December 9, 2009
Welcome to “For Catholic Grownups”!
This blog is an attempt to provide interesting and worthwhile Catholic Adult Education materials, either texts or podcasts I have produced myself, or links to other good resources.
I am doing this for several reasons. One is to act as a means of distributing to interested people recordings I have already made. Another is to advocate for Adult Catechesis within the Catholic Community, which I believe is sorely neglected in most parishes, despite the priority it is given in official Catholic documents on Catechesis.
May 16, 2014
Recorded May 1st 2014
Chapter 24 has the tone of Apocalyptic literature, as Jesus describes the calamities and tribulations to come. These teachings always stand as a warning about speculation of when the End Times of the Last Judgement will come, but include a warning to be ready when they do. This includes the Parable of the Unfaithful Servant (24:45-51), the parable of the Wise and Foolish Virgins (25:1-13, pictured above and below, from the cathedral at Magdeburg in Germany), and the Parable of the Talents (25:14-30).
Perhaps best known of all these teachings is another parable of judgement, the Separation of the Sheep and the Goats (25:31-46), which places compassion for the poor at the center of divine judgement.
Then follows the betrayal, arrest, trial and crucifixion of Jesus, which is truly “the greatest story ever told”. His resurrection is reported briefly, and his disciples were “fearful yet overjoyed”.
Matthew’s Gospel ends with the so-called Great Commission (28:19-20),
“Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, until the end of the age.”
Thus the Gospel ends as it begun, with the declaration that Jesus is “Emmanuel” – “God-is-with-us”.
May 16, 2014
Recorded April 24th
These chapters begin with a sequence of well-known parables, such as the Lost Sheep (18:10-14) and the Unforgiving Servant (18:21-35), which show the necessity of mercy and forgiveness. By chapter 21 Jesus’ arrest is approaching and this is reflected in several parables about rejection, such as the Parable of the Tenants (21:33-43) and the Wedding Feast 922;1-14). This sequence ends with Jesus lament over Jerusalem, as he is about to be rejected (23:37-39).
May 14, 2014
Recorded April 10th 2014
Matthew 11-17 includes his third major discourse, the Parables Discourse. These include such well-known stories as the Parable of the Sower (13;1-9), the Weeds among the Wheat (13:24-30), the Mustard Seed (13:31-32).
A notable event is Peter’s Confession of Jesus, which tells us who Jesus is (“the Messiah, the Son of the Living God”) and in which Peter is appointed to be “The Rock” and the foundation of the Church. Immediate afterwards comes a prediction of the Passion, an implication of what it really means to be the Messiah.
May 14, 2014
Recorded April 3rd 2014
These three chapters of Matthew have several intertwining themes. They include many healing stories. The healings are indicators of the coming of the Kingdom of Heaven proclaimed by Jesus, and are also testaments to his power and identity.
There is a repeated call to discipleship and descriptions of a disciple: a disciples is to do what Jesus does, and can expect persecution, as he also suffered.
April 24, 2014
Recorded April 2nd 2014
These four books which conclude our study have something in common: they are all books which in some sense are about women (see highlighted link for further discussion):
- Lamentations – Jerusalem after its destruction is personified as a woman, no longer glorious but now shamed.
- Ruth – A Moabite women who after she is widowed returns to Israel with her mother-in-law Naomi, with the famous words, Your people shall be my people, and your God shall be my God.” She became the grandmother of King David.
- Esther – A Jewish woman who becomes the wife of Xerxes, the Persian Emperor, and by her faithfulness is able to save the Jewish people from destruction.
- Song of Songs – a sequence of love songs variously interpreted as an allegory of the love between God and Israel, Christ and the Church, or God and the soul.
April 24, 2014
Recorded March 26th 2014
Job is a challenging book, and one of my favorites in the Bible. Job is a pious and good man, but everything in his life goes wrong. His friends challenge him that he has sinned, and refuses to admit it, which is why he is suffering. He argues with them, and wants to confront God with his plight. In the end God does answer, but not as Job expects.
For more on Job see earlier posts in the Catholic Biblical School series.
Daniel and Maccabees are examples of Apocalyptic literature, an unusual style of writing full of dramatic, symbolic language, and not to be taken literally! See further recent recordings on:
April 24, 2014
Recorded March 20th 2014
Today we studied the whole of the Sermon on the Mount, including the Beatitudes, the love of enemies, the Lord’s Prayer and the Golden Rule. It is easy to see why these chapters are loved very much by many Christians, as Jesus sets forth his most characteristic teaching.
Jesus is portrayed as a ‘New Moses’ teaching and giving a ‘New Law’ from a mountaintop, and boldly stating, “You have heard that it was said to your ancestors … but I say to you.” So the way Jesus teaches continues the debate which takes place on every page of the New Testament, asking “Who is Jesus?” and giving the answer that he is the equal of God in his authority, identity and significance.
April 24, 2014
Recorded March 19th, 2014
There are twelve minor prophets, but today we look at just two of them, who are arguably the most important and the most quoted in the Christian liturgy: Amos, who was a voice for social justice, and Hosea, whose experience of his own wife’s infidelity was a model to him of Israel’s infidelity to God.
With the Psalms we only have time for a few examples of different kinds – Psalms of praise, penitence and lament. Note that almost all the Psalms end with assertions of faith and trust in God.
Finally a few quick examples from Wisdom literature: Proverbs, Ecclesiates, Wisdom and Sirach. Note that Biblical Wisdom did not include metaphysical speculation, unlike many pagan wisdom traditions, but it dealt with questions of how to live a life faithful to God in the circumstances and conditions of everyday life.
April 21, 2014
Recorded March 13th, 2014
Matthew is probably the best known of all the Gospels to Catholics, because of its prominent place in the Lectionary, on most of the Sundays in Year A, which we are in now. Indeed, before Vatican II there was only one cycle of Sunday readings, and most weeks it was Matthew.
It’s familiar stories and teachings are too many to mention, but include The Sermon on the Mount and the Beatitudes. Matthew is perhaps the most Jewish of all the Gospels, with many discussions of the Law and of fulfillment of prophecy by Jesus. It was most probably written in the Syrian city of Antioch around AD 85-90.
The first four chapters include the genealogy of Jesus, which means a lot more to the course participants now, because we have read many of the stories of the people named during our study of the Old Testament. it is notable that this genealogy includes several gentiles and some scandalous incidents. which show that Jesus came for all nations, not just to Israel, and for sinner, not just the righteous.
We include the story of the birth of Jesus from Joseph’s point of view, with no shepherds, but with the wise men from the East and their star. Then John the Baptist introduces Jesus at the beginning of his ministry.
April 1, 2014
Recorded March 6th, 2014
Daniel 7-12 is very different from Daniel 1-6 and 13-14. First of all, it is written in Hebrew whereas the rest is in Greek. (This raises an interesting issue in Protestant Bibles, where only the Hebrew sections are regarded as canonical.) It is written in an apocalyptic style, which includes a lot of obscure symbolic language. it’s teaching is that the pagan nations have risen in vain against God, and while at first they seem victorious, each will be in turn overthrown, and in the end God and his kingdom will triumph. The prophet calls his hearers to right conduct, to trust in divine control over events, and to be certain that in the end God will triumph.
The Picture above is an illustration of the vision of the Fourth Beast in Daniel Chapter 7. The picture below is a modern interpretation of it, when modern nations are seen as fulfilling what Daniel had to say. This is a contentious and stupid form of interpretation. Daniel was not interested in the events of the 21st century!
Daniel has given us several expressions in every day use, to describe someone as having ‘feet of clay’ comes from the vision of the Beast above, and last week we heard the incident about the ‘writing on the wall’.
For Christians Daniel has a value as a prophecy of the Messiah, especially the “Son of Man” in 7:13. Danile also forsees the resurrection, in 12:2-3, a text often used at funerals.