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    Fr. Joseph Jenkins

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  1. Hello father,
    In my situation my parents have taught me the faith of god and how it is essential to take and to obey God’s word for the past 3 years I haven’t been close or have talked to him it felt like my faith was slipping away from my problems in life I would ask him why all these bad things are happening to be and why he doesn’t want to him I disconnected myself from him because of my night of tears and pain. This yea I have opened a bible and now I’m trying to connect with him again. I apologized to him and hope that I can be saved once again . But last night I had a dream about the rapture and I haven’t gone to the part of the Bible yet or have ever thought of the rapture and the dream gave me a feeling of pain and suffering and a feeling of chaos normally people would feel frear from chaos but I actually felt chaos it’s self inside my heart most of what I remember was a woman telling me the rapture would begin from a sigh of an airplane exploring and moments after it happened there’s was no chaos in the work I saw in my dear but I felt it in me unimaginable fear I have never felt before I woke up in disbelief on what I dreamt of I feel like it’s telling me something but I have no idea what that the rapture will happen or I should warn myself and my family to be more intouch with him? Father I need help the little feeling of chaos in the dream is still a little bit in my heart it feels heavy and unsettling I would be most greatful if u can help me with what it means.thank you

    FATHER JOE:

    When times are tough I ponder the mystery of Christ’s passion and how ours is a Savior in solidarity with the oppressed, the poor, the hurting and the dying. If we should fall away, know that he waits patiently for us to return to him. This requires repentance, sorrow for sin and a trusting faith in Jesus Christ.

    Dreams can emerge from our own insecurities and anxiety. I suspect this is the source of yours. It is possibly that the devil had some part to play, as he would have us be fearful and succumb to despair. Ours is a God of hope and mercy. Now is the appointed time to say YES to God. I do not believe that the dream, you had was a divine communication.

    The teaching of rapture is not an ancient one and neither is it the interpretation that the Catholic Church gives to the end times. We await the second coming of Christ and the final judgment. The return of Christ will come as sudden as a thief in the night.

    Invoke the Holy Spirit, reaffirm your Christian faith, say your prayers, worship the Lord and live out your discipleship in charity. Be at peace with the Lord.

  2. Dear Father, I’m an actor who tries not to appear in plays that have material that might be an occasion of sin to onlookers.

    Currently I’m in a play that has only about 4 humorous lines that have sexual overtones, all said by other characters. All of a sudden I’m wondering if I may be displeasing God by being in this production because of that.

    Also, actors typically share with groups of people the plays they are appearing in and because of those few lines, I’m wondering if I should not share the play information.

    I don’t know if it’s my scrupulosity rearing its ugly head or if I’m making a problem out of nothing.

    I would very much appreciate your thoughts on this. Thank you.

    FATHER JOE: We are sexual beings and so it is only reasonable that elements of human nature would be included in plays or dramas. A few references or words with overtones are probably not problematical. The challenge for many actors is outright vulgarity and an eroticism that sometimes becomes pornographic. The Church stipulates directly that actors should not simulate copulation. Other than this, there are few details about what an actor may do or say. I suspect the reason is because what might be tolerated in a war story might be quite unnecessary in a comedy. We need good Christians in the acting profession. Enjoy the work, tell friends and try not to be too scrupulous— follow your heart.

  3. Father, what is the Church’s official stance on evolution. What do the majority of parishes think are the origins of man and how do different views effect opinions on original sin?

    FATHER JOE: The Church subscribes to intelligent design. Creation and the development of man are not by chance. Learned teachers find no problem with the notion that the human body developed or evolved from lower forms. However, the Church insists that the soul is immediately created and infused with each human person. There is no evolution of the soul. The Church also teaches that the human race began with Adam and Eve. Our first parents became aware of themselves as different from the animals around them. There was a profound enlightenment and a calling to be God’s stewards in material creation. However, at the moment when Adam should have stood up to embrace this responsibility given him by God, he fell back on all fours like the animals around him. He tried to run away from the sacred dignity that God desired to bestow. His nature became wounded by original sin, a mark that would be passed down through the children of man. Death if it were to continue to endure would have been no different than for us to open a door from one room to another and walking through. However, the breach would bring the dark sting of suffering and death upon all men and women. We would become fearful and forfeit our special relationship with God. Everything could have been different; however, we misused our freedom and became the property of the ancient serpent. Fortunately, we were not utterly abandoned as God gave his wayward children the promise of a Messiah and Redeemer.

  4. Are you for real ??? From joe is not here to answer stupid question s…it sounds like you are having a laugh

  5. Im lost and confused. I went to catholic schools and more questions where raised than answered.
    Why must i confess to be forgiven.
    Was it not siad that to be forgiven we must forgive.
    Why do the instructions for prayer given to us by jesus (from what i can tell) differ from the ones i was tuaght ie. Our father.
    Is pray a form of praise? If so why do we pray to saint when we know that god is a jealous god.

    FATHER JOE:

    The forgiveness of sins is not limited to the sacrament of penance. However, our Lord gave his apostles and now his bishops and priests the authority to forgive sins. Why not take advantage of the gifts and graces given us by Christ?

    The disposition for mercy is to be loving and merciful ourselves. “Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us.” We are not bargaining with God. Rather, if we forgive as Christ has forgiven us then the Father will see his Son’s likeness alive in us and give us a share in his reward or victory.

    The Lord’s Prayer is spoken both in community and when we are alone. Our Lord made reference for when we are alone, again using hyperbole that was common in Hebrew expressions. The instructions about being alone or in an inner room simply signify that our prayer must be real— from the heart— and not simply for show. Further, the Our Father prayer is also given us as an example as to how we should pray… we who are made adopted sons and daughters of the heavenly Father. The Father of Christ becomes “our” Father through faith and baptism.

    You should have been taught in school about the various forms of prayer:

    (1) Praise of God for just being God. The posture of the creature is to give glory to the Creator.

    (2) Thanksgiving for all that God has given us. We are utterly dependent upon God and all that we have is his gift.

    (3) Contrition or sorrow for sin. We are called to repent and to believe.

    (4) Supplication or petition is to know that God is listening and will hear our cries. Ours is not a distant or disinterested God.

    There are also prayers of meditation (as upon some truth or mystery of faith), reflection (as upon the human condition and our standing before God), and contemplation (a mystical communion with the mystery of God).

    Prayers are also private or corporate (communal). Prayers can be offered directly to God. Prayers can also be intercessory (where we ask others to pray with and for us to God). This last form of prayer is an expression of the Church’s reality, both in pilgrimage and among the saints in heaven. We are connected. If we love each other then we bring the members of the community and our needs to prayer.

  6. Hello, I have many problems and I need some advice immediately, please. Many people have lately been making fun of me because I have a bad hair cut. I have a receding hairline and I believe my hair won’t grow back but I thought a buzz cut could fix everything but it didn’t. Second I do something known as a ‘dad dance’ where I swing my legs, hips and head while crossing my arms in and out. I’ve tried to stop doing it but every month I get back into it. At first I though they were laughing with me but now I recognise they are laughing at me. The last thing is I am consider weird or unique in the eyes of God?

    FATHER JOE: Let’s be serious. (You are what you are.)

  7. Some people think it hurts the fish possibly, I don’t know though…

  8. Dear Father Joe,
    How do you feel about fishing? I know Jesus went fishing and all but do you consider catch and release fishing immoral? Thanks.

    FATHER JOE: Why would it be immoral?

  9. Greetings father Joe.  This question is kind of a downer but is there any point where God washes his hands of you? For example repenting ,but falling short and committing the same sins time and again?   In layman’s terms , will the Lord get sick of my BS one day if he isn’t already?  Thanks father.  Al

    Sent from Yahoo Mail for iPhone

    FATHER JOE: As long as you are alive in this world, the Lord will accept genuine repentance. However, after death, our status or orientation with God becomes fixed.

  10. Hi Father
    When starting a novena to the Holy Spirit does confession Have to be said before starting it
    Thank you
    Mary

    FATHER JOE: Anyone is free to offer the Novena to the Holy Spirit. The topic of confession is a separate concern. Catholics are obliged to make their Easter duty and should receive the sacrament of penance when in a state of mortal sin.

  11. Father,
    I have a Jewish friend who is having a difficult time with her own faith, and her Jewish father passed away a few weeks back and her termoil is not being able to meet her faith required practices. Less I digress… I have prayed for her fathers soul to pass into heaven, but my question is this…
    If Jesus told us “noone comes to heaven except through me”, and Romans ch 10 says all who believe in God go to heaven… can and does a Non-Christian go to heaven?

    FATHER JOE: We believe as Catholics that none are saved apart from Christ and his Church. Jesus is the one mediator, redeemer and savior. He is literally the bridge between heaven and earth. This is the revelation given us as Christians. However, God can save whomever he wills. The Church prays and intercedes for those juridically outside the Church. Further, while Christ is the consummation of the covenant; this does not nullify its application to the Hebrew people. They are still our spiritual brothers and sisters. God keeps his promises. Salvation comes through the Jews. After all, we view Jesus as the Jewish Messiah. In any case, the long and short of it is this, it is perfectly fine to pray as a Christian for your Jewish friend’s father.

  12. Hi father Joe
    i am so happy to find an online source too seek help regarding my religious confusion. I am a very stick Catholic by birth and I am having that are very stick in believe from generations. Dear Father I want to know can I marry a guy in catholic church as i am Catholic single but the guy I want t Marry is non catholic but and got annulment.. I never imagined to marry in a non Catholic Church or have a civil marriage can i send you personal email for sharing if it’s fine with you.
    regards

    FATHER JOE: A single Catholic woman can marry a non-Catholic man as long as a dispensation is received from the chancery or bishop. If the non-Catholic man was previously married then he would need an annulment or declaration of nullity from the local marriage tribunal. As long as there is no monitum or warning, the annulment would free him to marry you. A Catholic civil wedding is not recognized by the Church. A Catholic must have his or her marriage vows witnessed by a priest or deacon along with two witnesses.

  13. I came out to my new parish priest as being a lesbian single Mum and he has told me I can’t have communion for the rest of my life. My old priest was happy for me to have it and said that Jesus welcomed everyone to his temple. I am bringing up two young children in the Catholic faith but feel rejected, judged and isolated. My question is this…how can being gay be a mortal sin to one priest and accepted by another?

    FATHER JOE:

    First, I want to affirm you as a daughter of the Church who is loved and treasured by Christ. Second, I want to commend you on your desire to participate in the Sunday Mass and to raise your two children in the faith.

    Pastors often gravitate toward one of two poles of gravity in their ministry. Your former priest was heavily drawn to the pastoral dynamic. Priests are inherently healers who want to be welcoming instruments of Christ’s mercy. While not denying certain moral laws, he may sometimes opt for toleration over prosecution when he sees shortcomings or weaknesses in the people he serves. He thinks to himself, if I press on the matter of orientation or an irregular marriage, then I may alienate the family entirely and the need of children for religious formation. He opts to place certain goods (like parish harmony) over the good of absolute doctrinal integrity and enforcement. Often this was discussed in seminaries as leaving people in various stages of ignorance, either vincible or invincible. Pope John Paul II spoke about this in terms of the compassion or gentleness of confessors when the sin of contraception was admitted in the sacrament of penance.

    Many homosexuals struggle with what the Church calls “disorientation.” It is no secret that the Church has a moral qualm with sexual activity of any sort outside of heterosexual marriage. However, the Church affirms both friendship and love. I have known homosexual couples who shared a home and took care of each other. They would go to confession every Saturday night and confess their weaknesses while affirming their love. Afterwards, they would go to Mass and receive Holy Communion. They did not seek to cause scandal or to politicize their lives before others. They had no desire to become the center of scandal in the faith community. They struggled to embrace a celibate love but trusted the sacraments when they stumbled.

    The new priest in your parish is drawn to another pole— safeguarding doctrinal and moral integrity. Traditionally we see this with papal pronouncements. The pastoral accommodations are usually left to pastors. Homosexuality is judged as disorientation but, in itself, is not a sin. Moralists qualify that the sin is in the acts and lifestyle. However, this still comes across by many as hurtful and discriminative. The issue at hand is that truth is viewed as objective, not open to human manipulation or denial. The orthodox or faithful believer takes seriously the revelation that comes from divine positive law (the Commandments and the teachings that comes from the inspired Word of God) and from natural law. The struggle is always in seeking ways to maintain the truth in fidelity to God why showing genuine love and care for others. Many priests are wounded because of this tension. They feel that they must be obedient to God and yet they do not want to hurt people. I often ask people to think about such questions, beyond themselves, and to appreciate the crosshairs that target our clergy and pastors. Priests who maintain the Gospel truth are often maligned as bigoted or backward or as hateful. This is almost always not the case.

    The Archdiocese of Washington is reintroducing an organization called COURAGE. Homosexuals and Lesbians seek to live out Christ’s two-fold commandment of love. They struggle to maintain a celibate love that immediately translates into prayer and service. Suggest starting a branch of COURAGE in your parish. Most pastors want to find ways of welcoming the gay community into their parishes in a manner that is in sync with our Catholic faith. That is a far better solution that marginalization and rejection. God loves you and your children. He wants you engaged in the life of your parish. Put aside any kind of combative spirit. Tell the priest about the importance of your faith and how you want to be faithful. This will not change your orientation; but God loves us as we are. Everyone else should try to do the same. I will keep you and the family in prayer. God bless!

  14. Hi, I’m Kylie. So my question is why did God require for Jesus to die on the cross. Like yea I get it, it’s so we can get into heaven but I don’t get the methods. Why did we need to pay for our sins at all. Like it’s Gods choice whether someone had to pay for our sins, so he could’ve just been forgiving and merciful from the start without needed to let his wrath out on someone. Especially Jesus. He was perfect and amazing and Gods son! He so didn’t deserve that. The way I’m looking at it, it would be like if my dad beat me at home and it was okay cause he’s getting his anger out on me and won’t beat anyone else now. Like I don’t see why. I’m a devout Christian but the tough issues like these rally conflict me. I’m told God is loving and merciful but sometimes it’s really hard to look at things like that. Can you explain this to me. Thanks

    FATHER JOE:

    Actually, no one could require or force the hand of Christ to anything. Jesus is God made man. He freely chose to offer his life in fidelity to his mission of saving us. We cannot second guess God as to whether there might have been another way. All we know is that the passion and crucifixion was the way that Jesus redeemed us.

    It is not our place to judge or dictate to the divinity. Rather, we should be appreciative of his loving sacrifice. Anything else signifies a lack of gratitude and a rejection of the gift that Jesus gives.

    Given the misuse of human freedom, God is not at fault for our need to make payment for our sins. The dishonor of sin made us the devil’s property. Original sin damaged the human race. We would know concupiscence, struggle, suffering, sickness and death. These are the dark realities that we brought upon ourselves through the sin or rebellion. While God is merciful, the justice of God would not overlook human transgressions. A debt was owed and it was ours to pay. However, given that we had dishonored an all-powerful and infinite Creator, we had no means to render due satisfaction for sin. All our sacrifices and penances fell short. True restoration or propitiation for sin would require a new man who could offer infinite and perfect atonement. That is made possible by the second person of the Blessed Trinity becoming incarnate of the Virgin Mary by the power of the Holy Spirit. Separated from God, we could not save ourselves. The divine person of Christ made man changed the scenario from what it had been before. Jesus is the new Adam who will not fall into temptation. He is the perfect lamb who lays down his life as an acceptable oblation to the Father. Our own salvation requires us to graft ourselves to Jesus so that we might be one offering to the Father. God could have opted to allow us to remain breached from him and to die in our sins. God intervened to save us. Jesus takes upon himself the punishment we owed by sin. The debt is paid. A people are redeemed. It is not a matter of wrath or divine anger. You would make God capricious and deny his justice. True mercy does not mean that there will be no punishment or price for disobedience. That is true even for the temporal punishment that will require most of us to pass through purgatory before we can claim heaven.

    Yes, Jesus did not deserve the treatment he received. But here as well it was human freedom that was operative. Men and women could have immediately embraced the Christ; however many in the religious leadership conspired to discredit and to murder him. He was condemned for doing good, not evil. Such illustrated their terrible hardness of hearts. The rejection of Christ continues today with the degradation of persons and assaults against the sanctity of life. Jesus was murdered by all the sins of the world throughout all human history. The question is not WHY DID JESUS HAVE TO DIE? The real question for you and me is WHY DID WE CRUCIFY CHRIST BY OUR SINS? Abortionists continue to seek out the Christ Child for slaughter among the Holy Innocents. Children are abused by those so-called Christians entrusted with their care. Those who preach brotherhood and God’s love have their throats cut by Islamic extremists— all the while claiming to do God’s will. The story of Christ did not end 2,000 years ago. The human face in Christ is made reflective of the face of God. The injustice and violence of today resonates with the passion and death of Christ. The story of Jesus is echoed in the lives of martyrs, all who were called to take up their crosses so as to follow Jesus. Our Lord suffers and dies to save a people; however, he also gives us an example of solidarity. Although sin and death are conquered, these realities have yet to be undone. He grants all who struggle as his disciples the sign of the cross as a visible reminder of his solidarity or union with all those who suffer for the Gospel.

    God is not like a father who abuses his child; rather, he chastises his children to behave so that they might ultimately be happy and safe. God the Father does not directly desire for his Son to be tortured and murdered. Rather, he desires that our Lord should be faithful to his mission. As with missionaries who spread the faith at the cost of their lives; Jesus is our exemplar who illustrates that sometimes to redeem a people costs a life. He teaches that sacrificial love is the greatest measure of all. Ours is no coward God. Ours is a God who calls us to have both faith and courage so as to faithfully follow him… no matter what the cost.

  15. Thanks Father! Much appreciate!! God bless!

  16. Hey father I have another question, so today this kid that goes to my church was eating meat and I didn’t stop him. Am I in mortal sin? I didn’t encourage him to eat it but I didn’t remind him it was Friday.

    FATHER JOE: Really? The sin is his, not yours. God does not intend for you to be his religion and morality police.

  17. Hello Fr.

    I have a few questions.

    1. Where did the word/name “lent” come from?
    2. Can a transgender man marry a transgender woman in the Catholic faith?
    Thanks

    FATHER JOE: Lent is a word from Middle English and German meaning “Spring.” The Church does not recognize transgender unions.

  18. A parish is having a “festiva lm of praise”, gathering around the Exposition of the Blessed Sacrament with singing, heari g the word of God and a talk. What is appropriate to do in the prescence of Chist exposed?

    FATHER JOE: Hymns, prayers and spiritual talks are perfectly fine.

  19. Dear Fr.
    The idea of eternity scares me. It gives me a little comfort when I think of loved ones who have passed but when I think of it for myself It scares me and I think how can it be so. Please help me be ok w the concept

    FATHER JOE: I am not sure what you need. The notion of eternity should give the believer consolation. There is more than this world. The grave does not consume us.

  20. Hi Fr. Joe
    I’ve been teaching CCD, and I’m often amazed at the questions I get!! My class keeps me on my toes for sure. Recently I was asked a question that I wasn’t sure how to answer. What did the DNA of Jesus look like? Did he have all of Mary’s DNA? Or would there have been only half of Mary’s DNA and half of another set of DNA? Or, did Jesus not have any of Mary‘s DNA? It is amazing what kids come up with four questions. I told them I would get back to them on that.
    Thank you!

    FATHER JOE: Christ takes his humanity from Mary. Other than this, we have no way of knowing the genetic code of Christ. It is enough that he is a divine person with a complete human nature.

  21. Hello Fr.

    I recently loss my father. He was only 56 and I feel a lot of pain and regret. I thought we had so much more time together. I did not visit him as often as I couldve although he didn’t live too far I also wished I wouldve called him more. Before I lost him I was already anxious about life and had sadness but now I have even more. I have many dreams about him some are peaceful and some are extremely sad. I feel sad bc I used to think about death a lot and now I think about it a lot more. I also think about how the ppl I love around me will go and it hurts a lot. I know that I need to enjoy the time I have w them now but sometimes these thoughts are consuming. I also feel responsible for the happiness of my family members and have anxiety about their feelings and hope they are okay too. It hurts me when I think about them being hurt. I know I should pray more but sometimes I feel hopeless and feel like I can’t. Please pray for me and offer any advice. Also I don’t really talk much about my issues (its a hard thing to do) so this is something different for me.

    FATHER JOE: Maybe you are too self-absorbed? All that you are talking about is simply the human condition that we all share.

  22. Hey father I have a question! So for lent this year I’m going to try to wake up 10 minutes earlier as like a sacrifice, because I usually hit snooze too many times to where I’m rushing to school. When coming up with this I didn’t take into consideration the weekends. I was solely thinking about school days. Is it necessary for me to set an alarm on the weekends? I am I okay to sleep in?

    FATHER JOE: How old are you? These are decisions you must make for yourself.

  23. Father Joseph,

    Since the time that I was young, I’ve always struggled with many aspects of religion. I went through a period in which I blamed religion for many things, and saw no good in it. I’ve managed to find my peace in the past two years, and I’ll admit, despite having a lingering disposition to the idea of a god, I have recently found many great things in the teachings of Jesus. I’m hoping that you can answer a question for me that has always caused me this disposition.

    There have always been parts in the Bible that I’ve found paradoxical. There’s the idea that the Bible is the word of an infallible god, but then there’s the fact that the New Testament, I guess, “overrules” the Old Testament. This is, if I am correct, because God needed to contend with the fallible nature of the men whom he was dictating his word to, and their concept of what a god was. Like in the fact that he had them perform sacrafices of animals and goods like the ‘gods of old’ would have asked for, or laws on things related more to their culture than anything cosmic.

    There’s the idea that the Bible is the infallible word of God, which is being dictated through fallible human prophets in ways which sometimes take their prior worship cultures and laws into account. There’s also the story of Jesus asking those without sin to step forth and cast the first stone, yet even the New Testiment has passages of condemnation towards things that do not seem to explicitly violate God’s prior word IE masterbation, homosexuality etc. As well as, my biggest issue, the fact that Jesus himself spoke of and taught morality, being good to your fellow man etc, while the Bible and church that would follow seemed to address many ‘requirements’ for getting into heaven, and being moral that Jesus, who is as much God’s son as he isa form of God himself, never did in his time on Earth.

    With things like Deuteronomy 13:1-3, or when God asked Abraham to kill Isaac, in regards to God testing people, would you consider it…… “canonical” to question wether these seeming paradoxes in the Bible are intentionally made that way to test our understanding of Jesus’ core teachings? Or even to question the interpretation or legitimacy of certain passages in the Bible or the prophets/disciple who wrote it?

    I’m really hoping that you don’t interpret any of these as some form of snarky gotcha questions, and that you can give me some much desired insight on these questions that have plagued me for so long.

    Thank you for your time and thoughts on my questions, and God bless you.

    FATHER JOE:

    You are not entirely clear. Do you mean a “negative” disposition or attitude? The word “disposition” is neutral… are you confusing it with another word?

    The Bible is valued as the inspired Word of God but it is also authored by men, according to their talents and worldview. The Bible teaches us “salvation” truth but not organized like the catechism or a manual of conduct or a science book. As for the two testaments, the situation is not that the New Testament “overrules” the Old; but rather, that Christ is the consummation of the covenant that God has made with mankind. We have to appreciate the movement or the basic mechanism of how salvation history works. The Bible reflects 1,500 plus years of composition. Oral traditions and stories shared would go back even further. God had to prepare a people for himself and the fullness of revelation in Christ.

    The notion that God “dictated” his truth to men is more of a Protestant fundamentalist perspective than a Catholic appreciation of Scripture. The human author is more than a pen. The various writing styles and cultures and abilities of the human authors are reflected in what they write. The inspiration of God does not nullify or negate the human contribution. Further, biblical inerrancy does not include the mechanics of creation or the science behind the cosmos. There is an old saying in Catholic circles, “the Bible does not teach us how the heavens go, but rather how to go to heaven.” The notion of inerrancy only applies to those faith elements that God wants to transmit in Scripture. While we find the truth of God in Scripture, the Bible is many books and various forms of literature… poetry, exhortations, laws or precepts, mythology or parable stories, historical narratives, prophesy, etc. One cannot read poetry or a parable as one would a historical narrative or straight discourse.

    Progressive revelation, which is really what you are speaking about, was necessary so that human beings would appreciate and begin to understand what was being given them. We see this pattern in how we educate children. We do not teach calculus in the first grade; rather, we start with counting apples and oranges. We logically start with the simple and move toward the more difficult or sophisticated.

    The appreciation of human dependence upon God made the offering of sacrifices something fairly universal, both within and outside the context of the Semitic peoples. Evidence of sacrifices to a deity extend back to primitive man. Plants, animals and even human beings were offered to the so-called gods. The Hebrews came to see human sacrifice as offensive. As creatures it acknowledged our sense of dependence upon a mystery greater than ourselves. This natural movement takes upon itself a truly supernatural or spiritual appreciation within Christianity. Jesus is the one high priest who offers his life in atonement for sin so as to redeem a fallen people. Catholicism continues this truth in the unbloody or clean oblation of the Mass. The Mass is viewed as the actual re-presentation of the sacrifice of Calvary through the sacrament of the Eucharist: bread and wine become the body and blood of Christ. All sacraments convey what we term as the paschal mystery.

    The sin of Onan (masturbation) and homosexuality were condemned in both the Old and the New Testaments. Masturbation is condemned indirectly by the strong emphasis given on not wasting human seed and the demand for fertility. A gift given for intimacy with a spouse and the expansion of the human family should not be misused as a type of narcissistic self-absorption or preoccupation. Homosexuality is decried in the New Testament as a sin that would cost one a share in Christ’s kingdom. The Old Testament was so severe upon this that the death sentence was attached to it (Leviticus 20:13). We cannot limit the teachings of Christ to the Gospels. His apostles and the message of the epistles, Acts and Revelation also speak to us. The entire New Testament is the gift of Christ to his Church. Jesus does not condemn the sinner woman but he does raise the bar against adultery and sexual misbehavior. Jesus summarizes the commandments and adds his interpretive two-fold commandments of love.

    “Every word that I command you, you shall be careful to observe, neither adding to it nor subtracting from it. If there arises in your midst a prophet or a dreamer who promises you a sign or wonder, saying, ‘Let us go after other gods,’ whom you have not known, ‘and let us serve them,’ and the sign or wonder foretold to you comes to pass, do not listen to the words of that prophet or that dreamer; for the LORD, your God, is testing you to know whether you really love the LORD, your God, with all your heart and soul” (Deuteronomy 13:1-4).

    Christ elevates this love of God as the very heart of his Gospel. The quote from Deuteronomy wonderfully expresses the fidelity to God that is required of us all. The first commandment becomes the background and foundation for all the rest. God revealed himself to Abram (Abraham) He literally tells him, “Obey me and I will be your God and you will be my people.” Obedience insures the covenant. Necessarily, God’s people would have to discern between true prophets and the false prophets and oracles.

    Jesus brings an end to what many experienced as bondage to the law. The Hebrew leadership had multiplied law upon law so that men despaired of being good or righteous. It is about this that our Lord brings freedom. At the same time, the value of the Ten Commandments is heightened with an appreciation of the two-fold law of love. We must not obey like animals or machines. Our response to God must be free and loving— reflective of what it means to be human. It can be argued that much is not made easier, but rather harder. At least it would seem so if it were not for the gift of grace.

    As with the Jews there can be no compromise in our worship of the one true God. However, Jesus gives us a deeper appreciation as to the divine identity. God had called a people to himself. He was invisible and could not be identified with idols or nature. Nevertheless, sometimes he manifested himself or his presence in symbols like the burning bush or with the Ark of the Covenant. Jesus shows us the face of God within the context of his incarnation. He enters the human family and reveals God as one in divine nature and yet as a trinity of persons: Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

    The name of God was so honored as holy that it was not even pronounced or written by Jews. However, in Jesus we are given a saving name that we are to call upon readily so as to be healed or saved or forgiven.

    We keep the Sabbath and yet the mystery of Christ changes our appreciation of this commandment as well. The Bible possesses immutable or unchanging divine revelation and laws as well as codes of conduct that could be amended or changed. Thus, the Levitical laws are abrogated but the Decalogue, as understood by the Church, still binds us. The law about idols or images is modified because the incarnation of Christ alters the economy of images. Similarly, re-creation in Christ and his resurrection give a value to Sunday as the Lord’s Day that would readily supplant the importance of the Hebrew Sabbath.

    The honor and obedience given to parents was originally a commandment that focused upon adult children caring for the needs of elderly parents. This is so much more than children listening to their mothers and fathers. Of course, in the hyperbole about calling no man “father” our Lord was emphasizing that if parents want to be honored, they must be honorable.

    Just as appreciated in rabbinical teaching, the commandment against adultery was given an expansive understanding. It prohibited fornication, prostitution, pornography, homosexual activity, masturbation, group sex, rape, incest, pedophilia, bestiality, etc. As the last word in revelation, Jesus speaks against divorce and asserts that it forces people into adultery. Moses permitted a writ of divorce because of their “hardness of hearts.” Our Lord says this was not the way things were supposed to be. He clarifies the truth from Genesis and moves it forward.

    Of course, we are commanded as well not to covet another’s spouse. This reminds us that many sins begin in the human heart. Jesus raises the bar in that just wanting to sin is viewed as a sin. We see this in particular with the commandment against killing. Jesus associates the violation of this commandment with any kind of hatred. Hating our brothers and sisters already makes us murderers.

    We are forbidden to steal. This is so much more than not breaking into people’s houses and stealing their televisions. We should not cheat others or deprive workers of a just salary. We should work against fraud and avoid vandalism of another’s property. Indeed, it is not enough to avoid stealing; Jesus says we should not even covet what others possess. We are to give away what we have.

    It is not enough to avoid lies, we should be a people committed to the truth, especially the greatest truth of all, about Jesus. False witness against a neighbor is one of the greatest violations of truth. It was the sin of the Sanhedrin when the high priest tore his cloak. He could not handle the truth. It reflected the weakness of Pilate when he rebuked Jesus “What is truth?”

  24. I appreciate YOUR reply. peace OUT !!!

  25. Father JOE, I am a Vietnam Veteran. The VA has diagnosed me with PTSD, ( Post-traumatic stress disorder). I am rated 30% disabled. Does my illness excuse me from going to mass on Sunday ???? I eagerly await your reply.

    FATHER JOE: You would have to talk with your local priest about this. I would hope that you would find comfort in going to Mass. Continue to seek healing. Do not become comfortable with illness or too quick to find excuses so as to run away from God.

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