“There Should Be Some Division There”

Thus said Deacon Tim Schabell of St. Joseph Catholic Church in Cold Spring, KY during his homily on August 18 regarding the gospel for that Sunday (Luke 12:49-53).  Here is an excerpt from that reading:

“Do you think I have come to establish peace on the earth?  No, I tell you, but rather division.  From now on a household of five will be divided, three against two and two against three; a father will be divided against his son and a son against his father, a mother against her daughter and a daughter against her mother…”1

So, Jesus came to split families?  Of course, He didn’t.  Deacon Tim told the congregation that Jesus was using a literary device to make His point.  Jesus knew His world-changing message would not always be accepted easily, even within families.  As the St. Joseph parish bulletin for that weekend reminded us, the early converts to Christianity had little difficulty with the intellectual aspects of their conversion.  It was the emotional consequences they faced when they left the spiritual tradition of their families, often causing conflict and heartache.

Jesus  and  His  Wish  For  Unity

We know that Jesus wants unity.  During His three-year public ministry, He spoke of the unity within the Trinity and His wish that all believers may be as one.  From John 17:20-22:  “I pray not only for them, but also for those who will believe in me through their word, so that they may all be one, as you, Father, are in me and I in you, that they also may be in us, that the world may believe that you sent me.”2

But  Truth  Must  Not  Be  Sacrificed,  Even  to  Keep  the  Peace

While His message is one of peace, Jesus does not want truth compromised in order for people to get along.  As the deacon said, “Jesus can be warm and fuzzy.  He can also be blunt and forthright.”  In other words, it is not peace at all costs when proclaiming the gospel.  Or as Jesus said, “Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me, and whoever loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me;…”3

Modern  Examples  of  Defending  Truth  Leading  to  Conflict

Today, there are several issues which people of faith may have a difficult time standing firm in the face of modern relativism.  Deacon Tim reminded us of four areas where defending the truth of the gospel must be done assertively when we are faced with these situations:

1)    When we hear some proclaim that gay marriage is acceptable
2)    When some declare that killing humans inside the womb is OK
3)    When people believe that we should look to the government for guidance instead of
to the Church
4)    When anyone in our family condones any other immoral activity

After stating each of these, he said, “There should be some division there.”

Defending the eternal truths contrary to these popular viewpoints will often be difficult.  However, because we are more concerned with everyone’s afterlife instead of uneasiness in this one, we will persevere.  As Deacon Tim summed it, “We are ultimately made for another world and we should live accordingly.”

1 – From “The New Catholic Answer Bible,” Fireside Catholic Publishing, Wichita, KS, 2005
2 – Ibid.
3 – Matthew 10:37, Ibid.

Jesus was the Virgin Mary’s Only Child

For about 1,500 years, the entire Christian world enjoyed a clear and perfect means of defining its doctrines.  When specific, objectionable errors in practice occurred in parts of the Church five centuries ago, some men became understandably frustrated with the indifference they saw with some Church leaders.  To rid themselves of these wrongs, they abandoned the Church and proceeded to form their own churches.  They may have cleansed themselves of the practices they were opposed to.  However, they also cut themselves off from the direct teaching authority which Christ handed to St. Peter and the apostles during his appearances in the Upper Room following His Resurrection.1

This separation made them and their successors vulnerable to even more serious teaching errors as they attempt to redefine Christianity through individual interpretation of Scripture, including claims of entirely new revelations which cannot exist.2,3   

While many erroneous re-interpretations of Scriptures have ensued, this article will only address the mistaken belief that the Virgin Mary had other children after the birth of Jesus.

1)      “Brothers  and  Sisters”  and  No  Word  For  “Cousin”

Aramaic and the other Middle Eastern languages do not have a word for “cousin.”  Without this word, relatives were described as combinations of brother or sister, such as a son or daughter of father’s sister, etc.  Being described as a “brother” or a “sister” didn’t automatically establish a sibling relationship.  The Greek “adelphos” (brother) is often used in non-blood relationships.  Example, in Acts 22:13, when Ananias cured Paul of his blindness, he said: “Saul, my brother, regain your sight,” though they had different parents.4

2)      Siblings  Took  Care  of  Widowed  Mothers

When Jesus was on the Cross, there would have been no reason for Him to transfer the responsibility of His mother’s care to an apostle if he had siblings through her.  Families took care of their own back then, which is why a widow without children is always portrayed as being so pitiful in the Bible.  Also, people of that time weren’t displaced as is common today.  It wasn’t as though Jesus had siblings who had taken jobs with our state department or Procter & Gamble and had left Judea for other continents.

3)  “Until”  Has  Different  Implications

Scripture says that Mary and Joseph did not have physical relations until Jesus was born (Matthew 1:25).  Our use of modern English implies that a condition lasting “until” something occurs, must automatically change afterward.

The Greek “until” used in the Bible only brackets the time frame being described.  It neither says nor implies anything about later.5  For example, when Jesus told us that He will be with us “until the end of the age,” are we to conclude after the end of the world He won’t be with us anymore?

4)  Even  an  Only  Child  is  a  “First-Born”

Two points here.  The term “firstborn” was a legal term referring to the child who first “opens the womb.”6 (Exodus 13:2  “Consecrate to me every first-born that opens the womb among the Israelites, both of man and beast, for it belongs to me.”)

In addition, circumcision and consecration to the Lord must occur within a short, specified time after birth.  Therefore, it would be illogical that other children must follow in order to make the first child a “first-born” so that these practices could be fulfilled as required in Luke 2:21-24.6

5)  Arks  of  the  Old  Covenant  and  of  the  New  Covenant —  Thou  Shall  Not  Touch Either!

Most Christians know of the Ark of the Covenant as it appeared in the Old Testament.  Catholics refer to the Virgin Mary as the Ark of the New Covenant.  The explanation of this is well documented in Steve Ray’s article, “Mary, the Ark of the New Covenant” which appeared in the Catholic Answers Magazine, Vol. 20 No.5.

The article also mentions the death of a man named Uzzah when he touched the original Ark of the Covenant (2 Samuel 6:6-7).  While the Ark itself was not God, it was a very holy object and His instructions were for it not to be touched by human hands.

Fast forward to Mary, the Ark of the New Covenant.  Just like the first Ark, she was not God.  However, she was holiest of all who were only human.  As Steve Ray reminds us, the Ark of the Old Covenant carried “the word of God inscribed on stone,” while Mary the Ark of the New Covenant carried “the word of God in the flesh.”

St. Joseph was aware of Mary’s tremendous holiness and that she was specially chosen to give birth to God’s Son.  St. Joseph respected this unique relationship to the point that he could not have had physical relations with her.

My hope is that this article is helpful to those who are unsure of Mary’s perpetual virginity.

1 – The bestowing of Christ’s authority to Peter and the apostles is mentioned in many ways familiar to the Christian.  They included His naming Peter as “the rock” upon which His Church would be built. Acknowledging that some disagree with this for perceived semantic differences in interpreting the Greek used in the Bible, there are other events demonstrating how Christ handed authority of His Church to the apostles and their successors.
They include:  Peter’s receiving the Keys of the Kingdom (prefigured by Isaiah 22:22, reference taken from “What Catholics Really Believe,” by
Dr. Ray Guarendi and Rev. Kevin Fete, Nineveh’s Crossing, Novi, MI, 2010), and the apostle’s receiving the Holy Spirit when Jesus breathed on them and declared that they had the power to forgive or retain sins.
The first instance of apostolic succession occurred when Matthias was chosen to replace the departed Judas (Acts 1:26).  Succession has been documented many times, including “For this reason, therefore, having received perfect foreknowledge, they appointed those who have already been mentioned and afterwards added the further provision, that if they should die, other approved men should succeed to their ministry.” (Pope St. Clement of Rome, circa A.D. 80, as found in “Why Is That In Tradition,” by Patrick Madrid, Our Sunday Visitor Publishing Division, Huntington, IN, 2002)

2 – A pre-Reformation example of the effects of this:  “[T]he Church is one, and as she is one, cannot be both within and without. For if she is with [the heretic] Novatian, she is not with [Pope] Cornelius.  But if she was with Cornelius, who succeeded the bishop [of Rome] Fabian, by lawful ordination, and whom, beside the honor of the priesthood, the Lord glorified also with martyrdom, Novatian is not in the Church; nor can he be reckoned as a bishop, who, succeeding to no one, and despising the evangelical and apostolic tradition sprang from himself.  For he who has not been ordained in the Church can neither have nor hold to the Church in any way.” (St. Cyprian of Carthage, A.D. 253, Ibid.)

3 – At the conclusion of Christ’s time on earth, revelation became complete, although its complete understanding continues over time (e.g. the naming of the Trinity to describe the three persons in one God came after the New Testament was written).
Regarding the completion of revelation: “…Christ, the Son of God made man, is the Father’s one, perfect, and unsurpassable Word.  In him he has said everything; there will be no other word than this one… and no new public revelation is to be expected before the glorious manifestation of our Lord Jesus Christ.  Yet even if Revelation is already complete, it has not been made completely explicit; it remains for Christian faith gradually to grasp its full significance over the course of the centuries… Christian faith cannot accept ‘revelations’ that claim to surpass or correct the Revelation of which Christ is the fulfillment, as is the case in certain non-Christian religions and also in certain recent sects which base themselves on such revelations.’”  (parts of Paragraphs 65, 66 and 67 of the Catechism of the Catholic Church, Liguori Publications, Liguori, MO, 1994)

4 – page 184, “What Catholics Really Believe,” Nineveh’s Crossing, Novi, MI, 2010

5—page 1010, “The New Catholic Answer Bible,” Fireside Catholic Publishing, Wichita, KS, 2005

6 – page Q-1, Ibid.

7 – pages 184-185, “What Catholics Really Believe,” Nineveh’s Crossing, Novi, MI, 2010

Put On a P.C.* Face

(*Politically Correct, and sung to the tune of “Put On a Happy Face”)

Spending is not an issue,
Put on a P.C. face.
Obamacare will wreck you,
Put on a P.C. Face.

Take off old-fashioned air of privacy,
Religious Right.
You’ll do much better; you’ll fit in,
If you give up the fight.

Pick out same-gender partner,
States claim that you can “wed.”
We’ll tell the kindergarteners,
What can be done in bed.

And spread condoms all over the place,
Just put on a P.C. face!

And if you’ve spent much more than you have earned,
It’s not your fault.
Follow GM and Banks who never learned,
Open Fed’s vaults.

“Pro-Choice” pervades the White House,
Humans are just a thing.
Displays of faith must be doused,
Take all the guns we “cling.”

Exec orders all over the place.
Just put on a P.C. face!