Category Archives: God

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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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!

What makes you happy?


This is one of the most important questions there are. Happiness is what every human being seeks. We want to be happy, no matter how young or old, or the color of your skin, level of education, race, or sex, the fact it is that happiness is at the center of the human heart. In the words of philosopher Peter Kreeft:

We don’t want to be happy because we think  it will lead us to something else, we seek other things because we think that they will make us happy”.

Happiness is not a means to an end. Happiness is an end in itself, is what we all ultimately seek, in everything we do: we want to be happy.

What is happiness?

If happiness is an end in itself, then what is happiness? Happiness is not a feeling. Feelings come and go, they can’t be controlled. Otherwise, why not feel happy all the time? True happiness on the other hand, is independent of how you feel.  The “feeling of happiness” is a side effect, not its cause. Happiness is rather something else, something deeper. Happiness is the fulfillment of your inner most longing, which is to love and to be loved.

The saints are great examples, because they are all lovers. They completely empty themselves for the sake of the other.  Look at Mother Theresa, for most of her life she didn’t feel that “feeling of happiness” quite the opposite, she experienced no consolation or “feeling of happiness”, but she was truly happy.  If you see her working with the poor, you can see the joy in her eyes. She was happy, because she was fulfilling her deepest longing: she was a lover of souls.

We are happy, when we fulfill that longing, that tug in our hearts, that calls us towards real and concrete LOVE.  In the Christian anthropology, man was created in the image of God, and through revelation we know that God is Love. Thereby, love is in the fabric of who we are.

How can we be happy?

In one of the most moving and intimate passages in the bible, Jesus, tells us:

As the Father loves me, so I also love you. Remain in my love. If you keep my commandments, you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and remain in his love.“I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and your joy may be complete.

This takes everything that we think about happiness and turns it upside down! We tend to associate happiness with doing whatever we want, however we want it, whenever we want it, but Christ tells us that true happiness can be found by following God’s commandments.  That’s the whole point of the moral law,  the commandments, far from being a restrictive set of rules, that makes us less free, they truly set us free to love each other, by seeking the good. Furthermore, they allow us to remain in His Love and because His Love is Perfect, it is the only thing in the world that is big enough to fill your heart and make you truly happy.

Anything else will simply fall short!

Caleb

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.

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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

Mental Sufferings of Our Lord in His Passion by Cardinal John Henry Newman

crucifixion

EVERY passage in the history of our Lord and Saviour is of unfathomable depth, and affords inexhaustible matter of contemplation. All that concerns Him is infinite, and what we first discern is but the surface of that which begins and ends in eternity. It would be presumptuous for any one short of saints and doctors to attempt to comment on His words and deeds, except in the way of meditation; but meditation and mental prayer are so much a duty in all who wish to cherish true faith and love towards Him, that it may be allowed us, my brethren, under the guidance of holy men who have gone before us, to dwell and enlarge upon what otherwise would more fitly be adored than scrutinised. And certain times of the year, this especially [Note], call upon us to consider, as closely and minutely as we can, even the more sacred portions of the Gospel history. I would rather be thought feeble or officious in my treatment of them, than wanting to the Season; and so I now proceed because the religious usage of the Church requires it, {324} and though any individual preacher may well shrink from it, to direct your thoughts to a subject, especially suitable now, and about which many of us perhaps think very little, the sufferings which our Lord endured in His innocent and sinless soul.

To continue reading click here.

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“O Heart of Jesus, all Love, I offer Thee these humble prayers for myself, and for all those who unite themselves with me in Spirit to adore Thee. O holiest Heart of Jesus most lovely, I intend to renew and to offer to Thee these acts of adoration and these prayers, for myself a wretched sinner, and for all those who are associated with me in Thy adoration, through all moments while I breathe, even to the end of my life. I recommend to Thee, O my Jesus, Holy Church, Thy dear spouse and our true Mother, all just souls and all poor sinners, the afflicted, the dying, and all mankind. Let not Thy Blood be shed for them in vain. Finally, deign to apply it in relief of the souls in Purgatory, of those in particular who have practised in the course of their life this holy devotion of adoring Thee.”

Blessed Cardinal John Henry Newman
Discourse 16

A Meditation on Baptism by St. Basil the Great

Today’s office of the reading shines a light on the importance of baptism.

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“When mankind was estranged from him by disobedience, God our Savior made a plan for raising us from our fall and restoring us to friendship with himself”.

St. Basil, bishop

By one death and resurrection the world was saved

When mankind was estranged from him by disobedience, God our Savior made a plan for raising us from our fall and restoring us to friendship with himself. According to this plan Christ came in the flesh, he showed us the gospel way of life, he suffered, died on the cross, was buried and rose from the dead. He did this so that we could be saved by imitation of him, and recover our original status as sons of God by adoption.

“To attain holiness, then, we must not only pattern our lives on Christ’s by being gentle, humble and patient, we must also imitate him in his death. 

… we have to begin a new life, and we cannot do so until our previous life has been brought to an end”.

To attain holiness, then, we must not only pattern our lives on Christ’s by being gentle, humble and patient, we must also imitate him in his death. Taking Christ for his model, Paul said that he wanted to become like him in his death in the hope that he too would be raised from death to life.

We imitate Christ’s death by being buried with him in baptism. If we ask what this kind of burial means and what benefit we may hope to derive from it, it means first of all making a complete break with our former way of life, and our Lord himself said that this cannot be done unless a man is born again. In other words, we have to begin a new life, and we cannot do so until our previous life has been brought to an end. When runners reach the turning point on a racecourse, they have to pause briefly before they can go back in the opposite direction. So also when we wish to reverse the direction of our lives there must be a pause, or a death, to mark the end of one life and the beginning of another.

“We receive this saving baptism only once because there was only one death and one resurrection for the salvation of the world, and baptism is its symbol”.

Our descent into hell takes place when we imitate the burial of Christ by our baptism. The bodies of the baptized are in a sense buried in the water as a symbol of their renunciation of the sins of their unregenerate nature. As the Apostle says: The circumcision you have undergone is not an operation performed by human hands, but the complete stripping away of your unregenerate nature. This is the circumcision that Christ gave us, and it is accomplished by our burial with him in baptism. Baptism cleanses the soul from the pollution of worldly thoughts and inclinations: You will wash me, says the psalmist, and I shall be whiter than snow. We receive this saving baptism only once because there was only one death and one resurrection for the salvation of the world, and baptism is its symbol.

From the book On the Holy Spirit by Saint Basil, bishop

RESPONSORY Romans 6:3, 5, 4

By being baptized into Christ Jesus, we have all shared in his death.
— We became one with him by dying as he did; therefore we shall be one with him also in rising to new life.

By our baptism we were buried with him; we shared in his death.
— We became one with him by dying as he did; therefore we shall be one with him also in rising to new life.

CONCLUDING PRAYER

Almighty ever-living God,
grant us so to celebrate
the mysteries of the Lord’s Passion
that we may merit to receive your pardon.
Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever.

— Amen.

ACCLAMATION (only added when praying in community)

Let us praise the Lord.

— And give him thanks.

From the Office of the Reading for Holy Tuesday


My prayers and thoughts for the Belgium people in this hour of need.

Here is my little tribute to the City of Bruges:

Bruges

Boys ridding through streets
chasing smiles

buzzing and whistling
imbuing life

curious expectations
dancing and playing

with the lingering morning dew
as the sun affirms the skies.

Caleb
GTG

May the joy and hope of a safe future return to the streets of Belgium.

-Godseed