Monday, April 30, 2012

April 30, 2012 – John 8 – 8:30

The story of the woman to be stoned seems out of place when looking at the things surrounding it.  The thing I am listening to says that it was thrown in and is not chronological.  He says that the teachings on the Light of the World and being the Ambassador for the Father are still during that final day of the festival.  Remember that the main themes of the festival are in regards to water and light, so a discourse on being the light of the world seems to fit. 

A couple of thoughts on the Woman’s story.  It says that they were trying to trap Jesus.  But have you thought of how they were trying to trap Him.  You can see that they thought He would have 3 options.  1 – He could tell them to go ahead and stone her.  We don’t know all that they caught her doing but we don’t see the guy they caught her with or whether they had a trial, which they would have needed witnesses.  For Jesus to just go along with them would make Him just like the leaders and the crowd would leave.  2 – He could say that they should not stone her.  Then they would accuse Him of not following Moses’ law.  3 – He could just ignore them.  This would show that He either doesn’t care for rules, people, or is unable to really bother with tough decisions.  Much like in the situation where they ask Him if they need to pay Caesar, He answers them in a way where they are given no way to condemn Him and look foolish themselves. 

I have also wondered what Jesus was writing in the sand.  I have heard that He was writing the names of the people that brought the woman to Him.  I have also heard that He was writing the sins of those men.  I wonder if it might have been a combination.  The first time He wrote the names of the questioners.  The second time, He wrote their sins, or better yet, the name of the person they were adulteress with.  Imagine holding the stone to throw at someone for being adulteress, then seeing your name on the ground there and the name of your mistress.  That would make it pretty hard to throw that rock.     

Sunday, April 29, 2012

April 29, 2012 – Habakkuk 1 – 2:8

2:3 – If it delays, wait for it.  Here are the words of God for patience.  Here it is in response to the question of a faithful person asking God or questioning Him on His strategy on how He is dealing with Israel.  This question is being asked by someone who is trying to follow God and the answer is not something pleasing.  He is being told that Israel will go into exile and be conquered.  Israel has sinned and because of this, they will be punished.  I think sometimes we are confused because we ask God for help and we feel that we are obeying Him, but get frustrated with His answers.  God does not always give good news to those that ask for His help.  Here, the asker is given bad news.  This is what God was going to do.  It is when God gives us an answer that we do not want to hear that we must be patient and know that He knows best.  When I read “If it delays, wait for it”, I also thought about those that are against God and seeking maliciously to go against Him.  I think sometimes we see people like that prosper and go about with any sort of ill.  This, we must also be patient with.  Know that these things are allowed to test our faith, hope and love.  

Saturday, April 28, 2012

April 28, 2012 – Judges 14 – 15

I am curios that there is not something contradictory in eating the honey.  Jews were not to have anything to do with a dead corpse, yet here he eats honey that was found inside a corpse.  I just thought it was interesting that there wasn’t a bigger deal made of it.  God allows him to marry a Philistine so that he would have pretense to war against them.  We also see that Samson, although a judge of God’s choosing, has a very blatant weakness, he caves when women ask him questions.  Here he gave up the riddles answer.  We will see the same weakness with Delilah.   

Friday, April 27, 2012

April 27, 2012 – Catechism 1485 – 1498

This is the review of everything we have read over the past weeks about Confession.  As I was going through it I was trying to find something that jumped out that I hadn’t caught before.  I didn’t catch the imperfect vs. perfect Contrition distinction as we were going through it  Perfect contrition is going to Confession because we love God so much and are sorry for hurting Him with our sin.  Imperfect is going because some other motivation.  The easiest one I can think of is fear of eternal punishment.  Although this can still get you into the confessional and absolve you, it is not the perfect contrition that God wants.  Fear of the Lord is not the Love of the Lord. 

Thursday, April 26, 2012

April 26, 2012 – John 7:14 – 7:52

39 – Of course there was no Spirit yet.  The way this is thrown in, it assumes that the reader has a clear understanding of the Trilogy, the order of which has come, the job of each, and how it is all related in God’s plan. 

I love all the instances when they try to lay hands on Him but cannot.  This gives you something to reflect on when you do read the passion narratives and Jesus willing it to happen.  Jesus was not allowed to be captured until it was time for Him to be captured.  When you read those stories or watch the movies, you get a sense of the leaders strength and Christ vulnerability.  Next time, think about all these times when they wanted to lay hands on Him and were not allowed to.  Then think of who is in actual control during the Passion narrative.  After you think on that, ask yourself who is in control of your life and what do you actually have power over.  Maybe something is not happening because it is not the right hour and maybe something is happening to fulfill God’s will.   

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

April 25, 2012 – Micah 6 – 7

Food that will leave you empty 6:14 This stood out to me.  We hear Jesus talk about giving bread that will last forever, never be hungry.  Here we hear about food that will never satisfy, it will leave you empty.  That is what the world offers us.  When you look at what the world gives you and the attitude that many have, the term emptiness could be used to describe many of the causes of issues we see.  Micah is saying that this is what you will receive if you do not put your trust in the Lord.  The world will leave you empty and longing.  Seek the food that truly fills you.  Seek the Bread of Life.  

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

April 24, 2012 – Judge 12 – 13

The term Shibboleth reminded me of a scene in West Wing.  Although the clip below is not the one I was thinking of, they come in the same episode.  It is basically a password that Israel used.

We also have the beginning of the story of Samson.  God uses the method of giving barren women children a lot in the Scriptures.  Sarah, Elizabeth and here are at least three I can think of.  I think Samuel’s mother also was without children (I don’t know if she was called barren). 

Monday, April 23, 2012

April 23, 2012 – Catechism 1480-1484

If you believe you are very sick, you will go to a doctor.  If you need help with a legal matter, you go to a lawyer.  If you need your bathroom fixed, you call a plumber.  If you want forgiveness of your sins, you can do that on your own.  That just does not fit.  Thinking you can read the Bible and ask God to forgive your gravest sins and all is right with the world is naive.  Can you read a medical book and then operate on yourself?  Can you read a book on law and then go into court and defend yourself? (Technically yes, but not usually with any success)  When your bathroom is broken, can you read a book and fix it?  You can try, but you may actually make things worse, not better. 

If you really believe that sin is something that effects you, separates you from God, keeps you from being who you want to be, and is a serious problem, why would you rely totally on yourself to try and fix it.  The thing that is blatantly obvious is that you are the one that sinned.  If you have enough wisdom to work out forgiveness for yourself, you should’ve had enough not to sin in the first place.  And if all you have to do is ask for forgiveness to yourself, that really makes it very easy to just go around and sin, knowing that you can just ask for forgiveness and it will all be ok.  It really is not that far removed from a “once saved, always saved” idea.  Just one little step, and all I have done wrong is gone. 

Doesn’t it make more sense that God would set up something that we could go to an expert to help fix our problem.  Like in all the worldly examples, the experts know what to do, can fix the problem, and we are better off for going to them.  Here, the expert is Jesus Himself, in the person of the priest.  He is there to heal you, strengthen you, instruct you and bless you so that you can go and sin no more.  When we go to someone for help in the material world, why would it be any different than dealing with the Spiritual world, with our soul, and our eternal life.  

Sunday, April 22, 2012

April 22, 2012 – John 6:52 - 7:13

John 6:66 – The number 666 is always connected with evil.  I imagine there is no coincidence then that this verse is about disciples leaving Jesus.  I have heard a lot of talks on the Eucharist and most of them point to this verse and the disciples actions to help prove the Catholic teaching on Eucharist.  In a couple lines, the argument goes, if Jesus was talking about something spiritual or symbolic when He said eat My Flesh, they would not have left, because the is not a hard teaching.  They would only have left if they thought He meant to eat is actual flesh.  And if Jesus thought they misunderstood Him and He did mean it was spiritual or symbolic, He would have stopped them or corrected Himself.  This was not done.  They left and He let them. 

But I wanted to look at is that they are “disciples” that left.  Many times we here the “crowds” followed Him or “people”, but here is specifically says that His “disciples” left.  These were people that believed in Him and were following Him for at least a period of time and ”one who embraces and assists in spreading the teachings of another.”  (definition from the internet)  So, they were not just anybody that picked up and left and followed Him no longer. 

I am listening to a commentary on John as we read through it.  He makes a very big deal about the Jewish Feast that John makes reference to.  The Feast of Tabernacles plays a big role in the next several chapters (Jesus’ discourse and teachings all take place during this feast).  I thought I would look up something about it and write on that.  It appears to be much like our Thanksgiving, giving thanks for the harvest.  It is also the Feast that the Temple was dedicated, both the original and the rebuilt Temple.  You are to build a shelter or booth, much like they would have built in the Wilderness of 40 years.  These booths is where eating and drinking would be done throughout the week.  I have also read that the Transfiguration happened during this Feast and that is why Peter says we should build tents or booths for the three.  I had never heard of the seven shepherds of Israel: Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Moses, Aaron, Joseph and David.  Evidently they are a part of each of the nights and teach different lessons as you go through the week.  Shemini Atzeret is either the last day of this feast or a Feast all on its own.  The commentary points out that the focus of the Feast is a Celebration of Water and Light.  Keep these all in mind as we read through these chapters.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

April 21, 2012 – Micah 1-3

Let the Lord be witness against You (1:2).  That would be tough.  I am used to dealing with witnesses and I can tell you, they never remember everything 100%.  Plus, usually they have a bias that you can use to make them less credible.  Either way, if there is a witness against you, you are going to have a chance to wiggle, they will never be perfectly aware and able to recount everything.  (granted, that can work against you if you need a witness)  But, God does not forget and He will be the witness against you when the Judgment really matters.  Not only will He remember better than anyone else, He will remember better than you and even know your thoughts and motivations for your actions.  He will be a over abundant and perfectly accurate witness.  Really, sometimes that is the last thing we may want when we look back at our lives.  That is why the Grace that comes from forgiveness is so incredible and the Gift of Purgatory is so wonderful for those imperfections we have when this life ends.  Let us always live our lives knowing the witness at our final judgment will not be one we can influence, confuse, crack, or prove a lack of credibility.  The Witness will be Perfect, Accurate, and absolutely Correct in everything He says.  If that makes you a nervous, it is suppose to.

Friday, April 20, 2012

April 20, 2012 – Judges 11

We see Israel not only betray God and then seek His mercy and help, but they do the same to individuals.  Here, they throw out the illegitimate son only to seek his help after they are in need. 

We also see that when you make promises to God, beware that God will remember.  It is unclear that he needed to make such a bold offer of his daughter.  God appeared to be with him and helping him, but he made a promise of whoever came out first.  To his credit, he did not stay his hand and did give up his daughter.  To the daughters credit, she understands completely.   We can think this is unbelievably cruel, but did we not see that Abraham was going to sacrifice his only child before he was stopped.  And do we not believe that God sacrificed His only Son.  God promised that He would save us and the Old Testament describes and tells us that it would be through the Sacrifice of the Son of God.  God did not stay His hand.  This commitment to a promise, whether us to God or God to us, is something we need to take seriously and reflect on.  Be careful when you jokingly say “I would give my right arm for _____________”.  We should call it “the Jephthah Rule”.  

Thursday, April 19, 2012

April 19, 2012 – Catechism 1471-1479
Purgatory and indulgences are two very misunderstood concepts in the Catholic Church.  When it comes to Purgatory, I have found it helpful to ask yourself two questions.  If you died this very instant, are you so perfect that you should enter Heaven, because we know that nothing imperfect can enter.  If the answer is no, what would happen to you if you died right now?  If there are only 2 choices, then you would be going to hell.  Catholics believe that there is Purgatory for those that have lived their lives for Christ, but are still not in a perfect state to enter Heaven.  Purgatory offers that purification so that we can enter Heaven. 
Next, ask yourself, if you were in a car accident and damaged the car that you hit.  You get out of the car and genuinely apologize for the accident.  The other person genuinely forgives you, understanding that it was an accident and knows you are genuinely sorry.  Is that the end of what happens?  Absolutely not.  You are still going to have to pay for or fix the damage that you caused.  Sin damages our relationship with God and with others, and even though we can receive forgiveness from God and others, that damages needs to be paid for or restored.  That is another purification that Purgatory takes care of.  There, we will pay for or restore those damages our sin caused that we could not or did not restore before we died.  What would happen if you never paid to fix that car?  The apology and forgiveness could have been genuine, but that matter will be out there and the situation unresolved until it is finished.  Just like that, sin and our attachment to sin must be settled and resolved before we can enter Heaven. 
Indulgences are a way in which, through certain acts of prayer, sacrifice, or pilgrimage, we can pay for and restore that damage here on Earth before we die.  Not only can we do that for ourselves, but we can do this for those that are in Purgatory and bring them sooner into the Beauty of Heaven.  Yes, there were times when these were abused by people and caused a great deal of pain in the Church, but they have never left the teaching of the Church and are a beautiful and powerful experience when done as prescribed by the Church. 
One of my favorite visuals of this is in Michelangelo’s “The Last Judgment”.  In one of the scenes you see a soul in Purgatory being pulled into Heaven.  The “rope” that they are using is a Rosary.  The idea is that you can say a Rosary for someone in Purgatory and help bring them into Heaven.  The picture I attach probably won’t be big enough to see it. 

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

April 18, 2012 – John 6:16 - 6:51

John 6:16, The Apostles went down to the sea.  This is an allusion to Psalm 107.  “23Some went off to sea in ships, plied their trade on the deep waters. They saw the works of the LORD, the wonders of God in the deep. He commanded and roused a storm wind; it tossed the waves on high. They rose up to the heavens, sank to the depths; their hearts trembled at the danger. They reeled, staggered like drunkards; their skill was of no avail. In their distress they cried to the LORD, who brought them out of their peril; He hushed the storm to silence, the waves of the sea were stilled. They rejoiced that the sea grew calm, that God brought them to the harbor they longed for. Let them thank the LORD for his mercy, such wondrous deeds for the children of Adam.  Let them extol him in the assembly of the people, and praise him in the council of the elders.”

This is a clear that it is put in front of the Eucharistic discourse to show that Christ has control over the material world.  The Apostles would have know this Psalm, would have made the connection.  Those that read John would know the connection.

It is interesting that Jesus says to do the work of God (27), they ask what works (plural) we must do (28), and He responds the work of God is to believe.  They are looking for a multitude of things.  Christ tells them there is one work, to believe in who God sent.

It is amazing that they are challenging Him.  They ask for a sign the day after He fed 5000. 

32 – It was not Moses who gave (past), God gives (present) True Bread.  So they want this bread, same as the woman at the well wanting water that never ends. 

37 – Different translations use the term cast out.  This draws an allusion to Eden and the tree of Good and Evil.  Christ is the Tree of Life and the Garden is being reopened through Christ. 

40 – Is an allusion to the bronze serpent from Moses.

45 – All that listen to God, come to me.  Everyone who is open to God fully will eventually become a follower of Jesus. 

There is a change that occurs at verse 51.  Throughout this, Jesus has said “I am the Bread of Life”.  After 51 it changes to I am the “Living” Bread.  The change is small but significant.  This forces them to think that He was alluding to symbol or back to eating Wisdom that He is not saying that.  He is teaching something much more personal to Himself and the “Bread” that He is teaching on is something new and unlike what they have ever had before.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

April 17, 2012 – Sirach 24

I thought the image of Wisdom floating around the world when it was created and waiting for instruction.  Then God tells Wisdom to go to Jacob and Israel.  We often wonder why Israel is set apart.  God choose them to reveal Himself to the world. 

We see the power of Wisdom and all that it accomplishes.  Wisdom is so powerful, but I think we often confuse book smarts for Wisdom.  They are not completely connected.  Nor is street smarts all that we should consider.  Wisdom is different and much holier than what we can reach with just books or street smarts.  True Wisdom is a Gift from God that is supernatural and we really can’t explain how we know or understand something.  That is True Wisdom and we only need to open ourselves to God to get it. 

And look at Verse 21 - 21Those who eat of me will hunger still, those who drink of me will thirst for more.  We are called to eat Wisdom.  This leads us into the instructions of Christ about the Eucharist. 

Monday, April 16, 2012

April 16, 2012 – Judges 10

Israel falls again.  If you wonder what patience looks like, you need to only read Judges and see how God treat Israel.  But here, He gets a little more aggressive.  “If you want help, go to your other gods and ask them for help.”  To their credit, Israel doesn’t go to the other gods, they tear down everything and continue to plead to God and worship Him.  It almost reminds you of the parable Jesus says about the two sons that are told to do something by their father.  One says he will and doesn’t, one says he won’t but ends up doing it. 

Sunday, April 15, 2012

April 15, 2012 – Catechism 1461-1470

Two things.  First, the idea that the confessor is not the one giving forgiveness, but God acting through the human confessor.  This is an idea that is very mysteries and abstract and hard to believe unless you have experienced something that gives you a sense of it.  I was in confession once on a retreat and went to a priest who didn’t know me at all.  We went through the Sacrament and it was finished, and as I was walking away the priest said something.  I can’t remember the exact words or exactly what I was struggling with, but it was something like “see how far feeling sorry for yourself gets you”.  As I said, the priest didn’t know me, and I first I wasn’t sure if he was joking. I was a little put off by it and thought it was rude.  I went back to my pew and thought about it and immediately began to realize that those were the exact words I needed to here.  I have never had such a profound experience of knowing that it was God that I was confessing to and not the priest. 

That is why it is so vital to pray for our priest.  We need them to be completely open to God while they are in the confessional.  Only if they are open will that channel flow to the Penitent.  That does not mean that a priest who is distracted or sinful cannot fulfill the Sacrament, they can.  But we need to pray for them so that they can fulfill it in a way that the penitent can walk away knowing they have just been forgiven by God. 

I guess there were 3 things.  I once talked to a priest about sins that they heard in confession and whether it was hard to live with them.  He told me, and he couldn’t explain how, but as soon as he left the confessional, he forgot them all.  I don’t think he was lying to me, I think he was just given that gift.  I don’t think that happens to most priest, but maybe God knew that if he remembered, he wouldn’t be able to handle it and so he was given the gift to forget.  I know in all my experience, I have not had what I have said in the confessional effect my relationship with a priest outside of it.  I have been good friends with priest and gone to them for confession and it does not have any change outside the “box”.  I think this could only happen by the Grace of God and if it were just you going and talking to a priest only, there is no way a priest could stay in a community for very long. 

Saturday, April 14, 2012

April 14, 2012 – John 5:31 - 6:15

Here, Jesus is talking about the testimony someone might get to prove who they are.  We might see them as recommendations or referrals.  They are looking for Jesus’ resume that shows He is who He says He is.  He says that His recommendations are the Scriptures that they say they follow (love how He says if you “actually” followed Moses you would follow Me).  The signs are also a referral of who He is.  There is a place where the disciples of John the Baptist go and ask if Jesus is the Christ.  He says go and tell John what is happening and then list off the miracles that are occurring.  These point to Jesus being the Messiah, but also to Him being God. 

No sooner than we have Jesus say the Miracles show that I am who I say I am, then He performs the feeding of the 5,000.  There are so many things that have been talked about and pointed to in this miracle that I don’t want to go in detail.  I will just list a few of the things that might be interesting to reflect on. 

He asked Phillip the question knowing what He was going to do.  We saw earlier by curing on the Sabbath that Jesus planned out these miracles and set them up for the greatest effect.  Here He ask about feeding them so they would realize later what a great miracle this was.

Jesus makes the bread abundant.  I am not sure what word to use there but I am not sure abundant is correct.  Basically the idea is that Jesus caused the bread to keep continuing.  Catholics, when looking at the Eucharist, see this as help in explaining how the Eucharist continues on and does not run out or can continually be made. 

12 baskets left.  Whether this connect to the Apostles or to the 12 Tribes, I have heard both.  There is a great relation to the 12 tribes being fed by bread from God and here the bread from God feeds them again with leftovers.  Also it points to the overflowing love of God.

It is a boy that gives the food.  We hear that you need the faith of a child and it is made a point of that it was no man or adult that gave up this food to God, but a child with that childlike faith.  Also, think about the idea of what God can do with the stuff we give Him.  When we give our time, talents, money to God with childlike faith, He can multiply it beyond our wildest dreams. 

Like I said, there is a lot to digest and reflect on. 

Friday, April 13, 2012

April 13, 2012 – Isaiah 45

Here we have God first speaking of Cyrus, who he will allow to conquer many nations.  And He is already anticipating the questions of Israel about why He is allowing Cyrus to conquer.  “Dare the clay say to its molder “What are you doing””.  9  God created everything out of nothing. He has a plan and is allowing it to work itself out.  Don’t question why something happens, trust in the Lord.  There is a similar message at the end of Job when we get there.  God tries to remind us that He brought about everything out of nothing and nothing is done without His knowledge and allowing it for the good.  We can ask all we want “why”, but we more that likely will not get an answer this side of the grave. 

Then He goes on to try and reassure them that He is the only God, that He is the One in control, that reliance on Him will not lead to vain, like the worship of wooden idols.  We must trust in God that is watching over us.  Questioning things and trying to understand them and help us grow in knowledge and holiness, but it becomes an issue when our questioning overrides our trust.  God wants our obedience, I don’t think He minds the questions as long as we are trusting and being obedient.  

Thursday, April 12, 2012

April 12, 2012 – Judges 9

You see this scene in several movies.  The enemy gathers a village or group, locks them in a building, and then burns it down.  The latest on I remember is in “The Patriot”, the Mel Gibson movie about the Revolutionary war.  The problem is, or at least from what I read, there are no accounts of anything like that happening in the Revolutionary War.  I read that the earliest accounts of something like that occurring were found in Nazi Germany.  Now I have to rethink that because here we have that exact thing happening prior to King David of Israel.  Abimelech traps all the citizens in a crypt and burns it down around them.  This whole chapter is brutal, from the killing of 70 brothers to Abimelech asking to be run through.  Scenes like this or situations of such turmoil seem so remote from us because of where we live, but if you watch any news or films about what is going on in other parts of the world, these scenes and this turmoil would not be so foreign.  A movie that I am reminded of is “Hotel Rwanda”.  How close it comes, I don’t know, but if it is close at all, the conditions of that situation would put it at a very close level to the savagery we see here.  And that is not so far into the past, occurring in our life time.  Yet we find it so hard to relate because we are on the other side of the planet.  

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

April 11, 2012 – Catechism 1450 – 1460

The “detestation of the sin committed” (1451) is something that I don’t think I really felt or understood until recently.  I went to confession often enough through retreats and such, but feeling detested at some of the sins I committed on a regular basis was not a regular part of my thoughts.  I cannot say that now.  Cursing is one thing that comes to mind.  I think it is just ugly anymore.  I almost never do it and when something slips I am completely upset with myself.  That is a far cry from where I once was.  There are still sins that I commit that may not bring about the same detestation, but those are things I am still working on.  But there are a great number of things that used to consume me and run my life that now, looking back, makes me sick to think about.  I cannot imagine myself even considering doing some of the things I thought were routine years ago.  I knew what sin was, I just didn’t have the same aversion to it that I do now.  I was numb to it.  I thank God for the Grace that I have been given to find sin so detestable and pray that I continue to work towards feeling that way towards all my sinful acts.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

April 10, 2012 – John 4:46 – 5:30

You have to realize that Jesus knew what and when He was doing this miracle.  He is setting it up for a confrontation so that He can show and explain who He is.  When Jesus is speaking here, it is pretty dense theological stuff.  From what I have read and listened to, it is mainly a focus on Christ relationship to the father and some development of the Trinitarian theology.  Christ can do nothing that the Father has not told Him to do.  He is limited to doing the Father’s will.  That is because they are one.  They cannot act in opposition because they are One.  It is no simple a left brain/right brain type of thing, it is a more complete oneness than that. 

Christ does this act on a Sabbath to show that He has power on the Sabbath.  God does not stop working on the Sabbath, so Christ will not stop working on the Sabbath.  What work does God do on the Sabbath?  Do people continue to breath, this is only willed by God.  Do people die, this is also willed by God.  Creation does not cease to exist and creation in held into existence by the will of God.  That means even on the Sabbath.  This puts a clearer light on Christ when He says that Sabbath was made for man.  God is not limited by the Sabbath in doing His Will, so Christ will not be limited.  Christ uses this situation to show His oneness with God and how they are so completely connected and that He is here to do the Father’s Will. 

It is also a wonder that those that are persecuting Christ completely ignore the miracle.  They miss the fact that the paralytic was healed and focus on the carrying the mat or curing on the Sabbath.  These are the same people that will ask for a miracle to prove you are the Christ, the same that will mock Him on the Cross saying “save yourself”.  If they only had eyes that could see. 

Monday, April 09, 2012

April 9, 2012 – Isaiah 42

Verse 20 – You see many things but do not observe; ears open, but do not hear.  I think this says a lot about the time in which we live.  We know so much, our technology is advancing, medical breakthroughs are happening every day, but what do we gain.  We often get those emails with the long list of things like “More conveniences, but less time.” type things.  I found the following example called “The Paradox of our Time”.  There were several versions when you type it into Google.  They basically follow the theme of the verse.  We are have our eyes and ears open, but we aren’t listening or hearing anything.  We are so focused on “progress” as the world sees it we are not interested in the regression that is taking place on the invisible realm of our souls and our minds.  Everything in the world is going in one direction, and will continue, but we are told that we are not of the world.  We need to watch that we do not get caught up in the race that will only end in defeat and make sure we stay on the path that leads to eternal life.  Every step forward the material world makes (in most cases) tells the world that religion is obsolete and ancient.  If that is so true, why are these paradoxes so obvious. 



Is that we have taller buildings, but shorter tempers

Wider freeways, but narrower viewpoints

We spend more, but we have less.

We have bigger houses, but smaller families

More conveniences, but less time.

We have more degrees, but less sense

More knowledge, but less judgment

More experts, but more problems

More medicines, but less wellness.

We have multiplied our possessions, but reduced our values.

We talk too much, love too seldom, and hate too often

We have learnt how to make a living, but not a life.

We have added years to life, but not life to years.

We've been all the way to the moon and back

But have trouble crossing the street to meet the new neighbor.

We have conquered outer space, but not inner space.

We've cleaned up the air, but polluted our soul.

We've split the atom, but not our prejudice.

We've higher incomes, but lower morals.

We've become long on quantity but short on quality.

These are the times of tall men, and short character;

Steep profits, and shallow relationships.

These are the times of world peace, but domestic warfare,

More leisure, but less fun; more kinds of food, but less nutrition.

These are the days of two incomes, but more divorces;

Of fancier houses, but broken homes.

It is a time when there is much in t

he show window, and nothing in the stockroom.

Sunday, April 08, 2012

April 8, 2012 – Judges 8

After the initial battle, it says the enemy had 15,000 left.  It says that 120,000 had perished.  Numbers are a little unreliable in the Bible because many are symbolic and are not to be taken literally.  So, this could mean that Gideon went against 120,000 men with 300 or he went against a great army with 300.  Either way, God is the one how was responsible for the victory. 

We also see that Israel was eager to make him king and his lineage king.  We will see this request again, I believe, even though Gideon here warns them and they will be warned again that God is to be their king.  That will not stop them from asking.  This is something else to think about as we hear the Passion narrative and the Jewish leaders crying out “we have no king but Caesar”.  Not only was this to persuade Pilot to act but it is a confession as to where their loyalties and their hearts lie.  It was not the truth, they wanted to be in charge, but the lie reveals that God was not their king, which is what a good practicing Jew would have understood is the case.  Gideon puts it so well, “The Lord must rule over you”.  Verse 23  Then hear “we have no King but Caesar” from those that were supposed to be leading the Jewish people and we see why they wanted Christ dead and why they didn’t believe in Him.

Saturday, April 07, 2012

April 7, 2012 – Catechism 1443 – 1449

We always see the act of Reconciliation as something completely individual.  We are alone and speaking to a priest alone.  We find that one on one confession intimidating because we are telling our failures.  But maybe an easier way to think of it is what is talked about here.  Confession is not you individually asking forgiveness, but you seeking to rejoin the community that you have allowed yourself to be separated from.  Maybe not in a physical way (but that may be the case for those that have left the Church) but in a spiritual way through your sins.  Christ Church is about community and those in a state of mortal sin are outside of that community.  Confession is not just asking for forgiveness, its asking to be brought back into the fold.  The Priest has been assigned the duty of bringing about that connection.  Next time you are going to confession, do not think of it as confession your sins.  Think of it as getting rid of a wall that is blocking your path back into God’s community.  Look at it as not telling all the reasons your evil but think of it as listing the things that have made you lost.  Confession is a great and wonderful gift and one that we should not be afraid of.  Maybe looking at it in a different light will help some seek that gift more often.

Friday, April 06, 2012

April 6, 2012 – John 4:16 - 4:45
I always found it interesting the last part of the story of the woman at the well because these people that believe because they have seen for themselves.  We hear later with the story of Thomas that “blessed are those that believe and have not seen”.  I have always just thought there was an interesting difference there. 

Thursday, April 05, 2012

April 5, 2012 – Psalms 39 – 40
What would we do if God told us the number or our days.  That is what is asked so that they can know how fleeting their life is.  If you think about it, would it really help.  If we were told that we had 70 years left, would we procrastinate even more.  If we were told we only had a couple weeks, would we take advantage our would we lose ourselves in some deep depression.  I think I would prefer the “Big Fish” method from the movie.  He was able to see “how” he was going to die.  During the movie he finds himself in a scary situation and then realizes that “this isn’t how I die” and so he calms down and moves on.  I think I might like knowing “how” not “when” so that you wouldn’t have that waiting issue. 

Wednesday, April 04, 2012

April 4, 2012 – Judges 7
22,000 is too many, take 300 to defeat the army as thick as Locust.  Have you ever had a task that you thought was impossible and you asked God for help.  What happened.  Did you get added help or did you have manage with what you had.  Did you ever have a task you thought you could manage and then had something happen that made it much more difficult.  God wants you to rely on Him.  If you have a task made easier for you, you are liable to take the credit.  If you are forced to rely on God, you are forced to give God the credit.  That is what God is teaching us here.  He is not always going to make it easy, but if you rely on Him, He will make it happen.   

Tuesday, April 03, 2012

April 3, 2012 – Catechism 1434-1442
Fasting is something that I have found very prayerful.  I don’t know why, it just seems to focus you more on God.  I don’t know if that is why I started doing it.  I have a very addictive personality I think.  Coffee has been the thing lately, or snacks during the day.  The whole idea of being able to control yourself from physical desires you build yourself up and your relationship with God.  The material world fills us with junk and doesn’t leave room for God.  Anytime we are able to train yourself to deny ourselves physically, we enable ourselves to separate ourselves from the material world and open ourselves up for God. 
I started this last year, but I am fasting Holy Thursday through Holy Saturday night.  We go to Mass Thursday and Good Friday service, so the only food I will have is the Eucharist.  Michelle is going to make a nice meal Saturday night to break the fast.  I really love doing it.  People wonder how and look at it as impossible, but really the longings aren’t as bad as you might think.  It goes back to the attachment we have to material things.  Food is necessary, but the amount we think we need is not what we actually need and is often an unhealthy amount.  Training ourselves to control our physical desires helps us better open ourselves to Spiritual needs.  That is why fasting is always a recommended type of prayer and I have found that it really helps.     

Monday, April 02, 2012

April 2, 2012 – John 3:22 – 4:15
There is just something about merely getting in a conversation with Christ that will change things.  The woman at the well is merely getting a drink when she has an encounter.  A simple request, “give me a drink” completely changes her life.  God just needs a simple encounter, a small chink in the armor, to get into our lives and change them. 
Also, you see that having a conversation with God and have great results.  Prayer is simply a conversation we have to grow in relationship with God.  I am reading a book now about prayer that really lays it out simply.  Just doing it is the trick. 

Sunday, April 01, 2012

April 1, 2012 – Isaiah 46 – 48

When God talks about “I knew you from the womb” or “He developed you from His womb” or things like that, it makes me wonder about the mothers of those people we label as evil.  46:3 has language like this.  Israel is God’s burden since the womb.  What goes on in the mind of the mother of Hitler, Dalmer, the soldier that killed those people in Afghanistan.  There are moments when they may regret ever having the child, moments when they blame themselves for how they raised them, moments when they think about what they could have done things differently.  If you believe God is the Father of all the living, then He has that same relationship with not only all that is good, but “all” that is evil in the world.  Every person that has done evil in the world has also been a child of God.  When Israel does evil, God has those feelings of the mother of Hitler.  But God never abandons Israel.  He never abandoned Hitler or anyone.  He was constantly there, waiting for them to turn to Him and repent.  You would like to think that their earthly mothers would also be waiting there to embrace them when they turn their lives around. 

47 is telling Babylon what is coming and telling them that they think they are safe behind their power and their magicians.  They are not safe from God.  How much do we put our security in the things of this world which have to actual power or ability to save.  When you think about relying on worldly things, think of Babylon and what God says about them.  They feel they are secure but “Upon you shall suddenly come a ruin you cannot imagine.”