Suddenly, without warning or introduction, we see into the very throne room of God. It is as if a veil was drawn aside for us and we are allowed to see into the world of the spirit. We see the Lord seated on His throne and surrounding His throne is His council of Holy Ones. It is evidently some sort of audience day where all of the angels come in to report on their various duties. Read the rest of this entry »
Job’s Prayer life
It is great to see the sketchy details of Job’s daily life before his terrible trial. From this point on, every thing we learn about Job will come by the way of conversations. The opinions of others and the stress of his suffering will color our view of him. However, in these early verses we can see Job from a purely objective point of view. We are told how his sons would take turns holding parties in their homes. They even invited their three sisters to eat and drink with them. After the partying had run its course, Job would send and have them purified. Early in the morning, he would sacrifice a burnt offering for each of them, thinking, ‘Perhaps my children have sinned and cursed God in their heart.’ This was Job’s regular custom. Read the rest of this entry »
Down the slope from the Old City’s Dung Gate, rows of thick stone walls, shards of pottery and other remains of an expansive ancient building are being exhumed from a dusty pit.
The site is on a narrow terrace at the edge of the Kidron Valley, which sheers away from the Old City walls, in a cliffside area the Bible describes as the seat of the kings of ancient Israel.
What is taking shape in the rocky earth, marked by centuries of conquest and development, is as contested as the neighborhood of Arabs and Jews encircling the excavation. But the Israeli archaeologist Eilat Mazar believes the evidence she has uncovered during months of excavation and biblical comparison points to an extraordinary discovery.
She believes she has found the palace of King David, the poet-warrior who the Bible says consolidated the ancient Jewish kingdom around the 10th century B.C. and expanded its borders to encompass the Land of Israel. Others are doubtful.
“There is sometimes a reality, a very precise reality, though maybe not all true, described in the Bible,” Mazar said. “This is giving the Bible’s version a chance.” Continue reading . . .
Sometime in November, as things now stand, the “Christmas season” begins. The streets are hung with lights, the stores are decorated with red and green, and you can’t turn on the radio without hearing songs about the spirit of the season and the glories of Santa Claus. The excitement builds to a climax on the morning of December 25, and then it stops, abruptly. Christmas is over, the New Year begins, and people go back to their normal lives.
The traditional Christian celebration of Christmas is exactly the opposite. The season of Advent begins on the fourth Sunday before Christmas, and for nearly a month Christians await the coming of Christ in a spirit of expectation, singing hymns of longing. Then, on December 25, Christmas Day itself ushers in twelve days of celebration, ending only on January 6 with the feast of the Epiphany. Exhortations to follow this calendar rather than the secular one have become routine at this time of year. But often the focus falls on giving Advent its due, with the Twelve Days of Christmas relegated to the words of a cryptic traditional carol. Most people are simply too tired after Christmas Day to do much celebrating.
The “real” twelve days of Christmas are important not just as a way of thumbing our noses at secular ideas of the “Christmas season.” They are important because they give us a way of reflecting on what the Incarnation means in our lives. Christmas commemorates the most momentous event in human history—the entry of God into the world He made, in the form of a baby. The Logos through whom the worlds were made took up His dwelling among us in a tabernacle of flesh. One of the prayers for Christmas Day in the Catholic liturgy encapsulates what Christmas means for all believers: “O God, who marvelously created and yet more marvelously restored the dignity of human nature, grant that we may share the divinity of Him who humbled himself to share our humanity.” In Christ, our human nature was united to God, and when Christ enters our hearts, he brings us into that union. Continue reading . . .
A Blameless Man
You can sum up not only the book of Job, but also the whole Gospel in the words used to describe Job. This man was blameless and upright; he feared God and shunned evil. In fact, you can reduce it even further with the one word: blameless. The central question of religion is “How can human beings get free of guilt?” How can we escape that sense, however vague, of gnawing insecurity that dogs our every step? Jesus asked His disciples, “Why are you afraid?” I don’t know about you, but I am sometimes afraid because of my lingering suspicion that it is impossible to please God. Oh, I know that God loves me—but how can I be sure He likes me? In the Parable of the Prodigal Son, the father loved both the rebellious son and his straight-laced elder brother, but in the end, only the younger son pleased him. Only the prodigal delighted his father’s heart. Read the rest of this entry »
“It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.”—Galatians 5:1
“The true worth of a man is to be measured by the objects he pursues.” —Marcus Aurelius Read the rest of this entry »