Friday, November 30, 2012

December 1, 2012

Saturday of the Thirty-fourth Week in Ordinary Time
Lectionary: 508

Reading 1 from St. John's book of Revelations
Rv 22:1-7

John said:
An angel showed me the river of life-giving water,
The river of life-giving water is the Holy Spirit.  The river of Grace.

sparkling like crystal, flowing from the throne of God
It flows from the throne of God wherein sits the Father.

and of the Lamb down the middle of the street,
I think this means, "and FROM the Lamb".  The river of grace which is the Holy Spirit flows from the Father and the Son down the middle of the street called "Straight".  That is a reference to Acts 9:11, which contains the address of the Church.

On either side of the river grew the tree of life
that produces fruit twelve times a year, once each month;
the leaves of the trees serve as medicine for the nations.
The tree of life grows on both sides of the river.  The tree of life is Christ.  But in this case, Christ is the source of the river.  But the tree of life grows on either side, that is, on both sides of the river.  So, this must be the Church.  Because, the Church is the Body of Christ.  And we, who are members of that Body, the Church,  are made in the image of Christ when we bathe in the grace of the Holy Spirit, which is Baptism, (aka "the regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit"..

Nothing accursed will be found anymore.
When we are baptized, our sins are washed away calling on the name of the Lord.  But this is also a reference to the Heavenly Jerusalem, which is the Church in heaven.  Wherein, no sinful thing may enter.

The throne of God and of the Lamb will be in it,
and his servants will worship him.
God the Father and God the Son will be there, abiding with them who have have kept His Commandments and partaken of the Holy Eucharist, because the true worship of Christ consists of loving neighbor and uniting ourselves to Him in the Mass.

They will look upon his face, and his name will be on their foreheads.
Night will be no more, nor will they need light from lamp or sun,
for the Lord God shall give them light,
and they shall reign forever and ever.
And God Himself will be our Light.  And we will be united to Him forever.

And he said to me, "These words are trustworthy and true,
and the Lord, the God of prophetic spirits,
sent his angel to show his servants what must happen soon."
"Behold, I am coming soon."
Blessed is the one who keeps the prophetic message of this book.

And the angels said to St. John that this message is true and he is now being sent to the Church to prepare us for the events which will happen soon.

This is a veiled reference to the Mass.  All the preceding, everything in the book of Revelations, takes place in the Mass.  The Mass is the union of heaven and earth.

In order to understand the relationship of the book of Revelations to the Mass, I wholeheartedly recommend Scott Hahn's, The Lamb's Supper. 

 Type "Lamb's Supper in the search field at LHCM, upper right hand corner of the screen.

Responsorial Psalm
Ps 95:1-2, 3-5, 6-7ab

R. (1 Cor 16: 22b, see Rev. 22: 20c) Marana tha! Come, Lord Jesus!

Come, let us sing joyfully to the LORD;
let us acclaim the Rock of our salvation.
Let us come into his presence with thanksgiving;
let us joyfully sing psalms to him.

R. Marana tha! Come, Lord Jesus!

For the LORD is a great God,
and a great king above all gods;
In his hands are the depths of the earth,
and the tops of the mountains are his.
His is the sea, for he has made it,
and the dry land, which his hands have formed.

R. Marana tha! Come, Lord Jesus!

Come, let us bow down in worship;
let us kneel before the LORD who made us.
For he is our God,
and we are the people he shepherds, the flock he guides.

R. Marana tha! Come, Lord Jesus!

Marana tha, is Aramaic which means, "come Lord".  Our Lord is Jesus, therefore we simply add His name.  It is found in Scripture:

1 Corinthians 16:22If any man love not the Lord Jesus Christ, let him be Anathema Maranatha.

When we say this word, we are celebrating our Lord's coming in the Eucharist and looking forward to our Lord's coming in the clouds in the End Time.

A reading from the Holy Gospel according to St. Luke
Lk 21:34-36

Jesus said to his disciples:
"Beware that your hearts do not become drowsy
from carousing and drunkenness
and the anxieties of daily life,
and that day catch you by surprise like a trap.
For that day will assault everyone
who lives on the face of the earth.
Be vigilant at all times
and pray that you have the strength
to escape the tribulations that are imminent
and to stand before the Son of Man."
Strange.  I don't remember reading this verse before.  But, it is a frequently repeated lesson of Christ's.  We must be prepared for His coming.  We don't want to be caught with our spiritual pants down.


De Maria

St. Paul and the Apostles

Romans 3:26 Through the forbearance of God, for the shewing of his justice in this time; that he himself may be just, and the justifier of him, who is of the faith of Jesus Christ. 27 Where is then thy boasting? It is excluded. By what law? Of works? No, but by the law of faith. 28 For we account a man to be justified by faith, without the works of the law.
Thats how the Douay says it. Here's how the quintessential Protestant Bible says it:
Romans 3:26-28 (King James Version) 26To declare, I say, at this time his righteousness: that he might be just, and the justifier of him which believeth in Jesus. 27Where is boasting then? It is excluded. By what law? of works? Nay: but by the law of faith. 28Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith without the deeds of the law.
I see no big difference. The two versions are virtually identical as far as the meaning goes.
When speaking to Protestants about this verse, they generally quote it as Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith. Some will say, Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith apart from works. But they generally leave out “of the law.” And these words are very important to the idea that St. Paul is expressing.
Why? Because of the example which St. Paul is using. Abraham.
Continue reading until you get to Chapter 4 verse 2:
For if Abraham were justified by works, he hath whereof to glory; but not before God. 3For what saith the scripture? Abraham believed God, and it was counted unto him for righteousness.
Now we know that St. Paul is speaking of works of the law because that is what he was speaking of in the last chapter. He didn't suddenly change subjects. However, he has omitted the words of the law at this point.
Lets keep reading: 4Now to him that worketh is the reward not reckoned of grace, but of debt. Here, St. Paul says that to the person who works, the reward is a wage or a debt, not a free gift of grace.
5But to him that worketh not, but believeth on him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness. But to the person who does not work, but only believes in God who justifies the sinner, that person's faith is counted as righteousness.

6Even as David also describeth the blessedness of the man, unto whom God imputeth righteousness without works, 7Saying, Blessed are they whose iniquities are forgiven, and whose sins are covered. 8Blessed is the man to whom the Lord will not impute sin.
Now, here it gets a little confusing. If you go back to Psalm 32, you will find that David is speaking of a repentant sinner who has asked forgiveness. As we said before, he is speaking of himself and the sin committed with Bathsheba. And then he confessed his sin to Nathan the High Priest and God forgave him. Catholics will recognize this ritual. It is very similar to the Catholic Sacrament of Reconciliation. But the Jews did not have Sacraments. They had a Covenant. This Covenant imparted grace from God, but not Sacramental or Sanctifying grace. God imparted His grace, then as now, only to those who believed. Only to those who had faith. This is the first type of Justification of the sinner by God.
Ok, lets keep reading because St. Paul mixes both types of justification into this discourse. 9Cometh this blessedness then upon the circumcision only, or upon the uncircumcision also? for we say that faith was reckoned to Abraham for righteousness. 10How was it then reckoned? when he was in circumcision, or in uncircumcision? Not in circumcision, but in uncircumcision.
Did you get that? This is very important. At the time that God reckoned Abraham was righteous, ABRAHAM WAS NOT YET CIRCUMCISED. This is the idea that St. Paul was expressing by saying, “apart from works of the Law”.
Circumcision is a requirement of the Old Testament Law. Therefore circumcision is a “work of the Law”. And Abraham was reckoned just or righteous, APART FROM WORKS OF THE LAW.
Now, for brevity's sake, we're going to skip around a bit. But you can read the entire text yourself. The point I want to make here, is that Protestants always point to Romans 3:28 and say that St. Paul was teaching “faith alone”. At this point however, I want to direct you to Romans 4:17-24. Lets continue reading from there:
17(As it is written, I have made thee a father of many nations,) before him whom he believed, even God, who quickeneth the dead, and calleth those things which be not as though they were.

St. Paul reminds us that God made Abram the father of all nations. That is what Abraham means.
18Who against hope believed in hope, that he might become the father of many nations, according to that which was spoken, So shall thy seed be.
And Abraham believed IN HOPE. St. Paul describes hope as being a step higher than faith:

2 Corinthians 10:15 Not boasting of things without our measure, that is, of other men's labours; but having hope, when your faith is increased, that we shall be enlarged by you according to our rule abundantly, You see, we hope when our faith is increased.

So Abraham didn't just have faith in God. He hoped in God.
19And being not weak in faith, he considered not his own body now dead, when he was about an hundred years old, neither yet the deadness of Sarah's womb:
Ok, now we're getting to the part I wanted you to read. St. Paul says that Abraham was not weak in faith. BUT THAT'S NOT ALL. Abraham was one hundred years old, because he is not weak in faith he does not consider his own body dead. What does that have to do with anything? God has just promised that Abraham will be the father of nations. In modern lingo, that means that Abraham has to get busy. Abraham and Sarah have to get busy. But St. Paul says even more. Abraham and Sarah have been married close to 70 years and Sarah has never conceived. But Abraham has so much faith and hope in God that he doesn't even consider that little detail. In one short verse, St. Paul tells us that Abraham puts his faith to work. Lets continue.
20He staggered not at the promise of God through unbelief; but was strong in faith, giving glory to God; And he did not doubt in God's promises. Thus giving glory to God. 21And being fully persuaded that, what he had promised, he was able also to perform.
And because he was completely convinced that God could bring to accomplishment what He had promised...
22And therefore it was imputed to him for righteousness. Therefore, God credited to him as righteousness.
You see? Abraham's faith was strong and vibrant. It wasn't dead. How do we know? Because St. Paul says that Abraham acted upon the promises of God, thus giving glory to God. How did he act upon those promises? By uniting himself with his wife in the conjugal act. Even though he was a hundred years old, even though her womb had never borne a child before. He believed God and put his faith to work. As St. James would have said:
James 2:22 Seest thou how faith wrought with his works, and by works was faith made perfect?
It can't be any plainer to me. St. Paul and St. James agree completely. THEREFORE, because St. Paul believed, he did not consider his body dead or Sarah's womb closed, and he performed the duty, the work, which every husband must perform who wants to have a child by his wife. THEREFORE it was counted to him as righteousness. He was credited as just. Not because of faith alone, but because of faith and works. Not works of the law, but works of obedience.
Alrightee then! Its time to skip again. This time, to Romans 5:9 9Much more then, being now justified by his blood, we shall be saved from wrath through him.
Notice that he doesn't mention our works at all at this point, but only the Blood of Christ. Catholics are very familiar with this Sacrament. It is the Eucharistic Chalice which makes present the Blood He shed on the Cross. Again, this is a reference to Sacramental Justification.
Moving on to Romans 9: 31But Israel, which followed after the law of righteousness, hath not attained to the law of righteousness. 32Wherefore? Because they sought it not by faith, but as it were by the works of the law. For they stumbled at that stumblingstone;
This is another idea which St. Paul frequently expresses, the ineffect of works without faith. What we would call, “works alone”. Frequently, Protestants unfairly accuse the Catholic Church of teaching works alone. But the Catholic Church teaches that the Sacraments are works of God and that justification is by faith AND works. Not by works alone and not by faith alone.
There's another idea which is addressed by St. Paul which is not addressed by any other Scripture writer. It is the idea of grace vs. works. Romans 11:6 (King James Version)
6And if by grace, then is it no more of works: otherwise grace is no more grace. But if it be of works, then it is no more grace: otherwise work is no more work.
At first glance, this statement is about “justification by grace”. And it is, but primarily it is about “election by grace”. What is “election”? Election is the idea that, because God is all knowing, He PRE selected or predestined those who would be justified and then saved. This is a very difficult topic which we will only touch upon right now. But you can look it up under the heading of “predestination”. Catholic and Protestant ideas of “predestination” are very close but not identical. Especially distinguished because of the Protestant idea of “irresistible grace” which is not taught by the Catholic Church. Anyway, that is what Romans 11:6 is about. It is about why God chose the Jews to be saved in the first place and explains that they did not lose their election although many of them lost their salvation. Lets look at the context:
Romans 11 1I say then, Hath God cast away his people? God forbid. For I also am an Israelite, of the seed of Abraham, of the tribe of Benjamin. In Romans,
I have been taught that St. Paul is speaking to a Gentile Church. That is to say, a Church composed mostly of former Gentiles. At this point in the Epistle, he is explaining why the Jews were cut off and the Gentiles grafted on the tree which is the body of Christ.
2God hath not cast away his people which he foreknew. Wot ye not what the scripture saith of Elias? how he maketh intercession to God against Israel saying,
And he explains that God has not cast away the Jews. They will still be saved.
3Lord, they have killed thy prophets, and digged down thine altars; and I am left alone, and they seek my life. 4But what saith the answer of God unto him? I have reserved to myself seven thousand men, who have not bowed the knee to the image of Baal.
He uses as an example an episode from the Old Testament with Elijah wherein God had set aside 7000 men, prophets, who did not bow down to Baal.

5Even so then at this present time also there is a remnant according to the election of grace.
And he explains that God did not choose them or those present because of their works, but because of His Mercy and Grace.
6And if by grace, then is it no more of works: otherwise grace is no more grace. But if it be of works, then it is no more grace: otherwise work is no more work.
Therefore, he says, we were elected by grace. It is not something which we could earned. Perhaps I need to explain this a bit further. There are many things which God has done for our salvation with which we had nothing to do except that God loves us. For instance:
1.The Incarnation. God did not become man because of our faith or because of anything else we may have done. He became man in order to give us another opportunity to be united to Him because of His Love and Mercy.
2.The Crucifixion. God did not die on the Cross because of our faith or because of anything we have done. In fact, it is more because of our lack of faith that God died on the Cross thereby giving us an example of self sacrifice that we could follow.
3.The Resurrection. God did not come back from the dead because of our faith or lack there of, but because He wanted to inspire in us hope for our salvation by providing for us evidence of what would happen to everyone who was faithful and obedient unto death.
7What then? Israel hath not obtained that which he seeketh for; but the election hath obtained it, and the rest were blinded. 8(According as it is written, God hath given them the spirit of slumber, eyes that they should not see, and ears that they should not hear;) unto this day. 9And David saith, Let their table be made a snare, and a trap, and a stumblingblock, and a recompence unto them: 10Let their eyes be darkened, that they may not see, and bow down their back alway. 11I say then, Have they stumbled that they should fall? God forbid: but rather through their fall salvation is come unto the Gentiles, for to provoke them to jealousy. In this long section,
St. Paul says that the Jews were not thrown away, but were permitted to stumble that the Gentiles would be saved and the Jews provoked to jealousy.
12Now if the fall of them be the riches of the world, and the diminishing of them the riches of the Gentiles; how much more their fulness? 13For I speak to you Gentiles, inasmuch as I am the apostle of the Gentiles, I magnify mine office: 14If by any means I may provoke to emulation them which are my flesh, and might save some of them. 15For if the casting away of them be the reconciling of the world, what shall the receiving of them be, but life from the dead?
And just as Jesus Christ came back from the dead, God may bring the Jews back from the dead. Anyway, I hope that is enough to prove that this idea is not about justification of the individual, but about election, first of the Jewish nation and then of the Gentiles.
Galatians 2:16 (King James Version) 16Knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law, but by the faith of Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Jesus Christ, that we might be justified by the faith of Christ, and not by the works of the law: for by the works of the law shall no flesh be justified. Here's another instance of the terminology, “works of the law”.
But if you read the entire chapter and the next, you will find that the idea expressed is about the Sacraments, Baptism in particular.
26For ye are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus. 27For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ. 28There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus. 29And if ye be Christ's, then are ye Abraham's seed, and heirs according to the promise.
In essence, it boils down to the idea that those who are baptized are children of God. And if we are children of God then we belong to the Body of Christ, who alone was given the promise through Abraham. In other words, if we have faith in Jesus Christ, we will be baptized, justified by God and inherit the promise given to the Son, whom we have become, having become Abraham's seed.
Ephesians 2:8 (King James Version) 8For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God:
This is a beautiful verse, which is frequently mistaken for a teaching on faith alone, but which really needs to be broken down into its separate parts to be understood correctly.

8For by grace are ye saved
The main idea being addressed here is that we are saved by God by His Grace.

through faith;

And that faith itself is a form of grace. This is why it says “by grace, through faith”.

and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God:

And that idea is confirmed here. Faith doesn't come from us, it is a gift of God. Therefore, we owe everything to God.
If we continue reading, he also addresses “works”:

9Not of works, lest any man should boast.

If we combine verse 8 and 9, we see that we are not saved either because of our faith or our works. Our salvation is the Gift of God. Jesus Christ died on the Cross because He loves us. Not because of anything we did.
10For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them. This verse has a subtle double meaning which we need to explore.
1st. We are His Workmanship-All mankind was created by God. If we read Genesis, we see that God rested after He created us on the sixth day.
Genesis 1:27 So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them.
2nd. Created in Christ Jesus unto good works.
All mankind was created in and through Christ Jesus. He is the first and the last. We were created in Him and without Him nothing was made.
Col 1:15-16 15Who is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of every creature: 16For by him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him, and for him:
3rd. But we are also recreated in Christ in Baptism. We become new Creations putting on Christ Jesus. Wherein we are born again in Christ Jesus. And created to perform good works which God fore ordained that we should obey Him.
4th. And in neither circumstance were our works necessary. God did not create us because we did anything. We didn't exist. He created us because He wanted someone to give His love. And God didn't become incarnate, die on the Cross and come back from the dead because of anything we did that was good. But because of His great love and mercy which impelled Him to save us.
5th.Why does He love us? Because He created us in Christ Jesus, His Son. That covers most of the verses which many interpret and say that St. Paul is teaching faith alone. At this point, I'd like to introduce one verse which I believe shows that St. Paul does not ever teach faith alone:
Hebrews 5:9 And being made perfect, he became the author of eternal salvation unto all them that obey him;
Generally, Protestants believe that salvation and justification occur at the same time. Some even say they are the same thing. But they are not.   If Jesus saved only those who obey, then it is by faith and works that one is saved, because obedience implies works.



De Maria

Prepare the Way of the King

Thursday, November 29, 2012

November 30, 2012

Feast of Saint Andrew, Apostle

St. Andrew, the brother of Simon, surnamed BarJonah.  Read more about these brothers.

Lectionary: 684

Reading 1 from St. Paul's epistle to the RomansRom 10:9-18

Brothers and sisters:
If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord
and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead,
you will be saved.
For one believes with the heart and so is justified,
and one confesses with the mouth and so is saved.
The Scripture says,
No one who believes in him will be put to shame.
There is no distinction between Jew and Greek;
the same Lord is Lord of all,
enriching all who call upon him.
For everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.
The assumption of St. Paul in this teaching, is that believing we obey and do that which God commands.  As Jesus said:

Matthew 7:21-27
King James Version (KJV)
21 Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven.
22 Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works?
23 And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.
24 Therefore whosoever heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them, I will liken him unto a wise man, which built his house upon a rock:
25 And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell not: for it was founded upon a rock.
26 And every one that heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them not, shall be likened unto a foolish man, which built his house upon the sand:
27 And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell: and great was the fall of it.

Its not enough to claim to believe.
But how can they call on him in whom they have not believed?
And how can they believe in him of whom they have not heard?
And how can they hear without someone to preach?
And how can people preach unless they are sent?
As it is written,
How beautiful are the feet of those who bring the good news!
Here is the confirmed the value of Tradition.  The Gospel of the Lord passed down by word.  Yes, the Scriptures are useful, but teaching by word is still and will always be the most valuable tool for passing the faith down generation to generation.

But not everyone has heeded the good news;
for Isaiah says, Lord, who has believed what was heard from us?
Thus faith comes from what is heard,
and what is heard comes through the word of Christ.
But I ask, did they not hear?
Certainly they did; for
Their voice has gone forth to all the earth,
and their words to the ends of the world.
It is the Catholic Church which has taught the whole world.  And today, many still don't believe.

Responsorial Psalm
Ps 19:8, 9, 10, 11

R. (10) The judgments of the Lord are true, and all of them are just.
R. (John 6:63) Your words, Lord, are Spirit and life.

The law of the LORD is perfect,
refreshing the soul;
The decree of the LORD is trustworthy,
giving wisdom to the simple.

R. The judgments of the Lord are true, and all of them are just.
R. Your words, Lord, are Spirit and life.

The precepts of the LORD are right,
rejoicing the heart;
The command of the LORD is clear,
enlightening the eye.

R. The judgments of the Lord are true, and all of them are just.
R. Your words, Lord, are Spirit and life.

The fear of the LORD is pure,
enduring forever;
The ordinances of the LORD are true,
all of them just.

R. The judgments of the Lord are true, and all of them are just.
R. Your words, Lord, are Spirit and life.

They are more precious than gold,
than a heap of purest gold;
Sweeter also than syrup
or honey from the comb.

R. The judgments of the Lord are true, and all of them are just.
R. Your words, Lord, are Spirit and life.

This Psalm reminds us that to be faithful believers, we must do the Commandments of God.

1 John 5:3
For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments: and his commandments are not grievous.

A reading from the Holy Gospel according to St. Matthew
Mt 4:18-22

As Jesus was walking by the Sea of Galilee, he saw two brothers,Simon who is called Peter, and his brother Andrew,casting a net into the sea; they were fishermen.
This recounts when Jesus met Sts. Peter (formerly Simon barJonah) and Andrew.

He said to them,
"Come after me, and I will make you fishers of men."
They were fishermen, but now they would pursue the souls of men.

At once they left their nets and followed him.
Astonishingly, they dropped everything and followed Him?  The Spirit of God must have been powerful in them.

He walked along from there and saw two other brothers,
James, the son of Zebedee, and his brother John.
Then Jesus met the Sons of Thunder:

Mark 3:17
And James the son of Zebedee, and John the brother of James; and he surnamed them Boanerges, which is, The sons of thunder:

This is the name that Jesus gave them. Zebedee (i.e. Boanerges) must have been an impressive man.

They were in a boat, with their father Zebedee, mending their nets.He called them, and immediately they left their boat and their fatherand followed him.
They left everything also, even their father, and followed Him as well.  Wow!


De Maria 

St. Paul and the Apostles continued

St. James' teaching, on the other hand, was very basic. He was not talking about the faith and works needed to bring about Sacramental justification, nor about the faith and works needed to bring about God's election, nor about the faith and works for God to become Incarnate man. St. James was only talking about one type of justification. The justification brought about by the participation of a man in the goodness of God. The justification brought about by a man obeying God's Will which is proclaimed in the Ten Commandments. The justification brought about by a man who accepts the grace of God in faith and exercising that faith works in obedience to God. This is why St. James says:

James 2:18 Yea, a man may say, Thou hast faith, and I have works: shew me thy faith without thy works, and I will shew thee my faith by my works. Lets break that down. Yea, a man may say, Somebody says Thou hast faith you have faith and I have works and I, St. James, have works shew me thy faith without thy works, And I will challenge you to show me your faith WITHOUT your works and I will shew thee my faith by my works. 

And I will show you my faith BY my works. In other words, faith is made evident by works. Simply claiming to have faith is not proof of faith. This is why he also says:

James 2:14 What doth it profit, my brethren, though a man say he hath faith, and have not works? can faith save him?

In other words, faith without works can't save anyone. He repeats this teaching almost immediately saying: James 2:17 Even so faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone.

So, faith, without works, is dead. If repeating it once is not enough, he says it again in a different way:

James 2:24 Ye see then how that by works a man is justified, and not by faith only. NOT BY FAITH ALONE.

Do you see that? So, I simply don't see how some people can claim that St. James is speaking here of works AFTER justification when he clearly states that a man is justified BY works and NOT BY faith alone. Nor can I understand how some claim that this is a works alone teaching. Because, if we break it down, he says: by works a man is justified AND not by faith ONLY. In other words, a man is justified by works and by faith. Not by works alone, not by faith alone. But by a combination of both.

This is the process which brings us to the work of God known as Baptism, wherein God Himself regenerates and recreates us in the image of His Son. Faith brings us to the table. And we must be open to the Sacrament. We must believe God can do what He promised. But only God can do for us what He promised. We can't do it ourselves. It is called, “ex opere operato”. Someone may ask, “well isn't that faith alone?” And I ask in turn, “How many Protestants, believing in faith alone, also believe in the Sacraments?” They don't! Because they consider the Sacraments are works of men. Whereas we know that the Sacraments are works of God, ALONE.
More tomorrow, perhaps...


De Maria

Journey through Advent


Wednesday, November 28, 2012

November 29, 2012

Thursday of the Thirty-fourth Week in Ordinary Time
Lectionary: 506

Reading 1 from St. John's book of Revelations
Rv 18:1-2, 21-23; 19:1-3, 9a

I, John, saw another angel coming down from heaven,
having great authority,
and the earth became illumined by his splendor.
John continues recounting his vision of the end times.  He sees a mighty angel come down from heaven in great light and glory.

He cried out in a mighty voice:
"Fallen, fallen is Babylon the great.
She has become a haunt for demons.
She is a cage for every unclean spirit,
a cage for every unclean bird,
a cage for every unclean and disgusting beast."
The angel narrates the description of Babylon, which is the veiled name for Jerusalem.  Read more.

A mighty angel picked up a stone like a huge millstone
and threw it into the sea and said:
"With such force will Babylon the great city be thrown down,
and will never be found again.
No melodies of harpists and musicians,
flutists and trumpeters,
will ever be heard in you again.
No craftsmen in any trade
will ever be found in you again.
No sound of the millstone
will ever be heard in you again.
No light from a lamp
will ever be seen in you again.
No voices of bride and groom
will ever be heard in you again.
Because your merchants were the great ones of the world,
all nations were led astray by your magic potion."
This song describes the devastation which Jerusalem suffered at the hands of the Romans in the year 70ad. Read more.

Jesus prophesied about this:

Matthew 24:1-2
King James Version (KJV)
1 And Jesus went out, and departed from the temple: and his disciples came to him for to shew him the buildings of the temple.
2 And Jesus said unto them, See ye not all these things? verily I say unto you, There shall not be left here one stone upon another, that shall not be thrown down.

After this I heard what sounded like
the loud voice of a great multitude in heaven, saying:
Salvation, glory, and might belong to our God,
for true and just are his judgments.
He has condemned the great harlot
who corrupted the earth with her harlotry.
He has avenged on her the blood of his servants."
They said a second time:
"Alleluia! Smoke will rise from her forever and ever."
Then the rest of the angels took up the chorus.  Singing about the destruction of Jerusalem.  The Great City which had killed our Lord:

Revelation 11:8
And their dead bodies shall lie in the street of the great city, which spiritually is called Sodom and Egypt, where also our Lord was crucified.

Then the angel said to me, "Write this:
Blessed are those who have been called
to the wedding feast of the Lamb."
Then the first angel turned to St. John and proclaimed the blessedness of those who are called to the "wedding feast of the Lamb".

The wedding feast of the Lamb is a veiled description of the Mass, the Eucharistic celebration.  It is here that we, who are Christians, are united to our Lord when we receive His Body in the Eucharist.  Therefore, the book of Revelations also says:

Revelation 22:14
King James Version (KJV)
14 Blessed are they that do his commandments, that they may have right to the tree of life, and may enter in through the gates into the city.

Therefore, those who are called to the "wedding feast of the Lamb" are Christians who are called to be united to Christ in the Mass:

John 6:56
He that eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, dwelleth in me, and I in him.
In a more explicit manner, the wedding feast of the Lamb is our union with Christ in Eternity:
Revelation 21
King James Version (KJV)
21 And I saw a new heaven and a new earth: for the first heaven and the first earth were passed away; and there was no more sea.
2 And I John saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband.
3 And I heard a great voice out of heaven saying, Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and he will dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and God himself shall be with them, and be their God. 

Responsorial Psalm
Ps 100:1b-2, 3, 4, 5

R. (Rev. 19: 9a) Blessed are they who are called to the wedding feast of the Lamb.

Sing joyfully to the LORD, all you lands;
serve the LORD with gladness;
come before him with joyful song.

R. Blessed are they who are called to the wedding feast of the Lamb.

Know that the LORD is God;
he made us, his we are;
his people, the flock he tends.

R. Blessed are they who are called to the wedding feast of the Lamb.

Enter his gates with thanksgiving,
his courts with praise;
Give thanks to him; bless his name.

R. Blessed are they who are called to the wedding feast of the Lamb.

For he is good:
the LORD, whose kindness endures forever,
and his faithfulness, to all generations.

R. Blessed are they who are called to the wedding feast of the Lamb.

The Mass is the wedding feast of the Lamb.  All who partake of His body are they who have been washed by water and the word, the Baptized:
Ephesians 5:25-27
King James Version (KJV)
25 Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it;  26 That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word,
27 That he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish.

A reading from the Holy Gospel according to St. Luke
Lk 21:20-28

Jesus said to his disciples:
"When you see Jerusalem surrounded by armies,
know that its desolation is at hand.
Then those in Judea must flee to the mountains.
Let those within the city escape from it,
and let those in the countryside not enter the city,
for these days are the time of punishment
when all the Scriptures are fulfilled.
Jesus prophetically describes the events of 70ad, when Jerusalem was besieged and utterly destroyed.

Woe to pregnant women and nursing mothers in those days,
for a terrible calamity will come upon the earth
and a wrathful judgment upon this people.
They will fall by the edge of the sword
and be taken as captives to all the Gentiles;
and Jerusalem will be trampled underfoot by the Gentiles
until the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled.
The Gentiles are the Romans who utterly destroyed Jerusalem.  The time of the Gentiles refers to the fact that the Gentiles will be those whom God has grafted to the root of His Vine:

Romans 11:20-25
King James Version (KJV)
20 Well; because of unbelief they were broken off, and thou standest by faith. Be not highminded, but fear:
21 For if God spared not the natural branches, take heed lest he also spare not thee.
22 Behold therefore the goodness and severity of God: on them which fell, severity; but toward thee, goodness, if thou continue in his goodness: otherwise thou also shalt be cut off.
23 And they also, if they abide not still in unbelief, shall be grafted in: for God is able to graft them in again.
24 For if thou wert cut out of the olive tree which is wild by nature, and wert grafted contrary to nature into a good olive tree: how much more shall these, which be the natural branches, be grafted into their own olive tree?
25 For I would not, brethren, that ye should be ignorant of this mystery, lest ye should be wise in your own conceits; that blindness in part is happened to Israel, until the fulness of the Gentiles be come in.

"There will be signs in the sun, the moon, and the stars,
and on earth nations will be in dismay,
perplexed by the roaring of the sea and the waves.
People will die of fright
in anticipation of what is coming upon the world,
for the powers of the heavens will be shaken.
And then they will see the Son of Man
coming in a cloud with power and great glory.
But when these signs begin to happen,
stand erect and raise your heads
because your redemption is at hand."
Here, in my opinion, Jesus effortlessly and seamlessly moves into a description of the events at the end of time.  His words become mysterious like those of Daniel's 70 weeks and St. John's Apocalypse.

This is, I believe, intentional.  In order that mankind will not become complacent and say that the end will never come.  Because the end will come to each one of us, when we meet our Maker on our deathbed.  Therefore, be prepared.


De Maria

St. Paul and the Apostles

I do a great deal of discussing, well, to put it bluntly, of arguing, on the internet, with Protestants. The discussion is frequently about “faith alone” and I'm generally explaining why “faith alone” is a false teaching.
It is during these discussions that I have had the opportunity to study the Scripture passages which support the Catholic and the Protestant positions.
During these debates, it has become sort of politically correct to say that St. James and St. Paul were in complete agreement with each other. Protestants will say that St. James and St. Paul agree with each other on faith alone. And Catholics will agree that they agree with each other, but that they both teach faith and works.
But the Scriptures don't bear this out. St. Paul and St. James do not appear to be agreeing with each other. In fact, non-Christians and Atheists go as far as to say that St. Paul started another religion apart from Christianity.
In order to see what, in my opinion, is really going on, we need to back up to the beginning, even before St. Paul was de-horsed. When he was still known as Saul of Tarsus.
Reading the Scriptures, we see that Saul was a hard, even a cruel, man. Completely consumed with zeal for the traditions of his father, he approved of the martyring of St. Stephen:
Acts 7:57 And casting him forth without the city, they stoned him; and the witnesses laid down their garments at the feet of a young man, whose name was Saul.
And he asked for permission to persecute the Church:
Acts 9:1 And Saul, as yet breathing out threatenings and slaughter against the disciples of the Lord, went to the high priest, 2 And asked of him letters to Damascus, to the synagogues: that if he found any men and women of this way, he might bring them bound to Jerusalem.
And his conversion to a Christian didn't break his spirit. St. Paul was a tough man, no doubt about it! And an unforgiving man. In the following verse, St. Paul fights with St. Barnabus, because St. Paul won't forgive John Mark's so called “desertion” on a previous missionary journey.
Acts 15:38 But Paul desired that he (as having departed from them out of Pamphylia, and not gone with them to the work) might not be received. 39 And there arose a dissension, so that they departed one from another; and Barnabas indeed taking Mark, sailed to Cyprus. 40 But Paul choosing Silas, departed, being delivered by the brethren to the grace of God.
No sir, forgiving was not something that came natural to St. Paul. But we've gotten a little bit ahead of our story, you see when St. Paul first came into the Church, he was mistrusted:
Acts 10:13 But Ananias answered: Lord, I have heard by many of this man, how much evil he hath done to thy saints in Jerusalem. 14 And here he hath authority from the chief priests to bind all that invoke thy name.
And St. Paul didn't do a lot to endear himself. Straightway, he began to teach in such a way that he was accused of contradicting Moses by the Christians of Jewish background:
Acts Of Apostles 21:21 Now they have heard of thee that thou teachest those Jews, who are among the Gentiles, to depart from Moses: saying, that they ought not to circumcise their children, nor walk according to the custom.
And this brings us to St. James. Irresistable force meet the immovable object. The entire group of Apostles and disciples seemed to be composed of tough men. St. Barnabus hadn't let St. Paul phase him when they had their ruckus over St. John Mark. He just took St. John Mark with him and departed from St. Paul's company. And St. James was no push over either. In fact, he literally manhandled St. Paul. Listen to this:
Acts 21:22 What is it therefore? the multitude must needs come together: for they will hear that thou art come. 23 Do therefore this that we say to thee. We have four men, who have a vow on them. 24 Take these, and sanctify thyself with them: and bestow on them, that they may shave their heads: and all will know that the things which they have heard of thee, are false; but that thou thyself also walkest keeping the law.
You're in my diocese now Buddy! Tomorrow you shave and take a vow and show everyone that YOU ALSO KEEP THE LAW!
Yessirree Bob! St. James didn't play. You want to come over here preaching all kinds of novelties, we're going to straighten you out!
And what did St. Paul do? Did he kick and scream and object? No. He took a little weight off his head: 26 Then Paul took the men, and the next day being purified with them, entered into the temple, giving notice of the accomplishment of the days of purification, until an oblation should be offered for every one of them.
But that's understandable. St. James is formidable.
St. Paul and St. James, St. James and St. Paul. I don't think they were BFF. I just don't get that impression from Scripture. What do you think?
Anyway, lets get back to St. Paul. Put yourself in his shoes. There you are on your missionary journeys and then you hear in Church, something cryptic from St. John, the beloved of Christ, “ 19 They went out from us, but they were not of us. For if they had been of us, they would no doubt have remained with us; but that they may be manifest, that they are not all of us. (1 John 2) ”? To whom is he referring? To me?
And then you hear something from St. James. “24 Do you see that by works a man is justified; and not by faith only? (James 2) ”! Is he contradicting ME?
And then, you hear your name mentioned: 2 Peter 3:15 And account the longsuffering of our Lord, salvation; as also OUR MOST DEAR BROTHER PAUL, according to the wisdom given him, hath written to you: 16 As also in all his epistles, speaking in them of these things; IN WHICH ARE CERTAIN THINGS HARD TO BE UNDERSTOOD, which the unlearned and unstable wrest, as they do also the other scriptures, to their own destruction.
Wow! Thanks for the endorsement, Pete! No wonder he had to confront them.
Galatians 2
1 Then, after fourteen years, I went up again to Jerusalem with Barnabas, taking Titus also with me. 2 And I went up according to revelation; and communicated to them the gospel, which I preach among the Gentiles, but apart to them who seemed to be some thing: lest perhaps I should run, or had run in vain.
And note how he speaks of them. Surely this is a man whose feelings are hurt:
6 But of them who seemed to be some thing, (what they were some time, it is nothing to me, God accepteth not the person of man,) for to me they that seemed to be some thing added nothing. 7 But contrariwise, when they had seen that to me was committed the gospel of the uncircumcision, as to Peter was that of the circumcision. 8 (For he who wrought in Peter to the apostleship of the circumcision, wrought in me also among the Gentiles.) 9 And when they had known the grace that was given to me, James and Cephas and John, who seemed to be pillars, gave to me and Barnabas the right hands of fellowship: that we should go unto the Gentiles, and they unto the circumcision: 10 Only that we should be mindful of the poor: which same thing also I was careful to do.
Surely the Holy Spirit had informed St. Paul that St. Peter was first annointed to the mission of the gentiles.
Acts Of Apostles 15:7 And when there had been much disputing, Peter, rising up, said to them: Men, brethren, you know, that in former days God made choice among us, that by my mouth the Gentiles should hear the word of the gospel, and believe.
But St. Paul here seems to belittle not just St. Peter's mission but also his authority. As well as St. Jame's and St. John's.
What a soap opera folks! The Apostles were human!
And then of course, the famous confrontation wherein St. Paul, the man who had St. Timothy circumcised, the man who boasts that he is everything to everyone, accuses St. Peter of being a hypocrite?!
Its lucky for St. Paul that St. Peter was transformed and at a higher level of holiness at this point in their faith journey. Otherwise, St. Paul may have been out on his ear. He was talking to the man to whom Jesus Christ said:
What you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, what you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.
And that's where they were folks. St. James had heard many things about St. Paul's teachings. Perhaps he had even read the manuscripts. And in my opinion, he either understood that St. Paul was teaching “faith alone” OR he understood that many of his parishoners thought that St. Paul was teaching “faith alone”. And St. James was preaching against faith alone in no uncertain terms. Lets look at the first chapter of his epistle and I'll show you:
James 1:22-25 But be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves. 23 For if a man be a hearer of the word, and not a doer, he shall be compared to a man beholding his own countenance in a glass. 24 For he beheld himself, and went his way, and presently forgot what manner of man he was. 25 But he that hath looked into the perfect law of liberty, and hath continued therein, not becoming a forgetful hearer, but a doer of the work; this man shall be blessed in his deed.
Those who read his Epistle and somehow get faith alone out of it are simply twisting his words. St. James said, “by works a man is justified and NOT BY FAITH ONLY. (2:24)”
That's pretty clear.
BUT, the Catholics will say, St. Paul was not teaching faith alone either.
No, I don't believe so either. And we'll go through a thorough examination of his words in order to show that he wasn't in a little while. However, I think we need to understand something else about St. Paul. St. Paul was taught by one of the greatest Jewish Theologians of all time. GAMALIEL.
Acts 22:1 Men, brethren, and fathers, hear ye the account which I now give unto you. 2 (And when they heard that he spoke to them in the Hebrew tongue, they kept the more silence.) 3 And he saith: I am a Jew, born at Tarsus in Cilicia, but brought up in this city, at the feet of Gamaliel, taught according to the truth of the law of the fathers, zealous for the law, as also all you are this day:
The rest of the Apostles were mere fishermen. Except for Matthew, a tax collector. None, except St. Paul, were trained theologians. So when St. Paul taught the Christian faith, he spoke in terms which St. Peter said were, “...hard to be understood...(2 Peter 3:16).
And this explains, to me anyway, why in Galatians, he questioned whether he was running in vain, and spoke so disparagingly about the Apostles. He was thinking, “they just don't get it!”
And he was right. Again, that's just my opinion, but I think he was right. They were talking past each other. He was speaking over their heads.
Ok, so the difference between St. Paul and the other Apostles is that they were Jews brought up by Jews, but he was a Jew brought up by Jews and taught by one of the greatest Jewish Theologians of all time.
So, lets tackle a few of the “hard to be understood” points that he makes to see if I'm making sense.
The first thing we must consider is that St. Paul used the word “justification” differently than did the rest of the Apostles. In order to understand what I'm talking about, we must understand the word.
“Justification” means to make one “just” or to become “just”. What does “just” mean?
“Just” means that:
a. one is free of sin.
b. one has been forgiven of sin.
c. one is reconciled with God
Ok, so how is one made just or how does one become just? How is one “justified”?
From a Jewish perspective, and all the Apostles were born Jews, in order to become just, one must keep the commandments. In this way, one “becomes just” in the eyes of God.
Matt 19:16 And behold one came and said to him: Good master, what good shall I do that I may have life everlasting? 17 Who said to him: Why asketh thou me concerning good? One is good, God. But if thou wilt enter into life, keep the commandments.
But St. Paul, a student of Gamaliel, knew that the most important work of all towards justification was FAITH.
John 6:28 They said therefore unto him: What shall we do, that we may work the works of God? 29 Jesus answered, and said to them: This is the work of God, that you believe in him whom he hath sent.
Therein lies part of the dilemma. But there's more. You see, St. Paul understood that all the Christian Sacraments are forms of justification. It is not apparent to me, from Scripture, that the other Apostles realized this as yet.
Lets briefly go through the Sacraments and see how they are all forms of justification.
Baptism-Forgiveness and remission of sin. Born again a child of God.
Confirmation-Sealed with the Holy Spirit. Become a soldier of Christ.
Communion-United to God in the Person of Jesus Christ. Remission of venial sin.
Reconciliation-Forgiveness and remission of sin. Reunited to God.
Marriage-Matrimony-the public vow to God to do His will and remain united to Him through one's spouse until death.
Holy Orders-becoming a special minister to God's people, essentially representing God.
Anointing of the Sick-sins forgiven and reconciliation with God. Especially important during the Last Rites when one is expecting to die imminently.
Ok, lets review what justification means. Becoming just or being made just.
Everyone of the Sacraments falls in the latter category. God makes us just. The Sacraments are God's work. Not ours.
Except for one thing. We must believe. Let me give you a few Bible verses:
Matthew 9:27 And as Jesus passed from thence, there followed him two blind men crying out and saying, Have mercy on us, O Son of David. 28 And when he was come to the house, the blind men came to him. And Jesus saith to them, Do you believe, that I can do this unto you? They say to him, Yea, Lord. 29 Then he touched their eyes, saying, According to your faith, be it done unto you.
And that is the way the Sacraments work. According to our faith. There are two examples in Scripture I've which I'm aware to illustrate this issue.
Mark 16:16 He that believeth and is baptized, shall be saved: but he that believeth not shall be condemned.

We can fill in the blanks. If we believe, we will be baptized and be saved. But if we don't believe, even if we are baptized, we won't be saved. Because faith is necessary for the GOOD effects of baptism to be actuated. I capitalized “GOOD” for a reason. That reason may become clearer in the next example:

1 Cor 11:23 For I have received of the Lord that which also I delivered unto you, that the Lord Jesus, the same night in which he was betrayed, took bread. 24 And giving thanks, broke, and said: Take ye, and eat: this is my body, which shall be delivered for you: this do for the commemoration of me. 25 In like manner also the chalice, after he had supped, saying: This chalice is the new testament in my blood: this do ye, as often as you shall drink, for the commemoration of me. 26 For as often as you shall eat this bread, and drink the chalice, you shall shew the death of the Lord, until he come. 27 Therefore whosoever shall eat this bread, or drink the chalice of the Lord unworthily, shall be guilty of the body and of the blood of the Lord. 28 But let a man prove himself: and so let him eat of that bread, and drink of the chalice.

Do you see? If a man eats unworthily, that is, without faith, that man is committing a mortal sin. Let me quote the rest of that verse:

29 For he that eateth and drinketh unworthily, eateth and drinketh judgment to himself, not discerning the body of the Lord.

So, faith is necessary for justification by the Sacraments. If faith is lacking, one actually will condemn himself. And, although Scripture is silent on the matter as pertains to the rest of the Sacraments, I believe the same requirement applies. It is probably the reason why so many marriages fail in this era.

But back to St. Paul. I believe St. Paul is using the word justification to apply to the Sacraments. I see no indication in Scripture that the other Apostles are doing the same. OK, I know, you're a Protestant and you don't see St. Paul using the word justification and Sacrament in the same sentence. Well, lets go through a couple of his verses and see what we can understand:

Romans 4:6 As David also termeth the blessedness of a man, to whom God reputeth justice without works: 7 Blessed are they whose iniquities are forgiven, and whose sins are covered. 8 Blessed is the man to whom the Lord hath not imputed sin.
Does anyone see the resemblance between this description and the Confessional?
I'm not a theologian. But I understand that King David is alluding to himself here. He is alluding to the sin he committed with Bathsheba and he was forgiven by God. He repented of his sin before a Priest of All Mighty God, Nathan. And God heard his prayer:
2 Kings 10:13 And David said to Nathan: I have sinned against the Lord. And Nathan said to David: The Lord also hath taken away thy sin: thou shalt not die. And St. Paul, in using this example is alluding to the Catholic Sacrament of Reconciliation.

Is there another example? Yes.
Titus 3:5 Not by the works of justice, which we have done, but according to his mercy, he saved us, by the laver of regeneration, and renovation of the Holy Ghost;
Huh? Most Protestants deny that this verse refers to Baptism. But there is no other WASHING (i.e. laver) of regeneration and renovation by the Holy Ghost. This is precisely what Jesus was talking about when He said that Baptism was necessary:
John 3:5 Jesus answered: Amen, amen I say to thee, unless a man be born again of water and the Holy Ghost, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.

So, we see again, that St. Paul is connecting justification with the Sacraments.

SO WHAT'S THE PROBLEM? Its a disconnect. Although St. James and St. Paul, used the same word, “justification”. They didn't use it in the same way. St. Paul, as I said before, is including the Sacraments as forms of justification. That is why he says that faith apart from works, justifies. All we do is believe, God does the rest.

Our Protestant brethren are probably saying, “isn't that what we've been trying to tell you all this time?” My answer is, “only if you believe in the Sacraments of Jesus Christ.” You see, most Protestants believe they are simply “symbols” which do not effect what they symbolize. But we believe they are symbols within which God, in the Person of the Holy Spirit, effects precisely what they symbolize, IF WE BELIEVE.

This is a sort of Catholic “faith alone” doctrine. St. Thomas Aquinas says it best with regard to the Source and Summit of our Faith, the Eucharist: "Word made flesh, by Word He maketh Very bread his flesh to be; Man in wine Christ's Blood partaketh, And if his senses fail to see, Faith alone the true heart waketh, To behold the mystery.(Pange Lingua)"
What remains unsaid here, is that we also believe that we share in the life of God, we partake of God's grace when we partake of the Eucharist. Ok, we said it once and we said it twice. When St. Paul says faith apart from works justifies, he is speaking mainly of the Sacraments.

So, then, when does St. Paul ever speak of justification not in reference to the Sacraments? Right here: Romans 2:13 For not the hearers of the law are just before God, but the doers of the law shall be justified.

Does this sound familiar? Listen to St. James:
James 1:22 But be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves.
They are both on the same page when it comes to this form of justification. What is this form of Justification? It is when a man makes himself as just as he can by repenting for his sins.
You see, in Catholic doctrine, there are two types of justification.
1.Justification of repentance or conversion which is the ongoing justification of the sinner from the moment of his awakening of faith to the time of his death and even to the time of his salvation or condemnation, as the case may be. 2.Sacramental Justification of Baptism, Confession, Confirmation, Anointing and Eucharist. The action of sanctifying grace in our souls.
Number 1 above, is what St. James is talking about. But we have been comparing St. James describing number 1 to St. Paul describing number 2.
However, when we compare their sayings discussing number 1, we find that they are in complete agreement.
Are they in complete agreement about number 2. YES. But St. James never discusses number 2. At least, not as far as I'm aware. So, how do I know that they are in agreement? FAITH ALONE. I have faith that the Holy Spirit imparted to St. James the information he needed to finally understand what St. Paul was teaching.
St. Paul, in my opinion, was way ahead of the curve. But if St. James and more importantly, St. Peter, had not understood what he was teaching, St. Paul would not have been an Apostle for long.
So, enough of the drama and the background. Lets examine the actual words they spoke according to the Douay Rheims and the King James Bible. Why those two Bibles? Well, they are highly respected in the Catholic and Protestant communities. But more importantly, they are in the Public Domain and I won't get sued if I copy their texts extensively.

Maybe tomorrow,


De Maria

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

November 28, 2012

Wednesday of the Thirty-fourth Week in Ordinary Time

Lectionary: 505

Reading 1 from St. John's book of Revelations
Rv 15:1-4

I, John, saw in heaven another sign, great and awe-inspiring:
seven angels with the seven last plagues,
for through them God's fury is accomplished.
Angels-God's messengers
Seven-the number of perfection
Plagues-calamities inflicted upon the world in punishment for sins

Then I saw something like a sea of glass mingled with fire.
To me, the sea of glass mingled with fire is a vision of Purgatory.  Purgatory is the site of the Refiner's fire.

Malachi 3:1-3
King James Version (KJV)
3 Behold, I will send my messenger, and he shall prepare the way before me: and the Lord, whom ye seek, shall suddenly come to his temple, even the messenger of the covenant, whom ye delight in: behold, he shall come, saith the Lord of hosts.
2 But who may abide the day of his coming? and who shall stand when he appeareth? for he is like a refiner's fire, and like fullers' soap:
3 And he shall sit as a refiner and purifier of silver: and he shall purify the sons of Levi, and purge them as gold and silver, that they may offer unto the Lord an offering in righteousness.

On the sea of glass were standing those
who had won the victory over the beast
and its image and the number that signified its name.
If this sea of glass and fire is Purgatory, then these men are those who have been subjected to the test of their faith and have won the victory.  They have overcome every temptation and have been cleansed of every sin.

1 Peter 1:7
King James Version (KJV)
7 That the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honour and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ:

They were holding God's harps,
and they sang the song of Moses, the servant of God,
and the song of the Lamb:
Having crossed the sea of glass and fire, they are now singing the song of victory as did Moses' people when they crossed the Red Sea:

Exodus 14:29-31
King James Version (KJV)
29 But the children of Israel walked upon dry land in the midst of the sea; and the waters were a wall unto them on their right hand, and on their left.
30 Thus the Lord saved Israel that day out of the hand of the Egyptians; and Israel saw the Egyptians dead upon the sea shore.
31 And Israel saw that great work which the Lord did upon the Egyptians: and the people feared the Lord, and believed the Lord, and his servant Moses.

Exodus 15:1-3
King James Version (KJV)
15 Then sang Moses and the children of Israel this song unto the Lord, and spake, saying, I will sing unto the Lord, for he hath triumphed gloriously: the horse and his rider hath he thrown into the sea.
2 The Lord is my strength and song, and he is become my salvation: he is my God, and I will prepare him an habitation; my father's God, and I will exalt him.
3 The Lord is a man of war: the Lord is his name.
"Great and wonderful are your works,
Lord God almighty.
Just and true are your ways,
O king of the nations.
Who will not fear you, Lord,
or glorify your name?
For you alone are holy.
All the nations will come
and worship before you,
for your righteous acts have been revealed."
The Saints of God are celebrating His victory in song.

Responsorial Psalm
Ps 98:1, 2-3ab, 7-8, 9

R. (Rev. 15: 3b) Great and wonderful are all your works, Lord, mighty God!

Sing to the LORD a new song,
for he has done wondrous deeds;
His right hand has won victory for him,
his holy arm.

R. Great and wonderful are all your works, Lord, mighty God!

The LORD has made his salvation known:
in the sight of the nations he has revealed his justice.
He has remembered his kindness and his faithfulness
toward the house of Israel.

R. Great and wonderful are all your works, Lord, mighty God!

Let the sea and what fills it resound,
the world and those who dwell in it;
Let the rivers clap their hands,
the mountains shout with them for joy.

R. Great and wonderful are all your works, Lord, mighty God!

Before the LORD, for he comes,
for he comes to rule the earth;
He will rule the world with justice
and the peoples with equity.

R. Great and wonderful are all your works, Lord, mighty God!

God is Ruler of the world.  God is our Creator.  Look around you, there is nothing which God did not make.  And He made everything with a word.
John 1
King James Version (KJV)
1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.
2 The same was in the beginning with God.
3 All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made.

A reading from the Holy Gospel according to St. Luke
Lk 21:12-19

Jesus said to the crowd:
"They will seize and persecute you,
they will hand you over to the synagogues and to prisons,
and they will have you led before kings and governors
because of my name.
There will come a time, Jesus says, when those who believe in me will be persecuted.

1.  In the first place, this happened during the Apostolic period, after Jesus ascended into heaven:

Acts 9:1-2
King James Version (KJV)
1 And Saul, yet breathing out threatenings and slaughter against the disciples of the Lord, went unto the high priest,
2 And desired of him letters to Damascus to the synagogues, that if he found any of this way, whether they were men or women, he might bring them bound unto Jerusalem.

2.  But in a veiled manner, this verse has a double meaning.  The second meaning is about the end times.  When believers will be persecuted by the Dragon and the Beast:

Revelation 12:17
King James Version (KJV)
17 And the dragon was wroth with the woman, and went to make war with the remnant of her seed, which keep the commandments of God, and have the testimony of Jesus Christ.

It will lead to your giving testimony.
Remember, you are not to prepare your defense beforehand,
for I myself shall give you a wisdom in speaking
that all your adversaries will be powerless to resist or refute.
An example of this type of inspiration is the Testimony of Stephen, which you can read about in Act 6 and 7.

Acts 6:8 And Stephen, full of faith and power, did great wonders and miracles among the people.9 Then there arose certain of the synagogue, which is called the synagogue of the Libertines, and Cyrenians, and Alexandrians, and of them of Cilicia and of Asia, disputing with Stephen.
10 And they were not able to resist the wisdom and the spirit by which he spake.
11 Then they suborned men, which said, We have heard him speak blasphemous words against Moses, and against God.
12 And they stirred up the people, and the elders, and the scribes, and came upon him, and caught him, and brought him to the council,
13 And set up false witnesses, which said, This man ceaseth not to speak blasphemous words against this holy place, and the law:
14 For we have heard him say, that this Jesus of Nazareth shall destroy this place, and shall change the customs which Moses delivered us.
15 And all that sat in the council, looking stedfastly on him, saw his face as it had been the face of an angel.
St. Stephen testified and became our first martyr.  His testimony ends with these words.  Acts 7:53 Who have received the law by the disposition of angels, and have not kept it.
54 When they heard these things, they were cut to the heart, and they gnashed on him with their teeth.
55 But he, being full of the Holy Ghost, looked up stedfastly into heaven, and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing on the right hand of God,
56 And said, Behold, I see the heavens opened, and the Son of man standing on the right hand of God.
You will even be handed over by parents,
brothers, relatives, and friends,
and they will put some of you to death.
You will be hated by all because of my name,
but not a hair on your head will be destroyed.
By your perseverance you will secure your lives."

This, of course, is spiritually understood.  As we have witnessed, the seed of the Church is the blood of the martyrs.  And as St. John has shown in His book of Revelations which we are studying recently in the Mass, all those who died for Christ, will receive eternal life in heaven.

Revelation 7:14
King James Version (KJV)
14 And I said unto him, Sir, thou knowest. And he said to me, These are they which came out of great tribulation, and have washed their robes, and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.


De Maria

St. Paul and the rest of the Apostles

I've always found St. Paul's relationship to the rest of the Apostles intriguing.

St. James seems to clearly contradict St. Paul. Compare Romans 3:28 and St. James 2:24. Based upon their confrontation in Acts 21:21, I believe that is true. I think St. James' statement was directed at the one who was reputedly teaching the Jews to abandon Moses.

I also suspect that St. Paul felt betrayed by Sts. Peter and John as well. That is why he had to confront them in Gal 1 and 2. 

I think he felt that way because St. Peter said that St. Paul's teachings were confusing (2 Pet 3:15-17) and St. John wrote that some had left from their group who had never been of their group (1 John 2:19). This is why, I believe, he met with the "reputed" pillars (Gal 2:9) and had it out. Read more. 

Whereas both he and St. James preach justification by faith and works in the keeping of the Commandments. Compare Romans 2:13 and St. James 1:22.

Wow! This is getting long. Sorry. I'd like to mention though, that St. Paul was probably the only Theologian in the Apostolic group. He was raised and taught at the knee of Gamaliel (Acts 22:3). By reputation, one of the greatest Jewish Theologians that ever lived. And he, I believe, had an insight into justification which the other Apostles did not.


De Maria