Thursday, February 10, 2011

"If your right eye causes you to sin, tear it out and throw it away."

This Sunday's Gospel is a continuation of the Sermon on the Mount and Matthew emphasizes the relation between Jewish Law and the teaching of Jesus. Our Discussion Questions will guide your Online Sunday Bible Study sessions with your family, friends and church groups.

"Cut it off!"

This is some very difficult material in today's Gospel. 'If anyone kills he will answer for it before the court. But I say this to you: Anyone who is angry with his brother will answer for it before the court.' 'You must not commit adultery. But I say this to you: if a man looks at a woman lustfully, he has already committed adultery with her in his heart.' 'If your right hand causes you to sin cut it off and throw it away; for it will do you less harm to lose one part of you than to have your whole body go to hell.'

Some of Jesus’ sayings above are downright shocking. Is he endorsing self-mutilation? If not, what can he possibly mean by this? Dr. Marcellino D'Ambrosio explains.

Introducing a New Thinking

Matthew reassures his readers that Jesus has not come to abolish the Law and the prophets but to bring them to completion. It is there, on that holy mountain in Galilee, after having declared the perpetual validity of the law and the duty to observe it that Jesus went on to affirm a new observance of the law. And Fr. Thomas Rosica, CSB says it is one animated by the new evangelical spirit of charity and sincerity.

For Jesus, Fr. Alex McAllister SDS explains, just to keep the Law externally is not enough. Such observance, Fr. Demetrius R. Dumm, O.S.B. reminds us, can easily co-exist with an interior attitude that is judgmental and unforgiving. The Scribes and the Pharisees kept the Law and the Commandments very carefully, explains Fr. Orlando Sapuay. M.S.. But Jesus would say that, though they observed the external requirements of the Law, they did not have the spirit which is the foundation of the Law: to love God and to love the neighbor as oneself.

Four times Jesus quotes a passage from the Hebrew Bible, what we call the Old Testament. After citing each of the Scripture verses, Jesus says, "But I say to you..." Fr. Phil Bloom says our Lord is making an amazing claim of authority and power. Jesus did not come to give a new law. He came to give us Himself.

True conversion is conversion of the heart

The Sermon on the Mount is not about does and don’ts. It is not about limitations, how little must I do to slip by St. Peter at the gates of heaven. Fr. Joseph Pellegrino says the Sermon on the Mount is about being fully alive in Jesus Christ. It is about nourishing the eternal life within us.

In Christ is the fullness of God, perfectly revealed for us. Father Cusick points out that Jesus is the fulfillment of the Commandments. In Him, we can share in the glory of God, in his holiness and life. This we are advised by Fr. John Foley, S. J. to watch Jesus as we progress through life. The inside of the law is written in His heart. As you and I grow up, let it be written in us too.

Marriage & Divorce

Nowhere in the 5000 years of recorded history was marriage in worse shape than when Jesus came. Our own age, with its high divorce rate, would almost emerge as a golden age by comparison. So what did Jesus have in mind when He speaks in this Gospel passage about marriage? Fr. James Gilhooley says it was clearly to reinforce the sacredness of marital unity among the Jews of His time.

Then Jesus in this Gospel drops the bomb, "Everyone who divorces his wife forces her to commit adultery. The man who marries a divorced woman likewise commits adultery." When Jesus spoke them way back then, they struck the first audiences as off the wall. And even nowadays with a reported 50% of all marriages ending in divorce, these words continue to reverberate in our society.

Are you divorced or know someone who is? So now what? Can divorced people remarry? Can they receive Holy Communion? Is divorce a sin according to the Catholic Church? Let's try correcting some misunderstood Church teachings regarding Divorce.

When we discuss this topic, it's quite inevitable that we also talk about Catholic annulment. Contrary to what many might think, it is not Catholic divorce. Annulment is a thorny issue for many Catholics and widely misunderstood outside the Church. But it is a valid recourse for some failed marriages. Even Pope Benedict himself this week reinforced from the Vatican that people in doubt about their marriage status have a right to a speedy and simple process to determine nullity. Let's take a look at ten of the most commonly asked questions about annulment.

Prayer, the Bible & Youth Catechism

Taylor Marshall cautions Catholics to be very careful when they study the Scriptures because there are two dangerous pitfalls. The first is the error of reading Sacred Scripture apart from the Fathers and Popes of the Catholic Church. The second problem is that there are many terrible Bible translations out there. Just little shifts in language here and there can produce huge theological errors. To help the faithful, he offers some "Bible Study Helps for Catholics."

The Scriptures are gift for the ultimate purpose of leading us to heaven. St Bonaventure (1221-1274) the Seraphic Doctor of the Catholic Church explains that reading Sacred Scripture is not enough. One can only properly understand the Scriptures if he already has the truth of Faith in his heart.

Church teachings on the Scripture, of course, can be found in the Catechism of the Catholic Church. Pope Benedict this week recommended as "Extraordinary" the new catechism for young people being prepared in light of the upcoming World Youth Day.

And many of us can relate to this humbling dissertation by Matthew Archbold : 7 Reasons I Stink at Praying. He carries the burden for all of us by admitting that he's the worst prayer in the world. But the good news is that it doesn’t stop him - and us - from trying.

Walking in the Wide Catholic Church

The Church is wide, explains Msgr. Charles Pope. And he thinks of the Christian journey as a trip up the King’s Highway. Now on this road there are a good number of lanes. There's room for all - conservatives, liberal, rich, poor, Republicans, Democrats, etc.The Church permits us to drive in any or all the lanes. But she sets up guard rails beyond which we must not go. It's a great read on Church unity. And in the end we're all one. Even in places where God is denied, the world today is nostalgic for God. Benedict XVI declared it this week from the Vatican.

Now here's an inquiring question from a reader: After what point of lateness can I no longer receive Communion or fulfill obligation? Fr. John Zuhlsdorf offers kind pastoral advise we can all learn from.

Catholics in Media (CIMA) 2011 Awards Feb. 20, 2011

The Catholics in Media Associates (CIMA) 18th Annual Mass and Awards Brunch on Sunday, February 20th, 2011 will honor Fox Searchlight Films’ “Conviction” and CBS Television’s “Blue Bloods.” The CBS daytime drama “The Bold and The Beautiful” will receive the CIMA 2011 Humanitarian Award. The event at the Beverly Hills Hotel, Beverly Hills, CA, will begin with a Mass at 10:00 AM with a brunch and awards ceremony to follow. Click here to purchase tickets for the awards brunch.

Finally, let's talk about napping. It's often frowned upon in our workaholic American culture. But in reality, the nap stigma is incredibly misplaced. Naps can be one of the most powerful tools for self-improvement; they can increase not only our health and well-being but our intelligence and productivity as well. Allow us to show you its immense benefits.

Another eventful week in our Catholic World. Have a great and blessed new week.

BURNING QUESTION: Is Divorce a sin according to the Catholic Church?
FEATURED BLOG: 7 Reasons I Stink at Praying
PASTORAL HISPANA: No he venido a abolir la Ley y los profetas

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