Not even Moses saw God; although he talked to the LORD “face to face” (Deuteronomy 34:10) – meaning in a conversational manner – the Scripture is clear that he didn’t really see God’s face (see Exodus 33:18-23). In addition it took a few centuries for mortal minds to fully wrap around the idea of the Trinity, even though it’s clearly in the Gospels (see, for example, Matthew 28:19). So it’s understandable that they say things that seem a bit askew to modern ears. And yet . . . is there more wisdom to be gleaned here? In Mark we see how Jesus walked on water after the miracle of feeding the five thousand. “But at once he spoke with them, ‘Take courage, it is I, do not be afraid!’ He got into the boat with them and the wind died down. They were completely astounded. They had not understood the incident of the loaves. On the contrary, their hearts were hardened.” Christ’s answer of “It is I” is literally translated as “I am,” which points to the divine revelation found – among other places – in Exodus 3:14 (“God replied, ‘I am who am,’ Then he added, ‘This is what you shall tell the Israelites: IAM sent me to you.'”). Look at the last two sentences from Mark: “They had not understood the incident of the loaves. On the contrary, their hearts were hardened.” What did they not understand? Why were their hearts hardened? Simply put, they didn’t understand the signs of Christ’s divinity. Their hearts were hardened to the truth that was before them: That Jesus was God. If you were walking along the street two thousand years ago and saw Jesus, you would not immediately know he was God. You would not “see” him. Similarly, if a nonbeliever saw the Eucharist, he would not “see” Christ, even though we know Scripture and Tradition clearly indicate he is physically there with us during that Sacrament. And even if we believe we are practicing Catholics, in our hearts, are we sure we are “seeing” Christ? About half of American Catholics don’t believe that – during Communion – the bread and wine become the body and blood of Jesus. (I can’t find statistics worldwide, but I suspect there are a large number of Catholics across the globe who don’t understand or accept the doctrine of transubstantiation.) In the Gospel of Mark, we learn of those who saw the truth but didn’t believe, and their hearts were hardened. Let us remain ever vigilant that – through Sacraments, Scripture, prayer, and more – we have ample opportunity to know God. If we fail to do so, the fault is with us.
Saint Simon and Jude
St. Simon is represented in art with a saw, the instrument of his martyrdom. St. Jude's square points him out as an architect of the house of God. St. Paul called himself by this name; and St. Jude, by his Catholic Epistle, has also a special right to be reckoned among our Lord's principal workmen. But our apostle had another nobility, far surpassing all earthly titles: being nephew, by his father Cleophas or Alpheus, to St. Joseph, and legal cousin to the Man-God, Jude was one of those called by their compatriots the brethren of the carpenter's Son. We may gather from St. John's Gospel another precious detail concerning him. In the admirable discourse at the close of the last Supper, our Lord said: "He that loveth Me, shall be loved of My Father: and I will love him and will manifest Myself to him." Then Jude asked Him: "Lord, how is it, that Thou wilt manifest Thyself to us, and not to the world?" And he received from Jesus this reply: "If any one love Me, he will keep My word, and My Father will love him, and We will come to him, and will make Our abode with him. He that loveth Me not keepeth not My word. And the word which you have heard is not Mine, but the Fathers who sent Me."
Levels of TzedakahCertain kinds of tzedakah are considered more meritorious than others. The Talmud describes these different levels of tzedakah, and Rambam organized them into a list. The levels of charity, from the least meritorious to the most meritorious, are:
- Giving begrudgingly
- Giving less that you should but giving it cheerfully.
- Giving after being asked
- Giving before being asked
- Giving when you do not know the recipient's identity, but the recipient knows your identity
- Giving when you know the recipient's identity, but the recipient doesn't know your identity
- Giving when neither party knows the other's identity
- Enabling the recipient to become self-reliant
World Hepatitis Day was proclaimed by the World Health Organization. It is celebrated annually on July 28th.