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Alison W Bible Faith Formation Ink Slingers Mass Sacred Scripture

Scripture and the Beauty of Understanding

I think we can get into dangerous waters very quickly when we try to interpret things on our own. It’s like misunderstanding song lyrics. We sing what we think we hear, so it makes sense in our mind. Misunderstanding words changes the entire meaning. What if the words to “Bad Moon Rising” were actually “there’s a bathroom on the right”?

I’ve found this to be the case with scripture sometimes and for the most part I have misunderstood in a way that left me feeling a degree of despair.

A recent gospel reading is a good example of that. Matthew 22:1-14, starts with Jesus speaking in parables. The story is of a king that prepares a wedding feast. It starts out a lovely invitation to the wedding feast. Invitations are sent via the servants, but many people are not interested in going. Then the king extends another invitation to many more people. These people are much too busy and some are hurting the king’s servants. The king is so angry and destroys some of these people. Finally the king sent out for everyone to be invited. Good and bad, whoever will come to fill the room. I always like this part of the story. Everyone is welcome no matter what. Finally the king arrives to find a man without a wedding garment. The king throws this person out, and more than that he is “cast … out into the darkness outside, where there will be wailing and grinding of teeth.”

I’ve always felt so bad for that man without a garment. What if he couldn’t afford one? What if he let someone borrow his? What if it was stolen? I’ve always questioned how the king could be so angry.

But during his homily, my priest, cleared this mystery up for me. The wedding garment had been provided! The wedding garment was free of charge. The wedding garment was paid for by the blood of Jesus. We only need to have a repentant heart. We only need to let the grace of Jesus shine on us. We only need to allow this grace to flow from us.

The first invited people were not at all interested, the next set of invitations went to those who were too busy or sometimes actively working against the king. It is a strong reminder to acknowledge our own invitation and make sure we are responding. Along with making sure we aren’t working against our Lord.

Grace isn’t taken away because we lack fancy clothes. How beautiful to see we are all called to the feast (the mass, Heaven). We need only accept what has been provided. We need only put on the wedding garment. The wedding garment wasn’t without cost, but the price was paid by our loving Jesus. We can’t earn it, we can only accept it.

I think it’s important to not always trust our own judgment on understanding scripture. It is important to read scripture in its entirety. It’s one of the reasons I love being Catholic. With technology we can easily find what the church teaches, it’s loaded with information helping us to understand. The design of the church with our leaders and Magisterium helps us all learn and understand. We are so blessed!

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Splendid Sundays

Spendid Sundays – Solemnity of the Most Holy Trinity

Ninth Week of Ordinary Time

You can find today’s readings here.

1st Reading: Deuteronomy 4: 32-34, 39-40
Psalm: Psalm 33
2nd Reading: Romans 8:14-17
Gospel: Matthew 28:16-20

Today we celebrate our Lord’s existence in the Most Holy Trinity. The Truth of the Trinity is one of the most difficult mysteries of our faith to understand. Some non-Catholic Bible believing faiths argue that the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit are three distinct and separate persons, which is much easier for our human brains to grab a hold of. However, to understand how three persons can be distinct, yet the same One Holy God… well, we have nothing on Earth that quite replicates this Truth, so we accept it on faith. We take this Truth on faith so much, that it’s not explicitly spelled out in the pages of Sacred Scripture, but we can see where it is referenced in both the Old and New Testaments. The doctrine of the Holy Trinity is clearest in Holy Mother Church’s Sacred Tradition.

The Catechism of the Catholic Church defines the Trinity as, “The mystery of one God in three Persons: Father, Son and Holy Spirit. The revealed truth of the Holy Trinity is at the very root of the Church’s living faith as expressed in the Creed. The mystery of the Trinity in itself is inaccessible to the human mind and is the object of faith only because it was revealed by Jesus Christ, the divine Son of the eternal Father.”

It is by this Holy Trinity we are saved and can delight in life eternal in Heaven. God, the Father created us, created our souls and bodies. The Son, died for our sins and reopened the gates of Heaven so that we can gain salvation. We receive the Holy Spirit at baptism, and are sanctified through uniting our suffering to Christ’s suffering and through keeping our Lord’s commandments.

It is simply wondrous that after 2,000 years, the truth of the Trinity has been protected and handed down, generation by generation, such that so many Christians today can properly believe in God. The doctrine of the Trinity is a testament to the Holy Spirit protected truths taught by Holy Mother Church.

 

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Faith Formation Matrimony Sacraments Sacred Scripture Splendid Sundays

Splendid Sundays: Saving our Spouses

Today’s Mass Readings, with a reflection below.

The marriage of Mary and Joseph.

 

Thirty-Third Sunday in Ordinary Time
Lectionary: 157

Reading 1      Prv 31:10-13, 19-20, 30-31

As a noun, a distaff, also called a rock, is a tool used in spinning. It is designed to hold the unspun fibers, keeping them untangled and thus easing the spinning process. It is most commonly used to hold flax, and sometimes wool, but can be used for any type of fiber. - Wikipedia

When one finds a worthy wife,
her value is far beyond pearls.
Her husband, entrusting his heart to her,
has an unfailing prize.
She brings him good, and not evil,
all the days of her life.
She obtains wool and flax
and works with loving hands.
She puts her hands to the distaff,
and her fingers ply the spindle.
She reaches out her hands to the poor,
and extends her arms to the needy.
Charm is deceptive and beauty fleeting;
the woman who fears the LORD is to be praised.
Give her a reward for her labors,
and let her works praise her at the city gates.

Responsorial Psalm      Ps 128:1-2, 3, 4-5

R. (cf. 1a) Blessed are those who fear the Lord.
Blessed are you who fear the LORD,
who walk in his ways!
For you shall eat the fruit of your handiwork;
blessed shall you be, and favored.
R. Blessed are those who fear the Lord.
Your wife shall be like a fruitful vine
in the recesses of your home;
Your children like olive plants
around your table.
R. Blessed are those who fear the Lord.
Behold, thus is the man blessed
who fears the LORD.
The LORD bless you from Zion:
may you see the prosperity of Jerusalem
all the days of your life.
R. Blessed are those who fear the Lord.

Reading 2      1 Thes 5:1-6

Concerning times and seasons, brothers and sisters,
you have no need for anything to be written to you.
For you yourselves know very well that the day of the Lord will come
like a thief at night.
When people are saying, “Peace and security, ”
then sudden disaster comes upon them,
like labor pains upon a pregnant woman,
and they will not escape.But you, brothers and sisters, are not in darkness,
for that day to overtake you like a thief.
For all of you are children of the light
and children of the day.
We are not of the night or of darkness.
Therefore, let us not sleep as the rest do,
but let us stay alert and sober.

Gospel Mt      25:14-30

An ancient Greek amphora. A talent was approximately the mass of the water required to fill an amphora.

Jesus told his disciples this parable:
“A man going on a journey
called in his servants and entrusted his possessions to them.
To one he gave five talents; to another, two; to a third, one–
to each according to his ability.
Then he went away.
Immediately the one who received five talents went and traded with them,
and made another five.
Likewise, the one who received two made another two.
But the man who received one went off and dug a hole in the ground
and buried his master’s money.After a long time
the master of those servants came back
and settled accounts with them.
The one who had received five talents came forward
bringing the additional five.
He said, ‘Master, you gave me five talents.
See, I have made five more.’
His master said to him, ‘Well done, my good and faithful servant.
Since you were faithful in small matters,
I will give you great responsibilities.
Come, share your master’s joy.’
Then the one who had received two talents also came forward and said,
‘Master, you gave me two talents.
See, I have made two more.’
His master said to him, ‘Well done, my good and faithful servant.
Since you were faithful in small matters,
I will give you great responsibilities.
Come, share your master’s joy.’
Then the one who had received the one talent came forward and said,
‘Master, I knew you were a demanding person,
harvesting where you did not plant
and gathering where you did not scatter;
so out of fear I went off and buried your talent in the ground.
Here it is back.’
His master said to him in reply, ‘You wicked, lazy servant!
So you knew that I harvest where I did not plant
and gather where I did not scatter?
Should you not then have put my money in the bank
so that I could have got it back with interest on my return?
Now then! Take the talent from him and give it to the one with ten.
For to everyone who has,
more will be given and he will grow rich;
but from the one who has not,
even what he has will be taken away.
And throw this useless servant into the darkness outside,
where there will be wailing and grinding of teeth.'”

or Mt 25:14-15, 19-21

Jesus told his disciples this parable:
“A man going on a journey
called in his servants and entrusted his possessions to them.
To one he gave five talents; to another, two; to a third, one–
to each according to his ability.
Then he went away.

After a long time
the master of those servants came back
and settled accounts with them.
The one who had received five talents came forward
bringing the additional five.
He said, ‘Master, you gave me five talents.
See, I have made five more.’
His master said to him, ‘Well done, my good and faithful servant.
Since you were faithful in small matters,
I will give you great responsibilities.
Come, share your master’s joy.'”

Reflection

The Church teaches that the primary function of marriage is to encourage your spouse in holiness so that God can fill him or her with sanctifying and saving Grace.  We pray that our spouse will one day hear the Master say, “Well done, my good and faithful servant” and reside in Heaven forever.

In the Proverbs passage, the man who receives the worthy wife has received a “five talents” wife.  Perhaps this wife sees her husband as five talents given to her by God and she is in turn giving thanks for this gift by fearing the Lord and walking in His ways.  By her obedience to  God she works hard and enjoys what the psalm promises that she will be favored and eat the fruit of her handiwork.  This wife is an example to us for how to be the spouse God designed for the sacrament of marriage.

For reference I tried looking up how much a talent is in today’s terms.  A talent is a measurement of weight, and in this context means a measurement of precious metal, possibly gold.  The best I could find was that one talent is worth 20 year’s wages, and another estimated one talent to be worth over  million dollars.  So we’re not talking nickles here.

For those of us who are married, is our approach to our vocation reflective of the number of talents we see that God has given us in our spouses?  God has entrusted to us another soul.  That soul is worth many talents, worth more than pearls.  How are we helping God double the talents of our spouse for His glory?  Does our prayer life as a couple suffer because of demanding schedules?  Are we making selfless sacrifices to make sure our spouse can get to confession or Adoration?  Are we staying strong amidst the daily toils of running a household remembering that our work reflects our acknowledgement of the talent worth God has given us in our spouses?

We cannot put aside helping our spouses seek holiness because we are too tired or too busy today.  We are aptly warned to “Stay awake and sober” by St. Paul because we simply do not know when it will be our or our spouse’s day of judgement.

“The sacrament of Matrimony signifies the union of Christ and the Church.  It gives spouses the grace to love each other with the love with which Christ has loved his Church; the grace of the sacrament thus perfects the human love of the spouses, strengthens their indissoluble unity, and sanctifies them on the way to eternal life.” Catechism of the Catholic Church 1661

Disclaimer: This post was finished early and scheduled to automatically post on Sunday. The third commandment was not broken in the creation of this edition of Splendid Sundays =D.

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4th Commandment Adrienne Catechism Doctrine Faith Formation Ink Slingers Mary Sacred Scripture Saints Ten Commandments

Mary’s Sinlessness and Our Salvation

Photograph by Adrienne Taylor
Sinless suffering.

Have you ever thought about what it would have been like if Mary hadn’t been sinless?  After pondering on Jesus’s adherence to the fourth commandment (Commanded to Love Mary) I realized that by the implications of the commandment, to honor thy father and mother, Mary had to be sinless.  Also, in writing this article, I’ve come to realize how the Church’s Marian teachings highlight both God’s sovereignty and the utmost importance of our salvation.

In God’s perfect plan for our salvation, He chose to involve Mary from beginning to end.  The Holy Spirit did not descend upon her until she gave her consent to Angel Gabriel.  Likewise, Mary was compelled to give her unwavering consent throughout the entire gruesome passion of her Son as He died for our sins.  Mary’s sinlessness is less about her never having done anything “bad” and more about the relationship God had (has) with her.

In the Gospel of Matthew (16) we read about Jesus calling Simon blessed, renaming him to Peter and then building His Church upon him.  Jesus promised that the gates of Hell would not prevail over His Church!  Yet, the Gospel of Matthew continues on to record Jesus next exclaiming to St. Peter, “Get behind me Satan!”  This is quite a letdown for the next words uttered to our first pope.  What drew such a remark from our Savior?  Jesus had for the first time revealed to the disciples that He must suffer and die.  Naturally, St. Peter, who loved Jesus with a love we can only hope to achieve, cried out upon hearing the news, “God forbid, Lord!  No such thing shall ever happen to you.”  How could this cry out of love be worthy of being attributed to Satan?  The Catechism provides several definitions of sin, the first of which concludes, “… It has been defined as ‘an utterance, a deed, or a desire contrary to the eternal law.’”   St. Peter, out of love for Jesus, committed a sin against the eternal law by desiring Christ would not suffer and die.

What would have been the implications for our salvation if Mary had harbored desires contrary to the eternal law?  Sadly, though by God’s perfect plan, St. Joseph had passed away sometime between Jesus’s childhood and adulthood, but, Mary remained by Jesus’s side through His death, resurrection, and ascension.  By consequence of Jesus’s perfect adherence to the fourth commandment, Mary had an unfathomable amount of power.  When she expected a reluctant Jesus to turn water into wine, Mary demonstrated the power she had over her Son.  This power, of course, was not of her own.  God willingly gave her this invincible kind of power over Jesus when creating a mother for Himself, and God found it fitting for her to be beside Jesus with this power throughout His life.  Could God have allowed this in His plan had Mary been ordinary?

Photograph by Adrienne Taylor
Mary with her expired Son.

Imagine how much Satan lusted after the power of Mary.  Satan tried to tempt Jesus in His weakness during His 40 days in the desert, but of course failed because Jesus is the all powerful God.  However, Mary was a mere human.  Since sin, in its most basic definition, is anything that separates one from God, and because Satan must be rather powerful himself to be a worthy adversary of God’s, it stands to reason that Satan would have been waiting for any opportunity for Mary to have been separated from God in order to successfully worm his way in.  Satan could have corrupted Mary even through original sin, since original sin is being created in a state separated from God.  All Satan needed to happen was for Mary to show even a little maternal remorse at any crucial part of Jesus’s passion, or utter words against God’s eternal law like St. Peter did, and Jesus would have been conflicted in His mission.  His parents would not have been united.  He would have felt compelled to carry forth with honoring His Father, but at the expense of dishonoring His mother, which would have been sinful.  Or He would have been compelled, in His perfection, to honor His mother’s wishes and avoid suffering the death upon the cross, but that contradicted His Father’s plan.  God’s perfect plan for our salvation demanded a perfect sacrifice, a sinless Jesus.  God’s perfect plan for our salvation also included Mary every step of the way.  In order for Mary to have been allowed to be present throughout Jesus’s life, and in order for Jesus to remain sinless while adhering perfectly to the fourth commandment, Mary too, had to be sinless, she had to be perfectly in union with God’s eternal law.

Christ’s sacrifice on the cross was the singular most important event in salvation history, would we expect anything less than the best possible plan from our God?   Our Church’s teachings on Our Lady demonstrate just how great God is and just how important our salvation is to Him.  Let us be thankful that He made His Mother so miraculously holy!  Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right.  “Honor your father and mother”, this is the first commandment with a promise.  Ephesians 6:1-2

O Jesus,
through the Immaculate Heart of Mary,
I offer You my prayers, works,
joys and sufferings
of this day for all the intentions
of Your Sacred Heart,
in union with the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass
throughout the world,
in reparation for my sins,
for the intentions of all my relatives and friends,
and in particular
for the intentions of the Holy Father.

Amen