Saturday, September 28, 2013

Neither Will They be Persuaded

“If they will not listen to Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded if someone should rise from the dead.”  This statement is striking for two reasons.  First, the problem with our relationship with God is not a lack of evidence, but a lack of faith or love.  Second, Jesus is speaking in reference to His own resurrection.

This statement from Abraham comes after the rich man’s plea to go and warn his brothers about hell, “this place of torment.”  Abraham says that such a plea would be pointless.  They have already been warned by Abraham and the prophets.  But surely, says the rich man, seeing a man raised from the dead would convince them!  However, the problem with men is not evidence but faith.  We trust in our own knowledge above the knowledge of another.  We refuse to submit our intellects to Moses, the prophets, Jesus, the Apostles, and their successors, the bishops, the Magisterium.

By choosing to put our faith in God’s words, which has been mediated to us through human persons (most pre-eminently in Jesus) we are not doing violence to our intellect, but bringing it to fulfillment.  By trust in God who is faithful, we open ourselves to a deeper, more fulfilling truth beyond the reach of the human intellect.  We grasp reality more fully when we believe in revelation.

Seeing a man rise from the dead doesn’t directly prove that what has been revealed has been true.  However, it does confirm that God is at work.  We are left free to choose whether or not we believe what God has revealed.  We can still refuse to believe in God’s mercy and in his promise of eternal beatitude.  Even if we believe that Jesus rose from the dead, we can disbelieve his teachings about the permanence of marriage between one man and woman.

Jesus’ resurrection proves His divine authority, but it remains up to us whether or not we believe what is revealed by that authority.  Are we going to trust God or will we turn away in unbelief?  Will we be like the rich man and his brothers or like Lazarus, who despite his destitution hoped in God for relief?

Sunday, September 15, 2013

How You Swore To Them By Your Own Self

God spoke to Moses “face to face, as a person speaks to a friend” (Ex 33:11).  They had a relationship of
intimate trust and love.  They knew one another.  That’s why, when faced with God’s wrath, Moses doesn’t shrink away but he boldly places all this faith in God.  He tells God to remember His servants Abraham, Isaac, and Israel and how He swore to them by His own self.  Moses goes right to God’s revelation to the patriarchs and holds God accountable to His promises.  He knows that God is trustworthy.  The power of Moses’ prayer does not come from Moses, but from God’s faithfulness to His promises.

The Latin etymology of sacrament is to swear an oath.  In the sacraments God is swearing an oath to us.  By dying with Christ in His baptism, we can lay claim to Christ’s resurrection (Rom 6:4).  By eating Christ’s body and drinking His blood, we have Jesus’ own pledge that we will have eternal life (Jn 6:51).  God has promised us in these oaths something greater than the holy land in Israel.  He has promised us Heaven.  He has promised us salvation from our sins and divine son-ship.  He has promised us the power to enjoy the freedom being children of God.

Like Moses, we need to approach God with confidence in His oaths to save us.  Because of God’s free offering to us, we can demand from God our inheritance.  He has pledged his divine life to us, and we can claim it.  But claim it for good.  Don’t use your freedom by squandering it on prostitutes like the prodigal son.  As St. Paul says, “Do not present the parts of your bodies to sin as weapons for wickedness, but present yourselves to God as raised from the dead to life and the parts of your bodies to God as weapons for righteousness (Rom 6:13).  Use grace to abound in faith and love.

Do not be concerned that you have fallen too far away from God’s mercy to pray like Moses.  St. Paul, in the second reading points to himself as an example of God’s mercy.  He says, “Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners.  Of these I am the foremost.  But for that reason I was mercifully treated so that in me, as the foremost, Christ Jesus might display all his patience as an example for those who would come to believe in him for everlasting life.”  If Jesus can transform Paul who was a blasphemer, a persecutor, and arrogant, why can’t Jesus change your life?  Jesus is like the father welcoming home the prodigal son.  At the first sign of repentance, he will run out to His lost son and welcome him back.

When faced with temptation, do not despair.  Have hope.  Cry out to God for the help that He has promised and don’t stop praying for it until He has put the temptation to death.  Whether it takes 5 minutes or an hour, God will come to save you.  And if you fall, you haven’t lost the war.  God has sworn an oath that He will save you in the sacrament of confession.  All that can keep you from receiving God’s mercy is despair.  When faced with death and the wrath of God, remind God of the oaths He has sworn to you.

Saturday, September 7, 2013

Praised be our Lord Jesus Christ!

I've been pretty busy this week visiting a friend out in Montana, so I haven't been able to write a post.  However, I want to offer my readers something.  You should be able to follow this link to a paper I wrote on the gifts of the Holy Spirit in the theology of St. Thomas Aquinas.  It can be a bit technical, but I tried to write for a more general audience.  It's related to many themes from the readings this Sunday especially these several passages:

"Or who ever knew your counsel, except you had given wisdom
and sent your holy spirit from on high?"

"anyone of you who does not renounce all his possessions
cannot be my disciple."

"Whoever does not carry his own cross and come after me
cannot be my disciple."

I hope you can enjoy the paper!!268&authkey=!AL1gX7MwZRYWqF4