Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Conversation with Non-Catholic

Questioner:  You know, when you pray to Mary you are introducing a mediator between God and man and that goes against God  because He said that “there is one God and one mediator between God and mankind, the man Christ Jesus.”

An adequate reply:  If that’s the way you feel then don’t you ever, ever ask me to pray for you ever again.  You see, the minute you ask me to pray for you in your time of need you are putting me between you and our one mediator, Jesus Christ.

What we Catholics are doing when praying to Mary is to ask her to pray to Jesus on our behalf in the same way as you would ask me to pray for you on your behalf.  When Paul spoke of the one mediator he introduced the subject by stating that it was good for us to pray for one another (1 Tim 2:1-5).  It is good for one member of the Body of Christ to pray for the well-being of another member of the Body of Christ and since not even (physical) death can separate us from the love of God that is in Jesus Christ (Rom 8:38-39) then even those members of the Body who have physically died are alive and well in heaven because Jesus tells us directly that the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jabob is a God of the living implying that Abraham, Isaac and Jacob are alive(Matt 22:32).  And because death will not separate us from the Body of Christ means that those who have died in friendship with God are not only alive but that they are STILL members of the Body of Christ.


Questioner: But they’re dead.  They can’t hear your prayers.

Reply: What would be the point of asking for intercessory prayers if the people we are asking are not aware of us or of our prayers?  Well we can find that they ARE aware of us in Heb 12:1 where it says: Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.”  Or in Luke 15:18 where Luke tells us that their is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner that repenteth.

We can see that the saints in heaven are not only alive just as Abraham, Isaac and Jacob are alive but that they are indeed aware of what is happening here on earth.

And so ‘dead’ saints are alive in heaven, aware of what is happening on earth and can pray for our well-being just as we can pray for the well-being of others.


God Bless

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

The Roman Church as Prophesied in the Old Testament

Did you know that the “Roman identity” of the New Testament Church was foretold in the Old Testament? If we understand the Jewish prophets, we will see that the Church of Jesus Christ would necessarily be “Roman.”

It relates to a vision found in the second chapter of Daniel. This chapter describes a dream of Nebuchadnezzar about an enormous statue composed of four different materials. First, the head was of gold. Second, the chest and arms were of silver. Third, the belly and thighs were of bronze. Fourth, the legs and feet were of iron and clay. According to the vision, a stone will be hewn from a mountain without human hands and cast into the statue. This small rock smashes against the statue’s iron and clay feet, which causes the entire statue to crumble. Then the small rock becomes a great mountain and fills the entire earth.

Daniel interpreted the dream in the following way. First, the golden head was Nebuchadnezzar and his Babylonian Empire. Next, an inferior kingdom would then follow the Babylonian Empire, as silver is inferior to gold. Then, a third kingdom would arise inferior to the second kingdom, as bronze is inferior to silver. Lastly a fourth kingdom would arise that was different than the previous three. As for the small uncut rock cast down from Heaven, Daniel explains:

And in the days of those kings, the God of heaven will set up a kingdom that shall never be destroyed, nor shall its sovereignty be left to another people. It shall break in pieces all these kingdoms and bring them to an end, and it shall stand forever; just as you saw that a stone was cut from a mountain by no human hand, and that it broke in pieces the iron, the bronze, the clay, the silver, and the gold. A great God has made known to the king what shall be hereafter. The dream is certain, and its interpretation sure (Dan 2:44-45).

The stone from Heaven in the days of the Fourth Kingdom signifies that “the God of heaven will set up a kingdom that shall never be destroyed.”

Looking in back in time, we understand the prophecy as corresponding to the following historical chronology when heathen kingdoms ruled over the Jews:

  1. Babylonian Empire (ca. 587-539 B.C.)
  2. Medo-Persian Empire (ca. 539-331 B.C.)
  3. Greek Empire (ca. 331-168 B.C.)
  4. Roman Empire (ca. 63 B.C.-A.D. 70)

It was in fact in the days of the Fourth Kingdom, the Roman Empire that God established His Messianic Kingdom:

In those days a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be enrolled…And Joseph also went up from Galilee, from the city of Nazareth, to Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and lineage of David, to be enrolled with Mary, his betrothed, who was with child. And while they were there, the time came for her to be delivered (Lk 2:1-6).

It is also common knowledge that Christ was crucified under Pontius Pilate, the Roman governor of Judea. From a historical point of view we see that the Rock of Ages came crashing into the Roman Empire. The Kingdom of Christ began precisely when Daniel predicted—during the era of the Fourth Kingdom, the Kingdom of Rome.

It is important to note here that the Four Kingdoms of the Gentiles also began to anticipate a Messiah in their own way. Ezekiel and Daniel called King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon “the King of Kings” (Ezek 26:7; Daniel 2:37), a title given subsequently to Jesus Christ. Isaiah called King Cyrus of Persia “the Messiah” (Isaiah 45:1), a surprising use of the term for a Gentile king! Alexander the Great of Greece united the Mediterranean world, had himself proclaimed the “Son of God,” and died at the age of thirty-three. The Greco-Syrian ruler Antiochus IV later ruled the Promised Land, desecrated the Temple, and in turn became a type of the False Messiah or Antichrist. But it was Rome that was the final “kingdom” and it was inherited by Christ and His saints.

As we see in Daniel 2, “[Rome's] sovereignty shall be left to another people” and it would happen through the introduction of a stone or rock – a Petros or Peter!

God Bless

Monday, July 21, 2014

The Weeds Among the Wheat

This Sunday’s Gospel reading:
The Parable of Weeds among the Wheat

24 He put before them another parable: “The kingdom of heaven may be compared to someone who sowed good seed in his field; 25 but while everybody was asleep, an enemy came and sowed weeds among the wheat, and then went away. 26 So when the plants came up and bore grain, then the weeds appeared as well. 27 And the slaves of the householder came and said to him, ‘Master, did you not sow good seed in your field? Where, then, did these weeds come from?’ 28 He answered, ‘An enemy has done this.’ The slaves said to him, ‘Then do you want us to go and gather them?’ 29 But he replied, ‘No; for in gathering the weeds you would uproot the wheat along with them. 30 Let both of them grow together until the harvest; and at harvest time I will tell the reapers, Collect the weeds first and bind them in bundles to be burned, but gather the wheat into my barn.’”


From the Haydock online Bible Commentary:
Ver. 24. Another parable he proposed. As in the preceding parable our Lord spoke of those who did not receive the word, so in this he speaks of those who receive the corrupted word; for it is a diabolical machination to confound error with truth. (St. Chrysostom in St. Thomas Aquinas) --- There are three things worthy of observation in this parable.

1st.  That the Church of God on earth consists of both good and bad; the 2nd.  That God is not the author of evil; the 3d. that God does not always punish the wicked on the spot, but patiently bears with them. (Menochius)

Ver. 25. Were asleep. When the superiors or pastors of the Church were lulled asleep or negligent, or, when the apostles were dead, as St. Augustine expounds it, the devil spread the tares or error and sin amongst a great number of Christians. These falling from the state of grace, or becoming heretics, are yet mingled with the rest of the faithful in the same outward profession of Christianity, not unlike the good corn and cockle in the same field.

Ver. 29. No, lest, &c. The prayers of repenting sinners are never despised. We are taught also by this example not to cut off too hastily a fallen brother;  for, whatever he may be today, tomorrow perhaps he may see his error and embrace the truth. (St. Jerome). --- Jesus Christ exhorts us to bear with infidels and heretics, not on our own account only, as wicked men are frequently of use to the virtuous, but also on their account; for sometimes the persons who have been corrupted and perverted, will return to the paths of virtue and truth. Let, therefore, both grow until the harvest, i.e. to the day of judgment, when the power of rectifying another's error shall be no more. (St. Augustine in St. Thomas Aquinas) --- When many are implicated in one misfortune, what remains but to bewail their condition. Let us then be willing to correct our brethren to the utmost of our power, but let it be always with mercy, charity and compassion; what we cannot correct, let us bear with patience, permitting what God permits, and interceding with him to move and convert their hearts. But when an opportunity offers, let us publicly advocate the truth, and condemn error. (St. Jerome) --- St. Augustine affirms, that no one should be compelled by force to an unity of religious tenets: such as dissent for us must be persuaded by words, overcome by argumentation, and convinced by reason. (St. Thomas Aquinas)

As you can plainly see we can find scholars from the first centuries onward, from Augustine (c.400 AD) to Aquinas (c.1400 AD), to Menochius in the 17th century all the way to today , throughout the Catholic Church’s 2000 year history, the belief that the Church, which is the Kingdom of God on Earth, is visible in which both good and evil individuals are members of it until the end of time, ie at Harvest Time.

God Bless

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Clearing up Confusion

What is a "Parable"?

Definition: "At its simplest a parable is a metaphor or simile drawn from nature or common life, arresting the hearer by its vividness or strangeness, and leaving the mind in sufficient doubt about its precise application to tease it into active thought." (C. H. Dodd, The Parables of the Kingdom , New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1961, p. 5)

We might think that Jesus spoke in parables to make it easier for people to understand his message. According to the Gospels, however, he surprisingly does NOT expect everyone to understand them! This is clearly expressed in Matthew 13:10-17:

10 Then the disciples came and asked him, "Why do you speak to them [the crowds] in parables?"
11 He answered, "To you it has been given to know the secrets of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it has not been given.
12 For to those who have, more will be given, and they will have an abundance; but from those who have nothing, even what they have will be taken away.
13 The reason I speak to them in parables is that 'seeing they do not perceive, and hearing they do not listen, nor do they understand.' (cf. Isa 6:9-10)

There were many times when His listeners didn’t understand Jesus’ sayings as we can plainly see in this particular parable but also in many instances in the Gospel writings.  And every time they didn’t understand, Jesus explained further to help clarify His message to all or to the Apostles alone.  For example, Jesus makes sure the Apostles understood His parable before moving on to the next when He asked them if they understood the parable of the Net.  He aked: 51 Have you understood all these things?” Jesus asked.  “Yes,” they replied.”

 In instances when they didn’t understand, the Apostles asked Him to elaborate, to explain as we see in Mat 13 verse 36 where the Apostles ask: ““Explain to us the parable of the weeds in the field.”  He then goes on to explain the parable further.

We can easily show many instances where Jesus spoke in parables in terms that confused His listeners but in every case He either continued to explain Himself until they understood or the Apostles went to Jesus and asked Him to explain His saying further.

This is why we must reject the Protestant argument that Jesus would allow His listeners to turn away from Him simply because they misunderstood His teaching on His Flesh being the Bread of Life in Chapter 6 of John’s Gospel.  That we must eat His flesh and drink His Blood to have eternal life was not a parable, metaphor or simply symbolic language because this would mean that  Jesus would have allowed His listeners to turn away from Him on a misunderstanding which would make Him a terrible teacher, something He never did in any other time during His ministry.  It would mean that in this one instance when His listeners didn’t understand would be allowed to leave without a word of explanation to them or His Apostles.  No, Jesus spoke literally when He said that we must eat His Flesh and drink His Blood to have eternal life.

God Bless

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Power of the Keys

Let us consider one of the most striking parallels between Jesus Christ and the good King Hezekiah.  We read in 2 Kings 20 that the King is mortally ill and that he prays to the Lord.  Then the Lord speaks through his holy prophet Isaiah that the king is to go up to the temple on the third day and his life will be saved and the city will be saved as well.  Thus, Christ’s own resurrection on the third day was foreshadowed and how He brought His own Body back to Life and saved the city, the New Jerusalem, the Church.

A very important thing happened in the life of King Hezekiah that Jesus Christ later alludes to.

Isaiah 22:19-23

“I will thrust you from your office and pull you down from your station. On that day I will summon my servant Eliakim, son of Hilkiah; I will clothe him with your robe, and gird him with your sash, and give over to him your authority. He shall be a father to the inhabitants of Jerusalem, and to the house of Judah. I will place the key of the House of David on his shoulder; when he opens, no one shall shut, when he shuts, no one shall open. I will fix him like a peg in a sure spot, to be a place of honor for his family”

Compare Isaiah 22 with Matthew 16:18-19 which states:

“And so I say to you, you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church, and the gates of the netherworld shall not prevail against it. I will give you the keys to the kingdom of heaven.  Whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven; and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven."

This title, or position was also known in non-Jewish governments and we can see that the power that the holder of the keys actually has can be determined by reading Gen 41:39-40 “So Pharaoh said to Joseph: ‘…You shall be in charge of my palace,…Only in respect to the throne shall I outrank you.’”  Gen 41 seems to suggest that he ruled not by exercising his own private judgment, but rather was in charge of executing the will of the king.

We see this confirmed in Isaiah 22:22 when we read that the Master of the palace will rule such that when “he opens, no one shall shut, when he shuts, no one shall open.”  This passage presupposes that he will just be executing a judgment in keeping with the will of the king, or else it would have said, “what he opens, no one shall shut, except for the king.”  The Master of the palace is, so to speak, the agent or mouthpiece for the king.

One important point in Isaiah 22 is that it is the transfer of the keys that designates Eliakim as the new master of the palace, “I will place the key of the House of David on his shoulder…”  King David had been dead many years when this took place.  Therefore, this verse shows that the office of key holder/master of the palace, was an office with successors just as the office of king was.  It was the transferring of the keys that denoted the transfer of power to the new successor of this office as the king’s representative, his regent, the master of the palace.

It was God the Father who had picked Peter to be the one to proclaim Jesus as the Messiah.  And it was upon hearing this that Jesus alludes to that passage in Isaiah 22 above and gives the keys to Saint Peter. Matthew 16:13, 19 “‘You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God... , you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church, and the gates of the netherworld shall not prevail against it. I will give you the keys to the kingdom of heaven.  Whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven; and what you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.’”

The keys represent absolute power to rule.  They are owned by the King of Israel who entrusts them to his representative the "master of the palace."   Christ is the true King of Israel.   Just as in Isaiah 22 above where the keys are handed down to the successors of the king’s prime minister we see Christ giving His keys to his designated   "master of the palace,"  his chief minister, his vicar, St. Peter.

That the "gates of the netherworld shall not prevail against it" also implies succession for Peter’s office just as the holders of the keys of David had successors.  Peter died. Yet, Christ’s promise is true.  Peter who became the Bishop of Rome has a successor.    The future tense used in Matthew 16, "will build"   and "will give you the keys," refers to what Christ will give to St. Peter after the Resurrection.

We find many instances Jesus comparing the kingdom of heaven to a field, a mustard seed, leaven, and a net (Matt 13:24-52).  This demonstrate that the kingdom Jesus is talking about the universal Church on earth, not the eternal state of glory. Jesus comparing the kingdom of heaven to ten maidens, five of whom were foolish (Matt 25:1-2), further shows that the kingdom is the Church on earth.  This kingdom cannot refer to the heavenly kingdom because there are no fools in heaven!  Again, the “kingdom of God” is like the seed which grows and develops (Mark 4:26-32).  The heavenly kingdom is eternal, so the kingdom to which Peter holds the keys of authority is the earthly Church.  The one Jesus Himself founded.

Let’s put it all together with what we’ve learned today. God promises to establish the Davidic kingdom forever on earth (2 Sam 7:16; Psalm 89:3-4; 1 Chron 17:12,14) and Matthew clearly establishes this tie from David to Jesus in the first lines of his Gospel when he describes the genealogy from David to Jesus Himself.  Jesus is the new King of the new House of David, and the King will assign a chief steward to rule over the house while the King is in heaven.  We see that the keys of the kingdom pass from Shebna to Eliakim (Isa 22:22).  Thus, the keys are used not only as a symbol of authority, but also to facilitate succession.  We see in the early Church that successors are immediately chosen for the apostle’s offices (Acts 1:20).  Just as the Church replaced Judas, it also replaced Peter with a successor after Peter’s death.  The keys of Christ’s kingdom have passed from Peter to Linus all the way to our current Pope with an unbroken lineage for almost 2,000 years.

God Bless