Category Archives: Bible Study

Save Me from the Stupid: Flirting with Sin

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Paul says a lot of great things. Like this:

Are you so stupid? After beginning with the Spirit, are you now ending with the flesh? (Galatians 3:3)

This “stupid” is a harsh rebuke, referring to one who does not see reality. And, isn’t this our internal cry to ourselves every time we become aware of our sin? Why did I do that? I know better! UGH!

But how easy is this, if we are not vigilant against the temptations of the culture in which we live?  Everything we are exposed to tells us that we are to indulge.  It’s not about liberty, but license, with the small caveat that your license does not harm or interfere with certain other’s rights.

In my baptism, I died to sin and rose to new life in Christ.  Why then, do I still fall?  Why do I still see things as harmless or fun or appealing even after having a new heart created within me and God’s own Spirit dwelling within me?

I think it’s because I am stupid.  I do not clearly see the reality that is before me.  If I truly understood, I would be different.  But as it is, there is something like blinders on.  I have that tendency to sin, that limp in my walk that makes me prone to tripping.

Ask my mom — ask anyone — I have this rebellious streak in me that likes to test boundaries; I think perhaps we all do to a degree.  And it is so easy to rationalize things and lead ourselves into increasingly greater sin.

It starts with the smallest things.  A glance, perhaps.  A flirtatious smile.  A change in posture.  You feed off the response of the person you are engaging.  Maybe now some double entendres.  Suggestive speech.  Slightly dirty jokes.  Harmless, right?

But even right there, we need to stop ourselves.  Just in the beginning, we need to see what we are doing and where it is leading.  Why am I flirting with this guy?  Do I really want to try and attract him to me?  Or am I just doing it because it’s fun to elicit a response?  Where will I draw the line with my suggestive speech and behaviors?  Am I leading this other person into sin?

I’m playing with fire, and now I’m not only sprinkling myself with propellant, but also you.  Trying to see how long we can play with the flames before we get burned.  Objectification of another person comes swiftly and insidiously.  I may not think it’s a big deal.  You may like it.  But it isn’t consonant with our nature as humans.  You deserve better.  You are a precious gift.  And so am I.

The point is not that we are so bad.  The reality is that we have been made so good and need to learn to live as such.

When I objectify you or myself, I am making you (or me) into something less than human — a thing, a toy.  My vision isn’t narrowed when I turn away from the norms of the culture; it’s widened and clarified.

Help me, Lord, to learn to be authentically human and to love others with Your love.  Please send me Your Spirit to help me see clearly.

What?! He came and I *missed* it?!!


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Originally uploaded by CadyLy

Okay, the New Testament zebras are still tromping around Thessalonica. Here is our grazing ground for the day:

We ask you, brothers, with regard to the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our assembling with him, not to be shaken out of your minds suddenly, or to be alarmed either by a “spirit,” or by an oral statement, or by a letter allegedly from us to the effect that the day of the Lord is at hand. Let no one deceive you in any way. For unless the apostasy comes first and the lawless one is revealed, the one doomed to perdition, who opposes and exalts himself above every so-called god and object of worship, so as to seat himself in the temple of God, claiming that he is a god — do you not recall that while I was still with you I told you these things? And now you know what is restraining, that he may be revealed in his time. For the mystery of lawlessness is already at work. But the one who restrains is to do so only for the present, until he is removed from the scene. And then the lawless one will be revealed, whom the Lord [Jesus] will kill with the breath of his mouth and render powerless by the manifestation of his coming, the one whose coming springs from the power of Satan in every mighty deed and in signs and wonders that lie, and in every wicked deceit for those who are perishing because they have not accepted the love of truth so that they may be saved. Therefore, God is sending them a deceiving power so that they may believe the lie, that all who have not believed the truth but have approved wrongdoing may be condemned. (2 Thes 2:1-12)

What in the world is going on here?

This sounds to me to be like some of the other apocalyptic literature, what with the apostasy and the lawless one being revealed [the antichrist?], and also with the one being restrained (isn’t there something about Satan being allowed to act, but on a leash?)

I like, too, the distinction that Paul is making here.  He talks of those who “have not accepted the love of truth so that they may be saved.”  It seems to me that he is talking here about the necessity of changing your life so as to live in Truth in order to be saved.  It doesn’t say, those who have accepted Christ as Lord and Messiah so that they may be saved, so it must mean that more is necessary.  What is the love of Truth, then?  I think it is more than merely knowing Truth.  For example, I can know the 10 Commandments and still fail to obey them.  But if I love the 10 Commandments, then I will incorporate them into my life, my being.  They will not be seen as an oppressive yoke, but rather a freedom.  To love Truth is to embrace it.  So, those who “have not accepted the love of truth” are those who have failed to embrace Christ, whether or not they profess him as Lord.

The other notable thing is that Paul is telling them to not worry about people proclaiming the end times.  Those who have heard Paul proclaim the Gospel know what will precede the parousia of the Lord.

I think additionally, there is a connection between these two thoughts.  Those who do not truly love the Truth would be frightened and scrambling to try and atone for the way they have been living their life if the Second Coming were suddenly announced.  However, true disciples of Christ would already be following a path of righteousness and would have nothing to fear.  So, live well, for we know not the hour, and He will come like a thief in the night.

In Thanksgiving for Their Faith

Okay, starting a new series:  Reflections on Paul.  I have a class on Pauline literature at the Seminary this semester, and we are being asked to keep a journal of our response to Scripture, both spiritually and intellectually.  And, of course, I will share with you!  🙂

We are starting with 1 Thessalonians.  It didn’t take me very long before I reached something to comment upon:

We give thanks to God always for all of you, remembering you in our prayers, unceasingly calling to mind your work of faith and labor of love and endurance in hope of our Lord Jesus Christ, before our God and Father, knowing, brothers loved by God, how you were chosen. (1 Thes 1:2-4, NAB)

I had marked this passage in my Bible with a little note, and it strikes me the same way today. It’s Paul’s prayer on behalf of himself, Silvanus/Silas and Timothy to the church in Thessalonica, but this is also my prayer for my priests.

I have this vocation/charism to be an intercessor, and have a particular focus on priests.  In a particular way, I have been called to be an intercessor for one specific priest.  Something similar to the idea of spiritual motherhood (I’ll provide the link to that Vatican article in a little bit, when I look it up), perhaps, or maybe as St. Thérèse of Lisieux prayed for her two priests.

Paul talks about how he prays unceasingly for the Thessalonians, and in a similar way, I pray unceasingly for my priest.  Sometimes I find this humorous, how he is always on my mind in prayer.  It seems like any difficulty that I may run into in the course of my day, I use this as prayer for him.  E.g. If I am driving and notice that it’s icy out, I will pray that he is protected while on the roads — that God keeps him safe.  If I am tired or stressed, I pray that he find rest, comfort, strength, perseverance and God’s grace to handle his duties and projects.  That God would renew him and give him His peace.  That he would be given moments throughout the day where he can get away from the daily pressures and find respite and rejuvenation in the Lord.  That he would be inspired to continue to run the race well and find a “second wind.”  That all of his frustrations would be turned into joy, knowing that he is doing the Will of God.  That he may see Christ in all the people that he encounters on this day.

Paul calls the Thessalonians “brothers loved by God.”  This is so true regarding my priest.  God speaks to me about him more than He speaks to me about any other person.  Sometimes, I’ll happen to be driving past church and He will tell me, “Right now, my son is here with Me.  Spending time with Me.”  You should hear Him.  He is so thrilled.  He loves it when His children spend time with Him.  It just encourages me that much more to spend time in front of the Eucharist in Adoration.  Praying for my priest and my priests.  That insight into His Heart and His Love for His children expands my own heart, and somehow helps me to love better.

“How you were chosen.”  Vocation.  The calling of God.  I love this.  My vocation, in a way, is to support vocations.  Particularly, those called to Holy Orders and to the presbyterate.  There’s no question that my heart has been changed by God.  That he has made me in such a way that this calling that I have — this intercession, this preference for priests — gives me joy and draws me closer to Him the more I engage in and answer my calling.  I was chosen for those who have been chosen.  There is a great responsibility there, but also a great comfort, to know that you have been chosen by God for a particular task.  Perhaps because of my unique calling, two of my favorite Masses are Chrism Mass and Presbyteral Ordination.  I cannot tell you how awesome those Masses are, but only encourage you to attend one, if you get the chance.

Thank You, Lord, for their call, for their faith…and for mine.

Small Group Discussion Questions

I am starting the Catholic Biblical School of Michigan this fall. In fact, our Opening Day of Reflection was yesterday! 🙂 I am excited for this 4-year journey and for growing closer to God by becoming more familiar with His Word.

I don’t intend to write out all of my answers for all of our questions here, but there were just a couple this week that I’d like to share.

1. When looking at the culture behind the Bible, looking at what the text of the Bible says and means, and thinking about what impact the Bible can have on us today, which of these three do you find most challenging and why?

Thinking about what impact the Bible can have on us today is, for me, the most challenging aspect because it requires understanding of the other two aspects (looking at the culture behind the Bible and looking at what the text of the Bible says and means). To take that knowledge and then apply it to our own lives is a very different activity. I think our culture today is so media-saturated that we tend to read for the sake of information, and rarely let anything penetrate to our hearts. But that is precisely what the Lord wishes, for us not to keep His Word at an external distance, but to pull His Word inside of us and incorporate it into our very being. To pray and live and have a relationship with His Word. To let it change us. And that level of self-abandon is challenging.

4. We are supposed to read the Bible with our heads and with our hearts. Which of these do you find easier to do and why?

It is far easier to read the Bible with our heads. In fact, I think the only way we can read the Bible is with our heads. Once we engage our hearts into the text, we are no longer reading the Bible, we are praying it.

Genesis 1:6-8

This starts a new series of photographs, which I will call Scripture Pix. I will read a section of Scripture and take a photograph in some way related to that text. Enjoy!

This doesn’t look like a photo of anything, but it is a photo of the lovely cloudless blue sky that we are blessed with today.

And God said, “Let there be a firmament in the midst of the waters, and let it separate the waters from the waters.” And God made the firmament and separated the waters which were under the firmament from the waters which were above the firmament. And it was so. And God called the firmament Heaven. And there was evening and there was morning, a second day.

From 2010-08-28

I Love This Translation!

Here is a Bible passage that I have heard often, although the translation here (the one from Life of Christ by Fulton Sheen, pp. 194; perhaps the Knox translation?) is just beautiful:

That conclusion, cannot be taken in by everybody,
But only by those who have the gift.
There are some eunuchs, who were so born from the mother’s womb,
Some were made so by men, and some have made
Themselves so for love of the Kingdom of Heaven;
Take this in, you whose
Hearts are large enough for it.
— Matthew 19:11, 12

[Emphasis mine]

Especially the “you whose hearts are large enough for it,” because that is one of the most amazing things about my priests — they have amazing hearts. 🙂

God bless them all! 🙂

Isaiah 43:1-7

(1)
But now thus says the LORD,
he who created you, O Jacob,
he who formed you, O Israel:
“Fear not, for I have redeemed you;
I have called you by name, you are mine.
(2)
When you pass through the waters I will be with you;
and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you;
when you walk through fire you shall not be burned,
and the flame shall not consume you.
(3)
For I am the LORD your God,
the Holy One of Israel, your Savior.
I give Egypt as your ransom,
Ethiopia and Seba in exchange for you.
(4)
Because you are precious in my eyes,
and honored, and I love you,
I give men in return for you,
peoples in exchange for your life.
(5)
Fear not, for I am with you;
I will bring your offspring from the east,
and from the west I will gather you;
(6)
I will say to the north, Give up,
and to the south, Do not withhold;
bring my sons from afar
and my daughters from the end of the earth,
(7)
every one who is called by my name,
whom I created for my glory,
whom I formed and made.”

Bible Study – Session 15, Adventures in Matthew

This was a really productive Bible study for me this evening. I really enjoyed answering my questions and reflecting upon the Word of God. Here are three things which I came across this evening that were of particular significance to me:

1. “To deny oneself is to disown oneself as the center on one’s existence.” — The Catholic Study Bible (Pg. 1283; MT 16:24)

2. Sin thwarts us in our vocation as God’s children. Pp. 549, Catechism of the Catholic Church

3. Regarding the Transfiguration: “Peter did not yet understand this when he wanted to remain with Christ on the mountain. It has been reserved for you, Peter, but for after death. For now, Jesus says: ‘Go down to toil on earth, to serve on earth, to be scorned and crucified on earth. Life goes down to be killed; Bread goes down to suffer hunger; the Way goes down to be exhausted on his journey; the Spring goes down to suffer thirst; and you refuse to suffer?'” — St. Augustine, Sermo 78, 6: PL 38, 492-493, cf. Lk 9:33

Sin is, to me, a fixation on self. A feeding of that which is of the earth and of ourselves. A selfishness of mind, body and spirit. A turning from His will, in the preference of our own. By pleading with God to remove all suffering from our life, we are asking not to be a part of Christ’s redemptive suffering on the cross. And to choose not to take up our cross and suffer alongside Him, we are choosing also not to share in his Resurrection and kingdom. Instead, we should choose to take up our cross, and suffer alongside our Lord — but not blindly. We should always unite our suffering to his for a purpose. Somehow, God will make our suffering efficacious for those purposes. We should not waste our suffering, but have it be used as redemption for others. Enter fully into the body of Christ and give fully of ourselves — not only the good parts and the surplus of ourselves and our possessions, but of our suffering, pain and need. When we have given of ourselves until we are empty and wrung out, will we truly know what it means to submit completely and receive back all the grace of our Lord. The more we empty of ourselves, the more we have room for Him.

Lord, in the words of John the Baptist on this day of the Baptism of our Lord, help me to decrease in myself, so that He who dwells within me can increase.
Amen.

Also, at the beginning of Vocation Week, let us remember the words of Fr. Mark’s homily today (he quoting someone else, I just forget who): “There is no VAcation from your VOcation.” How true. May we always live according to God’s plan for our life. Please join me in praying for people’s discernment of the vocation God has in mind for them, and the acceptance of this calling, whether to the priesthood, diaconate, religious life, married life or single life; may all of God’s people live for the glory of Him according to their state of life.

Proverbs and Theology of the Body

As long as I am reading into things….  🙂

Proverbs 16:30
He who winks his eye is plotting
trickery;
he who compresses his lips has
mischief ready.

This shows how we are able to lie with our bodies. It brought to mind for me teachings from the Theology of the Body almost immediately, especially when you are speaking of conjugal union between two people who are not married. For in that act, your body is saying to your partner, “everything I have is yours.” If you are not married, this is not true. And, whether you are married or not, if you are contracepting, you are still making a lie of this in that you are withholding your fertility from your partner. You are saying, in essence, “You can have all of me…except this.” So, in the very act in which we are to make ourselves vulnerable and open completely to the other person, we are holding back. We are not making a gift of ourselves, but rather a leasing of ourselves, with stipulations and conditions. Which would you rather have? The free and complete gift, or the conditional lease?

The End Times in the Song of Songs

I may be completely out to lunch here, but this struck me while reading my Bible:

Song 2: 12
The flowers appear on the earth,
the time of pruning the vines has come,
and the song of the dove is heard in
our land.

The pruning of the vines just sounded so very end-times to me, where the unworthy would be forcibly separated from the vine, while the good fruit would remain with the vine. The flowers appearing on the earth, as a pointing to the New Earth and the New Jerusalem. My favorite part is “the song of the dove is heard in our land.” For in that, I see the Holy Spirit being heard and felt and known by all who dwell within the land. That time of complete unity with God. Here now, so often is the Holy Spirit suppressed and not heard — how wonderful it will be when we are all able to hear the song of the dove throughout the land! 🙂