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Monday, September 13, 2010

Bible and Catechism in a year: Day 2

Genesis 2:

Here we get the second creation story.  For those who wish to interpret every bit of the Bible literally, we certainly see an error after just two chapters.  The order of things is different here, and that is our first clue that there is something allegorical and poetic about these descriptions of the creation.  Could it possibly be that because the true details of such an awesome undertaking by our God are just a bit beyond our capacity to understand?  That's my guess.  But still, there is a lot here that we can understand that the author is trying to convey.

After listening to my youngest cry for a good 20 minutes because he wanted his mother tonight, there is certainly something touching in this description of woman's arrival on the scene.  None of the animals is a suitable partner for the man...God fashions woman around a rib taken from his side.  Then, and only then, does man find his partner - bone of his bone and flesh of his flesh.  What does this tell us?  I see, certainly that man is not complete without woman.  This is an image of the first marriage, and those of us who are called to that vocation should understand very well that though we are certainly different in our abilities, gifts, and design, we are made to complement one another.  The male body makes no sense unless viewed in light of the female body, and vice versa, after all. 

I also love the last line, because it tells us something of the unfallen nature of man:  "And the man and his wife were both naked, and were not ashamed."  Such a beautiful image, really, and one which John Paul II expands on with great eloquence in Theology of the Body...but that's a discussion for another time.

Psalm 2:

This psalm talks much about kings and nations, and prophetically points towards the messiah.  That the very nations will be broken with a rod of iron and dashed into pieces like pottery is a powerful image.  It is easy to see how this would be interpreted without a Christian view of the Kingdom...but certainly the Kingdom of God is far superior to any earthly kingdom. 

Again, the last line is lovely.  "Blessed are all who take refuge in him"

Matthew 1:18-25

Usually we look to Luke to get details as to the annunciation.  Matthew condenses this to a paragraph, but how powerful it is.  I really like the matter of fact tone of verse 18:  "Now the birth of Jesus Christ took place in this way..."

In contemplating the incarnation, I am filled with gratitude and awe.  That an infinite God would confine himself to a human body is beyond understanding, and yet, so fitting.  To share his nature with us, he meets us where we are, since we certainly can not elevate ourselves to His level.  This gift is much like the gift of life we see in Genesis.  It is a second gift of life...and even better than the first.

It is also worth mentioning verse 25 regarding Joseph "knowing her not until she had borne a son..."  Some folks like to use this verse to deny the perpetual virginity of Mary.  But the use of the word until does not always imply that something occurs after the event.  For instance, there are verses about sitting at the right hand of the Lord until the enemy is vanquished...does this imply that the subject ceases to be at the right hand once the enemy is vanquished?  The greek word here is also sometimes translated as "while" and "to."  While looking at the verse in this way does not in and of itself "prove" Mary's perpetual virginity, it does not disprove it, either.

Catechism 1-10

Admittedly, I messed up yesterday.  I took "Introduction" to mean the prologue, but the prologue is actually 1-25.  So today, I read the actual introduction, which in the second edition Catechism consists of an apostolic letter introducing the revised translation written in 1997, and an apostolic constitution regarding the publication of the catechism in 1992, both by Pope John Paul II.  He is so easy to read compared to some other popes...his writing is very accessible. 

My favorite quote from the introductory documents is this:

"It should take into account the doctrinal statements which down the centuries the Holy Spirit has intimated to his Church.  It should also help to illumine with the light of faith the new situations and problems which had not yet emerged in the past.  This catechism will thus contain both the new and the old, because the faith is always the same yet the source of ever new light."

In two-thousand years, the Church's teaching has been constant.  Disciplines change, certainly, but the dogma and doctrine, while they may develop in the "ever new light," have not changed.

I also love that John Paul II, always striving and praying for unity with our separated brethren, reminds us that part of the reason for this new catechism is "to support ecumenical efforts that are moved by the holy desire for the unity of all Christians, showing carefully the content and wondrous harmony of the catholic faith."  He also points us to 1 Peter 3:15, from which all apologetics should flow.

Tomorrow's Readings:

Genesis 3
Psalm 3
Matthew 2
Catechism 11-17

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