Posts filed under: scriptures

Strive for peace with everyone, and for that holiness without which no one will see the Lord.

— Hebrews 12:14

Serve the Lord with gladness;
come before him with joyful song.

— Psalm 100:2

Why is it said that God hardened Pharaoh's heart? Surely God would not cause sin. - Anonymous

You’re right! God hates sin. More than we can imagine. He wouldn’t do anything to bring it about.

The Old Testament isn’t as nuanced in its language as we would generally expect. In more precise terms, we might prefer to say that God gave Pharaoh his freedom, and that Pharaoh used it poorly, so much so that his heart was hardened.

But the Old Testament authors tended to compress all of that into a single statement: “God hardened Pharaoh’s heart.” Not very nuanced, right? It is however correct in this sense: God is the one ultimately “responsible” because he chose to make Pharaoh free, even though we would put the accent on Pharaoh’s sin.

It’s a pattern that we see all through the Old Testament: It sounds like God is being blamed for something lousy, whereas it’s really just correctly saying that God is the maker and origin of all things.

So let’s just focus on what God tells all of us in Psalm 95: “If today you hear his voice, harden not your hearts!” Anyway, that’s my understanding of it, certainly not as a Biblical scholar.

God bless you!

- Father Shane

An excellent explanation of this Sunday’s Gospel, by Fr Francis Martin.

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

So, since we believe the Eucharist to be the body, blood, soul, and divinity of Christ (in both species), why do we, at Communion, refer to the bread as the Body of Christ and the wine as the Blood of Christ? Is this just because of the Biblical narratives of the Last Supper, Tradition, or something else? - Anonymous

Exactly! We’re just quoting Jesus himself, when he said “Take and eat; this is my body” (Matthew 26:26) and “This is my blood” (Matthew 26:28) at the Last Supper.

In one sense, the two are one, since they’re both Jesus, just like your arm is you and your head is you. So the basic theological/philosophical principle is that what we say of the whole, we can say of the part. So if Jesus Christ was both God and man, his Body is both divine and human, and so is his Blood.

But Archbishop Fulton Sheen famously keyed in on something that can give us lots of food for thought: Why did Jesus give us his Body and his Blood separately? His response was that Jesus was prefiguring his death, for death comes to a person when his blood is poured out, and so his body and blood are separated. So the separate “prayers of blessing” foreshadowed the Death that would bring us redemption, and the living Body and Blood we receive foreshadow the Resurrection in which we will share, God willing.

God bless you!

- Father Shane

The Catechism says that God created all men equal, but clearly this is not true because there's Mary, who is "holy" (set apart) and "blessed among women". How do you explain this? - Anonymous

We’re all equal in dignity, a dignity that comes from being “called to share, by knowledge and love, in God’s own life” (Catechism 356).

But we’re not all called to be identical. Each of us has a different path to walk in this life. For me, it’s as a priest; for you, it’s as an anon; for the Blessed Mother, it was as the only woman to receive the special mission of being God’s mother. So her mission was different, but her dignity of being called to share in God’s own life is the same as yours.

Of course, she’s enjoying it much more fully than either of us right now, since she’s in Heaven in surpassing holiness, so I guess we’re only right to fulfill Elizabeth’s prophecy and tell her “Most blessed are you among women” (Luke 1:42)!

God bless you!

- Father Shane

Did you know that when Tim Tebow wrote John 3:16 in his black eye shade that 92 million people googled “John 3:16″ to see what it was?

More here.

It is necessary for us to undergo many hardships to enter the kingdom of God.

— Acts 14:22

What do you want Me to do for you?

— Matthew 20:32

Will not God then secure the rights of his chosen ones who call out to him day and night?

— Luke 18:7

An Excellent Conversion Story

In my study I learned that new converts often talk about “the verses I never saw.” These verses are ones that didn’t fit into their denomination’s teaching or where very difficult to interpret based on their doctrines and were often quickly passed over. However, when they are examined from the Catholic perspective, they become very clear and understandable…and with no difficult examinations of the original Greek texts or complicated explanation of the verse. Consider the following:

Read the rest.


“I have come to set the earth on fire,
and how I wish it were already blazing!”

—luke 12:49

[photo is the mosaic of Christ Pantokrator, hagia sophia, istanbul/constantinople]

Somebody said I had to watch this video. (He Is We’s “All About Us.”) And I couldn’t help thinking of it (if you watch it all the way through) as an allegory for Christ’s love for each person. “Song of Songs” sort of stuff. Maybe I’ve been reading too much Saint John of the Cross. Hmmm.

If you seek Jesus in everything, you will surely find him, but if you seek yourself, self you will surely find, but to your own ruin. By not seeking Jesus, we hurt ourselves more than the whole world and all our enemies could hurt us.

— Thomas a Kempis, Imitation of Christ, II, 7
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