Sunday, January 31, 2016

Sola Scriptura

Today’s readings reminded me of one of the major problems that most non-Catholic Christians have with their idea that Scripture is to be our final authority in right-Christian living as well as finding out what is to be believed as doctrinally true.

Let’s set aside the fact that this rule can nowhere be found in our Scriptures (the Bible) and therefore defeats its own rule.  What I mean by that is if our final authority in determining what is doctrinally true is the Bible then this rule ought to be found in our Bible.  And it isn’t.  What I found in today’s readings that reminded me of this was the fact that not only is this rule of ‘Sola Scriptura’ not found in Scripture but Scripture itself teaches something that is opposite of this premise.

In the first reading from today we find Ezra the priest lift up the Scriptures of the time to the people and begins reading it to them.  As we can see, Scriptures are indeed very important since they are the written Word of God but Ezra not only “read plainly from the book of the law of God” he also interpreted it “so that all could understand what was read.” (Neh 8:8)

Even in the Old Testament times we see a need for some in authority to interpret the Scriptures so that we all may understand it properly.  Before the time of Jesus these interpreters ended up misapplying the Scriptures and erred on matters of faith and morals when interpreting the written Word of God.  Since Jesus came to ‘fix’ the problems of the times, does this mean that we shouldn’t have an authority to help us understand Scripture properly?  By no means!  Jesus came to ‘fix’ the problems, that is he came to fulfill, not to destroy the old system.

The reason that the Jews veered off course in understanding the written Word of God is because they hadn’t receive the promise of God that they would be guided into all truth as the leaders of the new Kingdom, that is His Church (John 16:13).  When Jesus instituted His Church here on earth, he fulfilled what was lacking previously.  He promised them that whatever they bound on earth would be bound in heaven (Mat 18:18).  Since nothing untrue can be bound in heaven, we understand Jesus’ statement to mean that the Holy Spirit will guide the Church into binding and loosing the faithful in an infallible manner on matters of faith and morals.

Jesus tells His followers that the last authority in guiding fellow Christians to the truth is the Church (Mat 18:15-17) and so when a major disagreement arose between Paul and some judaizers, those judaizers and Paul were sent to the Church to settle the matter which we now call the council of Jerusalem (Acts 15:2).  Their decision in settling the matter was guided by the Holy Spirit (Acts 15:28) and was binding not only for the local congregation but to all the faithful (Acts 16:4).  We see examples of these councils throughout history all the way up to the Second Vatican Council of the 1960’s.  Since the Church is the final authority, Paul describes the Church, not the Scriptures, as being the upholder and standard of the truth (1 Tim 3:15).  Therefore the doctrine of Sola Scriptura (Scripture alone) is not only nowhere found in our Bible, it is actually contrary to what the Bible teaches.

God Bless

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

The Wedding at Cana

In the Wedding: Scott Hahn Reflects on the Second Sunday in Ordinary Time

Isaiah 62:1-5
Psalm 96:1-37-10
1 Corinthians 12:4-11
John 2:1-12 (see also "’On the Hour’”)

Think of these first weeks after Christmas as a season of "epiphanies." The Liturgy is showing us Who Jesus is and what He has revealed about our relationship with God.

Last week and the week before, the imagery was royal and filial - Jesus is the newborn king of the Jews who makes us co-heirs of Israel's promise, beloved children of God. Last week in the Liturgy we went to a Baptism.

This week we're at a wedding.

We're being shown another dimension of our relationship with God. If we're sons and daughters of God, it's because we've married into the family.

Have you ever wondered why the Bible begins and ends with a wedding - Adam and Eve's in the garden and the marriage supper of the Lamb (compare
Genesis 2:23-24 and Revelation 19:921:922:17)?

Throughout the Bible, marriage is the symbol of the covenant relationship God desires with His chosen people. He is the Groom, humanity His beloved and sought-after bride. We see this reflected beautifully in today's First Reading.

When Israel breaks the covenant she is compared to an unfaithful spouse (see
Jeremiah 2:20-363:1-13). But God promises to take her back, to "espouse" her to Him forever in an everlasting covenant (see Hosea 2:18-22).

That's why in today's Gospel, Jesus performs His first public "sign" at a wedding feast.

Jesus is the divine Bridegroom (see 
John 3:29), calling us to His royal wedding feast (see Matthew 22:1-14). By His New Covenant, He will become "one flesh" with all humanity in the Church (see Ephesians 5:21-33). By our Baptism, each of us has been betrothed to Christ as a bride to a Husband (see 2 Corinthians 11:2).

The new wine that Jesus pours out at today's feast is the gift of the Holy Spirit given to His bride and body, as today's Epistle says. This is the "salvation" announced to the "families of nations" in today's Psalm. 
Scott Hahn, Ph.D.

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Thursday, January 7, 2016

The Anointing

The Liturgy last week revealed the mystery of God's plan - that in Jesus all peoples, symbolized by the Magi, have been made "co-heirs" to the blessings promised Israel. This week, we're shown how we claim our inheritance.
Jesus doesn't submit to John's baptism as a sinner in need of purification. He humbles Himself to pass through Jordan's waters in order to lead a new "exodus" - opening up the promised land of heaven so that all peoples can hear the words pronounced over Jesus today, words once reserved only for Israel and its king: that each of us is a beloved son or daughter of God (see Genesis 22:2; Exodus 4:22; Psalm 2:7).

Jesus is the chosen servant Isaiah prophesies in today's First Reading, anointed with the Spirit to make things right and just on earth. God puts His Spirit upon Jesus to make Him "a covenant of the people," the liberator of the captives, the light to the nations. Jesus, today's Second Reading tells us, is the One long expected in Israel, "anointed...with the Holy Spirit and power."

The word Messiah means "one anointed" with God's Spirit. King David was "the anointed of the God of Jacob" (see
 2 Samuel 23:1-17; Psalm 18:51;132:10,17). The prophets taught Israel to await a royal offshoot of David, upon whom the Spirit would rest (see Isaiah 11:1-2; Daniel 9:25).

That's why the crowds are so anxious at the start of today's Gospel. But it isn't John they're looking for. God confirms with His own voice what the Angel earlier told Mary - Jesus is the Son of the Most High, come to claim the throne of David forever (see Luke 1:32-33).

In the Baptism that He brings, the voice of God will hover over the waters as fiery flame, as we sing in today's Psalm. He has sanctified the waters, made them a passage-way to healing and freedom - a fountain of new birth and everlasting life.

Yours in Christ,
Scott Hahn, PhD