Counterfeit Christ: Resurrection, only “spiritual”?

“Sit and smile.

That was all I could do, even though I wanted to rebut my debate opponent Dan Barker during his closing speech. Dan was once a Protestant pastor, but ever since his “de-conversion” in the 1980’s he has become a kind of preacher for atheism. In 2015 we debated whether or not God existed, and three years later we were on stage at Minnesota State University to debate a more specific question: “Does the Christian God exist?”

I thought the debate went well. I was able to neutralize Dan’s tactic of scattering dozens of difficult Bible verses in an effort to make the God of the Bible look like a moral monster. By the time we got to cross-examination, I was prepared to dive into one argument Dan had not addressed yet: my evidence for Jesus’ resurrection.

But instead of addressing the evidence I raised, Dan just went right back to the alleged atrocities of the Old Testament. It was only during his closing statement, which was the last speech of the night, that Dan addressed my arguments.

He claimed that what really happened after Good Friday was that the apostles believed Jesus’ spirit rose from the dead while his body still lay in the tomb. For them, that was enough to turn defeat into victory; yet modern Christians have misunderstood their theology ever since.

But how can that be true if . . . ?
…St. Paul Believed in a Bodily Resurrection

It’s bad form to bring up new arguments or objections in your closing statement because your opponent has no opportunity to respond to them. I was frustrated, but I held my tongue. I didn’t get the chance that night to rebut Dan’s “spiritual resurrection” hypothesis.

But now I do have the chance—so here’s what’s wrong with it.

First, the earliest testimony we have about the Resurrection comes from St. Paul’s letters, which describe Jesus undergoing a bodily resurrection from the dead. Dan tries to get around this fact by claiming that Paul used a Greek word for Jesus’ resurrection that only refers to spiritual resurrection. Specifically, egeiro, ἐγείρω, which just means “rise” or “wake up.” He does not use the word that means “resurrection” (anastasis (ἀνάστασις), anistemi, (ἀνίστημι) Barker also claims:

“It is perfectly consistent with Christian theology to think that the spirit of Jesus, not His body, was awakened from the grave, as Christians today believe that the spirit of Grandpa has gone to heaven while his body rots in the ground. In fact, just a few verses later Paul confirms this: ‘Flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God.’ The physical body is not important to Christian theology.”

Yet in Romans 1:4 Paul, says that Jesus was “designated Son of God in power according to the Spirit of holiness by His resurrection [anastaseos, ἀναστάσεως] from the dead.” Contra Barker, Paul does describe Jesus rising from the dead with a form of the Greek word anastasis, (ἀνάστασις). Moreover, in 1 Corinthians 15, Paul uses egeiro (ἐγείρω),  and anastasis, (ἀνάστασις) interchangeably when speaking about the relationship between our future resurrection from the dead and Christ’s resurrection. Paul writes:

“Now if Christ is preached as raised [egegertai, ἐγήγερται] from the dead, how can some of you say that there is no resurrection [anastasis, ἀνάστασις] of the dead? But if there is no resurrection [anastasis, ἀνάστασις] of the dead, then Christ has not been raised [egegertai, ἐγήγερται]. If Christ has not been raised [egegertai, ἐγήγερται], then our preaching is in vain and your faith is in vain” (1 Cor. 15:12-14).

Paul’s argument is simple: if we don’t rise from the dead, then Christ didn’t rise from the dead. But since Christ did rise from the dead we can be confident that we too will rise from the dead.

What about to Barker’s citation of 1 Corinthians 15:50 (“Flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God”) and Paul’s general use of the term “spiritual body”? Well, we have to remember what Paul was up against in Corinth.

Pauline scholar John Ziesler believes that Paul was trying to convince people that the resurrection of the dead is not a mere reanimation of one’s corpse. For Paul, the “spiritual body” in the Resurrection “seems to mean something like ‘outward form,’ or ‘embodiment’ or perhaps better ‘the way in which the person is conveyed and expressed’ . . . a resurrection of the whole person, involving embodiment but not physical embodiment.”

When Paul writes, “Flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God,” he is using a Semitism—a Jewish way of speaking—about the natural state of humanity apart from the grace of God. We can’t inherit the kingdom of God without being moved by God’s spirit.

However, that doesn’t mean that in this kingdom we will only be spirits. Spiritual, in this context, refers to a thing’s orientation as opposed to its substance. It’s like when we say the Bible is a “spiritual book” or when Paul writes, “The spiritual man judges all things, but is himself to be judged by no one” (1 Cor. 2:15).

The subjects in these statements are not non-physical, ghostly apparitions but books and people ordered toward the will of God. As St. Augustine said, “As the Spirit, when it serves the flesh, is not improperly said to be carnal, so the flesh, when it serves the spirit, will rightly be called spiritual—not because it is changed into spirit, as some suppose who misinterpret the text.”

Love & truth,
Matthew

Easter praise of Christ


-Des Jesusbild des Altars der St.-Michaelis-Kirche in Hamburg, Deutschland (The Jesus picture of the altar of the Church of St. Michaelis in Hamburg, Germany). Please click on the image for greater detail.

“We should understand, beloved, that the paschal mystery is at once old and new, transitory and eternal, corruptible and incorruptible, mortal and immortal. In terms of the Law, it is old; in terms of the Word, it is new. In its figure it is passing, in its grace it is eternal. It is corruptible in the sacrifice of the lamb, incorruptible in the eternal life of the Lord. It is mortal in His burial in the earth, immortal in His resurrection from the dead.

The Law indeed is old, but the Word is new. The type is transitory, but grace is eternal. The lamb was corruptible, but the Lord is incorruptible. He was slain as a lamb; He rose again as God. He was led like a sheep to the slaughter [cf Isaiah 53:7], yet He was not a sheep. He was silent as a lamb [cf Isaiah 53:7], yet He was not a lamb. The type has passed away; the reality has come. The lamb gives place to God, the sheep gives place to a man, and the man is Christ, Who fills the whole of creation. The sacrifice of the lamb, the celebration of the Passover, and the prescriptions of the Law have been fulfilled in Jesus Christ [cf Matthew 5:17]. Under the old Law, and still more under the new dispensation, everything pointed toward Him.

Both the Law and the Word came forth from Zion and Jerusalem [cf Isaiah 2:3], but now the Law has given place to the Word, the old to the new. The commandment has become grace, the type a reality. The lamb has become a Son, the sheep a man, and man, God.

The Lord, though He was God, became man [cf Philippians 2:6-7]. He suffered for the sake of those who suffer, he was bound for those in bonds, condemned for the guilty, buried for those who lie in the grave; but He rose from the dead, and cried aloud: Who will contend with me? Let him confront me. I have freed the condemned, brought the dead back to life, raised men from their graves. Who has anything to say against me? I, He said, am the Christ; I have destroyed death, triumphed over the enemy, trampled hell underfoot, bound the strong one, and taken men up to the heights of heaven: I am the Christ.

Come, then, all you nations of men, receive forgiveness for the sins that defile you. I am your forgiveness. I am the Passover that brings salvation. I am the lamb Who was immolated for you. I am your ransom, your life, your resurrection, your light, I am your salvation and your king. I will bring you to the heights of heaven. With my own right hand I will raise you up, and I will show you the eternal Father.”

-From an Easter Homily by Melito of Sardis, Bishop, (d. 180 AD), found in the Second reading of the Office of Readings, Liturgy of the Hours, during the Octave of Easter.

Love, He is Risen!!! He is TRULY Risen!!!
Matthew

What is sin? What is grace?

Q. What is personal sin?

In contrast to original sin, personal sin represents the sins that we individually commit and for which we are personally responsible.

We all have a general sense of what personal sin is—that it involves doing something wrong, something evil, something we should not do. However, theologians have studied the concept, and the Church has a refined understanding of what sin is.

Put in general terms, sin is “an abuse of the freedom that God gives to created persons so that they are capable of loving him and loving one another” (CCC 387). Stated another way, it is “an offense against reason, truth, and right conscience; it is failure in genuine love for God and neighbor caused by a perverse attachment to certain goods” (CCC 1849).

In other words, we can become so attached to various good things—like pleasure, possessions, or popularity —that we make choices that put these things over the love we should have for God and for our fellow human beings. When we do this, we sin.

All sin involves an unloving choice based on disordered desire, or concupiscence. Originally, this word referred to any intense form of human desire, but in Christian thought it has taken on a special meaning. “St. John distinguishes three kinds of covetousness or concupiscence: lust of the flesh, lust of the eyes, and pride of life” (1 John 2:16)” (CCC 2514).

This triple concupiscence subjugates man “to the pleasures of the senses, covetousness for earthly goods, and self-assertion, contrary to the dictates of reason” (CCC 377).

When we are led by disordered desire into making unloving choices, the resulting sin will be one of two types: mortal or venial.

The first type is known as mortal sin because it produces spiritual death. It destroys the virtue of charity in our hearts, charity being the supernatural love of God that unites us to Him spiritually. By being separated from God in this way, mortal sin puts us in a state of spiritual death.

“For a sin to be mortal, three conditions must together be met: Mortal sin is sin whose object is grave matter and which is also committed with full knowledge and deliberate consent” (CCC 1857).

The first of these conditions means that the sin must involve a matter that is grave in nature. “Grave matter is specified by the Ten Commandments, corresponding to the answer of Jesus to the rich young man: ‘Do not kill, Do not commit adultery, Do not steal, Do not bear false witness, Do not defraud, Honor your father and your mother’ (Mark 10:19)” (CCC 1858).

Some sins automatically involve grave matter. This is the case anytime an innocent human being is killed and any time an act of adultery is committed.

If grave matter is present, there are still two other conditions that need to be fulfilled for a sin to be mortal. “Mortal sin requires full knowledge and complete consent. It presupposes knowledge of the sinful character of the act, of its opposition to God’s law. It also implies a consent sufficiently deliberate to be a personal choice” (CCC 1859).

Various factors can diminish or remove the knowledge and consent needed for a sin to be mortal. “Unintentional ignorance can diminish or even remove the imputability of a grave offense. . . . The promptings of feelings and passions can also diminish the voluntary and free character of the offense, as can external pressures or pathological disorders” (CCC 1860).

When a person commits a sin and one or more of the conditions needed for it to be mortal are not present, the result is a venial sin (CCC 1862). Venial sins offend and wound the virtue of charity, but they do not destroy it, which is why they are not mortal (CCC 1855). They thus do not lead to spiritual death.

When our sins are mortal, however, our souls are in jeopardy, and we are in urgent need of God’s grace.

Q. What is grace?

Looked at one way, grace is the antidote to sin. It is what God provides us to overcome both original and personal sin.

“Grace is favor, the free and undeserved help that God gives us to respond to his call to become children of God, adoptive sons, partakers of the divine nature and of eternal life” (CCC 1996).

We need grace because of the condition of spiritual poverty that we are born into as a result of original sin. In this state of separation from God, wounded human nature will not allow us to seek God and come to him. He must take the initiative by seeking us and giving us the help we need to freely choose him. Thus Jesus tells us, “No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him” (John 6:44).

Fortunately, God wants all men to have this opportunity. He “desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth” (1 Tim. 2:4), and so he offers all men the grace necessary to be saved (CCC 1260).

God did not have to do this. He does it freely, out of his love for all men, and we must freely choose whether or not to respond to his grace and accept his love. “God’s free initiative demands man’s free response, for God has created man in his image by conferring on him, along with freedom, the power to know him and love him. The soul only enters freely into the communion of love. God immediately touches and directly moves the heart of man. He has placed in man a longing for truth and goodness that only he can satisfy” (CCC 2002).

The particular helps that God gives us at certain moments in life—helps to come to him, to do good, or to resist sin—are known as actual graces (CCC 2000). They can take many forms. When someone preaches the gospel and we are moved to respond, that is a grace. When we see someone in need and are moved to help, that is a grace. And when our conscience warns us that something we are about to do is wrong, that also is a grace.

Actual graces appear at particular moments in our lives, but there is another kind of grace, which remains with us over the course of time. This is known as sanctifying grace.

“Sanctifying grace is the gratuitous gift of his life that God makes to us; it is infused by the Holy Spirit into the soul to heal it of sin and to sanctify it. Sanctifying grace makes us ‘pleasing to God’” (CCC 2023-2024).

When a person has sanctifying grace, he is said to be in a state of grace. In this state, he is united with God spiritually and said to be in God’s friendship. If he dies in the state of grace, he will go to heaven (though he may need to be purified first in purgatory).

When we come to God and are saved and justified, God gives us the theological virtues of faith, hope, and charity (CCC 1991). Of these, charity is the most important (1 Cor. 13:13). It is the virtue “by which we love God above all things for his own sake, and our neighbor as ourselves for the love of God” (CCC 1822).

Charity always accompanies sanctifying grace, and when one is eliminated, so is the other.

This is why mortal sin “results in the loss of charity and the privation of sanctifying grace, that is, of the state of grace. If it is not redeemed by repentance and God’s forgiveness, it causes exclusion from Christ’s kingdom and the eternal death of hell” (CCC 1861).

In addition to sanctifying grace, God also gives us additional gifts of grace to help us live the Christian life and be of service to others.

Our salvation is thus entirely a product of God’s grace, from the graces that lead us to turn to him, to the state of grace in which we are saved, to the graces that he gives us to live the Christian life, to help others, and to bring them to him as well.

Love, pray for me,
Matthew

Celibacy: anticipating the Kingdom of God

“Jesus replied, “You are wrong because you neither know the Scriptures nor the power of God.  When the dead rise, they will neither marry nor be given in marriage; they will be like the angels in heaven.”” – Mk 12:24-25

“There is “fake news” the Church began mandating clerical celibacy during the Middle Ages so that it could acquire the clergy’s family property.

Bruno of Alsace (1002-1054 AD) was noted for his piety. As bishop of Toul (in modern-day France), he cared deeply for his people. The abuses in the Church, especially among the clergy, pained him. When Pope Damasus II, the third German to sit on the Chair of Peter, died in 1048 after a short pontificate of only twenty-three days, Bruno of Alsace was the logical and saintly choice as his successor. Bruno of Alsace became Pope St Leo IX and was pope from 1049-1054 AD.

Pope St. Leo IX was faced with three major issues that shaped his pontificate: the protection of the Papal States from the encroaching Normans; resolution of disputes with the Eastern Roman Empire (Byzantines); and the reform of the Church. And the Church was indeed in desperate need of reform in the eleventh century. The practice of simony (buying or selling Church offices) was rampant, as were violations of the discipline of celibacy among clergy (deacons, priests, and bishops)

To combat these abuses, Leo IX launched one of the most comprehensive reforms in the history of the Church. To ensure its effectiveness, he did not just issue decrees from Rome and demand obedience; he went on the most significant papal road trip in history, traveling throughout Italy, Germany, and France, and holding local synods along the way. Indeed, in the five and half years of his pontificate, Leo spent only six months in the city of Rome. Leo deposed immoral and corrupt bishops, and excommunicated clergy found guilty of simony or unchastity.

Leo’s eleventh-century reform illustrates that the discipline of celibacy was highly regarded in the medieval Church, and was not instituted to enrich it with the land of the clergy. The promise of celibacy freely taken by the clergy dates to the early Church and is rooted in Christian doctrine and tradition. As a discipline (not a doctrine), celibacy has developed through the centuries. In the first three centuries of Church history there was no law prohibiting the ordination of married men, and many priests were married; however, marriage was never permitted after ordination. Moreover, all priests—married, single, or widowed—practiced sexual abstinence after ordination. Indeed, the prohibition of marriage after ordination makes sense only if sexual abstinence was demanded even of married priests. St. Paul taught that a bishop should be the “husband of one wife,” meaning that a man who remarries after the death of his wife illustrated an inability to live conjugal abstinence as required by the Church.

The first recorded Church legislation mandating clerical celibacy in the West was decreed at the Synod of Elvira in Spain around the year 300. In the East, ordination of married men continued through the centuries (and remains a practice), but from the seventh century onward only celibate monks or priests were elevated to the episcopacy. And neither the Eastern nor the Western Church has ever allowed marriage after ordination. In 385, Pope Siricius (r. 384-399) mandated celibacy for all clergy in the West.

Although most people today think of celibacy as unique to Catholicism, conjugal abstinence was required of Jewish priests during their temple duty in Jerusalem, and pagan soldiers abstained from sexual intercourse before battle. Though the early Church permitted the ordination of married men, virginity for the sake of the kingdom of heaven was highly regarded. Men who left the world to seek closer union with God in the desert practiced celibacy, and in monasteries throughout the world it became the norm. Nor was celibacy limited to clergy in the early Church: women, both consecrated virgins and widows, pledged celibacy out of love for God. At the time of St. John Chrysostom (c. 347-407), there were 3,000 virgins and widows in Constantinople.

Despite the longstanding practice of the Church, celibacy was often not lived faithfully in the early medieval Church. Pope Benedict VIII (r. 1012-1024) held a synod at Pavia where he reinforced the rule of clerical celibacy and denounced the scandal of clerical marriage. By the time of Pope Leo IX in the mid-eleventh century, unchastity among the clergy was widespread. So many priests lived openly with mistresses or practiced the abhorrent vice of homosexuality that St. Peter Damian (1007-1072) wrote The Book of Gomorrah against the sexual sins of the clergy. The eleventh-century papal reform focused on ensuring the independence of the papacy from the interference of secular rulers, and was led mostly by popes who were former monks, free from the sins of secular (diocesan) clergy. These reform popes (St. Leo IX, St. Gregory VII, Bl. Urban II) recognized that reform in terms of the Church’s freedom from external secular control could be accomplished only if reform began in the Church, hence their focus on rooting out simony and unchastity among the clergy. Urban II captured the essence of the reform movement when he wrote, “The Church shall be Catholic, chaste and free: Catholic in the faith and fellowship of the saints, chaste from all contagion of evil, and free from secular power.”

The myth that the Church mandated clerical celibacy so as to acquire the property of priests’ families is rooted in a negative view of celibacy, and in the notion that the Church’s primary concern is to accumulate wealth and power. Such views were heavily influenced by the writings of Martin Luther (1483-1546).

In his 1520 treatise An Appeal to the Christian Nobility of the German Nation, Luther advocated a married clergy in his list of reform proposals. Luther wrote that the discipline of clerical celibacy was one of the causes of the Great Schism. He also said “not every priest can do without a woman, not only on account of human frailty, but much more on account of keeping house.” And he claimed, “The pope has as little power to command this [celibacy] as he has to forbid eating, drinking, the natural movements of the bowels, or growing fat.”

Luther’s attack on celibacy increased in ferocity the following year when he published On Monastic Vows, in which he opined that such vows had no basis in Scripture and were in conflict with charity and liberty. Under Luther’s influence, monks and nuns left their monasteries and convents in large numbers. One of those nuns, Katherine von Bora, would become Luther’s wife.

Finally, the Church did not require clerical celibacy to acquire land simply because it did not need to do so. Many large gifts of land were freely given to the Church by faithful men and women in gratitude for prayers answered or from a desire for prayers for their souls. And examples abound from the late eleventh century of men selling land to the Church to finance their participation in the Crusades.

The modern world struggles with this discipline of the Church, as did Luther. Many people see it as a punitive measure and something far too difficult to practice. Others view it as the reason for the clerical sex-abuse scandal in the early twenty-first century. But the main reason the modern world struggles with celibacy is that, since the Sexual Revolution, it rejects God’s plan for sexuality and marriage. Sex is viewed entirely through the selfish prism of pleasure, and treated like a recreational activity. The Church embraces celibacy in imitation of Jesus. Although the modern world views celibacy as giving up something, in reality it is a giving for something. Celibacy is a foreshadowing of eternal life in heaven where marriage is not practiced; celibate clergy and religious serve as living earthly witnesses of that reality.

Celibacy for Catholic clergy and religious is a longstanding discipline in the Church. Although married men were ordained to the priesthood in both East and West in the early Church, marriage after ordination was never permitted. Gradually, the discipline of celibacy for all clergy was implemented in the West, and was enforced from Rome by the end of the fourth century.

Unfortunately, there were periods in Church history when violations of celibacy were widespread and reform movements were necessary to enforce the practice. The Church did not use celibacy as a means to acquire land and property from a priest’s, monk’s, or nun’s family. Pious Christians donated land to the Church for a multitude of reasons. Martin Luther’s writings against a celibate clergy were foundational to Protestantism and led ultimately to the twentieth-century Sexual Revolution. Clergy and religious renounce marriage to serve the Church and its faithful more fully in imitation of Jesus Christ.”

Love & prayers for all: single, married, celibate, divorced, widowed, etc. No life or vocation is easy. We surrender all of ourselves to Christ, no matter what age or history or past, no matter what state, that His will be done in us, in our joys and in our sufferings. Blessed be God!!!
Matthew

Good Friday: timing of Jesus’ death?


-Entombment of Christ, “La_Deposizione_di_Cristo”, Deposition of Christ/Deposition from the Cross, Caravaggio, 1602?-04?, for the second chapel on the right in Santa Maria in Vallicella (the Chiesa Nuova), a church built for the Oratory of Saint Philip Neri.[1] A copy of the painting is now in the chapel, and the original is in the Vatican Pinacoteca. Oil on canvas, 300 cm × 203 cm (120 in × 80 in), please click on the image for greater detail.

  1.  Hibbard, Howard (1985). Caravaggio. Oxford: Westview Press. pp. 171–179. ISBN 9780064301282.

“The consensus of scholarship is that the New Testament accounts represent a crucifixion occurring on a Friday, but a Thursday or Wednesday crucifixion have also been proposed.[1][2] Some scholars explain a Thursday crucifixion based on a “double sabbath” caused by an extra Passover sabbath falling on Thursday dusk to Friday afternoon, ahead of the normal weekly Sabbath.[1][3] Some have argued that Jesus was crucified on Wednesday, not Friday, on the grounds of the mention of “three days and three nights” in Matthew before his resurrection, celebrated on Sunday. Others have countered by saying that this ignores the Jewish idiom by which a “day and night” may refer to any part of a 24-hour period, that the expression in Matthew is idiomatic, not a statement that Jesus was 72 hours in the tomb, and that the many references to a resurrection on the third day do not require three literal nights.[1][4]

In Mark 15:25 crucifixion takes place at the third hour (9 a.m.) and Jesus’ death at the ninth hour (3 p.m.).[5] However, in John 19:14 Jesus is still before Pilate at the sixth hour.[6] Scholars have presented a number of arguments to deal with the issue, some suggesting a reconciliation, e.g., based on the use of Roman timekeeping in John, since Roman timekeeping began at midnight and this would mean being before Pilate at the 6th hour was 6 a.m., yet others have rejected the arguments.[6][7][8] Several scholars have argued that the modern precision of marking the time of day should not be read back into the gospel accounts, written at a time when no standardization of timepieces, or exact recording of hours and minutes was available, and time was often approximated to the closest three-hour period.”
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Crucifixion_of_Jesus, retrieved on 4/16/2020

  1.  “Niswonger “which meant Friday” – Google Search”.
  2. ^ The Cradle, the Cross, and the Crown: An Introduction to the New Testament by Andreas J. Köstenberger, L. Scott Kellum 2009 ISBN 978-0-8054-4365-3 pp. 142–143
  3. ^ Cyclopaedia of Biblical, theological, and ecclesiastical literature: Volume 7 John McClintock, James Strong – 1894 “… he lay in the grave on the 15th (which was a ‘high day’ or double Sabbath, because the weekly Sabbath coincided …”
  4. ^ “Blomberg “Wednesday crucifixion” – Google Search”.
  5. ^ The Gospel of Mark, Volume 2 by John R. Donahue, Daniel J. Harrington 2002 ISBN 0-8146-5965-9 p. 442
  6. Jump up to:a b c Steven L. Cox, Kendell H Easley, 2007 Harmony of the Gospels ISBN 0-8054-9444-8 pp. 323–323
  7. ^ Death of the Messiah, Volume 2 by Raymond E. Brown 1999 ISBN 0-385-49449-1 pp. 959–960
  8. ^ Colin HumphreysThe Mystery of the Last SupperCambridge University Press 2011 ISBN 978-0-521-73200-0, pp. 188–190


-by Karlo Broussard

“The narratives of Jesus’ passion and death are among the most sacred elements of Scripture for Christians. For skeptics, however, they’re often used as a punching bag. The claim is that they’re historically unreliable because the Gospels supposedly contradict themselves.

Previously, we looked at two alleged contradictions involving the timing of Jesus’ trial. Yet, critics often raise challenges based on what they believe are contradictions concern the timing of Jesus’ death.

For example, Mark tells us that Jesus ate the Last Supper “on the first day of Unleavened Bread, when they sacrificed the Passover lamb” (Mark 14:12), and he died the next day (Mark 14:12, 17). But John places Jesus’ death on “the day of preparation of the Passover” (John 19:14).

Another objection is that Mark and John also contradict each other as to the hour Jesus was crucified. Mark claims it was at “the third hour” (Mark 15:25), which according to the Jewish division of twelve-hour days and nights would have been 9 am. John tells us Pilate questioned Jesus “about the sixth hour” (John 19:14), which means Jesus wouldn’t have been crucified until some time after, probably right at twelve noon according to the same Jewish division of days.

Agnostic New Testament scholar Bart Ehrman finds in the discrepancy a reason for doubt: “It is impossible that both Mark’s and John’s accounts are historically accurate, since they contradict each other on the question of when Jesus died.”

What should we make of these apparent contradictions? Are they proof that Mark and John can’t be historically reliable, as Ehrman says? Let’s first take the question as to whether Jesus was crucified before or after Passover.

Some have responded to the objection by saying the Sadducees and Pharisees celebrated Passover on different days, and Jesus sided with the Pharisees.

Others, like Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI, have proposed Jesus may have celebrated Passover in accord with the Qumran calendar, which would have been one day earlier than the celebration of Passover involving the priestly sacrifices of lambs.

Both responses to the objection have merit. But there’s another way that uses the text of the Gospels themselves.

The phrase “day of Preparation” is a Jewish idiom for Friday, the day that Jews made preparations for observance of the weekly Sabbath.

All three Synoptics use the idiom this way and say Jesus died on that day. Mark is explicit: “And when evening had come, since it [the day Jesus was crucified and died] was the day of Preparation [Greek, paraskeuē], that is, the day before the Sabbath” (Mark 15:42; emphasis added).

Luke is explicit as well. In reference to the day of Jesus’s crucifixion and death, he writes, “It was the day [hēmera] of preparation [paraskeuēs], and the sabbath was beginning” (Luke 23:54).

Matthew’s use of paraskeuē is a bit more implicit. He identifies the day Jesus died to be “the day of preparation” (Matt. 27:62). He then speaks of Pilate appointing guards to guard Jesus’ tomb on the day “after the day of preparation,” which he clearly identifies as the Sabbath in 28:1.

Even the Gospel of John itself, like the Synoptics, uses paraskeuē to refer to Friday in the other two passages where it’s used.

In John 19:31, the evangelist refers to the day of Jesus’ crucifixion as paraskeuē. But within the same verse it becomes clear that he’s not talking about the day on which Jews prepare for Passover, but the day before the Sabbath, Friday:

Since it was the day of Preparation [paraskeuē], in order to prevent the bodies from remaining on the cross on the sabbath (for that sabbath was a high day), the Jews asked Pilate that their legs might be broken, and that they might be taken away” (emphasis added).

Notice the problem the Jews seek to solve is having the bodies on the crosses on the Sabbath. This implies that the day on which the request to remove the bodies is made is the day before the Sabbath, Friday. And it’s that day that John calls paraskeuē, “the day of Preparation.”

This interpretation is strengthened a few verses later when John tells us why they sought a nearby tomb: “So because of the Jewish day of Preparation [paraskeuē], as the tomb was close at hand, they laid Jesus there” (John 19:42). They needed to quickly bury Jesus lest they violate the Sabbath rest, which was soon to begin that Friday after sundown.

Given the evidence from both the Synoptics and John himself that the phrase “day of Preparation” is an idiom for Friday, the day of preparation for the weekly Sabbath, it’s reasonable to conclude that’s how John is using it in John 19:14.

But why add the phrase, “of the Passover”?

The term “Passover” doesn’t only refer to the initial Seder meal, during which the Passover lamb is eaten. As New Testament scholar Brant Pitre points out, by the first-century A.D., “Passover” came to be used interchangeably with the seven-day “feast of Unleavened Bread.” Luke provides us with an example: “Now the feast of Unleavened Bread drew near, which is called the Passover (Luke 22:1; cf. Lev. 23:6-8; emphasis added).

So, it seems that by adding the extra tidbit “of the Passover” John intends to highlight the special character of that Friday, the day of preparation for the Sabbath during Passover week.

This provides a possible explanation as to why John says, “that Sabbath was a high day” (John 19:31). It wasn’t just an ordinary Sabbath. It was a Sabbath that fell during Passover week. Consequently, it was a “doubly sacred” Sabbath.

Since John is not referring to the preparation day for Passover, and places Jesus’ crucifixion on the same day that Mark does, Friday, it follows that there is no discrepancy between the two, at least when it comes to the day on which Jesus was crucified.

In fact, all of the Gospels state that Jesus was crucified and buried on “the day of Preparation” (Matt. 27:62; Mark 16:42; Luke 23:54; John 19:14, 31, 42)—so all four agree.

What about the hour of Jesus’s crucifixion? Was it 9 am, as Mark says? Or, was John right when he said it took place at noon?

New Testament scholar Craig Blomberg explains that just as the Jews divided the twelve-hour night (sunset to sunrise) into four watches, so too they divided daylight hours (sunrise to sunset) into four three-hour increments. And they generally identified the time of events during the day by rounding up or down to the quarter hour.

For example, throughout the Synoptics, almost every time the authors speak of an hour of the day they speak of the “third,” “sixth,” and “ninth” (Matt. 20:3, 5; 27:45, 46; Mark 15:33, 34; Luke 23:44; Acts 2:15; 3:1; 10:3,9, 30; 23:23). The only exception is the parable of the tenant that receives his reward in the “eleventh” hour (Matt. 20:9). But such specificity is required by the parable.

In light of this, Blomberg concludes, “it becomes plausible to interpret Mark’s ‘third hour’ to mean any time between 9 a.m. and noon” (emphasis added). Mark just rounds down to the “third hour” whereas John rounds up to the sixth. John’s rounding up is supported by the fact that he says it was “about the sixth hour” (John 19:14).

Given that Mark and John are approximating the time of Jesus’ death, and they both approximate that time to be some time in the second quarter of the day, we can conclude there is no contradiction.

Ehrman may still reject the historical accuracy of Mark and John. But he can’t do so on the grounds that Mark and John contradict each other as to the day and hour of Jesus’ death.”

Love & truth,
Matthew

Easter: liberal theology is as empty as the tomb


-by Trent Horn

“In a 2009 speech given at an atheistic conference, Daniel Dennett coined the term “deepity” to refer to statements that seem profound at first glance but upon closer examination turn out to be trivially true at best (“Love is just a word”) or just nonsense (“Have faith in faith”). Some atheists say theology is just a bunch of “deepities,” but this is like saying meaningless “junk philosophy” shows all of philosophy is worthless.

Indeed, you can find “junk theology” that disparages good theology in the New York Times’ recent interview with Serene Jones (2019), a Protestant minister and president of Union Theological Seminary. Here are a few of her “deepities”:

  • “[The] empty tomb symbolizes that the ultimate love in our lives cannot be crucified and killed.”
  • “Living a life of love is driven by the simple fact that love is true.”
  • “The message of Easter is that love is stronger than life or death.”

When I hear this kind of talk, I think of the episode of the Simpsons where Rev. Lovejoy is selling ice cream flavors such as “Blessed Virgin Berry” and “Command-mint.” He then offers Lisa “Unitarian ice cream” and hands her an empty bowl. Lisa remarks, “There’s nothing here,” to which Lovejoy responds, “Exactly.” Unitarians who have “no shared creed” are just one example of theologies that sound lofty and good but are without any support beyond mere sentimentalism.

A good way to expose the emptiness of these “deepities” is to ask some simple questions: How is love stronger than death? What makes love “true”? In doing this, you can show that the person is just dressing up secular, hopeful thinking with religious language.

I also notice adherents of liberal theology often defend their position by casting traditional concepts of God and faith as being for simpletons. However, their hasty dismissals often reveal their own simplistic grasp of theology. For example, Jones says, “Crucifixion is not something that God is orchestrating from upstairs. The pervasive idea of an abusive God-father who sends his own kid to the cross so God could forgive people is nuts.”

I expect this misrepresentation of the Trinity from village atheists, but not from a “Christian” minister who should understand that God became man to freely offer himself as a sacrifice of love that outweighs the evil of our sins.

Jones also says Christians who are “obsessed” with the Resurrection have a “wobbly faith.” She writes, “What if tomorrow someone found the body of Jesus still in the tomb? Would that then mean that Christianity was a lie? No, faith is stronger than that.” Tell that to St. Paul who declared, “If Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is in vain and your faith is in vain” (1 Cor. 15:14).

Jones tries to defend her assertion about the unimportance of the Resurrection by saying, “the stories are all over the place. There’s no resurrection story in Mark, just an empty tomb. Those who claim to know whether or not it happened are kidding themselves.”

It’s true the shorter ending of Mark does not contain an appearance of the resurrected Jesus, but it certainly contains a resurrection account because the young man at the tomb tells the women, “Do not be amazed; you seek Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified. He has risen, he is not here; see the place where they laid him. But go, tell his disciples and Peter that he is going before you to Galilee; there you will see him, as he told you” (Mark 16:6-7, emphasis added).

This leads to another good question to ask: How is a non-miraculous Christianity any different than morally upright atheism?

Jones says hell doesn’t exist; it is the reality we create when we “reject love,” and Easter represents “love triumphing over suffering.” But you can be an atheist who puts hope in love and patiently endures suffering, so why even bother being a Christian? Indeed, when the interviewer asks if he’s a Christian even though he denies Jesus’ miracles, Jones answers, “Well, you sound an awful lot like me, and I’m a Christian minister.”

Now, Jones might say her theology isn’t equivalent to atheism because she believes in God, but her God is so limited and disinterested in human affairs that he might as well be nonexistent.

For example, Jones says she doesn’t worship an all-powerful, all-knowing God because that’s a product of “Roman juridical theory and Greek mythology” (even though Greco-Roman deities were limited in power, knowledge, and goodness). She also claims God doesn’t answer prayers and instead of “controlling the world” he merely “invites” us into love, justice, and mercy.

This God might as well be a self-help book you pick up every few months for advice. In fact, for some liberal theologians, God is merely a projection of human ideals and isn’t real in any meaningful sense of the word.

John Dominic Crossan, one of the world’s most famous New Testament scholars, was once asked, “During the Jurassic age, when there were no human beings, did God exist?” Crossan responded, “Meaningless question” and went on to say that God doesn’t exist apart from faith. But with this understanding of God, it’s not surprising that places like the United Church of Canada have a minister who is a self-professed atheist. One of her books’ titles perfectly summarizes the essence of liberal theology: With or Without God: Why the Way We Live Is More Important Than What We Believe.

It’s true that practicing virtue will make you happy, but that’s because God made us to be virtuous people, and we are happy when we live according to the nature he gave us. But St. Paul strikes the deathblow to both secular and Christian liberalism that relies on virtue alone for salvation: “We know that the law is spiritual; but I am carnal, sold under sin. I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate” (Rom. 7:14-15).

Our Easter joy is not found in something meaningless such as “hope in hope” or “faith in faith.” It is grounded in the fact of Christ’s Resurrection. Indeed, that is the only fact that explains the advent of Christianity in an ancient world that didn’t build religions around platitudes. The only reason the disciples did not think their rabbi was just another failed messiah like all the others was because he proved he was not a failure to them three days after his crucifixion.

Through it, we have true hope that God will deliver us from sin we cannot conquer on our own and raise us to new life, both in our souls in this life and in our bodies in the next. God proved “love is stronger than death,” not through humanistic sentiment but through glorious triumph. As Christ himself declared, “I died, and behold I am alive for evermore, and I have the keys of Death and Hades” (Rev. 1:18).”

Love, & Easter Joy!!!
Matthew

Calvinism/Presbyterianism – Predestination & Divine Sovereignty, Part 3 of 4


-John Calvin (1509-1564)


-by Br Elijah Dubek, OP

“Halfway through our conversation, Michael, Gabriel, and I finally turned to one of the elephants in the room: reprobation. If predestination in general is the black sheep among Christian doctrines, then reprobation is the bogeyman. Alongside the Gospel of salvation, considering how God’s eternal plan includes the condemnation of some is difficult to say the least. Christ came into the world to save sinners, not to leave them behind (1 Tim 1:15). Christian piety begs to ask: If God is completely sovereign over creation (as we have repeatedly said), how or why are some not saved?

At this point, many apologists will begin to distinguish between “double” and “single” predestination. Unfortunately, in my discussions with well-read Calvinists (like Michael and Gabriel), Lutherans, fellow Catholics, or other Christians, I have found that these terms do not always have a consistent meaning.

The most common use of “double” predestination refers to the doctrine of John Calvin, and more specifically, to the manner in which God’s sovereignty extends over both those God saves and those who remain in sin (hence “double”). For example, the Reformer says, “God not only foresaw the fall of the first man, and in him the ruin of his posterity; but also at his own pleasure arranged it” (Institutes, Book III, Chapter 23.7, emphasis added). With such a statement, it is difficult to see how God would not be the author of sin, though Calvin vehemently denies the charge.

“Single” predestination refers to a plan that exclusively regards the saved. While it laudably avoids Calvin’s difficulty, a different question arises: What is God’s plan for everyone else? Leaving them to chance is hardly compatible with a sovereign God or even a sound philosophy.

Saint Thomas insists, as we have seen, that God’s sovereignty is universal, englobing both the just and the wicked. However, God’s transcendent, sovereign causality is not the same for good and for evil. Instead, it is asymmetrical. God positively wills good, including our justification, sanctification, and merits, but he only permits sin.

This is more than a quibble over words. When God positively wills something, he causes it. When he permits something else, he does not cause it. Permission here does not mean consent or agreement, but that God declines to prevent. Let me explain.

Think of the car whose engine, despite your impeccable key-turning, just will not start. What is the cause of the failure? It is not in the key-turning. That initial action in the chain of causes worked fine. Even if your key-turning technique could improve, there are a host of other intermediate causes necessary to produce that healthy engine hum. Maybe the spark plug failed, or perhaps the fuel injector is improperly installed. Whichever one of these fails is the real culprit. In fact, your key turning probably gave the spark plug some activation. Whatever spark it gave, though insufficient to ignite the fuel and start the engine, still came from the turn of the key. The key-turning produced the act which failed, but it did not cause the failure of the act.

Man’s sin occurs in a similar way. God, as Creator and Sovereign, is the primary and transcendent cause of man’s action, but God is perfect and indefectible. Man, though, is more than capable of being defective—that is simply part of being a creature. Whatever goodness man’s action possesses comes from God, but any defect arises because man’s cooperation failed in some respect. Just like your impeccable key-turning did not cause the spark plug’s failure, God’s governance enables our free will to act, but the disorder of an act is ours alone (ST I-II., q. 79, a. 2, co.; I., q. 49, a. 2, ad2).

The difference is subtle but important. Because man introduces the defect, man, not God, is the author of sin. God does not lead anyone to sin, but he does permit it by declining to prevent it. The case of the individual sin is a microcosm for understanding the causality of reprobation: God permits but does not cause the disorder of sin, and because man is guilty, he is justly punished (ST I., q. 23, a. 3, ad2).

Okay, so evil is not God’s fault… but why doesn’t he prevent it? Saint Thomas offers several answers which each boil down to the same conclusion: by the omnipotent wisdom and goodness of God, he is able to draw good even out of evil (ST I., q. 2, a. 3, ad1; q. 48, a. 2, ad3). Admittedly, it is an answer that hardly satisfies the mind, not to mention the heart. However, in order that we not become cynical, God proved his love for us: while we were yet sinners, Christ came to save us (Rom 5:8).”

Love,
Matthew

Easter – stay with us!!


“Jesus and the Walk to Emmaus”, by Gebhard Fugel (1863-1939), please click on the image for greater detail.

-by Rev Gabriel of St Mary Magdalen, OCD, Divine Intimacy, Baronius Press, (c) 1964

Presence of God – Do not leave me, O Jesus, gentle Pilgrim; I have need of You.

MEDITATION

God has made us for Himself, and we cannot live without Him; we need Him, we hunger and thirst for Him; He is the only One who can satisfy our hearts. The Easter liturgy is impregnated with this longing for God, for Him who is from on high; it even makes it the distinctive sign of our participation in the Paschal mystery. “If you be risen with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is sitting at the right hand of God; mind the things that are above, not the things that are upon the earth” (Colossians 3:1-2). The more the soul revives itself in the Resurrection of Christ, the more it feels the need of God and of heavenly truths; it detaches itself more and more from earthly things to turn toward those of heaven.

Just as physical hunger is an indication of a living, healthy organism, so spiritual hunger is a sign of a robust spirit, one that is active and continually developing. The soul which feels no hunger for God, no need to seek Him and to find Him, and which does not vibrate or suffer with anxiety in its search, does not bear within itself the signs of the Resurrection. It is a dead soul or at least one which has been weakened and rendered insensible by lukewarmness. The Paschal alleluia is a cry of triumph at Christ’s Resurrection, but at the same time, it is an urgent invitation for us to rise also. Like the sound of reveille, it calls us to the battles of the spirit and invites us to rouse and renew ourselves, to participate ever more profoundly in Christ’s Resurrection. Who can say, however advanced he may be in the ways of the spirit, that he has wholly attained to his resurrection?

COLLOQUY

“O my hope, my Father, my Creator, true God and Brother, when I think of what You said—that Your delights are to be with the children of men—my soul rejoices greatly. O Lord of heaven and earth, how can any sinner, after hearing such words, still despair? Do You lack souls in whom to delight, Lord, that You seek so unsavory a worm as I?… O what exceeding mercy! What favor far beyond our deserving!

“Rejoice, O my soul … and since the Lord finds His delights in you, may all things on earth not suffice to make you cease to delight in Him and rejoice in the greatness of your God.

“I desire neither the world, nor anything that is worldly; and, nothing seems to give me pleasure but You; everything else seems to me a heavy cross.

“O my God, I am afraid, and with good reason, that You may forsake me; for I know well how little my strength and insufficiency of virtue can achieve, if You are not always granting me Your grace and helping me not to forsake You. It seems to me, my Lord, that it would be impossible for me to leave You…. But as I have done it so many times I cannot but fear, for when You withdraw but a little from me I fall utterly to the ground. But blessed may You be forever, O Lord! For though I have forsaken You, You have not so completely forsaken me as not to raise me up again by continually giving me Your hand…. Remember my great misery, O Lord, and look upon my weakness, since You know all things” (Teresa of Jesus, Exclamations of the Soul to God, 7 – Life, 6).

Love,
Matthew

What is sin? And, what to do about it.

-by Catholic Answers

“Something is wrong with the human race. We all sense it. Things aren’t the way they should be. Not in the world. Not in our neighbors. Not in ourselves.

We aren’t as kind, as generous, or as loving as we should be. We do things we shouldn’t. We are selfish, arrogant, and sometimes even cruel. We use other people for our own ends. We fall short even of our own low standards. The Bible has a word for this: sin.

We Can’t Escape

Sin is a constant of the human condition. It’s all around us. It’s inside us, too. We are all sinners. Sometimes our sins are large, like adultery or murder. Sometimes they are as small as a harsh word or a cutting glance. But they’re always there.

We sense that things shouldn’t be this way, that there must have been a time when things were right in the world. And there was such a time.

When God first made man, he made him perfect, able to live and love as he should, free from sin and sin’s worst consequence, which is death. But our first parents turned away from God, and the human race hasn’t been right since.

Sin is a violation of the way things should be, a violation of a fundamental law. That law was designed by God to make us happy. Think of how it would be if everyone in the world lived up to that law.

Unfortunately, we all turn away from God’s law. In doing so, we turn away from Him. If we don’t come back to God, we will be separated from Him forever. But we are caught in a cycle of sin. Try as we might, we can’t break free. Not on our own.

The Love of God

God has not abandoned us, because God is love. He loves the world He made, and He loves us, broken though we are.

God loves us so much that he sent His only Son to become one of us and to save the human race.

His Son was born in the village of Bethlehem 2,000 years ago. He grew up to become the most important person in history: Jesus of Nazareth, the Messiah, the Christ.

In His ministry, Jesus traveled the hills of Galilee and Judea. He taught the word of God, healed the sick, gave sight to the blind, and even raised the dead. In every way, He demonstrated God’s love for us and His desire to heal us spiritually as well as physically.

Jesus opened the way for us to have eternal life.

The Cross

For Jesus, the way was a costly one. He traveled the road of sorrows, and it ended with His death on a cross. Jesus was willing to suffer and die for us because His death would enable us to escape from our sins and to live with God forever.

Though He was God in the flesh, Jesus let Himself be whipped and spat on and crowned with thorns. He let himself be crucified, with nails driven through his hands and feet. He offered his life as an act of love for us—an act so perfect, so pure, and so valuable that it paid for the sins of the whole world.

This was something only God could do. No matter what we might do to atone for our sins, we are merely finite creatures and never could pay for our offenses against the infinite holiness of God. But God could pay for them—and, because He loves us, He did.

After the Crucifixion, Jesus rose from the dead. The Resurrection serves as a sign of what is waiting for all who turn to God. One day Jesus will return, and those who have loved God will experience their own glorious resurrection, the overthrow of death, and eternal life in the love of God.

What Will You Choose?

God respects our freedom to choose. He gave man free will, and if anyone chooses to spend eternity apart from God, he will let him do so. The question is what each of us will do. What will you choose?

Will you choose sin and separation? A life of selfishness, greed, and anger? A life of bitterness, frustration, even despair?

Or will you choose to become what you should be? Will you choose to embrace God’s love (even through the carrying of your own cross), to receive His forgiveness and healing, and to live as He made you to live—the only way you can be truly happy?

If you choose the latter, you must become a follower of Christ, a Christian. To do this, you must repent of your sins, believe in Christ, and be baptized. God will enter your life and fill you with His Holy Spirit.

Part of being a Christian is belonging to Christ’s Church. Jesus founded a Church to care for and guide us as we make our way through life. It is a Church full of saints and sinners, but it is also the source of grace and true teaching.

“And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build My church, and the gates of Hell will not overcome it.” —Matthew 16:18

To help His Church endure, Jesus chose a leader for it: the apostle Peter. He made Peter the rock on which he built His Church, and for 2,000 years the Church has been led by the popes, the successors of Peter.

Since the early centuries, this original Church has been called the Catholic Church. Catholic means “universal.” The Church got this name because it was meant as the spiritual home for all people.

Over time there arose many offshoots, but you need to join the one Church that Jesus founded. He founded it for you, to take care of you and your spiritual needs, and it is the one He promised to guide and to preserve against the gates of hell.

What to Do Next

Once you have resolved to accept God’s gifts through Jesus Christ, there are several things you should do.

Build your relationship with God. [Ed. it is this editor’s experience, that the relationship with God is very similar to the relationship with other persons: spend time, listen, etc.]

Think about how much He loves you and what He would want you to do in different situations. Talk to Him every day through prayer. Tell Him what is in your heart and how much you appreciate the good things He has given you.

Start attending your local Catholic church on Sunday. [Ed. The People of God are a community. Don’t go it alone.]

You can go other days, too, if you wish. Catholic worship is rich and beautiful. If you do not know much about Catholic worship, don’t worry—the basics aren’t hard to learn.

Join Jesus’ Church.

If you have been Catholic before, all you need to do is to go to confession. If you haven’t yet become Catholic, your local parish will have a program to help you become part of the Church. Call your parish for information on time and place.

Learn more about the Catholic Faith.

Start reading the Bible and a good Catholic catechism. A catechism is a book telling you the basics of the faith, and there are many good ones. The most authoritative is called Catechism of the Catholic Church.

Get your questions answered.

Your local Catholic parish can be invaluable for this…Tell others how God has blessed your life. Let them know how much He loves them and wants to bless them, too.”

Love,
Matthew

The Power of the Resurrection in Our Bodies


-St Ephrem the Syrian (306-373 AD)

Brothers and sisters:
Do you not know that a little yeast leavens all the dough?
Clear out the old yeast,
so that you may become a fresh batch of dough,
inasmuch as you are unleavened.
For our paschal lamb, Christ, has been sacrificed.
Therefore, let us celebrate the feast,
not with the old yeast, the yeast of malice and wickedness,
but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth.

-1 Cor. 5:6b-8


-by Fr. Hugh Barbour, O. Praem., a convert from Episcopalianism

“Christ’s eucharistic presence is entombed within us, that by its power we too may rise to new life.

When we go to the early Fathers of the Church to understand the sense of the great mysteries of faith we are celebrating at Easter, we are apt to be surprised. This is especially true if we go to the Fathers of the Syrian tradition, which represents the most ancient and authoritative approach to Sacred Scripture that we have.

Take, for example, the Scripture lesson given above, which is the classic epistle reading in the Roman Rite. How are we to understand all this talk of the leavening yeast being full of the corruption of malice and wickedness and our feast being made of the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth? Especially since it tells us that Christ, our paschal lamb, has been sacrificed and therefore we celebrate the feast with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth.

I never understood this “therefore” of St. Paul’s until I read St. Ephrem the Syrian’s commentary on the Gospels.

In speaking of the Last Supper, St. Ephrem counts the three days of Our Lord in the tomb as beginning when He, having been sacrificed in the eucharistic supper by the separation of His body and blood, is “buried” in the earth—that is, in man who is made of the slime of the earth, and in Holy Communion, and in remaining hidden in His members who have received the sacrament as He undergoes His passion and burial; in the following days He rises from the dead through this eucharistic presence and appears again, not under signs, but in His visible, palpable body!

This explains why the Catechism of the Catholic Church sees in the altar of our churches a symbol of the tomb. The Eucharist, which is meant to be “entombed” in our bodies after being sacrificed, gives us the sure power of the Resurrection promised by the Lord in the sixth chapter of St. John’s Gospel.

This sacrificed bread of life is the fresh new bread, free of the malice of sin, pure and uncorrupted by its fermenting leaven. And it forms in us a new power, the very promise of our own resurrection because we have fed on the sacrificed and risen Lord!

The realism of the Eucharist extends not only to the “real presence” but also has real effects in our flesh and blood, which we will experience because we have fed on the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth, even the Blessed Sacrament of the altar.

In this sad time, when so many are deprived of the Holy Communion, we can reflect on the power of this sacrifice and sacrament. Perhaps we are being deprived because we had forgotten the great power and dignity and love that the Eucharist contains, and need to begin to receive this gift with purity, free from malice and wickedness, ready for the risen life of Christ.

May He count our desire to receive Him now as the channel of His grace and the pledge of our future resurrection!”

Love, & Easter Joy!!!
Matthew

Summa Catechetica, "Neque enim quaero intelligere ut credam, sed credo ut intelligam." – St Anselm, "Let your religion be less of a theory, and more of a love affair." -G.K. Chesterton, "I want a laity, not arrogant, not rash in speech, not disputatious, but men and women who know their religion, who enter into it, who know just where they stand, who know what they hold and what they do not, and who know their creed so well that they can give an account of it."- Bl John Henry Newman, Cong. Orat., "Encounter, not confrontation; attraction, not promotion; dialogue, not debate." -cf Pope Francis, “You will not see anyone who is really striving after his advancement who is not given to spiritual reading. And as to him who neglects it, the fact will soon be observed by his progress.” -St Athanasius, "To convert someone, go and take them by the hand and guide them." -St Thomas Aquinas, OP. 1 saint ruins ALL the cynicism in Hell & on Earth. “When we pray we talk to God; when we read God talks to us…All spiritual growth comes from reading and reflection.” -St Isidore of Seville, “Also in some meditations today I earnestly asked our Lord to watch over my compositions that they might do me no harm through the enmity or imprudence of any man or my own; that He would have them as His own and employ or not employ them as He should see fit. And this I believe is heard.” -GM Hopkins, SJ, "Only God knows the good that can come about by reading one good Catholic book." — St. John Bosco, "Why don't you try explaining it to them?" – cf St Peter Canisius, SJ, Doctor of the Church, Doctor of the Catechism, "Already I was coming to appreciate that often apologetics consists of offering theological eye glasses of varying prescriptions to an inquirer. Only one prescription will give him clear sight; all the others will give him at best indistinct sight. What you want him to see—some particular truth of the Faith—will remain fuzzy to him until you come across theological eye glasses that precisely compensate for his particular defect of vision." -Karl Keating, "The more perfectly we know God, the more perfectly we love Him." -St Thomas Aquinas, OP, ST, I-II,67,6 ad 3, “But always when I was without a book, my soul would at once become disturbed, and my thoughts wandered." —St. Teresa of Avila, "Let those who think I have said too little and those who think I have said too much, forgive me; and let those who think I have said just enough thank God with me." –St. Augustine