Sunday, March 31, 2013

March 31, 2013 – Ezekiel 37

All I could picture when I was reading this is a scene in a movie where a person is walking through a land filled with bones.  The opening scenes from Terminator 2 comes to mind.  And then all the bones just floating up and forming skeletons and then flesh coming back, sort of like a scene from the newer mummy movies.  Then the breath of God coming into them (I was picturing what happened to the Nazis when they opened the ark in Raiders, but only life coming into them, not taking life from them).  I guess when it comes to these visions in prophesies, it helps to picture them like a movie because you can always add the special effects and your free to make whatever your imagination can come up with.  I still think it is interesting that some of the most visually interesting things we could probably ever come up with to watch were written by people over 2000 years before a camera or computer were invented.  The imagination inside our own minds is the tool that these visions exercise and our imagination needs more and more exercise these days when we are filling it with other people’s work.

Saturday, March 30, 2013

March 30, 2013 – 2 Kings 5

Do you ever get told to do something for yourself and you know it will benefit you, but it is so simple that you don’t do it.  I was trying to think of an example and I thought of exercising.  Going out for a run or even walking 15 minutes can really benefit you, but it is so simple we don’t do it.  Eating healthy, going to bed earlier, watching less TV, are all things that are simple to do to make our lives better, yet for some reason we won’t follow through with them.  I don’t know if that quite fits with what Namaan does, but that is what I thought of.

I also think of the servant that took a chance to tell him to turn around and go do the very simple.  I imagine servants weren’t suppose to tell masters what to do and those that did were quickly separated from their heads, but this servant took that chance and his master benefited.  Maybe it is better to think about simple things we don’t do because we are stubborn and they weren’t our idea.  I see something similar with parents I represent.  They stubbornly think they know all there is to know about parenting and refuse to change their ways or listen to some caseworker who has never had kids.  Their kids were taken, usually for some reason that was different than parenting skills, but it is still a service that many are suppose to complete and they have a hard time listening to advise because they know better.  How much do we miss out on being stubborn.  How many times is there not a servant there to turn us around so we can do the smart thing.

Friday, March 29, 2013

March 29, 2013 – Catechism 2232 – 2243

Sorry, you must pay taxes.  But that does become a difficult thing to figure out when taxes are going to fund abortions or support of homosexual marriage (if you don’t think taxes are going to support this, I think you are naive).  Here again, it becomes a balance that I am not sure I fully have the answer for.  You should have the right (and an obligation) to speak out against the things a government does that are against moral and natural law, but when are words not enough.  The requirements to use force are almost unobtainable, but there are steps between mere words and force.  There are many lawsuits trying to curtail some of the immoral actions taken by government, however there are as many wanting to increase such actions, so that is something, but may not be productive.

One thing that is between is allowing yourself to be acted upon without action.  There will be, and in some places already are, times for us to stand there, be ridiculed, harassed, or possibly physically attacked for our beliefs.  Those that attack us are the same ones that preach tolerance and freedom, which is another subject.  But this maybe our strongest way to act is to be victimized without recoiling or attacking.  That is one of the things that spread Christianity throughout the world is not the way the martyrs preached, but how they died.  Being willing to witness in that way is a great witness to all.  Striking back is not going to win anyone over anyway.  Giving our reasons, making our case, loving those that hate us, that is the way Jesus wanted us to change the world and that is the only way the world will change.  And changing hearts is out of our control anyway, so there is no need to get discouraged when it appears you are beating your head against a wall.  We plant the seeds and God makes it grow.

Thursday, March 28, 2013

March 28, 2013 – Proverbs 12 – 13:5

“The diligent hand will govern, but sloth makes for forced labor” 12:24

When I read this I thought about the state of our nation and what things look like going forward.  I think everyone would agree that our government has not been diligent in its governing and has had an attitude of doing whatever it wants and expecting someone else to worry about paying for it.  That may not be exactly slothful, but it is pretty close.  And what has it led to.  Well, if we are going to get out of this, it will mean that people will have to be taxed to death, government will take more and more control, those in the middle will slide further down and rely more and more on the government and (it will never be titled this) we will have forced labor.  Everyone will be working for the government or relying on the government.  And here it is, in the Bible, exactly what sloth will lead to, whether in your individual life or on a larger scale.  We have let our government run wild with spending and promising us everything and accepting it and it will be paid for.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

March 27, 2013 – Ezekiel 36

When God is talking about the mountain of Israel being made new for them I got an image of a dog shaking off water.  I just picture the mountain shaking all the filth of years of Israel being bad and Edom coming in a being bad and the shaking popping out new fields and forest.  When you think about it, and it is a lot longer process, but they say that something like this would happen, or does, when there is a forest fire or volcano eruption.  The fire destroys everything, but from the fertile ash new life begins to grow and because the man made things were destroyed, it is naturally pure.  I wonder if God was talking about a huge fire or volcano eruption making His mountain clean.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

March 26, 2013 – 2 Kings 4

How can you not read this chapter and not think about the multiplication of loaves and fishes with Christ and the 5000.  We have a multiplication of loaves.  There is also the raising of a child that had died, another miracle of Christ.  It makes you wonder what people thought about Christ.  I think I have written about this before, but when you look at Elijah and Elisha, the one that seems to compare more to Christ is Elisha.  I think that makes sense because John the Baptist is seen as Elijah returning.  But the reason that I found it surprising earlier and still now is that Elisha is that one that you don’t hear about as much.  I think everyone knows the name Elijah, but Elisha, I think, is lesser known.  I would have thought the opposite with him being more of a foreshadowing of Christ.

I also don’t understand this attitude he seems to have with helping people. It always seems like he will help, but it is such a bother to him.

Monday, March 25, 2013

March 25, 2013 – Catechism 2221 – 2231

Several thoughts on these paragraphs.  With it speaking about the extremely important role that parents have in educating their children it impossible to not mention the idea of home schooling.  It is on our minds for many reasons, but mainly because we see school systems that are dysfunctional and heading in a direction of teaching children things that we really don’t believe are true.  It would become a constant reeducation of our children every night they come home and completely confusing for them.

Also, when you look at the home as being the first and best teacher of children, it is important that they learn from the modeling of their parents.  That includes “self-denial, sound judgment, and self-mastery”.  What this tells me is that many children and getting a very bad education at home because our world is full of teaching people that they do not need self-denial or self-mastery.  Many 20 and 30 something’s have been taught that whatever feels good is good.  This is the generation having children now, and those children are learning that self-denial and self-mastery don’t exist.  They see mom and dad getting whatever they want, so they want whatever they want.  This little cycle leads to them getting whatever they want because what the parent wants is peace and quiet, so they give in and the problem worsens.

When the world teaches that self-denial is wrong and that self-mastery is old fashioned because you should do and believe whatever you want, the home is supposed to be a place where the child learns that the world is wrong.  When those lessons are not taught in the home because the parents are victims of a world theology of materialism and relativism, the children come out of the home with no education in any proper sense.  That really makes you worry about the future of our country and our world.

Sunday, March 24, 2013

March 24, 2013 – Proverbs 11

This chapter begins and ends with two similar proverbs regarding wealth.  “Wealth is useless on a day of wrath” and “Those who trust in their riches will fall”.  Money is such a big issue in everyone’s life, including our family.  It brings so much worry and stress.  Yet here it is, that it will not help us when it really matters and relying on it will only lead us to fall.  So, how do you balance a life where money isn’t an issue and enough concern for money and budgets so that your family is provided for?  The question is really to myself.  I struggle with this.  Recently just found out that we will not be getting raises again this year and I just don’t know where money is going to come from to make ends meet.  A growing family is an expensive thing and growing more and more expensive.  Governments and trying to pay for more, bringing in less, so employees of government are receiving less (unless you are one of the very high ups like a city manager and get a 14% raise).

But then I read this and try to step back and see how much am I trusting in money and why when I know that I am not supposed to.  How much is money dictating my thoughts and worry that I have.  I know I have lost sleep thinking about the money we thought was going to be there and is not, I know it has caused stress in our home, I know that it is distracting from what is really important.  But it also cannot be ignored.  It is a struggle I feel I lose more than win.

This also makes me think of the money we are supposed to give to the Church and others.  As bad as I may complain, we are not in some dire straits, we are just not as well off as many of those around us, which is a very relative and wrong way of looking at things.  But how do you measure those priorities.  We still give the same amount to the Church that we always have, even though I bring home less and the family is bigger, so that feels like we are still striving to fulfill that obligation, but there is not a lot a giving after that.  I used to excuse that in that we would volunteer a lot and that compensated for not giving monetary funds, but the volunteering has dried up a bit since the kids have come.  Like I said, it is a struggle finding that balance with money and God and meeting the needs of the family.

Saturday, March 23, 2013

March 23, 2013 – Ezekiel 35

I love the part where God says “I heard everything”.  He lays out what He is going to do to those that were a part of the destruction and desolation of Israel and He says that He heard all that they said about Israel.  Now, we know Israel was punished by God for their own actions.  But what God appears to be punishing here is they taunts or actions of those taken against Israel because they were punished.

It reminds me of what I have to tell Paul.  Noah is getting old enough to get in trouble and every time this happens, Paul seems very entertained by the situation.  I have to remind Paul that if he laughs or teases Noah while he gets in trouble, that is going to cause him to be in trouble.  That is what God is telling the people here.  You laughed at Israel when I punished them, so you will be punished.

And it is pretty severe.  I don’t know how many bodies it would take to fill a mountain, but that is a devastating image.

Friday, March 22, 2013

March 22, 2013 – 2 Kings 3
After having the last reflection talk about respect verses honor, here we have Elisha showing the king respect because of someone else, but he doesn’t go as far as to honor any of them and it is obvious that he does not respect the one king, even though he is a king.
It makes me wonder about the saying “you honor us with your presence”, which could have been said by the kings when Elisha comes to them.  The saying implies that even by showing up to something, you might honor or show support for what is going on.
Here is an example that we may have all experienced.  Have you ever known a Catholic couple that lived together before they were married?  Did you go to the wedding?  If you did, you “honored” them (showed support for their choice) by your presence.  You can see how tricky scandal can become and how quickly people can become unconvinced by the teachings of the Church when they see everyone just excepting these wrongs by “honoring them with their presence”.  Same can be said if you go to a gay marriage ceremony, a party where there is underage drinking or drug use, and perhaps even going shopping unnecessarily on a Sunday.  Think about all the things you “honor by your presence” and what those that see you are learning and taking from this.  

Thursday, March 21, 2013

March 21, 2013 – Catechism 2214 – 2220

We see that there are three different things owed to parents at different times: Obedience, Respect, and Honor.  It says pretty clearly, that obedience stops when a child grows up and leaves the home.  Respect and Honor are a little grayer.  It actual says that you are suppose to always Respect your parents, but the commandment says that we are to honor them.  There seems to be a difference between the two.  Honoring someone seems a much higher thing than showing them respect.  Honoring someone means that you are holding them up as a model and someone that should be an ideal to strive for.  Respect means you understand that they stand in a place that deserves special treatment because of something they have done or a title they have.

I respect the President because of the title, but I would not choose to honor him because of what he believes and the things he has done.  Notre Dame honored him, went beyond respect, when they invited him to speak.  By doing so, they propped him up as a model, whether they claimed they were or not, that is what honor accomplishes.  I am required to respect my father-in-law because of who he is, the father of my wife, but I don’t feel I have to honor him because of what he stands for and the life he lives.  But how does that look.  How do I live that and how does that influence my children.  How do you show respect and not honor.  That is my struggle with this commandment and these paragraphs.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

March 20, 2013 - Proverbs 10

I like the one about 'where words are many, sin is not wanting'.  I see that a lot in my job.  Usually the more a person has to try to explain something, they are either lying or trying to hide the truth.  If they haven't done anything wrong, they can usually answer the questions very quickly.  It is also pretty obvious when you have a witness on the stand.  When you ask a simple question and they go on and on, they usually don't answer your question and they are usually trying to hide something.

I also liked 'the Lord's blessing that brings wealth and nothing can substitute for it'.  Obviously it is not talking about a wealth of world, goods or power, but that is what most people think of when they hear wealth.  Wealth of a Godly sense is something that we probably won't get much of an idea of this side of Heaven and the only way to Heaven is God.  There are no alternate routes.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

March 19, 2013 - Ezekiel 34

Here we have a chapter all about the shepherd of Israel.  One of Christ favorite images is the shepherd and the lost sheep. We see very harsh treatment of those shepherds who are given the responsibilities of guiding God's people and do not do so correctly.  One thing that jumped out at me was not just that the shepherds did not guide Israel correctly, but that they actually took what was good for themselves and ruined things for those they were supposed to protect and guide.  The grass, they would eat it and trample it.  The water, they would drink and they dirty it with their feet.  It is not enough that they don't do their job, but they make it difficult for those they are supposed to guide to do live a godly life because they take away the sources God gave them.

Whenever I read about the bad shepherds, I think of all the non-Catholic Christian churches.   I think of the many who have been led away from the Truth and have been hurt by shepherds who have led them astray.  The same could be said for Catholics that have been guided by priest or bishops that do not fully teach the truth.  This might even be worse since people outside the church will see these priests and be misguided as well about what it means to be Catholic.  But God has a plan for false shepherds, and as you can see and as is only logical with God, there is only one Shepherd.  Nothing else would make any sense.

Monday, March 18, 2013

March 18, 2013 – 2 Kings 1 – 2

It’s hard to get a good sense of Elisha after he takes over for Elijah.  The first thing is to give into the other 50 that were pestering him about Elijah.  Then he cleans the water of Jericho, then has bears eat 42 people that were giving him grief.  I am just not sure what to make of it.  He ask for double the spirit of Elijah, that must not include double the patience.  Elijah was with the widow for 3 years during the famine, waited for the soldiers, waited for God during other test.  Elisha appears to be impatient with those that are asking him to do things or giving him grief.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

March 17, 2013 – Catechism 2201 – 2213

There is a lot in these paragraphs dealing with families, the definitions, the effects it has on society, and the idea of subsidiarity.  This last thing is something that I have become a fan of as I have learned about it and run for office and seen what the government is trying to get its hands on and what people are asking it to do.  The whole idea is that a family is the first and foremost community.  A family should try to solve any problems that they can on their own.  By doing so, the family grows in strength and education, is not reliant on other groups or the government, has strong and educated children that will bring skills and experience to the society and their future families.  What a family cannot do on its own, it should look to the families around it, their neighbors.  These neighbors should, from their abundance, aid those neighbors that need such assistance.  What cannot be done by a neighborhood, you look to city wide groups or your local church.  Many resources can be obtained through these groups and can supply families in need with most of what they are lacking, especially when people are generous to these groups and churches because they understand that they are helping people.  When the service cannot be accomplished by these groups, we should look to the local government, then to the state, then, AND ONLY THEN, we should look to the national government.

What has become the actual routine is that, as soon as people start to struggle, they go straight to the federal government for assistance.  People do not even know their neighbors, numbers in churches are down, and the local groups are often controlled and fully rely on government money to run, so going to them is no different than going to the government.  We have gotten the whole flow backwards and it is making us a completely reliant society instead of separate and independent families.  Here is a video describing it in an easier way.

These paragraphs and thinking about the family as the foundation for society, what does it mean to change the definition of marriage, essential changing the definition of family.  What effect does that have on society?  You can change the definition of something at the foundation and not expect it do have no effect on the society above.  So, yes, you changing the definition of marriage does affect me and my marriage and my family because we are a part of the same society.

Saturday, March 16, 2013

March 16, 2013 – Proverbs 7 – 8:11

In this world where our desires are all that matters and we must seek to fulfill them at all cost, we see how Solomon THE WISE saw this.  When you give in to your desires and go with the harlot to fulfill your pleasures, you are “like an ox that goes to the slaughter”.  How can we not see this as a nation, as a world?  How do we not know that living life for pleasure alone is destroying us?  When the discussion is about gay marriage, some try to argue against it because life should not be about fulfilling our every pleasure, that marriage is not about fulfilling our physical desires, that gay marriage will destroy the many reasons marriage has been defined the way it has and solely for the satisfaction of promoting physical pleasure over future stability and morals.  But I can’t say that.  I must be a hateful bigot if I don’t support physical pleasure and fulfillment of desires over everything else.  I am hateful to suggest repressing any feelings and to (God forbid) ask people to sacrifice something so that the world can be better off.  “Many are those she has struck down…leading down into the chambers of death”.  Why wouldn’t I want to support something like that.

Friday, March 15, 2013

March 15, 2013 – Ezekiel 33

Should we consider ourselves sentinels for the Lord? When we see evil coming, we are to warn the people so that they might change their ways. If they ignore us, then their guilt is on them. If we do not warn them, then their guilt is on us. This makes me worry about the life I used to live and the times I didn’t stand up and tell people what I thought. It worries me about the guilt of others I might be responsible for. It motivates me to speak up now when I do see something. The gay marriage battle going on is a great example. You are either for it, against it, or staying on the sidelines and not getting involved. If you fall into this third category, but know and believe that this is wrong, read about the sentinel.

This also makes you think about what the Catholic Church has been teaching and standing for over the last several generations. There is a huge number of misinformed and uneducated Catholics because the Church did not fulfill its obligation. It allowed relativism and watering down theology invade our schools and pulpits. There are many pulpits that are preaching the Truth now, and there are many that don’t like what they are hearing. We are becoming the sentinels we were called to be. But what of those lost years. What of the souls lost because our church was not the sentinel it should have been. There are many lost souls that are there by their own actions, but I imagine the countless that are lost and their guilt is on the heads of a church that did not preach against the “sword” that was coming. WE ARE THE SENTINELS OF GOD.

In the modern apocalyptic books, like the one I read about Ezekiel coming true in the modern world, the authors take great pains to dive into the scriptures in very close detail. What strikes me though, is that the “saved” characters, or at least in the book I read, seemed to believe in a “once saved, always saved” theology. Once the main character professed Christ as Lord and Savior he stated over and over again that no matter what happened he knew he was going to Heaven. This was in the midst of shooting people, stealing, and other violant acts (all in the name of good) but never any doubt about his destination. Yet right here in Ezekiel is God’s word that if you fall, if you sin, all the good you do will be forgotten, unless you repent. And if you repent, all the bad is forgotten. But you can fall after you repent, you can fall after you profess God. There is no such thing as “once saved, always saved”. It is not biblical and is human arrogance at its most dangerous. I just find it interesting that a whole series that focused so much on Ezekiel in such great detail, would have a hero that completely ignores such a blatant lesson from the same book.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

March 14, 2013 – 1 Kings 22:29 – 22:54

This is about the 4th or 5th time in going through these kings that their mother’s name is mentioned. Further proof of the importance of the queen mother in Israel’s tradition and the importance Christ would have placed on His mother and the holy place Catholics give to Mary.

Also, we see further that they name David as his “father” which he was not. There have been generations passing already. This shows that “father” can mean grandfather, great grandfather and beyond. It also makes you reread the 4th commandment about honoring your “father” and how far back that should really go.

We have a good king, yet, there isn’t a whole lot to be said about him. It is almost like a news cast where the bad news gets the bigger story and the story about the good work being done in the soup kitchen gets 30 seconds after sports. There were several chapters on Ahab even though he was bad; there are several verses on Jehoshaphat, even though he did well.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

March 13, 2013 – Catechism 2196 – 2200

This is about the commandment that children should honor their parents. But it adds in there that this should be extended, not in exactly the same way, but in some respects, to employees honoring their boss, and citizens honoring their government officials. That last one makes me wonder about the obligation going the other direction. What is the parent supposed to, or is commanded to, provide back to the child. There is not commandment about what parents give to children. Being a parent now (and still typing that and thinking that feels a bit surreal), what is the responsibility of a parent, where is the command. It is the most important job I will ever have, to instruct, to guide, to love, to punish. But is there a time when parents lose the right to be honored?

In my profession I see parents, almost on a weekly basis, lose their legal parental rights. No one can change that they are the biological parents, but circumstances and usually choses made by the parents mean that they are no longer mom and dad. Do they still deserve to be honored by their children. I see the answer being yes because they brought them into the world and that will always be a reason of honor. I also see the answer no because they are not fulfilling that role in any real sense.

That brings me to the actions of our government officials. We are called to honor them in a special way because of who they are and what they represent. But when they do not fulfill that role, I think we can put them in the category of parents that have lost their parental rights. You may be obligated to honor them because they have a title but honoring them in any true way as a child is supposed to honor a genuinely loving and nurturing parent is out of the question.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

March 12, 2013 – Proverbs 6

I love the lesson of watching the ant and learning from it to work and gather for the winter. Looking at nature, it is easy to see these lessons. It is easy to see what makes tales like Aesop’s fables so classic and universal. Sit under a tree and watch nature for a while and you will be educated on how to live life. Mother birds caring for their young, squirrels storing nuts, caterpillars forming a cocoon, nature all around us is a teaching lesson on what life is and how it should be lived. Which makes sense since God gave us nature for just that reason. That is why Paul writes that even before the scripture, people had a sense of who God was because of looking at the world around them.

Monday, March 11, 2013

March 11, 2013 – Ezekiel 32

This is about the third or fourth chapter that has focused on the destruction of Egypt. The imagery of this one, especially the sea monster, I thought was very vivid. It describes Egypt as a sea monster, pulled out of the sea and put on the ground and pretty much attacked an devoured by all the land creatures. It’s flesh will fill cayons. I just close my eyes and see a beached whale or Walrus that is injured and that they are helpless. Egypt, as strong as you are, will be as helpless as a beach whale, and be attacked in that state. You can imagine a beached whale and instead of conservation officers working frantically to get it back in the sea, wolves and bears tearing into it for food. What can it do to stop them.

Sunday, March 10, 2013

March 10, 2013 – 1 Kings 22 – 22:28

We see the “sheep without a shepherd that Jesus quotes when He looks upon the crowd.

We also see a very important lesson, and one that I am learning all too clearly. People want to hear what they want to hear. They don’t care if it is the truth as long as it is what they want to hear. You can understand right away that this is bad in many different ways, but still, people refuse to listen to news that they don’t want. Running for a political office has shown me that people will settle for only saying what others want to hear and I imagine those politicians that have been doing this for many years have gotten so good at it, they may not truly know what is right or wrong any more. Whatever you want to hear is what I want to say. It is a form of political relativism.

I have tried to say what I thought, pointed out things that were wrong, things that need to change and people don’t want to hear it. People like to believe in the fairy tale, like to think we are invincible, like to think things are going the right way. If you tell them that things might not be as peachy as they seem, they tell you to be quiet, stop raising a fuse, or you just don’t know what you are talking about. We are dealing with the issue of changing the definition of marriage and there are many that do not want to hear any disagreement about it. Any notion that this isn’t the perfect thing to do is met by sometimes very hostile attacks. A person can try to point out the damage done to families, the detraction to growth, the tendency towards building communities based on feelings and sexual orientation instead of commitment and procreation, you are a bigot and hateful and intolerant. I have been watching on facebook and the news many stand up and give their views on this issue and be slammed down. Some of the leaders in the Republican party are following what they feel is the popular trend and coming out in favor of gay marriage. Whether they truly feel that way or are trying to be the prophets who tell Ahab just what he wants to hear, we won’t know what is in their hearts. It has the stink of pandering. Time will tell where we head with this as a country. And time will tell who the tolerant ones truly are.

Saturday, March 09, 2013

March 9, 2013 - Catechism 2189 – 2195

It is just a simple word, but it is one that you hear replaced a lot that makes a pretty big difference when you think about it. We are often told that we must go to Mass every Sunday and Holy Days. But that is not exactly our obligation. We are obligated to “PARTICIPATE” in the Mass on Sundays and Holy Days. That is a pretty big difference. Going and participating have completely different senses of the involvement of a person. There are probably many spouses who would say their significant other goes to children’s functions and there are those that participate. It is the same for any activity. Are you going or participating. Think about that when you drag yourself out of bed on Sunday, get to Mass late, a thinking about Sunday afternoon during the liturgy and leave after communion. Have you fulfilled your obligation. You may have gone to Mass, but did you Participate.

Friday, March 08, 2013

March 8, 2013 – Proverbs 5

Isn’t it odd that King Solomon is giving advise on adultery.  He had like a thousand wives.  How could he possibly find time to have a mistress as well. 

If you watch any TV show in which there is an episode of adultery, verse 3 seems to follow right along.  The tempter always has “lips…drip honey and ….mouth is smoother than oil.”  The person that is tempting always seems like this perfect specimen, a perfect idea, an opportunity that cannot be turned down.  But as it states, their feet are at the steps of Sheol.  They will only lead to destruction.  It is never the right path and always leads to pain. 

As I finish it, I wonder if he is writing it at the beginning of his life and just did not follow his own advise or if he writes it at the end of his life and is warning them against the mistakes  he made.  I think it has more of the feel of the latter.  I can see and old father telling his sons to stick with their first and young love, that cherishing that will bring much more happiness than going after other loves later. 

Thursday, March 07, 2013

March 7, 2013 – Ezekiel 30 – 31

It sounds pretty bad for Egypt.  They will have the most ruined of any ruined cities.  And if you have been paying attention, God has really ruined cities before.  Egypt will be set on fire by the foreign invaders.  A desolate wasteland.

Is there a better image for a great and powerful kingdom and a huge majestic tree.  Strong against the weather, towering over those around it, unmoving, deeply rooted, supplying shelter and protection.  I wonder if trees were used in family emblems very often.  It would seem to be an image people would understand, a symbol of great strength. 

From the image of a huge tree we could also get a very clear understanding of “the bigger they are the harder they fall”.  God seems to be talking about that here.  The kingdom was so big it became arrogant.  Its power made it leave God.  And so, it is cut down, tossed aside.  The mightiest tree looks a lot different laying on the ground.  Growing up, we cut wood with my dad and I understand a tree falling and how sad it can be.  If you have ever had a tree in a yard that you really loved and then had something happen to it.  It can be a very sad thing.  Trees are just so big they seem invulnerable and then the topple and its sad.  It is also a very powerful force.  If you have ever been around when a large tree has been cut down, there is a reason the yell “timber” and warn us to stay away.  It is a huge amount of force coming down.  I think about that when God is describing this kingdom and then who is going to bring it down. 

Wednesday, March 06, 2013

March 6, 2013 – 1 Kings 21

This is a very similar story to David and Bathsheba. It has a similar outcome to. Ahab regrets his actions (although he really doesn’t seem to be the one making the choices) and God takes away any immediate punishment. In fact, both have the punishment going to a child. David’s son dies because of his actions and Ahab’s heirs are going to suffer for what he did. Actually, they probably could have named the vineyard Bathsheba after they took possession and that would have been icing on the cake.

The way the man is killed reminds me of John the Baptist. A woman convinces others to set things up in such a way to have him killed. With John, it was the wife telling the daughter to ask for John’s head, thus, someone else actually does the killing. Here, the group accuses him on something and he is stoned, so the wife’s hands are clean. I guess that is also like David’s story, sending Uriah to the front and then having the army back off.

Tuesday, March 05, 2013

March 5, 2013 – Catechism 2184 – 2183

You may not go to work on Sundays, but do your activities force others to work. That is something that people don’t often think about. I know many people that always go out to eat on Sundays after mass. It is a nice way to spend time and mom doesn’t have to spend time preparing a meal. But have you thought that your actions make others have to work on Sunday. This may not persuade many people because so many see Sunday as any other day and almost all stores and restaurants are open, what difference does one person make. First of all, that is a horrible reason to do anything. Second, much like the example of what would the church look like if every catholic went to mass every Sunday, what Sundays would look like if a large chunk of the population took Sunday as a day of rest seriously. It wasn’t so long ago that this was something that was done. I don’t know when the shoe dropped and that all changed, but ask older folks what Sundays used to be like and I think you will find that we aren’t so far removed from Sundays being a day for God and for family.

And the day of rest isn’t for God, IT IS FOR US. God knows us better than we know ourselves and we need a break from the world. We need a chance to sit back and recharge our batteries. You wonder why people are burnt out, why so many are on meds, why so many marriages are in trouble, why there is no communication in the family. Maybe, just maybe, it has something to do with the fact that we fill our lives with stuff. 24 hours a day, cell phone in hand, constant contact with the world, starbucks 3 times a day, meals on the run. Enough is enough. We need a break. We know that is what we need, but we don’t give it to ourselves. God knew that is what we needed, and He knew that well before cell phones and the internet, and He gave us the tool to have rest. But we know better and so we have thrown the idea of Sunday out the window. It is just another day, it is filled with activities, it is our day to plan the things we can’t do during the week, it is another day for sports practices. The only thing people don’t set aside time for on Sundays is mass. As we disregard the Sunday rest and what it means, many are disregarding mass and what it means. Numbers go down, people become busier, and we still continue to wonder why we are having so many issues.

Monday, March 04, 2013

March 4, 2013 – Proverbs 4

How hard is it to keep our eyes straight ahead and not look from side to side. The entire world is built on distractions and flashes and trying to get our attention for an instant. The world is built for the sound bite, the moment of pleasure, the instant gratification. And we all know, deep down, that it is not satisfying. We have all experienced the letdown of something that we thought was going to be so much more. When that happens, we have two chooses. We move towards the thing that can truly satisfy or we seek something else, usually something bigger and brighter, that we believe will satisfy us this time. But it will not. That is what it means to stay focused on what is ahead, to have a clear view of God and to not be distracted. Every flash or attraction takes us off that straight road to God and takes us on a detour. Sometimes they can be very quick. We see our error, we get back on track. Sometimes those detours can take years, sometimes they take over our lives, sometimes they bring us to eternal damnation. The world is not motivated to bring us to God. The world is motivated to bring us to ruin. Material wealth, pleasure seeking, relativism, are all paths that lead us away from where we truly belong, where we know (deep down) we will truly be satisfied and where we all were actually made to spend all eternity.

Sunday, March 03, 2013

March 3, 2013 – Ezekiel 29

Egypt is such an interesting character in the Bible. It plays such an important role in world civilization, at least that is what I remember from world history, yet it is only a supporting role character through much of the Bible. The only main role it has is with Moses and the Exodus, but that part is not found in Egyptian history. (I wrote about that when we were going through Exodus and that the episode with Moses was a very short time frame and not something the Egyptians would be proud of so it is not surprising we do not see it in their history.)

I thought it was particularly interesting how their power is connected to the Nile. This does make sense since all early civilizations are tied to the rivers they formed on. The Nile is such an important part of Egypt, but the scripture seems to take it a step beyond importance and illudes that the Nile is the source of Egypt’s strength. That is where God attacks them when He is going to bring them down. When you think about that, it makes you curious about Moses and one of his first acts was to turn the Nile into blood. If the Nile is Egypt’s strength, you would think that would have either done the trick or been a later act. Perhaps God was showing how stubborn Pharaoh was going to be because he wouldn’t back down even when the Nile, the source of their power, was turned to blood.

Saturday, March 02, 2013

March 2, 2013 – 1 Kings 20

We see that the king of Israel didn’t learn anything from the stories he must have heard about Saul. He follows the Lord and achieves victory and then, when it comes to showing mercy on something God wanted destroyed, the king balks and it is because of this he will be punished. All that happened and all that God set in front of him led to the capturing of someone that should never have been captured, someone that was bringing destruction and wanted to destroy. God puts them into the kings hands for punishment, and the king lets him go.

This makes me think of capital punishment and showing mercy. There is a time for mercy and a time to punish someone for an awful crime that they did. For a very long time I have been against capital punishment. It is not because I don’t think some crimes deserve death, I think there are. It is more because even though we have a great legal system relative to others, it is not a perfect legal system. I have seen cases slip through the cracks, I have seen innocent people punished and guilty people walk free. I have never dealt with a case involving the seriousness of the death penalty, but I have dealt with cases in the legal system and know that mistakes are made, people are human, and that aspect doesn’t change just because death is a possible punishment.

Death is a permanent punishment, it cannot be taken back once it is accomplished. Because we are human and can always make mistakes, I think having the power to end someone’s life is something that we shouldn’t have. I understand the Catholics are allowed to support capital punishment. I understand that the Bible allows it as well. I don’t think I am obligated to support it and as long as mistakes are possible and humans run our justice system, I am not comfortable taking the life of a person based on a guilty in the courtroom.

Friday, March 01, 2013

March 1, 2013 – Catechism 2180 – 2183

There are so many Catholics that are not following their faith. Numbers in churches are down all over the country and in Europe. We think that this is a crisis of the universal church, but it is really only the Western European group. In many other locations the Catholic Church is flourishing. What if all Catholics actually went to church every Sunday. What would that look like. What transformation would that have on the Church, on the world. We are coming up on Easter when churches will be unusually full. Why? Do those C and E Catholics think that by going on Easter they are making up for all their missed masses. Do they think Easter is a special Holy day of Obligation. (It is because it is, because it is a Sunday, but it isn’t actually listed on the special holy days.) Easter is important and a special day, but how many of them understand that missing mass on purpose is a grave sin. If they understand that and do it anyway, then it is a mortal sin. How many go to Easter and receive communion without going to confession for all the masses they have missed since Christmas. That causes them to commit another grave sin. Easter is supposed to be joyous occasion celebrating a wonderful and salvific event. Lately, it just makes me sad to see all the people that fill the church on this one day and I wonder why they bother so much. If they can’t be bothered any other Sunday, why make the effort and do they understand that making the effort, without seeking forgiveness for the Sundays where they didn’t make the effort, they are actually piling more sin on. Pray for our C and E Catholics. Pray for a true conversion on their hearts and a longing for an increase in their understanding of the Catholic faith.