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.