corinthians by St. John Chrysostom (347-407) 

I was clicking on different verses and works that were connected to them and I found this.  He has pages and pages going verse by verse preaching about them.  But I thought was an interesting take on it and I had to look up munificent.  But the poorer they were, the more they gave.  And for all their affliction, their joy increased.  It is because they trusted in the Lord in what they gave and the faith gave them joy.  They had not worries about what would become in the world and with their material things because they totally relied on God and their joy was in abundance.  We are being asked to give to our annual diocesan appeal.  It is something that we are suppose to not worry about, give freely and trust in God.  BUT MAN IS IT HARD TO DO.  Every human sense in our body tells us to hold on tight to our money with ever ounce of our strength.  Yet here we see you product of giving freely and trusting in God.  Abundant Joy. 

8. For the next words are, "They that sow in tears, shall reap in joy" (ver. 5). In this life, which is full of tears, let us sow. What shall we sow? Good works. Works of mercy are our seeds: of which seeds the Apostle saith, "Let us not be weary in well doing; for in due season we shall reap if we faint not." Speaking therefore of almsgiving itself, what saith he? "This I say; he that soweth sparingly, shall reap also sparingly." Exposition of Psalm 126 by St. Augustine of Hippo (354 – 430) 

Then I found this one connected to 9:6.  When you sow sparingly, you get sparingly.  And even though Paul was focused on money, St. Augustine uses it to reflect on tears.  If you sow tears, you reap joy read with he the sows sparingly will reap sparingly.  Think about that when you see people in pain and hurting and dealing with a difficult situation.  Also think about that when you see those that don’t seem to struggle with life, have all the money they want, have fame or power, appear to have it all.  How often do we hear about what they are missing when it is all said in done.  Where is their joy.  The Macedoneans had abundant joy because they had affliction.  The women with her two pieces of copper gave more because she gave all she had and felt joy.  Where are we at.  Are we running away from suffering, from giving what we have, fearful that may not be able to live the life we are used to.  Where are we in our trusting of God when it comes to our money, our time, our tears.  How are we sowing.   

Thursday, April 07, 2011

April 7, 2011 – Sirach 50

Can’t think of much to say. I was looking at some things written about this chapter and this scene with the blessing of the people is from an event where someone, a king of another land, was trying to enter the Temple and this priest Simon was trying to stop him and then were praying that God would stop him.  Evidently it didn’t end up very well for the king.

Wednesday, April 06, 2011

April 6, 2011 – Numbers 3:26 - 3:51

Redemption money just sounds so wrong.  You hear a lot about Catholics and indulgences and buying your way into Heaven, even though this is not Church teaching and has never been.  But Redemption money is Biblical, at least that is what it is called here.  Israel had to fund the Gathering area and the all the procedures and because all their first born were more than the Levites, they had to pay money to make up the difference. 

The other thing I thought about is the fact that entire families were in charge of one single area or object in the Gathering area.  That feels like a lot of pressure.  You don’t want to be the one that screws that up.  The family reunion would be pretty awkward after you dropped the ball on taking care of the frames of the Tabernacle. 

Tuesday, April 05, 2011

April 5, 2011 – Catechism 797-801

The Holy Spirit is the spirit of the Church.  They are so connected that you cannot have one without the other.  It reminds me of James 2:26 – “For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also.”  The Church is dead without the Holy Spirit.  Is has no life, no authority, no anything, without the Spirit living and breathing in it.  The Church relies on that to grow and evangelize and reach out to the world to bring Christ light to darkness.  But we need to remember that there are two sides to the coin.  The Holy Spirit needs the Church.  Not for its existence, because it is God and does not need anything for its existence, but to be effective in the world.  Much like our spirits need our mortal bodies to live our human lives in this world, the Holy Spirit lives in the Church here in this world.  The Church is the Spirits body while this world needs it.  In the fullness of time, the Church won’t be needed or will be used in a different way that we cannot understand, much like our Resurrected Bodies will be something we cannot really comprehend.  But while this world is here, while there is still a need for Redemption, until that time when Heaven and Earth become one and all is made whole, the Spirit needs and body, an instrument, to do it will.  That is what the Body, the Church, is here on Earth. 

Monday, April 04, 2011

April 4, 2011 – 2 Corinthians 6-7

“And if good could be bought, you would spare no money; but if mercy is freely at your feet, you despise it for its cheapness. Every time is suitable for your ablution, since any time may be your death.” Oration 40 of St. Gregory Nazianzen [325-389 AD].  This was his reflection on “now is the acceptable time” 6:2.  I spent many years thinking that I would really dig into my religion and develop a good strong faith when I was older and had children and settled down.  How many years I wasted thinking that religion was such a burden for me and the lifestyle I wanted to live.  How “cheap” did I think mercy was because it was freely given and how much I sought those things the “could be bought” because I thought that was what life was all about.  But our time can come at anytime.  I thank God that I have changed and even though it did happen when I settled down and had a kid I doesn’t change the fact that it should have happened a long time ago.  It scares me to think about how I lived back then and what may have happened if it all ended in one of those moments that was a “close call” to almost ending everything.  Only God knows why I came out of those situations mostly unscathed, but God only knows who may have been hurt by me or my actions that I won’t fully realize until it is fully revealed.  “Every time is suitable for ablution (A washing or cleansing of the body, especially as part of a religious rite), since any time may be your death.”

7:16 is one of my favorite verses.  I like to reflect on it when I am feeling hard on myself or struggling.  Some of the commentary I read about this verse talked about how St. Paul wrote this to smooth over some of the feelings that might have been hurt by the criticisms written earlier or further on.  Not that he cares what they think of him personally, but he wants to change their hearts and minds to follow Christ, and the old adage applies that you get more flies with honey than vinegar.  It is not unworthy praise, as Paul has talked about things they have corrected when he has told them too in the past and how he is proud of them, but I know how much better I take criticism from someone who I feel is genuinely interested in me getting better. 

Sunday, April 03, 2011

April 3, 2011 – Sirach 48-49

It is a curious thing at the end of 49 that all of a sudden we head backwards to Enoch, Seth, Adam.  I don’t have much that jumps out at me other than that.  I am looking forward to Elijah, Elisha, Jeremiah and their stories.  I sometimes don’t feel I have any grasp at all of some of the prophets and their tales even though their prophesies and stories are brought up a lot in the New Testament.  It is like watching Star Wars 4,5 and 6 without seeing 1, 2, and 3.  They are still great movies, but there is a lot that isn’t fully understood without the background.  A person can really get a lot out of the New Testament, but they just cannot fully have it revealed without understanding and digging into the Old.  That is really one of the motivations for this blog, to help me better know the Old Testament.  You are really just along for ride.

Saturday, April 02, 2011

April 2, 2011 – Numbers 3-3:26

Something is wrong with the geni website.  I may try to find a different program to do the family tree with.  But we have here God saying that the Levites were to take the place of every first born of the other tribes.  That was to have been the cost of God taking the first born of the Egyptians when He freed them from Egypt.  But when they would not follow His commands, it is changed to just the Levites.  But there is an offering that parents must make when their first born male comes to signify that they understand God was suppose to have that child, but they can keep him.  This is what Mary and Joseph were taking Christ to the Temple for at His Presentation.  We cannot also tell about the Holy Families finances a bit because there were different options of what to sacrifice for your first born and they had to offer the lower amount because they could not afford the more expensive offering.  Just something that may not be known about the background of what is going on during the Christmas narrative. 

After looking at it, it doesn’t appear clear to me whether it was only first born males that God was suppose to have.  No translation says more than just first-born, but it relates accordingly to the first-borns struck down in Egypt, which was first born males.  So, that appears a little unclear, however Christ was first-born of either. 

Friday, April 01, 2011

April 1, 2011 – Catechism 792-796

The Church is not suppose to be without its pains.  It is suppose to join in the suffering of Christ so that it can grow and be united with Him.  Nothing that grows and increases its strength does so without pain.  Why should the Church, made up of humans, be any different.  Many people judge the Catholic Church because of its many weaknesses born out over the years due to the humans that make it up.  But what are people expecting from the Church.  Are the expecting a bunch of perfect and sinless human beings to run the Church so that none of their leaders will ever do anything wrong.  First of all, Perfect and sinless humans are very rare.  Secondly, Christ didn’t go after those most sinless people to lead His Church at the very beginning.  He found some fisherman and a taxcollecter.  He befriended a know adulteress who would be at His cross.  One of His closest apostles would betray Him.  Someone who persecuted Christians would become one of His greatest evangelizers.  What makes people think that the Catholic Church is not suppose to have its sinners in it.  Yet the Church is still around, after all these years.  Does anyone think that isn’t because the Grace of God is with it.  Does anyone think a Church based solely on the strength and knowledge and willingness of men could last that long.  Its longevity is a strong argument for God’s Grace flowing through It and Its teachings. 

One of the notes sites this passage.  “so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the cunning of men, by their craftiness in deceitful wiles.

Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ.”  Ephesians 4:14-15    I won’t go into the One Church thing again, but this is just another verse to think about and this idea of Truth and people following their own interpretations of what following Christ means. 

796 talks about the relationship of Christ and the Church as a bride and bridegroom.  This is mentioned many times in Scripture.  Another point to reflect on in the string of One Church arguments is if this is the relationship that Christ uses to describe His relationship with the Church, would Christ marry more than one bride.  But more what I thought about is the notion of divorce.  I just finish reading the book/interview done by the Pope.  If you remember, it caused a stir a couple of months ago because news came out that the Pope said it was ok to use condoms (which he didn’t).  There was a question about divorce and the Catholic teaching that divorce is wrong.  This talk of the relationship of Christ and the Church made me think about that.  The Catholic stance is the marriage is for life.  When two people are married, they are changed and nothing can break that bond.  There are ways to annul marriages, but that is only if the marriage itself was not valid for one reason of another.  But if two people enter into a marriage, that connection cannot be broken.  If the Church taught anything less, what would they be teaching when it comes to Christ relationship to the Church.  Could Christ decide to pull up His stakes if He ever chose to do so.  Teaching that marriage is something that is disposable is teaching that Church is disposable.  The Church cannot accept divorce out this side of its mouth and out the other say Christ unity with the Church is strong because we are His bridegroom.