Oct 16 – St. Paul’s Epistle to the Romans

From now through Nov 5th Mass readings include selections from St. Paul’s Epistle to the Romans, the longest and most theologically comprehensive of his works. Much of his writing was targeted at specific current issues in the churches he served, but Romans has a great deal to say about the theology of Salvation, the Big Idea, the Main Point. For a good introduction and improved understanding, read the section on Romans in the front of The Catholic Study Bible (sample snip below). If that is not readily available, the Wikipedia article on Romans is good and includes the outline below:



St Paul was brilliant, sometimes inspired, inspirational, and positive, and sometimes crabby and defensive, a Jewish Pharisee well versed in and observant of The Law and The Prophets, a man singled out and confronted by the post-resurrection Jesus for persecuting Him (The Church), a missionary to the Gentiles and founder and Father of several Churches, a persistent servant of God who planned to visit Rome, perhaps on the way to establishing more churches in Spain. Well, he made it to Rome, but as a prisoner rather than as a traveling missionary. Wikipedia also has a very scholarly article about St. Paul.

On October 16th Father Linsky focused on Romans Chapter 2 from which the Mass readings for the day were taken. As can be seen in the outline above, it is in a section about the universal corruption of Gentiles and Jews, God’s judgment, and hypocrisy. Father mentioned the first word in Romans 2, therefore, which reminded me of a pastor of a few decades ago who liked to advise his flock, “Whenever you see “therefore” in the Bible, be sure to look to see what it is there for.

Well, in this case, it is there for the purpose of humbling those who think they are superior and can’t think of anything to confess, those “who are called to belong to Jesus Christ; to all the beloved of God in Rome, called to be holy.” Paul has just completed a blistering critique, in Chapter 1, of those who had rejected God and now tells the people in the Church in Rome, Jews and Gentiles, that they are no better, that those who pass judgment on each other for perceived failures are without excuse, that they condemn themselves by doing the very same things.

The major current issue seems to have been mutual cross condemnation of the Jewish converts and the Gentile converts over whether circumcision was required of Christian Gentiles. It is informative and sobering to read these words from Paul in Romans 2:25-26: “Circumcision, to be sure, has value if you observe the law; but if you break the law, your circumcision has become uncircumcision. Again, if an uncircumcised man keeps the precepts of the law, will he not be considered circumcised?” It wasn’t just circumcision that divided the Church. There were also dietary and personal effort and behavior regulations.

The writings of St. Paul are challenging because apparent contradictions can be identified. For example, they contain one of the primary passages used to defend a Protestant position that we are saved by grace through faith (alone) and not by good works. (Ephesians 2:8-9  For by grace you have been saved through faith, and this is not from you; it is the gift of God; it is not from works, so no one may boast. (Please note that the passage does not say saved by faith but by grace, through faith. And, there might be interesting discussion over whether the phrase, “and this is not from you; it is the gift of God,” refers just to “faith” or to having been saved by grace through faith.)

But, in Romans 2:16, St. Paul seemed to support a more Catholic emphasis on good works. He wrote that, “God will judge people’s hidden works through Christ Jesus.” St. James chimes in later with some clarification: James 2:14-17  What good is it, my brothers, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can that faith save him? If a brother or sister has nothing to wear and has no food for the day, and one of you says to them, “Go in peace, keep warm, and eat well,” but you do not give them the necessities of the body, what good is it? So also faith of itself, if it does not have works, is dead. (It is also worth considering how the Jewish “works of the law” are different from what we identify today as “corporal and spiritual works of mercy” aligned with the Two Greatest Commandments and other direct instructions of Jesus.)

And, by the way, the Wikipedia article on Romans has a section labeled Catholic Interpretation. Check it out and see if you agree.

Questions and issues such as these can be used to illustrate the difference between Systematic Theology and Biblical Theology. Here is an article with helpful discussion of the difference. I  love it because I always say that I enjoy looking at the Bible from 50,000 feet more than digging into short passages or verses. So, 15,000 feet is about the same. I recommend the entire article.

“…another way to imagine systematic theology is that it is a 15,000 ft view of the Bible. Imagine you are on top of a mountain, and below you is scripture laid out from beginning to end. You can make a lot of connections this way!”

“But biblical theology takes a different approach. This time, you are seeing the Bible from the ground. You traverse hills, wander in the desert, and cross rivers. Instead of plucking ideas from Genesis, Matthew, and Revelation to make one statement about God, you only make statements based on what is right in front of you at a given moment.”

I have clear memory of the instructions of the Greek/NT professor at the seminary explaining that when writing a paper on Romans Chapter 2, for example, don’t include references to anything but Romans 2 except perhaps parallel writings of the same author. Focus on what that text says, it’s literary form and structure, any translation or grammar issues, important words, the context within which it was written, and what the words meant to those who wrote and read them. So, looking at James while writing about Romans would be a violation of that principle and more Systematic rather than Biblical theology.

Both approaches have great value, but some of us are just big picture folks and some love digging into the details. I would point to the Catechism of the Catholic Church as a good example of Systematic Theology based on Sacred Scripture and other early traditions and teachings of the Church (which, by the way, do not violate Sacred Scripture).

It will be helpful when reading from Romans over the next few weeks to remember who Paul was and consider whatever we are reading in the context of the full Epistle and in the context of all of Sacred Scripture, the full revelation of God, the whole story from chaos through creation, the fall, the call of Abraham, the progress from polytheism through henotheism to monotheism, the Law and the Prophets, the Incarnation, the Passion and Resurrection, to The Church.


October 9, 2019 – The Catacombs

Thanks to Father Fryml for discussion of his recent pilgrimage to Rome with special emphasis on the Catacombs, burial places around Rome of many Christian martyrs with displays of important early Christian art.

In the Catechism

I checked the Catechism to see what references might be therein about the Catacombs. The word is found in only one place, the section on The Eucharist, and it is a reference to the art found in the Catacombs.

1368 – The Eucharist is also the sacrifice of the Church. the Church which is the Body of Christ participates in the offering of her Head. With him, she herself is offered whole and entire. She unites herself to his intercession with the Father for all men. In the Eucharist the sacrifice of Christ becomes also the sacrifice of the members of his Body. the lives of the faithful, their praise, sufferings, prayer, and work, are united with those of Christ and with his total offering, and so acquire a new value. Christ’s sacrifice present on the altar makes it possible for all generations of Christians to be united with his offering. In the catacombs the Church is often represented as a woman in prayer, arms outstretched in the praying position. Like Christ who stretched out his arms on the cross, through him, with him, and in him, she offers herself and intercedes for all men.


New Advent Catholic Encyclopedia

There is a discussion of the catacombs from a Catholic viewpoint in the New Advent Catholic Encyclopedia, lots of interesting information hidden in long and wordy paragraphs. you can read it HERE. I just wish they had better editors and some way to hide the multiple hot-links for easier reading.

Helpful Definitions:

  • alluvial deposits – materials deposited by rivers – not suitable for catacomb construction
  • tufo – soft volcanic rock from which the catacombs were carved (example below)

There is a more-informative and easier-to-read article from Church-Pop, a very strange and suspicious sounding name, which turns out to be “part of the EWTN network” and “under the spiritual patronage of Our Lady of Perpetual Help.” Check it out at the link below. Lots of pictures of the ancient art and simple explanations.

A Tour of the Ancient Christian Art of the Roman Catacombs

It is interesting that the Catholic Encyclopedia states that, “The catacombs are, therefore, entirely of Christian construction,” while the EWTN link states that by the second century burial in such places had “started to become fashionable for Romans,” even though “These underground tombs, or catacombs, were most famously used by early Christians for burying their dead, particularly martyrs, and sometimes for celebrating the divine liturgy.”

If you find out the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, tell me where to look.

Apparently there are forty to sixty such underground chambers, some many kilometers long, but only four are open for tours. Today all are under the jurisdiction and care of the Vatican.

We were in Rome in 2006 but missed the catacombs. They will be top priority if and when we return.


Oct 2, 2019 – The Catechism on Angels

Angels in the Catholic Catechism

I fully understand Father Linsky’s comments about the time he spent studying about angels before our October 2 MPG meeting. After all, here it is eight days later before I post anything. It’s not an easy subject. I started out looking at all the approximately 500 uses of the Hebrew and Greek words often translated as Angel in English Bibles. That is a long list and is complicated by the fact that the words are sometimes translated as “messenger” instead of angel. Sometimes they are used in the phrase, “messenger of the Lord” and I’m wondering if that is synonymous with angel.  So I gave up on that approach and am going to focus on the Catechism to try to be sure I don’t stray too far from Catholic tradition.

If you aren’t using the Vatican online Catechism, you are missing a wonderful resource. I usually begin with this alphabetical word list index which is found at: http://www.vatican.va/archive/ENG0015/_FA.HTM

If you are interested in angels, just click on the A and get a list of all words found in the Catechism beginning with A. Scroll down till you find angel. Here is the section that includes angel and angels as well as other curiosities such as Anglicans and andmultiply. Oh well, I guess that proves the Vatican, or at least their programmers are not infallible. By the way, the word Anglicans shows up only in a footnote for some document by John Henry Cardinal Newman. From this list we also learn that the word and shows up 7,930 times in the Catechism. It would be 7,931 without the following concatenation error.

Since angels is found 60 times and angel only 24 times, I clicked on angel to get this list of the 24 instances, all with hot links.

Looking over the list, it is easy to see that there is a lot of information about angels in 329. Clicking on the first of those, we learn that 329 is in Paragraph 4 on the Creeds and references the creation of heaven and earth in the Apostles’ Creed and of all that is seen and unseen in the Nicene Creed. So, angels are part of the creation. Below is copied the section on the Angels, the teaching of the Catholic Church. Please enjoy it.


The existence of angels – a truth of faith

328 The existence of the spiritual, non-corporeal beings that Sacred Scripture usually calls “angels” is a truth of faith. the witness of Scripture is as clear as the unanimity of Tradition.

Who are they?

329 – St. Augustine says: “‘Angel’ is the name of their office, not of their nature. If you seek the name of their nature, it is ‘spirit’; if you seek the name of their office, it is ‘angel’: from what they are, ‘spirit’, from what they do, ‘angel.'”188 With their whole beings the angels are servants and messengers of God. Because they “always behold the face of my Father who is in heaven” they are the “mighty ones who do his word, hearkening to the voice of his word”.189

330 – As purely spiritual creatures angels have intelligence and will: they are personal and immortal creatures, surpassing in perfection all visible creatures, as the splendour of their glory bears witness.190

Christ “with all his angels”

331- Christ is the centre of the angelic world. They are his angels: “When the Son of man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him. . “191 They belong to him because they were created through and for him: “for in him all things were created in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or authorities – all things were created through him and for him.”192 They belong to him still more because he has made them messengers of his saving plan: “Are they not all ministering spirits sent forth to serve, for the sake of those who are to obtain salvation?”193

332 – Angels have been present since creation and throughout the history of salvation, announcing this salvation from afar or near and serving the accomplishment of the divine plan: they closed the earthly paradise; protected Lot; saved Hagar and her child; stayed Abraham’s hand; communicated the law by their ministry; led the People of God; announced births and callings; and assisted the prophets, just to cite a few examples.194 Finally, the angel Gabriel announced the birth of the Precursor and that of Jesus himself.195

333 – From the Incarnation to the Ascension, the life of the Word incarnate is surrounded by the adoration and service of angels. When God “brings the firstborn into the world, he says: ‘Let all God’s angels worship him.'”196 Their song of praise at the birth of Christ has not ceased resounding in the Church’s praise: “Glory to God in the highest!”197 They protect Jesus in his infancy, serve him in the desert, strengthen him in his agony in the garden, when he could have been saved by them from the hands of his enemies as Israel had been.198 Again, it is the angels who “evangelize” by proclaiming the Good News of Christ’s Incarnation and Resurrection.199 They will be present at Christ’s return, which they will announce, to serve at his judgement.200

The angels in the life of the Church

334 – In the meantime, the whole life of the Church benefits from the mysterious and powerful help of angels.201

335 – In her liturgy, the Church joins with the angels to adore the thrice-holy God. She invokes their assistance (in the Roman Canon’s Supplices te rogamus. . .[“Almighty God, we pray that your angel…”]; in the funeral liturgy’s In Paradisum deducant te angeli. . .[“May the angels lead you into Paradise. . .”]). Moreover, in the “Cherubic Hymn” of the Byzantine Liturgy, she celebrates the memory of certain angels more particularly (St. Michael, St. Gabriel, St. Raphael, and the guardian angels).

336 – From infancy to death human life is surrounded by their watchful care and intercession.202 “Beside each believer stands an angel as protector and shepherd leading him to life.”203 Already here on earth the Christian life shares by faith in the blessed company of angels and men united in God.

That is a lot of information, so I’m quitting for now, even though fallen angels show up in 391-395. I hope some of you will enjoy poking around in the Catechism looking for treasure. 

Extra Credit Reading Assignment

Given the discussion yesterday about Ezra and associates and the freeing of the Jews of Judah to return from captivity in Babylon to Jerusalem and rebuild the destroyed temple, and given the Office of Readings Ezekiel reading today about some future reunion of the divided kingdoms, Israel and Judah, I just started poking around on the internet and found two very interesting write-ups on Jewish history of that time.

One is a very secular description on Wikipedia, no mention of God at all, but the same basic history we read in the Old Testament. You can read the article HERE and below are a map and a teaser quip from it. This secular description can give us confidence in the accuracy of OT accounts.

The second is by a Church of God (Fundamentalist I suppose) pastor who views the whole story as we do, events happening and yet to happen in fulfillment of prophecy. I’m not suggesting all he says is fundamental truth but am suggesting that reading his essay sheds interesting light on some issues most of us never think about or are even aware of. You can find his very readable essay HERE.

Just for a little more context, here is a chart you have seen before, the Abraham to Jesus timeline. Note the division of the Kingdom about midway.

In the Catechism

If you haven’t ever searched the Catechism online, HERE is the place to do it. Just use the alphabetical listing to search for any word.

The word Israel shows up 101 times.

The word Jerusalem shows up 68 times.

The word Judah, the name of the Southern Kingdom, shows up zero times. That is interesting. Same as Babylon and Cyrus. Ezra shows up twice but only as names of the OT Book. 

Sep 25th, 2019 – The Temples

The Temples in Jewish History

There is a simple 11/9/2018 post on this blog about the history of the Jewish Temples. Today’s post goes a bit deeper into the Jewish and NT views of the Temple(s) and into the historical context.

Maybe the Jewish view of their history isn’t particularly important to us since we view it from the perspective of Jesus Christ as fulfillment of the Law and Prophets. But Jesus spent time in (or at) the Temple, cleansed it, and proclaimed himself to be the Temple, and much of the post-resurrection activity of the early Church as described in Acts was in and around the Temple so we should probably think about what it meant to the first century Jews and the importance of it to Jews of today. Scan the lists at the end of this post of verses from Matthew, Luke, and Acts noting the distinction between “the Temple” and “the Temple area.”

Here is the basic Jewish understanding from jewishvirtuallibrary.org in their words. Click the links for brief and interesting information.

  1. Solomon’s Temple built around 3000 years ago (~1000 BC) and destroyed by the Babylonians in 586 BC.
  2. The Second Temple was built beginning 70 years later when the Jewish leaders who had been exiled to Babylon, led by Ezra and Nehemiah, were allowed to return and rebuild. Note the fourth paragraph at this link and hover over “Herod” to read about the four Roman kings of Judea named Herod and about King Herod’s expansion of the Temple.

The Second Temple was destroyed (after Herod had spent all that money) by the Romans in 70 AD. So for almost 2000 years the Jews have had no Temple.

The Ark of the Covenant which held the Ten Commandments was lost when the Babylonians destroyed Solomon’s temple. Read all about it HERE. (There is one group of Christians claiming to possess the Ark today. Click on the link to find out who they are. Indiana Jones’s fruitless search is mentioned.)

Muslims took control of the land the two Temples had occupied and, in 692 AD, built a mosque and dome which are still there. For the current Jewish view of the Temple, read the last three paragraphs at this link.

And, just so you know, there are many Christians today who believe that rebuilding of the Temple is essential to and will be a clear sign of the Second Coming of Jesus. You can read a pretty good explanation of that viewpoint HERE. Even among Catholics, it is a somewhat controversial issue as you can read HERE. I think it is good for us to be aware of all the issues surrounding our faith so we aren’t caught standing with dropped jaw when we hear about them. But I’m not worrying about this issue, instead sticking with Mark Twain: “It ain’t those parts of the Bible that I can’t understand that bother me, it is the parts that I do understand.”

The Divided Kingdom History and the Temple Location

After the reign of King Solomon, the Jews had some major disagreements and divided their “Promised Land” into two kingdoms, the Northern Kingdom, Israel, and the Southern Kingdom, Judah. As explained in more detail in this earlier post, the Northern Kingdom was defeated and occupied by Assyria (721 BC) and the residents became the infamous Samaritans because of intermarriage and worship of false gods. The Southern Kingdom, the location of Jerusalem and the Temple, was defeated but not occupied by Babylon in 586 BC. Leaders were exiled for 70 years while farmers were left at home to till the land. As a result of those different approaches, purity of race and religion were better maintained in Judah than in Israel. Read more HERE.

Here is a diagram from that earlier post.


 The Temple in the New Testament

“Temple” in Matthew, the “Jewish Gospel.”

NAB Matthew 4:5 Then the devil took him to the holy city, and made him stand on the parapet of the temple,

NAB Matthew 12:5 Or have you not read in the law that on the sabbath the priests serving in the temple violate the sabbath and are innocent?

6 I say to you, something greater than the temple is here.

NAB Matthew 17:24 When they came to Capernaum, the collectors of the temple tax approached Peter and said, “Doesn’t your teacher pay the temple tax?”

27 But that we may not offend them, go to the sea, drop in a hook, and take the first fish that comes up. Open its mouth and you will find a coin worth twice the temple tax. Give that to them for me and for you.”

NAB Matthew 21:12 Jesus entered the temple area and drove out all those engaged in selling and buying there. He overturned the tables of the money changers and the seats of those who were selling doves.

14 The blind and the lame approached him in the temple area, and he cured them.

15 When the chief priests and the scribes saw the wondrous things he was doing, and the children crying out in the temple area, “Hosanna to the Son of David,” they were indignant

23 When he had come into the temple area, the chief priests and the elders of the people approached him as he was teaching and said, “By what authority are you doing these things? And who gave you this authority?”

NAB Matthew 23:16 “Woe to you, blind guides, who say, ‘If one swears by the temple, it means nothing, but if one swears by the gold of the temple, one is obligated.’

17 Blind fools, which is greater, the gold, or the temple that made the gold sacred?

21 one who swears by the temple swears by it and by him who dwells in it;

NAB Matthew 24:1 Jesus left the temple area and was going away, when his disciples approached him to point out the temple buildings.

NAB Matthew 26:55 At that hour Jesus said to the crowds, “Have you come out as against a robber, with swords and clubs to seize me? Day after day I sat teaching in the temple area, yet you did not arrest me.

61 who stated, “This man said, ‘I can destroy the temple of God and within three days rebuild it.'”

NAB Matthew 27:5 Flinging the money into the temple, he departed and went off and hanged himself.

6 The chief priests gathered up the money, but said, “It is not lawful to deposit this in the temple treasury, for it is the price of blood.”

40 and saying, “You who would destroy the temple and rebuild it in three days, save yourself, if you are the Son of God, (and) come down from the cross!”

“Temple” in Luke, the “Gentile Gospel.”

NAB Luke 2:27 He came in the Spirit into the temple; and when the parents brought in the child Jesus to perform the custom of the law in regard to him,

37 and then as a widow until she was eighty-four. She never left the temple, but worshiped night and day with fasting and prayer.

46 After three days they found him in the temple, sitting in the midst of the teachers, listening to them and asking them questions,

NAB Luke 4:9 Then he led him to Jerusalem, made him stand on the parapet of the temple, and said to him, “If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down from here,

NAB Luke 11:51 from the blood of Abel to the blood of Zechariah who died between the altar and the temple building. Yes, I tell you, this generation will be charged with their blood!

NAB Luke 18:10 “Two people went up to the temple area to pray; one was a Pharisee and the other was a tax collector.

NAB Luke 19:45 Then Jesus entered the temple area and proceeded to drive out those who were selling things,

47 And every day he was teaching in the temple area. The chief priests, the scribes, and the leaders of the people, meanwhile, were seeking to put him to death,

NAB Luke 20:1 One day as he was teaching the people in the temple area and proclaiming the good news, the chief priests and scribes, together with the elders, approached him

NAB Luke 21:5 While some people were speaking about how the temple was adorned with costly stones and votive offerings, he said,

37 During the day, Jesus was teaching in the temple area, but at night he would leave and stay at the place called the Mount of Olives.

38 And all the people would get up early each morning to listen to him in the temple area.

NAB Luke 22:4 and he went to the chief priests and temple guards to discuss a plan for handing him over to them.

52 And Jesus said to the chief priests and temple guards and elders who had come for him, “Have you come out as against a robber, with swords and clubs?

53 Day after day I was with you in the temple area, and you did not seize me; but this is your hour, the time for the power of darkness.”

NAB Luke 23:45 because of an eclipse of the sun. Then the veil of the temple was torn down the middle.

NAB Luke 24:53 and they were continually in the temple praising God.

“Temple” in Acts, the Early Church

NAB Acts 2:46 Every day they devoted themselves to meeting together in the temple area and to breaking bread in their homes. They ate their meals with exultation and sincerity of heart,

NAB Acts 3:1 Now Peter and John were going up to the temple area for the three o’clock hour of prayer.

2 And a man crippled from birth was carried and placed at the gate of the temple called “the Beautiful Gate” every day to beg for alms from the people who entered the temple.

3 When he saw Peter and John about to go into the temple, he asked for alms.

8 He leaped up, stood, and walked around, and went into the temple with them, walking and jumping and praising God.

10 they recognized him as the one who used to sit begging at the Beautiful Gate of the temple, and they were filled with amazement and astonishment at what had happened to him.

NAB Acts 4:1 While they were still speaking to the people, the priests, the captain of the temple guard, and the Sadducees confronted them,

NAB Acts 5:20 “Go and take your place in the temple area, and tell the people everything about this life.”

21 When they heard this, they went to the temple early in the morning and taught. When the high priest and his companions arrived, they convened the Sanhedrin, the full senate of the Israelites, and sent to the jail to have them brought in.

24 When they heard this report, the captain of the temple guard and the chief priests were at a loss about them, as to what this would come to.

25 Then someone came in and reported to them, “The men whom you put in prison are in the temple area and are teaching the people.”

42 And all day long, both at the temple and in their homes, they did not stop teaching and proclaiming the Messiah, Jesus.

NAB Acts 14:13 And the priest of Zeus, whose temple was at the entrance to the city, brought oxen and garlands to the gates, for he together with the people intended to offer sacrifice.

NAB Acts 19:27 The danger grows, not only that our business will be discredited, but also that the temple of the great goddess Artemis will be of no account, and that she whom the whole province of Asia and all the world worship will be stripped of her magnificence.”

35 Finally the town clerk restrained the crowd and said, “You Ephesians, what person is there who does not know that the city of the Ephesians is the guardian of the temple of the great Artemis and of her image that fell from the sky?

37 The men you brought here are not temple robbers, nor have they insulted our goddess.

NAB Acts 21:26 So Paul took the men, and on the next day after purifying himself together with them entered the temple to give notice of the day when the purification would be completed and the offering made for each of them.

27 When the seven days were nearly completed, the Jews from the province of Asia noticed him in the temple, stirred up the whole crowd, and laid hands on him,

28 shouting, “Fellow Israelites, help us. This is the man who is teaching everyone everywhere against the people and the law and this place, and what is more, he has even brought Greeks into the temple and defiled this sacred place.”

29 For they had previously seen Trophimus the Ephesian in the city with him and supposed that Paul had brought him into the temple.

30 The whole city was in turmoil with people rushing together. They seized Paul and dragged him out of the temple, and immediately the gates were closed.

NAB Acts 22:17 “After I had returned to Jerusalem and while I was praying in the temple, I fell into a trance

NAB Acts 24:6 He even tried to desecrate our temple, but we arrested him.

12 Neither in the temple, nor in the synagogues, nor anywhere in the city did they find me arguing with anyone or instigating a riot among the people.

18 While I was so engaged, they found me, after my purification, in the temple without a crowd or disturbance.

NAB Acts 25:8 In defending himself Paul said, “I have committed no crime either against the Jewish law or against the temple or against Caesar.”

NAB Acts 26:21 That is why the Jews seized me (when I was) in the temple and tried to kill me.

NT Creeds (Statements of Theological Truth, Belief)

I missed Wednesday because of visit with brother and sister in Memphis, TN, home of the Blues. This is not what was discussed in the class, but the 1st Mass reading for Wednesday, 1 Timothy 3:14-16, includes what is identified in the Orthodox Study Bible notes  as an “ancient Christian creed or hymn that is especially clear about the divinity of Jesus Christ.”

I thought that was very interesting because the notes also included other NT Creeds, some in these screen shots from the NABRE linked on this website. These are impressive, concise, and helpful statements of the Gospel, all focused on Jesus Christ.



Prayerfoundation.org put some effort into a more attractive display of these statements along with some others.


Sept 11, 2019

On this 18th anniversary of the event, Father Linsky asked how we were changed as a result of the September 11 attacks.

On that Tuesday morning, I was playing golf at Windermere Golf Course on Longcreek Plantation near Blythewood. One of the tee boxes was at the home of one of the men in our foursome, and, as we prepared to tee off, his wife came running from their house yelling, “We are under attack in New York City!”  Well, that certainly put a damper on the golf for that day.

I rushed home, only a mile or two away, and found Karen glued to the TV and on the phone with our son, Greg, who was living and working in Manhattan. All he and his co-workers knew was that there were lots of sirens in the streets and smoke from lower Manhattan, and he was relaying information from Karen to his co-workers about the attack and the falling of the towers.

I told her to find out where he could walk out of the city so I could get in the car and drive up there and meet him and bring him home. That is how serious it looked at that moment.

I don’t remember any particulars of the next seven days, except that Greg soon assured us that the attack was limited to the WTC and that he was fine and did not need to be evacuated. And I am pretty sure that one week later I was back on the golf course since that was our important and regularly scheduled Tuesday game. Saturday was an important golf day also, but I don’t know if I played on September 15th. I suspect I did.

About a year later, I began reducing my golfing activity and started classes at the Lutheran seminary, but, no, I apologize for a disappointing and anticlimactic ending, but I am not claiming that 9/11 had anything to do with that lifestyle change.

But, whatever the reason, I am thankful that I have not spent two days per week on the golf course for the past 18 years. That would have been a lot of golf, and I would probably have remained a sorry golfer and would have been too tired to do anything else worthwhile.

But, back to the original question, here is a short video about a Catholic priest, Father Judge, and a New York City fire fighter, Tom Colucci, for whom everything changed as a result of 9/11.

A Christian Nation?

As we were sharing thoughts this morning, the following questions went through my mind:

  1. Can the USA be reasonably considered a “Christian Nation?”
  2. Should the USA be considered a “Christian Nation?”
  3. Given that several Middle Eastern nations are clearly and proudly Islamic, is it reasonable that uninformed citizens there consider the USA a “Christian Nation?”
  4. Is there enough evidence to convict us of being a “Christian Nation?”
  5. Were the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan appropriate “Christian” responses to the 911 attacks?

I wonder how our Triune God, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit,  would have The Church, the Body of Christ, respond to such as THIS.

Loving the Enemy

The story of Jesus and the Samaritan woman is very informative about what the relationship between Christians and Muslims should be. The first two sentences shed some light on where this story is going because Jews would often avoid Samaria, enemy territory, when traveling from Judea to Galilee. So maybe the reason Jesus “had to pass through Samaria” was theological and not geographical. We can be sure that the Apostle John did not use that phrase lightly. You can read the whole beautiful story HERE.

If you wonder about the original language and whether it was translated accurately, it is always helpful to look at a list of the English translations of the verse to see if some translated it differently. You can easily create such as list as HERE. It is interesting that only two of these leave out the necessity angle and those two, VOICE and PHILLIPS, are not translations but paraphrases, so, beware of paraphrases. Message (MSG) is a paraphrase also, but it includes the necessity of passing through Samaria. Here is the Greek word.

And, by the way, here is an earlier post on why the Jews and Samaritans were at odds.