The Burden of the Cross

•December 18, 2009 • Leave a Comment

Luke 23:26 And as they led him away, they seized one Simon of Cyrene who was coming in from the country, and laid on him the cross, to carry it behind Jesus.

I have been praying an awful lot over the past couple of days since my mother had an ischemic stroke. She is in the hospital in Alexandria which is about a 3 hour drive from home for me. Today I was praying the Sorrowful Mysteries of the Rosary, and as I was meditating on the fourth mystery, the carrying of the cross, I considered that my mother is burdened under quite heavy wood herself. It then occurred to me that I can be to her what St. Simon of Cyrene was to the Lord.

Father give me the grace and strength to come to her aid as St. Simon did for Your Son.

Resurrection and the Rosary

•July 27, 2009 • Leave a Comment

Today as I meditated on the Joyful Mysteries of the Holy Rosary, this:

And it came to pass, that after three days they found him in the temple, sitting in the midst of the doctors, both hearing them, and asking them questions. – Luke 2:46

reminds me of this:

But we trusted that it had been he which should have redeemed Israel: and beside all this, to day is the third day since these things were done. – Luke 24:21

And beginning at Moses and all the prophets, he expounded unto them in all the scriptures the things concerning himself. – Luke 24:27

Images of the resurrection pop up in the most unexpected places sometimes.

Praised be Jesus Christ now and forever!

Thoughts on the Rosary

•July 14, 2009 • Leave a Comment

So as I was meditating on the First Sorrowful Mystery (The Agony in Gethsemene), it occurred to me that part of the agony was not just the passion and death Jesus was about to experience, but also knowing that Judas was in the process of betraying him.

Which reminded me of this:

Yea, mine own familiar friend, in whom I trusted, which did eat of my bread, hath lifted up his heel against me.

And as I continued my meditation to the Fourth Sorrowful Mystery (The Carrying of the Cross), this:

And they compel one Simon a Cyrenian, who passed by, coming out of the country, the father of Alexander and Rufus, to bear his cross.

reminded me of this:

Who now rejoice in my sufferings for you, and fill up that which is behind of the afflictions of Christ in my flesh for his body’s sake, which is the church.

My meditations on the Sorrowful Mysteries are always so productive.

Praised be Jesus Christ forever!

The Way

•April 5, 2009 • 1 Comment

And among the rebels in prison, who had committed murder in the insurrection, there was a man called Barabbas. – Mark 15:7

I have been thinking a lot about Jesus and Barabbas the last couple of weeks.

It all started when a woman took a position at the pulpit prior to Mass a couple of weeks ago to announce an urgent message regarding “our President Obama.” To simply read this comment does not do the scene justice because the woman sneered the words “our President Obama” from her lips as though she were discussing a diabolical spirit which must be conquered. In her impassioned speech she decried the coming persecution of those who would protect the life of the unborn and the impending legislation which would force doctors and nurses to perform abortions and to prescribe contraception against their consciences. She even went so far as to say that the coming legislation would make the United States a society of forced abortion and contraception much like China is today. It was all very dire.

Frankly, I felt it was quite hyperbolic and bordered on a lie. I can tell you that as a physician, I do not fear this. I will not be forced to do anything against my conscience. What will happen to me if I do? Will I lose my funding? Ok, so I lose my funding. Will I be imprisoned? Ok, then I would be imprisoned. “For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul?” (Matt. 18:36)

So how does this relate to Barabbas and Jesus?

Barabbas was an insurrectionist or a man who was involved in a coup d’etat. He was a member of those who wanted to free Judea from Roman occupation and therefore restore the kingdom of Israel. He was a messianic figure who sought a political kingdom, a kingdom brought about through force and human devices. The irony is in his name: Bar-abbas means “son of the father.” He is Jesus’ alter ego, a sort of doppelganger.

Before Pontius Pilate stands Jesus and Barabbas. Jesus has peacefully yet emphatically proclaimed the coming of the kingdom of God through repentance to all of Judea and Galilee. Barabbas has committed murder in a riot in an effort to break the oppression of the Roman Empire and restore the political kingdom of Israel. Before Pilate Jesus, bloody and bruised, stands silent as he is condemned. “He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth; like a lamb that is led to the slaughter, and like a sheep that before its shearers is dumb, so he opened not his mouth.” (Isaiah 53:7) Before Pilate the crowd screams for Barabbas to be released.

Anger is a natural response to oppression, and who could be more oppressed than those unborn who are slaughtered against their will in the holocaust that is abortion. Anger is also a thirst for justice. In our thirst for justice will we use the weapons of the world to bring about the kingdom or will we use the weapons of God? Jesus in the garden of Gethsemene gives us the answer: “Put your sword back into its place; for all who take the sword will perish by the sword.” (Matthew 26:52) When in anger we use fear and errant hyperbole to accomplish the work of the Lord, we use the weapons of the world; we use the sword, we choose Barabbas. Jesus calls us to use the weapons of God to bring about his Kingdom, the real Kingdom. Those weapons are prayer, prophesy, mercy, trust, faith, love: in a word, truth.

Will we be like the crowds in Jerusalem that day and choose the way of Barabbas? Or will we expose the way of the world for what it is and be like the countless number of martyrs who stood silent as they were condemned to death for following the way of Jesus of Nazareth; Jesus who is the way, the truth and the life.

Praised be Jesus Christ forever.

Sanitizing the Word

•March 22, 2009 • Leave a Comment

I love the King James bible because the words are not watered down to protect modern sensibilities. A few comparisons:

Psalm 106:39

New American Bible (THE Catholic Bible in the USA): They defiled themselves by their actions, became adulterers by their conduct.

King James Bible: Thus were they defiled with their own works, and went a-whoring with their own inventions.

Psalm 110:6

NAB: Who, robed in splendor, judges nations, crushes heads across the wide earth.

KJV: He shall judge among the heathen, he shall fill the places with the dead bodies; he shall wound the heads over many countries.

Psalm 86:14

NAB: O God, the arrogant have risen against me; a ruthless band has sought my life; to you they pay no heed.

KJV: O God, the proud are risen against me, and the assemblies of violent men have sought after my soul; and have not set thee before them.

Actually Coverdale is even better, referring to the “congregation of naughty men” who have sought after my soul.

1 Samuel 25:22

NAB: “May God do thus and so to David, if by morning I leave a single male alive among all those who belong to him.”

KJV (and Douay-Reims I might add): So and more also do God unto the enemies of David, if I leave of all that pertain to him by the morning light any that pisseth against the wall.

And last but certainly not least, Philippians 1:8

NAB: For God is my witness, how I long for all of you with the affection of Christ Jesus.

KJV: For God is my record, how greatly I long after you all in the bowels of Jesus Christ.

But even the King James Bible sanitizes Philippians 3:8.

The Greek says (I’ve bolded the offending word): ἀλλὰ μενοῦνγε καὶ ἡγοῦμαι πάντα ζημίαν εἶναι διὰ τὸ ὑπερέχον τῆς γνώσεως Χριστοῦ Ἰησοῦ τοῦ κυρίου μου, διὃν τὰ πάντα ἐζημιώθην, καὶ ἡγοῦμαι σκύβαλα, ἵνα Χριστὸν κερδήσω…

KJV: Yea doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ…

This literally translated is: But indeed I also consider everything to be loss on account of the surpassing knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord, on account of whom I forfeited all things; and I consider them shit so that I may gain Christ…

I think sanitizing the word only makes it less effective, especially with that last example. St. Paul obviously intended to shock and offend sensibilities to make his point by using the word σκύβαλα.

My home, sweet home

•February 20, 2009 • Leave a Comment

How shall we sing the LORD’s song in a foreign land? – Psalm 137:4

My home is in a land where I am told that I have freedom of religion, yet I am called a bigot if I am faithful to the teachings of my Church. My home is in a land where we pledge “liberty and justice for all” and then allow women to abort their unborn children. My home is in a land where the most powerful life giving force known to man is also the most sought after recreational activity apart from its life giving purpose.

I really find myself shocked at what happens in my country sometimes.

Then tonight I read Psalm 137, and it suddenly became clear to me why I shouldn’t be shocked. I am a foreigner in this land much like the Jews who were exiled in Babylon. My true home is the new Jerusalem, where “there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying.” Ironically to get home, I must endure sorrow, crying, and death.

If I forget you, O Jerusalem, let my right hand wither! Let my tongue cleave to the roof of my mouth, if I do not remember you, if I do not set Jerusalem above my highest joy! – Psalm 137:5-6

ὁμοούσιος

•February 11, 2009 • 1 Comment

Why do we say that Jesus, the Second Person of the Blessed Trinity, is begotten? What does it mean to be begotten as opposed to being created?

I had this discussion earlier this evening and came to an insight which I thought was worth blogging about. It all boils down to the nature of a thing. If something is created then it is of a different nature than that which created it. If something is begotten, it shares the nature of that which begot it.

This is why my daughter and my two sons are begotten. I did not create them. To use a cruder word, I sired them. Therefore, they share my human nature. If I make a statue of my son William, it may very well look like him, but it does not share my nature. It is created not begotten.

This question arose early in the Church as to whether the Son was created by the Father or begotten. The followers of the bishop Arius saw Jesus as a created being and therefore infinitely less than God (i.e. simply human). The belief of orthodox Christians which was championed by St. Athanasius was that Jesus was begotten by the Father from all eternity, and since he was begotten and not created, then he was of one nature with the Father. The Greeks have a wonderful word for this: ὁμοούσιος (homoousios) which technically means “of the same substance” but for all practical purposes it means “of the same stuff as.”

It is only with this understanding of the relationship between the Father and the Son that John 1:1 truly makes sense. This is what the Greek says: ἐν ἀρχῇ ἦν ὁ λόγος καὶ ὁ λόγος ἦν πρὸς τὸν θεόν καὶ θεὸς ἦν ὁ λόγος. Most interesting to me is the last part of the verse καὶ θεὸς ἦν ὁ λόγος which directly translated into English means “and God was the Word”, but since the article () precedes the word λόγος, that is the subject of the phrase and θεὸς is the predicate nominative. What that really means is what God was so was the Word, i.e. the Word was God.

Awesome.

Our Lady of Lourdes, pray for us.

 
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