Saturday, December 31, 2011

December 31, 2011 – 2 Maccabees 12 – 12:25

This is a very violent reading.  A lot of brutal actions, on both ends.  Mostly you only hear about how brutal Israel is under God’s commands, but here we see Israel’s enemies being brutal.  They took women and children out and drowned them.  Not only that, but they did it during a time when there was an agreed peace and did so under the disguise of friendship.  I think it is complete coincidence that they mention Jericho, which we read about yesterday, and that siege and the siege here. 

Friday, December 30, 2011

December 30, 2011 – Joshua 5 – 6

First camp of Israel after the crossing. About 5 miles from the river.

Here is the moment when Israel’s enemies should have taken advantage. All the men of fighting age were vulnerable and needed time to recover. Joshua did not need to be circumcised because he had it done the first time around. I guess I never thought about whether they did this or not while in the wilderness. I thought they would have, just making it part of the ritual when a male was born, but evidently this was not done so that this new generation had to recommit themselves to this covenant with God.

Is this commander of the army of god St. Michael I wonder. And I was thinking the manna had stopped coming long ago, but evidently it went until the very eve of Joshua’s campaign.

If you ever watch the Veggie Tales version of this story, it brings up a point that isn’t really talked about hear. How close did they march to the walls and did Jericho attack them from the walls while they walked. If Israel was far enough away, then it really isn’t an issue, except that the distance they walked was longer and doing it 7 times on the last day might have taken all day. If they walked close enough, why wouldn’t Jericho attack them while they walked and if Israel just kept walking while being attacked, it took a lot of persevering to keep doing it for 7 days, going out an walking and being quite while being attacked. Especially since, according to the way I read it, Joshua didn’t let them know what was going on until the very end. This shows their trust in Joshua.

Rahab, before she was in the line of Christ, was in the line of David. I don’t know if that is brought up when David is made king, but you would think they would make that connection. Not only did God pick the youngest of a poor shepherd, but he has Rahab the prostitute in his line.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

December 29, 2011 – Catechism 1217 – 1225

I just started a book by Charles Chaput called “Living the Catholic Faith”. His first chapter talks a lot about baptism. He tells the story of a brother and sister surviving Niagara Falls. His focus is on the sister who was rescued before going over. He equates this to baptism. We are in the water and heading towards the fall. There is absolutely nothing we can do to prevent it. Out of nowhere and only because He chooses to, Christ jumps into the river and saves us from the fall. This is what happens in Baptism, we are cleansed of the stain of original sin (from going over the falls) and given a new life in Christ. Just as the sister was given a new life that was unexpected (after falling in, you could not expect to survive) and unearned, we are given a new life based solely on God giving it to us. So far it is a very good book and I would encourage you to pick it up (after I am finished of course).

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

December 28, 2011 – 1 Timothy 3 – 4

4:12 is one that we often focus on in youth ministry to encourage young people to be bold in their faith. I know growing up I had the impression that religion was for grown-ups and we were told what we should know or what was important. Young people should be encouraged to learn about the Faith and proclaim it and their example can convert those much older than themselves. It is an inspirational verse that we can all take encouragement from, but especially for those that feel they may be too young to make a difference and for those that feel they are too old to listen to a young person’s views.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

December 27, 2011 – Jonah 1 – 4

I was looking at maps for past post and thought I would look at Nineveh. It is a long way from the Holy Land. Tarshish and Joppa are also mentioned. It is unclear where Jonah starts from, but you can see, from the maps, that when he decides to run, he is going to run far. Tarshish is on the coast of Spain, so he is going to the far side of the world to avoid God. This point maybe isn’t as clear if you do not know the geography.

When the Apostles were in the ship with Christ and He was asleep during the storm, do you think this story popped into their minds. Matthew 8:24

This book not only shows the power of God, storms, control of fish, but the great mercy of God and the sense, as is evident in many places, that God’s ways are not ours. Jonah wants the destruction that was promised. He does not care about repentance. From God’s point of view, repentance, a return to God, is all He ever wants, from the very first break in the covenant. How much are we like Jonah and cannot forgive and accept others repentance.

Monday, December 26, 2011

December 26, 2011 – Joshua 3 – 4

Shittim, Adam, and the Jordan are all areas mentioned. When Joshua crosses, he is going to take Israel on a journey all over the place conquering lands. I am hoping to map it out (I am sure there are maps out there, but I want to do my own.) Adam is north of Shittim and the Jordan flows south, so if I am reading it correctly, the water stopped flowing or was blocked around Adam and the river, from Adam south, dried up allowing them to cross.

Just FYI because I was looking at the maps, the Jordan and where we are talking about are around the 31 or 32 degree latitude. That is roughly the gulf coast, New Orleans is around 30, Jackson, MS is around 32.

Location of Shittim

Location of Adam

Sunday, December 25, 2011

December 25, 2011 – Catechism 1210 – 1216

The 7 Sacraments are such an intricate part of the faith that most Catholics can name them even if they do not know what they completely entail. Hopefully, going through them one at a time, we can get a better understanding of where they come from, why they are so important and why the Church puts such an importance to them. I have received 5 of them so far. I have never receive anointing of the sick or holy orders. I would image I will receive the one some years from now and there is an outside chance I could receive the other if I were to become a Deacon. So far as I can tell, a Deacon is the only person that receives or will receive all 7 Sacraments.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

December 24, 2011 – 1 Timothy 1 – 2

1:3-6 appears to be an instruction for Timothy to not get caught up in certain parts of the history and law of the Scriptures because it can cause people to lose focus on the teachings of Christ. This happens sometimes when people focus on the differences in the stories of the Gospel and not the message. It also happens when people discredit the Bible because of the Genesis story vs. science and miss what God is trying to tell us. Paul is warning Timothy, I believe, that the Scriptures are a tool to be used and relied on, but that focusing on them entirely can cause people to go astray.

Friday, December 23, 2011

December 23, 2011 – Isaiah 33 – 34

In looking at the Restoration of Zion one sees a king restored and the Lord majestic.  I don’t know what to make of the river that is not sailed upon.  The rigging hanging and the sails not full implies that there is no wind.  What does no wind have to do with the coming of the Heavenly King.  Perhaps the peace that it brings.  Christ did calm the storm.  I am trying to picture Heaven and whether there is wind or not.  Obviously a nice breeze is pleasant, but they are pleasant when needed, when a person is hot and needs a cool breeze.  There would not be storms in Heaven, so no strong winds and the temperature is perfect, if there is such a thing as temperature in Heaven, so I guess there is no wind, or what we would consider wind in Heaven.  I have no idea if that what it was trying to point to when it talks about ships never being able to go and rigging and sails without wind, but that is what I thought about.  

Thursday, December 22, 2011

December 22, 2011 – Joshua 1 - 2

1:9 – “I command you: be strong and steadfast! Do not fear nor be dismayed, for the LORD, your God, is with you wherever you go.” This is a great verse and should be one that is memorized and repeated every day. Here we have Rahab, one of the few women in the lineage of Christ laid out in Matthew. She is neither Israelite nor a extremely holy person, a prostitute, yet she is laid out as an example of someone in Christ line. Why? Possibly to show us Christ humanity. Possibly to emphasis the power of God, taking this line and bringing about God despite its sins. Possibly to show the redemptive nature of faith and acting according to God’s will. We talk about Mary’s “yes”. Would you say that this was Rahab’s “yes” in agreeing to save them or Rahab’s “no” to the leaders of Jericho in saying that the spies were no longer with her. Both risked much in their reply

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

December 21, 2011 – Catechism 1200 – 1209

We see here that the Liturgy is suppose to integrate different forms and traditions of different cultures into itself in order to better evangelize to those different cultures. That being said, these differences are not suppose to change the foundational nature of the liturgy or go against the teachings of the Catholic Church. As we saw in the Road to Emmaus story, the liturgy of the Mass has had the same format from the beginning. Certain things about the Mass are not to be compromised, even though the outer shell may look different from culture to culture to better serve those communities.

In reading the book interview of the Pope, before he was Pope, in regards to Vatican II, this understanding was lost soon after the Council. There have been many changes that were not foreseen by the council and which have tried to change the actual underlying format of the Mass. Taking away the authenticity of the priest, changing postures or words of the prayers, taking away the traditional Latin or music, are all things that have been done that are not laid out in Vatican II but have been done under its guise. Just like changes from culture to culture, the changes that were purposed by Vatican II were went to aid it evangelizing to a broader group of people and to build the church. What has happened is a deteriorating of the Church because people took the changes too far. Just as these paragraphs warn against changes that are to the fundamental base of the Liturgy, so it should have been a warning to the Church after Vatican II. Damage has been done that, at this point, living among the destruction, seems irreparable. It sometimes seems like we are waking up to the destruction of our town in a tornado. Many questions arise about where to begin rebuilding, who will stay, what will it be like in the meantime. We have to realize that Christ said the Church would be here until the end, He didn’t say what it would look like or that it would always be flourishing. We wait to see what may arise out of the ashes, but that may not be something we actually see. That may be for our children and grandchildren. It may be on us to start rebuilding and to maintain our perseverance.

Another aspect that I thought about in comparison to the image of waking up in a town ruined by a tornado is what those outside the town see or how they act. Everyone knows about Joplin and the destruction and it was news for several days, but then it was gone and forgotten. You still here things said about it every once in a while, but not very often. During this time of turmoil, the Catholic Church has been made the spotlight of many controversies and attacked by the world at an enormous rate. Perhaps, after the destruction appears complete, which is hard to say whether we have seen the bottom, the world may forget about the Church and allow it to rebuild itself with little or no care, like we may not see Joplin rebuild. That Church may bloom into something even greater and stronger, but as I said, it is likely that we will not see it. It is only our job to start.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

December 20, 2011 – Luke 24:13 – 24:53

I love the Road to Emmaus story. Have you ever seen it as a clear description of the Mass. Here is a simple breakdown.First, Christ appeared to them and walked with them. The Priest of a Catholic Mass is in the place of Christ and begins Mass by walking in among us or with us.Second, Christ breaks open the Scriptures. This is what happens at the Liturgy of the Word. Readings from Scriptures and the Gospels are read and a homily is given that is suppose to break them open and reveal their meaning to us. Thirdly, Christ is revealed in the breaking of the Bread. This is a clear description of the Liturgy of the Eucharist. Christ is made present to us in a special and unique way in the consecrated Eucharist. After we receive Christ in the Eucharist, that form disappears and is held inside us giving us grace and peace. Fourth, they, being filled with Christ’s Grace, go out and share what they have received. This is what we are called to do after Mass. After all that we have received we are called to take that gift out and share it with the world. The entire story is a formulation of the very Mass we celebrate today, laid out on the first Easter.

Monday, December 19, 2011

December 19, 2011 – Psalms 68

Here we have a Psalm that talks about bringing Israel out of Egypt and Sinai into the Holy Land. This correlates with the Gospels in that Christ has brought us out of the slavery of sin with the Resurrection and Ascension into Heaven. It also fits in well with the fact that we just finished the books of Moses and will be digging into Joshua soon. This is the actual entry into the Holy Land. There is the imagery of God leaving Sinai to enter the Temple, of stepping on the heads of enemies, of the defeat of sinners (washing boots in their blood). Christ will go to a mountain (Sinai) and enter the Temple (Heaven), defeat enemies of sin and death. We see singers and harpist leading the way. There is just a lot of images that can remind us of Christ being taken up into Heaven, the celebration that would ensue there.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

December 18, 2011 – Deuteronomy 33 - 34

Here we have the end of Moses. I had always thought that he had gone up the mountain and never come down, but here it says that they saw him die and buried him, it’s just that no one knows where. You wonder what Moses was thinking at the end. Was he upset that he wasn’t going in or did he understand why he couldn’t. How much about the future did he know or understand. Did he know what the people would do, or had he just spoken the words God gave him without really understanding. Did he know much about Christ or that they would meet on a mountain. Had they already met during the time God spent with Moses. Did he die smiling knowing of the coming savior or sad knowing the failure of his people in the future. God spent so much time with him, you would think he would have full faith in God’s plan

Saturday, December 17, 2011

December 17, 2011 – Catechism 1187-1199

This may be something that is obvious, but I have never thought about it. The Catholic Church often says things like, Christ, with Mary, the mother of God, the Apostles, Martyrs and all the Saints, when it refers to Heaven, especially in the Mass. But when it mentions the Apostles, is it talking about Judas. He was an apostle, regardless of what he did. We consider Bishops to be the direct lines from the Apostles and can be traced back to the original 12. And they are bishops/apostles until death. And the office is not vacated after they die, but a new appointment is made. Matthias was named to replace Judas’ spot. So, a couple of questions. Was Matthias considered and apostle or a bishop. Paul says that he was an apostle, but I think that is because his mission was straight from Christ, like the original 12. If we are talking just about those select few being called “apostles”, it goes back to my original question, are we talking about Judas. Dante has Judas in hell, very close to Satan, but the Catholic Church has never announced that there is any specific person in hell. I was just curious about what is meant by the Apostles when we are talking about those at the Heavenly liturgy.

Friday, December 16, 2011

December 16, 2011 – Luke 23:50 - 24:12

There is something about the name, Joseph. It appears to mean “part of a group, but different from them.” Joseph, after Moses, was part of the group of 12 that went up to the land, but apart from them because he believed God could bring victory and thus he was allowed to see the promise land. Here, Joseph is a member of the Council, but not a part of group that worked to kill Jesus. And Joseph, step-father of Jesus, was in the royal Davidic line, but he was a lowly carpenter. It is a little confusing whether Peter believed or not. It says that the women told them but they didn’t believe “but Peter” went to the tomb. So, either Peter didn’t believe but went to the tomb for himself or did believe and just went to the tomb on his own. I think it makes more sense that he didn’t believe and this follows better with the other Gospels were Peter runs in and the other Apostle runs there faster and sees and believes. But maybe even seeing the tomb was not enough for Peter, because it still doesn’t say that he believed.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

December 15, 2011 – 2 Maccabees 3

We are suppose to see a correlation with the two dazzling men here that perform these acts and the two dazzling men at the Resurrection. I found it interesting that the apparitions, as they are described can physically harm someone. We get the sense from thinking about ghost and the like that they are just visions or air, but these two whipped the leader severely. I was also reflecting on the idea of allowing someone to do something bad in order to stop someone else from doing something worse. Here, they thought if the stopped one, the bigger fish would come and do worse. We often explain away our actions by reasoning that the ends justify the means. I was just reading about this in an interview with Pope Benedict, before he was Pope. He called it consequentialism or in a lesser degree proportionalism. We can justify anything we do as long as the end is a good or the end is of a greater proportion to the bad that is done. What this does and take God out of the picture.

We may think that the end is good, but if we sacrifice our morals to get there, we have gained nothing. If you feel that he end is good and the will of God, then the means to get there must also be in accord with God and His teachings. If you think that the only way for you to get there is to do bad, then you are separating yourself from God. All things are possible with God, so why do you think the only way to get to your end is through bad acts. This does not measure with God. Here we see Israel letting something happen that is wrong because they think it will be beneficial in the long run, but they are wrong and God must step in. The ends justifies the means is never a valid argument for achieving the will of God if you have to go against God’s goodness to get there.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

December 14, 2011 – Deuteronomy 32:30 - 32:52

Verse 47 stuck out to me. “For this is no trivial matter for you, but rather your very life”. There are so many times that people put religion to the side or on the back burner, but this is a matter of life or death. I have been told by more than one person that I should really think about starting to go to church so I can get my children baptized. Those that go to church on Easter and Christmas, those that are the last ones in and first ones out, those that are texting during Mass, do you not realize it is a matter of life and death. It is that important.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

December 13, 2011 – Catechism 1179 - 1186

I love our new Church building. I would imagine it is done on purpose, but the art work really takes you on a visual tour of the life of Christ. You can walk in and without hearing a word, get a sense of Christ life and mission. You start at the statue to the left of the alter as you are facing it. It is Mary, expecting. It is hard to tell but she looks around 4-6 months along. The painting behind the alter is of the Epiphany (name of the church) when Christ is being adored by the wise men. To the right is Joseph with a young Jesus (5-7 years old) with wood working tools. The front of the church as you enter is a large statue of Christ being baptized. Around the inside are the stations of the Cross. Above the alter is the Crucifixion. Finally in the adoration chapel you have a painting of the Resurrection. Sitting in our Church, you are visually forced to reflect on Christ and His life and sacrifice. You are instantly brought into a meditative state of mind. That is what the building of a Church is suppose to do and I think ours does a wonderful job of it.

Monday, December 12, 2011

December 12, 2011 – Luke 23:18 – 23:49

I had heard of the 7 last words Jesus spoke from the cross (meaning the last 7 sentences or phrases) and counting 3 here I was wondering how many were in the other Gospels. Here is a breakdown. The 3 we see here in Luke, then 3 in John and 1 that is common to Matthew and Mark. I thought that was a little surprising that Christ only spoke once from the cross in Matthew and Mark, but go back and look. Matthew 27:33-50 and Mark 15:22-37.

1) Jesus Speaks to the FatherLuke 23:34 Jesus said, "Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing." (NIV) In the midst of his excruciating suffering, the heart of Jesus was focused on others rather than himself. Here we see the nature of his love—unconditional and divine.

2) Jesus Speaks to the Criminal on the CrossLuke 23:43 "I tell you the truth, today you will be with me in paradise." (NIV) One of the criminals who was crucified with Christ, had recognized who Jesus was and expressed faith in him as Savior. Here we see grace poured out through faith, as Jesus assured the dying man of his forgiveness and eternal salvation.

3) Jesus' Last WordsLuke 23:46 Jesus called out with a loud voice, "Father, into your hands I commit my spirit." When he had said this, he breathed his last. (NIV) Here Jesus closes with the words of Psalm 31:5, speaking to the Father. We see his complete trust in the Father. Jesus entered death in the same way he lived each day of his life, offering up his life as the perfect sacrifice and placing himself in God's hands.

4) Jesus Speaks to Mary and JohnJohn 19:26-27 When Jesus saw his mother there, and the disciple whom he loved standing nearby, he said to his mother, "Dear woman, here is your son," and to the disciple, "Here is your mother." (NIV) Jesus, looking down from the cross, was still filled with the concerns of a son for the earthly needs of his mother. None of his brothers were there to care for her, so he gave this task to the Apostle John. Here we clearly see Christ's humanity.

5) Jesus is ThirstyJohn 19:28 Jesus knew that everything was now finished, and to fulfill the Scriptures he said, "I am thirsty." (NLT) Jesus refused the initial drink of vinegar, gall and myrrh (Matthew 27:34 and Mark 15:23) offered to alleviate his suffering. But here, several hours later, we see Jesus fulfilling the messianic prophecy found in Psalm 69:21.

6) It is FinishedJohn 19:30 ... he said, "It is finished!" (NLT) Jesus knew he was suffering the crucifixion for a purpose. Earlier he had said in John 10:18 of his life, "No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down and authority to take it up again. This command I received from my Father." (NIV) These three words were packed with meaning, for what was finished here was not only Christ's earthly life, not only his suffering and dying, not only the payment for sin and the redemption of the world—but the very reason and purpose he came to earth was finished. His final act of obedience was complete. The Scriptures had been fulfilled.

7) Jesus Cries Out to the FatherMatthew 27:46 (also Mark 15:34) And about the ninth hour Jesus cried out with a loud voice, saying, “Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani?” that is, “My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?” (NKJV) In the darkest hours of his suffering, Jesus cried out the opening words of Psalm 22. And although much has been suggested regarding the meaning of this phrase, it was quite apparent the agony Christ felt as he expressed separation from God. Here we see the Father turning way from the Son as Jesus bore the full weight of our sin.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

December 11, 2011 – Psalms 30-31

I was thinking about whether “dust gives thanks”. I think there is a verse about the rocks praising God. I mention it because this Psalm is asking that the person be spared because if they are not, they would not be able to praise God as dust, but that may not be true. It also makes you think about martyrs praising God in their suffering. I think you can praise God after your gone if the way you went causes people to change.

Jesus quotes at least two Psalms from the Cross (this one and “why have you abandoned me” Psalm 22) I think if you read most of these two Psalms you will see a lot of images that bring to mind Christ Passion, but you must look at the end to get a full sense of the hope that Christ is trying to preach. This Psalm ends “be strong and take heart, all hope is in the Lord”. Psalm 22 also ends positively, with all the nations turning to God. We go back to the idea that those present would be very familiar with the psalms and would not only know where these lines come from, but how they end. They speak of brutal treatment and wickedness, but they end in hope. Christ was trying to prepare those that were listening and us today that suffering is not the end. We must have hope.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

December 10, 2011 – Deuteronomy 32 – 32:29

I was trying to see what word they used for Rock in the older translation and if it might be any relation to when Christ calls Peter the rock. I didn’t have any luck. But we can draw from the language that a rock is something that is not movable. Whether here, or the parable of building the house on rock, ROCK is a word that we are to associate with immovability. Peter is rock, and upon this rock I will build my church. The rock is faultless, we see the Pope as infallible when speaking on faith and morals. The rock is permanent. Christ said the Church would be here until the end. The rock will not shift. Teaching of the Catholic Church do not change and the things we believe today can be seen in the beliefs and writings of the earliest Christians. Think about what you believe in and where your foundation is laid. Is it on an immovable rock.

Friday, December 09, 2011

December 9, 2011 – Catechism 1174 – 1178

Here are two web sites that you can do the liturgy of the hours without purchasing the books. Like I said in a previous podcast, I think I need to spend more time with the Psalms. Maybe that will be my New Year’s Resolution (it is time to start thinking about those). So, grab these links, put them into your favorites, and know that when you are praying them you are joining every priest and deacon and most religious throughout the world in a united prayer.

Thursday, December 08, 2011

December 8, 2011 – Luke 22:54 - 23:17

I don’t know if there is anything more difficult to watch than a judge or jury who has their mind made up before they have heard anything. I guess it extends to us as well when we judge people before we know them. That is what is going on in the Sanhedrin. They brought Jesus in front of everyone just to get their wishes made “official”. They had no intention of having a fair hearing. Most things I have read places this trial at night so that not everyone would be there, only those that were conspiring to kill Jesus would attend. As we have seen before, not all Pharisees and scribes were out to get Jesus, so it would make sense that the conspirators would want as many people against them not to show. In the movie the Passion of the Christ, this scene has a few people calling out that the trial isn’t right and even Mary trying to get the Romans to stop it because it is so unusual.

Wednesday, December 07, 2011

December 7, 2011 – Psalm 38

It is hard to read this and not think about Jesus and the cross. You have to imagine the prayers He was praying as He was going through this ordeal. A psalm about enemies gaining strength, friends staying away, being beaten down and pleading the God not leave you.

The early Christians would have also known this psalm and likely had it memorized. It may have been one that they sung as they waited in the arena waiting for the lions. It is a dark psalm about the overwhelming strength of the enemy as it appears in this world. But it ends with the hope that we must have in calling out to God for His help and grace. I don’t think I spend enough time with the psalms.

Tuesday, December 06, 2011

December 6, 2011 – Deuteronomy 31

God and Moses are so pessimistic (and rightly so). There is all this assuming that the Israelites are going to fail to act according to God. That has to be a bit disheartening for the Israelites. Their relationship with God appears very dysfunctional. They always are questioning God, then rely on His help to get out of trouble and accept His assistance, then begin to doubt Him again. God helps them, shows them miracles, but never believes that they are actually going to listen and obey Him. He makes promises and threats, yet it does not seem to convince them, they will always turn away.

Is it much different with us. I surprise myself with how critical I am of Israel, yet act the same way. I take God for granted, accept His assistance without thanks, have moments of doubt when things appear most dire, yet He is patient with me even though He knows I am going to fail and turn away. I don’t know if I have ever looked at Israel as a story of my life. What God gives, how we treat God, lessons He tries to teach us, the entire story of Israel can be reflected in our own lives.

Monday, December 05, 2011

December 5, 2011 – Catechism 1168-1173

It is interesting reading about the importance of Easter during the Christmas season (actually advent season, Christmas season technically starts Christmas day). For all the hoopla around Christmas, Easter is the feast of feast. I think it is easy to see the hand of the world in the importance of Christmas when you look at the attitude towards the feast around it. Dec. 8th is the Feast of the Immaculate Conception (Mary’s Conception, not Christ). After Christmas you have Epiphany and the Baptism of Christ. St. Nicholas on December 6 is also there. Yet you don’t see any of these really talked about. The world wants the Christmas season, but do they really celebrate the season. And where is all the celebrating on December 26. How quickly they take everything down (I worked retail for many years, I know how quickly the decoration are replaced with normal stock). Christmas is being used by the world to sell product. Maybe it is a good thing that Easter is not as “big” as Christmas. It still remains for most a religious holiday, even though the Easter Bunny is something, the commercializing is not nearly on the level of Christmas. This may be God’s way of showing His importance to Easter, by saving it from the over commercializing that has happened to Christmas.

Sunday, December 04, 2011

December 4, 2011 – Luke 22:21 - 22:53

The supper ends in such an odd fashion. It is enough. And with the discussion about the swords, it just feels odd. The footnotes talk about Jesus statement being out of frustration that they still are not grasping what is about to happen or that He is trying to prepare them for what to do when He is gone. When they went out earlier, they didn’t seem to have any issues or backlash to their preaching. After He is gone, there will be persecutions and martyrdom. But they appear clueless.

I love how Christ tells Peter He is praying for Him in particular. Notice that He is not praying for Peter to not deny Him, He understands that this is going to happen and may even be necessary to build Peter up later. He is praying for what happens after the betrayal, that Peter seeks forgiveness and does not lose hope. Judas changes his mind after the betrayal, but he does not have the hope and does not seek forgiveness. He feels he is beyond it and so commits suicide. Christ understands the role Peter will play and prays not for his perfection, but actually for his humility to admit that he sinned. Notice the arrogance of Peter in saying he would not deny Jesus and even trying to fight in the garden. But that is not Christ way and Peter’s lesson of humility was needed for what was to come. Therefore Christ prays for Peter to get up after his fall, He does not pray that the fall not happen. We should keep that in mind when we wonder why rough times come upon us.

Saturday, December 03, 2011

December 3, 2011 – Daniel 14

In reading these last couple of chapters in Daniel, I think it would make for a great detective TV series. Daniel just goes around solving mysteries using logic and intelligent methods of catching the crooks. It appears that he is the first “Colombo” type.

It seems brutal to kill the children of the priest. We will be getting into Joshua pretty soon and it will seem very violent, the cities that are completely wiped away. Here, a pagan king, not God, does this killing. It just appears that things like this were more acceptable. We must not read these stories with our lenses of modern day sensitivity and miss the points of the story. You may imagine that if you were reading this back then and the story said that the women and children were spared, the reader would think that was so odd they would not give the story any credence. We must always remember when and to whom these were originally written.

Friday, December 02, 2011

December 2, 2011 – Deuteronomy 30

It becomes so simple when God lays it out as a choice between life and death. Do what He commands and you will have life. God against Him and you will receive death. We do not fully see these things come to fruition because we see only as humans see and mainly the material world. We see people do things against God and receive and we see people act on God’s behalf and receive little. We often look at these and see it as unfair. We forget that we do not see as God sees. We see through a mirror that is cloudy. God’s ways are not our ways. Those that go against God will receive the justice that God promises them. Those that obey God will receive the life that is promised. What we cannot do is lose hope based on what we perceive with our human eyes. We must trust in God and humbly accept that we do not have all the answers.

Israel heard these words, but soon saw the nations around them with their kings and riches and wanted to do it their own way. They misunderstood what God meant be life and death. God does not give us material goods because we love Him. That has never been God’s message. What He offers is so much more that material.

Thursday, December 01, 2011

December 1, 2011 – Catechism 1163-1167

I think some people may get caught up in the idea that the Sabbath was on a Saturday for Jews and the Commandments say to keep the Sabbath Holy.  When Christians move the Holy day of the week to Sunday and not Saturday, do they take away from the Commandments.  I don’t think so.  As Christ talks about, Sabbath is made for man, not for God.  The purpose of the Sabbath is that we take time for God, set aside a day for Him, make Him the focus, shut the world away, for a day each week.  When the day of the week is doesn’t appear as important as the fact that you take the day.  I wonder how it works for priest and ministers.  They work through most Sundays and probably Saturdays, do they give a day to God sometime during the week.  A youth minister we had would take Monday off as his Sabbath day.  I not sure if that is allowed of official, but it was his way of making sure he gave a day to God, which is the point.  Sabbath is for us, the rest is for us, the time to build relationship is for us.  Remember to take it and that it is not a punishment but completely for our benefit.