Plug for a little gem of a BBC TV series – Broken

Broken stars Sean Bean as the Catholic Priest Father Michael Kerrigan, a priest full of self doubt but who loves the Lord and wants to serve God and his community.  The series is written by Jimmy McGovern and has some gritty realism around contemporary issues.  When I first watched it I wondered how it would treat things Catholic.  I was pleasantly surprised.  It reminds me of all those priests and nuns who quietly work in parishes all around the country.

It reminds me of those statements fairly average Christians make such as;

I am not perfect, God hasn’t finished with me yet.

I am not Christ, merely his representative and a poor one at that.

For all my faults and failings, I still love the Lord.

God is bigger than our circumstances.

Sean Bean does an excellent job of portraying Father Michael, who tries to do good and be there for everyone, but is only human at the end of the day.  He tries to help people in need, resolve conflicts through discussion and achieve social justice.  He remains true to his vocation, even if he bends the rules a bit.  He strikes me as the kind of priest about whom there would be “Letters to the Bishop”.  Some priests regard letters to the Bishop as a badge of honour, it shows you are challenging your congregation – this is something Father Michael does with humility.

The series is still available on BBC I-player for another 15 days or on DVD if you prefer.

Here’s a trailer from youtube.

Big Picture Bible Course – Session 12 End Times

The Big Picture Bible Course

Session 12 End Times

 Christ has died,

Christ is risen,

Christ will come again.


Revelation 1:8 “I am the Alpha and the Omega” says the Lord God, who is, who was and who is to come, the Almighty.”


Opening Prayer

Come Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of Your faithful and kindle within them the fire of Your love.

Send forth Your Spirit and they shall be created.

And You shall renew the face of the earth.


Let us pray


I believe in one God,
the Father almighty,
maker of heaven and earth,
of all things visible and invisible.

I believe in one Lord Jesus Christ,
the Only Begotten Son of God,
born of the Father before all ages.

God from God, Light from Light,
true God from true God,
begotten, not made,
consubstantial with the Father;
through him all things were made.
For us men and for our salvation
he came down from heaven, and by the Holy Spirit
was incarnate of the Virgin Mary, and became man.

For our sake he was crucified under Pontius Pilate,
he suffered death and was buried,
and rose again on the third day
in accordance with the Scriptures.
He ascended into heaven
and is seated at the right hand of the Father.
He will come again in glory
to judge the living and the dead
and his kingdom will have no end.

I believe in the Holy Spirit,
the Lord, the giver of life,
who proceeds from the Father and the Son,
who with the Father and the Son
is adored and glorified,
who has spoken through the prophets.

I believe in one, holy,
catholic and apostolic Church.
I confess one baptism
for the forgiveness of sins
and I look forward to the resurrection of the dead
and the life of the world to come
. Amen.



The study of the end times (eschatology) is a fascinating field of bible study and therein lies a problem.  It can be so fascinating that it can distract us from the job at hand of being witnesses for Christ in the world and workers for the harvest.

It can cause anxiety for those of us with family members and friends who don’t know God, though that should be a spur to evangelism.

We should be reassured that the overall message of the end times is “Jesus wins.”


Trying to work out all the details can give us a real headache.

In the DVD David Payne said how the opening and closing chapters of the Revelation of John, are quite easy to understand but the middle ones were more of a struggle.  Another way of studying those chapters is to look at what is happening in heaven and how it relates to the Mass.

For instance we see an altar, a throne, white robes, lampstands, incense and a Lamb that seemed to have been slain.

We hear that great song of praise;

“Holy, Holy, Holy is the Lord God the Almighty” Rev4:8

From which we have;

Holy, Holy, Holy Lord God of hosts,

Heaven and earth are full of your glory,

Hosanna in the Highest.

Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord,

Hosanna in the highest.

(also combining Isaiah 6:3 and Matthew 21:9)

Scott Hahn’s book  “The Lamb’s Supper – The Mass as Heaven on Earth” takes this approach.

Scott Hahn has also contributed to the notes for the Ignatius Catholic Study Bible – New Testament (Revised Standard Version)


In trying to understand what will happen during the end times we have the Catechism of the Catholic Church as our guide.  In the Big Picture Bible Course book there are more references to the Catechism than for any other of the sessions.  I would suggest that that would be the basis of a really good bible study as each Catechism reference has scriptures associated with it.

Just listing these by number we have CCC 1042, 670, 997, 1021, 1023, 1024, 1030, 1033, 1042, 1060, 681, 682, 1059, 1405.

There is a whole section on “From thence he will come again to judge the living and the dead” from the creed; CCC 668-682.


“Critique of the Course” and “What next?”

In starting Big Picture Bible Course what I had in mind was that it would;


  1. Introduce us to the bible.
  2. Help us get to grips with finding our way around the whole bible.
  3. Help us to grow in confidence in looking up bible references.
  4. Help us to see connections across the bible.
  5. Make us notice things in the Liturgy of the Word during Mass.
  6. Help us to pray the bible, pause and reflect as we read.
  7. Inform our minds, warm our hearts and enable our spirits to soar.

I hope it has done all that.

We might also consider;

What worked and what didn’t.

What was helpful and what wasn’t.

How helpful the course book was.

How useful were the things it asked you to do.

How much input you would like from the leadership, Father Eddy, myself and the table hosts.


Its approach involved a lot of jumping around the bible.  Was this useful or would a more systematic, beginning to end, approach be helpful?

There is another course available which is a more from Genesis to Revelation (systematic) course which is also produced by the Bible Society and lasts eight weeks.


The BPBC was produced by Café (Catholic Faith Exploration) and the Bible Society.  Café have produced materials for another course on the Holy Spirit called the Gift which we could run in the Autumn.  It lasts six weeks.


What should we do next?

i.e.  Parish bible study groups following the lectionary.




BPBC discussion session 11 Church

The Big Picture Bible Course

Discussion Session 11 The Church and Introduction to Session 12 End Times

Opening Prayer

Come Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of Your faithful and kindle within them the fire of Your love.

Send forth Your Spirit and they shall be created.

And You shall renew the face of the earth.

Let us pray

Prayer for Christian Unity

O Lord Jesus Christ, when you were about to suffer,

you prayed for your disciples to the end of time,

that they might all be one,

as you are in the Father, and the Father in you.

Look down in pity on the many divisions among those who profess your faith and heal the wounds which the pride of man and the craft of Satan have inflicted on your people.

Break down the walls of separation which divide one party and denomination of Christians from another.

Look with compassion on the souls who have been born in one or another of these various communions and bring them all into that one communion  which you set up in the beginning: the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church.


Blessed John Henry Newman




The importance and difference of the word “Church”

The first occurrence in the bible is in Matthew 16: 18 after Peter’s declaration of faith.

“Now I say to you that you are Peter (which means rock) and upon this rock I will build my church and all the powers of hell will not conquer it.


The Greek word used in Matthew is ekklesia which means a called out assembly.  Called out of the world.  Called to be in the world but not of the world.


The word church is not used by the other Gospel writers but occurs throughout the book of Acts, the letters of Paul and the book of Revelation.


In the Old Testament the emphasis is on the temple as a place of worship and sacrifice.  The word synagogue as a religious meeting place for Jews is used in the New Testament as well as the temple.


Jesus chooses a different word for his followers and the emphasis is on a people of faith, living stones, rather than a building.





The Church is a sign of Christ in the world.

The Church hands on Christ’s message of love and forgiveness.

The Church is a community of people on a voyage of discovery.

The Holy Spirit gives the Church its life, motivation and heart.

The Holy Spirit remains faithful to the Church.

The Church endures, perseveres and prevails.


The Church is a called out assembly – ekklesia.

  • The Church is the body of Christ. A people working out their salvation in “fear and trembling”.  Philippians 2: 12.
  • The Church is a vessel or vehicle of salvation, rather like Noah’s Ark.
  • The Church is the only society on earth that exists for the benefit of non-members. Quote – Archbishop William Temple
  • The Church is one, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic.


Session 12 End Times

Let’s have a look at the Overview in the book and then we’ll watch the DVD.

I see there is a reference to Matthew 25: 31-46.  You might also want to read the whole of Matthew 24.



BPBC discussion session 10 Holy Spirit

The Big Picture Bible Course

Discussion Session 10 Holy Spirit and introduction to session 11 The Church


YouTube hymn – Holy Spirit, we welcome you

No 873 in our hymn book


Opening Prayer

Come Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of Your faithful and kindle within them the fire of Your love.

Send forth Your Spirit and they shall be created.

And You shall renew the face of the earth.


O, God, who by the light of the Holy Spirit, did instruct the hearts of the faithful, grant that by the same Holy Spirit we may be truly wise and ever enjoy His consolations.  Through Christ our Lord.  Amen


Oh Holy Spirit, You are the Third Person of the Blessed Trinity. You are the Spirit of truth, love and holiness, proceeding from the Father and the Son, and equal to Them in all things. We adore You and love You with all our heart. Teach us to know and to seek God, by whom and for whom we were created. Fill our hearts with a holy fear and a great love for Him. Give us compunction (an active conscience) and patience, and do not let us fall into sin.
Increase faith, hope and charity in us.
Make us faithful followers of Jesus, obedient children of the Church and a help to our neighbour. Give us the grace to keep the commandments and to receive the sacraments worthily. Raise us to holiness and lead us to everlasting life. Through Jesus Christ, our Lord. Amen.




Catechism of the Catholic Church

687 …Those who believe in Christ know the Spirit because He dwells with them.

John 14: 17


689  It is Christ who is seen, the visible image of the invisible God, but it is the Spirit who reveals Him.


The Holy Spirit shows us Jesus.

We come to the Father, through the Son, in the Spirit.



Let’s have a look at that first Pentecost.

Acts 2: 1-12 and 37-41

At what point is the Church born?

  • In the upper room
  • When they go out into the street
  • When they preach the word
  • When people respond to the word
  • Are these all links in a chain


What enables this to happen?

What transforms fearful disciples into bold witnesses for Christ?



The Fruit of the Spirit

Galatians 5: 22 – But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control.


How do we feel about the fruit of the Spirit?



worth having



The Gifts of the Spirit

Isaiah 11: 2 – The Spirit of the Lord shall rest on him, the Spirit of wisdom and understanding, the Spirit of counsel and might, the Spirit of knowledge and the fear of the Lord.  His delight shall be in the fear of the Lord.

  • wisdom – knowledge
  • understanding – piety
  • counsel – fear of the Lord
  • fortitude


How do we feel about these gifts of the Spirit?






Now let’s look at the gifts of the Spirit mentioned by St. Paul in

1 Corinthians 12: 4-11

  1. a word of wisdom
  2. a word of knowledge
  • faith
  1. healing
  2. working of miracles
  3. prophesy
  • discernment of Spirits
  • tongues
  1. interpretation of tongues


How do we feel about these gifts of the Spirit?

The list in Isaiah is a bit tame compared with Paul’s list.


I suppose we have to remember that the gifts or charisms are for a purpose.

ccc 799 – Whether extraordinary or simple and humble, charisms are graces of the Holy Spirit which directly or indirectly benefit the Church, ordered as they are to her building up to the good of men and to the needs of the world.


A note about tongues


Tongues can cause people some problems.

It is important to realise that there are two kinds of tongues:

  1. A message given in tongues (unintelligible language) which is interpreted by another member of the congregation. It is a particular gift given to some.
  2. Tongues which are a personal prayer language and give praise to God. It is a universal gift, potentially given to all.


St Paul in his First Letter to the Corinthians refers to tongues as a gift to be exercised with caution as worship in the Corinthian church was becoming chaotic.  1 Corinthians 14: 4-5, 18-19 & 39-40


Paul says “strive for the higher gifts”, 1 Cor 12 vs 31, remembering that they are to build up the church, 1 Cor 12: 27-31.


The twelfth chapter ends with “I will show you a still more excellent way”, and then we are into chapter 13 and that great passage about love (a fruit of the Spirit).

That is to say that the more excellent way is love.



In summary so far the Holy Spirit

  • Convicts us of sin leading to repentance and reconciliation
  • Shows us Jesus
  • Gives us consolation
  • Dwells within us
  • Bears fruit
  • Gives us gifts to build up the Church


1 Cor 6: 19 – Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, which you have from God.


We receive the Holy Spirit at baptism.  John 3: 3-5

And we continually look to the indwelling and outpouring of the Holy Spirit in our lives.


Jesus, having risen, ascends to heaven in order to send the Holy Spirit.

John 16: 7, 15: 26 & 14: 25-26


As it says in the Creed

I believe in the Holy Spirit, the Lord, the giver of life, who proceeds from the Father and the Son, who has spoken through the prophets.


Jesus in human form was only able to be present in one place at a time; through the Holy Spirit Jesus is able to be present always and everywhere.

In the mass Father Eddy asks God the Father to send his Spirit to change the bread and wine into the body and blood of Christ, making Jesus present wherever mass is said.


As St Peter said in Acts 2: 16-18

“This is what was spoken by the prophet Joel: And in the last days it shall be, God declares, that I will pour out my Spirit upon all flesh and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams; yes, and on my menservants and maidservants in those days I will pour out my Spirit and they shall prophecy.”




Big Picture Bible Course Session 10 Holy Spirit

The Big Picture Bible Course

Discussion Session 9 Resurrection and Introduction Session 10 Holy Spirit

The Mystery of Faith

Save us, Saviour of the World,

for by Your Cross and Resurrection

You have set us free.


Opening Prayer

  1. Come Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of your faithful
  2. And kindle in them the fire of your love.
  3. Send forth your Spirit and they shall be created
  4. And you will renew the face of the earth.

Let us pray

O Risen Lord,
the Way, the Truth, and the Life,
Make us faithful followers of the spirit of Your Resurrection.

Grant that we may be inwardly renewed,
dying to ourselves in order that You may live in us.
May our lives serve as signs of the transforming power of Your love.

Use us as Your instruments for the renewal of society,
bringing Your life and love to all,
and leading them to Your Church.

Be the resurrection and the life in the life we share and the fellowship we enjoy, that filled anew with the wonder of your love and the power of your grace, we may proclaim your resurrection life to a world in the grip of death and yet on the verge of redemption, a redemption promised by you and assured by what occurred on that first Easter morn.   This we ask of You, Lord Jesus,
living and reigning with the Father,
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
God forever.  

Prayer borrowed from


Before we start here’s a little message from the Monty Python team.  In aknowledgment that over the past few weeks we seem to have stepped up a gear or three in our bible studies.

I hope your brain only hurts in a good way.

Discussion and Sharing


DVD – Holy spirit

Read the overview and then we’ll watch the DVD.

Good Digging

Jesus raises the dead.

Luke 7: 11-17  The son of the widow of Nain

Matthew 9: 18-26,  Mark 5: 21-43  The daughter of Jairus raised to life

Luke 11: 1-44  Jesus raises Lazarus  (and him 3 days dead)

Jesus foretells his death and resurrection

Matthew 16: 21 & 17: 22-23

St Paul says

Romans 6: 8 – Now if we died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him.

Jesus says

Revelation 1: 18 – I am the Living One; I was dead, and now look, I am alive for ever and ever! And I hold the keys of death and Hades.

And a verse I always find reassuring

Numbers 23: 19 – God is not a man that he should lie.
Song to finish “Majesty”

BPBC Session 8&9

The Big Picture Bible Course

Discussion of  Session 8 – New Life and Introduction to Session 9 Resurrection

Opening Prayer

  1. Come Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of your faithful
  2. And kindle in them the fire of your love.
  3. Send forth your Spirit and they shall be created
  4. And you will renew the face of the earth.

Let us Pray

Oh Christ Jesus, Our Lord Our God, Our Holy Redeemer, Our Saviour.
I thank you for this day, For your infinite Love,
Your forgiveness of sin, Your Crucifixion and Resurrection.
Our Redemption and Salvation.
For our Mother the Blessed Virgin Mary,
For Your saving Grace,
And all your gifts of Love

Prayer of thanks to Jesus (Anonymous)

Discussion and Sharing

 DVD – Resurrection

Read the overview and then we’ll watch the DVD.

Good Digging

Catechism of the Catholic Church (CCC)

CCC 521 – Christ enabled us to live in Him, all that He Himself lived, and He lives it in us.  “By His Incarnation, He, the Son of God, has in a certain way united himself with each man.”  We are called only to become one with Him, for He enables us as the members of his Body to share in what He lived for us in His flesh as our model.

Claude’s musings

Last week when we looked at the cross we saw all that Jesus had done for us.  This week we are looking at the New Life which Jesus calls us to and makes possible for us.  The question is how are we to live this life?

Here is a familiar verse from the Amplified Bible (which is a bit like a thesaurus bible).

John 3:16 – For God so greatly loved and dearly prized the world that He gave up His only begotten (unique) Son, so that whoever believes in (trusts in, clings to, relies on) Him shall not perish (come to destruction, be lost) but have eternal (everlasting) life.

I like the way the Amplified Bible expands the word “believe” into “trusts in, clings to, relies on” which reminds me of the image of Christ with the words “Jesus, I trust in You” given to St. Faustina.

This is a very good summary of how we are to live this life.

Jesus, I trust in You.”

 The Church is also our great help in this.  The sacraments prepare us and sustain us for the journey.  The sacrament of reconciliation calls us back to Christ and we receive Him in the Eucharist.  The Holy Spirit is our constant companion.

Enough words, just: believe in, trust in, cling to and rely on Him.

The Big Picture Bible Course – Sessions 7 – The Cross and 8 – New life

The Big Picture Bible Course

Discussion of  Session 7 – the Cross and Introduction to Session 8 New Life

Opening Prayer

  1. Come Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of your faithful
  2. And kindle in them the fire of your love.
  3. Send forth your Spirit and they shall be created
  4. And you will renew the face of the earth.

Let us Pray

Oh Christ Jesus, Our Lord Our God, Our Holy Redeemer, Our Saviour.
I thank you for this day, For your infinite Love,
Your forgiveness of sin, Your Crucifixion and Resurrection.
Our Redemption and Salvation.
For our Mother the Blessed Virgin Mary,
For Your saving Grace,
And all your gifts of Love

Prayer of thanks to Jesus (Anonymous)


As the DVD session on the cross puts it all so well, let’s have another look at it before entering into our discussions.

Discussion and Sharing

Hymn books and visual aids are available


DVD – New Life

Read the overview and then we’ll watch the DVD.

Good Digging


When I was catching up on the Incarnation, after being on holiday, I came across this little snippet.

Verbum Domini – Benedict XVI

  1. The patristic and medieval tradition, in contemplating this “Christology of the word” employed an evocative expression: the word was “abbreviated”… The Son himself is the word, the Logos: the eternal word became small – small enough to fit in a manger. He became a child, so that the word could be grasped by us.  Now the word is not simply audible:  not only does it have a voice, now the word has a face, one which we can see: that of Jesus of Nazareth.


All that God has for us, wants to show us, wants to do for us, is there in Christ – abbreviated.


The Cross

When we contemplate the crucifixion we can see the suffering of Jesus on the cross and the magnitude of what he has done for us.  We must not forget that it is also a triumph and that Jesus is raised up.

 There are many scriptures about this:

Isaiah 52: 13  See my servant will prosper, he shall be lifted up, exalted, rise up to great heights.  All of chapter 53 is worth a read as well.

John 3:13-14  No one has gone up to heaven, except the one who came down from heaven, the Son of Man who is in heaven, and the Son of Man must be lifted up as Moses lifted up the serpent in the desert, so that everyone who believes may have eternal life in Him.   (Numbers 21: 4-9 & Wisdom 16: 5-7)

Acts 2: 23-24 & 32-33

Psalm 22, which Jesus quotes from on the cross, also ends on a note of triumph.





The Big Picture Bible Course – Session 6

The Big Picture Bible Course – Session 6 “Incarnation”

Opening Prayer

  1. Come Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of your faithful
  2. And kindle in them the fire of your love.
  3. Send forth your Spirit and they shall be created
  4. And you will renew the face of the earth.


Let us pray

   A prayer of Julian of Norwich  (1342 to c1416)

In you, Father all-mighty, we have our preservation and our bliss.

In you, Christ, we have our restoring and our saving.

You are our mother, brother, and Saviour. In you, our Lord the Holy Spirit, is marvellous and plenteous grace.

You are our clothing; for love you wrap us and embrace us.

You are our maker, our lover, our keeper.

Teach us to believe that by your grace all shall be well, and all shall be well,

and all manner of things shall be well. Amen


Sharing of the previous weeks studies “People”

Extract from Eucharistic Prayer III –

You are indeed Holy, O lord and all you have created rightly gives you praise,  for through your Son our Lord Jesus Christ, by the power and working of the Holy Spirit you give life to all things and make them holy, and you never cease to gather a people to yourself, so that from the rising of the sun to its setting a pure sacrifice may be offered to your name.


They shall be my people and I will be their God.  Jeremiah 32: 38


The Big Read for last week was Hebrews ch 11

This contains a number of   “by faith”  statements centred on particular people who then did something.   At a later date you might want to revisit this chapter and then find out more about these people.  This table might help.

“by faith” Bible reference Action
Abel Gen 4:4
Enoch Gen 5:24
Noah Gen 6:8-22
Abraham Gen 12:1 to Gen 25:11 leaves his home
Sarah Gen 17:19 & 18:9-15 & 21:1-7
Isaac Gen 27:27-40
Jacob Gen 48:1-20
Joseph Gen 50:24-25
Moses Ex 2:2 to 14:31
Rahab Joshua 2:1-24 & 6:17-25 hides the spies
Gideon Judges 6:1 to 8:32
Barak Judges 4:4-16
Samson Judges 13:1 to 16:31
Jephthah Judges 11:1 to 12:7
Samuel 1 Sam 3:1 to 4:1
David 1 Sam 16:1-23 & 2 Sam 7:8-16


Catechism of the Catholic Church – 64

Through the prophets God forms his people in the hope of salvation, in the expectation of a new and everlasting Covenant intended for all, to be written on their hearts.  The prophets proclaim a radical redemption of the People of God, purification from all their infidelities, a salvation which will include all the nations.  Above all, the poor and humble of the Lord will bear this hope. Such holy women as Sarah, Rebecca, Rachel, Miriam, Deborah, Hannah, Judith, and Esther kept alive the hope of Israel’s salvation.  The purest figure among them is Mary.



Person Bible Reference What they did
Sarah Gen 12:5 & 17:19 & 18:9-15 & 21:1-7 & 23:1-2
Rebecca Gen ch 24-27
Rachel Gen ch 29-30:24 & 35:16-20
Miriam Ex 15:19-21
Deborah Judges ch 4 to 5:22
Hannah 1 Sam ch 1 to 2:11
Judith Judith ch 10 to 13:26
Esther Esther ch 4 to 7:10
Mary Luke 1:26-56 & 2:1-52


Recurrent theme

When the people follow the Lord and serve him faithfully things go well for them.  When they fall away things go badly for them.  The Israelites go through a cycle of coming to the Lord and falling away again.  Through all this the Lord doesn’t give up on them.


“by your grace all shall be well, and all shall be well, and all manner of things shall be well”

DVD  The Incarnation

Marking out next weeks scriptures


Some of my own musings on the fall


Your tube hymn

There is a Fountain filled with Blood –William Cowper (1731-1800)


The Fall – Genesis 3

There are times when we can read the bible with imagination; we may even try to put ourselves there as we strive to understand what happened.  If we go beyond the scripture we would have to own up to that and say:

But that is more than the Scripture says.


That is going way beyond the scripture.


But that is just speculation.


When we consider Adam and Eve and the fall we have to remember that it is not a story for children, it is a story for adults.  A child would say, “That’s a rubbish story because my dad wouldn’t throw me out of the garden for taking an apple!” as an RE teacher once told me.

Even if we speak of it as being in “figurative language” it is still important to examine the details in the way they are presented to extract as much as we can from it.

So here goes

Satan comes to Eve, in the form of a serpent.  Gen 3:1   This would seem to be an example of divide and conquer.

Eve doesn’t seem to find a talking serpent odd and finds herself answering its questions, even though she has authority, along with Adam, over all the animals.  Gen 1: 28

The question asked is actually a false one, “Did God say you were not to eat of any of the trees in the garden?”  Gen 3: 1

Eve answers with a statement which is also wrong, “We may eat the fruit of the trees in the garden.  But of the tree in the middle of the garden God said, “You must not eat it, nor touch it, under pain of death”.”  Gen 3: 2-3. Look at Gen 2: 16-17 for what God actually said.

So an incorrect detail has crept into Eve’s recollection of what God actually said.  How might this have come about?  Here’s where a bit of imagination comes in.

Scenario 1 – God told Adam but not Eve.  Adam told Eve and told her wrong, or got exasperated with “why?” questions and said, “Just don’t touch it, Ok!”

Scenario 2 – God told Adam and Eve, but somehow, maybe in their conversations with each other, this business of “Don’t even touch it” has crept in.

Whatever happened this gives Satan an opening, like a Radio 4 Today programme interviewer leading an interviewee down the garden path.  If he can get her to touch it, and plainly not die, this would cast doubt on the prohibition not to eat it.  Here comes the temptation, and a bigger lie, the devil says “No! You will not die!  God knows in fact that on that day you eat it your eyes will be opened and you will be like gods, knowing good and evil.”  Gen 3: 4-5

Instead of rebuking the serpent, she does what it says, then gives some of the fruit to Adam, and the rest, as it were, is our sad history.

Do they actually acquire the knowledge of good and evil or just the ability to decide for themselves what is good and evil?  They seem to decide wrong and the way they look at themselves and each other is forever changed.  They try to make a rather inadequate cover for their nakedness.  Gen 3: 7

When they hear God walking in the garden they hide from him.  Why do they even think this is possible?  Could it be that the voice of God within then has been silenced as part of their spiritual death?  Gen 3: 8

When God questions them about what happened he comes to Adam first, as if to say – “I put you in charge, what happened?”  Then Adam blamed Eve, Eve blamed the serpent and the serpent didn’t have a leg to stand on.

I wonder, if Adam hadn’t eaten the fruit could he have interceded for Eve?  Still, that speculation is futile as that is not what happened.

They have to leave that close proximity with God in the garden of Eden and go out into a world changed by their sin.  Gen 3: 17-19.  Their relationship with each other is also changed.  Gen 3: 16.

-But they do have a world to live in.

-God promises them a Saviour, the offspring of the woman.  Gen 3: 15.

-He provides a more adequate covering for their nakedness, for their sin.  This is the first recorded sacrifice in the bible and prefigures all the old testament sacrifices and the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross.  Gen 3: 21

Hebrews 9: 22 – without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness of sins.

Mark 10: 45  For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”

Hebrews 9: 26   But now, at the end of the ages, he has appeared once for all to remove sin by his sacrifice.

See from His head, His hands, His feet,
Sorrow and love flow mingled down!
Did e’er such love and sorrow meet,
Or thorns compose so rich a crown?

When I survey the wondrous cross – Isaac Watts (1674-1748)


Notes on imagery – The Blood of Christ

Why have I chosen an extreme Protestant Hymn with some rather graphic imagery?

To remind us how much our free gift of salvation cost Jesus as we come into Easter time to commemorate His passion and celebrate his resurrection.

There are many hymns with this imagery;

Take our bread – “Your holy people standing washed in your                                                                                             blood”

To God be the Glory – “O perfect redemption the purchase of                                                                                        blood.”

Blessed Assurance, Jesus is mine – “Born of His Spirit, washed in                                                                           his blood”

Soul of my Saviour – “Wash me with water, flowing from thy side”

Big Picture Bible Course – session 4 “The Fall”

The Big Picture Bible Course – session 4 “The Fall”

Opening Prayer

 Come Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of your faithful

And kindle in them the fire of your love.

Send forth your Spirit and they shall be created

And you will renew the face of the earth.


Let us pray

Lord Jesus Christ, take all my freedom, my memory, my understanding, and my will.  All that I have and cherish you have given me.  I surrender it all to be guided by your will.  Your grace and your love are wealth enough for me.  Give me these, Lord Jesus, and I ask for nothing more.

Amen.   (Prayer of self-dedication to Jesus Christ ascribed to St                                                                                                Ignatius of Loyola)


Discussion from the previous week “Creation”

Some observations about the Garden of Eden


  1. A good creation – Genesis 1: 10, 12, 18, 21, 25, 31
  2. A benign gentle creation watered by a mist – Genesis 2: 6.
  3. A vegetarian creation – Genesis 1: 26-31

(contrast with Genesis 9: 1-3)

  1. Man – male and female, have dominion over every living thing. Genesis 1: 26
  2. A job to do – to tend and care for the Garden of Eden – Genesis 2: 15. (Sometimes called the “Covenant of Works”.)
  3. Adam and Eve walk with God in the garden. Genesis 3: 8

Note – there are two other instances of people walking with God.  Enoch in Genesis 5: 24 and Noah in Genesis 6: 9.

  1. No thorns in the garden. Genesis 3: 18
  2. The garden yields its abundance with little effort on the part of Adam and Eve. Genesis 3: 17  (Adam and Eve potter in the garden.)
  3. They can eat of the Tree of Life but not the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. Their proximity to God in the garden means they have Him as that source of reference.
  4. Even after it has all gone wrong they still have a world to live in and a Saviour is promised to them. Genesis 3: 15


Catechism of the Catholic Church

 288  Creation is the first and universal witness to God’s all-powerful love.

 289  Among all the Scriptural texts about creation, the first three chapters of Genesis occupy a unique place.  From a literary standpoint these texts have had diverse sources.  The inspired authors have placed them at the beginning of Scripture to express in their solemn language the truths of creation – its origin and its end in God, its order and goodness, the vocation of man, and finally the drama of sin and the hope of salvation.  Read in the light of Christ, within the unity of Sacred Scripture and in the living Tradition of the Church, these texts remain the principal source for catechesis on the mysteries of the “beginning”: creation, fall, and promise of salvation.

375  The Church, interpreting the symbolism of biblical language in an authentic way, in the light of the New Testament and Tradition, teaches that our first parents, Adam and Eve, were constituted in an original “state of holiness and justice.”   This grace of original holiness was to “share in…divine life.”

378  The sign of man’s familiarity with God is that God places him in the garden.  There he lives “to till it and keep it.”  Work is not yet a burden, but rather the collaboration of man and woman with God in perfecting the visible creation.


Last weeks extra task

How long was the tent peg?

Thoughts on Paul’s use of “saints” in Ephesians.


Reading the Overview for “The Fall”

and watching the DVD.

 Marking next weeks scriptures.


 Extra Tasks

 It is often said that the Bible is not a science text book.  But can you find science in it?

Have a look at Genesis 30: 32-43

Jacob is looking after his father in law’s sheep and goats.  He notices that the black sheep and the speckled and spotted goats have vigour even if they don’t look very good as specimens.  He asks his father in law if he can have those animals as wages.  He breeds them and ends up with a thriving, sturdy herd and his father in law’s herd grows feeble.

Jacob has done what scientists do.   He has made an observation, made predictions from that and tested that in practice by experiment.  An exercise in genetics before the monk Gregor Mendel started experimenting with peas.

When his father in law, Laban, figures this out he is less than pleased – Genesis 31:5.  Jacob leaves and returns to the land of his father, Isaac.

The whole story of Jacob is one of trickery and deceit.  Jacob acquires his brother’s birth right – Gen 25: 29-34.

He tricks his father into giving him his brothers blessing – Gen 27.

He flees for his life because his brother Esau is very angry with him.

Jacob works for Laban and wants to marry his daughter Rachel – Gen 29.

Laban tricks Jacob into marrying Leah and he has to labour for many more years to marry Rachel.

Lastly we have the trickery of the sheep and goats.

This is not to condone deceit, after all Jacob suffers because of his actions even though God favours him over his brother.

Isaac also comes out as a rather long-suffering faithful individual.


The Great Evolution-Creation Debate

 Strangely enough the Church hasn’t come down on one side of the debate or the other, it acknowledges the status of evolution as a theory of  value in some areas of study.  It asks that if you have a measure of evolution in your understanding of creation you acknowledge the following truths[1]:

  1. God created everything out of nothing (ex nihilo).
  2. God created an orderly universe (the universe is not a product of chance).
  3. God sustains everything in being (everything depends on God for existence).
  4. The human soul was created immediately by God.
  5. We are all descended from one family group, Adam and Eve.


I was greatly encouraged by this as it means that the Catholic creation umbrella is quite a broad one and covers those with a literal view of biblical creation, to those who believe in intelligent design over a longer period of time, to those who believe in theistic evolution.   Whatever our position we are asked to be gracious to one another and remember our calling; to believe in Jesus, surrender to him and be baptised.

The Church regards evolution as not an obstacle to faith and not incompatible with faith.

Here are a few references and websites which may be useful:

Catholicism and Evolution: A History from Darwin to Pope Francis by Michael Chaberek O.P.  – Angelico Press

Humani Generis – Encyclical of Pius XII

Message to the Pontifical Academy of Sciences: on Evolution: Pope John Paul II  (ref 1 in the text)   British and Irish, Catholic Creation journal and website