Why Catholics Must Have Bible A.D.D. Part 5- War of the Serpent

scary snakes I have yet to meet a person who loves snakes. Possessing fangs, venom, and an ability to suffocate makes snakes simply sinister. Moreover, the lack of limbs to their deadly array of weapons further add to the peculiarity of snakes! Throughout history snakes appear in a majority of creation stories. The Bible is not exception.

A contextual reading of Genesis and Revelation opened my eyes to the genius of the Holy Spirit in ordering and confirming the canon of Scripture. Conflict with a serpent occurs at the beginning and end of the Bible!

First Serpent

mary battling the dragon

According to Genesis 3:14 God places the following curse on the serpent, “Because you have done this [led Eve into sin], cursed are you above all cattle, and above all wild animals; upon your belly you shall go, and dust you shall eat all the days of your life.” Immediately following in verse 15 predicts Satan’s animus towards the Woman. According to the Catechism of the Catholic Church paragraph 410, “This passage in Genesis is called the Protoevangelium (‘first gospel’): the first announcement of the Messiah and Redeemer, of a battle between the serpent and the Woman, and of the final victory of a descendant of hers. Fast forwarding to the end of the Bible a similar opposition occurs.

Last Serpent

Revelation 12 describes in vivid symbolic language a battle between a woman and a dragon. The writer of Revelation identifies the dragon as the Devil and Satan in verse 9. It is interesting to note that the bible is book-ended by this theme of the battle between a woman [Mary] and the dragon [Satan]. According to Alice Camille in her U.S. Catholic article In the Garden of Good and Evil,

In the Bible, snakes appear at the launch of creation and again just before the apocalypse. The first serpent is really a proto-snake: He only loses his legs after enticing the first couple to sin. The final serpent is a full-blown dragon, which in ancient mythology was just a snake with wings. These biblical book-end snakes are no accident. The story in Revelation of the woman snatched away from the dragon’s harm is a conscious reenactment of the creation story, with happier results the second time around (U.S. Catholic September 2014, page 45).

Without reading the Bible through an A.D.D. contextual lens, I would not notice the perfect book-ending of theme. There is a logical flow and order to the canon of Scripture and it is an amazing experience to discover. I hope that you found today’s topic to be interesting and I continue to challenge you to find connections between the Old and New Testaments!

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Why Catholics Must Have Bible A.D.D. Part 4- Jesus as the New Passover Lamb

jesus the passover lamb

A common title Christians give Jesus is the Lamb of God. Without a solid understanding of the scriptures one may not notice the significance of this title. My goal for today’s post is to briefly detail the connections between the Old Testament Passover and Jesus’ Passion and Death in the New Testament as the New Passover. I present you four specific ways Jesus is appropriately called the New Passover Lamb.

timing is everything

 

Timing is Everything

 

Traditionally Christians celebrate Good Friday and connect it to the Jewish Passover sacrifice. To give a quick overview of the importance of the Passover feast, in the Book of Exodus God saved the Israelite firstborns if they sacrificed their finest lamb [a firstborn sheep] and spread the blood on the wooden doorposts.

 

In the Gospel of John, the evangelist makes a point to mention the Passover sacrifice at least three times—which incidentally, confirms the three year timespan of Jesus’ public ministry. More to the point, in John 19:14 the gospel writer specific states the time of day Jesus’ execution occurred [He says, “It was the Preparation Day for Passover, and the hour was about noon”].

 

What I found out in reading the footnotes of this passage is that noon was the hours by which the priests began to slaughter the Passover Lambs in the temple. I do not believe this timing was a coincidence on John’s part.

 

Innocent Victim and Firstborn

 

Like the innocent lamb slain during Passover, Jesus was innocent of any crime and is the firstborn [and only] Son of God. Pilate repeatedly tries to give Jesus an escape from this sentence because in his heart the Roman governor did not view Jesus as guilty (see John 19:4; 19:12; 19:15).

jesus thirsts on the cross

 

Hyssop

 

Before I taught a lesson to my students on John’s Gospel, I always found John 19:28-29 perplexing: “Jesus, realizing that everything was now finished, said to fulfill the Scripture, ‘I am thirsty.’ There was a jar there, full of common wine. They stuck a sponge soaked in this wine on some hyssop and raised it to his lips.” Interestingly enough, Exodus 12:22 also refers to the usage of hyssop. Hyssop was the same plant used to spread the blood of the Passover Lamb on the wooden doorpost of the Israelite households.

 

John desires his readers to see Jesus as the New Passover Lamb—whose blood is smeared on the wood of the Cross. This time instead of saving only Israelite homes, Jesus’ sacrifice was for everyone.

 

What’s in a Number?

 

There are 206 bones in the human body. None of Jesus’ bones were broken. The evangelist states the reason for this as to fulfill the Scripture promise, “Break none of his bones” (John 19:31-36). Likewise, the Passover Lamb was slain in a similar manner. According to Exodus 12:46, “It [Passover Lamb] must be eaten in one and the same house; you may not take any of its flesh outside the house. You shall not break any of its bones.”

chris pratt mind blown gif

 

While there are many more connections between the Jewish Passover celebration and Jesus’ Passion and Death, I will leave you to ponder the points I made above. Read and reflect on Exodus 12 and John 19. The more I have flipped pages back and forth between the Old and New Testaments the greater appreciation I have for my Catholic faith.

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Why Catholics Must Have Bible A.D.D. Part 3- Creation Week in Genesis and John

This is the third installment of my series Why Catholics Must Have Bible A.D.D and I am excited! The Gospel of John is probably my favorite gospel. Genesis’ creation story always fascinated me as well.

Today I am going to examine the direct connection the evangelist makes between the first book of the Bible and the first chapter in his gospel. I came across this revelation a few years ago while I was planning a lesson on John for my high school students. Here are three ways to show how John’s Gospel is the fulfillment of Genesis.

Presence of the Trinity

Both Genesis 1 and John 1 start with the phrase, “In the beginning” and both make reference to God being preexistent before the creation of the world. Not only is God referenced in both chapters, but the revelation of God as a commune of Persons is also present. The writers of Genesis in verse 2 state, “while a mighty wind swept over the waters”. Translated literally, this phrase refers to the spirit of God or the hinting at of the Holy Spirit—the Third Person of the Trinity.

Another foreshadowing of the Trinity occurs in Genesis 1:26 when God says, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness.” The usages of the first person pronoun strongly hints at the Triune God fully revealed in the New Testament.Compare this with the first words of John’s Gospel, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God; all things were made through him” (1:1-3). I do not think it was a coincidence for John to invoke the first words of Genesis to begin his Gospel.

wedding at cana

Count the Days

There are six days of creation within the first creation story of Genesis. Interestingly enough John starts his gospel using a similar chronology. The evangelist starts his gospel with the words, “In the beginning” so let’s make that day 1. When we get to 1:29 it states, “the next day”. This is day 2. Verses 35 and 43 also have the phrase “the next day” so those verses correspond to days 3 and 4.

Chapter 2 begins with the following words, “On the third day there was a marriage at Cana in Galilee, and the mother of Jesus was there; Jesus was also invited to the marriage, with his disciples.”

Notice he says on the third day which in contextually reading with John 1 the wedding at Cana occurs at the 7th day of the week. In other words, John is mirroring the chronology of Genesis 1 to begin his gospel.

keep calm and count the days

Wine Leads to Rest

Perhaps the greatest two words parents hear at the end of a long week both at work and home is rest and wine. John, inspired by the Holy Spirit, placed Jesus’ first miracle at the end of the New Creation week. The first miracle was not the curing of a blind man or healing or a leper. It was multiplication of alcohol at a wedding. It seems like a trivial use of God’s power!

At first it seems so, but a deeper look at John’s connection with the creation story and the history of the Catholic Church tells otherwise. First of all, it is Mary who intercedes on behalf of the wedding couple to her Son to perform the miracle. While the first woman [Eve] fell into sin, Mary conceived free from sin was instrumental in the miracle of Jesus’ public ministry. Secondly, the resting of God on the 7th day of the initial creation week is a sort of celebration and similarly the wedding at Cana on the 7th day of the new creation week is celebratory in nature as well.

Finally, the Catholic Church’s liturgy is a combination of the Old Testament “resting on the Sabbath” when we rest in the pews and contemplate God’s word in the readings and homily along with the celebration akin to the Wedding at Cana banquet when we arise for Communion to eat at the Eucharistic feast.

wine

My view of the relationship of the Old and New Testament transformed after I learned about the connections between Genesis and the Gospel of John. I hope that in reading this post you gain a greater interest for the Holy Scriptures.

 

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Why Catholics Must Have Bible A.D.D Part 2- Miracles of Elisha and Jesus

reading the bible

When I taught Old and New Testament at a Catholic High School, I developed the phrase “Catholics Must Use Bible A.D.D.” to describe how Catholics should read the scriptures. This is my second installment of what I hope to be a regular series for this blog. What I mean by Bible A.D.D. is necessary to understand the Scriptures, is that we need to read New Testament passages in light of the Old Testament and vice versa. We should not isolate Scripture passages in order to decipher their meaning. However, we need to be careful to avoid a Biblical A.D.H.D. in which we too quickly scan over passages without understanding the context of the Bible as a whole.

Today’s topic will consider how the prophet Elisha foreshadowed Jesus Christ. This will be demonstrated via biblical typology. Catholic Bible 101 defines typology in this manner, “Biblical typology is when a person or an event in the Old Testament foreshadows a person or an event in the New Testament (http://www.catholicbible101.com/biblicaltypology.htm). I will outline three ways that Elisha foreshadows Jesus.

loaves and fish

Miracle of Multiplication of Food

In 2 Kings 4:42-44, Elisha− through the grace of God− feeds 100 people by way of multiplying the bread. Jesus performs a similar miracle in John 6. Aside from the parallels in the actual miracles themselves, both Elisha and Jesus receive the bread from an unnamed individual (see 2 Kings 4:42 and John 6:9).

Healing of Lepers

Elisha heals the soldier Naaman in 2 Kings 5:9-10 through his command to have the leper wash in the Jordan seven times. Jesus also performs the same type of healing miracle. As with most typological reading everything the Son of God does is greater than the Old Testament type (i.e. Elisha)—here Jesus heals 10 lepers.

Naaman the leper

Preceded by a Great Prophet

Both Elisha and Jesus were heralded in by a great prophet Elijah and John the Baptist respectively. Interestingly enough, St. Luke draws a connection between these prophets when he says, “It is he who will go as a forerunner before Him in the spirit and power of Elijah, to turn the hearts of the fathers back to the children, and the disobedient to the attitude of the righteous, so as to make ready a people prepared for the Lord” (Luke 1:17 NASB). What is most important is that both prophets point us toward Christ.

Elisha was a holy man of God who prepared for the coming of Jesus Christ. He is one of many types that foreshadow and prepare us for the Incarnation. I will continue to post examples of this typological approach to reading the Scriptures.

 

floating ax
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