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Wednesday, December 16, 2009

An Interesting conversation with the Jehovah's Witnesses

So I have been meeting with some JW’s for about a year now and i

t has had some ups and downs. Last January I agreed to study their book with them and they agreed to answer my questions it has been a fair trade so far.

There has been no overtly visible as yet, and last week I got a bit discouraged when I tried to pin them down on a few things and as my friend like to say - It was like trying to nail Jello to the wall. But I got an encouraging talk from Gary Michuta who has been on your show and he told me to keep my arguments "outside of the box."

Also I need to keep reminding myself that people convert by God’s grace, not by arguments. So when I saw our High School kids in line for going to adoration the other day - I reminded them to pray for the JW’s that I have been speaking with.

Some did happen this week.

It was interesting, the first thing that happened was in their book we read a quote from Isaiah 11 who talked about how the spirit of the Lord would rest on Jesus, the spirit of counsel, wisdom, etc…and it went on to say how Jesus wouldn’t judge people by what his eye sees or ears hear, but he would judge us in righteousness.

I said how I liked that that Jesus would judge people as they really are, not how they appear to others. They related to me a story of a man that they had met some time ago who was really immoral, loved fighting and drugs and the like. He eventually ended up in jail and decided to turn his life around. He called the JW I am speaking with and eventually became a JW. They then proceeded to tell me that it takes time to win a convert, it doesn’t happen in 5 or 10 minutes.

Now this was the Lord’s message to me - It is going to take time - so calm down.

At this point our study took a turn. They tell me to turn to Isaiah 11 and reread aloud the passages we JUST READ out of their book.

I turn there and read 11:2-4, but something catches my eye - one word in verse 10 - the word ensign. I had done a Bible tidbit on this some months ago and had forgotten where the word was in Isaiah.

I told the JW’s that this word reminded me of something that I had learned a few months ago if they wouldn’t mind the distraction.

The tidbit was about how the cross was prefigured in the Old Testament.

(Keep in mind that JW have no crosses anywhere and believe that Jesus was crucified on a pole which his hands above his head)

They agreed, and this is what I said.

Back in Exodus when Moses had brought the Israelites out of Egypt, they had to battle the Amalekites and provided that Moses kept his staff above his head the Israelite won the battle. Well he names the place "the Lord is my banner." (Moses holding his staff above his head would have possibly looked like Jesus' extended arms on the cross)

I was thinking - what does that mean, banner. So I did a word search on it and the next time that it appears is in Numbers 21:8 when God tells Moses to make a bronze serpent and set it on a pole. The word pole there is the same as banner. It is also the same word "ensign" from Isaiah 11:10.

Now Jesus links this incident with Moses and the serpent on the pole with his death.

John 3:14 "And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of Man be lifted up;

John 12:32 "And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men to Myself."

I said now look again at Isaiah 11:10 In that day the root of Jesse shall stand as an ensign to the peoples; him shall the nations seek.

So I said to the JW’s - We see the cross as like a flag or standard of the Kingdom of God, that is why Catholics have crosses all over the place.

The JW’s said back to me -no no no, you are misreading John 12:32, when Jesus says that "And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men to Myself." - He is talking about his ascension, not his death.

I said - read the next verse. - He reads John 12:33 which says John 12:33 He said this to show by what death he was to die.

I said so it is in death on the cross that he draws all men to himself.

They responded by saying - If your friend was killed while he was protecting you - lets say he was killed by a gun, would you wear a gun around your neck on a chain?

I said - no way, but my friend wasn’t put to death for the salvation of the universe. They shook their heads in agreement. I continued and said that Jesus was put to death for that very reason, and look at 1 Corinthians 1:18 For the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.

So the cross is the power of God and not only the power of God, but it is also the glorification of Christ.

They protestaed, we believe taht when Jesus was raised from the dead, that is when he was glorified.

I agreed and said lets look again at John 12:23 - 27

John 12:23-24

And Jesus answered them, "The hour has come for the Son of man to be glorified.

Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit.

John 12:27

"Now is my soul troubled. And what shall I say? `Father, save me from this hour'? No, for this purpose I have come to this hour.

I said Jesus isn’t proposing to ask his Father to save him from the resurrection, that doesn’t make sense. This is in reference to his death.

So all in all, it went well.

In conclusion, the entire chapter that we had been reading was about the Kingdom of God. I had studied for some time the week before in preparation for that topic. I couldn't have dreamed that our conversation would have turned toward the cross, but I am glad I was open to it. (Only by God's grace)

My wife Arica reminded me to remind folks that if you are in a dialogue with someone and it doesn’t seem to be going anywhere, to just persevere, and like Padre Pio says - Pray, hope, and don’t worry.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Christ IS Our King

Each year we celebrate the Solemnity of Christ the King, and the Bible call says that we participate in the kingship of Christ.

I have been studying the Kingship of Christ and how it relates to us because we do in fact participate in it. My first thought was how the kings of the earth rule over those in their kingdom by issuing decrees and then they are to be obeyed. This is not how OUR kingship in Christ the King is to be lived out.

Listen to Jesus’ own words:
John 13:12-17 When he had washed their feet, and taken his garments, and resumed his place, he said to them, "Do you know what I have done to you? 13 You call me Teacher and Lord; and you are right, for so I am. If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another's feet. For I have given you an example, that you also should do as I have done to you. Truly, truly, I say to you, a servant is not greater than his master; nor is he who is sent greater than he who sent him. If you know these things, blessed are you if you do them.

The example that Jesus leaves is this - if God can get on his hands and knees and wash your feet, no one has the right to say that he is better than God and thus doesn’t need to do such a thing.

The Kingship of Christ is really fulfilled in him serving us and pouring his live out for us.

Christ is King - from the cross. It is on the Cross that his Kingship is announced for the whole world - Jesus of Nazareth King of the Jews.

Now if we are in Christ, we are called to do the same - Luke 9:23-24 And he said to all, "If any man would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it; and whoever loses his life for my sake, he will save it.

Matthew 20:25-28 But Jesus called them to him and said, "You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great men exercise authority over them. It shall not be so among you; but whoever would be great among you must be your servant, and whoever would be first among you must be your slave; even as the Son of man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many."

Who is the greatest servant if it is not Christ? God is giving us everything all the time.

What are some practical ways that we can live out our Kingly role?

The first thing that we must do is Make Jesus the King of our everything. It is from Him and his servants the bishops and priests that we receive our marching orders from. Jesus needs to be the King of our Eyes - do we guard what we watch? The King of our Tongue - Do we only say the things Jesus would have us say? The King of our wallet, our households and even our bedrooms. Through Christ we must first rule over ourselves.

The next thing that we must do is be imitators of King Jesus toward our neighbor. This is best expressed in
CCC 786 … [T]he People of God share[s] in the royal office of Christ. He exercises his kingship by drawing all men to himself - SO WE MUST EVANGELIZE - through his death and Resurrection. [Cf. Jn 12:32] Christ, King and Lord of the universe, made himself the servant of all, for he came "not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many." [Mt 20:28] For the Christian, "to reign is to serve him," particularly when serving "the poor and the suffering, in whom the Church recognizes the image of her poor and suffering founder." [LG 8; Cf. 36] The People of God fulfills its royal dignity by a life in keeping with its vocation to serve with Christ.

The sign of the cross makes kings of all those reborn in Christ and the anointing of the Holy Spirit consecrates them as priests, so that, apart from the particular service of our ministry, all spiritual and rational Christians are recognized as members of this royal race and sharers in Christ's priestly office. What, indeed, is as royal for a soul as to govern the body in obedience to God? And what is as priestly as to dedicate a pure conscience to the Lord and to offer the spotless offerings of devotion on the altar of the heart? [St. Leo the Great, Sermo 4, 1: PL 54, 149]

You might share this with your priest BEFORE his Homily on Sunday.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Garments of Righteousness - Part 2

Last week I failed to mention the very important story of Joseph and his coat of many colors. Again my friend Bob Salmon showed my the great importance of this story.

Joseph is the favorite son of Jacob - Why? - Because Joseph is the son his Jacob’s favorite wife Rachel. Jacob loves Joseph and blesses Joseph with this gift of a many colored coat just because he was born of a woman he loved. My point is that Joseph didn’t DO anything to receive his fathers blessing. The same is true of us, there is nothing we can DO for our initial salvation. Salvation is granted to us as a gift from God.

Now only does Joseph lose his garment, but another garment as we will see. His brothers strip him of his coat and sell him, and with this he loses his freedom. When we sin, we become slaves of sin until we once again turn to the blood of Christ to cover us and set us free.
So Joseph goes down to Egypt where he is working in Potiphers house and climbs in rank and is once again clothed. Now is when he loses his garments a second time. While working in Potiphers house his wife begins to tempt him to an adulterous relationship to no end.
Genesis 39:11-13 But one day, when he went into the house to do his work and none of the men of the house was there in the house, she caught him by his garment, saying, "Lie with me." But he left his garment in her hand, and fled and got out of the house.
Because of this Joseph would once again lose his freedom and be cast into prison, until one day he was blessed and then dressed again in the garments of the Pharaoh.

So we see from that story the significance of loosing your garments goes along with the loss of your freedom.


Jesus tells a parable about a king having a wedding feast for his son. People get invited but they don’t want to come.

Matthew 22:8-14 Then he said to his servants, `The wedding is ready, but those invited were not worthy. Go therefore to the thoroughfares, and invite to the marriage feast as many as you find.' And those servants went out into the streets and gathered all whom they found, both bad and good; so the wedding hall was filled with guests.
"But when the king came in to look at the guests, he saw there a man who had no wedding garment; and he said to him, `Friend, how did you get in here without a wedding garment?' And he was speechless. Then the king said to the attendants, `Bind him hand and foot, and cast him into the outer darkness; there men will weep and gnash their teeth.' 14 For many are called, but few are chosen."

So, while this guy was in fact invited to the wedding, he chooses to even come to the wedding, but he refused to put on the garments of those at the wedding. There are many levels to this, but I think this is concerning those who want Christianity without Christ. They want the benefits of Christianity without having to actually conform themselves to Christ and this is dangerous. If we want to share in his heavenly blessings we must come to the altar of the Lord with our souls robed in holiness, lest we be cast into Hell for defiling the body and blood of our Lord in communion.

Ephesians 6:10-17 Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we are not contending against flesh and blood, but against the principalities, against the powers, against the world rulers of this present darkness, against the spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places. Therefore take the whole armor of God, …girded your loins with truth, … the breastplate of righteousness, and having shod your feet with the equipment of the gospel of peace; … shield of faith, … helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.

What about that place in Mark where that disciple runs off without his garments?
During the agony in the garden while Jesus is getting arrested it says:
Mark 14:51-52 And a young man followed him, with nothing but a linen cloth about his body; and they seized him, but he left the linen cloth and ran away naked.

Now, without any reference, Tim Grey (who has as awesome free talk on Mark @ EWTN - see side bar) says that there is a Jewish tradition which says that if you were a priest guarding the temple and you were caught sleeping, that your clothes would be taken from you and burned so that you would have to run home naked and in shame.

Now, Christ is the New Temple and the disciples were suppose to be watching and praying, yet they fell asleep, and this one runs off naked. Revelation speaks somewhat on this same topic when it says:
Revelation 16:15 "Lo, I am coming like a thief! Blessed is he who is awake, keeping his garments that he may not go naked and be seen exposed!"

2 Corinthians 5:1-4 For we know that if the earthly tent we live in is destroyed, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. Here indeed we groan, and long to put on our heavenly dwelling, so that by putting it on we may not be found naked. For while we are still in this tent, we sigh with anxiety; not that we would be unclothed, but that we would be further clothed, so that what is mortal may be swallowed up by life.

Revelation 19:7-8 Let us rejoice and exult and give him the glory, for the marriage of the Lamb has come, and his Bride has made herself ready; it was granted her to be clothed with fine linen, bright and pure" -- for the fine linen is the righteous deeds of the saints.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Garments of Righteousness Pt 1

For Catholics, clothes play an important role in our lives. They identify whom we serve. Priests and religious wear distinguished garb to represent certain religious orders. In the Liturgy, both in the old and new Covenants, certain articles of clothing were worn on certain days.

What does the Bible say about clothing?

First, I must give credit where credit is due. My friend Bob Salmon really showed me the importance of garments or clothing in Scripture. In the beginning there were no clothes of course:

Genesis 2:25 And the man and his wife were both naked, and were not ashamed.

Genesis 3:7 Then the eyes of both were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves aprons.

Louis Ginsberg - "Legends of the Jews" has an interesting story:
The first result was that Adam and Eve became naked. Before, their bodies had been ... enveloped with the cloud of glory.

Genesis 3:21 And the LORD God made for Adam and for his wife garments of skins, and clothed them.

So what then do these clothes represent?

Clothes, as will become more clear as we go on, represent righteousness. After Adam and Eve become unrighteous through sin, they try to cover themselves in their own righteousness, but God comes along and makes a sacrifice and covers them in the skins of that sacrifice (prefiguring the sacrifice of Christ.) God himself is both the Priest and Victim and then clothes us with himself.

Everything in the Bible is of course significant and so I can't touch on absolutely everything here but just some highlights.

The next big story is when Jacob clothes himself like his brother Esau (with wool from a lamb) and tricks his father Isaac into giving him the blessing. So because he is clothed like the firstborn son he received the firstborn's inheritance.

St. Paul says this:
Galatians 3:27 For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ.
So, because we are dressed like God’s firstborn Son (Jesus) we too can obtain the inheritance of the firstborn which is eternal life with the Father in heaven.

The next story that stands out to me is with David and Goliath.
David, filled with Zeal, tells Saul that he can defeat the giant Goliath

1 Samuel 17:37 And David said, "The LORD who delivered me from the paw of the lion and from the paw of the bear, will deliver me from the hand of this Philistine."

1 Samuel 17:38-39 Then Saul clothed David with his armor; he put a helmet of bronze on his head, and clothed him with a coat of mail. And David girded his sword over his armor, and he tried in vain to go, for he was not used to them. Then David said to Saul, "I cannot go with these; for I am not used to them." And David put them off.

Now, here is an allegorical interpretation of this passage: I think that Saul is trying to trust is his own strength to fight the Philistines, and that his faith is in his armor. He tries to cloth David with that same armor, but David sees that this type of clothing paralyzes him and not only doesn’t protect him, but will make him worse off. So David will put on the armor of the Lord as he will say in Psalm 3:3 But thou, O LORD, art a shield about me, my glory, and the lifter of my head.

Then David is clothed with the Lord’s shield of faith
1 Samuel 17:45 Then David said to the Philistine, "You come to me with a sword and with a spear and with a javelin; but I come to you in the name of the LORD of hosts, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied.

This type of "clothing" is what brings victory to David, and will bring us victory as well.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Jehovah's Witnesses and the Pill

I have a special place for Jehovah’s Witnesses in your heart. When you hear stories of witnesses who have left the organization, you find out that they really weren’t free. If they wanted to be counted as a Jehovah’s Witnesses they NEEDED to go door to door.

I think going from door to door to evangelize is great. I have done it myself in the Legion of Mary but that was out of zeal for the Lord, not out of fear that I would be looked down upon.
Besides we are not all called to evangelize the same way, unless you are a Jehovah’s Witness then you are all called upon to evangelize the same way.

Now most people reading to this blog love Jesus and want to follow him, but just don’t know what to say when the Jehovah’s Witnesses come to the door. If there was one thing that everyone could say - what would it be?

Only recently after years of study do I feel confident on only a few topics to carry on a conversation with them. Yet I have noticed a pattern. There have been a couple times when I have met with them for months at a time but after we talked about contraception they discontinued our conversation. Specifically when we talked about the pill and how it can cause an abortion.

Now don’t Jehovah’s Witnesses sort of brag that they are 100% pro-life to the point where they won’t join the army or anything like that, which drives this point home all the more.

So what is it that every Catholic could say when they come to the door.
I would say - listen to their little speal that they give, but then say - Hey I have a question and a challenge for you." I have heard that it is ok for JW’s to contracept and that it is ok for women to take the pill."

They should acknowledge that this is true in one way or another. If not they are lying.
Then say "Did you know that the pill causes abortions, and it says that it does on the package?"
Now what I have just said is news to many Catholics as well as Jehovah’s Witnesses. The package to any sort of contraceptive pill says that it does three things, and one of those three things that it does is "prevents implantation."

This is fancy doctor language that means that after the egg has been fertilized and is now a new human person; The pill will make the conditions of the womb unable to support the new life thus destroying the new person - this is an abortion.

Now JW’s are against abortion, but not against using the pill as a contraceptive - yet the pill can cause an abortion.

What are the results of sharing this information?
The results at the very least should prick the conscience of the JW. They now have information that is in direct contradiction to what they believe. So I would challenge them. I would say to them, "You should tell your elders to make an announcement at your congregation that couples should stop taking the pill because it causes abortions. And then say - come back and tell me how it goes, I would be interested"

Now I can almost guarantee that they will not be back to see you on this topic. Here is the best case scenario: That person writes the Watchtower to inform them the truth behind the pill and those in a leadership position publish this in their Watchtower magazine that they are bound to follow and millions of JW’s change their practice.

They could write but the position stays unchanged, but the individual JW knows that they should change it, this could be a first step in leading them out of the JW’s.
They don’t tell anyone, but they still know and unfortunately might be judged for that knowledge. But we must tell them.

Could you imagine what could happen if every Catholic that answered the door, if they weren’t comfortable speaking about other topics, could ask them about this.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Baptism for the Dead?

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints also known as the Mormons have many doctrines in common with Christianity. One particular doctrine that they teach is the baptism for the dead and this is different from every so called Christian denomination.

My experience of this doctrine began when I was at a critical time in my life trying to search out the truth of Christ. I had come across some Mormon missionaries that taught be about baptism for the dead.

I thought right away that this was a strange and unbiblical doctrine. But they insisted that it was in fact from the Bible. They had me read 1 Corinthians 15:29 Else what shall they do that are baptized for the dead? If the dead are not raised at all, why then are they baptized for them?
So you can imagine my face when they show this to me in my own Bible. I was a bit devastated, shocked and confused.

What does it mean to Mormons when they say "Baptism for the dead?"
Mormons believe that when you die you will go to a spirit prison where you will be evangelized by Mormon missionaries and there instructed in the Mormon gospel. If you should believe the Mormon Gospel it is still necessary that you experience water baptism. Drawing on 1 Corinthian 15:29 someone here on earth will be baptized for you.

Where do they get names of people who have not yet received Mormon baptism?
Mormons are sort of famous for constructing genealogical records. They are collecting these records for this very reason, so that those in their family tree who have not been baptized Mormon yet are deceased can still enter into heaven. They aren't only looking up their own records. They are looking up all of those who have died so they collect any churches records of the deceased.

So what are we to do with this doctrine and that verse in 1 Corinthians 15?
First we need to read Saint Paul in context - Paul for the most part speaks in the first person and addresses the second person. I Paul am addressing you Corinthians. But a few times he does speak about people in the third person singular and plural. He talks about pagans, rulers, saints, patriarchs, and sinners. Notice again 1 Corinthians 15:29 Else what shall they do that are baptized for the dead? If the dead are not raised at all, why then are they baptized for them?
Notice that Paul is neither including himself nor the Corinthians in this practice or he would have said why are WE baptized for the dead, or why are YOU being baptized for the dead. In truth no one know anything about these people, and they very well may have been a break off group from the Corinthians. They were probably afraid that if the dead were not baptized that they would not experience the resurrection to life.

Now there is some mystery to this verse because this practice is found nowhere among the early church fathers or the tradition of the Church.

The Bible and the Catechism are clear that we are given THIS life to choose or reject God. Death seals this decision.

What does the book of Mormon say about this practice?
Nothing. In fact the Book of Mormons doctrines contradict this teaching
Alma 34:35-36 we read: "For behold, if ye have procrastinated the day of your repentance even until death, behold ye have become subjected to the spirit of the devil, and he does seal you his. Therefore, the spirit of the Lord has withdrawn from you and hath no place in you; the power of the devil is over you, and this is the final state of the wicked."

So even the Book of Mormon says that death puts an end to choosing God and warns against procrastinating.What does our faith teach? If we aren’t baptized is it a guarantee that we will burn in hell like buckets of Chicken?
No Romans 2:14-16 When Gentiles who have not the law do by nature what the law requires, they are a law to themselves, even though they do not have the law. They show that what the law requires is written on their hearts, while their conscience also bears witness and their conflicting thoughts accuse or perhaps excuse them 16 on that day when, according to my gospel, God judges the secrets of men by Christ Jesus.

While God gave us the sacraments and we are in fact bound to follow them and a regular means of grace. God himself is not bound by them and can save whomever he so chooses.

Acts 10:44-48 While Peter was still saying this, the Holy Spirit fell on all who heard the word. 45 And the believers from among the circumcised who came with Peter were amazed, because the gift of the Holy Spirit had been poured out even on the Gentiles. For they heard them speaking in tongues and extolling God. Then Peter declared, "Can any one forbid water for baptizing these people who have received the Holy Spirit just as we have?" And he commanded them to be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ. Then they asked him to remain for some days.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

"The Hour" of Jesus

In the Gospel of John we see Jesus talking about a mysterious hour - my hour has not come - the hour is coming - etc. There are several senses hidden in "the hour" that Jesus speaks of. The first is the historical sense. Jesus speaks about an hour of persecution and death.

John 7:30 So they sought to arrest him; but no one laid hands on him, because his hour had not yet come.
John 8:20 These words he spoke in the treasury, as he taught in the temple; but no one arrested him, because his hour had not yet come.

We see at the beginning of Passion week a change in His language. Jesus speaks about the arrival of that hour and it is pregnant with images of is death.
John 12:23-27 ... "The hour has come for the Son of man to be glorified. 24 Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit. 25 He who loves his life loses it, and he who hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life. 26 If any one serves me, he must follow me; and where I am, there shall my servant be also; if any one serves me, the Father will honor him. 27 ¶ "Now is my soul troubled. And what shall I say? `Father, save me from this hour'? No, for this purpose I have come to this hour.
John 13:1 Now before the feast of the Passover, when Jesus knew that his hour had come to depart out of this world to the Father, having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them to the end.
John 16:32 The hour is coming, indeed it has come, when you will be scattered, every man to his home, and will leave me alone; yet I am not alone, for the Father is with me.
Jesus also says that his disciples will suffer during this hour.
John 16:21-22 When a woman is in travail she has sorrow, because her hour has come; but when she is delivered of the child, she no longer remembers the anguish, for joy that a child is born into the world. 22 So you have sorrow now, but I will see you again and your hearts will rejoice, and no one will take your joy from you.

Jesus also speaks of an hour that each of the apostles will experience, where they will share in the sufferings of Christ.
John 16:2 They will put you out of the synagogues; indeed, the hour is coming when whoever kills you will think he is offering service to God.

At the same time, Christ's hour is also associated with the Mass - which is a representation of the Sacrifice at Calvary.This is where Jesus' hour language gets mysterious and beautiful.
John 2:3-4 When the wine failed, the mother of Jesus said to him, "They have no wine." 4 And Jesus said to her, "O woman, what have you to do with me? My hour has not yet come."
- Jesus is saying here that there is an hour coming when he will be expected to provide wine, and he links this to the cross by talking about His hour.

John 4:21 Jesus said to her, "Woman, believe me, the hour is coming when neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem will you worship the Father.
John 4:23 But the hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for such the Father seeks to worship him.
- Jesus speaking with the Samaritan woman at the well here links a certain hour with worship - which is what we are doing at the Mass. It happens not just on the mountains in Judah and Samaria, but all over the world.

John 5:25 ¶ "Truly, truly, I say to you, the hour is coming, and now is, when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God, and those who hear will live.
- When do we hear the voice of the Son of God, but especially at Mass.

There is one final fulfillment of this Hour and that is at the end of time.
John 5:28-29 Do not marvel at this; for the hour is coming when all who are in the tombs will hear his voice 29 and come forth, those who have done good, to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil, to the resurrection of judgment.

And this also fulfills more perfectly what Jesus says earlier when he tells the Samaritan woman:
John 4:21 Jesus said to her, "Woman, believe me, the hour is coming when neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem will you worship the Father….true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth.
- And we see Our Lady telling Him that they have no more wine…There is a great feast at the end of time and a great marriage spoken of where those who are chosen will marry Christ and receive the best wine then.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Gene in the BIble

Genealogies in the Bible can be places where we scratch our heads and wonder "why in the world would God inspire anyone to write down a list of names?" When we do some digging, of course, we find that even a list of names can have a message for us.

In the OT, there are many genealogies. The two that I want to focus on today are the ones mentioned in Matthew and in Luke.

What strikes most people is that they are different.

Matthew’s and Luke’s seem to be two different genealogies which have lead scholars to conclude that Matthew is writing Joseph’s genealogy and that Luke is writing Mary’s genealogy.
Another difference is that Matthew begins his genealogy with Abraham and ends with Joseph. Luke begins his genealogy with Joseph and ends with Adam. Each one of them has reasons for doing this if you study the rest of their Gospels. Matthew is trying to show that Jesus is the fulfillment of the Abrahamic Covenants and has also come to restore and fulfill the Kingdom of David. Luke, on the other hand, is trying to show that Jesus came for all of the descendants of Adam, which are the Jews and the non-Jews alike.

Another difference and something that is very significant is the number of people mentioned in their genealogies.

Luke lists 77 people which seems very significant when we consider the number 7. The earth was created in seven days and God rested on the seventh day. The word 7 is related to the Hebrew word for oath. Literally, when you were taking an oath you would "7" yourself. But another number is significant and that is the number 70. We see after the time of Noah that there were 70 nations that were his descendants. So 70 may represent all of the nations in the world.

I am speculating that when Luke mentions 77 people in this genealogy that he is reminding the readers that God the Father, who is the Father of every nation through Adam, is going to swear an oath once more, not just for the Jews but for all of the nations. This covenant oath that will be sworn will restore our sonship with God just like Adam had.

Then we read in Exodus chapter 1 verse 5, where Moses tells us that the descendants of Israel that came into the land of Egypt were 70. So the nation of Israel is embodying what happened to all the nations. All of the nations have been made slaves to sin and need liberating. But God is going to do with this one nation what he plans to do with all of the nations, that is - free them all from the bondage of sin so that they can come to the mountain of God and worship him.

Matthew has his genealogy broken down into three parts each containing 14 people with a grand total of 42 people.
From the time of Abraham to David - 14 generations
From David to the Babylonian deportation - 14 generations
From Babylonian deportation to Jesus - 14 generations

Now there is in the Hebrew language great significance concerning the number 14. Each Hebrew letter also represents a number and when you take the name of King David, DVD, and you replace his name with numbers and then add it up it equals the number 14. David appears 14th in the genealogy. So Matthew is trying to stress that Jesus is the fulfillment of the Davidic line of kings.

But their total number of 42 is also significant.

We look in the OT and see that Israel had made 42 encampments during that wandering in the desert before they crossed into the promised land of Canaan. Similarly, I think Matthew is saying that 42 generations have passed while we wander here on the earth and now Jesus has come and just like the Jesus of the OT - Joshua, he will lead us into the true promised land of Heaven.

We also see that the woman of Revelation 12, which represents our Lady but also the church, flees from the devil for 1260 days into the wilderness. 1260 days is 42 months. So this is similar to what happened in OT times of wondering in the wilderness, but this time it is with the church. In a certain sense, we are wandering around in the wilderness while we travel to the promised land of Heaven.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

The "Hail Mary" A Biblical Prayer

In Catholicism there is a rich tradition of prayer. Now while a Protestant might pray the "Our Father" and even the "Glory Be," not many will pray the "Hail Mary" on grounds that it is not a Scriptural prayer and that it is wrong to pray to saints. But, is the "Hail Mary" an unbiblical prayer? No the "Hail Mary" is totally a Biblical prayer. Let's check out each part:

Luke 1:28 And the angel being come in, said unto her: Hail, full of grace, the Lord is with thee: blessed art thou among women.

Look at what Elizabeth says in:
Luke 1:42 And she cried out with a loud voice, and said: Blessed art thou among women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb.
Isn’t Jesus the fruit of Mary’s womb? And this prayer climaxes at the name of Jesus.

Now Protestants will most likely say that Mary is in Heaven and thus is Holy. But what about her being called the Mother of God.
While there is great misunderstanding by some about the phrase "Mother of God," it just means that Mary gave birth to Jesus who is in fact God. Therefore, Mary is the Mother of God. It does not mean that Mary is the creator of the Trinity or anything strange.
Luke 1:43 And whence is this to me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me?
There are many parallels showing that Mary is the new Ark of the Covenant, which we won’t get into right now. But, what Elizabeth says here about Mary and what David says about the Ark are strikingly similar.
Listen to David in 2 Samuel 6:9 And David was afraid of the LORD that day; and he said, "How can the ark of the LORD come to me?"
"The LORD" here in Hebrew means Yahweh. So, if you did a close investigation you would see that Elizabeth is really saying "How is it that the mother of Yahweh" can come to me.

There is also a part of the "Hail Mary" which asks Mary to pray for us.
James 5:16 says that "The prayer of a righteous man has great power in its effects." Well, who is more righteous than Mary? None but God.
The ultimate question is concerning Saints in Heaven and if they are aware of what is going on here on Earth. Certainly they are.
Luke 15:7 Just so, I tell you, there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who need no repentance.
Well, Heaven certainly knows when people repent or else how would they know when to rejoice?

Revelation 6:9-10 9 When he opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of those who had been slain for the word of God and for the witness they had borne; 10 they cried out with a loud voice, "O Sovereign Lord, holy and true, how long before thou wilt judge and avenge our blood on those who dwell upon the earth?"
How do these souls know that God hasn’t already avenged their blood unless somehow they are being kept informed?
So, those in Heaven know what is going on here, and do they pray for us? Certainly they do. Jesus, being the perfect mediator between us and God, shares in His mediatorship with us, but especially with those who have been perfected and are in Heaven. Why wouldn’t they keep mediating for us once they are before the throne of God?

What about people who quote: Matthew 6:7 And when you are praying, speak not much, as the heathens. For they think that in their much speaking they may be heard.?
We of course must mean what we say we can’t violate
Matthew 15:8 This people honors me with their lips: but their heart is far from me.
The repeating of prayers isn’t what Jesus is condemning in Matthew 6:7, He is condemning the vain repetition of prayers.
Revelation 4:8 And the four living creatures had each of them six wings; and round about and within they are full of eyes. And they rested not day and night, saying: Holy, holy, holy, Lord God Almighty, who was, and who is, and who is to come.

And also our Lord Himself repeated prayers.
Matthew 26:44 So, leaving them again, he went away and prayed for the third time, saying the same words.

And if Jesus does it then it can’t be bad.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

9 Ways to Participate in Another's Sin

I believe that many Catholics think that provided they aren’t going against the 10 Commandments that they are in the clear. But there are a number of ways to participate in someone else’s sin. In fact, there are nine ways that a person can participate in another’s sin.

You can participate by counsel. We see in 1Kings 12. We see Rehoboam asking his father’s advisors (his father is King Solomon) if he should be harder on the people or more lenient. King Solomon’s advisors fear that the people may revolt because of difficulties with the King and they suggest more leniency. But Rehoboam’s young advisors see that they might profit if the King is more harsh. So taking the bad advice of his young advisors to be more harsh on the people causes the nation of Israel to split and the eventual downfall of both nations.
So if we counsel someone to do something sinful, we participate in the sin that is committed. For example if you counsel a friend to get an abortion. That would be sinful.

If we command someone to do something sinful, that command is sinful. A Biblical example is in 2 Samuel 11.
While King David’s army was at war, David commits adultery with one of the soldier’s wives. The soldier’s name is Uriah and the woman is Bathsheba. Well, Bathsheba soon finds herself pregnant, and so Uriah is called to take a break from the war. He refuses to spend any time with his wife. So David sends him back to the war with a letter that Uriah is to be put in the hardest place in the battle, and at a certain time all the men would retreat but Uriah, exposing him to death. This command, and the following of it was a sin.
So if I command anyone to do something sinful, that is a sin as well.

By consenting in an evil done - this is a sin.
In Acts 8 we see that Saul (who would become St. Paul) consented to the stoning of St. Stephen in Acts Chapter 7 and consented to the persecution of the Church.
Another example would be if someone were to do something sinful and we just stood by and watched.

By provoking someone to sin. In Genesis 39, we see Potiphar’s wife trying to tempt Joseph into committing adultery with her. He refuses and as a result is accused of rape and thrown into prison, but we know that God blesses him and elevates him to the second highest in Egypt.
When we provoke someone into sin, we are really saying, "come on, it’s not that bad. Are you afraid you’re going to get caught? No one is going to see us." Yet the very provocation is a sin.

By praise or flattery for a sin committed, this is a sin as well.
Acts 12:1-3 ¶ About that time King Herod laid hands upon some members of the church to harm them. 2 He had James, the brother of John, killed by the sword, 3 and when he saw that this was pleasing to the Jews he proceeded to arrest Peter also.
So there were three sins committed here, the first was that King Herod was persecuting the Church and in the process had James put to death.
The second sin was that this first sin pleased some people.
The third sin was that the praise that King Herod received caused him to persecute the Church even further.
This happens all the time on television. Some terrible thing is done (like fornication or worse) and the character is praised for it. So we are exposed to this sin almost constantly.

By concealment, or hiding the sin of others. This isn’t what a priest does in confession. This is something like a public crime. For example, in Genesis 37 when Jacob’s sons sold Joseph as a slave and then lied to their father about what happened. Reuben - the eldest - should have said something to Jacob and a rescue attempt would have been possible. By the very fact that Reuben didn’t say anything to his father and concealed what happened to Joseph - this was a sin as well.
So when we hide a serious sin of someone else this is a sin as well.

By being a partner to someone else’s sin. This goes without saying.
If you help your friend rob a bank - that is a sin.

We can participate in another’s sin by being silent. If, for example, a friend should mention to you that he hasn’t been going to Mass for the past few weeks, but has been with the Lord in the woods where it is quiet instead. It is our duty as a Christian to tell him that missing Mass on purpose is a sin. Now you don’t want to tell him that he is going to burn in hell like a bucket of chicken if he doesn’t go to Mass, but you want to tell him in charity and explain why going to Mass is important.

By defending a sin. In Numbers 16 it talks about a man named Korah and how he began a revolt against Moses and Aaron. Korah said that everyone could be a priest, not just the Levites. This was not what God had revealed to Moses. 250 men stood with Korah and defended his position and as a result the earth opened up and swallowed them.

Now here is an example of participating in the sin of abortion.

If you counsel someone to get an abortion - this is a sin.
If you command someone to get an abortion - this is a sin.
If you consent to having an abortion - this is a sin.
If you provoke someone to get an abortion - this is a sin.
If you praise someone for getting an abortion - this is a sin.
If you go to confession and have had an abortion and haven’t told your confessor yet - this is a sin.
If you help someone get an abortion - this is a sin.
If you hear someone saying that they are going to get an abortion and you are silent - this is a sin.
If you have defended someone else’s abortion or your own. - this is a sin.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

The Three Ways

All who are baptized and in the state of grace are on the road toward Heaven; or at least we should be. What many don’t realize is that there is a process and actual steps to growth in holiness. I will attempt to explain a bit about these steps and what the Bible has to say about them.

The three steps are the purgative way, the illuminative way, and the unitive way. One step must be passed through to get to the next. So to get to the illuminative way you must first pass through the purgative way, but let me tell you what is involved in each step first.
To get into the purgative way you must either convert and become Catholic or if you are a Catholic in Mortal Sin, you must go to Confession. You can’t grow in holiness toward God if you are enemies with Him.

In brief, the whole idea behind the purgative way is to turn away from Mortal Sin and begin growing in virtue toward God - it is putting to death the deeds of the flesh (Romans 8:13). There is a second conversion spoken of as a transition from the purgative to the illuminative way through a kind of Dark Night of the senses, meaning less warm fuzzy feelings, external consolations, when you pray and just throughout your day. In the illuminative way, you are focused more on developing virtues and weeding out the venial sins in your life. Finally, there is another transition from the illuminative to the unitive way through a Dark Night of the Spirit where it feels like the soul has been abandoned by God completely. Yet, the unitive way has been described as Heaven on earth.

Some scriptures that point to these three ways are as follows:
Psalm 34:14 Depart from evil, and do good; Seek peace, and pursue it.
  • Depart from evil is done in the Purgative Way.
  • Do Good is done in the Illuminative Way.
  • Seek peace, and pursue it is done in the Unitive Way.

Luke 9:23 And He [Jesus] was saying to them all, "If anyone wishes to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me.

Also some spiritual giants such as St. Thomas Aquinas have pointed to the three writings of Solomon as each pointing to one of the ways. The books of Solomon are Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, and the Song of Solomon.

In the book of Proverbs, it talks about two ways - one that leads to life and one that leads to the grave. Proverbs is describing someone who might be tempted to leave Wisdom behind all together and fall back into Mortal Sin.
Ecclesiastes reflects the attitude of those in the illuminative way. Seeing that all things here on earth are vanity. That the only thing that matters is, in fact, God.
Finally, in the Song of Solomon it talks about the relationship between two lovers. Spiritually speaking, this is about the relationship between God and a soul. Many great saints would point to this book in the Bible as the crown of the spiritual life.

Some have seen the Tabernacle that Moses built in the wilderness as a type of model to the spiritual life.
The tabernacle had three parts: the court, the Holy Place and the Holy of Holies.
In the court were two things: a bronze Laver and an altar for burnt offerings. The Holy Place had three things: a lamp stand, an altar of incense, and a table with the bread of the presence. Finally, in the Holy of Holies was the Ark of the Covenant, God's dwelling place.
Here is a spiritual interpretation on these three places:

  • In the court is where you would wash in Baptism in the Laver and then put to death the deeds of the body. That is what all of those animal sacrifices represented, and points us to the purgative way.
  • In the Holy Place is where we find more fulfillment in the sacrament of the Eucharist, prayer, represented by the incense, and the gifts of the Holy Spirit, represented by the lamp stand.
  • Finally, in the Holy of Holies we see God as He is face to face. We no longer love Him out of fear. We no longer love Him because of what He gives us. It is here that we love Him for Himself.

St. Teresa of Avila compares the spiritual journey to a Mansion with many rooms of which we must pass through to get to the epicenter, where we meet God in His Majesty.
St. John of the Cross compares it to climbing a mountain.
St. Catherine of Sienna compares it to kissing the wounds of Christ’s feet, then His wounded side, and then, finally, His mouth.

Here are some great books to help the journey!

Introduction to the Devout Life - by St. Fancis DeSales

The Soul of the Apostolate - by Dom Jean-Baptiste Chautard

The Three Conversions in the Spiritual Life

THE Place to get Great Catholic Books!

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Dan's Top 10 Bible Tidbits in a Minute

Genesis chapter 1 was tells us that when God created the heavens and the earth that the earth was formless and void.
God takes the first three days to give the earth form.
First by making day and night
Second by making the water and the sky.
and Third by making dry land appear.
Next God fills the void with rulers over these three forms.
On the 4th day he makes the sun, moon, and stars to rule the day and night.
on the 5th days he fills the water with fish and the sky with birds
On the 6th day he fills the land with animals and then finally land.

In Genesis Chapter 15 God comes to Abraham and tells him that his reward will be great for his faithfulness. Abraham reminds God that he has no children. God brings Abraham outside and says - Look to heaven and number the stars if you can - this is how many your descendants will be.
What is interesting about this story is that if you drop down to verse 17 it says - when the sun had gone down…suggesting that the previous conversation took place during the day when the stars were not out to be numbered, yet Abraham still believed God. This is a man of great faith looking into the blue sky, knowing that stars are present but they just can't be seen. So he also believes God when God says that he will have descendants that number as the stars.

The name Joshua is the Hebrew form of the name Jesus. And just as Joshua in the OT led the Israelites from wandering through the Jordan into the promised land; Jesus through the waters of Baptism leads us into the heavenly promised land.

The number 666 is used in reference to two people in the Bible; once in the Book of Revelation and once concerning how much Solomon had taxed the people and had really fallen from grace and had become a type of antichrist.

Jonah (you know the guy in the fish story) went to the city of Jappa when fleeing the Lord's command for him to call the Gentile city of Ninevah to repent. After being spit up by the great fish he found himself once again at Jappa and did finally go to the tell the those Ninevites to repent.
Now Peter in the New testament was called by Jesus "the son of Jonah" also found himself at the port city of Jappa when he was commanded by the Lord to receive the first Gentile convert Cornelius into the Church.

We all know the story after the resurrection in the Gospel of John Chapter 21 how Jesus had made a charcoal fire and asked Peter 3 times if he loved him. Peter responded in the affirmative. Now we can guess why Jesus asked three times, because Peter had denied Jesus three times. If we look closely at Peter's denial of Jesus we see another important detail. Peter denied Jesus while warming his hands over a charcoal fire. Jesus now recreates the situation as an opportunity for reconciliation.

At the end of Mark Chapter 1 we hear the story of how Jesus healed the man with leprosy.
This story is a summery of the whole Gospel. There is a man who is sick who can not go into cities because of his sickness and must remain in the wilderness. Jesus who had only been going to cities now meets the man in the wilderness and cures his sickness but it is Jesus who can no longer go into the city. Jesus cures the man of his infirmity but takes on himself the effects of the infirmity, namely not being able to go into cities. The same thing happens with sin. Jesus cures us of our sins but takes on the effects of the sin through being put to death.

In Leviticus 21:10 it says that the high priest is not allowed to tear his garments. (You know in the OT whenever they heard band news they were always tearing their garments and putting dirt on their head)
Well, while Jesus was on trial before the High Priest Caiphas, Jesus admits that he is the Christ and Caiphas the high priest tears his own robes breaking the law in Leviticus 21. But notice something else - in John 19:23 when they are dividing Jesus’ garments (which was a seamless garment, what a priest would where when offering sacrifice). Instead of tearing them they decide to draw lots for them, and his cloths do not get torn showing that Jesus is the new High Priest.

The Good Samaritan - a spiritual interpretation.
The man is Adam leaving the city of God (Jerusalem) and going to the city of man (Jericho). He is attacked by the devil. Neither the natural priesthood before Moses nor the Levitical priesthood of the law can help man. Christ is the good Samaritan who anointed him with the sacraments represented by oil and wine. He then places him in the church and gives charge of him to the pope and promises a return.

In John 6:51 we hear Jesus - I am the living bread which came down from heaven; if any one eats of this bread, he will live for ever. Notice he says - eats ..will live forever.
These words are used in only one other verse in the Bible. Genesis 3:22 - Then the LORD God said, "Behold, the man has become like one of us, knowing good and evil; and now, lest he put forth his hand and take also of the tree of life, and eat, and live for ever." Jesus, who died on a tree (acts 5:30), continues to say in the discourse that we are to eat his resurrected flesh and blood for eternal life. The cross is the new tree of life and Jesus is the fruit of the tree.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Immortality of the Soul Part 2

I have written before about how Jehovah's Witnesses don't believe in an immortal soul. They believe that once you die, you are dead, and unconscious until the resurrection.

I have been speaking with a couple of JW's since January to give a little background; and I have spoken with them before on this topic and they claimed that in Genesis 3:4 But the serpent said to the woman, "You will not die." That it was the devil himself here teaching Eve the lie that the soul was immortal.

It is a bit of a stretch to say the least, but I assured them that the doctrine didn't come from the devil but did in fact come from God and was taught in the New Testament.

In Luke chapter 16 verse 19 to the end in the story of Lazarus and the rich man. In brief the story is about two men who die, Lazarus and a rich man. The rich man is in a fiery place for not treating the poor well during his life and Lazarus is now in comfort with Abraham. The rich man asks Abraham to send someone back from the dead to warn his brothers, but Abraham says that they should listen to Moses and the prophets.

Now when I pointed out this story the JW's immediately answered by pointing out that this story was a parable (or as their Bible says an illustration), and that this story was not teaching the immortality of the soul. Instead they told me that the parable was against the rich Pharisees.
I responded by saying that if the story is a parable then it supports my position all the more and here is how:

Every parable is based on reality. Look at any parable; Luke 15 the lost coin, a lady had 10 coins and she looses one, but on finding it, she rejoices. Does that really happen?

In Matthew 13: The sower who throws seed and some gets eaten by birds, some falls on rocky ground, some on thorny ground, and some on good soil. Didn't this happen in Jesus' day?

After this the JW's again repeated the MEANING of the parable to me.
I said look your missing my point. A parable has two parts. They story that is based on reality, that is the first part. Then the second part is the meaning.

I said that they there denying the first part, the part based on reality and that they were just giving me the meaning.

The Catechism says that first interpretation that is to be given is the literal and that all other interpretations are based on it. If you ignore what Jesus says because it doesn't match with your theology then we must conform our heart to his in humility.

So I tried a different approach with them. I said - Now you all believe that this idea of the immortality of the soul is from the devil correct? They said yes. So I said, then we can call it a Satanic teaching. They said yes.

Then I asked, then why would Jesus base the parable of Lazarus and the rich man off of a Satanic teaching? Then they accused me of using worldly philosophy.

If I didn't believe that God's grace could conquer all, I would just feel helpless with these folks.
What are some other verses that show that the soul survives death?

Matthew 17:1-3 And after six days Jesus took with him Peter and James and John his brother, and led them up a high mountain apart. 2 And he was transfigured before them, and his face shone like the sun, and his garments became white as light. 3 And behold, there appeared to them Moses and Elijah, talking with him.

1 Samuel 28 - The raising of Samuel from a divining witch.

Philippians 1:21-23 For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain. 22 If it is to be life in the flesh, that means fruitful labor for me. Yet which I shall choose I cannot tell. 23 I am hard pressed between the two. My desire is to depart and be with Christ, for that is far better.

Revelation 6:9-10 When he opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of those who had been slain for the word of God and for the witness they had borne; 10 they cried out with a loud voice, "O Sovereign Lord, holy and true, how long before thou wilt judge and avenge our blood on those who dwell upon the earth?"

Friday, August 21, 2009

Me and Jesus Christianity

In our day, you can find pretty much find any Christian denomination that would fit with whatever it is you choose to believe. Many people say that Christianity has nothing to do with belonging to a group of people. The important thing is belonging to Christ. Here is what the Bible teaches about this:

As you know, the Jesus’ message was not politically correct. He was very specific about who to follow and what to do. For example;
John 4:22 You worship what you do not know; we worship what we know, for salvation is from the Jews.

Look how Jesus says that the way to salvation is through a specific group of people. He doesn’t instruct her to find her own path to God, he tells her that she doesn’t know what she is worshipping.

Next Jesus is pointing to that very group of people (the Jews) and says this:
Matthew 23:2-3 "The scribes and the Pharisees sit on Moses' seat; 3 so practice and observe whatever they tell you, but not what they do; for they preach, but do not practice.
Here Jesus is pointing to those people inside the religion who are hypocritical yet still need to be obeyed.

Does hypocrisy still go on today? Certainly it does, but is this any excuse to leave God’s channel of salvation (namely the church) not according to Jesus.

What about people who say that the church is fine and good just as long as they don’t get in the way of my relationship with Jesus?

Well the Bible is clear that there is no such thing as "me and Jesus" Christianity. It is always US and Jesus.

To begin in the beginning, notice how we weren’t born the garden of Eden because of what our first parents did. This punishment is very corporate.

Also think of Moses on Mount Sinai interceding for the Israelites who had been worshipping false gods down below, if it wasn’t for his intercession the group of them would have been destroyed.
One more example before we get into the NT. In the book of Joshua there God told the Israelites to destroy certain towns and take none of the spoils of war. But there was one guy Achan who had to take a little after a certain battle. Yet come to the next war and the Israelites loose the battle. Knowing that this whole war machine is run by the grace of God, they realize that the reason they lost was because someone had sinned. Soon Achan is found out and put to death. Notice though that the reason they lost wasn’t poor war strategy. They didn’t loose because of poor discipline in the ranks. They lost because one person was spiritually infected with sin and it effected everyone.

In the New Testament St. Paul says:
1 Corinthians 12:19-29 If all were a single organ, where would the body be? 20 As it is, there are many parts, yet one body. 21 The eye cannot say to the hand, "I have no need of you," nor again the head to the feet, "I have no need of you." 22 On the contrary, the parts of the body which seem to be weaker are indispensable, …. If one member suffers, all suffer together; if one member is honored, all rejoice together. 27 Now you are the body of Christ and individually members of it. 28 And God has appointed in the church first apostles, second prophets, third teachers, then workers of miracles, then healers, helpers, administrators, speakers in various kinds of tongues. 29 Are all apostles? Are all prophets? Are all teachers? Do all work miracles?
Paul says that we each have a part to play and notice again Paul says
21 The eye cannot say to the hand, "I have no need of you,"

Do you listener say I have no need for the leaders of the church? You may want to think again.
(Think also about how we do need the saints in Heaven as well)

What about people who say, but there is no warmth at the Catholic Church, when I go down to Bob’s Bible Church everyone knows me and greets me with love.

I would say first that the worship ceremony that we call the Mass isn’t the place to meet people. That is the place that we are called together to worship God. Now if after Mass you want to meet together to get to know people, that would be a great opportunity to do so. But we can’t abandon true worship just because somewhere else has better hospitality. I would say that is something we need to work on in certain parishes but not during Mass.

What about when people say that they left the Mass because of all of the scandals.

I ask them to name some scandals but then I say - hey you think that is bad I know a bishop that got paid to have a priest murdered. At this point they either agree or wonder where you are taking them in the conversation. I say yes, Judas who was a bishop was paid to have Jesus put to death. But this doesn’t mean that what Jesus taught wasn’t true. It just means that he chooses sinful men to communicate it, and the miracle is that for 2000 it has been communicated without change.

Read the Old Testament and see how you might stand up for some of those scandals? Could you imagine if after your priest offered sacrifice at your local church, he later went down the street to offer sacrifice to another god? THAT would be a huge scandal. But this doesn't mean that Judaism was false, or that God had not begun that religion, or that you could go start your own church.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

What's up with John 10:34? - Question from a reader.

John 10:34 Jesus answered them, "Is it not written in your law, `I said, you are gods'?

This is a quote from a Psalm:
RSV Psalm 82:1 A Psalm of Asaph. God has taken his place in the divine council; in the midst of the gods he holds judgment: 2 "How long will you judge unjustly and show partiality to the wicked? Selah 3 Give justice to the weak and the fatherless; maintain the right of the afflicted and the destitute. 4 Rescue the weak and the needy; deliver them from the hand of the wicked." 5 They have neither knowledge nor understanding, they walk about in darkness; all the foundations of the earth are shaken. 6 I say, "You are gods, sons of the Most High, all of you; 7 nevertheless, you shall die like men, and fall like any prince." 8 Arise, O God, judge the earth; for to thee belong all the nations!

So as we can see this psalm is about men who are to give the judgements of God. They are called 'gods' because of this role. But they are showing partiality to the wicked (ver. 2) They should be just (ver.3, 4) But they themselves will be given an unfavorable judgement (ver. 5-7)

Jesus will say below that they are called 'gods' and 'sons of the most high' because the word of God came to them to be given to others, but these men were wicked.
But isn't Jesus THE WORD OF GOD made flesh? How much more should He be able to be called the Son of God and he is good.

Keep this in mind while you reread John 10:22-42

Jesus is saying to them, 'you are going to stone me because I call myself the son of God? Hey doesn't scripture call some pretty wicked judges (like yourselves) sons of the most high? Why can't I use it then? For which of my good works (and not evil works, like you produce) are you going to to stone me for?

In other words, this is like the scene in Star Wars (Empire Strikes Back) when Dark Vader has cut off the hand of Luke and then tells him that he is his father. Luke screams " NO! I will never join you!" (Terrible example I know Darth Vader being Jesus and Luke being these men.) But this is the opposite. They need Jesus to NOT be the Christ, because he doesn't fit into their gospel.

Now you should also know thet certain groups (Mormons) quote this verse to show that we can become gods ourselves some day. This is not accurate from this verse. This verse needs to be read in the context of it's original meaning from Psalm 82. Now God does deligate some of his characteristics to us; God is judge - He gives others the power to judge. Jesus is the Light of the world - He makes us the light of the world.

Mormons would say that if we have these qualities, while God may have originally given them to us, they are now ours for the posessing that some day we (as gods) will be able to give to others.

Hope this helps - if it doesn't - let me know.

Hell and its Eternity

There are a few who say that hell is not eternal and that some day God’s mercy will overcome his justice and hell will be emptied. What does the Bible and catechism say about this?

CCC 1021 Death puts an end to human life as the time open to either accepting or rejecting the divine grace manifested in Christ.
CCC 393 It is the irrevocable character of their choice, and not a defect in the infinite divine mercy, that makes the angels’ sin unforgivable. "There is no repentance for the angels after their fall, just as there is no repentance for men after death." [St. John Damascene, Defide orth. 2, 4: PG 94, 877]

So the catechism is clear that once we have died we have made our choice. And it is in fact a choice that we make here on earth.

The Bible says in Hebrews 9:27 And just as it is appointed for men to die once, and after that comes judgment

So we have had our chance and then comes judgment…now something that we must keep in mind is that God is not a jerk. Everyone is offered the grace to go to heaven. Now to some it might not be as evident as it is to others but that is God’s business. Just because Jimmy down the street saw an apparition of our Lady and you didn’t doesn’t mean that he is guaranteed a place in heaven. He still needs to obey the gospel the best way he knows.

There is also in Romans 2:14-16 When Gentiles who have not the law do by nature what the law requires, they are a law to themselves, even though they do not have the law. 15 They show that what the law requires is written on their hearts, while their conscience also bears witness and their conflicting thoughts accuse or perhaps excuse them 16 on that day when, according to my gospel, God judges the secrets of men by Christ Jesus.

Exactly so keep those things in mind

Continuing on, Jesus says in Matthew 25:41 that Hell was originally prepared for the devil and his angels.

It wasn’t originally created for humans who had rebelled but for the angels. But now we see that those who share in the sin of disobedience before death share in the fate of the devils and are sent to Hell.

But is Hell eternal! Yes and to those who did not clothe, feed, or visit Christ he will say - Matthew 25:46 And they will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life."
Notice that there is a contrast between the eternity of the punishment and the eternity of the reward.

If someone argues that God’s mercy will some day triumph over his justice and thus free the souls from hell, how do we know that at some later date God’s justice won’t triumph over his mercy and send everyone to hell? This is an undependable position.

Mark 9:43-48 And if your hand causes you to sin, cut it off; it is better for you to enter life maimed than with two hands to go to hell, to the unquenchable fire. 44 45 And if your foot causes you to sin, cut it off; it is better for you to enter life lame than with two feet to be thrown into hell. 46 47 And if your eye causes you to sin, pluck it out; it is better for you to enter the kingdom of God with one eye than with two eyes to be thrown into hell, 48 where their worm does not die, and the fire is not quenched.

Now Jesus here isn’t recommending a lot of one armed one legged Christians. He is here warning us of the seriousness of this life and its effects on the afterlife. And that somehow he must communicate the terribleness of Hell, Jesus says that it is better to loose a limb than experience the pains of hell.

I would also say that there are some moral and theological danger to the teaching that hell will be emptied.
First is that in the churches 2000 years it has never taught this. So to teach it is to divorce yourself from the churches teaching.
Second I would then wonder what the purpose of purgatory would be - would a person who went to hell still have to go to purgatory?
Third, if I am going to heaven anyway, why not live it up here on earth? Its not like I am going to hell for eternity?
Finally, those who are in hell, have no wish to be in heaven because the one that they refused to serve is there and to see him face to face for all eternity would be worse than hell.
C.S. Lewis said that the door to hell is locked - from the inside. They want to keep God out.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

David And Jesus Their Tribulation

In the Book of 2 Samuel beginning in the 15th chapter it talks about how Absalom has ambitious plans of overthrowing his father David and he himself will become king.

David hears of this plan in advance and so he flees Jerusalem, but listen to where he goes.

Verse :23 The king also passed over the brook Kidron,
And verse :30 And David went up the ascent of the Mount of Olives, and wept as he went, and his head was covered and he walked barefoot.

This is exactly what Jesus did on the night that he was betrayed by a spiritual son - Judas.

John 18:1 When Jesus had spoken these words, He went forth with His disciples over the ravine of the Kidron, where there was a garden, into which He Himself entered, and His disciples.
Matthew 26:30 And after singing a hymn, they went out to the Mount of Olives.

Also notice what happens next David says this:

2 Samuel 15:25-26 If I find favor in the sight of the LORD, then He will bring me back again, and show me both it and His habitation. 26 "But if He should say thus, 'I have no delight in you,' behold, here I am, let Him do to me as seems good to Him."

And then the prayer of Jesus:

Luke 22:42 "Father, if Thou art willing, remove this cup from Me; yet not My will, but Thine be done."

Both David and Jesus desire the will of God, whatever it may be. They both pray that their hardship may be removed, but their ultimate desire is that the will of God be done.

Meanwhile back in Jerusalem the plot to put David to death is underway, and listen to what one of Absalom’s advisers says.

2 Samuel 17:1-3 I will set out and pursue David tonight. I will come upon him while he is weary and discouraged, and throw him into a panic; and all the people who are with him will flee. I will strike down the king only, and I will bring all the people back to you as a bride comes home to her husband. You seek the life of only one man, and all the people will be at peace."

Several things point right to the life of Jesus and the plot to kill him.

Mark 14:27 And Jesus said to them, "You will all fall away; for it is written, `I will strike the shepherd, and the sheep will be scattered.'

- Hey wasn’t David a shepherd?

What Absalom’s servant said also points to what Caiaphas the high priest would say of Jesus.

John 11:49-52 But one of them, Caiaphas, who was high priest that year, said to them, "You know nothing at all; you do not understand that it is expedient for you that one man should die for the people, and that the whole nation should not perish." He did not say this of his own accord, but being high priest that year he prophesied that Jesus should die for the nation, and not for the nation only, but to gather into one the children of God who are scattered abroad.

So Absaloms's advisor is almost speaking prophetically like Caiaphas. - If we would just get rid of this guy the people would be won over and then there would be peace. It would be like bring all the people back to you as a bride comes home to her husband.

What Absalom's advisor and the high priest don't know is that this is for Jesus a fulfillment of scripture.

This gathering of the children of God who are scattered abroad is spoken of in Hosea. The people of Israel (who are described as a bride) are going after false gods, but God will bring her back
Hosea 2:16 "And in that day, says the LORD, you will call me, `My husband,'

So God will once again be reunited with his Bride Israel.

Again Absalom's advisor is saying that killing David would win the people over to Absalom the false king. Just like when they put Jesus on trial the people shouted - we have no king but Caesar. On the contrary hat actually happens though is that in putting the true king to death, Israel (the bride) is won over to the true king.

Also both the plans of Absalom and the Jewish high priest at the time of Jesus are thwarted. When David (the true king) returns from exile he brings with him forgiveness for those who previously had cursed him. So when Jesus returns from the grave he also brings with him the forgiveness of sins.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Raised Accourding to What Scriptures?

Every Sunday we profess our faith in the Nicene creed. And in the creed we say and the third day He rose again, according to the Scriptures; What Scripture is are we referring to in the Creed?

This is a quote from:
1 Corinthians 15:3-4 For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received, that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the scriptures.

Here is the mysterious thing. Nowhere in the Old Testament does it explicitly say that the Christ would rise on the third day. Christ does though make hints to it during his ministry on earth.

Matthew 12:40 For as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of the whale, so will the Son of man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth.

Now there is more going on in the Jonah story than you may have seen before. When Jonah gets swallowed by the fish he says.
Jonah 2:1-2 Then Jonah prayed to the LORD his God from the belly of the fish, saying, "I called to the LORD, out of my distress, and he answered me; out of the belly of Sheol I cried, and you did hear my voice.

Sheol in the Old Testament is the abode of the dead. So Maybe Jonah died maybe he hadn't. But he certainly compares his situation with death. And the of course three days later he is spit out to continue his mission.

I think also that people saw in Hosea 6: 1, 2 an illusion to the resurrection of Jesus. The context is of course important, Hosea is calling Israel to repentance after it has gone astray and is preparing it for exile to Assyria (Just like Jonah was doing). Here is what Hosea says:
Hosea 6:1-2 "Come, let us return to the LORD; for he has torn, that he may heal us; he has stricken, and he will bind us up. After two days he will revive us; on the third day he will raise us up, that we may live before him.

Now listen to Hosea 11:1 When Israel was a child, I loved him, and out of Egypt I called my son. Matthew says that this is a reference to when Jesus went to Egypt and then came back again(Hosea 11:1), but Hosea is saying that this is in reference to Israel. So we see in Jesus the embodiment of Israel, Jesus is the New Israel and Hosea says of Israel (Jesus)" After two days he will revive us; on the third day he will raise us up, that we may live before him."
Certainly this is a reference to the resurrection of Jesus.

One more reference
Psalm 16:9-10
Therefore my heart is glad, my soul rejoices; my body also dwells secure, 10 For you will not abandon me to Sheol, nor let your faithful servant see the pit.
quoted by Peter in
Acts 2:24 But God raised him up, releasing him from the throes of death, because it was impossible for him to be held by it. For David says of him: 'I saw the Lord ever before me, with him at my right hand I shall not be disturbed. Therefore my heart has been glad and my tongue has exulted; my flesh, too, will dwell in hope, because you will not abandon my soul to the netherworld, nor will you suffer your holy one to see corruption. You have made known to me the paths of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence.'

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

The Resurrection and Re-creation


With the coming of the resurrection of Jesus comes a new creation. Here are some of the signs of the new creation:
The first thing to notice is that Jesus is raised on the first day of the week, the Gospel of John is introduced with the words "in the beginning" which is to call to our minds the creation story in Genesis. The Gospel of John is ending with a new creation with these words.
John 20:1 Now on the first day of the week Mary Magdalene came to the tomb early, while it was still dark,
This is going right along with Genesis 1
Genesis 1:1-2 In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. 2 The earth was without form and void, and darkness was upon the face of the deep;

And who comes out of the darkness but Jesus himself who said
John 9:5 As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world."

We also see a garden in both Genesis and in the resurrection. John tells us:
John 19:41 Now in the place where he was crucified there was a garden, and in the garden a new tomb where no one had ever been laid.
So Jesus’ tomb is in a place where there is a garden, which is why in John 20:12-15 Mary is inconsolable and after seeing a vision of two angels sitting where the body of Jesus had lain, one at the head and one at the feet. They said to her, "Woman, why are you weeping?" She said to them, "Because they have taken away my Lord, and I do not know where they have laid him." Saying this, she turned round and saw Jesus standing, but she did not know that it was Jesus. Jesus said to her, "Woman, why are you weeping? Whom do you seek?" Supposing him to be the gardener.

Now Mary Magdalene thinks that Jesus is the gardener and she is not mistaken. God is the original gardener. It is through Christ the WORD of God that all things were made. And in the beginning of creation in Genesis chapter 2 Adam is created in a garden.
Here the New Adam who is the creator begins his new creation in a garden.
There is another scene here that most definitely points us to a new creation and this happened on the evening of the first day when Jesus appears to the apostles and says
John 20:21-23 "Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, even so I send you." And when he had said this, he breathed on them, and said to them, "Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained."
Now look at:
Genesis 2:7 then the LORD God formed man of dust from the ground, and breathed into his face the breath of life; and man became a living being. ( in Hebrew - breath and spirit are the same word)

Both in Genesis 2 and in John 20 are the only times that God breathes on anyone. Christ is restoring what Adam lost through sin, and the apostles are the first fruits of the new creation receiving once again what Adam lost.
This also points to the divinity of Christ with him breathing on the apostles just as God did in Genesis.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Mary the New Eve

Often we might hear Jesus being called the New Adam and for good reason 1 Corinthians 15:45 So also it is written, "The first man, Adam, became a living soul." The last Adam became a life-giving spirit. That Last Adam is Jesus.
The Church also calls Mary the New Eve, is there any scriptural ground for this?

Certainly there is but to see it we need to go back to the beginning in Genesis where two covenants were made and then broken.

When God made Adam he said Genesis 1:27 And God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them.
But we know that Adam was made first because Genesis 2 talks about the man being alone with the animals.

Getting into the creation of the man, it says that God made man in his own image. This is familial covenant language. WE know this because in Genesis 5:3 When Adam had lived one hundred and thirty years, he became the father of a son in his own likeness, according to his image, and named him Seth. So that image and likeness language points us to a familial covenant relationship that God has with mankind. God has made a covenant with Adam by making him in God’s own image and likeness.

That is the first covenant.

The second is when in Genesis chapter 2 God took one of Adams ribs and makes from it a woman. And the man said, "This is now bone of my bones, And flesh of my flesh; She shall be called Woman, Because she was taken out of Man." When we say that someone today is our own flesh and blood we mean that they are family. Adam is saying the same thing. This is familial covenant language that is why in the next verse it says
Genesis 2:24 For this cause a man shall leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave to his wife; and they shall become one flesh.

That is the second covenant.

The devil enters upon the scene and systematically helps ruin both covenants.

First, by getting the woman to listen and believe the devils message instead of her husbands message to not touch the tree of knowledge of good and evil. The devil drives a wedge between the couple, and in some sense causes the woman to commit spiritual adultery.
So that marriage covenant has been compromised.

Next the devil gets the Adam to break the covenant between himself and God by Adam disobeying God and eating from the tree.

The Church Fathers talked about Mary untying the knot that Eve had tied. And just when you untie a knot, you must do it in reverse of the way that it was tied. This is exactly what happens with Jesus and Mary.

Now getting to Mary being the new Eve. We see in the Gospel of John is another woman who is present only two times. Once at a wedding and another time at a tree.
Mary is never mentioned by name in the Gospel of John, she is called two times "woman".

The first is at the wedding of Cana when in John 2 when Jesus at the request of his mother provides wine for a marriage feast. So Jesus’ first miracle not only saves a marriage feast from social danger and embarrassment by running out of wine, but also blesses marriage by his very presence, thus restoring the sanctity of marriage.

Next we see Jesus nailed to a tree and at the foot of the tree is his mother, who he addresses as "woman". It is on this tree that Jesus is restoring the covenant between God and Man.

So Adam we given two covenants one with God and one with the woman. It is the same with Jesus but in reverse. His first miracle is provided at a wedding at the request of the woman, and finally restoring the covenant with God at the crucifixion with the woman again - his mother.

It is in this was that Mary untied the knot that Eve tied., thus becoming the new Eve.