Archive for the ‘Inspired Scripture’ Category

One Bible, Many Interpretations

April 29, 2014

Mormons teach that the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are three Gods, and that we too can become Gods in our own right someday.

You may reply to them, for instance, with James 2:19, “You believe that God is one. You do well. Even the demons believe that and tremble,” but Mormons will have some explanation for that New Testament passage which fits their theology.

Oneness Pentecostals teach that the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are not three persons but three manifestations of one divine person, God.

You may ask them who Jesus is praying to in Matthew 26:39 when he says in the Garden of Gethsemane, “My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from me; yet, not as I will, but as you will,” yet Oneness Pentecostals will offer some answer for why Jesus is not praying to another person.

Jehovah’s Witnesses teach that Jesus is not God, not divine, but God’s first and greatest creature and that the Holy Spirit is not a person but the active force of God the Father in the world.

You may answer with the beginning and end of the Gospel of John: with John’s prologue where we see “the Word was with God, and the Word was God. … And the Word became flesh,” and the gospel’s climax, John 20:28, “Thomas answered and said to [Jesus,] ‘My Lord and my God!'” However, Jehovah’s Witnesses will surely have some reply for these verses.

A diagram of the ancient, orthodox, Christian conception of the Holy Trinity

A diagram of the ancient, orthodox, Christian conception of the Most Holy Trinity: One God, Three Divine Persons

In my personal experience, advocates of Mormon polytheism, Oneness Pentecostal modalism, or Jehovah’s Witnesses Arianism-esque theology have all been sincere, friendly, rational, and not unintelligent people. They were all well-versed in the Bible, regarded it as God’s infallible Word, and used it to support their beliefs. They all proudly claimed the name of “Christian.” However, the undeniable fact that their theologies contradict each other proves that these admirable personal traits are not enough to guarantee a true understanding of the Christian Faith. The problem is that there seems to be more than one possible internally-coherent interpretation of the Bible. Just as texts out of context can suggest several defensible, though incorrect, meanings; interpreting biblical texts outside the context of Christ’s one, holy, catholic, and apostolic Church leads to many errors.

Last week, two very nice Jehovah’s Witnesses visited me at my rectory and we spoke for a couple of hours. I believe we were debating whether one of Jesus’ “I Am” statements in John’s Gospel was a profession of his divinity when one of my guests remarked, “We can’t really be certain what he meant.” I replied to the effect, “You’re right!–If your opinion and my opinion are all we have to go on, if there’s no visible authority on earth with power from Jesus Christ to infallibly answer biblical questions, then we can never be certain our interpretations are true–since many sincere, reasonable, and even scholarly Christians firmly disagree. Without a clear, external teaching authority within the Church, we would be left as sheep without a shepherd and inevitably scatter.” Most Christians revere the Holy Scriptures as God’s infallible Word, and this is right and good, but for some reason many of them reject the Catholic Church through which the Scriptures come.

Recall that Jesus wrote nothing in the Gospels (except perhaps something in the dust near the woman caught in adultery) but Jesus did establish a Church. Through this Church the New Testament was written, collected, canonized, and revered. However, this process was certainly not completed in the first century AD. In the early Church there was much debate over which New Testament writings were inspired and should be included in the canon. The Shepherd of Hermas? The Book of Revelation? The Didache? The Letter to the Hebrews? The Epistle of Clement? Some early Church Fathers included works such as these in their lists of Bible books, while others left them out. It was the Catholic Church that ultimately canonized the New Testament books which all Christians acknowledge today.

One teaching shared by Mormons and Jehovah’s Witnesses is the belief that a Great Apostasy occurred in the early Church. The New Testament contains verses which warn about false teachers arising who will mislead many. A great deception, those religions say, happened soon after the death of the apostles and explains why the majority of self-professed Christians in history have held core doctrines widely different from their own. I would agree that false teachers and heresies arise in every age, but was there a Great Apostasy soon after the apostles that devastated Christ’s Church and caused his central teachings (like the true nature of God) to be discarded and forgotten?

Christ Handing the Keys to St. Peter by Pietro Perugino (detail)

Jesus entrusting the keys of his Kingdom to St. Peter (Matthew 16:19)

All Christians will agree that Jesus was a wise man. Jesus was a wise man indeed, who built his house on rock. Jesus declared to Simon, “‘I say to you, you are Peter [that is, you are “Rock” in Greek] and upon this rock I will build my church, and the gates of the netherworld shall not prevail against it.'” (Matthew 16:18) If Jesus was a wise man who built his house on rock we can be assured that even though “the rain fell, the floods came, and the winds blew and buffeted the house–it did not collapse; [his Church] had been set solidly on rock.” (Matthew 7:24-25)

After building his Church on Peter for some forty years, did Jesus let it go into shambles and fail to repair it for about eighteen centuries, until Joseph Smith or The Watchtower came along? If so, Jesus really dropped the ball. If the Mormons or Jehovah’s Witnesses are right, then God managed to get all of the New Testament books infallibly written, correctly canonized, and faithfully preserved throughout millennia, but could not maintain the truth about himself in his Church on earth in the hearts and minds of believers much beyond the death of the apostles. More likely, our Lord Jesus Christ succeeded in preserving his teachings and the visible hierarchical authority he gave to his Church, from St. Peter (the first pope) and the apostles to Pope Francis and the bishops in communion with him today. A clear and necessary line of teaching authority runs though the centuries, through the laying of hands and apostolic succession.

You may encounter people who will present you with internally-consistent but very different interpretations of Scripture. Do not let your hearts be troubled. There are good reasons for everything we believe as Catholics. They may “know” the Bible, but we are blessed to know God’s Church from which the Bible comes. If you love Jesus Christ, love his Catholic Church. As even St. Joan of Arc, who personally experienced the complexities of the Church as a divine and human institution, said, “About Jesus Christ and the Church, I simply know they are just one thing and we shouldn’t complicate the matter.” If you love Jesus’ Church you will love him well. Jesus Christ is risen and his Catholic Church, though ancient, has never died. Christ’s Church, the Bride he protects and for whom he laid down his life, is very much alive.

Tips for Praying With the Psalms

March 28, 2014

The Book of Psalms contains 150 psalms (or sung prayers) which have been used in communal worship and private devotion by God’s people for thousands of years; first among the Jews and now by Christians as well.   The psalms are prayers inspired by the Holy Spirit  corresponding to the wide spectrum of human experience:  joy and sorrow; triumph and defeat; contrition, thanksgiving, and praise.

Is it OK to question God and complain to him in prayer? Is it acceptable to tell the Lord how unhappy or angry you feel? The psalms show that God welcomes such prayers. He knows our only alternative to coming to him for help and healing is to stuff or deny these feelings, letting them to embitter or depress us.

Sometimes a particular psalm may not resonate with my spirit at the moment. For example, how can I benefit from a psalm lamenting a betrayal when all is well in my own life? I can pray such psalms as an intercessor for those experiencing such trials and unite my heart to theirs. Another way to pray each psalm with a new richness comes from the realization that these prayers were well-known and often offered by Jesus and Mary. This Lent, try praying the psalms through their eyes.

A Cursory Commentary of St. Matthew’s Gospel

July 23, 2012

By Father Victor Feltes

Matthew 1

Jesus is not a “once upon a time” myth, he becomes man as a part of real history

Jesus’ genealogy shows that God writes straight with crocked lines. He succeeds despite sins.

Forty forefathers’ generations precede Jesus because forty symbolizes times of preparation.

Like God the Father, Joseph chose mercy over what “the law” permitted (Deuteronomy 22:20.)

Joseph, like his namesake in Genesis, has dreams which lead to the salvation of the world.


The Way, Truth, & Life — 5th Sunday in Easter—Year A

May 22, 2011

Jesus said, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”

The Mass is an encounter with Jesus Christ, leading us to God the Father. Like Jesus Himself, the Mass contains the Way, the Truth, and the Life of Jesus. First, we journey on the Way to Jesus, then we come to the Truth of Jesus, finally we join in the Life of Jesus.

The Mass begins with the sign of the cross, for God is the beginning and end of everything. Next, we confess our unworthiness to approach the Lord, asking mercy for our sins, so that we may dare to take this journey to God. The, from the Holy Scriptures, we hear of God’s words and deeds among the Old Testament peoples and within the New Testament Church. In this, we learn of the providential way that God has prepared throughout time for us to encounter Jesus Christ today. Just as the journey on this Way through history leads to Jesus Christ, so the liturgy of the Word leads to the Gospel. Certainly, Jesus Christ the Word of God is present throughout the entire Word of God which is Sacred Scripture, but for the reading of the Gospel, we all stand up for Him and sing “Alleluia,” “Praise the Lord,” because we have come to Jesus Christ and He is more fully present among us in the proclamation of the Gospel.

The Gospel reading proclaims Jesus, who is the Truth. The homily that follows proclaims that the Truth matters for us here and now and demands our personal response. To this call, we answer with the Creed, proclaiming our faith in who God is and what He has done for us. In the Creed, we proclaim our acceptance of Jesus, the Truth. In the prayers of the faithful, we petition the Lord for our needs and concerns, saying in so many words, “Lord, let your kingdom come, on earth as it is in Heaven! Let us share you life! Give us your life!” At Mass, the Way leads to the Truth, and from the Truth we long for God’s Life. At Mass, the Liturgy of the Word leads to the Liturgy of the Eucharist.

The presentation of the gifts is not merely about moving around cash and bread and water and wine. The presentation of the gifts is about the presentation of everything that we have, and everything that we are, to God. We lift up our hearts to be one with our sacrifice. Amidst praises to the Father, the one life-giving sacrifice of the Last Supper, of the cross, and of Heaven becomes present here to us. We join in offering this sacrifice through Jesus, with Jesus, and in Jesus, in union with the Holy Spirit, to God the Father in Heaven.

Through this offered sacrifice, we join in God’s Life. We pray “Our Father,” because uniting with the paschal mystery, the great Easter deeds of Jesus, gives us life as the Father’s sons and daughters. Then we share with one another the sign of peace, the loving peace that is possessed by God’s holy ones. Finally, at the climax, we partake of Jesus Christ, Life Himself, most truly present in the Holy Eucharist.

Sometimes people say, “I just don’t get anything out of going to Mass. Father, I know that you say all this important and wonderful stuff is going on, but I don’t see it and I don’t feel it. The Mass is boring for me.” I understand. When I was a boy, I made a point of going to the bathroom (sometimes twice) during every Mass, just to break up the monotony. When I would see the priest cleaning the dishes at the altar—that was a good sign, because it meant that the Mass was almost done. I didn’t really know what was happening at Mass, so I really didn’t believe in what was happening at Mass. But as I grew older I began to learn what was happening, and as I grew in faith I began to believe in what was happening, and my experience of the Mass was transformed.

People who say that the Mass is boring resemble St. Phillip in something he said to Jesus at the first Eucharist, the Last Supper: “Master, (we don’t see or feel the presence of God the Father,) show us the Father, and that will be enough for us.” And Jesus said to him, “Have I been with you for so long a time and you still do not know me, Philip? Whoever has seen me has seen the Father. (Whoever has been to Mass has encountered my mysteries.) How can you say, ‘Show us the Father’? (How can you say, ‘The Mass is boring?’)” The awesome mystical realities of the Mass are true, and real, and present and active at every Mass we attend, whether we see them, or feel them, or believe in them, or not.

Jesus Christ and the Holy Mass contain the Way, the Truth, and the Life, and we shall receive from them according to our faith. Let us pray, that at this Mass and every Mass, we may be as fully present to Jesus Christ and His mysteries as they are to us at every Mass.

Peter Our Rock — February 22 — Chair of St. Peter

February 22, 2011

If you claim Jesus Christ as your Lord, then listen to His words. To those He sent to preach for Him, Jesus said this, “Whoever listens to you listens to me. Whoever rejects you rejects me.” (Luke 10:16) Today there are many people preaching many different things about what they think Jesus would have us believe and do. These varying opinions are well-intentioned and shared in good faith, by ministers from pulpits and in conversations between friends, but they cannot all be right. Unless it doesn’t matter what we believe or what we do, then this is a big problem. To whom should we listen? Is there anyone today for whom Jesus’ words are still true, “Whoever listens to you listens to me”?     Does anyone teach with authority, such that ‘whoever rejects their teaching rejects Christ?’ If not, we are lost; but if there is, where do we find this person?

On another occasion, Jesus spoke to the crowds and to his disciples, saying, “The scribes and the Pharisees have taken their seat on the chair of Moses. Therefore, do and observe all things whatsoever they tell you, but do not follow their example. For they preach but they do not practice.” (Matthew 23:1-3) Today teachers usually stand in front of their classes to teach them, but teachers in the ancient world would teach sitting down. Their chairs symbolized their authority, like the “chairman of the board” or the “chair of the English department.”Jesus spoke of the Chair of Moses, the position of the authoritative teaching for old Israel. For His new Church, Jesus establishes a new chair, the chair that we celebrate today, the chair of St. Peter and of his successors the Popes.

St. Peter, like every Pope after him, was only a man. He wasn’t perfect and he was weak in many ways. But Jesus has built His Church upon this rock. When the Pope, as the supreme pastor and teacher of all the faithful, proclaims by a definitive act a doctrine pertaining to faith or morals, he teaches it infallibly. For the good of the Church, the Pope is empowered by the Holy Spirit to teach the faith of Christ without error. Can popes sin? Yes, infallible does not mean impeccable, as various popes in history have shown, yet even these bad popes prove the faithfulness of God in preserving them from teaching errors. Of them Jesus would have said, “Do as they teach, but do not follow their example.”

Jesus knew that living the fullness of Christianity on earth required that He provide us with an infallible guide. Some Christians have held that the Bible alone is this guide, but the Scriptures do not interpret themselves, nor did the Bible books put themselves in the canon. Even the infallible Scriptures require an infallible Church, and an infallible Church requires an infallible voice.

Mark Twain is believed to have remarked, “When I was a boy of fourteen, my father was so ignorant I could hardly stand to have the old man around. But when I got to be twenty-one, I was astonished at how much the old man had learned in seven years.” Of course, it was not the father but the child who had changed, when he finally recognizing the wisdom of his father. Some people reject or ignore Catholic teachings as stupid, like those on the sacred dignity of all human life, or the teachings on human sexuality. Some people neglect the sacraments of the Church for years of their lives. Then, after gaining painful experience, they return with a new love and respect for our Holy Father’s wisdom, and the ways of our Mother, the Church. As wonderful as it is whenever people to come back to the Catholic faith, I would much prefer that you would know the greater joy and peace of remaining ever united to the rock of truth found only in our Church.

The Lamb of God — 2nd Sunday in Ordinary Time—Year A

January 16, 2011

When John the Baptist sees Jesus coming toward him he declares, “Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!” Why does John say that? How is Jesus like a lamb? Under the Old Covenant, animal sacrifices were offered for the forgiveness of sins.  The symbolism was that the animal, typically an unblemished lamb, was dying in place of the sinner who offered it. Jesus, like an obedient sheep that follows its master’s voice, does His Father’s will and takes our place in the sacrifice that truly forgives our sins. This is why Jesus is the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world.

John the Baptist goes on to say, “He is the one of whom I said, ‘A man is coming after me who ranks ahead of me because he existed before me.’” Indeed, Jesus existed before the universe itself. Through Him, all things were made, and all things that were made to point to Christ. For this reason, it is not so much that Jesus resembles the lambs of Old Covenant sacrifices. Instead, God established the ritual of sacrificing lambs for the forgiveness of sins in order to point to Christ.

Jesus is born in the age of the New Testament, but throughout the entire Old Testament the Holy Spirit has spoken through the prophets about Him. For example, our first reading from the book of Isaiah, written several centuries before Christ, is just one of hundreds and hundreds of passages pointing to Him. But, before we look at it again, a little background: Jacob was Abraham’s grandson. Jacob was renamed “Israel” by God and fathered twelve sons. From these twelve sons descended the twelve tribes of Israel. This is why the names “Jacob” and “Israel” can be interchangeable, and can refer to one person or many.

In Isaiah, the prophet writes, “The Lord said to me: You are my servant, Israel, through whom I show my glory.” To whom is God speaking here? Who is the servant whom God formed in the womb; the prophet himself, God’s faithful people, or Jesus Christ? There is truth to each of these interpretations, but Jesus shines especially through. Isaiah continues:

“It is too little, the Lord says, for you to be my servant, to raise up the tribes of Jacob, and restore the survivors of Israel; I will make you a light to the nations, that my salvation may reach to the ends of the earth.”

Jesus is the one who brings salvation and the resurrection not only to the descendants of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, but for all the nations on earth, bringing His light to Gentiles like you and I.  For another example, consider today’s psalm, written by King David 1,000 years before Christ. Hear these words again as coming from Jesus’ own lips:

Sacrifice or offering you wished not,
but ears open to obedience you gave me.
Holocausts or sin-offerings you sought not;
then said I, “Behold I come.”

“In the written scroll it is prescribed for me,
to do your will, O my God, is my delight,
and your law is within my heart!”

I announced your justice in the vast assembly;
I did not restrain my lips, as you, O Lord, know.

I have waited, waited for the Lord,
and he stooped toward me and heard my cry.
And he put a new song into my mouth,
a hymn to our God.

I suspect that these words had a personal meaning to David when he composed them, and the fortieth psalm has been prayed in a personal way by God’s faithful people ever since, but these words apply especially to the person and life of Christ. After preaching God’s word before crowds of thousands in the time of His ministry and obediently coming to the cross at its end, after crying out for His Father to save Him and waiting three days in the tomb, the resurrection has put a new song in Jesus’ mouth, a new hymn of praise to our Father.

The point is this: the Old Testament is not a dead letter, or a merely historical book. The passages of the Old Testament meant something historically to the people who wrote them, but those men were not the only authors—the Holy Spirit was writing, too. The Spirit was writing for all generations of God’s faithful people, including you and I today. The Spirit was also revealing and prophetically pointing to the person and life of Jesus Christ.

St. Jerome said, “Ignorance of the Scriptures is ignorance of Christ.” So when you hear the Old Testament proclaimed at Mass, and read the Bible on your own, look for the meaning it had in its historical context, look for the spiritual meaning it has for us today, and look for Jesus, because you can find Him there, and get to know Him better.

Finding Your Gospel

December 7, 2010

Want to read the Gospels more but don’t know where to start?
Take this short test to answer the question “Which Gospel is Best for You?

The Kingdom is Like… — Monday, 17th Week in Ordinary Time—Year II

July 26, 2010

Jesus says the Kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed sown in a field, or like some yeast worked into three measures of dough. These passages are usually taken to describe how the Church, or the Christian faith, despite small beginnings, has spread and transformed the entire world for the better. This is a valid interpretation, but the Kingdom of heaven is not only an external reality; it is internally and personally experienced. Since the Scriptures are written not only by human authors, but by the Holy Spirit as well, every passage contains more than one true interpretation. Jesus’ similies also describe faith in the life of individual Christians.

At the beginning of one’s discipleship, the seed of faith is small and vulnerable. Any challenge or trial, any passing bird, can potentially come along and consume it. This seed of faith must be guarded, watered, and given light. This means vigilence, education, and contact with Christ in prayer and the sacraments. In time, faith grows to the point that trials and challenges are no longer a grave threat, but calmly accepted.

The faith of the Christian is also like yeast which is not meant to be merely kept in a jar in on the shelf, segregated to Church or private life. It is meant to be mixed into the whole of life; at home, at work, and everywhere, so that the entire batch of life will be transformed and raised.

If your faith is young and fledging, or a confined and isolated part of your life, be encouraged by the hope these passages promise. The Kingdom of God is at hand for you.

Catechetical Mass Reflections — Nativity of St. John the Baptist

June 30, 2010

Before Mass

If you just sit around before Mass waiting, you are wasting your time. Prepare for Mass with prayer.

Ask Jesus to help you to be a fully present as He is present at this Mass.

Ask Him to help you be open to receiving everything He wants to give you at this Mass.

Form a Mass intention; that is, choose a person, group, or need you would like the graces of your participation in this sacrifice to be applied to.

After the Openning Prayer / Before the Readings

Shouldn’t we expect to find the incarnate the Word of God in the Word of God we proclaim at Mass? Look for Jesus shinng brilliantly in today’s first reading from Isaiah.

Millions of people purchased and “studied” the DaVinci Code even though it gave no real insights into Christ. Imagine if there were a book out which reputable archeologists claimed contained the actual prayers of Jesus and Mary? Would you read this book? Would you incorporate its prayers into your own devotions? This book really does exist… it is the Book of Psalms, which pious Jews in the time of Jesus and Mary knew by heart. Today we will be praying one of these psalms of Jesus and Mary and I invite you to unite your prayer to theirs.

In the second reading we will hear the preaching of St. Paul and in today’s gospel, the words written by St. Luke. Let us not think that they words are merely adressed to ancient Christians.  When the quill was put to papyrus to pen these words, the Holy Spirit saw you here. If you listen and are open to the Spirit, He will speak to you through these words.

After the Gospel / Before the Creed

Have you ever written or received a love letter? I believe it was St. Catherine of Siena (one of the three female doctors of the Church) who taught that we should say the creed like a love letter, as either one we are sending or one we have received. A love letter reflects the feeling of the lover and contains truths about the beloved. Let us call this to mind when we say the Gloria, too.

After the Presentation of the Gifts / Before the Eucharistic Prayer

During the Eucharistic prayer, don’t spectate, actively participate. You have not come to watch the priest pray for you, but to unite your prayer to His. When he prays for the Church, pray for the Church within yourself. When he prayes for the dead, pray for the dead, too.  The priest is the head and you are the body. Every member of the body should make the prayers of the mouth their own.

During Mass, look at the person you are praying to. Most of the prayers at Mass are addressed to the Father, while a few are addressed to the Son. When we are praying to the Father, raise your eyes up to Him in Heaven or close your eyes to address the He who cannot be seen. When Jesus is on the altar, look at Him with attentive love.

Put yourself and those you care for in the chalice, to be transformed like the wine and offered with Christ.

After Communion / Before the Closing Prayer

Take this moment to tell Jesus “thank you” for giving you so awesome a gift. It’s the least we can do.

Rejoice, Daughter Zion! — The Visitation

June 2, 2010

The Blessed Virgin Mary is the Icon of Israel and the Icon of the Church. Mary is the bridge between the Old and New Testaments and we can discover her in both. Whenever we encounter positive descriptions of “Jerusalem,” “Zion,” “Daughter Zion,” or “Israel” in the Old Testament, or praises of “Mother Church” today, these words often apply quite fittingly to Mary as well. Today’s first reading is a great example of this. But before returning there, let me share with you this interesting detail. Even though we traditionally pray, “Hail Mary, Full of Grace,” the Archangel Gabriel’s greeting to Mary at the Annunciation [“Chaire” in Greek] literally means , “Rejoice… Full of Grace!” Now hear again the words from the Book of Zephaniah:

Shout for joy, O daughter Zion!
Sing joyfully, O Israel!
Be glad and exult with all your heart,
O daughter Jerusalem!

In today’s Gospel, Mary fulfills these words, glad and exulting with all her heart:

My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord
My spirit rejoices in God my savior

Zephaniah says:

The LORD has removed the judgment against you,
he has turned away your enemies;
The King of Israel, the LORD, is in your midst,
you have no further misfortune to fear.

And Mary agrees:

He has mercy on those who fear Him
In every generation.
He has shown the strength of his arm,
he has scattered the proud in their conceit.

Earlier, at the Annunciation, when the angel Gabriel came to Mary, He said to her:

“Hail, [Rejoice,] full of grace! The Lord is with you.” But she was greatly troubled at what was said and pondered what sort of greeting this might be.

As Zephaniah foretells,

On that day, it shall be said to Jerusalem:
Fear not, O Zion, be not discouraged!
The LORD, your God, is in your midst,
a mighty savior;

And the angel says to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. Behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall name him Jesus,” a name which means, “God saves.”

Zephaniah foretold of the Lord’s pleasure in Mary,

He will rejoice over you with gladness,
and renew you in his love,
He will sing joyfully because of you,
as one sings at festivals.

The Lord rejoices over Mary, and Mary in her Lord. Let us always remember, that the Lord rejoices over us as well. Despite our sins and failings, we are the Church, the new Israel, and whatever one can say of Mary usually applies quite fittingly to us as well. Mary is the icon of the Church, the sign of who we are, and who we are called to be with Christ.

3 What If’s — Tuesday, 5th Week of Easter

May 4, 2010

Before today’s Mass, I would like you to imagine three “what if” scenarios. How would you respond in the three situations I’m about to describe?

First:  Imagine, what if, at this morning’s school Mass, the great apostle St. Paul was going to preach to you? How interested are you in whatever he has to tell you?

A second scenario: What if there were a book out entitled, Actual Prayers of Jesus and Mary, and what if there was strong archeological evidence to support that these really were prayers which Jesus and Mary prayed frequently during their lives on earth? How interested are you in discovering these prayers? How powerful would it be for you to pray their prayers?

The third and final scenario: What if I were to tell you, calmly and with firm conviction, that I had received a message for you, a revelation, from Jesus Christ, which He wanted you to hear through me at this Mass? How interested and open are you to receiving such a message?

Of these three scenarios, which one would you most desire to be true?Now listen closely…. All three of these scenarios will be realized, will be true, at this Mass.

The first scenario will be realized: St. Paul will indeed preach to you–in this morning’s first reading. Perhaps St. Paul did not realize it when he first spoke these words, nor perhaps did the sacred author who wrote them down in the Book of Acts, but the Holy Spirit was inspiring, was guiding these words.

And the Holy Spirit did not only have the first-century Christians of Lystra, Iconium, and to Antioch in mind when He prompted these words. St. Paul’s inspired message is meant for us today just as much as they. So this morning, St. Paul will preach a message (though only one sentence long) which is truly intended for you.

As to the second scenario, where is this book containing Actual Prayers of Jesus and Mary? We read from it at almost every Mass, as we will today. This book is the Book of Psalms. In the day of Jesus and Mary, all devout Jews prayed these 150 psalms and they usually knew them by heart. Jesus and Mary prayed the Psalms too. These prayers were inspired by the Holy Spirit to be prayed by all God’s people, including us today, but one could say that the Psalms find their fullest voice through Jesus and Mary. In today’s responsorial psalm, we will join Jesus and Mary in one of their powerful prayers in praise of the Lord.

The third scenario will also be true at this Mass: I have indeed received a message from Jesus Christ which He wants you to hear through me this morning. You will hear His message addressed to you in the proclaimation of the Gospel. At the Last Supper, Jesus was not only speaking to the disciples seated around Him. With His divine sight, Jesus saw all of us here then, and He speaks intending His words for us this morning just as much as they. How much will you allow Jesus’ message to you to affect and change you?

We believe that, “When the Scriptures are read in the Church, God himself is speaking to his people and Christ, present in his own word, is proclaiming the Gospel.” At this and at every Mass, let us come to the Scriptures expecting much, so that we may find much, and receive in from them in abundance.