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Wednesday, April 28, 2010

The Sorrowful Mysteries and The Old Testament

The Rosary is one of the best prayers to be prayed because it is ultimately a meditation on the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ. Something that we also need to keep in mind is that the life of our Lord was foreshadowed in the Old Testament. Let's see how some of the events of the Sorrowful Mysteries of the Rosary are prefigured in the Old Testament.

We begin with the Agony in the Garden. Jesus became a man because of events that began in a garden, ultimately the Garden of Eden. God became man to atone for the sins committed in the Garden of Eden, so how fitting it is that Jesus begin His holy suffering there.

This also is a recapitulation of when King David was being chased by his son Absalom, and he also went to the same place where Jesus would be 1000 years later. This happens in 2 Samuel 15. There David desired the same thing that Jesus desired and that was the repentance of his son.

The Scourging at the Pillar is prophesied about in Isaiah.

Isaiah 53:3-5 He was despised and rejected by men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief; and as one from whom men hide their faces he was despised, and we esteemed him not. Surely he has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted. But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that made us whole, and with his stripes we are healed.

The Crowning of Thorns is found in Genesis. Again this takes us back to the Garden of Eden where Adam, due to his sin, is punished.

Genesis 3:17-18 cursed is the ground because of you; in toil you shall eat of it all the days of your life; thorns and thistles it shall bring forth to you;

Both Adam and Jesus were kings. Adam begins in glory and falls into disgrace, while Jesus takes this crown of disgrace (crown of thorns) and transforms it into a crown of glory.

Something else from the Old Testament is when God told Abraham to sacrifice his son Isaac. God stops Abraham from killing his son and then this happens:

Genesis 22:13-14 And Abraham lifted up his eyes and looked, and behold, behind him was a ram, caught in a thicket by his horns; and Abraham went and took the ram, and offered it up as a burnt offering instead of his son. So Abraham called the name of that place The LORD will provide; as it is said to this day, "On the mount of the LORD it shall be provided."

Now that mountain where Abraham was sacrificing Isaac was Mt. Moriah, which is where both Jerusalem and Golgatha reside. So when Abraham, even after he has made the sacrifice of this ram with its head caught in thorns, calls the place "God will provide," this is fulfilled in the sacrifice of God's only son, Jesus.

In this same event with Abraham and Isaac we see the carrying of the cross as well.

Certainly we do, on the very day that Abraham was going to sacrifice Isaac, these are the events that took place before that:

Genesis 22:3-6 So Abraham rose early in the morning, saddled his donkey, and took two of his young men with him, and his son Isaac; and he cut the wood for the burnt offering, and arose and went to the place of which God had told him. On the third day Abraham lifted up his eyes and saw the place afar off. Then Abraham said to his young men, "Stay here with the donkey; I and the lad will go yonder and worship, and come again to you." And Abraham took the wood of the burnt offering, and laid it on Isaac his son;

So, by laying the wood on his son to carry up the mountain, this certain prefigures Jesus carrying his cross.

Finally, we find where the Crucifixion and Death of Our Lord is prefigured in the Old Testament.

Well, we have discussed the Cross and the Old Testament, but I will point out two forshadowings. This first is a connection that Jesus Himself makes.

Jesus said to Nicodemus:
John 3:14 And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of man be lifted up,

Here is the story from Numbers:
Numbers 21:5-9 And the people spoke against God and against Moses, "Why have you brought us up out of Egypt to die in the wilderness? For there is no food and no water, and we loathe this worthless food." Then the LORD sent fiery serpents among the people, and they bit the people, so that many people of Israel died. And the people came to Moses, and said, "We have sinned, for we have spoken against the LORD and against you; pray to the LORD, that he take away the serpents from us." So Moses prayed for the people. And the LORD said to Moses, "Make a fiery serpent, and set it on a pole; and every one who is bitten, when he sees it, shall live." So Moses made a bronze serpent, and set it on a pole; and if a serpent bit any man, he would look at the bronze serpent and live.

It's as if Jesus is saying, if anyone has been rebellious and has been bitten by the serpents, they should look at this image of a serpent, that can't hurt you because it is just made out of bronze, and you will be healed. The same is true with Jesus. The Father says, so to speak, whoever has been bitten by the devil and has come into sin should look upon the man on the Cross, though while it looks like he has sinned as well, is in fact innocent, and you will be healed.

I also believe that the death of Samson prefigures the death of our Lord. If you recall, Samson is the strong man of the Old Testament and killed a bunch of Philistines with the jaw bone of a donkey.

Eventually he is caught by the Philistines, blinded, and then during a party where they bring him out to make sport of him. And then:

Judges 16:27-30 Now the house was full of men and women, and all the lords of the Philistines were there.
And about 3,000 men and women were on the roof looking on while Samson was amusing them. Then Samson called to the LORD and said, "O Lord God, please remember me and please strengthen me just this time,
O God, that I may at once be avenged of the Philistines for my two eyes."
And Samson grasped the two middle pillars on which the house rested, and braced himself against them,
the one with his right hand and the other with his left.
And Samson said, "Let me die with the Philistines!"
And he bent with all his might so that the house fell on the lords and all the people who were in it. So the dead whom he killed at his death were more than those whom he killed in his life.

I think this points to the Cross because it is with outstretched arms that Samson destroys the enemy of his people.

Hebrews 2:14-15 Since therefore the children share in flesh and blood, Jesus himself likewise partook of the same nature, that through death he might destroy him who has the power of death, that is, the devil, and deliver all those who through fear of death were subject to lifelong bondage.

So through the death of Samson and Jesus, they destroy the enemy of their people. Samson with his outstretched arms destroys the Philistines, Jesus destroys death.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Is Confession Biblical?

Protestants object the idea of confessing their sins to a priest. Here are some of these objections and how to respond to them. I must point out that even though these arguments are against confessing our sins to a priest, they are ultimately against the priesthood itself.

1 Timothy 2:5 For there is one God, and one mediator also between God and men, the man Christ Jesus

- If Jesus is our only mediator, then how can a priest also be a mediator. Doesn’t that make two mediators?

- This next argument from 1 Peter 2:5 &9 and Hebrews 4 is saying that because we are all priests we can approach God directly, not through a priest.

1 Peter 2:5, 9 you also, as living stones, are being built up as a spiritual house for a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ...But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for God's own possession,
Hebrews 4:16 Let us therefore draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and may find grace to help in time of need.

Finally
1 John 1:9 If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

- See, if we confess our sins to God, he will forgive us, not the priest.

How do we respond to these objections?

1 Timothy 2:5 For there is one God, and one mediator also between God and men, the man Christ Jesus

- The context gives away the meaning of this verse. If we back up to verse one of 1 tim 2, it says that we are to mediate on behalf of secular leaders that we might live in peace.

1 Timothy 2:1-2 First of all, then, I urge that entreaties and prayers, petitions and thanksgivings, be made on behalf of all men, for kings and all who are in authority, in order that we may lead a tranquil and quiet life in all godliness and dignity.

So this verse really just demonstrate that we participate in Christ’s mediatorship.

What about the objection that we are all priests, therefore we can approach God alone?
All those who are baptized participate in the priesthood of Christ. Amen so we are all priests, and yes we can approach the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy. Yet to conclude that from these verses that Christ therefore could not have set up a priesthood to forgive sins I think is misreading the text.

1 John 1:9 If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

The same rules apply, this verse isn’t saying that we should confess our sins strait to God. It is only saying, what it is saying - if we confess our sins, he will forgive us.

So this brings up the question - Does the Bible say that priests have authority to forgive sins?

John 20:23 "If you forgive the sins of any, their sins have been forgiven them; if you retain the sins of any, they have been retained."

- This is sort of the classic verse that you would turn to when objections are raised against confessing sins to a priest. Jesus here is clearly giving the apostles the authority to forgive sins. Yet he is also giving them the authority to not forgive sins. This is significant because of what Jesus says to Peter:

Matthew 18:21-22 Then Peter came and said to Him, "Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me and I forgive him? Up to seven times?" Jesus said to him, "I do not say to you, up to seven times, but up to seventy times seven.”

- Personally we are to forgive our brother as often as he sins against us. Again Jesus says:

Matthew 6:14-15 "For if you forgive men for their transgressions, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. "But if you do not forgive men, then your Father will not forgive your transgressions.”

- So if we want to be forgiven of our sins, we must forgive our brother. Yet in John 20 Jesus gives the apostles a special power to NOT forgive sins. This is in the context of confession, if someone was not sorry for a sin. If there is no sorrow, or repentance the priest does not absolve the person.
- While personally, we are to forgive as we wish to be forgiven.

Now listen to James:

James 5:14-16 Is anyone among you sick? Let him call for the elders of the church, and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord; and the prayer offered in faith will restore the one who is sick, and the Lord will raise him up, and if he has committed sins, they will be forgiven him. Therefore, confess your sins to one another, and pray for one another, so that you may be healed. The effective prayer of a righteous man can accomplish much.

- The context of these verses are that sins are forgiven in the presence of the elders of the church. The elders are the priests, the presbuteros, where we get the English word priest from.

Finally, there is great evidence in the Gospel of Matthew that Jesus gave this power to forgive sins to men, because it says so.

Matthew 9:6-8 "But in order that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins "-- then He said to the paralytic-- "Rise, take up your bed, and go home." And he rose, and went home. But when the multitudes saw this, they were filled with awe, and glorified God, who had given such authority to men.

- Notice that they glorified God, who had given such authority - not to just one man Jesus - but to men - plural - namely the apostles.

So the apostles did in fact receive this power to continue Christ’s mission to free the world from sin in confession and passed this power on to bishops and priests today.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Liturgy as Biblical Worship

The Catholic Church is sometimes accused of being unbiblical. Today I wish to discuss the idea of worship through liturgy, as opposed to spontaneous worship.

Here is what the Catechism of the Catholic Church says that Liturgy is:

1069 The word “liturgy” originally meant a “public work” or a “service in the name of/on behalf of the people.” In Christian tradition it means the participation of the People of God in “the work of God.” [Cf. Jn 17:4] Through the liturgy Christ, our redeemer and high priest, continues the work of our redemption in, with, and through his Church.

So in the Liturgy, through ritual, we participate in the redemption that Christ won for us. It is through the Liturgy that we really get to touch Christ.

Now I have told you what Liturgy is, but is it Biblical?

I would not only say that Liturgy is Biblical, I would even say that the Bible itself is a liturgical book. Let me explain.

In the Greek Old Testament, it begins using the word Liturgy as far back as Exodus. The context of this word is always what the priests are doing in the temple. So all of those sacrifices which were very ritualized worship were ultimately fulfilled in Christ’s Death, Resurrection, and Ascension into heaven.

So again the worship that Israel had in the Old Testament was through liturgy.

Now did Christ then fulfill that Liturgy and abolish it? No, Christ fulfilled that old covenant liturgy and now we celebrate that fulfillment in our liturgy.

How then is the Bible a liturgical book?

Well liturgy isn’t a one way street, we come together to give God worship. But we also come together to receive from God his Son, and his instructions. The Bible was primarily meant to be heard by those who came together to worship God.

Revelation 1:3 Blessed is he who reads aloud the words of the prophecy, and blessed are those who hear, and who keep what is written therein; for the time is near.

Is this blessing restricted to this one book of the Bible? No way. Now where would there be a reader and those listening, but at an assembly. These are Holy writings so it would be read to those gathered to worship God and serve Him.

Does the New Testament talk about Liturgy?

It does. But of course it is hidden by translations. The greek word for Liturgy is just that litourgia - but it shows up in English as service, worship, minister, ministry, and sacrificial offering.

One more quote from the Catechism: 1070
In a liturgical celebration the Church is servant in the image of her Lord, the one “leitourgos”; [Cf. Heb 8:2, 6] (which I will quote below) she shares in Christ’s priesthood (worship), which is both prophetic (proclamation) and kingly (service of charity): The liturgy then is rightly seen as an exercise of the priestly office of Jesus Christ.

Here is what Hebrews says about Jesus, the one minister.

Jesus is our…
Hebrews 8:2, 6 A minister of the sanctuary, and of the true tabernacle, which the Lord pitched, and not man…But now has he obtained a more excellent ministry, by how much also he is the mediator of a better covenant, which was established upon better promises.

Luke 1:21-23 And the people were waiting for Zechariah, and they wondered at his delay in the temple. … And when his time of service was ended, he went to his home.

Acts 13:2 While they were worshiping the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, "Set apart for me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them."

Romans 15:15-16 But on some points I have written to you very boldly by way of reminder, because of the grace given me by God to be a minister of Christ Jesus to the Gentiles in the priestly service of the gospel of God, so that the offering of the Gentiles may be acceptable, sanctified by the Holy Spirit.

Romans 15:26-27 For Macedonia and Achaia have been pleased to make some contribution for the poor among the saints at Jerusalem; they were pleased to do it, and indeed they are in debt to them, for if the Gentiles have come to share in their spiritual blessings, they ought also to be of service to them in material blessings.

Finally we can’t forget that in heaven there is a liturgical celebration going on, and it is through the Mass that we are participating in it.

You know, so many people today say that they don’t go to Mass because they don’t get anything out of it. Why? Because they aren’t looking at it correctly, they are hoping to be entertained at Mass.

Liturgy is work! 6 days we have been given to work for the world. This is the day that we are called to work for God. You are suppose to be praying the prayers, not reciting them, or not even saying them.

And what if your trouble is you don’t think you aren’t getting anything out of it? What you are actually getting out of it is Salvation from Hell, and Eternal bliss. That’s all.

I use to be bored because I didn’t know what was going on, until I studied up on it, so I encourage more study.