Tuesday, July 31, 2012

July 31, 2012 – Psalms 10 – 11

Psalm 10 – Justice – I want to put in here verses 3 – 7 in case people look at my reflections but don’t actually read the verses because these verses describe a world that feels very familiar.  “The wicked even boast of their greed; these robbers curse and scorn the LORD. In their insolence the wicked boast:“God does not care; there is no God.” Yet their affairs always succeed; they ignore your judgment on high; they sneer at all who oppose them. They say in their hearts, “We will never fall; never will we see misfortune.”Their mouths are full of oaths, violence, and lies; discord and evil are under their tongues”.  If you don’t read that and think of the world around us and how they view God and treat those that do believe in God then you are either with your head under a rock or a follower of the world’s view. 

Psalm 11 – Confidence in God’s Presence – “God’s eyes keep careful watch; they test all peoples”.  4  This is an interesting verse since we are looking at Job as well.  The idea that we will be tested is not an idea that only pops up here and there.  It is really all over the Bible.  Tested as gold in fire is another idea that is scene.  With this idea so heavily used, how can people be so quick to discount God when things go bad.  It flows into what Job says about accepting the good and the bad.  We are so quick to ask for and accept the good things God gives us.  We are equally quick to complain and turn our backs when things are taken away.  Being tested shows our weaknesses, our imperfections.  We need help to accept the testing and understand that it is this testing that purifies us and brings us closer to God.  When reflecting on being tested and purified, it is also good to reflect on Purgatory and those that are being purified before entering their eternal reward.  Pray for those in Purgatory that their purification may be complete and they may bow at the feet of God for all eternity.   

Monday, July 30, 2012

July 30, 2012 – Job 3

To wish to have never been born is a drastic wish.  Job has it here.  As we see in “It’s a Wonderful Life”, we really have no idea what lives we have touch through our own actions.  Another story that shows this is “The Five People You Meet in Heaven”.  Both give the main character a taste of what impact they have on the lives around them that we never fully know or understand. 

It is important to note that Job never blames God, at least not here.  There are going to be a lot of back and forth and I remember the last time I read Job I got pretty confused.  Job ask that God go back and make it so that he was never born, but doesn’t come out and accuse God of anything. Job maintains that he is innocent and that he has no reason that this should have happened.  We will see that people doubt his innocence because bad things like this would not have happened were it not deserved. 

Sunday, July 29, 2012

July 29, 2012 – 1 Samuel 16

A couple of confusing things about David’s introduction to Saul.  He becomes the armor bearer for Saul and in that role plays for him the harp.  But, in the qualifications for that, it is said that he is “a stalwart soldier”.  18  What soldiering had David done up to this point.  I guess it could mean that David had stood up to the wild beast and protected the sheep, but the isn’t what comes to mind when you think soldier.  It also seems a bit confusing that David comes to fight Goliath (although that isn’t in this chapter) when he was there the whole time as Saul’s armor bearer.  It just seems a little choppy as an introduction to such an important character in Biblical history. 

There is the great lesson for Samuel that God doesn’t see as man sees.  That is a timeless lesson and one so easily forgotten when we are going about our lives in this world.  We are not God and have no real understanding of the “whys” and “hows” that God is developing.  We don’t see with God’s eyes and the eyes we do have can never see the full picture.  We must always remember that when we think something is so out of whack that no good could ever come from it.

Saturday, July 28, 2012

July 28, 2012 – Catechism 1674 – 1679

Although Sacramentals are important and to be highly regarded, it is stated and made very clear that they in no way a replacement to the Sacred Liturgy.  I don’t know if there are people out there that skip Mass on Sunday and think that saying a rosary is an equal substitute, but that isn’t valid thinking.  I would think that if you are a prayer of the rosary that will increase your want of the Liturgy and get you to Sunday Mass, if not more than once a week.  Sacramentals are another arrow that points us to God, a guiding hand that leads us in the right direction.

Friday, July 27, 2012

July 27, 2012 – Psalms 5 – 7

Psalm 5 – Divine Help – The singer seeks God every morning and waits for God’s reply.  He seeks the Lord and avoids evil.  He ask the Lord to do justice to those that do evil.  The one thing that stuck out to me is that he ask God to “make them fall by their own devises”. 11  That is a very interesting way of asking God to punish evil.  It is something that I don’t know if we think about when bad things happen to us.  Do we see that what we have asked for or done wrong has brought about our own suffering.  Cigarettes causing cancer is a image that comes to mind.  Being greedy and then foreclosing could be another.  The things that we obtain through our sin or lead us to sin will usually be the same things that bring us pain down the road.

Psalm 6 – Distress – Has your pillow ever been soaked with tears.  I don’t know if I have ever soaked a pillow, but I know I have dampened a pillow with tears.  What an image of how sad and fearful this person is.  If I had to choose between “cried a river” or “tears drench my bed” I think I would choose drenching the bed because it also brings an image of lying in bed, getting away from the world, and depression that “cried a river” don’t really stir.

Psalm 7 – Vindicator – We are told that most the Psalms were written by David.  As we go through them, if you are familiar with David’s story, you can tell when he would have possibly written them.  This could have been written while he was on the run from Saul or against one of the other enemies of Israel.  We will see a different feel to later ones.  The idea that he is blameless in the Lord’s sight is not something that is in all the Psalms.  We will get ones of repentance for sins and seeking of mercy.  Here we get a sense of young innocence and being chased by a mad king.

We also see this image of sinners being done in by their own actions.  “[Sinners] open a hole and dig it deep, but fall into the pit they have dug.” 

Thursday, July 26, 2012

July 26, 2012 – Job 1 – 2

2:10 – “We accept good things from God; should we not accept evil”  When we think of Job, we think of “The LORD gave and the LORD has taken away”.  But isn’t this verse a harder one to ponder.  It is not just that the Lord takes stuff from us, but that we are to accept it.  We see Job lose everything he has in a brief period of time (although he apparently didn’t lose his wife) all so that Satan might try to prove that humans don’t really love God.  Satan’s premise is one that many might think is very true.  If you give people everything their heart desires, of course they will be happy and loving and thankful to God.  It is when you strip all that away that their true feelings will show and they will turn from God.  But we find both sides of that premise are not visible in the world.  Those that have everything they could want are often not those that are God fearing people.  They have lost sight of God as they have filled their life with material things.  They are usually not happy and feel that they can only be happy with more things.  Most humans in Job’s shoes are not obedient to God, but have turned to the world for their pleasure. 

The second thought is that if we lose everything, we will turn away from God.  When people lose everything, they sometimes turn to God as their only refuge.  Church’s and Christianity thrive in some of the poorest places in the world because of the Hope the comes from God and the obedience to give your life completely to Him. 

I also thought it was interesting that Satan thought the health of Job was more important to him than his family.  I could be very sick, but if I would have my family intact, I would count it as very little.  If I were as healthy as possible, but lost all my family, then I would think I had lost what was most important.  I think it is interesting that bodily health was seen as more important than possessions or children to the writer of Job. 

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

July 25, 2012 – 1 Samuel 15

The Lord wants obedience more than sacrifice.  I was thinking about that and how we call the Mass a Sacrifice.  There are many people that think going to Sunday Mass every week is really their only obligation to being Catholic.  Wouldn’t this line of obedience and sacrifice shake them from that reality.  You can go and offer all the sacrifices and go to every Sunday Mass your entire life, but if you are not obedient in your life, it counts for nothing.  Saul wanted to offer the best sacrifice he could, but in so doing he disobeyed God, thus making the sacrifice worthless.  In a similar way, if you go to Sunday Mass, but have been disobedient, the Mass loses some of its effect.  (I was trying to put that is a way that makes sense, because I think the Mass always allows Grace to flow, so it is never worthless)  But the Mass could be harmful to a disobedient person in that if you have mortal sin and receive the Eucharist, you are committing another mortal sin.  God wants obedience more than sacrifice (He wants sacrifice as well, but with obedience). 

Maybe this is a way to think of it.  If I stole 100 dollars and put it in the collection at church, does that sacrifice aid my soul.  No.  Only if the sacrifice is in line with God’s command and done in obedience will it bring fruit.  Thus, as it seems almost every topic does, we come back to the question of authority and who do we obey in order to be obedient.  How can you obey a God when you believe God can give different rules to different people.  How can a Christian feel they are being obedient when their parish or group allows different moral beliefs among the different individuals and allows all individuals to interpret things on their own, as long as the profess Christ as Lord.  You cannot obey rules that are shifting, thus there are Rules that will never change, there is Truth that will always be, and there is a Church that God gave us to guide us in regards to both.  One Church, One Truth, One set of Rules.  Without that, obedience is impossible.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

July 24, 2012 – Catechism 1667 – 1673

Sacramentals are sacred signs which bear a resemblance to the sacraments. They signify effects, particularly of a spiritual nature, which are obtained through the intercession of the Church. One of the best examples of a sacramental that I have is my wedding ring.  It bears the resemblance and reminds me of the Sacrament of matrimony (whenever I notice it, I know exactly why I have it and what it means to me).  It allows a flow of Grace that helps support me (hence, people often take off their wedding ring when they are going to cheat).  It is there as a protection against evil.  My wedding band is not a magic ring, but it is no mere ring either.  It is, as the topic is titled, a sacramental, a gift of God, a reminder and protector.  I am lucky enough to have it blessed by the Pope and it has given me strength.  It rarely comes off (only when I am bored and playing with it) and it will always be with me.  I feel for those that don’t feel this way about their wedding band.  It should not be just an accessory, it is not an object.  It, like your spouse, should become a part of you. 

On a slightly different note, in Lord of the Rings when Frodo puts on the ring, he disappears.  I wonder if there was any though in Tolkien’s mind to a wedding band and putting it on makes you invisible to the devil (maybe not invisible but harder to find at least).

Monday, July 23, 2012

July 23, 2012 – 3 John and Jude

I don’t understand how people can associate believing in Christ and the New Testament and not believe in the idea of no religion or authority.  We have gone through all the New Testament now (except Revelations) and it is littered throughout warning against people that come in with other teachings.  You have the Gospels, Acts, then almost every letter is talking about a group of Christians that is being influenced by some outside source and is leading them away from God.  If you believe Scripture is divine, if you believe it is God speaking to you, and if you believe it is the only authority you need, how can you ignore that what it warns over and over again is any idea that multiple interpretations of the teachings of Christ is ok.  IT IS NOT OK.  The letters point to an authority that guides the communities so that they will not be led astray.  There is no way that you can interpret the letters to allow for 30,000 plus different Christian denominations and ways of teaching.  This is what it warns against.  Many people can pick out many single verses and take them out of context to try and show their belief is correct, but that is not how the Bible is meant to be read. When you look at all the letters, why they were written, who they were to, what they warned against, there is no doubt that the early Christians understood there was a TRUTH, there was an AUTHORITY to guar that TRUTH and guide believers and that we are to be weary of anyone that tries to diverge from the TRUTH.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

July 22, 2012 – Lamentations 5

In concluding Lamentations, the author continues the view of the downtrodden leaving the city.  But he understands fully that their own sins are the reason.  I was listening to a podcast on Confession.  There is a sense of that in the Sacrament.  Most do not go into confession with their head held high.  They go in down trodden, like those leaving a city defeated, like those that know their sin has caused their pain.  But they leave with a new sense of hope.  The writer of Lamentations has that hope, but he doesn’t have that Sacrament.  I think there is a longing for it in his vision of the future.  He longs for reunification with God, he wants to rebuild that bridge, he wants to live a life by God’s rules, but that is not where he is at when he writes this.  Christ hasn’t come yet to bridge that gap.  The author will never feel that restoration while he lives. 

We can.  We have the ability to bridge that gap, to rebuild that bridge we have torn down with sin.  There are so many in the world with their head down in defeat.  Many do not think it is their fault, the humbler ones understand it is.  When we have our heads down, when we feel defeated, when we are walking away from our burned out city, first we must reflect on the sin we have done, understand that sin destroys, understand that God builds up, seek God out, go to Confession and build that bridge.  Grace is there and His Grace wants to bridge that gap.  He is waiting for you.  You don’t have to stand on the hill and look at the ruined city of your sinful life.  All you have to do is turn around and look at the Glorious City of God He is inviting you to on the other side.  There are always two roads. 

Saturday, July 21, 2012

July 21, 2012 – 1 Samuel 14

Here we see the character and strength of Jonathon.  I don’t think it is surprising that he is such a strong God fearing man because he has the role model of Saul and we have seen that Saul is a strong God fearing man (although we see him start to deteriorate a little with the “no eating” thing).  You can see that God had chosen a strong line to start the kingship if Jonathon was the next in line.  As we begin to see Saul fall apart, we will see Jonathon stay strong and befriend David, even knowing that it is going against his father.  He is able to tell that his father is straying from God and is strong enough to resist that.  Whether he would have made a good king or whether power would have corrupted him like it does his father, we don’t get to find out.  But go back and read the first few chapters with Saul and it compares very closely to the actions of Jonathon.  He is his father’s son.  Remember that and what he must be going through as he watches his father crumple.

Friday, July 20, 2012

July 20, 2012 – Catechism 1659 – 1666

Think about the term “domestic church” when you think of family.  Now think about what you mean when you think of church.  If you believe that the family is the domestic church, what does the idea of artificial contraception, divorce, and other family issues have on that view.  What would happen if at your church, Christ decided to leave (He being the bridegroom and the church the bride).  If that were made a option, why would we want to enter that commitment.  If the connection is one that is blocked so that it cannot produce, what effect does that have on the church.  Family starts with the husband and wife.  If they are not connecting, if there is a barrier to that connection, that will filter down to the rest of the family (literally in the way that there may not be any “rest of the family”).  The domestic church is being destroyed by the world.  Marriage is the foundation for that church, which is the foundation to strong communities, which is the foundation for cities and so on.  Just as the Trinity and their unity is the foundation for Christian religion, so marriage for the foundation of the direction of the world.  When the world tries to destroy marriage, it is chipping away at the very foundation it stands on.  Picture the man on the branch sawing behind himself.  It doesn’t end good for the man.   http://www.angryharry.com/images/sawing_branch.jpg

Thursday, July 19, 2012

July 19, 2012 – 2 John 1

In this very short letter we see John bring up again several similar topics from the other letter.  Truth, love, antichrist, other teachers are all discussed.  Here, the other teachers are called “progressive”.  I wonder what the word in Greek is or if we are getting a clear translation.  There are so many times that Catholics are criticized for not being progressive enough. Women priest, birth control, homosexual marriage, etc are things that the world looks at and tells the Catholic Church that we need to get with the times.  Not only the world, but “progressive” Catholic groups and other Christian denominations join the group on many occasions.  But here it is in the Scripture that being too “progressive” will lead us away from the Truth and Teachings of Christ.  When you look at the treatment of “progressive” teachings when the Scriptures were written and then look at a document like the Didache which is a very early writing laying out those teachings, you can imagine what John would say or how he would warn us of the teachings that are being accepted today. 

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

July 18, 2012 – Lamentations 4

How bad would it have to be to boil your own children for food.  I don’t have any idea if that is a literal thing or an exaggeration to make a point, but it is rather disturbing.  And from the context, you can’t tell if they are doing to because they do not want the children to suffer and they feel it is better for them to die or they are starving and this is the best they can do for food.  Either way, it paints a bleak picture. 

I thought it was interesting that they add in there how all the nations thought Jerusalem would never fall, that they were untouchable.  It wasn’t the strength of the enemy that allowed the fall, it was God’s wrath that allowed it.  If they had obeyed, God would have kept them safe.  Because they disobeyed, the most fortified city in the world would not have been enough to stop (look at Jericho vs God). 

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

July 17, 2012 – 1 Samuel 13

You see a very early use of financial warfare by the Philistines.  They exported all the blacksmiths so that not only did Israel have to rely on them for sharpening of tools, but Israel was not able to have weapons to rise against them.  This does seem like a disadvantage in the eyes of someone who does want to go to war, but can be used as a benefit.  A much similar thing occurred after WWII.  The US pretty much restricted Japan from ever having a military.  This made them vulnerable and unable to get offensive, but it also allowed them to focus a lot of money on technology and thus they are known for all the technology they have.  If they had spent money on their military, they would not have had so much success in technological inventions. 

On the other hand, the US has been responsible for their security (and some would say securing the world) and thus our military budget is enormous and some would say we are well behind many countries when it comes to technology and education.

Monday, July 16, 2012

July 16, 2012 – Catechism 1655 – 1658

Trying to encourage you children to pray is on one hand something very simple and on another hand, very difficult.  It is simple in the fact that they seem to naturally want to pray.  No, they don’t start chanting or quoting bible verses at 2 years old, but they seem to understand speaking out loud to God.  They may not pray in a way that we understand, but God understands them, and they seem to be completely accepting that He understood them.  Sometimes all it takes is a little guidance and focus and they can really surprise you. 

The hardest part is on the parents being consistent about it.  They fully emulate their parents and if you are not praying, they will not pray.  It is always very humbling when they remind you to pray. 

Last night I was praying with Paul and we were going through all the things we did this weekend that we were thankful for.  We had just gotten back into town from a weekend with Grandma and Grandpa.  Paul didn’t want to pray out loud, so I thank Jesus for … and went through the whole weekends set of activities.  I really didn’t think he was paying any attention.  When I was finished I asked if I had covered it all, and he said yes, so we moved on.  Just when we were about to finish he stopped me and said I hadn’t said everything.  I had forgotten him being able to ride on Grandpa’s tractor.  So we thanked God for that as well, then went to bed.  It was just a very nice moment and really encourages me to be more vigilant about my prayer life because he is paying attention, probably mostly when I don’t think he is. 

Sunday, July 15, 2012

July 15, 2012 – 1 John 5

Here we have a very strong argument in support of the Catholic teaching of mortal and venial sin.  John clearly states that there are levels of sin.  There are sins that are deadly, and sins that are not deadly.  That is pretty much Catholic teaching.  Venial sins are sins that are not deadly, they do not have the effect of completely separating you from God.  Mortal sins are deadly, they separate you from God and if you die with mortal sins unforgiven, Catholic teaching is that you have chosen Hell for eternity.

Saturday, July 14, 2012

July 14, 2012 – Lamentations 3

A couple of different sections here.  The first is a man who is really in dire straits.  Everything is going against him.  But, there is still hope in him.  He still turns to the Lord.  23 “[God’s favors and mercies] are renewed each morning”.  It is thinking about everyday as a new day.  The past is behind you and every sunrise is a chance to do things the right way, a different way, God’s way.  People have such a hard time living in the present.  We are either overly concerned about the future or we can’t let go of the past.  The chapter is about the hope God gives us, the Hope we are to have in Him and how that is what we should focus on every new day.  When we rise in the morning, regardless of what happened yesterday or what we are going to face, we need to be thankful to God that He has given us this new day to do His will.  Every day is a fresh start in the eyes of God.  Always turn to Him in the morning and ask Him to help you live that day the way His wills.

Friday, July 13, 2012

July 13, 2012 – 1 Samuel 11 – 12

Saul just comes across as a strong leader, someone everyone looks at and follows.  He comes in from the field and in very little time puts together an army.  After the victory, a group is discussing something and he steps in and they all stop.  He seems to command their attention.  You can almost picture him, taller than others, always head held high, the person everyone looks to for a decision to be made.  Keep this image in mind as we go forward. 

What was Saul thinking when he heard Samuel talk about how bad it was to have a king.  Was he upset that Samuel was talking about him like that.  Was he thinking that “I will be a good king and the Lord will be pleased” and think that Samuel wasn’t talking about him specifically.  Was he thinking that he agreed with Samuel and that is why he didn’t want to be king in the first place.  Saul is right there during this whole speech about him and I just wish we knew what was going through his mind. 

Thursday, July 12, 2012

July 12, 2012 – Catechism 1646 – 1654

I don’t understand how any Christian denomination can accept divorce as something legitimate.  Where is the reasoning.  How do they utterly ignore Christ teaching on this manner.  I guess I worded that wrong.  How can any denomination think remarriage after divorce is legitimate.  That is what Christ explicitly preaches against.  Yet how many brush it off as an natural occurrence.  I wonder how many Bible only believers think divorce and remarriage is ok.  Divorce is such a damaging act and is so vast in our culture that it has become accepted as the norm.  When a husband and wife stay together, it is a great witness to the world of what God means by commitment and love. 

I think I have talked about this before too.  If marriage is the image of God’s love, what do those Christians who believe divorce is ok think about the commitment of God’s love for us.  That is not a meditation to be shrugged off with “God is perfect so it is a different story”.  God meant for the commitment to be permanent because His commitment is permanent.  Belief and acceptance of divorce is saying God’s commitment and love for us is not eternal, easily thrown away, and can be substituted for the next thing we are interested in.  Basically, divorce makes marriage less important.  It makes commitment something optional.  It makes love a focus on feelings.  It makes children objects.  It is awful and evil.  But the Church doesn’t say you have to stay with a person you are married to if the situation is unlivable or dangerous.  You can separate and live alone.  But that marriage is always there.  You are marked with it and stepping into some other relationship is adultery in the eyes of God.  Granted, adultery isn’t seen as “that bad” in the eyes of the world either, but that is another days topic.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

July 11, 2012 – 1 John 3 – 4

Two main themes in these two chapters.  The overwhelming one is love.  Love is overflowing as not only what God is, but what we are to do, how we are to act, what we are suppose to fill ourselves with.  Love is the answer to everything.  The second theme is the world and what it emulates.  It is the opposite and counter to everything God is.  The opposite of love is fear.  The world fills us with fear.  Fear of financial woes, hurt feelings, diseases, death.  Love conquers all fear and allows us to live fully as God intended.  Whenever you read or hear about fear or what we are to be afraid of, look for the absence of love.  (as I write that I am trying to figure out where my fear of heights is an absence of love, maybe an absence of fully loving, which would including trusting, of God.  Fear stemming from not thinking God loves me enough to take care of me when my fear is irrational.) 

It makes you wonder about how the world teaches us that love should be celebrated even without marriage or with unnatural definitions of marriage when marriage is about a lifetime commitment.  It is like saying the world’s view of love fosters a “fear” of commitment.  The world’s view of love is a lie, which is what the ruler of the world is best at doing. 

3:13 “Do not be amazed, [then,] brothers, if the world hates you”.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

July 10, 2012 – Lamentations 2

In reading this, you get a sense of someone walking through a scene of utter destruction.  It got me thinking about how when there is a natural disaster, people always say “it looks like a warzone”.  I have just always found that connection confusing.  I understand they may have a similar look, but I can’t really connect war and natural disasters.  I would think, walking through a war zone would have a much different feel.  A southerner walking through Atlanta after it was burned to the ground would have different feelings than a Missourian walking through Joplin after the tornado.  This chapter is describing a war zone feel, not a natural disaster feel.  The enemy is gloating over them, they are asking for retribution, but there is also a sense of understanding that this was anticipated or deserved.  There is a “we knew this was coming”, feel to looking over the destruction.  That is something that is totally foreign to someone walking through a natural disaster area.  In that scene there is an overwhelming sense of “why us”.  The comparison has always just struck me as odd.

Monday, July 09, 2012

July 9, 2012 – 1 Samuel 10

Saul is made king, and he appears kingly.  He is taller and stronger than any other Israelite.  Keep that in mind when we get to Goliath and how cowardly Saul is by that point.  Yet, even though he appears kingly and Israel ask for a king, there are still those who right away are against him.  People are never satisfied.  That makes me wonder why I am diving into politics.  I am used to most people liking me.  I don’t really remember an occasion where someone really didn’t like me or where I had enemies (unless old girlfriends that I broke up with, but I got dumped more than dumped).  I think I have much thicker skin than I probably used to, but I think that is because what I believe and what I stand for is more firm a foundation.  “You’ve got to stand for something or you’ll fall for anything”, as the old country song goes.  I believe I do stand for something, which will make it easier to stand up for it and to accept that people are not going to agree with me and that it ok. 

Thinking about that, is that why we spend so much money as a government, because we are trying to please all the people all the time.  I guess that makes sense.  If you don’t want to upset people, give them the money they ask for.  This mentality appears to be a popular one.  So the inverse, the politician that says “no, we are not going to spend money on your project” is going to be a less popular person.  But isn’t that what we need.  Someone willing to say no if no is what needs to be said.  If I win and get neck deep in all this mess, I may be much more sympathetic to the Biblical figure of Saul and where he ends up from where he started.

Sunday, July 08, 2012

July 8, 2012 – Catechism 1638 – 1645

Michelle’s and my marriage is not indissoluble just because we made a commitment, but because God was a part of that commitment.  The way it is described, it puts it on the same level as the mark of Baptism, Confirmation, or Holy Orders.  We are marked and bonded as married, until death do us part. 

If marriage is given to us by God and grace is given to the couple as an aid to love each other, live holy together, and to build each other up, one could ask why there is so much divorce.  You could answer that many do not get married in the Church or under the eyes of God or seeking God in their lives, so Grace cannot help where it is not invited.  But even those couples that do get married in the Church, where is that Grace for them.  I think it is the same as any fallen away Catholic.  They have received Grace at Baptism, Confirmation, and maybe even the other Sacraments.  But Grace cannot help where it is not wanted.  Shutting yourself off to Grace, you shut yourself off to the help God wants to give you to be a strong and supportive spouse.

Saturday, July 07, 2012

July 7, 2012 – 1 John 1 – 2

Not a reflection on what is written, but a question to all those that think because it says Christ had brothers, Mary was not a perpetual virgin, when it says the new commandment is love “his brother”, does that mean only my biological brother.  What about my sister, cousin, neighbor, enemy.  Just wondered what thoughts were on that. 

Another issue people bring up with Catholics is the “call no man father”, but we have priest we call fathers.  Who is John writing to when he says “I am writing to you, fathers”.  (2:13)  And it is lower case fathers, distinguished from verse 14 when it says “because you know the Father”.  Who is John writing to if Christ commanded to call no man father, unless Christ was talking about God the Father and commanding against idolatry.

2:15 “If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him.”  Here is the idea of trying to fill the hole in our heart that is made for God with worldly things put into Scripture.  If we fill that hole with what is not God, God cannot be in it.  We also see that what the world calls love, such as sensual lust, is not from God.  I like how it describes it as sensual “lust” not being from God, because God did make acts that are sensual and they are good and confirming and can be used to build a relationship.  It is when they are deformed into something that is lustful that they become sinful.  The marital act is made to be pleasurable, God made it so.  But if it is not done in with the commitment of marriage to reinforce it, with the Grace of God to fulfill it, with the openness to allow God into it, it becomes something only done for lust and physical pleasure.  A lustful act, done between to married people, can still be wrong.  Marriage does not give the right to either party to begin lusting after physical pleasure alone. 

I know I went on and on about Truth and Authority when John’s Gospel talked on that, but here it is again.  John talks about those that were with them, but left. (so much for once saved, always saved)  Where were these verses when Luther made his departure.  You would think someone that was so learned, and I admit that he was scholarly, would have gone over these verses a couple of times in his education.  What did he think John was talking about when he said some left and John’s teaching about not following them.  “you do [know the truth], and because every lie it alien to the truth”.  (2:21) 

I admit that I am confused by 2:27.  “As for you, the anointing that you received from him remains in you, so that you do not need anyone to teach you. But his anointing teaches you about everything and is true and not false; just as it taught you, remain in him.”  I can see how this could be used to say that we do not need a religious authority but have all of God’s knowledge and interpretation inside us and given to us by God.  If this were the only verse in the Bible that you read, I could understand that.  But it is not.  This must be read in the context of the rest of the Bible.  Not only the rest of the Bible, but the rest of the Chapter that it is in.  John just got done talking about those that were teaching differently and not to follow them.  And he is teaching them not to listen or that they don’t need teachers.  If you interpret this verse as saying we do not need a religious authority, the verse itself has no authority.  You don’t need to listen to John’s teaching anymore than any other teacher.  You can interpret things on your own.  There is no way to interpret this verse to mean religion is not necessary.

Friday, July 06, 2012

July 6, 2012 – Lamentations 1

While you are reading this, I get an image of a line or refugees being led out of a city.  At the crest of a hill, the author turns around to see what is left of the city they are leaving.  It is a waste, still on fire, smoke rising up, possibly still able to hear the screams of those that are still left behind.  He looks upon his home and remembers what it once was and what it is now and writes these chapters.  When you have that image in your mind, think of all the people that have made that walk and how we think of them differently based on the context. 

This story is the refugee of Jerusalem in the exile.  What about the refugee from Jerusalem in 70 AD when Rome destroys the city.  That Jew is part of a group that killed Jesus and that destruction was foretold by Him.  Do you we think he is turning to God and confessing his sins and accepting for what has happened.  What about the refugee of Rome when the Barbarians came.  The French refugee leaving after Napoleon is defeated; The Nazi refugee leaving a smoldering Berlin after the defeat of Hitler.  Our image of the refugee leaving the burning city can be altered dramatically based on the context.  Sometimes we sympathize with the refugee.  Sometimes we cheer the man with the gun who is pushing the march.  We must look beyond the image to what is in the heart of the refugee.  What are they thinking?  In these chapters, there is remorse for the sins that have brought this on.  There is a call for retribution by God, but only after acceptance that what is happening is just.  I don’t think we could say the same for what is in the heart of the Nazi walking away from the burning Berlin. 

And what is in the heart of the American as he crest the hill looking down on a smoldering America.  I don’t think we are there yet, but our country is in a decline and we have not pulled the nose up yet.  There appears no real end in sight and, in fact, decisions are being made that are driving us faster into the abyss.  What will be in the hearts of those that look down on what is left of our great nation.  Will there be remorse for the sins we have done or will there still be defiant arrogance that our way was still the best, that the world is still our master, that God has no place in the way we should live.  I wonder?

Thursday, July 05, 2012

July 5, 2012 – 1 Samuel 9

When you think about what Saul becomes at the end of his life, it is always good to remember where he came from and how humbly he started. He did not feel he was worthy, not only of the kingship, but even of the greeting that Samuel gives him. We can take a lesson that even from humble and proper beginnings, power corrupts. It takes a very strong morality not to be twisted when you achieve a powerful position. I think there are many people in powerful positions who make decisions that are not in people’s best interest, but did not start off on that path. They probably started trying to make good decisions and seeking good results. It is just hard to stay on the straight and narrow after you get a taste for the benefits of straying from that path. All that being said from someone who is trying to be elected for his first political office. I hope people remember who I am and keep me accountable should I win and get a small taste of control. But we need to continue to pray for all our public leaders, both present and future (wink).

Wednesday, July 04, 2012

July 4, 2012 – Catechism 1633 – 1637

I was lucky enough to marry a Catholic.  Although we were both still not well educated in our faith, we were both Catholic.  I cannot begin to understand the difficulties that would arise in a home of a Catholic and non-Catholic.  When I was younger or even in college, I don’t know if it would have made a difference to me.  Now, I don’t think I could have done it without pushing for conversion in my spouse.  That pushing, I think, would lead to tension and a separation, not unity.  I can see why the Church is hesitant about these relationships and that they may lead to religious indifference.  How easy is it to give in to another so that you do not have tension.  How hard is it to have a dispassionate debate about religion and if you have a passionate debate with a spouse, how hard is it not to cause a split.  Yet those spouses that are Catholic and in that situation are in a very special spot and have a responsibility to pray for the conversion of their spouse.  It is not for us to say who makes it to Heaven or Hell, but it is hard for someone who lives with  a strong practicing Catholic to say they are ignorant of its teachings or never had the choice to follow Christ Church.  We have an obligation to help our spouses get to Heaven, whether they are Catholic, non-Catholic, or don’t believe in Heaven at all. 

Tuesday, July 03, 2012

July 3, 2012 – John 21

I have heard the there is significance to the 153 fish and their number.  What I heard is that it was the number of known cultures or nations at the time of Christ.  It was to symbolize that Christ came for all.  I don’t know how accurate that number is, but the sentiment makes sense to me. 

Many people want to put Peter into the category of just another Apostle.  Why then distinguish him with scenes like this.  There is an obvious correlation to the three denials, but there is also a special direction and building up of the leader of the Apostles. It talks about the death Peter would have.  Tradition holds that he was crucified upside down.  I have stood at the place they say it actually happened and seen the bones they say are actually his.  I just don’t see how you can read the Gospels, and Acts for that matter, and not understand that Peter was special and logically understand that a group would need a leader.  It goes back to the whole idea of authority and Truth. 

What was Jesus talking about when He was speaking about John here.  It is believed that John was the only Apostle not martyred.  Is that what Christ meant by “follow Me”, and that John would wait.  John also witnessed the visions of Revelation.  Is that what Jesus was talking about. 

And, here again, we have the Bible saying that all the stories of Christ could not be contained in all the world.  Those stories just have no value because they are not in the Bible if you believe Sola Scriptura.  Hard to believe any story about Christ would not have value.

Monday, July 02, 2012

July 2, 2012 – Malachi 1 – 2

Malachi tells of a day when there will be a pure sacrifice from the rising of the sun to its setting.  The Church believes this is what we have in the Mass.  I have always wondered and wanted to find out if it is true that there was a Mass being said every hour of the day.  There are Catholic churches in every time zone, that may not be true when you look at zones that contain mostly ocean, but those may be covered by multiple masses in another time zone.  But when you think about that, anytime you want to pray, you can picture a Mass being said at that moment.  When you truly understand the Sacrifice that is occurring at a Mass, how it is Perfect, how Heaven comes to Earth, and if you unit your prayer with that Mass, how much more will our focus, our energy, and our faithfulness grow during those times between the Masses we actually go to.  How much more would we appreciate our Masses we do attend. 

We see the tribe of Levi is a special tribe because from them come the priest.  They are special and significant because through them God gives instruction and knowledge.  It is when we turn away from what priest teach that people get in trouble.  But woe to the priest that turn away from God’s teaching.  Their blessings become curses. 

Sunday, July 01, 2012

July 1, 2012 – 1 Samuel 8

When we look at the health care law and all the talk about it, we, as a nation, have not said “Give us a King”, but we are saying “Give us a bigger Government”.  Some say it is necessary to further our progress.  But how much government do we want.  And the idea of the Federal Government was not that it is the largest body of government in the nation.  Our nation was founded on a system in which, if it could be handled locally, it should be handled locally.  If it could not be, the state would get involved.  ONLY if the state could not fix the problem on its own, then the Federal Government would get involved.  That was the idea and understanding.  The Federal Government has grown larger and larger over the years and will continue to grow if we allow it to.  If you read the latest opinion from the Supreme Court, which I am doing but haven’t finished, the court says that we are responsible for those we vote in and the laws they pass.  The court cannot change those laws if the legislature follows the limits laid out for them.  We have not asked for a king, but if we continue to elect those that want a bigger and bigger Federal Government and it will be exactly what we have asked for. 

Then read verse 18.  “On that day you will cry out because of the king whom you have chosen, but the LORD will not answer you on that day.”  When health care takes effect, or more effect, and taxes go up, insurance is more costly, health care is worse, and we want to complain about our plight, the Lord, and more than likely the government, will not listen.  We will look to those that we elected, and when I say we I mean those 10 – 30 % that actually vote. 

20 – “We must be like other nations”.  I thought we were supposed to be a country that did it our own way.   We broke away from imperialism, were founded on freedom, known for our citizens who pulled themselves up by their own boot straps.  Why do we want to follow other nations down the path of huge federal government control of all of our lives.  We see that it has not helped them flourish.