The Little Apocalypse

Bible Study – 33rd Sunday in ordinary time

1st reading – Daniel 12: 1-3

Psalm 15

2nd Reading – Hebrews 10: 11-14,18

Gospel – Mark 13: 24-32

The notes on the front of our church bulletin tell us that Chapter 13 of Mark’s Gospel is called the “Little Apocalypse”, while the Book of Revelation is known as the “Great Apocalypse”.

As Jesus’ words about the “end times” should take precedence over any human thoughts and interpretations on the matter I will type out Chapter 13 with some sub-headings of my own to see if a sequence of events can be determined.   I may put some other comments in brackets by way of explanation.   I will be using the Jerusalem Bible.

Mark Chapter 13

Prophesy of the Destruction of  the Temple in Jerusalem

As he (Jesus) was leaving the Temple (in Jerusalem), one of his disciples said to him, ‘Look at the size of those stones, Master!.  Look at the size of those buildings!’  And Jesus said to him, ‘You see these great buildings?  Not a single stone will be left on another: everything will be destroyed.’

(In 70AD the Roman army under Titus destroyed Jerusalem and it’s Temple to suppress the first Jewish Revolt.  A Roman colony ‘Aelia Captitolina’ was built on the site by Hadrian circa 130AD leading to the second Jewish revolt which was finally suppressed in 136AD.  Judea was then renamed Syria-Palestina and the Jewish population was dispersed throughout the Roman empire.)

And while he was sitting facing the Temple, on the Mount of Olives, Peter, James, John and Andrew questioned him privately, ‘Tell us, when is all this going to happen, and what sign will there be that all this is about to be fulfilled?’

The Birthpangs – deceptions, wars, earthquakes and famines

Then Jesus began to tell them, ‘Take care that no one deceives you.  Many will come using my name and saying, “I am he”, and they will deceive many.  When you hear of wars and rumours of wars, do not be alarmed, this is something that must happen, but the end will not be yet.  For nation will fight against nation, and kingdom against kingdom.  There will be earthquakes here and there; there will be famines.  This is the beginning of the birthpangs.’

Persecution and the proclamation of the Gospel to all nations

‘Be on your guard: they will hand you over to sanhedrins: you will be beaten in synagogues; and you will stand before governors and kings for my sake, to bear witness before them, since the Good News must first be proclaimed to all the nations.’

Spirit-filled witnesses

‘And when they lead you away to hand you over, do not worry beforehand about what to say; no, say whatever is given you when the time comes, because it is not you who will be speaking: it will be the Holy Spirit.’

Betrayal

‘Brother will betray brother to death, and the father his child; children will rise against their parents and have them put to death.   You will be hated by all men on my account; but the man who stands firm to the end will be saved.’

(We might consider how this applies to the apostles at that time, to all Christians down through the ages, to us now, and those believers at the end times.  Remember that of all the Apostles, only John died a natural death and he suffered torture and imprisonment.  All the others were martyred.  They all had the promise and assurance of the indwelling Holy Spirit, as do we.)

The Desecration of the Temple in Jerusalem

‘When you see the disastrous abomination (the abomination that causes desolation) set up where it ought not to be, let the reader understand, then those in Judaea must escape to the mountains; if a man is on the housetop, he must not come down to go into the house to collect any of his belongings; if a man is in the fields, he must not turn back to fetch his cloak.  Alas for those with child, or with babies at the breast, when those days come!  Pray that this may not be in winter.’

(ref 1 Maccabees 1: 54 – Antiochus Epiphanes IV desecrated the Temple in 167BC, a forerunner of this end times desecration. See also Daniel 9: 27.  For this to happen again would imply that the Temple needs to be rebuilt.  Although us Catholics might wonder if this could involve a Church in Jerusalem where mass (the daily sacrifice – that is the sacrifice of Jesus – re-presented) is said, just a thought.)

(Incidentally, if you look at Luke 21: 5-36  verse 20 says, ‘When you see Jerusalem surrounded by armies, you must realise that she will soon be laid desolate.’ – Before the sacking of Jerusalem in 70AD the Jewish Christians left to seek refuge in the city of Pella.  They saw the signs and acted accordingly.  We can see in this a partial fulfillment of the prophecy with every prospect of a greater fulfillment in the future.)

The Great Tribulation aka The Big Trouble

‘For in those days there will be such distress as, until now, has not been equalled since the beginning when God created the world, nor ever will be again.  And if the Lord had not shortened that time, no one would have survived; but he did shorten that time, for the sake of the elect whom he chose.  And if anyone says to you then, “Look, here is the Christ” or, “Look, he is there”, do not believe it; for false Christs and false prophets will arise and produce signs and portents to deceive the elect, if that were possible.  You therefore must be on your guard.  I have forewarned you of everything.

(Remember, forewarned is forearmed.)

Signs in the heavens

‘But in those days, after that time of distress, the sun will be darkened, the moon will lose its brightness, the stars will come falling from heaven and the powers in the heavens will be shaken.’

The coming of the Son of Man

‘And then they will see the Son of Man coming in the clouds with great power and glory; then too he will send the angels to gather his chosen from the four winds, from the ends of the world to the ends of heaven.

(In order to see the Son of Man, the lights must be back on – this could be a supernatural light.)

When? – there are signs, but only the Father knows the day and hour

‘Take the fig tree as a parable: as soon its twigs grow supple and its leaves come out, you know that summer is near.  So with you when you see these things happening: know that he is near, at the very gates.  I tell you solemnly, before this generation has passed away all these things will have taken place.  Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away.  But as for that day and hour, nobody knows it, neither the angels of heaven, nor the Son; no one but the Father.’

(The generation Jesus was speaking to has passed away, though some will have seen the destruction of the Temple in 70AD.  So this means, if I stick my neck out, that it is the generation that sees the signs, beginning with the birthpangs, that will not pass away before Jesus returns.  It may or may not happen in our lifetime.)

“I say to all, Stay Awake!”

‘Be on your guard, stay awake, because you never know when the time will come.  It is like a man travelling abroad: he has gone from home, and left his servants in charge, each with his own task; and he has told the doorkeeper to stay awake.  So stay awake, because you do not know when the master of the house is coming, evening, midnight, cockcrow, dawn; if he comes unexpectedly he must not find you asleep.  And what I say to you I say to all: Stay awake!’

Summary  This chapter can be very distressing for those of us who have relatives and friends who aren’t saved, but that, perhaps, should only be a spur to evangelism.

The overall scenario is;  for a short time things get worse and worse until they are the worst they have ever been, then they very suddenly get better than they have ever been and stay that way forever.

We need to be saying that the gift of salvation is free, you can’t earn it and you don’t deserve it but Jesus wants to give it to you anyway.  You only have to accept it.

Romans 10: 9 If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that god raised him from the dead, you will be saved.

Christ has died, Christ is risen, Christ will come again.

Now go through it again and just read the sub-headings.

Graham Kendrick song on this album “Make it Soon” move on to 32mins 42 sec.

 

This site is very good for the Catholic view on these things;

https://www.ewtn.com/expert/answers/endtimes.htm

Here is an extract;

The Catechism provides us with a general order of events at the End [CCC 673-677]. Chronologically they are,

1. the full number of the Gentiles come into the Church

2. the “full inclusion of the Jews in the Messiah’s salvation, in the wake of the full number of the Gentiles” (#2 will follow quickly on, in the wake of, #1)

3. a final trial of the Church “in the form of a religious deception offering men an apparent solution to their problems at the price of apostasy from the truth.” The supreme deception is that of the Antichrist.

4. Christ’s victory over this final unleashing of evil through a cosmic upheaval of this passing world and the Last Judgment.

Nuff said!

 

 

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A Superior Priesthood

Bible Study – November 16th 2018 – 32nd  Sunday in Ordinary Time

Opening Prayer – from the Divine Mercy

Eternal Father, I offer you the Body and Blood, Soul and Divinity of Your Dearly Beloved Son, Our Lord Jesus Christ, in atonement for our sins and those of the whole world.

For the sake of his sorrowful Passion, have mercy on us and on the whole world.

Holy God, Holy Mighty One, Holy Immortal One, have mercy on us and on the whole world.

 

For a number of weeks, the second reading from the letter to the Hebrews has been on the priesthood of Jesus.  This has been presented as superior to the Jewish priesthood of those times.  The letter was written to a Christian Church of Jewish believers and the letter considers themes those Jewish believers would be familiar with, such as the Levitical priesthood established by Moses on God’s instructions in the old testament.  The job of this priesthood was to offer animal sacrifices on behalf of the people to take away their sins, albeit temporarily.  In the time of Moses their duties were centred on a portable temple called the Tabernacle and after Solomon their duties were centred on the Temple in Jerusalem.

In Exodus 3: 6 – God speaks to Moses from the burning bush;

“I am the God of your father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob.”

In Genesis 32: 26-29 – Jacob is given the name Israel by God.

From Jacob come twelve sons who form the twelve tribes of Israel;

Reuben, Simeon, Levi, Judah, Issachar, Zebulon, Joseph, Benjamin, Dan, Naphtali, Gad, Asher  (Genesis 35:23-26)

Moses and Aaron, his brother, are of the tribe of Levi and from the tribe of Levi come the priests of Israel serving the other tribes.  (Numbers Ch 3)

From the tribe of Judah comes David and his line of kings.  Jesus, from his genealogy in the gospels of Matthew and Luke, is of the tribe of Judah and often referred to as “Son of David”.

We often refer to Jesus as “Prophet, Priest and King”.  We can see that he is the messiah, the promised King of David’s royal line.  We can see that he is prophet by the way he speaks into peoples’ situations, as he does with the women at the well. (John 4: 20)  But how can he be priest when he is of the tribe of Judah and not of the tribe of Levi?

In answer we had it two weeks ago in the second reading from the letter to the  Hebrews 5:1-6, when the writer referred us to an earlier priesthood and a superior one.  That is the priesthood of Melchizedek.  Melchizedek was King of Salem (peace) and Priest of God Most High – he was both Priest and King, and he was acknowledged by Abraham.  He brought a sacrifice of bread and wine and received a tithe from Abraham.  (Genesis 14:17-20)  This is the only time we hear of him, he is a man without beginning or end.  (Hebrews 7: 1-3)  He is a type of Christ, he prefigures and points to Jesus.

On Sunday in the second reading the writer to the Hebrews reaches a liturgical peak.

Hebrews 9:24-28 – It is not as though Christ had entered a man-made sanctuary which was only modelled on the real one; but it was heaven itself, so that he could appear in the actual presence of God on our behalf.  And he does not have to offer himself again and again, like the high priest going into the sanctuary year after year with the blood that is not his own, or else he would have to suffer over and over again since the world began.  Instead of that, he has made his appearance once and for all, now at the end of the last age, to do away with sin by sacrificing himself.  Since men only die once, and after that comes judgement, so Christ, too, offers himself only once to take the faults of many on himself, and when he appears a second time, it will be not to deal with sin but to reward with salvation those who are waiting for him.

 

A superior priesthood indeed.

 

Let’s see what the catechism has to say;

CCC1544 – Everything that the priesthood of the Old Covenant prefigured finds its fulfilment in Christ Jesus, the “one mediator between God and men.” (1 Tim 2:5)  The Christian tradition considers Melchizedek, “priest of God Most High,” as a prefiguration of Christ, the unique “high priest after the order of Melchizedek”,  (Heb 5:10, 6:20;  Gen 14:18)  “holy, blameless, unstained,”  (Heb 7:26)  “by a single offering he has perfected for all time those who are sanctified,”  (Heb 10:14)  that is, by the unique sacrifice of the cross.

CCC1545 – The redemptive sacrifice of Christ is unique, accomplished once for all; yet is made present in the Eucharistic sacrifice of the Church.  The same is true of the one priesthood of Christ; it is made present through the ministerial priesthood without diminishing the uniqueness of Christ’s priesthood:  “Only Christ is the true priest, the others being only his ministers.”

CCC1546 – Christ, high priest and unique mediator, has made of the Church “a kingdom, priests for his God and Father.”  (Rev 1:6, 5:9-10; 1 Peter 2:5-9)  The whole community of believers is, as such, priestly.  The faithful exercise their baptismal priesthood through their participation, each according to his own vocation, in Christ’s mission as priest, prophet and king.  Through the sacraments of Baptism and Confirmation the faithful are “consecrated to be …. a holy priesthood.

 

Jesus dies for us, he takes our sins and gives us his righteousness.  He also gives us his Sonship, making us heirs with him and that’s not all;

He loves us and has washed away our sins with His blood, and made us a line of kings, priests to serve his God and Father; to Him then be glory and power for ever and ever.  Revelation 1:6

What Jesus has, he gives to us.

What Jesus is, he shares with us.

 

 

Jesus – Son of David

Jesus – Son of David

Mark 10: 46-47   They reached Jericho; and as he left Jericho with his disciples and a large crowd, Bartimaeus (that is, the son of Timaeus) a blind beggar, was sitting at the side of the road.  When he heard that it was Jesus of Nazareth, he began to shout and to say, ‘Son of David, Jesus, have mercy on me’.

What is the importance of the title “Son of David”?

A promise was made by God to King David through the prophet Nathan;

2 Samuel Ch 7: vs 16 – Your House and your sovereignty will always stand secure before me and your throne be established forever.

This is called the Davidic Covenant.

 

Let’s have a look at Jesus’s lineage as given in Matthew and Luke.

Matthew Ch 1: vs 1-17 Luke Ch 3: vs 23-38
Adam (son of God)
Seth
Enos
Cainan
Mahalaleel
Jared
Enoch
Methuselah
Lamech
Noah
Shem
Arphaxad
Cainan
Shelah
Eber
Peleg
Reu
A genealogy of Jesus Christ Serug
son of David, son of Abraham Nahor
Terah
Abraham Abraham
Isaac Isaac
Jacob Jacob
Judah Judah
Perez Perez
Hezron Hezron
Ram Arni
Admin
Amminadab Amminadab
Nahshon Nahshon
Salmon Sala
Boaz Boaz
Obed Obed
Jesse Jesse
David David
Solomon Nathan
Rehoboam Mattatha
Abijah Menna
Asa Melea
Jehoshaphat Eliakim
Joram Jonam
Azariah Joseph
Jotham Judah
Ahaz Symeon
Hezekiah Levi
Manasseh Matthat
Amon Jorim
Josiah Eliezer
Jeconiah   Joshua
            (Babalonian deportation) Er
Shealtiel Elmadam
Zerubbabel Cosam
Abiud Addi
Eliakim Melchi
Azor Neri
Zadok Shealtiel
Achim Zerubbabel
Eliud Rhesa
Eleazar Joanan
Matthan Joda
Josech
Semein
Mattathias
Maath
Naggai
Esli
Nahum
Amos
Mattathias
Joseph
Jannai
Melchi
Levi
Matthat
Jacob Heli
Joseph, husband of Mary of her was Joseph
             Born Jesus who is called Jesus (son of Joseph, as was thought)
             Christ

 

 

Matthew’s genealogy of Jesus runs from Abraham and Luke’s starts with Jesus and reaches back to Adam.

Both genealogies run parallel for a while and then diverge after David.  For a time, the thinking was – so they’re different, get over it.

Now the thinking is they are different because they are two separate genealogies, after all, don’t we all have two genealogies – one paternal and one maternal.

So, Matthew’s genealogy is of Joseph – Jesus’s guardian or legal father.

Luke’s genealogy is of Mary and Heli then is father-in-law of Joseph.

 

Ref) Ignatius Catholic Study Bible – New Testament, footnote to Luke 3:23-38;

There are several differences between the generations of Jesus in Luke and Matthew that make it difficult to reconcile them in every detail.  Two considerations should be noted to put their differences in perspective.

  1. Matthew traces Jesus’ lineage forward from Abraham, the forefather of Israel (Mt 1:2), while Luke traces his ancestry backward to Adam, the father of humanity (3:38). Thus, while Matthew is stressing the kingship of Jesus over Israel, Luke is stressing his qualifications to be the Saviour of Mankind as a whole.
  2. The two genealogies are substantially the same from Abraham to David, but diverge significantly in the generations that span from David to Jesus. It is quite possible that Matthew records the ancestry of Jesus’ legal father, Joseph, and Luke records that of his biological mother, Mary. In this case, Matthew gives us the dynastic line that passes from David to Joseph through Solomon (Mt 1:6), and Luke gives us the Davidic line more generally as it passes from David to Mary through Nathan (3:31).  As with his Infancy Narratives, Luke may have obtained information about Jesus’ family traditions from Mary herself.

 

In conclusion then we have a double emphasis that Jesus is ‘Son of David’.

Why is this important?  You may have noticed that I have put some of the names in the table above in purple.  This is because they were kings.  One name has also been written in scarlet italic – Jeconiah.

Jeconiah was a bad king and the Lord through the prophet Jeremiah pronounced this curse on him;

Jeremiah 22: 30 – The Lord says this, ‘List this man as: Childless; a man who made a failure of his life, since none of his descendants will have the fortune to sit on the throne of David, or to rule in Judah again.

So, it could be said that Jesus could not occupy the throne of David by Joseph’s line in Matthew, but he can through Mary’s line in Luke.

Jeremiah 23: 5 says – ‘For the time is coming’, says the Lord, ‘when I will raise up a righteous descendent (branch) from David’s line.  He will be a King who rules with wisdom.  He will do what is just and right throughout the land.’

 

Conclusion – Some of the apparently driest pieces of scripture contain great truths.

“Jesus, Son of David, have pity on me!”

Lord have mercy.  Christ have mercy.  Lord have mercy.

 

Who was Melchizedek?

Bible Study – October 30th 2918 – 30th Sunday in Ordinary Time

Who was Melchizedek?

Hebrews 5:6 – You are a priest of  the order of Melchizedek, and for ever.

Melchizedek makes one appearance in the bible in Genesis 14:17-20.

When Abram came back after the defeat of Chedor-laomer and the kings who had been on his side, the king of Sodom came to meet him in the valley of Shaveh (that is the Valley of the King).  Melchizedek king of Salem brought bread and wine: he was priest of God Most High.  He pronounced this blessing:

Blessed be Abram by God Most High, creator of heaven and earth, and blessed be God Most High for handing over your enemies to you.

And Abram gave him a tithe of everything.

From this we are told five things about Melchizedek;

  1. He is king of Salem, that is the king of peace (shalom). (The church fathers associated him with Jerusalem.)
  2. He was priest of God Most High, in Hebrew El Elyon, one of the names of God used in the Old Testament.
  3. He brought an offering of bread and wine, an offering unique in the Old Testament.
  4. He pronounced a blessing.
  5. Abram gave him the tithe which is reserved for the Lord.

There are some parallels with Christ here which makes Melchizedek a type of Christ.

When we say that someone is a type of Christ, we are saying that a person in the Old Testament behaves in a way that corresponds to Jesus’ character or actions in the New Testament.  https://www.gotquestions.org/typology-Biblical.html

Melchizedek is mentioned again in Psalm 110:4.

You are a priest of the order of Melchizedek, and for ever.

Which is quoted in the letter to the Hebrews.

Hebrews 7:1-3 goes on to explain;

You remember that Melchizedek, king of Salem, a priest of God Most High, went to meet Abraham who was on his way back after defeating the kings, and blessed him; and also that it was to him that Abraham gave a tenth of all that he had.  By the interpretation of his name, he is, first, ‘king of righteousness’ and also king of Salem, that is, ‘king of peace’; he has no father, mother or ancestry, and his life has no beginning or ending; he is like the Son of God.  He remains a priest for ever.

It’s always helpful when the bible interprets itself.

So, Melchizedek is a type of Christ.  He prefigures and points to Jesus.

He is a man without beginning or end.

Hebrews 13:8 – Jesus Christ is the same today as he was yesterday and as he will be forever.

As it says in Eucharistic Prayer No 1;

Be pleased to look upon these offerings with a serene and kindly countenance,  and to accept them as once you were pleased to accept the gifts of your servant Abel the just, the sacrifice of Abraham, our father in faith, and the offerings of your high priest Melchizedek,

And in the previous liturgy of 1975;

Look with favour on these offerings and accept them as once you accepted the gifts of your servant Abel, the sacrifice of Abraham, our father in faith, and the bread and wine offered by your priest Melchizedek.

 

 

Bible Study 23rd October 2018 – 29th Sunday, Focus – Isaiah 53

Bible Study – October 23rd 2018 – 29th Sunday in Ordinary Time

Opening Prayer – from the Divine Mercy

Eternal Father, I offer you the Body and Blood, Soul and Divinity of Your Dearly Beloved Son, Our Lord Jesus Christ, in atonement for our sins and those of the whole world.

For the sake of his sorrowful Passion, have mercy on us and on the whole world.

Holy God, Holy Mighty One, Holy Immortal One, have mercy on us and on the whole world.

Readings – Isaiah 53:10-11,  Psalm 32,  Hebrews 4:14-16,  Gospel – Mark:10:35-45

The old testament reading takes us to one of the most wonderful chapters in the entire bible.  It is of the utmost importance to Christians and the words really leap off the page.

Isaiah 52:13 – 53:12

52:13 See, my servant will prosper, he shall be lifted up, exalted, rise to great heights.

14 As the crowds were appalled on seeing him – so disfigured did he look that he seemed no longer human-

15 So will the crowds be astonished at him, and kings stand speechless before him, for they shall see something never told and witness something never heard before.

53:1 ‘Who could believe what we have heard, and to whom has the power of the Lord been revealed?’

2 Like a sapling he grew up in front of us, like a root in arid ground.  Without beauty, without majesty (we saw him), no looks to attract our eyes;

3 A thing despised and rejected by men, a man of sorrows and familiar with suffering, a man to make people screen their faces, he was despised and we took no account of him.

4 And yet ours were the sufferings he bore, ours the sorrows he carried.  But we, we thought of him as someone punished, struck by God and brought low.

5 Yet he was pierced through for our faults, crushed for our sins.  On him lies a punishment that brings us peace, and through his wounds we are healed.

6 We had all gone astray like sheep, each taking his own way, and the Lord burdened him with the sins of all of us.

7 Harshly dealt with, he bore it humbly, he never opened his mouth, like a lamb that is led to the slaughter-house, like a sheep that is dumb before its shearers never opening its mouth.

8 By force and by law he was taken; would anyone plead his cause?  Yes, he was torn away from the land of the living; for our faults struck down in death.

9 They gave him a grave with the wicked, a tomb with the rich, though he had done no wrong and there had been no perjury in his mouth.

10 The Lord has been pleased to crush him with suffering.  If he offers his life in atonement, he shall see his heirs, he shall have a long life and through him what the Lord wishes will be done.

11 His soul’s anguish over he shall see the light and be content.  By his suffering shall my servant justify many, taking their faults on himself.

12 Hence I shall grant whole hordes for his tribute, he shall divide the spoil with the mighty, for surrendering himself to death and letting himself be taken for a sinner, while he was bearing the faults of many and praying all the time for sinners.

 

Questions

  1. Who is this passage about?
  2. What does he look like?  (There are 2 descriptions)
  3. What does a shoot in arid ground mean?
  4. What event does this passage describe?
  5. What is it that he takes upon himself?
  6. What is the purpose of his doing this?
  7. What does he shall be lifted up mean?

I’m deliberately not answering these questions.  I am more interested in what you make of it.

Exercise

Take a highlighter (or underline) all the references to the crucifixion.

 

Tie in with the Gospel

Mark 10:45 – ‘For the Son of Man himself did not come to be served but to serve and give His life as a ransom for many.’

Bible Study – October 16th 2018

Bible Study – October 16th 2018

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, by the light of your Holy Spirit you have taught the hearts of your faithful.

In that same Spirit help us to relish what is right

And always rejoice in your consolation.

We ask this through Christ our Lord.

Amen.

 

Scripture readings from 28th Sunday in ordinary time

Wisdom 7:7-11

Psalm 89

Hebrews 4:12-13

Gospel, 10:17-30

 

Is there a common theme?

Wisdom comes through in the first reading and the psalm.

 

There are also some good pointers for how to go about Bible Study.

Wisdom 7:7 – I prayed and understanding was given me.

Hebrews 4:12 – The word of God is something alive and active.

This takes us to another verse in the bible concerning scripture.

2 Timothy 3:16 – All scripture is inspired by God and can profitably be used for teaching, for refuting error, for guiding people’s lives and teaching them to be holy.

 

In summary Scripture, the Word of God, reaches into our innermost being.

 

The Gospel Reading – Mark 10: 17-30

  1. 17 – Good master, what must I do to inherit eternal life?

Bible pointer – John 3:16, God loved the world so much that He gave His only Son, so that everyone who believes in Him may not be lost but may have eternal life.

 

  1. 19 – You know the commandments

Bible pointer Exodus 20:1-17 to see all 10 commandments and note who is speaking.

& Exodus 31:18 – When the LORD finished speaking to Moses on Mount Sinai, he gave him the two tablets of the covenant law, the tablets of stone inscribed by the finger of God.

 

vs 21 – Come, follow me

After Jesus says, to his disciples, how hard it is for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God the disciples ask;

vs 26 – who can be saved

Let’s consider some more Bible pointers;

John 3:16

Acts 2:38 repent…and be baptised

Romans 10:9 – If your lips confess that Jesus is Lord and you believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, then you will be saved.

 

How might we summarise this message of salvation?

  1. Believe
  2. Repent
  3. Be baptised
  4. Be filled with the Holy Spirit
  5. Persevere – come, follow me (walk the talk and live the life)

 

Or to put it in Catholic terms;

  1. Having receive the Sacrament of Baptism as an infant
  2. Believe – stay true to that baptism
  3. Repent – avail yourself of the Sacrament of Reconciliation
  4. Be filled with the Holy Spirit – Confirmation (and keep on being filled)
  5. Persevere – attend Church and receive the Blessed Sacrament regularly                        put your belief into action in your daily life

 

Bible Pointers – James 2:26, Faith is dead if it is separated from good deeds.

Ephesians 2: 10, For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ                                              Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.

The Vocation of the Laity

Catechism of the Catholic Church

ccc901 The Participation of lay people in Christ’s priestly office

“Hence the laity, dedicated as they are to Christ and anointed by the Holy Spirit, are marvellously called and prepared so that even richer fruits of the Spirit may be produced in them.  For all their works, prayers and apostolic undertakings, family and married life, daily work, relaxation of mind and body, if they are accomplished in the Spirit – indeed even the hardships of life if patiently born – all these become spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.  In the celebration of the Eucharist these may most fittingly be offered to the Father along with the body of the Lord.  And so, worshipping everywhere by their holy actions, the laity consecrate the world itself to God, everywhere offering worship by the holiness of their lives.”

 

I was struck by the words of Preface IV of the Sundays in Ordinary time;

It is truly right and just, our duty and our salvation,

always and everywhere to give you thanks,

Lord, holy Father, almighty and eternal God,

Through Christ our Lord.

For by His birth He brought renewal

to humanities fallen state,

and by His suffering cancelled out our sins;

by His rising from the dead

He has opened the way to eternal life,

And by ascending to You, O Father,

He has unlocked the gates of heaven.

And so with the company of Angels and Saints,

we sing the hymn of your praise,

as without end we acclaim:

Holy, Holy, Holy Lord God of hosts.

          Heaven and earth are filled with your glory.

          Hosanna in the highest.

          Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.

          Hosanna in the highest.

 

Closing Blessing

May the Lord bless you and keep you;

May the Lord let his face shine on you and be gracious to you;

May the Lord turn his face toward you and give you peace.

Amen

 

Holy Souls Parish Bible Study 27th Sunday of Ordinary Time

Bible Study – October 9th 2018

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, by the light of your Holy Spirit you have taught the hearts of your faithful.

In that same Spirit help us to relish what is right

And always rejoice in your consolation.

We ask this through Christ our Lord.

Amen.

 

Scripture readings from 27th Sunday in ordinary time

Genesis 2: 18-24

Psalm 127

Hebrews 2: 9-11

Gospel, Mark 10: 2-16

 

Is there a common theme?

 

One theme could be ‘The Human Family”

 

It is easy to see a link between the Old Testament reading and the Gospel; the foundational nature of marriage and what Jesus has to say about divorce.  The Psalm also has the theme of marriage about it.

The notes on the front of the bulletin are helpful in understanding the gospel.

If we look at a similar passage in Matthew’s Gospel we can see what the response of the disciples was.  Matthew 19: 10 ‘If such is the case between a man with his wife, it is better not to marry.’

Strange that they don’t see marriage as something wonderful, special and precious.

Why is this?

We could look at a problem which has existed between men and women since the fall.  It is called the Adamic curse.  Genesis 3: 11-19 and in verse 16 God says to the woman ‘your desire will be for your husband and he shall rule over you.’

 

The reading from Hebrews is harder to fit in with the theme of the Gospel.  The book of Hebrews was written to a Jewish Christian church.  We don’t know who wrote it though some think it was Paul because the name Timothy is mentioned at the end.  We have letters from Paul to Timothy in the bible.  The scholars say the style is very different to Paul’s other letters and so think it was written by somebody else.

I don’t think it was an accident the Father Neil used Eucharistic Prayer IV at Sunday evening’s mass.  Let’s have a look at that and see if it ties in with the reading from the letter to the Hebrews.

 

Closing Prayer

May the Lord bless you and keep you;

May the Lord let his face shine on you and be gracious to you;

May the Lord turn his face toward you and give you peace.

Amen

 

“Except there come a falling away first” – in relation to the Abuse scandal in the Catholic Church

The verse above is from the Second Letter of St Paul to the Thessalonians Chapter 2 Verse 3.  It is in relation to the second coming of Christ and that that can’t happen “except there be a falling away first”.  King James Bible

In the Jerusalem Bible this is called the Great Revolt.  “It cannot happen until the Great Revolt has taken place…”

Jesus speaks of this in the Gospel of Matthew Chapter 24 Verse 10 “…many will fall away…”

How might people fall away?  Let’s have a look at the parable of the sower.

Matthew 13: 4-9  He said, ‘Imagine a sower going out to sow.  As he sowed, some seeds fell on the edge of the path, and the birds came and ate them up.  Others fell on the edge of the path, and the birds came and ate them up.  Others fell on patches of rock where they found little soil and sprang up straight away, because there was no depth of earth; but as soon as the sun came up they were scorched and, not having any roots, they withered away.   Others fell among thorns, and the thorns grew up and choked them.  Others fell on rich soil and produced their crop, some a hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty.  Listen, anyone who has ears!’

And the explanation;

Matthew 13: 19-23  ‘You, therefore, are to hear the parable of the sower.  When anyone hears the word of the kingdom without understanding, the evil one comes and carries off what was sown in his heart: this is the man who received the seed on the edge of the path.  The one who received it on the patches of rock is the man who hears the word and welcomes it at once with joy.  But he has no root in him, he does not last; let some trial come, or some persecution on account of the word, and he falls away at once.  The one who received the seed in thorns is the man who hears the word, but the worries of this world and the lure or riches choke the word and so he produces nothing.  And the one who hears the word and understands it; he is the one who yields a harvest and produces now a hundredfold, now sixty, now thirty.’

In Matthew 24 the “falling away” which Jesus mentions is in relation to persecution.

How else might people fall away?  How does this relate to the current abuse crisis in the Catholic Church?

People might fall away through disillusionment.   Something happens which leaves them very disappointed in the church or very hurt by it.  They might question why they are in this church at all.

People might fall away because there is a challenge to their faith which is just too much too bear.

People might fall away because the church has lost credibility.  They feel like the foundation under them has been taken away or shown to be irretrievably rotten.

People might feel they are being put in a position of defending the indefensible and walk away.

All these four things are consequences of the abuse scandal in the Catholic Church.  We could be seeing that “falling away” which is a prelude to the very last days.

What might our response be?

This is a time to be sure and certain in our faith in Jesus Christ.  From the parable of the sower we want to deeply rooted in Christ to withstand all these things and heal the church and those damaged by it.  When we are speaking with others we should remember that it is Jesus we are presenting as Lord and Saviour and only secondarily the Church.  We do not defend the indefensible but continue to present Jesus to the world.  My personal take on this is that if after an encounter with Jesus a person wants to become a Catholic then that is a good thing, but if they want to go to some other church that is okay with me.  I’m not trying to be particularly ecumenical here just acknowledging the reality of those who proclaim that “Jesus Christ is Lord” in other churches.  All Christians who proclaim “Jesus Christ is Lord” can recognise each other without consciously practising ecumenism.

Having been on a personal journey through a number of other Churches, all of whom experienced scandals of one kind or another why do I remain with the Catholic Church. Answer – I love the mass.

If I can use a scripture at the risk of being misunderstood – In John’s Gospel Chapter 6, Jesus presents himself as the bread of life and says “If you do not eat of the flesh of the Son of Man and drink of his blood, you will not have life in you.”  Many find this teaching unacceptable and leave him.  He then says to the apostles, “What about you, do you want to go away too?”  Simon Peter answered,  “Lord, who shall we go to?  You have the message of eternal life.”

Now bearing in mind that Jesus is all truth, he is the one to stay with.

What might I say of a damaged Church?  Well, that the Church may be compromised but the message isn’t.  The Church has the message of eternal life and points to Jesus.  There is much work to do and it will be a long haul.  It is always much harder to build than it is to destroy.

On a flight to Portugal, to visit Fatima, on 11th May 2010 Pope Benedict XVI took questions from the media.  This was one of them;

Your holiness, what meaning do the Fatima apparitions have for us today?  In June 2000 when you presented the text of the third secret in the Vatican Press Office, a number of us and our former colleagues were present.  You were asked if the message could be extended, beyond the attack on John Paul II to other sufferings on the part of the popes.  Is it possible, to your mind, to include in that vision the sufferings of the Church today for the sins involving the sexual abuse of minors.

Here is an extract from Pope Benedict’s answer;

The Lord told us that the Church would constantly be suffering, in different ways, until the end of the world….  As for the new things which we can find in this message today, there is also the fact that attacks on the Pope and the Church come not only from without, but the sufferings of the Church come precisely from within the Church,  from the sin existing within the ChurchThis too is something we have always known, but today we are seeing it in a really terrifying way, that the greatest persecution of the Church comes not from her enemies without, but arises from sin within the Church, and that the Church thus has a deep need to relearn penance, to accept purification, to learn forgiveness on the one had, but also the need for justice, forgiveness does not replace justice.

Telling words, attacks on the Church from within and without.  Even Jesus experiences  this when Judas betrays him.

To close I would recommend reading Matthew 24.  We have been in the last days since Jesus’ resurrection.  Could we be at the beginning of the very last days?

Except there be a falling away

Also have a look at the Third Secret of Fatima.

Reference

https://www.catholicfamilynews.org/blog/2018/7/2/sexual-abuse-and-the-third-secret-a-timely-reminder

 

The Catholic Church, the Abuse Scandal and the Miracle of Lazarus

For a while I have been wanting to write an article about male leadership and all the time there is this huge elephant in the room, the sexual abuse of children involving some Catholic priests, which only seems to get bigger as time passes.

I have heard Catholics say that it is very hard to be a Catholic at the moment in the light of all that has happened and the behaviour of the hierarchy in the way it has been dealt with or rather hidden these things.  I don’t want to get into the why or the how for this can seem to be defending the indefensible and that would never do.  Even though these crimes have been committed by a minority the effects are way  beyond the numbers.

To be honest none of my friends, family or work colleagues have given me a hard time about this and we have all agreed about how terrible this is.  Primarily to those who have been abused and secondarily to the church’s reputation.  The damage these manipulative individuals cause is immense and it is of little compensation to those affected that these paedophiles are storing a judgement up for themselves.  If I can take a liberty and paraphrase some scripture about harming children “it would be better for him to have a large millstone tied around his neck and be drowned in the sea.”  Matthew 18:6.

Trying to hide it or cover it up will only make matters worse for;

“He will bring to light what is hidden in darkness and will expose the motives of men’s hearts.”  1 Corinthians 4:5

St Paul is clear about what should be done in such cases;

“Expel the wicked man from among you.”  1 Corinthians 5:13.  Read all of chapter 5 for the complete context.

If the appropriate action is not taken God will shake the church to remove what is not of him.  Hebrews 12:25-29.  I believe we are seeing this.

Before this scandal within the Catholic church it seemed we were always hearing about wayward American evangelicals who had fallen bigtime.  There was a church where this had happened and the faithful were reeling under the effects of the scandal.  A visiting Christian gave them this prophetic word, ” I have a word for you.  It is the miracle of Lazarus.  (John 11:1-44)   God took something that was dead and stinking and brought it back to life again.  This is what God is going to do with your church”.  These words both contained hope and a stinging slap for what had happened.

Now I don’t feel that the Catholic church is a stinking corpse,  there are too many faithful people, lay and clergy, within it, but I am certain it is being shaken and what has been hidden is being revealed.

This has not been easy to write but I think it is important before going on with what I want to cover next.  It may not be popular and it may get me in trouble but I think the matter has to be addressed if we want to see the damage, both to individuals and to the church, repaired.

 

 

An Objection to the Doctrine of Purgatory

The case against Purgatory

A bible verse often quoted to refute the Doctrine of Purgatory is Luke 23: 39-43 The Crucifixion of Christ and the comments of the Good Thief.

One of the criminals hanging there abused him. “Are you not the Christ?” he said.  “Save yourself and us as well.”  But the other spoke up and rebuked him.  “Have you no fear at all?” he said.  “You got the same sentence as he did, but in our case we deserved it: we are paying for what we did.  But this man has done nothing wrong.  Jesus,” he said, “remember me when you come into your kingdom.”  “Indeed, I promise you,” he replied “today you will be with me in paradise.”

Because Jesus says to the good thief “today you will be with me in paradise”  there is no suggestion of any delay in the good thief entering heaven.  You may have thought that a criminal’s profession of faith at the last, i.e. a deathbed type confession, makes him a perfect candidate for purgatory.  No such delay is evident here.  “Today you will be with me in paradise.”

Looking at Jesus’ words here paradise is used rather than heaven.  Now while you would expect heaven to be paradise, is paradise heaven?

Another problem, indeed a biblical contradiction, is in Jesus saying, “Today you will be with me in paradise”, is that Jesus does not ascend to his Father until 40 days after the resurrection.  In John 20:17 (Jesus says to Mary of Magdala) “Do not cling to me, because I have not yet ascended to the Father.”

How can we resolve the issue of purgatory and the promise to the good thief and Jesus not having yet ascended to heaven?

A consideration of the word Paradise’ used in Luke 23: 43.  Why does Jesus use the word ‘Paradise’ (Greek transliteration – paradeiso) rather than the word ‘Heaven’ (Greek transliteration – ouranos)?

There are three occurrences of the word paradise in the New Testament;  Luke 23: 43 – Jesus to the good thief,  2 Corinthians 12:4 – Paul describes being caught up to paradise, Revelation 2:7 – Jesus refers to the tree of life which is in the paradise of God.

Jesus uses the word paradise twice, once in Luke 23: 43 and again in Rev 2: 7.  Jesus uses heaven many more times in all four gospels.  To illustrate here are some extracts from J.B. Smith’s Greek-English Concordance.

P1020625(1)

P1020626

From Young’s Analytical Concordance we can see this again with an emphasis on the occurrences of the word heaven in Luke;

P1020616(1)

P1020614(1)P1020613(1)

Note how in Luke 11: 2 the word heaven in the Lord’s prayer is from the Greek ouranos.

Strong’s Concordance gives a number to the Greek and Hebrew words used in the bible and this refers to a lexicon for a definition.  Then Paradise has the strong’s number 3857 and the definition –

P1020618(1)

and for heaven –

P1020617(1)

So overall then there are only three occurrences of the word paradise (paradeisos) in the New Testament and 284 for heaven (ouranos).  There is only one occurrence of paradise in the Gospel of Luke and 37 of heaven.  From the definitions we can see that paradise is described as a place of blessedness and heaven as the place where God dwells.

So now what.

Let’s look at another scripture, Luke 16: 19-31. The rich man and Lazarus.

Jesus is speaking,

‘There was a rich man who used to dress in purple and fine linen and feast magnificently every day.  And at his gate there lay a poor man called Lazarus, covered with sores, who longed to fill himself with the scraps that fell from the rich man’s table.  Dogs even came and licked his sores.  Now the poor man died and was carried away by the angels to the bosom of Abraham.  The rich man also died and was buried.  In his torment in Hades he looked up and saw Abraham a long way off with Lazarus in his bosom.  So he cried out, “Father Abraham, pity me and send Lazarus to dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue, for I am in agony in these flames”.  “My son,” Abraham replied “remember that during your life good things came your way, just as bad things came the way of Lazarus.  Now he is being comforted here while you are in agony.  But that is not all; between us and you a great gulf has been fixed, to stop anyone, if he wanted to, crossing from our side to yours, and to stop any crossing from your side to ours.”

The rich man replied, “Father, I beg you to send Lazarus to my father’s house, since I have five brothers, to give them warning so that they do not come to this place of torment too”.  “They have Moses and the prophets,” said Abraham “let them listen to them.”  “Ah no, father Abraham,” said the rich man “but if someone comes to them from the dead, they will repent.”  Then Abraham said to him, “If they will not listen either to Moses or the prophets, they will not be convinced even if someone should rise from the dead”.’

 

This scripture shows that, pre-resurrection, there are two places in hell (hades); one a place of comfort and the other a place of torment.  There is a chasm between them which cannot be crossed but each place is visible from the other.

The place where Lazarus is comforted, the bosom of Abraham, is a paradise, a place of comfort and blessing, but it is not heaven.  It is a place of waiting.  Waiting for what or rather who?  Those who have died in faith, pre-resurrection, await Jesus to set them free.

Now let’s have a look at the Apostle’s Creed and what the Catechism of the Catholic Church (CCC) has to say.

The Apostle’s Creed

I believe in God, the Father almighty, Creator of heaven and earth, and in Jesus Christ, His only son, our Lord, who was conceived by the Holy Spirit, born of the Virgin Mary, suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died and was buried;

He descended into hell; on the third day he rose from the dead;

He ascended into heaven, and is seated at the right hand of God the Father Almighty; from there he will come to judge the living and the dead.  I believe in the Holy Spirit, the Holy Catholic Church, the communion of Saints, the resurrection of the body, and life everlasting.  Amen.

He descended into hell, on the third day he rose again.

CCC631 – Jesus ” descended into the lower parts of the earth.  He who descended is he who ascended far above all the heavens.”  (Ephesians 4:9-10)  The Apostle’s creed confesses in the same article Christ’s descent into hell and his Resurrection on the third day.

CCC632 – The frequent New Testament affirmations that Jesus was “raised from the dead” presuppose that the crucified one sojourned in the realm of the dead prior to his resurrection.  This was the first meaning given in the apostolic preaching to Christ’s descent into hell: that Jesus, like all men, experienced death and in his soul joined the others in the realm of the dead.  But he descended there as Saviour, proclaiming the good news to the spirits imprisoned there.

CCC633 – Scripture calls the abode of the dead, to which the dead Christ went down, “hell” – Sheol in Hebrew or Hades in Greek – because those who are there are deprived of the vision of God.  Such is the case for all the dead, whether evil or righteous, while they await the redeemer: which does not mean that their lot is identical, as Jesus shows through the parable of the poor man Lazarus who was received into “Abraham’s bosom”  It is precisely these holy souls, who awaited their Saviour in Abraham’s bosom, whom Christ the Lord delivered when he descended into hell.  Jesus did not descend into hell to deliver the damned, nor to destroy the hell of damnation, but to free the just who had gone before him.

Also have a look at CCC634, 635 & 636, it’s all good.

CCC637 – In his human soul united in his divine person, the dead Christ went into the realm of the dead.  He opened heaven’s gates for the just who had gone before him.

This song from youtube gives an illustration of all this;

 

So there we have it.  “Today you will be with me in paradise”  refers to the place of waiting, “Abraham’s bosom” and it is a paradise but it is not heaven.  Those who were there, having died in faith, pre-resurrection, were released by Jesus to ascend to heaven.  Ever since, that part of hell has remained empty as heaven was opened to those who were waiting, those who have died in faith since, those who will die in faith in the future and those who are alive and in faith when he comes again.

As “Abraham’s bosom” was not heaven, neither was it purgatory.  Purgatory being that process of purification as we journey from earth to heaven.  As I heard the Baptist preacher David Pawson say, “My wife finds it hard to believe that one day her husband will be perfect.”  As David is now quite elderly this would suggest that this perfection is completed after death, and though he wouldn’t say so,  this is what Catholics call purgatory.