Thursday, June 30, 2011

June 30, 2011 – Hosea 12-14

12:2 chasing the wind. We saw this expression used many times in Ecclesiastes. Here it is used to describe Israel seeking the help of other nations and not turning to God. It is a pointless effort to get their help because they are not able to give what the Lord can give them and will not protect them from God’s wrath. Over and over they will attempt alliances and pacts with the nations that surround them, but they always end the same, even today it seems the case. Israel is looked upon by its neighbors as being different and a threat. If they make agreements with 2 neighbors that surround them, they make 6 other neighbors mad. They are constantly under threat by their surroundings. God understands this and, at least during Old Testament days, it was precisely because God was with them that they are seen as this threat. He brought them there, small and insignificant, so that He could raise them and in doing His will, He would bring about comfort to the world. But the small scared nation will not seek His aid, but the aid of those that use to be enemies.

12:8-9 loving fraud and how rich I have become. All to be wiped away in an instant. They are so connected to the world that they have lost faith in what is not of this world. They seek assistance of the world for help, when the only thing that will help is assistance not of the world. They are so proud of what they have, yet it matters very little in the end.

13:5-7 We are so proud of things that go well and with success that is given to us by God, that we forget God. Then when He takes it away to teach us humility, we shun Him as an evil and hateful God. God cannot win in trying to help us. We are totally beyond His help on our own. That is where Christ comes in as the link and connection to reestablish that divide. But Hosea did not know Christ. And don’t we still see this impossible task of God. Give them what they need and they become proud and forget You. Take it away and they turn on You for being an unloving God. What is God suppose to do. Can we really expect a God that wants the best for us and a relationship with us to give us our every worldly desire. Those that have everything they want, are most of them in a strong relationship with God. Those that have had and lost, are they in a good relationship with God. The TV evangelist that tell us we will have what we want if we really pray do not understand God at all. He does not build His relationship with us by buying us off with material things. He builds it by our continually turning to Him, doing His will, thanking Him in good times and bad. That is where the relationship comes from.

13:13 is a very graphic description of Israel. Described as a baby in the womb that will not come out when it is time but dies inside because of that refusal. I never thought about infants actually thinking about whether to come out on their own or not. Obviously this was before a C-Section would have taken the baby out.

13:15 – I thought “O death, where is your sting” was Shakespeare. I tried to look it up, but everything I saw said it was not Shakespeare but St. Paul in Corinthians that actually develops this line. Obviously they were not using a Catholic Bible.

1 Cor 15:55 - Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting?"

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

June 29, 2011 – Numbers 23

Here we have the two blessings on Israel given by the one who was brought to curse them. Why does Balak continue to try, especially after the blessing in which God says that He cannot change His mind. Blinded by fury and arrogance, he continues to seek his own will and not be persuaded by the facts that are in front of him. Are we so different. Do we not plow through sometimes, ignoring what is going on around us, so convinced that we are right that we ignore warnings or refuse help. How often do we find that we have traveled a great way in the wrong way because to stove forward with our head down and our ears closed. We are stubborn fools when we know we are right and we find it hard to be proven wrong. I am amazed when I hear conversion stories like those of Scott Hahn and his wife or Steve Ray. There are many stories out there of people who converted after years of despising the Catholic Church and feeling they could be anything but Catholic. Many have their head down and ears closed and plow ahead, believing what they want to believe and focusing only on what supports them. Many of these conversion stories come from people who taught and made their livings working for different denominations. They had to give up their livelihood to covert to the Catholic faith. That is an amazing witness of courage and faith. A great example of stopping, looking around, realizing you been running forward with your head down and trying to get back to on the right track.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

June 28, 2011 – Catechism 914 – 919

I have heard about several groups that a consecrated groups. Although it appears that most of them are for religious communities, some I have seen are offered to just normal lay people. A chance to take or make commitments that bind you closer to Christ. It seems like an interesting thing and something I might be interested in if I found the right one that fit me. Being committed to something just doesn’t seem to mean as much these days. Whether the attitude towards marriage is the cause or just another example I don’t know. People leave jobs, churches, homes, communities, much easier than they used to. Colleges, majors, you name it, and the commitment to finish what you start is lacking. With that type of attitude in mind, it is hard to see consecrated groups lasting long, yet it is clear to see why they are so important as an example. I wish we heard more about them so that we could look upon them and their commitment more often to motivate us to stick with what we start.

Monday, June 27, 2011

June 27, 2011 – Ephesians 4

4-5. ONE – there is only one and can be only one and one does not disagree with itself and continue to function.

14 – He is talking about the gifts the Church is given, apostles, prophets, teachers and pastors so that we will not be swept away by every different teaching that comes along that sounds good or worth trying. When I hear that someone is deciding to start their own church because they do not agree with the Church they are in now it is usually based on an interpretation of something in the Bible. What does that new church interpret this verse to mean. What do those new followers make of this verse. When you leave one church for another and they are teaching something new, what do you make of this verse. Do you ignore it as something that does not apply to you. Do you consider it old fashion to be tied to only one idea. It is not progress to not allow for growth and new ideas. Branching out on your own is not Biblical, it is the opposite. Breaking away from the One Church guided by the One God and founded by the One Christ is to ignore Paul and to be swept away by the wind of new teachings. Just because this started hundreds of years ago perhaps with Luther doesn’t change the notion that he was a wind of new teaching that swept people away from the Church. The fact that the wind is still blowing, be it in 30,000 different directions, just makes it more of challenge and necessity to hold on even tighter to the ONE that Paul was talking about.

29 – Our culture cares so little about foul language. I had a filthy mouth for a very long time. I have cleaned it up for my sake and for the health of my family to the point that I find it disturbing when I hear it now. It really makes it obvious the type of slippery slope sin and lack of self control are when you think about the language we use and what that can lead to. Self control in this area makes us stronger in others, where as the lack of it in this area leads us to being more vulnerable to other sins.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

June 26, 2011 – Hosea 10 - 11

Chapter 10 is all about reaping what you sow. God speaks to them about being a luscious vine with much fruit, but the fruit is bad fruit. As they have grown, they have set up alters and pillars to other gods. They have grown in size, but withered in morality. They take solace in their arms, not God. And God is going to wipe this wealth away. They will be swept away from their land and riches, their pillars torn down, and they will not have the land God promised. Yet, even in this prophesy of losing it all, God ask them to turn back to Him for it is never too late to seek His forgiveness.

Chapter 11, even after they will be sent away and suffer for their sins, the Lord ask how could he give them up. He has brought them up from nothing and taught them what they need to know and after this purging He will bring them back, those that repent.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

June 25, 2011 – Numbers 22

When you watch Shrek movies, did you ever realize that a talking Donkey is Biblical. Well here you have the talking donkey in the Bible that tries to warn its rider of the deadly angel in their path. I don’t know if this is something that the Shrek creators did on purpose of it is coincidence, but I think it is interesting. There is a bit of a similarity between the two in that the donkey is beat or pushed to the side while trying to help in both cases until finally the person they are trying to help realizes this. The story of Balaam is very interesting and we will hear his oracles, one regarding Christ, in the next chapter I believe. We see in him someone that is very committed to doing God’s will. He has no idea what God is going to tell him to say, yet is committed to speaking it, whatever the cost. I like how he can only guarantee he will say what God wants him to, no more, no less. The King Balak, in his arrogance, is fine with this because he believes Balaam will be on his side. After witnessing or hearing about what Israel has done in the other lands, wouldn’t you think he would be a little more humble or nervous.

Camping in the land of Moab. Moab is just on the other side of the Jordan, so they are on the very border of the land God is going to give them. If the footnotes before were correct, and the sin of Moses and death of Aaron and Marian took place about 3 years after they left Egypt, then many years have passed that isn’t talked about because here we are on the backs of the Jordan which they cross to the Promise land and confront Jericho.

Friday, June 24, 2011

June 24, 2011 – Catechism 908-913

We are suppose to control our urges and in so doing help the world to become virtuous. What happens to the world when we are told we should seek to fulfill our every desire. We are told that to withhold anything from ourselves will lead to repression and mental ailments. What happens to a person mentally when they cannot control their physical urges. Is an addiction to pornography or substances healthy. That is what allowing the control to slip leads to. Yet we are told not to control our urges, but merely to curb them or do them safely. Minors are not told to resist sexual activity but to practice safe sex. Don’t resist smoking cannabis, but only use a little bit (new law trying to pass in Peoria makes it an ordinance violation and not a misdemeanor.) What are we teaching ourselves. Where is the lesson on self control.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

June 23, 2011 – Ephesians 2:11 – 3:21

In looking at this and doing some reading about this letter in my study Bible, it mentions that the tone of Paul’s discussion on the unity between Jewish and Gentile Christians is different here than in earlier letters. It says that this is a later letter, written just before he was martyred or even afterward by one of his followers. Either way, they point to the different tone as proof that the division between the two groups had subsided from where is had been while Paul wrote letters to the Corinthians or Romans. What does this mean or what can we take from this. First, that a decision had been finalized about the relationship and what things would be like going forward. We see in Acts that at the Jerusalem council Peter speaks on the decision to not force Gentiles to become Jewish first, but we see in Paul’s letters and in Acts that the decision took some time to implement or was not followed consistently. It appears that this was not an issue at around year 66. Second, we don’t see that Paul speaks of a second church or different Christians, but one. So those that wanted to be Christians were evidently following the rules set down by those that had authority to make them. We don’t see Paul saying follow me and not the other Christians, but he talks about the unity under Christ that was not there before.

And whatever people might say about some invisible Christian unity between all the churches, Paul says they are a body, something physically united, not a spiritual unity. And I have also talked before about the unity could not have contradictory teachings. This whole concept of a church that had a dispute, settled the dispute, moved on based on what the authority had set as the rule, and was now united behind that understanding and authority paints a different picture than some nondenominational church of Christians at the time the Paul was being martyred.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

June 22, 2011 – Psalms 96-99

All 4 of these bring about notions of offering God the worship He deserves. Offering everything to Him humbly. Not only are we to worship, but it describes or uses imagery of clouds and symbols of other nation’s gods bowing before Him. Even inanimate objects bow before Him and offer their worship. There is an overwhelming sense of awh and greatness and I feel it is meant to persuade doubters to worship or to strengthen faith. When you are having doubts, look to nature and the world around you and see how it moves and flows with the hand of God. Even it is under God’s command and offers itself to Him. Even the gods that others worship are under obedience to God and are bent to His demands when called upon. It goes along with the understanding that is throughout the Old Testament regarding this understanding of worshipping things that are made by man or in nature. Everything that we see is under God’s command, so to bow down to something that is inferior to God makes little sense. We are to give God the glory for everything we see.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

June 21, 2011 – Numbers 21

Again we see nations not wanting to allow Israel to travel through their lands and thus being defeated by Israel. In at least one instance, they are obliterated and described as consumed. We also have here the story of the saraph and the Lord telling Moses to put one on a pole. The healing effect if looked upon foreshadows the healing we are to receive when gazing upon the cross of the Lord. As with Israel knowing that they had sinned against the Lord and seeking His forgiveness, so we are to fully acknowledge our sin when gazing upon the crucified Lord. I wonder why Protestant churches are so against having a crucifix and only have crosses. I don’t think that has ever been explained to me persuasively. The Lord told Nicodemus (I believe) that just as Israel looked upon the saraph so they would look on the Son of Man. How can you look upon that image when you refuse to put it in your church. I wear a crucifix everyday as a reminder of what my sin has done and to be reminded of the cost. A cross is something, but why take Jesus off of it.

This is also the familiar symbol for hospitals that you will see, the staff with the saraph, to represent the healing you go there to receive.

Monday, June 20, 2011

June 20, 2011 – Catechism 901 – 907

Everything we do in our lives is suppose to be an offering to God.  That is what is meant for the laity of the Church.  We are not called to be in the missions or the monasteries for lives of contemplation, but called to live in the world, but not be of the world.  But just because we do not spend days in silent reflection, does not mean we are not called to offer our time to God.  We are called to make everything we do an offering.  The drive to work, the filing of paper, the hard work in the factory, the patient caring for a child, it is all to be offered to God as our sacrifice.  The ordained are called to a different type of life with its own sacrifices.  The laity are our own group, but have our own duties that are unique to us and we cannot shriek of our duties or the Church will suffer. 

Sunday, June 19, 2011

June 19, 2011 – Ephesians 1 – 2:10

1:13-14 appear to be saying that whatever act in which they were sealed with Christ, the footnotes indicate baptism is what is being referenced. But for those that may think otherwise, maybe it is someone’s initial profession of faith which is being described. Whatever may be being described, what came to my mind is the idea that this is a “first installment”, in other words, more will be needed to obtain salvation.

2:8-10 is another example of something that appears to put all the focus on faith in being a person’s salvation. We are saved through faith, which a gift of God and not by works so that we might not boast. Just this mean we are saved by faith alone or can it be interpreted differently. The way I see it, and no one has ever been able to explain this to me, but the idea of being saved by faith alone is an understanding that a person says the believe Christ is the son of God and died for their salvation and in making that profession is considered to be saved. First, isn’t that an action or work and Secondly wouldn’t that cause a person to boast and isn’t that what people are doing when the go around proclaiming their salvation and condemning others. Is a faith like that something Paul would promote from these two verses. Could he have been saying that our faith is a gift from God that allows us to be saved and influences us and that works alone are not enough so as to stop us from boasting in ourselves. Any works we do if not done with faith are of no avail, where as works done with the faith given to us by God are “good works that God has prepared in advance”. I think it is more easily understood under the Catholic doctrine of being saved by both faith and works rather than a faith alone doctrine which would, I believe, lead to the boasting that Paul warns against.

Plus, if we are saved by faith alone, which we have nothing to do with and is controlled by God alone, that seems to lean towards a double predestination theology.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

June 18, 2011 – Wisdom 7

In the description of the choice of wisdom over other gifts I am reminded of the story that is often talked about, but I don’t really know. The story of coming to a fork in the road and choosing the one and that making all the difference. Here we see that choosing wisdom made all the difference. We have a self described very average man that was made extraordinary because of the one choice to have wisdom instead of wealth. From that wisdom he gained wealth and power, but credits it all to the wisdom. And I love how they describe their devotion to wisdom as a physical person, something to be honored and cherished. I think we so often look at our attributes as something we can turn on and off like a switch, act one way around some and different around others. But if we are convicted to our attributes then we will not cheat on them and will stay committed. It think that is something to reflect on a try to implement in our lives.

Road Not Taken by Robert Frost

Two Roads diverged in a yellow wood, And sorry I could not travel both And be one traveler, long I stood And looked down one as far as I could To where it bent in the undergrowth;

Then took the other, as just as fair, And having perhaps the better claim, Because it was grassy and wanted wear; Though as for that the passing there Had worn them really about the same,

And both that morning equally lay In leaves no step had trodden black. Oh, I kept the first for another day! Yet knowing how way leads on to way, I doubted if I should ever come back.

I shall be telling this with a sigh Somewhere ages and ages hence: Two roads diverged in a wood, and I-- I took the one less traveled by, And that has made all the difference.

Friday, June 17, 2011

June 17, 2011 – Numbers 20

Here we have, in one chapter, both Aaron and Miriam dying.  My footnotes say this is about 3 years into the Exodus.  If it is going to last 40 years, these two don’t make it very far and Moses will be dealing with the Israelites on his own for most of the time.  Aaron is a very important character and the first high priest, but if he dies 3 years into the Exodus, and he really wasn’t too important it seems up until the Exodus, then he had a very short span of importance in the timeline of the Bible, yet a very significant one.  3 years is the same length as Christ ministry, so you can see what a person can do with only 3 years. 

Moses struck the rock twice instead of once and therefore will not be entering the promise land.  That seems rather harsh, considering we don’t know how long the pause was.  Then I was thinking, even if he had only hit it once but without conviction or with doubt, God would still know.  God knows not only what we are going to do before we do it, but the motivation and thoughts behind it better that we do.  There didn’t need to be any physical or apparent delay for God to know what was in Moses’ heart and his doubts.  And notice that Moses will defend the people against God or ask God to be merciful on them when they do wrong, but has no argument for this reaction.  He knows very well that he had doubted God in that moment or I think we would have had some back and forth from Moses.  He knew he was in the wrong and accepted the consequences. 

Thursday, June 16, 2011

June 16, 2011 – Catechism 897-900

Here we have the description of the importance of the lay people of God, those that are not the ordained. The most important activity of the lay people is their effect on the world around them. Those ordained to serve the Church have a particular duty, but are often seen as not a part of the world. The lay person is a part of the community around them and has the duty to take their faith and spread it to the world around them by living that faith in their everyday lives. The ordained serve the lay people and in response the lay people are to serve the world and therefore transform the world. The ordained cannot transform the world, nor is it their vocation to do so, without the lay person. Much like a person is not convinced by outside advice as much as they are convinced by experience, so the world is not convinced by the preaching of the ordained, but by the witnessing of the lay person living out their vocation.

That is why it is troubling when you hear about the number of Catholics that are Catholic by name alone and really do not believe or live by the teachings of the Church. That leads the world to see the Church as an example of hypocrisy and weakness and is not persuaded or convinced by actually turns further away from the Church. Many may believe the it is the responsibility of the ordain to preach to the world, but it is our responsibility to do so. The fact that the lay people are weak in their faith may be contributed to the weakness of the ordained because that is their responsibility, but that does not take away our responsibility to share our faith with the world.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

June 15, 2011 – Romans 16

16:17-18 I take from this warning to watch out for those that want to teach something that is opposed to the authority of the Church. Paul is saying that there is a certain teaching that is true and that it is authoritative and it is what he is following and that any dissension from this is to be guarded against. He says that people who teach their own way or against this authority are fulfilling their own appetites and deceive the hearts of the innocent. So we do not see Paul in favor of a nondenominational church or a church that is divided into many thousands of different denominations, we see Paul in favor of a Church that is one and has teaching authority and warning against anybody that goes against its authority. For all of his arguing against those that feel the Gentiles must conform to the Jewish law and arguing against the balance of faith and works of law throughout Romans, here at the end we see him telling the Romans that there is a way of doing things and a leadership that is not to be diverged from. Martin Luther was not the first person to challenge the authority of the Church nor is he last, but he is one that has a substantial impact in how Christianity looks today. You wonder what people thought of Martin Luther and how they interpreted this warning of Paul when he came up with his own teachings and beliefs. It seems that Paul's warning was basically against exactly the thing that Luther did and exactly for the reasons for what Luther's actions led to.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

June 14, 2011 – Hosea 8-9

Here we have the continued to prophesy about what is going to happen to Israel. What I thought was interesting was in 8:12, that there were at ordnances that God had wrote for them. This goes back to the whole understanding that we don't need rules or authority to have a relationship God. It is not something that is Biblical to not follow God's rules or authority.

9:10 it talks about finding Israel like grapes in a desert and developing them into something that he could be proud of. He took them, from all the other nations and peoples, and chose them to develop his kingdom on earth. And with all the care and love that a person takes in growing something they're proud of, they turned away from him in the end and would not follow what he taught, and so we see this understanding of the vine and the branches and the root in the imagery that Paul uses about the Gentiles been fastened on as new branches to replace the Jews who were cut off.

Monday, June 13, 2011

June 13, 2011 – Numbers 19

I find this chapter about the red heifer very interesting, because I have heard about people that believe the ashes of this red heifer are something that is necessary for the construction of the new temple. I've heard different things about whether these ashes have been or are close to being discovered, and that the closeness or their belief to be discovered marks the return or the coming of the Messiah. In looking at this a little closer I found the web site below which appears to be a group that is making attempts to build a new temple. There is a lot information about the red heifer and what is believed about it and some of the discoveries that lead people to believe their close to finding the ashes. I have some quoted portions added below, but I think it is necessary to explore the Web site to get an understanding of what they're really talking about. There is mention of the fact that there were or have been a 9 red heifers and that the discovery of the 10th red heifer will be the mark of the coming of the Messiah. In looking at other information on the red heifer there are Christians who believe that the discovery of a new red heifer will be the second coming of Christ or that the red heifer was a foreshadowing of Christ first coming. I think it can be understood that the belief that the tenth red heifer signifies the coming of the Messiah and seeing Christ and his Sacrifice and his being the 10th Red Heifer could be something that is linked or could be shown or believed. I obviously don't know enough about all the red heifer history to say anything positively, but with the number of foreshadowings of Christ in the Old Testament, I think seeing the red heifer as another one among those is not a stretch.

One of things that I found most interesting is a group that feels the finding of the new red heifer marks the second coming of Christ and therefore is trying to breed Red heifers and establish them in the Holy Land so as to bring about, prematurely or on their own, the Second coming of Christ. It goes along with this whole misunderstanding that we have some control over God and his plan. Much like this understanding that we can predict the end of the world, we just simply have no real control and are out of our league when we think about or deal with God and eternity.

One thing the website about the Temple has is a video about the new blueprints and computer animations of portions of the new temple. The section I watched was a computer animation of what the Sanhedrin is to look like in the new temple that will be built. It is a beautiful chamber that looks very modern, but what I found myself picturing is Christ sitting or standing in front of this new group in this new modern building surrounded by this new and modern Sanhedrin being accused of what he was accused of. We have our visions and our understandings of what that looked like when it happened to Christ back then, but it was interesting to picture that happening in a new Sanhedrin that they are trying to develop. This want to build a new temple is not something that is outrageous to this group. On the contrary it is something that it appears is at the very heart of what they're trying to accomplish and so you wonder what all that means or will come to.

An oft - asked question with regard to preparations for a new red heifer in our own time is: Even if a new red heifer could somehow be obtained, slaughtered and burned, how can ritual purity be reinstated without the kelal, the container of original ashes dating back from the time of Moses?

Indeed, many people seem to be under the impression that without those original ashes, it would be impossible to rebuild the Temple - since they would have to mixed in with the new ones, as was done in the past, whenever a red heifer was prepared… In recounting this historical record in his commentary to the Mishna, the great Maimonides ends with the enigmatic statement: "... and the tenth red heifer will be accomplished by the king, the Messiah; may he be revealed speedily, Amen, May it be God's will."

With this amazing statement, Maimonides recounts an ancient tradition - that the tenth red heifer is associated with the Messianic era. Does this perhaps mean that the appearance of a red heifer in these waning end times is an indication, a forerunner of the appearance of the Messiah himself, who will officiate at its preparation?

Sunday, June 12, 2011

June 12, 2011 – Catechism 893-896

I think because of the power that bishops have over their dioceses, it is even more upsetting when and they are caught in acts that are, for lack of a better term, evil. It is not excusable for a priest to have sins or to act upon them, as in the sex abuse scandals, but the more damaging aspect were the cover-ups or the hiding done by the Diocese under the control of the bishop. As these paragraphs describe, the bishops have an extreme power and are not controlled by the Pope but are supposed to work in communion with the Pope. The Pope can advise them and instruct them, but the Pope is just another bishop in the hierarchy of the Church. So to some extent these bishops of different Diocese are the top of the latter and so for them to abuse their power in such a scandalous and evil way as to hide indiscretions or abuses is much more harmful to the Church overall than the abuses themselves. The abuse done by a priest is a horrible thing and can cause lifelong injury to those personally affected and may even cause harm for extended period of time to a parish that they served, but the Acts of the bishop in covering it up or trying to hide and or allowing the abuse, have had far reaching implications throughout the World wide Church. This is where the real damage has come because these men are responsible for the leadership of entire areas of the Catholic Church, not just singular parishes. Not only that but they are all so a visible representative of the Catholic Church to Non-Catholics. So when they are caught in scandalous or evil acts the rest the world sees that and not what may be going on in the majority of cases or they will lose sight of what the Church actually teaches or is trying to teach.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

June 11, 2011 – Romans 15

This sounds like the end of the letter to the Romans, but there's still one more chapter. A little bit about what Paul is talking about can be made clearer I think. First of all the money he is taking back to Jerusalem, as I understand it, is because the church in Jerusalem was suffering from a famine I believe. In the movies about acts that I've seen Paul is greeted with animosity by the Jews or Jewish Christians in Jerusalem and they feel he is there to the argue with them or to brag about his converts. But without even saying a word he brings in bags and bags of gold or money and more or less convinces them of the Gentiles willingness to become Christian by the fact that they gave so much to help the Jewish Christians in Jerusalem. We also know that Paul does not come to Rome on his own after this trip. This trip to Jerusalem to take money ends with him being arrested for preaching in the temple, and this arrest is when he asked that his case be heard in front of Caesar, which requires him to be taken as a prisoner to Rome. So Paul ends up going to Rome, but only as a prisoner. After this is a it is unclear exactly what happens to Paul. I've read that he was under house arrest but still allowed to preach and never left Rome again. I've also read the there's some thought that he was released, eventually went to Spain and preached and then came back to Rome and was arrested again and that arrests is what eventually led to his martyrdom. We really don't know because Acts ends with his first arrival in Rome being arrested, so we just don't have any source to tell us what happened to Paul.

But because we're coming to an end of Romans, I think I will just make one more attempt at a logical argument against the whole notion of once saved always saved that can sometimes be argued using Romans. These letters that Paul writes are to Christians, and because they're Christians we assume that they believe in Christ. Yet Paul believes, enough that he would write letters to correct them, that there salvation is still at risk. It makes no sense to write letters to correct people for their salvation if an understanding of once saved always saved it is to be believed or followed.

I also think it was interesting that Paul talks about the need for Christ to be Jewish in order to fulfill the prophesies of the Old Testament, but understands that to only mean that it had to be where Christ came from, not what Christ was going to do. Christ was a Jew but he came for all, appears to be a clear message from Paul throughout Romans.

Friday, June 10, 2011

June 10, 2011 – Isaiah 51-52

Here we see again and the promise of redemption for the Israelites. Promise that they will be returned to where they were taken from. Not only that but that the force that was against them will be turned on by their persecutors. But I think what comes across the most is the underlying urging to trust in the Lord. There is this sense that God is trying to help them understand that going against him, against his will and laws for them, will cause them nothing but grief. This underlying sense that God is completely and all powerful. There are verses that talk about the Israelites fear of those nations around them, which is understandable because they're in exile or soon to be in exile, but also the sense that God is telling them that their fear is misguided or unnecessary because of his power and ability to save them, if they turned towards him, or send them into exile if they do not turn to Him.

There's a funny line about antelopes and nets. I understand the imagery, but I've never seen antelopes caught with nets, and so I don't know if that was some way that they used to hunt for antelopes back then or if it was just confusing in the translation. But that kind of stood out to me.

Thursday, June 09, 2011

June 9, 2011 – Numbers 18

Here we have the instructions to the Levites about how they’re going forward in the future. We 1st see that there purpose is to facilitate the worship of God. We understand that the lay people of Israel are not to approach the tent were God is or to offer the sacrifices to God without the priest and the Levites doing it for them. God has set up this boundary between the offering to him and the lay Israelites. The motivation for this appears to be to protect the Israelites because without this barrier their motivations could lead them astray. So there is this limit to what a lay Israelite can do or ask for or offer to God. Their worship and their sacrifice has to go through the Levites and the priest in order to be acceptable to God. It appears that this boundary or this barrier to God is something that a nondenominational Christian is trying to get around. They have an understanding that they can go to God alone and do not need any assistance with that. And to some extent that is true, in that we can all pray to God and he hears our prayer. We are encouraged to have that relationship with God and to communicate with Him often. But there is a sense that there are some things that a lay person should not be allowed to do. There are types of worship and sacrifices that God requires that he will set aside certain people to do. In much the same way that he limited the lay Israelites, I think it is clear that God would limit to lay Christian's in the same way. This is not meant to hurt us or limit our relationship with God, but to keep us in check, to humble us, and to allow for leadership and authority to correctly guide us.

We also see that this authority given to the Levites and the priest is not without rules. I think it is interesting that and the tithes that the Levites received must be tithed as well. All of Israel gives their best 10% to the Levites, and in return the Levites give their best 10% to God.

Wednesday, June 08, 2011

June 8, 2011 – Catechism 888-892

I have heard several times when there is discussion about the infallibility of the Church that such things as the early understanding of the Earth as the center of the solar system or the world being flat or Darwin’s theories that because the Church was wrong at one point or another they cannot be infallible. The Catholic Church has never claimed infallibility over all understanding. As it is said in these paragraphs, the Church can teach infallibly only in regards to faith and morals. Notions of Science are not in the same category as faith and morals. The Church does make statements about science and many of history’s greatest scientist were Catholic Clergy, but it has never claimed infallibly anything scientific. It does understand that science must conform to the morals that are taught and the science cannot contradict those things taught as infallible by the Church, but this is logical. God created or revealed those teachings of faith and morals that are laid down by the Church. God also created all things, including science and our understanding of the physical world. God cannot create these things to be in contradiction to one another. So, nothing that will ever be discovered in science can contradict what has been taught infallibly by the Church.

What is interesting is that our country was founded on the understanding that all men have unalienable rights given to them by their creator. These are rights that can never be taken away. But these laws and rights cannot be contradictory of any teaching of faith or morals given by God. In our country, the right of privacy is one that is seen to extend to the body of a pregnant women so that she can do whatever she wants with the child she carries. Faith and morals taught by God would not allow an abortion. This contradiction between laws and faith and morals cannot be correct logically.

Tuesday, June 07, 2011

June 7, 2011 – Romans 13:8 – 14:23

Here again we have examples of what can be described as scandal. A situation in which something you do maybe completely innocent, yet because someone sees it and acts in a way that is sinful, you are called to avoid doing that thing, even if there is nothing wrong with it. This isn’t a complete definition of scandal, because it is not only innocent things that can be done, but also sinful things that are swept under the rug or seen as supported, can cause scandal. But here Paul is talking about things that are completely innocent, eating certain foods, that are clean, but if someone who is not as strong in their faith witnesses it and therefore it causes them to sin, you are called to avoid it for their sake. Trying to think of an example to relate this and the two I come up with might not be the best.

If two people live together, say they are male and female, many will think they are sexually active and may think or be influenced by that action. It may be completely innocent, but the appearance is enough reason to not do it. In this day in age, I wonder, if this has gone even further. With the culture shoving homosexual relationship and their acceptance down our throat, will we come to a time when having roommates while single will always be scandalous, where people will think anyone living together are in a relationship, regardless of gender.

The second is somebody that voted for Obama. I don’t want to go into too much on this because, like I said, I don’t know if it is the best example. But Obama is a strident supporter of abortions. Voting for him is a vote in support of what he supports. Catholics are obligated not too support abortions. The fact that over half of all Catholics voted for Obama gives people outside the Catholic faith a mixed message about the Church’s position, which is not wavering. Something like voting, which is not on its own something that is wrong, and even voting for Obama itself may not be a sin, but its effect is that it may cause someone who sees that to sin, to feel abortion is ok or encourage a person to seek that as an option. So, even if voting for Obama is not a sin by itself, a Catholic should avoid doing it because doing so may cause scandal or the sin of another, which Paul is saying here should be avoided.

Monday, June 06, 2011

June 6, 2011 – Hosea 6-7

Here we have mention of the being raised on the third day. It is an obvious prophesy of Christ, but I heard a homily once that talked about us all being raised on the third day. I looked for it so that I could link to it, but I couldn’t find it. I know I won’t do it justice, but here is the jist. When we are struggling or feel down and out, we must understand that we will be raised three days later. Nothing we go through will last forever and in three days we will rise. He made very clear that three days in God’s understanding could be any amount of time in our eyes, so the timing is not what we need to focus on. What we need to focus on is the hope of the rising, the understanding that whatever we are going through is not something that is permanent. God has promised to raise us from our depths and He will do so. We must persist in hope of our raising because God has promised it will be done. Our three days could be three hours or 70 years, but in the end, God will raise us up. Being raised is not only a look at Christ Resurrection but a sign of hope for us all.

Sunday, June 05, 2011

June 5, 2011 – Numbers 17

So not even a day after people were punished for going against Moses and the Lord, people again rose up against Moses. When they gave their staffs, did they really think that it was not going to be Aaron’s staff. It is interesting that the sensors that were used by those that were punished were still sacred because they were put in front of the Lord. And they were used to cover the Ark to show, I think, not only a reminder for what happens when you defy the Lord, but as a sign that God can take what is offered, even if for evil or improper purposes, can be used for good. I think this maybe a two edge sword when dealing with people. Although people do see that God can punish those that go against Him, people also see the good things can come of it and so are tempted to push the envelope. We go about pushing the envelope, going as far as we think we can without crossing that line, in order to get what we want. We may even have the best of intentions when we do it, but God is firm in that He wants us to follow His commands. Just because He can make good use of our mistakes in spite of us, does not mean that He wants us to push the envelope. He would much rather us just go along with what He commands in the first place.

Saturday, June 04, 2011

June 4, 2011 – Catechism 880-887

The hierarchy of the Church sometimes seems so vast sometimes.  It seems like the Pope is so far above all of us.  Yet that really isn’t true.  When you think of a military hierarchy, from corporal to major to admiral to general, (and that may be completely wrong)  Here is a more detailed list.  general, lieutenant general, major general, brigadier general, colonel, major sergeant, corporal staff sergeant, private first class or something like that.  There are just so many steps from top to bottom, not counting the different degrees each one could have.  The Church is quite different. Deacon,  Priest, Bishop.  That is it.  There are different degrees within each but no where near that system that is in something like the military.    

Friday, June 03, 2011

June 3, 2011 – Romans 12 – 13:7

Chapter 12 has a couple of interesting discussion points.  First, the idea that our bodies are sacred.  In the world we live in, how many just use their bodies for things totally selfish and unholy.  Everything we see and read about, the commercials that clog everything, the pornography that destroys young people by the millions, all of these are an attack on the body.  And once we fall into the habit of using our bodies in sinful ways, they are very hard habits to break.  And the temptations are a slippery slope leading to worse and worse sins.  Our bodies and our relationships with our other gender is one of the most beautiful and mysterious ways that God shows His love for us.  This is why it is so heavily attacked by Satan. 

They other is the long list of things to do to show that you are Christian.  Not a faith alone type of argument, but a list of works that shows you are Christian.  Not only that, but Paul seems to say that different amounts of faith are given to different folks.  With different amounts of faith, a person is called to accomplish different types of task.  And he ends with the hardest task, loving your enemies even while the persecute you.  We must realize that this is not just some abstract saying from a theologian.  By the time Paul wrote this he had been stoned, arrested, and nearly killed several times.  

I almost published this without going on to Chapter 13.  Here Paul talks about obeying authority.  Not only that but he talks about those that have authority and that they were given authority by God.  Who is he talking to.  And if all the talk about not needing works of law means that you don’t need a church authority, what does he mean by “no authority except from God, and those that exist have been established by God”.

Thursday, June 02, 2011

June 2, 2011 – Hosea 1-2

Here we have the beginning of the book of Hosea, that what I found interesting was in Chapter 2 the description of the harlot in what she does to attract her other lovers. " While she decked herself out with her rings and her jewels and in going after for lovers for got me says the Lord ". 2:15. I was thinking about this and the way that we go after material things to fill our lives, to fill our hopes and dreams, and the effect that this has on us in the end. The fact the we are never satisfied by these things is so clearly understood by God and we're so clearly warned that these things will never satisfy us, and here we see it made very clear in this analogy of the harlot and Israel and what is going to happen. Israel had gone after other lands, other gods, had ceased worshiping the Lord so that they could achieve what they felt were better things then what God will provide. And God tells them that because of this they will lose everything that they've achieved. They will be taken down to a desert where they will realize what they did and they will go back to their first husband,. This is a very blunt prophesy of what will happen in the exile.

Do we you really understand that this can happen to us, do we understand that our obsession with obtaining material goods the objects of this world will come to nothing. Do we read this chapter and these prophesies and see God talking to us about the way we're living our life. Do we look to our country and the lack of morality and the want of possessions in the struggles that appear to be on the horizon and not see a connection between what God said is going to happen if you make the world your focus. At the same time we're going over Romans which goes into detail about the transition to preaching to the Gentiles. And that when Christ died He died for all, not just Jews, not just Israel, but for every living human. Here we see the harlot is Israel and that Israel is exiled or taken out to the desert to see that they're making poor decisions. During this period of Church History, Israel was the focus. Now that the whole world is the focus of God's salvation what will the desert have to look like in order for us to turn back to God. How do you exile the world from the world?

Wednesday, June 01, 2011

June 1, 2011 – Numbers 16

I haven't read the whole chapter yet, I've just gotten through the first three verses, but doesn't this sound like what a nondenominational group would say to the Catholic Church. You have a group that is tired of following the rules set down by one that has authority. " Enough from you the whole community all of them are Holy the Lord is in their midst why then should you set yourselves over the Lord congregation " 16:3. This sounds very similar to the understanding that I don't need an authority to tell me what to believe. I have the Lord, the Holy Spirit, to guide me in any type of interpretation or belief that I need to be saved. The whole idea of a religion and rules set down by someone is such a restriction on my ability to fully practice my faith and have a relationship with Christ that I cannot be a part of any religion. I only need my relationship with Christ and that is it. So let's read on and see what happens to those who feel they have Lord in their midst and don't need an authority to guide them.

So the Earth swallowed them whole into the nether world and those that were with them and were consumed by fire from heaven. I just find it's so incredibly hard to understand why people believe they don't need some authority to guide them in their religion. It is complete arrogance that allows a person to understand that they can understand thousands of years of Scripture and theological understanding on their own and rely on their own interpretations and relationship with Christ for their salvation. Throughout the Scriptures God sends leaders to guide the people. It makes no sense that when Christ left he would not have established some authority on Earth to continue his message. To believe that you do not need an authority or religion or guidance is not biblical. And to say that you could have relationship with Christ without some guidance on who Christ was or what he taught or understanding of the Scriptures is just foolish. You cannot have a relationship with someone if you do not know who they are and you cannot know Christ on a personal level issue don't fully understand what Christ taught. And if you're relationship of Christ is based on the of Christ you believe taught something and that teaching is contradictory to someone else's teaching on what Christ taught, then you don't know Christ because he is Truth and cannot contradict himself. Without Truth, and absolute truth, you cannot have Christ or any real understanding of Christ, and without understanding and knowledge of Christ you cannot have a relationship with him.