Category Archives: Reflections on Paul

A Density of Questions on 2 Corinthians

Why does Paul use the same word so densely? In the greeting, endurance 10 times? By the end, I have lost all sense of what the word means. And why would boasting be a persuasive argument? It is like advertising? The “superapostles” were going around preaching “Ivory soap — 99.75% pure!”? Paul: “Bah! Mine is 100% pure and more effective to boot!”? Maybe a silly question, but is “boasting in the Lord” similar to “giving witness/testimony” to the way God has worked in your life? With the “no, no,” “yes, yes,” and “yes, no” section (2 Cor 18-19), is this like accusing a politician of “waffling” and thus being untrustworthy?

If people question that 2 Cor could not be one coherent letter because of breaks in theme, tone, etc., they have not read one of my e-mails. LOL! And now to talk about…vegetables…. It’s all related, just maybe not that clear to others, but perfectly okay in my head. I get that. 🙂

The Lord of Hosts

Today was one of those times where reading different things simultaneously was advantageous. I was reading both the second half of 1 Corinthians and The Lamb’s Supper: The Mass as Heaven on Earth by Scott Hahn. In his book was a section talking about the Lord of Hosts. I stopped reading for a minute and reflected on this title. Usually, I took this to be a Eucharistic title, and kept picturing in my mind the hosts which would be consecrated into the Body of Christ.

But perhaps this is a little simplistic.

Next, I thought about hosts as in the angels and saints who are present worshiping at Mass with us. And this tied in well for me with the text from Corinthians, where Paul talks about all of us being the body of Christ:

As a body is one though it has many parts, and all the parts of the body, though many, are one body, so also Christ. For in one Spirit we were all baptized into one body, whether Jews or Greeks, slaves or free persons, and we were all given to drink of one Spirit.


And this leads me back to the concept of being a host. The unleavened bread is transformed into the Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity of Christ. We become hosts for the indwelling of the Holy Spirit at our baptism.

But with God, it’s not a matter of one of these. With God, it is all of these. Just one resounding “Yes!”

Thanks be to God!

A Parent’s Heart

Cranky Babies Get Tossed Away!

My children, for whom I am again in labor until Christ be formed in you!  I would like to be with you now and to change my tone, for I am perplexed because of you. (Galatians 4:19-20)

It’s such a hard thing to watch our children grow up, isn’t it? Especially when you see them walking down a dangerous path in their lives. You want to just pick them up and almost live their lives for them, so that they won’t be hurt by what you know is ultimately harmful to them, but that they currently find attractive. The corrections that you give are, indeed, loving, in that they attempt to help your kids back onto a better path. However, sometimes the freedom that you give your children is more helpful. Within limits, it teaches your children not to just “obey Mom’s/Dad’s law,” but to evaluate situations for themselves so as to learn how to live a good life on their own. The rub for parents is that you have to sit back and allow your child to make mistakes and to fall.

We always try to prepare them for the world. To teach them not to talk to strangers. To look both ways before crossing the street. To eat their veggies. To look out for your little brother/sister. To brush your teeth. To say your prayers at night. When they are small, usually they more or less obey, but when they turn into teens and try to determine for themselves their identity…then is when you have the greatest opportunity for rebellion.

What Paul is stating here is the lament of every parent of a teen who has ever said, “I taught you better than that!” or “That’s not who I raised you to be!” or “That’s just not like you!” The formerly sweet, docile child has become somehow something like a child of wrath. A stranger you don’t recognize. The bonds between you which were formerly strong are now a little weaker, a little fainter — distance has set in as friends and culture at large has replaced you as the, apparent, new standard for behavior. What happened?

I think it’s a normal part of the maturation process. At some point, the newly instructed needs to learn to fly on their own. Our rules and teachings have to be incorporated into their hearts, and this can only be done by a free choice of their will.

It is at this point that God’s people are being offered this opportunity to see beyond the Law and fill their hearts with the New Covenant. They are ready for the next step in the maturation process.

In the same way we also, when we were not of age, were enslaved to the elemental powers of the world. But when the fullness of time had come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to ransom those under the law, so that we might receive adoption. (Galatians 4:3-5)

Non Sequitur:
The photo is me as a toddler. As the story goes, I was being a pill when my parents took me to the park this day, so they stuck me in a waste basket and started walking away…. 🙂

Save Me from the Stupid: Flirting with Sin


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?!!


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.

May We All Be One


Love craves unity.

We are physical beings as well as spiritual beings.

For these reasons, tangible expressions of love are so necessary. It is not enough that I am told that I am loved, but I need to see it, hear it and feel it. I need that hug, that kiss, that hand on my shoulder. We have an inborn need to profoundly connect with other people.

I was reminded of this by my latest reading:

Brothers, when we were bereft of you for a short time, in person, not in heart, we were all the more eager in our great desire to see you in person. (1 Thes 2:17)

It is not only other human persons for which we have this desire for unity but, most of all, for God. Which is why God gave us the sacraments, so that we can, tangibly, come into contact with Him. Through the sacraments, we can concretely encounter and interact with Christ. In Reconciliation, we can not only know that we are forgiven, but we can hear it said, “I absolve you….” In the Anointing of the Sick, our sick bodies are touched and the oil remains as a reminder of the healing freely given. In the Eucharist, it is Christ Himself whom we take into our bodies under the appearance of bread and wine. God effects in us the very unity which we crave. Would that we truly come to know what it is that He is doing.

In addition to this idea of tangible unity, the other thing this verse brings to my mind is the idea of intercessory prayer. I truly believe that prayer unites people. As I pray for you, my heart is softened toward you and I become better able to love you as God loves you. I believe this is why Paul says, “…we were bereft of you…in person, not in heart.” While they may have been physically separated, Paul continued to remember them, and not just in abstract recollections of memory, but — because heart in Paul’s day meant something more like the center of your will, rather than the center of your emotions — remembered them in prayer, where he was actively willing for their good.

Which brings me back to:

I pray not only for them, but also for those who will believe in me through their word, so that they may all be one, as you, Father are in me and I in you, that they also may be in us, that the world may believe that you sent me. (John 17:20-21)

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.