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Sunday, September 12, 2010

Bible and Catechism in a year: Day 1

I'll admit...I actually read a little bit of my assignment yesterday...but as part of my SCI class which is not specifically related to this endeavor.  It was a good class, and though I've been through it before, The format has changed, as have the Master Catechists teaching the course.  Different teachers always bring something new to the table, so it is a blessing to be able to study with a variety of people.

Let us begin with Genesis 1:

Here we have the first creation story.  Every story has a beginning, including the most important ones.  Almost everyone has read this chapter, and I've read it countless times, but something new always presents itself.

What struck me reading this passage this time around was what we learn about God, which is relatively little in the specific sense.  He speaks things into being, creating all that there is, and this is our beginning.  He has/is Spirit.  And he created man, male and female, in His image, apparently after a brief discussion with himself about what He is going to do with man.  There is a lot of content here, and yet we don't really understand most of it...why is he creating?  If he was there at the beginning, where did He come from?  Who is he talking to?  And how exactly does he create with a word?

All of this is very mysterious.  But it is certainly fitting!  In every story we read, we are introduced to characters, and when those characters are first introduced, we know very little about them.  As we read, we learn more about their nature, their preferences, how they view things, etc.  The characters unfold. This word holds beautiful imagery when you think about a pop-up book, or origami, whereby something can unfold from an unseen place or non-descript piece of paper or cardboard and slowly be revealed.  Once we see a little of it, we want to see it all...but even when unfolded, we can only view the parts that are revealed to us (of course, here the analogy, like all analogies, breaks down, since I can tear apart a pop-up book or piece of folded paper to see how it is constructed, and yet, I still can't fully explain why this specific arrangement of sub-atomic particles results in a piece of foldable cellulose...)

We are introduced to God, and to creation, including man.  And we want to know more...We want Him to reveal more of Himself to us.

Psalm 1:

This Psalm is just 6 verses long...This Psalm is just 6 verses long (you either get this, or you don't)

Kidding aside, This is a beautiful way for David to begin his Psalms.  "Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked, nor stands in the way of sinners, nor sits in the seat of scoffers; but his delight is in the law of the Lord and on his law he meditates day and night."  This psalm contrasts the righteous man and the wicked.  We see language from this Psalm later in the New Testament, talking about fruit in relation to the righteous and chaff in relation to the wicked. 

We are also assured that our God knows our hearts and will not let the wicked ultimately judge us.  This is very pertinent today, as so many of us hide our faith for fear of being labeled as a zealot or religious wacko for discussing it in the open.  We need not fear their judgement, though.  In the end, the Lord alone judges us.

Matthew 1:1-17

The pamphlet says that God can speak to us even through a long line of "begats."  That's a good thing, considering this reading.  Here we see how Joseph is related to King David.  Fourteen generations seems key here...between Abraham and David, between David and the Babylonian exile, and between the Babylonian exile and Jesus.

Of course, we ask why Joseph's lineage matters.  After all, we Christians profess the virgin birth, and therefore Joseph is only the adoptive father of Jesus (yeah, only the adoptive father of the Messiah.  As though that diminishes the honor or the awesome responsibility of such a role...)  But in the Jewish tradition, an adopted son was still considered to be part of the lineage.  More on that in future readings.

Catechism of the Catholic Church:  Introduction

This really interfaced with and summarized a good deal of the first SCI class.

Paraphrasing Keith Borchers, Director of Catechesis and Evangelization for the Diocese of Oakland:  A toaster has a specific purpose:  to make toast.  A coffee maker has a specific purpose:  to make coffee.  If I try and make coffee in my toaster, I'm going to have a problem.  Likewise, human beings are made with a specific purpose:  To love and know God and share in His Blessed life. 

The introduction of the Catechism reminds us of this fact...that we do indeed have a purpose, and not just a purpose, but a mission.  It summarizes how we hand our faith on from generation to generation.  Another observation by Keith was that it only takes one generation not handing down the faith sufficiently to put us in a world of trouble.  Certainly, that is part of why we are in this crisis of catechesis in the Catholic Church. 

In its aim and structure, the Catechism is built to provide us with a concise (yes, in comparison to some things, the Catechism can be considered concise) summary of our faith, beginning with the Creed, from which everything springs, and then building on top of that the Sacramental life through which we receive grace throughout our lives, the Moral life through which we do God's will on Earth, and Prayer, by which we cultivate our relationship with God.  These are the four pillars of our church. 

And yet, we are reminded that knowledge of these things is not enough.  We have to let the knowledge seep into our very being, and transform us.  This is what we call conversion, which is the work of the Holy Spirit.  This is how we fulfill our purpose.  In teaching the faith, whether by specific design in the classroom or catechetical ministry of our choice, or by example in the workplace, at the store, on the train, on an airplane, on the street, or anywhere in the world, we must allow Christ to shine through us, so that they see that He is our motivation.  He is the reason for our faith.  He is our reason for hope.  He is the source of our love.  He is the love that never ends.

Tomorrow's readings:

Genesis 2
Psalm 2
Matthew 1:18-25
Catechism 1-10

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