Solemnity of Saints Peter and Paul, Apostles  

Posted by siouxbhoney

Sorry that this posting might have seemed late to you, but on Sundays I want to wait until I've gone to church, and hear what the priest or deacon has to say about the liturgy for the day.

It's the second day of this Solemnity, and it looks like it is to kick off a "Pauline Year". See this article about it, if you are interested: Opening Pauline Year, Pope calls faithful to listen to and follow St. Paul in today's world

Well, lets get straight to the readings. We've got a lot today.

First Reading: Acts 12:1-11

Bad King Herod starts arresting Christians, kills James, and finds that this sort of persecution is politically advantageous to him. So he goes and gets himself the known leader, Peter, and places him under heavy guard, with the intention of presenting him to the people after Passover. Here's the cool part of the story: The Church starts praying "fervently" for him, and he gets literally rescued by angels. They wake him up, as he's sleeping between two guards. They remove the chains from his hands, get him his clothes, and walk him out a door that was secured with two chains. Peter just goes along and doesn't question anything, because he assumes that he is having a vision. He's just amiably going along, as if he's in an especially good dream. Once he's in the alley, the angel leaves him, and Peter finally has his "Holy Cow" moment. He exclaims that yes, God really did just send him some rescue angels, and what he thought of as inevitable was not going to happen. It just seems to me that this story is demonstrating just how important God's plan for Peter was. If Peter were to be executed before his time, no one else was as uniquely qualified to take the young Christian Church were it needed to start. So, God kept Peter safe. Nice.

Second Reading: 2 Timothy 4:6-8, 17-18

This reading has always made me have a special affection for Paul. This was a guy who was confidant beyond belief. He made these kind of crazy statements, because he knew that it was true. You can see in this reading why he got into fights with everybody, including Peter. In the homily today, that was the thing that really jumped out at me. Paul fought with EVERYBODY, yet he, along with Peter, formed Christianity. I love that the Church was built by these two guys that couldn't agree on much, and really may not have liked each other much either. But they had a common goal, and a common love for God, and they managed to work out the methods. I know that this wasn't that much about the reading, but it's what I've been thinking about since church this morning, and it had to come out some where.

And the gospel: Matthew 16:13-19

In this reading, Jesus and the disciples are in Caesarea Philippi. Jesus is trying to point out that not only does Peter know who he is, but that he has that knowledge only revelation through god. The rest of this reading seems to deal with Peter's place and authority in the Church that will form. This is what the guys from the New American Bible have to say about that: (Once more, WAY better than I could put it)

You are Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church: the Aramaic word kepa - meaning rock and transliterated into Greek as Kephas is the name by which Peter is called in the Pauline letters (1 Cor 1:12; 3:22; 9:5; 15:4; Gal 1:18; 2:9, 11, 14) except in Gal 2:7-8 ("Peter"). It is translated as Petros ("Peter") in John 1:42. The presumed original Aramaic of Jesus' statement would have been, in English, "You are the Rock (Kepa) and upon this rock (kepa) I will build my church." The Greek text probably means the same, for the difference in gender between the masculine noun petros, the disciple's new name, and the feminine noun petra (rock) may be due simply to the unsuitability of using a feminine noun as the proper name of a male. Although the two words were generally used with slightly different nuances, they were also used interchangeably with the same meaning, "rock." Church: this word (Greek ekklesia) occurs in the gospels only here and in Matthew 18:17 (twice). There are several possibilities for an Aramaic original. Jesus' church means the community that he will gather and that, like a building, will have Peter as its solid foundation. That function of Peter consists in his being witness to Jesus as the Messiah, the Son of the living God. The gates of the netherworld shall not prevail against it: the netherworld (Greek Hades, the abode of the dead) is conceived of as a walled city whose gates will not close in upon the church of Jesus, i.e., it will not be overcome by the power of death.

The keys to the kingdom of heaven: the image of the keys is probably drawn from Isaiah 22:15-25 where Eliakim, who succeeds Shebnah as master of the palace, is given "the key of the house of David," which he authoritatively "opens" and "shuts" (Isaiah 22:22). Whatever you bind . . . loosed in heaven: there are many instances in rabbinic literature of the binding-loosing imagery. Of the several meanings given there to the metaphor, two are of special importance here: the giving of authoritative teaching, and the lifting or imposing of the ban of excommunication. It is disputed whether the image of the keys and that of binding and loosing are different metaphors meaning the same thing. In any case, the promise of the keys is given to Peter alone. In Matthew 18:18 all the disciples are given the power of binding and loosing, but the context of that verse suggests that there the power of excommunication alone is intended. That the keys are those to the kingdom of heaven and that Peter's exercise of authority in the church on earth will be confirmed in heaven show an intimate connection between, but not an identification of, the church and the kingdom of heaven.

News story number one is a continuation of a story from Thursday, the 26: The Forum: What next for the Vatican-SSPX talks?

News story number two is also a continuation from Thursday, I wonder how this will develop all over the world? Priests barred from candidate donations

Solemnity of Saints Peter and Paul, Apostles  

Posted by siouxbhoney

I was given two choices for readings today, the one we are gonna use, which is the Solemnity of Saints Peter and Paul, Apostles, or Memorial of Saint Irenaeus, bishop and martyr. Frankly, I only chose this one because I like the book of Acts so much.

Because it is a special day, we have three readings.

So, first reading: Acts 3:1-10

What a great story. First of all, like I said before, I love the Book of Acts. I love the movement, ministries, and mysticism of the first Christians. I love that the miracles didn't end with Jesus or the old testament.

So the beggar hangs out by the temple, and asks people for money, and Peter doesn't have any money, so he gives him something much better. He heals this guy's disability. (I suspect that he would have healed him even if he did have some cash one him.) He gives him the ability to walk, in the name of Jesus Christ. Technically, I suppose a priest or a theologian would answer me that Jesus healed this guy through Peter. But the narrative goes on, after the beggar's celebration and thanks giving, to describe how it affected the people at the temple, who knew this crippled man and witnessed a true miracle. What a gift from God that was for everybody there, to be able to see something so undeniable. It still must have been pretty confusing.

On to the next one! Galatians 1:11-20

So, I haven't read a lot of Galatians, the letters are hard for me to get through, but I do like what a hard case Paul could be. It seems here though, Paul is establishing his legitimacy to preach. It's almost like the lineage of his knowledge. I imagine him speaking this clearly and firmly, showing you that there can be no real argument to what he is about to say. I love the emphasis that he didn't need to consult man. He listened to God, and immediately went to go and preach in Arabia. I wonder if he was actually avoiding Damascus and Jerusalem, until he could get his reputation and his relationship with God settled as a true Christian, before he went to go and face the people that he had previously persecuted and confer with Cephas. It turns out that Cephas was one of the names of Peter. Who decides or decided what bible readings go with each day or occasion? Whoever you are, good job bringing this one home, guys. I know, I know, I haven't provided any insight on this one, but it seems to be pretty straightforward to me.

Last reading. It's kinda like a Sunday, huh? John 21:15-19

After reading the footnotes (New American Bible) attached to this, I realized that I could only parrot them, so I'll just reproduce them for you here. Yes, it may very well be lazy, but its also much better than anything I'm gonna say on my own.

For the whole reading, it says this: "This section constitutes Peter's rehabilitation and emphasizes his role in the church."

For verses 15-17, where Jesus is asking Peter if he loves him, and wants him to take care of his sheep: "In these three verses there is a remarkable variety of synonyms: two different Greek verbs for love (see the note on John 15:13); two verbs for feed/tend; two nouns for sheep; two verbs for know. But apparently there is no difference of meaning. The threefold confession of Peter is meant to counteract his earlier threefold denial (John 18:17, 25, 27). The First Vatican Council cited these verses in defining that Jesus after his resurrection gave Peter the jurisdiction of supreme shepherd and ruler over the whole flock."

For just verse 15, where Jesus asks "Simon, son of John, do you love me more than these?" , the footnotes read: "More than these: probably "more than these disciples do" rather than "more than you love them" or "more than you love these things [fishing, etc.]."

Last, the story at verse 18 about growing old: "Originally probably a proverb about old age, now used as a figurative reference to the crucifixion of Peter."

I gotta tell you, I love a lot of of footnotes.

So, news of the day, Huh? I like this one: Mendel called model for balancing science, faith

The first reading is 2 Kings 25:1-12. Be prepared. It's a long one.

Today we got more political intrigue with Zedekiah. The few lines that were not included in yesterday's reading said that he was doing evil, decided to rebel against Babylon, and was about to get his comeuppance. (I can't believe that word passed the spell check.) So, today he gets it.

Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon, marches on Jerusalem and lays siege for two years. When they finally breach the city walls, Zedekiah sneaks out the back door with a personal army to protect him. The army then deserts him. My study bible indicates that theologians believe that the desertion was prompted by Jeremiah, who is gonna tell his own version of this story in Jeremiah 38:2-3. Nebuchadnezzar is so enraged that when he catches up to Zedekiah, he kills his kids in front of him and then blinds him. (Possibly so that it would be the last thing Zedekiah ever sees? Nasty.) Then he sends in his captain of the bodyguard, Nebuzaradan,
to raze the city, the temple, the palace, and to capture the rest of the citizens and drag them off to Babylon. I'm still assuming that they are being put into slavery. But he leaves some of the poor farmers and "vinedressers" behind to just live their lives. Why did he do that? Were they just not worth the effort, because they weren't powerful or influential, or were they just more useful cultivating the fields? Or is this an early example of "Blessed are the Poor"?

The second reading is Matthew 8:1-4.

I don't understand how these tie together at all. Jesus heals a leper, then tells him to go to the priest, "offer the gift that Moses prescribed", and not to tell anyone that he, Jesus, healed him, and somehow this is gonna be proof for something. So, what did Moses prescribe? It is Lev 14:2-9. Well, it's a purification and sacrifice ritual that is only for when a leper is healed. Is this about following the biblical law? He's healed, so Jesus tells him to go do the purification ritual with a priest so that it will prove that it comes from God? This is the time when comments are welcome, guys, cause I am lost.

Our news story of the day is: Cardinal Urosa warns Venezuelans not to use Mass for political aims

I just found this one too. I love reading about any kind of weird little Catholic splinter group: Bishop Fellay rejects Vatican conditions for reconciling split

First Reading is 2 Kings 24:8-17

So, we got a new king in Jerusalem, Jehoiachin. He only gets to be king for three months, but he does enough bad things in those three months, that he deserves a mention of "He did evil in the sight of the LORD, just as his forebears had done." I wonder what kind of stuff you can do in three months to get a mention as evil for the next few thousand years?

Anyway, Babylon lays siege, conquers the city, and the king of Babylon, Nebuchadnezzar, considers it important enough to come himself and make sure that Jerusalem is brought to it's knees. Apparently, Jehoiachin, was already a Babylonian vessel, and was rebelling against Nebuchadnezzar, which explains why this guy was so ticked off that he looted the temple and deported most the the wealthy and powerful back to Babylon, presumably as slaves.

Then he places Jehoiachin's uncle in charge, who immediately changes his name to Zedekiah, which means “Jehovah is righteous” or the “Justice of Jehovah”, which he may have thought sounded more kingly than Mattaniah, which just means "gift of Jehovah". I don't know what we are supposed to learn from this. The old testament seems to have a lot of "bad things happen to bad people" stories like this, and while I do enjoy a gory tale of political intrigue as much as the next guy, I don't get the relevance. Maybe it will tie in for me with the next reading. That happens sometimes.

Second Reading is Matthew 7:21-29

I haven't had my first cup of coffee yet, so I may be currently insane, but I think I do have the tie-in. Jesus is continuing his sermon from yesterday, about false prophets. He's saying that it doesn't matter if you do all of this great stuff, (prophecy, good deeds, driving out demons, all the fun things), if you don't do God's will. Well, maybe the story in the first reading is actually a "bad things happen to bad people" kind of story. As far as I know, the early Jews didn't have a concept of heaven or hell, and people (sometimes) got rewarded or punished on earth for their deeds. If there were ever a time in the Old Testament where it looks like God got fed up and turned his back on his people, it was during the Babylonian occupation, right? Is it because their leaders were talking smack about loving God (remember the Mattaniah/Zedekiah name change?), but they were actually worshipping idols? There was all kinds of other behavior that God seems to find repugnant, that accompanied this idol worship. That behavior is probably what drew the kings to the idol worshipping in the first place. Kings of all ages have enjoyed the benefits that come with temple prostitutes, sacred orgies, and child sacrifice.

So, back to Jesus, he explains that if we just follow God's will, (easier said than done), we will have a strong foundation for this life and the next. I believe that small sins make it easier to commit bigger sins. So, I could also argue that exercising virtuous behavior (the real kind, not the annoying kind) makes us stronger and more likely to resist temptation in the future.

Interesting news article for today, I wonder if it will affect the US: Pope prefers Communion on the tongue, Msgr. Marini says

First reading of the day is 2 Kings 22:8-13, 23:1-3

Maybe I'm supposed to get something else out of this, but I really think that this is about the priests neglecting their duty to tell the people the word of God. King Josiah, it seems to me, is doing what he thinks is best, renovating the temple, and they uncover this book of the law, which I assume is the Torah. Why was this book hidden? Had it been untended for so long that the group pf priests, scribes, etc., that live in the temple complex had forgotten it? Well, I just scanned the last bits of the chapter before, and this may be somewhat the fault of lots of evil kings. Apparently, at least the two kings before Josiah worshiped idols, practiced magic, and shed innocent blood. Maybe the priests hid the book to save it, and then it just got forgotten after so many years. This is why guys like Elijiah and his son Elisha were so special. They were brave enough to stand up to blood thirsty kings, when the priests and scribes of the temple were not.

Next reading is Matthew 7:15-20

Before I begin, I want you to see what the footnote from the New American Bible for this reading is: "Christian disciples who claimed to speak in the name of God are called prophets (Matthew 7:15) in Matthew 10:41; Matthew 23:34. They were presumably an important group within the church of Matthew. As in the case of the Old Testament prophets, there were both true and false ones, and for Matthew the difference could be recognized by the quality of their deeds, the fruits (Matthew 7:16). The mention of fruits leads to the comparison with trees, some producing good fruit, others bad." I want to balance this with another story. Mark 9:38-40 Ever since I read this verse back in May, it has been playing around my mind. Jesus said, "whoever is not against us is for us". Now, in this new verse, he is talking about false prophets. So, I think this is telling us to be careful in our judgements. He doesn't want us to just watch the actions and intentions of our religious leaders and peers, he wants us to gauge the results. The fruit, the results of their actions tell us if someone is against God or for God in their hearts, not the differences in sect or denomination. Or at least that's what I read from this. Let's see if that gets good results.

Wow! I was just looking around for a news story for the day, and this one seems to tie right in: Italian Businessman Who Claimed To Be Vatican Insider to Face Fraud Charges

Solemnity of the Nativity of Saint John the Baptist  

Posted by siouxbhoney

Today, we have three readings, because it seems to be a special day. It is the Solemnity of the Nativity of Saint John the Baptist. Now, there is another set of readings if you didn't want to celebrate the Solemnity of the Nativity of Saint John the Baptist , but we aren't doing them here today.

So, our first reading is Isaiah 49:1-6. I think I'm getting these links the way I want them now.

I love the imagery of Isaiah as a weapon so cherished that the owner (master?) hides him and keeps him safe. But ultimately, this is about the last few lines, isn't it? It's too small a thing, basically, to save the Israelites, because they are only one nation. God wants Isaiah to be the light for everyone. Does this mean that Isaiah was the first step towards letting the world know about the coming messiah, or that the messiah had a little bit of Isaiah in him? I'm not very insightful this morning. I'm only on my fifth cup of coffee so far.

Reading numero two is Acts 13:22-26

I had a lot of trouble with this one, because it seemed tacked on to me. My first thought was "Is this just the first non-gospel mention of John?" So as usual, I read the stuff around it and looked at what the smart little editors of my study bible had to say. It turns out that this is a part of a speech (sermon?) that Paul is giving in the temple in Jerusalem. He's trying to explain the order that God gave certain prophets to us, to lead us to Jesus. He starts out with the Exodus from Egypt, and shows how that led to the inheritance of lands in Canaan. Once the Israelites were settled down, God gave them judges until they asked for a king. Out of the line of their favorite king, David, he gave Jesus to the world, and right before Jesus, he gave us John to get every body ready for it. Right? Right. By the way, this sermon also ticked a bunch of guys off. It looks like this is the sermon that led to the sermon that got Paul kicked out of Jerusalem the first time.

Last one, kids. Luke 1:57-66, 80

See now, I've been waiting for this one. Luke is one of my favorite authors in the bible, and I really love this reading. From my understanding, John's daddy, Zechariah, had been told the whole plan about John and Jesus and the whole world getting the chance to be saved and all, and understandably, he found it a little hard to believe. So he got struck dumb. I think it was a little like giving a toddler some quiet time. Maybe God thought he needed to stop talking and think it over for a few months. When Zechariah confirmed what Elizabeth said about the kid's name, then he was allowed to speak again, so everybody knew that there was some miraculous things going on around the birth of this child. Just in case Elizabeth's advanced age and previous barren state weren't enough. The only part that I don't get is "The child grew and became strong in spirit, and he was in the desert until the day of his manifestation to Israel." Did Zechariah and Elizabeth live way out in the desert or something? Is this describing his spiritual state? Anyone?

News of the day goes back to our "fear not" theme on Sunday: (Hey, it's a slow news day.)

Fear of God banishes fear of man, Pope notes

So, I'm trying a few new things this week. First, I'm going all catholic all over the dates in the title, cause I'm tired of looking at the dates just repeat themselves at the top of the page. Second, I'm providing the readings as links, at the request of my husband. I prefer to read them all together on one page, but he has encouraged me to try links to save space. I am linking you to the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops page, just so you know that is where I've been cutting and pasting all of the readings from. By the way, you can always click on the title for every day's blog for all of the readings on one page.

So, here goes:

2 Kings 17:5-8, 13-15a, 18

I have to warn you, if you clicked on the link, you read above and beyond. You read all of the little in between verses that are not in the normal reading, which means that I have to read them. My hub is looking more and more wrong. But what about the reading?

I wonder if this is the story where they tell about how all of the tribes of Israel were whittled down to just the tribe of Judah. (I assume this is how they got the name "Jews", right?)

Now if you were reading between the verses like I was, you saw a mention of "sacred poles". Again with the poles! We saw them last week, and I wondered what they were, I was imaging European may poles. I looked them up on our handy dandy United States Conference of Catholic Bishops page, and it says "Sacred poles: "Ashera" was the name of a Canaanite goddess. In her honor wooden poles (asherot) were erected, just as stone pillars (massebot) were erected in honor of the god Baal. " So, they were still worshipping old gods from back in their beating-up-Canaan days, huh? No wonder God is ticked. He asked them to do a simple thing, and they just ignore him, and keep on partying with their idols and poles and pillars. So he wiped them out. Ouch.

The gospel reading for the day:

Mt 7:1-5

I have to come right out and say it: Christianity is hard. I am SO doomed if the way that I judge others is how I'm gonna be judged. I know that this is a downer, but it's my first response. It's probably the first response for a lot of people, so maybe we should just think of this as something to work on and shoot for. How great would the world be if everyone did this? I know that I sound all sunshine and butterflies right now, but seriously. Come on. If everybody judged our mistakes at work and home as lightly as they want to be judged by God, we could sail through this life, and stop arguing with each other.

Okay. Enough of the lovey hippie talk. Everyone be good, have a nice day, and go easy on your family and friends. See? Maybe God wants you to.

I'm trying to include a bit of a news link in every post, so here is today: Catholic Radio receives boost from Pope Benedict

An addition to Sunday  

Posted by siouxbhoney

I think that I've learned something today. I think on Sundays I will post the readings early, but wait until I get home from church to post any comments. I have the resource of a priest telling me his thoughts on the readings, and I feel the need to listen to what he has to say in the homily before I voice my opinion. Years of his study and contemplation kind of trump my neophyte status.

By the way, if you didn't click on it before, I love this news story: Holocaust survivors announce symposium on Pius XII’s work to save Jews during WWII

Sunday June 21, 2008 - Fear Not  

Posted by siouxbhoney

Jer 20:10-13

Jeremiah said:“I hear the whisperings of many:
‘Terror on every side!
Denounce! let us denounce him!’
All those who were my friends
are on the watch for any misstep of mine.
‘Perhaps he will be trapped; then we can prevail,
and take our vengeance on him.’
But the LORD is with me, like a mighty champion:
my persecutors will stumble, they will not triumph.
In their failure they will be put to utter shame,
to lasting, unforgettable confusion.
O LORD of hosts, you who test the just,
who probe mind and heart,
let me witness the vengeance you take on them,
for to you I have entrusted my cause.
Sing to the LORD,
praise the LORD,
for he has rescued the life of the poor from the power of the wicked!”

Rom 5:12-15

Brothers and sisters: Through one man sin entered the world, and through sin, death, and thus death came to all men, inasmuch as all sinned—for up to the time of the law, sin was in the world, though sin is not accounted when there is no law. But death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over those who did not sin after the pattern of the trespass of Adam, who is the type of the one who was to come. But the gift is not like the transgression. For if by the transgression of the one the many died, how much more did the grace of God and the gracious gift of the one man Jesus Christ overflow for the many.

Mt 10:26-33

Jesus said to the Twelve:“Fear no one. Nothing is concealed that will not be revealed, nor secret that will not be known. What I say to you in the darkness, speak in the light; what you hear whispered, proclaim on the housetops. And do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul; rather, be afraid of the one who can destroy both soul and body in Gehenna. Are not two sparrows sold for a small coin? Yet not one of them falls to the ground without your Father’s knowledge. Even all the hairs of your head are counted. So do not be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows. Everyone who acknowledges me before others I will acknowledge before my heavenly Father. But whoever denies me before others, I will deny before my heavenly Father.”

I'm combining all three readings today, because it's Sunday, I didn't do this last night, and I'm trying to make it to church early. In a nutshell, I think God wants us to be as big and strong as possible. So, he gives us lots of emotional work-outs. When we feel weak, Paul (Romans) tells us to look at the example of Jesus on the cross. It is a good point. Our suffering may be legitimate, may even be pretty bad, but we haven't been physically tortured and then nailed to a cross to die for a bunch of people who hate us anyway. God doesn't want us to be afraid. Things are tough now, he says, and will continue to be tough as long as you follow him. We have an entire lifetime of stumbling, hurting, and maybe a little persecution here and there. But it's made pretty clear all through the bible that we don't have to worry about fear as long as we follow God.