Sermon for the 15th Sunday After Pentecost.
About 1700 years before the birth of Jesus Christ, Joseph’s brothers sold him into slavery, so he was brought from Israel to Egypt. But due to Joseph’s supernatural ability to interpret Pharaoh’s prophetic dreams, the Pharaoh raised him to Prime Minister of Egypt: Then Pharaoh said to Joseph, “Since God has shown you all this, there is none so discerning and wise as you are. You shall be over my house, and all my people shall order themselves as you command. Only as regards the throne will I be greater than you.” And Pharaoh said to Joseph, “See, I have set you over all the land of Egypt.”—Gen 41:39-41.
Notice that this happens in the first book in the Bible, Genesis. Soon, Joseph’s entire family arrives in Egypt, and things went well for the Jews…for awhile. The next book of the Bible (Exodus) quickly tells us in the first chapter: Now there arose a new king over Egypt, who did not know Joseph.—Exodus 1:8. The Egyptians then enslave the Jews for 430 years, all out of fear for their procreation (as all pagans are always preternaturally afraid of breeders of the true religion.)
Then, around 1200 BC, Moses led millions of Jews out of slavery to modern day Israel. His route is seen in this map here:
Sorry for the poor graphics above, but the two most important mountains in the life of Moses are Mount Sinai and Mount Nebo. Mount Sinai is in the south of the map and Mount Nebo towards the Northeast. Mount Sinai is where Moses obtained the 10 Commandments from God Himself. Mount Nebo is where Moses died and was buried. Between these two mountains, millions of Jews followed the Levites who carried the Ark of the Covenant for forty years. The Ark of the Covenant contained and still contains (somewhere in the world) the manna that God gave the Jews in the wilderness as well as the 10 commandments as well as Aaron’s rod which budded.
The end of Moses’ life is found in Exodus 34: Then Moses went up from the plains of Moab to Mount Nebo, to the top of Pisgah, which is opposite Jericho…And the Lord said to him, “This is the land of which I swore to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob, ‘I will give it to your offspring.’ I have let you see it with your eyes, but you shall not go over there.” So Moses the servant of the Lord died there in the land of Moab, according to the word of the Lord.—Ex 34:1,4-5. So Moses dies on Mount Nebo, within view of the Promised Land, the land of milk and honey, but was not allowed to enter. 1
We will return to Nebo, but for now, lets switch gears and talk about the current location of the Ark of the Covenant.
Steven Spielberg placed the Ark in his movie, Raiders of the Lost Ark, in Egypt:
Spielberg would have been more historical to place the Ark in Ethiopia, since the Ethiopian Orthodox actually claim to this day that the Ark of the Covenant is located at their very own St. Mary of Zion Church in Axum. In fact, Smithsonian Magazine did a story on this.
But Catholics have a book of the Bible that Steven Spielberg did not know about: Maccabees. Our Catholic Bible actually tells us where to find the Ark of the Covenant today: On Mount Nebo (Before going further, if you doubt that Maccabees is canonical and inspired by God, please read yesterday’s blog post proving the canonicity of the Catholic Bible above and beyond the newer, cut-up Protestant Bible.)
Now we return to Mount Nebo: About 1050 years after the death of Moses and 150 years before the birth of Jesus Christ, a Jewish-Greek author wrote Maccabees in Greek under inspiration by the Holy Spirit around 150 BC. In it, he describes where to find the Ark of the Covenant. It turns out that the prophet Jeremiah hid it on Mount Nebo around 600 BC! The Bible tells us in 2 Maccabees:
It is also found in the records, that Jeremiah the prophet commanded them that were carried away to take of the fire, as it hath been signified: And how that the prophet, having given them the law, charged them not to forget the commandments of the Lord, and that they should not err in their minds, when they see images of silver and gold, with their ornaments. And with other such speeches exhorted he them, that the law should not depart from their hearts. It was also contained in the same writing, that the prophet, being warned of God, commanded the tabernacle and the ark to go with him, as he went forth into the mountain, where Moses climbed up, and saw the heritage of God. [Mt. Nebo] And when Jeremiah came thither, he found an hollow cave, wherein he laid the tabernacle, and the ark, and the altar of incense, and so stopped the door. And some of those that followed him came to mark the way, but they could not find it. Which when Jeremiah perceived, he blamed them, saying, ‘As for that place, it shall be unknown until the time that God gather His people again together, and receive them unto mercy. Then shall the Lord shew them these things, and the glory of the Lord shall appear, and the cloud also, as it was shewed under Moses, and as when Solomon desired that the place might be honourably sanctified.’—2 Macc 2:1-8
Notice that the author (around 150 BC) is describing something spoken by the prophet Jeremiah (who died around 600 BC.) The Maccabean author shows that although Jeremiah revealed that the Ark of the Covenant is buried somewhere on Mount Nebo, we are not to know exactly where it is. In fact, future generations will not know exactly where it is until “God gathers His people again and receives them into mercy.”—2 Macc 2:7. Although this could be anytime in the New Covenant (after the Passion, Death and Resurrection of Christ) we have no evidence that the Ark has been discovered, unless the Ethiopians provide some evidence (which they haven’t, and won’t, because their tradition is to not show the goods.)
However, I believe that if we look at the Greek of 2 Macc 2:7, we will find something very interesting: ἄγνωστος ὁ τόπος ἔσται, ἕως ἂν συναγάγῃ ὁ Θεὸς ἐπισυναγωγὴν τοῦ λαοῦ καὶ ἵλεως γένηται· καὶ ὀφθήσεται ἡ δόξα τοῦ Κυρίου καὶ ἡ νεφέλη.—2 Macc 2:7-8.
I will transliterate this Greek as best as I can with the underlining coordinated to the above underlining: Unknown the place will be until God synagogues the synagogue of the people and becomes mercy and the glory of the Lord is shown in the cloud. Notice that this is a play on words, namely, that the noun “synagogue” (meaning a gathering) can being used as a verb, “gathering.” So, the location of the Ark of the Covenant is not going to happen until God “gathers the gathering” or “synagogues the synagogue” (!!!)
What could this possibly mean? I believe this is a reference to the end of the world, when God will gather the Jews into the Catholic Church.
The first proof we have of this is through St. Paul: For I would not have you ignorant, brethren, of this mystery, (lest you should be wise in your own conceits), that blindness in part has happened in Israel, until the fulness of the Gentiles should come in. And so all Israel should be saved, as it is written: There shall come out of Sion, he that shall deliver, and shall turn away ungodliness from Jacob.—Romans 11:25-26. St. Paul certainly did not mean that every Jew will go to heaven, but that Israel will have her eyes opened to the Messiah, Jesus Christ, and that there will be a massive influx of Jews into the Catholic Church at the end of time. This new Catechism of the Catholic Church also holds this:
The glorious Messiah’s coming is suspended at every moment of history until his recognition by “all Israel”, for “a hardening has come upon part of Israel” in their “unbelief” toward Jesus. St. Peter says to the Jews of Jerusalem after Pentecost: “Repent therefore, and turn again, that your sins may be blotted out, that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord, and that he may send the Christ appointed for you, Jesus, whom heaven must receive until the time for establishing all that God spoke by the mouth of his holy prophets from of old.” St. Paul echoes him: “For if their rejection means the reconciliation of the world, what will their acceptance mean but life from the dead?” The “full inclusion” of the Jews in the Messiah’s salvation, in the wake of “the full number of the Gentiles,” will enable the People of God to achieve “the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ”, in which “God may be all in all.”—CCC 674
Thus, the Ark of the Covenant is still located on Mount Nebo near the Dead Sea and Jericho but the specific location will probably not be revealed until near the end of the world.
As the prophet Jeremiah promised in the Bible: As for that place, it shall be unknown until the time that God gather His people again together, and receive them unto mercy.—2 Macc 2:7
Eschatologically, remember: Mary is the new Ark of the Covenant as she carried the law of love in her heart as well as the bread from heaven, Jesus Christ (John 6). Remember: The Ark of the Covenant is always considered in typology to be the pre-eminent type or symbol of Mary in the Old Testament because her visit to Elizabeth (Luke 1) reflecting the rejoicing of King David when the Ark of the Lord came to Him (2 Sam 6-7) Remember: Mary is the exemplar of the Church—she to whom the Church is striving to be in heaven at the end of time. Remember: Mary’s body in heaven but entirely genetically Jewish, making her the full daughter of Zion in the heavenly Jerusalem.
Put this all together and you have the obvious conclusion that: Mary is to be the Mother of the Jewish people at the end of the world, when she is to be revealed as the new Ark of the Covenant as well as the mother of the Eucharist and the true daughter of Zion and the Jewish people. God will then “synagogue His synagogue” of Jews as they recognize Jesus Christ as God, friend, Savior and Messiah, and the original Ark of the Covenant will be found on Mount Nebo with the 10 Commandments, Aaron’s sprouted rod and even the manna from heaven.
Or…the Ethiopians already have it:
St. Mary of Zion Church in Axum, Ethiopia.
My friend took the main picture of this blog post way up at the top at Mount Nebo. Although that is desert, it should be noted that Jerusalem, just a short drive West of Nebo, looks more like Napa Valley in California. I do not know why so many mindless American Bible movies film the life of Jesus in modern-day deserts, like Morocco or Wyoming when they should be filming in rural northern California if they wanted to be accurate. ↩
This is by Joel Peters. It is taken from Twenty One Reasons to Reject Sola Scriptura.
One historical fact which proves extremely convenient for the Protestant is the fact that the canon of the Bible – the authoritative list of exactly which books are part of inspired Scripture – was not settled and fixed until the end of the 4th century. Until that time, there was much disagreement over which Biblical writings were considered inspired and Apostolic in origin. The Biblical canon varied from place to place: Some lists contained books that were later defined as non-canonical, while other lists failed to include books which were later defined as canonical. For example, there were Early Christian writings which were considered by some to be inspired and Apostolic and which were actually read in Christian public worship, but which were later omitted from the New Testament canon. These include The Shepherd of Hermas, The Epistle of Barnabas, and The Didache, among others. 1
It was not until the Synod of Rome (382) and the Councils of Hippo (393) and Carthage (397) that we find a definitive list of canonical books being drawn up, and each of these Councils acknowledged the very same list of books. 2 From this point on, there is in practice no dispute about the canon of the Bible, the only exception being the so-called Protestant Reformers, who entered upon the scene in 1517, an unbelievable 11 centuries later. Once again, there are two fundamental questions for which one cannot provide answers that are consonant with Sola Scriptura: A) Who or what served as the final Christian authority up to the time that the New Testament’s canon was identified? B) And if there was a final authority that the Protestant recognizes before the establishment of the canon, on what basis did that authority cease being final once the Bible’s canon was established?
Much to their chagrin, Protestants are actually guilty of violating their own doctrine. The doctrine of Sola Scriptura prohibits anyone from adding to or deleting from the Bible, but Protestants have, in fact, deleted seven entire books from the Old Testament, as well as portions of two others. The books in question, which are wrongly termed “the Apocrypha” (“not authentic”) by Protestants, are called the “deuterocanonical” (“second canon”) books by Catholics: they are Tobias (Tobit), Judith, 1 and 2 Maccabees, Wisdom, Ecclesiasticus (or Sirach), and Baruch. Portions of Daniel and Esther are also missing.
In defense of their deficient Old Testament canon, Protestants invariably present one or more of the following arguments: 1) the shorter, Pharisaic (or Palestinian) canon 3 of the Old Testament was accepted by Christ and His Apostles, as they never quoted from the deuterocanonical books; 2) the Old Testament was closed by the time of Christ, and it was the shorter canon; 3) the Jews themselves accepted the shorter, Pharisaic canon at the Council of Jamnia (or Javneh) in 90 A.D.; and 4) the deuterocanonical books contain unscriptural material.
Each of the [above] arguments is wholly flawed. [Here is why]:
1) Regarding the claim that Christ and His Apostles accepted the shorter, Pharisaic canon, an examination of the New Testament’s quotation of the Old Testament will demonstrate its fallacy. The New Testament quotes the Old Testament about 350 times, and in approximately 300 of those instances (86%), the quotation is taken from the Septuagint, a Greek translation of the Old Testament in widespread use at the time of Christ. The Septuagint contained the dueterocanonical books. It is therefore unreasonable and presumptuous to say that Christ and His Apostles accepted the shorter Old Testament canon, as the clear majority of the time they used an Old Testament version which did contain the seven books in question.
Or, take the case of Saint Paul, whose missionary journeys and letters were directed to Hellenistic regions outside of Palestine. It has been noted, for example, that his sermon at Antioch in Pisidia “presupposed a thorough acquaintance among his hearers with the Septuagint” and that once a Christian community had been founded, the content of his letters to its members” breathed the Septuagint. 4 Obviously, Saint Paul was supporting the longer canon of the Old Testament by his routine appeal to the Septuagint.
Moreover, it is erroneous to say either that the deutero-canonical books were never quoted by Christ 5 and His apostles or that such citation is a prerequisite for a book’s inclusion in the Biblical canon. According to one list, the deutero-canonical books are cited or alluded to in the New Testament not less than 150 times! 6 In addition, there are Old Testament books, such as Ecclesiastes, Esther and Abdias (Obadiah), which are not quoted by Christ or the Apostles, but which are nonetheless included in the Old Testament canon (both Catholic and Protestant). Obviously, then, citation by Christ or the Apostles does not singlehandedly determine canonicity.
2) Regarding the claim that Christ and the Apostles worked with a closed Old Testament canon – which Protestants maintain was the shorter canon – the historical evidence undermines the allegation. First, there was no entity known as the Palestinian canon, for there were actually three canons in use in Palestine at that time, 7 in addition to the Septuagint canon. And second, the evidence demonstrates that “Judaism in the last two centuries B.C. and in the first century A.D. was by no means uniform in its understanding of which of its writings were considered sacred. There were many views both inside and outside of Israel in the first centuries B.C. and A.D. on which writings were deemed sacred.” 8
3) Using the Council of Jamnia in support of a shorter canon is manifestly problematic for the following reasons: a) The decisions of a Jewish council which was held more than 50 years after the Resurrection of Christ are in no way binding on the Christian community, just as the ritual laws of Judaism (e.g., the prohibition against eating pork) are not binding on Christians. b) It is questionable whether or not the council made final decisions about the Old Testament canon of Scripture, since “the list of books acknowledged to ‘defile the hands’ continued to vary within Judaism itself up through the 4th century A.D.” 9 c) The council was, to some extent, a polemic directed specifically against the “sect” of Christianity, and its tone, therefore, was inherently opposed to Christianity. These Jews most likely accepted the shorter Pharisaic canon precisely because the early Christians accepted the longer Septuagint canon. d) The decisions of this council represented the judgment of just one branch of Pharisaic Judaism within Palestine and not of Judaism as a whole.
4) Lastly, for Protestants to aver that the duetero-canonical books contain unscriptural material is decidedly a case of unwarranted dogmatism. This conclusion was reached simply because the so-called Reformers, who were clearly antagonistic toward the Catholic Church, approached the Bible with an a priori notion that it teaches “Reformed” (Protestant) doctrine. They discarded the deutero-canonical books because in certain instances these books contain decidedly Catholic doctrine, as in the case of 2 Maccabees 12:42-46, which clearly supports the doctrine of prayers for the dead and hence of Purgatory: It is therefore a holy and wholesome thought to pray for the dead, that they may be loosed from sins.—2 Macc 12:46. Luther, in fact, wanted to discard also the New Testament books of Revelation and James, the latter of which he termed an “epistle of straw” and which he felt had “nothing evangelical about it” 10 – no doubt because it clearly states that we are saved by faith and works (cf. James 2:14-26), in contrast to Luther’s erroneous “faith alone” doctrine. Luther was ultimately persuaded by his friends to retain these books.
In addition to the above is the fact of historical testimony and continuity regarding the canon of the Bible. While we have seen that there were disputes regarding the Biblical canon, two considerations are nonetheless true: 1) the deuterocanonical books were certainly used by Christians from the 1st century onward, beginning with Our Lord and His disciples, and 2) once the issue of the canon was settled in the 4th century, we see no change in Christian practice regarding the canon from that point onward. In practice, the only challenge to and disregard of these two realities occurs when the so-called Reformers arrive on the scene in the 16th century and decide that they can simply trash an 11-centuries-long continuity regarding the canon’s formal existence and a nearly 15-centuries-long continuity regarding its practical existence.
The fact that any individual would come along and single-handedly alter such a continuity regarding so central an issue as which books comprise the Bible should give the sincere follower of Christ serious pause. Such a follower is compelled to ask, “By whose authority does this individual make such a major change?” Both history and Luther’s own writings show that Luther’s actions were based on nothing but his own personal say-so. Surely such an “authority” falls grossly short of that which is needed for the canonical change he espoused, especially considering that he process of identifying the Bible’s canon was guided by the Holy Spirit, took centuries, and involved some of the greatest minds in Christianity as well as several Church Councils. More disturbing still is the fact that the other so-called Reformers – and Protestants ever since – have followed suit by accepting Luther’s changed canon, yet all the while they claim to honor the Bible and insist that nothing can be added to or deleted from it.—Joel Peters
Henry G. Graham, Where We Got the Bible: Our Debt to the Catholic Church (St. Louis: B. Herder, 1911; Rockford, IL: TAN, 1977, 17th printing), pp. 34-35. ↩
“This list is the same as the list given in the Church’s final, definitive, explicit, infallible declaration as to which books are to be included in the Bible, which was made by the Council of Trent, Session IV, in 1546. Earlier lists of canonical books were the list in the “Decretal of Gelasius,” which was issued by authority of Pope Damasus in 382, and the canon of Pope Saint Innocent I, which was sent to a Frankish bishop in 405. Neither document was intended to be an infallible statement binding the whole Church, but both documents include the same 73 books as the list of Trent some 11 centuries later.”—The Catholic Encyclopedia [New York: The Encyclopedia Press, 1913], Vol. 3, p. 272). ↩
The Pharisaic canon, which was used by Jews in Palestine, did not contain the deuterocanonical books. The Septuagint or Alexandrian canon, which was used largely by Jews living in the Dispersion (i.e., Hellenistic regions outside of Palestine), did contain the deuterocanonical books. ↩
W. H. C. Frend [Protestant author], The Rise of Christianity (Philadelphia, PA: Fortress Press, 1984), pp. 99-100. ↩
For some examples, compare the following passages: Matt. 6:14-15 with Ecclesiasticus (Sirach) 28:2; Matt. 6:7 with Ecclesiasticus (Sirach) 7:15(14); Matt. 7:12 with Tobit (Tobias) 4:16(15); Luke 12:18-20 with Sirach 11:19 (Ecclus. 11:19-20); Acts 10:34 with Ecclus. 35:15 (Sirach 35:12); Acts 10:26 with Wisdom 7:1; and Matt. 8:11 with Baruch 4:37 ↩
Lee Martin McDonald [Protestant author], The Formation of the Christian Biblical Canon, Appendix A (Nashville, TN: The Parthenon Press, 1988). (Listing entitled “New Testament Citations and Allusions to Apocryphal and Pseudepigraphal Writings,” adapted from The Text of the New Testament, by Kurt Aland and Barbara Aland, two well-known Biblical scholars.) ↩
They include a) the Qumran canon, which we know of from the Dead Sea Scrolls, b) the Pharisaic canon, and c) the Sadducees/Samaritan canon, which included only the Torah (the first books of the Old Testament) ↩
42. Lee Martin McDonald [Protestant author], The Formation of the Christian Biblical Canon, Appendix A (Nashville, TN: The Parthenon Press, 1988). (Listing entitled “New Testament Citations and Allusions to Apocryphal and Pseudepigraphal Writings,” adapted from The Text of the New Testament, by Kurt Aland and Barbara Aland, two well-known Biblical scholars.) p. 53 ↩
Lee Martin McDonald [Protestant author], The Formation of the Christian Biblical Canon, Appendix A (Nashville, TN: The Parthenon Press, 1988). (Listing entitled “New Testament Citations and Allusions to Apocryphal and Pseudepigraphal Writings,” adapted from The Text of the New Testament, by Kurt Aland and Barbara Aland, two well-known Biblical scholars.) p. 60 ↩
Hartmann Grisar, S.J., Martin Luther: His Life and Work (B. Herder, 1930; Westminster, MD: The Newman Press, 1961), p. 426. ↩
In this “podclass” we’re going to see why Marcionism is the most prolific heresy today. Marcion was a second century heretic who taught that the God of the Old Testament was a different God from the New Testament. The section of St. Alphonsus Liguori’s book can be found here. Scroll down to #8 to read about Marcion.
Correction. I should have said the following: “St. Cyril of Alexandria taught that St. Paul wrote the New Testament book of Hebrews in Hebrew and St. Luke translated it to the Greek.”
This sermon was given on the Second Sunday after Epiphany, 2018. The featured picture on the blog for this sermon is from a stained glass window at my basilica of residence downtown.
A continued thanks for the music-bumpers of my sermons to the holy nuns of Ephesus.
There has recently been some debate on the last line of the Our Father:
And lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from evil.—Matthew 6:13
Should the Our Father read “lead us not into temptation” as it has always been translated or the modern “let us not fall into temptation”? Let’s look at the Greek. The Greek of Matthew 6:13a is καὶ μὴ εἰσενέγκῃς ἡμᾶς εἰς πειρασμόν. Word-by-word, it is καὶ (and) μὴ (not) εἰσενέγκῃς (to bring/lead) ἡμᾶς (us) εἰς (into) πειρασμόν (temptation.)—Matthew 6:13
Notice that the verb εἰσενέγκῃς (pronounced ace-in-egg-ace) is the active verb translated as bring or lead. On the other hand, the whole idea of “let us not fall into temptation” is still technically an active verb in the English denotation, but very passive in the connotation. Of course, God tempts no one: Let no one say when he is tempted, “I am being tempted by God,” for God cannot be tempted with evil, and He himself tempts no one. But each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire.—James 1:13.
But if God tempts no one, then why would we ever ask God not to lead us into temptation? Since God always wills our good, wouldn’t it be better to simply ask God not to let us fall into temptation?
Why? Because Jesus said lead them not into temptation in the Aramaic of the Our Father. How do I know that Jesus said lead in the Aramaic? Because the Holy Spirit inspired the Greek to say lead (εἰσενέγκῃς.) But if you won’t grant me the premise of inerrancy in the Scripture, then all blog posts on this topic are giant piles of poop, including this one. None of it matters.
But since the Bible is true……I’m all the more amazed how many good Bible-believing Catholics continue to ask me (after I explained the Greek to them) if it were still not better to ask of God that He not let us fall into temptation, rather than not leading us to evil, especially since God always wills our good.
Well, Jesus still got it right. Here’s why: “Let us not fall into temptation” is still technically an active verb in the English denotation, but very passive in the connotation. (Think about it: let me not…) So, for the sake of brevity, we’re going to label that business of let not fall into temptation as passive. Of course, lead us not into temptation is a negation of an active verb, but it’s still obviously an active verb being used: lead.
Why in the world does it matter if the verb that we speak to God-the-Father has Him doing something passive or active? Because a female deity has a passive role, whereas a male deity has an active role. It was the one God of the Universe (not me) who chose to reveal Himself as Father. And the Father never takes a passive role in our spiritual warfare or our salvation.
You see, to your mother, you might say, “Don’t let me fall into the bathtub.”
To your Dad, while hunting, you might say “Don’t lead me to the beasts I can’t handle.”
Thus, Jesus got it right when he taught us the Our Father.
(Still, I’m pretty sure that the infinite, eternal Divine Word doesn’t need my stamp-of-approval on that.)1
Just for the record, I do not think that these translation problems are new in the Church. The Creed in Greek has Jesus descending into “the depths” (of the Hebrew Sheol) but the ancient Church [erroneously?] translated it into the Latin as “hell” (as in the Hebrew Gehenna.) I am open to correction, but I think this was a horrible translation that even remains in the Traditional Latin Mass in Latin. This ancient error has led modernist theologians to teach that Jesus emptied hell on Holy Saturday. The truth of our dogma, however, is that Christ descended to the limbo of the patriarchs to bring them to heaven. So, people messing up doctrine by getting translation wrong 1500 years ago is still a serious problem. Notice that my blog post does not mention any Pope or Vatican II. This is an ancient problem. So, I’m very much against getting doctrinal language wrong, because when we get doctrinal language wrong, people’s faith gets messed up, too. That’s why I found this worthy of a blog post. Try to see past the current news in my blog posts. ↩