Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Navarre Bible Commentary:
Wednesday, 2nd Week in Easter

Photo by Don Gonzalez
At St. Francis in Waco, TX
John 3:16–21
16 For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. 17 For God sent the Son into the world, not to condemn the world, but that the world might be saved through him. 18 He who believes in him is not condemned; he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God. 19 And this is the judgment, that the light has come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. 20 For every one who does evil hates the light, and does not come to the light, lest his deeds should be exposed. 21 But he who does what is true comes to the light, that it may be clearly seen that his deeds have been wrought in God.
Catholic Exegesis:
The Second Vatican Council teaches  that if we are to derive the true meaning from the sacred texts,  attention must be devoted “not only to their content but to the unity of the whole of Scripture, the living tradition of the entire Church, and the analogy of faith. […] Everything to do with the interpretation of Scripture is ultimately subject to the judgment of the Church, which exercises the divinely conferred communion and ministry of watching over and interpreting the Word of God” (Dei Verbum, 12).
St. John Paul II, when he promulgated the Catechism of the Catholic Church,  explained that the Catechism "is a statement of the Church's faith and of catholic doctrine, attested to or illumined by Sacred Scripture, the Apostolic Tradition and the Church's Magisterium."  He went on to "declare it to be a sure norm for teaching the faith and thus a valid and legitimate instrument for ecclesial communion" (Fidei Depositum).
Cited in the Catechism:
Passages from this Gospel reading are cited in the Catechism, paragraphs 299,432, 444, 454, 458, 678, 679 and 708.
Commentary:
3:16–21. These words, so charged with meaning, summarize how Christ’s death is the supreme sign of God’s love for men (cf. the section on charity, pp. 30ff above). “ ‘For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son’ for its salvation. All our religion is a revelation of God’s kindness, mercy and love for us. ‘God is love’ (1 Jn 4:16), that is, love poured forth unsparingly. All is summed up in this supreme truth, which explains and illuminates everything. The story of Jesus must be seen in this light. ‘(He) loved me’, St Paul writes. Each of us can and must repeat it for himself—‘He loved me, and gave himself for me’ (Gal 2:20)” (Paul VI, Homily on Corpus Christi, 13 June 1976).

Christ’s self-surrender is a pressing call to respond to his great love for us: “If it is true that God has created us, that he has redeemed us, that he loves us so much that he has given up his only-begotten Son for us (cf. Jn 3:16), that he waits for us—every day!—as eagerly as the father of the prodigal son did (cf. Lk 15:11–32), how can we doubt that he wants us to respond to him with all our love? The strange thing would be not to talk to God, to draw away and forget him, and busy ourselves in activities which are closed to the constant promptings of his grace” (St JosemarĂ­a Escrivá, Friends of God, 251).

“Man cannot live without love. He remains a being that is incomprehensible for himself, his life is senseless, if love is not revealed to him, if he does not encounter love, if he does not experience it and make it his own, if he does not participate intimately in it. This […] is why Christ the Redeemer ‘fully reveals man to himself’. If we may use the expression, this is the human dimension of the mystery of the Redemption. In this dimension man finds again the greatness, dignity and value that belong to his humanity. […] The one who wishes to understand himself thoroughly […] must, with his unrest and uncertainty and even his weakness and sinfulness, with his life and death, draw near to Christ. He must, so to speak, enter into him with all his own self, he must ‘appropriate’ and assimilate the whole of the reality of the Incarnation and Redemption in order to find himself. If this profound process takes place within him, he then bears fruit not only of adoration of God but also of deep wonder at himself. How precious must man be in the eyes of the Creator, if he ‘gained so great a Redeemer’ (Roman Missal, Exultet at Easter Vigil), and if God ‘gave his only Son’ in order that man ‘should not perish but have eternal life’. […]

“Increasingly contemplating the whole of Christ’s mystery, the Church knows with all the certainty of faith that the Redemption that took place through the Cross has definitively restored his dignity to man and given back meaning to his life in the world, a meaning that was lost to a considerable extent because of sin. And for that reason, the Redemption was accomplished in the paschal mystery, leading through the Cross and death to Resurrection” (John Paul II, Redemptor hominis, 10).

Jesus demands that we have faith in him as a first prerequisite to sharing in his love. Faith brings us out of darkness into the light, and sets us on the road to salvation. “He who does not believe is condemned already” (v. 18). “The words of Christ are at once words of judgment and grace, of life and death. For it is only by putting to death that which is old that we can come to newness of life. Now, although this refers primarily to people, it is also true of various worldly goods which bear the mark both of man’s sin and the blessing of God. […] No one is freed from sin by himself or by his own efforts, no one is raised above himself or completely delivered from his own weakness, solitude or slavery; all have need of Christ, who is the model, master, liberator, saviour, and giver of life. Even in the secular history of mankind the Gospel has acted as a leaven in the interests of liberty and progress, and it always offers itself as a leaven with regard to brotherhood, unity and peace” (Vatican II, Ad gentes, 8).

Source: The Navarre Bible: Text and Commentaries. Biblical text from the Revised Standard Version and New Vulgate. Commentaries by members of the Faculty of Theology, University of Navarre, Spain.

Published by Four Courts Press, Kill Lane, Blackrock, Co. Dublin, Ireland, and by Scepter Publishers in the United States. We encourage readers to purchase The Navarre Bible for personal study. See Scepter Publishers for details.

Thursday, April 2, 2015

Spiritual Toolbox:
Holy Week and the Triduum


A Triduum Triptych by Stephen Crotts (via Facebook)
Holy Week
Palm Sunday marked the beginning of Holy Week. Today the Church amps up the liturgy as we get even closer to Easter. Early today and sometimes Wednesday night (Vigil Mass) the Church celebrates the Chrism Mass where all the liturgical oils are blessed by the local bishop as he is joined by all the priests of the diocese.

Rich Liturgy
This evening's Mass, Holy Thursday, marks the beginning of the shortest season on the Catholic Liturgical Calendar - The Triduum and the end of Lent. The term literally means "three days" and refers to the the three days of Christ's passion and death leading up to his glorious resurrection on Easter. The main lesson we can draw about this season is that we should experience it in its the totality. I recently wrote in a post on holiness, in which I argued that God provides us with all the tools necessary to answer the call to be holy. One of those tools is the liturgy. I cannot think of a richer liturgy than that celebrated on the three days of the Triduum.

Second Chances
Perhaps, like me, you found yourself lacking this Lenten season. Maybe you failed to practice all the good intentions of more prayer, daily Mass, or some other spiritual exercise. While all those practices are all important to our spiritual growth, we can still realign ourselves through the liturgy of the Triduum. It's not too late. Isn't incredible that the Lord is constantly giving us opportunities to reorient ourselves to Him?
Resources
Here are some additional resources to use in reflection for the next three days:

I still think Father Corapi's Triduum talks were some of the best on the subject. While he may no longer be in public ministry, that does not undermine the truth of what he taught. If you do an Internet search (keywords: Father Corapi + Triduum), the talks can still be located.

Busted Halo's Video on Holy Week

Saturday, March 21, 2015

The Seven Signposts on the Highway to Hell

Are you on the wide and easy path, or the narrow path? This two part post will help you sort it all out.

By MARK CONNOLLY, Joe Catholic Blogger at Large


Part the First:

Have you heard of the Seven Deadly Sins? What are the Seven Deadly Sins, and why are they considered deadly?


Are the Seven Deadly Sins also Mortal Sins? Doesn't the meaning of the word "mortal" mean death, since being immortal means never dying?


For that matter, what is sin anyway, and why are the wages of sin, death?


Since the answer to the last question is foundational, lets look at sin.

Read More Truth vs Reality

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Navarre Bible Commentary:
Wednesday, 4th Week in Lent

John 5:17–30
17 But Jesus answered them, “My Father is working still, and I am working.” 18 This was why the Jews sought all the more to kill him, because he not only broke the sabbath but also called God his Father, making himself equal with God.  
19 Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of his own accord, but only what he sees the Father doing; for whatever he does, that the Son does likewise. 20 For the Father loves the Son, and shows him all that he himself is doing; and greater works than these will he show him, that you may marvel. 21 For as the Father raises the dead and gives them life, so also the Son gives life to whom he will. 22 The Father judges no one, but has given all judgment to the Son, 23 that all may honor the Son, even as they honor the Father. He who does not honor the Son does not honor the Father who sent him. 24 Truly, truly, I say to you, he who hears my word and believes him who sent me, has eternal life; he does not come into judgment, but has passed from death to life.
25 “Truly, truly, I say to you, the hour is coming, and now is, when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God, and those who hear will live. 26 For as the Father has life in himself, so he has granted the Son also to have life in himself, 27 and has given him authority to execute judgment, because he is the Son of man. 28 Do not marvel at this; for the hour is coming when all who are in the tombs will hear his voice 29 and come forth, those who have done good, to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil, to the resurrection of judgment.
30 “I can do nothing on my own authority; as I hear, I judge; and my judgment is just, because I seek not my own will but the will of him who sent me.
Catholic Exegesis:
The Second Vatican Council teaches  that if we are to derive the true meaning from the sacred texts,  attention must be devoted “not only to their content but to the unity of the whole of Scripture, the living tradition of the entire Church, and the analogy of faith. […] Everything to do with the interpretation of Scripture is ultimately subject to the judgment of the Church, which exercises the divinely conferred communion and ministry of watching over and interpreting the Word of God” (Dei Verbum, 12).
St. John Paul II, when he promulgated the Catechism of the Catholic Church,  explained that the Catechism "is a statement of the Church's faith and of catholic doctrine, attested to or illumined by Sacred Scripture, the Apostolic Tradition and the Church's Magisterium."  He went on to "declare it to be a sure norm for teaching the faith and thus a valid and legitimate instrument for ecclesial communion" (Fidei Depositum).
Cited in the Catechism:
Passages from this Gospel reading are cited in the Catechism in 13 separate paragraphs.
Commentary:
5:16–18. The Law of Moses established the sabbath as a weekly day of rest. Through keeping the sabbath the Jews felt they were imitating God, who rested from the work of creation on the seventh day. St Thomas Aquinas observes that Jesus rejects this strict interpretation: “(The Jews), in their desire to imitate God, did nothing on the sabbath, as if God on that day had ceased absolutely to act. It is true that he rested on the sabbath from his work of creating new creatures, but he is always continually at work, maintaining them in existence. […] God is the cause of all things in the sense that he also maintains them in existence; for if for one moment he were to stop exercising his power, at that very moment everything that nature contains would cease to exist” (Comm. on St John, in loc.).

“My Father is working still, and I am working”: we have already said that God is continually acting. Since the Son acts together with the Father, who with the Holy Spirit are the one and only God, our Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God, can say that he is always working. These words of Jesus contain an implicit reference to his divinity: the Jews realize this and they want to kill him because they consider it blasphemous. “We all call God our Father, who is in heaven (Is 63:16; 64:8). Therefore, they were angry, not at this, that he said God was his Father, but that he said it in quite another way than men. Notice: the Jews understand what Arians do not understand. Arians affirm the Son to be not equal to the Father, and that was why their heresy was driven from the Church. Here, even the blind, even the slayers of Christ, understand the words of Christ” (St Augustine, In Ioann. Evang., 17, 16). We call God our Father because through grace we are his adopted children; Jesus calls him his Father because he is his Son by nature. This is why he says after the Resurrection: “I am ascending to my Father and your Father” (Jn 20:17), making a clear distinction between the two ways of being a son of God.

The authority of the Son of God (5:19–47)
5:19. Jesus speaks of the equality and also the distinction between Father and Son. The two are equal: all the Son’s power is the Father’s, all the Son does the Father does; but they are two distinct persons: which is why the Son does what he has seen the Father do.

These words of our Lord should not be taken to mean that the Son sees what the Father does and then does it himself, like a disciple imitating his master; he says what he says to show that the Father’s powers are communicated to the Son through generation. The word “see” is used because men come to know things through the senses, particularly through sight; to say that the Son sees what the Father does is a way of referring to all the powers which he receives from him for all eternity (cf. St Thomas Aquinas, Comm. on St John, in loc.).

5:20–21. When he says that the Father shows the Son “all that he himself is doing”, this means that Christ can do the same as the Father. Thus, when Jesus does things which are proper to God, he is testifying to his divinity through them (cf. v. 36).

“Greater works”: this may be a reference to the miracles Jesus will work during his lifetime and to his authority to execute judgment. But the miracle of Jesus was his own resurrection, the cause and pledge of our own (cf. 1 Cor 15:20ff), and our passport to supernatural life. Christ, like his Father, has unlimited power to communicate life. This teaching is developed in verses 22–29.

5:22–30. Authority to judge has also been given by the Father to the Incarnate Word. Whoever does not believe in Christ and in his word will be condemned (cf. 3:18). We must accept Jesus Christ’s lordship; by doing so we honour the Father; if we do not know the Son we do not know the Father who sent him (v. 23). Through accepting Christ, through accepting his word, we gain eternal life and are freed from condemnation. He, who has taken on human nature which he will retain for ever, has been established as our judge, and his judgment is just, because he seeks to fulfil the will of the Father who sent him, and he does nothing on his own account: in other words, his human will is perfectly at one with his divine will; which is why Jesus can say that he does not do his own will but the will of him who sent him.

5:22. God, being Creator of the world, is the supreme Judge of all creation. He alone can know with absolute certainty whether the people and things he has created achieve the end he has envisaged for them. Jesus Christ, the Incarnate Word, has received divine authority (cf. Mt 11:27; 28:18; Dan 7:14), including authority to judge mankind. Now, it is God’s will that everyone should be saved: Christ did not come to condemn the world but to save it (cf. Jn 12:47). Only someone who refuses to accept the divine mission of the Son puts himself outside the pale of salvation. As the Church’s Magisterium teaches: “He claimed judicial power as received from his Father, when the Jews accused him of breaking the sabbath by the miraculous cure of a sick man. […] In this power is included the right of rewarding and punishing all men, even in this life” (Pius XI, Quas primas, Dz-Sch 3677). Jesus Christ, therefore, is the Judge of the living and the dead, and will reward everyone according to his works (cf. 1 Pet 1:17).

“We have, I admit, a rigorous account to give of our sins; but who will be our judge? The Father […] has given all judgment to the Son. Let us be comforted: the eternal Father has placed our cause in the hands of our Redeemer himself. St Paul encourages us, saying, Who is [the judge] who is to condemn us? It is Jesus Christ, who died […] who indeed intercedes for us (Rom 8:34). It is the Saviour himself, who, in order that he should not condemn us to eternal death, has condemned himself to death for our sake, and who, not content with this, still continues to intercede for us in heaven with God his Father” (St Alphonsus Liguori, The Love of Our Lord Jesus Christ, chap. 3).

5:24. There is also a close connexion between hearing the word of Christ and believing in him who has sent him, that is, in the Father. Whatever Jesus Christ says is divine revelation; therefore, accepting Jesus’ words is equivalent to believing in God the Father: “He who believes in me, believes not in me, but in him who sent me. […] For I have not spoken on my own authority; the Father who sent me has himself given me commandment what to say and what to speak” (Jn 12:44, 49).

A person with faith is on the way to eternal life, because even in this earthly life he is sharing in divine life, which is eternal; but he has not yet attained eternal life in a definitive way (for he can lose it), nor in a full way: “Beloved, we are God’s children now; it does not yet appear what we shall be, but we know that when he appears we shall be like him” (1 Jn 3:2). If a person stays firm in the faith and lives up to its demands, God’s judgment will not condemn him but save him.

Therefore, it makes sense to strive, with the help of grace, to live a life consistent with the faith: “If men go to so much trouble and effort to live here a little longer, ought they not strive so much harder to live eternally?” (St Augustine, De verb. Dom. serm., 64).

5:25–30. These verses bring the first part of our Lord’s discourse to a close (it runs from 5:19 to 5:47); its core is a revelation about his relationship with his Father. To understand the statement our Lord makes here we need to remember that, because he is a single (divine) person, a single subject of operations, a single I, he is expressing in human words not only his sentiments as a man but also the deepest dimension of his being: he is the Son of God, both in his generation in eternity by the Father, and in his generation in time through taking up human nature. Hence Jesus Christ has a profound awareness (so profound that we cannot even imagine it) of his Sonship, which leads him to treat his Father with a very special intimacy, with love and also with respect; he is aware also of his equality with the Father; therefore when he speaks about the Father having given him life (v. 26) or authority (v. 27), it is not that he has received part of the Father’s life or authority: he has received absolutely all of it, without the Father losing any.

“Do you perceive how their equality is shown and that they differ in one respect only, namely, that one is the Father, while the other is the Son? The expression ‘he has given’ implies this distinction only, and shows that all the other attributes are equal and without difference. From this it is clear that he does everything with as much authority and power as the Father and is not endowed with power from some outside source, for he has life as the Father has” (St John Chrysostom, Hom. on St John, 39, 3).

One of the amazing things about these passages of the Gospel is how Jesus manages to express the sentiments of God-Man despite the limitations of human language. Christ, true God, true man, is a mystery which the Christian should contemplate even though he cannot understand it: he feels bathed in a light so strong that it is beyond understanding, yet fills his soul with faith and with a desire to worship his Lord.

Source: The Navarre Bible: Text and Commentaries. Biblical text from the Revised Standard Version and New Vulgate. Commentaries by members of the Faculty of Theology, University of Navarre, Spain.

Published by Four Courts Press, Kill Lane, Blackrock, Co. Dublin, Ireland, and by Scepter Publishers in the United States. We encourage readers to purchase The Navarre Bible for personal study. See Scepter Publishers for details.

"Ignorance of Scripture is ignorance of Christ." St Jerome  

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Navarre Bible Commentary:
Tuesday, 4th Week in Lent

Pool of Bethesda by James Tissot
John 5:1–16
1 After this there was a feast of the Jews, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem.
2 Now there is in Jerusalem by the Sheep Gate a pool, in Hebrew called Beth-zatha, which has five porticoes. 3 In these lay a multitude of invalids, blind, lame, paralyzed. 5 One man was there, who had been ill for thirty-eight years. 6 When Jesus saw him and knew that he had been lying there a long time, he said to him, “Do you want to be healed?” 7 The sick man answered him, “Sir, I have no man to put me into the pool when the water is troubled, and while I am going another steps down before me.” 8 Jesus said to him, “Rise, take up your pallet, and walk.” 9 And at once the man was healed, and he took up his pallet and walked.
Now that day was the sabbath. 10 So the Jews said to the man who was cured, “It is the sabbath, it is not lawful for you to carry your pallet.” 11 But he answered them, “The man who healed me said to me, ‘Take up your pallet, and walk.’” 12 They asked him, “Who is the man who said to you, ‘Take up your pallet, and walk’?” 13 Now the man who had been healed did not know who it was, for Jesus had withdrawn, as there was a crowd in the place. 14 Afterward, Jesus found him in the temple, and said to him, “See, you are well! Sin no more, that nothing worse befall you.” 15 The man went away and told the Jews that it was Jesus who had healed him. 16 And this was why the Jews persecuted Jesus, because he did this on the sabbath.
Catholic Exegesis:
The Second Vatican Council teaches  that if we are to derive the true meaning from the sacred texts,  attention must be devoted “not only to their content but to the unity of the whole of Scripture, the living tradition of the entire Church, and the analogy of faith. […] Everything to do with the interpretation of Scripture is ultimately subject to the judgment of the Church, which exercises the divinely conferred communion and ministry of watching over and interpreting the Word of God” (Dei Verbum, 12).
St. John Paul II, when he promulgated the Catechism of the Catholic Church,  explained that the Catechism "is a statement of the Church's faith and of catholic doctrine, attested to or illumined by Sacred Scripture, the Apostolic Tradition and the Church's Magisterium."  He went on to "declare it to be a sure norm for teaching the faith and thus a valid and legitimate instrument for ecclesial communion" (Fidei Depositum).
Cited in the Catechism:
Passages from this Gospel reading are cited in the Catechism, paragraphs 575, 583 and 594.
Commentary:
Curing of a paralyzed man (5:1–18)
5:1. We cannot be certain what festival this was; it probably refers to the Passover, known the world over at the time as the national festival of the Jewish people. But it could refer to another festival, Pentecost perhaps.

5:2. This pool was also called the “Probatic” pool because it was located on the outskirts of Jerusalem, beside the Probatic Gate or Sheep Gate (cf. Neh 3:1–32; 12:39) through which came the livestock to be sacrificed in the temple. Around the end of the nineteenth century the remains of a pool were discovered: excavated out of rock, it was rectangular in shape and was surrounded by four galleries or porches, with a fifth porch dividing the pool into two.

5:3–4. The Fathers teach that this pool is a symbol of Christian Baptism; but that whereas the pool of Bethzatha cured physical ailments, Baptism cures those of the soul; in Bethzatha’s case only one person was cured, now and again; Baptism is available to everyone, at all times; in both cases God’s power is shown through the medium of water (cf. Chrysostom, Hom. on St John, 36, 1).

The Sixto-Clementine edition of the Vulgate includes here, as a second part of v. 3 and all v. 4: “Exspectantium aquae motum. 4 Angelus autem Domini descendebat secundum tempus in piscinam et movebatur aqua. Et qui prior descendisset in piscinam post motionem aquae sanus fiebat a quacumque detinebatur infirmitate” [which translates as the RSV note k below]. The New Vulgate, however, omits this passage, assigning it to a footnote, because it does not appear in important Greek codexes and papyri, nor in many ancient translations.

5:14. The man may have come to the temple to thank God for his cure. Jesus goes over to him and reminds him that the health of the soul is more important than physical health.

Our Lord uses holy fear of God as motivation in the struggle against sin: “Sin no more, that nothing worse befall you”. This holy fear is born out of respect for God our Father; it is perfectly compatible with love. Just as children love and respect their parents and try to avoid annoying them partly because they are afraid of being punished, so we should fight against sin firstly because it is an offence against God, but also because we can be punished in this life and, above all, in the next.

5:16–18. The Law of Moses established the sabbath as a weekly day of rest. Through keeping the sabbath the Jews felt they were imitating God, who rested from the work of creation on the seventh day. St Thomas Aquinas observes that Jesus rejects this strict interpretation: “(The Jews), in their desire to imitate God, did nothing on the sabbath, as if God on that day had ceased absolutely to act. It is true that he rested on the sabbath from his work of creating new creatures, but he is always continually at work, maintaining them in existence. […] God is the cause of all things in the sense that he also maintains them in existence; for if for one moment he were to stop exercising his power, at that very moment everything that nature contains would cease to exist” (Comm. on St John, in loc.).

“My Father is working still, and I am working”: we have already said that God is continually acting. Since the Son acts together with the Father, who with the Holy Spirit are the one and only God, our Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God, can say that he is always working. These words of Jesus contain an implicit reference to his divinity: the Jews realize this and they want to kill him because they consider it blasphemous. “We all call God our Father, who is in heaven (Is 63:16; 64:8). Therefore, they were angry, not at this, that he said God was his Father, but that he said it in quite another way than men. Notice: the Jews understand what Arians do not understand. Arians affirm the Son to be not equal to the Father, and that was why their heresy was driven from the Church. Here, even the blind, even the slayers of Christ, understand the words of Christ” (St Augustine, In Ioann. Evang., 17, 16). We call God our Father because through grace we are his adopted children; Jesus calls him his Father because he is his Son by nature. This is why he says after the Resurrection: “I am ascending to my Father and your Father” (Jn 20:17), making a clear distinction between the two ways of being a son of God.

Source: The Navarre Bible: Text and Commentaries. Biblical text from the Revised Standard Version and New Vulgate. Commentaries by members of the Faculty of Theology, University of Navarre, Spain.

Published by Four Courts Press, Kill Lane, Blackrock, Co. Dublin, Ireland, and by Scepter Publishers in the United States. We encourage readers to purchase The Navarre Bible for personal study. See Scepter Publishers for details.

"Ignorance of Scripture is ignorance of Christ." St Jerome