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Saturday, October 16, 2010

Bible and Catechism in a Year: Day 35

Exodus 5-6

The well known story of Moses continues as Moses goes to Pharaoh, but Pharaoh simply makes things worse for the Israelites by forcing them to gather their own straw for the bricks they were responsible for making.  I wonder if there is a special symbolism to the straw...

In any case, Moses goes back to God to ask him "What's up with that?", and God reiterates that he will deliver His people, and give them the land promised to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.

"I will take you for my people, and I will be your God..."

Today, this applies to us all.

Psalm 34

I became aware as I read this psalm that I actually am familiar with more psalms than I thought I would be just from their use in the Catholic liturgy.  Yes, they are often only parts and sometimes in the past they have been greatly paraphrased, but much of the content is there.  In this Psalm there is a lot of wonderful language about the Lord hearing the cry of the poor and answering the seeking of David.  He is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit.  There is also instruction for us:  Keep your thougt from evil, and your lips from speaking deceit.

There is also a beautiful ambiguity, though I am unsure if it is due to translational issues:

Many are the afflictions of the righteous; but the Lord delivers him out of them all.  He keeps all his bones; not one of them is broken.
It is unclear if it is the Lord who keeps all his bones with not a one being broken, or the righteous.  But if it is speaking of the Lord, that is, God, this is a lovely foretelling of the crucifixion (wherein none of Christ's bones were broken) as well as the resurrection and ascension (for he keeps all of his bones, as he keeps his body for eternity).  Even if it refers only to the righteous, it still applies, for we, too, shall share in the resurrection.  It is a beautiful bit hidden in the old and revealed in the new...

Matthew 19:16-30

I've never realized before just how jam-packed Matthew is...but I'm starting to see it now.

Here we have a well-to-do individual asking Jesus what he must do to have eternal life.  Jesus shocks him by suggesting that there is more to it than just keeping the commandments, and gives him a radical command to sell all he has, give to the poor, and follow Him.  When this individual goes away sad, Jesus turns it into a teaching moment, but clarifies when his analogy breaks down.  He also praises the disciples sacrifices (and, by extension, ours), saying that what we leave will be repaid a hundredfold in our eternal life with God.  It is important to note, with all due charity to my protestant brethren, that when asked what one must do to have eternal life, Jesus does not say "Accept me as your personal Lord and savior, and believe."  Rather, he requires action.  Of course, we understand that our actions are faith, in a way, in that they are a response to God's action.  The action itself, independent of the impetus (grace) given by God does not save.  But we can resist the grace God gives us.  This is why we ascribe our salvation to Faith working through Love. 

Catechism 282-289

There is some profound stuff on creation here, and man's fundamental questions which lead us to search for God, and how many different peoples have attempted to answer those questions.  It is reiterated that our intellect is capable of knowing of God's existence through his works.  But a response to Him requires more than just the intellect, but the engagement of the will as well.

We are taken back to Genesis and the first three chapters.  We don't have to view these chapters as being literal in a historical sense, but we need to look at what the author is trying to tell isn't supposed to be a science lesson, after all, but a lesson regarding "the truths of creation - its origin and its end in God, its order and goodness, the vocation of man, and finally the drama of sin and the hope of salvation."

Atheistic materialists like to attack Genesis by pointing to scientific evidence that appears to contradict, say, the age of the earth, or the existence of animals which went extinct prior to man's appearance, or the lack of an earthly 'Garden of Eden.'  But when we understand these texts in their literary context as well as their purpose, we see that there is no contradiction or conflict between them and what science tells us about creation. 

Tomorrow's readings:

Exodus 7-8
Psalm 35
Matthew 20:1-16
Catechism 290-294

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