Archive for the ‘Catholicism’ category

Psalms 7-10; Ephesians 4

June 23, 2017

Ephesians 4:25-32 Therefore, putting away falsehood, speak the truth, each one to his neighbor, for we are members one of another. Be angry but do not sin; do not let the sun set on your anger, and do not leave room for the devil. The thief must no longer steal, but rather labor, doing honest work with his [own] hands, so that he may have something to share with one in need. No foul language should come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for needed edification, that it may impart grace to those who hear. And do not grieve the holy Spirit of God, with which you were sealed for the day of redemption. All bitterness, fury, anger, shouting, and reviling must be removed from you, along with all malice. [And] be kind to one another, compassionate, forgiving one another as God has forgiven you in Christ.

We Americans are big on “self-help” books.  Paul succinctly shows us how we can help ourselves live a holy Christian life.  Taken out of context, one could interpret Paul saying we can live this kind of life through our own strength of will.  But we absolutely can’t.  Only through prayer and the gratuitous gift of God’s grace can we lead such a holy life.  Always speaking the truth is a particularly tough one in our increasingly seculary and tyrannically relativistic culture, with many individuals channeling bitterness, fury, anger, shouting, and reviling at the first disagreement.  Note that Paul says anger in itself is not sinful: anger is an appropriate emotion in the face of moral outrage.  It is where we let or don’t let anger take us is where sin comes in.

Psalms 4-6; Ephesians 3

June 20, 2017

Ephesians 3:14-19 For this reason I kneel before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named, that he may grant you in accord with the riches of his glory to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in the inner self, and that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; that you, rooted and grounded in love, may have strength to comprehend with all the holy ones what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, so that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.

Paul expresses what should be in prayer our wish for ourselves and every human being.

Job 40-42; Ephesians 1

June 15, 2017

Job 40:25 Can you lead about Leviathan with a hook, or curb his tongue with a bit?

God has a lengthy, vivid monologue describing the power and terror of the crocodile.  The insinuation of course is that if God can create so awesome a creature, how much more ineffable and awesome is He!

Job 37-39; Galatians 6

June 13, 2017

Galatians 6:1-2 Brothers, even if a person is caught in some transgression, you who are spiritual should correct that one in a gentle spirit, looking to yourself, so that you also may not be tempted. Bear one another’s burdens, and so you will fulfill the law of Christ.

Paul continues wih the charity owed one’s neighbor, and how that charity is enacted in community.  It is not charity to ignore the sins of others – indeed our culture today even confirms people in their sins – but it is also not charity to confront others in sin in a spirit of condemnation.  There was a time in my life when I thought I was above needing to be part of a Christian community, but the Holy Spirit has taught me otherwise.  What is Heaven if not a community?  Bearing each others burdens is what we are indeed called to do in community in this life.

Job 34-36; Galatians 5

June 11, 2017

Galatians 5:14 For the whole law is fulfilled in one statement, namely “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”

And you cannot fulfill this law if you don’t love God, for the love of neighbor flows from that love of the Divine.  And the love of the Divine flows from prayer, the study of Scripture, and the sacraments. We pilgrims wend our way through a culture that is bereft of this love.  A prayer of St. Francis de Sales:

O my God:

Henceforth I resolve to strive earnestly to be patient and gentle, and not to allow the waters of contradiction to extinguish the fire of that charity which I owe to my neighbor. 

Amen.

 

Job 31-33; Galatians 4

June 6, 2017

Galatians 4:3-7 In the same way we also, when we were not of age, were enslaved to the elemental powers of the world. But when the fullness of time had come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to ransom those under the law, so that we might receive adoption. As proof that you are children, God sent the spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying out, “Abba, Father!” So you are no longer a slave but a child, and if a child then also an heir, through God.

We’ve heard people or even know some personally who readily make the claim “All religions are basically the same.”  Here Paul issues a succinct and ringing refutation.  The refutation is particularly resonant when comparing Christianity with Islam.  It is blasphemy to a Muslim to 1) say God has a Son, 2) that we are the children of God, that we have a parent-child relationship with the Creator, not a master-servant one, and 3) that we creature are heir to anything from God.  All religions are NOT basically the same, and if Uncle Dick is stupid enough to make that statement as you pass the Thanksgiving cranberries around, you should not hesitate to lovingly and gently as you can using facts make Uncle Dick look like the doofus he is, because you love him and want him to get to Heaven, not because you will savor the his humiliation…even though you might, because he is after all Uncle Dick.

Job 28-30; Galatians 3

June 5, 2017

Job 28:20-23, 28

As for wisdom, where does she come from?

Where is the place of understanding?

She is hidden from the eyes of every living thing; even from the birds of the air she is concealed.

Abaddon and Death say, “Only by rumor have we heard of her.”

But God understands the way to her;  it is he who knows her place.

And to mortals he said: See: the fear of the Lord is wisdom; and avoiding evil is understanding.

Is it just me or is the world in a whirl of mad confusion?  Job complains of the inaccessibility of true wisdom in the world, but claims it is only found in God.  I got a haircut this morning, and picked up an AARP magazine while waiting, and was attracted to an interview with Helen Mirren, the celebrated British actress.  I’ve admired much of her work, like in “The Queen”, and from the article it seems like she is a genuinely nice, fulfilled, happy person.  But she made a statement “I have no religion.  If I have a soul it has nothing to do with God or religion, but is the spiritual part of my imagination.  The theater and acting is my religion.”  She’s been married to American director Taylor Hackford since 1997, and they have no children.  Then I came home and watched an episode of “Battle Ready” on EWTN, which emphasized the importance of prayer.  “Prayer is the water of the soul” a priest of the Omaha diocese said, “Without it the soul withers and ultimately dies of dehydration.”  Who is echoing true wisdom?  I’m going with the priest.