Saturday, November 16, 2013
What must life have been like for, and with, a teenage Jesus? The last thing that we know for sure about him is just before this period, and comes from Luke's Gospel.
At age 12, Mary and Joseph took Jesus to the Jewish Temple at Jerusalem during the Passover festival. When the festival was over they left, and at some point realized that Jesus was not with their traveling party.
The worried parents returned to the city and searched for three days. Finally they found him, sitting in the courtyards at the Temple, questioning the teachers.
It was at this point, if they didn't already have an idea, that Mary and Joseph got some sense of what was in store for the family. Jesus was amazing the teachers with both his questions and with his own comments in his understanding.
But while they were themselves impressed to hear their pre-teen son, they were also worried parents. Have you ever lost a child, even for a moment? Remember how frantic those few moments were? How about three days lost?
Wednesday, November 13, 2013
Some of us live in a perpetual state of yielding to temptation. There are many among us who willingly commit sins, often the same ones over and over, and who believe that we have time to overcome these. We'll stop. We'll make amends. We'll confess, and do penance, and pray, and convert our lives. Just not yet. Not today. Not this moment. I need one more.
When we willfully and repeatedly engage in the same sin, over and over, in full knowledge that this is exactly what we are doing, then we have given over a portion of our lives to the devil. We may as well have sat down across a table from Satan and shook his hand over the deal.
There are many who call themselves Christians who on this very day are living a life of sin. They are carrying on an extra-marital affair, either cheating on their own spouse, or engaging in a relationship with someone who is married, or both. They are stealing from a business, social organization, charity, maybe even a church. They are selling drugs, or taking illicit drugs.
I don't think that I am over-stating things at all if I make the unverifiable claim that there are literally millions of alleged "Christians" across the globe committing these sins, and many others, on a regular basis. Maybe you have been in the past, maybe you are right at this moment, one of them.
If we do indeed truly believe that Jesus Christ is our personal savior, that he willingly gave up his life on a cross for the very sins that we are committing, then how long can we keep doing so without our conscience overwhelming us and giving us pause?
Saturday, November 9, 2013
I believe that in court rulings it should be interpreted narrowly by modern jurists.
I also believe that the Constitution as originally conceived by our nation's Founding Fathers was inspired by God Almighty, and that America has received blessings over our history because of a continued striving towards what we stated from the very beginning when we declared ourselves free: that "men are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness."
The U.S. Constitution has built into it an 'amendment' process, a means of altering, adding to, or taking away from the freedoms guaranteed to "We the People" by our nation and it's laws.
This amendment process has been successfully utilized to do just that in the past. There have been 27 amendments to the Constitution which have been 'ratified', or passed into law by the states.
The first ten of these amendments came almost immediately. Within a couple of years of the original Constitution being ratified, the first ten amendments had been proposed and added.
Sunday, November 3, 2013
But those are not what we're going to talk about here in reference to the Fall. We're going to take a look back at mankind's fall from grace, and even further back, to the fall from heaven which led to that one in Eden.
Most people are aware of the name "Lucifer", and in Christian tradition the name has been assigned to the principal angel with glory as bright as the morning star who led a revolt in heaven against God.
The term Lucifer should not, however, be understood to be a proper name of "the Devil" or "Satan", merely a reference to that state from which he has fallen, that place in the glory of heaven itself.
The devil is but one of what were originally angelic creatures created by God as spiritual beings in a state of innocence. They ultimately became evil as a result of their own willful act, and when this act saw them cast out in the first 'Fall from Heaven', they turned their gaze towards God's human creation, leading us to sin and to our own separation, or the 'Fall of Man' from paradise.
That first fall of the angels came when, as Isaiah told in reference to the King of Babylon in his own day, and as is applied originally to Lucifer "Thou said in thy heart: I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God, I will sit in the mountain of the covenant, in the sides of the north, I will ascend above the height of the clouds, I will be like the most High."
The angel known as Lucifer led a rebellion of angels in heaven, seeking a place above God. The result was a war like none ever seen here on earth. As described in "Revelation" or the "Apocalypse": "there was a great battle in heaven, Michael and his angels fought with the dragon (Lucifer), and the dragon fought and his angels, and they prevailed not..."
The result of this rebellion, and the victory by Michael and the angels of heaven, was the 'Fall from Heaven' referred to earlier: "..neither was their place found anymore in heaven. And that great dragon was cast out, that old serpent, who is called the devil and Satan, who seduces the whole world; and he was cast unto the earth, and his angels were thrown down with him."
Lucifer/Satan had ultimately committed the first sin of "pride", or the excessive love of one's own excellence. Through the love of his own worth, he attempted to withdraw himself from subjection to Almighty God. He was able to get the angels opposed to the Divine Incarnation to follow him.
These angels were jealous at the very thought of a lesser being, a human, being raised above them. That is how they saw Jesus, a man who would be raised above them.