Friday, September 30, 2011

September 30, 2011 – Ezra 10

What a wonderful image of Ezra kneeling and in the repentance and then slowly a mass of people surrounding him and joining in the sadness. It just has the sense of a movie scene.

Ezra has a period of fasting for the sins of Israel. Wouldn’t that be neat to set aside a day for us to fast for the sins of our country. A show of sorrow and repentance and prayer for the decisions our county has made that have led to destruction and sin. What an amazing act of humility and surrender to the Grace of God to try and move our country in a new direction.

The list doesn’t seem that long. And this really isn’t a very satisfying end to the book of Ezra. It just stops with the list. I guess if it is considered in conjunction with Nehemiah, that may make a little more sense.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

September 29, 2011 – Deuteronomy 10

I thought it was interesting that they talk about circumcising the foreskin of your hearts. Even know there is a foreshadowing that circumcision points to something deeper. God wants a change in our hearts, not just some physical sign of commitment or just our actions following a law. Christ brings this into fullness in His teaching and it becomes even clearer in the writings of Paul.

The Lord has no favorites. This goes along the same lines as the rain falling on the bad and the good. But doesn’t it appear the Israel is a favorite. I thought about this and have come to think that there is a difference between being chosen and being a favorite. Sometimes it might not seem that way. If we have a co-worker or sibling that appears to get pick for the best things, we may think that they are a favorite, and in dealing with human chooses, that may be the case. But in dealing with God, I don’t think we can be that quick. We are all chosen for a purpose in God’s plan and what that purpose is may be something easy or hard, but it does not show favoritism. Israel was a chosen people, not a favorite people. Yes they get land promised to them, but they also endured slavery, so whether they might appear to be favored at some points, it’s not that clear all the time. But I think there is a clear distinction between being chosen and being favored, even if it doesn’t appear to be different in human understanding.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

September 28, 2011 – Catechism 1061-1065

This is from a blog posting I just read about the word “Amen”. I will give a link to the post. There is also a very amazing video that goes along with it. I recommend reading and watching. The discussing on Amen is just the idea that not only does it have to do with what we believe, just the word Amen means what supports us, what we base ourselves on, our foundation. We say the creed as a statement of everything that holds us up, that we lean on, our biggest support.

Consider for a moment that one of the most common words we use to indicate belief is ”Amen.” Most people say it means “I believe” or “It is so.” But more fundamentally the root meaning of the Hebrew word Amen (from which we get Amen) is that something is sturdy, firm, or sure. As such, “Amen” signifies a leaning action. Amen, implies we are leaning over on something, or depending on something for support, we are “basing” our life on God, and the truths of God.”

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

October 27, 2011 – Deuteronomy 19 - 20

September 27, 2011 – Luke 9:18 - 9:48

The apostles would have a good sense of who they are saying Jesus is because they just go back from traveling. Could have saved a lot of time and just asked Herod. What does He mean by the Kingdom and those that will not taste death until its coming. Is the Kingdom Him preaching and on Earth, His death and Resurrection, the Transfiguration, the Holy Spirit coming and the start of the Church. It seems like it is just sort of out there without an answer. Moses is the law and Elijah is the prophets. Christ is the fulfillment of both and so having them all together gives us a glimpse at Salvation History in a snapshot. The boy healed, I wonder if that was being tried by the other Apostles while Christ was up the mountain. I wonder who tried.

Monday, September 26, 2011

September 26, 2011 – Ezra 8:15 - 9:15

Here we see that fasting is something that they did as well.

Mixed marriages seem hard to avoid while they were in exile.

We see a priest tearing their cloak as a sign of complete exasperation or surrender. We see the priest doing it at Christ trial as well.

A very humble prayer. He calls the people of the lands abominable. That seems a bit unusual. Usually we see the act as something abominable, not the actual people.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

September 25, 2011 – Deuteronomy 8-9

The Lord disciplines us like a father to a son. The world will say that we do not need discipline, that we can control ourselves, that science does not need moral constraints. What does science look like without morals. It looks a lot like what we are seeing now, with abortion, chemical births, cloning, euthanasia, the end of any respect for the human person. It is a slide that leads, not to freedom, but discrimination, because those in power will simply do away with those they don’t want around and without a moral footing, no one can tell them they are wrong.

They are told to follow the Whole Commandment. This is something many Catholics have a hard time with. A catholic is suppose to follow all the church’s teachings, not just the ones they like or agree with. Cafeteria Catholics are not Catholics, they are actually protestant.

When things go well, don’t forget who got you there. God is warning them that they will have great success, but not to forget God, which they will. Not only do we forget God when we have success, we also forget many of the people that God put in our lives to help us get where we are going.

Nothing they have done is giving them the land. God is giving it to them freely and He can just as easily take it away if the falter. And here Moses seems to plead with God in a very human way. Saying that He should not do something because of what people will think of Him. Would God ever be convinced to do something because of an opinion poll. Of course not, but we see here that even Moses does not quite grasp God or we see that Moses is still human with all our weaknesses.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

September 24, 2011 – Catechism 1051-1060

The existence of Hell is not a fun topic to talk about but a necessary one to ponder. The modern world does not like the idea of punishment or suffering. We would much prefer that everything cost nothing. Yet our movies and games are extremely violent. But they are removed from us, until the violent nature sneaks into our homes. This whole obsession with zombies and vampires and the like seems to go along with this inherent nature God gave us for life after this earthly life. That is because God gave us that nature. We try to fill it with these distorted ideas, but it is hard to deny that there isn’t something there in all of us that doesn’t long for something more eternal or immortal than our Earthly life. And that isn’t wrong, God wants us to seek for that eternal life, but we must look to Him to receive it or it will be an eternal life of pain and suffering.

Friday, September 23, 2011

September 23, 2011 – Luke 8:40 - 9:17

I have talked before about the faith of the woman and the idea of praying with faith and praying without, so I won’t go into that again.

I am surprised at the reaction of Jesus to the crowd. It must have been frightening because of the people’s reaction to Him. Some people were denying that they touched Him, even though the crowds were all over Him. The woman came forward trembling, so obviously she was scared.

How must Jesus have felt being ridiculed by those that said the daughter was dead. He said was asleep and they scorned Him for it. What were their thoughts when she walked out of her room.

He tells the parents to “tell no one”, but they just talked about the crowds being so large and they all heard them say she was dead before. They didn’t have to tell anyone, as soon as the crowds see the girl, the story will circulate.

I wonder if people might deny that the miracle happened and that she was not really dead. Those that were opposed to Jesus could just as easily say that the people that said she was dead did not know what they were talking about.

How long did the Apostles go off by themselves. Christ ministry only lasted 3 years, so it doesn’t seem like it could be that long, yet it would have taken a long time to travel. How far did they spread out and how did they know where Jesus was when they got back.

The section on what Herod says about Herod is similar to what the Apostles say when Jesus ask them “who do people says that I am”.

Is there anything to the fact that there were 12 baskets full, since 12 is an important number throughout the Bible.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

September 22, 2011 – Ezra 7 - 8:14

When I was reading this I was thinking what the king was doing about other religions during his reign. Here we see him giving the Israelites permission to make sacrifices for the kingdom. I wonder if the king covered all his basis and asked other religions to do the same for him. I wonder how much he put into Israel’s sacrifice or if it was just one of many.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

September 21, 2011 – Deuteronomy 7

I remember reading this before, I am not sure when, but the part about the conquering being a slow process because God does not want them to be overrun by wild beast. Not something you really think about when conquering people is what you do with the land you conquer. If you take too much too fast you are left vulnerable. Here, God says they will be vulnerable because the land left behind will become wild and untamed and wild animals will take control. With Napoleon and Rome it was stretching over so much land that they could not control the natives or were too far away from resources. For Hitler it was getting so much so fast that he ended up fighting on two fronts and his resources dried up. God not only understands how to help Israel conquer the land, but instructs them to do in a slow and methodical way so that they can maintain control over what is taken. I wonder if anyone has ever looked into writing a book about the Military Strategy of God.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

September 20, 2011 – Catechism 1042-1050

Taking care of the Earth is something that is not usually associated with being Catholic. But here we see, in our Catechism, that we are to be aware of what we are doing to the world because in some way it relates to the Heavenly world that is to come. We do not know how they relate, but our actions and treatment of the world figures into our treatment and placement in the world to come. It seems to say that advancements and growth in material knowledge are also beneficial as long as they stay within the limits that God sets forth because they promote more stability in the world. Many times Catholics are seen as old fashioned or opposed to science and growth, but that just isn’t the case. All that a Catholic would say is that we are limited by a moral standard and that stepping outside that moral boundary for the sack of progress should not be allowed. In fact, I would go as far to say that any “progress” made outside those bounds is actually a step backwards in the scheme of human development. Nuclear weapons, abortions, birth control, cloning, are things that many would label as “progress”, but have left us as a human entity in sadder shape than before they were around.

Monday, September 19, 2011

September 19, 2011 – Luke 8:16 - 8:39

I always thought it was weird that He sent the demons into a herd of pigs and that they killed themselves. And why did they ask not to be sent into the Abyss. What were they talking about. Did they not want to go back, did they like their vacation away while on Earth possession this person. I wonder what happened to them after the pigs died. Did they go back into the Abyss anyway and Christ was teaching them a lesson. Just a very odd story. And I have heard there is significance in the fact that it was a Gentile area, the pigs were unclean for Jews, the man lived among the tombs, etc, but still always seemed to me and odd story.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

September 18, 2011 – Ezra 5:8 - 6:22

a beam is to be taken from his house, and he is to be lifted up and impaled on it. Is this a description of the first crucifixion. If it isn’t, it is a ancestor of it. We see that Darius allows the Temple to be rebuilt because he finds the Memo for Cyrus. But what happened to the note that stopped the building in between. Maybe that had not been a written memo and something Oral, so it did not hold as much weight. We do see that it takes a long time to build. The 1st year of Cyrus, continuing through the 6th year a Darius. Cyrus reigned 559 BC – 530 BC (30 years), followed by Cambyses 530 BC – 523 BC (7 years), and then Darius.

Things I looked at seem to say that this is not the same Darius from Daniel and that Daniel’s writer might have used the name here because Darius was well known in Jewish History because of the Temple being built during his reign.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

September 17, 2011 – Deuteronomy 6

you shall love the LORD, your God, with your whole heart, and with your whole being, and with your whole strength. Seems simple enough and yet is really the thing we do least often. Why don’t we follow this basic commandment. If we did, everything in life would fall into place a lot better than when we try to get if accomplished on our own, yet we don’t love God. Instead of the path that we should be walking on, we treat Him as the Safety net we use when we fall. Everything we do should be filtered through this commandment of love of God. Try to do it for a day, an afternoon, an hour and see what a difference it can make in your life.

Friday, September 16, 2011

September 16, 2011 – Catechism 1038-1041

I just don’t understand how someone can look at a Bible passage like John 5:28-29 “Do not be amazed at this, because the hour is coming in which all who are in the tombs will hear his voices and will come out, those who have done good deeds to the resurrection of life, but those who have done wicked deeds to the resurrection of condemnation.” And still feel that Faith Alone is plausible or any understanding of Salvation without figuring in the works that some has done. The final judgment will only be a surprise for those that are still on Earth when that time comes. Those already in Heaven and Hell know their outcome. They will be united with their bodies and go to their perspective places. Those still on Earth will be judged all at the same time, I guess. I don’t know what happens to those in Purgatory. I don’t think it will exist after this final Judgment because you will either be in Heaven or Hell after that. They are going to Heaven, but I don’t know how their time in Purgatory happens. Maybe they will all be purified in a automatic way. Maybe everyone in Purgatory has their time measured to end at the end of time (Because time can work differently in the afterlife, it is not restricted to our understanding) and everyone in Purgatory finishes in unison with the Final Judgment. What happens to those on Earth that are around during the final Judgment and are not ready for Heaven but haven’t chosen Hell, those that would have been sent to Purgatory but it not being available after the Final Judgment. I assume there will be some way that they will be purified or something will happened when they receive their Glorified Bodies. It is all very thought provoking, but really unknowable.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

September 15, 2011 – Luke 7:36 - 8:15

The parable of the Sower is always humbling to think about what kind of ground we are. I really think there are times in my life when I have been every kind of soil. Times when I would not let seed in at all, times when I heard it but it did not take root, heard it but was over powered by temptations, and heard it and acted on it. I think, being honest with myself, the third is where I spent most of my life because I feel I was easily tempted into going against what I knew to be right and any fruit I did bare wasn’t mature or as strong as it could be. I think this is where most people struggle because many of the weeds that choke us do not appear to be weeds and are allowed to grow until they become a danger and then we find them very difficult to get rid of. I still have weeds, but I feel my soil is as good as it has ever been. But any farmer will tell you that soil will only stay useable with constant tending, so that is what I am trying to do.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

September 14, 2011 – Ezra 4 - 5:7

Here we are introduced to King Darius, familiar to us because of the story of Daniel and the Lions. It says that construction was delayed until the second year of Darius. We do not see Darius’ response about building it and I don’t imagine we will see any connection between this story and Daniel, but we know from Daniel that Darius allows Jews to pray to God and allows prayer to Israel’s God, if not recommending it. We will see how that image may reflect or be similar to what he acts like here.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

September 13, 2011 – Deuteronomy 5

Obey and you will have a long life. Also, your generations will be blessed to the 1,000th generation. When you think about a generation as 25 years, 2500 years is about 500 years before Christ. So those that were true to God during Israel’s exile are still being blessed.

We see the 10 Commandments here, but this is not the only rules. Much like we have major laws, don’t drink and drive, they are followed by many different particulars, the same thing with God’s law with Israel. Though shall not kill, followed by different conditions for different circumstances.

Monday, September 12, 2011

September 12, 2011 – Catechism 1030-1037

I have been working my way through Dante’s book on Hell, Heaven, and Purgatory. It is a very interesting read. One thing I think is misunderstood about Purgatory that this makes clear is that those in Purgatory are glad to be there and happy to be undergoing the punishment or cleansing. They understand that they are heading to Heaven and want to get there purified. They do not want to go to Heaven if they are not ready.

It is also mentioned about predestination. We have already discussed in other thoughts about the difference between predestination and double predestination, which Catholics do not believe in. This is what paragraph 1037 says God does not predestine anyone for Hell.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

September 11, 2011 – Luke 7 - 7:35

I don’t remember knowing that the Centurion didn’t go to Christ, but sent friends. The language that is used here is going to be in the new translation of the Mass that we will have starting in Advent, saying “under my roof”.

We also see the middle of the 3 of the people that Christ raised from the dead. The daughter that was raised had just died and was still at home. Lazarus had been dead and buried several days. Here, the son had died and was in a coffin on his way to the grave when raised.

When you look at what John did and they said he was processed, Christ is a glutton, you can see that people don’t care what you do and will always find fault if they don’t want to change. They didn’t want to hear what they were being told, so they were going to find a reason not to follow them, whether it makes sense or is rational.

I didn’t know if this was Simon of Simon/Peter that Christ was talking to or a Pharisee named Simon.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

September 10, 2011 – Ezra 2:29 - 3:13

I like the image of the older generations weeping at the start of the new construction for the new Temple. It is so hard for them to leave the old Temple in the past, even though it is destroyed and gone. Imagine their devastation watching it being destroyed.

This is another time when we see the age of 20 and up being used for a task. In the wilderness, all the 20 pluses were the ones that were not going to enter the promise land. I just found it curious that 20 seems to be the age when boys become men, yet Mary was 14 when she had Jesus and that seems to be a normal age. I have always heard that girls mature faster than boys, and that does not appear to be something new but Biblical.

Friday, September 09, 2011

September 9, 2011 – Deuteronomy 4

I found it a bit funny that Moses is going on about the warnings to this new generation and reminding them of what they saw of God’s power in Egypt. This was not the generation from Egypt, they were all gone, by God’s design. This generation, minus a few, had never been to Egypt or seen those wonders. I would have been like “what do you mean we’ve seen God’s power in Egypt” or something like that. Granted, they are going to see God’s power in other ways.

Thursday, September 08, 2011

September 8, 2011 – Catechism 1023-1029

I am in the middle of Dante’s book and haven’t gotten to Heaven yet, but it has been very descriptive of Hell and Purgatory. So, it will be interesting to see how he describes Heaven when it is indescribable.

Wednesday, September 07, 2011

September 7, 2011 – Luke 6:12 - 6:49

When I read about the blind leading the blind, I think of these churches that are started by people on their own. First of all, who has the arrogance to think they can lead people to Heaven. When humility is one of the most preached about characteristics and one that Christ shows over and over, how can someone who props himself up as having all the answers, exact opposite of humble, lead people to Heaven. Second, who joins a church that is started by someone like that. I cannot see myself relying on someone who starts a church because they have a different view on a certain belief and therefore feels they can do it better. Where is there any authority for that and where is the credibility. What about the church they left and why shouldn’t you follow them. There are only two options really, either everyone can be their own leader and guide to Heaven or there is only one guide to Heaven and everyone else is off track. If you do not believe there is only one way to Heaven, one Truth, one Church, why do you follow anyone else’s interpretation. You might as well go it alone because you have just as much ability to get it right as they do. Fortunately I do believe there is only one Way, Truth and Life and I am doing my best to follow that One.

Tuesday, September 06, 2011

September 6, 2011 – Ezra 2:20 – 2:58

So, we not only see that the different families were coming back, but that the family jobs were also being kept. If your great grandfather was a Temple servant, you were going to be a Temple servant. I mentioned last time about it being weird to go back to a place you had never been, what about a Temple servant who had never done that before, not to mention the fact that there was no temple to serve at. This person had spent their life in exile, learning how to live a certain way, now was being sent back to a strange land and going to have to figure out a new role for a place that didn’t exist. I think sometimes we hear about the exile and the return and don’t really think about what that meant to those that were going through it. What was going through their minds. Did they really want to go back. Maybe those that were going to gain power, sure, but what about the everyday temple servant. What if they had a better life in exile. Were they going to go back so easily. A lesson we could think about when God maybe calls us to do something that requires sacrifice for us.

Monday, September 05, 2011

September 5, 2011 – Deuteronomy 3

Here we have the last battle on this side of the Jordan and the promise of these lands as long as those tribes send soldiers across the river. Nothing more to add, especially since this is pretty much what we read about at the end of numbers a couple of weeks ago.

Sunday, September 04, 2011

September 4, 2011 – Catechism 1020 – 1022

Thinking about death is very sobering. There is a prayer in the Church for asking for a peaceful death or asking that it not be sudden. The reason is that there are rites and rituals that are supposed to be done as close to a person leaving this Earth as possible. When this life is over, our choice is made. These last moments, if spent in a holy state, participating in these rites, are the last vehicles of grace that can be offered to help a person leave this world in a state of grace. These opportunities are not there for someone who dies in an auto accident or a fire or other cases like that. That isn’t to say they are not in a state of grace, not at all, but just that the Church has these instruments of grace and it is beneficial for your immortal soul to take advantage of them. When dealing with your immortal soul and eternity, you should probably be looking for all the help you can get.

Saturday, September 03, 2011

September 3, 2011 – Luke 5:17 – 6:11

The parable about the old and new cloth and wineskins has always puzzled me. I was thinking that this might have been a message to the Pharisees. The “old” leadership in the church did not want to hear Christ new message. They didn’t want to change the ways things were. They are the old cloth or wineskins. Trying to put the new teachings in them will make them burst. Much as the new teaching could not fit inside the old laws without both being ruined. Christ brought new teachings and new law. It was still God’s law, just as new cloth is still cloth, but it could not mesh with the old in a way so that both could exist together. Also, the part where those that are drinking old wine will not want the new is saying that those that are engrained in the new law will not want the new and will fight against it. That seems to make a lot more sense to me now. When you think about it that way, then think about the conflict in the early church about what parts of Judaism to keep in the new Christian church, you can see this parable played out even more. Trying to have both, or by trying to put the new wine in the old wineskin, would have ruined both. You had to get a new wineskin, those of the old way had to completely change their thinking. Any attempts to shape the new to fit in the old led to nothing.

Friday, September 02, 2011

September 2, 2011 – Ezra 1 – 2:19

Cyrus ruled from 539 – 530 BC, so we get an understanding of where we are starting. It seems a bit odd that after a certain time the king would just say, “ok, you can all go home”, but God is just that powerful. He had brought about the exile through the use of the other nations and now was releasing them. So, after 70 plus years, they are returning to a city most of them had never seen and had only heard about. In our day in age it is hard to imagine not knowing something with all the information we have access to. It would be like me going back to where my family lived in Germany before they came over here. It is completely foreign to me, yet it was their home for possibly hundreds of years. Keep that in mind as we read on.

Thursday, September 01, 2011

September 1, 2011 – Deuteronomy 2

Here we review the end of the journey and the beginning of the conquering of lands. Notice how there are only certain lands that will be conquered. The Lord is very specific about what land is to be given and which land has already been given and cannot be touched. Also notice that the groups that are conquered work towards God’s end with efficiency. Instead of Israel going around to all the separate leaders and conquering them, they team up to defeat Israel. Thus, with their defeat, Israel gets all the lands while only fighting one large battle. It is also to show God strength. While any of the smallest countries could have defeated Israel if they disobeyed God, which in fact happened to the first generation, not even nations combined could stand against them when God was with them.