Tuesday, December 31, 2013

December 31, 2013 – 2 Chronicles 36

4 years of reading and reflections comes down to this. “Early and often the LORD, the God of their ancestors, sent his messengers to them, for he had compassion on his people and his dwelling place. But they mocked God’s messengers, despised his words, and scoffed at his prophets, until the LORD’s anger against his people blazed up beyond remedy.” If there is an overarching theme in the Bible is that God continually and infinitely gives us chances to choose Him and never gives up on us. And we repay Him with mockery, scoffing, and denials. But He keeps plugging away. I don’t know what to make of ending on going into exile. In some ways, I feel I should have ended with the Resurrection or something. In other ways, it seems very appropriate. This 4 year journey is over and I am leaving it to go somewhere knew, a change. Probably not an exile, but definitely a change.

I have enjoyed this. I know I don’t have the Bible memorized, but I do know I have a much better understanding of it. I was thinking about that when we were doing our Jesse Tree. Many of the ornaments were people we all know the stories of, David, Moses, Noah, etc. But when you talk about Samuel, Gideon, Jeremiah, I really felt that I knew these characters better than I had before, I have heard the stories, reflected on them, learned something from them. It is a great feeling to know you have a growing knowledge of the Bible. Not only that, but these reflections are still there so that I can look back on them and see where I was and where I will be. I have all the reading still broken down in their segments. What I was thinking of trying is to read the daily reading, and find my reflections for the sections that include the daily readings. I wasn’t going to publish those, more just for me to continue.

Thank you so much for those that have shared and enjoyed this journey. I have no idea how many or few there are of you, but those that have followed or read some have said they enjoyed them, and I feel I have grown a lot in my knowledge and understanding, I can only hope someone out there grew a little bit to. The new journey starts tomorrow, I hope you will all join me on that ride as well.

Monday, December 30, 2013

December 30, 2013 – Catechism 2857 – 2865

“The ruler of this world has mendaciously attributed to himself the three titles of kingship, power, and glory.” I didn’t really know what this meant because I didn’t know what “mendaciously” meant. Once you know what it means, “telling lies, especially habitually; dishonest; lying; untruthful: a mendacious person”, it seems pretty obvious. You wonder if Satan has ever told the truth. You wonder how habitually a person has to lie to earn this definition. In my line of work, I have met people that probably have met the criteria. It makes you wonder if they know what the truth is or if they have lied so much that they actually begin to believe it. They get to a point, where they are so saturated with the lies, that truth makes no sense, honesty has no purpose, and reality becomes lost.

Over the last 4 years, doing these reflections, I have talked a lot about Truth and the Catholic Church. Most of the reflections revolve around the idea that having more than one truth or truths that contradict each other is not rational, biblical, or what Christ taught. Yet, that is what the world and many Christians want and is striving to obtain. A world where there is no Truth, but what you believe is truth. The world is becoming more and more “mendacious”. Which makes all the sense in the world when you know that the world is Satan’s domain. And the more we lie to each other, to ourselves, about what is right, that there is a Truth, the more we will become saturated in our lies and Truth will be harder and harder to see. Truth should be what we seek, but when we fed only lies, we lose the taste for truth, it becomes bitter in our mouth. That is why the world doesn’t want to hear abortion is wrong, that gay marriage will destroy families, that contraception dissolves morality. Truth taste bitter when you have lived off lies for so long. But we are called to feast on the Truth, to choke down the bitter taste, knowing it is better for us. The equivalent of “eat your vegetables”. That is what Christ brought us, gives us, ask us to do and to tell the world.

Sunday, December 29, 2013

December 29, 2013 – 2 Chronicles 35

I just don’t get it. We go from the greatest Passover celebration since Solomon to going to war for no reason at all. I found it interesting that the king of Egypt is the one that told him God was on his side and not to fight. God had come to a foreign king, told him to make war, and set up this test for the king of Judah. And the king fails. It would have been all he needed to see the army, hear the warning, turn around and re-think it. But he continues on, is mortally wounded, the Egyptian king takes his spoils and from that point on, it is a pretty quick spiral into exile. With some of the other comparisons I have made, this feels like going to Confession, then celebrating Mass, then going to rob a bank. It doesn’t appear premeditated, like he wanted war with Egypt before the reforms, so maybe robbing the bank is a bad analogy. What is a horrific sin that you don’t need a lot of prepping for?

Saturday, December 28, 2013

December 28, 2013 – 2 Chronicles 34

They go so up and down. It seems like we just had a rededication of the Temple, but we already need another one. I have written about it before, but it is hard to think of anything else in this little section. It seems so bizarre that Israel and Judah would fall after such a turn around and then fall again, and again, and again. But this exactly what happens to us on a continual basis as well. It is exactly this up and down that we go through when we sin and then return to God. Israel’s journey is an example for us. No matter how many times they abandoned God, God was there. They may be punished, they may be exiled, but He is always there and will always be there for us as well. It seems like someone would have figured out after so many attempts what Israel should do, but you could say the same for us and our sins. It makes us look in the mirror to read these accounts, but it should also give us hope for the redemption and faithfulness of God.

Friday, December 27, 2013

December 27, 2013 – 2 Chronicles 32:21 –33

Hezekiah was one of the ornaments on our Jesse Tree this year (first time doing it and I recommend it for all families). We went over his story very quickly and a couple of things from that came up here. The story we read said that all of Israel was to go our and meet the army, men, women, and children. They didn’t like it, but trusted God. As they traveled out to meet the army, they came over the crest of a hill and saw before them that the enemy had already been destroyed. I thought it added a little more to their trust in God as a community.

Then, Hezekiah gets sick and prays for more time to continue his reforms. And God gives it to him. 15 more years are added to his life. I was talking to Paul about this. I put it into the context of praying very hard for something and getting it, or following God and God helping you. I don’t know how, but Paul asked a very good question following this. “Was he a good person the next 15 years?” And I had to say no, he wasn’t. After all his reforms, all that he did right, and getting extra time from God, his arrogance overcomes him and he falls in the end. It was especially disappointing telling my 4 ½ year old that after talking about the great things that had been done.

Notice that Manasseh was 12 when he took the throne and Hezekiah spent his last 15 year acting badly, so his son never saw his dad acting well to emulate him.

Thursday, December 26, 2013

December 26, 2013 – Catechism 2850 – 2856

It was interesting to think about this as not asking that evil not be around us, but that we be protected, delivered, from it. It is like a person not asking that they not be sent into battle, just that they be armored in a way that protects them and that they be brought out before they are defeated. We have talked about it many times that we have already won, if we put our trust in God, so, if we armor ourselves in God, we will not be defeated. This last petition in the perfect prayer from God is our battle cry, our “charge”. We are armored, we are delivered, we should have no fear going into the world to battle against evil.

I was thinking about that, a battle cry against evil. When you get in a situation in which you think you are against evil, a quick “deliver us from evil” would seem a very appropriate prayer.

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

December 25, 2013 – 2 Chronicles 31 – 32:20

I love the image of having trust in God that Hezekiah gives. This army has only arms of flesh, we have God. It basically goes back to the same idea that David had with Goliath. It is what we need to remember as we go about life in this world that has become increasingly hateful towards those that follow Christ. The world cannot defeat Christ, we are to be confident that our victory is already won, that we have nothing to fear. That is what Hezekiah is trying to stress to the people. If God is on our side, we have nothing to fear.

I also thought it was interesting how the enemy was trying to use the recent conversion (the Jews going back to God alone) as a negative against them. He taunts them because they have only one god that they are worshipping. He has already conquered many nations that had many gods. There is the misconception that quantity is better than quality. Obviously, the enemy has that misconception. All the gods in the world do not have the power of the pinkie finger of the One True God. To him, this is just another of the many idols he has seen and conquered. I guess you cannot blame him for trying to scare them into defeat before the battle, he just didn’t understand what he was up against.

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

December 24, 2013 – 2 Chronicles 30

When I read about the people that were coming to the celebration, but not cleansed, I was thinking about going Mass, more specifically the Eucharist. There people at different levels of belief and different level of being “cleansed”. There are those that just left Reconciliation and are as cleansed as they could be. Next are those that may not have mortal sin, but still have venial sins that have not been cleansed. There are those that go, but don’t believe in the Eucharist. Then, there are those that don’t go.

Here, we have those that came cleansed, and those that got invited and did not come. But the ones that really made me think of this were those described in this line. “The greater part of the people, in fact, chiefly from Ephraim, Manasseh, Issachar, and Zebulun, had not cleansed themselves. Nevertheless they ate the Passover, contrary to the prescription; because Hezekiah prayed for them, saying, “May the good LORD grant pardon”. I think this really describes those that come, not with mortal sin, but still have venial sins. Receiving the Eucharist goes erase your venial sins. That is like coming to the celebration and participating even though you had not cleansed yourself and receiving all the benefits of God’s grace. It also shows the compassion for Hezekiah that knew how important this was to reestablish the Temple and this sacrifice to allow anyone that made the effort to get there participate.

Monday, December 23, 2013

December 23, 2013 – 2 Chronicles 29

When you think of your body as a Temple for God, reading these cleansing of the Temple reminds me of Reconciliation. Can you think of a better way of describing Reconciliation than to “clean out the filth from the sanctuary.” That always comes to mind when I read these accounts, but this one especially. When it says the “people rejoiced over what God had re-established for the people.” That is what Reconciliation offers and provides people. It takes a person that has been separated from God because of their sinful actions and reunites them. They lost connection with God and reconnects them. The Jews were lost without this connection with God. It makes you wonder about the idea of “once saved, always saved”. It does not appear to be a Biblical theology with all the scriptures that talk about “coming back” to God. That implies that you were their before (saved), did something to lose God, and then had to come back to God.

I guess the idea of once saved always saved would apply to those that die. Once you die you are either saved or not, and once that happens there is no losing that. You either go to Heaven or Hell and once you are in either, you don’t leave. But I have never heard “once saved, always saved” described in that sense.

Sunday, December 22, 2013

December 22, 2013 – Catechism 2846 – 2849

It is interesting to think about the difference between good temptation and bad. We ask God to lead us not into temptation, but the paragraphs also tell us that there are some gifts that God gives us that we can only discover through temptation. They italicize discern which temptations are trials and temptations. Trials put us in a situation that we can get out of with God’s gifts of grace and we will grow stronger by getting through them. Temptations are situations that lead us straight into sin.

A am guessing that a trial might be a family member suffering from a disease. A temptation might be a college student being invited to a drinking party. One situation, if you make it through, you can come out stronger. I just don’t see you going to a frat party and gaining spiritual health, even if you go and don’t do anything wrong. Being invited and not going might be a test, but going in order to test your resolve, is not a proper test, it is more temptation that can only lead to sin and has no benefit. One we ask God to keep us out of, but the testing of our faith and grace is necessary and the only way we can reach our true potential.

Saturday, December 21, 2013

December 21, 2013 – Revelations 22

“I will give to each according to his deeds.” I just do not understand how people can be so persistant in their belief in faith alone and that works don’t matter. And many of them are “Bible alone” believers. What do they think this phrase accounts for. God is going to judge you according to your deeds, your works, so what you do does matter. Besided all that, how we act in this world, what we do, that is who we are, that is what makes us. We can say what ever we want, we can think whatever we like, but it is what we do that matters. You can say you love the poor, but if you do nothing, how do you show it. It is like the good Samaritan and those priest that walked by him. Or the son that tells his father he will do the chores, but then doesn’t. How can you possibly believe actions don’t matter. I just will never understand that thought.

Friday, December 20, 2013

December 20, 2013 – Haggai 1 – 2

Anytime we get something about rebuilding the Temple I am reminded of our Church raising money to refurbish.  When it was going on, you heard a lot of people complaining about why it cost so much and if we needed it.  Michelle and I loved the original plan they had and were willing to give what we could, but they could not get enough pledged to do exactly what they wanted.  They cut back on the least practical thing (if you call a replica of the Portzucula as an Adoration chapel not practical), but we still got a much more beautiful church than you see in many new constructions.  Here the people of Israel have been told that they can rebuild the Temple, but they just do not feel it is a priority.  They can get by with what they have and they feel they need to spend their resources in other ways.  God takes their stinginess and actually causes them to start losing what they already have.  God wants our best, not our leftovers.  And we should give Him our best.  We shouldn’t be afraid to tithe appropriately.  We should trust that if we give God the money we “think we need”, He will take care of us.

I have heard stories about people giving their life savings to TV preachers.  Someone could argue that they trusted in God and He didn’t come through.  First, TV preachers are not Catholic Churches.  But second, I have never been asked by the Catholic Church to give more than 10%, not my life savings.  They do ask that you put them in your will, but you can’t take it with you anyway.  And, if you ever truly look at what you spend your money on, I think we can all do with 10% less of the junk we buy.  “But Matt, what about all those people just getting by?”  Jesus points to the lady that gave her last two coins.  But I do agree there are some that cannot give.  I think there are more out there that don’t feel they can give because they need the newest IPhone. 

Thursday, December 19, 2013

December 19, 2013 – 2 Chronicles 28

Ahaz has a pretty bad run here.  First, he is unfaithful.  Then defeated by his own kin.  Then seeks the assistance of another nation and not God.  Then worships a god that he saw others worshipping that others worshipped and thinks it might work for me.  Boom, boom, boom, it is a checklist of wrong things to do towards God.  And his dad wasn’t a bad king.  When you are going through the book of Kings, it seems like bad dads beget bad sons, but here in Chronicles it seems like the apples don’t fall that close to the tree all the time.  I think you also see that there have been several kings that have done well for a portion of their time as king, but always seem to slip and usually towards the end of their reign.  You wonder why that is?  You would think with age comes a deeper trust in God, but maybe it brings on an increase in arrogance.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

December 18, 2013 – Catechism 2842 – 2845

I have never thought about the “as” used by Christ.  “As we forgive”, “as your …Father is perfect”, “as I have loved you”, “as your Father is Merciful.  We are called to be a part of our own salvation, to interact with God, to imitate Him and to act.  These are all do this as this is done.  It appears an equation of action that Christ uses a lot.

But unlike the other ones, the one in the Our Father ends with our doing something.  Love as God loves, Be as God is.  That is different than Forgive us as we forgive others.  The other ones are impossible to achieve.  We will never love as God, be as God, we are not God.  It makes me wonder if we can ever fully achieve the Our Father petition then as well.  Can we ever fully forgive those that have sinned against us, and if we can’t, can we be truly forgiven.  The Sacrament of Reconciliation makes me think that it is possible.  We are truly and wholly forgiven of our sins if we make a true and complete Confession.  I wonder what part “not forgiving” plays in our true and complete confession.  I don’t know if I have ever heard of “not forgiving” being a sin we are to confess.  I have never been in a confession and confessed to not forgiving someone.  And if I did, would the priest stop and say “I cannot absolve you until you forgive that person because of what the Our Father says”.  The next time I see a “prep for Confession” pamphlet I will have to see if “not forgiving” is on there.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

December 17, 2013 – Revelations 21

I know this is supposed to be a vision of the future or of Heaven, but I just was seeing images and characterizations of the Church after Christ.  Verse 5, the voice from the throne says “I make all things new”.  Mel Gibson took a lot of liberties with his Passion movie, one of them being Christ saying this line when He meets Mary.  But, as I read this, it seemed a good line for Christ to say at that time.  The new Jerusalem is built on the foundation of the Jews, built of the 12 Apostles, those that will be there will be “my son” (verse 7/Our Father), verse 3 states God will dwell “with the human race…will always be with them” (Eucharist).  The more I read it, the less I saw the future and the more I saw the Church that Christ formed. 

Monday, December 16, 2013

December 16, 2013 – Esther 9:11 – F

What I take from Esther is a story about the trust in the timing of God.  God is orchestrating His will in His way and things that seem to have no effect or purpose will come to mean everything.  Esther is a great view of this.  Mordecai’s assisting the king, the king throwing out his wife for a reason not that important, Horam building the punishment for Mordecai and then advising the king of certain ways to heap reward on someone.  The one that struck me when it happened and still seems the biggest one is the king dismissing his wife.  In the grand scheme of things, this is what opened the door for Esther to be in the position she was.  A minor step early in the story but God knows what the plot is and what is going to happen and so orchestrates that small step to allow for the much bigger miracle later.  Even Horam picking a day far enough away for the plan to fall apart is God’s hand setting up the Jews to trust in Him.    

Sunday, December 15, 2013

December 15, 2013 – 2 Chronicles 26 – 27

Uzziah and Jotham are both described as good kings.  Uzziah falls at the end because power gets to him, but Jotham seems to reign well the entire time.  What struck me is 27:2 “the people, however, continued to act sinfully.”  I first thought about if we ever had a orthodox Catholic President and what that would mean for the country.  But that is so far beyond comprehension, I started thinking about our new pope.  There are so many “verge” catholics that are excited about what they hear the pope saying.  Granted they are not actually reading the pope’s words but someone else’s interpretation, but some of what he has said, I think, can be interpreted in some harmful ways.  The Pope has talked a lot about priest and leaders focusing on love and charity to people and not focusing so much on the hot button issues like abortion and contraception.  The idea is easy enough, more people will feel included if you stop talking about issues that upset them.  And that idea might work out well for bringing some into the Catholic Church or easing ties with others.  But that isn’t the way verge Catholics I interact with are taking it.

There is a large number of Catholics that feel very strongly they can believe whatever they want to, Church teaching or not, and still be good Catholics.  When they hear the Pope say, “stop focusing on hot button issues”, they hear him say “those issues aren’t hard and fast teachings of the Church” or “As long as you’re a good person you are fine”.  I don’t know if the Pope realizes this (I would think someone would have to be in his ear), but telling those that feel strongly about certain hot button issues and have given much of the their time and talent and sacrificed for them, that they need to hold back a little, cuts their feet out from underneath them.  And the Pope hasn’t said that these things have changed.  He has said that issues like abortion are so firmly embed in Catholic teaching that we don’t have to harp on them.  But that just isn’t the case when I am talking to fallen away or Cafeteria Catholics.  I wish the Pope would be a little bit more careful when speaking about this.  I love what the Pope has done and he seems very humble and good for the times, but even if the Pope is great, “the people, however, continue to act sinfully” and will use anything thing they can to support their sinful lifestyles.

Saturday, December 14, 2013

December 14, 2013 – Catechism 2838 – 2841

I think there might be a lot of people out there very surprised that God will not forgive your sins unless you forgive people that sinned against you.  People are resistant at putting restrictions on God and many non-Catholic Christians don’t want to put any requirements on us or conditions on God’s redemption.  The understanding is the God doesn’t NEED us to do anything for us to be saved.  I completely agree that God doesn’t need our help.  But look at the prayer (a prayer that all Christians say and was the one taught by Christ).  It doesn’t say God needs it, but this is what God REQUIRES.  How can you think Faith Alone and no works required when FORGIVE OTHERS is in the only prayer God taught us to say?  It is doing something.

And it makes complete sense.  God wants to be in your life, the very center of your life, but will not force Himself in.  You must make room for Him.  Sin keeps Him out.  If you have sinned or been sinned against, there is a barrier there that God won’t knock down.  You need to knock it down, you need to open that door, you need to empty your heart so that God can fill it.  But when you are hanging on to the wrongs other have done to you or filling it with your own sin, there is no room for Him.

Friday, December 13, 2013

December 13, 2013 – Revelations 19 – 20

I don’t know if we ever fully reflect on the WORD as a SWORD or weapon to use against the world and the evil we find in it.  Christ gives us this example when He is against Satan in the dessert.  Every temptation is countered by quoting the Scripture.  I find that I am coming to know the scriptures more and more, but I am nowhere near able to quote them to counter the evil in the world.  I am in awe of those that can do so.  If you ever listen to Catholic Answers, they spend 2 hours answering questions and many times come up with scripture passages out of the blue.  It amazes me.  I am better at knowing different stories or parables, better at going to find them, better at understanding the bigger picture or flow of the Bible, but tell me to quote John 6:14 and I have a blank look.  I have never been good at memorizing things, so it will take a special grace from God for me to ever be that person, but I am proud of the knowledge I have gained and feel I am more equipped to use this weapon when I have a need.  (Whether I have the courage to use it is another question, still working on that too.)

The 1,000 years is an interesting topic.  It is a period of time when Satan is chained up and Christ reigns on Earth.  The footnotes say that Christ Resurrection (defeat of death and sin) is when Satan is tied up and the end of the 1,000 years is the end of the world, the final judgment.  It seems as good an interpretation as any, but I just have a couple of questions that are raised.  First, you look around at the world and I don’t think anyone would say this feels like a world Christ reigns over and in which Satan is not allowed to work.  Counters to this is that Satan influence is not as much to blame for what is wrong in the world as our free will against God.  Also, Christ reigning still doesn’t mean He will force His subjects to bow to Him.  He will still allow free will.  That allows you to reflect on not only how much our choice to sin effects the world but also how much worse it could be if Satan were allowed to be free.

Lastly, I just saw a video talking about the idea that we can hope there is no one in Hell because the Catholic Church has never expressly said anyone is in Hell.  I don’t necessarily think it is wrong to say that, but I don’t agree with it.  I just don’t think we can say there is no one in Hell when it is expressed throughout the Bible that there are people there.  I just don’t think it is a realistic hope, on the flip side, nothing is impossible with God, on the flip side, He isn’t going to force Heaven on those that don’t freely choose it. 

Thursday, December 12, 2013

December 12, 2013 – Esther E – 9:10

They are told to not follow the order.  That wasn’t very clear before reading the actual letter.  But it is anticipated that there will be some, like Haman, who hate the Jews so much that they will follow through with the first command.  The king not only orders the Jews to defend themselves, but requires the city leaders to help in their defense.  This plot has a very similar feel to Daniel, but on a much larger scale

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

December 11, 2013 – 2 Chronicles 24:17 – 25

What a turn.  No sooner that Jehoiada dies than the turn completely from the Lord, and taking it a step further by killing his son when he tries to stand up to them.  I can’t recall another prophet being stoned to death.  There might have been mentioning of them being killed, but I don’t recall it being written out up to this point.  Although, compare this stoning to that of Stephen and you can see a stark difference in what Christ brings to the table.  Zechariah says “may the Lord see and Avenge”.  Stephen ask for God to forgive his murderers.

You can see what those left think of Joash.  Recall all the good things he did for the kingdom when being guided correctly.  All that is forgotten after his exploits post-Jehoiada.  Jehoiada is buried with the kings, Joash is not.

I have written before that if I were another nation, I would just watch and see how Jerusalem was in relation to God and choose the right moment to attack when they are on the outs with God.  It appears that the Arameans had that idea as well since the attack and defeat them even though they did not have many in numbers. 

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

December 10, 2013 – Catechism 2828 -2837

As in the other petitions (I am seeing a pattern here) this can be seen as a plea and command.  We ask God for nourishment, material and spiritual.  We cannot get by or live at all without the gifts God gives us.  This is true for everyone, whether you believe in God or not.  But it also means that we are to be nourishment for the world.  We are to take God out to the world and feed them.  The world needs our food now more than ever.  The world is starving for God.  It doesn’t know it or will even deny it and continues to try and nourish itself on everything it can find that isn’t God.  The world is in complete defiance that it needs God and is constantly attempting to find God’s replacement because the world knows it needs something.  I was trying to think of an analogy that might fit.  We all need food.  So to nourish ourselves, we do not need steak and fine wine with pure mountain fresh water and the freshest fruits, but that would be the most enjoyable way to live.  That would be living you life in complete surrender to God and relying on his nourishment.  But you can get by on stale bread and dirty water.  That might be where many are.  You might get by and survive for a time, but how healthy are you and how long before you are not surviving but perishing because of illness.  Then there are those that are investing in the diet of goats, eating newspaper, tin cans, scrap, tires, etc.  This is not nourishment but is the road to death.  Filling, yes, but not satisfying (hence the need for more and more, the need to jump from one fad to another) and most definitely not nourishing.  

“Pray as if everything depended on God and work as if everything depended on you.”  Attributed to St. Ignatius Loyola, cf. Joseph de Guibert, SJ, The Jesuits: Their Spiritual Doctrine and Practice, (Chicago: Loyola University Press, 1964), 148, n. 55.

“The Father in heaven urges us, as children of heaven, to ask for the bread of heaven. [Christ] himself is the bread who, sown in the Virgin, raised up in the flesh, kneaded in the Passion, baked in the oven of the tomb, reserved in churches, brought to altars, furnishes the faithful each day with food from heaven.”  St. Peter Chrysologus, Sermo 67: PL 52, 392; cf. Jn 6:51.

Monday, December 09, 2013

December 9, 2013 – Revelations 17 – 18

Chapter 17 is about the Whore of Babylon.  I have seen things that feel this is the Catholic Church.  Basically the only connection I can see with that is the 7 hills and that Rome is famous for its 7 hills.  BUT when this was written, Rome was something different than what we think of today.  Although Peter was in Rome and the Pope was established there when John wrote this, Rome was the capital of the Roman empire, not a powerful Catholic Church.  And to think that among all the symbolism in Revelations that you must take the 7 hills to be literal is a stretch.  Plus, the whore is in battle or destroying the witnesses to Jesus.  Remember that until much later, there was no division in Christianity that we see today.

What do I think the whore of Babylon represents.  Something like the ideology of secularism or atheism.  The line that got me thinking in that direction was “The kings of the earth have had intercourse with her, and the inhabitants of the earth became drunk on the wine of her harlotry.” 17:2  I think when you look at the nations of the world and how we are trying to take God and morality out of everything we are doing, this ideology is the real thing that is battling God and drinking the blood of the witnesses of Christ.  Plus, I have written earlier that Revelations, at least to me, feels like it fits better with the characters personifying ideologies and ideas rather than actual people or nations.  It also follows along with the Biblical literature where Wisdom is described as a person etc.

Sunday, December 08, 2013

December 8, 2013 – Esther 6 – 8

Just as with Daniel and the lion’s den, God works out His plan that those that devise evil suffer from the exact plans that they conceived.  King Darius has Daniel’s enemies thrown in with the lions.  Here Haman is duped twice.  First, thinking he is being rewarded, thinks of the grandest reward he can come up with only to find out that what he has described is going to be done for Mordecai.  Then, the devise that he had planned on putting Mordecai in is used as his punishment for his plot against the Jews.

I was curious at the king’s new order.  Instead of telling everyone that the order to kill all the Jews should be disregarded, that order appears to stand.  What is done is that a second command is given that the Jews should gather and defend themselves against those that would be following the king’s first order.  Just seems to be an odd way to go about stopping the event, or not stopping it in the manner it was supposed to happen.

Saturday, December 07, 2013

December 7, 2013 – 2 Chronicles 23 – 24:16

I don’t know if I have ever heard of Jehoiada.  I thought I might just not know how to spell Jedadiah, but that isn’t it.  He seems to be in the same line as Samuel or Nathan, advising the king, saving the Kingdom, but because he wasn’t around with David, he isn’t as well known.  He is responsible for keeping David’s line safe and restoring the king, bringing peace to the kingdom through his advice and restoring the Temple.  That is a pretty good resume.  And from the heading of the next section after this, Kind Joash doesn’t do very well once he loses Jehoiada as his advisor when he dies.  It seems to be a pretty high honor to be buried with the kings when he was not a king.

Friday, December 06, 2013

December 6, 2013 – Catechism 2822 – 2827

Like the last two, this can be seen as a plea and a command.  God, your will be done.  And, you are to go out and do God’s will.  But when I was reading this, I was interested in the community aspect, as has been the case throughout the whole prayer.  Your will be done on Earth, not your will be done in me or in my life.  We are praying, not just for Christians, but the whole world.  I guess you could wonder why it doesn’t say, “your will be done in the universe as it is in Heaven”, but I don’t think it is a stretch to extend it out that far (although why earth and not world, which would more easily expand into an interpretation of universe).  It makes me wonder what word is used for Earth in other translations of the Our Father and if Earth is a little off from what might have been used or taught originally.

Thursday, December 05, 2013

December 5, 2013 – Revelations 15 -16

This made me think about those that curse God for the bad things that happen to them.  There are those that wonder, and honestly contemplate, how God could exist when bad things happen in the world.  I think that is a valid question to ponder.  But that isn’t what is mentioned here.  During these plagues, the people curse God, blame God, go against God, because of the plagues.  The reaction is the opposite of the many times we have seen Israel turn back to God because they see that they did something wrong.  There is none of that here.  There is no claim to responsibility for the things that are happening, it is God’s fault alone.  I think there is a lot of that today.  When things happen, the first thing we do is see if we can blame someone else.  It is the ideology of “the dog ate my homework”.  But when we cannot come up with a scapegoat, we blame God.  God, instead of the God of love, forgiveness, and compassion, has become the scapegoat and the scapegoat’s scapegoat when it comes to that.  That is what we are seeing here from the world during the final days.  Disaster and plague are destroying the world and they look to blame God instead of turning to God and admitting any fault.  It is the surrender to arrogance instead of humility.  We see the first Fall start in this way and we watch the end bow to similar longings.

Wednesday, December 04, 2013

December 4, 2013 – Esther D – 5

Can anything melt the heart of someone so quickly as to see someone they love in anguish or distress.  The king is at the height of his anger, then Ester faints and the king is transformed into a loving and gentle caretaker.  I have felt that sort of a transition.  One of the boys is getting into trouble or doing something they shouldn’t and then gets hurt doing it.  You are so upset, but transform into a caring nurse to make sure they are okay.  They will still get in trouble or talked to, but in that moment, all that matters is that they are healthy or that they need comfort.  It is an amazing flip of the switch.

This plot to extinguish the Jews is one man feeling slighted by another man, no more.  I don’t think there is any knowledge that Hitler wanted to annihilate all the Jews because one of them wasn’t nice to him in grade school, so this seems all the worst, it makes this man all the more evil.  And how do you fool someone that is this arrogant, feed that arrogance.  You can see this being done when he is bragging about being the only person invited for the banquets. 

Tuesday, December 03, 2013

December 3, 2013 – 2 Chronicles 21 – 22

The kings are getting younger and worse here.  Jehoshphat was old when he died, Jehoram was thirty-two when he took over and reigned only 8 years.  Ahaziah (or Jehoahaz) was his youngest son and was 22 when he took the crown.  Joash was his youngest and was evidently too young to rule when his father died and his mother killed all his brothers.  It says 6 years was how long he was in hiding and (looking ahead) is 7 years old when he is king.

I was thinking about if I were a king of a nation that was not Israel or Judah.  I would just monitor how they are going about things.  Similar to what the one scouts told the army in Judith, if they are with God, don’t attack, if they are not, they are easy pickens.  I would look at them under these kings, especially as they get younger, see them going about with idols and poles in the mountains and come at them with all I have.  Just seems like a little research would allow you to be pretty efficient as a military leader.

Monday, December 02, 2013

December 2, 2013 – Catechism 2816 - 2821

In one breath, this line is a plea for God to come to us, be with us, bring about His kingdom so that we may rest in Him forever.  When you think about God encompassing Heaven, Christ being God, then saying “Thy Kingdom Come”, you are saying Christ come, Christ be with us.  This is brought to fulfillment in a special way in the Eucharist, but praying this includes looking with hope to the final end when Christ comes once and for all.  When you think about Christ as the Kingdom and Christ in the Eucharist, wouldn’t it be more apt to say the “Our Father” before the consecration instead of after.

In the other breath, we, united in Christ, are a part of the Kingdom already.  “Thy Kingdom Come” becomes a command for us to take Christ and God out into the world and convert it to God, to bring His kingdom to the world.  Much like Hallowed be thy Name can be seen as a command to live out your life in a Godly way because you are communicating God’s name, so “thy Kingdom come” becomes a command to evangelize the world for God.

Not to look ahead, but “thy will be done” can be seen as a plea and command as well.

Sunday, December 01, 2013

December 1, 2013 – Revelations 13 – 14

What if the beast are not people (like Nero or Hitler) but ideas.  I was reading about the first beast and one of his heads being mortally wounded but healing.  It made me think of the idea of Communism.  The world was brought into a very dark place because of the idea of Communism and its rise, but many think that it died with the USSR and the Berlin Wall.  The beast had seven heads, and we still have China, North Korea, Cuba, etc.  Russia is becoming a power again.  Communist/Socialist ideologies are engulfing the West and the US is growing more Socialist every day.  “Fascinated, the world followed the beast”.  Doesn’t it seem the world is wanting to see how much “good” government can do for us.  All of our problems can be solved by the government.  We don’t need to think, act, do anything on our own, the government will provide.  It is a lazy world that is fascinated with someone else taking care of me, but our world is growing lazier.

Think of the idea of only those marked with a sign being able to do business.  Bring that to the present and any business that doesn’t want to give insurance covering abortions is punished out of business.  Won’t adopt to gay couples, won’t higher lesbians, won’t give artificial contraception, then you can do business, the government won’t let you.