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Category: Religious Studies

Religious Studies

29th Sunday in Ordinary Time

Mark 10:35-45

James and John, the sons of Zebedee, came to Jesus and said to him,
“Teacher, we want you to do for us whatever we ask of you.”
He replied, “What do you wish me to do for you?”
They answered him, “Grant that in your glory
we may sit one at your right and the other at your left.”
Jesus said to them, “You do not know what you are asking.
Can you drink the cup that I drink
or be baptized with the baptism with which I am baptized?”
They said to him, “We can.”
Jesus said to them, “The cup that I drink, you will drink,
and with the baptism with which I am baptized, you will be baptized;
but to sit at my right or at my left is not mine to give
but is for those for whom it has been prepared.”
When the ten heard this, they became indignant at James and John.
Jesus summoned them and said to them,
“You know that those who are recognized as rulers over the Gentiles
lord it over them,
and their great ones make their authority over them felt.
But it shall not be so among you.
Rather, whoever wishes to be great among you will be your servant;
whoever wishes to be first among you will be the slave of all.
For the Son of Man did not come to be served
but to serve and to give his life as a ransom for many.”

Summary:

James and John go to Jesus and tell Jesus they want him to do whatever they ask. James and John tell Jesus they want to sit at the right and left of him in glory. Jesus tells James and John that they don’t know what they are asking, and he could not grant that wish because it “is not mine to give but for those whom it has been prepared.” The other disciples became indignant at James and John’s request. Jesus then compared gentile rulers to the disciples and told them while gentile rulers “make their authority […] felt” Jesus’s followers who wished to be great would be the biggest servants. Jesus then said, “for the Son of Man did not come to be served but to serve and give his life as a ransom for many.”

Ideas and thoughts:

Jesus question, “Can you drink the cup that I drink or be baptized with the baptism with which I am baptized?”

John Chrysostom (347-407), Archbishop of Constantinople comments: They did not understand what they were asking for when they were talking to him about crowns and rewards and the privilege of the first seats and honors even before the contest had begun. Christ was communicating with them on two levels when he said: “You do not know what you are asking for.” One was that they were talking about an earthly kingdom and he had said nothing about this. There had been no announcement or promise about a visible kingdom on earth. The other was that, when they sought at this time the privilege of the first seats and the honors of heaven, when they wished to be seen as more illustrious and splendid than the others, they were not asking for these things at the right time. The timing was precisely wrong. For this was not the right time for crowns or prizes. It was the time for struggles, contests, toils, sweat, wrestling rings and battles.

Augustine of Hippo comments: They were conferring with him about glory. He intended to precede loftiness with humility and, only through humility, to ready the way for loftiness itself. For, of course, even those disciples who wanted to sit, the one on his right, the other on his left, were looking to glory. They were on the lookout, but did not see by what way. In order that they might come to their homeland in due order, the Lord called them back to the narrow way. For the homeland is on high and the way to it is lowly. The homeland is life in Christ; the way is dying with Christ. The way is suffering with Christ; the goal is abiding with him eternally. Why do you seek the homeland if you are not seeking the way to it?

Theophylact of Ohrid comments: Martyrdom, He is saying, will be yours, and you will die for Truth’s sake. (For bold confession of the Truth James was beheaded in Jerusalem in 45 AD, and John was cruelly tortured in Rome and then exiled to the island of Patmos. Tr.) But to sit at My right hand and at My left is not Mine to give. Two questions may be asked: first, has it been prepared for anyone to sit there? Second, is the Master of all unable to bestow this seat? In answer we say that no one will sit at His right or at His left. Although in many places of Scripture you hear mention of sitting upon a seat in heaven (Mt. 19:28, Lk. 13:29, Eph. 2:6, etc.), understand that this refers to great honor, not a chair. It is not Mine to give has this meaning: it is not for Me, the Just Judge, to bestow this honor as a favor, for that would not be just. Instead, this honor has been prepared for those who have contested and struggled for it. It is as if a just king had set a day for a contest of athletes, and then some of his friends come to him and say, “Give us the crowns.” The king would say, “The crowns are not mine to give; rather, a crown is prepared for that contestant who shall compete and win.” So too with you, 0 sons of Zebedee, you shall be martyrs for My sake; but if there is one who, along with martyrdom, exceeds you in every virtue, he shall precede you in honor.

Religious Studies

10 Commandments

Exodus 20

2 I am the LORD your God, who has brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage.
3 You shall have no other gods before me.
4 You shall not make unto yourself any graven image, or any likeness of any thing that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth:
5 You shall not bow down yourself to them, nor serve them: for I the LORD your God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate me;
6 And showing mercy unto thousands of them that love me, and keep my commandments.
7 You shall not take the name of the LORD your God in vain; for the LORD will not hold him guiltless that takes his name in vain.
8 Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy.
9 Six days shall you labor, and do all your work:
10 But the seventh day is the sabbath of the LORD your God: in it you shall not do any work, you, nor your son, nor your daughter, your manservant, nor your maidservant, nor your cattle, nor your stranger that is within your gates:
11 For in six days the LORD made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested the seventh day: therefore the LORD blessed the sabbath day, and hallowed it.
12 Honor your father and your mother: that your days may be long upon the land which the LORD your God gives you.
13 You shall not kill.
14 You shall not commit adultery.
15 You shall not steal.
16 You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.
17 You shall not covet your neighbor’s house, you shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, nor his manservant, nor his maidservant, nor his ox, nor his donkey, nor any thing that is your neighbor’s.

Deuteronomy 5

6 I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, from the house of bondage.
7 You shall have none other gods before me.
8 You shall not make you any graven image, or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the waters beneath the earth:
9 You shall not bow down yourself unto them, nor serve them: for I the LORD your God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate me,
10 And showing mercy unto thousands of them that love me and keep my commandments.
11 You shall not take the name of the LORD your God in vain: for the LORD will not hold him guiltless that takes his name in vain.
12 Keep the sabbath day to sanctify it, as the LORD your God has commanded you.
13 Six days you shall labor, and do all your work:
14 But the seventh day is the sabbath of the LORD your God: in it you shall not do any work, you, nor your son, nor your daughter, nor your manservant, nor your maidservant, nor your ox, nor your donkey, nor any of your cattle, nor your stranger that is within your gates; that your manservant and your maidservant may rest as well as you.
15 And remember that you were a servant in the land of Egypt, and that the LORD your God brought you out from there by a mighty hand and by an outstretched arm: therefore the LORD your God commanded you to keep the sabbath day.
16 Honor your father and your mother, as the LORD your God has commanded you; that your days may be prolonged, and that it may go well with you, in the land which the LORD your God gives you.
17 You shall not kill.
18 Neither shall you commit adultery.
19 Neither shall you steal.
20 Neither shall you bear false witness against your neighbor.
21 Neither shall you desire your neighbor’s wife, neither shall you covet your neighbor’s house, his field, or his manservant, or his maidservant, his ox, or his donkey, or anything that is your neighbor’s.

Religious Studies

Twenty-eighth Sunday in Ordinary Time

The Gospel reading for the Twenty-eighth Sunday in Ordinary Time is Mark chapter 10 verses 17 to 30. In this reading, a man runs up to Jesus, kneels before him, addresses him as “Good Teacher,” and asks how he might inherit eternal life. The man expresses that he has followed the commandments. Jesus responds first by stating only God is good, then further responds by “loving him” and subsequently telling the man to sell his possessions, give to the poor, and follow him. The man leaves sad because he had “great” possessions. Jesus told his disciples that “it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.” The disciples then wondered, “Who then can be saved?” Jesus finally tells his disciples that with God, all things are possible. Peter reminds Jesus that the disciples have sold everything, and Jesus reassures Peter that any person who leaves behind their worldly life for the sake of God and the Gospel will be rewarded in this life and the next.

A man running and kneeling appears to be both eager and respectful of the one he is approaching and questioning. In addition, the man addresses Jesus as a “Good Teacher,” which may indicate he viewed Jesus as an authority. Finally, the man asks Jesus what he “shall do to inherit eternal life” and suggests he has followed the law since youth. The idea of an individual seemingly living a righteous life yet asking how to inherit eternal life indicates that the man felt he wasn’t doing everything right. Furthermore, his use of “inherit” shows his understanding that eternal life is not necessarily automatic. Inheritance is often assumed but by no means guaranteed.

Jesus’s first reaction to the man stating he had followed the law since youth was a loving reaction – the text says Jesus “loved him.” This love could be the result of Jesus loving everyone or because the man did follow the law during his lifetime. Although Jesus seemed to appreciate the man’s adherence to the law, he ultimately identified the man had not sold what he had and given to the poor, and the man left sad.

Of note, this story does not describe what happened to the man after. The story states the man “left sad” but does not state whether the man ultimately gave to the poor or if he followed Jesus. When Jesus explains the difficulty of a rich person to enter the kingdom of God, the disciples themselves ask, “Then who can be saved?” This is an interesting response from individuals who were not rich and were already following Jesus. Even Peter, seemingly needing reassurance, had to point out that the disciples gave up everything and were following Jesus.

Ultimately Jesus indicates that “all things are possible for God,” suggesting wealthy persons can inherit eternal life. Jesus further reassures the disciples that sacrifice for God or the Gospel will pay dividends both now and in the life to come.

The above might suggest lessened importance on adherence to the law; however, the Book of James Chapter 2 verse 14 through 18 states:

14 What use is it, my brothers and sisters, if someone says he has faith, but he has no works? Can that faith save him?
15 If a brother or sister is without clothing and in need of daily food,
16 and one of you says to them, “Go in peace, be warmed and be filled,” yet you do not give them what is necessary for their body, what use is that?
17 In the same way, faith also, if it has no works, is dead, being by itself.
18 But someone may well say, “You have faith and I have works; show me your faith without the works, and I will show you my faith by my works.”

Furthermore, in Mark 12 verse 31, Jesus provides the greatest commandment, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself. There is no other commandment greater than these.”

Jesus loved the man who ran and knelt before him to ask about the requirement to receive an inheritance of eternal life. Works are an essential aspect of a righteous life; however, Jesus told the man to extend himself beyond laws that only affect him and live a life of virtue – a life in which he did not neglect the needs of his neighbor. The commandments Jesus listed are easy. Most people can live an entire lifetime and avoid killing, stealing, defrauding, bearing false witness while honoring their parents. It is possible Jesus was also speaking about the extended mitzvot in Jewish life; however, the text does not explicitly mention these. What Jesus tells the man is to extend himself and give to the poor. If the man loved his neighbor as himself, he would not have left sad – he would willingly share with those who needed it. If the word “rich” were replaced with “those who have excess,” it casts a wider net and might explain the disciple’s surprise and concern for the height of the bar set. Living in this way is difficult but not impossible with God’s help.

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Pascal’s Fundamentals of Religion

Interesting thoughts by Blaise Pascal  

The Christian religion then teaches men these two truths; that there is a God whom men can know, and that there is a corruption in their nature which renders them unworthy of Him. It is equally important to men to know both these points; and it is equally dangerous for man to know God without knowing his own wretchedness, and to know his own wretchedness without knowing the Redeemer who can free him from it. The knowledge of only one of these points gives rise either to the pride of philosophers, who have known God, and not their own wretchedness, or to the despair of atheists, who know their own wretchedness, but not the Redeemer.

For it is not true that all reveals God, and it is not true that all conceals God. But it is at the same time true that He hides Himself from those who tempt Him, and that He reveals Himself to those who seek Him, because men are both unworthy and capable of God; unworthy by their corruption, capable by their original nature.

Religious Studies

September 19 Weekly Reading

Wisdom of Solomon

Chapter 2

12 “Let us lie in wait for the righteous man, because he is inconvenient to us and opposes our actions; he reproaches us for sins against the law, and accuses us of sins against our training.

13 He professes to have knowledge of God, and calls himself a child of the Lord.

14 He became to us a reproof of our thoughts;

15 the very sight of him is a burden to us, because his manner of life is unlike that of others, and his ways are strange.

16 We are considered by him as something base, and he avoids our ways as unclean; he calls the last end of the righteous happy, and boasts that God is his father.

17 Let us see if his words are true, and let us test what will happen at the end of his life;

18 for if the righteous man is God’s son, he will help him, and will deliver him from the hand of his adversaries.

19 Let us test him with insult and torture, that we may find out how gentle he is, and make trial of his forbearance.

20 Let us condemn him to a shameful death, for, according to what he says, he will be protected.”

James

Chapter 3

16 For where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there will be disorder and every vile practice. 

17 But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, open to reason, full of mercy and good fruits, without uncertainty or insincerity. 

18 And the harvest of righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace.

Chapter 4

What causes wars, and what causes fighting among you? Is it not your passions that are at war in your members? 

You desire and do not have; so you kill. And you covet and cannot obtain; so you fight and wage war. You do not have, because you do not ask. 

You ask and do not receive, because you ask wrongly, to spend it on your passions.

Mark

Chapter 9

30 They went on from there and passed through Galilee. And he would not have any one know it; 

31 for he was teaching his disciples, saying to them, “The Son of man will be delivered into the hands of men, and they will kill him; and when he is killed, after three days he will rise.” 

32 But they did not understand the saying, and they were afraid to ask him.

33 And they came to Capernaum; and when he was in the house he asked them, “What were you discussing on the way?” 

34 But they were silent; for on the way they had discussed with one another who was the greatest. 

35 And he sat down and called the twelve; and he said to them, “If any one would be first, he must be last of all and servant of all.” 

36 And he took a child, and put him in the midst of them; and taking him in his arms, he said to them, 

37 “Whoever receives one such child in my name receives me; and whoever receives me, receives not me but him who sent me.”

Religious Studies

Faith Without Works is Dead

Book of James

Faith Without Works is Dead

14 What use is it, my brothers and sisters, if someone says he has faith, but he has no works? Can that faith save him?

15 If a brother or sister is without clothing and in need of daily food,

16 and one of you says to them, “Go in peace, be warmed and be filled,” yet you do not give them what is necessary for their body, what use is that?

17 In the same way, faith also, if it has no works, is dead, being by itself.

18 But someone may well say, “You have faith and I have works; show me your faith without the works, and I will show you my faith by my works.”

Religious Studies

2 Kings 4: 42-44 vs John 6: 1-15

2nd Kings 4:42-44

42 – A man came from Baal-shalishah bringing the man of God twenty barely loaves made from the first fruits, and fresh grain in the ear. “Give it to the people to eat,” Elisha said.

43 – But his servant objected, “How can I set this before a hundred men?” “Give it to the people to eat,” Elisha insisted. “For thus says the LORD, ‘They shall eat and there shall be some left over.'”

44 – And when they had eaten, there was some left over, as the LORD had said.

John 6: 1-15

1 – After this, Jesus went across the Sea of Galilee (of Tiberias).

2 – A large crowd followed him, because they saw the signs he was performing on the sick.

3 – Jesus went up on the mountain, and there he sat down with his disciples.

4 – The Jewish feast of Passover was near.

5 – When Jesus raised his eyes and saw that a large crowd was coming to him, he said to Philip, “Where can we buy enough food for them to eat?”

6 – He said this to test him, because he himself knew what he was going to do.

7 – Philip answered him, “Two hundred days’ wages 5 worth of food would not be enough for each of them to have a little (bit).”

8 – One of his disciples, Andrew, the brother of Simon Peter, said to him,

9 – “There is a boy here who has five barley loaves 6 and two fish; but what good are these for so many?”

10 – Jesus said, “Have the people recline.” Now there was a great deal of grass in that place. So the men reclined, about five thousand in number.

11 – Then Jesus took the loaves, gave thanks, and distributed them to those who were reclining, and also as much of the fish as they wanted.

12 – When they had had their fill, he said to his disciples, “Gather the fragments left over, so that nothing will be wasted.”

13 – So they collected them, and filled twelve wicker baskets 8 with fragments from the five barley loaves that had been more than they could eat.

14 – When the people saw the sign he had done, they said, “This is truly the Prophet, the one who is to come into the world.”

15 – Since Jesus knew that they were going to come and carry him off to make him king, he withdrew again to the mountain alone.

Religious Studies

July 12 Daily Readings

Monday Readings:

  • Exodus 1:8-14, 22
  • Psalm 124:1-8
  • Matthew 10:34 – 11:1

Exodus 1:8 “A new king arose over Egypt who did not know Joseph.”

Human beings tend to forget much more quickly about the good others have done for them than the bad others have done to them.

Pharaoh initiates campaign against the Israelites ultimately attempted genocide (verse 9) the people execute (verse 11, 13, 14) – collective guilt

verse 13 “the Egyptians ruthelessly imposed upon the Israelites”

Massive evil requires: ordinary people to become indoctrinated by the truly evil, people who benefit from the evil, and a paucity of courageous good people.

Psalm 124 – thankful song, thanking G-d he was “on our side […] when our enemies attacked us”

Matthew 10:34

  • Complacency can be defined as “self-satisfaction accompanied by unawareness of actual dangers or deficiencies”.
  • no creature, not even our parents, can bring us to the fullness of life and happiness that comes only from G-d.

Why does the Catholic bible have additional books? The Catholic Bible contains all the books that have traditionally been accepted by Christians since the Canon of Scripture was recognized by the Synod of Rome in 382. The earliest Christians did not have an exactly defined canon of Scripture. Concerning the books of the Old Testament, the early Church generally used the Septuagint (the Greek translation of the Old Testament, translated about 250 B.C.). There was a difference within Judaism before Christ about the Old Testament. The Alexandrian canon was the longer canon and was the basis for the Septuagint. After the Temple was destroyed in 70 A.D. the Jewish Council of Jamma eventually rejected the longer Alexandrian canon. Their reason was that they only had Greek texts of these books which at that time was considered “un-Jewish.” They did not know at the time that the Hebrew originals of these books existed. But the decision of the Jews at Jamma (ca. 91 A.D.) is irrelevant for the determination of the canon of Scripture for Christians, for the Holy Spirit had passed to the Church at Pentecost and the legitimate authority for determining the canon was the early Church. There was some debate within the early Church as to the legitimacy of these “deuterocanonical” books. But Jerome translated all of them in the Vulgate, and the early Church recognized them at the Synod of Rome in 382.

Religious Studies

What Indeed Hath Athens to do With Jerusalem?

. . .that human wisdom which pretends to know the truth, whilst it only corrupts it, and is itself divided into its own manifold heresies, by the variety of its mutually repugnant sects. What indeed has Athens to do with Jerusalem? What concord is there between the Academy and the Church? what between heretics and Christians?

Tertullian, Prescription Against Heretics

Moreover, if those who are called philosophers, and especially the Platonists, have said aught that is true and in harmony with our faith, we are not only not to shrink from it, but to claim it for our own use from those who have unlawful possession of it. For, as the Egyptians had not only the idols and heavy burdens which the people of Israel hated and fled from, but  also vessels and ornaments of gold and silver, and garments, which the same people when going out of Egypt appropriated to themselves, designing them for a better use, not doing this on their own authority, but by the command of God, the Egyptians themselves, in their ignorance, providing them with things which they themselves, were not making a good use of; in the same way all branches of heathen learning have not only false and superstitious fancies and heavy burdens of unnecessary toil, which every one of us, when going out under the leadership of Christ from the fellowship of the heathen, ought to abhor and avoid; but they contain also liberal instruction which is better adapted to the use of the truth, and some most excellent precepts of morality; and some truths in regard even to the worship of the One God are found among them. Now these are, so to speak, their gold and silver, which they did not create themselves, but dug out of the mines of God’s providence which are everywhere scattered abroad, and are perversely and unlawfully prostituting to the worship of devils. These, therefore, the Christian, when he separates himself in spirit from the miserable fellowship of these men, ought to take away from them, and to devote to their proper use in preaching the gospel. Their garments, also,—that is, human institutions such as are adapted to that intercourse with men which is indispensable in this life,—we must take and turn to a Christian use.

Augustine, On Christian Doctrine, Book I.40

Theology, while saying that a special illumination has been vouchsafed to Christians and (earlier) to Jews, also says that there is some divine illumination vouchsafed to all men. The Divine light, we are told, ‘lighteneth every man.’ We should, therefore, expect to find in the imagination of great Pagan teachers and myth makers some glimpse of that theme which we believe to be the very plot of the whole cosmic: story – the theme of incarnation, death, and rebirth. And the differences between the Pagan Christs (Balder, Osiris, etc.) and the Christ Himself is much what we should expect to find. The Pagan stories are all about someone dying and rising, either every year, or else nobody knows where and nobody knows when.

Lewis, “Is Theology Poetry?,” Weight of Glory