Monday, September 30, 2013

September 30, 2013 – 1 Chronicles 27

I think it is a neat idea to have a rotating army, a different army of 24,000 men each month.  For one month a year, a man would have to leave his regular life and living and go a defend the kingdom or attack a nation.  Then he would go back and make a living for 11 months.  A couple of the benefits would be to have fresh men every month, less burn out.  Plus, every man of a certain age would have training in combat in the instance when you might need to have more people involved in defense you wouldn’t be dealing with inexperienced men.

Some of the draw backs would be getting 11 months of rust off your soldiers every month.  The might take 2 weeks to get back into fighting shape and then you only get a good couple weeks out of them.  Plus, you are limited on how far you can send your army since you have to make sure they are back by the time their month is over.  I just thought it was an interesting way to field an army.

Sunday, September 29, 2013

September 29, 2013 – Catechism 2683 – 2696

How do we learn to pray.  Examples given here are to look to the saints and spiritual directors on how to live a prayerful life.  But the bulk of what we learn at home.  I am so blessed to have a 4 ½ year old that is eager to pray the rosary.  That wasn’t me growing up and the rosary is still something I struggle with.  My grandmother, and grandfather when he was alive, prayed the rosary faithfully.  I remembering staying with them during the summer and praying the rosary at night and it was completely foreign to me.  But I do remember that and it stuck with me and I am glad the rosary is not foreign to my children.  I never learned latin and don’t know the prayers of the rosary in Latin, but have been trying to learn that.  I don’t know what it will lead to, but seems something that I should know.

Saturday, September 28, 2013

September 28, 2013 – 2 Maccabees 5

Finally got a chance to look at the description of 2 Maccabees.  It is really a supplement to 1 Maccabees, starting before it and ending around the same time.  It goes into a more spiritual side of the victories of Judas and his brothers and also contains many supports for theological ideas that controversial to many today.  It was evidently a cliff notes version of a much bigger book that has never been discovered.

Jason sounds like a miserable character.  Corrupt in getting power, ruthless in trying to regain it, cruel and uncaring to his own people, forced into exile, dies alone and unmourned.  That is the description of a miserable character.

With the details we are getting about these men and the awful things they were doing to the Jews, I wonder if 2 Maccabees shouldn’t be first.  I think it would bring more to the stories of their battles and rebellion if we knew more about how terrible these men in charge were acting.

Friday, September 27, 2013

September 27, 2013 – Jeremiah 49

Two things stood out to me. The one, about the one nation trying to hide from God or thinking they were safe by going into a high nest like an eagle.  I assumed that meant they hid up a mountain somewhere.  God simple states He will bring them down and basically you cannot hide from God.  Maybe if they were just running from a regular army, something like that might work, but when that army has become the instrument of God, goes as high as you can, you aren’t getting away.

The second was the image of being scattered by the wind.  This is so easy to picture because who hasn’t had something set up and then had a gust of wind blow it all away or at least make a mess of it.  Seems a constant struggle in the summer with picnics.  But imagine a leaf being blown by the wind.  Many will land on the ground right beneath the tree, but some might be blown miles and miles before they actually come to a stop.  There have been stories of debris from tornados being dropped in other states, hundreds of miles away.  So, when God says He is going to scatter you like the wind, He probably isn’t talking a gentle breeze.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

September 26, 2013 – 1 Chronicles 26

Seems interesting that the gates and who is responsible for them was also divided by families.  That seems an interesting thing to divide up.  I wonder if there were some gates that were more prominent, or some that weren’t (like a back door), and whether there was any resentment about which family got which door.  It also makes you think about how much pride must have gone into that over the years.  Imagine it as a family heirloom or a plot of land that is held by a family for many generations.  Grandfathers telling their grandchildren about guarding the gate and that they will be doing it someday.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

September 25, 2013 – Catechism 2673 – 2682

Prayer involving Mary has always been seen as a controversial thing to non-Catholics.  It has always been a curious thing to me that non-Catholics don’t blink an eye at asking others to pray for them but would not seek prayers from the Mother of God.  Mary is ever pointing to her Son, that is her only intent is to bring us ever closer to her Son.  I liked how it described her as transparent.  There are lines such as, when you look at me, I want you to see Christ.  That is Mary and she does it better than any other human has ever done it.  When you look at her, you see Christ, because she is transparent.  I believe that if you do not, if you are focused on Mary and don’t move any further, she would be the first to tell you that you are wrong and she will gently bring you back to Christ in the way only a gentle loving mother can.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

September 24, 2013 – 2 Maccabees 4:23 – 4:50

The politics of who the high priest and leader of the Jews sound a lot like politics in Illinois and the US. The people are in charge, do whatever they want, get into trouble and instead of getting in trouble, payoff the person above them and get off scot-free. And the person that gives the most money is the one that gets the office. It is funny that Jason loses his office, which he got by devious ways, gets booted simply because the guy he sends to the king, wows him and offers more money. Then he is simply made the high priest. Thinking about that and the way that is made gives you some background into the politics that was going on when Jesus came and the high priest and leaders that He was dealing with. We are always told about the high priest being corrupt, but until you look at this, you don’t really understand what that means and how involved Rome was in keeping who they wanted in charge.

Monday, September 23, 2013

September 23, 2013 – Jeremiah 48

Moab seems to be have escaped any harm for most of its existence. The oracle talks about the history of Moab being peaceful. That is all about to end for them. They are going to be punished for trusting in their own treasure. They are going to be made to “swim in his vomit” so that can become the “laughingstock”. I was wondering about breaking the arm of Moab. What is the worst thing you could do to a soldier before a battle to make them helpless or while you are fighting them. Obviously if you break their leg, they are no longer mobile, but a very skilled soldier could still defend themselves from the ground. There are some that are still very dangerous even from a wheel chair. But if you break their arm, they become almost helpless, especially if they are right handed and you break their right handed. In “Game of Thrones”, Jamie is one of the most skilled knights, but loses his hand and becomes, to himself and others, almost helpless. When you see it talks about the pride of Moab, Jamie and Moab appear to be on the same journey.

Sunday, September 22, 2013

September 22, 2013 – 1 Chronicles 25

We see another group of names that are assigned to different things in the liturgy. It is hard to find much to say about this. I forget the number of Levites that they said there were, but in was in the tens of thousands. When you have that many people that are supposed to serve the Temple, it makes sense that you would have to delegate this many groups. It also makes sense to divide them into their different families rather than any other method of division.

It does amaze you how these families spread. Imagine, all of these names are families, all stemming from Levi, one man, and all of Israel stems from his father Jacob. One man with 12 sons just grew and grew. It makes you wonder how any of us are not related in some way shape or form. It makes you think about how you treat the person sitting next to you or the man with the sign on the side of the road.

Saturday, September 21, 2013

September 21, 2013 – Catechism 2663 – 2672

Just saying the name Jesus in a humble way can be the simplest and very powerful way to pray. I think because it is only saying one word, it can be overlooked. I think it can also be a very easy prayer to violate by simply saying the name Jesus when it is not a prayer. It is a powerful name, The Name. Jews weren’t even allowed to say the name of God because it was sacred. We are allowed to speak the name because He came became human. It is a similar reason that we are now allowed to express Him in art because He has made Himself available. If you have never tried it, just say the name Jesus, slowly and deliberately, repeat it, and again.

Friday, September 20, 2013

September 20, 2013 – 2 Maccabees 4 – 4:22

I am having a hard time determining when this was written and about what time. It talks about someone making Jason the high priest, which sounds like when the Romans were making Judas and his brothers high priest. It doesn’t sound like Jason is cut from the same cloth as Judas and his brothers, but it is unclear as to what happened to John, the son of Simon. I have to look more into when 2 Maccabees was written.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

September 19, 2013 – Jeremiah 46 – 47

We saw that Israel would not be coming out of Egypt similar to when Moses brought them out. But here it gives hope that the “offspring” will get back to the Promised Land. That is even closer to Moses and the time in the wilderness. God is trying to renew Israel again by taking out the one generation that did not follow God in the hope that the new generation will listen better.

I love the imagery of the armies of Babylon washing over the land like the Nile. There is scenes that come to mind. You can see a scene in World War Z where the zombies are rushing over a van like a wave of water. Then scenes in the movie Mummy where the armies of dead are rushing over the sand and are just coming over the land like you would think water would flow. You can imagine seeing an army coming towards you like a tidal wave. And it is not described as a glacier moving, but flowing like the Nile, so it is coming quick and like a flood, which Egypt would fully understand.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

September 18, 2013 – 1 Chronicles 24

Casting lots seems to be a great way to pick who does what. I don’t know if we use that enough. The only time we do it now, it seems, is to pick who gives who a gift at Christmas for the gift exchange. Other than that, we just don’t pick names out of a hat or cast lots. Is there any other way that you can do something like this and not put your total trust in God. You wonder how your day would go if at every decision, you would put your options in a hat, draw out one, and commit to doing that. What to wear, what to eat, which road to drive, all chosen by God through the casting of lots. How scary that might seem at first but how refreshing that could be when you realize there is no pressure on you. The only thing you have to do is trust in the decision and commit to doing it. No worrying about which one, no second guessing afterwards, just complete trust and action. That is what God wants. You wonder if that is why “casting lots” seems to be used so much in the Bible. God is telling us that we need to trust in Him in our every decision.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

September 17, 2013 – Catechism 2650 – 2662

I see the words “learning to pray” and it is in a section about the Holy Spirit is “living water” that we must drink. It made me think about whether we have to learn to drink or whether we just “know” and whether we can say the same for prayer. I think most children are born with the knowledge of how to nurse. Noah was good at it from the beginning. But Paul was not and for 2 months we really struggled with finding a way for him to get it figured out. I think there are many that feel prayer should almost always be impromptu and spontaneous and that it will come natural to anyone. But I don’t think that is the case. I think you have to learn to love the rosary, the liturgy of the hours, the Mass. These are all prayers that are learned.

As our boys get older, they move from nursing to sippy cups to straws to regular cups and someday glass cups. The same with prayer. The prayer you say as a 2 year old is not sufficient for a 10 year old, is not sufficient for a 20 year old and is not sufficient for 30 year old. We must learn to grow in prayer as we grow. I think when you look at prayer as “drinking” the living water of the Holy Spirit, that metaphor follows that we must learn to drink in different ways as we grow, so we must learn to pray in new and more mature ways as we grow.

I think the formal prayers of the Catholic Church are frowned upon, but when you dig into them and see how beautiful they are and how they have been developed over history and time, you see how arrogant a person would be to dismiss them as not necessary. It is the same arrogance we see from those that feel they can interpret the Bible better than any other person that has ever read it over the last 2000 years. The same arrogance that leads to a person starting their own church leads to a person saying the only form of prayer they need is what they can come up with on their own. I don’t discount that personal prayer is important, but it does take a maturity and a humility to pray formal prayers and allow God to work through these words.

Monday, September 16, 2013

September 16, 2013 – 2 Maccabees 2

What I found interesting is the part of the letter describing Jeremiah and those that left Israel. It talks about him going to find the mountain of Moses, I am assuming Mt. Sinai. But, it also says that he had the Ark with him and that it was placed in the mountain and the specific location was never to be revealed until a time God revealed it. I wonder if the importance of the Ark has lost some since Christ has come and we have His Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity in the Eucharist. That basically turns every monstrance and tabernacle into the Ark of the Covenant. I know Revelations talks about a mass conversion of Jews before the end and I can see the revealing of the Ark being a part of that.

Sunday, September 15, 2013

September 15, 2013 – Jeremiah 44 – 45

We see that Israel is not just listening to God and disobeying, but they are telling Jeremiah that they are choosing to disregard God’s advice because they believe they are better off offering sacrifices to the “Queen of Heaven”. I can’t remember a time where Israel stood up and told the prophet specifically that they heard what you said but we are going to this our way because it is better. Jeremiah basically concedes and says “you do it your way and we will see where we end up.

I also thought about the Israelites being in Egypt and not seeing their homeland ever again. It sounded a lot like when Moses was bringing them out of Egypt the first time. The generation that choose to not trust God did not see the promise land and those Israelites that are choosing not the listen to God are not going to get back to the promised land they left.

Saturday, September 14, 2013

September 14, 2013 – 1 Chronicles 23

We just talked about praising God and here we see David set out 4000 Levites that had the sole duty to praise God.

We now see the house of the Levites set up as the assistance of the sons of Aaron in taking care of the Temple and all that goes with that. I am a little confused as to the fact that David takes a count of all the Levites so that he can divide up the service. Isn’t that similar to taking the census which Israel was punished for? I still don’t understand the reason that taking the census was so wrong. Does imply a lack of faith? David would only act a certain way if he is confidence in his numbers and not in God. I would think you would want to know how many people you have so that you can be more organized, like he is here with the Levites. But, I guess that takes away a full-fledged faith in God.

Friday, September 13, 2013

September 13, 2013 – Catechism 2637 – 2649

Have you ever thought of every action you take throughout your day as a prayer? More specifically, have you ever thought of every act you do as a prayer of Thanksgiving to God. The paragraphs seem to say that you can do this and really should try to make everything you do a prayer of Thanksgiving. We should because we can never show enough Thanksgiving for all that God has done for us. To be honest, I have heard this before, but I don’t know if I have been good at putting it into practice. How do you make your drive to work a prayer of Thanksgiving? Doing the dishes, playing with the boys, reading a report; all can be but I have just not been able to practice it in any way that I think it is benefiting me.

Praise is our prayer to God because He is God and no other reason. This makes it a unique type of prayer. We can say that we are praising others for things they are doing, and even praise saints for the lives they lived, but there is a special Praise that we keep for God because He is God and there is only one. Maybe the word is thrown around too much and loses its punch when we talk of praising God because we use it for things that are not God. So, try to say a prayer of praise to God solely because He is God and see how that might differ from what you might have thought that type of prayer was before.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

September 12, 2013 – 2 Maccabees 1

This chapter consists of two letters. One is to Jews in Egypt, basically telling them about Judas and some of his success. The second is talking about a celebration and a liquid that was used for burning, but was, I took, not thought to be flammable. Now that I am thinking about it, it talks of a thick liquid that they discovered for flammable. Did they discover oil?

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

September 11, 2013 – Jeremiah 43

We see that Israel does not choose to listen to God. They travel to Egypt and Jeremiah goes with them. The prophet Baruch evidently goes with them, and also appears that he was telling them not to go to Egypt. And they bring the wrath of God with them. With them coming to Egypt, Babylon is going to come and destroy them all. It doesn’t really say whether Babylon was going to come anyway and that is why God told them not to come, but either way, it doesn’t matter. They were told not to make this trip, they did, and the consequences will be born out.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

September 10, 2013 – 1 Chronicles 21:14 – 22

David chooses the shortest of the punishments, but doesn’t realize the strength of God. The damage the angel of the Lord can cause in 3 days might be a lot more than a famine for 3 years or enemies for 3 months. David pleads for it to stop, takes responsibility for the census and accepts blame and ask that the punishment be only to him. God does relent from the punishment, but it takes its toll.

Then we move on to David beginning to collect the materials for the Temple. He knows he is not to build the Temple, but wants the Temple to be so incredible that collection of the best materials and best craftsmen should start before he leaves the throne. He also instructs Solomon of the importance of the Temple and that this will be his responsibility because God said David could not and Solomon would. We don’t quite know how old Solomon is when David tells him this, but David says that he is young, so you might imagine a young man or even child being told this and what that might have done to his psyche.

Monday, September 09, 2013

September 9, 2013 – Catechism 2623 – 2636

I have always had a hard time understanding “blessing” God. It just seems odd to bless God when He is God. But, maybe if you exchange it for the work “thanks”, it is easier to understand. Thank the Lord instead of Bless the Lord. But I don’t know if that is accurate because prayers of thanksgiving are a type of prayer that, I am sure, will be talked about later. I think it makes it a little easier to understand because it describes it in a very broad thing. Blessing is the way of prayer, the main way of communication. God blesses us with, basically, all we have and we bless God with all our communication to Him. So, maybe all our prayers, gifts, efforts, everything that we give to God are our “blessings” to God.

I like how adoration is described, in part, as being respectfully quiet in the presence of God. That has been some very powerful moments and really fulfilling times when I have just sat in a chapel, especially an adoration chapel. Go to an adoration chapel or knell in front of the tabernacle, or just go to an empty church pew and sit there. Try to clear your head, don’t focus on anything, just be there in God’s presence and be respectfully silent and let God be there with you. If you have never tried that, it is wonderful. I love sitting outside and enjoying nature, even sitting anywhere if it is quiet can be nice, but there is something powerful about sitting in silence in God’s presence that is special.

Sunday, September 08, 2013

September 8, 2013 – 1 Maccabees 16

We see the end of Simon and his blissful period. It seemed rather short. When looking up his brothers and him online, it was described that he was the first of a dynasty, but it sure started in a pretty shaky manner. How can you read a scene like this and not have the image of the “Red Wedding” from Game of Thrones; banquet that they are invited to and then at certain point, men come out and slaughter the guest. But John survives. The book ends with John surviving the assassination attempt and, I imagine, revenge on his mind against the men that killed his father and brothers.

I wonder if Jonathon and Judas had any sons and how active they are in the leadership of Israel. It hasn’t been brought up because it has gone brother to brother, but with that line finished, would any of the sons of Jonathon or Judas had some claim to leadership of Israel. And I would find it hard to trust anyone at any time with the double crossing that has happened and led to the death of Jonathon and Simon.

Saturday, September 07, 2013

September 7, 2013 – Jeremiah 42

Here we see the ones that were left in Israel that still had Jeremiah with them wanting to leave. Based on the actions of the one Israelite that we looked at last time, the feel the Babylon is going to come back and get rid of the rest of the Israelites. They, once again, go to Jeremiah and ask him to talk to God. God never neglects to answer them, the question is always whether they will listen. Do we have confidence that God will always give us an answer to our prayers. He always will. The question is not whether it is answered but whether we hear it and it we hear it, whether we will follow what God wants us to do. It is important for us to understand that God will always answer our prayers. That isn’t the question. It is our response to God’s answer that determines what happens. That is our gift of free will.

Friday, September 06, 2013

September 6, 2013 – 1 Chronicles 19 – 21:13

What an odd strategy by the Aramians. They have a new king and were at peace with Israel. Then they take servants of David and disgrace them. Then when the realize that, oops, this offended David, they get their army and go out to attack David. Even if David had sent the servants to spy on the country, you should still wait for David to show his hand. They anticipate David is spying, so they act, then they believe David is upset, so they attack. And then they are soundly beaten, twice, and all because they were overeating to the actions or future actions of Israel. They couldn’t have acted any more like they wanted a fight, but if you pick a fight, you better be sure you can win, which they couldn’t.

Thursday, September 05, 2013

September 5, 2013 – Catechism 2617 – 2622

The line that I was thinking about was that Christ prayed with an “absolute confidence” He was being heard.  Obviously, we have already talked about the fact that Christ did not have to pray.  But, how often do you pray with absolute confidence that you are being heard.  Most, sometimes, never.  And if you don’t have that confidence, but preserver in prayer, how much more will you benefit when you do receive the Grace to have that confidence.  It reminds me of Mother Theresa and how see went so long without feeling God’s grace or presence.  But she kept going, knowing that He was there, just not feeling it.  How much more valuable is that perseverance in prayer when you don’t have the confidence that it is being heard, but trust that it is, despite your doubts.  I think if you plow ahead, you will receive great reward in the end and your prayer will be all the more when you are able to pray with that “absolute confidence”.

Wednesday, September 04, 2013

September 4, 2013 – 1 Maccabees 15

Once again, peace doesn’t last long in the middle east.  Antiochus sends a great letter going on and on about the great relationship with the Jews and honoring forever and blah, blah, blah.  When the rubber actually hits the roads, he goes after Simon and when he appears jealous of all that Simon and Israel has, he orders a commander to attack and make trouble for them.  I think with was about 140 BC or so.  I think if this kind of relationship went on until the time of Christ, I would have been seeking a Messiah to conquer Rome as well.  “we are friends and will help each other forever, until we need something from you that you don’t want to give and then we will destroy you and take it.”  That must have been awful living under Rome’s rule. I am so glad we have a small government in which we trust fully and they just don’t reach out and grab control over anything they want whenever they want it.  (might be some sarcasm there.)

Tuesday, September 03, 2013

September 3, 2013 – Jeremiah 41

It seems odd to have an entire chapter here, but no mention of Jeremiah.  This is a brutal account of the actions of Ishmael.  He not only seems power hungry, but psychotic.  I wasn’t sure what the men that came in rags were intending, I took them for just poor beggars, but he had them slaughtered as well.  And then he escapes.  I wonder if we have heard the last of him or why this scene is placed in here.  He is attacking Babylon, attacking those that were left in charge.  Are we supposed to see these actions as those of someone that continues to not listen to God?  God said to surrender to Babylon and you will be saved, but he is doing the opposite and even after defeat, continues to rise up.

We are also looking at Maccabees at the same time.  They are rising up, but with faith in God and to stop blaspheming in the Temple.  Ishmael seems to have no such care for God and is doing this for reasons that aren’t really explained.  Does he think he is saving Israel, does he just want power, is he psychotic?  It is hard to really say.  Curious as to whether we have seen the last of him

Monday, September 02, 2013

September 2, 2013 – 1 Chronicles 17 – 18

When Nathan is talking of the house of David, David understands it the be the Kingdom of Israel that will last from his line forever.  And his son does take over and build a house for God, but read that section again with an eye towards Christ.  Christ comes from the line of David, comes to establish a house of God on Earth (Catholic Church), will sit upon a throne forever.  It is Christ that is being foreshadowed here.  You wonder if David had any notion of the Messianic prophesy he was hearing.

Much is made of the invisible Christian church that units all Christians in the belief that Christ is the son of God.  But is that what is prophesied to.  Can a house that is established and will be a place of God forever be invisible.  I think the house is the Church Christ established, not an invisible connection loosely tying all Christians together.  Christ wanted to establish a house on Earth where He would dwell, like Solomon building the Temple, only in a fulfilled way.  Something invisible cannot house something that is real and material.  There needs to be a physical house present on Earth, or else this prophesy pointing to Christ falters.  There is only one Christian church that claims to be the one, true, church established by Christ and houses the real presence of God.  That is the Catholic Church.

Sunday, September 01, 2013

September 1, 2013 – Catechism 2607 – 2616

You can learn a lot just from looking at the words that are emphasized in these paragraphs.  Prayer starts with the “conversion of heart” of a person and this is something that Christ focuses on.  I have already written that this conversion of heart is not just a New Testament thing, but has been written in the Old Testament as well and sought by God from the beginning.  That is something I didn’t really realize until starting to dig into the Old Testament.

When we pray, we need “faith” and we need “filial boldness”.  Whatever we ask for we will receive and so we need to be bold in our prayer and have the faith that what we ask will be answered.  When you hear this, I think many might get the wrong idea.  You can understand this when my son says “I prayed for you to win the softball game and you didn’t”.  I don’t doubt my sons faith or boldness, but that prayer must be in line with God’s will.  We can pray for whatever we want, but if we first don’t line ourselves up with God’s will for us, which is always for our good, it isn’t going to happen.  How many lose faith because their prayers are not answered and have missed this crucial step.  Christ is, once again, the example for us when in the Garden.  Let this cup pass over, but your will, not mine, be done.  Pray with faith, and with boldness, and in line with God’s will, and Christ will answer.