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Thursday, June 21, 2012

Parallels in the lives of Jacob and Joseph.

There are many similarities between Jacob the son of Isaac and Rebekah and Joseph the son of Jacob and Rachel. (Everything in Italics is from Louis Ginzberg's - Legends of the Jews - Volume 2. - I don't recommend it)
1.   As the mother of Jacob remained childless for a long time after her marriage, so also the mother of Joseph.

a.   Rebekah and Isaac had to wait twenty years before having their twin boys Jacob and Esau

b.   In the first place Rachel had to wait 14 years to even marry Jacob because Uncle Laban had tricked Jacob into marrying Leah. Then Everyone was having children but Rachel who eventually died giving birth to Benjamin.

2.   As Jacob's mother bore two sons, so also Joseph's mother.

a.   Rebekah bore two sons, Jacob and Esau.

b.   Rachel bore two sons, Joseph and Benjamin.

3.   Like the father, the son appropriated his older brother's birthright.

a.   Jacob received the birthright from Esau because Esau sold it to him for a bowl of soup.

b.   Joseph received the birthright for a few reasons.

                                                 i.    The first is the Reuben the firstborn son, tried to take over the family in an incestuous way and fell out of his fathers favor.

                                                ii.    The second was that Rachel was Jacobs favorite wife and therefore her children were his favorite children, Joseph being the eldest.

4.   The father was hated by his brother, and the son was hated by his brethren.

a.   Jacob was hated by his brother Esau because not only had Esau lost the birthright for a bowl of soup, but he lost the blessing from his father Isaac because Jacob tricked Isaac into giving it to him.

b.   Joseph was hated by his brothers because he was clearly the favorite of his father and he kept having these dreams that his brothers would one day bow down to him, and he told his brothers the dreams.

5.   The father was the favorite son as compared with his brother, so was the son as compared with his brethren.

a.   Isaac actually favored Esau for a while because he was a hunter cooked food just like Isaac wanted. After he lost the blessing and birthright though, he married some pagan women just to spite his parents.

b.   Joseph was the favorite because he was from the favorite wife, as stated earlier.

6.   Both the father and the son lived in the land of the stranger.

a.   Jacob lived in Haran

b.   Joseph lived in Egypt

7.   The father became a servant to a master, also the son.

a.   Jacob was a servant to Uncle Laban for at least 14 years trying to get permission to marry Rachel.

b.   Joseph was a servant in Egypt.

8.   The master whom the father served was blessed by God, so was the master whom the son served.

a.   While Jacob was in the service of Laban, God blessed the house of Laban.

b.   While Joseph served Potiphar and Pharaoh in Egypt, both were blessed by his presence.

9.   The father and the son were both blessed with wealth.

10.       Great things were announced to the father in a dream, so also to the son.

11.       As the father went to Egypt and put an end to famine, so the son.

12.       As the father exacted the promise from his sons to bury him in the Holy Land, so also the son.

13.       The father died in Egypt, there died also the son.

14.       As the father's remains were carried to the Holy Land for interment, so also the remains of the son.

The significance of these parallels.

As we have seen in other bible tidbits Joseph is a type of Christ figure. And as such I think that it is saying he is so like his father that they do the same things, just like Joseph and Jacob do the same things.

But if we can step back even further we see parallels between Abraham and Isaac. Both bear two children, one blessed, one not so blessed. They both have a hard time conceiving and there are more.

I think in a spiritual interpretation Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and Joseph all tell the story of salvation.

Abraham is a type for God the Father who offers his son Isaac as a sacrifice.

Isaac as a type of Christ gives birth to Jacob who is a types of the church with the twelve sons.

The sons of Israel (meaning the church) are sent to the nations to feed them, spiritually and physically.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Hard Saying of Jesus (and St. Paul)

Most people agree that there is something special about Jesus and His message. Many religions, especially new age religions claim that Jesus was a member of their group. But what many people don’t like to lay claim to is the entire gospel message.
What people tend to skip over are those hard sayings of Jesus. Those hard saying that make us cringe a bit and ask – really Jesus, really? Did you really mean that?

Here is one about the gospel itself.

Matthew 7:12-14    "Therefore, however you want people to treat you, so treat them, for this is the Law and the Prophets. 

Great we are all in agreement there…

"Enter by the narrow gate; for the gate is wide, and the way is broad that leads to destruction, and many are those who enter by it.   "For the gate is small, and the way is narrow that leads to life, and few are those who find it.

So the road and gate to destruction are broad and many people enter by it, while the road and gate to life is small and few find it.

Ouch. Doesn’t this sound like Jesus is saying that many people are going to hell and few are going to heaven?

The problem, I believe, is that we don’t take Jesus seriously when we should. This time we have right now is a battle, it is us vs. the world, the flesh, and the devil. Now God is on our side, but his army is unconventional. It isn’t made of ‘good people’. It is made of holy people.;

Hebrews 12:14 Strive for peace with all men, and for the holiness without which no one will see the Lord.

That is hard to hear – without holiness, we won’t see God.

You might be telling this to someone someday, maybe today I hope and they will say. “Good luck Christian, I hope you make it, I don’t want to get involved in such things.”

Tell them this – you are already involved, and the battle is on. By not – so called – choosing a side, you are choosing the wrong side. Now that isn’t a very charitable way of saying it dear listener, but pray the Holy Spirit says the same thing through you but in a more charitable way. 

Matthew 10:37, 38 "He who loves father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me; and he who loves son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me. "And he who does not take his cross and follow after Me is not worthy of Me.”

Now how are we to understand these words? I think exactly how he says them. Jesus needs to be Lord of our life, not adviser, and role model, LORD.

It is here that we see one of those Christian paradoxes with this verse. If we love Jesus above all people in our lives, you will then come to love those people more than you ever could have imagined because when Jesus is first in your life, you begin you love things with a divine love and not merely with a human love.

Mark 10:17 -27 And as He was setting out on a journey, a man ran up to Him and knelt before Him, and began asking Him, "Good Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?"  And Jesus said to him, "Why do you call Me good? No one is good except God alone.  "You know the commandments, 'Do not murder, Do not commit adultery, Do not steal, Do not bear false witness, Do not defraud, Honor your father and mother.'"  And he said to Him, "Teacher, I have kept all these things from my youth up."  And looking at him, Jesus felt a love for him, and said to him, "One thing you lack: go and sell all you possess, and give to the poor, and you shall have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me."  But at these words his face fell, and he went away grieved, for he was one who owned much property.  And Jesus, looking around, said to His disciples, "How hard it will be for those who are wealthy to enter the kingdom of God!"  And the disciples were amazed at His words. But Jesus answered again and said to them, "Children, how hard it is to enter the kingdom of God!  "It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God."  And they were even more astonished and said to Him, "Then who can be saved?"  Looking upon them, Jesus said, "With men it is impossible, but not with God; for all things are possible with God."

Why is this? Because when we have wealth we find comfort in those things here and our eyes are set on this world, not the one to come.

My wife and I use to pray that we would win the lottery. Now we would never play it, but we would talk about what we would do with the money when we won.

What I came to realizes for myself is that I wanted to be more independent from God, because we were constantly praying to God to help us with the bills or with our broken car. But our Heavenly Father wants us to be dependent on Him, and I stopped dreaming about winning the lottery that I never played. Now even super rich millionaires are dependent on God, but do they acknowledge it? This is where the difficulty comes in. Do we say that we and our work are the source of our life, or God. It becomes easier when you depend on God for everything  like the poor do.

Hebrews 2:1-3  how shall we escape if we neglect so great a salvation?

We can loose our salvation through just neglect. Let me ask you dear listener, are you busy about the Lord’s work? Every parish that I know of is busy with activities and it is usually the same 15 people hosting each one of them. Get involved. Is your reading Danielle Steel or the book of Daniel in the Bible? Would Jesus be hanging out with you? If not, why not? Start there and ask Him for help in turning your life around.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

The Sin of Human Respect

Today we are going to look at our final judgment in light of works that were omitted.

We have heard the quote by- Edmund Burke

"All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing. "

Our faith calls us in the Mass to confess our sins, the bad we have done and the good we have failed to do.  Today we are looking at that part about the good we have failed to do, because today this is a very popular sin, which I admit here that I am guilty of. To be specific, I am guilty of not doing one of the spiritual works of mercy.

Just to remind you in case you have forgotten them, though these should be memorized; Here are the works of mercy.

The Corporal works of mercy are

  • To feed the hungry;
  • To give drink to the thirsty;
  • To clothe the naked;
  • To shelter the homeless;
  • To visit the sick;
  • To ransom the captive;
  • To bury the dead.

The spiritual works of mercy are:

Now out of respect for people I will only speak about myself in such matters because I don’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings.

Today, out of so-called ‘human respect’ I don’t always admonish sinners because I was taught, “if you are not going to say something nice, then don’t say anything at all.” Now this saying is good when it comes to your neighbor’s apple pie that had two cups of salt in it instead of two cups of sugar; I am not talking about that. I am talking about when my old friend, who is recently divorced, asks me what I think of his new girlfriend and I say that she is nice. What I ought to have said is remind him that he is still married to his wife. I would say it in some charitable way, but do say it.

Now this might hurt his feelings, and I might loose his friendship, but I might save his soul, and his new girlfriend’s soul as well. John the Baptist lost his head over such a case. In England in the 1500’s when Henry VIII was breaking away from the Catholic Church, only one bishop objected to this, and didn’t fall into apostasy and that was St. John Fisher.

Now I want to read to you what Jesus will say to us on judgment day and notice that all of these sins are sins of omission.

Matthew 25:41 "Then He will also say to those on His left, 'Depart from Me, accursed ones, into the eternal fire which has been prepared for the devil and his angels; for I was hungry, and you gave Me nothing to eat; I was thirsty, and you gave Me nothing to drink; I was a stranger, and you did not invite Me in; naked, and you did not clothe Me; sick, and in prison, and you did not visit Me.' "Then they themselves also will answer, saying, 'Lord, when did we see You hungry, or thirsty, or a stranger, or naked, or sick, or in prison, and did not take care of You?' "Then He will answer them, saying, 'Truly I say to you, to the extent that you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to Me.' "And these will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life."

God speaks to Ezekiel on this exact same topic, yet on the matter of admonishing the sinner.

Ezekiel 33:7-9 "Now as for you, son of man, I have appointed you a watchman for the house of Israel; so you will hear a message from My mouth, and give them warning from Me. "When I say to the wicked, 'O wicked man, you shall surely die,' and you do not speak to warn the wicked from his way, that wicked man shall die in his iniquity, but his blood I will require from your hand.   "But if you on your part warn a wicked man to turn from his way, and he does not turn from his way, he will die in his iniquity; but you have delivered your life.”

So God tells Ezekiel, if you admonish the sinner, and he doesn’t listen to you then the sin is his own fault. But if you don’t admonish the sinner, his sin will be both your faults. So this is serious business.

Now, does this mean that we should go around and start nitpicking everything everyone is doing? I don’t think so. If we are spiritually alert, I think the Holy Spirit will set the scene and we need to keep in mind that we should do all things with love, but don’t forget to actually do them.

I am fortunate in my own life to have a godfather as well as other friends who have in the past corrected me, sometimes quite forcefully. Yes, I was totally embarrassed, but later when I cooled off, I realized that he was right and I was wrong and that I should correct my behavior, and I thank God for him and others who love me enough to let me know when I am wandering off the path.

Now it is here that I warn myself, that because our society today finds correction such a terrible sin, that this will lead me to the same place that it lead my master and that is the cross. Just think, Jesus admonished the sinners perfectly, and it got him crucified, how can I hope for any better outcome.

Here is an objection.  Matthew 7:1 "Judge not, that you be not judged.” 'Hey man, your judging me!'

Here is our response. No man, I am not saying that you will burn in hell like a bucket of chicken if you keep doing that bad behavior. What I am telling you is that your behavior is bad and that Jesus told us not to do that. If you claim to follow Jesus, he told us that, that kind of thing offends him in a serious way that our souls could be in danger of hell.

So I really need to change my life.