Saturday, November 30, 2013

November 30, 2013 – Esther C

I was thinking about something to write and really wasn’t coming up with anything until the last line.  “Deliver me from my fear”.  She is not asking that the situation change, she is not shrieking her responsibility, she knows what she is going to do and that it is likely she will be killed doing it.  She asks that God take away her fear.  How many times should that be our prayer instead of us asking to get out of something?  We see and obstacle, a hard task, a sacrifice ahead, and we pray for God to take it away.  What we should be asking is God to take away our fear so that we can do God’s will, not try to get out of it.  I was just reading a story about some men that stood in front of a church in Argentina and were assaulted by protesters.  They stood their ground, they choose the hard road.  Instead of staying home, they probably ask God to take away their fear.  What a lesson, what a verse.  Lord, deliver me from my fear.

Friday, November 29, 2013

November 29, 2013 – 2 Chronicles 20:13 – 37

For the most part, Jehoshaphat was a really good king.  He seemed to follow God for the most part and did many good things for the people, but still could manage to bring down the towers or stay away from bad king influences.  The scene with the foreign army is an interesting one.  In most battles that God helps, you see the army of Israel defeating a foe that is much larger than they are.  Here, that isn’t the case.  Here, God tells all of Israel to go out to meet the army.  You can see all the men, plus the women and children, walking out to meet this army.  They didn’t know what was going to happen, possibly wondering whether they would just be mowed down.  They come over a rise and see that the army they feared was destroyed, or has destroyed itself.  But it seems only the men have died.  God has done such a job of destroying the army, but livestock and other loot are left untouched and take 3 days to gather.  But it took the faith of all of Judah to walk out of their walls and meet the army. 

Thursday, November 28, 2013

November 28, 2013 – Catechism 2807 – 2815

Whenever I have said “Hallowed be thy Name”, I have almost always thought of taking the Lord’s name in vain or using it when you shouldn’t.  Reading this, starting in paragraph 2811 when Israel would “profane his name”, by their actions, I thought about our actions taking His name in vain.  And then in paragraph 2814, it basically says that this is what we do when our actions are not following Christ.  We put on Christ by our baptism.  We claim the name Christian by our proclamations.  If we choose to carry the torch of Christ, when we do not follow through, when we act sinfully, we profane his name to those that are watching, we take His name in vain, it is not “hallowed”.  I had never thought of our actions profaning the name of the Lord, but that is exactly how it is put when God speaks of Israel in the Old Testament.  It puts a whole new view on the commandment when you add that interpretation on it.  It is almost an all encompassing commandment, once you make the commitment to be God’s.  Once you choose to be Christ’s, every action, good or bad, reflects Christ to the world.  An action that is sinful is just like saying “God this” or “God that”.  I wonder if it is even worse.  The next time I think about the sin of scandal and where is that in the commandments, here is your answer.  The sin of scandal is exactly like taking the Lord’s name in vain.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

November 27, 2013 – Revelations 11 – 12

I understand you can’t take Revelations literally, but just try for a second.  Two prophets proclaim God for 42 months.  They do so in the middle east, so likely they would start in danger, but appear invulnerable.  And that would be the story at the start.  Likely that many would flock to them and become believers.  But 42 months is almost 4 years.  In our day and age, people don’t have the stomach to wait that long.  So, people get tired of listening, tired of following, the news coverage lessons, until the one day when, somehow, these two are killed.  And the killing leads to a huge celebration, proof that God is not real, cannot save you, a celebration in secularism.  Their bodies lay there.  3 ½ days is short enough that the coverage continues.  Then they are alive, are taken up, and an earthquake comes and destroys most of the place they are at.  I just picture watching it happen on CNN.

I would imagine there are 10,000 interpretations of the woman and the dragon and this scene.  I was thinking, reading it this time, that Christ is born into the world and when He is crucified, Satan believes He has won.  He waits to devour the child (Christ) but He defeats death and sin and ascends into Heaven, out of the jaws of the dragon.  The woman (Mary) is protected from the dragon (sin/satan) and taken into the dessert (Heaven).

There is also the interpretation that the woman is the Catholic Church.  You get a sense of where that comes from towards the end of chapter 12.  The woman is protected from the dragon and serpent (Catholic Church’s teaching on faith and morals are infallible and the fullness of Truth) but the dragon does battle with her other offspring (those of the Church over the centuries).

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

November 26, 2013 – Esther B – 4

Everyone should be taught the same thing in schools, everyone should buy the same types of cloths, everyone should accept gay marriage, everyone should accept abortion and contraception on demand.  If you do not accept these things, you are not a participant in society, you are slowing our progress, you are standing in the way of our country moving forward, you are old fashioned and blind to reality.  This is what I was thinking when I was reading the letter.  The king wanted a united kingdom where everyone followed his laws and did the same things and moved in the same direction and there was no dissent (or difference) among anyone.  Only the Jews were stepping out of step with the rest of the kingdom. They are not following the flow of everyone one else, so they are holding us back from being what we should be.  I just got the feeling that we hear that argument when we stand up for our moral beliefs against the push of secular beliefs that are eroding the world.

We see that Esther is offering herself.  We see her as another precursor to Mary in obeying God’s will, possibly with the result being death, just as we saw with Judith walking out into the jaws of the foreign army.

Monday, November 25, 2013

November 25, 2013 – 2 Chronicles 19 – 20:12

Usually when the kings have turned from God, their end is brought about quickly.  I wonder if Jehoshaphat is different because his acts weren’t really a turn from God.  The story of Ahab really places him as an observer in the decision of war and what brought Ahab’s death.  He is still scolded for his actions, but there is not the reaction we have seen towards other kings.  And after this slip, Jehoshaphat continues his work of revitalizing Judah towards God, and we see it fruit when they are in need.  An army comes at them and Jehoshaphat, and all the cities in Judah, turns to God for help.  They do not go to Israel, to Egypt, or any other nation, but turn to God.  How hard is it for us to make our first reaction to a situation a turn to God.  Quickly looking back, Paul threw a huge fit going to bed last night and I fought and fought with him.  Trying not to yell but just wait for him to get it out of his system, I don’t know if I every turned to God in that moment.  Had the opportunity to, should have, maybe even should have prayed out loud, but I didn’t.  We need to make it our habit, our first reaction, to turn to God. 

Sunday, November 24, 2013

November 24, 2013 – Catechism 2803 – 2806

I don’t know if I have ever thought of the these as 7 separate petitions.  It looks like we will get to go through each individually, so this is more like an “in brief” section before we begin.  3 petitions focused on God to get our focus towards Him, 4 petitions asking for Him to help us.  I wonder if you could always form your prayer in this formula.  Come up with a our father formula for prayer.

Give us…

Forgive us…

Lead us…

Deliver us…

With the Our Father being the perfect prayer, we may find that what we ask for in those petitions is perfectly covered by the words that God has given us, but it seems a good way to form your own individual prayer if you struggle with communicating with God.

Saturday, November 23, 2013

November 23, 2013 – Revelations 9 – 10

The plagues are sent to trouble those that did not have the mark on the forehead.  It makes me wonder if I have a mark on my forehead and all the things I have done in the Church that touch my forehead.  The first is Baptism, with oil on your forehead and water being poured on your forehead.  Baptism leaves a mark on you that will never go away.  Confirmation also marks your forehead.  Whenever you bless yourself, or start the sign of the cross for that matter, you start with your forehead.  On Ash Wednesday you are marked on your forehead with ashes.  Whether any of these are “the mark” or whether they all focus on your forehead because that is where we are to be marked, I don’t know if there is any connection there.

I do interpret a “mark” as an outward sign that you belong to God.  People want you to put your religion in a private compartment and keep it to yourselves.  When the plagues come, how will they know you are Christian if you don’t show them?  If the world doesn’t see your “mark”, if they can’t tell you are Christian, how will the locust.  On Ash Wednesday, if you go to Mass in the morning, you walk around with an outward mark and people do notice.  What is your outward mark every other day?  Are we just banking on the end or the plague coming on Ash Wednesday?

Friday, November 22, 2013

November 22, 2013 – Esther 2 – 3

Everyone has heard the saying “sex sells”.  Well, God seems to have used it too.  God knew what was coming for the Jews and was setting out a plan to save them.  In order to do this, he had to set a queen in position to stop the king’s decree.  So, he sets up Esther, obviously the most beautiful women in the group to pick from.  I took from the selection process that there was a grooming ordeal to make the girls ready for the king, but Esther did not need it and was more beautiful on her own.  God used her beauty to win the king, thus saving the people.  Obviously, today’s commercial world uses sexuality in a much more inappropriate way (Michelle says we can never go to Hardees again), but the idea of using beauty to get something, just another tool God can use to His plan.

You would think that Hitler might have read Esther and seen the results of trying to exterminate the Jews and noted that all attempts to do so usually bring about the demise of the person trying to accomplish it.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

November 21, 2013 – 2 Chronicles 18

Stories like this always make me wonder about what we hear we are to do or not do in the world.  400 prophets were telling the king to go to war, one was saying stop.  One was always telling him things were going to go badly, 400 were always telling him what he wanted to hear.  But, how was he to know that the one voice was the right one.  We obviously know from the story and can see it coming, but if you were in the king’s shoes, how do you know.  What makes the one’s voice persuasive?  It is always talked about when someone is in power, people advice them in a way that you tell them what they want to hear, and it is cliché that they say they want to hear from the other side, but I don’t think that is the case.  People want people to say “you are right”.

But, how is Ahab to understand that he is always wrong.  He goes to his prophets for advise and is given the wrong advise over and over.  It reminds me of the situation with George W and WMD’s in Iraq.  Or, if you buy it at all, maybe Obama and the Health Care Reform.  People are telling you that this is going to work and you want to hear it because you want it to happen and so you just ignore anything negative.  Since it is being talked about it a lot, the JFK thing might have been 25 people telling JFK to ride with the top down and a couple people saying to have the top up.  People make themselves very powerful and move up the ranks by telling people what they want to hear.  You can probably trace a lot of what is wrong with the world going back and people not listening to the voice saying “don’t do it” among the shouts of “do it”.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

November 20, 2013 – Catechism 2794 – 2802

These paragraphs got me thinking about when Paul ask me where Heaven is.  I was trying to think about how to answer that when I don’t fully grasp the full idea of “where Heaven is”.  We always think it is up, but that is sky and space.  I am sure some people have thought it was on the dark side of the moon because we can never see that, but we have been there now (allegedly) and Armstrong didn’t see any angels.  God is in Heaven, we say Mary is in Heaven, body and soul, Christ is there, body and soul, yet He is here in the Eucharist, if bodies are in Heaven, it must be a physical place, but not a physical place that you can get to in the physical universe we could theoretically travel to.  Is Heaven on the other side of the edge of the universe and just always stays there.  Maybe Heaven is in the center of Jupiter or the Sun.  If it is a physical place just outside the physical universe, how fast can souls travel to reach it after we die.  Once you decide where Heaven is, where is Hell, where is Purgatory.  It is always pictured with puffy clouds and golden gates, but is that just because we really have no idea.  Depictions of Olympus were very similar.  They just thought it was at the top of a mountain they couldn’t climb, but we have climbed our tallest mountains and not seen a golden thrown.  Interested to know what you would answer a child if they asked you where Heaven is.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

November 19, 2013 – Revelations 7 – 8

When I read this the first time I thought about writing about the 144,000 and things I have heard about that #, but I didn’t really have any deeper thoughts on this.  I was reading it again and got to verse 7:9.  “great multitude, which no one could count, from every nation RACE, people”.  I know that during slavery, many people in the south were very religious.  Many people used Biblical references to support the idea of slavery.  And yes, slavery is in the Bible and not totally bad.  But I think what was going on in our country and with African slaves is different than some of the slavery in the Bible.  That was usually a conquered nation or person indebted to someone.  Slavery might have become in that fashion, with European countries conquering Africa, but during the Civil War and leading up to it, the idea of slavery was not about a conquered or indebted person, it was the idea that black people were an inferior race.  That is what sparked my thought.  The Bible says every type of “race” will be in Heaven, counted among the uncountable number.  Didn’t those religious southerners not see that a black person, a person of a different race, is included in that great multitude or is it something that they ignored because slavery was such a benefit to them.  What did they think was a different race if not the Africans.  Did they also not realize that this is a former Jew, Israelite, Arab, writing it.  To the author, American Caucasians are a different race of people.  I understand that we still have racism in this country, maybe as bad as then in some places, but I also think for most of us we cannot fathom the attitude southerners had towards their slaves or how slaves felt.  Seeing human beings as something that is less than human is just beyond our comprehension today.  (As I was writing that, the last couple lines should be read slightly sarcastic because I thought of what abortion supporters define as human.  That was not the point of the reflection and literally didn’t come to mind until I was typing the last sentence.)

Monday, November 18, 2013

November 18, 2013 – Esther A - 1

Esther is different with it’s A’s and B’s in chapters, mixed in with the regular 1’s and 2’s.  The introductory section talks about a first and shorter Hebrew version and a Greek version that was longer (has the additional lettered sections.

Section A sets up the character of Mordecai while Chapter 1 sets the stage for Esther’s queen ship. Mordecai, in the same type of situation as Daniel, has a dream, tells it to the king, and it then brought up into power, leading to someone being jealous of him.  Queen Vashti loses her seat as queen basically because she doesn’t want to come to the king’s celebration.  We don’t really get any reason for her not wanting to come, just that she is very stubborn about it.  It could have been worse.  You get the sense that during this time, if a wife didn’t comply with a husbands request, it could have been the loss of her head, not just her title.  I wonder if she plays any more of a part in the story (she would obviously be very jealous of Esther) or if she is only introduced to set the stage for Esther.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

November 17, 2013 – 2 Chronicles 16 – 17

Asa reminded me of the story of Moses and striking the rock.  Moses had seen all the works of God, he spoke to God, maybe the closest human to God since Adam and Eve.  Still, when ask to strike the rock and get water, his lack of faith made him strike it twice and so he was not able to enter the promise land.  Asa had seen a great victory against an overwhelming army.  When this army came, he turned to God and God brought victory.  Asa sees another great army approaching and turns to, not God, but another nation.  Even though it works, it is short term and God tells him that because he did not rely on God, war will be his for the rest of his reign.  It is so easy to judge Asa until we think about all the Godly moments we have seen, felt, prayed for, gifts given and really are honest with ourselves how many times we fall.

It always seems that the kings that live in a Godly way are showered with gifts.  Solomon comes to mind, but here, Jehoshaphat is in the same position.  Trust in God, God will provide.  Granted, gold and silver might not be brought to your doorstep, but God will provide.

Saturday, November 16, 2013

November 16, 2013 – Catechism 2786 – 2793

These paragraphs talk about the word “our” and what it means to say it in relationship to God. “Our” can be a possessive word, our car, our house, etc, but it is not a possessive use with God. God is not owned, He is not possessed, He is God. It is much more of a relationship. Children all have an “our” mother, students have an “our” teacher, teams have an “our” coach. It goes to a group of people that are related in the sense that they are all in the same relationship with the person the “our” refers to. That is what I found most interesting about these paragraphs. It takes this idea of relationships and places on us a responsibility. When you say the “Our Father” you are not saying it as an individual. You say the Our Father with and for everyone you are in relationship with, all the “children” of the Father. We do not say “my” father, and we were not told by Christ to say “my”, but “our” because we are meant for community, we are meant for union, we are meant to pray for and with everyone. Whether you are saying the Our Father with your parish on Sunday, 2400 people at some conference, or in your home all by yourself, you saying it with and for all the children of God that have or ever will be.

Boy, the more I read about the “Our Father” makes me realize how special a prayer it is.

Friday, November 15, 2013

November 15, 2013 – Revelations 5 – 6

Revelations has always confused me (how many times has that statement been said) in its use of time. There all the writing s out there predicting the end of the world or trying to determine when Revelation takes place, but Christ has said you will not know the hour, so Revelation cannot predict the end. And, there is no time in Heaven, it is outside of time. A million years is as one second and a second is as a million years. I do not understand it either, but being outside of time means God is present for every moment at once.

But there is an order to things in Heaven. Even if it is not time as we know it, there is some form of chronology. One thing has to happen before another, and after that, this happens. In this Heavenly vision we see the scroll that cannot be opened until the Lamb that appears slain comes. All of Heaven cries out and John weeps before the Lamb comes. The Lamb is obviously Jesus (there might not be a more obviously identifiable vision). So, John went back in time, in the vision, because the scroll could not be opened at the beginning (before Christ’s sacrifice) and then he sees the Lamb slain (after Christ sacrifice. Time just works different in Heaven, but there is an order to things.

3 of the horsemen bring war or death, but he first one brings more victories. I was not sure what that meant. Whose victories does he bring. The second horseman takes away peace, so the first one’s victories, I don’t think, necessarily mean victories in war. I just mention above that you cannot fit Revelation into actual time, but after Christ death, the early Church, over its first 300 years, went from a handful in Israel to spread throughout the known world. The early Church, right after Christ death, the first seal, could be the victories won in converting so many.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

November 14, 2013 – Judith 9 – 10

As we read this prayer of Judith and have just gone through Maccabees, the one thing I find most interesting is that we don’t read about God talking to them.  There are no prophets for them, they don’t go up a mountain to hear God’s voice, there are no angels sent in a dream, they are trusting in God, because He is God.  They see a situation, they trust God will help them through it, they put themselves out there as an instrument of God, they pray, and then let God take control.  Judith’s faith is incredibly strong, first, for standing up to the elders as a widowed woman, but then for leaving the city, walking into the enemies camp, and having no assurance of her safety other than her trust in God.  I have heard that Judith is a foreshadowing of Mary, but I really hadn’t seen that until she steps out into the arms of the enemy with her faith in God being her only comfort.  Isn’t that what we find most comforting in Mary’s yes, the trust in God?  We should be inspired by Judith, to walked boldly into the enemies camp.  You can almost picture her and her maiden praying Psalm 23:4 to themselves as they walk.  Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.”

And by the way, the maiden that goes with her is an example of extreme loyalty as well.  We don’t even get her name, but she loyally follows her mistress into, what would appear, death, slavery, or worse.  We don’t know what her faith in God was, but her faith in Judith appears very high.  Has it ever been your experience that you might be struggling with your faith in God, but you see those around you that you trust and you follow them, leading you to God?  The maiden, for me, is an example of that.  I don’t know where I would be if I hadn’t followed good friends down a path, trusting them, and then finding God.  I wish the maiden had been given a name.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

November 13, 2013 – 2 Chronicles 14 – 15
Here we have a king that lives according to God and is rewarded for it. He meets an army of a million men and defeats then with God’s help. The king tears down the idols to other Gods and cleanses Judah of everything that is not of God. He goes as far as booting his own mother from her role as Queen Mother because she does not go along with the cleansing.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

November 12, 2013 – Catechism 2779 – 2785

I think it is so easy to see the word “father” in association with God and throw our own ideas of what “father” is supposed to mean on Him.  We must guard against that because all our ideas of “father” are flawed.  Many will come from our own relationship with our biological father.  Even in the best of homes, a father had flaws because he was human and so those flaws will be protected on God.  If the father chose work over family, that will be protected on God.  If dad didn’t show affection enough, or too much, that will be protected.  Then go to extreme examples, cases where a dad was abusive or not there.  The victims of such life experiences will assuredly protect their feeling and knowledge of an earthly father on their Heavenly Father.  God as Father is an unimaginably perfect Father.  Let us all just be very careful not to protect our notions of father, good or bad, on God.  It is like comparing apples to Perfect Oranges.

Monday, November 11, 2013

November 11, 2013 – Revelations 3 – 4

I wonder if those that are call Cafeteria Catholics would be considered lukewarm.  My experience with them, which is a lot, tends to tell me that they don’t really have a strong interest in faith in either direction.  They don’t raise a fuss when the Church is bashed or when people leave or say the Church is wrong, but they don’t really join in support of that view.  But they aren’t practicing a strong faith either.  They are just getting by, doing what they think is just enough, and continuing to call themselves Catholic.  If they were against the Church, they would probably just leave and we would know where they stand.  If they practiced a strong faith, we would see that as well.  But because they just go along, I think they best fit into this category or lukewarm.

You will see these four animals used as images of the Gospels, but you may not know which is which, so here is your quick guide.  (taken from my foot notes)




John=Eagle=Swiftest (I don’t know what swiftness has to do with Gospels)

Here is Fr. Baron giving a talk about Revelations 3:7-12 (starts about 2:20 in)

His statements on testing, about minute 45, can also be seen in what we are reading in Judith.

Sunday, November 10, 2013

November 10, 2013 – Judith 8

You cannot put God on your timetable and he may not answer your prayers the way you want.  Notice at the very end that what the elders ask for isn’t deliverance from the enemy.  Their faith in God is still not strong enough to ask for that.  They ask for rain so that they can hold out longer.  But Judith says that God will deliver them through her.  What a powerful speech she gives here.  It should be read by anyone that is frustrated with God for not answering their prayers or delaying what they want.  Judith lays it all out, that you cannot limit God to your conditions.  God will do what is best for us and we must wait for Him.  You can pray, you can ask, and He wants you to, but you cannot limit God with your conditions.  When you do, you show your lack of faith, and God will do what was going to happen anyway.  I wonder how often we pray and add our conditions without even thinking about it.  Do we make such a habit of it that we don’t recognize what we are doing?  Try to think about that the next time you pray.  Are you praying to God and giving Him your timetable, your checklist, your criteria, or are you asking Him to do it His way and asking for help to accept His way?

Saturday, November 09, 2013

November 9, 2013 – 2 Chronicles 12 – 13

I have written about this several times, how hard it is to believe that Israel fell so fast from God and about how we do the same after a spiritual moment (or after catching up with a blog, quickly allow it to get behind again).  It is just hard to understand how they, and we, cannot keep to God consistently and continue to fall and fall quickly.  It makes it so important to strengthen ourselves and build up our connection with God.  We must make things habit and second nature or they will dissolve.  We must strive and continue and when we fall, get up quickly.  We must keep up our defenses and turn back to God and do our best to stay there, not like Rehoboam who did not stay long and only when absolutely necessary.

Abijah says that Israel rebelled against Rehoboam when he was “young and unthinking”.  But verse 12:13 says he was 41 when he became king?  I guess he could have been immature still at that age, but that doesn’t seem a good argument.

Another point to make about Mary and the Catholic tradition to honor her.  In both these chapters the kings mother is mentioned.  The kings mother is of importance, not the 14 wives.  The mother of the king was queen of the kingdom.  The Catholic tradition flows from the Jewish faith and belief and the value placed on the mother’s of kings, Christ being the King of Kings, making Mary the Queen of Queens.

Friday, November 08, 2013

November 8, 2013 – Catechism 2777 – 2778

Have you ever thought about what you are saying when you say “Our Father”?  Have you ever thought, “what right do I have” or “how dare I”?  I think that is something we should reflect on.  We should say the “Our Father” and as I have said, say it much more than we probably do, but we need to say it with the right perspective, with the right humility, with the understanding that we are “daring” to say it.  God is God, we are not, yet we are reaching out to Him as our Father, a relationship we do not deserve and don’t understand fully.  He allows it because Christ unites us to Him and brings us with Him to the presence of God.  But we should be humbled.  We should pray with “humble boldness” (I thought that was an interesting phrase).  I was thinking of an example and I thought of Dorthy in front of OZ, before the reveal.  It took courage to ask, courage to step forward, and, when Oz was not meeting his end, courage to stand up and speak.  She was humble, yet bold.  She understood that Oz was “great and powerful”, but she also knew what was right and remained bold.  Our “Our Father” needs to reflect that attitude.  Go to God with “humble boldness”.

Thursday, November 07, 2013

November 7, 2013 – Revelations 2

Ephesus needs to go to a wedding and hear them read 1 Corinthians 12.  What they are hearing sounds a lot like, you can do this and that and have all the faith to move mountains, but if you have no love, you have nothing.  How often do we get caught up in all the technicalities of the world and what we are doing and trying to do correctly that we let love slip away.  I think a lot of the Pope’s newest message to the Catholics of the world has this in mind, although I think many are spinning it to mean something totally unintended.  There are those that are so focused on the beliefs of the Catholic Church that they are pushing people away, when all the beliefs in the world won’t do you any good if you don’t have love.  But the Pope hasn’t said anything to change those beliefs, only asking us to change our focus.  I think the part glossed over is that the Pope said those beliefs were so fundamental and unchanging that we need to focus on loving more.

I was curious as to what the Nicolaitans believed, but the most I could find was that they lived a life full of unrestrained indulgence and here is more information.

The warning to Thyatira gives a pretty strong indication that they shouldn’t believe in “faith alone”.  “Thus shall all the churches come to know that I will give each of you what your works deserve.”  Verse 23.  And He is talking to those that believe in Him.  What their works deserve has nothing to do with how much faith they have or don’t have.  He is telling them that what they DO matters.  “To the victory who keeps my ways until the end” verse 26, sounds like an action that needs to be taken.

Wednesday, November 06, 2013

November 6, 2013 – Judith 7

I was wondering why the military leader listens this time to his troops but would not last time.  He was told to wait and scout before attacking to see in Israel was following God, but he didn’t.  Now he is being asked to wait so that they can starve them out instead of fighting and having people lost in a “sure” victory.  And he listens.  What changed in the course of days that made him cautious all of a sudden?  Who knows how long sieges can last.  They did stop the water supply, but you never know how well supplied they might have started.  Troy was under siege for 10 years.  But, he makes the decision to be patient.  Maybe the difference was the way it was put.  He wants them to suffer.  The advisor that said wait and see if they were following God was advising between attacking or not attacking.  These advisors are advising two different ways to attack and by besieging them, they will put them through more suffering.  I think that is what sold it.

I was curious about the 5 days.  Usually things are in 3’s and I would have expected the king to say wait 3 days to see if God will deliver us.  5 just does not seem to fit with the pattern.  There is nothing in the footnotes containing any insight into why 5.  Found this interesting.

“Spoilers if you read the whole blog post”

Points the fact that Israel is trying to put God on their timetable, which we can’t do.  Also, 5 days is significant because it would bring them to day 39 (40 being a number that God uses a lot and Israel not being patient enough to wait until 40.  Evidently chapter 8 is when Judith comes in to chastise Israel for their lack of faith.

Uzziah’s Compromise, and Judith’s Response

Uzziah, one of the elders of Bethulia, arises to respond to the people’s wailing and despairing. He calms them by making this speech (Judith 7:30-31):

“Have courage, my brothers! Let us hold out for five more days; by that time the Lord our God will restore to us his mercy, for he will not forsake us utterly. But if these days pass by, and no help comes for us, I will do what you say.”

At first brush, Uzziah seems to have done a good job: the people wanted to give up immediately, and he compromised, he talked them down. But two things are very wrong here: (1) the elders are trying to force God into their timetable; and (2) the elders are compromising where they’re not allowed to be compromising: they’re not taking surrendering to the Assyrians completely off of the table.

It’s easy to fall into the trap of forcing God into our timetable. Here, there’s something subtle going on with the timing. Throughout Scripture, 40 days is the period used for preparation: Noah on the Ark (Genesis 7:17; 8:6), Moses on the Mountain (Exodus 34:28), Jesus in the desert at the start of His Ministry (Mark 1:13), etc. When Goliath and the Philistines taunt the Israelites, God waits 40 days before sending David (1 Samuel 17:16). When the people in Bethulia want to surrender, the meeting takes place on Day 34 of the siege (Judith 7:20), and Uzziah “buys” God 5 more days. In other words, the Israelites agree to wait until Day 39 to give up. But that’s not God’s timetable. They’re trying to force God to act before His time.

So that’s clear enough. By what’s so bad about the Israelites considering surrendering to the Assyrians? Well, the people of Sidon and Tyre already tried that approach. At the outset of the campaign, they sent this message to the Assyrians (Judith 3:2-4):

Tuesday, November 05, 2013

November 5, 2013 – 2 Chronicles 10 – 11

I thought it was interesting about Jerahoam.  I didn’t remember anyone being exiled by Solomon to Egypt, but it appears that is what happened.  There may be more to the story in Kings.  The introduction does say the Chronicles puts only positive light on Solomon.  But this man, who was a member or councilor to Solomon at one time, is ousted and goes to Egypt.  When Solomon dies, he comes back and is made the ruler over the 10 northern tribes.

I don’t really see the reason that God would divide the kingdom, but it says it happens because God is allowing it.  And the episode where the king takes advice from his young friends instead of the old elders, you can really clearly seeing that happen.  It still happens today with young people ignoring the advice of older people and looking to the young to guide them.  Many times those young guides and the delusional and misguided celebrities that gain popularity by any means necessary.  Those are the guides for our children.  And the baby boomers ignored the guidance of their older generation and decided to go all in on the sexual revolution regardless of the cost.  All generations KNOW they can do it better and so seek out those that are in the same boat and will choose to ignore those that have already been there.

Monday, November 04, 2013

November 4, 2013 – Catechism 2773 – 2776

This is an in brief section, so nothing new.  I think it is a good things to reflect again on the Our Father being the “perfect” prayer.  There is really nothing in this world that we can really rely on as perfect.  Paul was talking about how he behaved on Saturday and I told him he had done an excellent job.  “But daddy, there was one time that I got in trouble so it wasn’t an excellent day.”  We talked to him about nothing is perfect and excellent is really good, but perfect is something even better and how hard it is to be perfect.   But the Our Father is perfect.  It covers all we need, it is given to us by God, it is our instrument, a perfect instrument, to communicate with Him.  It is something that we need to use and say more than just Sunday Mass.

Sunday, November 03, 2013

November 3, 2013 – Revelations 1

I have read the book of Revelations several times and each time, it feels like such a chore.  I understand that feeling when you are going through the genealogy chapters in the Old Testament, but I think sometimes this is even worse because the imagery is just so difficult to get you head around.  There are the basic images that are simple enough.  The woman, the lamb, etc, but there are so many other characters that it gets very confusing.  When one demon is then in charge of 3 others, and they each have 7 plagues and you are trying to see where it all fits, what it all means, it can be overwhelming.  Plus, there is so much written about it by some many different people, with so many different interpretations, that trying to go somewhere and get help with understanding it can be as intimidating.  I was wondering if I should just go through it and give my own thoughts or try to find something to refer people to, but I think I will just stick with me.  I do encourage people to go out and find other sources to help, just be careful who you go to.  Whether Revelation is about Rome and Nero, Hitler, President Reagan and Gorbachev or whether all the beast are represent the evil that is the Catholic Church, you find interpretations of Revelations out there that can say almost anything.

Saturday, November 02, 2013

November 2, 2013 – Judith 6

The arrogance of Holofernes seems to flow from the orders of Nebuchadnezzar and is spurred on by the council in their reaction to Achior and his council and advice.  Achior is an interesting character.  He is labeled a mercenary, so we can assume he is experienced in battle, basically fights wars for a living.  So, there is no doubting his courage, plus he probably has a very militarily strategic mind.  That is why his advice was sought in the first place.  And I didn’t get the sense that he told them not to go to war, but just to see if the Jews were on God’s side or not.  But they take even the notion that they won’t win as cowardice and throw him to the Jews, which take him in and, hearing what happened, begin to pray with urgency to God.

Friday, November 01, 2013

November 1, 2013 – 2 Chronicles 9

You read about all the treasure the Solomon collected and many times you think that treasure was collected by conquering, but not here.  It reads like people just gave treasure to him because he was so great.  Maybe they got good advice or he helped them out of some issue, but none of that is mentioned.  All it really says is that all these nations just gave and gave these large amounts of valuables to Solomon.  Keep in mind that gathering all of these valuables lead to Israel’s downfall.  People from other nations come to visit Jerusalem and whoever the king is at the time shows off all this massive amount of gold and treasure and that spurs the nations to go after Jerusalem.   If you didn’t know how the story ended, you would think all these great gifts would be a great benefit to them.  It makes me think of those lottery winners that windup going into bankruptcy because they don’t know what to do with such a windfall.  That is like what happens here, with a great and bountiful gift ultimately becoming the instrument of ruin.