My Writings. My Thoughts.
Have you ever wondered why there were 10 Plagues in Egypt? What did God know about the Egyptian people and Pharaoh? For those of us who believe in God, we may wonder why it took Pharaoh so long to become convinced. Yet, if we have ever been asked to reconsider a life-long belief, we know how challenging it can be to be pursuaded of the truth. This is the situation on earth during the time of The Apocalypse. All those who believe have already been sealed (Rev 7). But what about those who do not believe? Does not God also want them in heaven? Of course he does! And to reach them, he has to overcome many grave obstacles in their minds and hearts. He also has to help them understand the choice they are making – love and life on the one hand, versus hatred and death on the other. This program also considers the Two Witnesses (Rev 10) that proclaim God’s truths and asks: are we also called to be witnesses?
Is it possible to be encouraged by the events recorded in the Book of Revelations? Does God will our suffering? Certainly not. Yet, he will allow it if it means we might turn to him and be saved. He knows the alternative is far worse. For the believer, we may readily understand this or be able to accept it on “faith”. However, for those who do not yet know the love of God, or who do not believe he is important in their lives, they must first recognize his presence – that he is not just an “idea” in the minds of believers. This is what the Lamb seeks in opening the 7 Seals (Rev 5 – 7).
Then, in order to save those who now perceive him, but who have not been close to him, God reveals to them, by calculated increments, what life will be like if they choose to remain distant from him (Rev 8 – 9). The 7 Trumpet blasts beckon to the people of the Earth, inviting them to reconsider where they are heading so that they might choose salvation, that they might be with God and enjoy his love. There are strong parallels with the 10 Plagues preceding the Exodus from Egypt, and equally wonderful is the effect upon the non-believer. For just as in Egypt, the great crowd was comprised of a “mixed multitude” (Ex 12: 38) – Egyptians as well as Israelites – so too does God will that all people, of every faith and culture, come to him by these dramatic events.
Is it truly a unusual to look for hope in the Book of Revelations? Let us consider what we find there before answering too quickly. We have many symbols in Sacred Scriptures, no few of which are in the Book of Revelations. These contain meanings beyond their simple descriptions. They are perhaps like the Church’s great icons that reveal hidden truths with each encounter. In looking for hope in Revelations, we may also reflect on what we know about God. Are we to suppose that after opening a door for us and calling us inside, God wants to frighten us? Would he not, like any parent, rather seize his opportunity, pull us close, hug us tenderly, and give us something special as a sign of his love? This is some of what St. John sees in his vision. In Revelations, chapters 4 and 5, we consider the symbols found there in the light of God’s desire to bring us hope in him.
For a list of symbols, see: Symbols of the Apocalypse.
The word “Apocalypse” itself may give us pause. Popular images of the Book of Revelations are fraught with vengeance, violence and death. Yet, is this really what God wishes our understanding to be? Can God actually be like this? In the fourth chapter of Revelations, we are treated to an “open door” into heaven. At this threshold, and led by St. John’s own hand, we glimpse God’s throne. We become aware that God also is imploring us to enter. Yet, once inside, and maybe to the surprise of some, God gives us an opportunity to view things from his perspective. John too encourages us. “Caught up in spirit” on the sabbath, John reminds us that our prayer life, our closeness with God, and the vitality of our faith in Him are important to our entry. Sacred Scripture can come to our aid for all of these needs and more.
Have you ever received a letter from God? We may be familiar with his many encouragements and teachings found in Sacred Scripture. But, what about a personal letter from God, one addressed to you? In the Book of Revelations, in this great book that we are often tempted to avoid, we find seven letters from Our Lord. These are the letters written to the seven churches in Asia. However, they are also letters to each of us. We look for evidence in the Sacred Texts about who is writing these letters, and what their structure reveals to us. Did you know, for example, that they each include affirmation for the good work we are undertaking? Are you aware, also, that in each letter God makes us a beautiful promise? Only with these graces does God then, with the gentle hand of a Loving Father, exhort us to be all that we can be!
We know from Sacred Scripture that Our Lord requires very little from us to work great wonders. He depends on the openness of our hearts and not the size of our offering. Consider, for example, the small boy with the two fish and five loaves (John 6: 1-14). Impossibly, this meager portion fed 5,000 people with 12 baskets of food left over! We also can recall the widow who contributed two small, copper coins (Luke 21: 1-4) to the Temple treasury. Our Lord remarked how great this contribution was compared with all the other contributions, even those of greater amounts. In the same way, your contributions to Radio Maria, especially those made from your heart, are greatly multiplied by Our Lord. You can be part of Radio Maria’s ministry of evangelization as BL Pope John Paul II called for in 1987. Please join us with your contributions.
My special guest this evening is Sadie Fletcher, my mother. Sadie shares how the simplest encouragements in the faith made great differences in the lives of my brothers and sisters, and my own life. Your prayers and efforts are no less important than my mother’s and God will produce a great harvest through them.
Have you ever wondered at the power made available to us by God through our priests? In Sacred Scripture, we find beautiful examples of how God, at the time of the Israelites in Egypt, works through chosen ministers to accomplish their salvation. For ancient Israel, this amounted to securing their release from slavery, no less. Later, God provides Manna and the Law. On the one hand, he keeps them from starvation, and on the other, God gives the Israelites the means, through his minister, to live with God, rather than return to slavery. Monsignor Stephen Otellini from the Archdiocese of San Francisco is my special guest. He offers both grace and wisdom to help us better understand the special power that God offers us through the priesthood.
An old saying suggests that the New Testament lies hidden in the Old and the Old Testament is unveiled in the New (Catechism of the Catholic Church #129). If this is so, can we find in the Old Testament evidence for God’s presence in his Church today? We begin by reflecting upon 3 aspects of God: God’s desire to be close to us, even intimately as a father; the distance we place between us and God when we prefer our own will over his will; and how God works to overcome that distancing we caused. Orienting by means of these 3 points, we see God acting on behalf of his children through his Chosen People, and others before them. We consider the promise to Noah (Gen 9: 18 – 19), the calling of Abraham (Gen 12: 1 – 4), and Moses’ drawing water from the rock (Ex 17: 6). Finally, we look at these Old Testament events and parallels with Peter as “rock” (Mt 16: 18), as well as the water flowing from Christ’s open side (John 19: 34).
There are many contemporary images of God. For example, the image of an older gentleman with a flowing, white beard, or the image of sun piercing through clouds. As beautiful as these contemporary images can be, Scripture paints a far more intimate God. Fr. Greg Haake is a guest on the program. He is a Holy Cross Father from the University of Notre Dame who is studying for his Doctorate in French Literature. In this program, he compares the contemporary images of God and several sublime verses in Sacred Scripture.
We may each have a Bible in our homes, but do we often go to Sacred Scripture as we might go to the refrigerator when hungry? Our Lord desires to meet us in the Sacred Texts and we explore here how to do this with Fr. Paul Maillet, Associate Professor of Scripture at St. Patrick’s Seminary in California. The method is called Lectio Divina. Fr. Paul begins by sharing with us his remarkable call to the priesthood, and in particular how he was inspired while visiting a young man who was dying. Father also shares with us an example of how to apply Lectio Divina, how to be “lifted up” by Our Lord. We reflect on a passage from Matthew 11: 25 – 30: “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.”