Category Archives: Christianity

Apologetic Mondays: Call No Man Father

Objection:
Catholics disobey Christ when they call priests “fathers”.

Argument:
It is an unbiblical practice that Jesus forbade in Matthew 23:9:

“Call no man your father on earth, for you have one Father, who is in heaven”

Response:

In Matthew 23:9 Jesus is using rabbinic hyperbole to drive a point. Rabbinic hyperbole is the use of exaggerated terms to make a point. For example, in Matthew 5:29-30, Jesus says if your right hand or eye offends you, cut it off and pluck it out. Certainly, no reasonable person would interpret this passage as Jesus commanding us to cut our hand and pluck our eye. Jesus is emphasizing the severity of sin through the use of hyperbole*.

In the same way in Matthew 23:8-10 Jesus is not prohibiting us to call our teachers, teacher, our fathers, father and our leaders, leader, but rather he is using rabbinic hyperbole to drive the point that the Pharisees have forgotten their proper place in the drama of salvation. The context of Mathew 23 makes this clear. In later verses, Jesus makes a sharp indictment against the hypocrisy of the scribes and Pharisees:

“Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, you hypocrites. You pay tithesof mint and dill and cummin, and have neglected the weightier things of the law: judgment and mercy and fidelity. [But] these you should have done, without neglecting the others.

-Matthew 23:23

Proponents of this objection would respond that what Jesus prohibited was to call no man your spiritual father. However, in the light of the scriptures this interpretation of Matthew 23:9 is problematic:

Jesus himself calls Abraham not only as the physical father of the Jews, but also as his spiritual father:

Abraham your father rejoiced to see my day; he saw it and was glad.

-John 8:56

As did Stephen in Act 7:2, The God of glory appeared to our father Abraham. Paul refers to Isaac as our father in Romans 9:10. Moreover, Paul, calls himself a spiritual father:

I am writing you this not to shame you, but to admonish you as my beloved children. Even if you should have countless guides to Christ, yet you do not have many fathers, for I became your father in Christ Jesus through the gospel. Therefore, I urge you, be imitators of me.

-1 Corinthian 4:14-16

Peter, Paul and John all at one point or another framed their relationship with their disciples as that of a parental relationship:

She who is at Babylon, who is likewise chosen, sends you greetings; and so does my son Mark”

-Peter 5:13

“My little children, I am writing this to you so that you may not sin; but if any one does sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous”

-1 John 2:1

Conclusion:

Given that these authors were writing under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit it is hard to presuppose that they were disobeying Christ, when they refer to themselves as fathers. Thus, the biblical evidence and the context of Matthew 23:9 reasonably argues against its literal interpretation. Orthodox, Anglican and Lutheran interpret Matthew 23:9 in the same light as the Catholic Church does and do call their priests fathers with the implied understanding that there is only but one Father that gives life, namely God the Father.

References and Resources:

Catholic Resources:

*Steve Ray

http://www.catholic-convert.com/wp-content/uploads/Documents/CallNoManFather.pdf

Catholic Answers: Call no man Father?

https://www.catholic.com/tract/call-no-man-father

Lutheran resources:

Rev. James P. Peterson

http://lutheranreformission.blogspot.com/2013/10/should-pastors-be-called-father.html

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Merry Christmas

 

From Bishop Barron Christmas Reflection:

The Nativity of the Lord (Christmas)

John 1:1-18

Friends, our Christmas day Gospel focuses on the Word made flesh. Ancient Jewish thought found all sorts of sophisticated ways to say that God was active in the world without ceasing to be transcendent over it. Above all, they spoke of God’s holy Word, a Word by which all things were made.

Now listen to the Prologue to John’s Gospel: “In the beginning was the Word…” He’s writing a new Genesis—and he is drawing our attention to this word of God, this powerful, musical breath of God that makes and governs the universe and speaks through the prophets, this Word that is the same as God.

And this Word became flesh. The Greek term means “pitched his tent among us,” the very phrase used of God’s Wisdom inhabiting the Temple in Jerusalem. “And we saw his glory…and he was full of grace and truth.” Glory, for he is beautiful to look on; truth, for he is the new Law. All the ways that the Old Testament spoke of God’s involvement with the world come together in this description of Jesus Christ. He is the powerful Word that will not return without accomplishing his purpose.

Our Lady of Guadalupe

Today Catholic around the world celebrate the feast day of Our Lady of Guadalupe “La Morena” to celebrate the apparitions of the Blessed Virgin Mary to  a Mexican peasant named Juan Diego in 1531.

What strikes me as extraordinary about these apparitions is that they occured while hundreds of thousands Europeans were abandoning the faith of their fathers.  Whereas in Europe protestantism was creating disunity and confusion amongst Christians, Our Lady of Guadalupe was pointing millions and millions indigenous people towards Christ.

Coincidence? I think not.

I loved today’s  Bishop Barron reflection about this feast day:

Friends, today we celebrate the great feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe. What followed the apparition of Mary at Tepeyac is one of the most astounding chapters in the history of Christian evangelism.

Though Franciscan missionaries had been laboring in Mexico for twenty years, they had made little progress. But within ten years of the appearance of Our Lady of Guadalupe, practically the entire Mexican people, nine million strong, had converted to Christianity. La Morena had proved a more effective evangelist than St. Peter, St. Paul, St. Patrick, and St. Francis Xavier combined! And with that great national conversion, the Aztec practice of human sacrifice came to an end. She had done battle with fallen spirits and had won a culture-changing victory for the God of love.

The challenge for us who honor her today is to join the same fight. We must announce to our culture today the truth of the God of Israel, the God of Jesus Christ, the God of nonviolence and forgiving love. And we ought, like La Morena, to be bearers of Jesus to a world that needs him more than ever.

Bishop Robert Baron

Our Lady of Guadalupe pray for us!

Our Lady of Fatima 100 years on…

Today October 13, 2017 marks the 100 year anniversary of the “Miracle of the Sun ” at Fatima, Portugal. The miracle was witnessed by more than 70,000 spectators and observed up to 25 miles away by many people.  Eyewitness described it as:

“The sun, at one moment surrounded with scarlet flame, at another aureoled in yellow and deep purple, seemed to be in an exceedingly swift and whirling movement, at times appearing to be loosened from the sky and to be approaching the earth, strongly radiating heat.”

Dr. Domingos Pinto Coelho, writing for the Catholic newspaper Ordem.

“Looking at the sun, I noticed that everything was becoming darkened. I looked first at the nearest objects and then extended my glance further afield as far as the horizon. I saw everything had assumed an amethyst color. Objects around me, the sky and the atmosphere, were of the same color. Everything both near and far had changed, taking on the color of old yellow damask,”

José Maria de Almeida Garrett
Science professor from Coimbra, Portugal.

The miracle was a  sign for nonbelievers and a call for conversion towards Jesus Christ.  As a result many miracles and conversions were reported.

This is precisely what our Blessed Mother Mary and the saints always do: they always points towards Jesus!

Our Lady of Fatima Pray for Us!

Caleb

For more information visit:

Vatican: THE MESSAGE  OF FATIMA
EWTN: 100 Years of Fatima
Washington Post Article :The Virgin Mary promised three kids a miracle that 70,000 gathered to see: 

Three Hermits by Leo Tolstoy

The Three Hermits by Leo Tolstoy is a masterpiece in story telling. I am still  mesmerized and fascinated by the elegance and simplicity of its simple message of mercy and humility.

‘Three are ye, three are we, have mercy upon us.’ Indeed Lord have mercy on us!

Best,

Caleb

Three Hermits by Leo Tolstoy

‘And in praying use not vain repetitions, as the Gentiles do: for they think that they shall be heard for their much speaking. Be not therefore like unto them: for your Father knoweth what things ye have need of, before ye ask Him.’ — Matt. vi. 7, 8.

A BISHOP was sailing from Archangel to the Solovétsk Monastery; and on the same vessel were a number of pilgrims on their way to visit the shrines at that place. The voyage was a smooth one. The wind favourable, and the weather fair. The pilgrims lay on deck, eating, or sat in groups talking to one another. The Bishop, too, came on deck, and as he was pacing up and down, he noticed a group of men standing near the prow and listening to a fisherman who was pointing to the sea and telling them something. The Bishop stopped, and looked in the direction in which the man was pointing. He could see nothing however, but the sea glistening in the sunshine. He drew nearer to listen, but when the man saw him, he took off his cap and was silent. The rest of the people also took off their caps, and bowed.

‘Do not let me disturb you, friends,’ said the Bishop. ‘I came to hear what this good man was saying.’

‘The fisherman was telling us about the hermits,’ replied one, a tradesman, rather bolder than the rest.

‘What hermits?’ asked the Bishop, going to the side of the vessel and seating himself on a box. ‘Tell me about them. I should like to hear. What were you pointing at?’

‘Why, that little island you can just see over there,’ answered the man, pointing to a spot ahead and a little to the right. ‘That is the island where the hermits live for the salvation of their souls.’

‘Where is the island?’ asked the Bishop. ‘I see nothing.’

‘There, in the distance, if you will please look along my hand. Do you see that little cloud? Below it and a bit to the left, there is just a faint streak. That is the island.’

The Bishop looked carefully, but his unaccustomed eyes could make out nothing but the water shimmering in the sun.

‘I cannot see it,’ he said. ‘But who are the hermits that live there?’

‘They are holy men,’ answered the fisherman. ‘I had long heard tell of them, but never chanced to see them myself till the year before last.’

And the fisherman related how once, when he was out fishing, he had been stranded at night upon that island, not knowing where he was. In the morning, as he wandered about the island, he came across an earth hut, and met an old man standing near it. Presently two others came out, and after having fed him, and dried his things, they helped him mend his boat.

‘And what are they like?’ asked the Bishop.

‘One is a small man and his back is bent. He wears a priest’s cassock and is very old; he must be more than a hundred, I should say. He is so old that the white of his beard is taking a greenish tinge, but he is always smiling, and his face is as bright as an angel’s from heaven. The second is taller, but he also is very old. He wears tattered, peasant coat. His beard is broad, and of a yellowish grey colour. He is a strong man. Before I had time to help him, he turned my boat over as if it were only a pail. He too, is kindly and cheerful. The third is tall, and has a beard as white as snow and reaching to his knees. He is stern, with over-hanging eyebrows; and he wears nothing but a mat tied round his waist.’

‘And did they speak to you?’ asked the Bishop.

‘For the most part they did everything in silence and spoke but little even to one another. One of them would just give a glance, and the others would understand him. I asked the tallest whether they had lived there long. He frowned, and muttered something as if he were angry; but the oldest one took his hand and smiled, and then the tall one was quiet. The oldest one only said: “Have mercy upon us,” and smiled.’

While the fisherman was talking, the ship had drawn nearer to the island.

‘There, now you can see it plainly, if your Grace will please to look,’ said the tradesman, pointing with his hand.

The Bishop looked, and now he really saw a dark streak — which was the island. Having looked at it a while, he left the prow of the vessel, and going to the stern, asked the helmsman:

‘What island is that?’

‘That one,’ replied the man, ‘has no name. There are many such in this sea.’

‘Is it true that there are hermits who live there for the salvation of their souls?’

‘So it is said, your Grace, but I don’t know if it’s true. Fishermen say they have seen them; but of course they may only be spinning yarns.’

‘I should like to land on the island and see these men,’ said the Bishop. ‘How could I manage it?’

‘The ship cannot get close to the island,’ replied the helmsman, ‘but you might be rowed there in a boat. You had better speak to the captain.’

The captain was sent for and came.

‘I should like to see these hermits,’ said the Bishop. ‘Could I not be rowed ashore?’

The captain tried to dissuade him.

‘Of course it could be done,’ said he, ‘but we should lose much time. And if I might venture to say so to your Grace, the old men are not worth your pains. I have heard say that they are foolish old fellows, who understand nothing, and never speak a word, any more than the fish in the sea.’

‘I wish to see them,’ said the Bishop, ‘and I will pay you for your trouble and loss of time. Please let me have a boat.’

There was no help for it; so the order was given. The sailors trimmed the sails, the steersman put up the helm, and the ship’s course was set for the island. A chair was placed at the prow for the Bishop, and he sat there, looking ahead. The passengers all collected at the prow, and gazed at the island. Those who had the sharpest eyes could presently make out the rocks on it, and then a mud hut was seen. At last one man saw the hermits themselves. The captain brought a telescope and, after looking through it, handed it to the Bishop.

‘It’s right enough. There are three men standing on the shore. There, a little to the right of that big rock.’

The Bishop took the telescope, got it into position, and he saw the three men: a tall one, a shorter one, and one very small and bent, standing on the shore and holding each other by the hand.

The captain turned to the Bishop.

‘The vessel can get no nearer in than this, your Grace. If you wish to go ashore, we must ask you to go in the boat, while we anchor here.’

The cable was quickly let out, the anchor cast, and the sails furled. There was a jerk, and the vessel shook. Then a boat having been lowered, the oarsmen jumped in, and the Bishop descended the ladder and took his seat. The men pulled at their oars, and the boat moved rapidly towards the island. When they came within a stone’s throw they saw three old men: a tall one with only a mat tied round his waist: a shorter one in a tattered peasant coat, and a very old one bent with age and wearing an old cassock — all three standing hand in hand.

The oarsmen pulled in to the shore, and held on with the boathook while the Bishop got out.

The old men bowed to him, and he gave them his benediction, at which they bowed still lower. Then the Bishop began to speak to them.

‘I have heard,’ he said, ‘that you, godly men, live here saving your own souls, and praying to our Lord Christ for your fellow men. I, an unworthy servant of Christ, am called, by God’s mercy, to keep and teach His flock. I wished to see you, servants of God, and to do what I can to teach you, also.’

The old men looked at each other smiling, but remained silent.

‘Tell me,’ said the Bishop, ‘what you are doing to save your souls, and how you serve God on this island.’

The second hermit sighed, and looked at the oldest, the very ancient one. The latter smiled, and said:

‘We do not know how to serve God. We only serve and support ourselves, servant of God.’

‘But how do you pray to God?’ asked the Bishop.

‘We pray in this way,’ replied the hermit. ‘Three are ye, three are we, have mercy upon us.’

And when the old man said this, all three raised their eyes to heaven, and repeated:

‘Three are ye, three are we, have mercy upon us!’

The Bishop smiled.

‘You have evidently heard something about the Holy Trinity,’ said he. ‘But you do not pray aright. You have won my affection, godly men. I see you wish to please the Lord, but you do not know how to serve Him. That is not the way to pray; but listen to me, and I will teach you. I will teach you, not a way of my own, but the way in which God in the Holy Scriptures has commanded all men to pray to Him.’

And the Bishop began explaining to the hermits how God had revealed Himself to men; telling them of God the Father, and God the Son, and God the Holy Ghost.

‘God the Son came down on earth,’ said he, ‘to save men, and this is how He taught us all to pray. Listen and repeat after me: “Our Father.”’

And the first old man repeated after him, ‘Our Father,’ and the second said, ‘Our Father,’ and the third said, ‘Our Father.’

‘Which art in heaven,’ continued the Bishop.

The first hermit repeated, ‘Which art in heaven,’ but the second blundered over the words, and the tall hermit could not say them properly. His hair had grown over his mouth so that he could not speak plainly. The very old hermit, having no teeth, also mumbled indistinctly.

The Bishop repeated the words again, and the old men repeated them after him. The Bishop sat down on a stone, and the old men stood before him, watching his mouth, and repeating the words as he uttered them. And all day long the Bishop laboured, saying a word twenty, thirty, a hundred times over, and the old men repeated it after him. They blundered, and he corrected them, and made them begin again.

The Bishop did not leave off till he had taught them the whole of the Lord’s prayer so that they could not only repeat it after him, but could say it by themselves. The middle one was the first to know it, and to repeat the whole of it alone. The Bishop made him say it again and again, and at last the others could say it too.

It was getting dark, and the moon was appearing over the water, before the Bishop rose to return to the vessel. When he took leave of the old men, they all bowed down to the ground before him. He raised them, and kissed each of them, telling them to pray as he had taught them. Then he got into the boat and returned to the ship.

And as he sat in the boat and was rowed to the ship he could hear the three voices of the hermits loudly repeating the Lord’s prayer. As the boat drew near the vessel their voices could no longer be heard, but they could still be seen in the moonlight, standing as he had left them on the shore, the shortest in the middle, the tallest on the right, the middle one on the left. As soon as the Bishop had reached the vessel and got on board, the anchor was weighed and the sails unfurled. The wind filled them, and the ship sailed away, and the Bishop took a seat in the stern and watched the island they had left. For a time he could still see the hermits, but presently they disappeared from sight, though the island was still visible. At last it too vanished, and only the sea was to be seen, rippling in the moonlight.

The pilgrims lay down to sleep, and all was quiet on deck. The Bishop did not wish to sleep, but sat alone at the stern, gazing at the sea where the island was no longer visible, and thinking of the good old men. He thought how pleased they had been to learn the Lord’s prayer; and he thanked God for having sent him to teach and help such godly men.

So the Bishop sat, thinking, and gazing at the sea where the island had disappeared. And the moonlight flickered before his eyes, sparkling, now here, now there, upon the waves. Suddenly he saw something white and shining, on the bright path which the moon cast across the sea. Was it a seagull, or the little gleaming sail of some small boat? The Bishop fixed his eyes on it, wondering.

‘It must be a boat sailing after us,’ thought he ‘but it is overtaking us very rapidly. It was far, far away a minute ago, but now it is much nearer. It cannot be a boat, for I can see no sail; but whatever it may be, it is following us, and catching us up.’

And he could not make out what it was. Not a boat, nor a bird, nor a fish! It was too large for a man, and besides a man could not be out there in the midst of the sea. The Bishop rose, and said to the helmsman:

‘Look there, what is that, my friend? What is it?’ the Bishop repeated, though he could now see plainly what it was — the three hermits running upon the water, all gleaming white, their grey beards shining, and approaching the ship as quickly as though it were not morning.

The steersman looked and let go the helm in terror.

‘Oh Lord! The hermits are running after us on the water as though it were dry land!’

The passengers hearing him, jumped up, and crowded to the stern. They saw the hermits coming along hand in hand, and the two outer ones beckoning the ship to stop. All three were gliding along upon the water without moving their feet. Before the ship could be stopped, the hermits had reached it, and raising their heads, all three as with one voice, began to say:

‘We have forgotten your teaching, servant of God. As long as we kept repeating it we remembered, but when we stopped saying it for a time, a word dropped out, and now it has all gone to pieces. We can remember nothing of it. Teach us again.’

The Bishop crossed himself, and leaning over the ship’s side, said:

‘Your own prayer will reach the Lord, men of God. It is not for me to teach you. Pray for us sinners.

And the Bishop bowed low before the old men; and they turned and went back across the sea. And a light shone until daybreak on the spot where they were lost to sight.

Happy Epiphany of the Lord

Hi everyone and Merry Christmas!

I hope everyone had a wonderful New Year! Today we celebrate the Epiphany of the Lord. I will like to share an excerpt from today’s gospel reading along with a quote from St. John Chrysostom, an early Patristic father of the Church, reflecting on the epiphany.

epiphany-of-the-lord-largest

 

A reflection on today’s reading by St. John Chrysostom:

“And behold, the star that they had seen at its rising preceded them,
until it came and stopped over the place where the child was.
They were overjoyed at seeing the star,
and on entering the house
they saw the child with Mary his mother.
They prostrated themselves and did him homage.
Then they opened their treasures
and offered him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh”.

Matthew 2:10-12

st-john-chrysostom1

“If the Magi had come in search of an earthly King, they would have been disconcerted at finding that they had taken the trouble to come such a long way for nothing. Consequently they would have neither adored nor offered gifts. But since they sought a heavenly King, though they found in Him no signs of royal pre-eminence, yet, content with the testimony of the star alone, they adored: for they saw a man, and they acknowledged God.”

Saint John Chrysostom

Cheers,

Caleb

 

A Christmas Eve Story about Jesus and St. Jerome

I will love to share this story from St. Jerome which reminds us the real reason why the Word became flesh and why Christmas is such a wonderful time of the year:

800px-saint_jerome_writing-caravaggio_1605-6

Taken from  from Sister Mary Fidelis’ post at desertnuns.com:

After many years spent in Jerusalem translating the Word of God, Jerome finished his grand project just days before Christmas.  To celebrate his accomplishment, Jerome decided to spend Christmas Eve in nearby Bethlehem, in one of the many grottoes that dot the countryside. According to the ancient account, sometime around midnight Jesus appeared to him, saying “Jerome, what will you give me for my birthday?”

Immediately and enthusiastically, Jerome declared, “Lord, I give you my translation of your word.” But instead of congratulating him, Jesus simply replied, “No, Jerome, that is not what I want.”

Jerome was speechless. Then he began to complain and remonstrate with Jesus, asking why he had let him go on for forty years, far from home, laboring at something other than what God most wanted from him. But Jesus remained silent. Jerome started suggesting other ways of honoring Jesus’ birthday – fasting, becoming a hermit, giving his possessions to the poor. To each of these Jesus replied, “No. Jerome. That is not what I want most.”

Finally, Jerome protested, “Then you tell me, Lord. Tell me what would give you the most joy on your birthday, and you shall have it.

“Do you promise, Jerome?”
“Yes, Lord, anything at all.”
Jesus replied, “Give me your sins…


I wish everyone a Merry, Merry Christmas full of blessing and love.

God bless y’all!

Caleb