Tuesday, May 31, 2011

May 31, 2011 – Catechism 874-879

In reading through these paragraphs, the thing I didn't understand was where they used the word collegial. In looking at the definition it was used to describe something that was a group that were somewhat equal so that not one could really stand above the others. In using this to describe the hierarchy of the Church it points to the understanding that the Pope is first among equals. In other words the Pope is not or cannot do anything by himself. He does not have that type of authority. He is the bishop and must act in a way that coordinates with the other bishops. When I read the definition of collegial, I thought of the way our government is based with the three branches and how they all have checks and balances to stop one branch from becoming too powerful. I don't-know if that's a good example of what these paragraphs are talking about but that is what I thought of.

Monday, May 30, 2011

May 30, 2011 – Romans 11

We saw yesterday in Hosea about this relationship with God and Israel. Here we see Paul's understanding of that relationship and how in the mystery of God the Jews still had a place that is unique and special in God's eyes. Even though the focus shifted to the Gentiles because of the Jews rejection of Christ, that did not to diminish the relationship God had with the Jews and Israel. Paul understands it, he as a Jew and his mission to preach the Gentiles as a way of converting the Jews in some fashion that he understands is a mystery, or has a way of working the he doesn't understand.

There is a teaching out there that is it known as once saved always saved. I don't understand really how this can be believed or understood when you look at what Paul says here in this reading. He says point-blank that even though you believe in Christ and have branched out from him, that if you stopped doing so you can be cut off just like the Jews were cut off when they rejected Christ. The Jews were and the First branches that came from the root of God and yet because of their rejection they have been cut off from the promises and the Graces given to us by Christ. Growing in their place are the new branches that have come from the Gentiles. But that does not mean and that they cannot be taken off as well. How can any understanding of once saved always saved match with an understanding that Paul writes here where even though you are from God and a branch from his roots that if you cease to do that or act in that way you can be cut off. I just don't see any rational interpretation of that reading that can be understood to mean one saved always saved.

Another thing I was thinking about is this understanding of a remnant or small group of Jews that did believe in Christ and therefore were not part of the overall Jewish heritage that did not become Christian. When you look at Christ and his teachings and talking about the narrow gate and the way you're suppose to live, those that will be saved as opposed to those that won't it would be better described as remnant rather than a majority. I think there are some out there that want to believe most people will be saved, and yet Christ teaching about the narrow gate or of the camel through the eye of the needle, in these teachings about living as Christ lived and suffering and that is the way to salvation, all these things seem to lead one to believe that there are few that are saved. With that in mind it leads me to reflect on this whole understanding of the mega Churches and the self interpretation of the Bible and the relative way in which people want to interpret the Bible and Christ teachings. This whole understanding that everyone can interpret Christ teachings their own way, and in such a way that whatever they feel is right is right. The whole idea of watered-down Christianity, of nondenominational groups and preachers, seems to fly in the face of the narrow gate. If everyone can be right them you need not only a wider gate but no gate at all to get into Heaven, and that is just not conducive to what Christ taught.

I not only reflect on that as far as Christianity in general, but as we see in the Catholic Church specifically. There are a majority of Catholics who do not believe what the Church obligates them to believe. Many are Catholic in word alone and not in the way they live their lives. Worldwide where there are close to a billion Catholics, but even within the Catholic Church I think you still have to understand Christ teaching about the narrow gate as something that applies to them as well. Not all Catholics are going to Heaven, not all Catholic priest are going to happen, not all Catholic bishops, and maybe not even all the popes that we've had. There has to be a strict understanding and a strict way of living life in order for Christ teaching about the narrow gate to make any sense. If it were easy or if we could live life the way we wanted to or interpret Christianity to be inclusive then why does Christ teach about the narrow gate.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

May 29, 2011 – Hosea 3-5

The profit Hosea and his relationship with his wife and his prophecy is all about their relationship and how it relates to God's relationship with Israel. Hosea's wife was a harlot, but instead of deserting her he took her back. Hosea's Relationship and his forgiveness and his commitment to his wife is compared to God's commitment to Israel. This commitment to Israel in to the Jews is not something that is not erased because of Christ. We will read in Romans in our next reading about Paul's understanding of this relationship and that even though the Jews rejected Christ and Christianity shifted its focus to the Gentiles that does not diminish Christ or God's relationship with the Jews. There's always going to be a place in God's Mystery and in God's plan for Israel and the Jews. That covenant that was established with Abraham is never going to be erased. Christ confirms this when he says that not a single thing will be our erased from the old way until it is fully fulfilled. And although Christ fulfills much of what was shown, that relationship cannot be completely separated. It is impossible for God to betray a relationship that he formed, so there must be some way that Israel and the Jews will be brought into the new Fold.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

May 28, 2011 – Numbers 15

I've heard a lot of people talk about the fact that Catholics believe in two types of sin, mortal sin and venial sin. I've heard people talk about the fact that there is only sin and that's it and there is no difference or specifics or types of sin. But here in this chapter we see that this is not the Jewish tradition. We see a distinction between a certain type sin which might be called accidental or inadvertence and a sin where someone purposely turned away from the Commandments of God. Catholic understanding of venial and mortal sin is that all sins are venial until you get to a certain point where certain criteria are met and then sin becomes mortal. Mortal sin involves grave matter, knowledge, and full consent. Unless all of these criteria are met the sin remains venial but if it is a sin in which these things exist and it is a mortal sin then the Catholic understanding is that if a person dies without receiving forgiveness and absolution of that moral sin they will go to hell.

In this chapter we see the distinction between an inadvertent sin and the sacrifices and obligations a person has to do to wipe themselves of that sin and the consequences for a sin done completely on purpose with full knowledge that it was a sin. For the sin done on purpose, as in example of the man the collecting wood on the Sabbath, the consequence is death. If looking at this chapter as a foreshadowing of the Catholic understanding of sin, it is a very easy to make a connection or to draw a line between the Jewish understanding of these sins and the Catholic understanding of the consequences of sin on a person's soul. For mortal sin the consequence is the death of your soul or your soul being sent to an eternity in hell however in the Catholic tradition, unlike here, there is a way to redeem your soul from mortal sin. That is through the absolution and grace that comes from the Sacrament of Reconciliation.

Friday, May 27, 2011

May 27, 2011 - Catechism 871-873

I think the whole division between the hierarchy of the Church and the laity is misunderstood by both those inside the Church and outside.  Those inside may take advantage of the hierarchy and have the feeling that it is only really important for the priest and bishops to learn and understand the faith.  The laity can just coast along and we don’t have any real responsibility.  That is not the teaching of the Church.  The laity have a responsibility to know the faith and be a light for the Church out in the world. 

On the other hand we have those that think organized religion is not something that is necessary.  We are all capable of finding out what Christ taught on our own.  The whole “not religion” fad stems from this understanding.  The Catholic Church sets out that we need both the hierarchy and structure as well as the participation of the laity for a strong Church.    

Thursday, May 26, 2011

May 26, 2011 – Romans 10

“For Christ is the end of the law for the justification of everyone who has faith” 10:4

That sounds a lot like faith alone.  There are no works that a person must do but believing in Christ, faith in Him, is enough because all the law ended with Him.  I think we must look, specifically here, at what Paul is talking about when he says law.  The next verse talks about Moses and the law that was laid down by him.  That is the Jewish laws.  And it is very clear the Jewish laws were fulfilled in Christ and therefore obsolete.  But is Paul saying that law, rules, works are all obsolete to faith.  Is that what Christ taught. 

Eat my flesh and drink my blood, love your enemies, follow me, feed my sheep, forgive one another.  Are these not the commands given to us by Christ.  Are these laws obsolete by faith in Christ.  That really doesn’t make any sense.  When looking at this entire book as a whole, it appears Paul’s entire focus on what is meant by law is the Jewish law and what is laid down by that.  He does mean to say that those laws are made obsolete by Christ, but not the laws set down by Christ and Christ does lay down new commandments. 

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

May 25, 2011 – Joel 3-4

It talks about at the end of things we will be beating our plowshares into swords and fighting.  I wonder if this is pointing towards the spiritual warfare that we have talked about in the past or an actual war battle that is going to have to be fought towards the end of things.  You get the sense from things like Christ talking about the end and His preaching and Revelation that the end will come quickly and all of a sudden.  There really isn’t a mention of battling against evil, at least not in some physical way.  Maybe it is pointing more to the exile and Israel, but maybe there is going to be some physical battle before it is all over.  The end is a very mysterious thing. 

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

May 24, 2011 – Numbers 14

First, something a little more fun to think about. God says everyone 20 and up will never see the promise land. How happy are you if your 19 years and 364 days old when God says that. And how upset are you if you had your 20th birthday yesterday. Just something to think about.

A little more on the reflective side, has there ever been something you think you were called to do, and you didn't do it, but down the road you decided that it you should've done it, then tried to do it, and it doesn't work out. That is what happens here with Israel. They're told to do something, they don't do it because they don't think they can, so they're told to do something else, they decide to try and do the first thing, that doesn't work for them. That is the funny thing about God's timing, and one of the things that we don't often realize or understand. God's will for us is not only the subject matter that we're supposed to do or that it things that were supposed to accomplish or the path were supposed to walk, it is also the timing in which we're supposed to do it. God's will for us wants us to do a certain thing at a certain time, and to not do that is to not follow His will. To feel called to do something and ignore it and move on with life in a different direction and then try to go back and do that later is not to follow God's call. You have to accept not only the call but the timing as well. I'm not sure that is talked about as much as the actual subject matter of a person's calling. If a person feels a calling to the priesthood but ignores it and becomes married then later on down the road wants to change his mind, it just doesn't work that way. And vice versa for Priest, it becomes very difficult to change that lifestyle or the vocation when you've taken a path. As for having communication with God and that relationship is so important because if you're not listening constantly not only may you miss the subject matter of his calling but the timing of that calling as well. It's like driving down the interstate. There's been a couple times recently where I've been driving down the interstate, haven't been focused on the signs on the streets and the off ramps and I've missed turns. I've had the go out of my way to get to where I was going. I knew where I was heading I was in the right car driving in the right direction but because I lost focus for 5 to 10 minutes I was heading in the wrong direction. That openness to God's call has to be there all the time. It can't be something that we turn off and on when we feel like it or when we're on retreat or when we're down on our luck. When we limit the time we communicate with God were going to miss what he has in store for us. Essentially we're going to miss the promised land he has made for us because we have chosen to do our own thing rather than go his way, and just like Israel when we decide we do want to try God's way, we may have to go along way around and spend that 40 years in the desert before get their because we didn't have the right timing, God's timing.

Monday, May 23, 2011

May 23, 2011 – Catechism 863-870

Like they've done in other sections, this section is somewhat a summary of what we've already gone over the last few weeks, so I won't spend too much time repeating the same things over and over again. What I was thinking about is the end of Paragraph 865 and the understanding that the heavenly Jerusalem was built on the foundation of the 12 apostles of a lamb. That includes Judas. It couldn't possibly mean Mathias, who replaced Judas. I think it absolutely has to mean Judas, the original 12 Apostles. And when you think about that, it is so counter intuitive that the foundation of the heavenly Church could be made of one such as Judas. But it is specifically Biblical that God uses flawed people like Judas throughout his tradition. It especially comes out in the beginning of Matthew when it is talking about the genealogy of Christ. When you go through that list you find people that were not the most moral people. You have Bathsheba, who David took from another man after he had him killed. You have to prostitutes, and rulers that were idolaters. So you have this long list that is speckled with people that are deficient, or what it least appear deficient if you're thinking of the family tree for the son of God. From that point of view having the foundation built on top of the 12 apostles, which includes Judas the betrayer, does not come across as so counter intuitive.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

May 22, 2011 – Romans 9

It feels like I should have a lot to say about this chapter but I'm finding it hard to come up with any kind of reflection. There is this understanding about the first born in the tradition that they receive the blessing of the Father or the inheritance of the family, but throughout the Jewish heritage, at least from Abraham and his family, you have this very odd circumstance that over and over again the second one is chosen as the favored one. Paul relates this to the understanding that the Jews were the first born and the Gentiles the second born, but because the Jews killed Christ, even though the entire tradition of the Jewish faith and God's path was leading to a Jewish Messiah, because of their denial God was moving on to the Gentiles. I wonder what the Jewish people thought of Paul and his writings about this. I know I talked little while ago about the movies depicting St. Paul and St. Peter and their lives during Acts, and you really get the sense that the Jewish people that became Christian or believed in Christ as the Messiah didn't care for Paul and all. There appears to be different motivations for this. First, he did persecute them for being Christians in the very beginning and then once he converted he wasn't trusted then he was sent away to other parts and was never really considered a part of the original group, the guess you could say. At least that is the way is depicted in the movies. How much of an outcast Paul really felt from the Jewish Christians, I don't know of it really comes across in his writings. It is obvious that Paul did not feel Gentiles had to follow Jewish traditions. That is absolutely clear, but it doesn't appear Paul ever gave up his Jewish traditions. I believe, even towards the end Acts, when Paul comes back to Jerusalem, he preaches to them in the temple and is allowed to come into Temple because he is ritually clean and able to come in. St. Paul also writes that he becomes all things to preach to all people, he would adapt himself to where he was preaching in order to convert as many people as he could. I really just wonder how much there was this tension between the Jewish Christians in the Gentiles Christian's or if we just build that up.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

May 21, 2011 – Joel 1 - 2

It is kind of interesting that we have a chapter or two on a very serious plague or series of disasters that will befall at the end for today because of all the hoopla that surrounded the end of the world talked on Saturday. Obviously it didn't occur the way people said it was going to, but that didn't stop people from talking about it or thinking about it. I don't know a whole lot about the rapture talk and were it comes from or what it actually is described as, but I do know that it has many different forms and many different explanations. I also know that the only really concrete thing the Bible says about the end days is that no one knows when it will happen. So really when someone says that the end is coming on a certain day all they're really doing is guaranteeing that it will not happen on that day, which is quite humorous.

It's my understand that rapture theology is very new relative to even Christianity, and even the Reformation. And the whole idea of that believers will be taken away so that they will not have to suffer through the tribulation does not appear to be a truly Christian understanding. We see here in Joel that God allows the transformation through suffering, through the plagues, through the exile. It is only through suffering that we achieve a pure and closer relationship with God. The whole idea that there will come a point when believers will be taken away so that they do not have to suffer on Earth and will go straight to heaven doesn't correlate with the understanding that suffering here on Earth brings us closer to God. God does not allow us to suffer because he doesn't care for us, exactly the opposite reason. It is because he loves us so much in wants us to be closer to him that he allows are suffering. And when we think of suffering, what do we think about. The loss of our physical health, or material goods, or fame power popularity. All these things if they become our focus take us away from God and there being taken away brings us closer to him. Christ never says that people that believe him will not suffer, he never says that his believers will not be a part of tribulations. It is exactly these things that we're called to suffer in be part of persevere through to be called Christian. I just feel that the rapture theology doesn't understand the benefits of suffering and the grace that comes with it and the purification that we need in order to be closer to God.

Friday, May 20, 2011

May 20, 2011 – Numbers 13

Here we see the lack of faith in God giving the land to the Israelites.  Just think, if they had just gone in and taken the land, they would not have had to spend the 40 years in the desert.  I thought that Caleb and Joshua both said that they could win, but here it only says Caleb.  We see a similar idea of the leaders going into the crowds to spread seeds of descent against Moses, much like they have in other cases when they did not like what Moses was doing.  It is hard to get a sense of what the people themselves were thinking because they were always being pushed around by the leaders.  Makes you think what people will think about us when they look back.  Will the attitudes and feelings of normal everyday people count for anything or will they only look at or leaders or celebrities, they won’t get a very good picture of what we are like.  Looking around at our leaders and celebrities, it actually is a pretty dim picture of the world. 

Thursday, May 19, 2011

May 19, 2011 – Catechism 857-862

Really I only have two thoughts about the apostolic succession from the Apostles. To things are very clear towards the end of the Gospels and the beginning of Acts that it I think put in to question what some people think about the Catholic Church and its bishops and their link to the Apostles. People criticize the Catholic Church for its mistakes in its human failings in the leaders of the Church, but I think we have to look at Judas as one of the followers of Christ and the mistakes he made and the betrayal he accomplished as well as the cowardice of Peter in his denial of Christ. These were the Apostles that Christ chose to be his emissaries throughout the world, and yet they have these human weaknesses. For somebody to say and that the Catholic Church is not legitimate because of its human weaknesses is to ignore the fact that Christ chose men to be his Apostles that clearly show their human weaknesses in the most important difficulties that Christ endured.

Also we see and the idea of succession of the Apostles and that they felt it was very important to keep the office filled. It appears their understanding was not that Christ chose individual men to be the Apostles for their life and then when they died there would be no more Apostles. Is very clear from Acts and how they acted to replace the Judas' vacancy that they understood there was to be a succession of the office of Apostle. The succession is what we understand in the Catholic Church as the bishops that have been developed and laid out over the last 2000 years. So both the idea of human frailty in the bishops and the succession to of bishops, however criticized by some outside the Catholic Church, appear from the Gospels and the beginning of acts to be very Biblical understandings.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

May 18, 2011 – Romans 8

There is lot here and that we could talk about. As I was reading it, different thoughts about what to talk about came to mind. Many things we have already talked about such, as infant baptism, faith alone, predestination. As I was reading and I couldn't think of anything new to really say about any of those topics. I was basically just thinking of how to use the Scripture readings to continue my same thoughts on those topics or to make them a little more persuasive. But I don't want to continue to talk about the same things over and over again. Not sure if that does me or anybody actually reading this any good. So what is something new I can talk about.

If God is for us who can be against us. That should instill in us all the confidence in the world, yet we look around at the world we live and it's hard to feel that confidence. If you tried to live a Christian life, a good strong moral life, the world is completely against you. So this question about it who can be against you, it appears everything is against you. What are we supposed to take from this line, how are we supposed to live with this confidence when everything we look at it appears to negated it? I know it is talking about not having the fear of evil, the idea of that good is already one, the Christ has already conquered death, that salvation is available for us if we choose it. But that doesn't make it any easier to fight against the world around us and the actions undertaken against those that try to live a Christian life.

I think it is also a question as to what the world is doing. When you look of the secular world, the atheist, there is such a lack of God in what we see every day. It becomes a question of " what are they thinking " because if God is for you who could be against you, the flip side of that is if you're not for God who can be with you. It was just in the paper recently about Stephen Hawkins and his understandings of God being a fairy tale and anybody that believes in God is afraid of the dark. I really don't understand that notion because it is due to my belief in God and my closeness to him that I'm not afraid of the dark. When I was further away from God is when I was most fearful of the dark, of the unknown. This chapter talks about hope and how it is so important for our salvation. I just question where people who don't believe in God find their hope. How they can live without hope.

And just briefly, because Paul does mention the importance of having hope, I think that supports my understanding that he's writing this chapter not in support of faith alone, but in support of not law alone. Because he stresses in this chapter that hope is essential as well.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

May 17, 2011 – Amos 6-7

We see the end here where Amos was preaching, in Bethel. We talked earlier about the division in the kingdom and that Bethel was a prominent place in the northern half, in Israel. When I first started reading this chapter, I thought Bethel was just another city that Amos went to. It was only after reading that other information that I realize Bethel was the New Jerusalem for the northern half of the kingdom, of Israel. The southern half, Judah, still had Jerusalem as its city that it worshipped the lord in. So you see that Amos didn't just go to any town, but the main town that had the priest and worshipers of Israel in the northern kingdom.

We also see here that Bethel is called the Kings sanctuary and the Royal Temple. I think they understand that they have chosen a place not picked by God but picked by themselves to worship. This is unlike Jerusalem which God has chosen as the city to make his own.

Monday, May 16, 2011

May 16, 2011 – Numbers 12

One thing I know I've fallen victim to over the years has been a jealousy of other people's relationship with God. I know I've watched many people have relationship or communication with God and I've always wondered why can't I do that or be that way or have those feelings and it's something that has really been a struggle many times. I think my communication and relationship with God his greatly increased over the years and so I think I struggle with this less, but it's never gone completely. I still find that jealousy rears its ugly head sometimes. But I've also been told that people think I have a good relationship God and they may be envious of me. I'm sure what to make of that, because I know personally how weak I actually am sometimes and I don't see why anyone would be jealous of my growing relationship. I also know that I haven't done anything special or significant to get that relationship or to build a relationship to where it is today. I think everyone is capable of getting to where I am and beyond. So I think the story tells a lot about our actions and our reactions to others and how we need to understand God has chosen people and his relationships with them for certain purposes. We may not be called to the same relationship Moses had with God. We may be a Miriam for an Aaron. We may even be just one of the peasant Israelites that just goes along. Wherever we are is important not to be jealous of those we see having a strong relationship with God. We need to strive to focus on our own personal relationship.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

May 15, 2011 – Catechism 849-856

A very quick note to begin with, in the first paragraph we read the assignment to the Apostles at the end of the Gospel. Go forth to all nations and preach to them in the words that I have commanded. We don't see here that Christ said teach them all that I've written or based on all the Scripture alone, we see here him talking about what he has commanded them orally. This is because Christ never wrote a word and it flies in the face of any type of Scripture alone teaching. All that I have commanded you.

I think is a neat idea that we are of missionary Church first and foremost. That seems to fit because we are understood to not be a part of this world. We are part of a heavenly eternal world, that we are meant for and that we are heading to. We're only here for a short while and while we're here we are meant to preach about the Lord, which is a rather close description of any kind of missionary work that you might of heard of. People going to a foreign land to preach about the Lord to help those that they encounter, but mainly to be in a part of a world where they don't belong to save those people. That is, on a basic level, a description of the Church here on Earth.

Paragraph 855 discusses a topic that we've talked about before. This idea that the Church to Christ is hurt by the fact that there is not Christian unity. The fact of our so many denominations teaching so many different ideas regarding Christianity means that when the world looks at Christianity it sees is a House divided. A House divided does not convince people that Christ is the truth, and that there is salvation in Christ, or that they should change their lives to follow Christ. A house divided allows the world to continue on in moral depravity. What is needed is a house united behind truth in Christ that shows the world that Christ is the way, Truth, and life. Until there is that unity with Christians, it's hard to believe there will be a change in the world towards Christianity.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

May 14, 2011 – Romans 6:15 - 7:25

I wonder how this talk of being a slave for God is matched with what we read in John 15:15. And there it says Jesus told the Apostles that he no longer called them slaves, because slaves don't know what the Masters doing, but he calls them friends. So we see a distinction between slaves and friends and the distinction is based on knowing what God wants in our lives or what he is doing for us. Here we see Paul describing Christians as slaves yet Jesus said that we shouldn't be slaves. I think I understand what he's saying is that we need to be totally devoted to God, and in doing so being like a slave. But I just think it's interesting that Jesus says not to be a slave, or that he at least distinguishes the Apostles as not being slaves.

I wonder if it has anything to do a with the special calling that the Apostles had in that they were called to be different or special compared to normal or other followers. Catholics understand that the Apostles were the first bishops, that they were retained to be leaders of the Church. We also believe that our bishops are traced directly from those 1st Apostles. Maybe that's the answer. We, as normal lay Catholics, not being ordained with any special knowledge or understanding or the Graces that come with ordination, do not have that same knowledge of what the master is doing and therefore are to be slaves. There's a chink, a rather big one, in that understanding because Paul calls himself Apostle, least of the Apostles. So he doesn't see himself, and Apostle, as being different than a slave, at least not in this reading.

Chapter 7 is really confusing. First of all we have another occasion of Paul using this term "of course not" to point out something that is absurd. This time he is saying that the law is sin and that this is an absurdity. The reason he has to do that is because some of what he writes can be seen as saying that the law is sin or leads to sin. Some of what he says, I think, can be read as something like if you don't know the law then you can't break the law. But once you know the law and what is wrong, then you know or do what you’re not supposed to. A lot of this chapter kind of has that feel to it and yet he makes the distinction and that the law is not sin. I thought the footnote was helpful to a point, when it was talking about death and Baptism and reliance on belong and its connection to sin. The fact that Christ came to fulfill the law and that when we're baptized we die with Christ and that death frees us from sin all seem to be connected.

But can all this be connected to the understanding of salvation by faith alone. Many times in the arguments regarding this understanding the law is seen as works. We've talked before about the law being the traditions and teachings of the Church and how those are weighed against the idea of believing in Jesus and that faith alone not requiring the traditions and beliefs of the Church. But I see this understanding in Paul and that there is a connection between the law and faith and Paul is not saying that faith alone can save you as much as I believe he is saying that law alone cannot save you. I think Paul is being misinterpreted when people say he argues for faith alone. I think it is much clearer that he is arguing against law alone, which if you look, Acts is something that many early Christians tried to follow or least to force upon Gentile Christians. In the context of that argument, Paul might have leaned or argued in a way that could be seen as faith alone unintentionally in vehemently arguing against the law believers.

Friday, May 13, 2011

May 13, 2011 – Amos 5

One thing that you might not know how about Bethel, which is mentioned here in regards to Israel, is that in the divided kingdom where you that Israel to the north and Judah to the south, Bethel was seen as a very important city, a city of worship, basically on par with Jerusalem. But Jerusalem was in Judah, so the leaders of Israel to the north had to come up with different cities to focus their worship, to have people come to for religious ceremonies. And Bethel was one of the city's.

I think when I don't have too much to say I may try something new and talk about something I have learned either in the past or recently from somewhere else. Yesterday I was was listening to a podcast and one of the callers had a question about Jesus' saying he was going to be in the Earth three days and three nights. Obviously if Christ died on Friday and rose on a Sunday that is only two nights and so there seems to be some discrepancies in there, some contradictions. So I thought I would talk about the answer that was given to that caller. 

Matthew 12:40 - For as Jonas was in the whale's belly three days and three nights: so shall the Son of man be in the heart of the earth three days and three nights.

The first thing we have to understand is what an idiom is. An expression whose meaning is not predictable from the usual means of its constituent elements such as kick the bucket or hanging one's head or from the general grammatical rules of language suggests, raining cats and dogs. The person yesterday was talking about that in the Jewish tradition if a person said 3 days and three nights, their meaning three days. Also in the Jewish traditions three days meant any part of the day. So Jesus said three days and three nights he would be in the ground, there is no contradiction with him dying on Friday and rising on Sunday. You have part of Friday all of Saturday part of Sunday, three days.

Another place where this idiom is used is in the book Esther.  We see that she called for a fast of three days and three nights.  But the next chapter says “on the third day”.  If it is the third day of the fast, there have only been two nights, not three.  We cannot read our understanding of days as 24 hour periods into the language.  We must read it as it was meant to be read. 

Esther 4:16 - Go, and gather together all the Jews whom thou shalt find in Susan, and pray ye for me. Neither eat nor drink for three days and three nights: and I with my handmaids will fast in like manner, and then I will go in to the king, against the law, not being called, and expose myself to death and to danger.

Esther 5:1 - On the third day Esther put on her royal robes and stood in the inner court of the king's palace, opposite the king's hall. The king was sitting on his royal throne inside the palace opposite the entrance to the palace;

Thursday, May 12, 2011

May 12, 2011 – Numbers 11

I read something yesterday that this chapter takes place three days after they left. Three days is the same amount of time that the Hebrews had traveled from crossing the Red Sea before they started to complain to God about being hungry and when manna first came down from heaven. So it seems like three days is the limit of traveling before they start to get anxious about how things are going. Here we see that what they are complaining about isn't the fact of being hungry, but what they are being fed. I think there's a very unique difference between complaining about being hungry and not having anything to eat and complaining about what is actually being given to you. I think that often we have enough to get by, especially here in America, but still we complain all the time about what it is we actually have. We aren't satisfied with what we've been given, we want something different or newer or shinier, something that we think is more important or improved. And that's what they are asking for here.

It is also interesting that Moses can't take it anymore, the complaining of the people and their constant bickering. It appears that God understands that and give some assistance. And then we have the people getting exactly what they wanted, more meat, in the form of these quails that come from the sea, and yet what it actually brings them is a great plague. It's a very clear picture of " be careful what you wish for ". In what I was reading about this section of Numbers, we're going to see the people complaining again very quickly, and more specifically Moses' family complaining about what ever and there punishments specifically.

This traveling in the wilderness is such a good example for us to think about our lives and what we have or don't have, we need or don't need, how we live our lives from day-to-day and what we're thankful for and what we take for granted. I think the scene where two people were given special gifts but not with the group is also interesting. It appears very similar to the time when the disciples told Jesus there's somebody preaching and teaching in his name that isn't part of their group. And Christ tells them that if you are not against him your for him and to allow him to continue preaching. Here we have two people that were given, but because they were not part of a special group, there not seen as appropriate to be preaching or professing about God. But Moses correctly says that you shouldn't stop them and that they should be allowed to preach because, basically the same reasoning if you are not against God you are for God.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

May 11, 2011 – Catechism 846-848

The idea of salvation outside the church is a tricky one. The reason it's tricky is because we do not know or understand the complete power of God in his infinite mercy. We have somewhat of an understanding, a mere glimpse of that mercy and what Christ did on the Cross for all of us. But we are not God. There is no limit to what he can accomplish for a person that he wants to accomplish, there's no limit to his mercy for a person and we cannot comprehend that. So, to put limitations on who God can save or who is saved or what needs to be done for salvation is to not understand God's power. But does that mean that the statement "outside the church there is no salvation " is incorrect? I don't think so. I think it is stated very clearly outside the Church of there is no salvation. It is a mystery how God's saves people that are not a part of the Church but it fully understands that it can't fully comprehend God's mercy. But that isn't to say the that Christ didn't establish a singular church and that this singular church has the fullness of Truth and the Ordinary means of salvation. This church that Christ established has all those things but God understands that our human limitations may not fully expose all humans to the Church and its full meaning. There may be people who, through no fault of their own never have the chance to accept the teachings of the Church and find Christ and salvation through Christ. So the Church allows for that road to salvation that we can't fully understand. The church's teaching allows room for infinite mercy and the mystery of God .

I was trying to think of an example that would show this in a way that might not be the most common example. You could hear people talk about some person in some jungle somewhere who has no contact with the outside world but lives a good life and so can be saved. That's a fairly abstract example, and I want to come upon something a little closer to home. Take for example someone who was sexually abused by a priest. We know for fact that this has happened, far too often in many cases, and in some cases covered up and has led to many turning away from the faith. How can I judge a person who has been sexually abused by a priest for not coming back to the Catholic faith. I can't imagine what they have gone through and what their mindset is. I would consider them a person who, through no fault of their own, is not a part of the Church or going about the Ordinary means of salvation. Are they going to be saved or not, are they seeking salvation or not, I don't know? But I would imagine they would have a very very difficult time trusting the Catholic Church and its teachings because of the experience they have gone through and their mindset and it is absolutely not their fault. But I believe there is salvation for them if they seek God as its says "in their actions to do his will as they know it through the dictates of their conscience those two may achieve eternal salvation".

There are some who know exactly what the Church teaches, the Catholic Church teaches, and ignore that to the detriment of their souls. Do I feel that this includes all Non-Catholics, absolutely not. I don't even know if it would include many non Catholic Christians. I don't know if it includes those who do not follow the Catholic faith because they have a misunderstanding of the Catholic faith. God only knows what is in a person's heart and that is why we are called not to judge.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

May 10, 2011 – Romans 5:12 - 6:14

A friendly warning. I have a new toy. It is a voice recognition system so that I can talk and not have to type. So, some of these postings in the future might have some typos. I'm trying to correct them the best that can, but the typing is not as accurate. It is suppose to get better with time so we will see how all this works out .

One thing I found interesting was the time between Adam and Jesus. There is no salvation until Jesus comes and so you wonder why it took so long for Jesus to come. If all it took was Jesus dying to undo what Adam did, Jesus should have come right afterwards to do it. This goes back to all the traditions of laid down and all the sacrifices and history that was laid out to prepare the way for Jesus. Without this introduction to what Jesus was going to do it would not have made any sense. Jesus coming right afterwards and dying without the context of the Jewish sacrifices and will the Passover celebration and release from slavery would be empty and misunderstood. So even though it took so long, there is a reason why it took so long, and it doesn't take away from the idea that one man's sin causing everything allows for one man's redemptive act to of cover everything up.

We have talked in the past about Adam's sin and the effect that it has on all of us. That it has an effect on humans and because we're human it's part of our being. So we talk about the one act done by Jesus to take away that one act done by Adam, were talking about a very personal thing. It not only affects the world as a whole but the effect to each of us individually because we are individually affected by Adam's sin. We must except Jesus act on a personal level so that we can see restore that part of us that is affected by Adams act on a very personal level.

Chapter six talks about Baptisms and that through Baptism we are made a part of Christ or that we die with Christ or enter the tomb with Christ in order rise with him. It seems to assume that before your Baptism you're not a part of Christ, that this is the initial and first step to becoming a part of his church, one of his followers. It's always confused me why people wait for Baptism. That they think this is something that should be put off. In reading this, it seems an essential part of making a person a follower of Christ and that before Baptism there is a real danger or openness to sin, that without the grace from Baptism, you are vulnerable to a certain way of life. Catholics believe in infant baptism, in a baptism that happens as soon as possible. Catholics believe that Baptism washes away the stain of original sin and this belief, I think, is supported by these passages together. We have Paul talking about Adam' Sin and its effects on us, which is original sin, then we have a discussion of Baptism and its effect of bringing us into Christ. It appears that Paul sees a very close connection between original sin and Baptism. If that original sin makes a person vulnerable to Sin or lifestyle of Sin, regardless of age, and Baptism helps to protect them from that original sin and protect them from being vulnerable, wouldn't you want the protection as soon as possible. Infant Baptism seems to make all the sense in the world to me if you look at it like that.

Monday, May 09, 2011

May 9, 2011 – Amos 3-4

I wrote a few days back about the natural disasters and how they might be related to God trying to bring us back to Him.  The idea that we are in control, that we are Gods, is easily defeated by the ease in which mother nature can completely destroy us at any time with very little effort.  Chapter 4 has the same feel and the same increasing intensity that I talked about then.  People appear to be turning away from God as these things increase in intensity, falling back on the reasoning that a loving God would not allow these things.  Here we see God talking about the ailments that were brought upon Israel and the fact that they did not turn back from God.  “O Israel! And since I will deal thus with you, prepare to meet you God.”  4:12  In my scenario of increasing natural disasters, what does the natural disaster that equals “meet your God” look like.  I don’t want to know, in all honesty.  This trend we see of the lack of morality and religion is not something new in history and not something new for God.  He understands exactly what we are doing better than we do and He will deal with it in ways that He has already showed us and told us about.  He lets us know that the only way is to turn to Him and He is longing for that end.  We are not eager to listen or to obey and so we bring things upon ourselves that will make us turn our heads.  But we are a stubborn and hard headed bunch.  Look at the list of disasters that befell Israel before they met their God.  Watch the increasing intensity of disasters with an understanding that there is only One Way, Truth and Life.

Sunday, May 08, 2011

May 8, 2011 – Numbers 10

This, I have always wondered.  Did they know where they were going.  Did they know where Abraham and Isaac and Jacob had lived.  The Holy Land is not the far from Egypt, yet it seems that many of them don’t know what they are getting or going to.  They have been slaves their whole lives and probably have never left Egypt.  So even though Abraham and Isaac and Jacob were in the land they are going to, they may have no idea what it is like. 

But they should have some sense of direction.  Like I said, it is not too far of a journey and they should make it in no time.  It says “in the second year” is when they first set out with all the preparations, so they have been idle for a while, but even with such a big group, I wouldn’t think it would take too long to get to the Holy Land.  They are in the desert 40 years because of their lack of faith when they see who is in the Holy Land, I guess we haven’t gotten to that point yet.  But it does show a lot of faith in God if you know you are suppose to be heading northeast and you follow a cloud deeper into the wilderness heading south east. 

Saturday, May 07, 2011

May 7, 2011 – Catechism 839-845

Here we see that the Church is not a Church that condemns everything that is not part of it.  It sees that good that can come from other religions.  I like how they put it.  All humans are seeking God and these other types of religions are trying to fulfill that.  Just because they have only parts of the truth and not the fullness do not me that they are totally to be disregarded or that we cannot learn from them. 

I have heard something interesting from those of the Jewish faith that have converted to Catholicism.  Many still consider themselves Jews.  They see the conversion a fulfillment of their Jewish heritage, not a leaving of it.  I think that is an interesting way of looking at it.  I don’t know how other converts look at it.  The Bible also talks about the fact that at the end of time, or just before, there will be a mass conversion of Jews to the Church.   

Friday, May 06, 2011

May 6, 2011 – Romans 4 - 5:11

Romans 4:3 is a very important verse that is pointed to when talking about “faith alone”  Here are some related verses that go along with it and some things written about it.  Even believing what I do and knowing what I know, I find it hard not to read chapter 4 and think that faith alone is enough.  It seems that this is what is expressed so I am trying to feel out what is being meant.  I really cannot come up with anything accept the fact that faith alone doesn’t follow in the context of what St. Paul wrote in the other chapter nor does it go along with James 2:23-24 which quotes the same thing about Abraham. 

But let’s just say that Abraham’s faith alone made him justified.  As Fr. Haydock writes that the faith Abraham had was given to him by God’s Grace and we are all the same.  Our faith is a result of God’s freely given gift of God.  So, we are saved, like Abraham, by God’s gift of Grace, which is a Catholic belief. 

But what kind of faith did Abraham have.  Do faith alone believers have that faith.  Will they leave their homeland for a strange land, maybe.  Will they physically alter themselves to show obedience to God, maybe.  Will they kill their own children, I would hope not.  Yet that is the faith that God felt in Abraham and thus he was justified.  And notice that all these acts that Abraham did were works that showed his faith.  These works would have been nothing without his faith, not could his faith have been shown without the works.  They are together.  And none of the things, as is pointed out, are the works of law that St. Paul is talking about because the law was not their when Abraham was found justified. 

If faith alone is all a person needs, and that was true even in the Old Testament, why was David punished after sinning with Bathsheba.  Why was Israel punished with 40 years in the desert after their profession of faith.  Why did Israel go into exile for years.  Because their works did not match they faith they professed.  Faith is important, but faith alone does not flow from the Bible.  I don’t think I fully understand chapter 4 here, but I am humble enough to admit that and know enough to understand that if I think it means faith alone is a correct interpretation, I can understand why it can confuse many people.  But the Bible must be read in its entirety and no part can contradict another.  Faith Alone cannot be both true and untrue.       

Genesis 15:6 - And he believed the LORD; and he reckoned it to him as righteousness.

Galations 3:6: - Thus Abraham "believed God, and it was reckoned to him as righteousness."

James 2:23-24: and the scripture was fulfilled which says, "Abraham believed God, and it was reckoned to him as righteousness"; and he was called the friend of God.  You see that a man is justified by works and not by faith alone.

Abraham thus fulfills the definition of faith in Hebrews 11:1: "Faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen": "Abraham believed God, and it was reckoned to him as righteousness.” Because he was "strong in his faith," Abraham became the "father of all who believe."  Catechism 146

Ver. 3. For what saith the Scripture? Abraham believed God, and it was reputed to him unto justice.[1] The Scripture, therefore, teacheth us that he became just by his faith. And as he had this faith by the grace of God, grace was the cause of his justification, and not any works without grace. And when it is said, it was reputed to him, we must not understand an imputation of being just without a true and interior justice: for to be reputed just in the sight of God, who sees the heart, and sanctifies the soul by his interior grace, is the only true justice that can make a man acceptable to God. As not to have our sins imputed in the sight of God, is to have them forgiven, and to be free from our sins. (Witham) --- Reputed, & . By God, who reputeth nothing otherwise than it is. However, we may gather from this word, that when we are justified, our justification preceedeth from God's free grace and bounty; and not from any efficacy which any act of ours could have of its own nature, abstracting from God's grace. (Challoner)  Haydock, Fr. George Leo [1774-1849 AD]

Thursday, May 05, 2011

May 5, 2011 – Sirach 44

Many people criticize Catholics for their statues and pictures of saints and the big deal they make about them.  The feast days and memorials, people say, take away from the glory we are suppose to give to God alone.  But remembering the heroes of the past that shaped our faith and the Church that we have today is not only a Catholic thing, from looking at this chapter, it a completely Biblical thing.  This chapter is an introduction to the next 4 or 5 chapters in which the author recounts the heroes and founders of the faith and recognizes them for their great characteristics.  The entire book of Sirach is more or less a manual for living, and here are the models.  This is exactly what the Catholic Church does with its saints, holding them up high as models of how to live a Christian life.  This particularly comes into play because we have had the most recent acknowledgment of Blessed John Paul II.  He is not a distraction from God, but a model and an arrow pointing to God and how to live.  

Wednesday, May 04, 2011

May 4, 2011 – Numbers 9

Acts 4:12 is what got me thinking about that thing yesterday with the Lutheran name.  “And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.”  It was on my daily Bible verse calendar.

I was reading a book yesterday and thought of something I wanted to share.  Since I cannot think of anything to write on this chapter, accept talking about the complete obedience to God, I thought I would share it.  The book I am reading is about Genesis and the 10 commandments and  how they are a reaction to the things that occurred in Genesis.  I don’t know if I will finish the book because in the first discussion and second chapter the author is already said he does not believe God to be omnipotent but a God that is learning as He goes.  This is based, at least in this chapter, on the fact that God said if Adam and Eve ate from the tree of knowledge they would die Genesis 2:17.  But God doesn’t follow through on His promise because they eat from the tree and do not immediately die.  They eventually die, but the promise is that they will die on the day they eat.  The author goes on to talk about God learning that there is a difference between actual threats and following through and that He changes His mind many times throughout the Bible.  I really had to think about this because it does appear to be a backing away from a promise and a perfect God cannot break a promise.

It comes down to the thought that if something in the Bible appears to be contradictory, maybe we are not looking at it correctly.  So I thought about what dying might mean.  Could it only mean physical death or could it mean something else.  To try and answer this, I looked at the promise (that day you will die) and what actually happened immediately after they ate the fruit.  Genesis 3:7 “Then the eyes of both were opened, and they knew that they were naked”.  So something did happen right away when they ate the fruit.  Not a physical death, but a death of their innocence.  By this act, sin enters the world and the human, made in the image of God, allows sin to corrupt us.  The human is physically changed forever and has this desire to sin, also called Concupiscence.  The sin that enters the world does cause human mortality by allowing physical death and spiritual mortality by allowing us to chose sin over God.  I think the author is limiting God’s definition of what death means when He made His promise and from that limiting, leads him to limit God over-all power of being omnipotent and all perfection.  Maybe I will continue to read it, but I was hoping for something more insightful than something I was going to have disagreements with starting from the beginning.

But this whole thought process got me thinking about sin and death and how to perhaps relate that to natural disasters.  I can understand cancer as a disease in the body that is usually caused by something that has entered the body when it should not have.  Even some people who are innocent themselves can die from cancer that started from someone else’s act.  You think of mother’s that drink when pregnant, or second hand smoke, or the chemicals we put in our foods to maybe make a little more profit.  Cancer and diseases like that have always been something I can see connected to sin, either that persons or someone else somewhere down the line.  Whether it is fair or unjust, that is not for me to decide, I am just saying the connection has been something I feel I can wrap my head around. 

But natural disasters are another thing.  I have always thought it is harder to show they are justified by a God that is Love.  I don’t know why one thought led to another, but here is a notion I came up with.  I take that back, the author was talking about the Tower of Babel and humans wanting to be God or on God’s level.  When natural disasters occur, there is virtually nothing you can do about them.  You can take shelter, you can run away, you can build a levee, but if nature wants to get you, it will get you.  Natural disasters should be a shot across the bow for all of these new age movements that want people to be their own Gods.  With the rise in secularism, atheism, the new age movement, and all the home grown ideologies that we can control the things around us and nothing is bad and all that, a natural disaster brings it all home.  We have little to no control over the world.  Things are out of our hands and we are not Gods.  When we build large cities on fault lines, entire cities below sea level, nuclear power plants on the coast of known volatile areas, we are saying we are in control.  I heard all the people talking about Japan and the nuclear plant and all the precautions that they had and how they were all thrown out the window because of the size of the disaster.  That makes sense if someone is trying to get a message across that they have to make it clear. 

That may all sound insensitive, and I don’t mean for it to be, I was trying to understand things in light of what I was reading and it seems logical.  People talk about global warming and the idea that these natural disasters are going to get bigger.  Bigger hurricanes, bigger tornadoes, bigger floods, all of it.  We are told that this is all because of our wasteful lives and the trash we have selfishly used and continue to use.  That sounds reasonable to me.  But it also seems to make sense that the increased magnitude of things coincides with a decline in morality in the world and a decline in looking to God.  We are looking to science and our own human intelligence and thinking we can figure it all out.  We think we have control.  I think the natural disasters show us that we do not and will never have control.  But when will people realize that.  When will that balance tip back to people turning to God.  When will we stop trying to be God.   The question is what will be our Babel. 

The book is The Genesis of Justice: Ten Stories of Biblical Injustice That Led to the Ten Commandments and Modern Law by Alan M. Dershowitz

Tuesday, May 03, 2011

May 3, 2010 – Catechism 836-838

So, in three simple paragraphs, the last two mainly, the Catholic Church sets out its position.  The Catholic Church is the incorporated society they accept all the means of salvation given to the Church and accepts the organization that was established.  But, even though a person may claim to be a member of that Church, if they do not persevere in charity, they are not saved.  And we are joined in many ways by other followers and believers in Christ, yet they have separated themselves from the Catholic Church.  Those Christians are a part of the Catholic Church, however in an imperfect state. 

I was thinking about this when I was reading these.  We all believe that Christ is redeemer of us all and that no other person should we honor or worship as He.  Why do Lutherans claim that title then.  I understand we are all under the umbrella of Christian, but that just seems odd, and just popped in my head, that to name your group after a person like that, seems interesting to reflect on.  I don’t know where the name Lutherans come from or when it started, so maybe someone will fill that in for me.  When thinking about names and the importance they have, why are people proud to be called nondenominational.   That seems like you are proud that you don’t stand for anything.  People may ask what is Catholic suppose to mean.  It means universal, I always thought that was rather appropriate when understanding God wants to bring everyone home to Him.  

Monday, May 02, 2011

May 2, 2011 – Romans 3

Unlike most times, this one is late because I really wanted to think about this and write a good reflection.  I think I did pretty good and if you aren’t reading all of these, I think you should read this one. 

Redound has many meanings it appears.  The one that seems to apply in verse 7 is to reflect.  Here are all the definitions.

1.to have a good or bad effect or result, as to the advantage or disadvantage of a person or thing.

2.to result or accrue, as to a person.

3.to come back or reflect upon a person as to honor or disgrace (usually followed by on or upon ).

I really didn’t know what it meant or how it was really being used.  I really tried to spend some time with this chapter to piece it together and understand it, because when you read straight through it, I think it reads confusing.  Another word that is brought up and I have heard before but and not absolutely clear on its definition is expiation.

the means by which atonement or reparation is made.

A couple things are touched on that we have talked about many times already.  Verse 4 says that God must be true, which means an absolute truth.  Verse 5 talks about God being just or unjust because He inflicts His wrath.  The way it is worded says that He inflicts His wrath because He is just and must do that.  To not inflict it would be unjust because we are deserving of it.  If there is no wrath or no justice, how is God going to judge us at the end.  The idea of judgment when things are finished doesn’t make sense without the understanding that God is just and that there is an absolute truth. 

Verses 8-18 go into the fact that there is no one person or group better than any one other person or group.  We are all human and sinners and all belong to that group.  This is done by showing some do bad things in the hope that the end will justify the means (8), then criticizes his own group for judging that group (9), then goes through the different body parts and their wickedness, this relates to the same description of the body of Christ and its different parts that rely on each other and are necessary, hear all the parts are sinful in their own way, yet all a part of the same body. 

Verse 20 was interesting.  The Catholic Church teaches that we have free will and are allowed to follow that will.  But there is a large caveat.  You must correctly form your conscience.  That means you are not allowed to just do whatever feels right and say you are following you conscience.  This is a mistake that many make to justify their actions.  Verse 20 talks about forming your conscious.  St. Paul says that through the law come consciousness of sin.  Through the laws that are set out, we learn what is sinful and what not do do.  These many rules that are set out are not set to restrict out lives and limit us, but to protect us. 

BUT, you will say, St. Paul in that verse says that no human will be justified by observing the law.  Right you are and that is why the Catholic Church teaches that you are not saved by your works alone.  There is no person that can ever be saved by following all the rules of the Church and that alone.  Faith is absolutely necessary for salvation.  St. Paul makes that very clear here.  But I think many people will take this to far and say that St. Paul is saying we don’t need any of the rules.  Faith Alone is enough.  Verse 31 doesn’t say that.  Are we annulling the law by this faith?  Of course not.  On the contrary we are supporting the law.  Faith Alone is so far removed from the teaching of St. Paul that he uses the same turn of phrase to disregard it as he did for statements like, will human infidelity nullify the fidelity of God or is God unjust to inflict wrath.  Faith Alone is not supported by St. Paul in this chapter.  The law is a necessary part and works hand in hand with faith, they support each other. 

I also wanted to talk about verse 21.  I thought the statement about God has been manifested apart from the law was confusing.  As I thought about it, apart from could also mean not restricted by.  I took this to kind of relate to a similar teaching from Christ about the Sabbath being made for men, not men for the Sabbath.  Christ was criticized for doing good works on the Sabbath.  They wanted to restrict God under the laws, but God is not restricted by the law.  Christ was manifested apart from the law.  He is beyond or a fulfillment on the law, so He cannot be restricted by it.  I think this may also point to the expansion of Christ Church outside the laws of the Jewish faith.  Christ Church could not be restricted by the law.  But, and I repeat, St. Paul does not say that the law is unimportant or to be disregarded.  Any interpretation of this chapter that results in that idea, I believe, is choosing to ignore the entire chapter or only looking at the parts they want to.  Verse 31 could not be any clearer in regards to faith and the law. 

Sunday, May 01, 2011

May 1, 2011 – Amos 1-2

The introduction gives us some timeline as to when Amos was prophesying. Jeroboam II was king. I was trying to see what the books on Kings and Chronicles might say about him, but it wasn’t much. 2 Kings 15 is the part that describes his reign, but it is pretty brief. I was also looking at maps to get a sense of what things looked like because the introduction says that Amos talks about Damascus (north/northeast of Israel), Philistia (West of Israel), and Edom (south of Israel). It helps to get a feel for the geography. We will get more into that when we get into Joshua and his campaign and the splitting up of the land to the 12 tribes.

Tekoa is 10 miles south of Jerusalem and Bethel, were the introduction says he prophesied, is about 10 miles north of Jerusalem. Just to give you an idea of what we are talking about.

I was looking into the language that repeats itself, this idea of the three things and a forth. It is there way of saying that there were a lot of things, but the one we end on is this. I thought of it, from this description, as the forth is the straw that broke the camel’s back. 3 being a number that describes perfection, it is used here to show that large amount of times the people have turned their back, not necessarily on God, since the nations stated are not all God’s chosen people, but on God’s moral law that everyone is to uphold. Then the forth is what finally tips the balance and God must act. If you read it in this light, it appears to make more sense.

When you read that God will not revoke His word, you get the sense that He is not going to punish them, but then describes the punishment. I think this goes to the understanding of a Perfectly Just God. God cannot stand by and let injustice prevail, so He is saying for all these sins, I cannot revoke my Word (justice) and therefore this is going to happen.