Sunday, June 04, 2023

Making Disciples

Making disciples should be easy, but it is not,

Matthew 28:16-20

Now the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain to which Jesus had directed them. When they saw him, they worshipped him; but some doubted. And Jesus came and said to them, ‘All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything that I have commanded you. And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age.’

The message of the Gospel should be enough to win anyone over, and people should eagerly desire to be baptized, but the spirit of the age vigorously opposes the work of  Holy Spirit. 

Teaching disciples to obey His commands is another thing we must constantly practice. The human ability to backslide is repeated so many times in the Bible that  we know following baptism, continuing Christian education is a must.

Pray for the teachers. They can backslide too, and when that happens you don't make disciples from all nations. You wind up with addicts to the zeitgeist who typically share the poison they have been fed with those around them.

Wednesday, May 31, 2023

Meanwhile, down under

I shouldn't be, but I am at a loss for words about this story from Australia,

 (LifeSiteNews) — In a move that points to increasing political hostility in Australia towards Catholic and other Christian institutions, the Australian Capital Territory (ACT) government has moved to mandatorily acquire Canberra’s Catholic-run Calvary Hospital.

The takeover required the introduction of a bill, a change in the law – an unprecedented move in Australia’s history.  

The bill stipulates that the ACT government will move into the premises on July 3 and take over the operation of the hospital. This will occur before any compensation is agreed to or paid. 

The extreme move and hasty implementation – designed to keep public debate to a minimum – is taking place because the Catholic-owned hospital has a history of being pro-life and of not supporting euthanasia. 

A recent ACT government inquiry into abortion and reproductive choice described Calvary Hospital as “problematic… due to an overriding religious ethos.”  The inquiry issued warnings about an “ethically fraught dependence” on the Sisters of the Little Company of Mary for provision of health services.  

The bureaucrats and politicians rely on muted words like “problematic” and neutral phrases (in the press release) like “the evolving needs of the ACT community” to create the impression that this is merely an administrative decision...

A more accurate picture was provided by the leader of the federal opposition, Peter Dutton, who said that he was “just not aware of an action like it elsewhere in the country or, frankly, around the world, where a government has taken a decision based on their opposition to a religion to compulsorily acquire a hospital in these circumstances a facility that’s working well and in the greater public interest and good in a local community and just for ideological reasons.” 

Father Tony Percy from ACT’s Catholic diocese described the move as “basically religious bigotry writ large,” saying it sets a dangerous precedent that could “see other Christian-owned properties ‘acquired’ in Soviet-style takeovers.” He said the takeover could create a precedent for other governments to seize Christian facilities like schools and aged care facilities. 

...Rob Norman, the Australian Christian Lobby’s ACT director, described the move as an “authoritarian decision… reminiscent of a Soviet style takeover of non-Government assets.” He said the ACT government has “no tolerance for religious convictions that oppose the will of the State.” 

...there is a widely-held view in Australia that the nation has a legally enforced separation of Church and state. It is not true, or at least only partly true.

Under section 116 of the Constitution there is a guarantee of the Freedom of Religion but these prohibitions only apply to the Commonwealth government, not to the States, which are free to discriminate on the basis of religion.

The ACT is not a state, but a territory, so theoretically it falls under the control of the federal government. But the left-wing Federal Labor government is unlikely to do anything. 

I hope U.S. officials don't try this kind of direct take over of a hospital although I am aware that our government uses other ways to pressure hospitals to perform abortions. When euthanasia becomes more commonplace, I expect more U.S. hospitals to feel pressure from the Federal government to do the wrong thing. Our government believes that once accept payments from Medicare and Medicaid you must then provide all services approved by those agencies. 

Sunday, May 28, 2023

Pentecost: Let them eat cake

 It is often said that Pentecost is the Church's birthday. Many times, birthday cake will be served at coffee hour on Pentecost Sunday. If you enjoy that yummy tradition, the following discussion from Crisis Magazine by Monsignor Richard Antall might leave a bad taste in your mouth.

The traditional view of the birth of the Church is found expressed in Mystici Corporis Christi, the encyclical of Pius XII issued on the feast of Saints Peter and Paul in 1943. Recalling the teaching of Pope Leo XIII, the encyclical says:

As We set out briefly to expound in what sense Christ founded His social Body, the following thought of Our predecessor of happy memory, Leo XIII, occurs to Us at once: “The Church which, already conceived, came forth from the side of the second Adam in His sleep on the Cross, first showed Herself before the eyes of men on the great day of Pentecost.”[23] For the Divine Redeemer began the building of the mystical temple of the Church when by His preaching He made known His Precepts; He completed it when he hung glorified on the Cross; and He manifested and proclaimed it when He sent the Holy Ghost as Paraclete in visible form on His disciples. (26)

According to Mystici Corporis Christi, Pentecost was then the great day when the Church “first showed Herself before the eyes of men.” That manifestation was not the birthday. The theologian Louis Bouyer said Pentecost marked the inauguration of the “missionary expansion” of the Church.

Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, then Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, gave a conference at the Pastoral Congress of the Diocese of Aversa, Italy, on September 15, 2001. His topic was the ecclesiology of the Second Vatican Council. In that conference, he talked about when the Church was “founded.”

I will attempt to answer this question with a brief mention of some fundamental points. The first point is that Jesus’ Last Supper could be defined as the event that founded the Church. Jesus gave His followers this Liturgy of Death and Resurrection and at the same time He gave them the Feast of Life. In the Last Supper, He repeats the covenant of Sinai—or rather what at Sinai was a simple sign or prototype—that becomes now a complete reality: the communion in blood and life between God and man. Clearly the Last Supper anticipates the Cross and Resurrection and presupposes them, otherwise it would be an empty gesture. This is why the Fathers of the Church could use a beautiful image and say that the Church was born from the pierced side of the Lord, from which flowed blood and water. When I state that the Last Supper is the beginning of the Church, I am actually saying the same thing, from another point of view.”

In 1921, the Protestant theologian Ferdinand Kattenbusch tried to show that Jesus’ words of institution at the Last Supper constituted the act of founding the Church. With these words, he argued, Jesus gave His disciples something new that bound them together and made them into a community. Kattenbusch was right: with the Eucharist, the Church herself was established. Through Christ’s body, the Church became one, she became herself, and at the same time, through His death, she was opened up to the breadth of the world and its history.” (Jesus of Nazareth, Part Two)

I say, "Let them eat cake. I'll have the body and blood." 

Wednesday, May 24, 2023

Exodus: Movement of the people away from the UMC

God has liberated 40% of United Methodist churches from southern Georgia USA! 

From The Christian Post

 More than a third of the congregations that once belonged to a Georgia-based regional body of The United Methodist Church have disaffiliated from the denomination over its ongoing debate over homosexuality.

The issue is not just homosexuality. It is a matter of orthodoxy.  

The UMC South Georgia Conference (SGA) voted Sunday to approve the disaffiliation votes of 193 of its reported 486 member congregations, joining thousands of other congregations in the United States that have left their respective UMC regional bodies...

...A spokesperson for the conference directed The Christian Post to a statement by SGA UMC Bishop David Graves, who called the departure of the 193 churches “a day of sadness in the life of the South Georgia Annual Conference.”

It was a day of gladness not one of sadness Bishop! 

...According to statistics compiled by UM News, more than 3,500 congregations have left the UMC in recent years, with over 1,800 doing so in 2022 alone.

May they be fruitful and multiply!

Sunday, May 21, 2023

Revised Common Lectionary cuts out "God opposes the proud"

This Sunday's Revised Common Lectionary (RCL) reading from 1 Peter 4:12-14, 5:6-11 serves as another example of how the RCL softens the message of scripture through strategic edits. First, read through the passages as presented in many a church this morning,

4:12 Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal that is taking place among you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. 13 But rejoice in so far as you are sharing Christ’s sufferings, so that you may also be glad and shout for joy when his glory is revealed. 14 If you are reviled for the name of Christ, you are blessed, because the spirit of glory, which is the Spirit of God, is resting on you.

5:6 Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, so that he may exalt you in due time. 7 Cast all your anxiety on him, because he cares for you. 8 Discipline yourselves; keep alert. Like a roaring lion your adversary the devil prowls around, looking for someone to devour. 9 Resist him, steadfast in your faith, for you know that your brothers throughout the world are undergoing the same kinds of suffering. 10 And after you have suffered for a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, support, strengthen, and establish you. 11 To him be the power for ever and ever. Amen.

That sounds well enough. To their credit the editors included mention of "the devil" for the Sunday pewsitters' ears. 

Now, read what was cut out, and try to figure out what was offensive,

4:15 But let none of you suffer as a murderer, a thief, a criminal, or even as a mischief-maker. 16 Yet if any of you suffers as a Christian, do not consider it a disgrace, but glorify God because you bear this name. 17 For the time has come for judgement to begin with the household of God; if it begins with us, what will be the end for those who do not obey the gospel of God? 18 And

‘If it is hard for the righteous to be saved,

   what will become of the ungodly and the sinners?’

19 Therefore, let those suffering in accordance with God’s will entrust themselves to a faithful Creator, while continuing to do good.

5:1 Now as an elder myself and a witness of the sufferings of Christ, as well as one who shares in the glory to be revealed, I exhort the elders among you 2 to tend the flock of God that is in your charge, exercising the oversight, not under compulsion but willingly, as God would have you do it—not for sordid gain but eagerly. 3 Do not lord it over those in your charge, but be examples to the flock. 4 And when the chief shepherd appears, you will win the crown of glory that never fades away. 5 In the same way, you who are younger must accept the authority of the elders. And all of you must clothe yourselves with humility in your dealings with one another, for

‘God opposes the proud,

   but gives grace to the humble.’

If the editors of the RCL were an artificial intelligence (A.I.) program, then I would guess that someone programmed it to look for key words such as "judgement" (v. 4:17), "obey" (v. 4:17), "sinners" v. 4:18, and "the proud" (v.5:5). These patterns show up if you pay attention to what the RCL leaves out.

"God opposes the proud."
Now that's a good line to put on your t-shirt when you attend one of next month's "Pride" parades.

Be sure to wear the full armor of God if you do.

Wednesday, May 17, 2023

Proof of the Slippery Slope Theory of Euthanasia?

Call it what you will, the camel's nose under the tent, slouching to Gomorrah, the slippery slope, but in Canada the "euthanasia" movement is moving less like a camel or a glacier and more like a landslide, and this movement is dragging Canada's youth with it.


(LifeSiteNews) — In a society unmoored from moral absolutes, law frequently becomes a moral teacher. That is why we have seen practices and behaviors once opposed by solid majorities become accepted by equally large majorities almost overnight — because once the stigma of criminalization or legal restriction was removed, the public promptly adopted a new position. We are seeing this unfold in profoundly chilling ways with assisted suicide, which was legalized in Canada in 2016.

According to a new survey done by Research Co. between April 22 and 24 among 1,000 adults, Canadian attitudes toward assisted suicide are expanding with the boundaries of our euthanasia regime. Consider a few significant numbers.

27% believe that people should have access to euthanasia because they are poor — a number that rises to 41% among the 18 to 34 age group. A full 28% believe that Canadians should have access to euthanasia for homelessness...

It is important to note, despite a conveyor belt of horror stories about the poor applying for assisted suicide, Canadians have clearly not been hearing what they are saying. They don’t want to die — they want to be able to live, as one MAiD (Medical Assistance in Dying, UGP) applicant Les Landry told me...

The most chilling statistic, however, is the fact that 50% of Canadians support euthanasia for the disabled — a number that rises to 60% among the 18 to 34 age group...

Support is growing for the Liberal government’s plan to extent assisted suicide to the mentally ill as well. While a majority of Canadians still opposes the expansion — only 43% of respondents supported assisted suicide for those with mental illness — only 22% “strongly disagreed.” 

...As historian Tom Holland noted in response to this poll: “Now, this really IS post-Christian.

So, "Medical Assistance in Dying" is morphing into socially acceptable "mercy killing" as predicted here and elsewhere. I have always said that physicians should play no role in this business, and should stand in opposition from a medical standpoint as there are better ways to relieve suffering. 

From a Christian viewpoint, care for those who are suffering is our duty. 

In a non-Christian society, there is no moral basis upon which people can make such judgements, so as in Judges 21:25,

"every man did that which was right in his own eyes"

And how well does that usually work out? 


Sunday, May 14, 2023

If You Love Me...

 This Sunday's reading from John 14:15-21 contains the answer to the the title of this post.

All too often revisionist preachers will focus on the promise of the Holy Spirit and ignore that the promise is predicated on the first sentence in this passage.

‘If you love me, you will keep my commandments. And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Advocate, to be with you for ever. This is the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him. You know him, because he abides with you, and he will be in you.

‘I will not leave you orphaned; I am coming to you. In a little while the world will no longer see me, but you will see me; because I live, you also will live. On that day you will know that I am in my Father, and you in me, and I in you. They who have my commandments and keep them are those who love me; and those who love me will be loved by my Father, and I will love them and reveal myself to them.’

People love following their own wills, not the Father's.

This world needs more love for Jesus, and only then will it see us keeping his commandments. 

Whenever I encounter John 14:15, an anthem by Thomas Tallis (c.1505-1585) runs through my mind. It is one of my favorites.