Writing in the Dust

Remember Jesus writing in the dust in last Sunday’s Gospel with the woman caught in adultry?  Well I found this interesting tidbit over at Fr. Longenecker’s blog

…In fact, the riddle of what he was writing in the dust is resolved by the first and greatest Bible scholar, St Jerome. He picks up that Jesus’ action is an allusion to Jeremiah 17:13. Remember that Jesus is preaching and living in the tradition of the prophets who not only spoke God’s word, but acted out God’s word in dramatic actions. So when Jesus writes in the dust he echoes the verse in Jeremiah, “O LORD, the hope of Israel, all who forsake you will be put to shame. Those who turn away from you will be written in the dust because they have forsaken the LORD, the spring of living water.” Jesus is writing the names of the Scribes and Pharisees in the dust, and saying that they have turned away from the Lord, the hope of Israel….

Start a Men's Group

Does your parish have a Men’s groups?  If not start one, it’s as simple as meeting once a week.  The group I’m in reads the up coming Sunday Mass readings on Friday mornings from 7am to 8am.  We use the questions from the National Fellowship of Catholic Men http://www.nfcmusa.org/Reading-Questions

We open with a prayer, go through the readings, and end with shared prayer.  There’s no attendance, men show up when they can, some are late, some need to leave early.  Each week I send out readings and the questions and bring some extra copies on Friday morning.  A sample is below.  We meet in a room at the parish but you could meet anywhere.  Think about it.

Reading 1 Ex 3:1-8a, 13-15

Moses was tending the flock of his father-in-law Jethro, the priest of Midian. Leading the flock across the desert, he came to Horeb, the mountain of God. There an angel of the LORD appeared to Moses in fire flaming out of a bush. As he looked on, he was surprised to see that the bush, though on fire, was not consumed. So Moses decided, “I must go over to look at this remarkable sight, and see why the bush is not burned.” When the LORD saw him coming over to look at it more closely, God called out to him from the bush, Moses! Moses!” He answered, “Here I am.” God said, “Come no nearer! Remove the sandals from your feet, for the place where you stand is holy ground. I am the God of your fathers, “he continued, “the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, the God of Jacob.” Moses hid his face, for he was afraid to look at God. But the LORD said, “I have witnessed the affliction of my people in Egypt and have heard their cry of complaint against their slave drivers, so I know well what they are suffering. Therefore I have come down to rescue them from the hands of the Egyptians and lead them out of that land into a good and spacious land, a land flowing with milk and honey.” Moses said to God, “But when I go to the Israelites and say to them, ‘The God of your fathers has sent me to you,’ if they ask me, ‘What is his name?’ what am I to tell them?” God replied, “I am who am.” Then he added, “This is what you shall tell the Israelites:  I AM sent me to you. God spoke further to Moses, “Thus shall you say to the Israelites: The LORD, the God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, the God of Jacob, has sent me to you. “This is my name forever; thus am I to be remembered through all generations.”

Responsorial Psalm Ps 103: 1-2, 3-4, 6-7, 8, 11
The Lord is kind and merciful.
Bless the LORD, O my soul; and all my being, bless his holy name.
Bless the LORD, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits.
The Lord is kind and merciful.
He pardons all your iniquities, heals all your ills,
He redeems your life from destruction, crowns you with kindness and compassion.
The Lord is kind and merciful.
The LORD secures justice and the rights of all the oppressed.
He has made known his ways to Moses, and his deeds to the children of Israel.
The Lord is kind and merciful.
Merciful and gracious is the LORD, slow to anger and abounding in kindness.
For as the heavens are high above the earth, so surpassing is his kindness toward those who fear him.

Reading 2 1 Cor 10:1-6, 10-12
I do not want you to be unaware, brothers and sisters, that our ancestors were all under the cloud and all passed through the sea, and all of them were baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea. All ate the same spiritual food, and all drank the same spiritual drink, for they drank from a spiritual rock that followed them, and the rock was the Christ. Yet God was not pleased with most of them, for they were struck down in the desert. These things happened as examples for us, so that we might not desire evil things, as they did. Do not grumble as some of them did, and suffered death by the destroyer. These things happened to them as an example, and they have been written down as a warning to us, upon whom the end of the ages has come. Therefore, whoever thinks he is standing secure should take care not to fall.

Gospel  Lk 13:1-9
Some people told Jesus about the Galileans whose blood Pilate had mingled with the blood of their sacrifices. Jesus said to them in reply, “Do you think that because these Galileans suffered in this way they were greater sinners than all other Galileans? By no means! But I tell you, if you do not repent, you will all perish as they did! Or those eighteen people who were killed when the tower at Siloam fell on them— do you think they were more guilty than everyone else who lived in Jerusalem? By no means! But I tell you, if you do not repent, you will all perish as they did!” And he told them this parable: “There once was a person who had a fig tree planted in his orchard, and when he came in search of fruit on it but found none, he said to the gardener, ‘For three years now I have come in search of fruit on this fig tree but have found none. So cut it down. Why should it exhaust the soil?’ He said to him in reply, ‘Sir, leave it for this year also, and I shall cultivate the ground around it and fertilize it; it may bear fruit in the future. If not you can cut it down.’”

Rethinking Our Approach to Prayer

When God called Moses from the burning bush, he launched him on one of the longest, most significant journeys in history—and began by telling him: “Remove the sandals from your feet” (Exodus 3:5). Why would God say that?

The second half of the verse offers a reason: “The place where you stand is holy ground.” Imagine how fast Moses obeyed! In Egypt, where he grew up, people were required to go barefoot before Pharaoh or any other superior. It was both an expression of respect and an admission of a lower-status position. Standing before the greatest Lord of all, whose glory shimmered out like an invisible force field, Moses must have felt awed and humble indeed.  at does this tell us about our approach to prayer? Without any burning bushes to jolt us, it’s easy to relate to God casually, even as if it’s something of a chore. The image of Moses removing his sandals reminds us that our loving Father is an awesome God whose holiness we cannot even begin to comprehend. It tells us to approach him with reverence, humility, and an awareness of our sin and frailty. But the scene speaks to us in other ways as well.  Shoes and sandals get dirty, and still today in many cultures and homes, people take them off before entering the house. In a way, that’s what we’re called do when we come before God. Grimy footwear can also symbolize the distractions that pop up when we pray. If this happens, we can follow the advice of St. Alphonsus Liguori and try our best to leave all extraneous thoughts at the door of our prayer time. We can also say, along with St. Bernard: “O my thoughts, wait here. After prayer we shall speak about other matters.” So as you go to pray today, take off your sandals! The One who called Moses is calling you!

“Father, who am I that you should love me so much—enough to give up your only Son for my sake? Help me to set aside everything that separates me from you and to return your love as fully as I can.”

 Questions for Reflection/Discussion by Catholic Men

  1. For the second week in a row, we read in the first reading of God’s recommitting himself in covenant to his people for the purpose of “rescuing them.” In what ways has God rescued you from the power of sin and the devil? What are the areas of your life that still need God’s intervention? Take some time to pray for one another for the strength to overcome these areas. 
  2. The Responsorial Psalm tells us that God is “kind and merciful.”  As Christians we are called to be imitators of Christ who “pardons all your iniquities, heals all your ills. He redeems your life from destruction, crowns you with kindness and compassion” (Psalm 103:3-4).  Since Christ has done this for you, what are some ways you can show kindness and compassion to others, and pardon others’ iniquities, especially those who have wronged you?
  3. In the second reading, St. Paul reminds the Corinthians not to “grumble”, which for us can often be a cause of disunity and harm to others. What practical steps can you take individually, and as a group, to build up your families’ or your fellow parishioners’ faith?
  4. In the Gospel reading, Jesus warns us of the danger of assuming that the sufferings or misfortunes of others are caused by their sin.  Are you judgmental?  How can you reach out more to others who are suffering?
  5. Also in the Gospel reading, Jesus tells a parable on the importance he attaches to our lives’ bearing fruit.  What are some of the fruits Jesus may be asking you to bear this Lent?
  6. As we come to God in prayer, it is easy to be distracted by wayward thoughts, the busyness of our days, and the struggles of our lives.  The meditation suggests that when this happens, “we can follow the advice of St. Alphonsus Liguori and try our best to leave all extraneous thoughts at the door of our prayer time. We can also say, along with St. Bernard: “O my thoughts, wait here. After prayer we shall speak about other matters.” What steps can you take to apply these words of St. Alphonsus Liguori and St. Bernard to how you approach your times of prayer?  

33rd Sunday in Ordinary Time ~ Lectionary 158

Reading 1  Dn 12:1-3
In those days, I Daniel,  heard this word of the Lord: “At that time there shall arise Michael, the great prince, guardian of your people; it shall be a time unsurpassed in distress since nations began until that time. At that time your people shall escape, everyone who is found written in the book. “Many of those who sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake; some shall live forever, others shall be an everlasting horror and disgrace. “But the wise shall shine brightly like the splendor of the firmament, and those who lead the many to justice shall be like the stars forever.”

Responsorial Psalm  Ps 16:5, 8, 9-10, 11
R. (1) You are my inheritance, O Lord!
O LORD, my allotted portion and my cup, you it is who hold fast my lot.
I set the LORD ever before me; with him at my right hand I shall not be disturbed.
R. You are my inheritance, O Lord!
Therefore my heart is glad and my soul rejoices, my body, too, abides in confidence;
because you will not abandon my soul to the netherworld,
nor will you suffer your faithful one to undergo corruption.
R. You are my inheritance, O Lord!
You will show me the path to life, fullness of joys in your presence,
the delights at your right hand forever.
R. You are my inheritance, O Lord!

Reading II  Heb 10:11-14, 18
Brothers and sisters: Every priest stands daily at his ministry, offering frequently those same sacrifices that can never take away sins.  But this one offered one sacrifice for sins, and took his seat forever at the right hand of God; now he waits until his enemies are made his footstool.  For by one offering he has made perfect forever those who are being consecrated. Where there is forgiveness of these, there is no longer offering for sin.

Gospel  Mk 13:24-32
Jesus said to his disciples: “In those days after that tribulation the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light, and the stars will be falling from the sky, and the powers in the heavens will be shaken.  “And then they will see ‘the Son of Man coming in the clouds’ with great power and glory, and then he will send out the angels and gather his elect from the four winds, from the end of the earth to the end of the sky. “Learn a lesson from the fig tree. When its branch becomes tender and sprouts leaves, you know that summer is near. In the same way, when you see these things happening, know that he is near, at the gates.  Amen, I say to you, this generation will not pass away until all these things have taken place.  Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away. “But of that day or hour, no one knows, neither the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father.”

Being Ready for Jesus’ Second Coming
As we near the end of another church year, our attention is drawn more and more to the end of time, that final day when Jesus will come again. Today’s Gospel tells us: “Of that day or hour, no one knows . . . but only the Father” (Mark 13:32). It is less important for us to know the exact time that Jesus will come again than it is to make sure that when he does come, we won’t be taken by surprise. Above every responsibility we have in this world, the one that is most critical is for us to be able to say: “I am right with the Lord. If he comes now, I am ready.”  It is a common philosophy in the world that basic goodness is sufficient grounds for confidence in our heavenly home: I haven’t killed anyone; I haven’t told any outrageous lies; I haven’t stolen huge amounts of money. What’s the problem? Even among believers, there can be a sense that God’s love is so gentle and forgiving that he will overlook our sins and our lack of readiness and just let us into his kingdom anyway. While it is true that God is rich in mercy, we also need to be alert to the fact that he is a God of justice and righteousness.  Today’s Gospel reading is a call to make sure we are ready for the end. It is easy to fill our attention with less important issues, such as the clothes we wear or the way we are going to spend our free time. But our spiritual state is far more important. Simply assuming that we are bound for eternal life without checking ourselves may work out, but the consequences of being wrong are severe. So make sure that you are secure in your faith. Be sure to “confess” and “believe” in Jesus each day (Romans 10:9). Examine your conscience every day, and let no grave sin remain. And do your best to care for the outcast, the lonely, and the marginalized.

“Jesus, help me to keep my eyes fixed on heaven so that I can remain pure in heart and pleasing to you!”

Know Your Translations

John 6:40 (New American Standard Bible)
“For this is the will of My Father, that everyone who beholds the Son and believes in Him will have eternal life, and I Myself will raise him up on the last day.”

John 6:40 (New American Bible)
“For this is the will of my Father, that everyone who sees the Son and believes in him may have eternal life, and I shall raise him on the last day.”

In the translations above you can see two ways of translating the same verse in the Bible. The second verse translation is used by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops. The two differences between the translations are “beholds the Son” vs “sees the Son” and “will have” vs “may have”.

If you ask me there is a big difference between will & may, one is definite and one is not. Also behold and see can have the same meaning but see probably speaks better to our world today but an arguement can be made that behold is a better translation.

So how can someone who lives after the death of Christ actually see Christ? I think most people assume not to take a literal meaning in this instance but rather go with seeing Christ in nature or in those around us, but I think we need look at it literally.

A Protestant Christian might ask “How can someone in our day see Christ literally if you don’t mean seeing Christ in nature or those around us, after all Christ is risen.” He can be seen in the flesh at a Catholic Mass. He is made physically present at the consecration of the Eucharist. We actually see Christ in the flesh whether you believe it or not he is made physically present and if we believe in him we may have eternal life and he will raise us on the last day.

More Bible Please

Another reason my Presbyterian friend said she left the Catholic Church is because she said the Catholic Church isn’t as “Bible focused”. Oh contraire Monfraire. Many Protestants do know their Bible chapter and verse but just as many Catholics know their Bible stories just as well, their just not as good in their ability to find it in the good book. In addition a Catholic who attends daily Mass will hear almost the entire Bible in a 3-year period. Yes, I agree most Catholics don’t attend mass daily but hearing the entire Bible in a 3-year period is pretty impressive for any Christian. Not to mention the Priest must preach from the whole Bible and not just specific areas that he likes.

In a book by David Currie called “Born Fundamentalist, Born Again Catholic” gives an example of two large churches he went to in Chicago, one fundamentalist and one evangelical, In a strict time sense they spent less than 6% of their Sunday service in reading from scripture. Grant it, that’s 2 hand picked examples, but in contrast a Sunday Catholic Mass spends more than 26% of its service reading from scripture, (1st Reading, Psalms, 2nd Reading, & Gospel plus most of the sayings and response during the mass are taken straight from scripture) obviously it probably depends on the length of the readings each Sunday, but when Protestants say there is more Bible in Protestant churches I just don’t see it or buy it. When 1/4th of the Mass is reading from the Bible I don’t see how you can go wrong. There might be more preaching or Bible discussion in the Protestant service but I doubt there is more actual Bible reading.

But when a Protestant attends Mass they might get caught up in the ritual of the Mass and forget the Bible reading. This is certainly understandable to me. I, I know where your coming from. I also get caught up in the fact that the BODY & BLOOD of Jesus Christ becomes physically present during the Liturgy of the Eucharist. Who wouldn’t be caught up in that? Protestants may consider it just to be ritual and symbolic but that is not what the Apostles taught and believed, even Martin Luther knew better.

The Bible is the word of God for sure. But there is more to Christianity than what is written in the Bible, it even says that in the Bible, see 2 Thessalonians 2:15 “Therefore, brothers, stand firm and hold fast to the traditions that you were taught, either by an oral statement or by a letter of ours”. In addition to that there needs to be some type of authority when trying to understand scripture passages correctly. There are parts of the Bible that contradict itself if you take only a literal meaning of what is being said.

The Catholic Church has protected the oral traditions and the written ones. Many of these oral traditions became what are written in the Bible today. But considering the times of Jesus not everything could reasonably be written down. The Apostles weren’t walking around with laptops and laser printers. Oral traditions are to be expected. And, before the Bible there were no “Bible” readings. That means 300 years of Christians lived without the Bible, going with only oral-tradition. Those oral traditions are incorporated in the Mass, and the Sacraments. To live only by the word of the Bible is in folly. Like I said above Bible teachings must be interpreted properly which means you need an authority. That is why Christ gave primacy to Peter and built his Church upon him. Just like the United State Supreme Court you must have a final Authority or else you will have anarchy. Considering it’s estimated that there are more than 20,000 protestant denominations out there that is exactly what exists. (NOTE there are lots of different numbers floating around on how many Christian denominations there are and I’m just trying to be conservative)

When it comes to reading the Bible you must know what to take literally and what not to, I’m always surprised that Protestants are so willing to accept the Bible even though Catholic Bishops and the Pope put it together. Those Catholic Bishops & Pope believed in Purgatory, venerated Mary, and confessed their sins to a Priest. They actually knew people who knew people who knew people that walked and spoke with our Lord Jesus Christ. Some how those Catholic Bishops & Pope can be trusted to put the Bible together but those of today are considered by some Protestants to be spreading false doctrine or even be the Anti-Christ. What kool-aid are they drinking? Did Jesus somehow break his promise to us when he said “And so I say to you, you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church, and the gates of the netherworld shall not prevail against it.” Matthew 16:18 ? Certainly there were some incorrect things going on at the time of Luther specifically when it comes to indulgences, but I don’t think that gives one the right to break away & lead others down a path that is basically saying “Jesus, I don’t trust your plan, I think there is a better way and I’ll be in charge”

So in closing I say this, Protestants seem to hold the Bible in higher regard than Catholics only because that’s all they have to rely on they have no other authority and even say just that. Now that comment may have just thrown me into the “Arrogant Catholic” group, which my Presbyterian friend also complains about, and I don’t mean to be, but I think one needs to go back and take a serious look at other writings of the Apostles, Saints, and people of the early Church to see and understand everything that was going on at the time of the writings of the Bible. If you look at what those people believed and did, you will see their thoughts and actions are the same things that today’s Catholic Church teaches, does, and believes.

It’s Not About Rules, It’s about LOVE!

The following is an exerpt from the daily meditations from “The Word Among Us” magazine for March 10th.

It’s not about rules; it’s about love! When Jesus seems to raise the standard on holiness, it’s not because he wants us to roll up our sleeves and try harder. It’s because he wants us to rely on him even more! He’s not counting how many rule we can uphold. He is looking to see how much we have surrendered to him. Why? Because he knows that the closer we are to him, the less we will want to sin.

Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist

 The real presence of Christ in the Eucharist is Biblical

Eucharist promised to us.
John 6:35-71

Eucharist instituted at the Last Supper.
Matthew 26:26 – Mark 14:22 – Luke 22-17

Christ shows his presence in the Eucharist after the walk to Emmaus.
Luke 24:13-35

Participation in Christ’s body & blood.
1 Corinthians 10:16

Receiving the Eucharist unworthily – if the Eucharist is not the body & blood of Christ why would one be guiltly of sin against the body and blood of Christ for taking it unworthily?
1 Corinthians 11:23-29

The whole Paschel lamb had to be eaten.
Exodus 12:8, 46

Jesus called “the Lamb of God”.
John 1:29

Jesus called “paschal lamb who has been sacrificed”.
1 Corinthians 5:7

Examples of Jesus talking symbolically about food.
John 4:31-34 – Matthew 16:5-12

Explains what Jesus means by “the flesh”.
1 Corinthians 2:14-3:4

Examples showing that symbolically eating & drinking ones body & blood is not a good thing.
Psalms 27:2, Isaiah 9:18-20; 49:26, Micah 3:3, 2 Samuel 23:15-17, Revelations 17:6, 16

Online Bible Study - Scott Hahn

I’ll be the first to admit that I should know the Bible better than I do. But where does one get good sound Catholic teaching concerning the Bible? Well after checking out a few online Bible Studies this is the best I’ve found. I suggest checking out the 1st Beginners course to determine if your anything but a Beginner.

Beginner Course
#1 – From Genesis to Jesus: A Journey Through Scripture
#2 – The Lamb’s Supper: The Bible and the Mass

Intermediate Course
#1 – Covenant Love: An Introduction to the Biblical Worldview
#2 – Hail, Holy Queen: The Mother of God in the Word of God

Advanced Classes
#1 – Reading the Old Testament in the New: The Gospel of Matthew
#2 – ‘He Must Reign’: Rival Visions of Kingdom Restoration in the New Testament