Our community decided in 2008 that the mission of our parish was life-long learning. Everything we do centers around teaching the depth and richness of the Roman Catholic Faith. Our weekly 3-Minute Catechesis is read from the Ambo prior to Mass beginning. A written copy is made available in our weekly bulletin along with additional information for those who want to learn more. Visit us online at www.risensaviorcc.org for more information.

Sunday, September 27, 2015

On the Third Day

Christians are by definition an “Easter people;” our faith rests on the reality expressed in the creedal statement AND ROSE AGAIN ON THE THIRD DAY IN ACCORDANCE WITH THE SCRIPTURES. 
It is a mistake to read THE THIRD DAY as a simple reference to earthly time as if one were dating the resurrection event seventy-two hours after Good Friday.  The phrase is filled with deeper meaning.  It is an end-time expression linked to the saving action of God in the person of the crucified Jesus.  To the Jewish way of thinking, “the third day” or “after three days” had a special significance even in everyday speech.  It represents a turning point in the course of human events.  In no less than thirty places the Hebrew Scriptures employ the phrase to indicate a critical moment when one thing is definitively concluded and a new thing begins. 
The Lord instructs Moses to have the people, “… ready for the third day.”  “On the third day” Esther begins her task of delivering Israel, and “on the third day” Israel expects God to raise the people up “to live in his presence.”  That Jesus rises from the dead “on the third day” marks a focal point in salvation, not in time. 
The Creed goes on to say “HIS KINGDOM WILL HAVE NO END.”  This phrase was added specifically to condemn those who said that Christ would come again to set up a worldly, political kingdom based in Jerusalem.  From there, He would rule the earth as king of a physical realm and the world would enjoy unprecedented peace and prosperity for one-thousand years. Then, after a millennium was complete, Satan would be loosed for a time and would make war upon Christ and His Kingdom.
Those who signed on to this heresy saw the reign of Christ as being composed of two kingdoms: an earthly one that would last for a thousand years, and the second and eternal one to follow the final defeat of Satan.  The Council of Nicaea rejected this notion outright.

We understand and believe that when Jesus comes again it will be to usher in the end-times where he WILL JUDGE THE LIVING AND THE DEAD.  

Sunday, September 20, 2015

Why Did God Become Man?

Last week we talked about our belief in Jesus Christ who is both fully human and fully God.  In the Creed we say, “For us men and for our salvation he came down from heaven.”  But why did God become Man and what is Salvation?
In everyday language the verb “save” is used in a couple of ways. We save for something – like for our retirement and we are saved from things – like from a disaster.  In the language of faith, it seems that salvation most often implies being saved from something. 
In the Hebrew Scriptures God is seen as the salvation of the people of Israel.  God delivers them from mortal danger time after time.  In the Christian tradition we understand that we are being saved from our sin through the love and power of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Sin is a failure in human relationships – the relationship between ourselves and others and our relationships with God.  Like the old “chicken or the egg” riddle, we find ourselves with an unanswerable question, “which is first, the fact of sin or the act of sin?”  Are we sinners because we sin, or do we sin because we are sinners? 
In an autobiographical passage which almost all of us can make our own, St. Paul recognizes the power of sin in his life when he writes in his Epistle to the Romans, “I am weak flesh sold into the slavery of sin.  I cannot even understand my actions.  I do not do what I want to do but what I hate... But if I do what is against my will, it is not I who do it, but sin which dwells in me.”
Paul talks about sin as having a life of its own.  Other biblical writers speak of it as “the power of darkness,” and “sin of the world.”  In that sin, as St. Paul suggests, “resides” in all of us, it is called “original sin.” 
Until we become aware of the power of sin that is at the root of all evil in the world, we cannot fully appreciate the significance of Christ’s death and resurrection. 

Why did God become man?  The best answer is that in becoming one of us He could fully understand the influence that sin has upon us.  And by not sinning he shows us that we do not need to become mastered by sin.

Sunday, September 13, 2015

Who Do You Say That I Am?

Jesus questioned the Apostles and asked them, “Who do people say that I am?”  The question continues to be asked today and touches the very core of the Christian message.  The Creed is our way of answering the Lord’s question. 
By the beginning of the fourth century a heresy began creeping throughout Egypt and Palestine and spreading through Churches in the east.  This heresy was begun by a bishop by the name of Arius, who taught that Jesus was not God, but was a creature that God had made.  Now Arius was willing to admit that Jesus was the highest of created beings, but a creature nonetheless.   To be precise, Arius claimed that Jesus was a supernatural being not quite human and not quite divine. 
Even though Arius was condemned by the Church and had to leave his office of bishop, he wandered through the Holy Land spreading his heresy through powerful preaching and even song that children could be easily taught.  The Christian Emperor, Constantine, called a council of all the world’s bishops to be held in the city of Nicaea in what is now modern Turkey, in the year 325.  The bishops condemned Arius and the heresy which became known as Arianism.
Instead of seeing Jesus as a not quite human, not quite God, supernatural being, the council fathers reaffirmed what had been taught back to the time of the Apostles, that Jesus is of the same substance as God.  They used the word “consubstantial” which means “of the same stuff,” to describe the relationship between the Father and the Son.  That is reflected in the meaning of the words the council fathers crafted to describe the relationship of Jesus with the Father:
I believe in one Lord Jesus Christ,
the Only Begotten Son of God,
born of the Father before all ages.
God from God, Light from Light,
true God from true God,
begotten, not made, consubstantial with the Father,
through him all things were made.

These 44 words are very important because through them the council fathers in no uncertain terms tell us that Jesus is God and God is Jesus – they are one in being.  When we profess this in our Sunday Liturgy we are standing with all those who have come before us and the entire Communion of Saints in saying, “Jesus Christ is God.”

Sunday, September 6, 2015

God the Father

One can make the case that the most distinctive tenet of Christianity is its teaching about creation.   From Genesis, where the first words are “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth,” to the Book of Revelation which says to God, “For you have created all things; by your will they came to be and were made,” we find reference to God who created everything out of nothing.
In the second Christian century a heresy developed which we now call “Gnosticism” (Nŏs-tǐ-cism).  The Gnostics believed that there were two Gods – an inferior one who created, and the Supreme Divine Being who was remote and unknowable.  According to the Gnostics, while we humans contained a spark of the divine because the lesser god had made us, the Supreme Deity never intended to create a universe of matter.  It was a mistake, the fault of the lesser god. 
Gnostics compared and contrasted the creator god they saw in the Old Testament, whom they saw as the eye-for-an-eye god of justice, and the loving Father proclaimed by Jesus in the New Testament.   According to most Gnostics, Christ came into the world as the agent of the Supreme God, revealing the true knowledge which was the way of escaping the flesh.  It goes without saying that they had no place in their system of belief for the resurrection of the body – Jesus’ or anyone else’s, because they believed that matter imprisons the soul and is bad.
The primary importance of God’s role as creator is reaffirmed in the first article of the Creed when we say of God that He is the MAKER OF HEAVEN AND EARTH, OF ALL THINGS VISIBLE AND INVISIBLE.  This is the basic belief from which flows all else that we say about God, about the universe we live in, about our history, our destiny and our hope.
Because we understand that God, who is good, made heaven and earth, the Catholic-Christian tradition looks at the world and all that is in it in a positive manner.  The physical world, the human body, the thirst for life and human relationships are all good. 

The first article of the Creed can be summed up in this way:  there is no god but God.  Just like the Jews profess their belief when they say “Hear, O Israel: the LORD our God is one.”  We profess the same belief… there are not a multitude of gods, there is only the One who made it all.