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"That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon and touched with our hands, con
cerning the word of life -- the life was made manifest, and we saw it, and testify to it ...." I John 1:1-2 (RSV)

"After his resurrection the disciples saw the living Christ, whom they knew to have died, with the eyes of faith (oculata fide)." Thomas Aquinas, Summa Theologica, III, 55, 2 ad 1, as quoted in D. M. Stanley, Jesus in Gethsemane (New York, Paulist Press 1980).

Sunday, October 25, 2020

Ps. 82 NABRE Notes


The New American Bible, Revised Edition (NABRE),  is a  Bible translation made available online by  the  United States Conference of Catholic Bishops. Their footnotes to Ps. 82 echo Divine Council teaching which we get from Michael Heiser and others, as you see here, where I quote from the NABRE footnotes:


Psalm 82 As in Ps 58, the pagan gods are seen as subordinate divine beings to whom Israel’s God had delegated oversight of the foreign countries in the beginning (Dt 32:8–9). Now God arises in the heavenly assembly (Ps 82:1) to rebuke the unjust “gods” (Ps 82:2–4), who are stripped of divine status and reduced in rank to mortals (Ps 82:5–7). They are accused of misruling the earth by not upholding the poor. A short prayer for universal justice concludes the Psalm (Ps 82:8).

a.     82:5 The gods are blind and unable to declare what is right. Their misrule shakes earth’s foundations (cf. Ps 11:375:4), which God made firm in creation (Ps 96:10).

b.     82:6 I declare: “Gods though you be”: in Jn 10:34 Jesus uses the verse to prove that those to whom the word of God is addressed can fittingly be called “gods.”

c.     82:8 Judge the earth: according to Dt 32:8–9, Israel’s God had originally assigned jurisdiction over the foreign nations to the subordinate deities, keeping Israel as a personal possession. Now God will directly take over the rulership of the whole world.

Ps. 82 footnotes, New American Bible  (Revised Edition) (NABRE),   © 2010, 1991, 1986, 1970 Confraternity of Christian Doctrine, Inc., Washington, DC.

Monday, February 17, 2020

Kathleen Norris - Psalms

 The Jewish believers sang the Psalms.  Jesus sang the Psalms of ascent with his disciples (Matt 26:30). The Apostles sang Psalms (1 Cor 14:26). That was also the practice of the ancient Christians.  

Kathleen Norris in her book, Dakota: A Spiritual Biography (1993) describes her time praying and singing Psalms at Benedictine monasteries.  The pace of life is too fast, and as Norris wrote in 1993 she saw that people were coming to recognize that time at the monastery just might slow us down.  Norris says:  

The attraction is real. For all our secular preoccupations, our fascination with lifestyles of the rich and famous, twentieth-century Americans are flocking to monasteries for retreats in record numbers. The poor and humble are so popular, in fact, that when I tried a few years ago to arrange on short notice a retreat at a monastery in New England, I was told an apologetic monk that the guest facilities were booked solid for the next six months.    


The Psalms are the word of God, which is alive and active. It's not  surprising that for Norris the experience of the monastery is  life changing:
She says: 

Often, when I’m sitting in a monastery choir stall, I wonder how I got there. I could trace it back, as I can trace the route from back East to western South Dakota. But I’m having too much fun. The words of Psalms, spoken aloud and left to resonate in the air around me, push me into new time and space. I think of it as the quantum effect: here time flows back and forth, in and out of both past and future, and I, too, am changed


Saturday, February 16, 2019

Genesis Chapters 2 and 3 - JSB and Brueggemann

Per the Jewish Study Bible (JSB), Judaism does not see "the fall"  in Genesis chapters  2 and 3.  The JSB claims that getting ejected from the garden and then having to work hard and put on clothes reflects real adult life. The Garden of Eden is like a child's place, where Adam and Eve don't even know they are naked.  I don't agree with this assessment of the rule violation of Adam and Eve. The world changes after this disruption in the garden.  The sin has a cosmic effect. The sin of Adam and Eve drives them away from this great place. I'm going with the the Catechism of the Catholic Church and St. Paul when it comes to original sin and the meaning of  Genesis 2 and 3.  

The garden is God's place. "They heard the sound of the Lord God moving about in the garden." Gen. 2:8.   He sets the boundaries. He is the gardener. Adam and Eve live with him.  Here you see the personal relationship which God offers.  Skipping ahead to Christian application, this relationship provides the  joy of the spiritual life.  There is only one rule in the garden. And they can't even handle that.  Human nature craves autonomy. The serpent stokes that fire. Who is this serpent? The text does not say. And we can't  know from this chapter alone, but other Bible study indicates that the serpent is a spiritual being, here embodied.  One of the themes of this chapter is to avoid the tree of knowledge. Is this a teaching of anti-intellectualism? No. Read Gen. 1:28 (master the earth) and  Proverbs 3:18 (seek wisdom).  But believers can't get anxious about what they do not know. We too live in God's world. Will we respect his boundaries? 

Brueggemann says in chapters 2 and 3 we have the horizontal (conflict between people) and the vertical (conflict with God) which goes hand-in-hand, just as we see with Cain and Abel and in the teaching of Jesus (love God, love your neighbor).  The relationship between  Adam and Eve breaks down. This is love of neighbor - not happening. Adam blames Eve in 3:12. And we see the vertical, where Adam blames God in 3:12:   He says, "The woman you put at my side...."  Adam does not love God. He does not love his  neighbor. See Matt 22:36. Eve comes off much better, where she says in Gen. 3:13, "The serpent duped me."  And that is exactly what happened. She is  just accurately reciting what happened.  And yet fake Christians over the centuries mistreated women citing Genesis 3 as authority for a theory  claiming that from the beginning  women could not be trusted. 

Chapter 3 presents a law court scene. God the gardener becomes the questioner. And there is a judgment and a sentencing.  They were supposed to die.  Gen.  2:15. That was the law. They had been warned. But God had mercy. He even made clothes for their naked bodies. Gen. 3: 21: He "made the garments...and clothed them." Here we see the love of God, and the forgiving grace of God.  They lived. They had children.  I like what the JSB says quoting a talmudic rabbi, that the Torah begins with God clothing the naked, and it ends with him burying the dead (Deut 34:6 where God personally buries Moses). The Lord here provides the example of how we are to live- doing acts of unmerited kindness. 

For Christians Genesis 2 and 3 begins God's  "salvation history." Man has fallen away from his creator, but God is going to restore him. We see a glimpse of the restoration in chapter 3 with his mercies to these his first people. The Bible is the story of God. He is the central character. His people forsake him, over and over, starting here, but he will not give up on them. He finally wins victory over sin and death with the resurrection of Jesus. 

Source:   Walter Brueggemann,  Genesis:  Interpretation: a Bible Commentary for Teaching and Preaching (2010). http://www.assoc-amazon.com/e/ir?t=intemonk-20&l=as2&o=1&a=0664234372

Sunday, February 4, 2018

Dunn - Prophetic Calling of Jesus

From Jesus, Paul, and the Gospels by James Dunn:

The Gospels also indicate that Jesus probably experienced something equivalent to a prophetic calling when he was baptised by John. So the Gospel writers could hardly fail to recount the beginning of Jesus’ mission from his baptism by John.

Friday, January 26, 2018

Jenson - Role of Old Testament

For some reason Christians lose sight of the fact that the God who saved Israel from Egypt is the God who raised Jesus from the dead.  Here Robert W. Jenson discusses the role of the Old Testament in the church: 

[W]hat did and should it mean for the role of the Old Testament in the church, that in some new way it is now "directed to Christ"? We see that our question must be limited: we cannot ask why the Old Testament is Scripture after Christ's resurrection, but only about the way in which the Old Testament canon actually functions within the risen Christ's community. 
When the narratives of the patriarchs' adventures, of the exodus, of the conquest of Canaan, or of the Lord's judgments and restorations of Israel are felt as alien, one of two things is likely to happen; both have actually happened, and both undermine the faith.  One possible and currently actual outcome is that preaching and teaching construe "the New Testament's God" simply by constructing a contrary of the supposed Old Testament God: the God of the gospel is pacific, nonjudgmental, and in general a really nice person. In much of the liberal church, in many Evangelical groups, and indeed among many "progressive" Catholics, theology has thus been replaced by sentimentality ....
We must therefore be careful in stipulating the difference that the crucifixion and resurrection made for the role of the Old Testament. In the New Testament itself, the Old Testament's theological authority is unaffected. The Old Testament's identification of the Lord as "the one who rescued Israel from Egypt" is indeed completed by "the one who rescued the Lord Jesus from death"; but it is not replaced (Soulen, God); and in general the New Testament simply assumes the whole of Israel's story about God's works with his people. Whatever problems the Old Testament law made for a soon predominantly Gentile church, Jesus' own remembered words confirmed that the law reveals God's will. And Israel's prophets were the very teachers from whom the primal church learned why Jesus is needed.

Canon and Creed (Interpretation) (Interpretation: Resources for the Use of Scripture in the Church)
by Robert W. Jenson  (Westminster John Knox Press 2010).

Sunday, November 19, 2017

Robert Jenson - God Enters History

I am reading Robert W. Jenson's great book of lectures to undergraduates titled,  A Theology in Outline: Can These Bones Live? (Oxford University Press 2016).

Jenson says:

The God depicted in the Old Testament does not ride serenely above the happenings of the temporal world. Israel’s God lives the history of this world together with us. And that means he has to live by and with the particularities and singularities of history. He has to enter history the same way that anyone enters history: by taking a particular place and doing particular things. And he does that the way anyone does: by identifying himself with a particular cause or people or movement—in fact, Israel.

Saturday, July 29, 2017

Ecclesia de Eucharista John Paul II

This week I  have reflected on John Paul II’s encyclical, “Ecclesia de Eucharistia,” published the Vatican April 17, 2003.  This is a blog on  the words and deeds of Jesus.  Among his most important words were those spoken at the first Eucharist where he said of the bread, "this is my body," and of the wine, "this is my blood,"  and said  "take and eat." 

Section  22 explains how union with Christ makes his people a sacrament.  The Pope cites John 20:21 (as the father has sent me, so send I you).  The Pope says, “From the perpetuation of the sacrifice of the Cross and her communion with the body and blood of Christ in the Eucharist, the Church draws the spiritual power needed to carry out her mission. The Eucharist thus appears as both the source and the summit of all evangelization, since its goal is the communion of mankind with Christ and in him with the Father and the Holy Spirit.”

Section 23 explains the communal aspect:  “[O]ur union with Christ, which is a gift and grace for each of us, makes it possible for us, in him, to share in the unity of his body which is the Church.”

And the Holy Spirit?  The Pope says, “God the Father is asked to send the Holy Spirit upon the faithful and upon the offerings, so that the body and blood of Christ “may be a help to all those who partake of it ... for the sanctification of their souls and bodies. The Church is fortified by the divine Paraclete through the sanctification of the faithful in the Eucharist.”

And finally for this post I note section  24.  The Pope is realistic.  He knows that there is disunity in the world, and in the church:  “The seeds of disunity, which daily experience shows to be so deeply rooted in humanity as a result of sin, are countered by the unifying power of the body of Christ. The Eucharist, precisely by building up the Church, creates human community.”

What do I take from all of this? We have this great gift which brings Jesus close to us and makes us more like Christ. It also creates a fellowship like no other among believers, a closeness. How do I make this happen in real life? I attend a large church, the largest church in the entire Milwaukee archdiocese, and I know very few people there.  At Mass I am not sharing with people whom I know. How do I make what JP II describes actually happen? Start with prayer.  Ask God to bring people into my life who will help with all of this.  That should be a prayer that God will answer.  But be patient.