Introduction to Genesis
Genesis is the first book of the Pentateuch (Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy), the first section of the Jewish and the Christian Scriptures. Its title in English, “Genesis,” comes from the Greek literally, “the book of the generation (genesis) of the heavens and earth.”
The book has two major sections—the creation and expansion of the human race, and the story of Abraham and his descendants. The first section deals with God and the nations, and the second deals with God and a particular nation, Israel.
The Composition of the Book.
The Book of Genesis was written for a Jewish audience that had suffered the effects of the exile and was now largely living outside of Palestine. The text highlighted themes of vital concern to this audience:
- God intends that every nation have posterity and land.
- The ancestors of Israel are models for their descendants who also live-in hope rather than in full possession of what has been promised.
- The ancient covenant with God is eternal, remaining valid even when the human party has been unfaithful.
The seven-day creation account tells of a God whose mere word creates a beautiful universe in which human beings are an integral and important part. The plot has been borrowed from creation-flood stories attested in Mesopotamian literature of the second and early first millennia. In the Mesopotamian creation-flood stories, the gods created the human race as slaves whose task it was to manage the universe for them—giving them food, clothing, and honor in temple ceremonies. In an unforeseen development, however, the human race grew so numerous and noisy that the gods could not sleep. Deeply angered, the gods decided to destroy the race by a universal flood. One man and his family, however, secretly warned of the flood by his patron god, built a boat and survived. Soon regretting their impetuous decision, the gods created a revised version of humankind. The new race was created mortal so they would never again grow numerous and bother the gods. The authors of Genesis adapted the creation-flood story in accord with their views of God and humanity. For example, they attributed the fault to human sin rather than to divine miscalculation and had God reaffirm without change the original creation. In the biblical version God is just, powerful, and not needy.
How should modern readers interpret the creation-flood story?
The stories are neither history nor myth. “Myth” is an unsuitable term, for it has several different meanings and connotes untruth in popular English. “History” is equally misleading, for it suggests that the events actually took place. The best term is creation-flood story. Ancient Near Eastern thinkers did not have our methods of exploring serious questions. Instead, they used narratives for issues that we would call philosophical and theological. They added and subtracted narrative details and varied the plot as they sought meaning in the ancient stories. Their stories reveal a privileged time, when divine decisions were made that determined the future of the human race. The origin of something was thought to explain its present meaning, e.g., how God acts with justice and generosity, why human beings are rebellious, the nature of sexual attraction and marriage, why there are many peoples and languages. Though the stories may initially strike us as primitive and naive, they are in fact told with skill, compression, and subtlety. They provide profound answers to perennial questions about God and human beings.
One Jewish tradition suggests that God, having been rebuffed in the attempt to forge a relationship with the nations, decided to concentrate on one nation in the hope that it would eventually bring in all the nations. The migration of Abraham’s family is part of the general movement of the human race to take possession of their lands. Abraham, however, must come into possession of his land in a manner different from the nations, for he will not immediately possess it nor will he have descendants in the manner of the nations, for he is old and his wife is childless. Abraham and Sarah have to live with their God in trust and obedience until at last Isaac is born to them and they manage to buy a sliver of the land. Abraham’s humanity and faith offer a wonderful example to the exilic generation.
The historicity of the ancestral stories has been much discussed. Scholars have traditionally dated them sometime in the first half of the second millennium, though a few regard them as late (sixth or fifth century B.C.) and purely fictional. There is unfortunately no direct extra-biblical evidence confirming (or disproving) the stories. The ancestral stories have affinities, however, to late second-millennium stories of childless ancestors, and their proper names fit linguistic patterns attested in the second millennium. Given the lack of decisive evidence, it is reasonable to accept the Bible’s own chronology that the patriarchs were the ancestors of Israel and that they lived well before the exodus that is generally dated in the thirteenth century.
Jacob and his twelve sons.
The stories are united by a geographical frame: Jacob lives in Canaan until his theft of the right of the firstborn from his brother Esau forces him to flee to Paddan-Aram (alternately Aram-Naharaim). There his uncle Laban tricks him as he earlier tricked his brother. But Jacob is blessed with wealth and sons. He returns to Canaan to receive the final blessing, land, and on the way is reconciled with his brother Esau. As the sons have reached the number of twelve, the patriarch can be given the name Israel. The blessings given to Abraham are reaffirmed to Isaac and to Jacob.
The last cycle of ancestor stories is about Jacob’s son Joseph. The Joseph stories are sophisticated in theme, deftly plotted, and show keen interest in the psychology of the characters. Jacob’s favoring of Joseph, the son of his beloved wife Rachel, provokes his brothers to kill him. Joseph escapes death through the intercession of Reuben, the eldest, and of Judah, but is sold into slavery in Egypt. Judah undergoes experiences similar to Joseph’s. Joseph, endowed by God with wisdom, becomes second only to Pharaoh in Egypt. From that powerful position, he encounters his unsuspecting brothers who have come to Egypt because of the famine, and tests them to see if they have repented. Joseph learns that they have given up their hatred because of their love for Israel, their father. Judah, who seems to have inherited the mantle of the failed oldest brother Reuben, expresses the brothers’ new and profound appreciation of their father and Joseph. At the end of Genesis, the entire family of Jacob/Israel is in Egypt, which prepares for the events in the Book of Exodus.
February 8 Wednesday
Saint Bakhita-Marriage week
Genesis, Chapter 3, verse 8-10:
8 When they heard the sound of the LORD God walking about in the garden at the breezy time of the day, the man and his wife hid themselves from the LORD God among the trees of the garden. 9 The LORD God then called to the man and asked him: Where are you? 10 He answered, “I heard you in the garden; but I was AFRAID, because I was naked, so I hid.”
The Law of Influence
Eve had no leadership role; no title yet she had influence. Everyone regardless of their roles is important and generates influence either positive or negative. Eve demonstrated the impact of negative influence. Although God commissioned Adam as her spiritual leader, Eve usurped the role of Adam, who followed his wife rather than God and together they led humankind into sin.
Marriage Week-Male-Female Complementarity
God created man in his image in the divine image he created him; male and female he created them. (Gn 1:27) The two creation stories in the book of Genesis communicate two important truths about the identity of man and woman and the relationship between them. In the first account, God creates both male and female at the same time and in the divine image. This act completes creation, and God judges it to be ―very good (Gn 1:31). In this way, Sacred Scripture affirms the fundamental equality and dignity of man and woman as persons created in God ‘s image. The second creation account emphasizes that both sexes are necessary for God ‘s plan. Having created Adam, God says, ―It is not good for the man to be alone (Gn 2:18).
So, God creates a helpmate who is suitable for him and matches him. ―Helpmate (ezer) is a word reserved in the Bible not for inferiors but most often for God himself, who is Israel ‘s ―helper.
Indeed, after God creates all of the animals and brings them to Adam to name, it becomes clear that none of them is―the suitable partner for the man (Gn 2:20). Then God puts Adam under a deep sleep and, using one of his ribs, builds up a woman for him as a suitable partner or helpmate. When he sees the woman, Adam cries out in wondrous joy: This one, at last, is bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; this one shall be called―woman, for out of ―her man this one has been taken. (Gn 2:23) Adam and Eve were literally made for each other. Man and woman have been made to come together in the union of marriage. The text of Genesis continues: That is why a man leaves his father and mother and clings to his wife, and the two of them become one body [flesh] (Gn 2:24).
Marriage, this clinging together of husband and wife as one flesh, is based on the fact that man and woman are both different and the same. They are different as male and female, but the same as human persons who are uniquely suited to be partners or helpmates for each other. The difference between man and woman, however, cannot be restricted to their bodies, as if the body could be separated from the rest of the human person. The human person is a union of body and soul as a single being. Man and woman are two different ways of being a human person.
While man and woman are different, their differences serve to relate them to each other. They are not different in a parallel way, as two lines that never meet. Man and woman do not have separate destinies. They are related to each other precisely in their differences. The differences between male and female are complementary. Male and female are distinct bodily ways of being human, of being open to God and to one another—two distinct yet harmonizing ways of responding to the vocation to love.
While human persons are more than biological organisms, the roots of marriage can be seen in the biological fact that a man and a woman can come together as male and female in a union that has the potential for bringing forth another human person. This kind of union fills the need for the continuation of the human race. Since human beings exist at more than a biological level, however, this union has further personal and spiritual dimensions. Marriage does not exist solely for the reproduction of another member of the species, but for the creation of a communion of persons. To form a communion of persons is the vocation of everyone.
As Pope John Paul II teaches, all human persons are created in the image of God, who is a communion of love of three persons, and thus all are called to live in a communion of self-giving love: ―to say that man is created in the image and likeness of God means that man is called to exist ̳for ‘others, to become a gift.
Marriage, however, is a unique communion of persons. In their intimate union as male and female, the spouses are called to exist for each other. Just as Genesis describes Eve as a helper for Adam, we can see that in marriage, a husband and wife are meant to help each other through self-giving. ―In the ̳unity of the two, ‘man and woman are called from the beginning not only to exist side by side ‘or together, ‘but they are also called to exist mutually one for the other. ‟This communion of persons has the potential to bring forth human life and thus to produce the family, which is itself another kind of communion of persons and which is the origin and foundation of all human society. It is precisely the difference between man and woman that makes possible this unique communion of persons, the unique part8nership of life and love that is marriage. A man and woman united in marriage as husband and wife serve as a symbol of both life and love in a way that no other relationship of human persons can.
Prayer for Married Couples
Almighty and eternal God, You blessed the union of married couples so that they might reflect the union of Christ with his Church: look with kindness on them. Renew their marriage covenant, increase your love in them, and strengthen their bond of peace so that, with their children, they may always rejoice in the gift of your blessing. We ask this through Christ our Lord. Amen
Saint Bakhita-Slave to Saint-Quotes
· "If I were to meet the slave-traders who kidnapped me and even those who tortured me, I would kneel and kiss their hands, for if that did not happen, I would not be a Christian and Religious today... The Lord has loved me so much: we must love everyone... we must be compassionate!" ~ Josephine Bakhita
· "Seeing the sun, the moon and the stars, I said to myself, 'Who could be the Master of these beautiful things?' I felt a great desire to see him, to know him and to pay him homage." ~ Josephine Bakhita
· "The Lord has loved me so much: we must love everyone...we must be compassionate!" ~ Josephine Bakhita
· "O Lord, if I could fly to my people and tell them of your goodness at the top of my voice, oh how many souls would be won!" ~ Josephine Bakhita
Rule of Traditional Catholic Fasting
All members of this sodality agree to commit to the Tier 1, which is beyond the minimum required by Church law. Members may also privately commit to Tier 2 or Tier 3 at their own or their spiritual director’s discretion. This is open to Catholics of any Rite.
This Tier takes the 1917 Code of Canon Law as a minimum (adding a few extra changes that occurred in the decades following its promulgation), but removes partial abstinence, which was instituted in 1741 as a direct attack to Lenten discipline.
No flesh meat (i.e., meat from mammals or fowl) is to be consumed on any Friday in the year with no exceptions.
No flesh meat is to be consumed throughout all of Lent from Ash Wednesday through Holy Saturday inclusive (including Sundays)
No flesh meat is to be consumed on any Ember Day, the Vigil of Ss. Peter and Paul (June 28), Vigil of the Assumption (August 14), the Vigil of All Saints (October 31), the Vigil of the Immaculate Conception (December 7), the Vigil of Christmas (December 24), the Vigil of Pentecost, and January 22 (transferred to January 23 when the 22nd falls on a Sunday) for the National Day of Penance for Human Life.
No sweets may be consumed for the duration of Lent (e.g., cake, cookies, pie, candies, gummies, chocolate/candy bars, pastries, cupcakes, chocolate muffins, pudding/custard, ice cream, Nutella, fudge, truffles, pralines, bonbons, mochi)
Fasting is defined as one meal only a day that may not be consumed earlier than noon but preferably is consumed after 3 PM or even after sunset. If necessary, an optional evening collation and an optional morning frustulum is allowed.
Fasting is to be observed for the entirety of Lent (except for Sundays), the Ember Days, the Vigil of Ss. Peter and Paul (June 28), Vigil of the Assumption (August 14), the Vigil of All Saints (October 31), the Vigil of the Immaculate Conception (December 7), the Vigil of Christmas (December 24), the Vigil of Pentecost, and January 22 (transferred to January 23 when the 22nd falls on a Sunday) for the National Day of Penance for Human Life.
Everything as above in Tier 1 with the following additions:
No flesh meat (i.e., meat from mammals or fowl) is to be consumed on any Saturday in the year unless that day is a First-Class Feast or a former Holy Day of Obligation
Abstinence for all of Lent (including Sundays) includes abstaining from all seafood (e.g., fish, shellfish) and all dairy products (e.g., milk, eggs, cheese). Hence, Lent is a vegan fast – not a vegetarian one.
Abstinence on the Minor and Major Rogation Days.
No flesh meat is to be consumed during St. Martin’s Lent from November 12 until Christmas Day – except for Sundays, the Feast of the Immaculate Conception (unless it falls on a Friday), and Thanksgiving Day in the United States of America
Everything as above in Tier 1 with the following additions: The entirety of St. Martin’s Lent in Advent (except for Sundays) are days of abstinence from flesh meat.
In this tier, the fast and abstinence that is omitted in years when a day falls on a Sunday is transferred to the preceding Saturday (as it was done before the 1917 Code of Canon Law changes).
Everything as above in Tier 1 & 2 with the following additions:
Abstinence for the Vigil of the Purification of our Lady (February 1), the Vigil of Corpus Christi, the Vigil of St. Lawrence (August 9), the Vigil of St. Bartholomew (August 23), the Vigil of Ss. Simon and Jude (October 27), and for the duration of the Apostles Fast (except on Sundays) and the Assumption Fast (except on Sundays).
Everything as above in Tier 1 & 2 with the following additions: Fasting for the duration of Apostles Fast in June (except on Sundays) and the Assumption Fast in August (except on Sundays) along with the Vigil of St. Lawrence (August 9), the Vigil of St. Bartholomew (August 23), the Vigil of Ss. Simon and Jude (October 27).
In this tier, like the one above, the fast and abstinence that is omitted in years a day falls on a Sunday is transferred to the preceding Saturday (as it was done before the 1917 Code of Canon Law changes).
Every Wednesday is Dedicated to St. Joseph
The Italian culture has always had a close association with St. Joseph perhaps you could make Wednesdays centered around Jesus’s Papa. Plan an Italian dinner of pizza or spaghetti after attending Mass as most parishes have a Wednesday evening Mass. You could even do carry out to help restaurants. If you are adventurous you could do the Universal Man Plan: St. Joseph style. Make the evening a family night perhaps it could be a game night. Whatever you do make the day special.
Catechism of the Catholic Church
PART THREE: LIFE IN CHRIST
SECTION TWO-THE TEN COMMANDMENTS
Chapter 2 “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.
Article 5-THE FIFTH COMMANDMENT
2318 "In [God's] hand is the life of every living thing and the breath of all mankind" (Job 12:10).
2319 Every human life, from the moment of conception until death, is sacred because the human person has been willed for its own sake in the image and likeness of the living and holy God.
2320 The murder of a human being is gravely contrary to the dignity of the person and the holiness of the Creator.
2321 The prohibition of murder does not abrogate the right to render an unjust aggressor unable to inflict harm. Legitimate defense is a grave duty for whoever is responsible for the lives of others or the common good.
2322 From its conception, the child has the right to life. Direct abortion, that is, abortion willed as an end or as a means, is a "criminal" practice (GS 27 # 3), gravely contrary to the moral law. the Church imposes the canonical penalty of excommunication for this crime against human life.
2323 Because it should be treated as a person from conception, the embryo must be defended in its integrity, cared for, and healed like every other human being.
2324 Intentional euthanasia, whatever its forms or motives, is murder. It is gravely contrary to the dignity of the human person and to the respect due to the living God, his Creator.
2325 Suicide is seriously contrary to justice, hope, and charity. It is forbidden by the fifth commandment.
2326 Scandal is a grave offense when by deed or omission it deliberately leads others to sin.
2327 Because of the evils and injustices that all war brings with it, we must do everything reasonably possible to avoid it. the Church prays: "From famine, pestilence, and war, O Lord, deliver us."
2328 The Church and human reason assert the permanent validity of the moral law during armed conflicts. Practices deliberately contrary to the law of nations and to its universal principles are crimes.
2329 "The arms race is one of the greatest curses on the human race and the harm it inflicts on the poor is more than can be endured" (GS 81 # 3).
2330 "Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God" (Mt 5:9).
· Plan winter fun:
John Maxwell, The Maxwell Leadership Bible.