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Sunday, April 7, 2019

Introduction to Judges[1]


The Hebrew word translated “Judges” in the English title of the book refers not to specialized judicial officers or magistrates but to leaders in general. According to the biblical narrative these judges led Israel from the end of the conquest of Canaan until the beginning of the monarchy. The period of the Judges, therefore, extended from the death of Joshua until the installation of Saul as Israel’s first king by the prophet Samuel, who was also the last judge.

·         The Book of Judges begins with two introductory passages.
o   The first (chap. 1) gives a description of the situation in Canaan after the Israelite conquest. It emphasizes the continued existence of the indigenous inhabitants of Canaan in many parts of the land because of Israel’s inability to drive them out completely.
o   The second passage is a thematic introduction to the period of the Judges, describing a cyclical pattern of infidelity, oppression, “crying out,” and deliverance.
·         The main part of the book consists of a series of stories about thirteen leaders whose careers are described in greater or lesser detail. The exploits of six of these—Othniel, Ehud, Deborah, Gideon, Jephthah, and Samson—are related at length, and all are shown to have delivered Israel from oppression or danger. They are customarily called “major judges,” whereas the other six—Shamgar, Tola, Jair, Ibzan, Elon, and Abdon—who appear only in brief notices, are designated “minor judges.” The thirteenth, Abimelech, is included in neither group, since his story is essentially a continuation of that of Gideon and his career is presented as deplorable, a cautionary tale of royal ambition.
·         The final section of the book consists of two episodes, one about the migration of the tribe of Dan and the other about an intertribal war directed against the tribe of Benjamin. These stories illustrate the religious and political disorder that prevailed at the time when, as yet, “there was no king in Israel”.




Fifth Sunday Of Lent-Passion Sunday
passiontide


Judges, Chapter 6, Verse 1-2
1 The Israelites did what was evil in the sight of the LORD, who therefore delivered them into the power of Midian for seven years, 2 so that Midian held Israel subject. From fear of Midian the Israelites made dens in the mountains, the caves, and the strongholds.

One does wonder; what was the evil that the Israelites did in the sight of the Lord?

Answer: Baal was the name of the supreme god worshiped in ancient Canaan and Phoenicia. The practice of Baal worship infiltrated Jewish religious life during the time of the Judges (Judges 3:7), became widespread in Israel during the reign of Ahab (1 Kings 16:31-33) and also affected Judah (2 Chronicles 28:1-2). The word baal means “lord”; the plural is baalim. In general, Baal was a fertility god who was believed to enable the earth to produce crops and people to produce children. Different regions worshiped Baal in different ways, and Baal proved to be a highly adaptable god. Various locales emphasized one or another of his attributes and developed special “denominations” of Baalism. Baal of Peor (Numbers 25:3) and Baal-Berith (Judges 8:33) are two examples of such localized deities.

According to Canaanite mythology, Baal was the son of El, the chief god, and Asherah, the goddess of the sea. Baal was considered the most powerful of all gods, eclipsing El, who was seen as rather weak and ineffective. In various battles Baal defeated Yamm, the god of the sea, and Mot, the god of death and the underworld. Baal’s sisters/consorts were Ashtoreth, a fertility goddess associated with the stars, and Anath, a goddess of love and war. The Canaanites worshiped Baal as the sun god and as the storm god—he is usually depicted holding a lightning bolt—who defeated enemies and produced crops. They also worshiped him as a fertility god who provided children. Baal worship was rooted in sensuality and involved ritualistic prostitution in the temples. At times, appeasing Baal required human sacrifice, usually the firstborn of the one making the sacrifice (Jeremiah 19:5). The priests of Baal appealed to their god in rites of wild abandon which included loud, ecstatic cries and self-inflicted injury (1 Kings 18:28).[1]

Baal Worship Today[2]


They drank wine, and praised the gods of gold, and of silver, of brass, of iron, of wood, and of stone. Daniel 5:4.
·         America has fully embraced paganism as 70,000 Wiccan, Satanists, nudists, new agers, sorcerers, earth-worshippers, party revelers and curiosity seekers descend to Black Rock Desert in Nevada for 8 days of debauchery and spiritualism.
·         The annual Burning Man Festival is the largest gathering in the world where revelers from around the globe dance the nights away as loud music blasts a wide range of music, from hip-hop, techno and electronic.
·         The all-night dance parties include invoking on the pagan deities, nudity, unrestrained sex and drug use, while during the day partygoers are treated to artistic displays and spiritualistic exercises, which include worshiping pagan gods. Every occult practice is on full display. This is a revival of the Old Testament worship of Baal.
·         The national, mainstream media is covering this event, but they are reporting it simply as an arts and music festival. What they dont tell you is that the biggest draw for the party-goers is the free, casual sex that is absolutely rampant at the Burning Man Festival. And it isnt just one on one sex that we are talking about, they actually have an orgy tent or temple that is always open. This is what is on full display in America. Every manner of perversion is glorified.This festival has become so popular that other nations are following in Americas footsteps and have launched their own free-love and free-spirited events in Israel, Africa, Spain, England and Australia. They all follow the same principles and and philosophy as the Nevada gathering.

Many ancient cultures such as Greece, Babylon, Rome, Sodom and the antediluvians ceased to exist for participating in these same displays of reckless revelry and sensuality. God wont be mocked. He is about to bring the curtain down on all this nonsense which America has bought into the world since the sexual/cultural revolution of the 1960s. The Scriptures point to a sexual and moral depravity that will exist in our world during the last days, the period just before the time of the end. Our generation is witnessing the fulfillment of this end time sign in an unprecedented way. The sexual revolution of our time has no parallel in history.

This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come. For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, without natural affection, trucebreakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good, Traitors, heady, highminded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God 2 Timothy 3:1-4.

How long will God allow this pagan perversion to continue? The Scriptures reminds us that there is a limit to Gods mercy.

·         And it shall be, if thou do at all forget the LORD thy God, and walk after other gods, and serve them, and worship them, I testify against you this day that ye shall surely perish. As the nations which the LORD destroyeth before your face, so shall ye perish; because ye would not be obedient unto the voice of the LORD your God. Deuteronomy 8:19, 20.
·         And I will cut off witchcrafts out of thine hand; and thou shalt have no more soothsayers: Thy graven images also will I cut off, and thy standing images out of the midst of thee; and thou shalt no more worship the work of thine handsAnd I will execute vengeance in anger and fury upon the heathen, such as they have not heard. Micah 5:12, 13, 15.
·         And I will utter my judgments against them touching all their wickedness, who have forsaken me, and have burned incense unto other gods, and worshipped the works of their own hands. Jeremiah 1:16.

Aids in Battle [3] The “Our Father” is a battle cry

In this prayer, Christ has just spoken of the Evil One, placing us on alert before the battle, reminding us of our enemy, and keeping us from negligence. “For the kingdom, the power, and the glory are Yours” (see Mt 6: 13).

·         The kingdom belongs to God, we should fear no one? For no one can withstand Him or tear apart His Empire.
·         “The power is Yours,” Christ says. For this reason, no matter how many forms your weakness may take, you may still rightly be confident in the battle.
·         “The glory is Yours.” Not only can God free you from the dangers you face; He can also make you glorious and outstanding in battle. His power is great, and His glory is beyond telling— they are both limitless and never come to an end. See how He has in every way anointed you, His champion, and surrounded you with confidence? ST. JOHN

Fifth Sunday Of Lent-Passion Sunday

Passion Week[4]


The focus of Passiontide is to meditate on the Jews' growing hatred of Christ recorded in the Gospel and makes plain His imminent death.

FROM this day, called Passion Sunday, until Easter the Church--gives herself up entirely to meditation on the passion of Jesus. Today the crucifixes are covered, in remembrance that from this time until His entrance into Jerusalem Jesus walked no more openly among the Jews. From to-day the Glory Be to the Father is omitted in the Mass, because in the person of Jesus Christ the Most Holy Trinity was dishonored. As on this day the high priests held council about Our Lord, the Church says, at the Introit of the Mass, in the name of the suffering Jesus, the words of the psalmist: Judge me, O God, and distinguish my cause from the nation that is not holy; deliver me from the unjust and deceitful man, for Thou art God, my strength. Send forth Thy light and Thy truth, they have conducted me and brought me unto Thy holy hill, and into Thy tabernacles (Ps. xlii. 1-3).

Prayer. We beseech Thee, Almighty God, mercifully look upon Thy family, that by Thy bounty it may be governed in body, and by Thy preservation be kept in mind.

EPISTLE. Heb. ix. 11-15.

Brethren: Christ, being come a high priest of the good things to come, by a greater and more perfect tabernacle not made with hands, that is, not of this creation: neither by the blood of goats, nor of calves, but by His own blood, entered once into the holies, having obtained eternal redemption. For if the blood of goats and of oxen, and the ashes of a heifer being sprinkled, sanctify such as are defiled, to the cleansing of the flesh: how much more shall the blood of Christ, Who by the Holy Ghost offered Himself unspotted unto God, cleanse our conscience from dead works, to serve the living God?

And therefore, He is the mediator of the New Testament: that by means of His death, for the redemption of those transgressions, which were under the former testament, they that are called may receive the promise of eternal inheritance, in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Explanation. St. Paul here teaches that Jesus Christ has given full satis faction for the sins of men, and opened to all the entrance into the sanctuary. The Church proposes this epistle to us in order that we may thank God for the great mercy of the redemption, love and praise Him, and be encouraged to share in His sufferings by fasting, prayer, and penitential works.

Aspiration. Give us Thy grace, O meekest Jesus, that by true sorrow for our sins, and by the practice of good works, we may become partakers of Thy bitter sufferings, and obtain the promised in heritance of eternal life. Amen.

GOSPEL. John viii. 46-59.

At that time Jesus said to the multitudes of the Jews: Which of you shall convince Me of sin? If I say the truth to you, why do you not believe Me?

He that is of God heareth the words of God. Therefore, you hear them not because you are not of God. The Jews therefore answered, and said to Him: Do not we say well that Thou art a Samaritan, and hast a devil?

Jesus answered: I have not a devil: but I honor My Father, and you have dishonored Me. But I seek not My own glory: there is One that seeketh and judgeth. Amen, amen, I say to you: if any man keep My word, he shall not see death forever. The Jews therefore said: Now we know that Thou hast a devil. Abraham is dead, and the prophets; and Thou sayest: If any man keep My word, he shall not taste death forever. Art Thou greater than our father Abraham, who is dead? and the prophets are dead. Whom dost Thou make Thyself?

Jesus answered: If I glorify Myself, My glory is nothing. It is My Father that glorifieth Me, of Whom you say that He is your God. And you have not known Him, but I know Him. And if I shall say that I know Him not, I shall be like to you, a liar. But I do know Him, and do keep His word. Abraham your father rejoiced that he might see My day. He saw it, and was glad. The Jews therefore said to Him: Thou art not yet fifty years old, and hast Thou seen Abraham?

Jesus said to them: Amen, amen, I say to you, before Abraham was made, I am. They took up stones therefore to cast at Him. But Jesus hid Himself, and went out of the temple.

Explanation. When Our Saviour said: He that is of God heareth God’s words, He meant to point out to the Jews the cause of their stubborn unbelief. He that is of God hears and loves that which is Godlike. When, therefore, we gladly hear the word of God and strive to do what we have heard, we testify that we are the children of God. Instead of reflecting on Our Saviour s words the Jews poured out their offended pride and abuse, and called Him a Samaritan, and one having a devil. The same thing happens to-day. Instead of listening to the truth; the proud man answers with calumny and contempt. Our Saviour hid Himself from the Jews to teach us to forgive aand avoid our enemies rather than to oppose them and take revenge on them.

Consolation under Insults

O friend, what insult can be given to you which your Savior has not suffered?

He was called a glutton and a drunkard, a heretic and a rebel, a friend and associate of sinners, and one who had a devil; He was even told that He cast out devils by the prince of devils (Matt. ix. 34). He, therefore, comforts His disciples with the words, “If they have called the good man of the house Beelzebub, how much more them of his household? (Matt. x. 25)

There is no sorrow so bitter that He has not borne it, for what was more painful and grievous than the death of the cross? Christians, “think diligently upon Him that endured such opposition from sinners against Himself, that you be not wearied, fainting in your minds, at contempt and insult.” (Heb. xii. 3)

Lenten Calendar[5]

Read: Take extra time with the Gospel today.

Reflect: We need to reject the desire to identify only with those who are sinless. How could the Church have excluded sinners from her ranks? It is for their salvation that Jesus took flesh, died and rose again. (Pope Benedict XVI, Meeting with Clergy in Poland, May 25, 2006) 

Pray: today for the courage to seek God’s will for you.

Act: In todays Gospel, Jesus challenges the scribes and Pharisees: Let the one among you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.  How often are you too quick to judge sinners? Take extra time to reflect on how you can be more loving and understanding of others you deem sinful. 

Passiontide Customs[6]

The main custom for Passiontide is the veiling of all sacred images in home and church with purple cloth. This custom originated in ancient times, when the images in the papal chapel of the Vatican were covered after the words of the Passion Sunday Gospel, "Jesus hid himself and went out of the temple" (Jn 8.59), were pronounced.


Passiontide:
  • (First) Passion Sunday. The Jews' growing hatred of Christ recorded in today's Gospel makes plain His imminent death.
  • Friday after Passion Sunday: Feast of the Seven Sorrows of the Blessed Virgin Mary. A special commemoration, one week before Good Friday, of Mary's com-passion for (literally, "suffering with") Her innocent son.
  • (Second Passion or) Palm Sunday. Christ's triumphant entrance into Jerusalem and the account of His Passion according to St. Matthew.
Mourning& Veiling[7]

Akin to the asceticism of Lent is its mournful tone. The Church is traditionally draped in purple or black, its organ silenced, and its altar bereft of any flowers. At home medieval Catholics would avoid frivolity or hilarity and would wear black during either Holy Week or Good Friday.

There is a special mourning custom that also begins on Passion Sunday (Fifth Sunday of Lent (Passion Sunday) and ends when the Gloria is sung during the Easter Vigil Mass: covering all sacred images (crucifixes, statues, etc) with purple cloth in both church and home. This might seem counterintuitive, since one would expect to gaze at a crucifix more during the season when the Passion is being considered. Yet the Roman rite teaches by absence as well as by presence. In an odd way, being denied access to the sacred images alerts you to their presence all the more, in the same way that not having the sacrifice of the Mass on the one day you would expect it the most, i.e., Good Friday, makes one all the more aware of the Sacrifice that took place on that day. Covering sacred images also adds immensely to the sense of sorrow and compunction that should naturally accompany this somber period.

The Church’s Calendar[8]

We often learn our doctrine much more deeply and effectively simply by celebrating the feasts and fasts of the Church.

In fact, in Orthodox Judaism the calendar is the catechism of Israel. According to Rabbi Samson Raphael Hirsch, “On the pinions of time which bear us through life, God has inscribed the eternal words of His soul-inspiring doctrine, making days and weeks, months and years the heralds to proclaim His truths. Nothing would seem more fleeting than these elements of time, but to them God has entrusted the care of His holy things, thereby rendering them more imperishable and more accessible.”


2698 The Tradition of the Church proposes to the faithful certain rhythms of praying intended to nourish continual prayer. Some are daily, such as morning and evening prayer, grace before and after meals, the Liturgy of the Hours. Sundays, centered on the Eucharist, are kept holy primarily by prayer. The cycle of the liturgical year and its great feasts are also basic rhythms of the Christian's life of prayer.

No one knows human nature better than the God who created it. The book of Genesis tells us that the Lord God made the world in six days and rested on the seventh. He rested not because he was weary-God does not tire-but because He wanted to provide a model for human labor and rest. The Church calendar coincides with the cosmic rhythms of God. The Church calendar reflects this fact:

That Christ rose from the dead in payment for our sins and is the Jewish Messiah that was hoped for.


Though technically only the last fourteen days of Lent explicitly consider the sufferings of our Lord, the Stations of the Cross (a.k.a. the Way of the Cross) have long been a popular Lenten devotion for any or all of the forty days (though they tend to be done on Fridays). These fourteen scenes from the via dolorosa, the sorrowful path that Christ took while carrying His cross to Golgotha, help direct one's heart to the mysterium fidei of our Lord's selfless sacrifice.

The Presence of God[10]


For Jews, there was only one Temple. It was the one place on earth that could truly be called holy. It was the place where God’s Spirit dwelt. The Temple was a place where they could withdraw from the pollutions of the world and know God’s presence in purity. As Christians by the action of Christ we, our bodies, are the temple of God, and He is always with us. No longer was God’s presence and his purifying ritual confined to a single geographic location. No longer were they the exclusive privilege of a single ethnic group. Now the temple has no walls. It is universal—that is, it’s catholic. We are the temple of God’s presence.

Do you not know that you are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in you? ...God’s temple is holy, and that temple you are. (I Cor. 3:16-17)

We are the temple of the living God; as God said, “I will live in them and move among them, and I will be their God, and they shall be my people.” (2 Cor.6:16)

When I was a youth of 20, I had the great honor of serving in the Navy Seabee’s and went to build the South Pole Station in Antarctica and breathing was difficult in the frozen thin air, here is an excerpt from my book,

“The Ice is Nice and Chee-Chee is Peachy.”

Most of the Steelworkers and I were assigned to shoveling snow that had accumulated from the winter. As you worked, it was so ice-cold that frost formed on your beard, face and hair from the vapor of your very breath. Living there, I could really reflect on the statement: “God is closer to you than the very air you breathe”. Being there gave new meaning to that. Your breath was always with you; you could not escape it; even if you tried. Your breath almost caressed you as you went about your day. I thought, “Are we really loved that much?” and then I reflected on John 3:16 from the bible and it seemed to make more sense to me.

Other Forms of Asceticism[11]

Since Lent recapitulates time spent in the desert, other forms of asceticism have accrued to its observance. Unessential travel and diversion are discouraged. In former times, certain forms of entertainment, such as live theatre and secular music, were banned, as was the holding of court. Weddings were also forbidden in the early Church; even after this changed, the Solemn Nuptial Blessing could not be given during a Lenten wedding. Finally, married couples were once admonished to abstain from conjugal relations during this time (as they were admonished to do during all solemn fasts and feasts). Again, the principle is the same: withdrawal from the preoccupations of the flesh in order to focus on the spirit. 

Today, plan to do at least one Novena for the calendar year for yourself and for your Family. I always plan to do the Divine Mercy Novena by hiking for nine Saturdays starting on the Saturday before Divine Mercy Sunday.

Daily Devotions

·         Drops of Christ’s Blood


·         Universal Man Plan


·         Manhood of Christ Day 5, Fifth Week.




[1] http://www.gotquestions.org/who-Baal.html
[2] http://adventmessenger.org/the-largest-baal-worship-service-on-the-entire-planet-is-in-america/
[3] Thigpen, Paul. Manual for Spiritual Warfare. TAN Books.
[4] Goffine’s Divine Instructions, 1896.
[8] Hahn, Scott, Signs of Life; 40 Catholic Customs and their biblical roots. Chap. 6. The Church Calendar.
[10] Hahn, Scott, Signs of Life; 40 Catholic Customs and their biblical roots. Chap. 32. Presence of God.

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