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Monday, October 11, 2010

Bible and Catechism in a year: Days 29 and 30

Monday Madness gives us a double shot of scriptural goodness, courtesy of a very busy Sunday!

Genesis 44-47

The story of Joseph continues as he tests his brothers one last time before finally breaking down and explaining the whole thing to them.  They go back and get Jacob and the whole family and bring them to Egypt, where Pharaoh tells Joseph to give them the choicest lands and puts them in charge of his own flocks.

There are a couple of things that leaped out at me here.  One was the declaration of Jacob that he could now die since he has seen Joseph's face - this struck me as very similar to Simeon the Righteous' revelation that he should not see death until he had beheld the Christ. 

The other was the way that through Joseph, all of Egypt was gathered under the Pharaoh.  Just as Joseph gathered all the lands and peoples for his "king", the Pharaoh, Jesus will gather all nations for the heavenly Father.

As always, the analogies break down, but they are beautiful nonetheless.

Psalms 28 and 29:

Psalm 28 seems a lot like the other psalms, building up those who follow God's way and asking for deliverance from the wicked.  Lovely, but I've heard it...not that I mind hearing it again...

Psalm 29 is really neat, though.  This is great imagery describing the voice of the Lord.  What is spoken by the voice of the Lord?  The Word.  What is the Word?  Jesus.  And Jesus shakes us to our very core.

Matthew 15:21-39, 16

We are presented a second miracle of multiplication.  I'm not sure how the heck I missed in the past that Jesus performed this miracle twice, for different multitudes, but just in case you missed it the first time...Jesus does it again.

And then the elders come and ask for a sign.  He's done this TWICE now and they are asking for more...Jesus tells them off in grand fashion, and then explains to his disciples to beware the leaven of the Pharisees and Sadducees.  Of course, the disciples  don't get it immediately, and think he is speaking of bread.  We can almost see Jesus get frustrated here as he explains that he is talking about their teachings.

We need to be so very careful with the "leaven" that our culture puts out.  If you think about it, the teachings of our culture are so very against what we believe as Christians. 

The rest of Matthew 16 is very important for all Christians, and especially for we Catholics.  Important points:

  • Simon makes his profession of faith, and Jesus seems to say "aha!  You get it!" and tells him that he is "blessed", for "flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father in heaven."  Translation:  "God has chosen you for a very special job...get ready..."  God often reveals things to the men he has plans for...
  • Then Jesus gives Simon a new name:  "Peter."  In our old testament readings, we've already seen some renaming, and they've all been very significant.  We're talking Abram to Abraham (and Sarai to Sarah), Jacob to Israel...these are not insignificant.  It is important also to note that so far we have not seen God change anyone's name to degrade him.  Some protestants say that the "rock" in this passage is the profession of faith, and that Jesus is changing Simon's name to (greek) "Petros", meaning "little rock"  underscoring his lack of significance.  But we have to consider that 1.  (greek) Petra is a feminine noun, and so not suited for a man's name.  2.  Jesus was speaking Aramaic, and likely gave the name (aramaic) "Cephas" to Simon, which does NOT translate to small pebble, but a more foundational rock.
  • Jesus  then says that He's going to build his church (singular) on that rock, and that the gates of hell will not prevail against it.  In other words, it's not going anywhere; once it is established, it will endure until the end of time. 
  • Then he says "I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven." Here he is talking about authority...setting up a prime minister of sorts for His kingdom.  Oddly enough, kind of like how Pharaoh set up Joseph as the steward of his kingdom..
  • Of course, two verses later, Peter is called "Satan."  He is taken down a peg for not thinking in God's terms, but in man's.  Certainly he is still a man, and still capable of errors in judgement.  This stands as a stern reminder to us all that God does not think as man thinks...
  • Then we get a description of how to be on God's side:  Take up our cross daily (men don't like doing this) and follow Jesus.  God's way often seems foreign to us:  "For whoever would save his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it."  We have to be willing to look at things from God's perspective, and realize that eternity is a whole heckuva lot longer than the short time we have on earth, and therefore much more important...
Catechism 232-248

"I'll take words that don't appear in the bible but are central to our faith for $500, Alex."

"Father, Son and Holy Spirt, one God in three Persons"

"What is the Trinity?"


Let's face it.  The Trinity is basic to Christianity, but impossible to fully understand with the human intellect.  I like how the Catechism here points out that we do things "In the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit", not "in the names of."  God is one.  But God's oneness is so epic (if you'll pardon the term) that it expresses itself as three distinct persons sharing in one divine nature.  The Father and Son are "consubstantial" (of the same substance) and the Holy Spirit proceeds from them both.  So many analogies have been used to try and teach of the Trinity, but they all fall short.  Still, it is an awesome mystery to contemplate.

Tomorrow's readings:

Genesis 48-49:27
Psalm 30
Matthew 17
Catechism 249-256

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