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Wednesday, January 25, 2012

The Holy Name of Jesus

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Recently, a young evangelist by the name of Paul Meyers passed away. He wanted everyone to know about The Most Holy Name of Jesus. What does the Bible say about the name of Jesus?
The name Jesus is the Greek transliteration of the Hebrew name Joshua; pronounced yeshua, which means salvation. It is, of course, of no coincidence that Jesus and Joshua share the same name. Joshua’s mission was fulfilled in the mission of Jesus.

Joshua was the successor to Moses way back after that exodus from Egypt. It is Joshua who actually led the people from their time of wandering through the Jordan River into the Promised Land. Jesus does the same. He leads us through the waters of Baptism into the Promised Land of Heaven.
So right away the name of Jesus is associated with Salvation and Heaven. There aren’t any other contenders out there, like Buddha or Mohammed, where you have to know their names to be saved or be enlightened. Others preach a message that is to be believed, Christianity preaches a Person.

And in Biblical times as well as today, names were associated with the person whom they represented. So much so that to say a person’s name was inviting them to be present. That is why God said that we aren’t to use His name in vain because to speak of His Holy Name is to ask Him to be present. His Holy Name is for Holy conversations or prayer, not occasions of great surprise, like certain websites advertise today.
What did Jesus say about his own name?

John 15:16 so that whatever you ask the Father in my name he may give you.

John 16:23-24 Amen, amen, I say to you, whatever you ask the Father in my name he will give you. Until now you have not asked anything in my name; ask and you will receive, so that your joy may be complete.

What is happening here? Jesus is telling us that it is through his name that God the Father acts. Jesus name is associated with real power. Listen to Acts of the apostles.

Acts 3:2-6 And a man crippled from birth was carried and placed at the gate of the temple called "the Beautiful Gate" every day to beg for alms from the people who entered the temple. When he saw Peter and John about to go into the temple, he asked for alms. But Peter looked intently at him, as did John, and said, "Look at us." He paid attention to them, expecting to receive something from them. Peter said, "I have neither silver nor gold, but what I do have I give you: in the name of Jesus Christ the Nazorean, (rise and) walk."
That miracle occurred because St. Peter called on the name of Jesus with faith. Consequently, look at what happens when we call on the name of Jesus without faith:
Acts 19:13-17 Then some of the itinerant Jewish exorcists undertook to pronounce the name of the Lord Jesus over those who had evil spirits, saying, "I adjure you by the Jesus whom Paul preaches." Seven sons of a Jewish high priest named Sceva were doing this. But the evil spirit answered them, "Jesus I know, and Paul I know; but who are you?" And the man in whom the evil spirit was leaped on them, mastered all of them, and overpowered them, so that they fled out of that house naked and wounded. And this became known to all residents of Ephesus, both Jews and Greeks; and fear fell upon them all; and the name of the Lord Jesus was extolled.
So clearly, it is faith in the name of Jesus that brings fourth this Power. The early Christians even got persecuted because of the name Jesus.
That is right. After Pentecost and the Apostles receiving the Holy Spirit, they can’t stop talking about Jesus. This so offended the Jewish officials at the time that the Apostles were persecuted just for talking about Jesus.

Acts 5:40-41 So they took his advice, and when they had called in the apostles, they beat them and charged them not to speak in the name of Jesus, and let them go. Then they left the presence of the council, rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer dishonor for the name.
Today is no different, for some Catholics the name of Jesus is an embarrassment in public. We need to ask God for help in this area of our lives and be not afraid to talk about Jesus in public.

Matthew 10:32-33 So every one who acknowledges me before men, I also will acknowledge before my Father who is in heaven; but whoever denies me before men, I also will deny before my Father who is in heaven.
We need to be a people who not only confess the name of Jesus, but also have reverence for His Most Holy Name.

Philippians 2:9-11 Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

Now while we can’t be genuflecting every time we hear the name of Jesus, what can we do to honor His Name in a physical way?

This is what Paul Meyers wanted everyone to know. It is an old custom that has been kind of forgotten to bow our heads when we say or hear the name of Jesus. By doing this, we are honoring His Name and thus honoring Jesus himself.

This is a public witness to the Holiness, Power, and Salvation that is found in the name of Jesus. We are of course short on time, but I want to encourage everyone to get a little booklet by TAN publishers and share it with others. It is called, “The Wonders of the Holy Name.”

Also, please pray for the repose of Paul Meyers’ soul.
The Wonders of His Holy Name - Click Here

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Luke 15 - How They Were Lost

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In Luke chapter 15 we have three parables about being lost. Some have even called it the ‘lost chapter of the Bible’, because it speaks of a lost sheep, a lost coin, and a lost son. What we are looking at today is yet another great aspect of Luke Chapter 15. We usually focus on God searching so diligently to find us and the joy that is experienced over being found. Today though we are going to examine each parable and see why the things were lost to begin with. To start, this idea came from Servant of God Archbishop Fulton Sheen.
The shepherd has a 100 sheep and one is lost. Why? What would compel a sheep to leave the fold. Well sheep are kind of dumb. There is a great riddle – If you have 100 sheep and 3 wander off into another field – how many do you have left? None – they all followed the three sheep into the other field. Sheep just go where were they think they will find grass.
So we can conclude that some people leave the church out of ignorance. I truly believe that there are some Catholics who are attending a protestant service on Sundays thinking that they are fulfilling their Sunday obligation. The preaching is better, the music is more lively, the people were more friendly and so on, yet they miss the most improtant event in the world - The Mass. The leave because on some level they didn’t know any better.
I have heard on EWTN before how in the past few decades that people just haven’t been catechized properly. I can bear witness to that. I think that is why some churches are getting depopulated, people in general don’t even know why they are suppose to be there. I think the older generation is leaving for other churches because, while they are aware of the Sunday obligation, they are unaware that the Catholic Church is the one true Church of Christ. I think the younger generation is even ignorant of the Sunday obligation rule.
So we need some great and drastic catechesis.
Now concerning the parable of the lost coin, how is this person lost. Coins don’t loose themselves, people loose coins. Unfortunately here the people are the church and the coins are some of those who are leaving because of the church itself.
These people are lost through carelessness; the carelessness of parents, schools, and others that teach the faith. Sometimes the Christ that is proclaimed is just another great teacher like Mohamed or Buddha. Sometimes the Christ that is proclaimed is only one of social justice and not holiness.
We have a responsibility of instructing our neighbor. Listen to what Moses says:
Deuteronomy 6:4-7 "Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God is one LORD; and you shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your might. And these words which I command you this day shall be upon your heart; and you shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise.
How often is that we are to speak of God’s word and teach them to our children? From the time you get up until you go to bed. Now I admit here that I fall short, yet this message is for us today as St. Paul says
2 Timothy 4:2 preach the word, be urgent in season and out of season, convince, rebuke, and exhort, be unfailing in patience and in teaching.
In season and out of season – that means when it is popular and when it isn’t. St. Paul tells us to convince people – let me tell you there is plenty to be convinced about, but we must get educated. He says to rebuke – wildly unpopular today. I count as best friends those who look at me and tell me I am headed in the wrong direction, because that tells me three things about them. First there is a right direction, second that they think I should be going that way, third they care enough to tell me.

Then St. Paul says to exhort people – get them excited about the faith. There is plenty to be excited about. Finally be unfailing that we are to be unfailing in patience and also in teaching. Don’t fail to be patient and don’t fail to teach.
Concerning the parable about the lost son; how do we find this in the church? There are people who want to remove themselves from the whole church equation. Their own desires pull them out. They let their fleshly desires run amuck. This happens to all of us sometimes, but there are some that leave and have no desire for reconciliation until things get really bad.
So what is the solution to these parables.
While nothing is going to be perfect we can creation near occasions of grace. We talk about near occasions of sin is when you pass by that bar on the way home you get tempted to go in and get too many drink so you should avoid that bar and you will avoid the sin of drunkenness.
I think we need to create more near occasions of grace. We should saturate our lives with our faith. Almost everybody it seems is busy these days. Be busy with the Lord’s work. Adoration, Bible study, prayer group, soup kitchen, feast day party.
We need to do this without fear. Yes some people will call us fanatics and we will loose some friends possibly. Then on the other hand we will strengthen our faith, strengthen the faith of those around us and build a culture that is attractive to everyone.
Our faith is the fulfillment if every other religions desire and we will attract people to our church to Jesus by just living it in its fullness.
I think we can bring back the lost sheep people by helping them grow in knowledge of their faith.
I think we can attract back to the faith the lost coin people by being dedicated to our hope in our Lord Jesus.
I think we can bring back those who have left the faith through their own lusts, by out loving them. Loving them more than they love themselves, just like Jesus does for us.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

A Markan Sandwich with a dash of Mustard

Mark Chapter 4 is filled with parables about scattering and sowing seeds.

Mark Chapter 4 has at least 5 parables in it all about, I believe, the spreading of the word of God.
Jesus opens the chapter with the parable of the sower who sows seed and it falls into 4 different types of ground. To begin, this is one of the great parables where we don’t have to guess what it means. Jesus himself tells us the meaning. He says that the seed that is being sown is the word of God. The differing places that the words of God falls are on different kinds of hearts.

The 4 different types of ground are as follows: the road, stony ground, thorny ground, and good soil. The seed that falls on the road that is picked up by birds is like where someone hears the word of God and immediately rejects what he hears. Jesus says that Satan comes and takes it away.

Two thoughts about this part of the parable: first the road. The road or the path is mentioned elsewhere:

John 14:6 Jesus said to him, "I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father, but through Me.

When he says – I am the “way”, he is using the same word. Jesus is the “road” to the Father. But Jesus does speak of another road.

Matthew 7:13-14 "Enter by the narrow gate; for the gate is wide, and the road is broad that leads to destruction, and many are those who enter by it. "For the gate is small, and the road is narrow that leads to life, and few are those who find it.

Jesus here speaks of a broad road that leads to destruction. I think this might be appropriate for what he is speaking of in the gospel of Mark. Some seed fell on the road, but Satan picked it up. To me this is comparable to the modernist scholarship that we see on certain cable stations that talk about history and discovery. When they examine the Bible, they begin with asking questions about the Bible and in the end leave you with more questions than when they began. So when you do hear the Good News of Jesus, you begin to count it all as myth and fluff.

There is an example of this in the Gospel of Mark itself:

Mark 8:31-33 And he began to teach them that the Son of man must suffer many things, and be rejected by the elders and the chief priests and the scribes, and be killed, and after three days rise again. And he said this plainly. And Peter took him, and began to rebuke him. But turning and seeing his disciples, he rebuked Peter, and said, "Get behind me, Satan! For you are not on the side of God, but of men."

Next we see the word that falls on the rocky ground of little soil. This is the person who is excited about the faith, but when challenged, tucks tail and runs for cover. Jesus’ disciples again give an example of this in the garden of Gethsemane, when Jesus is arrested, his disciples run for their own lives.
Then we have the word of God that falls into the thorny ground of the - I believe – three lusts: The lusts of the flesh, the lusts of the eyes and the pride of life. It is these worldly things that choke the word of God i.e. entertainment, possessions, pornography.

Finally, there is the word of God that leads us to eternal life and finds in our souls fertile ground. We heard God’s word and put it to work for the Kingdom of God.

But now Jesus’ words take a strange turn. He says this: Mark 4:21-22 "Is a lamp brought in to be put under a bushel, or under a bed, and not on a stand? For there is nothing hid, except to be made manifest; nor is anything secret, except to come to light.”

What is hid and secret? What is manifest and will come to light? It is the seed that was sown, the word of God that is spread in the world. We don’t usually see the effects of our words when we sow them in the souls of people, but in time they will be seen.

Again another seemingly unrelated parable:

Jesus then says this: Mark 4:24-25 "Take heed what you hear; the measure you give will be the measure you get, and still more will be given you. For to him who has will more be given; and from him who has not, even what he has will be taken away."

I ask, the measure of what? What more will be given to me? It again is that seed, that word of God. This ultimately isn’t a message of philosophy or a way of life but a person and a relationship with HIM. The more we spread Christ, the more Christ will be given to us. Yes we will see more people reject the Gospel we present, but we will also see more fruit. The measure you give will be the measure you get.
Jesus then continues with the seed theme:

He says that the kingdom is like seed scattered but the sower doesn’t know how the seed grows. Meaning that the word of God goes out but who will accept and reject is a mystery to the preacher. St. Paul says as much in: 1 Corinthians 3:6-7 I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the growth. So neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God who gives the growth.

Finally, Jesus compares the kingdom to a mustard seed. It is one of the smallest of seeds and yet it grows to be a big shrub. The seed again is the word in the world, and while it is small, beginning with 12 men hiding in an upper room. It is today covering the whole earth in which people of every nation rest and make their homes.