Jeff Cavins – The Great Adventure: Bible Timeline in a Day at St. John Neumann, Austin, TX

Jeff Cavins at St. John Neumann Catholic Church Austin, TX

Jeff Cavins at St. John Neumann Catholic Church Austin, TX

Jeff Cavins spent the day yesterday at St. John Neumann Catholic Church here in Austin, Texas. We had roughly 260 participants come and share the word of God and learn how to better connect and deepen their faith through reading the Bible. Jeff did a fantastic job of providing the overview of ‘Salvation History’ in his day long event and, as a result, many new Great Adventure Bible Studies will be starting around the Austin area as well as outside of Austin.

It was a wonderful day and we are SO appreciative of Jeff, Tara and Mike and the time that they spent with us here! Thank you to those who attended!

"Digital Witness"

For those who think that the Catholic Church is backward… think again:

Pope Benedict told participants that the task of every believer who works in media, is to ensure the “quality of human contact, guaranteeing attention to people and their spiritual needs”. “This is increasingly urgent in today’s world”, he said, at a time when Internet appears to have a “basically egalitarian” vocation, but at the same time, “marks a new divide”, the “digital divide” that “separates the included from the excluded” .

And even more:

“Without fear we must set sail on the digital sea facing into the deep with the same passion that has governed the ship of the Church for two thousand years. Rather than for, albeit necessary, technical resources, we want to qualify ourselves by living in the digital world with a believer’s heart, helping to give a soul to the Internet’s incessant flow of communication”.

Amen.

What happens when someone who knows little about the Church tries to remake it.

I came across this today and its been on my mind – which means it comes out here.

The best response I’ve seen thus far is the one at one of my favourite blogs by Fr. John Zuhlsdorf who has a wonderful ability to tell it like it is.  I went there immediately after reading this piece sure that he would have something poignant to say and I found this:

People are feverishly sending me links to the op-ed piece by Nicholas Kristof in Hell’s Bible (aka The New York Times).  Stop sending links.

No, I will not fisk it.

First, it is blasphemous and sinful.

Second, it is riddled with historical errors.   The reference to Gnostic sources is just plain stupid and the claims about women deacons are false.

Third, it is simply part of the mantra we have be hearing for weeks.  This is part of the liberal project to force the Church to cave in about ordaining women.

That pretty much sums it up.

Curious about the author, I did a little Google searching and found that Nicholas Kristof is someone who as AGAINST the anti-sweatshop movement and suggested that if it weren’t for sweatshops coming into various countries they would have no economy and, therefore, they must be a good thing. Aside from his blatant mistakes in his op-ed piece that little nugget about his support for the abuse of workers to make a buck pretty much negates any credibility he has toward suggestions as to how the Church should be ‘remade’.

Two quick points:

For all the things he says that he doesn’t like about the Church, he forgets that the things that he says he does like were created out of the things he says he doesn’t like and by those who he says he doesn’t like.

The things he quotes about NOT liking about the Church sound like they are covered in the 30,000 denominations that branched off from Catholicism. So, perhaps Catholicism should be left alone to stand as it has for 2000 years and those who don’t like it should search elsewhere for a Church that meet their needs.

The very thing I like about the Catholic Church is its willingness to stay true to its beliefs. If one doesn’t like it, they have a choice to go elsewhere.

Matthew 26

Great Adventure Catholic Bible Study - Matthew: The King and His Kingdom Header FileI’ve been really enjoying my ‘Great Adventure – Matthew: The King and His Kingdom‘ Bible Study. Its the second in the series put together by the wonderful team at Ascension Press. (A bit of shameless promotion here – but Jeff Cavins will be at St. John Neumann Catholic Church in Austin on April 23, 24 of this year – check it out!)

Its always wonderful to start these studies in the fall and have them follow the liturgical year so beautifully! Given that we just recently celebrated Easter, its really wonderful to continue to ponder the Passion of Christ by reading the Gospel of Matthew. This week, we focussed on Matthew 26 where Jesus celebrates the Last Supper, prays in the garden and sees Himself betrayed by Judas – all of which He knew would happen in order to fulfill the prophecy laid out in the Old Testament.

There is always something to be learned in this study, but this week was absolutely mind blowing for me as Jeff talked about the Last Supper and unlocked a nagging mystery for me regarding the prayer in the garden. If you haven’t read Matthew 26 – you can follow along here.

The chapter starts with the Chiefs and High Priests continuing in their quest to capture and kill Jesus. Its an ongoing issue for Jesus after He begins His ministry. The chapter then moves into Jesus being anointed with the precious oils in order to prepare Him for His burial. The Disciples – particularly Judas (though the reference to Judas doesn’t appear in Matthew but in the Gospel of John) – are concerned and baffled as to why Jesus would allow her to ‘waste’ her precious oils and not see them sold in order to give the money to charity. Jesus explains that she is preparing Him for His death and burial.

From this concern over the ‘wasted’ oil, we move into Judas making a deal to sell Jesus for 30 pieces of silver. At the time, 30 pieces of silver would have been the going rate for a slave.

Jesus then calls them to Passover. Rather than get into the Catholic belief that this is the institution of the Eucharist (“this is my body”, “this is my blood”), I’d rather focus on the mystery that was unlocked for me. Consider this passage:

27And when He had taken a cup and given thanks, He gave it to them, saying, “Drink from it, all of you;

28for this is My blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for forgiveness of sins.

29″But I say to you, I will not drink of this fruit of the vine from now on until that day when I drink it new with you in My Father’s kingdom.”

30After singing a hymn, they went out to the Mount of Olives.

During the Passover Sedar there are four cups of wine drunk throughout the course of the meal. The third cup is the cup on which the blessing for nourishment is given. Since only one cup during the meal would be blessed, it is known that this ‘blessing for nourishment’ that Jesus gave thanks would have been the third cup of the meal. He then tells the Disciples that He will ‘not drink of this fruit of the vine from now on until that day when I drink it new with you in My Father’s kingdom’. Instead of drinking the fourth cup, the passage tells us that ‘After singing a hymn, they went out to the Mount of Olives.’

Scripture tells us that Jesus took the Disciples to Gethsemane where he asked for them to keep watch with Him while He prayed. During his prayer time at Gethsemane, he asked God:

39″My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from Me; yet not as I will, but as You will.”

I had always wondered why Jesus chose the words ‘let this cup pass from Me’ – not enough to ask or pursue the idea any further. I had believed that it was a figure of speech or simply a way in which Jesus is asking God to have the ‘cup of death’ pass by Him. If we know that Jesus was the Paschal Lamb – the unblemished sacrifice given up for our sins – and that the lamb is sacrificed as part of the Passover ritual and consider that with the idea that Jesus left the Passover meal with the Disciples after the third cup – hence, unfinished – then the meaning becomes clear. The cup to which Jesus is referring is the fourth cup of the Passover.

This becomes even more clear when we move ahead to the time of Christ’s Crucifixion noted in Matthew 27:48 -

48Immediately one of them ran, and taking a sponge, he filled it with sour wine and put it on a reed, and gave Him a drink.

or even more clearly in John 19:30 (emphasis mine) -

30Therefore when Jesus had received the sour wine, He said, “It is finished!” And He bowed His head and gave up His spirit.

At that moment, the Passover was finished and the Paschal Lamb had been sacrificed. How incredibly amazing that Christ would submit Himself as the Paschal Lamb, ensure that He followed the Passover right to the very end and ensure that the end came after the fourth cup of wine which was that which He received on the cross.