Thursday, January 31, 2013

January 31, 2013 – Psalms 135
I think people always want to challenge God’s existence by tackling the really abstract questions about life and why we are here and things like that. When I read this Psalm, I was thinking about God making a storm cloud and how, even though I know some have tried, humans cannot do something like that. Whether we get rain or not is simply out of our control. God sends it or He doesn’t. When you look up and see a cloud ask yourself how it came to be. A person can answer that scientifically, but those types of answers always get down to the very detailed or very smallest parts and they all come to a point where the next step cannot be explained by science. Even though we should investigate those facts and seek out the scientific truth behind things and not fear its result because all Truth comes from God, there also comes a time when we should look up at the clouds and thank God for putting it there because He is the one that did and no one can really explain completely how. That is why we bless the Lord, because He is God, and we are not.

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

January 30, 2013 – Ezekiel 20:18 – 20:44
I thought the idea of God giving them “statutes that were not good” was something I had never heard of before. We have seen many times when God has hardened the heart of someone so that they bring about the will of God, but I don’t recall ever hearing that God gave laws to Israel that were not good so that they would further defile themselves and bring about their punishment. They set themselves apart from God, so He allowed them to do so and even set them further by giving them bad laws.
We look at the laws in our nation and the many that we disagree with on a moral level. Maybe this section is a lesson in that. We are going to see that Ezekiel can be prophetic and applied to the modern day world, what this is a characterization of what is going on with us. God is allowing these laws that we form so that we can further punish ourselves. The many laws that we have discussed before will only lead to further pain and suffering, further defilement of the family and civilization, a darkening of the world. We have turned away from God and in order to bring about His will, He is allowing us to make “statutes that were not good”. The Old Testament still holds many lessons and it can still be prophetic because it is God’s word and it is alive.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

January 29, 2013 – 1 Kings 12
I thought a list like this might be nice to look at as we go through the rest of Kings and Chronicles.
The tribes spilt off because of the arrogance of Judah’s king and him wanting to retain the service as Solomon had. If your recall, Solomon had each of the tribes working forced labor for a month out of every year. The king, instead of lightening that load, declares he will double it. We find out that it was God that allowed him to make such a claim because God was bringing about the punishment he had told Solomon for Solomon’s sins. So, the people say enough is enough and take ten of the tribes and form Israel under king Jeroboam. Benjamin and Judah stay together and become Judah. Thus, we will have these two running along parallel paths until they are exiled.
It was obvious that Jeroboam was going to have to start idol worship because he did not have the Temple, which was in Jerusalem. Obviously he didn’t HAVE to, but he thought that if the people of Israel had to continually travel to Judah to worship, they would eventually go back to form with them and not need him as King. So, he starts two new places of worship and why he chose calves as the idols I do not understand. He must have heard what happened in the wilderness when they made the golden calf. Why didn’t he pick another animal.
What I don’t understand is why Rehoboam so quickly falls to idolatry. He did have the Temple right there, yet he goes outside the city and builds new places to worship. I guess when you think about the fact that Solomon also fell to idolatry, Rehoboam didn’t have the best role model to follow.

Monday, January 28, 2013

January 28, 2013 – Catechism 2101 – 2109
I think if anyone had any concerns about a Catholic being a politician, some of the lines in these paragraphs would cause them some concern, but most of them should quiet those concerns. “By constantly evangelizing men, the Church works toward enabling them to infuse the Christian spirit into the mentality and mores, laws and structures of the communities in whish they live.” I think someone could read that and say that a Catholic the becomes a politician is going to try and make laws that force everyone to be Catholic. I think they would be looking at it in an extreme manner, but I see where that fear could be supported by this line. It is true that a Catholic is suppose to evangelize and the a Catholic that is a politician does not stop being a Catholic when they vote on this law or that or write legislation. That they are Catholic will and should flow into those laws.

But that is absolutely no different than any other person or politician and their set of moral values. Any politician that writes a law is writing it from the context of their moral beliefs and if the law is past, those moral beliefs are being place upon people that may not feel the same. Why is there only fear when it is a Christian, and particularly a Catholic, that is running for office? Should I not fear when a homosexual is elected and writes and passes laws that are based on their sense of morality? Isn’t that them placing their beliefs on me? It is the same for any person we elect, that we are electing their moral beliefs. We should expect them to vote based on their moral beliefs, to have a firm commitment to their values and that should be a main reason we vote for them. If they do not have that foundation, they are a feather in the wind and we should not vote for them and really question why they are running.

But, it should ease concerns about some Catholic running for office and thinking that it will force all Americans to be Catholic because several of the paragraphs talk about the freedom of religion. Catholics have a very firm belief that you cannot force religion and belief on someone. I have seen attempts at that on retreats and it always fails and actually does more harm. Catholic teaching is to evangelize and pray and let God do what God does. Even if a nation had a national religion and that religion was Catholic, it would still be a nation that allowed other religions to openly practice. If it did not, it would be going against the Church’s teaching. And many may say that there were times in history where Catholics did persecute religions and not allow freedom, and that may be true and I can fully agree that it was wrong. But past wrongs do not change what is still right. Catholics are not suppose to force others to be Catholic. But Catholics are suppose to believe and live what the Catholic church teaches and to encourage others to follow those rules and show others the love and beauty that flow from them. That means politicians too. They do not stop being Catholic because they run for office and voters should understand that. Catholic politicians should understand that as well and not be allowed to get away with the “I am Catholic, but I can’t vote for this because it forces my beliefs on others.” That is only the case if you pass a law that says everyone must become Catholic. Any law that deals with a specific subject is not forcing people to become Catholic but allowing a Catholic morality to flow into the world, which is absolutely no different than any other politician and their morality.

Sunday, January 27, 2013

January 27, 2013 – Psalms 132 – 134
In 132 we see a Psalm about the promises to David. Because we have jus tread about Solomon and what happens after him, it is covenant to have that information when looking at this Psalm. David is promised that if his sons follow God, their kingdom will last. But even if that doesn’t happen, he is told that “I will set a lamp for my anointed”. In 1 Kings we saw that God did not take all the Kingdom from Solomon but left him 2 of the tribes so that a light of David would always be shining. We see a direct connection between the promise to Solomon and the promise in this Psalm.
I am reading Psalm 134 during my adoration hour which is Thursday mornings from 1-2 AM. This Psalm, or at least this verse, should be posted on the door for those that do hours between 10 PM and 5AM. “Bless the Lord, all you servants of the Lord who stand in the house of the Lord through the long hours of the night.” This is a comforting verse to read at 1:55 in the morning when you are in the presence of God.

Saturday, January 26, 2013

January 26, 2013 – Ezekiel 19 – 20:17

We see with the lion and the vine the work that is put into training and teaching the young and how that can all go for not when they choose to not follow God or get caught by foreigners.  Here the foreigners are other gods.  This leads right into another summary of the history of Israel and when they were in Egypt.  God told them not to have dealings with the idols, but they did.  God did not destroy them, but brought them out of Egypt.  Then, He gave them another chance in the wilderness to leave the idols and worship Him alone, but again, they longed for their idols and turned away from His commands.  It seems no matter what God says or what Israel says it will do, the two are always in the relationship of promising and breaking promises, of commitment and the betrayal, of sinning and then asking for mercy.  Is it any wonder that the Old Testament is seen as a guide that leads us into a better understanding of the New.  Christ entire message is about our sin and His Mercy, about our constant falling and His constant Forgiveness and Love. 

Friday, January 25, 2013

January 25, 2013 – 1 Kings 11

40 years of Solomon.  I believe it was a total of 13 years for them to build all the Temple and king’s palace that were described.  So, for many years, they had a peace among them.  I suppose it was during these 20 years of peace that Solomon gets off track.  Isn’t that how it goes with us as well?  It is during those times when things aren’t going smoothly that we turn to God the least.  700 wives and 300 concubines; that is a huge amount of women to keep satisfied.  Even if he had done wrong by marrying all these women, you would think that with all his wisdom he would have stayed away from the foreign idols.  Yet, there he goes, someone that has spoken to God, bowing before foreign idols.  We will see this becoming a pattern with the kings in the future. 

I was curious about the use of Egypt.  There are two of the enemies of Solomon that escape to Egypt until a time when they are able to come back.  That has the same feel as Joseph being sent to Egypt by his brothers until God was ready to use him and even more similarities to God sending the Holy Family to Egypt until it was safe for Jesus. 

We see the 10:2 split starting, but there is no real mention of the differential treatment that has been taken towards these two that that being a part of the decision.  That may still be coming.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

January 24, 2013 – Catechism 2095 – 2100

I thought it was very interesting to think of adoration of God as the only just thing to do.  I don’t know if we often think about it that way, but it is just.  God gives us everything, including the fact that we are breathing, every breath is a gift from God, our very existence depends on His willing it.  It would be injustice to not worship and adore Him.  Yet, that is what people do.  Not only that, but people worship and adore those things that take them from God and lead them to sadness and despair.  One of the paragraphs talks about clinging to God.  When I first read about that, I thought about those things that we allow between God and us so that we are not able to cling to Him, or at least have less of a grip.  But when you think about what people adore in this world and how they let it tear their lives apart, that is what they are clinging to because we long to cling to something.  No matter how independent we think we are, we are made to cling to God.  We are made to cling on to something, to have something in our grasp that we can rely on and that will guide us.  When that isn’t God, when we choose to make it something else, that becomes what we cling to, that becomes our god, and it will lead us where ever it is going.  But if we are clinging to anything but God, we are going in direction away from Him.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

January 23, 2013 – Psalms 127 – 131

What does it say about the future of our country, or about our situation today, when you read “Unless the LORD build the house, they labor in vain who build”.  The Lord may have build our house in the beginning, but we are definitely not relying on Him for the upkeep.  We hired Him as the contractor for the construction and He gave us a good foundation, but we have fired Him and taken over, trying to build the rest on our own.  You can imagine what your house would look like if a professional came in and poured the basement and built the first floor, but then you fired him and tried to put on the second floor and roof on your own.  Imagine the wiring, the walls, the danger that you would be facing by living in that home.  Now imagine that you weren’t satisfied with what the contractor had done and so you actually go into the foundation and try to make changes there as well.  How long would you want to live in that house.  That is what our country has done. 

“Blessed is the man who has filled his quiver with them”. Children are a blessing, not a curse, a disease, something to be avoided.  When did children become such a thing as our laws have defined them, as our culture has described them, as their parents have treated them.  Until children are seen in the light they were meant to be seen, the family will continue to be devalued and the foundation of the world will continue to crumble. 

“Your children like young olive plants around your table.”  I couldn’t help picturing Noah and Paul sitting at the table as a couple of potted plants.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

January 22, 2013 – Ezekiel 18

There is a long explanation about the sins of the father and the son and the affect they have on the other.  Basically, the answer is that they do not affect the other.  The sins of the father are paid for by the father and the sins of the son by the son.  I just gave a talk at life teen that talked about this, but I wouldn’t say that my conclusion was that the sins of the father have no effect.  The actions of the father or the son do have an effect on the other because of their relationship.  The son may not have to pay for the sins of the father in his judgment, but the son is much more likely to fall into sinfulness because of his father’s influence and will then pay for his own sins.  It takes a very strong person to rise above the sinful influence of a parent and many of the sins they may commit because of the influence they may receive mitigation for because that is how they were brought up, but sin is sin, regardless of why you do it.  It just shows how important strong family values are and why our nation, every time it makes another decision about devaluing the family, is taking us in the wrong direction.  Our issues with guns and violence and life issues will not solve any of the problems as long as the family is not viewed as the essential foundational piece of society. 

I also love when God talks about what is “fair”.  Israel says that God is not fair if He punishes them.  But He tells them that it would not be fair if He didn’t punish them because they would be getting away with violations of the law.  We hear the phrase today about “paying your fair share” and that usually means that the people who are super rich need to pay more so that others can get things.  But is it “fair” to take away from what a person earned so that a person can get away with doing nothing.  I don’t think this really applies to a celebrity who really did nothing to become famous except appear on a reality show or had 12 children.  If they get 13 million, I think you should tax that all you want.  And this doesn’t apply to a veteran or a widow with children that cannot get by because they just aren’t able to make ends meet no matter how hard they try.  The “fair” argument tries to paint everyone with a broad brush and that isn’t “fair”.  There are those that have a lot of money and done very little to earn it and there are those that have worked very hard to earn it.  There are those that rely on the government because they have no other choice and there are those that do so by choice.  I agree it is very hard to write a law that is based on how hard a person worked or their motivation for receiving aid, but I think it is wrong to make the “fair share” argument without admitting that there are cases that shouldn’t apply.

Monday, January 21, 2013

January 21, 2013 - 1 Kings 10
We have to remember that Solomon could have asked God for all the riches of the world when God asked him what he wanted.  Solomon asked for Wisdom and in doing so, received all this wealth and power that stemmed from it.  I have tried to take this mentality when I am praying.  There are things I want, things I think I need, but when I pray, I try to get at them indirectly.  I am not trying to trick God, He knows what I really want before I do, but I am trying to shape my thoughts and prayers into a more humble approach.  Instead of asking for directly for something, I will ask for God’s will to be done in that situation and if it turns out that what I get isn’t what I wanted, then I ask for understanding as to why.  It has helped; at least I feel it has helped, to make my prayer more appropriate and allowed me to approach God in a better frame of mind.  There is not as much selfishness there, although it is still there.  There is not as much “me, me, me”, although it is still there too.  It also gives me more confidence in God, or at least allows me to rely on Him and set me on a path of reliance.   

Sunday, January 20, 2013

January 20, 2013 – Catechism 2090 – 2094
I had never heard of the two types of presumptions that are considered sins against hope, but looking at them, they are obviously very prevalent in society.  The first is the presumption that we do not need God, that we can take care of ourselves, that we can achieve salvation without God.  I wonder if those that don’t believe in salvation or in God would also fall into this category because they presume there is no God that they need.  We see this presumption throughout all the teachings of the world that focus on us and on what feels good is good and that is what will make us happy.  The focus is on the person and living life for today because there is a presumption that today is all we have. 
The second one is a presumption that we are all saved and that we do not need to do anything to achieve salvation.  This would be the group that believe in double predestination and the idea that either you are one of the saved or you are not and it was determined before time and there is nothing you can do about it.  It basically allows for a person to feel that they can do nothing wrong to lose their connection to God.  The idea of mortal sin and turning away from God has no place in this kind of theology. 
Both of these presumptions take away the power of Hope because they see outcomes as already certain and when that is the case, hope has no effect.  As Catholics, hope is an essential part of our life and we do have choices to make.  We cannot save ourselves by our own power, but we hope in God’s power to give us that ability and with His help to reunite ourselves with Him.  What you get when you take hope away is darkness and despair and is why you see a world so dark right now.  The world needs hope.

Saturday, January 19, 2013

January 19, 2013 – Psalms 123 – 126
The last of these Psalms talks about those that returned from exile.  We are going through Ezekiel now, which talks a lot about the exile.  We see in the Psalm that when Israel comes back from exile, they do so rejoicing and thanking God.  Even though they left in weeping, they come back with joy and laughter.  Ezekiel talks a lot about trusting in God and how the reason for the exile is a lack of trust.  The fact that Israel was weeping as they left, does not mean necessarily that there was no trust.  You can be sad about something and still trust in the Lord.  I image a funeral for a loved one and the sadness that comes with that.  But being sad at the loss does not mean you do not trust in the Lord’s decision.  Sadness is a feeling, and like with most feelings, does not, or should not, have a great effect on us.  Trust is a act that you do.  This act does not require any certain feeling one way or the other.  Trusting in God does not mean you must be jovial at a funeral any more that it means you need to feel happy every time you go to Mass.  Feelings are irrelevant to our actions and trusting in God is an action. 

Friday, January 18, 2013

January 18, 2013 – Ezekiel 17

We see that God had given Israel a choice.  When Babylon had conquered them, they were left the ability to still have their kingdom, to continue on, God allowed for them to stay.  But instead of trusting in God, they sought out help from a nation they thought was powerful enough to help them.  This is where you get imagery of Israel being an adulterous nation, although that imagery is not used in this chapter.  Here the image is that of a seedling and the growth into a huge tree or vine.  God uprooted Israel from what it was, using Babylon, but replanted it so that it could grow again.  But it turned away and therefore will be destroyed and not grow strong. 
Have you ever been placed in a situation that you thought was not going to turn out positively?  Did you turn to God or did you seek your own way out?  Did you stop to think that God had put you there for a reason?  Our trust in God must extend and flow into all aspects of our life or we are not truly God’s.  Anything that we try to keep from Him will fall into ruin and not succeed.  We need to open up all that we are and trust God will provide, regardless of how we feel or how things appear to be. 

Thursday, January 17, 2013

January 17, 2013 – 1 Kings 9
You get a sense of the God that says He will spit out the lukewarm.  He tells Solomon, you do it My way and you will have peace and a kingdom forever.  You don’t do it My way, you will have loss and ruin.  There is no middle of the road.  Why would we expect any different today?  We shouldn’t.  God hasn’t changed, God will never change.  Neither will His Truth and His requirement that His Truth be followed.  There is no middle ground.  There is His way or the world’s way, and trying to rewrite God’s way with wishy washy rules that make everyone feel good is not God’s way.  That is the way to loss and ruin. 

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

January 16, 2013 – Catechism 2083 – 2089

“God’s first call and just demand is that man accept him and worship him.”  I am not sure when I wrote about it, but I wrote about the long road the world has to travel when the first step is to accept God and the world isn’t anywhere close to that today.  It is so fitting, of course it is – it was written by God, that the first commandment be accepting God as God and understanding that He alone is God.  When you think about it, nothing else matters if you do not first take this step.  You can do all the good things you like, but if they are not done humbly with the concept of God behind them, there is the human selfishness that always seems to sneak in there.  There are many times that I think about a  “good” thing I did and whether what I may have received was the motivation.  If the reward is something material or the good feeling you get, when the reward becomes the motivation, it takes something away from the benefit to you eternally speaking.  Christ says those things done in public that everyone can see, you have already received your reward.  God, and being with Him eternally, is our motivation, and that really doesn’t make any sense without fully believing in this first commandment.  
Ignorance of God is explanation for all moral deviations.  I thought that was an interesting phrase.  Also, I thought the definition of heresy would interest a lot of people. 

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

January 15, 2013 – Psalms 120 – 122

I have heard the line or a form of the line “The Lord will guard your coming and going both now and forever”.  I forget what prayer I heard that in.  It is a nice thought to have and would be a nice way to greet and say good-bye to people. 

We also have the line “my help comes from the Lord the maker of heaven and earth”.  This was made very well known by the Christian pop song.  It is over looked because of it I imagine, but stop to think about what it is saying.  My help, already you are humbly saying that you need help.  And when you get help, it comes from God.  And not just any god, but the same God that made the heavens and the earth, basically all creation and all that exist.  There is a lot a theology and things to reflect on packed in that one simple line and goes by in a couple of seconds in a quick song.  But there are a lot of those lines in the Bible.  Next time you hear that song, hopefully you will remember this and think about the deep meaning of that line and deeply pray for the humility to ask for God’s help and know that the maker of all is listening and is longing to be asked. 

Monday, January 14, 2013

January 14, 2013 – Ezekiel 16:30 – 16:63

The prostitution imagery is continued here, but it is given a twist.  God says that not only did Israel act as a prostitute; they acted as a prostitute that didn’t charge and actually gave more to the customer.  When I was reading this, I was wondering if God wasn’t just saying that they were the customers of a prostitute, paying for the services a prostitute gives.  I don’t think it works as well because God wants the image of the female and what the female loses by giving herself up in prostitution, but it hard to envision the prostitute paying the customer.  Maybe a better image would be a young female who goes out to find a male prostitute.  Here, the female (Israel) gives up herself and pays to have is done.  The prostitute (foreign lands) take the females gift and charge her for it as well.  I think that fully gets God’s image across.

How God was going to put Israel on display in front of all these nations that they put themselves out there to has a “walk of shame” feel to it.  God says that all these nations will see them exposed and marched out, shamed and brought low.  This what happened in the exile.  Israel, in view of all these other nations, was defeated and made to leave there home and march to foreign land.  When you think about what a walk of shame in a college dorm relates to and the imagery of prostitution and that Israel was being walked out in front of its “lovers”, the idea of a walk of shame seems very appropriate.

But, even after this walk of shame, God says that there will be a time that Israel will turn back and renew their covenant with Him and that He will be waiting for them.  Just like us, if we have ever had a walk of shame or a moment when we were embarrassed by our sin, or just knew that we were making the wrong choices, God is there for us when we are ready to turn it around.  That walk of shame is sometimes required to help us understand the ugliness that our sin is bringing and the shame that we should feel each and every time we sin. 

Sunday, January 13, 2013

January 13, 2013 – 1 Kings 8:33 – 8:66

I was thinking about when Solomon is talking about other nations coming to the Temple and praying even though they weren’t God’s people.  He says that because they look at Israel and see how they live and believe and pray to God, the foreigners will see this and know that God is God.  This made me think about what I have talked about before.  There is such a disunity between all Christians and this creates an atmosphere of doubt for any non-Christian.  Why would a person come to believe in Christ when they look at the division in Christianity, the different beliefs, different teachings, and the animosity among us all.  How is that convincing to a person that Christ was the son of God and came down for each individual to save us all. 
Solomon’s prayer is a prayer focused on God’s mercy.  Solomon doesn’t question about if Israel will fail to live up to God’s commands, he prays about what God will do when they fail.  He ask for God’s mercy when they fail, because he knows that they will, and ask God to bring them back when they realize what they have done and call out for Him.  We should all pray that we have the same longing for God’s mercy.  Pray for our nation and our world to seek God’s mercy.  To seek mercy for what we have done wrong takes humility, and this is one thing that seems to truly be lacking in the world around us. 

Saturday, January 12, 2013

January 12, 2013 – Catechism 2075 – 2082

This is one of those “brief” sections which reviews all the previous paragraphs, so there is not anything new to talk about.  But the last line struck me.  “What God commands he makes possible by his grace.”  We cannot accomplish what we are meant to do as God’s created being without God.  I think the line itself is understandable.  What I was reflecting on is if you take that line and compare it with “all things are possible through God”.  I think there are many times that people might bring that line up when they are trying to accomplish something that seems overwhelming, as well they should.  But, there is always that question as to whether what they are trying to do is something God wants them to do.  If I said I was trying to convert my atheist father-in-law, you might encourage me with “all things are possible through God” and it should give me comfort.  If I am trying to get gay marriage approved in the state, someone might encourage me with “all things are possible through God”.  That is where I think there is a very clear distinction between the line in the Catechism and the Scripture quote and that needs to be reflected on.  Is what we are trying to accomplish actually God’s will?

Friday, January 11, 2013

January 11, 2013 – Psalms 119:145 – 119:176

We come to the end of Psalm 119.  The whole thing has been about following the law and taking comfort in that and looking at those that do not with pity or rage.  The law of God is all that you need.  With it, you can never be wrong.  With it, you will have no fear.  Follow it and you are righteous.  But, stray from it, and you are lost.  Simple enough, but we make it so gray with or willingness to seek out others to tell us what the law of God is.  Without a True and Holy Guide, we will be lost because the law is so necessary for us to live our lives and move towards God.  And there can only be one true set of laws or else God is really irrelevant.  If we are taught that doing A is right, but not doing A can also be right, where is the law, where is our guidance, where is God.  God spits out the lukewarm, there is no gray.  When it comes to those things that are moral and affect our soul, there is no gray, there is only God’s law.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

January 10, 2013 – Ezekiel 15 – 16:29
This is very graphic imagery used to describe Israel as the prostitute.  God saw them struggling as a child and saved them.  Then again He sees them struggling when they are older and saves them.  But this time He doesn’t just save them, but makes them beautiful, the envy of all nations.  They use the beauty and superiority to set out on their own and leave God behind.  The prostitute themselves out to the other nations, rely on the other nations, seek them for their aid instead of relying on God.  For this, they will lose what God has given them so that they will know God is God. 

Wednesday, January 09, 2013

January 9, 2013 – 1 Kings 8 – 8:32
God comes down to the Temple and Solomon prays.  First a blessing of God.  Then he talks about the fulfilling of the promises that God made to David.  Then he ask that God forever dwell in this house.  But, he puts a big condition on that request.  God is only going to stay there if Israel abides by the laws of God.  It is an obvious condition, but still interesting that he puts it in there himself.  I also thought it was interesting that Solomon realizes that God cannot be contained in a house built on Earth by men, but that God bringing Himself and residing there is a humbling act of God.  It resembles the humbling act of God by coming to dwell in a human body in the form of Christ.  The cloud that God comes down in can be compared to the Spirit that overshadows Mary during the Assumption.  Both were events where God humbly comes down to dwell among His people.  Both He comes to a Temple (one of brick and mortar, one of flesh and blood). 

Tuesday, January 08, 2013

January 8, 2013 – Catechism 2064 – 2074
I had never thought about the connection and unity of all the commandments.  The paragraphs talk about this in a positive way, honor your father, also honors God, but I thought it was easier to see in the negative.  If you kill someone, you are not honoring God.  Breaking any one of the commandments, breaks them all.  Does that really work.  Let’s take though shall not steal.  If a person steals, they are not honoring God or their parents, they are coveting their neighbors things, but are they killing.  If you take it literally, no one might die because of your theft, so no.  But if you look to Christ explanation, that thou shall not kill applies if you hold any ill will against another, then I would say yes it applies.  You took something from them, and even if you might not know them, to did harm to them.  Take is another step, they will hold ill feelings to the person that stole, even if they don’t know them, so you are causing another to break the commandments, which is also wrong.  The commandments are all entwined.  Think of other examples of how breaking one might break the other.  I imagine you might have to stretch to apply them all, but it doesn’t take long to see their unity. 

Monday, January 07, 2013

January 7, 2013 – Psalms 119:105 – 119:144
We are still looking at the reaction to God’s laws.  In these, though, I was more interested in his reaction to others when they did not follow the law.  At one point he says that his eyes stream for those that don’t follow the law.  Do you ever look around at the world and want to cry because of the evil that you see or the lack of morality.  The recent school shooting might have brought many to tears because of the sheer brutality and the innocence of victims.  But that is a extremely tragic situation and one seriously disturbed individual.  Have you ever just watched the news and wanted to cry because of what you saw the world doing. 
Rage was another reaction that the person feels towards the world that will not follow God.  I think I might feel that one more.  Michelle and I watch Castle, the TV show.  But before Castle is on, the Bachelor is on.  In order to make sure we don’t miss it, we usually catch the last 5 minutes of that show.  What a degrading and completely immoral show that is very popular.  Watching just the briefest portion of that will make a person want to rage against the immorality of the world and that the world is not following God.  If it is all fake and scripted, it is still immoral, but it sets itself out as real.  I would compare it to professional wrestling, only the Bachelor tears at the very soul of those involved and could completely rip their psyches apart.  Wresting only tears at muscle joints and tries to rip off the others leg.  There is a huge difference between physical and emotional and physiological injuries. 

Sunday, January 06, 2013

January 6, 2013 – Ezekiel 13 – 14
A warning against those that say they are prophesying the words of God, but are in fact only preaching their own thoughts and following their own spirit.  That would never happen, right?  And it is not a bad message that they were spreading.  They preached a message of peace, saying that everything was going to be alright, that we are in no real danger and we should go about living our lives like we are.  Those are the ones we are still listening to today.  The ones that say we need to change our way, that life requires sacrifice, that whatever feels good may not be good, those are the ones that are thrown to the curb and laughed down.  If your prophet, your preacher, is preaching to you that we are in a time of peace, that we are on the right track, that the way we are living is a good and Godly way, read these verses with care.  God’s true prophets aren’t in the habit of promoting the ways of the world.  If they are, they are likely preaching from their own spirit and not God’s. 
“these men keep the memory of their idols in their hearts”.  I thought this was a very interesting way of looking at it.  These men came and sat at the feet of the Prophet, but their hearts weren’t in it.  Down deep they were still holding on to the past, to their idols, to the worldly things that kept them from God.  How often do we go and sit with God and, even though we are physically there, our hearts are somewhere else, attached to something else.  We must make every effort to give God our entirety when we are there with Him.  He knows what we are thinking and feeling during those moments even more than we do.  Do not keep the memory of idols in your hearts when sitting at the feet of a prophet. 

Saturday, January 05, 2013

January 5, 2013 – 1 Kings 7
I think it is a little confusing as to what this chapter is mainly talking about.  It is all still under the heading of Building the Temple, but talks at the beginning about Solomon building his own house, but then at the end it talks about items used in building the temple again.  I thought it was interesting to name the bronze worker specifically because of his talent.  Then I thought about going to Rome and how there are many different things construction wise known by those that designed them.  The baldacino in St. Peter’s and its dome are both famously know for their designers.  This person must have been known extremely well to have been remembered in the oral tradition and have been important enough to make the written word.
I thought it was interesting when it described the one basin.  It said it was ten in diameter and thirty in circumference.  A basic recollection of geometry will tell you that cannot be accurate.  It should be 31.14159265358979323846264338327950288419

Friday, January 04, 2013

January 4, 2013 – Catechism 2056 – 2063
Ten words.  I don’t know the first time I heard this called the ten words.  It is obviously more than ten words long.  The first time I heard a similar phrase was in a talk on the seven words of Christ from the cross.  I thought the same thing then.  There are obviously more than seven words.  So the word “word” means an item or sentence or group of words.  I don’t know exactly what it means.  In both cases, some of the words are very short and some are longer. 
God gave this to them between a proposal and the conclusion of the covenant.  Even here, even though they are called commandments, God does not force them on Israel.  They make the commitment to follow them.  It must always be remembered that when you choose to follow God, you are committing yourself to His rules.  It is curious how many say they truly want to follow God but then refuse to follow His rules.  Part of the covenant is agreeing to obey and keep God’s commands.
I think it is interesting to reflect on the fact that the commandments are written to “you” and not in the third person.  That makes it a very personal commitment.  It also goes to establish the very personal and individual relationship that God wants with each of us.  The commands aren’t written like our laws today stating a person this or he or she that.  It says you this and you that.  You can’t read it without applying it to yourself and once you accept it, you can’t escape it. 

Thursday, January 03, 2013

January 3, 2013 – Psalms 119:73 – 119:104

Each of these sections praise God’s commandments again.  Each does it in a slightly different way.  This one brings up that even in affliction, God is just.

I think it is something that the line about shaming the proud for leading me astray follows the one about giving me understanding to know your commands.  How many have been led astray by those whose arrogance has allowed them to guide other in a direction other than towards God.  Many might think I was talking about Luther or non-denominational groups, but that isn’t where my thoughts were, at least this time.  Look at a Bill Mahr who feels he is right and beyond reproach about anything and what he teaches other about religion.  Or Oprah and how she has used her influence to distort many people’s view of who Christ was.

No matter how bad things get, I will never abandon your commands.  This idea is an important one for Catholics because out church appears in decline.  I say appears because in the US and Europe it is true but around the world it is not as easy to see.  But even if we were down to our last handful, obeying the laws should be a priority.  It should never be the strategy to water down the rules to build numbers.  You can fill stadiums with people and help them feel good, but if you don’t plant yourself firmly in Truth and commands that won’t change, what are you really giving them. 

I have heard it said so many times that our numbers of priest would be so much higher if we allowed them to marry, we would probably fill the pews if we stopped preaching against abortion and gay marriage, and how many more would flock to the Catholic Church if we just said the Eucharist is symbolic.  All that is nonsense, but even if it were true, what would people be coming for. 

Wednesday, January 02, 2013

January 2, 2013 – Ezekiel 12

The prophet is supposed to act out what is going to happen so that all Israel will see.  My first thought was that only a few would see because just one person acting could be seen by a limited number.  But remember the story of Jonah.  As he walked through Nineveh, word spread very quickly.  So even if only a group saw what Ezekiel was doing, word could spread as to what he did and what it meant.  God’s question to him about what they said or asked of him makes you think that his acting out was not really noticed by many.  They might have thought he was just a crazy person acting out.  It makes you wonder what kind of audiences these prophets of the Old Testament had.  Not only were they not giving very uplifting messages, because the people weren’t following God, but they were often treated very poorly or killed.  Can we see any relation to those that preach against the pleasures of the world in our day in age.  What happens to those that say sex is for marriage only or abortion is wrong.  They don’t seem to have the most enthusiastic audiences either.  When you tell the world what it is doing is wrong, surprise, the world doesn’t care for you. 

When you tell a nation that the government needs to cut back and it can’t continue to spend money the way it’s been spending, surprise, it elects those that paint a brighter picture of where we are at and promises to continue giving people things we can’t afford.  People don’t like hearing that they are on the wrong path, that to get on the right path there will be sacrifices.  People would much rather continue down the wrong path until they hit bottom and then look for someone else to blame when they get there.  Who will we blame when we get there.  Probably George W.  He seems the best scapegoat for the all of the last decades woes. 

Tuesday, January 01, 2013

January 1, 2013 – Kings 6

Welcome to year 4.  We are 3/4 of the way through the Bible and Catechism.  Thanks if you stuck with me.  As with every new year, I will try to do better at keeping these as on time as I can. 

The Temple that Solomon built must have been something.  Obviously there is no evidence that I know of for what it actually looked like since it was destroyed centuries before Christ.  But if you have been to the Sistine Chapel at the Vatican, you can get a sense of the size.  The Sistine Chapel was constructed, to the best of their figuring, to be the exact measurements of King Solomon’s Temple as described in these chapters. 

When you read about how much gold was to be used and that everything was to be covered in it, you get a real sense of the awe and magnificence  that they wanted to be out pouring from this structure.  They understood it not to be just any structure, but the Earthly dwelling of God.  When you read about the care they put in building it, you can see why they were so devastated when it was destroyed. 

When you read about this building of the Temple and the great care that went into it, think again of the theology that teaches us we are all Temples of God’s presence.   Think about what we do to our bodies and how saddened we should be when we destroy and tear down the place where God dwell’s here on Earth.  Think also of the respect, or lack there of, that we show when we go to Church, stand in front of the tabernacle, or visit an adoration chapel.  When you think of God’s dwelling, remember what the Jews put into building this Temple and see if we can’t bring a little of the awe and magnificence into our own actions today.