The LORD spoke to Ahaz, saying: Ask for a sign from the LORD, your God; let it be deep as the netherworld, or high as the sky! But Ahaz answered, “I will not ask! I will not tempt the LORD!” Then Isaiah said: Listen, O house of David! Is it not enough for you to weary people, must you also weary my God? Therefore the Lord himself will give you this sign: the virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall name him Emmanuel.
Today is the fourth (and last) Sunday of Advent — a season observed by Christians as a time of expectant waiting and preparation for the celebration of the incarnation and birth of the Second Person of the Triune Godhead.
“the virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall name him Emmanuel.” -Isaiah 7:14
Isaiah 7:14 is only one of numerous instances in the Old Testament foretelling the coming of Jesus Christ as Emmanuel, which means “God is with us”. Below are more:
there shall come a Star out of Jacob, and a Sceptre shall rise out of Israel, and shall smite the corners of Moab, and destroy all the children of Sheth.
But thou, Bethlehem Ephratah, though thou be little among the thousands of Judah, yet out of thee shall he come forth unto me that is to be ruler in Israel; whose goings forth have been from of old, from everlasting.
Behold, the days come, saith the Lord, that I will raise unto David a righteous Branch, and a King shall reign and prosper, and shall execute judgment and justice in the earth.
behold, thy King cometh unto thee: he is just, and having salvation; lowly, and riding upon an ass, and upon a colt the foal of an ass.
So they weighed for my price thirty pieces of silver.
Psalm 22:1, 16, 18
My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me? why art thou so far from helping me, and from the words of my roaring?
they pierced my hands and my feet.
They part my garments among them, and cast lots upon my vesture.
For thou wilt not leave my soul in hell; neither wilt thou suffer thine Holy One to see corruption.
And to those who obdurately deny that Isaiah 7:14’s prophecy did come true, heed this:
And may the peace and love of Jesus Christ our Lord be with you,
Jesus took Peter, John, and James and went up the mountain to pray. While he was praying his face changed in appearance and his clothing became dazzling white. And behold, two men were conversing with him, Moses and Elijah, who appeared in glory and spoke of his exodus that he was going to accomplish in Jerusalem. Peter and his companions had been overcome by sleep, but becoming fully awake, they saw his glory and the two men standing with him. As they were about to part from him, Peter said to Jesus, “Master, it is good that we are here; let us make three tents, one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah.” But he did not know what he was saying. While he was still speaking, a cloud came and cast a shadow over them, and they became frightened when they entered the cloud. Then from the cloud came a voice that said, “This is my chosen Son; listen to him.” After the voice had spoken, Jesus was found alone. They fell silent and did not at that time tell anyone what they had seen.
Modern Christology, the systematic study (“ology”) of Jesus Christ, is a product of the Enlightenment, distinguished from the pre-modern variety in its purpose and intent. Instead of studying Christ as the object of religious devotion or faith, modern Christology means to study Jesus as a figure in history, i.e., Jesus the man instead of Jesus the Christ.
Modern Christology’s historical reconstructions of Jesus have regularly been put forward as challenges to faith. In a speech in 1996, then-Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger said, “The identification of only one historical person, Jesus of Nazareth, with . . . the living God, is now relegated as a relapse into myth. Jesus is consciously relativized as one religious leader among others.” The result is an erosion of faith even among the clergy. As examples:
A survey in 2002 found that a third of the clergy in the Church of England doubted or outright disbelieved in the physical resurrection of Christ. No doubt the percentage is much higher today, 17 years later.
At the 2017 Christmas midnight Mass, Fr. Fredo Olivero of the Church of San Rocco di Torino in the Archdiocese of Turin, Italy, substituted the syrupy Italian pop-religious tune “Dolce sentire” for the Creed, explaining, “Do you know why I do not say the Creed? Because I do not believe it. . . . After many years I understood that it was something I did not understand and that I could not accept. So let’s sing something else that says the essential things of life.” (Source: George Weigel in First Things)
Not to be outdone, Fr. Paolo Farinella of Genoa, Italy, announced in the leftist Italian newspaper, La Repubblica, that Christmas is just “a fairy tale from the nativity scene with lullabies and bagpipes, the exclusive support of a capitalist and consumerist economy”. (First Things)
Having studied some of the writings of modern Christologists, what I find curious is that, in their search for the historical Jesus, these theologians and scholars pay scant attention to an important concept in law which is critical to the testimony and determination of truth.
The apostles and disciples were the percipient witnesses of the historical Jesus. Their accounts are contained in the four canonical Gospels and the Acts of the Apostles. And it is their behaviors, lives, and deaths that provide the most compelling testimony of not just Jesus the man, but Jesus the Christ. The above passage from Luke 9 is exactly that — an account by sane, percipient witnesses of having seen Jesus with two long-dead men, Moses and Elijah, and hearing a voice from the cloud saying, “This is my chosen Son; listen to him.”
The Milky Way as seen from New Zealand
The world we live in, Earth, is part of a solar system, at the center of which is a star called the Sun. Our solar system is part of a galaxy called the Milky Way.
Astronomers say there are about 1 billion stars in the Milky Way galaxy. Deep-field images from the Hubble Space Telescope suggest there are about 2 trillion galaxies in the observable universe, or about 10 times more galaxies than previously thought. Christopher Conselice, a professor of astrophysics at the University of Nottingham in the United Kingdom, said there are about 100 million stars in the average galaxy. (Space.com)
1 million = 1,000,000.
100 million = 100,000,000.
1 trillion = 1,000,000 millions or 1,000,000,000,000.
2 trillions × 100 millions = 20,000,000 millions or 20 trillions.
That means there are about 20 trillion stars in the Universe. Put another way, there are 5 to 10 times more stars than there are grains of sand on all the beaches of planet Earth. (Universe Today)
Then there is something even more mind-boggling: The above calculations are about the observable Universe. According to the theory of cosmic inflation, the size of the entire Universe is at least 3×1023 times the radius of the observable Universe.
So when the Creator of this unimaginably vast Universe says “This is my chosen Son; listen to him”, we’d be crazy not to listen.
May the peace and love of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you,
Again Jesus left the district of Tyre and went by way of Sidon to the Sea of Galilee, into the district of the Decapolis. And people brought to him a deaf man who had a speech impediment and begged him to lay his hand on him. He took him off by himself away from the crowd. He put his finger into the man’s ears and, spitting, touched his tongue; then he looked up to heaven and groaned, and said to him, “Ephphatha!”— that is, “Be opened!” — And immediately the man’s ears were opened, his speech impediment was removed, and he spoke plainly. He ordered them not to tell anyone. But the more he ordered them not to, the more they proclaimed it. They were exceedingly astonished and they said, “He has done all things well. He makes the deaf hear and the mute speak.”
He made the deaf hear and the mute speak.
He multiplied a few loaves and fishes to feed thousands.
He walked on water and calmed the roiling sea.
He cast out demons and resurrected the dead.
And He promised He would not leave us as orphans, that He will be with us always, until the end of time. (John 14:18; Matthew 18:20)
So when we sometimes feel despairing and abandoned by God, know this:
Our God is good and all-powerful and He loves us, in spite of ourselves.
He never disappoints. He never betrays our trust.
He loves us so much He willingly died for us.
And He will never, ever abandon us.
May the courage, peace and love of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you,
Why do you not understand what I say? Because you cannot bear to listen to my words. You are from your father, the devil, and you prefer to do what your father wants. He was a murderer from the start; he was never grounded in the truth; there is no truth in him at all. When he lies he is speaking true to his nature, because he is a liar, and the father of lies.
But it is because I speak the truth that you do not believe me. Can any of you convict me of sin? If I speak the truth, why do you not believe me?
Whoever comes from God listens to the words of God; the reason why you do not listen is that you are not from God.
Anthony Esolen writes in Catholic World Reportthat our Lord Jesus the Christ reminds us to speak plainly and directly, “Let your speech be yea, yea: no, no: and that which is over and above these, is of evil.” (Matthew 5:37).Therefore, we who are committed to holiness must be committed to clarity of intention and speech. For:
The lie is the distinguishing feature of evil, because of its self-devouring commitment to what is not: it is an inner vacuity. […]
Orwell’s dystopian regime in 1984 rests upon a ground floor of terror and violence, but its bedrock foundation is the lie: witness the hero Winston Smith’s work at the “Ministry of Truth,” sending precious archival materials down the “memory hole,” where they will be lost forever. It is why Dante situates fraud below violence in the Inferno’s decrepit descent into non-being and idiocy; so we find the giant Nimrod, builder of the heaven-aspiring Tower of Babel, sputtering gibberish, and the consummate liar Satan uttering not a single word, but telling the same old lie again and again with every flap of his bat-like wings, “I rise by my own power.”
Esolen notes that the result of lies is confusion and chaos. Indeed, the late Malachi Martin with keen insight had observed that whereas simplicity and clarity are the hallmark of goodness, a confounding complexity is a mark of evil because the labyrinth of lies is confusing.
Former satanist Deborah Lipsky, now a specialist in education in Maine, can testify to all this.
Before her return to the Church, Lipsky had spent years in Satanism, where she gained sharp insight into the various ways and reasons demons gain power in our lives.
Lipsky says the occult is the foremost way that evil enters our realm, along with sexual immorality, negativity, hatefulness, and other forms of sin. But often people forget about seemingly trite and common practices such as lying, which in our day is rampant, to the point where lying has become our second nature. Lies in sales pitches, advertising, politics, and in personal relationships. We rationalize lying, and consider some forms like white lies, harmless. But there is no such thing as a “half-truth.” There are only “half-lies.”
In her new book, A Message of Hope, Lipsky points out that lying is one of the devil’s most effective ways to separate us from God, for at the heart of darkness is the Prince of Deception:
“Untruthfulness of any sort is the sort of ‘stuff’ demons feed on. It is a vibrational pattern that mirrors their essence. As they absorb this ‘energy’ of lying emanating from you, they grow stronger. Lying is beyond question the most toxic activity we can engage in. Every time we ignore the truth, we ignore God. God is Truth. When we lie, we can’t be part of that because He is absolute truth. Lying is a demon’s native tongue. When you lie, you are not only speaking the language demons can connect with, but you also are in sync with a demon’s nature. […]
We convince ourselves that under certain conditions telling a lie isn’t a sin. If anything, the one you are deceiving is you! Demons aren’t finicky; they will feed on any deception including white lies. I am guilty of knowingly telling white lies because I don’t want the person to suffer undue emotional stress if they can’t handle the truth at hand. That doesn’t make it right. Telling a full lie or half-truth is the quickest way to nourish a demon. If a lie is an especially ‘juicy’ one, you can bet that the initial demon drawn to your lie will scream out ‘buffet!’ so as to attract his buddies. Demons are not only pack hunters, but they are also communal feeders.”
It is no wonder, then, Lipsky warns, that “The Holy Spirit and Holy Angels including your guardian angel will ‘step back’ a step … when you engage in telling a lie because they refuse to co-inhabit in your ‘space’ with any hint of evil.”
The plain truth is we are breaking one of the Ten Commandments (the 9th) every time we lie.
And it’s not just the 9th Commandment, for lying is at the basis of every one of the Ten Commandments.
Think about it . . . .
Telling lies causes bondage that eventually clouds our judgment. In contrast, the truth — and only the truth — sets us free. The truth also brings Joy and an inner serenity. For, in the end, “If you please God, it matters not whom you displease, but if you displease God, it matters not whom you please” because “The Lord hates lying lips, but those who speak the truth are His joy.” –Proverbs 12:22
“I am the way and the truth and the life.” (John 14:6).
“I am the light of the world; anyone who follows me will not be walking in the dark, but will have the light of life.” (John 8:12)