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Thursday, June 23, 2005

The Lectio Divina

"Lectio Divina" is the particular way by which Catholics read the Scriptures. It is a reading of the Scriptures that seeks to encounter God through the sacramentality of the Word. As such, it is not mere understanding, it is "knowing" the Word of God in the spirit of prayer. It is in this way that the Catechism explains it as the first "wellspring of prayer" (nn. 2653-4)

The Church "forcefully and specially exhorts all the Christian faithful ... to learn 'the surpassing knowledge of Jesus Christ' (Phil. 3:8) by frequent reading of the divine Scriptures... Let them remember, however, that prayer should accompany the reading of sacred Scripture so that a dialogue takes place between God and man. For 'we speak to him when we pray; we listen to Him when we read the divine oracles'.

The above paragraph from the Catechism (n. 2653) puts together two lines from Dei Verbum par. 25. The quotation from Phil. 3:8 about "the surpassing knowledge of Jesus Christ" should be -- for the Christian -- the life-project. St. Paul is not referring here to a knowledge that is merely informational; he refers to a knowledge that is existential, that is, one that touches one's being, transforming it in the power of the resurrection. The second quotation from St. Ambrose puts the reading of the Scriptures within an ongoing dialogue with God in prayer. Let it be remembered that it was St. Ambrose whom Augustine writes about in the Confessions who alternated work with sacred reading throughout the day.

In paragraph 2654, the Catechism puts the reading of Scriptures within the monastic tradition of the lectio:

The spiritual writers, paraphrasing Matthew 7:7, summarize in this way the dispositions of the heart nourished by the word of God in prayer: "Seek in reading and you will find in meditating; knock in mental prayer and it will be opened to you by contemplation.

Reading must lead to meditation, meditation to prayer and prayer to contemplation -- the ladder of the lectio divina. Guy the Carthusian explains how the steps of this ladder lead from one to the other. Interesting is the process that he describes. One reads by pronouncing the words and listening to them. Meditation is understanding what the words or phrases mean. This is a slow process likened to the act of masticating that involves an internal dialogue between the reader and the author of the text about the text. Once the text is understood, one can now pray "from" the text: by petition, adoration, praise or thanksgiving. Finally, when the Holy Spirit allows it, the reader is given a glimpse of the mystery thus understood. This is the final stage of the reading: contemplation -- a glance into God Himself.

Posted by bible student at 11:43 PM
Categories: Devotional

Tuesday, June 21, 2005

False Prophets

In the early Church, prophecy was considered a charism that was given for the building up of the community of the faith (cf. 1 Cor. 12:28; Eph. 4:11). In fact, Paul and Barnabas and even Silas were numbered among these (Acts 13:1; 15:32). That Jesus himself will be warning his disciples about false prophets (Mt. 7:15) is interesting in that by the time the synoptic Gospels were being written (70-90 AD), such false prophets have arisen to deceive many (Mt. 24:11). In Matthew 24:24, "False Christs" are even mentioned with "false prophets."

In Acts 13:7-8, one finds the case of a false prophet from among the Jews who tried prevent the conversion of a high official to Christianity. But in 2 Peter 2:1, it is clear that the false prophets will be coming from within the community of faith itself. In 1 Jn. 4:1ff, John says that the false prophets will "go out"; and these are mentioned together with the anti-christs who have gone out from the community of faith itself. By the time the Apocalypse was completed the false prophet has become the ally of all that goes against the Lamb and His own (cf. Rev. 16:13; 19:20;20:10)

In Matthew 7:16, Jesus tells his disciples the way to distinguish false prophets: by their fruits ye shall know them. The "fruit" referred to here are fruits of righteousness that correspond to Paul's "fruits of the Spirit" (cf. Gal. 5). In 2 Peter 2:1ff one finds a list of the kind of fruits these false prophets bear:

But there were also false prophets among the people, even as there shall be among you lying teachers who shall bring in sects of perdition and deny the Lord who bought them: bringing upon themselves swift destruction. And many shall follow their riotousness, through whom the way of truth shall be evil spoken of. And through covetousness shall they with feigned words make merchandise of you.

... And especially them who walk after the flesh in the lust of uncleanness and despise government: audacious, self willed, they fear not to bring in sects, blaspheming. ...But these men, as irrational beasts, naturally tending to the snare and to destruction, blaspheming those things which they know not, shall perish in their corruption: Receiving the reward of their injustice, counting for a pleasure the delights of a day: stains and spots, sporting themselves to excess, rioting in their feasts with you: Having eyes full of adultery and of sin that ceaseth not: alluring unstable souls: having their heart exercised with covetousness: children of malediction.

Leaving the right way, they have gone astray, ... These are fountains without water and clouds tossed with whirlwinds, to whom the mist of darkness is reserved. For, speaking proud words of vanity, they allure by the desires of fleshly riotousness those who for a little while escape, such as converse in error: Promising them liberty, whereas they themselves are the slaves of corruption.

For by whom a man is overcome, of the same also he is the slave. For if, flying from the pollutions of the world, through the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, they be again entangled in them and overcome: their latter state is become unto them worse than the former. For it had been better for them not to have known the way of justice than, after they have known it, to turn back from that holy commandment which was delivered to them. For, that of the true proverb has happened to them: The dog is returned to his vomit; and: The sow that was washed to her wallowing in the mire.

Posted by bible student at 4:11 PM
Categories: New Testament

Friday, June 17, 2005

The Equivocation of Ka Sandoval and Ka Bularan (INC) II

We have seen how Webster's given definition of equivocation applies to the way Ka Sandoval and Ka Bularan explained Acts 14:11 using a Filipino translation that they made of the expression "The gods have come down to us in human form." Another way of equivocating is when you use a word with two or more meanings that derive from different stages in its historical development. Here is an example:

Years ago, two of our seminarians got ordained to the priesthood and their picture together was published in our newsletter. Below the picture was a caption that read: "Our new priests: one is happy and the other is gay." Everyone got a good laugh at that one, even the one who was referred to as "gay." What made the caption funny was the double meaning in the word "gay". Now, when we say "gay" we would normally mean a person with a homosexual orientation. There was a time, however, when "gay" was the synonym for "happy."

The same equivocation is employed by Ka Sandoval and Ka Bularan in their explanation that Jesus is a creature -- a nilalang -- of God. Their explanation of this aspect was presented as a reaction to Mr. Soriano's alleged contention that there is no text in the Bible where it is stated that Christ was created by God. To belie this statement, Ka Bularan brought out a translation -- allegedly by a certain Juan Trinidad, SJ -- of Mt. 1:18: "Si Maria ang natagpuang nagdadalangtao, lalang ng Espiritu Santo." The choice of the translation again favors their contention that Jesus was a creature of God and works well with the Pauline statement in Col. 1:15 where He is described as "first-born of all creation" (in the Filipino translation that they make, "ang panganay ng lahat ng nilalang").

So where is the equivocation here? The phrase "lalang ng Espiritu Santo" is, for any Catholic, the equivalent of the English "by the power of the Holy Spirit" but Ka Sandoval and Ka Bularan would like to make it appear that it means "created by the Holy Spirit." This is greatly misleading. What made Juan Trinidad translate Mt. 1:18 in that way? I would suggest this: the Filipino version of the Nicene Creed which says "nagkatawangtao Siya, lalang ng Espiritu Santo" -- conceived by the power of the Holy Spirit ... and became man. I would further suggest that the meaning of "lalang", now an unused Filipino word except in Church should be investigated. Juan Trinidad saw it as the equivalent of the Latin phrase "de Spiritu Sancto" which has its equivalent in the Nicene confession of faith. Words change meanings throughout time. Ka Bularan and Ka Sandoval made use of an old Filipino translation of Mt. 1:18 made by a long dead Jesuit to prove that Jesus was created by God.

Posted by bible student at 11:47 AM
Edited on: Friday, June 17, 2005 12:00 PM
Categories: Reviews

The Equivocation of Ka Michael and Ka Bularan of the Iglesya Ni Manalo I

The Websters New World Collegiate Dictionary defines "equivocate" as "to use equivocal terms in order to deceive, mislead, hedge, etc.; be deliberately ambiguous. The synonym given is "to lie". A related word is "equivocal", that is, (1) that can have more than one interpreetation having two or more meanings; purposely vague misleading or ambiguous; (2) uncertain;undecided;doubtful, and (3) suspicious; questionable.

It is good to remember these two words because this is the best way to describe what the ministers of the Iglesya Ni Cristo (1914) did in their program yesterday when they talked about the nature of Christ.

It is known that the Iglesya Ni Cristo (1914) is one of those "Christian" cults who profess the belief that Christ is a human being -- and therefore a creature (nilalang) of God -- who was later on "promoted" to the right hand of God to be sole mediator of salvation. In their exposition of this belief yesterday, their argument moved in three steps:

1. Show the texts where Christ himself says that he is "only man"
2. Show the text where one can find proof that the belief in "God became man" is pagan in origin, and -- to strengthen this position -- show that "God" and "man" cannot coexist in God.
3. Show that Christ did not pre-exist, that he was "nilalang" ("created").

Apart from the fact that Ka Sandoval and Ka Bularan explained only the texts that favored their opinion, they even equivocated on the main texts that they used. And they did it mainly in two ways.

One can equivocate by making use of a word or phrase with two or more possible meanings as if it meant only one thing. Example. If I say "Its BARK is loud", one might think of a dog's characteristic sound (in Filipino, tahol). But how does one answer this question: "Is there a contradiction between the phrases: "Its BARK is loud" and "Its BARK is silent?" One who thinks that BARK is a sound only, might answer that there is. But if I say that BARK in "Its BARK is silent" refers to the BARK of a tree, then there isn't a contradition. The one word "bark" simply means two different things.

When presenting their proofs that the belief "God became man" was pagan in origin, Ka Bularan and Ka Sandoval made use of a Filipino translation of Acts 14:11 which they flashed on the screen as: "Ang mga diyos ay bumaba sa atin na nagkatawang tao." The immediate context of the statement is the reaction of those who witnessed Paul's healing of a lame man in Lystra (Acts 14:8f). The choice of the passage heavily favors their contention that the belief in "God made man" is not Christian but pagan. However, the main Filipino translations in use today, does not have that kind of translation. Here are the translations from the TPV and Ang Bibliya:

Ang Bibliya: Ang mga dios ay nagsibaba sa atin sa anyo ng mga tao.
TPV: Nanaog sa atin ang mga dios sa anyong tao.

These renderings agree in substance with modern English translations of the Bible, like the New American Bible (NAB), the New Living Translation (NLT), and the New International Version (NIV):

NAB: The gods have come down to us in human form.
NIV: The gods have come down to us in human form.
NLT: The gods have come down to us in human bodies.

In all these translations, the idea is that the people of Lystra saw Paul and Barnabas as gods in human appearance. Hence, the protest of both apostles to the way people began to treat them (cf. vv. 15-17.18)

Where then does the equivocation occur in this explanation? The answer is in the phrase "nagkatawang tao" ; this is a stock phrase in the Filipino Catholic's confession of faith: "nagkatawang tao Siya, lalang ng Espiritu Santo" a translation that was meant to reflect the Creed of Nicea's "conceived by the power of the Holy Spirit...and he became man." This is a clear example of equivocation using the Filipino language for their benefit: "nagkatawang tao" in theologically imprecise Filipino can sound like a direct translation of the NLT's rendering that meant "having human appearance" or as intended by the Catholic Church, an expression referring to the Incarnation. But in the exposition of the INC ministers, "nagkatawang tao" in Acts 14:11 becomes the origin of the doctrine of the Incarnation, which is misleading.

Posted by bible student at 11:15 AM
Categories: Reviews

Wednesday, June 15, 2005

Ex. 16:18 In Paul's Plea For Generosity

2 Cor. 8:1-15 is the introduction to Paul's collection memo for the Corinthians which begins in 8:1 and ends in 9:15. In this memo he informs the Corinthians that Titus and some other designated assistants (8:18.23) will be making the rounds and collecting the donations of the Christian communities for the mother Church in Jerusalem. In 8:9-15, Paul makes a plea for generosity. Drawing from the example of the Lord Himself (v. 9) and reminding the Corinthians how they were the first to decide that a collection be made for the mother Church (v. 10), Paul encourages them to continue what they've begun. Then he writes something that is valid even today for individuals or groups who are asked for donations:

As long as readiness is there, a man is acceptable with whatever he can afford; never mind what is beyond his means. This does not mean that to give relief to others you ought to make things difficult for yourselves: it is a question of balancing what happens to be your surplus now against their present need, and one day they may have something to spare that will supply your own need. That is how we strike a balance: as scripture says: The man who gathered much had none too much, the man who gathered little did not go short.

The quotation from Scriptures is actually from Exodus 16:18, an episode from the "manna" incident. There the Israelites were instructed to collect manna that will be sufficient for a day. Some of the Israelites, motivated by greed, gathered more than was necessary; some others were sparing in the amount of manna they gathered. At the end of the day, however, everyone discovered that each had gathered what was sufficient. In short, whether one gathered more or less, there was enough manna for each one to satisfy the day's hunger.

This miracle of the ever sufficient food from heaven is interpreted in the Book of Deuteronomy as a lesson about the Word of God:

He fed you with manna which neither you nor your fathers had known, to make you understand that man does not live on bread alone but that man lives on everything that comes from the mouth of Yahweh. (Deut. 8:3)

God provides what is sufficient; and He provides according to His Word, human greed (getting more than is sufficient) and laziness (getting less than is sufficient) notwithstanding. This would be one of the meanings of the manna incident in Ex. 16:18 if understood from within the Mosaic discourse in Deut. 8:3. But Paul seems to draw a social implication from Ex. 16:18, an implication that is suggested by the whole of verses 17-18:

The sons of Israel did this (cf. verse 16). They gathered it some more, some less. When they measured in an omer what they had gathered, the man who had gathered more had not too much, the man who had gathered less had not too little. Each found he had gathered what he needed.

The omer that is mentioned here is a measuring device that can contain one-tenth of an ephah (16:36). I would suggest that since everyone was required to keep only the manna that can be contained in an omer, those who had gathered more than an omer gave the extra manna to those who had less than an omer. Thus, in the end, each Israelite had manna that was equivalent to one omer. It is the "balance" that Paul mentions in 2 Cor. 8:9-15: one's lack now will be filled up by the abundance of the other so that no one will be in need.

We are daily faced by inequalities in our society. If we look hard at the things we have, we may find out that we have more than we need. We may even find out that we have in abundance is precisely what another lacks in his/her need. Perhaps it is time we give up what we have in abundance to fill up the need we find in others so that we can contribute to the betterment of our society.

Posted by biblista at 11:01 PM
Categories: New Testament

Monday, June 13, 2005

2 Corinthians For The 11th Week

From June 13-18 we have the following reading selections from 2 Corinthians:

Monday, 2 Cor. 6:1-10
Paul is here continuing an argument that he had begun in 5:11. His ministry is that of applying the graces of the reconciliating already effected by Christ to the Corinthians. He now invites the Corinthians to open their hearts to himself and to be reconciled to God. To himself, because Paul has shown himself to be a minister of that reconciliation effected by God in Christ (5:18-20.6:3-10). To God, because He is the one who, ultimately, calls the Corinthians to the grace of reconciliation (cf. 6:1).
Tuesday, 2 Cor. 8:1-9
The beginning of Paul's discourse on the collection for Jerusalem. This ends in 9:15. In this introduction, Paul narrates to the Corinthians how the Christians in Macedonia though at that time were having problems still insisted on taking on the responsibility of passing the collection for the mother church in Jerusalem. Paul asks the Corinthians to do better than the Macedonians since they -- compared to this latter -- are in a better condition to make a collection.
Wednesday, 2 Cor. 9:6-11
Still on the collection. One can take these passages as a collection of motivations for generosity.
Thursday, 2 Cor. 11:1-11
Paul expresses here a concern that he has also voiced in his letter to the Galatians: that his community is falling for another gospel. The concern is due to the appearance of some "apostles" who've come with credentials and are drawing the Corinthians away from Paul. Against these credentials, Paul will demonstrate his own (cf. 11:21b ff)
Friday, 2 Cor. 11: 18.21-30
Paul presents the credentials that he has as an apostle. He had already shown that he is a a minister of the New Covenant (cf. 3:1-4:15) Here he goes directly to the question of whether or not he is "inferior" to others who come with the credentials supposedly from the mother Church.
Saturday, 2 Cor. 12:1-10
Paul's "foolishness" is due to the fact that he has allowed himself to be drawn to "boasting" about his credentials. Here he continues to present his credentials saying that if the Corinthians think him a fool, it is because of his love for them. The visionary whom Paul alludes to here is himself.
Posted by bible student at 1:20 PM
Categories: Liturgy

An Article On The Deity of Christ by Bruce Metzger

Bruce Metzger, the famous textual critic whom the "Ang Tamang Daan" INC-panelists like to cite in their favor has an article on the Divinity of Christ.

Posted by bible student at 10:40 AM
Categories: New Testament

The Comma Iohannaeum (The Johanine Comma)

The Johanine Comma is a gloss on 1 Jn. 5:7 that subsequently -- through the work of copyists -- found its way into the main text to make it read:

And there are Three who give testimony in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost. And these three are one. And there are three that give testimony on earth: the spirit and the water and the blood. And these three are one. (1 Jn. 5:7)

So-called "Non Trinitarian Churches" think that the inclusion of the gloss into the main text was done to bolster the doctrine of the Trinity. But is this the only explanation? The so-called "Trinitarian" doctrine cannot be traced to a date earlier than the year 800 AD, about the time when the gloss found its way into some manuscripts of the Latin version of 1 John. The Latin Church already believed in the Trinity even before this date. Second, the gloss can only be found in Latin manuscripts and never in any Greek manuscript prior to the edition published by Erasmus -- then still a Catholic Canons Regular of St. Augustine -- in 1520. The Greek churches therefore never had no recourse to a gloss for their belief in the Trinity. Both these facts can only mean one thing: the belief in the Trinity antedates the Johanine Comma.

Could there have been a motive for introducing the gloss into the main text of 1 Jn. 5:7 that would make it a conscious effort to pervert the Christian faith? Was there anything in the year 800 or thereabouts that made the Catholic Church want to "change" the belief in God? I don't think there is any except the desire of the so-called "non-Trinitarians" to blame the Catholic Church for their not being a part of it. The fact is, all so-called "Christian Churches" who are Non-Trinitarian were founded AFTER the Protestant churches have emerged. This can only mean one thing: the "non-Trinitarian" belief is but an attempt to "correct" a supposed impurity in Christian doctrine introduced by the Catholic Church. In other words, the "non-Trinitarian" belief is a modern teaching that arises from the need to make one's beliefs look original in the face of opposition and antagonism to Catholic belief.

Was the Johanine comma introduced so as to bolster belief in the Trinity? As explained above, no. One should rather say, that it was the belief in the Trinity already deeply rooted that made a copyist move a marginal gloss into the main text of 1 Jn. 5:7.

Note: Michael Sandoval and Ramil Parva of the program "Ang Tamang Daan" join the other "non-Trinitarian" Churches in making it look like that the Johanine Comma is the basis of the Trinitarian faith, which -- as we explained above -- is a preposterous claim.

Posted by biblista at 10:33 AM
Edited on: Monday, June 13, 2005 10:52 AM
Categories: New Testament

Saturday, June 11, 2005

I Believed, Thus I Spoke

Since then we have the same spirit of faith according to that which is written -- I believed therefore I spoke -- we too believe and therefore speak * knowing that the one who raised the Lord Jesus will raise us also with Jesus and place us with you in his presence. (2 Cor. 4:13-14)

In 2 Cor. 4:13, St. Paul quotes from a text of the psalms. Our modern translations usually associate the quotation with Psalm 116:10 "I believed, therefore I spoke" on the basis of the Hebrew Massoretic text. The LXX however has the same line as the first verse of Psalm 115 which appears thus:

1I believed therefore I spoke,
I was greatly afflicted.
2And so, in a moment of madness, I said
"Every man is a liar"

3What shall I give back to the Lord
for all that he has given me?
4I shall raise the cup of salvation
and I shall call on the Lord's name.*

6Precious before the Lord
is the death of his holy ones
7O Lord, I am your servant
I am your servant, the son of your handmaid.
You have broken my chains.

8To you will I offer a sacrifice of praise
9I will pay my vows to the Lord
before all his people
10in the halls of the house of the Lord
in your midst, O Jerusalem.

The LXX's Psalm 115 is -- as it stands -- the soul's expression of thanksgiving to God who has proven Himself faithful and liberating. In Psalm 114, the same soul had been asking to be saved from death. God responded, showing His favor to the suppliant, and therefore, Psalm 115 which is the psalmist's thanksgiving for a prayer that has been heard. Here, the psalmist takes note of the "death of His holy ones" which he realizes is precious in the eyes of the Lord. St. Paul, associates this "death" to the daily dying that the ministers of the new covenant undergo. The psalm ends with the assurance of victory, not defeat; the resounding voice of praise in the midst of the God's house. Hence St. Paul writes that inspite of the sufferings, "everything indeed is for you so that the grace bestowed (cf. Ps. 115:3, LXX) in abundance on more and more people may cause the thanksgiving to overflow for the glory of God. (2 Cor. 4:15)" In the light of this, what does "I believed, therefore I spoke" mean? It is clear that St. Paul understood the line as reflecting the situation of his apostolate. He proclaimed what he believed in, and so is afflicted, thus the experience of Christ's death in the apostolate.

Note: There is no mistake here. There is no verse 5 in the Critical edition I am using. The Massoretic text's Ps 116:1-9 is equivalent to the LXX Psalm 114 while Ps 116:10-19 is the LXX's Ps. 115.

Posted by bible student at 11:26 AM
Categories: New Testament

Thursday, June 09, 2005

The First Stage of Wisdom

Here is the P. Benedict XVI's reflection on Psalm 110 (111) given during the Wednesday audience. Here is a link to the NAB version of Psalm 110 (111)

Posted by bible student at 6:01 AM
Edited on: Thursday, June 09, 2005 6:08 AM
Categories: Old Testament

Wednesday, June 08, 2005

The Glory of the New Covenant

Today's selection from 2 Corinthians 3:4-11 is best seen within the context that is formed by 2 Cor. 3:1-5:15, which is Paul's argument about the competence to which he and his companions have been raised by God. This section is about his group's being ministers of the New Covenant. The contrast is here made with that of the Old Testament of which Moses was the minister. By contrasting the glory of both "dispensations", Paul shows that the new dispensation has a glory that far surpasses the old. The table below shows how compares and contrasts both covenants:

Verses Old Dispensation New Dispensation
v.7-8 written in stone in the Spirit
v.9 of condemnation of righteousness
v.10-11 with a fading splendour a permanent splendour

The contrast between the old and new dispensations have been given in v.3 "The letter kills, the Spirit gives life" and developed further here.

The "inferiority" of the Old Covenant, however, does not invalidate it. In the accompanying gospel reading from Matthew's "Sermon on the Mount", the Lord explicitly states that the letter of the Law will not pass away until all are fulfilled. In fact, he calls "great in the kingdom of heaven" those who teach that the Law must be obeyed. So how do we understand today's liturgical readings? Paul himself will provide the synthesis: the Law is fulfilled in Christ; in Him the baptized live the life of him who has died to the Law so as to live in the Spirit. This theme, of course, is developed not in the letters to the Corinthians in the letter about Christian freedom: the letter to the Galatians.

Posted by biblista at 9:17 AM
Edited on: Wednesday, June 08, 2005 6:56 PM
Categories: New Testament

Monday, June 06, 2005

Glory in 2 Cor. 3:4-4:18

Below are the instances of the word "glory" doxa that is also the theme of 2 Cor. 3:4-4:18. Text is from the Douay-Rheims version.

2Co 3:7 Now if the ministration of death, engraven with letters upon stones, was glorious (so that the children of Israel could not steadfastly behold the face of Moses, for the glory of his countenance), which is made void:

2Co 3:8 How shall not the ministration of the spirit be rather in glory?

2Co 3:9 For if the ministration of condemnation be glory, much more the ministration of justice aboundeth in glory.

2Co 3:10 For even that which was glorious in this part was not glorified by reason of the glory that excelleth.

2Co 3:11 For if that which is done away was glorious, much more that which remaineth is in glory.

2Co 3:18 But we all, beholding the glory of the Lord with open face, are transformed into the same image from glory to glory, as by the Spirit of the Lord.

2Co 4:4 In whom the god of this world hath blinded the minds of unbelievers, that the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God, should not shine unto them.

2Co 4:6 For God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God, in the face of Christ Jesus.

2Co 4:15 For all things are for your sakes: that the grace, abounding through many, may abound in thanksgiving unto the glory of God.

2Co 4:17 For that which is at present momentary and light of our tribulation worketh for us above measure, exceedingly an eternal weight of glory.

Posted by biblista at 10:03 PM
Categories: New Testament

St. Paul This Week

For the 10th week in Ordinary Time we have St. Paul's 2 Corinthians for the first reading and we stay with it through the 11th week. Below are the readings:

Monday, 2 Cor. 1:1-7
The beginning of the letter. Keywords are "comfort/consolation" on the one hand and "suffering, suffering with Christ, tribulations" on the other. The idea is that God comforts those who suffer for the sake of and in union with Christ so that these in turn can comfort others.
Tuesday,. 2 Cor. 1:18-22
Paul assures the Corinthians that he was not being insincere when he was prevented from coming to them. He is a man of his word, he explains, and this for one reason: because Jesus is the man of the Father's word, the Divine Affirmation which does not waver. The reading in fact presents Paul's words about Jesus being God's "Yes" to man, a "Yes" that never changes to "No."
Wednesday, 2 Cor. 3:4-11
Paul describes the new covenant and its superiority over the old one in terms of the glory that shown on the face of Moses. This theme of "glory" goes through to the reading on Friday. Here he speaks of the glory that shown on Moses' face, a glory however that fades. The allussion is to Exodus 34:29-35 where the glory of God was reflected on Moses' skin.
Thursday, 2 Cor. 3:15-4:1,3-6
Why can't the Jews discover Christ in the Law of Moses? The answer that Paul gives is clear: because Moses' glory required that a veil be put on his face (cf. Ex. 34:33.35). Not so for the Christians who contemplate the glory of the Lord with their faces unveiled.
Friday, 2 Cor. 4:7-15
The privilege of being able to see the glory of God shining on the face of Jesus is a treasure. Such a treasure however is held in earthen vessels to show that the privilege comes from God, not from men. So the apostle's mortality is exposed in persecution and hardship, showing in his body the death of the Lord so that it can become life for the Christian community. (See also 4:16)
Saturday (Feast of St. Barnabas)

From Monday to Friday then, there would be a kind of continuous reading of 2 Corinthians. It will be broken on Saturday to make way for the selections of readings for the feast of St. Barnabas.

Posted by biblista at 9:46 PM
Categories: Liturgy, New Testament

Sunday, June 05, 2005

The Call of Matthew

Consider this an update of a previous blog on the same topic.

The account of the call of Matthew is intentionally set within the perspective of a pronouncement story where Jesus' attitude towards sinners are brought into focus. Publicans like Matthew were considered to be beyond redemption in Jesus' time. For one, they were considered enemies of the people. The fact that they collect taxes for the Empire makes them collaborators with the enemy. Second, they can never get themselves "cleaned" since the temple will not accept their money. Hence, they are perpetually unclean, that is, unfit to join the people of God in worship. When Jesus calls Matthew to join his group, he actually gives signals to everyone that the idea of clean-unclean/holy-unholy heretofore seen as undergirding the whole religious system of the Jews is not recognized by him. It is within this attitude towards religion that Jesus saying about publicans and prostitutes getting into the kingdom of heaven ahead of the Pharisees must be understood. Having said that let me go to a second point...

When the religious leaders of the Jews object to Jesus hobnobbing with publicans and "sinners" (=the prostitutes) they were objecting to the fact that Jesus -- an apparent populist religious leader -- is allowing himself to be rendered ritually unclean, and therefore incapable of presenting himself before God in His temple. To them, Jesus replies "Learn what this means: It is mercy I want, not sacrifice."

"It is mercy I want, not sacrifice." The words are from the Septuagint version of Hosea 6:6. Some contemporary bible translations would render the pluri-nuanced Hebrew hsd with "fidelity" "love", or even "piety". Here, the King James Version follows the Septuagint in translating the word as "mercy." The Greek eleoV  eleos in fact connotes, like hsd the idea of kindness required by God of men (Mt. 9:13, 23:3). In Mt. 18:33, one finds this interesting usage of the word: Should you not have pitied... as I pitied you mercy? This example simply shows that in the English language, eleoV can have different nuances with the root meaning "kindness, mercy."

The context of the passage quoted by Jesus in the Matthaean narrative is that of a prophetic protest against the insincerity of the Israel before Yahweh:

What can I do with you, Ephraim?
What can I do with you, Judah?
Your piety (=hsdkm) is like a morning cloud,
like the dew that early passes away.
For it is love (hsd) that I desire, not sacrifice,
and knowledge of God rather than holocausts.

Religion is not primarily about sacrifices and offerings -- a theme that the prophets constantly harped on. It is about fidelity to God as expressed in a life obedient to the commandment as summarized in the words "Love God above all; love your neighbor as yourself. (cf. Mk 12:30-31; Matthew 22:38-39). So when Jesus tells the Pharisees to study the meaning of Hosea 6:6, he was actually telling them that the current attitude towards people like the publicans and prostitutes and the religious system that alienates them does not reflect a real knowledge of God.

Posted by bible student at 2:18 AM
Edited on: Sunday, June 05, 2005 2:46 AM
Categories: New Testament

Friday, June 03, 2005


Biblenotes is a website dedicated to the Bible. Specifically, it wishes to present summaries of each of the books of the Bible for easy reference. The site is non-Catholic and the summaries presented are sometimes good sometimes not at all. It is however a website-in-the-making and it promises a lot. Check it out.

Posted by malcolm_x at 11:23 AM
Categories: Site Review

The Heart Of Jesus Broken For Us

From today's Office of the Readings, a selection from St. Bonaventure (1221-1274):

It was a divine decree that permitted one of the soldiers to open his sacred side with a lance. This was done so that the Church might be formed from the side of Christ as he slept the sleep of death on the cross, and so that the Scripture might be fulfilled: ‘They shall look on him whom they pierced’. The blood and water which poured out at that moment were the price of our salvation. Flowing from the secret abyss of our Lord’s heart as from a fountain, this stream gave the sacraments of the Church the power to confer the life of grace, while for those already living in Christ it became a spring of living water welling up to life everlasting.

Posted by bible student at 9:44 AM
Categories: Liturgy

John's Hymn To Love

On the Feast of the Sacred Heart, the liturgy gives us a love feast. The second reading is actually taken from 1 Jn. 4:7-19 which is a passage that brings together in just one place what John's Gospel tells us about God's love in Christ. The passage echoes a lot of passages in John:

In 19 instances out of 11 verses, a form of the Greek for "love" (agaph agape) appears in vv. 7-19 which is an exhortation to love. The members of the Johanine community are to love because love is the nature of God (v.7); they who know Him show proof of this knowledge in loving (v.8). God showed that He is love in sending His Son (9-10) as expiation for sins. The Spirit that He gave, the Son whom the Father sent -- by these we know that God has loved us (vv. 13-16). To abide in God means living in love and letting love have perfection in our lives (v.17). True love drives out servile fear (v.18). We are able to love because of God's love (v.19)

In the midst of this exhortation we find this Trinitarian formula:

13. This is the proof that we remain in him
and he in us,
that he has given us a share in his Spirit.
14. We ourselves have seen and testify
that the Father sent his Son
as Saviour of the world.
15. Anyone who acknowledges that Jesus is the Son of God,
God remains in him and he in God.

The Spirit, the Father and the Son is God going out of Himself in love, and the disciple knows this and acknowledges this in the way he lives the life of love that -- in the words of Paul -- has been poured into him: because the love of God has been poured into our hearts by the Holy Spirit which has been given to us. (Rom. 5:5).

Here are some snippets from the passage that are worth reflecting on:

Posted by bible student at 8:47 AM
Categories: Liturgy, New Testament

The Prayer of Tobiah and Sarah

Here is a prayer that newly weds can pray on wedding night:

Blessed are you, O God of our fathers;
praised be your name forever and ever.
Let the heavens and all your creation
praise you forever.

You made Adam and you gave him his wife Eve
to be his help and support;
and from these two the human race descended.
You said, `It is not good for the man to be alone;
let us make him a partner like himself.'

Now, Lord, you know that I take this wife of mine
not because of lust,
but for a noble purpose.
Call down your mercy on me and on her,
and allow us to live together to a happy old age."

The passage is taken from Tobit 8:5-7. Tobias has just redeemed Sara, Raguel's daughter, by way of levirate marriage. The prayer is Jewish but it may as well be used by Christians.

The prayer can be divided into three parts. The opening blessing to God is characteristic of the berakah. "Baruk Adonay" is the normal beginning of a berakah -- "Blessed be the Lord." This is the "upward" motion of the prayer. Then the prayer moves to the remembrance of an action of God, in this case, the first marriage between Man and Woman, Adam and Eve. Tobias then professes the purity of his intention in marrying Sarah. He married her out of a "noble purpose," he proclaims. The Jerusalem Bible translates this phrase as "singleness of heart". The Septuagint has ep alhtheiaV, literally "on account of the true" which perhaps is the reason why the NAB reads "noble purpose". "Singleness of heart" may be the better translation since ep alhtheiaV is contrasted with the phrase for "lustful desire (dia porneian)." In any case, Tobias professes a pure motive for wedding Sarah and asks from God one thing: that he and Sarah grow old together.

"Grow to a happy old age" saith Tobias. How many do you think still want this for their marriage?

Posted by bible student at 5:17 AM
Edited on: Friday, June 03, 2005 5:27 AM
Categories: Devotional, Old Testament

2nd Edition of Bible Notes

As already announced at AgustinongPinoy even Bible Notes will have to be reduced to an HTML format. Fortunately, we don't have the same problems as Blogs-AgustinongPinoy. Bible Notes has always been a one-blog-site, unlike the old AgustinongPinoy which ran on a multi-blog software (B2Evolution). Because of this, Bible Notes wouldn't that be difficult to get used to. Even given the limitations of Thingamablog (i.e., lack of comments and trackbacks), we find no problem going on with our bible blogs. After all, no one comments or trackbacks.

Perhaps this change will be beneficial for the less-known Otium Sanctum which contains longer and more technical blogs. Bible Notes has always been the kind of Bible blogs no one really reads. But hey, who's complaining! But our work must go on, in season or out, whether there are readers or none, in the hope that some search engine would grab our content and one day present it to some student of the bible spending some time at Google. The old Bible Notes are still available here, however, with lots of articles for your perusal.

Posted by biblista at 3:43 AM
Categories: Weblogs