Friday, April 30, 2010

Wisdom 2

Sir 9:11-12  Do not envy the honors of a sinner, for you do not know what his end will be. Do not delight in what pleases the ungodly; remember that they will not be held guiltless as long as they live. 

Back to the topic of wisdom, it might be easy to think that those who do not follow God's wisdom are no farther away from happiness than those who do.  They may enjoy worldly successes, but we do not know what their end may be.

God chooses contrary to worldly wisdom:
1Co 1:18-29  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. For it is written, "I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and the cleverness of the clever I will thwart."  Where is the wise man? Where is the scribe? Where is the debater of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? For since, in the wisdom of God, the world did not know God through wisdom, it pleased God through the folly of what we preach to save those who believe.  For Jews demand signs and Greeks seek wisdom, but we preach Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and folly to Gentiles,  but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God.  For the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men.  For consider your call, brethren; not many of you were wise according to worldly standards, not many were powerful, not many were of noble birth; but God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise, God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong, God chose what is low and despised in the world, even things that are not, to bring to nothing things that are, so that no human being might boast in the presence of God.

1Co 2:3-9  And I was with you in weakness and in much fear and trembling; and my speech and my message were not in plausible words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, that your faith might not rest in the wisdom of men but in the power of God. Yet among the mature we do impart wisdom, although it is not a wisdom of this age or of the rulers of this age, who are doomed to pass away. But we impart a secret and hidden wisdom of God, which God decreed before the ages for our glorification. None of the rulers of this age understood this; for if they had, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory.  But, as it is written, "What no eye has seen, nor ear heard, nor the heart of man conceived, what God has prepared for those who love him,"  

James also contrasts the two types of wisdom:
Jas 3:14-17  But if you have bitter jealousy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not boast and be false to the truth. This wisdom is not such as comes down from above, but is earthly, unspiritual, devilish.   For where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there will be disorder and every vile practice. But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, open to reason, full of mercy and good fruits, without uncertainty or insincerity.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Augustine Quote

Found this today and loved it.
"Halleluia." "Praise the Lord," you say to your neighbour, he to you: when all are exhorting each other, all are doing what they exhort others to do. But praise with your whole selves: that is, let not your tongue and voice alone praise God, but your conscience also, your life, your deeds. For now, when we are gathered together in the Church, we praise: when we go forth each to his own business, we seem to cease to praise God. Let a man not cease to live well, and then he ever praises God....It is impossible for a man's acts to be evil, whose thoughts are good. For acts issue from thought: nor can a man do anything or move his limbs to do anything, unless the bidding of his thought precede: just as in all things which you see done throughout the provinces, whatsoever the Emperor bids goes forth from the inner part of his palace throughout the wholeRoman Empire. How great commotion is caused at one bidding by the Emperor as he sits in his palace! He but moves his lips, when he speaks: the whole province is moved, when what he speaks is beingexecuted. So in each single man too, the Emperor is within, his seat is in the heart. If he be good and bids good things, good things are done: if he be bad and bids evil things, evil things are done. When Christ sits there, what can He bid, but what is good? When the devil is the occupant, what can he bid, but evil? But God has willed that it should be in your choice for whom you will prepare room, for God, or for the devil: when you have prepared it, he who is occupant will also rule. Therefore, brethren, attend not only to the sound; when you praise God, praise with your whole selves: let your voice, your life, your deeds, all sing.

St Augustine, Exposition on Psalms, 148, 2

If sinners entice you, do not consent

Pro 1:10  My son, if sinners entice you, do not consent. 

I started Proverbs again yesterday, going verse by verse.  I'd always just skimmed the first part, I admit, waiting to get to the chapters with all the good stuff...

Pro 1:11-14  If they say, "Come with us, let us lie in wait for blood, let us wantonly ambush the innocent; like Sheol let us swallow them alive and whole, like those who go down to the Pit: we shall find all precious goods, we shall fill our houses with spoil; throw in your lot among us, we will all have one purse"-- 

Greed is the sin here.  They are wanting to attack the innocent so they can have more stuff in their houses.  The desire for more and more goods can lead people into acts they might otherwise not do, and the undue desire for wealth is sin.  


1Ti 6:10  For the love of money is the root of all evils; it is through this craving that some have wandered away from the faith and pierced their hearts with many pangs.

Pro 1:15-16  my son, do not walk in the way with them, hold back your foot from their paths; for their feet run to evil, and they make haste to shed blood. 

Do not enter the road with them, even for a moment.  They will go to evil with such haste that they may drag you with them, or you'll turn into a victim.  Greedy people are not picky about their victims.

I'm playing a video game on Facebook that allows you to "attack" other players' countries.  You get experience points and a portion of their money.  This is just a game so I'm not sinning, but the behavior pattern is still there.  I don't care who they are if they have a lot of money - I want it.  And I'll attack them over and over again until I get it all.  Greedy people do this in real life and are indifferent to the welfare of others.

Pro 1:17-19  For in vain is a net spread in the sight of any bird; but these men lie in wait for their own blood, they set an ambush for their own lives. Such are the ways of all who get gain by violence; it takes away the life of its possessors.

There are multiple ways to take it, but on my reading today I thought that none can lay a trap that God will not see.  Following God's wisdom then, we can also avoid these traps.  It is in vain they set them against God and His people.

They set an ambush for their own lives in that since God can see them, their evil will not go unpunished.  Perhaps in this life they won't come to immediate death, but certainly the life of a thief can't be pleasant.  Always wondering if you'll get caught or sent to jail.  If you're just greedy and in no threat of jail, your life is still miserable because the things you desire can't give true happiness.  And then of course life in the eternal sense is going to be vastly different for those who do not repent.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Quote from Bp Slattery

You can read the whole thing with commentary from Father Z, but here is a portion of Bp. Slattery's homily at the  Pontifical Mass for the occasion of the 5th anniversary of the beginning of Pope Benedict’s pontificate.  I thought it was particularly appropriate given what we discussed yesterday about the difference between the wisdom of the world and the wisdom of God.
Obedience is thus the heart of the life of the disciple and the key to suffering in Christ and with Christ. This obedience, is must be said, is quite different from obedience the way it is spoken of and dismissed in the world.

For those in the world, obedience is a burden and an imposition. It is the way by which the powerful force the powerless to do obeisance. Simply juridical and always external, obedience is the bending that breaks, but a breaking which is still less painful than the punishment meted out for disobedience. Thus for those in the world obedience is a punishment which must be avoided; but for Christians, obedience is always personal, because it is centered on Christ. It is a surrender to Jesus Whom we love.

For those whose lives are centered in Christ, obedience is that movement which the heart makes when it leaps in joy having once discovered the truth.

Psa 127:1-2  A Song of Ascents. Of Solomon. Unless the LORD builds the house, those who build it labor in vain. Unless the LORD watches over the city, the watchman stays awake in vain. It is in vain that you rise up early and go late to rest, eating the bread of anxious toil; for he gives to his beloved sleep. 

We can work and we can work and we can work, but unless we are following the Lord's path our work will be of the world only.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Wisdom

I was going to do a blog entry on wisdom, so I did a search for wisdom in the Bible. Depending on the translation, "wisdom" appears 210-240 times.  "Wise" appears 190-250 times.  Combined they total 400-500.  To give an idea of how frequently that is the grand scheme of things, "love" appears ~650 times.  It is a very important concept!

The first time the word wise or wisdom appears is right off the bat in Genesis:
Gen 3:6  So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate; and she also gave some to her husband, and he ate.

Well, that's not what I was expecting.  Here she was, trying to become wise, and we end up kicked out of the Garden and subject to death and original sin.  God has to send His own son down to die on a cross to repair what began in this story!


There is a difference between Godly wisdom and worldly wisdom:
Jas 3:14-17  But if you have bitter jealousy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not boast and be false to the truth. This wisdom is not such as comes down from above, but is earthly, unspiritual, devilish. For where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there will be disorder and every vile practice. But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, open to reason, full of mercy and good fruits, without uncertainty or insincerity. 

They two types of wisdom are opposed to each other.  We can see in Proverbs 9 the comparison between the two:

Pro 9:1  Wisdom has built her house, she has set up her seven pillars.
Pro 9:2  She has slaughtered her beasts, she has mixed her wine, she has also set her table.
Pro 9:3  She has sent out her maids to call from the highest places in the town,
Pro 9:4  "Whoever is simple, let him turn in here!" To him who is without sense she says,
Pro 9:5  "Come, eat of my bread and drink of the wine I have mixed.
Pro 9:6  Leave simpleness, and live, and walk in the way of insight." 



Pro 9:13  A foolish woman [representing folly] is noisy; she is wanton and knows no shame.
Pro 9:14  She sits at the door of her house, she takes a seat on the high places of the town,
Pro 9:15  calling to those who pass by, who are going straight on their way,
Pro 9:16  "Whoever is simple, let him turn in here!" And to him who is without sense she says,
Pro 9:17  "Stolen water is sweet, and bread eaten in secret is pleasant."
Pro 9:18  But he does not know that the dead are there, that her guests are in the depths of Sheol.


Fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom (Psa 111:10, Pro 1:7, Prov 9:10, etc).  The Lord is the source of all wisdom (Pro 2:6, Pro 8:22, etc).  Eve erred by believing the serpent instead of the Lord; for the Lord created wisdom and is true wisdom and His commandments are pure.  There is no way to find the right type of wisdom by going against the Lord's commands.

Pro 3:5-7  Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and do not rely on your own insight.  In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths. Be not wise in your own eyes; fear the LORD, and turn away from evil.

This isn't easy, as the world and the Enemy want us to go against the plans of the Lord.  We can see this just by turning on the TV or the internet.  If we really think hard about some of the assumptions in our lives, some of the things we think to be true or false, some of the ideas we just hold to be evident - how many are from the world and not God?

To pursue proper wisdom, not the wisdom Eve sought, we must not follow the world.

Eph 4:17-24  Now this I affirm and testify in the Lord, that you must no longer live as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their minds; they are darkened in their understanding, alienated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them, due to their hardness of heart; they have become callous and have given themselves up to licentiousness, greedy to practice every kind of uncleanness. You did not so learn Christ!-- assuming that you have heard about him and were taught in him, as the truth is in Jesus. Put off your old nature which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful lusts, and be renewed in the spirit of your minds, and put on the new nature, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness.


Rom 12:2  Do not be conformed to this world but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that you may prove what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Stubborn Teenagers

Psalm 106 reads like the history of a teenager.  The girls I taught for Confirmation class decided that the Israelites sounded a lot like spoiled teenagers.  They do something wrong, they get grounded, they're very sorry, and then they do it again.  Over and over and over again.

Psa 106:7-13  Our fathers, when they were in Egypt, did not consider thy wonderful works; they did not remember the abundance of thy steadfast love, but rebelled against the Most High at the Red Sea. Yet he saved them for his name's sake, that he might make known his mighty power. He rebuked the Red Sea, and it became dry; and he led them through the deep as through a desert.  So he saved them from the hand of the foe, and delivered them from the power of the enemy. And the waters covered their adversaries; not one of them was left. Then they believed his words; they sang his praise. But they soon forgot his works; they did not wait for his counsel.

God has just saved His people from slavery here, and it does not take long before they start doubting him.  Can you imagine, so soon after seeing all the first born of Egypt slaughtered for you, doubting the hand that did it?  I can.  We do it all the time now when we doubt God and don't trust in Him, even though He had His own son slaughtered for us.

Psa 106:19-22  They made a calf in Horeb and worshiped a molten image. They exchanged the glory of God for the image of an ox that eats grass. They forgot God, their Savior, who had done great things in Egypt, wondrous works in the land of Ham, and terrible things by the Red Sea.

God has now rescued them and established a covenant with them. Which they rapidly break.

Psa 106:24-27  Then they despised the pleasant land, having no faith in his promise. They murmured in their tents, and did not obey the voice of the LORD. Therefore he raised his hand and swore to them that he would make them fall in the wilderness, and would disperse their descendants among the nations, scattering them over the lands. 

He commanded them to go and take the Promised Land.  They freaked out and were too afraid to proceed, doubting that God would sustain them.  Remember, this is after he saved them from Egypt and at the Red Sea.  This is what prompted God to decide none of that generation would enter the Promised Land, save Joshua and Caleb.

Psa 106:34-36  They did not destroy the peoples, as the LORD commanded them, but they mingled with the nations and learned to do as they did. They served their idols, which became a snare to them.  They sacrificed their sons and their daughters to the demons; they poured out innocent blood, the blood of their sons and daughters, whom they sacrificed to the idols of Canaan; and the land was polluted with blood. 

God had commanded them, once they entered the Promise Land, to destroy all the people they found there.  This sounds harsh, but He was trying to keep Israel pure to serve Him.  This would allow them to spread the news of God afar without tainting it with corruption.  Since they did not obey, they fell prey to the idols of the other people, just as He had predicted.  They went so far as to offer up their own children as sacrifices.  (sound familiar to anything we're doing here?).

Psa 106:43  Many times he delivered them, but they were rebellious in their purposes, and were brought low through their iniquity. Nevertheless he regarded their distress, when he heard their cry. He remembered for their sake his covenant, and relented according to the abundance of his steadfast love.

Even though Israel played the harlot (unfaithful to their promise), God still saved them as a people after punishing them.  Just like a parent who grounds, forgives, and grounds again, God always took His people back out of love and faithfulness.  A more familiar example of this concept is found in the Prodigal Son story in Luke.  This is what He does for us when we repent and return to Him.  He will take us back!

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Let the redeemed of the LORD say so

Psa 96:2-3  Sing to the LORD, bless his name; tell of his salvation from day to day. Declare his glory among the nations, his marvelous works among all the peoples!

A friend asked me once if I was embarrassed to pray in public.  I am not sure of any logical (non-emotional) reason to be so.  We are going to Heaven because of God, why would we be afraid to give Him thanks in public?  Our job as Christians is to be Christians, and not hide our beliefs.  There is no such thing as a "private faith," regardless of what the media would have us believe.  If you believe something, it will affect your actions.

Psa 107:1-3  O give thanks to the LORD, for he is good; for his steadfast love endures for ever! Let the redeemed of the LORD say so, whom he has redeemed from trouble and gathered in from the lands, from the east and from the west, from the north and from the south. 

"The zealous man desires and seeks, by all the ways available to him, that God would always be more widely known and served in this life and in the next, because this holy love is boundless.  He does the same for those close to him, and desires that all would be content in this life, and happy and blessed in the world to come; so that all may be saved, and no one lost for all eternity" (St Anthony Mary Claret, El egoismo vencido, 60).

Mat 5:14-15  You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hid. Nor do men light a lamp and put it under a bushel, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.

The commentary from Albert Barnes says of this passage:
We learn here:
1.    that religion, if it exists, cannot be concealed.
2.    that where it is not manifest in the life, it does not exist.
3.    that “professors” of religion, who live like other people, give evidence that they have never been truly converted.
4.    that to attempt to conceal or hide our Christian knowledge or experience is to betray our trust, injure the cause of piety, and to render our lives useless. And,
5.    that good actions will be seen, and will lead people to honor God. If we have no other way of doing good - if we are poor, and unlearned, and unknown yet we may do good by our lives.  No sincere and humble Christian lives in vain. The feeblest light at midnight is of use.
Isa 58:6-8  Is not this the fast that I choose: to loose the bonds of wickedness, to undo the thongs of the yoke, to let the oppressed go free, and to break every yoke? Is it not to share your bread with the hungry, and bring the homeless poor into your house; when you see the naked, to cover him, and not to hide yourself from your own flesh? Then shall your light break forth like the dawn, and your healing shall spring up speedily; your righteousness shall go before you, the glory of the LORD shall be your rear guard. 

Eph 5:6-11  Let no one deceive you with empty words, for it is because of these things that the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience.  Therefore do not associate with them, for once you were darkness, but now you are light in the Lord; walk as children of light (for the fruit of light is found in all that is good and right and true), and try to learn what is pleasing to the Lord. Take no part in the unfruitful works of darkness, but instead expose them.


What's your job today?

Saturday, April 24, 2010

God versus the World

Psa 118:6-9  With the LORD on my side I do not fear. What can man do to me? The LORD is on my side to help me; I shall look in triumph on those who hate me. It is better to take refuge in the LORD than to put confidence in man. It is better to take refuge in the LORD than to put confidence in princes.

We must not be afraid to pick God over worldly ideas and pursuits.  There is no one on this planet that saves.  There is nothing we can purchase that will go with us to eternity.  We must choose to follow the Lord instead of the things the world tells us to follow; value the things the Lord says to value instead of the things the world tells us to value.

Mar 8:36-38  For what does it profit a man, to gain the whole world and forfeit his life? For what can a man give in return for his life? For whoever is ashamed of me and of my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, of him will the Son of man also be ashamed, when he comes in the glory of his Father with the holy angels.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Conversion

Act 9:1-2  But Saul, still breathing threats and murder against the disciples of the Lord, went to the high priest and asked him for letters to the synagogues at Damascus, so that if he found any belonging to the Way, men or women, he might bring them bound to Jerusalem.

Today's readings include this one about Saul, or Paul, prior to his conversion to Christianity.  Talk about a change!  This guy goes from persecuting Christians to joining them after a few minutes' chat with Jesus.  Makes me think about what a few minutes of my time in prayer can do, but that's a different subject!

He'd first made his appearance in Acts 7:58 when the church's first martyr, Stephen, is stoned to death.  The people stoning him lay their clothes at Saul's feet. 

Act 7:58-59  Then they cast him out of the city and stoned him; and the witnesses laid down their garments at the feet of a young man named Saul.  And as they were stoning Stephen, he prayed, "Lord Jesus, receive my spirit."

He speaks of it himself later:
Act 22:20  And when the blood of Stephen thy witness was shed, I also was standing by and approving, and keeping the garments of those who killed him.'

After this, Saul took up going after the Christians.
Act 8:1-3  And Saul was consenting to his death. And on that day a great persecution arose against the church in Jerusalem; and they were all scattered throughout the region of Judea and Samaria, except the apostles. Devout men buried Stephen, and made great lamentation over him. But Saul was ravaging the church, and entering house after house, he dragged off men and women and committed them to prison.

This only served to advance the cause though, as spreading about opened up new doors and audiences.  Later, when Saul decides to track down some of the Christians in Chapter 9, he encounters Jesus and all of his zeal goes to the service of our Lord.  Most of the letters we have in the New Testament are from Paul.

Though we don't know for sure how he died, tradition holds he was martyred by beheading in Rome sometime in the mid-60's.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

I was reading in the Book of Sirach today, and though I've read this before, for some reason it stuck out to me.

Sir 2:1-5  My son, if you come forward to serve the Lord, prepare yourself for temptation. Set your heart right and be steadfast, and do not be hasty in time of calamity. Cleave to him and do not depart, that you may be honored at the end of your life.  Accept whatever is brought upon you, and in changes that humble you be patient. For gold is tested in the fire, and acceptable men in the furnace of humiliation. 

Be humble and patient, for it is in those times God is testing us.  So odd I've never seen it before.  This is echoed elsewhere, but I guess I just had it in my head that God tests us in general and then sees what happens.  He's testing us when we don't want to be tested though!

It reminds me of a conversation I had a with a friend a week or two ago.  We were talking about how various people may have an "excuse" to act the way they do; for instance, another friend is pregnant.  She's never been difficult or mean or whatever, but we'd probably cut her some slack if she was.  I realized then I don't want any slack!  I asked my friend to call me on it if I was ever uncharitable while having my own issues, because that's still unacceptable.  Our situation does not change the commanded response to others.

Pro 27:21  The crucible is for silver, and the furnace is for gold, and a man is judged by his praise.

There is apparently some discussion on how to best translate it, but the meaning is somewhat evident.  How do we respond to praise?  Are we humble?  Are we pretending to be humble?  :)

Anyway, I thought it was interesting!


Unrelated, I just got my copy of Preparing To Be a Help Meet and I love it!  I'd read Created to Be His Help Meet before, but that was more for current wives.  This book talks about how to prepare myself now to be a good wife later, with good thoughts on trusting in the Lord to find a good husband.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Changing Plans

As I've mentioned before, the plan was to finish reading the entire Bible + commentary by the start of September.  Unfortunately, I had made this plan without comparing it to my budget.  Commentaries aren't cheap, and then Amazon decided to stop stocking it themselves.  They usually have the cheapest books.  Anyway, I'm changing my plan to be to read the Old Testament and commentary by then, and hopefully can keep up on buying them.

Why do I bring this up?  A few years ago, I would have just bought them and hoped for the best.  I'd just buy it and try to spend less elsewhere.  Elsewhere was somewhat undefined and elusive though, so I ended up carrying some credit card debt and not really having a plan for my money aside for a few things I was intentionally saving for.  A friend (oddly enough one of the same friends that irritated me into reading the Bible) and I were discussing it one day, and although she didn't say it outright, I think she was surprised I was so unplanned with my money.  I was irritated (common reaction, apparently), and went to a Financial Peace intro class at church.

I did not sign up to take the class, as my oldest sister had previously explained the concepts.  The intro session was enough though.  It just had never occurred to me that my money was really God's money, and I was a steward.  I don't know why.  It makes sense.  God created everything, it all belongs to Him.  I'd already given Him myself and all that I did, why would the money not be part of the deal?  It is His, and I'm just borrowing it.

The Bible talks A LOT about money.  I've been reading Jesus talked about money more than He talked about Heaven and Hell combined (I didn't check myself, but He does talk about it quite a bit).  God clearly has a plan for our money, and how to use it, just like He has a plan for everything else.

Money can make an excellent servant, but is a poor master.  I don't chase money or things anymore, and am so much the happier for it.  So if I don't have the money to read the Bible and commentary by September, so be it.  I'll just spend more time as I go through.  Maybe that's the point anyway!

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

All days are good for serving God

Psa 90:12  So teach us to number our days that we may get a heart of wisdom.

My commentary has a quote from St J Escriva (Friends of God) related to this verse.  "...there are no bad or unsuitable days.  All days are good for serving God.  Days become bad only when people spoil them with their lack of faith, their laziness and their indolence, which turns them away from working with God and for God.  'At all times I will bless the Lord' (Ps 34:1).  Time is a treasure that melts away.  It escapes from us, slipping through our fingers like water through the mountain rocks.  Tomorrow will soon be another yesterday.  Our lives are so very short.  Yesterday has gone and today is passing by.  But what a great deal can be done for the love of God in this short space of time!"

I was listening to an audio cd my sister lent me this week.  The speaker was talking about fasting, and what he said applied to more than just food.  Our bodies, like money, make good servants but horrible masters.  Too frequently we submit to the urge of the body when we could be doing productive things for God, preparing for our end and His arrival, and helping others to do the same.

We have work to do while here, and if we remember how it will end then we will be less prone to wasting it:
Sir 7:36  In all you do, remember the end of your life, and then you will never sin. 

We know not when we will die, or when Jesus will return.

Luk 12:35  "Let your loins be girded and your lamps burning,
Luk 12:36  and be like men who are waiting for their master to come home from the marriage feast, so that they may open to him at once when he comes and knocks.
Luk 12:37  Blessed are those servants whom the master finds awake when he comes; truly, I say to you, he will gird himself and have them sit at table, and he will come and serve them.
Luk 12:38  If he comes in the second watch, or in the third, and finds them so, blessed are those servants!
Luk 12:39  But know this, that if the householder had known at what hour the thief was coming, he would not have left his house to be broken into.
Luk 12:40  You also must be ready; for the Son of man is coming at an unexpected hour."

Monday, April 19, 2010

Zeal and Persecution

Psa 69:7 For it is for thy sake that I have borne reproach, that shame has covered my face.
Psa 69:8 I have become a stranger to my brethren, an alien to my mother's sons.
Psa 69:9 For zeal for thy house has consumed me, and the insults of those who insult thee have fallen on me.
Psa 69:10 When I humbled my soul with fasting, it became my reproach.
Psa 69:11 When I made sackcloth my clothing, I became a byword to them.
Psa 69:12 I am the talk of those who sit in the gate, and the drunkards make songs about me.

The ninth verse obviously evokes the memory of Jesus:
Joh 2:14 In the temple he found those who were selling oxen and sheep and pigeons, and the money-changers at their business.
Joh 2:15 And making a whip of cords, he drove them all, with the sheep and oxen, out of the temple; and he poured out the coins of the money-changers and overturned their tables.
Joh 2:16 And he told those who sold the pigeons, "Take these things away; you shall not make my Father's house a house of trade."
Joh 2:17 His disciples remembered that it was written, "Zeal for thy house will consume me."

Many of the commentaries I’ve been reading apply it to all religious though. If we do our job as Christians and shine for God, others will find reason to mock us (at the least).

Joh 15:20 Remember the word that I said to you, 'A servant is not greater than his master.' If they persecuted me, they will persecute you; if they kept my word, they will keep yours also.

I was angry the other day at work because some people were mocking Catholics specifically, but Christians in general.  This should not be surprising! In fact, it is almost expected.  I'd go so far as to say required, if we think we're doing our jobs.  The readings from this Sunday address the issue as well:

Act 5:27  And when they had brought them, they set them before the council. And the high priest questioned them,
Act 5:28  saying, "We strictly charged you not to teach in this name, yet here you have filled Jerusalem with your teaching and you intend to bring this man's blood upon us."
Act 5:29  But Peter and the apostles answered, "We must obey God rather than men.
Act 5:30  The God of our fathers raised Jesus whom you killed by hanging him on a tree.
Act 5:31  God exalted him at his right hand as Leader and Savior, to give repentance to Israel and forgiveness of sins.
Act 5:32  And we are witnesses to these things, and so is the Holy Spirit whom God has given to those who obey him."
Act 5:33  When they heard this they were enraged and wanted to kill them.
Act 5:34  But a Pharisee in the council named Gamali-el, a teacher of the law, held in honor by all the people, stood up and ordered the men to be put outside for a while.
Act 5:35  And he said to them, "Men of Israel, take care what you do with these men.
Act 5:36  For before these days Theudas arose, giving himself out to be somebody, and a number of men, about four hundred, joined him; but he was slain and all who followed him were dispersed and came to nothing.
Act 5:37  After him Judas the Galilean arose in the days of the census and drew away some of the people after him; he also perished, and all who followed him were scattered.
Act 5:38  So in the present case I tell you, keep away from these men and let them alone; for if this plan or this undertaking is of men, it will fail;
Act 5:39  but if it is of God, you will not be able to overthrow them. You might even be found opposing God!"
Act 5:40  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.
Act 5:41  Then they left the presence of the council, rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer dishonor for the name.
Act 5:42  And every day in the temple and at home they did not cease teaching and preaching Jesus as the Christ. 


Sunday, April 18, 2010

Yay God!

The book of Psalms is not just one lament or prayer after another, or thoughts on good or bad deeds. It is also full of praise for God.

Psalm 67
  1.  To the choirmaster: with stringed instruments. A Psalm. A Song. May God be gracious to us and bless us and make his face to shine upon us, [Selah]
  2.  that thy way may be known upon earth, thy saving power among all nations.
  3. Let the peoples praise thee, O God; let all the peoples praise thee!
  4.  Let the nations be glad and sing for joy, for thou dost judge the peoples with equity and guide the nations upon earth. [Selah]
  5.  Let the peoples praise thee, O God; let all the peoples praise thee!
  6.  The earth has yielded its increase; God, our God, has blessed us.
  7. God has blessed us; let all the ends of the earth fear him!

Psa 68:19-20 Blessed be the Lord, who daily bears us up; God is our salvation. [Selah] Our God is a God of salvation; and to GOD, the Lord, belongs escape from death.

I have a hard time remembering to be thankful amidst all of the other prayers I have. Obviously we’re supposed to tell God of all of our needs, but sometimes I get so hung up on me I forget to thank God.  I don't know how I could do that though!  Not only did God do what was needed to bring us salvation, He constantly tugs at our hearts even when we are not paying attention to him.  He cares for us and loves us, just as a perfect parent!

Friday, April 16, 2010

Psalms and Worry

Psa 37:8-9  Refrain from anger, and forsake wrath! Fret not yourself; it tends only to evil.  For the wicked shall be cut off; but those who wait for the LORD shall possess the land.Yet a little while, and the wicked will be no more; though you look well at his place, he will not be there.  But the meek shall possess the land, and delight themselves in abundant prosperity.

Psalm 27 speaks of waiting for the Lord, this one also does and says what will happen to those who do.  Our Lord speaks of the meek again in Mathew 5:5, repeating what is said here of them coming to possess the land. 

What I also noted about this one is what it has to say about worry - it tends only to evil. It doesn't say it usually does or that it can tends only to evil, it says it does tend only to evil.  How frequently do we worry about tomorrow and suffer today?  What an evil trick we play on ourselves.  Even if it never comes to pass, we've managed to worry ourselves into suffering.  I have a vivid imagination and can come up with all sorts of things to worry about.

I am strong willed, impatient, and tend to worry, so I have a lot of work to do!

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Psalm 27

Last year I memorized Psalm 27.  It was not an easy thing as I've never memorized Scripture before.  No idea why I went for a whole Psalm instead of a single verse or two, but hey, I'm odd like that.  My favorite parts, and the reason I picked it, is the first and last verse.

Psa 27:1  A Psalm of David. The LORD is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? The LORD is the stronghold of my life; of whom shall I be afraid? 

Psa 27:14  Wait for the LORD; be strong, and let your heart take courage; yea, wait for the LORD!

To be honest, I don't remember much of the rest of it.  But those two verses are still in my mind, playing the role of post it note occasionally.  We have nothing to fear, so we can take courage and wait for our Lord!

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Psalms and the New Testament

I have to admit I'm not a big fan of reading Psalms.  I know, I know a lot of people think they are beautiful and meaningful and love reading them.  I prefer Proverbs.  But I've been happier reading this time though, as the commentary is quick to point out all sorts of details.  Of primary importance in most notes is the relevance to the New Testament.  A LOT of material from Psalms ends up in the New Testament.  I knew this, and yet I managed to ignore it.  Psalm 22 reminded me again.

  1. To the choirmaster: according to The Hind of the Dawn. A Psalm of David. My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me? Why art thou so far from helping me, from the words of my groaning?
  2. O my God, I cry by day, but thou dost not answer; and by night, but find no rest.
  3. Yet thou art holy, enthroned on the praises of Israel. 
  4. In thee our fathers trusted; they trusted, and thou didst deliver them.
  5. To thee they cried, and were saved; in thee they trusted, and were not disappointed.
  6.  But I am a worm, and no man; scorned by men, and despised by the people.
  7. All who see me mock at me, they make mouths at me, they wag their heads;
  8.  "He committed his cause to the LORD; let him deliver him, let him rescue him, for he delights in him!"
  9. Yet thou art he who took me from the womb; thou didst keep me safe upon my mother's breasts. 
  10.  Upon thee was I cast from my birth, and since my mother bore me thou hast been my God.
  11.  Be not far from me, for trouble is near and there is none to help. 
  12. Many bulls encompass me, strong bulls of Bashan surround me; 
  13.  they open wide their mouths at me, like a ravening and roaring lion. 
  14.  I am poured out like water, and all my bones are out of joint; my heart is like wax, it is melted within my breast;
  15.  my strength is dried up like a potsherd, and my tongue cleaves to my jaws; thou dost lay me in the dust of death. 
  16. Yea, dogs are round about me; a company of evildoers encircle me; they have pierced my hands and feet--
  17. I can count all my bones--they stare and gloat over me;
  18. they divide my garments among them, and for my raiment they cast lots.
  19. But thou, O LORD, be not far off! O thou my help, hasten to my aid!
  20. Deliver my soul from the sword, my life from the power of the dog!
  21. Save me from the mouth of the lion, my afflicted soul from the horns of the wild oxen!
  22. I will tell of thy name to my brethren; in the midst of the congregation I will praise thee:
  23. You who fear the LORD, praise him! all you sons of Jacob, glorify him, and stand in awe of him, all you sons of Israel!
  24. For he has not despised or abhorred the affliction of the afflicted; and he has not hid his face from him, but has heard, when he cried to him.
  25. From thee comes my praise in the great congregation; my vows I will pay before those who fear him.
  26.  The afflicted shall eat and be satisfied; those who seek him shall praise the LORD! May your hearts live for ever! 
  27. All the ends of the earth shall remember and turn to the LORD; and all the families of the nations shall worship before him.
  28. For dominion belongs to the LORD, and he rules over the nations.
  29. Yea, to him shall all the proud of the earth bow down; before him shall bow all who go down to the dust, and he who cannot keep himself alive. 
  30. Posterity shall serve him; men shall tell of the Lord to the coming generation,
  31. and proclaim his deliverance to a people yet unborn, that he has wrought it.
There are several portions that could be easily applied to Jesus, most notably the first verse, which He quotes.  One of my commentaries suggests that Psalms 22, 23, and 24 all go together.  In 22, He is killed for others, in 23 He cares for the sheep, and in 24 He appears as the King of Glory.

I don't know about all of that, but I can easily see in 22 the links to the New Testament and Jesus.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Psalms and Pride

Psa 19:13-14  Keep back thy servant also from presumptuous sins; let them not have dominion over me! Then I shall be blameless, and innocent of great transgression. Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in thy sight, O LORD, my rock and my redeemer.

The idea of praying to God to ask Him to help keep me from sins that I stumble upon less intentionally than others is appealing.  The word "presumptuous" is rendered in all the other KJV cases in the Old Testament as "proud."  This makes sense, but I'd never really thought about it for this verse.  Of course we'd not be able to see our sins of pride as clearly! 

I'm really good at some things.  It isn't a sin for me to know that I'm good at them.  It is a sin for me to think I'm to blame for my skills and not God. Pride will lead one to believe they do not need God, or His advice or Word.  Pride will lead one to depend upon themselves and the things they can get for themselves, like wealth.

We do indeed need God's help to not fall under the dominion of pride.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Psalms

I'm into the book of Psalms now.  For those of you paying attention, I'm not going in order.  My commentaries come in separate books so I get them as I can.  The commentary noted the Psalms have over 20 instances of "Happy is the man" or "Blessed be the man" or some other form of identifying what causes happiness.  I like numbers, so I looked them up!!!

Psa 1:1-2  Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked, nor stands in the way of sinners, nor sits in the seat of scoffers; but his delight is in the law of the LORD, and on his law he meditates day and night.

Psa 2:11-12  Serve the LORD with fear, with trembling kiss his feet, lest he be angry, and you perish in the way; for his wrath is quickly kindled. Blessed are all who take refuge in him.


Psa 32:2  Blessed is the man to whom the LORD imputes no iniquity, and in whose spirit there is no deceit. 


Psa 33:12  Blessed is the nation whose God is the LORD, the people whom he has chosen as his heritage! 


Psa 34:8  O taste and see that the LORD is good! Happy is the man who takes refuge in him! 


Psa 40:4  Blessed is the man who makes the LORD his trust, who does not turn to the proud, to those who go astray after false gods! 

Psa 41:1-2  To the choirmaster. A Psalm of David. Blessed is he who considers the poor! The LORD delivers him in the day of trouble; the LORD protects him and keeps him alive; he is called blessed in the land; thou dost not give him up to the will of his enemies. 


Psa 84:4  Blessed are those who dwell in thy house, ever singing thy praise! 

Psa 84:12  O LORD of hosts, blessed is the man who trusts in thee! 


Psa 89:15-16  Blessed are the people who know the festal shout, who walk, O LORD, in the light of thy countenance, who exult in thy name all the day, and extol thy righteousness.


Psa 94:12-13  Blessed is the man whom thou dost chasten, O LORD, and whom thou dost teach out of thy law  to give him respite from days of trouble, until a pit is dug for the wicked.

Psa 106:3  Blessed are they who observe justice, who do righteousness at all times!

Psa 119:1-3  Blessed are those whose way is blameless, who walk in the law of the LORD!  Blessed are those who keep his testimonies, who seek him with their whole heart, who also do no wrong, but walk in his ways!


Psa 128:1-2  A Song of Ascents. Blessed is every one who fears the LORD, who walks in his ways! You shall eat the fruit of the labor of your hands; you shall be happy, and it shall be well with you.

Psa 127:3-5  Lo, sons are a heritage from the LORD, the fruit of the womb a reward.  Like arrows in the hand of a warrior are the sons of one's youth.  Happy is the man who has his quiver full of them! He shall not be put to shame when he speaks with his enemies in the gate. 

Psa 144:15  Happy the people to whom such blessings fall! Happy the people whose God is the LORD!  


Psa 146:5-8  Happy is he whose help is the God of Jacob, whose hope is in the LORD his God, who made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that is in them; who keeps faith for ever; who executes justice for the oppressed; who gives food to the hungry. The LORD sets the prisoners free; the LORD opens the eyes of the blind. The LORD lifts up those who are bowed down; the LORD loves the righteous.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Be brave! It will not make you burst!

Sir 19:7-12  Never repeat a conversation, and you will lose nothing at all. With friend or foe do not report it, and unless it would be a sin for you, do not disclose it; for some one has heard you and watched you, and when the time comes he will hate you. Have you heard a word? Let it die with you. Be brave! It will not make you burst!  With such a word a fool will suffer pangs like a woman in labor with a child. Like an arrow stuck in the flesh of the thigh, so is a word inside a fool.

I love that.  Won't make you burst!  This is one of those post it notes, but my mind never seems to find it fast enough before I talk.

Friday, April 9, 2010

7 Quick Takes (1)



1.  On Fridays, I may try and participate in the 7 Quick Takes, hosted by Conversion Diary.  How this works is I write this post and use the graphic above to link back to her 7 Quick Takes.  On her blog, I provide this entry and people who frequent her blog might stop by here to visit.  Hello new people!

2.  People who start here, as opposed to there, should go there to visit!  I really like that blog.  She's an atheist turned Catholic and on several of her entries, I've thought to myself, "Oh, I totally know that feeling."  Not the scorpions so much, but the God stuff.  She had a great post this week about miracles and the Church.

3.  The dogs are doing well.  Starbuck is certainly calmer now.  I assume she's tired from playing with Hercules.  Hercules figured out that the baby gate was nothing more than a noisemaker for a 50 lb dog and he's been sleeping outside since.  He also found a way into the garden so I had to build a better fence.

Free animals are never free, by the way.  I knew that already though with Starbuck.  Hercules forced me to buy and build a bigger fence.  Today I went out and got a gigantic bowl for water, since he drinks 2-3 times as much as her.

4.  This weekend marks the official start of camp season for me, even though we've been working on it for months at the executive level.  I'm the adult in charge of a week long teen leadership development camp held during the summer.  This weekend, the cadet (teen) in charge is selecting the rest of his staff using an objective, competitive process.  Should make for a long day tomorrow!

5.  The garden is also going well, though somehow the tent stakes I used to hold the cardboard on top keep popping out.  Just one or two.  One ended up outside the garden.  I don't know how this is happening.  There is no evidence either dog is going in there.  It is somewhat creepy.


I am (hopefully) growing potatoes, onions, and garlic.  Last year I attempted to grow the same three things and got two or three potatoes at harvest.  So any sort of harvest will likely be a success in comparison.

In case you're wondering, the cardboard on top has been cut to allow for planting but I leave the rest there to prevent weeds.  In theory, it should work.  If you could see it, you'd be able to tell I very anal retentively measured off the rows and plant distances and marked them on a grid.

6.  This week, I finished making a blanket for a friend who is having a baby soon.  I was a bit overeager on the first row, and so the final product turned out to be over 4 feet by 6 feet.  I told her it was because I thought she might get cold too!

7.  I'm caught back up in my goal of reading the Bible plus commentary by September 1st.  Yes, I do have a spreadsheet to track it,why do you ask?  I'm going to run into two problems.  First, Amazon no longer stocks what I want.  They have third parties that do, so they cost more.  Which leads into the second problem - I planned my reading schedule but did not plan the budgeting schedule.  I'm very particular about my budget (there is also a spreadsheet for it).  We shall see where that goes!  In the meantime, I'm in Psalms.

What about your friends?

When preparing this entry, I had that old TLC song stuck in my head:
What about your friends will they stand their ground
Will they let you down yeah, yeah
What about your friends are they gonna be low down
Will they ever be around or will they turn their backs on you


Oddly, those aren't the words as I remember them.  Then again, I'm not good with music.

Of all the books in the Bible, the one with the most about friendship is Sirach.  It has thoughts on less than ideal friends:
Sir 6:7  When you gain a friend, gain him through testing, and do not trust him hastily.
Sir 6:8  For there is a friend who is such at his own convenience, but will not stand by you in your day of trouble.
Sir 6:9  And there is a friend who changes into an enemy, and will disclose a quarrel to your disgrace.
Sir 6:10  And there is a friend who is a table companion, but will not stand by you in your day of trouble.
Sir 6:11  In your prosperity he will make himself your equal, and be bold with your servants;
Sir 6:12  but if you are brought low he will turn against you, and will hide himself from your presence.
Sir 6:13  Keep yourself far from your enemies, and be on guard toward your friends.

Sir 37:1  Every friend will say, "I too am a friend"; but some friends are friends only in name.
Sir 37:2  Is it not a grief to the death when a companion and friend turns to enmity?  

(Isn't that the truth?  I hate that feeling!)

And it has thoughts on true friends:
Sir 6:14  A faithful friend is a sturdy shelter: he that has found one has found a treasure.
Sir 6:15  There is nothing so precious as a faithful friend, and no scales can measure his excellence.
Sir 6:16  A faithful friend is an elixir of life; and those who fear the Lord will find him.
Sir 6:17  Whoever fears the Lord directs his friendship aright, for as he is, so is his neighbor also. 

Sir 7:18  Do not exchange a friend for money, or a real brother for the gold of Ophir.

Sir 29:10  Lose your silver for the sake of a brother or a friend, and do not let it rust under a stone and be lost. 

Sir 37:6  Do not forget a friend in your heart, and be not unmindful of him in your wealth.

There is discussion on problems within a friendship:
Sir 22:19  A man who pricks an eye will make tears fall, and one who pricks the heart makes it show feeling.
Sir 22:20  One who throws a stone at birds scares them away, and one who reviles a friend will break off the friendship.
Sir 22:21  Even if you have drawn your sword against a friend, do not despair, for a renewal of friendship is possible.
Sir 22:22  If you have opened your mouth against your friend, do not worry, for reconciliation is possible; but as for reviling, arrogance, disclosure of secrets, or a treacherous blow--in these cases any friend will flee.

It also identifies who would be a good choice for friendship:
Sir 37:12  But stay constantly with a godly man whom you know to be a keeper of the commandments, whose soul is in accord with your soul, and who will sorrow with you if you fail. 

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Sirach

The Book of Sirach is another that is in Catholic Bibles but not in Protestant ones.  Though the introduction to my commentary has a lot of theories about it and information, it basically reminds me of Proverbs.

My dad and I have discussed this part, as for some reason we find it amusing:
Sir 3:12-13  O son, help your father in his old age, and do not grieve him as long as he lives; even if he is lacking in understanding, show forbearance; in all your strength do not despise him. 

I think that means that even if he goes crazy, I'm still supposed to be nice to him!

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Getting up Early

I do not like getting up early.  It isn't so much I mind being awake as much as I mind getting out of my nice soft, warm, comfortable bed.  This is perhaps more entertaining to consider since at one point my plan was to be in the military, and they seem to like early mornings.  Currently my job allows me to wake up as early as 0330 on some mornings so I can visit our AM operations.  In all cases, be it at 0330 or 0700, I'm not a fan.  And I'm usually not very functional for quite some time.

Reading Wisdom again, I noticed (again), that this seems to conflict with some guidance I find all over in the Bible - I need to wake up and pray!

Wis 16:27-29  For what was not destroyed by fire was melted when simply warmed by a fleeting ray of the sun, to make it known that one must rise before the sun to give thee thanks, and must pray to thee at the dawning of the light; for the hope of an ungrateful man will melt like wintry frost, and flow away like waste water.

That's hardly the end of the Biblical support for the idea.

Psa 59:16  But I will sing of thy might; I will sing aloud of thy steadfast love in the morning. For thou hast been to me a fortress and a refuge in the day of my distress.  

Psa 88:13  But I, O LORD, cry to thee; in the morning my prayer comes before thee.

Wis 6:12-14  Wisdom is radiant and unfading, and she is easily discerned by those who love her, and is found by those who seek her. She hastens to make herself known to those who desire her. He who rises early to seek her will have no difficulty, for he will find her sitting at his gates.

Sir 32:14  He who fears the Lord will accept his discipline, and those who rise early to seek him will find favor.

Sir 39:5  He will set his heart to rise early to seek the Lord who made him, and will make supplication before the Most High; he will open his mouth in prayer and make supplication for his sins. 

Psa 5:3  O LORD, in the morning thou dost hear my voice; in the morning I prepare a sacrifice for thee, and watch.  

Psa 55:17  Evening and morning and at noon I utter my complaint and moan, and he will hear my voice. 

Even Jesus got up early to pray!
Mar 1:35  And in the morning, a great while before day, he rose and went out to a lonely place, and there he prayed.


Sounds like I should be spending some more time in prayer each morning!  All that being said, we should not deny ourselves sleep as it too is a gift from God:
Psa 127:2  It is in vain that you rise up early and go late to rest, eating the bread of anxious toil; for he gives to his beloved sleep. 

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Wisdom 13

Wisdom 13 reminds me of Romans.  A lot of things must remind me of the Book of Romans!
  1. For all men who were ignorant of God were foolish by nature; and they were unable from the good things that are seen to know him who exists, nor did they recognize the craftsman while paying heed to his works;
  2. but they supposed that either fire or wind or swift air, or the circle of the stars, or turbulent water, or the luminaries of heaven were the gods that rule the world. 
  3. If through delight in the beauty of these things men assumed them to be gods, let them know how much better than these is their Lord, for the author of beauty created them. 
  4. And if men were amazed at their power and working, let them perceive from them how much more powerful is he who formed them. 
  5. For from the greatness and beauty of created things comes a corresponding perception of their Creator.
It goes on to talk about how those who worship man made idols are worse off, as at least those who worship the air or stars are worshiping something created by God.  People who make idols are well aware they are made by men and have no power or authority.

We don't have many pagan idols hanging around anymore for us to look at and I've heard most think the rule to not worship idols is no longer relevant.  Yet we sit in front of a TV for hours, or change our lives to model the actor or actress we see on it.  We may chase money and alter our lives to make more of it.  If we aren't spending time worshiping God, who/what are we worshiping ?


As an aside, some also question my church's use of imagery in prayer.  Catholics should not be worshiping these items, or even the people they represent if they are not representing Jesus.  I guess some do but that's not what they are there for and those people are probably confused.  I have a crucifix on the wall in front of me.  If it were to fall down it might startle me, but otherwise would have no impact on my life as the metal is not a God.  It is just there, next to my TV, to be a visual reminder of what Christ did for me.  It is like having a picture of my friends up to remind me of them.  The same is true for the saints, we want to remember how they lived.  We don't worship them, though we do think they are praying for us from Heaven and will ask them to pray for specific things, just like I might ask a friend to pray for me.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Wisdom 12

Looking at Wisdom 12:
  1. For thy immortal spirit is in all things.  
  2. Therefore thou dost correct little by little those who trespass, and dost remind and warn them of the things wherein they sin, that they may be freed from wickedness and put their trust in thee, O Lord.
  3. Those who dwelt of old in thy holy land
  4. thou didst hate for their detestable practices, their works of sorcery and unholy rites,
  5. their merciless slaughter of children, and their sacrificial feasting on human flesh and blood. These initiates from the midst of a heathen cult, 
  6. these parents who murder helpless lives, thou didst will to destroy by the hands of our fathers, 
  7. that the land most precious of all to thee might receive a worthy colony of the servants of God. 
  8. But even these thou didst spare, since they were but men, and didst send wasps as forerunners of thy army, to destroy them little by little, 
  9. though thou wast not unable to give the ungodly into the hands of the righteous in battle, or to destroy them at one blow by dread wild beasts or thy stern word. 
  10. But judging them little by little thou gavest them a chance to repent, though thou wast not unaware that their origin was evil and their wickedness inborn, and that their way of thinking would never change. 
  11. For they were an accursed race from the beginning, and it was not through fear of any one that thou didst leave them unpunished for their sins. 
I read this and was reminded of a recent conversation I had with a friend.  They'd been talking about generalizations about groups and how we're always told not to do that - and yet the Bible does all the time.  The Canaanites were generalized in the Old Testament and the Pharisees in the New.  Definitely in the case of the Pharisees, there were some that did not fit the generalized statements Jesus might make about them.

The more I read in the Old Testament, the more this I see this is true.  Entire nations are wiped out on account of being evil in their ways and ignoring the Lord.  Let's not forget the story of Noah when all but a very small family were taken out.  But even if you look at that story, the floods did not cause all to perish immediately.  There was time for individuals to repent, just as the Canaanites mentioned above.  No telling if they actually did, but time was on their side.

The downside to this realization was that the downfall of nations for being full of evil doers is also true.  Look at verses 5 and 6 above about the slaughter of children.  I find it quite chilling, given our current abortion figures in this country.

On evil

I try to keep this blog uplifting, but I have been greatly troubled about the news on my church of late.  The child molestation issues of several years past have returned anew with fresh charges of abuse decades ago.

On Friday, I overheard two other employees discussing the problem and their solution was for priests to marry as then they could have their fill of sex.  Out of all the married priesthood arguments I have ever heard, this is by far the worst.  Child molesters are evil, wicked, perverse people.  These men are doing the work of the enemy, and no amount of normal, heterosexual, married sex will satiate their desire to ruin children.  There is not a woman on the planet who is capable of turning off whatever switch is inside of them that draws them to the young.  Only God can turn that switch off, and only if they want and allow Him to.  God's ability to do that is unhindered by their job, their marital status, or which church they belong to.  The only thing that stands in the way is themselves.  I have known child molesters.  They were married.  They had plenty of sex.  And they still turned to children, because they are evil perverts.

This is an example of the damage that can be caused by a few.  Those evil men who have engaged in this practice cause the downfall of many who fall in faith after hearing of "holy" people, leadership examples, engaging in sin.  This is on top of the innocent children they initially defiled and probably led into a life of doubt and pain.  What a terrible tragedy for all involved!

I do not find the media's coverage of these events to be particularly useful in many ways, however.  This is the same media that sensationalized, rationalized, and propagated the attacks on Sarah Palin.  This is the same media who will happily provide violent and pornographic entertainment to the masses to keep them interested and their ratings up.  Their liberal coverage of these events, ignoring facts such as the rest of the population has these same perverts in them, stretching facts to make the story more interesting, and blaming as many people as possible also contributes to the damage already done.  Seriously, they "accidentally" had a headline claiming the Pope admitted to fondling boys!  How does one accidentally publish that the leader of more than a billion people admitted to something like that and not stop and re-read it?

I pray for the Catholic Church and all other churches that they may quickly find and expel all who intend to hurt children.  I pray for the victims of child abuse that they may find peace through Jesus.  I pray for all those whose faith has been shaken as a result of this or any other scandal in the church.  And I pray for the perpetrators themselves, that God may call them to repentance so that they are saved from eternal punishment for their actions.

If you are finding yourself only seeing the mainstream media's perspective on this, check out some of the following:
  • For more information regarding the "moral panic" the media has induced, check out this article related to sociological theories behind it. It is an interesting explanation for the media's hysteria.
  • WDTPRS has been covering this fairly extensively here, here, here, and here.
  • The Lutherans even weigh in here.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Easter Vigil

Last night I was a godparent / sponsor for someone joining the Catholic Church through the sacraments of Baptism, Confirmation, and Eucharist.  It was way more amazing than I'd anticipated!  It was a beautiful service by itself, and then to be a part of her life and the life of the Church was particularly touching.

One of my favorite parts is the Gloria, which we've not sung since Lent began.  To explain why, you have to know the church starts off dark.  There's a service of light in which the Easter candle is lit, and then all those who are baptized spread the light through holding candles that have been lit from the Easter candle or each other's.  This then represents Christ's light emerging from the darkness of the tomb and spreading among believers.  At some point we put the candles out; I don't know for safety or as part of the symbolism.  Regardless, the Old Testament readings were done in very dim light.  None of the church lights were on.

Just prior to the New Testament readings and proclamation of the Gospel, we sang the Gloria.  There are a variety of ways to sing the Gloria, and they always seem to save the one that can be sung with the most gusto by everybody for big days like Christmas and Easter.  So it was the first Gloria sung since the start of Lent and it was LOUD.  As it was sung, all the lights in the church come on.  The last time I did this they had a bunch of instruments that increased in number and volume as the song went on too, leading the congregation to get even louder.  I know the symbolism may sound cheesy in a blog post like this, but when you're standing there belting out this amazing hymn of praise while standing next to people who are about to join the Church after hearing God's creative and salvific prep work in advance of Jesus, well, it can be a tear pulling moment.

For an analysis of the readings in the context of Covenant History, head to the Sacred Page.

Easter!

Easter is finally here!  Today we celebrate the resurrection of our Lord.

Luke 24

  1. But on the first day of the week, at early dawn, they went to the tomb, taking the spices which they had prepared.  
  2. And they found the stone rolled away from the tomb,  
  3. but when they went in they did not find the body.  
  4. While they were perplexed about this, behold, two men stood by them in dazzling apparel;  
  5. and as they were frightened and bowed their faces to the ground, the men said to them, "Why do you seek the living among the dead?  
  6. Remember how he told you, while he was still in Galilee, 
  7. that the Son of man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men, and be crucified, and on the third day rise."  
  8. And they remembered his words, 
  9. and returning from the tomb they told all this to the eleven and to all the rest.  
  10. Now it was Mary Magdalene and Jo-anna and Mary the mother of James and the other women with them who told this to the apostles; 
  11. but these words seemed to them an idle tale, and they did not believe them.
Some would hope that this remained an idle tale.  Instead, Christianity went from a few scared followers to a huge force of believers.  Remember, the disciples were not courageous before Jesus' death.  They scattered and fled!  This was not a group of people who would concoct such a story as the resurrection and then go to their deaths (many a violent one) without recanting their story.  Instead of ignoring the idle tale, they went on to establish Christianity.  Few men would go to their violent and tortuous end for a lie, fewer groups in their entirety. 

Luk 24:25-26  And he said to them, "O foolish men, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken!  Was it not necessary that the Christ should suffer these things and enter into his glory?" 

Today let us not be foolish and slow of heart to believe, but thankful to God for our salvation though His Son.

Readings for Easter are here.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Holy Saturday

Today is Holy Saturday.  This evening, at the Easter Vigil Mass, I will be both godparent and sponsor for a woman joining the Catholic Church through the celebration of the initiation sacraments of Baptism, Confirmation, and Eucharist.

Readings for today are here.  You may note there are more than the regular readings.  It is quite a long service, and that's before we even get to the folks joining the church.  It is magnificent though!

Friday, April 2, 2010

Good Friday Links

I found this entry at The Sacred Page to be of interest:  Was Jesus Really Crucified with the Passover Lambs?

Fidelium Ore Lucentem Sanguinem Veritatis  - Minor Friar


Death on a Friday afternoon - First Things

Meditating the Crucifix - First Things

And a great picture at In Want of Wonder on Good Friday.  I love the little wheel on the cross.

Good Friday

Today is the Friday in which we celebrate / remember the death of our Lord on the cross.  Celebrate because of what it means for us; remember because of how we a part of the cause.  That Friday was horrible as we (humans) committed an unfathomable crime and good in the eternal result.  Thank God!  Thank God for His ability and willingness to turn our sins into the best gift ever given.  Thank God for his perfect mercy and perfect justice.

My favorite verse in the Book of Wisdom, the one that truly got me into the book, is this:
Wis 14:7  For blessed is the wood by which righteousness comes.

Church readings for today here.  They include part of the book of Isaiah, the Suffering Servant.  Written long before the events of that Friday, they tell of the one who will come and heal us.  There's no good way to format this so I'll leave it as I got it from my software:

Isa 52:13  Behold, my servant shall prosper, he shall be exalted and lifted up, and shall be very high.
Isa 52:14  As many were astonished at him--his appearance was so marred, beyond human semblance, and his form beyond that of the sons of men--
Isa 52:15  so shall he startle many nations; kings shall shut their mouths because of him; for that which has not been told them they shall see, and that which they have not heard they shall understand.
Isa 53:1  Who has believed what we have heard? And to whom has the arm of the LORD been revealed?
Isa 53:2  For he grew up before him like a young plant, and like a root out of dry ground; he had no form or comeliness that we should look at him, and no beauty that we should desire him.
Isa 53:3  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.
Isa 53:4  Surely he has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted.
Isa 53:5  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.
Isa 53:6  All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the LORD has laid on him the iniquity of us all.
Isa 53:7  He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth; like a lamb that is led to the slaughter, and like a sheep that before its shearers is dumb, so he opened not his mouth.
Isa 53:8  By oppression and judgment he was taken away; and as for his generation, who considered that he was cut off out of the land of the living, stricken for the transgression of my people?
Isa 53:9  And they made his grave with the wicked and with a rich man in his death, although he had done no violence, and there was no deceit in his mouth.
Isa 53:10  Yet it was the will of the LORD to bruise him; he has put him to grief; when he makes himself an offering for sin, he shall see his offspring, he shall prolong his days; the will of the LORD shall prosper in his hand;
Isa 53:11  he shall see the fruit of the travail of his soul and be satisfied; by his knowledge shall the righteous one, my servant, make many to be accounted righteous; and he shall bear their iniquities.
Isa 53:12  Therefore I will divide him a portion with the great, and he shall divide the spoil with the strong; because he poured out his soul to death, and was numbered with the transgressors; yet he bore the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors.

More from the Book of Wisdom

Yesterday in Chapter 2 of the Book of Wisdom, I pasted the bit about the ungodly.  It goes on in 3 to note what happens with the righteous:

  1. But the souls of the righteous are in the hand of God, and no torment will ever touch them.  
  2. In the eyes of the foolish they seemed to have died, and their departure was thought to be an affliction,
  3. and their going from us to be their destruction; but they are at peace. 
  4. For though in the sight of men they were punished, their hope is full of immortality. 
  5. Having been disciplined a little, they will receive great good, because God tested them and found them worthy of himself; 
  6. like gold in the furnace he tried them, and like a sacrificial burnt offering he accepted them. 
  7. In the time of their visitation they will shine forth, and will run like sparks through the stubble. 
  8. They will govern nations and rule over peoples, and the Lord will reign over them for ever. 
  9. Those who trust in him will understand truth, and the faithful will abide with him in love, because grace and mercy are upon his elect, and he watches over his holy ones.
 I'd read this book a few times before I really got into it, and then I fell in love with it due to a verse later on (which I'll discuss in another post).  Armed with a bit more knowledge, it started to make more and more sense and I felt it was truly a joy to read.  It just ties in so nicely between the Old and New Testament.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Wisdom

On to the book of Wisdom!  For those who aren't aware, Catholics have this book but Protestants do not.  That's a discussion for a later day.  It is a really great book, I think, regardless of your opinion of its ultimate author.  I would even go so far as to say if I had to pick a favorite book from the Old Testament, it would be Wisdom.  Wisdom is also known as the Wisdom of Solomon, though he is not identified specifically in the text as the author.

Wis 1:5  For a holy and disciplined spirit will flee from deceit, and will rise and depart from foolish thoughts, and will be ashamed at the approach of unrighteousness.

This book is just full of the things I like to (and need to) read.  Reminders.  Post it notes from God!

Wis 1:11  Beware then of useless murmuring, and keep your tongue from slander; because no secret word is without result, and a lying mouth destroys the soul.

Chapter 1 is just some general information about wisdom, God, and the nature of unrighteous people.  My commentary has this to say in Chapter 1:  "The ungodly are deceiving themselves because they have a mistake idea of God and His providence: they think that he does not interest Himself in the doings of mankind and that He lets evil happen; therefore, they do not obey Him or respect him."

Chapter 2 reminds me quite a bit of the book of Romans, though it is somewhat easier to place the people of the discussion in the "other" camp.  Not me.  Never done this...
  1. For they reasoned unsoundly, saying to themselves, "Short and sorrowful is our life, and there is no remedy when a man comes to his end, and no one has been known to return from Hades. 
  2. Because we were born by mere chance, and hereafter we shall be as though we had never been; because the breath in our nostrils is smoke, and reason is a spark kindled by the beating of our hearts. 
  3. When it is extinguished, the body will turn to ashes, and the spirit will dissolve like empty air. 
  4. Our name will be forgotten in time, and no one will remember our works; our life will pass away like the traces of a cloud, and be scattered like mist that is chased by the rays of the sun and overcome by its heat. 
  5. For our allotted time is the passing of a shadow, and there is no return from our death, because it is sealed up and no one turns back. 
  6. "Come, therefore, let us enjoy the good things that exist, and make use of the creation to the full as in youth. 
  7. Let us take our fill of costly wine and perfumes, and let no flower of spring pass by us. 
  8. Let us crown ourselves with rosebuds before they wither. 
  9. Let none of us fail to share in our revelry, everywhere let us leave signs of enjoyment, because this is our portion, and this our lot. 
  10. Let us oppress the righteous poor man; let us not spare the widow nor regard the gray hairs of the aged. 
  11. But let our might be our law of right, for what is weak proves itself to be useless.  
  12. "Let us lie in wait for the righteous man, because he is inconvenient to us and opposes our actions; he reproaches us for sins against the law, and accuses us of sins against our training. 
  13. He professes to have knowledge of God, and calls himself a child of the Lord. 
  14. He became to us a reproof of our thoughts; 
  15. the very sight of him is a burden to us, because his manner of life is unlike that of others, and his ways are strange. 
  16. We are considered by him as something base, and he avoids our ways as unclean; he calls the last end of the righteous happy, and boasts that God is his father.  
  17. Let us see if his words are true, and let us test what will happen at the end of his life; 
  18. for if the righteous man is God's son, he will help him, and will deliver him from the hand of his adversaries. 
  19. Let us test him with insult and torture, that we may find out how gentle he is, and make trial of his forbearance. 
  20. Let us condemn him to a shameful death, for, according to what he says, he will be protected." 
  21. Thus they reasoned, but they were led astray, for their wickedness blinded them,  
  22. and they did not know the secret purposes of God, nor hope for the wages of holiness, nor discern the prize for blameless souls; 
  23. for God created man for incorruption, and made him in the image of his own eternity, 
  24. but through the devil's envy death entered the world, and those who belong to his party experience it.

Commentary: The Navarre Bible: Wisdom Books, 2004, Four Courts Press