Archive for the ‘Catholicism’ category

Psalms 69-71; 1 Timothy 2

August 17, 2017

1 Timothy 2:1-4  First of all, then, I ask that supplications, prayers, petitions, and thanksgivings be offered for everyone, for kings and for all in authority, that we may lead a quiet and tranquil life in all devotion and dignity. This is good and pleasing to God our savior, who wills everyone to be saved and to come to knowledge of the truth.

How timely is this?  Certainly seems not the fashion now.  It seems we as a culture more enthusiastically excoriate – even curse – those in authority.

I enjoy watching the old “Life is Worth Living” shows with Archbishop Fulton Sheen.  Some of these were broadcast before I was born.  Hard to imagine today that a Catholic prelate once had the highest rated show on television.  But in my most recent viewing Archbishop Sheen’s theme was the building of character.  Two points he made have stuck with me.  The first was that to build our own character we must habitually look at each person striving to find what is best in that person.  The second was we must look at ourselves striving to find what is worst in ourselves, which fosters humility.  It’s too obvious there is a strong reverse trend: too much striving to find what is worst in others, while focusing on what we find best in ourselves, fostering pride.  The Pharisees who took offense at Jesus are classic examples of this spiritual illness.  “Thank goodness I’m me and not that jerk over there!” prayed the Pharisee in the Temple.  Not a good look.  “Lord, have mercy on me a sinner” prayed the jerk.  A much better look.

Psalms 66-68; 1 Timothy 1

August 15, 2017

1 Timothy 1:8-11 We know that the law is good, provided that one uses it as law, with the understanding that law is meant not for a righteous person but for the lawless and unruly, the godless and sinful, the unholy and profane, those who kill their fathers or mothers, murderers, the unchaste, sodomites, kidnappers, liars, perjurers, and whatever else is opposed to sound teaching, according to the glorious gospel of the blessed God, with which I have been entrusted.

This passage made me think of the Lao Tzu (640-531 B.C.) quote “When men lose sight of the way to live, they make laws.”  Jesus came with the fullness of revelation, that one is called to live in a manner beyond human laws, but as he said, he didn’t come to abolish the law.  We saw in Charlottesville this past weekend why we as a society need law; stark evidence that some of the orcs survived the wreckage of Mordor and escaped Middle Earth.

Psalm 68:22-24

God will crush the heads of his enemies, the hairy scalp of the one who walks in sin.

 The Lord has said:

 “Even from Bashan I will fetch them, fetch them even from the depths of the sea.

You will wash your feet in your enemy’s blood; the tongues of your dogs will lap it up.

David’s colorful exhortations to God for the smiting of his enemies never gets old.

Psalms 63-65; 2 Thessalonians 3

August 13, 2017

Psalm 65

To you we owe our hymn of praise, O God on Zion;

To you our vows must be fulfilled, you who hear our prayers.

To you all flesh must come with its burden of wicked deeds.

We are overcome by our sins; only you can pardon them.

Blessed the one whom you will choose and bring to dwell in your courts.

May we be filled with the good things of your house, your holy temple!

You answer us with awesome deeds of justice, O God our savior,

The hope of all the ends of the earth and of those far off across the sea.

You are robed in power, you set up the mountains by your might.

You still the roaring of the seas, the roaring of their waves, the tumult of the peoples.

 Distant peoples stand in awe of your marvels; 

the places of morning and evening you make resound with joy.

You visit the earth and water it, make it abundantly fertile.

 God’s stream is filled with water; you supply their grain.

Thus do you prepare it: you drench its plowed furrows, and level its ridges.

With showers you keep it soft, blessing its young sprouts.

 You adorn the year with your bounty; your paths drip with fruitful rain.

The meadows of the wilderness also drip; the hills are robed with joy.

 The pastures are clothed with flocks, the valleys blanketed with grain;

they cheer and sing for joy.

Psalm 65 is beautiful hymn of praise, and refreshingly absent is a triumphant description of the gruesome fate of David’s enemies.  Contrast with Psalm 63, and equally beautiful hymn, but one that climaxes with a typical ending:

Have a blessed Sunday!



Psalms 60-62; 2 Thessalonians 2

August 10, 2017

2 Thessalonians 2:7-12 For the mystery of lawlessness is already at work. But the one who restrains is to do so only for the present, until he is removed from the scene. And then the lawless one will be revealed, whom the Lord [Jesus] will kill with the breath of his mouth and render powerless by the manifestation of his coming, the one whose coming springs from the power of Satan in every mighty deed and in signs and wonders that lie, and in every wicked deceit for those who are perishing because they have not accepted the love of truth so that they may be saved. Therefore, God is sending them a deceiving power so that they may believe the lie, that all who have not believed the truth but have approved wrongdoing may be condemned.

The Thessalonians were shaken by a message purporting to come from Paul himself that the “day of the Lord” was already present.  He warned against this deception by citing a scenario of events that had to occur first.  Paul’s main point was the need to reject lies that Satan sends; we too must reject the lies he’s sending today.

Psalms 57-59; 2 Thessalonians 1

August 8, 2017

2 Thessalonians 1:6-10 For it is surely just on God’s part to repay with afflictions those who are afflicting you, and to grant rest along with us to you who are undergoing afflictions, at the revelation of the Lord Jesus from heaven with his mighty angels, in blazing fire, inflicting punishment on those who do not acknowledge God and on those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus. These will pay the penalty of eternal ruin, separated from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of his power, when he comes to be glorified among his holy ones and to be marveled at on that day among all who have believed, for our testimony to you was believed.

What I love about Paul is his humanity, and in his letters his awareness of his humanity.  In Acts we see Luke’s sly smile several times as he subtlely describes Paul’s tempestuousness.  Here Paul can’t resist doing a little cheerleading for the Thessalonians by going “King David” on their enemies, and that is something hard for us to resist too.  “Love your enemies”: the best way is to pray for them and hope that we will all be together in Heaven.

Psalms 54-56; 1 Thessalonians 5

August 6, 2017

1 Thessalonians 5:14-18 We urge you, brothers, admonish the idle, cheer the fainthearted, support the weak, be patient with all. See that no one returns evil for evil; rather, always seek what is good [both] for each other and for all. Rejoice always. Pray without ceasing. In all circumstances give thanks, for this is the will of God for you in Christ Jesus.

In these words, St. Paul captures the essence of a holy Christian life: spiritual and corporal works of mercy, the abnegation of self for the good of the other, prayer, and gratitude.  On this Feast of the Transfiguration, let us all pray that we continue to be transformed in Christ by listening to the Father who tells us “Listen to him!”

Psalm 51-53; 1 Thessalonians 4

August 3, 2017

Psalm 51:11-14

Turn away your face from my sins; blot out all my iniquities.

 A clean heart create for me, God; renew within me a steadfast spirit.

 Do not drive me from before your face, nor take from me your holy spirit.

 Restore to me the gladness of your salvation; uphold me with a willing spirit.

Psalm 51 – the Miserere – is the most famous psalm after Psalm 23 (“The Lord is my Shepherd”).  It came from the repentant heart of David, after his adultery with Bathsheeba and murder of Uriah.  Verses 11-14 is a great prayer for anyone – especially men – in the devil’s grip of pornography, a vastly underappreciated plague on our society.

Psalm 53: 2-4

The fool says in his heart “There is no God.”

They act corruptly and practice injustice; there is none that does good.

 God looks out from the heavens upon the children of Adam,

To see if there is a discerning person who is seeking God.

 All have gone astray; each one is altogether perverse.

 There is not one who does what is good, not even one.

What would David say today, if we could fetch him in our time machine and let him watch a week of reality TV and cable news?  On the bright side he’d probably say Chick Fil-A is awesome (“Better service than I got at the palace!”)  Just sayin’….