Thursday, September 13, 2012

"But who do you say that I am?"

The restoration of the blind man's sight in last Sunday's Gospel must surely set the scene for Peter's confession of faith this week, Sept. 16, 2012. Jesus' nature is now gradually revealed to the disciples. He also relates the first of His three prophecies of His passion, death and resurrection. Our Discussion Questions will guide your Sunday Bible Study with family, friends and church groups.

This Sunday we begin a series of seven Sunday Gospel readings from Mark’s account of the journey of Jesus and his disciples from northern Galilee to Jerusalem. This story consists of two sections: the messianic confession of Peter and Jesus’ prediction of His Passion, death and resurrection, followed by His clear teaching on discipleship. From this point on, everything in Mark's gospel moves toward the crucifixion.

“Who do you say I am?”

We see the centrality of the cross in today's Gospel. Jesus sets the stage by asking his disciples who He is. They have many different opinions - just like people today. Some people see Jesus as a powerful prophet, others as a noble teacher, still others as kind of guru. Fr. John Foley, S. J. relates that Jesus will have none of that. Our Lord doesn't care about public opinion. He cares about the human person.

So He asks Peter what Fr. Alex McAllister SDS says is the very same question Jesus seems to be asking each of us today: "But who do you say that I am?" Fr. Phil Bloom asks us further. Who do you say that Jesus is? When you stand before a tabernacle, before whom do you stand? Who is Jesus?

Peter responds, “You are the Christ.” Then Jesus warned them not to tell anyone about Him. So why the secret? If Jesus was the Messiah as Peter proclaimed in today’s Gospel from Mark, why be quiet about it? If Jesus healed people like He did throughout the Gospel of Mark, why keep it a secret? The reason is simple. Fr. Joseph Pellegrino tells us that we cannot understand Jesus’ Work or His Messianic mission, unless we understand and embrace the cross.

Jesus' Invitation to Follow Him

Peter’s messiah, as we find out a few verses later, was not going to be beaten raw by the Romans, suffer and die. Jesus Himself didn’t think of being the Messiah in the triumphal and nationalistic way that His early disciples did. The Good News He preached was ultimately about love. And at the heart of His teaching is a great irony. Fr. Orly Sapuay, MS points out that one actually gains one’s life by losing it. However what one loses is really not life at all, but the obstacles to real life.

Father Cusick urges us to look to the Scriptures where the Lord reveals Himself so as to nurture our relationship with Him. Jesus was not a social revolutionary. He did not denounce injustice, but confronted it with love. Still, Fr. Thomas Rosica, CSB reminds us, those who lived by injustice made no mistake when they recognized in Jesus and in those who followed Him a fundamental challenge to their way of life. In the Gospel reading, the disciples never fully understood what Jesus taught. Let us not commit the same mistake, Fr. Omer Prieto advises.

The basis of our faith as acceptance of Jesus as the Christ, the Son of the Living God and our Lord and Savior. It also tells us that Christ Jesus became our Savior by His suffering, death and resurrection. Fr. Finally, John J. Ludvik tells us, it also outlines the three conditions of Christian discipleship -- denying oneself, taking up one’s cross and following Jesus.

The Four Last Things

Catholic teaching identifies the Four Last Things as Death, Judgment, Heaven and Hell. These topics are very important that Catholics need to understand. In the first installment of this series -- What Every Catholic Must Know About “The Four Last Things” -- Deacon Mike Bickerstaff examined what every Catholic needs to know about Death. In the second installment, he looks at the Particular and Universal Judgments, the second of the Four Last Things.

And then he talks about Heaven and Hell. Heaven is what awaits the souls of the Just after death where they will enjoy perfect joy and beatitude in the Beatific Vision -- seeing God face-to-face. Hell is the place of everlasting punishment that awaits the souls of the Damned after death. In both places, the soul will be reunited with the resurrected body after the Universal Judgment.

Piety, Forgiveness and Nice Churches

Msgr. Charles Pope discusses the sins of the pious and how the devil can hijack holy practices. He explains that we ought to acknowledge that there are certain temptations common to believers and church-goers. Perhaps we could refer to these as the “Perils of the Pious,” or the “Risks of the Religious.” What are some of these? He explains.

Meanwhile Fr. John McCloskey answers a sincere question from a reader: Why does God only forgive after we repent and turn back to Him, while we are asked to forgive regardless of whether or not the “offending” person asks for our forgiveness and repents?

And at some point Every Catholic finds himself obliged to defend against the modern axiom: The Catholic Church has gold and refuses to sell it, thus the Church lets the poor starve. In response, Marc Barnes says faulting the Cathedrals and Basilicas of the world for containing “too much” wealth is an awkward denial of the fact that the Cathedrals and Basilicas of the world are explicitly for the use of the poor, and to steal from them is to steal — not merely from the Church — but from the poor themselves, who — despite the perceptions of Hollywood — do not merely need bread, cash and contraception, but beauty, ritual, and God as well.

Life, Ten Commandments & The Year of Faith

So you're Pro-Life? Try this one on for size. Two Sundays ago Paul Dion, STL saw the Pro-Life cake get some icing. During the homily, the priest took pro-Life out for a ride over deep, deep waters. If you are pro-life, the pastor exclaimed, then you owe it to yourself and to others not only to prevent abortion, but to love, respect and enhance the lives of the humans around you.

And as the Year of Faith approaches, Elizabeth Scalia finds noteworthy ideas beginning to make headlines, the most recent being the notion by Kieran Conry, the Bishop of Arundel and Brighton, who would like to see the faithful take a scheduled “moment for prayer” on the first Friday of every month and silently meditate on the sacrifice that Jesus made on the cross out of love for you and everyone.

From the Vatican, Benedict XVI preached that the 10 Commandments are a sign of the love of God the Father. Without the guidance of the Commandments, he explained, man would be left to himself, proud in his own autonomy. In doing so, man “ends up by following the idols of egoism, of power, of dominion, polluting the relations with himself and with others, and following paths not of life but of death.” Meanwhile Jimmy Akin also uses the teachings of Pope Benedict to explain the "dark passages" in the Bible. The question of how these are to be interpreted has been with us for a long time, and apologists and Bible scholars--not to mention Church Fathers and theologians--have made many suggestions. Recently the pope provided some guidance.

Marriage After 40, ex-Playboy Playmates, Kids & Politics

Should little kids hear from you the parent that Obama is a crumb-bum who should lose, and that we should pray for him to repent. But! you will protest. That's indoctrination! That's brain washing! To which Simcha Fisher replies, Duh, that's her job. She says it's perfectly fine for parents to present their image of the world, painted in broad brush strokes, to their children. You tell 'em what you think is true, in ways that they can understand. When they're older, you can fill in more details, and they can figure out whether they believe you or not.

Also recently, Jennifer Fulwiler was having a conversation with a lady about treating infertility who said she was interested because she got married when she was over 40 and hoped to have a family. The conversation then turned into a great discussion about her experience being single longer than she'd hoped to be, as well as the benefits of marrying later in life. Jennifer blogs about the interesting chat.

Elsewhere, Donna D’Errico's reputation for being a wild girl isn’t exactly a secret. Being featured in Playboy was, by some accounts, not the greatest of her indiscretions. But that’s what makes this story so compelling. That she now goes to Mass every Sunday is impressive enough, but there are plenty of Sunday Mass-goers who then go out campaigning for pro-abortion Democrats. (For the record, D’Errico is a die-hard Ron Paul fan.) But the fact that she prays the rosary every night with her kids, that’s what really told me this is a woman who has turned her life around.

What To Do With Your Old iPhones

Millions of people will likely buy new iPhones once Apple announces the new iPhone 5 as expected this week. That leaves the question: What should you do with your old one? We offer you 11 things to do with your old iPhone, including things you never imagined as possibilities.

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

Keep the Faith. Peace.

Wally Arida
Publisher & Editor in chief


BURNING QUESTION: What is Sacrifice?
FEATURED BLOG: How the Devil Can Hijack Holy Practices
PASTORAL HISPANA: La vision de fe nos distingue como discipulos

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