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Wednesday, December 15, 2010

The Cross in the Old Testament Part 1

(Don't forget I have having a sale on these commentaries to your right - 20% off for Christmas)

Let us find some foreshadowings in the Old Testament concerning the Cross of Jesus.
Ironically, to see the first place in the Old Testament where the cross is prefigured, we must look to the New Testament.

The apostles call the cross a tree.
Acts 5:30 The God of our fathers hath raised up Jesus, whom you put to death, hanging him upon a tree.
Acts 5:30 tells us that Jesus was put to death on a tree, which we know as the cross.
Keep that in mind as we look at a few other passages.
Then, earlier in John 6:51: Jesus says, “I am the living bread which came down from heaven; if any one eats of this bread, he will live for ever; and the bread which I shall give for the life of the world is my flesh."
All of this was, of course, in the context of the Eucharist, and the words here eat and live forever are used only one other time together and that is in Genesis 3:22. God kicks Adam and Eve out of the garden of Eden lest they eat of the Tree of life and live forever.
So, the Apostles, empowered with the Holy Spirit, recognize that Jesus was giving us His flesh on the cross, and that this flesh was given for eternal life, which we would experience in communion.
That is why, I imagine, they say that Jesus died on a tree, because they see that the cross is the New Tree of Life.

Now, let’s look to the book of Wisdom, which says some interesting things about the Noah’s Ark.
Wisdom 14:6-7 For even in the beginning, when arrogant giants were perishing, the hope of the world took refuge on a raft, and guided by thy hand left to the world the seed of a new generation. For blessed is the wood by which righteousness comes.

It is as if the ark is a prefiguring of the cross. Solomon says that “the arrogant giants were perishing”. Now he is speaking of the Nephelim who were the offspring of the sons of God with the daughters of men. But we can also see this happening in Jesus’ day as well as our own day. The arrogant giants in politics, and entertainment ARE perishing, they do not last forever.

Solomon then says that “the hope of the world took refuge on a raft”. Solomon is comparing the ark to a raft. When the ark is compared to the flooding of the world it is likened to a raft, small and insignificant. The same is true with the Cross of Christ. A Jewish man was crucified 2000 years ago because he got some people upset. Yet Solomon says “the hope of the world took refuge on a raft.” The cross is exactly that; “the hope of the world”.

Solomon goes on and says that after the flood Noah and his sons were guided by God’s hand and gave to the world the “seed of a new generation.” Who better fits this than Christians? We are the Children of God born from water to eternal life. We are that new generation.
Finally, in verse 7 Solomon says, “For blessed is the wood by which righteousness comes.” Pointing backward, he is speaking of the ark, but pointing forward, he is talking about the wood of the cross by which righteousness comes.

We also see some powerful imagery with Abraham and Isaac.
We see poor Abraham in Genesis 22 being asked by God to sacrifice the son he was promised as a burnt offering. They travel three days to Mount Moriah, which is the same mountain Jesus would be crucified on. Here, we read:
Genesis 22:6 And Abraham took the wood of the burnt offering, and laid it on Isaac his son;
So Isaac here is carrying the wood up this mountain just like Jesus would do 1700 years later. It is as if they were preenacting the carrying of the cross.

Moses too points to the cross.
When Israelites had crossed over the Red Sea, the first thing they do is grumble and ask for water. Now the Hebrew word Marah, means bitter, or rebellion, so there is an interesting play on words here.
Exodus 15:23-24 When they came to Marah, they could not drink the water of Marah because it was bitter; therefore it was named Marah.
And the people murmured against Moses, saying, "What shall we drink?"
And he cried to the LORD; and the LORD showed him a tree, and he threw it into the water, and the water became sweet. There the LORD made for them a statute and an ordinance and there he proved them,
saying, "If you will diligently hearken to the voice of the LORD your God, and do that which is right in his eyes, and give heed to his commandments and keep all his statutes, I will put none of the diseases upon you which I put upon the Egyptians; for I am the LORD, your healer."

So, the water reflected the rebellious attitude of the people. But God heals the water and those who drink it become healed of their rebellion as well.
And then in the New Testament we see
1 Peter 2:24 He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. By his wounds you have been healed.
I cannot help but think that Christ does the same thing on the cross. He takes the punishment of a rebel and He makes that punishment something that we are all called to imitate because it leads to eternal life.
Sirach 38:5 Was not water made sweet with a tree in order that his power might be known?
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.

Friday, December 3, 2010


The Commentary's prices have been cut down by 20%. That is a savings of $7.99 per book. NOW IS THE TIME!

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Together these were originally $79.90 but are now only $63.92 you save $15.98!
This sale will not last long. Get the savings today!

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Was Jesus Breaking The Law Of Moses?

(I hope this answers your questions Sharon)

Was Jesus too rough on the Scribes, Pharisees and Jewish leaders of his day. He seemed to be braking many Jewish laws; laws that Moses put in place from God. Then when the leadership give him grief about it Jesus seems to really lay into them. Was that fair?

Let’s begin by asking what laws Jesus seemed to be breaking?

Certainly he was accused of breaking the Sabbath for several reasons.
Exodus 20:8-10 "Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy. "Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is a sabbath of the LORD your God; in it you shall not do any work, you or your son or your daughter, your male or your female servant or your cattle or your sojourner who stays with you.
Matthew 12:1-2 At that time Jesus went on the Sabbath through the grainfields, and His disciples became hungry and began to pick the heads of grain and eat. But when the Pharisees saw it, they said to Him, "Behold, Your disciples do what is not lawful to do on a Sabbath."
Matthew 12:10 And behold, there was a man with a withered hand. And they questioned Him, saying, "Is it lawful to heal on the Sabbath?"-- in order that they might accuse Him.
When a woman who had been sick for 18 years was healed by Jesus…
Luke 13:14 And the synagogue official, indignant because Jesus had healed on the Sabbath, began saying to the multitude in response, "There are six days in which work should be done; therefore come during them and get healed, and not on the Sabbath day."

In the parable of the good Samaritan Jesus seems to criticize the priest and Levite for passing the man that got beat up. But if they would have touched him they would have been ritually unclean according to the law of Moses.
Leviticus 21:1 Then the LORD said to Moses, "Speak to the priests, the sons of Aaron, and say to them, 'No one shall defile himself for a dead person among his people.
Luke 5:30 And the Pharisees and their scribes began grumbling at His disciples, saying, "Why do you eat and drink with the tax-gatherers and sinners?"

If you read almost any part of the Old Testament it is pretty clear that we aren’t suppose to have anything to do with sinners.

Those seem to be the examples that someone would point out if they had an objection. How could we answer those?

First we need to know why those laws in the Old Testament were given. Then we need to ask who does Jesus think that he is that he can break those laws?

So why were those laws given: Don’t associate with sinners?

If you read the Old Testament you see that every time that the Israelites got anywhere near their pagan neighbors they began to act like them. So God - as a punishment - said that they needed to stay separated from their pagan neighbors so they could focus on the Lord. By Jesus’ time the Jews were taking pride in the fact that God had told them that they couldn’t associate with sinners and were forgetting WHY they couldn’t associate with them. Jesus was reminding the Jews of their other mission to be an example to Gentiles like King David and Solomon who attracted Gentiles to the true God.

Not only did Jesus come to remind them, but to empower them with the ability to do it better than Solomon.

Next with the priest and Levite who don’t touch the dead man who was traveling from Jerusalem to Jericho - oh wait, he wasn’t dead, he was only half dead, yet in the story they still walked on.

Why didn’t God want priests and Levites to touch dead people? Now they could actually touch them but they would haven had to go through some ritual purifications before they couldn’t participate in worship again.

The Temple is model of Heaven and paradise. Those in heaven or paradise have nothing to do with death.
Jesus quotes Hosea saying.
Matthew 9:13 `I desire mercy, and not sacrifice.'

The priests main job is to be a mediator between God and man, and to extend God’s mercy to those who are in trouble. That is what a bunch of the psalms are about.

Finally the accusation that Jesus broke the Sabbath.
Jesus referring to himself said:
Matthew 12:8 For the Son of man is lord of the sabbath."
That is a clear statement of his Divinity. The Sabbath rest was given to recall what God had done for us in our creation and in God rescuing Israel from Egypt that place of bondage.

Heaven is that ultimate rest where we will once again have communion with God as in paradise and be ultimately free from bondage to worship him as he is.

Jesus is a walking Sabbath because he is God made man. He is in himself that communion that he extends to all. He heals specifically on the Sabbath because that is the day it makes the most sense to do so.

Listen to what he says here:

John 7:23 If on the sabbath a man receives circumcision, so that the law of Moses may not be broken, are you angry with me because on the sabbath I made a man's whole body well?

Why isn’t the Sabbath broken by the work of circumcision? Because this work of joining a baby to the communion of God is again the fulfillment of the Sabbath.

So Jesus is giving them a hard time, because the scribes and Pharisees knew all of this already. The problem was that Jesus didn’t fit into their idea of what the Christ would be like and they were too hard hearted to even give him and chance.

For example in John 12 after Jesus raises Lazarus from the dead. It is THAT event that sets into motion their plotting Jesus’ and Lazarus’ death.

Ultimately it wasn’t that Jesus was breaking the law, but fulfilling it in a way that was unexpected and dangerous to the way of life of some of the scribes and Pharisees and all of us.

P.S. The Editor of this blog (my wife) went to bed, so all grammatical and spelling errors are mine.
P.S.S. I have having a sale on the commentaries - 20% off. Crazy I know but it is for a limited time. Great gift for your parish priest, seminarian, Bible loving friend or new convert!

Sunday, November 28, 2010


The Commentary's prices have been cut down by 20%. That is a savings of $7.99 per book.

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  • Need a gift for a seminarian friend? This is it!
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Together these were originally $79.90 but are now only $63.92 you save $15.98!

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Wednesday, November 17, 2010

The Lawyer Who Didn't Know Where He Lived.

Everyone knows the parable of the good Samaritan, but as we have seen on this show there are many layers of meaning within the word of God. Let’s refresh a bit with the Parable of the Good Samaritan.

Luke 10:30-35 "A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and he fell among robbers, who stripped him and beat him, and departed, leaving him half dead. Now by chance a priest was going down that road; and when he saw him he passed by on the other side. So likewise a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. But a Samaritan, as he journeyed, came to where he was; and when he saw him, he had compassion, and went to him and bound up his wounds, pouring on oil and wine; then he set him on his own beast and brought him to an inn, and took care of him. And the next day he took out two denarii and gave them to the innkeeper, saying, `Take care of him; and whatever more you spend, I will repay you when I come back.'

Here is some historical background, in brief. The Samaritans were Israelites who had intermarried with Gentiles and worshipped some place other than Jerusalem. The Jews considered them unclean and worse than Gentiles because they interpreted the scriptures differently. A priest and a Levite might not touch someone who was dying, lest the victim die and the priest or Levite become ritually unclean and unable to serve at the Temple for a time and be unable to offer sacrifice. The Samaritan, who was not obligated by these laws, had a better chance of helping this poor man. Unfortunately, he better understood God’s words to Hosea, “I desire mercy not sacrifice.”

With that in mind, this story is Jesus’ response to the question of “who is my neighbor?” This is the question that a lawyer asks Jesus. Now, the traditional response is that his neighbor is the one who is in need, in this case the man badly beaten on the side of the road. And truly, he is your neighbor, anyone who needs you.

Yet Jesus asks a question after this story. He says in Luke 10:36-37 “Which of these three, do you think, proved neighbor to the man who fell among the robbers?" The Lawyer says , "The one who showed mercy on him." And Jesus said to him, "Go and do likewise."
So Jesus sort of twists the lawyers question back on him. The Lawyer asked “who is MY neighbor?”. Jesus asks the lawyer, “who was neighborly?”

Now this lawyer was probably a Jewish lawyer who would discuss the laws of Moses. So, he was a Bible scholar. Again two different questions were asked; “Who is my neighbor?” and “Who was neighborly?” The answer to the first question of “Who is my neighbor?” is anyone in need. The answer to the second question of “Who was neighborly?” is “The one who showed mercy on him." Namely, the Samaritan.

When Jesus tells the lawyer to “Go and do likewise,” I think He is saying, “Go and do likewise to the Samaritans, because they ARE your neighbors. They literally are, they live just north of Jerusalem. Go and show them mercy. AND the one who is in need” Both are your neighbors.

There seems to be an Old Testament parallel to this story.
In 2 Chronicles, it relates a story of how Northern Israelites took captive people from Judah after a war. Here is what happens:

In 2 Chronicles 28:8-15 The men of Israel took captive two hundred thousand of their kinsfolk, women, sons, and daughters; they also took much spoil from them and brought the spoil to Samaria. But a prophet of the LORD was there, whose name was Oded; and he went out to meet the army that came to Samaria, and said to them, "Behold, because the LORD, the God of your fathers, was angry with Judah, he gave them into your hand, but you have slain them in a rage which has reached up to heaven. And now you intend to subjugate the people of Judah and Jerusalem, male and female, as your slaves. Have you not sins of your own against the LORD your God? Now hear me, and send back the captives from your kinsfolk whom you have taken, for the fierce wrath of the LORD is upon you." [Then some good guys] rose and took the captives, and with the spoil they clothed all that were naked among them; they clothed them, gave them sandals, provided them with food and drink, and anointed them; and carrying all the feeble among them on asses, they brought them to their kinsfolk at Jericho, the city of palm trees. Then they returned to Samaria.

Jesus seems to be bring up a story of a time when the Samaritans were charitable toward the Jews and that they should do likewise.
A spiritual interpretation of this verse is a great one you can use to evangelize both Catholics and non-Catholics alike.

The man leaving Jerusalem and going to Jericho is Adam. He is attacked by the devil and left for dead. The natural priesthood of Noah, Melchizedek, and Abraham, can’t help him. The Levitical priesthood from the time of Moses until Jesus can’t help him. The only one that can help him is Jesus, who is the good Samaritan. He anoints him with the oil of the Holy Spirit and the wine of His Blood and takes him to the inn, the Church. He tells Peter, the keeper of the keys, to take care of him until He returns.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Twisted Scripture

Taking verses out of context can be dangerous and lead to some pretty strange interpretations of the Scriptures. Recently, I heard a radio show offering free information and I called in to receive a free book and CD on how to “properly” interpret the Bible.

In brief, the information says that we just need to pay attention to the Pauline books of the Bible, because the other ones are written to other folks.

From Genesis up to Acts of the Apostles was all to Jews according to this information. The Pauline Letters are for us Gentiles. From Hebrews to Revelation is for some future time for both Jews and Gentiles.

They reason to such a conclusion by pointing to a few verses in Ephesians, Chapter 2.

Ephesians 2:11-12 therefore remember …you Gentiles in the flesh, called the uncircumcision by what is called the circumcision, which is made in the flesh by hands -- remember that you were at that time separated from Christ, alienated from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world.

- So that is the times past when God is just dealing with the Jews.

Ephesians 2:13 But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near in the blood of Christ.

- This is the present time we are in and have been brought near by the blood of Jesus.

Now, we have to back track to pick up verse 7.
Ephesians 2:7 that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.

So we have past, present, and future. How do they reason that the Gospels and Acts are a part of the past?

Romans 15:8 For I tell you that Christ became a servant to the circumcised to show God's truthfulness, in order to confirm the promises given to the patriarchs.

They say, “See, Jesus ministered to the circumcised, that is the “times past” spoken of by Paul, therefore, Jesus in the Gospels isn’t talking to us Gentiles. We only really need to listen to Paul.”

How do we untangle these scriptures? Especially the ones that suggest we don’t need to listen to the Gospels?

My answer to this is one verse at a time. You know if you change the meaning of any part of the Gospel, it changes the entire Gospel because it is so interconnected and unified.

The issue is finding for whom Jesus came. Did He come for the Jews only, or the whole world? The booklet I received quotes these three verses:

Matthew 10:5-6 These twelve Jesus sent out, charging them, "Go nowhere among the Gentiles, and enter no town of the Samaritans, 6 but go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.

Matthew 15:24 He answered, "I was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel."

John 4:22 You worship what you do not know; we worship what we know, for salvation is from the Jews.

From these verses they reason that Jesus was only sent to the Jews.

Now, Jesus did come to the Jews first. That is plain, but He came to those whom He had been preparing for the last 1500 years to receive Him. He went to the Jews as a kind of “first fruits” for the harvest of the world.

Each of the above verses is taken out of context.

When Jesus said to the Samaritan woman in John 4 that salvation was from the Jews, it did come to the world through the Jews in the person is Jesus. Yet Jesus is talking with a Samaritan woman for her salvation and for the salvation of her town. These were not Jews.

When Jesus said in Matthew 15 that He was sent to the lost sheep of Israel, He was in a Gentile territory of Tyre and Sidon. A woman comes up to Him and says "Have mercy on me, O Lord, Son of David; my daughter is severely possessed by a demon." He answered, "I was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel." But she came and knelt before him, saying, "Lord, help me." And he answered, "It is not fair to take the children's bread and throw it to the dogs." She said, "Yes, Lord, yet even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their masters' table." Then Jesus answered her, "O woman, great is your faith! Be it done for you as you desire." And her daughter was healed instantly.

So, Jesus ministers not only to the Jews but the Gentiles as well.

Jesus also says in John 10:16 And I have other sheep, that are not of this fold; I must bring them also, and they will heed my voice.
This has traditionally been understood to mean the Gentiles.

In Luke, Chapter 2, Simeon takes Jesus in his arms and says that Jesus will be a light of revelation to the Gentiles.

So Jesus came to the Jews to fulfill what had been prophesied about Him so that both Jew and Gentile would believe in Him.

The apostles would continue this pattern in the Acts of the Apostles. They go to the Jews first and then to the Gentiles. As they travel around the Mediterranean, they would enter into the synagogues first and then go to the Gentiles.

Remember when St. Paul in Romans said that Jesus came to minister to the circumcised? Let’s read that in context.

Romans 15:8-12 For I tell you that Christ became a servant to the circumcised to show God's truthfulness, in order to confirm the promises given to the patriarchs, and in order that the Gentiles might glorify God for his mercy. As it is written, "Therefore I will praise thee among the Gentiles, and sing to thy name"; and again it is said, "Rejoice, O Gentiles, with his people"; and again, "Praise the Lord, all Gentiles, and let all the peoples praise him"; and further Isaiah says, "The root of Jesse shall come, he who rises to rule the Gentiles; in him shall the Gentiles hope."

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

The Catechesis of The "Our Father"

The Catechism of the Catholic Church says in paragraph 2774, “The Lord’s Prayer is truly the summary of the whole gospel,” quoting Tertullian. It says that it is the “most perfect of prayers,” citing St. Thomas Aquinas. Finally, it says that the Lord’s Prayer is at the center of the Scriptures.

I believe a case can be made that each section of the Catechism is represented inside of the “Our Father” in one way or another, making the Lord’s Prayer a miniature Catechism.

There are four parts of the Catechism: the Creed, the Sacraments, Morality or the 10 Commandments, and Prayer.

Let’s start with Prayer. Obviously, the “Our Father” is a prayer and the Catechism uses it as a model for all prayer.

I think that the 10 Commandments are hinted at in the “Our Father.” The prayer has seven petitions. The first three are about God and the next is concerning ourselves and our neighbor. In the 10 Commandments, the first three are about God and the next seven are about ourselves and our neighbors. So that is in a general sense.

More specifically, in paragraph 1803 of the Catechism, we are introduced to the Virtues. The three theological virtues of Faith, Hope and Charity and the four cardinal virtues of Prudence, Justice, Fortitude and Temperance are discussed.

The Father’s name is made holy when we have FAITH in all that He has revealed. The Father’s name becomes set apart in our lives above every other name.

We have HOPE in the final coming of Christ’s Kingdom on the last day.

In CHARITY we love God above all things and do His will.

I think “give us this day our daily bread” points us to TEMPERANCE and that God is our only satisfaction.

In JUSTICE we need to forgive others as we have been forgiven.

We need to have FORTITUDE to persevere through any trials we might face.
Finally, we are delivered from evil choices when we are PRUDENT.

What about the Sacraments?

To begin, I will let the Catechism speak for itself as far as “Hallowed be thy name.”

2813 In the waters of BAPTISM, we have been “washed... Sanctified …in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and in the Spirit of our God.” Our Father calls us to holiness in the whole of our life, and since “he is the source of [our] life in Christ Jesus, who became for us wisdom from God, and... sanctification,” both his glory and our life depend on the hallowing of his name in us and by us. Such is the urgency of our first petition.

“Thy kingdom come” and “give us this day our daily bread” could sort of be interchangeable. I think they are the PRIESTHOOD and the EUCHARIST. The Kingdom comes and the daily bread are given at the hands of the priest. I am a bit torn on those.

“Thy will be done on earth and it is in Heaven” points us toward MARRIAGE, in this sense. Marriage is a picture of Christ, who is in Heaven, and His church, which is here on earth. These some day will be joined in the harmony of God’s Will.

“Forgive us our trespasses…” easily points us to CONFESSION.

“Lead us not into temptation” is more like “don’t put us to the test.” We know God doesn’t tempt anyone.
This is CONFIRMATION, and confirmation of this is in:
CCC 1296 This seal of the Holy Spirit marks our total belonging to Christ, our enrollment in his service for ever, as well as the promise of divine protection in the great eschatological trial.

Finally, “deliver us from evil.” Deliver us with the ANOINTING OF THE SICK, so that if we at least do not recover, our hearts are strengthened toward Heaven.

Finally, what about the Creed?

Well, the creeds that most of us know begin with the words, “We believe in God the Father…” That is how this prayer begins and then both the Nicene Creed and the Apostles’ Creed have an outline of Salvation History.

So God’s name is Hallowed in the Incarnation of His Son.

The Kingdom comes - CCC 2816 - It is brought near in the Word incarnate, it is proclaimed throughout the whole Gospel, and it has come in Christ’s death and Resurrection. The Kingdom of God has been coming since the Last Supper and, in the Eucharist, it is in our midst.

“thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven”
CCC 2823 The catechism is citing Ephesians 1 here. “He has made known to us the mystery of his will, according to his good pleasure that he set forth in Christ... to gather up all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth. In Christ we have also obtained an inheritance,

We obtained our inheritance when Christ ascended into Heaven and is seated at the right hand of God the Father. Christ then sends the Holy Spirit to “give us our daily bread.” Both the Eucharist and our daily needs He provides.

We believe also in the forgiveness of sins, that is next in the creeds and in the “Our Father”.

We believe that there will be a final battle where we will be put to the test. We ask God to preserve us from that.

But finally, deliver us from evil in the resurrection of the dead and a New Heavens and a New Earth.


Wednesday, October 6, 2010

A Wonderful Interpretation of Psalm 23 from a Great Commentary

To purchase the commentary, click on the links in the right hand column.

For a beautiful interpretation of Psalm 23 paste this link into your browser.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Finally Volume 1 is Finished!!!

A Catholic Commentary on Sacred Scripture Volume 1 - The Old Testament, is finally finished.
This commentary is spectacular. Each Book of the Bible has its own introduction. consisting of
1. The author
2. Context and Analysis
3. An outline of the book
4. Date and authorship
5. Doctrinal Value
6. Where is Christ in each book

Then a verse by verse commentary.

Here is a sample of the commentary from Psalm 23.

Two exquisite representations of God: the Good Shepherd (1-4) and the Kind Host (5-6).
The Good Shepherd leads his sheep to rich pastures beside running waters, where they rest without fear, for he is close to them, ready to defend them against attack. The Kind Host
invites his guests to his table; he anoints their hair; he fills their cup to the brim; throughout their stay at his house goodness and kindness are lavished upon them. This delicious
poem was written by the shepherd-poet who became a guest at Saul’s table. It is probably one of his earliest compositions.
When recited at Prime on Thursday it can be read as a eucharistic prayer. It may also be interpreted as a hymn on the Sacraments:

‘water of refreshment’ (Baptism),
‘led me on the paths of justice’ (Confirmation),
‘thy rod and thy staff’ (Penance),
‘prepared a table’ (Eucharist),
‘though I should walk in the midst of the shadow of death’ (Extreme Unction),
‘anointed my head with oil, and my chalice’, etc. (Holy Orders),
‘goodness and kindness all the days of my life’ (Matrimony).

1. ‘ruleth me’: ‘is my shepherd’. 3. ‘converted my soul’: ‘revived me’. ‘paths of justice’ are right paths. 4. ‘The club for defending the flock, and the crook for guiding ita. 5. ‘against them that afflict me’, i.e. while my adversaries look on, astonished that the host should be favouring him. ‘anointed my head’—a sign of his host’s respect; cf. Amo 6:6; Luk 7:46. 5b-6a. ‘My cup overflows. Naught but goodness and kindness shall follow me’.

To Purchase: click on HERE:

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

What St. John Never Told Us

While it is not listed last, the Gospel of John was probably the last book of the Bible to be written. Hidden inside is a code. That’s right, a Bible code.

The code that is hidden inside of the Gospel of John is called…Tradition!!! That is right, Tradition. And you thought it was going to be something boring. Now, what do I mean when I say that Tradition is the code for the Gospel of John?

I mean that John presupposes that you have already heard the Gospel message or have at least read one of the other Gospels. Inside the Gospel of John, if you pay close attention, you can see that John figures the reader already knows what is going on.

So, John’s audience has already heard the Good News, he is just giving this Gospel to fill in the gaps.

Where is the evidence of this inside the Gospel?

There are really four verses that suggest this:

Let’s begin in John 3:24. For John had not yet been put in prison.

Now, this sounds innocent enough except that it only makes sense if you already knew that at some time John the Baptist would be thrown into prison. How did the readers know? John or someone else would have had to have told them.

John 6:70 Jesus answered them, "Did I not choose you, the twelve, and one of you is a devil?"

What are you trying to point out here? Seems pretty innocent. If this is the first book of the Bible that you have ever read, at this point you should be asking a question. “Who are the twelve? When did Jesus choose twelve?”

This is the first time that the apostles by number have been named. It is only in the other Gospels that Jesus actually chooses them.

The next verse is John 7:42. Has not the scripture said that the Christ is descended from David, and comes from Bethlehem, the village where David was?

Now, the Gospel of John NEVER says where Jesus is from. It says that He is from Heaven, but it never says that He was born in Bethlehem. You either have to have read Matthew, Luke, or heard that is where he was born. So John opens up a controversy that he never answers in his Gospel, yet the readers would have already had the answer.

One last verse.

In the Gospel of John chapter 11 it talks about the death of Lazarus and mentions Mary and Martha.

Then John clarifies in verse 2.
John 11:2 It was Mary who anointed the Lord with ointment and wiped his feet with her hair, whose brother Lazarus was ill.

The reader at this point would be saying, okay, that’s who it was. That is the woman that anointed Jesus’ head.

John is referring to the story in Mark.
Mark 14:3 And while he was at Bethany in the house of Simon the leper, as he sat at table, a woman came with an alabaster flask of ointment of pure nard, very costly, and she broke the flask and poured it over his head.

So, the woman is Mary. Now a funny thing about this is that while John mentions that this is the Mary in John 11, he actually then goes on to record the event in the next chapter. John knows that you already know the story, but he wil add a few more details.

John 12:1-3 Six days before the Passover, Jesus came to Bethany, where Lazarus was, whom Jesus had raised from the dead. There they made him a supper; Martha served, and Lazarus was one of those at table with him. Mary took a pound of costly ointment of pure nard and anointed the feet of Jesus and wiped his feet with her hair; and the house was filled with the fragrance of the ointment.

In conclusion, John is writting this to Christians who have already heard the Gospel. When you come to see this, you also understand why he is more explicite in matters of doctrine; to solitify the faith of believers.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Once Saved Always Saved?

Let’s discuss the main Bible verses that some non-Catholics point to that suggest that we cannot loose our salvation.

Romans 8:35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?
Romans 8:38-39 For I am sure that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.

They say, “See, nothing at all can separate us from God’s love.”

Notice what is NOT mentioned here - Sin! Sin can separate us from the love of God. God will never stop loving us, but we can refuse to return that love. When we refuse to return that love we cut ourselves off from God.

Just like the Prodigal Son who asks for his inheritance. You would normally get the inheritance at the death of your parents. So what is the son saying to the Father, but that he wishes he were dead? It is in fact the son that in a sense dies. He goes off, realizes his error and when he comes back, the Father has been waiting for him and runs out to meet him. The Father tells the older son that the younger son was dead and now he is alive. That is spiritual death because he cut himself away from the Father.

John 10:27-29 My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me; and I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish, and no one shall snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all, and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father's hand.

They say, “Once you are in the Son’s hand you cannot get out, you cannot even leap out through sin. Also, look at how it says that they shall never perish. See, once saved always saved.”

It is at this point that I would like to point out some great advise that my godfather, who is a lawyer, gave to me. He said that in secular courts, you interpret a sentence in the context of the paragraph that it is set in, and you interpret the paragraph in the context of the whole document.

Now if the entirety of the Gospel was John 10:27 - 29, I would agree with the protestant objector. Yet, there are 35,801 other verses that I need to keep in mind when I am interpreting these three verses. We also want to make sure that we don’t read everything through the lense of these three verses or we rob both of what they are really trying to say.

Let’s take for example Adam, who had eternal life. Provided that he didn’t eat of the tree of knowledge of good and evil, it seems to suggest that he would have lived forever. Now, what happened? Wasn’t the hand of God protecting him? It was protecting him provided that he obeyed his Heavenly Father. He just chose not to obey.

The same thing is true here. Christians are protected by Christ and are in his hand. Yet, in John 15 it says that we need to stay connected to Christ through bearing fruit. If not, we are cut off and thrown into the fire. Now do we read John 15 through the lense of John 10 and say we don’t understand it? I have heard this. Or do we read them in light of each other. I think the latter makes John 10 more sensible.

Look at verse 37. Jesus says, “my sheep hear my voice.” The Greek word for hear is akouo. It means hear, learn, obey, and understand. Notice that it has the meaning of obedience. We use this sense all the time. I ask my children, “Didn’t you hear me? I said not to do that!” Oh, they did hear me, but they are being disobedient.

Jesus is saying in verse 37 that his sheep obey him and to them he gives eternal life. And John 15 tells us about those who stop obeying. They get cut off.

But the objector continues, telling us to look at verse 28 where Jesus says, “I give them eternal life.” So then they reason that if eternal life can be lost, then it is not eternal.

While on the surface this seems attractive and possible, I think that it is misplaced a bit.

We only have eternal life because we are connected to the source of that life, Jesus. When Jesus says that He gives us eternal life He is really just saying that He is giving us himself. Now, while He will never stop loving us, we can stop loving Him. God is a gentleman and will respect the great gift of free will that He has given to us.

We cannot confuse the possessor with what He possesses. Christ is the Eternal Life that is given to us. Provided we have Christ, we also have eternal life. Now, while someone that you hate can give you a gift and you can keep it and love the gift, but hate the giver, in the case of salvation, you cannot reject Christ and yet keep His eternal life, because the gift and the giver are one and the same.

One more final verse, which I have never seen a good response to is 2 Peter, Chapter 2. Peter is warning Christians against false prophets that will lead Christians astray.

2 Peter 2:20-22 For if, after they (Christians) have escaped the defilements of the world through the knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, they are again entangled in them and overpowered, the last state has become worse for them than the first. For it would have been better for them never to have known the way of righteousness than after knowing it to turn back from the holy commandment delivered to them. It has happened to them according to the true proverb, The dog turns back to his own vomit, and the sow is washed only to wallow in the mire.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

How Are We Saved?

There are so many competing voices out there today all claiming to have the truth of the Gospel and the way of salvation. What does the Bible say on this subject of salvation?

The Bible says a lot about salvation and reading only part without reading the whole can confuse the matter. Let me give you some examples:

Romans 10:13 For, "every one who calls upon the name of the Lord will be saved."
Mark 16:16 He who believes and is baptized will be saved; but he who does not believe will be condemned.
Mark 13:13 But he who endures to the end will be saved.
1 Peter 3:21 Baptism, which corresponds to this, now saves you, not as a removal of dirt from the body but as an appeal to God for a clear conscience, through the resurrection of Jesus Christ,
Ephesians 2:8 For by grace you have been saved through faith; and this is not your own doing, it is the gift of God --
Acts 16:30-31 and brought them out and said, "Men, what must I do to be saved?" And they said, "Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved, you and your household."
Matthew 19:16 And behold, one came up to him, saying, "Teacher, what good deed must I do, to have eternal life?" Jesus lists some commandments and then tells him to sell his things.
Hebrews 5:9 and being made perfect Jesus became the source of eternal salvation to all who obey him,

So how do we navigate through verses such as these?

A temptation among non-Catholics is to stress one verse and either ignore the others, which isn’t very often, or put the others into a kind of second-class category.

A great example of this is Ephesians 2:8-9, For by grace you have been saved through faith; and this is not your own doing, it is the gift of God -- not because of works, lest any man should boast.

Protestants interpret this verse to mean that works can’t ever save you, only grace through faith. But St. Paul is saying, in the context, that there is nothing we can do for our initial salvation, but once we are saved, we must obey God in faith.

Now, many protestants tend to put on the Ephesians 2:8 and 9 glasses and read the rest of the Scriptures through those lenses. So when they read any kind of verse that talks about obedience or works, it looses some weight because St. Paul said there is nothing we can do to be saved in Ephesians 2:8 and 9.

I am sure it is not intentional, it is just what they have been taught in Sunday school.

Even when you come up with a great verse like:
James 2:24 You see that a man is justified by works and not by faith alone.
It is often put in second place or explained away because it doesn’t pass the Ephesians 2: 8 and 9 test.

What we need to do is obey all the verses equally and not stress one over another.

We need to show them the proper interpretation of Ephesians 2:8, 9, and 10.

Before I continue, I must confess three things: This apologetic argument comes from Gary Michuta. I have used it in three conversations with great success, and I will not be giving Gary’s complete argument. You will need to contact him for his awesome classes.

Ephesians 2:8-10 For by grace you have been saved through faith; and this is not your own doing, it is the gift of God --
not because of works, lest any man should boast.
For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.

See, everything needs to be read in context.

St. Paul is saying that if I am not a believer in Christ, there isn’t a certain number of good works that I can do to earn salvation. I can’t say, “Look God, I just helped about 100 old ladies across the street. You owe me salvation and eternal life!”

St. Paul is saying that this attitude isn’t going to fly with God. God doesn’t owe us anything.

God doesn’t want an employee/employer relationship with us. He wants to make us His family by way of giving it to us as a gift. He does this so no one can boast.

Ephesians 2:8-10 For by grace you have been saved through faith; and this is not your own doing, it is the gift of God --
not because of works, lest any man should boast.

Now comes verse 10: For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.

We are the workmanship of God created in Christ Jesus. See, now our relationship has changed. Now we are a new creation in Christ as Paul says elsewhere. What did God make us a new creation in Christ FOR? FOR good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them. Absolutely all of this is given to us through God’s grace.

Now the playing field of Ephesians 2 has been leveled and now the other verses that we mentioned above can be re interpreted.

Acts 16:30-31 and brought them out and said, "Men, what must I do to be saved?" And they said, "Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved, you and your household."
Romans 10:13 For, "every one who calls upon the name of the Lord will be saved."
Mark 16:16 He who believes and is baptized will be saved; but he who does not believe will be condemned.
1 Peter 3:21 Baptism, which corresponds to this, now saves you
Hebrews 5:9 and being made perfect Jesus became the source of eternal salvation to all who obey him,
Matthew 19:16 And behold, one came up to him, saying, "Teacher, what good deed must I do, to have eternal life?" Jesus lists some commandments and then tells him to sell his things.
Mark 13:13 But he who endures to the end will be saved.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

The Bible As Tidbit

Let’s look today into the Bible in general.

Beginning with the word Bible. The word Bible means book or scroll. The Holy Bible, as we know it, is a kind of library consisting of 73 books. It is divided into two parts the Old Testament and the New Testament.

Testament means witness. You might know that people in court give their testimony to an event. This is the same. There is an old witness and a new witness, but just because it is called old doesn’t mean that it is invalid. On the contrary, if you don’t understand the Old Testament, you will not understand the New Testament.

The Old Testament begins with the Torah, which is the Hebrew word for the Law. Moses records the early dealing of God with mankind in these books. This consists of the first five books of the Bible. It is also called the Pentateuch, which is Greek for “five books.”

The next set of books deals with the history of the people of Israel as a Nation. These are really a historical record.

Then there is the wisdom literature consisting of Job, Psalms, Proverbs Ecclesiastes, Song of Solomon, Wisdom, and Sirach.

Finally, there are the prophetic books like Jonah, Daniel, MalachI. These books were written by prophets and range from historical narratives like Jonah, to apocalyptic visions with Ezekiel.

You may heave heard of the major prophets and the minor prophets. The 4 major prophets; Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, and Daniel, are called major because their books are longer.

There is a similar structure in the New Testament. Again we begin with the Law, not of Moses but of Jesus. It is not a law written on stone, but on hearts.

Then, like the Old Testament, we have the historical book of Acts, which tells of the early Church and the travels of St. Paul.

Then, in a sense, there is the wisdom literature from Romans to Jude. Inside of that we have the writings of St. Paul, which have an interesting structure in themselves.

The writings of St. Paul can be divided into two groups, letters to cities and letters to individuals. Inside both groups they go from longest to shortest. So, they are not in chronological order, but order by length.

Finally, also like the Old Testament, there is the prophetic book of Revelation.

Reading the Bible cover to cover might not be the best plan if you are going for the historical approach. Now, while any kind of reading of the Bible is good, there is a way to study it that is better. Right now I would say that Jeff Cavins and the Great Adventure Series is the best way to understand the story of the Bible.

While this Bible study is lengthy and kind of pricey, I would say get together with 10 friends and divide up the cost because it is worth every penny. His study is like one Bible tidbit after another.

It wasn’t until 380 at the council of Rome that the Bible and its 73 books were first recognized as a whole to be inspired.

So, people always pointed to the 4 gospels as being inspired and most of St. Paul’s writings, but there was dispute over other books. This was settled in 380.

It was not settled by Constantine either. I remember my friend telling me that Emperor Constantine put the books of the Bible together. When I asked him if he’d gotten that from the DaVinci Code or other nonsense, he said, “How did you know?”

Now while Dan Brown certainly believes that Constantine had his hand in choosing which books went into the Bible, all of history says otherwise.

Protestants have less books in their Bibles because some of the reformers said that they weren’t inspired. By “not inspired,” they sometimes meant, “these books are too Catholic and don‘t fit with my interpretation. Let’s get rid of them.”

So Protestants have 7 less books in their Bible, bringing their total down to 66.

Here are some questions that I like to ask Protestants, though:

Do you believe that the Bible is the inspired word of God?

They say yes, which is good. We believe that too.

I say, “Do you believe that that same Spirit that inspired them being written also guided those men who recognized them as being inspired to put them all together. So were those men in the 300’s also being driven by the same Holy Spirit to say officially that they are inspired?”

They say yes.

I point out that they also included those 7 books that the Reformers rejected. I ask, “Who should I trust? Should I trust the guys that said yes these 27 books of the New Testament are inspired along with these 46 books of the Old Testament?”

Or should I trust guys that came 1300 years later and said, “Well, they were right about the New Testament, but wrong about these 7 in the Old Testament? The Holy Spirit only partially lead them.”

To me that doesn’t make sense.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Christ: The Theme of the Old Testament

You might wonder where I find all these bible tidbits. Well, I get them from reading, listening to the radio, speaking with others, but mostly from listening to CD’s of talks. Usually the talks are well prepared, clear, educational, and inside of that something jumps out and catches my attention. I think it is important to take those things and pass them on to others to attract them closer to our faith.

The tapes I listen to come from surprisingly few suppliers. St. Joseph Communications has a huge selection, Catholic Productions has some excellent material. John Matrignoni has a great selection and Catholic Answers as well.

Today, I’m using material from Sr. Rosalind Moss, who is a Jewish convert to Catholicism. She has a wonderful CD set, “The Jewish Roots of our Catholic Faith” produced by Catholic Answers.

She says that Christ is the theme of every book of the Old Testament because, ultimately, HE is the author and subject of each book. I must note that I modified it ever so slightly.

IN Genesis, Jesus is the Seed of the woman
- He is the Ark of Salvation
- He is Isaac, the Son of the Mighty Father Abram who is to be sacrificed on Mount Moriah
- He is Joseph, sold into slavery by his brothers for the salvation of the world.
IN Exodus - He is the Paschal lamb
IN Leviticus - He is our High Priest and our sacrifice
IN Numbers - He is the Rock in the wilderness which was struck and water poured fourth.
IN Deuteronomy - He is The Prophet like Moses
IN Joshua - He is the one who leads us into the promised land
IN Judges - He is the judge that is raised up to defeat the enemies of the people of God
IN Ruth - He is our Kinsman Redeemer
IN 1 Samuel - He is the God that is rejected as King yet is still faithful to his people
IN 2 Samuel - He is the descendant of David who will sit on his Kingly throne for ever and ever
IN 1 Kings - He is the Wise King that attracts the Gentiles to the true God
IN 2 Kings - Jesus is the prophet calling all to repent
IN 1 Chronicles - He is the Priest King of Jerusalem
IN 2 Chronicles - He is the temple builder
IN Ezra - He restores the Laws of God
IN Nehemiah - He is the rebuilder of our souls.
IN Tobit - Jesus has broken the power of evil over his bride, the Church
IN Judith - He put to death the enemy of His people
IN Esther - He is an advocate like Mordecai
IN Job - He is our Dayspring and our Risen Returning Redeemer
IN Psalms - He is the Good Shepherd
IN Proverbs - He is our Wisdom
IN Ecclesiastes - He is the one to whom our spirit returns when this life is through
IN Song of Solomon - He is the Bridegroom
IN Wisdom - He is the wisdom for the nations
IN Sirach - He is the uncreated wisdom who planted the moral law in our heart
IN Isaiah - He is the Prince of Peace
IN Jeremiah - He is Our Righteousness
IN Lamentations - He is the Man of Sorrows
IN Baruch - He is our Happiness
IN Ezekiel - It is His glory the fills the heavenly temple
IN Daniel - He is the fourth man in the fiery furnace
IN Hosea - He is our Faithful husband
IN Joel - He is the Baptizer with the Spirit
IN Amos - He is our burden barer
IN Obadiah - He is our Savior
IN Jonah - He is the prophet to the nations
IN Micah - He is the messenger with the beautiful feet
IN Nahum - He is the avenger
IN Habakkuk - Jesus is the evangelist pleading for revival
IN Zephaniah - He is the Merciful Christ
IN Haggai - He is the restorer of the lost heritage
IN Zechariah - He is the fountain for sin and cleansing
IN Malachi - He is the Son of Righteousness with Healing in His Wings
IN the books of the Maccabees - He is the purifier, the resurrection, and the life for all who have fallen asleep in Godliness.

I had actually found a few lists like this on the internet, but tried to make this one unique.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

If it's good enough for Tim Staples...

"I was pleased when Daniel told me he was reprinting A Catholic Commentary on Holy Scripture. This has been my favorite commentary for years, but I have always had to tell people to try and find a used copy. Not anymore. This is an excellent commentary - a must for every Catholic home". - Tim Staples

Within the next month or so we will be releasing the 1st Volume - The Old Testament.

If you are looking for a good commentary on the New Testament, consider "A Catholic Commentary on Holy Scripture." ---->

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

"Fishers and Shepherds of Men" in the Old Testament

There are some phrases that we hear so often we never stop to ponder their meaning or where they come from. In the Gospel of Mark this year we will hear the phrase "fishers of men." Where does this come from and what does it mean?

The idea "fishing for men" comes originally from Jeremiah 16 - The context is that the 12 tribes of Israel are scattered among the nations and are there in bondage, just like they were in Egypt. So God is planning a new Exodus to bring them out of the nations, which will be greater than when He brought them out of Egypt.

Jeremiah 16:14-21 However, days will surely come, says the LORD, when it will no longer be said, "As the LORD lives, who brought the Israelites out of Egypt"; but rather, "As the LORD lives, who brought the Israelites out of the land of the north and out of all the countries to which he had banished them." I will bring them back to the land which I gave their fathers.
Look! I will send many fishermen, says the LORD, to catch them....O LORD, my strength, my fortress, my refuge in the day of distress! To you will the nations come from the ends of the earth

Not only are the Israelites coming back to the Lord from the nations, but the
nations are coming to the Lord as well. So with the return of the Israelites
come the return of the nations back to the Lord.

So, when the disciples hear Jesus say to them, "I will make you fishers of men", would they have made the connection between this title and the prophesies of Jeremiah 16?

We do not know how well the disciples had the old testament committed to memory, probably far more that we in the modern world tend to guess. But one thing is sure. Jesus, in using the phrase "fishers of men", is doing far more than merely alluding to the occupation of the men He is calling to follow Him. By using an Old Testament image, He is announcing the fulfillment of this image in His mission, as being a new Moses with a New Exodus, drawing all nations out of the slavery of sin and into the new promise land of God's Kingdom.

There are other images that Jeremiah presents that our Lord draws on Throughout Jeremiah, the Lord promises to give the people new shepherds that the Lord will use to guide not only Israel out of the nations back to the promised land, but also the nations as well.

Jeremiah 23:1 Woe to the shepherds who mislead and scatter the flock of my pasture, says the LORD. Therefore, thus says the LORD, the God of Israel, against the shepherds who shepherd my people: You have scattered my sheep and driven them away. You have not cared for them, but I will take care to punish your evil deeds. I myself will gather the remnant of my flock from all the lands to which I have driven them and bring them back to their meadow; there they shall increase and multiply.

So here the Lord is removing the old shepherds, namely the Scribes and Pharisees, and is replacing them with the apostles. He continues...

I will appoint shepherds for them who will shepherd them so that they need no longer fear and tremble; and none shall be missing, says the LORD. Behold, the days are coming, says the LORD, when I will raise up a righteous shoot to David; As king he shall reign and govern wisely, he shall do what is just and right in the land.

This righteous shoot is Jesus, of course.

In his days Judah shall be saved, Israel shall dwell in security. This is the name they give him: "The LORD our righteousness." Therefore, the days will come, says the LORD, when they shall no longer say, "As the LORD lives, who brought the Israelites out of the land of Egypt";
but rather, "As the LORD lives, who brought the descendants of the house of Israel up from the land of the north"-- and from all the lands to which I banished them; they shall again live on their own land.

Just like in Jeremiah 16, we see here in Jeremiah 23 the foreshadowings of a New Exodus.

In a round about way Jesus links these two images of fishing and shepherding in the Gospel of John.

In the whole of John 21 we see the apostles going back to fishing. While doing that they see Jesus on the shore who instructs them where to catch a large number of fish. They catch a ton and realize that it is Jesus who is on the shore. Peter jumps in the water and then eats fish with Jesus and while there, Jesus asks Peter three times, "do you love me?" With each response Jesus is instituting His office of chief shepherd when He says: "feed my lambs, tend my sheep, feed my sheep." This, of course, is fulfilling Jeremiah 23.

Another cool tidbit is that while the apostles are fishing and catching nothing Jesus says, "cast your nets over there." Peter hauls in 153 fish.

St. Jerome tells us that at his time Greek zoologists had identified 153 different kinds of fish. This points to the fact that men from every nation would be called to be saved. It is also important to know that it is Peter alone who hauls in the fishing net and that the net is not torn though under great strain. The Greek word for torn here is skizo, where we get the word schism. We see an image of the end times when all nations will be brought to the Lord through the net of Peter without schism.

To finish, I read a beautiful quote in St. Thomas Aquinas' Catena Aurea concerning the apostles new role to catch men for the Kingdom:

"How wonderful is fishing. For fish, when they are caught soon die, but when men are caught by the word of preaching are soon made alive."

I would also add that when you fish you bring the fish out of the water. But when men are converted they are put into the waters of Baptism.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Jesus - King, Priest, Healer of Israel

There are some interesting parallels between 1 Kings chapters 12 and 13 and Matthew chapters 11, and 12

Back in the OT, they have thus far had three kings. Saul, the great King David, and Solomon, who begins as a wise king, but then uses that wisdom for corruption.

Now King Solomon has just died, and his son Rehoboam is up to be king. Representatives from the other tribes come to him and say this: ( listen to how many times he says the word yoke.)

1 Kings 12:4-14 "Your father made our YOKE heavy. Now therefore lighten the hard service of your father and his heavy YOKE upon us, and we will serve you."

He says, “Give me some time to think.” Then he asks his old advisors, “Should I make things worse or easier for the tribes?“ The old advisors say - make it easier. Then he asks his own friends, the young advisors.

And he said to them, "What do you advise that we answer this people who have said to me, `Lighten the YOKE that your father put upon us'?" And the young men who had grown up with him said to him, "Thus shall you speak to this people who said to you, `Your father made our YOKE heavy, but do you lighten it for us'; thus shall you say to them, `My little finger is thicker than my father's loins. And now, whereas my father laid upon you a heavy YOKE, I will add to your YOKE. he spoke to them according to the counsel of the young men, saying, "My father made your YOKE heavy, but I will add to your YOKE; my father chastised you with whips, but I will chastise you with scorpions."

Here is the parallel in Matthew.

Matthew 11:29-30 Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me; for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light."

So Jesus is the new King of Israel who will lighten the yoke of the people who choose him to be King.

Back to 1 Kings. This news of course brings division and it is at this time that the 10 tribes of the north brake off and call themselves Israel, while the two tribes of the south call themselves Judah.

Now God has foreseen all of this and has already chosen a king for the north Israel and his name is Jeroboam.

(Note Jeroboam is the King of the North Israel, Rehoboam is the King of the South Judah. I remember it this way JERoboam is NOT the king of JERusalem)

Now Jeroboam sees that Israel will still have to go south to worship God. So for completely political reasons he sets up two temples in Israel, one in the north and one in the south, and reinstitutes calf worship.

He says in 1 Kings 12:28 "You have gone up to Jerusalem long enough. Behold your gods, O Israel, who brought you up out of the land of Egypt."

Then to make matters worse, 1 Kings 12:31 He also made houses on high places, and appointed priests from among all the people, who were not of the Levites.

So he even gets rid of the legitimate priesthood and replaces it with a false priesthood. This is paralleled in Matthew, but in reverse. right after Jesus talks about the easy yoke:

Matthew 12:1-5 At that time Jesus went through the grainfields on the sabbath; his disciples were hungry, and they began to pluck heads of grain and to eat. But when the Pharisees saw it, they said to him, "Look, your disciples are doing what is not lawful to do on the sabbath." He said to them, "Have you not read what David did, when he was hungry, and those who were with him: how he entered the house of God and ate the bread of the Presence, which it was not lawful for him to eat nor for those who were with him, but only for the priests? Or have you not read in the law how on the sabbath the priests in the temple profane the sabbath, and are guiltless?

You see, only priests were allowed to do this kind of work on the Sabbath. Jesus is telling us that these are the new priests. Then he brings King David into the picture. David was from the tribe of Judah, not Levi. He and his men ate the bread that only the priests could eat, yet he remained guiltless, why? Because he was trying to reinstitute an older priesthood, the priesthood like Melchizedek’s priesthood.

One more parallel: Back in 1 Kings.
After Jehoboam sets up these temples, he is worshipping in one of the false temples and God sends a prophet who says this:

1 Kings 13:3-4 "This is the sign that the LORD has spoken: `Behold, the altar shall be torn down, and the ashes that are upon it shall be poured out.'" And when the king heard the saying of the man of God, which he cried against the altar at Bethel, Jeroboam stretched out his hand from the altar, saying, "Lay hold of him." And his hand, which he stretched out against him, dried up, so that he could not draw it back to himself.

In Matthew, right after the grain field confrontation, Matthew tells us this:

Matthew 12:9-10 And he went on from there, and entered their synagogue. And behold, there was a man with a withered hand.

Who, of course, Jesus heals.

So I think the point of these parallels is this: Jesus is the New King of Israel, the New David, with the beginnings of a new Israel in His 12 apostles. He has come to restore a true priesthood and to heal the divisions that sin has caused. Typoligically this is happening in Israel, which represents what He has come to do for the whole world.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Jesus and the Jubilee

Sometimes when we hear Jesus quote a scripture from the Old Testament, it doesn’t seem to have the same impact on us as it did the original hearers. The reason is that we aren’t as familiar with Old Testament as we should be.

That is right, we need to be a people who are familiar with the scriptures because they are God’s love letters to us.

Here is a place where Jesus quotes, or rather reads, from Isaiah. He says -

Luke 4:18-21 "The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed, to proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord." And he closed the book, and gave it back to the attendant, and sat down; and the eyes of all in the synagogue were fixed on him. And he began to say to them, "Today this scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing."

Now what is significant about that verse that Jesus reads?

What is significant about that verse is all of the history behind it. This verse has to do with the Jubilee.

What is the Jubilee?

When Israel came out of Egypt, God gave them certain laws about resting. God said that every Saturday they should rest, that is the Sabbath. God also said that every seventh year, Israel should let the ground rest. Finally, at 50 years, they should celebrate a Jubilee.
On the Jubilee, not only does the ground rest, but three other things take place as well.
If any land is acquired during those 50 years, it is to be restored.
If you have made anyone a slave in those 50 years, they are to be released.
If you have acquired any debts in that time, they are to be forgiven.

So celebrating the Jubilee would have been a time of great joy and celebration. It seems like it would have also been a time of great trust for those who had to let the slaves, land, and debts go.

It really would have, but God was saying – You need to do this for each other because I have done this for you when I brought you out of Egypt. I gave you the land of Canaan, I broke your bonds of slavery, and I canceled your debts. Now, you need to do that for one another.

The problem is, of course, that no one actually celebrated the Jubilee. So God says that He will punish the people.

Jeremiah 34:2 "Thus says the LORD, the God of Israel: Go and speak to Zedekiah king of Judah and say to him, `Thus says the LORD: Behold, I am giving this city into the hand of the king of Babylon, and he shall burn it with fire.

So here is what Zedekiah does:
Jeremiah 34:8-10 The word which came to Jeremiah from the LORD, after King Zedekiah had made a covenant with all the people in Jerusalem to make a proclamation of liberty to them, that every one should set free his Hebrew slaves, male and female, so that no one should enslave a Jew, his brother. And they obeyed, all the princes and all the people who had entered into the covenant that every one would set free his slave, male or female, so that they would not be enslaved again; they obeyed and set them free.

Yet the story continues in the next verse.

Jeremiah 34:16-17 but then you turned around and profaned my name when each of you took back his male and female slaves, whom you had set free according to their desire, and you brought them into subjection to be your slaves. Therefore, thus says the LORD: You have not obeyed me by proclaiming liberty (Jubilee), every one to his brother and to his neighbor; behold, I proclaim to you liberty (Jubilee) to the sword, to pestilence, and to famine, says the LORD. I will make you a horror to all the kingdoms of the earth.

That is when Judah goes off to Babylon in exile.

That is right, and that is what God is saying – you don’t want freedom for your slaves, that is fine, then I will set you free from the land.
But not all hope was lost. Isaiah told the captives in Babylon this:

Isaiah 61:1-2 The Spirit of the Lord GOD is upon me, because the LORD has anointed me to bring good tidings to the afflicted; he has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty (Jubilee) to the captives, and the opening of the prison to those who are bound; to proclaim the year of the LORD's favor

This is what Jesus reads in the synagogue and proclaims as being fulfilled.

Now each of those Jubilee promises has a heavenly fulfillment.

Remember that the Israelites were to do three things – forgive debts, restore the land, and free the slaves.
Well we ask God in the “Our Father” to forgive our debts (we say sins, because that is its true meaning),
Matthew 6:12 And forgive us our debts, As we also have forgiven our debtors;
Our Heavenly homeland of heaven has been restored to us.
We are no longer slaves to sin and our passions.
All of these things were accomplished by Christ on the cross, and we are to pass them on to others.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

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.

- Thanks for reading my blog. If you would like to discover some of your own Bible Tidbits or just deepen you knowledge of Sacred Scripture and Our Lord; consider purchasing "A Catholic Commentary on Sacred Scripture" (Volume 2: The New Testament) by Dom Bernard Orchard. To purchase: Click below or on the image at the top of the page. Thank you.

Steve DiCarlo and I are currently working on Volume 1: The Old Testament and Volume 3: Articles. We hope to have them out later this year.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

9 Ways to Participate in the Blessings of Others

We have spoken before on the 9 ways to participate in someone else’s sin. If we flip those around, I think we can use them to participate in someone's good works.

Read what Jesus says:

Matthew 10:41 He who receives a prophet because he is a prophet shall receive a prophet's reward, and he who receives a righteous man because he is a righteous man shall receive a righteous man's reward.

So I believe that we can say that when we support prophets and righteous men and radio stations, we will benefit from their rewards.

Also sometimes you can know learn things about a topic by studying its opposite and that is what I hope to accomplish today.

Now some of these things are of course obvious, but they are always good to meditate on and be reminded of.

So let’s go through those 9 ways to participate in someone’s sin, and see if we can turn these into blessings.

The first is counsel, if we counsel someone to do wrong that is a sin, but if we counsel someone to do well, this will bring with it a blessing.

2 Timothy 3:14-17 But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have firmly believed, knowing from whom you learned it and how from childhood you have been acquainted with the sacred writings which are able to instruct you for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. All scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.

The second is Command. If we command someone to do evil, this is sinful. But if we command someone who do well, this is a blessing.

Naaman is a pagan who has leprosy, he is counseled by his Jewish slave to go to Elisha to be cured. Elisha tells him to wash in the Jordan 7 times.

2 Kings 5:11-13 But Naaman was angry, and went away, saying, "Behold, I thought that he would surely come out to me, and stand, and call on the name of the LORD his God, and wave his hand over the place, and cure the leper. Are not Abana and Pharpar, the rivers of Damascus, better than all the waters of Israel? Could I not wash in them, and be clean?" So he turned and went away in a rage. But his servants came near and said to him, "My father, if the prophet had commanded you to do some great thing, would you not have done it? How much rather, then, when he says to you, `Wash, and be clean'?"

He then washes and is made clean because he obeys the prophet.

The third is consent. If we are told to do something sinful and we consent, this is a sin. This is a response to either being counseled or commanded to do something evil. Now when we flip that on its head and consent to some good that has been counseled or commanded for us to do, then this is good.

This reminds me of the story of Gideon, who is in one of the smallest tribes of Israel, and in one of the smallest clans, and in one of the smallest families, and is the least in his family.

This is Judges chapter 6. He is asked by the Lord to go up and fight the Midianites, but their army is great in numbers. He asks for some signs from God that God was in fact the talking to him and God gave him the signs and he agreed to lead the army. There was just one problem. The army was too big. If it is too big then Gideon might get the glory if he wins. God wants the glory and has Gideon take his army from 32,000 men to 300. With these 300, God, through Gideon, freed the Israelites from the Midianite army. It was all because Gideon consented to God’s plan, and today we remember this guy from 3200 years ago. - How is that for glory?

The fourth is provoke. If you provoke someone to sin, your provocation is sinful as well. While we don’t want to necessarily provoke someone into doing good, that seems like you are going to make fun of them until they give in. I would say that the opposite is to encourage someone to do something good.

The fifth is praise. If you praise someone for going something evil, this is evil as well. Conversely if you praise someone for doing well, this brings with it a blessing.

The sixth is conceal. If you conceal something evil that is done, let's say in confession, then that is sinful too. But if we flip this around and proclaim some good news, like the gospel, this is a blessing.

2 Timothy 4:1-2 charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus who is to judge the living and the dead, and by his appearing and his kingdom: preach the word, be urgent in season and out of season, convince, rebuke, and exhort, be unfailing in patience and in teaching.

The seventh is help. If you help someone do something sinful, this is sinful. Likewise, if you help someone do something good, this is good.

This gets back to the verse about receiving a prophet. If you support the good that is going on, you will share in its blessings.

The eight is silence. In certain cases silence is a sin. If someone is accused of a crime - let’s say - and you know that they didn’t do it, and yet you stay silent. This is a sin.
The opposite would be to speak up and tell what you know, even if it is hard.

The ninth is to defend a wrong done. The opposite could be to defend something good done.

( if there is time I think this would be great to do )

Now here are the Nine ways to participate in someone elses blessings - listening to Catholic radio.

If you counsel to listen to Catholic radio - this is a blessing.
If you command someone (in charity) to turn on Catholic Radio - this is a blessing.
If you consent to listen to Catholic radio - this is a blessing.
If you encourage someone to listen to Catholic radio - this is a blessing.
If you praise someone for listening to Catholic radio - this is a blessing.
If you have a sticker, advertising your Catholic radio station - this is a blessing.
If you help someone to listen to Catholic radio by keeping it on the air through donations - this is a blessing.
If you are silent while others are listening to Catholic radio - this is a blessing
If you have defend someone who is being attacked for listening to Catholic radio - this a blessing.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

The Good Samaritan - a "bit" Deeper

Just a reminder - Here is what a Bible tidbit is.

A Bible tidbit is a brief lesson from the Scriptures that draw us a little deeper into the Bible. If you are not excited about the Scriptures, hopefully a Bible tidbit will get you excited about them. They are things that have gotten me excited about the Scriptures.

My first Bible tidbit came when I was in a dialogue about the scriptures with a Southern Baptist girl. I was 19 and she was asking me all sorts of hard questions from the Bible and I couldn’t tell the difference between a chapter and verse.

I went to my Godfather for help and he gave me some historical philosophical response to give to her. I said, "Look, I think I need to answer her from the Bible." He said, that her whole foundation was based on scripture alone, but the Bible teaches that the pillar and foundation of truth is the Church.

1 Timothy 3:15 But if I should be delayed, you should know how to behave in the household of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and foundation of truth.

I read that verse once, Matt, and it was as if my entire life had been lived in darkness and someone had turned on a light. I could then see two things. One, that the faith of the Church was alive, and that my own faith really began to live.

Here is the actual tidbit for today.

This is a great one that can be shared with Catholic and non-Catholic alike. It is the parable of the good Samaritan.

Luke 10:30-35 , "A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and he fell among robbers, who stripped him and beat him, and departed, leaving him half dead. Now by chance a priest was going down that road; and when he saw him he passed by on the other side. So likewise a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. But a Samaritan, as he journeyed, came to where he was; and when he saw him, he had compassion, and went to him and bound up his wounds, pouring on oil and wine; then he set him on his own beast and brought him to an inn, and took care of him. And the next day he took out two denarii and gave them to the innkeeper, saying, `Take care of him; and whatever more you spend, I will repay you when I come back.'

In case someone doesn’t know, who are the Samaritans?

Back in 1040 B.C., King Saul had united all 12 tribes of Israel under his kingship. But in 930 B.C., the country split into two parts. The North was called Israel and the South was called Judah.

The capitol of the north was Samaria. In 722 B.C. the Assyrians came and removed most of the population of Israel and put in its place five pagan peoples. These people integrated their religions with the teachings of Moses, defiling true worship.

When it comes down to it they were half pagan, half Jewish. So the Jews didn't like them very much. They were in effect outcast by the Jews.

Why, though, do the priest and the Levite both pass up the man that was beaten?

One reason could be that they figured that he was already dead. If he was already dead, then touching him would have made them ritually unclean. Meaning, they would have to go through some cleaning rituals before they could go worship at the Temple.

Holiness in the Old Testament meant staying both spiritually and physically pure. These men chose to stay physically pure, but not spiritually pure because they denied their duty of loving their neighbor.

The Samaritan, who might not be as bound to the purity laws, does the right thing and helps the man.

So with that in mind, what else is there to notice about the story?

The Allegorical interpretation of this story is beautiful.
The man that gets attacked is Adam, who is leaving Jerusalem (city of God) and going to Jericho (city of the enemies of God). One his journey he is attacked by the devil.

The priesthood before Moses cannot help him. The priesthood instituted by Moses (Levitical priesthood) is also unable to help him.

Only Jesus, who is the Good Samaritan (the outcast), is able to help him.

Jesus pours on the sacraments of healing, oil representing the anointing of the Holy Spirit, and wine representing the Holy Eucharist.

Jesus then takes him to the Inn, which is the Church and tells the Innkeeper, Peter (keys to all the rooms), to take care of him until Christ returns in the second coming.

This tidbit is great because it is easy to see the second interpretation and you get to evangelize a little bit. So I hope folks out there share this with someone.