Author Archives: Darryl Williams

About Darryl Williams

Skeptical Observer Looking for Permanent Fixes

Cleansing/Replacing an Ancient Temple

The Gospel reading this morning reminded me that I had created a diagram about the history of the Jewish Temple which might as well be shared when  the opportunity arises. It goes from the Exodus to today’s conflicts over Jerusalem.

I’m sure the Bible verses are difficult to read on the slide so here they are larger. These are just teasers. Look them up and read them in context if interested.

1. King David Feels Guilty, Plans Temple, Plan Rejected

2 Samuel 7:1-17  When King David was settled in his palace, and the LORD had given him rest from his enemies on every side,  2 he said to Nathan the prophet, “Here I am living in a house of cedar, while the ark of God dwells in a tent… Look it up in Bible for Rest of the Story.

2. King Solomon Builds the First Temple about 1000 BC

1 Kings 6:1-38 Excerpts:   In the four hundred and eightieth year from the departure of the Israelites from the land of Egypt, in the fourth year of Solomon’s reign over Israel, in the month of Ziv, which is the second month, the construction of the temple of the LORD was begun.  2 The temple which King Solomon built for the LORD was sixty cubits long, twenty wide, and twenty-five high…. Look it up in Bible for the rest of the story.

3. Solomon’s Temple Destroyed by Babylonians 586 BC, People Exiled

2 Kings 25:8-12  On the seventh day of the fifth month (this was in the nineteenth year of Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon), Nebuzaradan, captain of the bodyguard, came to Jerusalem as the representative of the king of Babylon.  9 He burned the house of the LORD, the palace of the king, and all the houses of Jerusalem; every large building was destroyed by fire.  Look it up in Bible for the rest of the story.

4. Exile Ends and Second Temple Construction Begins

Ezra 1:1-7   In the first year of Cyrus, king of Persia, in order to fulfill the word of the LORD spoken by Jeremiah, the LORD inspired King Cyrus of Persia to issue this proclamation throughout his kingdom, both by word of mouth and in writing:  2 “Thus says Cyrus, king of Persia: ‘All the kingdoms of the earth the LORD, the God of heaven, has given to me, and he has also charged me to build him a house in Jerusalem, which is in Judah.  Look it up in Bible for the rest of the story.

5. Herod Rebuilds, Updates, Expands the Second Temple

6. Jesus Cleanses the Temple – John 2:13-22 (Today’s Mass Reading)

7. Temple Destroyed by Romans in 70 AD

Summary of facts from Ancient History Encyclopedia

 

Nov 7 – Loving, Hating, and Renouncing

It’s Greek to Me

I raised the Greek question with Fr. Linsky this morning so looked up the answer at home. How to do that is about all I remember from the Greek course at the seminary. Here are the Greek words translated as hate, renounce, and love, and meanings of them according to Strong’s Greek Concordance . I’m doing it as a screen shot so I don’t have to worry about figuring out how to type Greek.

Thinking about the Luke 14 verses, it may help to remember that what Jesus was saying was literally true at that time and place. There was no “church” and he was gathering up disciples and taking them with him as he taught and trained them. If they couldn’t go with him, they could not be his disciples at that time and place so they had to part with or at least say goodbye to their possessions if they wanted to take the course, so to speak.

It is interesting that the Greek word sometimes translated Hate shows up 182 times in the Old Testament and 40 in the New Testament. It is sometimes translated as dislike, despise, or be the enemy of.

For the Greek word translated Love, Father Linsky mentioned the poverty of the English language in expressions of various kinds of love. We “love” football, french fries, grandchildren, and God. The ancient Greeks had six words expressing different kinds of love, and you can read about all of them HERE. It is interesting that eros never shows up in the New Testament.

The Greek word translated Renounce shows up a half dozen times in the New Testament, and here they are, illustrating different ways the Greek word is translated.

NAB Mark 6:46 And when he had taken leave of them, he went off to the mountain to pray.
NAB Luke 9:61 And another said, “I will follow you, Lord, but first let me say farewell to my family at home.”
NAB Luke 14:33 In the same way, everyone of you who does not renounce all his possessions cannot be my disciple.
NAB Acts 18:18 Paul remained for quite some time, and after saying farewell to the brothers he sailed for Syria, together with Priscilla and Aquila. At Cenchreae he had his hair cut because he had taken a vow.
21 but as he said farewell he promised, “I shall come back to you again, God willing.” Then he set sail from Ephesus.
NAB 2 Corinthians 2:13 I had no relief in my spirit because I did not find my brother Titus. So I took leave of them and went on to Macedonia.

Taxation and Freedom

Early in President Obama’s first term I became very interested in and started studying and blogging about government spending and taxing and impact of same on our freedoms including religious freedom. Here are some posts I did on the subject which I hope do a better job of explaining my point than what I said during our discussion.

Married Filing Jointly

Clamoring to Concede Freedom of Religion

The Sacred Tax Deduction

The simple answer to all the issues I raise is drastically lower flat tax rates, income, property, and sales taxes, across the board, with no exemptions, deductions, exclusions, or credits.  The current high nominal rates are required because so much is excluded from taxation.

If SC, for example, eliminated all the exclusions from the Sales Tax, the rate could be lowered to around 3% and still generate the same revenue. And, with such low rate flat tax systems in place, thousands of former lobbyists and IRS employees could clamor for jobs and Congress could get to work on important national issues instead of listening to lobbyists and  tinkering with the tax code for favors, votes, and donations.

Churches benefit from fire and police protection and good streets and sidewalks and should be quite happy to pay property taxes and sales taxes at low and fair rates to support such services. And churches should never be profit-making entities so should never incur income tax bills. There is more logic behind these simplistic statements in the links above. I have come to believe that it is regrettable that we have given up so much freedom as a result of government “favors” made possible with borrowed money at the cost of burdensome national debt.

But don’t worry about my radical thinking. Such changes will never happen because it would rob Congress of too much power.

I bet you are sorry I brought it up!

The Early Years of the Catholic Church in the USA

Below is the quote I loved about early US Catholicism without support by or interference of the government. It was actually from Wikipedia rather from the very interesting book I mentioned. Here is a link to the whole article, including the sad parts that were mentioned in the discussion this morning: History of the Catholic Church in the United States

“In the nineteenth century the Church set up an elaborate infrastructure, based on dioceses run by bishops appointed by the pope. Each diocese set up a network of parishes, schools, colleges, hospitals, orphanages and other charitable institutions. Many priests arrived from France and Ireland, but by 1900 Catholic seminaries were producing a sufficient supply of priests.”

And then the 1960’s and 1970’s arrived.

 

 

All Souls’ Day Readings on Last Things – Universalis

I was amazed this morning to see the number of optional Mass readings, all having to do with Last Things, that are included in the Universalis App. Reading all these together is inspirational and impresses me with the depth of Divine Mystery. You can read many but not all of them at the Universalis Website HERE.  The following note explains why I saw even more (32)  using the Universalis App which I highly recommend.

The readings on this page are from the Jerusalem Bible, which is used at Mass in most of the English-speaking world. The New American Bible readings, which are used at Mass in the United States, cannot be shown here for copyright reasons, but the Universalis apps, programs and downloads do contain them.

The readings include all the following focusing on Last Things:

  1. Wisdom 3:1-9
  2. Wisdom 4:7-14
  3. Isaiah 25:6-9
  4. Psalm 23:1-6
  5. Psalm 25:6-21
  6. Psalm 27:1-14
  7. Romans 5:5-11
  8. Romans 5:17-21
  9. Romans 6:3-9
  10. Romans 8:14-23
  11. Romans 8:31-39
  12. Romans 14:7-12
  13. 1 Corinthians 15:20-28
  14. 1 Corinthians 15:51-57
  15. 2 Corinthians 4:14-5:1
  16. 2 Corinthians 5:1- 10
  17. Philippians 3:20-21
  18. 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18
  19. 2 Timothy 2:8-13
  20. Matthew 5:1-12
  21. Matthew 11:25-30
  22. Matthew 25:31-46
  23. Luke 7:11-17
  24. Luke 23:44 – 24:6
  25. Luke 24:13-35
  26. John 5:24-29
  27. John 6:37-40
  28. John 6:51-58
  29. John 11:17-27
  30. John 11:32-45
  31. John 14:1-6

Looks like I missed one. Should have been 32. Don’t try to look them all up. Just go to the Universalis App and read right through them all.

 

October 31, 2018 – Way, Truth, Life, and a Narrow Gate

John 14:6 Jesus said to him, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.

I apologize for the length of this post but I know at at least those of us who are retired have time for considering these passages from Sacred Scripture.

Current Events – Pakistan

The article Father Linsky mentioned makes me think about the cultural differences between much of the Middle East and the Christian ideal, the first driven by fear of a distant and demanding god and the other, ideally, driven by the love demonstrated by the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob who gave his Only Son for us. It is a huge difference. We may have to wait to see the ideal.

The Narrow Gate and Jesus

The “gate” metaphor, in the Gospel reading of the day from St. Luke’s Gospel, shows up in three of the Gospels, Matthew, Luke, and John. Below are the three passages, in context, for meditation and consideration. May we all strive to continually increase our cooperation with God’s Love and Grace. There are some specifics in these passages about how to do that.

Matthew 7:1-29   “Stop judging, that you may not be judged.  2 For as you judge, so will you be judged, and the measure with which you measure will be measured out to you.  3 Why do you notice the splinter in your brother’s eye, but do not perceive the wooden beam in your own eye?  4 How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me remove that splinter from your eye,’ while the wooden beam is in your eye?  5 You hypocrite, remove the wooden beam from your eye first; then you will see clearly to remove the splinter from your brother’s eye.  6 “Do not give what is holy to dogs, or throw your pearls before swine, lest they trample them underfoot, and turn and tear you to pieces.  7 “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you.  8 For everyone who asks, receives; and the one who seeks, finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.  9 Which one of you would hand his son a stone when he asks for a loaf of bread,  10 or a snake when he asks for a fish?  11 If you then, who are wicked, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give good things to those who ask him.  12 “Do to others whatever you would have them do to you. This is the law and the prophets13 “Enter through the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the road broad that leads to destruction, and those who enter through it are many.  14 How narrow the gate and constricted the road that leads to life. And those who find it are few.  15 “Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but underneath are ravenous wolves.  16 By their fruits you will know them. Do people pick grapes from thornbushes, or figs from thistles?  17 Just so, every good tree bears good fruit, and a rotten tree bears bad fruit.  18 A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a rotten tree bear good fruit.  19 Every tree that does not bear good fruit will be cut down and thrown into the fire.  20 So by their fruits you will know them.  21 “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father in heaven.  22 Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name? Did we not drive out demons in your name? Did we not do mighty deeds in your name?’  23 Then I will declare to them solemnly, ‘I never knew you. Depart from me, you evildoers.’  24 “Everyone who listens to these words of mine and acts on them will be like a wise man who built his house on rock.  25 The rain fell, the floods came, and the winds blew and buffeted the house. But it did not collapse; it had been set solidly on rock.  26 And everyone who listens to these words of mine but does not act on them will be like a fool who built his house on sand.  27 The rain fell, the floods came, and the winds blew and buffeted the house. And it collapsed and was completely ruined.”  28 When Jesus finished these words, the crowds were astonished at his teaching,  29 for he taught them as one having authority, and not as their scribes.

Luke 13:22-30  He passed through towns and villages, teaching as he went and making his way to Jerusalem.  23 Someone asked him, “Lord, will only a few people be saved?” He answered them,  24 “Strive to enter through the narrow gate, for many, I tell you, will attempt to enter but will not be strong enough.  25 After the master of the house has arisen and locked the door, then will you stand outside knocking and saying, ‘Lord, open the door for us.’ He will say to you in reply, ‘I do not know where you are from.’  26 And you will say, ‘We ate and drank in your company and you taught in our streets.’  27 Then he will say to you, ‘I do not know where (you) are from. Depart from me, all you evildoers!’  28 And there will be wailing and grinding of teeth when you see Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob and all the prophets in the kingdom of God and you yourselves cast out.  29 And people will come from the east and the west and from the north and the south and will recline at table in the kingdom of God.  30 For behold, some are last who will be first, and some are first who will be last.”

John 10:1-19  “Amen, amen, I say to you, whoever does not enter a sheepfold through the gate but climbs over elsewhere is a thief and a robber.  2 But whoever enters through the gate is the shepherd of the sheep.  3 The gatekeeper opens it for him, and the sheep hear his voice, as he calls his own sheep by name and leads them out.  4 When he has driven out all his own, he walks ahead of them, and the sheep follow him, because they recognize his voice.  5 But they will not follow a stranger; they will run away from him, because they do not recognize the voice of strangers.”  6 Although Jesus used this figure of speech, they did not realize what he was trying to tell them.  7 So Jesus said again, “Amen, amen, I say to you, I am the gate for the sheep.  8 All who came (before me) are thieves and robbers, but the sheep did not listen to them.  9 I am the gate. Whoever enters through me will be saved, and will come in and go out and find pasture.  10 A thief comes only to steal and slaughter and destroy; I came so that they might have life and have it more abundantly.  11 I am the good shepherd. A good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.  12 A hired man, who is not a shepherd and whose sheep are not his own, sees a wolf coming and leaves the sheep and runs away, and the wolf catches and scatters them.  13 This is because he works for pay and has no concern for the sheep.  14 I am the good shepherd, and I know mine and mine know me,  15 just as the Father knows me and I know the Father; and I will lay down my life for the sheep.  16 I have other sheep that do not belong to this fold. These also I must lead, and they will hear my voice, and there will be one flock, one shepherd.  17 This is why the Father loves me, because I lay down my life in order to take it up again.  18 No one takes it from me, but I lay it down on my own. I have power to lay it down, and power to take it up again. This command I have received from my Father.”  19 Again there was a division among the Jews because of these words.

The 21st Century Church

We had some discussion about today’s Church, the Body of Christ, and why it does not draw in people as Jesus did when he walked the earth establishing the Church. We discussed the issue of political correctness and how that is an enemy of the truth, evidence of pressure to conform to society rather than work to transform society. St. Paul addressed the issue in his Letter to the Romans: Romans 12:2  Do not conform yourselves to this age but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and pleasing and perfect.  

Seems like the “but” is bigger than the “do not.” Here is the whole passage in context, more material for consideration and meditation.

Romans 12:1-21   I urge you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God, your spiritual worship.  2 Do not conform yourselves to this age but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and pleasing and perfect.  3 For by the grace given to me I tell everyone among you not to think of himself more highly than one ought to think, but to think soberly, each according to the measure of faith that God has apportioned.  4 For as in one body we have many parts, and all the parts do not have the same function,  5 so we, though many, are one body in Christ and individually parts of one another.  6 Since we have gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, let us exercise them: if prophecy, in proportion to the faith;  7 if ministry, in ministering; if one is a teacher, in teaching;  8 if one exhorts, in exhortation; if one contributes, in generosity; if one is over others, with diligence; if one does acts of mercy, with cheerfulness.  9 Let love be sincere; hate what is evil, hold on to what is good;  10 love one another with mutual affection; anticipate one another in showing honor.  11 Do not grow slack in zeal, be fervent in spirit, serve the Lord.  12 Rejoice in hope, endure in affliction, persevere in prayer.  13 Contribute to the needs of the holy ones, exercise hospitality.  14 Bless those who persecute (you), bless and do not curse them.  15 Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep.  16 Have the same regard for one another; do not be haughty but associate with the lowly; do not be wise in your own estimation.  17 Do not repay anyone evil for evil; be concerned for what is noble in the sight of all.  18 If possible, on your part, live at peace with all.  19 Beloved, do not look for revenge but leave room for the wrath; for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.”  20 Rather, “if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink; for by so doing you will heap burning coals upon his head.”  21 Do not be conquered by evil but conquer evil with good.

“Narrow” in Five Paragraphs of the Catechism

Paragraph 853 On her pilgrimage, the Church has also experienced the “discrepancy existing between the message she proclaims and the human weakness of those to whom the Gospel has been entrusted.”348 Only by taking the “way of penance and renewal,” the “narrow way of the cross,” can the People of God extend Christ’s reign.349 For “just as Christ carried out the work of redemption in poverty and oppression, so the Church is called to follow the same path if she is to communicate the fruits of salvation to men.”350

Paragraph 1036 The affirmations of Sacred Scripture and the teachings of the Church on the subject of hell are a call to the responsibility incumbent upon man to make use of his freedom in view of his eternal destiny. They are at the same time an urgent call to conversion: “Enter by the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the way is easy, that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. For the gate is narrow and the way is hard, that leads to life, and those who find it are few.”616

Paragraph 1344 Thus from celebration to celebration, as they proclaim the Paschal mystery of Jesus “until he comes,” the pilgrim People of God advances, “following the narrow way of the cross,”168 toward the heavenly banquet, when all the elect will be seated at the table of the kingdom.

Paragraph 1889 Without the help of grace, men would not know how “to discern the often narrow path between the cowardice which gives in to evil, and the violence which under the illusion of fighting evil only makes it worse.”13 This is the path of charity, that is, of the love of God and of neighbor. Charity is the greatest social commandment. It respects others and their rights. It requires the practice of justice, and it alone makes us capable of it. Charity inspires a life of self-giving: “Whoever seeks to gain his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life will preserve it.”14

Paragraph 2656 One enters into prayer as one enters into liturgy: by the narrow gate of faith. Through the signs of his presence, it is the Face of the Lord that we seek and desire; it is his Word that we want to hear and keep.

And a Final Encouraging Word from Jesus

Matthew 11:27-30 All things have been handed over to me by my Father. No one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and anyone to whom the Son wishes to reveal him. 28 “Come to me, all you who labor and are burdened, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am meek and humble of heart; and you will find rest for your selves. 30 For my yoke is easy, and my burden light.”

Oct 24 – Luke/Acts Birth of the Church…and Pope Peter

Discussion centered on the diagram below of the NT works of St. Luke. Formation and growth of The Church is a theme that runs through Luke and Acts, and that theme is emphasized by the thirteen verses included in the diagram.

The spark that led in this direction was the simple fact that we are currently reading from St. Luke in the daily Mass readings, Luke 12 this week, and that better understanding of the context of those readings is of great value in understanding.

The story begins with the call of Peter to become a “fisher of men,” proceeds through training of the disciples, sending out of the seventy, St. Luke’s version of The Great Commission, Pentecost, and ends with St. Paul, imprisoned in Rome, awaiting death, and still obeying that commission, preaching and teaching. If you did not get a copy of the chart below and cannot read this one, here is an attached pdf (Luke Acts Birth of Church1) which can be downloaded. For an outline of the process of formation of the early church, read items 1-13 on the chart below and perhaps look up the passages in the NT and read them in context.

Discussion included the roles of Paul and Peter and the fact that Peter dominates the first half of Acts and Paul the last half. The first half ends with the Jerusalem Council at which Peter announced the final decision about the Gentiles:

Acts 15:7-11 After much debate had taken place, Peter got up and said to them, “My brothers, you are well aware that from early days God made his choice among you that through my mouth the Gentiles would hear the word of the gospel and believe. And God, who knows the heart, bore witness by granting them the holy Spirit just as he did us. He made no distinction between us and them, for by faith he purified their hearts. Why, then, are you now putting God to the test by placing on the shoulders of the disciples a yoke that neither our ancestors nor we have been able to bear? On the contrary, we believe that we are saved through the grace of the Lord Jesus, in the same way as they.”

It sounds like Peter is in charge, doesn’t it, but from that point on, Acts is all about the missionary journeys of St. Paul, and Peter is not mentioned. Here is a summary of the number of mentions of the two of them chapter by chapter.

 

This is of interest because it leads to skepticism in some quarters about Catholic claims of Peter as the first Pope and Bishop of Rome. Sacred Scripture does not announce that explicitly or even mention St. Peter going to Rome. But there is considerable historical support for our belief. You can read a good summary of it on Catholic Answers at THIS LINK.

You may wonder why I am presenting this information. Well, we do have this instruction from Pope St. Peter:

1 Peter 3:14-16 But even if you should suffer because of righteousness, blessed are you. Do not be afraid or terrified with fear of them, but sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts. Always be ready to give an explanation to anyone who asks you for a reason for your hope, but do it with gentleness and reverence, keeping your conscience clear, so that, when you are maligned, those who defame your good conduct in Christ may themselves be put to shame.

So, being informed about and comfortable with the foundations of our faith is a good thing.

October 17, 2018 – Saints, Martyrs, Fathers, and Doctors of the Church

St. Ignatius of Antioch, Saint, Martyr, Father, but Not a Doctor

You can read about St. Ignatius of Antioch at Franciscan Media. Below is a clip of the major contents reviewing what we learned from Fr. Linsky this morning.

Letters of St. Ignatius of Antioch

Here is a handy link to the seven letters of St. Ignatius. These are provided at the EWTN Website. They are fairly short and easy to read.

Reading the Church Fathers

This is a bit off the subject, but the question of Church Fathers came up during the discussion. I have often heard or read the recommendation that I should read the Church Fathers. I think that for me it would be an insurmountable task. Here is the whole collection, from the first 800 years, as preserved in 38 volumes and available from Amazon for roughly $1000.

A simpler, less burdensome, and more affordable approach would be to buy this Kindle version for $2.99, but even that seems unmanageable and unconquerable to me.

The following authors (alphabetical order) are included in this collection: Alexander of Alexandria, Alexander of Lycopolis, Ambrose, Aphrahat, Archelaus, Aristides the Philosopher, Arnobius, Athanasius, Athenagoras, Augustine of Hippo, Bardesanes, Barnabas, Basil the Great, Caius, Clement of Alexandria, Clement of Rome, Commodianus, Cyprian of Carthage, Cyril of Jerusalem, Dionysius of Rome, Dionysius the Great, Ephraim the Syrian, Eusebius of Caesarea, Gennadius of Marseilles, Gregory the Great, Pope, Gregory Nazianzen, Gregory of Nyssa, Gregory Thaumaturgus, Hermas, Hilary of Poitiers, Hippolytus, Ignatius of Antioch, Irenaeus of Lyons, Jerome, John of Damascus, John Cassian, John Chrysostom, Julius Africanus, Justin Martyr, Lactantius, Leo the Great, Pope
Malchion, Mar Jacob, Mathetes, Methodius, Minucius Felix, Moses of Chorene, Novatian, Origen, Pamphilus, Papias, Peter of Alexandria, Polycarp, Rufinus, Socrates cholasticus, Sozomen, Sulpitius,Severus, Tatian, Tertullian, Theodoret, Theodotus, Theophilus, Venantius, Victorinus, Vincent of Lérins

Doctors of the Church

I found a list of 36 Doctors of the Church at Catholic Online. Here is what they say about Doctors of the Church, some of whom are Church Fathers and some not:

This is a very special title accorded by the Church to certain saints. This title indicates that the writings and preachings of such a person are useful to Christians “in any age of the Church.” Such men and women are also particularly known for the depth of understanding and the orthodoxy of their theological teachings. While the writings of the Doctors are often considered inspired by the Holy Spirit; this does not mean they are infallible, but it does mean that they contributed significantly to the formulation of Christian teaching in at least one area.”

The Catechism contains references to the writings of many but not all Doctors of the Church.

Here  is the list in alphabetical order and then in chronological order by date of death. In that chart, it is interesting that there are groupings around 400 AD, 1200 AD, and 1600 AD.

It is interesting history and theology. If it all gets to be just too much, there is always the New Testament with the writings of Matthew, Mark, Luke, John, Peter, and Paul.