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Posts Tagged ‘salvation history’

“Annunciazione” by Pietro Perugino, ca 1489

We break from our Lenten fast to keep the Solemnity of the Annunciation, when Gabriel delivered God’s message to Mary and she said yes

 Visit Deacon Jim‘s weblog, Servant of the Word, for today’s liturgy and homily

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Today I bent the truth to be kind, and I have no regret, for I am far surer of what is kind than I am of what is true.  ~Robert Brault

But above all, my brothers, do not swear, either by heaven or by earth or with any other oath, but let your “Yes” mean “Yes” and your “No” mean “No,” that you may not incur condemnation. James 5:12

“Again you have heard that it was said to your ancestors, ‘Do not take a false oath, but make good to the Lord all that you vow.’ But I say to you, do not swear at all; not by heaven, for it is God’s throne; nor by the earth, for it is his footstool; nor by Jerusalem, for it is the city of the great King. Do not swear by your head, for you cannot make a single hair white or black. Let your ‘Yes’ mean ‘Yes,’ and your ‘No’ mean ‘No.’ Anything more is from the evil one.  Matthew 5:33-37

A day ago,  my best friend told me a lie.  (Well, more accurately, told me a partial truth in a misleading way so that I would draw a conclusion that was not true.) Partly to be kind to me, partly because telling the whole truth would have demanded courage.  I admit that I am very upset by this.  Although I appreciate my friend’s position, I am extremely disappointed.  My question to my fellow Catholics and Christians:

Is a lie ever justified? 

Here are my thoughts:  In discussing whether we can justifiably sin in order to accomplish what we believe is good (the ends justifying the means), I once told a colleague that God doesn’t use evil to work His plan, although in His mercy, He often allows for good to overcome the bad from our sinful decisions.  After much thought, the colleague returned with this retort:  God used Pontius Pilate in His salvation plan.

The obvious answer to that is, who wants to be Pontius Pilate? or Judas?  or the Sanhedrin?  Sure, their acts were instrumental in furthering God’s plan for our salvation but come on, I don’t think they had many graces flowing from their act, do you?

I really would like your heartfelt (and truthful!) responses to this question.

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I had a comment from Russ in response to More on ‘The Problem of Authority’ — Everyone is Pope.   I attempted to answer him within the comments section but I got a bit carried away.  Here then is Russ’ question and my answer. 

Prior to the creation of the church was the nation of Israel. God saved this nation from slavery and brought them into the Promised Land. He gave the Old Testament including the 10 commandments. He told them that He had caved them on the palm of His hand and that even if a mother would forsake her own child, He would never forsake them.

Why then did Jesus have so many problems with the leaders of the Jews? Why did the Jews crucify Him? They had His word, the Bible, even as the church has had His word.

 

Hi Russ,

I am not sure what exactly you are asking, so bear with me. 

The Israelites were indeed the Chosen People of God, because their forefather (and ours) Abraham rightly served the one true God.  There was no nation of Israel at the time of Christ coming: the lands of the Jews had been conquered and subjugated by a series of invaders, principally and lastly, the Roman Empire.  It was the census of Caesar that forced Joseph and Mary to travel to Bethlehem where Jesus was born in a stable.  However, God had not forsaken His chosen people, the Jews:  to them He sent the Messiah, Christ, His Son in fulfillment of His promise within holy scripture. 

There was no Bible at the time Jesus was born.  The book that we now know as “the Bible” is in fact, collected scripture and holy writing that the Church (the Catholic Church) collected through the guidance of the Holy Spirit.  This included the Septuagint (original writings of the Jewish people including the Torah and others in the same form they were in prior to the re-writing of Jewish scripture in the first century after Christ’s death).  The Septuagint would have been Scripture as Jesus and the Apostles knew it.  To this, the Church added the four Gospel accounts, the Acts of the Apostles and the epistles (letters) as well as the prophetic writing which came to be identified with John (Revelation).  These were determined by the early Church fathers, again with guidance of the Holy Spirit, to be the infallible Word of God.

The reason that the Church decided to collect the writings into a big book was because there were alot of writings floating around, all claiming to be inspired scripture, and in the name of Jesus and most of it was misguided and in some cases, out and out heresy.  By the 4th century, (400a.d.), the canon of the Bible was confirmed by the Catholic Church, and it remained intact until Martin Luther some 1100 years later removed seven OT books (and four books of the NT which were later put back) and replaced the historical Septuagint with the drastically altered post-Jesus Jewish texts, establishing a Protestant Bible which remains less complete than the original Bible that the Church still uses. 

Back to Jesus.  His problem with the Jews was the same problem faced throughout the stories of the Old Testament (Hebrew Scripture).  That is, faithlessness, hypocrisy, and a perversion of God’s laws to suit mankind.  These characteristics are not unique to the Jews; indeed, all mankind suffers from these flaws.  Jesus came to show us another way.  The one way.

Jesus was sent to establish a new agreement between God and His People.  In reading the Old Testament in light of the saving truth of Christ, we can see that Scripture is, in fact, a history of the salvation plan that God had established to redeem us from the Fall.  Everything leading up to Christ’s resurrection can be seen to be part of this plan:  even Caesar declaring that all the peoples of the Empire be enrolled thereby sending Mary and Joseph on their journey, worked to accomplish His plan:  Jesus was born in the City of David, the city of the king, in the most humble of circumstances.  God’s plan was nothing short of the redemption of all of mankind.  As the Gospel of John makes clear, God gave His only Son out of love for not only His people, but for all the world.  And see?  The first people who were privileged to be offered this new covenant were the Jews.  Jesus was a Jew, as were Mary, Joseph and all the Apostles, as well as Paul the great evangelist.  The Jews were chosen by God to have this great honor, and many Jews became Christ followers, spreading His Church here on earth.  The Catholic Church even today, is a heavily Jewish church because we were the Church founded by a Jew (Jesus) and led by Jews who accepted Jesus as Lord and Savior.  The Jewish Christians and their Gentile converts went out evangelizing the world and they did a remarkable job spreading the Gospel throughout the Western world in a relatively short time.  With the aid of the Holy Spirit.

 Unfortunately, as you point out, not everyone who heard believed.  Jesus’ teachings were hard.  He often warned the apostles that they would be hated, and that He Himself would be put to death.  He didn’t come to make things easy, He came to shake things up.  This is probably why the Jewish leadership especially disliked Jesus.  Established leaders tend to dislike agitators.  Jesus was agitating alright!  He preached a new kingdom.  This made them nervous, and rightly so:  the new covenant completely replaced the prior agreements made with Abraham, Noah, Moses…Keep in mind, Jesus came not to replace the law, but to fulfill it.  This He did through His saving act of cruxification and His resurrection. 

I do not know why some people hear the good news about Jesus and still reject Him.  I do not know why in Jesus’ own time, those who actually heard Jesus teach still rejected Him.  Can you imagine sitting in Christ’s presence?  what that must have been like?  the Jews had this privilege!  I can’t imagine rejecting His teachings, but it’s easy to say that now.  The fact is that then as now, many do not or cannot accept His words.  The Apostle John makes clear in his Gospel that even those who had been traveling with Him for months, listening to Him preach were not saved: many left Him when it came to the teachings of the necessity of eating His body and drinking His blood, saying “this is too hard.”  Thankfully, the Apostles and many, many others stayed because as Peter rightly said, “Where would we go, Lord?  You have the words of eternal life.”  So many Jews came to be believers and were thereby saved.  And remember that some who were saved were among the Jewish leadership;  Nicodemus and Joseph of Arimathea are noted within the Gospels as having been followers of Jesus up to and beyond His death.  But yes…sadly, many who heard turned away.

What about today, when we have been blessed with the easy printing of entire Bibles in hundreds of translations, beautifully bound, left in hotels and motels, given away freely by churches, ministries, missions?  Not much has changed.  We see that there are those who have heard but have rejected Jesus.  There are those who grew up in churches, who turned their back on Him.  There are even those who sit every Sunday in a church somewhere and whose hearts are hardened to His message.  I myself rejected Jesus for many years, living a life of sin and selfishness and telling myself that I was a good person.  What I was, was young, defiant, selfish, self-destructive, obstinate and deaf.   But…God redeemed those messes.  So back to your question–would the Jews of Jesus time accept Him even if they had copies of His words?  Very doubtful.  If God’s Word incarnate cannot convince them, I doubt a book of writings would.  Jesus already knew this:  “many are called but few are chosen.”

I guess that’s why I dabble in the writing of this weblog, Russ.  I am not a theologian, philosopher, teacher or in any way able to speak for the Church.  I hope I haven’t messed up some history or mislead you, and I trust my more learned readers would correct me if I have.  But I truly love God.  He loved me even when I was unloveable and ungrateful and thoughtless.  He waited very patiently for me to return home.  When I think of all the Jesus has done for me and for you, and for the Jews, and the Gentiles, those long dead, and those not yet born, I am overwhelmed with joy, gratitude and awe.  I write about Jesus because He takes up a lot of my thoughts and I needed to write some of those thoughts down.  I never thought anyone would read them.

Thanks for letting me share with you.  God be with you.

LuceMichael

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