St Joseph and St Mary Parishes in Freeport, IL

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The Bible, Ezra and Nehemiah

The Bible, generally speaking, is in chronological order, but not strictly speaking. Genesis starts with the origin of humanity. Matthew was not necessarily the first writer of the Gospels, nor were the letters of Paul put in the order that he wrote them. This is also true for the Old Testament. Ezra and Nehemiah were both associated with the restoration of the Temple after the Babylonian exile. Ezra comes before Nehemiah in the Bible, but it is believed that Nehemiah came first. The Book of Daniel backtracks to the Babylonian exile and fills in what happened during that period.  Continue reading

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The Bible and Our Catholic Understanding 2

As we continue the timeline of events in the Bible after Moses, we begin with Joshua, who leads the people into the Holy Land. The Book of Joshua begins with the story of Jericho and the many other battles that established them in the land. This book ends with Joshua renewing the covenant with the people using the famous words, “As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord” (Joshua 24:15). The Book of Judges came during the occupancy of the Holy Land. This book has the story of Deborah, Gideon and Samson. The Israelites pretty much dominate the land, but they still have difficulty with the inhabitants in the mountains and over by the Mediterranean Sea. This is where we discover the dreaded Philistines. The Israelites fall short of what they promise, (to be obedient to God), many times. Because of their disobedience, they suffer and turn back to God. God sends them a “Judge” to help them get back on track and be back in God’s grace. Then they fall back in the same cycle. This happened for at least 400 years. Continue reading

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Living the Mortal Life 64

So far I have only addressed the Traditions established by God. God gave us our worship. The original format God gave us is when Israel was saved from slavery by Egypt. In fact, it was to be a perpetual institution (Ex 12:14 & 17). It even gave the unleavened bread and the sacrificial lamb as part of this worship. But this worship did not end when Jesus came. If it did, God would have given a false message that it was to be perpetual. In the Last Supper, Jesus transforms this sacred meal and sacrifice of the Old Testament into what we have during the Mass today. Continue reading

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GENERAL AUDIENCE: On God Being Greater Than Our Sins

Dear Brothers and Sisters, good morning!

Today we finish the catecheses on mercy in the Old Testament, and we do so meditating on Psalm 51, known as the Miserere. It is a penitential prayer in which the request for forgiveness is preceded by the confession of guilt in which the Psalmist, allowing himself to be purified by the love of the Lord, becomes a new creature, capable of obedience, of firmness of spirit and of sincere praise. …

GENERAL AUDIENCE: On God Being Greater Than Our Sins

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Throwing Light on Scripture

Christians and Christianity are often the target of criticism over what is termed the “dark passages” of the Bible. That is, those parts – above all in the Old Testament – which at first glance seem to portray a vengeful or vindictive God.

In a recently published book Mark Giszczak analyzes and explains why some parts of the Bible are so difficult for our contemporary culture to understand. “Light in the Dark Passages of Scripture” (Our Sunday Visitor Publishing) contains both general principles to help understand Scripture as well as a look at some specific texts. …

Throwing Light on Scripture

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Daily Homily: I Have Come to Fulfill the Law and the Prophets

Rome, June 10, 2014 (

1 Kings 18:20-39
Psalm 16:1b-2ab, 4, 5ab and 8, 11
Matthew 5:17-19

After three years of drought and famine in Israel, God tells the prophet Elijah to confront King Ahab. Elijah commands King Ahab to gather all Israel and the 450 prophets of Baal and the 400 prophets of Asherah at Mount Carmel. There, Elijah challenges the false prophets of Ba’al to a contest to prove that the Lord is God. This challenge recalls the Old Testament confrontations between Moses and the Egyptian magicians in the Book of Exodus and between the Lord and the Dagon in the Book of Samuel.

Elijah mocks the prophets of Ba’al throughout the day as they are unable to call down fire from heaven upon the sacrifice. In the afternoon, Elijah repairs the altar of the Lord with twelve stones, symbolizing the twelve tribes of Israel. To show the power of the Lord God, Elijah douses the sacrifice with water and fills the trench around the altar with water. Read more: