Should Christians build for the Future?

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First published at All Along the Watchtower.

My thoughts here are of genuine conversation, there will be little history and little theology. I hope the thought I share will foster a conversation about Christianity going forward in our Western Culture and hopefully the prosperity of both.

My family on my wife’s side is split between Catholics and Confessional Lutherans. During the Christmas season, I am surrounded by as many Lutherans as Catholics, and of course, because we’re all practicing our particular forms of Christianity, we discuss topics of the Church at the dinner table. The particular topic between my wife’s cousin and myself is how Christians, in light of the rise of the supremacy of the secular West, should look more to their commonalities than their differences. I told my relative, “I have a great many conversations with a great many different Christians and as far as I can see at this moment and during our lifetime there will be theological disagreements. However, that doesn’t mean we can’t celebrate being Christian and come together in the face of the rising cynicism and unbelief that dominates our dying culture.”

One of the assertions my relative made was that Christianity is dying because we’re not building new Churches–especially in Europe. Now, there are Europeans who inhabit this blog, so I wonder how much weight of truth is there to my relative’s assertion. He believes that for centuries people have walked past what are now nothing more than old buildings and now they have naturally grown an apathy to something that has always been there. In many ways, humans respond this way to other particular in the world; for example, the scenery becomes nothing more than a background of where we live, and often we stop looking at beauty for what it is because we get use to it. I’ve lived all my life in the Midwest of the United States, which is basically the grain belt of the country, so it is very flat. I’ve always dreamed of living by the sea and/or the mountains. One summer during college, my college girlfriend visited my own, she wasn’t from around the area, and when she was there, she experienced a good Midwestern thunderstorm. She kept going on and on about how wondrous and magnificent was the lighting show on display on the prairie. She said that were she from it was too mountain-ness to see a lightning storm, and I was a bit shocked how I have seemed to have taken for granted such a spectacle.

I think there is wisdom to what my relative has surmised in Western Culture. I am reminded of the Ken Follet book “Pillars of the Earth.” The story centered around the building of a great Cathedral and the generations of lives it took to build such a magnificent building, it became an affair of the family and generations. When our church decided to build on to our existing Parish, the parish, of course, had a meeting about the finances. During the meeting, a woman stood up and declared from some sort of statistics that the parish membership was in decline, and we should just build a cost-effective building. I stood up and rejected her thoughts on the matter. I reminded her that money is temporal and that our goal was not to hoard it. I even invoked the reasoning of Kevin Costner, “If you build it, they will come.” A faith that builds is an active faith, a faith that preserves, often times burns slowly like a candle and eventually time will extinguish it.

I believe these are the feelings of my relative in the relationship of people of Western Culture to their churches—and perhaps there is some truth to it. I have a particular devotion to Pope St. John Paul II, and I am reminded of the Soviets purposely building a city called Nowa Huta in Poland for steel manufacturing which included no church “a first in the millennium long history of Poland.”[1] In fact, as Pope John Paul II biographer George Weigel writes, “Over the next four decades the exhaust from Nowa Huta’s steel mills would, literally, eat away at the fabric of Krakow.”[2]

The Ark Church would be consecrated by the future Pope John Paul II in May of 1977 in Nowa Huta after receiving a permit to finally build a church in 1967. Weigel articulates, “The Ark Church is a striking architectural metaphor: the people of the Church, gathered in a boat reminiscent of Noah’s ark and the fishing craft sailed by the apostles on the Sea of Galilee, are carried through the tempests of history.”[3]

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There’s another beautiful church built in the area THE CHURCH OF OUR LADY OF CZĘSTOCHOWA. The construction of this particular church began in 1984 and it’s architecture blends both modern and classic themes in a sanctuary that reminds the faithful of both the sacred and the profane. [4]

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It’s interesting how slow secularism has crept into Poland after an onslaught of both Nazism and Soviet powers. Perhaps, the blood of martyrs seeded the ground of Poland, but the newly seeded ground did have to rebuild either physical churches or their spiritualism. After all, arguably the most devout diocese in Europe resides in Poland—Tarnow.[5]

[1] George Weigel, City of Saints: A Pilgrimage to John Paul II’s Krakow (New York: Crown Publishing Group, 2015), 220.

[2] Ibid, 12.

[3] Ibid, 221-222.

[4] http://www.szklanedomy.cystersi.pl/our-lady-of-czestochowa-parish-krakow-poland/

[5] http://www.catholicworldreport.com/Item/4901/in_vibrantly_catholic_poland_growing_secularism_produces_new_challenges.aspx

Living Water

First Published at All Along the Watchtower.

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Auxiliary Bishop Robert Barron calls this particular event of the Samaritan woman at the well in the Gospel of John a master’s course in Evangelization. What is the good Bishop getting at when making such an assertion? Let’s examine the facts: the woman goes to the well at high noon, Jesus is already present at the well, Jesus initiates a conversation, the conversation is initiated without condemnation, Jesus offers to quench her thirst of the affliction of her soul by revealing to the woman what he knows about her.

Jesus said to her, “Give me a drink.” For his disciples had gone away into the city to buy food. ¶ The Samaritan woman said to him, “How is it that you, a Jew, ask a drink of me, a woman of Samaria?” For Jews have no dealings with Samaritans. 10 ¶ Jesus answered her, “If you knew the gift of God, and who it is that is saying to you, ‘Give me a drink,’ you would have asked him and he would have given you living water.” 11 The woman said to him, “Sir, you have nothing to draw with, and the well is deep; where do you get that living water?[1]

As one notices by the woman and Jesus’ conversational exchange is that the woman believes Jesus to be talking about literal water, but this, of course, is not what Jesus is talking about to her.  So, Jesus further explains to her the meaning of his words:

13 Jesus said to her, “Every one who drinks of this water will thirst again, 14 ¶ but whoever drinks of the water that I shall give him will never thirst; the water that I shall give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.” 15 ¶ The woman said to him, “Sir, give me this water, that I may not thirst, nor come here to draw.”

Scholars and Theologians have determined that this woman going to the well during this period of the day would mark her undoubtedly as an outcast. Jesus, himself, as the event begins to unfold eventually brings forth the condition of the woman and why she looks to avoid social interaction by drawing water from the well during the extreme heat of the Middle Eastern day.

16 Jesus said to her, “Go, call your husband, and come here.” 17 The woman answered him, “I have no husband.” Jesus said to her, “You are right in saying, ‘I have no husband’; 18 ¶ for you have had five husbands, and he whom you now have is not your husband; this you said truly.” 19 The woman said to him, “Sir, I perceive that you are a prophet. 20[2]

It’s important to notice here that before Jesus attempts to correct her or acknowledge her sins, Jesus offers her an invitation to obtain a living spring within herself. Of course, as Christians, we must refrain from thinking that this living spring in which Jesus speaks of doesn’t mean to just live by the rules of the Christian God and be subject to him in fear of damnation, but rather the desire want to praise him and glorify him–for our own benefit– by doing good works in the world.

For example, just this last Sunday prior to hearing this Gospel reading at Mass, I was walking downtown nearby my diocese’s Cathedral and at a distance, I saw a homeless man. As I used this story to explain to my PSR students, I will certainly explain to any reader as I explained to them, that I did something that was not in my personality to do by approaching the man. I asked him his story and what was going on with his life. I won’t go into the detail of what said exactly and what I did to aid him, but I can tell you certainly that after many months of digging the well of my own prayer life—in the words of St. Teresa of Avila—I was drinking living water. I truly felt the presence of Christ with me because he was acting through me. I finally understood what St. Paul meant when he said, “20 ¶ I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me; and the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.[3]

After this encounter, I walked the rest of the way to the church and entered the Cathedral. When I arrived at the pew and knelt before God, I took off my glasses, put my hands over my face to hold back tears as my thoughts were lifted up toward God. All I can say is how strange and beautiful the paradox to be both Jesus and meet him at the well. After retelling the event to my PSR students, I explained to them that they can be Jesus at the well and stir forth springs of living water in their classmates, teachers, and parents. I told them that if they are to come across another kid at their school is may not be the “cool” kid go and eat lunch and play with them. If they are the one being bullied at school and the bully demands their pencil offer a piece of paper as well.

The students were perplexed by the last option, so I explained through the gifts of the Holy Spirit we can stir forth our neighbors living water so that they might believe in Jesus even the worst of situations. I offered them the idea that if a robber demanded my cell phone, I would freely give them the phone and more. At this point, a young lady jerked back and said, “Why would you just give in?” I told her “If I give them the phone freely then they are not stealing, and therefore, not a robber.”

I reminded them that at the heart of breaking forth a living spring is one of the core ideas of the Sermon on the Mount:

39 ¶ But I say to you, Do not resist one who is evil. But if any one strikes you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also; 40 and if any one would sue you and take your coat, let him have your cloak as well; 41 and if any one forces you to go one mile, go with him two miles. 42 Give to him who begs from you, and do not refuse him who would borrow from you.

The Holy Bible. (2006). (Revised Standard Version; Second Catholic Edition, Mt 5:39–42). San Francisco: Ignatius Press.

[1] The Holy Bible. (2006). (Revised Standard Version; Second Catholic Edition, Jn 4:7–11). San Francisco: Ignatius Press.

[2] The Holy Bible. (2006). (Revised Standard Version; Second Catholic Edition, Jn 4:13–20). San Francisco: Ignatius Press.

[3] The Holy Bible. (2006). (Revised Standard Version; Second Catholic Edition, Ga 2:20). San Francisco: Ignatius Press.

Why Does Sebastian Drink? Brideshead Revisited and Understanding God’s Grace.

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A favorite post of mine.

Brideshead Revisited was written by Evelyn Waugh, and it is an exceptionally good book, so much so that now I feel simply lost without it.  The book has been great to reflect on the importance of my Catholic faith and morality in a world that seems quite averse to it; I am even prolonging finishing the television series, as I am having a hard time letting go of this family that I’ve come to develop a relationship with over the course of time. I’m always reading books, although now all other fiction titles seem to lack in substance. It’s because the dignity of humanity is one of the great themes of Brideshead Revisited, and of course, it’s something missing in our society today and in many of the arts.

A reader of this blog asked me one time to comment on a post of his on the book on “Why does Sebastian drink?” I felt that I needed to share my thoughts that I shared with him because it deals with many of themes of my most recent posts on this blog such as sin, mercy, contrition, grace, and forgiveness. Sebastian’s drinking could most certainly have been to seek instant gratification of every moment, he may even say something of this nature early on, but what I believe is what drives Sebastian’s thirst is that he doesn’t believe he deserves the Grace given to him freely by God, and it eats away at him inside.

Waugh never clearly states if there is any reason for Sebastian drinking; however, I think the reason may have several layers of depth. Of course, in the novel, there is the connection of The Church and the state of Grace. Sebastian, for the most part, wishes to reject his mother throughout the entirety of the novel, which I believe he views her subconsciously as a replacement for his animosity toward God. In the last half of the book in a conversation between Charles and Cordelia, Sebastian’s youngest sister, the sentiment is expressed by Cordelia when she describes Charles’ feelings toward her mother:

“I never really knew your mother,” I said.

“You didn’t like her. I sometimes think when people wanted to hate God they hated mummy.”

What do you mean by that, Cordelia?”

“Well, you see, she was saintly, but she wasn’t a saint. No one could really hate a saint, could they? They really can’t hate God either. When they want to hate him and his saints they to find something like themselves and pretend it’s God and hate that. I suppose you think that’s all bosh.” ( p. 254-55 Bay Books 2012)

Sebastian believes his happiness is found disconnected from a Catholic world, which has all but revealed God to him. God is very much a part of Brideshead, and Sebastian seeks to find an Island, an oasis, from it. The relationship between Charles and Sebastian takes off into a joyous experience at first, and Sebastian needing his oasis seeks to keep Charles away from any and all sort of connection to this Catholic world.

I remember after the jail incident, Charles speaks about Sebastian believing his happiness to be tied to this separation from Brideshead, and in effect God. However, as Charles emphasizes Sebastian’s need for the disconnect, Sebastian begins to reject even Charles as Charles becomes friendly with his family and closer to Grace. 

Thomas Merton perhaps speaks of a different layer in his book No man is an Island. Merton says, “Only the man who has had to face despair is really convinced that he needs mercy. Those who do not want mercy never seek it. It is better to find God on the threshold of despair than to risk our lives in a complacency that has never felt the need of forgiveness. A life that is without problems may literally be more hopeless than one that always verges on despair.”

Sebastian always has had a degree of faith no matter how much he tried to reject it. When Charles challenges him about his faith, Sebastian cannot outright reject his faith. Sebastian says “Oh yes, I believe that. It’s a lovely idea.” There is something deeply rooted here, like Grace, that compels him to believe it. Perhaps, Sebastian rejecting the world through drinking is also a method for Grace to enter into this young man of wealth to fully accept the Grace of God. As a society, the humanist tells us, and tries to conform God, that moral actions must relieve suffering. However, these are not the same rules for God. (see: The Book of Job) If God truly relieved the worldly suffering of Sebastian would Grace enter his heart among the brothers later?

It wouldn’t appear so; this is why it is so vital that we understand that the state of souls do matter , even more so than our earthly state.
via Brideshead Revisited: Understanding God’s Grace. – The Latin Community

Salvation, Grace, and Reconciliation

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The Sacrament of Reconciliation

  • The Church prior to the 1960s often spoke of Hell as being the punishment for sinning. However, even after the Vatican II council, the Church stressed its pastoral teaching on the goodness of Christ—both periods have failed to highlight our treasures in Heaven.
  • Who is going to Heaven?
  • How do you know?
  • Often we’re told that if we do good and are a good person that will qualify us for the reward of Heaven–This is not what the Catholic Church teaches. In fact, this teaching can be found in a heresy refuted by St. Augustine called Pelagianism.
  • We cannot get to Heaven by our own good actions.Jesus said, “If you wish to enter into life, keep the commandments.” 18 [c]He asked him, “Which ones?” And Jesus replied, “ ‘You shall not kill; you shall not commit adultery; you shall not steal; you shall not bear false witness; 19 honor your father and your mother’; and ‘you shall love your neighbor as yourself.’” 20 [d]The young man said to him, “All of these I have observed. What do I still lack?” 21 Jesus said to him, “If you wish to be perfect,[e]go, sell what you have and give to [the] poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.” 22 When the young man heard this statement, he went away sad, for he had many possessions. 23 [f]Then Jesus said to his disciples, “Amen, I say to you, it will be hard for one who is rich to enter the kingdom of heaven. 24 Again I say to you, it is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for one who is rich to enter the kingdom of God.”
  • 25 [r]When the disciples heard this, they were greatly astonished and said, “Who then can be saved?”
  • 26 Jesus looked at them and said, “For human beings this is impossible, but for God all things are possible.”

 

We are given Salvation as a Free Act of God by Grace. ~Prima Gratia~  After God gives us Grace by our own Free Will we have a choice to cooperate with God or not.

What is Grace ? Can we achieve everlasting happiness without it? No. Again, this is the 5th century heresy known as Pelagianism. One of the fundamentals of this heresy is that Pelagius denied our Fall from God’s Grace and Original Sin.

According to St. Thomas Aquinas there are six different types of Grace, we’ll take a look at four of them:

Sanctifying Grace: Grace given by God to a person to make him Holy and to unite him to God as a participate in His divinity.

Gratuitous Grace: Grace given by God to a person to enable him to lead others toward God.

Cooperating Grace: Stregthens our will and gives us the ability to do good works, which comes from Free Will

Operating Grace: Grace that directly moves us to action.

God gave us Free Will so we must cooperate with Him to see Him in Heaven, subsequently because of our Free Will we can fall into Mortal Sin and cannot merit ourselves a restoration to grace. God must do this for us and he does through Apostolic succession with the Sacrament of Reconciliation:

Christ says to St. Peter, “18 [a]Amen, I say to you, whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.”

What is Sin? The Catechism says:
V. THE GRAVITY OF SIN: MORTAL AND VENIAL SIN

1854 Sins are rightly evaluated according to their gravity. The distinction between mortal and venial sin, already evident in Scripture,129 became part of the tradition of the Church. It is corroborated by human experience.

1855 Mortal sin destroys charity in the heart of man by a grave violation of God’s law; it turns man away from God, who is his ultimate end and his beatitude, by preferring an inferior good to him.

Venial sin allows charity to subsist, even though it offends and wounds it.

1856 Mortal sin, by attacking the vital principle within us – that is, charity – necessitates a new initiative of God’s mercy and a conversion of heart which is normally accomplished within the setting of the sacrament of reconciliation:

When the will sets itself upon something that is of its nature incompatible with the charity that orients man toward his ultimate end, then the sin is mortal by its very object . . . whether it contradicts the love of God, such as blasphemy or perjury, or the love of neighbor, such as homicide or adultery. . . . But when the sinner’s will is set upon something that of its nature involves a disorder, but is not opposed to the love of God and neighbor, such as thoughtless chatter or immoderate laughter and the like, such sins are venial.130

1857 For a sin to be mortal, three conditions must together be met: “Mortal sin is sin whose object is grave matter and which is also committed with full knowledge and deliberate consent.”131

1858 Grave matter is specified by the Ten Commandments, corresponding to the answer of Jesus to the rich young man: “Do not kill, Do not commit adultery, Do not steal, Do not bear false witness, Do not defraud, Honor your father and your mother.”132 The gravity of sins is more or less great: murder is graver than theft. One must also take into account who is wronged: violence against parents is in itself graver than violence against a stranger.

1859 Mortal sin requires full knowledge and complete consent. It presupposes knowledge of the sinful character of the act, of its opposition to God’s law. It also implies a consent sufficiently deliberate to be a personal choice. Feigned ignorance and hardness of heart133 do not diminish, but rather increase, the voluntary character of a sin.

1860 Unintentional ignorance can diminish or even remove the imputability of a grave offense. But no one is deemed to be ignorant of the principles of the moral law, which are written in the conscience of every man. The promptings of feelings and passions can also diminish the voluntary and free character of the offense, as can external pressures or pathological disorders. Sin committed through malice, by deliberate choice of evil, is the gravest.

How do we recognize ourselves as sinners? What if we don’t recognize ourselves as sinners?

Pope Francis says, “ I would advise them to ask for the grace of feeling like one!…even recognizing oneself as a sinner is a grace.”

Is Enlightenment Philosophy Moral?

Should Christians value Enlightenment Philosophy? Is it moral? Does it erode the foundation of our society like an acid rain on brick?

All Along the Watchtower

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An issue that I have with my American Protestant brothers and sisters in Christ is a beam that I use to have in my own eye. Those in favor of originalism of the United States Constitution, Enlightenment philosophers, and the natural law that they speak, have created idols out of the founding documents, the men who created them, and the supposed “rights” which out of the Enlightenment has promoted the ideology of self-idolization in the form of “Individualism.” Of course, one can make the argument that relativism was birthed from the Protestant Reformation, given a pedestal during the Enlightenment, and now has led to secular atheism of Western Civilization as it’s logical conclusion. No doubt, some friends here will certainly disagree, but the statement must be stated regardless.

We could certainly look to Locke’s anti-Catholicism or Paine’s flirtation with Atheism or pantheism at best, but instead, let’s look at Rousseau…

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Silence

Check out my review of the book Silence by Shusaku Endo on the blog All Along the Watchtower.

All Along the Watchtower

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Shusaku Endo’s book is very well written and a fine piece of literature; however, Endo’s theology and conclusion reached at the end of the story is simply bad theology and not a conclusion that is Catholicism, but rather a new age religion. The book has great value when describing events that actually occurred in Japan to those who professed the Christian faith.

The main character of the book is Fr. Rodrigues and his story take place after the apostasy of a real priest who renounced his faith by the name of Cristóvão Ferreira.[1] I became interested in the title due to Martin Scorsese releasing a movie adaptation of the book. I decided before reading the book to read a few reviews, which of course led to spoilers—this post will have them as well. The great part about knowing the ending of the book is realizing how much the author has…

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The Gospel of Matthew and the Fulfillment of Prophecy.

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Edward Sri, associate professor of Scripture and Theology at the Augustine Institute, thoroughly examines in chapter ten of his book Dawn of the Messiah: The Coming of Christ in Scripture the Gospel of Matthew and how Matthew connects his audience to the scripture of the Old Testament with the coming Messiah. The Gospel of Matthew, as Sri highlights, examines the connections between the old Jewish scriptures and the story of Jesus’ birth in his gospel “with the precision of a Swiss watch.”[1] Matthew being highly educated, as a tax collector, would have been familiar with writing skills to illustrate a story as Sri examines for “an audience with a strong Jewish background.”[2]

Many would assume that Matthew is writing for a primarily Greek audience according to how he frames his narrative of Jesus fulfilling the messianic prophecy with  “clear, explicit connections to Old Testament passages.”[3]However, as Sri examines this is simply the most glaring method that Matthew employs while writing his gospel.[4]
Exploring the clear and explicit connections to the Old Testament; Sri highlights a passage from the Book of Isaiah and how it relates to prophecy being fulfilled in the Gospel of Matthew. In the Book of Isaiah 7:14, the Lord spoke to Ahaz saying, “the virgin shall be with child, and bear a son, and shall name him Immanuel.”[5] Sri connects this to a prophecy being fulfilled in the first chapter of Matthew.[6] As Sri explains, Matthew makes the connection to Isaiah by writing, “ All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet: Behold, the virgin shall be with child and bear a son, and they shall name him Emmanuel.”[7]

The text may indicate that the constructed prose is for a Greek audience as the typology between the Old Testament and New Testament would appear to have been self-evident to a Jewish audience. However, Sri explains that Matthew is “connecting the dots” for his audience as “one does not need to know a lot about the Old Testament to realize that prophecy is coming to fulfillment.”[8]However, Matthew is attempting to reaffirm Christ’s case for being the Messiah to a Jewish audience who may doubt his status as the “anointed one.”

Another example of Matthew connecting the dots to another prophecy is the one given in Micah 5:1-4.[9] Chapter five of Micah begins, “But you, Bethlehem-Ephrathah , too small to be among the clans of Judah, From you shall come forth for me one who is to be ruler in Israel; Whose origin is from of old, from ancient times. Therefore, the Lord will give them up, until the time when she who is to give birth has borne, and the rest of his brethren shall return to the children of Israel. He shall stand firm and shepherd his flock by the strength of the Lord, in the majestic name of the Lord, his God; and they shall remain, for now his greatness shall reach to the ends of the earth he shall be peace.”[10]Again, Matthew connects the Old Testament prophecy with the birth of Christ by having the chief priest confirm with Herod the prophecy stating, “For thus it has been written through the prophet: ‘And you Bethlehem, land of Judah, are by no means least among the rulers of Judah; since from you shall come a ruler who is to shepherd my people Israel.”[11]

[1] Edward Sri, Dawn of the Messiah: The Coming of Christ in Scripture (Cincinnati: St. Anthony Messenger Press, 2005), 138.

[2] Ibid.

[3] Ibid.

[4] Ibid.

[5] Isa. 7:14 NAB

[6] Sri, 139.

[7] Matt. 1:22-23 NAB

[8] Sri, 139.

[9] Ibid, 140.

[10] Mic. 5:1-4 NAB

[11] Matt 2:5-6 NAB

The Gospel of Luke: How Christ’s Birth Fulfilled Prophecy.

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The beginning of the infancy Gospel of Luke is different than many stories. Instead of focusing on main characters of the story that Luke is telling, he begins with two characters of small importance to the overall theme Christ’s great sacrifice. Edward Sri explains, in his book Dawn of the Messiah: The Coming of Christ in Scripture, “Luke begins his Gospel like a good Shakespearean play: with a pair of minor characters who prepare the way for the lead roles to take the stage.”[1]

Of course, the two people are of some importance being the parents of John the Baptist—Zechariah and Elizabeth. Although the couple is not the main focus for Luke’s Gospel, Zechariah and Elizabeth play a vital role in laying the foundation of the importance of Christ’s birth to both the Jewish community and also humanity. Sri explains, “Zechariah and Elizabeth are a standout couple with high credentials in first-century Judaism.”[2] The couple both come from a priestly background, Zechariah being a priest and Elizabeth being a descendant of Aaron.[3]

Luke’s most impressive use of Old Testament typology within the narrative of Zechariah and Elizabeth is the annunciation of Zechariah. The imagery used by Luke is filled with references to Old Testament scripture that would express the importance of these events to their audience using as Sri explains “the last prophetic words of the Old Testament.”[4]

The typology in the beginning of Luke hinges on dialogue between the Angel of the Lord and Zechariah by the Holy of Holies. The Angels speaks to Zechariah and says:

6 And he will turn many of the sons of Israel to the Lord their God,

17 and he will go before him in the spirit and power of Eli′jah,
to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children,
and the disobedient to the wisdom of the just,
to make ready for the Lord a people prepared.”[5]

The typology used by Luke is to reference the audience back to the book of Malachi and frame John the Baptist as the new Elijah to “prepare the way before me” for Christ’s birth.[6] Luke according to tradition being a fairly educated man and skilled writer used his knowledge and skill to highlight the importance of John the Baptist’s birth with Christ’s birth to connect it to Old Testament scripture to prove of prophecy being fulfilled. By examining Mal. 4: 5-6, one can see that Luke uses nearly identical language:

5 “Behold, I will send you Eli′jah the prophet before the great and terrible day of the Lord comes. 6 And he will turn the hearts of fathers to their children and the hearts of children to their fathers, lest I come and smite the land with a curse.”[7]

After the Angel of the Lord makes his announcement to Zechariah before the Holy of Holies, in which it fell to Zechariah to offer incense in the temple:

8 Now while he was serving as priest before God when his division was on duty,9 according to the custom of the priesthood, it fell to him by lot to enter the temple of the Lord and burn incense. 10 And the whole multitude of the people were praying outside at the hour of incense.[8]

It’s important to note the honor of Zechariah for being selected for this opportunity, “Most priests were honored to burn incense only once in their lifetime, this was the crowning moment of Zechariah’s ministry.”[9]

He doesn’t believe the Angel of the Lord saying:

“How shall I know this? For I am an old man, and my wife is advanced in years.” 19 And the angel answered him, “I am Gabriel, who stand in the presence of God; and I was sent to speak to you, and to bring you this good news. 20 And behold, you will be silent and unable to speak until the day that these things come to pass, because you did not believe my words, which will be fulfilled in their time.” 21 And the people were waiting for Zechari′ah, and they wondered at his delay in the temple.22 And when he came out, he could not speak to them, and they perceived that he had seen a vision in the temple; and he made signs to them and remained dumb. 23 And when his time of service was ended, he went to his home.”[10]

Sri explains that “revealing his name was significant because the only time Gabriel is mentioned in the Old Testament (Dn 9:21)[11] is in the important visions given to the prophet Daniel.[12] Sri continues to explain that the typology between Zechariah’s visit with Gabriel and Daniel’s is abundant. For instance in Lk. 1:9, Zechariah mirrors the actions of Daniel in Dn. 9:20 by offering up incense. Gabriel also appears to both men in the evening, referenced in Dn. 9:21 and Lk. 1:10. Notwithstanding, the most significant typology of Luke during this part of his Gospel is Gabriel’s message of salvation for Israel:

Dn. 9: 23-24 RSV

23 At the beginning of your supplications a word went forth, and I have come to tell it to you, for you are greatly beloved; therefore consider the word and understand the vision.

24 “Seventy weeks of years are decreed concerning your people and your holy city, to finish the transgression, to put an end to sin, and to atone for iniquity, to bring in everlasting righteousness, to seal both vision and prophet, and to anoint a most holy place. [13]

Lk. 1: 13-17 RSV

13 But the angel said to him, “Do not be afraid, Zechari′ah, for your prayer is heard, and your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you shall call his name John.

14 And you will have joy and gladness,
and many will rejoice at his birth;
15 for he will be great before the Lord,
and he shall drink no wine nor strong drink,
and he will be filled with the Holy Spirit,
even from his mother’s womb.
16 And he will turn many of the sons of Israel to the Lord their God,
17 and he will go before him in the spirit and power of Eli′jah,
to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children,
and the disobedient to the wisdom of the just,
to make ready for the Lord a people prepared.”[14]

[1] Edward Sri, Dawn of the Messiah: The Coming of Christ in Scripture (Cincinnati: St. Anthony Messenger Press, 2005), 7.

[2] Ibid, 8.

[3] Ibid.

[4] Ibid, 12.

[5] Lk. 1: 16-17 RSV

[6] Mal. 3:1 RSV

[7] Mal. 4: 5-6 RSV

[8] Lk. 1:8-11 RSV

[9] Scott Hahn and Curtis Mitch, The Gospel of Luke: Commentary, Notes & Study Questions (San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 2012), 18.

[10] LK 1: 18-23 RSV

[11] 21 while I was speaking in prayer, the man Gabriel, whom I had seen in the vision at the first, came to me in swift flight at the time of the evening sacrifice. Dn. 9:21 RSV

[12] Sri, 14.

[13] Dn. 9: 23-24 RSV

[14] Lk. 1: 13-17 RSV

Pope Francis: reflections by Phillip Augustine

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Check out my post written on All Along the Watchtower about my initial thoughts on Pope Francis’ Apostolic Exhortation Evangelii Gaudium, and while you’re there check out a view of the other posts on the site.

All Along the Watchtower

This post is by our frequent commentator Phillip Augustine

friend of mine, who is a Deacon in the Catholic Church, is a big fan of Pope Francis. In conversations with him on topics of Catholicism and theology he often refers to the current pontiff with a boyish name of “Frankie.” The Deacon knowing that I have a great devotion to Pope St. John Paul II and his struggles in Poland has often attempted to find ways to introduce Pope Francis into the conversation. One of the conversations with the Deacon, he requested that I read Pope Francis’ Apostolic Exhortation Evangelii Gaudium. Of course, as one who likes to dabble in academia, I already have a very long reading list– but nonetheless, I’ve now begun to peruse the pages of this text at my friend’s request.

I surmise that one of the reasons why the Deacon wishes for me to…

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Stealing Hosts for anti-Catholic art? Not illegal, Spanish judge says. :: Catholic News Agency (CNA)

.- Critics of a Spanish judge say he wrongly dismissed charges against an artist who stole consecrated Hosts for an exhibit that disrespected the Catholic faith.

The Spanish Association of Christian Lawyers announced it would file an appeal and be prepared “to go to the highest court necessary in the face of what is becoming a campaign of serious offenses against the Christian faith and religious freedom.”

Abel Azcona stole more than 240 consecrated hosts from Masses celebrated in the cities of Madrid and Pamplona. He later took nude photos of himself arranging them on a floor to spell the word ‘pederasty.’ In November 2015, he displayed the photos as part of an art display in a city-owned exhibition hall available for public use.

Readmore via Stealing Hosts for anti-Catholic art? Not illegal, Spanish judge says. :: Catholic News Agency (CNA)