April 18th – Gospel of John (6:35-40)

Gospel Readings This Week

Weekday Gospel Readings this week were all from John 6, The Bread of Life chapter.

  •  Monday – 22-29 (Day after the feeding of the 5000)
  • Tuesday – 30-35 (Jesus connects what he offers to manna from Heaven)
  • Wednesday – 35-40 (“Bread of Life” discourse)
  • Thursday – 44-51 (“Living Bread” different from manna)
  • Friday – 52-59 (Bottom line: “Unless you eat and drink…”)
  • Saturday – 60-69 (Division and self-excommunication)

I’m always curious about the verses left out, e.g. 41-43, but I’m not going to try to follow that rabbit trail  here. Tomorrow, Sunday, we move on to “The Good Shepherd” discourse in John 10.

The Gospel of John

The introduction to John’s Gospel in The New Testament: New Catholic Version makes these key points:

  • John very different from the other three Gospels
  • Author unidentified but traditionally attributed to John the apostle
  • Written late, probably about sixty years after the resurrection
  • Discourses replace parables (No parables in John)
  • A few significant events, seven signs, replace multiple stories, miracles, sayings
  • Not chronological, unlike Matthew, Mark, and Luke
  • Beautifully constructed theological drama
  • Full revelation of the Glory of Christ

Not in the Gospel of John

We find no accounts of the birth, baptism (mentioned only), transfiguration,or temptation of Jesus or of his institution of The Lord’s Supper. There are no exorcisms. There is no call for repentance.

Why no institution of the Lord’s supper? Maybe because it was a practice thoroughly incorporated into the life of the community at the time of this writing and needed no explanation.

And, instead of the birth narrative which may also have been completely understood, the Gospel begins with “In the beginning…“, same as Genesis, to emphasize the eternality and divinity of Jesus which may not have been thoroughly understood. It was to be another 250 years before that issue was pinned down in the creeds.

Only in the Gospel of John

Only in John do we find:

  • The Cana wedding miracle important to Catholic understanding of Mary,
  • The encounter with Nicodemus and the “born again” discussion,
  • The beautiful long story of the Samaritan woman at the well who went to her village and said, “Come and see a man who told me everything I have ever done. Could this be the Christ?” (Early evangelist)
  • The account of the healing of the man born blind, reactions to it.
  • The raising of Lazarus who, unlike Jesus, would have to die again.
  • The conversion and confession of Thomas.
  • The washing of the feet of the disciples at the Last Supper.
  • The woman caught in the act of adultery and response of Jesus to it.
  • The miraculous catch of 153 large fish after Easter.

Some of these longer accounts, The Woman at the Well and The Man Born Blind in particular, are beautifully constructed dramas and could be the basis of novels, films, or plays.

Another interesting exception is that while the feeding of the 5000 is found in all four Gospels, only in John is there the small boy who had five barley loaves and two fish.

The Seven Signs in the Gospel of John

  1. Conversion of water to wine at Cana wedding – John 2
  2. Healing of son of an official – John 4
  3. Jesus heals a blind man on the sabbath – John 5
  4. Jesus feeds the 5000 – John 6
  5. Jesus walks on the water – John 6
  6. Jesus heals a man born blind – John 9
  7. Jesus raises Lazarus to life – John 11

One thing we know is the reason the Gospel of John was written and the reason for the choices about what to include: John 20:30-31 – Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of (his) disciples that are not written in this book. But these are written that you may (come to) believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that through this belief you may have life in his name.

Here is some final food for thought, frequency of the word “believe” in the Gospels.

 

 

 

April 11 – Stanislaus, Sanhedrin, Schism, Separation

Well, we did cover several topics on April 11.

Saint Stanislaus, Patron Saint of Poland

You can see the exhibit below and listen to the MP3 by going HERE.

stanislaus

First Century Jewish Leadership

The Sanhedrin (Jewish source)

Pharisees, Sadducees, and Essenes (Jewish Source)

The Great Schism of 1054 (TMI, I suppose)

Wikipedia Article

Quote from Article: Apart from Rome in the West, “many major Churches of the East claim to have been founded by the apostles: Antioch by Peter and Paul, Alexandria by Mark, Constantinople by Andrew, Cyprus by Barnabas, Ethiopia by Matthew, India by Thomas, Edessa in eastern Syria by Thaddeus, Armenia by Bartholomew, Georgia by Simon the Zealot.”[26] Famous also are the seven churches of Asia (the Roman province of Asia), mentioned in the opening chapters of the Book of Revelation.

This map is also in the Wikipedia article.

800px-Great_Schism_1054_with_former_borders

Bogomils definition HERE.

How to Get Excommunicated

A 21st Century View published in Catholic Herald

 

 

Feasts and Solemnities and Readings that Accompany Them

Introduction

I know some of us have the Liturgy of the Hours and the Liturgical Calendar down pat, but this post is for those who, like me, are still confused and wonder sometimes why we are where we are in Christian Prayer and suffer confusion with some of the terms and language used.

I wrote on January 2 about the high frequency of Psalms 63 and 149 showing up in Morning Prayer (Why These Psalms), but I’d like to say a little more about them and about the associated canticle from Daniel 3 and the solemnities and feasts that are the occasions of their use.

We don’t encounter them that often on Wednesday mornings, but they are by far the most common and most frequent readings in Morning Prayer.  Every time Christian Prayer instructs us, “Psalms and canticle from Sunday, Week I, 707,” we are going to be praying these words.

In summary, they are used for:

  1. Every Week 1 Sunday (13 times per year).
  2. All Solemnities and Feasts.
  3. The six days following Easter Sunday and Christmas Day.

Note: For information on the differences between Solemnities and Feasts, look HERE. There is another category, Memorials, which does not rate the special readings.

So, those three readings are used for Morning Prayer in the Liturgy of the Hours fifty to sixty days a year or about 15% of the days. No others get that kind of use except the Invitatories and the Benedictus.

Solemnities and Feasts

Here is the list of Solemnities and Feasts for 2018, few of which happen to fall on our Wednesday meeting days. I know we all know what HDO stands for! Solemnities outrank Feasts and therefore get the larger font.

Psalm 63

This is a beautiful and poetic Psalm, and it is easy to see the value of praying it on a regular basis, so long as only verses 2-9 are used. And those are the only verses in the Morning Prayer, an editor somewhere, sometime, having decided to omit verses 10-12 about my enemies coming to ruin, going down to the netherworld, and being prey of jackals. The mouths of liars being shut doesn’t sound so bad, but picking out the liars is not always easy. Here are the words; read them and pray, at least through verse 9. Check out the footnotes.

Psalm 149

This Psalm starts on a high note about praising the LORD and about the relationship of the people of Israel with the LORD. But the last few verses, which are still part of Morning Prayer, descend into talk of retribution, punishment, shackles, etc. I’m surprised those were not excluded as were the last three of Psalm 63. Footnotes are included in the screenshot below.

Daniel 3:56-88

These are beautiful words from Daniel, labeled Prayer of Azariah, about all of creation blessing the LORD. These verses are not in the Hebrew Bible and therefore are not a part of the Protestant Canon. They were part of the Greek translation of the Hebrew Bible, the Septuagint, used by Greek-speaking people at the time of Jesus. They are, therefore, part of the Catholic Canon of Sacred Scripture. It is always a pleasure to pray these words, wondering if anything got left out.

A footnote in The Catholic Study Bible says of Daniel 3:24-90, “These verses are additions to the Aramaic text of Daniel, translated from the Greek form of the book. They were probably first composed in Hebrew or Aramaic, but are no longer extant in the original language. The Roman Catholic Church has always regarded them as part of the canonical Scriptures.

 

 

 

April 4, 2018 – Preventing Problems by Loving God

Given our discussion on April 4, I would like to follow up with some personal opinions supported, I hope, by authoritative sources, The Catechism of the Catholic Church, Humanae Vitae, and Sacred Scripture.

Catechism of the Catholic Church

 Just for context, it may be helpful to find where in the Catechism the two separate issues of homosexuality and homosexual acts are addressed. The Catechism has four major parts.

So there it is, in bold print, in the section about the sixth commandment in Part Three about Life in Christ. And here are the pertinent words, the section in bold print above, in a screen shot from the Vatican Website.

So the topic occupies about a dozen lines of approximately 700 pages of the Catechism. All of Article 6 can be read at the Vatican website HERE.

I think of human physiology and the natural reproductive processes as secular explanations or defenses of the phrase, “objectively disordered,” which is certainly insulting and offensive to many of our friends and acquaintances.

HUMANAE VITAE (HUMAN LIFE)

The screen shot above is of the title of a 1968 Pope Paul VI Encyclical, and the entire letter can be read HERE in just fifteen or twenty minutes. It is worth time and attention since it  addresses Church teachings on marriage, sex, reproduction, and parenthood in response to the “recent course of human society and the concomitant changes.” For those of us who lived the 1960’s, it is easy to remember the issues, and they have only become more complex and difficult in the intervening decades. (Having been staunchly Protestant during all my reproductive years, I cannot tell you how I would have dealt with these Church teachings on the subject if I had been knowledgeable about and subject to them.) Humanae Vitae, by the way, does not mention either homosexuality or homosexual behaviors.

Sacred Scripture

Sacred Scripture speaks directly to the issue of homosexual acts and other sexual behaviors inconsistent with creation principles and Church teaching about sex, marriage, and family but not so much to the temptations of same sex attraction (homosexuality). One of the most famous and often quoted passages is from the first chapter of St. Paul’s letter to the Romans whom he was preparing to visit on his last missionary journey. (It is interesting that he never made that journey as planned but was arrested in Jerusalem and taken to Rome only in chains. See Acts 27 – 28.) Below is a screen shot of that passage from the first chapter of Romans headlined “Humanity Lost Without the Gospel.”

Verses 16-23 seem to be identifying those about whom he is writing (“those who suppress the truth by their wickedness”) and the basic mistake they made (For although they knew God, they did not accord him glory as God or give him thanks.) Basically, they had violated the First and Greatest Commandment.

I recall a pastor of a few decades past who liked to quip that whenever we see a “therefore” in the Bible, we need to be sure to figure out what it is there for. So, verse 24 begins with “therefore” and it seems that all the sinful behaviors described in the following verses are the result of that basic mistake the people made: failure to obey the first and greatest commandment. The list of resulting sinful behaviors is interesting and worthy of some attention.

  • Impurity
  • Worship of creature rather than creator
  • Unnatural sex relations
  • Wickedness, evil, greed, and malice
  • Envy, murder, rivalry, treachery, and spite
  • Gossiping and scandal mongering
  • Hating God
  • Being insolent, haughty, boastful, ingeniously wicked, rebellious toward parents
  • Being senseless, faithless, heartless, ruthless
  • Doing and turning a blind eye to evil things deserving death.

I count 26 dangerous behaviors, though one of those seems to get a disproportionate share of attention and enthusiastic condemnation by people of faith today.

Who in the world could St. Paul have been talking about? Here are a couple of articles about beliefs and life styles of the ancient Romans, whom Paul was about to visit. There is certainly little evidence of worship of the One True God and lots of evidence of almost unbelievable narcissism and sexual misbehavior. So, perhaps it was them he spoke of.

From HistoryExtra.com
From Psychology Today

Just to continue the inclusion of and focus on context, it is worthwhile to see what St. Paul wrote immediately following that list of sins in Romans 1. Here is a screen shot of the first eleven verses of Chapter 2 from the NABRE. Ouch.

I guess I had best keep my eye on the prize and avoid getting bogged down in peripheral issues. If we start from the center and work outward, we may largely avoid the dark periphery (and the sin of passing judgement). 

 

 

Final Note: Here is a link to information about the book Paul Bartow recommended during the discussion.  He comments, “It’s a great crash course on how to live Biblically as a man and as a father. It also includes some Scripture to study as well as how we men can encourage each other in our walk with Christ. I’d be happy to discuss the book if anyone is willing to read it.”

There is a possibly similar Catholic organization for men called St. Joseph’s Covenant Keepers apparently formed in response to the popular Promise Keepers of the 1990’s.

March 28th – Why, Judas, Why?

Father Linsky lead the group in a discussion of betrayal and of the reason(s) that Judas Iscariot chose to betray Jesus.

A search of the NT for words spoken by Judas finds 54 attributed to him. Although his seven last words are in the form of a confession of sin, it is interesting to note the absence of any confession of belief in Jesus. So, maybe that is the reason for the betrayal…he just never believed and had his own agenda. Here are the 54 words, hopefully in chronological order:

“Why was this oil not sold for three hundred days’ wages and given to the poor?” John 12:5  “What are you willing to give me if I hand him over to you?” – Matthew 26:15  “The man I shall kiss is the one; arrest him and lead him away securely.” Mark 14:44  “Hail, Rabbi!” – Matthew 26:49  “I have sinned in betraying innocent blood.” – Matthew 27:4

Key Point: There is one primary thing Judas never said, as far as we know from the New Testament: “I believe that thou art the Christ, the Son of God.”

Below are the passages from the NABRE containing the 22 mentions in the New Testament of the name Judas, five times in Matthew, three in Mark, four in Luke, two in Acts, and eight in John.  These are screen shots of the online version as explained below.

Three of the 22 mentions are in very similar but not identical synoptic gospel listings of the twelve apostles. All list Simon Peter first and Judas the betrayer last but there are interesting differences in order otherwise.

The next three mentions of Judas Iscariot are in parallel synoptic Gospel accounts of his visit to the chief priests and his offer to betray Jesus. There are interesting differences, especially the Luke comment about Satan entering into Judas at this point.

The next four mentions are also from parallel synoptic gospel accounts about the kiss of betrayal. There are interesting differences here also. Judas is mentioned one time each in Matthew and Mark, and twice in Luke so this brings the total to 10. It is interesting that, in Matthew’s account, Jesus addresses Judas as “Friend.”

Only Matthew gives an account of return of the thirty pieces of silver, suicide of Judas, and purchase of the new burial ground for foreigners.

It is interesting that St. Luke, author of Acts, gives a very different account of the use of the thirty pieces of silver and the death of Judas Iscariot.

Just to stick with the words of St. Luke in Acts before going to the Gospel of John, the name Judas shows up once in the account of the casting of lots to select Matthias as the replacement for Judas. The name Matthias shows up only these two times in the New Testament.

John, the last of the Gospels, probably written around sixty years after the resurrection, accounts for the last eight mentions of the name Judas. It is only there that we learn about his “concern” for the poor and his poor stewardship of the money bag. And, we get more details about the Last Supper.

Note the theologically significant “I AM‘ in John 18:5.

Note: All the screen shots of New Testament passages are from the online version of the New American Bible (Revised Edition) (NABRE). This easily searchable version is linked at stpetersmpg.blog and can be found HERE

For more information about the Gospels, the differences among them, help in understanding them, and reconciliation of Scripture and Tradition, supplementary material in The New Testament: New Catholic Version (NCV), Copyright 2015 by Catholic Book Publishing Company is very helpful. 

March 21, 2018 – Darryl Overslept


Yes, I woke up about 7:15, having failed to set my alarm, and am thankful for the extra sleep. Since I don’t know what subjects were discussed this morning, I will take the opportunity to call attention to the two passages we pray each Wednesday, the invitatory Psalm 95, and the Benedictus, the prayer of Zechariah. The translation used in the Liturgy of the Hours is a bit different from this New American Bible (Revised Edition) (NABRE). The footnotes from the Study Bible are included below also and are worthy of consideration.

Invitatory Psalms

There are four traditional Invitatory Psalms (24, 67, 95, and 100), and you can read them all here. Those who do the Morning Prayer daily  find all four Invitatory Psalms in use.

Benedictus

I am impressed with the Wikipedia articles on various faith subjects. Somebody is putting a lot of work into them. For example, here is the article on Benedictus, Song of Zachariah.

Included in the article are background, context, explanation of the text, and the text in Greek, Latin, and several English versions including the Douay-Rheims Bible.