Monday, December 31, 2012

December 31, 2012 – Catechism 2052 – 2055

How fitting that we are talking about a new way of looking at the law in the Psalms and here in the Catechism we begin to look at the Ten Commandments.  We see that Christ does not do away with the Ten Commandments.  And some might even be under the assumption that He simplified them.  But when you look at His words and His teaching, He doesn’t.  Christ did simplify them in the fact that He showed their foundation in Love.  All of them are firmly founded in the command of Love.  But if you think that boiling the ten down to a command of love makes them easier, you are missing the words Christ used when talking about them.  Christ says it is written that you shall not kill, I say that if you if you are even angry to are going to be judged.  Christ says it is written you shall not commit adultery, but I say if you even look at another with lust, you have already committed adultery.  Christ doesn’t simplify them to water them down; He ratchets them up several notches.

Sunday, December 30, 2012

December 30, 2012 – Psalms 119:33 – 119:72

I talked last time about the law being something to honor and be in awe of.  These Psalms take it a step further.  The law is something to take comfort in.  When we are in a dark place, we look to the law of God for comfort.  That doesn’t seem to be a common use of the law, it often isn’t seen as something that we take comfort in, but that is a view of the Psalmist. 

How many would say that the law is more precious than heaps of silver and gold.  I am a lawyer and earn my pay because of the law and even I don’t feel that kind of love for the law.  But always understand that it is the law, natural and God given laws that protect what we have.  It is the absence of laws and the lack of mortality in laws that cause us pain and suffering and lose.  Many of us look to the laws that are being established in our country and see a lack of morality in them.  These are not laws to take comfort in but will bring about chaos and darkness.  Many don’t feel that way and think it is an overreaction, but you only have to look at history to understand what happens when God and Morality are taken out of the laws and government action. 

Saturday, December 29, 2012

December 29, 2012 – Ezekiel 11

We end this section with a vision of hope for those that had been scattered throughout the world.  They would be brought back to their home and they would be given hearts to love God and take down the atrocities that were there before.  The image of a heart of stone verses a heart of flesh is a stark one.  Not only does it bring to mind an openness to God, but life itself.  We are to have a heart that is open to God, not made of stone so that God cannot come into it.  That is the more common understanding.  But think about what having a heart of stone literally means.  It is death.  The heart of stone cannot pump the life giving blood in your body.  Without a heart of flesh, you are dead.  God isn’t just saying that you need to be open to Me, He is saying that if you are not open to Me, if you continue to have a heart of stone, you will die, you cannot survive with a heart of stone.

Friday, December 28, 2012

December 28, 2012 – 1 Kings 5

When you think “forced labor” you think slavery or something very close to that.  You might want to think that Solomon was a bad guy or dislike him.  But did you see what the time period was.  If you read it too quickly, you might miss it.  It says that many were put into forced labor and worked for one month, then were home for two months.  That seems pretty good from all that I have seen for forced labor.  I would imagine any slave in the south would have taken a month on and two off over what they actually had.  I don’t know if this was generally done back then or this strategy came from Solomon’s wisdom, but if you are going to force your people to work, giving them 2 months off in between their month of labor seems pretty generous. 

Thursday, December 27, 2012

December 27, 2012 – Catechism 2041 – 2051

Here we discuss the “percepts of the Church”.  This basically means the bare minimum that a Catholic is asked to do to be a faithful Catholic.  Going to Mass every Sunday is not going above and beyond your responsibility, it is the bare minimum.  If you are a person who labels themselves a Catholic, run down the list.  When was the last time you went to confession, received Eucharist, went to Sunday Mass.  The checklist isn’t that long, yet there are many who either don’t know or don’t care when it means to be Catholic.  It is that group that claims the name Catholic without actually sticking to the Catholic percepts that have caused many of the issues in our Church today. 

Many understand fasting only as not eating, but there is so much more to it than that.  It is about controlling your emotions, your mind over your body.  Not only is it not old fashioned and out of date, but with the modern day obsession with material things and the priority that we put on feeling food, fasting is even more important.  When you think about your New Year’s resolution, think about fasting or decide to do something that will encourage you to work your mind and help control over your body.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

December 26, 2012 – Psalms 119 – 119:32

How much do we fear being left alone.  We know that God never leaves us, but is that any consolation in those moments where it feels like he has.  What about Mother Theresa and the fact that for many years she did not feel anything from God.  How many times do you think she might have prayed this Psalm or prayed that God would not leave her. 

The law is not something that we should try to get around or violate.  It is something we should be in awe of and cherish.  We should be mournful and repent when it is broken, not proud.  The law that is over all of us is something that we don’t fully understand and don’t fully realize the consequences for breaking. 

This whole section is about seeking happiness and joy.  But it only comes if it is in accord with and through God.  There is a recognition that joy, peace, and love will not be found without God. 

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

December 25, 2012 – Ezekiel 10

I am curious about the wheels and what they mean.  Obviously circles are a sign of infinity because they never end.  A sphere is even more symbolic because it is pretty much and infinite amount of circles.  In the images that I have seen showing these visions the wheels are often depicted in a skeleton of a sphere.  But when I think about it and the way they are suppose to face the different directions without moving, I think of it more as a cube of circles.  Then again, in a skeleton of a sphere, the circles could point in all directions, fare more than a cube which would be limited to four.

Monday, December 24, 2012

December 24, 2012 – 1 Kings 4

I still haven’t seen anything about how old Solomon is when he takes over, but he is old enough to have daughters that are able to get married.  On the other hand, that doesn’t mean they have to be extremely old because it is understood that Mary was only around 14 years old when she was married to Joseph. 

We see that Judah is being treated differently because it is the kings home.  We will see the effect this has of the future and how much this plays into how the nation splits after Solomon.  Judah also doesn’t appear to be one of the twelve areas that has to feed the king for a month of the year. 

Sunday, December 23, 2012

December 23, 2012 – Catechism 2030 – 2040

I would like to ask the “not religion” groups what happens to a structure without a pillar or bulwark.  They crumble.  The Church is as necessary a part of our relationship with God as any other part.  Without it, we cannot know Truth and therefore everything else crumbles.

Saturday, December 22, 2012

December 22, 2012 – Psalms 115 – 116

This made me think of those that really don’t participate in Mass.  I know there are those that don’t sing the songs and some that don’t say the prayers out loud.  The psalm ask how to repay the Lord.  The answer is by proclaiming it among His people.  We should be proud of what God has done for us.  Not only that, but if you find it difficult to praise God in Church among those that will be most accepting, what hope is there of you proclaiming it out in the world where you will receive ridicule. 

Friday, December 21, 2012

December 21, 2012 – Ezekiel 8 – 9

I was wondering if anybody but Catholics use incense anymore.  Our church just started using it on a much more regular basis.  I love the use of it and its symbolism.  Paul has seen it so often he has used a play tape measure to replicate it.  It took us a while to figure out what he was trying to do at first.  He would just swing the tape measure back and forth and say “I am making smoke”. 

How many people have the view today that God cannot see them.  They act as though things they do in private are beyond God.  Not only are they known by God, but there is no action that is completely private.  All of our actions affect others if only in the fact that they affect us and we affect others.  There is no private sin.

Here is another left behind account.  Just like with Noah, it is the ones that are left behind (marked with and X) that you want to be when the wrath of God comes.  The ones that were taken were those that were performing the abominations.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

December 20, 2012 – 1 Kings 3

We are often told or understand that Solomon asked for wisdom from God, but is that really what he chose.  He chose to have a listening heart.  That is not the same as wisdom, at least not the normal understanding of the word.  When I think of a listening heart, I think of that moment on retreat when God gave me knowledge I should not have had so that I could use it to help someone.  When we think of wisdom, we think of knowing all the answers.  Solomon didn’t want to know all the answers.  He wanted God to give him the knowledge that he could not have himself, supernatural knowledge.  That is the wisdom Solomon asked for. 

What an extreme example.  I was trying to think if it would apply to money.  Would a person that was robbed be willing to give it all away instead of keeping half, probably not.  What about a car?  That might be a better example since it is no use to either cut in half.  It is also a very dark person who is willing to allow the baby to be cut in half.  I guess it should be kept in mind that she just lost a child of her own and was probably not very stable.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

December 19, 2012 – Catechism 2012 – 2029

Every step we take should be a step towards this perfect union with God.  That does not mean that every step is going to be a joyful one.  Christ suffered greatly and He was completely innocent.  Why would we expect a journey that unites us with Him to be devoid of suffering?  It only makes sense that to fully unite with Christ, there must be suffering. 

I don’t think we often see grace as the help that God gives us.  We also don’t fully understand that we cannot get there without his help.  Going it alone is arrogance, but that is the message preached by the “not religion” groups.  You don’t need a guide or a group.  You can fully find God on your own.  This leads not to finding God, but to each individual forming their own image of God to worship.  They may do so innocently but they do it nonetheless.  It is the shepherds that teach this path that are the ones that will truly pay.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

December 18, 2012 – Psalms 111 – 114

Fear of the Lord is only the beginning, it is the first step in the journey of faith towards God.  What does it say of our nation and the world when this first step appears to be a stumbling block.  Where are we when there seems to be less and less fear of the Lord.  The world can’t take the first step in the right direction, where does that mean we are heading.  Not only that, but how long is the road ahead of us when the world does turn back to God if fear of God is only the first step. 

Monday, December 17, 2012

December 17, 2012 – Ezekiel 6 – 7

I was thinking about the day that the world finally realizes and sees all the wickedness it has done.  Here it talks about them seeing all the destruction that has been laid out and them understanding that it was their own doing, that their actions brought it about.  The world will realize one day and in some way that God keeps His promises.  That may mean great things for some but it may also mean a great deal of suffering for many. 

I think it is interesting that the saying “four corners of the world” is still around.  It obviously comes from a time when the world was thought to be flat, but the expression just wouldn’t be stopped by a little thing like facts and truth.  I guess it could be a clever riddle.  Name a sphere with for corners. 

We will know that the punishment we are suffering is from the Lord because it will come through and involve the very abominations we fill our lives with.  Violent entertainment leads to violent acts.  Sexual exploitation leads to a rise in STD’s.  Contraception and Abortion leads to less population and broken homes.  We will know our suffering comes from the Lord because it will stem directly from the abominations we choose. 

You won’t be able to buy your way out of judgment.  Whether you are here when it all ends or it is your individual judgment at the end of your life, you will be judged and everything you possess won’t be any assistance to you.  Think of all your possessions pulling you into hell.  The more you possess, the stronger the pull.  I thought that image came from a version of the Christmas Carol I saw, but I might be mistaken. 

Sunday, December 16, 2012

December 16, 2012 – 1 Kings 2

Solomon starts off with a real blaze of taking down daddy’s nemeses.  There appears to be no mercy here.  And I have heard the scene with Bathsheba used to describe Mary’s relationship with Christ in Heaven and there is a lot of truth to it, but taken in context of this particular story it doesn’t end well for the one asking the favor.  It seems a given that Bathsheba was with the king and that if you wanted to ask the king for something you would go to his mother.  The Queen Mother was titled such and it makes sense because the kings had more than one wife.  They didn’t know which wife should be queen, so none of them were, the mother of the king was queen.  But it appears that this system sets up Adonijah with a sense of confidence that is evidently misguided.  I guess the lesson is that if you go to Mary with your intercessions, they still need to be in response to God’s will and His call.  You can’t go to Mary asking for things you shouldn’t get.  Mary can intercede for us, but God is the one that answers and responds to those request and He may not always respond in the way in which we hoped or expected.  

Saturday, December 15, 2012

December 15, 2012 – Catechism 2012 – 2016

Predestination is always a topic that is brought up with some confusion.  Catholics believe in predestination, the idea that God knows who is going to be in Heaven forever.  That makes sense when you believe that God is outside of time, ever present through all eternity, all knowing.  That is just part of His knowledge.  But Catholics do not believe in double predestination.  This is the idea that there are some predestined for good and some for evil and that is set in stone and cannot be changed.  Catholics believe that every soul has the opportunity to be saved because of what Christ did and everyone has the choice to follow God or not.  That is our free will.  Double predestination takes that free will away and throws you into on pot or the other.  Just because God knows what going to happen does take away from our choice in making it happen.  Free will is there and predestination only explains the idea that God knows what our choice is going to be, not that we have no choice, which is what double predestination teaches. 

I like the idea that we never stop climbing.  That is something I struggle with, thinking we know enough or have enough figured out to get by.  That is arrogance slipping in.  How much there is I don’t know.  If I ever think I know it all, somebody smack me upside the head.  Almost everyday I watch my children I realize how little I know about the world and how it works.  Always keep climbing. 

Friday, December 14, 2012

December 14, 2012 – Psalm 108

I picture the areas in Israel as being items that God uses as everyday items.  Moab is my washbowl, toss your sandals on Edom.  We know God is above all, but it has an editorial cartoon feel when you think of it like this.  I always got the same sense when you hear God will put them as a footstool.  When you read imagery like this you realize that they were trying to get a point across that is difficult to do with mere words and a picture is worth a thousand.  The same thing is done with the editorial cartoons in the paper each day.  Think about the article that would have to be written to make the point that is made in a glance at the cartoon.  This is not a new technique and it fits in line with Christ and his parables and images to describe God’s love or Heaven, things so beyond us.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

December 13, 2012 – Ezekiel 4 – 5

I kept thinking that God was having him make some kind of voodoo city model.  Whatever happened to the city model was happening to the real Jerusalem.  It didn’t work exactly like that, but that is the sense I got.  I didn’t understand the hair and its importance, although I know cutting your hair or shaving your beard meant a great deal to them.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

December 12, 2012 – 1 Kings 1:28 – 1:53

We already see the wisdom of Solomon with how he handled the one who was claiming to be king.  Instead of going after him and having a war, he showed him mercy. You wonder how much time he spent with his father.  You didn’t really hear anything about him, but if he was with his father during any substantial period, he probably saw his father show mercy towards enemies, or at least order mercy be shown even when his orders weren’t followed.  That attitude seems to have rubbed off on his child.  We are so removed from violent changes in leadership in this country that we don’t fully understand that showing mercy on the person you took over against is unusual.  Our country is so unique in that we have several living former presidents.  Many countries only change leaders through death and violence.  The fact that we just changed many seats in government and had a president elected by slightly over half the population and the only injuries were people’s pride is astonishing when you look at how this is handled in other places and throughout history.  

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

December 11, 2012 – Catechism 2006 – 2011

These last several sections of the Catechism have been very instructive on the teaching of what Catholics believe about Salvation.  Many people believe that Catholics think you can earn your way into Heaven.  If you read these paragraphs you will quickly see that this is not the case and Catholics have never taught that.  Many believe that Catholics teach you can buy your way into Heaven with contributions or indulgences.  These are also false understandings of Catholic teaching.  Everything and anything that will get a person into Heaven comes from God, is a gift from God, and is obtained through cooperation with God.  The gap between us and God is immeasurable and there is nothing we can do, independent of God, to get us into Heaven.  That is Catholic teaching.  Our actions are important and Catholics do believe that what we do matters and has consequences on our soul, but actions that we take that bring us closer to Heaven stem from our relationship with God and the Grace He has given us. 

Monday, December 10, 2012

December 10, 2012 – Psalms 107:17 – 107:43

When I was reading this, I was thinking about those that are at the door of death.  In our culture we deal with the issue of what to do in this situation.  There are a growing number that feel it is ok or even beneficial to end their life sooner so that they do not suffer.  This is not the Catholic stance and they teach against any type of death that is not natural.  I have talked before about the benefits of suffering and what suffering allows. Christ Himself showed us that suffering is not something to be avoided and brought about the greatest gift of all through His suffering. 

But another aspect of ending life early that I thought about in this reading was taking away God’s chance to work a miracle, to bring healing, and save a soul or many souls through that miracle.  There are many that do not believe in miracles, but that doesn’t mean they don’t happen.  And what would happen to those non believers if they saw a miracle up close or were directly affected by a miracle.  What would Lourdes be if people, instead of going there with the possibility of being healed, simply ended their suffering.  How many miracles would we have missed.  How many souls would be damaged.  It is not only about suffering but allowing God to work through your situation and possibly touch the lives of countless others.  Pray for those that are struggling with this circumstance and pray that when we face such a situation that we remember suffering is not a curse and God can only work miracles if we allow Him the chance. 

Sunday, December 09, 2012

December 9, 2012 – Ezekiel 2 – 3

The eating of the scroll is such a great image.  Taking God’s word into you so that you can proclaim it.  As I was typing that, I just thought of the Eucharist and how much the eating of the scroll, the Word of God, can be related to the Eucharist, eating God.  I cannot imagine I am the first to make that connection, but I don’t know if I have ever heard it made.  I am going to do some reflecting on that.  What better image of Eucharist is there in the Old Testament.

Saturday, December 08, 2012

December 8, 2012 – 1 Kings 1 – 1:27

We see that even at David’s death bed, war does not leave him.  When God told him war would not leave him and there would be no peace until his heir, He wasn’t kidding. 

We really didn’t hear anything about Solomon during the story or David.  I wonder how old he is when this is going on.  Obviously, Bathsheba and Nathan are making the arrangements.  Speaking of Nathan, he more or less disappeared after the Bathsheba thing as well.  Where was he when David decided on the census or when he was exiled.  I don’t know if I asked that in my reflections but I was thinking it as 2 Samuel went on. 

Friday, December 07, 2012

December 7, 2012 – Catechism 1996 – 2005

Grace is so simple, a free gift from God, yet so complicated as to have different types coming from different acts achieving different things.  We had a retreat one time that tried to help a little with the different types of Grace.  The grace that comes from the Sacraments is a different type than allows for speaking in tongues, for example.  All Grace comes from God, but the method of delivery and its action can differ. 

I am positive there have been many moments where God’s Grace has allowed me to act in one way or another, but one particular moment always comes to mind when this topic comes up.  We were on a retreat and we had a group that was praying together.  We were taking turns praying over people and trying to allow the Spirit to move us and speak what God was telling us.  For one particular person I mentioned something very specific that he had not shared with anyone about a possible vocation.  There is no real explanation for it other than God’s Grace giving me that wisdom.  During the prayer group, while I was being prayed over, it also felt like we were somewhere else, outside and up high.  It was just an experience that I will never forget and solidified in me this understanding of Grace as a gift, how it comes to us and allows us to do certain things and also the importance of acceptance to allow it to work. 

Thursday, December 06, 2012

December 6, 2012 – Psalms 106:32 – 107:16


I have never put that before, but the thought I had when I read this stunned me and I wanted to share it even though it may not be theological or correct.  Just know that it was a thought, something to reflect on, but not anything that is taught or that I have heard anywhere before. 

When I read verse 38, I was thinking about the stories you hear about Mayans and other civilizations that did human sacrifices.  They did that to appease their gods.  That led me to think about the gods we have today, our material things, power, etc.  What do we sacrifice to get those things?  We give our time, our energy, and as you dig deeper, we sacrifice our families, sometimes our very lives to gain those worldly things that we prop up as our gods. 

That led me to think about human sacrifices to the gods of today.  We may think that it doesn’t happen because we don’t see people being led to the edge of a volcano and being tossed over.  But, what is an abortion if not a human sacrifice.  And when it is done so that the mother or the couple can afford their house, have their better job, get the nicer car, isn’t that a human sacrifice to the gods we have made of the world.  This isn’t about the mother that feels she has no choice or other situations.  This is about the person who has the ability to raise a child, gets pregnant, and makes the choice of abortion because they cannot be bothered with the commitment of a child.

I hope there is discussion on this because I am just throwing it out there as something I thought of and would love to hear how off base I am if that is how people feel. 

Wednesday, December 05, 2012

December 5, 2012 – Ezekiel 1

I didn’t have many thoughts, but I did want to share some images of what others have come up with on what this vision might look like.  I thought that might be helpful or at least interesting.

Tuesday, December 04, 2012

December 4, 2012 – 2 Samuel 24

I didn’t understand why taking a census was so bad so I looked at a couple of things.  Basically, no one has a great answer because a reason is not really given, but they guess it was David’s motivation.  The reason to get a census is to tax or go to war.  David either wanted to know how much money he was going to bring in or how many soldiers he would have, both go towards David not trusting God but wanting to rely on himself.

Monday, December 03, 2012

December 3, 2012 – Catechism 1987-1995

I guess I had an understanding of what justification meant, but reading these paragraphs, it appears to have a much broader meaning.  I got the impression that pretty much everything the Holy Spirit does in its interactions with us is involved in our justification.  They seem to be one in the same and not two different things. 

I thought it was well explained as to how justification works in tandem with God’s will and our free will.  That always comes up as an area of confusion when you talk with people.  There is a cooperation between God’s Grace and Man’s freedom, not a competition.  Justification works with that and establishes it. 

Sunday, December 02, 2012

December 2, 2012 – Psalms 106 - 106:31    

The author goes through all the mistakes that the Israelites made after the Red Sea, but then, owns up the fact that they are continuing to make the same mistakes.  I didn’t get the sense that he was trying to excuse themselves of responsibility.  He could have done so by saying that the Israelites that came out of Egypt saw all these miracles and still failed, we haven’t seen miracles, so the fact that we are failing isn’t as big a deal.  I didn’t get that sense.  It was more, they screwed up and you showed mercy, we are screwing up, please show us mercy. 

Saturday, December 01, 2012

December 1, 2012 – Job 41 – 42

What I was thinking when I read chapter 41 was that this was a description of Satan.  As I read it a second time, you get a clear vision of this ultra evil and practically invisible being that gods back away from.  Then, I took that image, and put it in the garden of Eden.  When Satan tempted the two, we always picture it like it was a small garden snake.  What if you put this Satan type being in the garden.  They would have been very intimidated.  I don’t know if that adds to the fall or takes something away, I just thought it was interesting and thought this is a very detailed description of what Satan may be.