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Those who ride the Megiddo Ark..
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In the readings this week we may consider the primary themes that of 'expulsion' and 're-entry.' A man, in Leviticus, when he was declared unclean by the priest or by the community was expelled for the safety of the whole. He had to cry out “Unclean!” to warn others of his passing and live outside the community of believers.

In the Gospel of Mark, Jesus cleanses a leper who comes to him. He says with heartfelt sincerity, “If you will it, you can make me clean.” Jesus, pitying the man, expresses his divine power and says, “I do will it. Be made clean.” But our Lord also gives him a command: Tell no one. Go to the priest and offer for your cleansing what Moses provides. Jesus is allowing this man to reenter the community and to join himself fully to the people of God.

Yet the cleansed man disobeys Jesus. We are not sure, but the evidence that the Gospel provides suggests that he did not go to the priest and instead he told everybody of the affair. At first glance, this man would seem to be doing Jesus a favor: he is proclaiming the power of God to the people and others, in turn, flock to him!

But in disobeying Jesus, this man effectively expelled Jesus from that same community he came to serve. The Gospel tells us that Jesus remained in a deserted place. Everyone “came to him from everywhere.”

Initially we may admire those in the Gospel who go to Jesus and seek him out, but the Gospel is framed in a way to make us pause and reflect on the truth it teaches.

Jesus wants to enter the community of believers but, along the way is stopped by a man seeking his mercy and his healing. We too go to mass, receive the sacraments, and seek Jesus in good faith; this I believe. Yet a multitude rush to Jesus when one receives what he desired. In our own hearts we have many competing desires, wants, and pains. While we recognize our need for Jesus, when all of these things in our heart rush to Jesus at once they may indeed be healed, but it also leaves Jesus outside of us.

Jesus wants to enter into our communities, our families, and our hearts. When we go to Jesus with our wants and needs we are, in a sense, in control. When we allow Christ to come to us we allow Him to be in control and to heal what he needs to heal at the core of our being. Our core wound is our separation from the perfect love of God.

Of course we should pray for healing and help, but when we get better or when we weather a storm, how often do we find ourselves returning to the same old sin, the same old habits, and the same old wounds over and over again? Sometimes going to Jesus isn't enough, and it isn't what will actually heal us. We need to allow Jesus to come to us and we need to receive Jesus on his terms.

This is difficult because Jesus may comfort us or he may challenge us. Many of us are in the habit of asking, but few reflect on the act of receiving His love and His grace, which he bestows readily and freely.

How, then, are we to allow Jesus to enter into our community, our homes, and our hearts? It begins, first, with prayer. Getting away for a moment and praying for ourselves, not just for our wants but for something far more important: His mercy. Jesus came to express the power of God, yes, but the power of God is expressed most profoundly in his love and mercy. Prayer prepares our hearts to seek and receive the Lord. Thus silence is also essential to receiving Jesus.

Moreover reading the Scriptures openly and prayerfully helps us to receive God. In reading Scripture without agenda or expectation of one, certain revelation we allow the word of God to speak to us. Scripture speaks to us where we are in our lives and, I guarantee to you, it also reveals to us what we need to hear—whether it is consoling, rebuking, or challenging.

Among other things are spiritual directors, the sacraments, the teachings of the Church—all given to us to allow us to meet Jesus according to His desires and not on our own terms. While some directions, some sacraments, and some teachings may seem contrary to us they work more deeply in that they teach us to be humble and they teach us to reflect on what we truly desire: the desire behind all desires. Namely, the One and True God who desires that we be one with Him as the Father and Son are one.

This day do not expel Jesus from your hearts, but hear His voice, do as He commands, and wait for Him. He will enter the homes of all who prepare a place for him.
Jesus Expelled
An exegesis of MK 1:40-45, as well as the readings of this day: usccb.org/bible/readings/02151…

Comments and discussions welcome.

M
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Busy at school (yet again). Working on some things but schedule isn't very conducive to it.
Against those who Call Religious Art Idolatry and Blasphemy

Often times Catholics are called pagans and idol worshipers for depicting Christ, expressing him in religious art, and expressing him in statues. This is true in depicting the saints, angels, and the like.

I find these arguments very strange. The most commonly cited “proof” is from Ex 20:4 and similar passages: “Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of any thing that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth” (KJV).

This is certainly true, especially when considering that the Israelites fashioned for themselves a golden calf and, in various ages, many other idols of Cannanite, Babylonian, and Assyrian gods. In these times God was without image. From Genesis and throughout the Old Testament God is not described as having proportions or form but rather as expansive, immense, and beyond comparison. Images, or more specifically similes and metaphors, were used to describe the power, love, and greatness of God, but no images were fashioned.

Moreover John the Apostle attests that “no one has ever seen God” (1 John 4:12 RSV). So why, then, do Catholics portray Christ as well as God the Father and God the Spirit?

There are logical proofs for such actions and dispositions, but they are logical proofs grounded in Scripture and the reality they portray.

It begins with the reality of Christ himself: he is the Word and he is God. This Word is the “image of the invisible God” (Col 1:15) and he “reflects the glory of God and bears the very stamp of his nature” (Heb 1:3). Similarly this all-powerful and glorious Word “became flesh and dwelt among us” (Jn 1:14). Thus God who was in former times had revealed himself in shadows and imperfect things, such as the prophets and the Law, now revealed himself in his perfect Son. The source of light is not seen in darkness, and we are all blind. But Jesus Christ, who gives sight to the blind, is “the light of the world” (Jn 8:12). We not only beheld him with our eyes but, as John said, we have also “looked upon [him] and touched [him] with our hands” (1 John 1:1).

Jesus was truly God and truly man, something to which Scripture and faith attest. Jesus is in the Father and the Father is in Jesus (cf., Jn 17:21). All who believe in Jesus Christ have come to believe because they have heard about him from those who believe and who were sent out just as Jesus had been (cf. Jn 17:18). Similarly, the power of Jesus is described, just as the power of God had been described as of old, but now the power of God is expressed in image and flesh. This is how John the Baptist could say “Behold, the Lamb of God!” (Jn 1:29) and how Stephen could say “Behold, I see the heavens opened and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God” (Acts 7:56).

Catholics depict Christ because he was seen both in his earthly flesh as well as his heavenly glory, both in Christ crucified and in Christ risen. Paul proclaims and preaches “Christ crucified” (1 Cor 1:23) and John looked upon the power and image of Christ the King in the book of Revelations. Thus not only was God seen but he was described. While, for example, his resplendence in heaven is described in metaphor and prophetic language the person of Christ is described as being who he is: a man who was humbled and humiliated on earth but now rules both heaven and earth in the fullness of power.

Thus, because we proclaim Christ and his life which was real, which was seen and touched, and which revealed the fullness of God and his plans. The Father has truly “made known to us in all wisdom and insight the mystery of his will” (Eph 1:9) through Christ Jesus, and the light Jesus provides is his life as model, truth, and guide.

As such, when Catholics express Christ in stained-glass, in a crucifix, and in various media, it is because we are expressing the truth that Christ, in his very reality and image, reveals God to us. It was once blasphemous to portray God with graven images since no one had ever seen God and God had not yet revealed himself to the nations. Similarly it was contrary to the law to eat certain foods until Christ had made them clean. Yet in these last days God has revealed himself by his only-begotten Son and his Son showed us the way we should go in power and in truth.

The images we fashion of Christ, of the Spirit (as dove and fire), and the Father (similar to the Son) are expressions of the reality of Christ. In the eastern traditions of Catholicism and among some of our Orthodox brethren only Christ is portrayed. This is a theological point that the Spirit and Father are both never seen or described, but that the image of Christ is also the image of the other two. For this reason, among others, I think the iconography of the east also has powerful and rich meanings behind it. Catholics too express the reality of God revealed through their art. Calling it blasphemous and idolatry is not only ignorant but foolish in light of the Gospel.
Against those who Call Religious Art Idolatry
This came to my mind a few days ago and I decided to review the Scriptural proofs that had been floating around in my head. I attempted, attempted mind you, to be as concise as possible.

I am, of course, open to comments and questions.

Thanks, 

M

Edit 2/6/2015 --cleaned up some errors in grammar and awkward diction
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This season of Christmas we recall the powerful words of Scripture, “The Word became flesh and dwelt among us” (Jn 1:14). Christ became man to be with us and to experience life with us. He lived an authentic and real human life with all of its many aspects.

I know during this time of year we often recall our many family members and friends who have died and how, even in this happy time, we miss them. Even I lost an uncle who was very dear to me on December 23rd last year. It is at these times, however, that I ask Christ to be with me. I pray for our faithful departed and families, always asking Christ to be with us as truly as he was a man here on earth.

I began wondering, then, what it means that Jesus experienced life like us in the following way:

Can you imagine how many people came up to tell Jesus about a death in the family, fear because of illness, anxiety because of unemployment, or divisions among their families? Jesus shared a great deal in the pain and hardship of our daily lives with us. Likewise, imagine those who came up to him saying, “I am getting married” and “my wife and I are finally having our first child.” Jesus went to weddings, celebrated at religious events, and spent his time sharing in the many joys of human life. We can relate to these events that punctuate our lives as well. Jesus through his ministry gives us that divine example. By his words and actions he always expressed the same thing, “I love you” and “Do not be afraid, I am with you.”

This time of year we also remember that Jesus Christ is God Himself. He alone can free us of the chains of sin, misery, regret, and death. Through him everything came into being and he sustains every individual instance in his love. For God is love and his entire being expresses love for creation and, in a special way, for us. Our great God who spoke and created all things became subject to our frail humanity for our sake.

So it is this day that we say, “A king is born to us!” and “God has visited his people!”

He came to us as one of us, and he understands each and every one of us. Yes, he even understands our weaknesses, our regrets, and our sinfulness. He ever and always calls us to himself and calls us to believe in him. For it is in believing in him, putting behind our sins, and following him that he will give us the “power to become children of God” (1:12). Through this power we can endure all hardship and, having run our course in this life, reign forever with him in heaven—a gift he so graciously gave to those who endure with him.

Let us, therefore, follow our great King this Christmastime. His every action has said from the beginning, “I love you and I am with you until the end of time.” Let us, by our lives, say the same.
School is done for another semester! Happy 4th week of Advent, all!
Hello all,

Still at work on a number of things. Thought I might share with you what I'm looking into:

(1) Altruism from the perspective of (evolutionary) biology, neuroscience, philosophy, and theology

(some) Sources
Churchland--Braintrust: What Neuroscience Tells us about Morality
Nietzsche--Genealogy of Morals
MacIntyre--After Virtue
Aristotle--De Anima (and scholarly essays)
Plato (essays about his works)


(2) Some translation projects involving Greek and Latin (nothing major, just time consuming)

I have some other stuff cooking in my little ol' brain, but nothing concrete just yet.

Til then, keep well, as I had the flu last week.

What are you all working on?

Be well,

M

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TESM
Matthew
Artist | Hobbyist | Literature
United States
Current Residence: Chicago

Favorite style of art: Realism, pointillism

Personal Quote: 'To mislead one's friends to the truth is the greatest injustice.' (Plato)
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:iconbig-bad-rocket:
Big-bad-Rocket Featured By Owner Jan 27, 2015

Hi so you’re Catholic as well. How you doing? Any devotions to any saints? I have to St. Philomena. You know anything about her?

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:icontesm:
TESM Featured By Owner Jan 27, 2015  Hobbyist Writer
I'm well.

I suppose I have a devotion to St. Jerome (for his dedication to Scripture, maybe not his charisma or personality). I do like St. Philomena, too.

I know her history, for the most part, as a virgin martyr, I beleive. I know some use a small white cord or a sash that they wear under their shirt around their abdomen (usually) as a dedication to chastity.
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:iconbig-bad-rocket:
Big-bad-Rocket Featured By Owner Jan 27, 2015
Awesome. I know of her from the TAN book. Have you read it, it's good.
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:icontesm:
TESM Featured By Owner Jan 28, 2015  Hobbyist Writer
I haven't, no.
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(1 Reply)
:iconneoconvoy:
Neoconvoy Featured By Owner Dec 24, 2014  Student General Artist
Merry Christmas!

God bless you, your family, and other dear ones!


www.youtube.com/watch?v=kJpNub…
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:icontesm:
TESM Featured By Owner Dec 26, 2014  Hobbyist Writer
Merry Christmas to you too.
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:icon14iv19:
14iv19 Featured By Owner Nov 15, 2014
Hi! 
I saw your forum thread and then I came here to see who you were.
I read few of your comments and I wanted to have your opinion.
I am a protestant.
I was in a catholic church before for few years, but followed my parents to protestant church.
What do you say about protestant?
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:icontesm:
TESM Featured By Owner Nov 24, 2014  Hobbyist Writer
Hello.

Having worked with Protestants in hospital settings and in a few other instances it's hard to say one statement about such diverse groups.

I admire many protestant's willingness to serve--I think they are stronger than your average Catholics in that respect, but this is largely because most protestant groups do not have or emphasize a sacramental life (i.e., a life centered around the Church and the 7 sacraments).

One thing I noticed about working with many Protestants in academic or theological settings is that they do not connect to the past very well, meaning that in our rich tradition, many of their prayers and reflections come from the past 2-4 centuries. 

Again, this varies greatly from confession to confession.

For my part I hold to Catholicism as the true faith, though those who are baptized in the name of the Father, Son, and Spirit are no less my brothers and sisters in faith.
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:iconantircczealot:
AntiRCCZealot Featured By Owner Jul 18, 2014  Student Traditional Artist
I pray to God that you and all other sexually perverted, idolatrous and slanderous servants of the Great Whore of Babylon and the Antichrist are judged by Lord Jesus Christ and burn in Hell for all Eternity along with Satan and his fallen angels.
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:icontesm:
TESM Featured By Owner Jul 18, 2014  Hobbyist Writer
That's really sweet of you, thanks.
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