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Tuesday, March 26, 2013

How can it be true that Jesus spent 3 days in the tomb? If Jesus died on a Friday and rose early on Sunday, how can that be 3 days?

“Love the Lord with all your heart, and with all your soul, 
and with all your MIND”--Matt 22:37
There is a movement in some Christian circles questioning the idea of Jesus being crucified on Good Friday. Essentially this is a movement to usurp the authority of the Catholic Church by saying that the Church simply made up Good Friday.  They proclaim that the Bible never states that Jesus died on a Friday, and to declare this is to contradict Jesus' prediction that he would be buried "in the heart of the earth three days and three nights."--Matt 12:40.

From this non-Catholic website: 

Did Christ mean what He said? Did He really expect his burial in the earth to last 72 hours? Jesus did not say, "After two nights and one day I will rise again." He said, "After three days I will rise again." He meant three FULL days -- a full seventy-two hours! Upon Jesus’ crucifixion, the Jews remembered this sign.
And here's a comment from an article called "The Hoax of Good Friday":
There ought not to be anything that you believe unless it's in the Bible. What does the Bible teach? Now, I know that all over the country on the Friday before Easter, people gave their Good Friday services, and they start at noon, and they run the Good Friday services through three o'clock in the afternoon, and people say our Lord was crucified so many years ago just at this time of the day, and so forth, and it makes a very pretty thing, except it's not true. It is not true. Our Lord was crucified on Wednesday. He gave up the Ghost at three o'clock on Wednesday afternoon. He was laid in the grave somewhere about six o'clock on Wednesday evening. He was in the grave Wednesday evening, all day Thursday, Thursday evening, all day Friday, Friday evening, and all day Saturday, and He rose from the grave on Sunday.

What is the Catholic response?

Firstly, we ought to counter anyone who states, "There ought not to be anything that you believe unless it's in the Bible" with the query:  "Where does the Bible state that?"  (Answer: no where.  That's a man-made tradition many have been duped into believing).  To say that we can't believe anything unless it's in the Bible is self-refuting, because it's a paradigm that can't be supported in the Bible. 

That segues nicely with addressing the point that "The Bible doesn't state anywhere that Jesus died on a Friday!".  The Catholic response can be, "That's ok. We don't have to have all of our beliefs explicitly found in the Bible, because the Bible doesn't command that all of our beliefs need to be found in the Bible." (But all of our beliefs can be supported implicitly in the Scriptures.  That is, however, fodder for another discussion. Suffice it to say that the Bible was never meant to be a full compendium of the faith. We do not extract our doctrines from the pages of a book, no matter how holy. Rather, the Bible reflects the teachings that were already given to the Church.)

Essentially, when the Scriptures proclaim Jesus would be in the tomb for 3 days and 3 nights, that was a Jewish idiom.  It is not meant to mean, literally, 72 hours. 

Also, Jewish culture did not count days/nights in the same way that we do in our western world.  From Catholic apologist Jimmy Akin: 

In Jesus’ day, the Jews reckoned the day as beginning at sunset.
When Scripture indicates that Jesus rose on the first day of the week, therefore, it means that he rose on the day that began at sunset on Saturday and lasted until sunset on Sunday. Since we are told his tomb was found empty “after the Sabbath, toward the dawn of the first day of the week” (Matt. 28:1), he must have risen between sunset Saturday and dawn Sunday. Whether this was before or after midnight Scripture does not say. He might have risen either Saturday night or Sunday morning before dawn, though, for purposes of determining when he was crucified, it doesn’t matter.

In the Bible, parts of time units were frequently counted as wholes. Thus a king might be said to have reigned for two years, even if he reigned for only 14 months. In the same way, a day and a night does not mean a period of 24 hours. It can refer to any portion of a day coupled with any portion of a night. The expression “three days and three nights” could be used as simply a slightly hyperbolic way of referring to “three days.”

Incidentally, if some Christians are going to be literal about Jesus' prediction that he would be "in the heart of the earth three days and three nights" then they ought to question the fact that Jesus was not actually buried in the heart of the earth.  In fact, he was not in the earth at all but rather placed in a rocky tomb presumably above the earth.

Clearly, as no one seems to dispute that Jesus was placed in a rocky tomb and not "in the heart of the earth", Christians should see that Jesus was not speaking literally with that prophecy; but, for some peculiar reason, believe that Jesus had to be speaking literally about the "three days and three nights" part of his statement.

For more in-depth study visit these websites:

Was Jesus Crucified on a Wednesday or a Friday? by Jimmy Akin
Catholics Come Home

"Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect" - 1 Peter 3:15

Thursday, March 21, 2013

The pope is just a man! Why do you Catholics worship the pope?

“Love the Lord with all your heart, and with all your soul,
         and with all your MIND”--Matt 22:37

Prayer for our Holy Father Pope Francis:

O God, shepherd and ruler of all the faithful,
look favorably on your servant Francis,
whom you have set at the head of your Church as her shepherd;

Grant, we pray, that by word and example
he may be of service to those over whom he presides
so that, together with the flock entrusted to his care,
he may come to everlasting life.

Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
 who lives and reigns with you in the
unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.


Question:  The pope is just a man!  Why do you Catholics worship the pope?

My initial reaction, when I hear questions like this, is:

During this historic month after the resignation of Pope Benedict XVI, the Catholic Church has been front and center in the news media. While the world took interest in this surprising and newsworthy event, much negativity has been proffered by some Christians regarding the papacy.

And lots of, frankly, really dumb things have been said about Catholicism.

On Facebook I've read these comments, (in addition to the one mentioned in the subject line):

1. "The pope doesn't save you.  Only Jesus saves you!" (followed by about a million "likes" from lots of uninformed people)

2. "I would never bow down before a man!"

"Anyway we all know the next pope is going to be a.) A hypocrite.... b.) probably instrumental in 'cover ups' of child abuse by Priests.... and c.) Embezzlement!!!!"

4. "I know of only One Holy Father and He reigns in heaven, not in the Vatican!"

What's the Catholic response?

In response to the question "The pope is just a man!  Why do you Catholics worship the pope?" the answer is, of course:  we don't.  We worship God alone.  The pope is given great honor and respect, but we don't worship him.   And is there any Church teaching that proclaims that the pope is anything other than a man?

As far as the comment #1 about the pope not saving us, (only Jesus saves), our response is, "True, dat!"  Except we ought to point out that we all participate in the salvation of the world by our actions.  Even St. Paul says that he (Paul) saves (but we understand it to mean that he saves only by his conformity to the atoning death of Christ). St. Paul states: 
To the weak I became weak, to win over the weak.  I have become all things to all, to save at least some.-1 Cor 9:22. Note that St. Paul says that he saves "at least some"! 

Regarding #2 about not bowing before a man, there's numerous examples in Scripture of people bowing before someone other than God.  That's simply an age-old custom of respect.  It doesn't necessarily mean worship.

And he came and stood near where I stood: and when he was come, I fell on my face trembling, and he said to me: Understand, O son of man, for in the time of the end the vision shall be fulfilled.—Daniel 8:17

Now when Joshua was near Jericho, he looked up and saw a man standing in front of him with a drawn sword in his hand. Joshua went up to him and asked, “Are you for us or for our enemies?”
 “Neither,” he replied, “but as commander of the army of the Lord I have now come.” Then Joshua fell facedown to the ground in reverence, and asked him, “What message does my Lord have for his servant?”
The commander of the Lord’s army replied, “Take off your sandals, for the place where you are standing is holy.” And Joshua did so.—Joshua 5:12-15

#3 is too ludicrous to even make an attempt at a response. But it's insulting nonetheless and bothersome that this sentiment is out there.

#4 opposes calling the pope "Holy Father" because only God is our Father.  Yes, God is our Father, but all men who participate in spiritual fatherhood can be called "holy father", right?  The Bible has numerous examples of men  being called "father".  And if these men are righteous and saintly, then we are justified in calling them "holy fathers", yes? 

In that day I will call my servant Eliakim, the son of Hilkiah, and I will clothe him with your robe, and will bind your girdle on him, and will commit your authority to his hand; and he shall be a father to the inhabitants of Jerusalem and to the house of Judah.–Isaiah 22:20

They answered and said to him, “Our father is Abraham.”—John 8

I(Paul) became your father in Jesus Christ through the Gospel -1 Cor 4:15

as well as the father of the circumcised who not only are circumcised, but also follow the path of faith that our father Abraham walked while still uncircumcised.—Rom 4:12

All of the above reference holy men, so we ought to be able to call them "holy fathers".

Despite comments like the above from uninformed folks, it's a great time to be Catholic!  It just really bothers me to read things like that because sooo many people hate what they think the Catholic Church teaches, but hardly anyone objects to what we truly do profess. 

For more in-depth study visit these websites:

Catholics Come Home

"Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect" - 1 Peter 3:15

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

What about inclusive language?

“Love the Lord with all your heart, and with all your soul,
         and with all your MIND”--Matt 22:37

What is meant by "inclusive language"? In this context, it is a movement in the Church to change all language that refers to God as "Father".  It also wants to ensure that any writings that say "brother" be changed to "brother and sister", "men" to "humanity", "mankind" to 'humankind", etc etc etc.  Women, in this paradigm, have been excluded from the Church's liturgical and theological language for centuries and it's time for the Church to adapt to the 21st century.  It is also insensitive to women to refer to God as "Father" and to use masculine pronouns when referring to God, according to this movement.

My opinion: regarding assuring that women are included in "mankind" and "brother"--is this really necessary?  Regarding changing God from "Father" and "He" to a more generic "Creator"--this is absolutely unnecessary, and maybe even heretical!  (Especially some literature that refer to God as Mother! Examples:

I remember going to a women's retreat and the nun who directed it refused to start our prayers with, "In the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit".  Rather, she used, "In the name of the Creator, the Redeemer, and the Sanctifier.".  Eek!  There was even a movement in some circles to baptize some folks using this formula (or a variation), and the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith came down hard on this practice and declared these baptisms to be invalid.

Many Catholic publications have been required to revise their writings so that no reference to God as "He" will remain. Instead,they must use "God" rather than the masculine pronoun.  Note how God is never replaced with "He" in this example:

The inability to refer to God in the masculine, and as Father is to deny a truth revealed to us by Jesus himself.  God is indeed our Father.  In the masculine.  This in no way denigrates women.  It is simply a fact that we image God as a loving Father.  From CS Lewis:
Goddesses have, of course, been worshipped: many religions have had priestesses. But they are religions quite different in character from Christianity.... Since God is in fact not a biological being and has no sex, what can it matter whether we say He or She, Father or Mother, Son or Daughter? Christians think that God Himself has taught us how to speak of Him. To say that it does not matter is to say either that all the masculine imagery is not inspired, is merely human in origin, or else that, though inspired, it is quite arbitrary and unessential. And this is surely intolerable. source

Yet this also is not to say that God is male.  (Well, yes, Jesus is a male, but God, in the Godhead, is not male; God has no gender.)

We as a Church simply do not have the authority to change the way God has revealed Himself to us.  As Catholic philosopher Peter Kreeft says,
One issue is whether we have the authority to change the names of God used by Christ, the Bible and the church. The traditional defense of masculine imagery for God rests on the premise that the Bible is divine revelation, not culturally relative, negotiable and changeable. source
So, no, I am not a fan of inclusive language. It seems patronizing, awkward and removes the natural elegance of language. I may be able to tolerate it when changes are made horizontally (mankind to humankind, brothers to brothers and sisters), no matter how cumbersome it makes the language. However, I believe it to be wrong when changes are instituted vertically (God as Father to God as Father-Mother; the inability to use the pronoun "He" for God).

For more in-depth study visit these websites:

Inclusive Language: Is it Necessary?

Catholics Come Home

"Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect" - 1 Peter 3:15