Posts filed under: john
What do you think must be done to accomplish unity between Catholics and Protestants? - highchristology
You know that’s almost identical to a question asked in the YouCat? Which means I get to copy the answer for you, since it’s perfect. :-)
In word and deed we must obey Christ, who expressly wills “that they may all be one” (John 17:21).
Christian unity is the business of all Christians, regardless of how young or old they are. Unity was one of Jesus’ primary concerns. He prayed to the Father “that they may all be one … so that the world may believe that you have sent me” (John 17:21).
Divisions are like wounds on the Body of Christ; they hurt and fester. Divisions lead to enmities and weaken the faith and credibility of Christians. Overcoming the scandal of separation requires the conversion of all concerned but also knowledge of one’s faith convictions, dialogues with others, and especially prayer in common, and collaboration among Christians in serving mankind. Those in authority in the Church must not let the theological dialogue be interrupted.
May God bless you!
- Father Shane
What are your personal convictions and scriptural support about Protestants and Catholics taking communion together? - thepoorinspirit
Good question! Regarding scriptural support, I would simply point to the Scriptures themselves and the way we understand them.
If I as a Catholic believe that the Eucharist in the Catholic Mass simply literally is (Luke 22:19 and all the other institution narratives) the Body of Christ, but a non-denominational Christian believes that it’s simply a symbol of Christ, our difference simply is a Scriptural difference.
So if a Protestant comes to a Catholic Mass, and I sincerely believes that he could be incurring in what’s mentioned in 1 Corinthians 11:29, it’s obviously charity to ask him to acknowledge our doctrinal differences and that we have not yet achieved the full unity described about the Eucharist in 1 Corinthians 10:17, and therefore not to participate in what should be the greatest visible sign of that unity.
More details in our Catechism starting with #1396.
Let’s pray for full unity, to fulfill Our Lord’s desire (John 17:20-21)!
- Father Shane
Hi, Father! I want to start reading the bible but I don’t know where to start. What do you recommend? - Anonymous
God is good! Inspirations like that, to get closer to his Word, will always come from him.
Personally I think the New Testament is the easiest and most accessible for us. We are more naturally “at home” in it as Christians. Of course, to more fully understand Jesus, his world, and the message he brought, we also need to be “at home” in the Old Testament. But it can be a more foreign place to us, so I would suggest starting with the NT and then gradually dipping into the OT.
Of the NT, of course, the Gospels are the most familiar to us. I would suggest starting by — if you can — sitting down and reading Saint Mark’s Gospel in a single sitting. It’s really not that long, and you’ll have the grace of reading it and experiencing it as it was meant to be read and experienced: as a whole, and not as nuggets. After that, maybe something like this order:
Luke / Acts / 1 Corinthians / 2 Corinthians / 1 Peter / 2 Peter / Matthew / the rest of St Paul / John / 1-2-3 John / the rest of the Catholic epistles
I’m not including Revelation or Hebrews there; they’re very much tied up with the Old Testament and can really be appreciated best after reading the first 5 books of the OT (the Pentateuch). So is St. Paul’s letter to the Romans, for that matter.
If you’re getting into the OT, definitely start with the Pentateuch and the major prophets (especially Isaiah), and then feel free to branch out as your interests and the Holy Spirit lead you… whether into the liturgical prayer of the Psalms, the historical books, stories of heroes like Ruth and Judith and Esther, etc.
I’m sure lots of people could give better guidance than that… and of course you can also find “Read the whole Bible in 365 days” lists all over the Net.
Whatever you choose, enjoy it! God has lots of light and grace awaiting you.
- Father Shane
No doubt the four Gospels are propaganda; their authors wrote them to acquaint the world with Jesus and spread belief in him. But for that very reason they had to take the way of objectivity and truth, because thousands of witnesses were ready to contradict them had these narratives been prejudiced or fabricated.— Giuseppe Ricciotti
continued... Oh, and I don't believe any sin is greater or less than another. I think it should all be weighed equally. and to continue onto what I was saying in the last question, in the bible, it says something about being reborn again. so doesn't that mean that any sin is forgiveable? - alyssahoyttt
More good questions!
Is any sin greater or lesser than another?
Well, is murdering your parents worse than cheating on a test at school? Instinctively we would say Yes, wouldn’t we? And yet we know that both of them are bad.
So we have to say something a little more complex than that. On the one hand, we would say that all sin offends God, and so it’s all extremely ugly and ungodly. But on the other hand, St. John tells us that types of sins are different:
If anyone sees his brother sinning, if the sin is not deadly, he should pray to God and he will give him life. This is only for those whose sin is not deadly. There is such a thing as deadly sin, about which I do not say that you should pray. All wrongdoing is sin, but there is sin that is not deadly. (1 John 4:16-17)
Some sin is “deadly” and can’t simply be fixed by prayer. Catholics have a tradition of calling some sins “mortal” and other sins “venial.” Some sins really are grave enough to keep us from heaven; others merely wound that relationship we have with God. (Of course nobody wants that either!)
Are all of those forgiveable?
Certainly! Jesus still called Judas his “friend” in the garden of Gethsemane even though he knew that he had just betrayed him, a sin so unspeakably awful that Jesus had said: “The Son of Man indeed goes, as it is written of him, but woe to that man by whom the Son of Man is betrayed. It would be better for that man if he had never been born.” (Matthew 26:24) And then Jesus forgave the “good” thief while he was dying, too; we can imagine that he hadn’t exactly just been cheating on his homework!
Jesus said something extremely important on the night of his resurrection to the Apostles:
Receive the holy Spirit. Whose sins you forgive are forgiven them, and whose sins you retain are retained. (John 20:22-23)
Why so important? Because it tells us that the Apostles had the power to forgive sins (a power that Catholics have always believed was passed down through the “laying on of hands” that we read that the Apostles did for the leaders of local churches, what we call bishops now), because it says that the Apostles’ delegated power is so great that even God will respect their decisions, because it doesn’t say that this “only” happens in Baptism, and because it doesn’t distinguish between types of sins. Jesus didn’t tell the Apostles that they could have jurisdiction over some of the lighter sins and that he would save some for himself. Nope… it’s all of them!
So yes we have to be reborn! The idea is developed most fully in John 3, the same conversation that I mentioned yesterday in your other question. It comes through Baptism, and Baptism forgives all our sins.
So I guess that all means that God is both a little more “normal” than we suspect (treating different sins differently) and yet also far far far far far more “generous” than we would suspect, in giving such sweeping powers to human beings!
God bless you.
- Father Shane
Hey Father Shane. My dad told me today that Mary Magdalene and Mary of Bethany are the same person. How is this possible? Mary can't be 'from Magdala' and 'from Bethany' can she? - Anonymous
Oh, that’s one of those eternal questions that we’ll never quite resolve. :-)
There are lots of Marys in the Gospels. It was a very popular name in NT times, based on “Miriam,” the sister of Moses.
The one called Magdalene shows up in lots of places. We know that seven devils were cast out of her (Mark 16:9), so she definitely had a lot to thank Jesus for, and it’s a beautiful thing to see that Jesus made her the “apostle to the Apostles” to give them the news of the Resurrection (Matthew 28:8). So she was in Jerusalem for the Passover of the Passion. So was Mary of Bethany (John 12:3), who is simply described as the “sister of Martha.”
So John 19:25 is intriguing:
Standing by the cross of Jesus were his mother and his mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary of Magdala.
Could one of those have been the Mary of Bethany? It would have been more normal for John to refer to her as Martha’s sister if she was. Or was he assuming that we knew that she was also the one “of Magdala”?
One hypothesis that has been floated — that really doesn’t have a whole lot going for it other than the remarkable similarity between the anointing of Jesus by Mary of Bethany and the earlier anointing by an anonymous sinful woman (Luke 7:36-50, plus John 11:2, which seems to imply that Mary of Bethany might have done a previous anointing of Jesus) — is that Mary of Bethany had been living a dissolute life in the famously immoral town of Magdala (in Galilee), far from her original home of Bethany (in Judea), and that thanks to Jesus’ healing of her, she returned to her home and to an upright (and contrite) lifestyle.
You could read lots more about that if you wanted; there are plenty of different interpretations given, of course.
One intriguing postscript is that the Church celebrates Mary Magdalene’s feast day on July 22, and then celebrates Saint Martha’s feast on July 29, exactly a week later. Usually those “octave” associations happen with feasts that are related to each other. So the liturgy seems to be implying a sisterly relationship, but we really can’t stretch that too far.
God bless you!
- Father Shane