1 Maccabees 13-16; 1 Corinthians 16

Posted March 30, 2017 by Thomas Walker
Categories: Catholicism, Faith

1 Maccabees 13:1-7 When Simon heard that Trypho was gathering a large army to invade and ravage the land of Judah, and saw that the people were trembling with terror, he went up to Jerusalem. There he assembled the people and exhorted them in these words: “You know what I, my brothers, and my father’s house have done for the laws and the sanctuary; what battles and hardships we have seen. For the sake of this, for the sake of Israel, all my brothers have perished, and I alone am left. Far be it from me, then, to save my own life in any time of distress, for I am not better than my brothers. But I will avenge my nation and the sanctuary, as well as your wives and children, for out of hatred all the Gentiles have united to crush us.” As the people heard these words, their spirit was rekindled.

When C. S. Lewis penned the chapter “Men Without Chests” in The Abolition of Man, he was not thinking about Simon, son of Mattathias and brother of Judas Maccabeus.  This is a great example of “manning up”, something you don’t see much of today – at least not spotlighted by the media. Of course our Lord always “manned up”, which sometimes evidenced itelf in giving the Pharisees the Moe Howard treatment they deserved; sometimes it was the tenderness he showed to repentant sinners.  Lord, help me always “man up” as you did in living a joyful and abundant Christian life!

 

1 Maccabees 10-12; 1 Corinthians 15

Posted March 26, 2017 by Thomas Walker
Categories: Uncategorized

1 Corinthians 15:19 If for this life only we have hoped in Christ, we are the most pitiable people of all.

It is something that weighs heavier and heavier as I get older, the reality of physical death.  In the fullness of health and vitality as a young man, death was some vague rumor: I went to funerals of senior relatives, but what happened to them was impossible to relate to me. It’s not so impossible to relate to many years later. I am amazed at how fast the last twenty years sped by; e.g. it seems like we very recently had the Olympics in Atlanta, and it was 1996!  So I’m sure that the next twenty if I’m granted that many will be even more speedy. But my hope more and more resides with Christ.  I am the man blind from birth who had mud smeared on his eyes, washed, and now I see with eyes of faith, and worship him who has healed my spiritual blindness. And I live in great hope. I’m quoting from memory an episode Fr. George William Rutler’s series “Unchangeable Truths”:

In the Song of Songs the lover proclaims “Arise my friend, my beautiful one, and come! (Song of Songs 2:10) And Christ will say to us, even in the extremity of age, to us from our deathbeds “Arise my friend, my beautiful one, and come!”

1 Maccabees 7-9; 1 Corinthians 14

Posted March 23, 2017 by Thomas Walker
Categories: Catholicism, Faith

1 Corinthians 14:34-35 women should keep silent in the churches, for they are not allowed to speak, but should be subordinate, as even the law says. But if they want to learn anything, they should ask their husbands at home. For it is improper for a woman to speak in the church.

Wow, here is a golden opportunity to just not shoot myself in the foot with a pistol, but to do it North Korean-style with an anti-aircraft gun.  I like the explanatory footnote to this in my New American Bible:

;but it is difficult to harmonize the injunction to silence here with 1 Cor 11 which appears to take it for granted that women do pray and prophesy aloud in the assembly (cf. 1 Cor 11:513). Hence the verses are often considered an interpolation, reflecting the discipline of later churches; such an interpolation would have to have antedated our manuscripts, all of which contain them, though some transpose them to the very end of the chapter.

I can see these august Catholic theologians and exegetes sitting around a big table, spinning a  half-drunk bottle of Cutty Sark with the loser being stuck with writing the footnote (I tease I joke august Catholic theologians and scholars about the Cutty Sark…okay, it was Poland water).  That’s even more spin than you’ll see from the White House spokesperson on a typical day.

I would just encourage everyone to not get disoriented by the always-churning secular-progressive fog machine, and to keep in mind God made male and female different, and different for a purpose.  But our common ultimate purpose is to give the Father glory, and build His Son’s kingdom here on earth.  The question you need to ask yourself – as august theologian and exegete Harry Callahan would say – is what you are doing building that kingdom?  Is what you think about, what you get emotional about – will the fulfillment of what you desire – build that kingdom?  If the answer is no, then do you feel lucky?  You should, because God loves you!

 

1 Maccabees 4-6; 1 Corinthians 13

Posted March 19, 2017 by Thomas Walker
Categories: Catholicism, Faith

1 Corinthians 13:1-7 If I speak in human and angelic tongues but do not have love, I am a resounding gong or a clashing cymbal. And if I have the gift of prophecy and comprehend all mysteries and all knowledge; if I have all faith so as to move mountains but do not have love, I am nothing. If I give away everything I own, and if I hand my body over so that I may boast but do not have love, I gain nothing.  Love is patient, love is kind. It is not jealous, [love] is not pompous, it is not inflated, it is not rude, it does not seek its own interests, it is not quick-tempered, it does not brood over injury, it does not rejoice over wrongdoing but rejoices with the truth. It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.

This is Paul’s resounding statement about love.  God is the perfection of love.  He ends Chapter 13 with

So faith, hope, love remain, these three; but the greatest of these is love.

 Love is the greatest of the theological virtues: in Heaven there will be no more need for faith (we shall see God as He is) and hope (our hope will be realized), but Love will remain.  Our earthly life is an opportunity to work on the love thing, and it is hard work: ask anyone who commutes to work in Atlanta every day.  I can’t pretend the middle-finger salutes I have dished out were intended as blessings.  But I keep trying to do better, as hopefully we all do.  My grandchildren are big help to me, melting my stony heart, as is my wife’s patience with me, which is so often humbling.  Love starts with family: if you have issues there, it’s going to be really hard to love those outside the family.

Have a blessed Sunday!

1 Maccabees 1-3; 1 Corinthians 12

Posted March 10, 2017 by Thomas Walker
Categories: Catholicism, Faith

1 Maccabees 2:15-28 The officers of the king in charge of enforcing the apostasy came to the city of Modein to make them sacrifice. Many of Israel joined them, but Mattathias and his sons drew together. Then the officers of the king addressed Mattathias: “You are a leader, an honorable and great man in this city, supported by sons and kindred. Come now, be the first to obey the king’s command, as all the Gentiles and Judeans and those who are left in Jerusalem have done. Then you and your sons shall be numbered among the King’s Friends, and you and your sons shall be honored with silver and gold and many gifts.” But Mattathias answered in a loud voice: “Although all the Gentiles in the king’s realm obey him, so that they forsake the religion of their ancestors and consent to the king’s orders, yet I and my sons and my kindred will keep to the covenant of our ancestors. Heaven forbid that we should forsake the law and the commandments. We will not obey the words of the king by departing from our religion in the slightest degree.” As he finished saying these words, a certain Jew came forward in the sight of all to offer sacrifice on the altar in Modein according to the king’s order. When Mattathias saw him, he was filled with zeal; his heart was moved and his just fury was aroused; he sprang forward and killed him upon the altar. At the same time, he also killed the messenger of the king who was forcing them to sacrifice, and he tore down the altar. Thus he showed his zeal for the law, just as Phinehas did with Zimri, son of Salu. Then Mattathias cried out in the city, “Let everyone who is zealous for the law and who stands by the covenant follow me!” Then he and his sons fled to the mountains, leaving behind in the city all their possessions.

1 Maccabees is one of my favorite books of the Bible.  If they’d have had cars and explosives in 166 B.C., they would have had car crashes and explosions in this book.  The scene between Mattathias and his sons and the messenger of the king is my favorite scene of the book. It’s like Red Dawn meets 300. Mel Gibson tried to get a movie about Judas Maccabeus greenlit, but failed, much to my disappointment.  And tell me what other actor could play Mattathias other than Liam Neeson?  It was a role he was born to play.

It was a different time, obviously.  And it was not long after that the Word became flesh, bringing a very different message about responding to enemies, which is a good thing.

Esther 7-10; 1 Corinthians 11

Posted March 5, 2017 by Thomas Walker
Categories: Uncategorized

1 Corinthians 11:27-29 Therefore whoever eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord unworthily will have to answer for the body and blood of the Lord. A person should examine himself, and so eat the bread and drink the cup. For anyone who eats and drinks without discerning the body, eats and drinks judgment on himself.

This is self-explanatory, and an issue for serious self-reflection for Catholics.  The question you need to ask yourself – as Dirty Harry would say – is do you believe the Eucharist is the real body and blood, soul and divinity of Jesus Christ?  If you don’t, then don’t read on, because you are not a devoutly believing Catholic (I’ll grant you “cultural Catholic”) and anything I have to say is pointless.  I was in my lukewarm days someone who took Communion despite being in mortal sin because I was concerned about what people would think, e.g. “Obviously that guy’s a sinner!”, like people would take that home with them and discuss my sinfulness around the Sunday roast beef and mashed potatoes.  If you truly believe in the Real Presence, then it’s not necessary to deeply dwell on Paul’s words and take them to heart, because they are already in your heart.  There was a time when Catholics perhaps as a whole were too scrupulous in receiving Communion – Jesus did say if we don’t eat his Body and drink his Blood we cannot have life within us – but now it seems to have swung too much the other way.  In making that observation I come dangerously close to being a Pharisee; I am not the judge of anyone’s soul.  But looking at the sheer numbers on communicants, which I’d say exceed 90% of those present at the Mass, I just ask everyone to prayerfully consider if the state of their soul mandates a visit to the confessional before receiving.  If Paul is right – and the Church says he is – taking Communion is healing for one’s venial sins, but toxic if one is in grave sin.  And nobody wants toxic.  A quaint way to look at it is if you were inviting Jesus into your home, maybe a couch pillow on the floor or some disarrayed “Better Homes and Gardens” on the coffee table aren’t a big deal, but you don’t expect him to come into a home that would be featured on “Hoarders”.

Esther 4-6; 1 Corinthians 10

Posted March 3, 2017 by Thomas Walker
Categories: Uncategorized

1 Corinthians 10:13 No trial has come to you but what is human. God is faithful and will not let you be tried beyond your strength; but with the trial he will also provide a way out, so that you may be able to bear it.

If you’ve ever been annoyed by someone telling you or overhearing someone tell another person “God doesn’t give us more than we can handle”, here’s the Scriptural basis for it.  In my more impious days I would think “Try telling that to the 50,000 people killed in an earthquake in Turkey”, but now (hopefully) more spiritually mature, I realize death sometimes may be Paul’s way out.  Our natural reaction to the diagnosis of a terminal illness may be “There’s no way out!”, but with God’s grace it’s not a trial beyond one’s strength.  It’s definitely an opportunity of testimony and growing in the love of the Lord; maybe Nietzsche was wrong in many cases, that that which kills us can make us stronger.