Thursday, May 31, 2012

May 31, 2012 – Zechariah 13 – 14

Strike the shepherd and the sheep will scatter.  This is the line that I was thinking about.  Christ mentions this idea.  I can’t quite remember in what context.  It may have been in the Garden when they came for Him. 

Right now the Catholic Church is dealing with a struggle that has something to do with the leadership in the Vatican and documents that leaked or something.  The story I read about it really gave no details about anything, just that certain documents caused a certain person to be in trouble and the Vatican was in trouble.  Because it was so vague, I didn’t think anything of it, just the media going after the Vatican again.  Then I saw a ticker on a news program that said the Pope was not going to resign.  Maybe new information has come to pass, but the first story didn’t even say what the documents were about and now some are seeking the Pope’s resignation.  Perhaps these are the same groups that wanted him arrested when he went to England.  It is hard to know what is actually happening from the stories we get. 

The Pope is the Earthly Shepherd for the Catholic Church.  If he is struck down, there may be many sheep that scatter, but to think that it would be the end of the Catholic Church would be a mistake.  Look back in history and you will see many Popes that were in far worse situations and martyred in extreme cases, and the Church lived on.  As much as we love the Pope and as much as people think going after him will destroy the Church, the Church is Christ mystical Body on Earth.  It is not something that can be destroyed.  His presence in the Church is guaranteed by Him when He says I will be with you until the End of Days.  Rough patches will occur and not unlike ourselves, are required to purify and cleanse something that has become unclean.  There are many that led and are leading the Church that over the past decades have not been the most orthodox or appeared to have Church teaching at their sole motivation.  A period of suffering is not necessarily a pleasant thing, but it may not be the worst thing either. 

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

May 30, 2012 – Ruth 2

I guess the first thing we have to understand is what gleaning is.  It means to o gather (grain) left behind by reapers.  It was put into the commands of God that harvesters were not supposed to be picky about getting every single scrap from their fields during harvesting.  They were supposed to make their pass and if any was left behind, it was to stay left behind.  This was allowed so that the poor and the widows could come through afterwards and gather food for them.  That is what Ruth was doing.  She received so much because Boaz not only told them to not harass her and let her gather, but also to actually leave more behind so that she could gather more.  Boaz instructs her not to go to other fields but to only follow his reapers.  It may seem like a odd thing that he doesn’t just make her a reaper and give her a job, but maybe that was not something appropriate.  Instead, he allows her to go about what she is doing and helps in the best way he can, by not allowing her to be abused and leaving extra for her.

The way he talks about not letting her be abused makes it seem that the poor that would come to get the leftovers were often abused.  This takes away from the notion that what is left behind is for the poor if they are abused in the process of trying to gather it. 

We see a brief notion that could be seen as supporting the purgatory.  Verse 20, Naomi says “May he be blessed by the Lord, who is ever merciful to the living and to the dead”.  There is only one situation in which the dead need mercy.  If they are in hell, mercy does them no good, if they are in Heaven, they do not need God’s mercy.  Only if there is a place besides Heaven and Hell for the dead would God’s mercy do them any good.    

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

May 29, 2012 – Catechism 1548 – 1553

I think there is a lot of confusion with the understanding of a sinful priest and its effects on the Sacraments.  Basically, there is no effect on the Sacraments.  A priest, if he follows the prescribed wording and uses the correct materials, can perform the Sacraments legitimately, even if he is in a state of mortal sin.  The reason is that Christ is performing the Sacraments, not the priest.  The priest is there in appearance and he is what we see, but Christ is the actor, using the priest as His instrument.  When the priest is at the altar saying the words of consecration, it is Christ standing there, saying the words, in a mysterious way.  When you are in confession, Christ is sitting there listening to you, advising you, forgiving and absolving you of your sins.

I wonder if it is like the Eucharist or if that is a bad analogy.  In the Eucharist, the Body and Blood maintain the appearance of bread and wine even though their substance has changed.  I wonder if we can use our understanding of that to better reflect on what happens with the priest when he is performing the Sacraments.  It cannot be a perfect analogy because the priest comes back into his own self and is not always in the person of Christ, but I wonder if during those moments he is transubstantiated in some form or fashion.    

Monday, May 28, 2012

May 28, 2012 – John 12:37 – 13:20

We are finishing the Book of Signs in the Gospel of John.  Here is a recap of the 7 signs and what they point to.  I found several list of these.   

Water to Wine - 2:1-11 – Power to Transform

Cure of Nobleman’s Son - 4:46-54 – Lord of Life

Cure of Paralytic - 5:1-18 – Restorer of Lost Power

Feeding of the Multitude - 6:6-13 – Master of the Food by which we live

Walking on Water - 6:16-21 – Master of Nature

Sight to the Blind - 9:1-7 – He is Our Light

Raising of Lazarus - 11:1-45 – Lord of Eternal Life

I wanted to focus on the Washing of the Feet.  I developed a prayer service for husbands and wives.  It is basically a chance for the husband and wife to offer themselves to each other in a renewed way and asking the God’s will be done in their lives.  We went through it at a Lifeteen event and everyone seemed to get something out of it.  The last part of it is the husband washing the feet of the wife.  This is one of the most powerful ways Christ shows us how we are to live and how we are to serve those we love.  There are so many negative things out there about what a normal relationship between a husband and wife is suppose to be about.  There are even people that use the Bible to put the husband in a certain domineering light when it comes to marriage.  When you really stop to reflect on what the Bible says about husbands and wives, you see that Christ example of washing the feet of the Apostles is right to the point.  Ephesians 5:22 says “Wives, submit to your husband’s as to the Lord.”  This is used to show that women are inferior to men and need to know their place.  That is completely taking it out of context.  They do need to know their place, because they do have a special place and role God has created them for, but it is not a negative or demeaning role.  Ephesians 2:25 comes a few verses later and is never talked about when verse 22 is mentioned.  “Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her.”  As Christ loved the Church and washed their feet and served them.  The husband serves his wife and lives his life in service for the family.  This is no more demeaning than to say Christ service for all of us was demeaning.  It was His purpose, and it is our purpose as husbands to serve.  Here is the marriage prayer service.  See what you think.

Sunday, May 27, 2012

May 27, 2012 – Psalms 41 – 43

Psalm 42 and 43 are called “Longing for God’s presence in the Temple”.  I was wondering about that while I was reading it.  I have my adoration hour in which I go a spend an hour in front of the Blessed Sacrament, in the presence of God.  God is present in our temple, not only in Adoration but also in the tabernacle.  The Psalm talks about great processions going to the Temple to worship God.  We lack that in going to our Churches.  There should be such a line to be in the presence of God, yet we have a hard time filling slots.  The Psalm also talks about the detractors.  Those asking Where is your God?  We have those to.  How many stand up and say that He is right here, He is always present, He is waiting for you.  I don’t know how much Paul actually understands, but he knows that when Msgr. lifts up the host, that is Jesus.  He knows that Jesus is in the Monstrance.  He knows that when I go up for communion I am getting Jesus (so much so that he has asked whether Jesus taste good loudly enough to entertain the first few pews of the Church).  His simple belief helps my belief grow stronger.  His innocence helps me grow in faith.  There is a reason Christ taught us to be childlike.  I pray that he does not lose that innocence or at least that he keeps it as long as he can.  I pray that his understanding and belief continues to help me grow stronger in my faith and understanding.   

Saturday, May 26, 2012

May 26, 2012 – Ruth 1

I was trying to think if this was a normal practice.  Not so much the leaving lands and going somewhere new, but the relationships between mother-in-law and daughter-in-law.  We know that marriage is very important.  From the beginning, God announced that the two become one.  We also know, or will soon find, that mothers are very important in Israel.  When Solomon looks for his guide or the one who sits on this right hand, the queen is not one of his wives, because he had too many.  The queen was his mother.  The queen mother is a very important figure in Old Testament views and one the reasons Catholics pay so much honor to Mary.  So, with those two idea in mind, if a woman marries a man and is then widowed, it makes some sense that she would cling to her mother-in-law as opposed to going back to her own family.  When the two become one, her mother-in-law takes on a “motherly” role and with the mother of the husband being of importance, following her feels logical.  There are also lessons in here of not abandoning family, following God’s will, persevering, but I thought I would comment on those two ideas and how they might fit into this story. 

Friday, May 25, 2012

May 25, 2012 – Catechism 1539 – 1547

When you look at the system set out in the Church of the Old Testament, you can see a very similar church to the one set up in the Catholic Church.  You have the High Priest, then the priest from the descendants of Aaron, then the Levites who serve the priest, then the people of Israel.  In the Catholic Church you have the Pope, then the Bishops (from which the Pope is just first among equals), then the priest, then the rest of the Catholic faithful.  I am not sure how they came to have the high priest or how they choose him, but if he had to come from the other priest, that is similar to the Pope having to be a Bishop.  It really makes a lot more sense that the Church founded by Christ would have a similar feel to it as that of the Church of the Old Testament.  What would make no sense is that the new church would be completely dissimilar, with no hierarchy, no structure, no authority. 

I was listening to something about sola scriptura and the issue of authority, and here is something to reflect on.  The founding fathers gave us the Constitution.  No one believed that any single person could read the Constitution and interpret it however they felt was appropriate.  The founding fathers knew that if this were allowed it would lead to division and chaos.  They set up an authority that would interpret what the Constitution means by the words that it uses.  Do sola scriptura believers feel that God could not see the future better than the founding fathers?  If they were able to see that interpretation must come from an established authority or there would be chaos, how much more would God understand there would need to be an authority for the Words He would leave us to guide us? 

Thursday, May 24, 2012

May 24, 2012 – John 12 – 12:36

How many times do we hear the hour has not arrived.  Now it has arrived and it comes with the Gentiles seeking Him.  And when the time arrives, He does not talk about His Kingdom or being raised as a King or anything like that.  What He talks about is the grain of wheat that must die to bring about fruit. 

They wanted to kill Lazarus.  He was already dead and was raised.  What do they think will happen if they kill him.

Anyone that serves Jesus will be honored by God.  Does a parent serve their child.  Did Mary serve Christ.  Did anyone serve Christ in a more special way than Mary served Christ, by bringing Him into the world, raising Him, being there at the end and for the Apostles.  Then God will honor her in a special way. 

John does not have an agony in the garden scene.  It is alluded to here when Christ says, “I am troubled now”.  And He questions out loud, whether it has to be this way.  And as we hear that He was strengthened in the garden, here He is strengthened by a voice from Heaven. 

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

May 23, 2012 – Psalms 72 – 73

Psalm 73 really had me thinking about what happens to us when we look at the world.  The world is full of people making it just fine without any real sense or morals.  At least we see them doing fine or they appear to have everything their heart desires.  We actually don’t know what is going on in the hearts of anyone else.  But this, at least from reading this Psalm, has that same feel you get when talking about scandal.  The Psalmist sees people, evil people, getting the benefits from their evil, not paying for it, and living the high life.  By seeing this, he is tempted to leave the way of God in search for this “happiness” by the worldly way.  2 – 3 “my feet had almost stumbled; my steps had nearly slipped, because I was envious of the arrogant”  13 – “Is it in vain that I have kept my heart pure”.  We see this going on around us, the people who do not live Godly lives getting everything we think we deserve and need and we get none of it and we long to cross over into that other lifestyle and get it for ourselves.  That temptation may not be for big things, bigger house, nicer car, better job.  But it may.  Where I think the real struggle lies in the smaller things.  Nicer phone, better cloths, more popular friends, more awards, etc.  We feel if we just do it that one time, just to get a taste, we will come back and we will have something nice and won’t be “that” wicked.  18 – “You set them, indeed, on a slippery road; you hurl them down to ruin”.  That road goes quickly in the wrong direction because we are weak and as they said in the potato chip commercial (I forget which) you can’t eat just one.  You will continue to sneak, cheap, lie, grab for every benefit until you do become what the world would call “successful”.  And those that are trying to live moral lives will look at you and become jealous because you got there doing the wrong things and you will lead them astray and the cycle continues.  There is only one way to end a cycle.  Get out of it.  We are called not to look with jealousy at those that benefit from evil, but with pity and mercy and pray for their conversion.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

May 22, 2012 – Judges 21

Its hard to find something to write about.  The tribe of Benjamin did not have any women for the survivors after this battle between the tribes, so God had to find wives for them.  One group is taken by defeating another people and taking their virgins.  Another group was stolen while they danced.  I was trying to think of something about God providing and God uniting people in strange ways to continue His plan, but it really just seems like a very strange chapter. 

Monday, May 21, 2012

May 21, 2012 – Catechism 1533 – 1538

Here is a link to an article talking about the hierarchy of holy orders.  I pulled one of the quotes to illustrate the very clear distinction in the roles and hierarchy from as early as 325, but there are quotes from earlier.  When you are dealing with issues of life and death, your eternal soul, I would think you would want someone teaching you.  But above that, you would want someone above him keeping track of what he was saying to make sure he was speaking truthfully.  And just to be safe, wouldn’t you want someone above that person to make sure that this one was also doing things correctly according to the Truth.  I think many people find the hierarchy of the Catholic Church to be a burden and a stumbling block.  I think it is because many have ignored the hierarchy that the Church is in the state it is in.  I am reassured by the hierarchy and take confidence in it.  Far from a burden, it is what keeps it strong and what holds it together.  Many will say that because of the hierarchy, the Church takes too long to make changes and is behind the times.  I think because the hierarchy is there, the Church takes its time in making decisions and is not reactionary in its response like the rest of the world.  I have heard many say that it is between God and me, I can go straight to God and I don’t need a religion or authority to tell me what to believe.  That is not Biblical.  When there were issues in the early Church, they went to the leaders to figure out what to do.  Christ says if you have an issue with your brother, take it to the Church.  There is nothing that says we need to do it on our own.  We are called to be community, to go along together.  A community needs leaders, rules, authority, or it will not move together, but fall apart.  Do non-denominational Christians really believe that there would still be Christianity around if everyone had gone off and done their own thing from the beginning.  It is hard for me to believe that someone can really believe that when they truly and honestly reflect on the question.  Without the Church’s hierarchy and authority, there would not have been a Catholic Church for all of you to break away from.  And for all your talk of “man made church rules”, the same basic hierarchy and authority haven’t changed since very early in the Church’s life.  If God set up a system that worked in 325 and changed the known world from pagan to Christian, why do you feel your “no authority relativistic Christianity” is going to change anything.  The world will not follow you if you yourselves do not have a leader.  And Christ cannot be your leader if you are all going in different directions.

Council of Nicaea I

"It has come to the knowledge of the holy and great synod that, in some districts and cities, the deacons administer the Eucharist to the presbyters [i.e., priests], whereas neither canon nor custom permits that they who have no right to offer [the Eucharistic sacrifice] should give the Body of Christ to them that do offer [it]. And this also has been made known, that certain deacons now touch the Eucharist even before the bishops. Let all such practices be utterly done away, and let the deacons remain within their own bounds, knowing that they are the ministers of the bishop and the inferiors of the presbyters. Let them receive the Eucharist according to their order, after the presbyters, and let either the bishop or the presbyter administer to them" (Canon 18 [A.D. 325]).

Sunday, May 20, 2012

May 20, 2012 – John 11:28 – 11:57

48 – It is very easy to see where the priorities lie with the leaders.  They are suppose to be the leaders of the Church and leading people to God, but their reaction is “the Romans will come and take away our land and our nation.”  This is what will happen anyway.  This is what is always going to happen here on Earth.  Have you ever thought about how much blood has been shed over land.  We want this or that piece of land and we are going to take it if you won’t give it to us.  Babylon, Greeks, Romans, Turks, Napoleon, US from Indians, Hitler.  It is all just rock and dirt.  We are so obsessed sometimes with the ground beneath our feet and we fight over “ownership” of that land.  Can you really ever “own” the land.  Do you have any control over it.  Ask a farmer if he controls his land when there is a drought.  Ask someone if they control their land after an earthquake or tornado has destroyed it.  Land is just another material thing that we cannot take with us and worrying about leads us away from God. 

On a much smaller scale, how much time do you spend making sure your lawn looks just so.  How much control do you have, do you really own it.  I might think about it a little too much and give it a little too much time.  But you cannot just leave it in disarray.  The answer, as with almost every answer, is a balance.  You can do things, have things, build up things, until they become a distraction from God, then they have gone too far.  Every time I come home from work thinking about mowing and am greeted by a 3 year old who wants to play trains with daddy, I think about that balance.  Where are our priorities.  What are we filling our life with.  Are we thinking  like the Pharisees and worried about our land and nation instead of worrying about our soul and where we are putting God in all of this.   

Saturday, May 19, 2012

May 19, 2012 – Zechariah 1 – 2

The introduction puts this in context of a pep talk to get the exiles to come back to Jerusalem.  It talks about how God is on their side now and Jerusalem will be restored.  It doesn’t really say where Zechariah is located, but you can picture this message going out to all the distant lands and the Jews hearing it and being drawn back home.  Remember that when they are exiled, although large chunks were taken in some big groups, there were many smaller parts taken all over and those left behind may not have stayed there or been taken later by other groups.  The Jews were scattered all over the known world, and this was a beacon for a return. 

2:13 I thought was a powerful image.  “I wave my hand over them: they become plunder”. 

Friday, May 18, 2012

May 18, 2012 – Judges 20

I can’t remember if I remember reading this battle tactic in another battle or if I just remember reading this battle before.  It is an awful sacrifice for 2 days in order for the strategy to work.  Only after thinking they are going to defeat them as the first 2 days would the one army leave the city far enough for the army to be able to sneak back and destroy the city. 

Whether the lesson is to trust God, regardless of the suffering or whether Sacrifice is necessary to accomplish good things, we can learn from this sequence.  We also have seen this strategy used in movie battles, perhaps even real battles.  I have seen in several movies that an army will feign defeat in order to split the enemy army or draw them into a trap.  Next time you see that, know that it is not original, but God’s battle strategy. 

Thursday, May 17, 2012

May 17, 2012 – Catechism 1526 – 1532

In summary, there isn’t much else I could think to reflect on.  I have never received anointing of the sick.  My health has been pretty good thus far in my life.  I know there are prayers out there that include a request for a death that is not sudden, so that the person can receive these final gifts before they leave this world.  The more I learn about Grace, God’s Power, the Sacraments, the more I realize that is something I long for very deeply.  I know that I am not ready for Heaven.  I know I have attachments to this world that I am not cured of and I need purifying.  I long for these gifts on the final journey, to help sustain me and carry me into the arms of God.  To leave this world with every possible Grace that is available would be, possibly, the greatest blessing a person could hope for. 

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

May 16, 2012 – John 10:22 – 11:27

“if you do not believe me, believe the works” 10:38  Many people do not believe in what the Catholic Church teaches.  I can relate to that since for many years I was a Cafeteria Catholic and picked what I did and didn’t want to believe.  But even if you do not believe that the Catholic Church is the One True Church, should you still demean it and knock it down.  If you don’t believe it is what it says it is, shouldn’t you still believe in the works it has achieved over the course of 2,000 years.  The fact that it is still around with on line of leadership after 2,000 years should be enough to show that it is not simply an earthly organization based on men alone.  Look at the good that is done and believe in those works. 

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

May 15, 2012 – 1 Maccabees 4:26 – 4:61

Here we see the event that is celebrated during the Feast of the Dedication, which is what we will read about in John. 

28 – the following year.  I think sometimes we forget that there were only certain times of the year that armies fought.  An army would go about its business for a certain period of time, and when the “war season” would end, the army would disperse.  Year round war is something that is new.  I don’t know how new. 

Monday, May 14, 2012

May 14, 2012 – Judges 19

You can look at this story and say how cruel the men are by offering up the women to save their own skin.  If that is your soul focus, you are not going to get much out of reading Scripture.  That is the way it was.  Women were not seen as they are today.  They were seen more as property than human.  Would you offer your TV to someone who threatened your life.  I think you would.  I am not condoning it, just trying to put it into cultural perspective.  We sometime read our modern understanding into a 3500 year old story. 

While we are talking about the way women are treated in the past and in the Bible, things were not much different than this when Jesus was alive.  And although Catholics have been blamed for keeping woman in the home or sexist for not allowing them to be priest, women were given very liberal roles in the early Church compared to the world in which they were in.  Women were not allowed to be witnesses in court, yet Christ uses the woman at the well as a witness to the town, Mary Magdalene was a witness to the Resurrection, and The Blessed Virgin as a witness to the Lord’s coming into the world.  Some of the roles women played in the early Catholic Church would have been shocking to the world around them. 

Sunday, May 13, 2012

May 13, 2012 – Catechism 1520 – 1525

Suffering in a different light.  Uniting us with Christ’s passion.  Our sufferings are meant for us to join Christ in His sufferings.  They are there to help us and sanctify us.  Receiving this Sacrament gives us the Grace to understand this and accept our suffering in a new way.  It helps us see our suffering as a cleansing of our soul instead of just the destruction of our mortal body. 

Along with uniting with Christ’s Passion, it also provides grace for the Communion of Saints, the rest of the Church.  The grace given to a suffering person can sweep over the whole body of Christ, His Church.  A very public example of this was the suffering of John Paul II at the end of his life.  Many were inspired and strengthened by the way in which he accepted and dealt with his suffering.  That Grace, given to him, spilled over into the entire Church here on Earth and built it up.  

Saturday, May 12, 2012

May 12, 2012 – John 9:35 – 10:21

Christ is the shepherd and also the gate that we must enter through.  When you hear “enter through” it brings to mind the language that is used to describe Baptism.  When you are Baptized it is said that you are “entering into the Church”. 

There is also language here about sheep “not of this flock”.  If he was talking to the Jews, it seems pretty apparent that He was talking about the Gentiles.  This becomes even more obvious when you know how quickly Gentiles became Christians and what happens in Acts.  But even though they are under different flock, there is to be one Shepherd and one flock.  There was never suppose to be the Jewish Christians and the Gentile Christians.  Similarly, today there are not suppose to be Catholic and Lutheran and Episcopalian or (insert one of the 30,000 plus names.)  ONE SHEPHERD, ONE FLOCK. 

Friday, May 11, 2012

May 11, 2012 – Psalms 23 – 24

Take 2 separate lines from the two psalms and you really get a sense of protection.  24:8 – The Lord, a mighty warrior, the Lord, mighty in battle.  23:4 – I fear no harm for you are at my side, your rod and staff give me courage.  Having a mighty warrior beside you would give you courage.  Psalm 23 is famous as the Good Shepherd’s Psalm, but we don’t often associate shepherd’s with mighty warriors.  This would be another reason God made David such a huge figure in the history leading to Christ.  David was a shepherd/warrior.  And although when we imagine Jesus as the Good Shepherd we often see Him peacefully holding a lamb, we should not forget that He is also going to be the mighty warrior who aggressively battles the wolf to protect the lamb.   Have you ever thought about the Crucifixion as a battle.  David defeated the lion to save the sheep and survived.  Picture it slightly different.  Imagine David in close battle with the lion, with only a knife.  He would have been clawed and bit and bloodied.  He may have eventually defeated the lion, but he was out all alone in the hills with no help.  Imagine if his injuries killed him.  He did save the sheep, but gave his life to do it and did so in a very bloody way with much suffering.  Now, reflect on Good Friday and what Christ the Good Shepherd did to save us.  He did rise on the third day, but that didn’t make the sacrifice any less.    

Thursday, May 10, 2012

May 10, 2012 – Judges 18

I don’t really understand how good things happen for this tribe when they are breaking the law by having an idol.  Maybe the point is that Micah is the one that suffers by losing because he first made the idol.  I do think it is interesting that this was done in Dan as long as God was at Shiloh.  God left Shiloh to go to Jerusalem, and we can assume from the way it is written that the use of this idol was stopped when that happened.  That is when there became a king, an authority, a common rule.  Do non-Catholic Christians feel there will be a time when authority will bring us all under one set of rules or do they think we already have that (which I cannot understand).

Wednesday, May 09, 2012

May 9, 2012 – Catechism 1514 – 1519

I have a card in my wallet that says “I’m Catholic. If I am about to die, call a priest”.  Or something to that effect.  I hope that if it is my time, there is enough time to call a priest.  The Sacraments and real and powerful and bring us closer to God.  What better way to leave this world than having the Grace of the Sacraments building you up for that journey.  As it is stated, the optimal order is Confession, Anointing, then receiving the Eucharist (or Viaticum – the name for Eucharist given at the time of death).  A clear conscience, strength and eternal food for the journey.  I pray that I am able to leave this world that prepared for the next and thank God for being in a Catholic Church that offers such gifts for that journey.  

Tuesday, May 08, 2012

May 8, 2012 – John 9 - 9:34

I was wrong, we get the good shepherd in the next reading in John.

This blind man is the personification of all Christians, or what we are suppose to be.  We are blind in sin.  Through Baptism we are made to see.  We can grow blind again through sin, but can be given our sight back though the Sacraments.  Once we can see, we will be judged by those that do not believe.  We will be accused and we will be asked to defend ourselves.  Those that we think closest to us (the man’s parents) will not come to our defense out of fear.  Our only defense will be the words God puts in us and testifying to what has happened to us.  Testify that we were blind and now we see, that only God can make a person born blind from birth see again.

Speaking of being born blind from birth, this is made reference to throughout the story.  If we are looking at the blindness being related to or teaching us about our sin, this points to the understanding and teaching of Original sin.  This is the understanding that every person is born with the stain of Original Sin that was caused by the fall of Adam and is a part of us from birth because of that. 

Monday, May 07, 2012

May 7, 2012 – Isaiah 40

Verse 2 – Israel’s service is at an end.  As we read on we will see the passages that point to John the Baptist and Christ.  We can see this as saying that when Jesus comes, Israel’s work is at an end.  They are the chosen people, meant to prepare the world for God’s coming.  When God comes, everything changes.  We no longer need a nation or people that are preparing, we are at the appointed time.  Look at it as a wedding (one of the best and most used examples for many things in the Bible).  The Old Testament and Israel were all the preparation that is done leading up to the wedding.  If you have ever been involved in that process, you know exactly the difficulties that come with it.  The stress, the sacrifice, the work, all of that can be seen in Israel’s journey.  They were making preparations for the coming of Christ.  When Christ comes, that is the wedding day.  Jesus says as much when He talks about the disciples not fasting while He is on Earth.  Then, after the Ascension, that is the marriage.  The union that was consummated between God and Humans when Jesus gave His life is lived out after Jesus Ascends into Heaven and is lived out through the Church Jesus established.  Looking at it this way makes many of the allusions to marriage and God’s relationship to us a lot clearer. 

Verse 6-7 – “All [mankind’s] glory like a flower…the flower wilts”.  When you think about all that we think we have accomplished as humans and to think of it all as a flower that blooms and dies, it is humbling in the face of an infinite God.  Is that how the world views its accomplishments, as a flower that will bloom and die in a sort span.  No, the world sees itself as all powerful, able to control it all, understanding all, an infinite flower, not fading but growing more beautiful every day.  How backwards the world sees things. 

We have this reading here because I think we are about to hear Jesus talk about the good Shepherd.

Sunday, May 06, 2012

May 6, 2012 – Judges 17

I don’t have much to say about this chapter.  You can see what happens from a lack of authority and leadership.  “In those days there was no king in Israel; everyone did what was right in their own eyes.” Verse 6.  We will see what happens, but we see that Micah is not following the rules.  Making an image of God, even the one and true God, was forbidden under Jewish law.  But Micah had no leader or authority to go to.  Doesn’t this sound a lot like non-Catholic Christians.  They have no authority to look to so they all do what is “right in their own eyes”.  That is why some denominations say gay marriage is ok, others no.  Abortion is ok to some, not to others.  Contraception is fine for most, not to some.  Woman can and cannot be priest.  It all depends on what is “right in their own eyes.”  That is not how God wants it to be done.  That is not why He established laws and the Levite Priesthood.  I would think that non-Catholic Christians should take a long look and reflect on what God is going to say or do about the Israelites who did what was “right in their own eyes.”  Every time someone starts up their own church because they disagree with their old church or think they have it right, how are they any different. 

Saturday, May 05, 2012

May 5, 2012 – Catechism 1506 – 1513

Taking care of the sick is something that has always been very important to Christians.  We see this still today in the fact that so many hospitals are run by the Catholic Church.  That is another reason that these newest laws, which force Catholics to provide things they don’t believe in, is such a dangerous law.  What would happen if all the Catholic hospitals shut down.  What would happen to the health care system if we lost a large chunk of the places people go for care.  The question will hopefully never be answered because things will turn around, but if what happened with Catholic Charities in Illinois is any indication, what would happen is the Catholic hospitals would just drop their “Catholic” title and go about business as usual.  Catholic Charities is now called Center for Youth and Family Solutions.  It is exactly the same people and system, just without the “burden” of having any moral foundation.  It is a complete joke.  I understand that people would have lost jobs and things would have been a mess for many families if they had folded, but what lesson are we giving the government.  The issue of morals and beliefs and obeying your conscience came to a head and Catholic blinked.  It only encourages the government to push even further the envelope of immorality the next time.

Friday, May 04, 2012

May 4, 2012 – John 8:31 – 8:59

The first thing you notice is that Jesus is talking to people who believe He is who He says He is.  “Jesus then said to those Jews who believed in him” 8:31  The footnotes say that this doesn’t mean what it really says but has something to do with word structure.  Their reasoning is that these same people try to stone Him later.  But we already saw in Chapter 6 that people who believe in Jesus and follow Him do not always stick with Him after there is a teaching they don’t like.  Keep that in mind as we talk about what Truth means.

Truth.  This word is used a lot in this discourse.  I have gone on and on about Truth before and how it makes no sense and is impossible to have truth if there are contradictions in it.  Christ is Truth.  He speaks the Truth and the Truth that He speaks sets us free.  Does Jesus’ version of freedom remind us of the freedom that is proclaimed by the world we see around us?  The world says that real freedom is to be able to do whatever you want, whenever, wherever.  The world sees rules and religion as the opposite of freedom.  Those that were questioning Jesus had a similar understanding.  That is why they question Him.  “We … have never been enslaved to anyone.* How can you say, ‘You will become free” 8:33 

If you have sin in your life, you are a slave to that sin.  Jesus is talking about the freedom from sin.  The same world that wants to tell you freedom is doing whatever you want will tell you that sin is not real.  Sin is something that was made up to keep pheasants in line in the dark ages.  It is an ancient idea.  Humans are to intelligent and we know so much about the world that the idea of sin or limitations on our actions is ridiculous.  That is why the world’s idea of freedom is so warped.  Ironically, their way of freedom will always lead them into slavery of sin for that simple reason that they refuse to believe in sin. 

They won’t believe in sin or see things in a new light, like these people, “because my word has no room among you” 8:37  They are so full of the world and their materials, they have no room for God in their lives.  The fill the space that God wants to fill with cars, jobs, sex, money, and everything else that they think will make them happy.  Their idea of freedom is to have all this.  The idea of limiting yourself, of sacrificing these things, of not owning the world, is taking their freedom away.  Their entire focus is on building up this wealth and surrounding themselves with everything they can gather.  They have no understanding that the more they gather, the less freedom they actually gain, the more sin they attract and the less joy they will feel.

Why do they do it?  Why do WE do it?  Because we are fallen and in the world.  The one who rules the world is the “father of lies” 8:44.  The world is our greatest example of what lying can do to us and how worldly desires destroy what is within, yet we find it so hard to learn that lesson.  When you think about the “truth” the world teaches, which is that there is no truth, the idea of Relativism, you can see exactly what Jesus is telling them.  The world is where Satan is doing his work.  He is sowing the seeds of Relativism.  He is seducing everyone into an understanding that Truth is not real.  But Truth is real.  Truth is Christ and Truth will set us FREE.

Thursday, May 03, 2012

May 3, 2012 – Habakkuk 2:9 – 3

2:17 Talks about the trees of Lebanon and the killing of the beast.  The footnotes talk about this being a reference to the large palaces that were being built by using the resources that were around and how they were misusing natural resources.  This verse is right up environmentalist street.  In reading it, the chapter turns to talking about making idols out of these things, so that is what I thought it was talking about.     

Wednesday, May 02, 2012

May 2, 2012 – Judges 16

You really have to wonder why Samson kept Delilah around.  He really had no reason to trust her and he knew what she was going to do.  Looking at it another way, this is how God was going to use Samson to destroy the Philistine leadership.  God’s plan was to allow Samson to get captured and then destroy the arena.  We also don’t hear about what happened to Delilah.  It doesn’t say that she was in the arena when it was destroyed.  For all we know, she took her riches and lived happily ever after. 

If you have seen Veggie Tales, Samson’s Hairbrush, you will know that Samson’s strength was not in his hair, but in God.  Notice that it doesn’t say Samson realizes that his hair was cut but that the Lord had left him. 

Tuesday, May 01, 2012

May 1, 2012 – Catechism 1499-1505

Illness brings us a glimpse of death.  Have you ever felt so sick that you felt like you’re going to die.  I never thought about it as a teaching lesson to give us a sense of our mortality.  I haven’t felt that sick very often, but there have been those times when you really could not get out of bed. Every muscle hurts, you don’t want to open your eyes, but lying down and being still doesn’t seem to help.  In that moment, have you ever reflected on how fragile our bodies really are.  How all of this is something that is just a passing moment in the history of the world.  When we feel the weakness of our bodies, it allows us the opportunity to reflect on what we are really made for and that we don’t belong to this Earth. 

Jesus didn’t heal everyone.  I have wondered about that sometimes.  Was there anybody that actually died during the time Jesus was on Earth.  He healed so many and had so many miracles, sometimes it seems like that is what was happening. But Jesus did not heal everyone. Some people that did die while Jesus was on Earth; Holy Innocents in Bethlehem, Herod that met the wise men, Lazarus (although he was raised), and Judas (who died Thursday night or early Good Friday by all accounts I have understood.      

Connection of sin and illness.  I think I have talked before about sin being seen as a illness, but it is brought up again and again that Christ, when He heals, is healing the soul from sin as well.  The two are usually connected.  Maybe that is because we cannot see the soul, but we can relate or understand more the physical healing.