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Pre-Lent through Easter Prayer and Reflections -- 2007
various ^ | 02-18-07 | various

Posted on 02/18/2007 8:47:01 PM PST by Salvation

Six minutes a day

That’s what you will be asked to give from now until Easter. Each 24 hours day has 240 “six minute” packages. During Lent one of these will be given to the Lord.

Once you get into it you’ll find this practice to be peaceful, even something to look forward to. You’ll also find that it helps to make your day go a bit better. Prayer does that.

Focus on the Scripture test. God may take you down a path different from the written reflection that is provided. Don’t worry about that. God speaks to us through the Sacred Word. Stay with the Scripture and the thoughts that come. This is a traditional form of prayer.

The first post for each day has a variety of quotes, suggestions, information, timely thoughts. Treat it like a buffet table from which you can take what you like. (If pressed for time, go directly to the second post for that day and spend your time with that.)

We won’t start reading the Passion until Ash Wednesday, when Lent actually begins. But we’ll start the six minute program on Sunday, February 18 (the Sunday before Ash Wednesday), which will give us three days to get ready for Lent.

TOPICS: Catholic; Evangelical Christian; Prayer; Worship
KEYWORDS: catholiclist; lent
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To: All
March 5, 2007

In the ‘Dying Process’

In the Gethsemane scene, both Mark and Matthew describe Jesus gradually moving away from his disciples.

When Jesus arrives, he first tells his disciples to sit “here” while he goes over “there” to pray. Then he moves away from the larger group and takes only Peter, James and John with him.

After telling these three disciples of a sorrow so deep that he could die of it (“even to death”.) He moves away from them and is all alone. Lying flat on the ground – “prostrate” – he begins to pray to his Father.

Some have noted that there is a striking parallel here to what often happens when a person is dying. At some point the person crosses a threshold and begins moving toward death, gradually distancing themselves from family and friends.

This can be misunderstood by those close to the dying person. They see it as rejection when, in truth, it is simply letting go (and enabling those being left behind to let go) so that death can take place.

Whether this is what Jesus is doing, no one knows.

41 posted on 03/06/2007 6:37:21 PM PST by Salvation (†With God all things are possible.†)
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Monday – Second Week of Lent

Then Jesus came with them to a place called Gethsemane, and he said to his disciples, “Sit here while I go over there and pray.” He took along Peter and the two sons of Zebedee, and began to feel sorrow and distress. Then he said to them, “My soul is sorrowful even to death. Remain here and keep watch with me.” He advanced a little and fell prostrate in prayer, saying “My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from me; yet not as I will, but as you will.” (Mt. 26:36-39)

We come now to the “Agony in the Garden.”

Earlier in the Gospel, Jesus had bravely said to James and John: “Can you drink from the cup that I am going to drink?” He was referring to the cup as a symbol of suffering. Later, at the supper table, he took a cup and said that this was his own blood to be shed for the forgiveness of sins.

We can bring this same attitude to our own sufferings. We’re not out looking for suffering. But if we have to cross the bridge of suffering to get where we need to go, or if it simply comes upon us and we’ve really no choice, then we need to accept it, not with bitterness, but with a willing heart. We place ourselves in the good hands of the Lord, and join with him in his Gethsemane prayer.

What is the biggest cup of suffering in my life right now? Place yourself in Gethsemane with the Lord and talk to him about it.

Spend some quiet time with the Lord.

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42 posted on 03/06/2007 6:40:49 PM PST by Salvation (†With God all things are possible.†)
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March 6, 2007

Almsgiving, Fasting, Prayer

Over the years, Christians and Catholics have developed customs and traditions that try to help people turn toward prayer. Here are some that developed!

• When we hear a siren (fire engine, ambulance, police) we say a pray for the people who are in trouble as well as the fire fighters, officers or medical emergency crew involved.)
• Before a meal, we pray grace.
• When passing by a church, we make the Sign of the Cross, men tip their hats.
• When passing by an abortion clinic or euthanasia location, we say a Hail Mary.
• When we see a funeral procession or pass a cemetery, we say a prayer or place our hand over our heart and men tip their hats.
• During a bad story, we light a candle at home and say a prayer asking for protection.
• When we hear a church bell, we say a prayer.
• When we lose something, we pray to St. Anthony.
• When we pass a hospital, we say a prayer.
• In school, we print “JMJ” (the initials of Jesus, Mary and Joseph) or AMDG (which stands for Ad Majorem Dei Gloriam, a Latin phrase meaning, “For the greater glory of God”) at the top of a class paper, in order to bring God into one’s schoolwork.

43 posted on 03/08/2007 6:48:48 PM PST by Salvation (†With God all things are possible.†)
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To: Salvation

• During a bad storm, we light a candle at home and say a prayer asking for protection.

44 posted on 03/08/2007 6:49:52 PM PST by Salvation (†With God all things are possible.†)
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Tuesday – Second Week of Lent

When Jesus returne to his disciples he found them asleep. He said to Peter, “So you could not keep watch with me for one hour? Watch and pray that you may not undergo the test. The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.” Withdrawing a second time, he prayed again, “My Father, if it is not possible that this cup pass without me drinking it, your will be done.” (Mt. 26:40-42)

Jesus finds Peter, James and John sleeping. “Sleep” is often a biblical figure of avoiding the great decisions of life. Paul says to the Thessalonians, “Therefore, let us not sleep as the rest do, but let us stay alert and sober.”

Jesus talks about undergoing “the test.” It’s difficult to translate the Greek word used here. It’s the same word used in the Our Father – lead us not into “temptation.”

We all go through flashes of that.

That is “the test”, and that is what we hope not to have to face when we are vulnerable, unguarded. It’s the test Jesus is facing in Gethsemane. He faces it and stands firm: “Your will be done” – an exact citation of the third petition of the Our Father.

To what “test” in my life right now do I most need to say those words: “Your will be done?”

Spend some quiet time with the Lord.

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45 posted on 03/08/2007 6:54:53 PM PST by Salvation (†With God all things are possible.†)
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March 7, 2007

First Papal Photograph

Joseph Nicephore Niepce was born on this day in1765 into a wealthy French family. He studied to become a priest and taught for awhile in the seminary. But after a stint in the military during the French Revolution he retired to Nice, married and became a politician.

Joseph and his older brother Claude were also inventors. The devised a motor for large boats and in 1816 constructed their first camera.

* * * * * *
In July 1822, Joseph Niepce invented what he called heliography, a precursor to the first photograph.

His first subject was a “photo” of Pope Pius VII.

46 posted on 03/08/2007 10:20:13 PM PST by Salvation (†With God all things are possible.†)
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Wednesday – Second Week of Lent

Then Jesus returned once more and found them asleep, for they could not keep their eyes open. He left them and withdrew again and prayed a third time, saying the same thing again. Then he returned to his disciples and said to them, “Are you still sleeping and taking your rest? Behold the hour is at hand when the Son of Man is to be handed over to sinners. Get up, let us go. Look, my betrayer is at hand.”(Mt. 26:44-46)

Accepting the Father’s will is not always an easy thing to do. That’s fairly obvious when we see the struggle of Jesus in Gethsemane. We also know from our own firsthand experience how difficult it can be.

Ever try to help a bird get out of your house? You’re trying to give it freedom, and it resists as though you were trying to harm it.

We all go through flashes of that.

“Thy will be done” is the path that gets us to true freedom and gets us ultimately where we really want to go, even though there may be some pain involved in getting there.

What in my life is the most difficult thing for me to accept?

Spend some quiet time with the Lord.

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47 posted on 03/08/2007 10:22:44 PM PST by Salvation (†With God all things are possible.†)
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March 8, 2007

St. John of God

When John was eight years old, he ran away from his home in Portugal. Such impetuousness and recklessness were to characterize his entire life.

After traveling to Spain the youngster fell sick. He was cared for by the manager of a large estate who eventually adopted him.

John worked as a shepherd until he was in his late twenties. Then, pressured to enter a loveless marriage, he enlisted in the Spanish army to fight against France.

Like many men in his regiment, the young soldier drank, gambled and carried on. Then one day he was thrown from his horse near French lines. Fearing he would be captured or killed John promised to reform his life if he survived.

He did . . . . and he did.

At age 40, he decided to risk martyrdom by traveling to Africa to help ransom Christian captives. But at the deck, he met a family being exiled for political intrigue. He offered to be their servant. Years later, the family was pardoned, and John returned to Spain. Always a voracious reader, he became a book peddler, traveling from village to village selling religious books and holy cards.

But John soon fell back into some of his old ways, until one day when he heard John of Avila preach on repentance. Again, John was so remorseful about how he was living that he rededicated his life to God. He devoted his life to the poor, establishing a hospital built on alms he received.

He died on this day in 1559 at age 55, when he fell ill after saving a drowning man.

John of God is patron of booksellers and of hospitals.

48 posted on 03/11/2007 10:16:52 AM PDT by Salvation (†With God all things are possible.†)
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Thursday – Second Week of Lent

While Jesus was still speaking Judas, one of the Twelve, arrived, accompanied by a large crowd, with swords and clubs, who had come from the chief priests and the elders of the people. His betrayer had arranged a sign with them, saying, “The man I shall kiss is the one; arrest him.” Immediately he went over to Jesus and said, “Hail, Rabbi!” and he kissed him. Jesus answered him, “Friend, do what you have come for.” Then stepping forward they laid hands on Jesus and arrested him. (Mt. 26:47:50)

No matter how many times we’ve heard it, there’s still a shock when we see one of the Twelve leading a crowd with swords and clubs to seize Jesus and send him to his death.

The real jolt comes from the fact that Judas had a close personal relationship with Jesus. Judas also had a close relationship with the other members of the Twelve. They were a small, close-knit group.

A close relationship gone sour – whether it’s parents and grown children, husbands and wives, longtime close friends – is always a sad story.

Later that night, when Jesus was in his “holding cell” at the high priest’s house and everyone was asleep, Jesus must have turned this over and over in his mind. What went wrong between me and Judas? Is there anything I could have done to prevent this?

It was too late. He was a prisoner, and tomorrow they’d surely kill him. He’d never see Judas again in this life. It’s a sad story.

Lord, help me to stay close to you.

Spend some quiet time with the Lord.

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49 posted on 03/11/2007 10:20:39 AM PDT by Salvation (†With God all things are possible.†)
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March 9, 2007

Almsgiving, Fasting, Prayer

Fasting is an ancient disciples long recognized as a way of opening oneself more fully to the presence of God. It also activates the mind and spirit, directing energy there that would have been spent on digestion. It can also contribute to physical health, rinsing the body of dead and weak cells.

Down through the centuries Christians have practiced various forms of fasting from food and drink during Lent but never on Sunday because each Sunday is a celebration of the resurrection – a “little Easter.”

Some ways to fast are:
• Taking only one full meal a day, and reducing the other two meals to a very small amount, and/or
• No solid food between meals, and/or
• Meatless meals (referred to as “abstinence”) or
• No food or drink at all from sunrise to sunset, or
• Taking only water for 24 hours or longer.

The Church calls upon each person to do some fasting during Lent, adapted to the individual. Those who for health reasons can not fast from food, can “fast” from something else.

* * * * *

Since the days of the early Church, Friday has been a traditional day of fasting (and abstinence) because it is the day of the Lord’s death.

50 posted on 03/11/2007 9:28:28 PM PDT by Salvation (†With God all things are possible.†)
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Friday – Second Week of Lent

And behold, one of those who accompanied Jesus put his hand to his sword, drew it, and struck the high priest’s servant, cutting off his ear.
Then Jesus said to him, “Put your sword back into the sheath, for all who take the sword will perish by the sword. Do you think that I cannot call upon my Father and he will not provide me at this moment with more than twelve legions of angels? But then how would the scriptures be fulfilled which say that it must come to pass in this way?” (Mt. 26:51:54)

The Twelve do not do well in the place call Gethsemane. While Jesus was praying, they slept. When the arresting party arrived, one of their own was leading the way. Now, one of them draws a sword and wounds the high priest’s servant. Finally, in just a few moments, they will all abandon him.

This was a bad night for the Twelve.

The story has a good ending, not only for Jesus, but for the disciples, whose memory of Gethsemane was a bad one. Tradition has it that most of the Twelve died martyrs’ deaths, which is quite a turnaround. God’s grace can do that.

We can all think of a “Gethsemane” or two in our own lives – a bad time that we didn’t handle well.

Has it been set right? God’s grace can do that.

Spend some quiet time with the Lord.

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51 posted on 03/11/2007 9:31:04 PM PDT by Salvation (†With God all things are possible.†)
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March10, 2007

Criterion of Embarrassment

The Gospels were written 40 to 60 years after Jesus’ death and resurrection. Prior to that, words and actions of Jesus were passed on verbally, and some were probably written down (although none of these earlier writing has been found.)

Each evangelist had access to some of these oral or written traditions, and used them to put together his Gospel

The details of those earlier traditions were sometimes changed as they were passed on. So, one can ask whether every detail in the Gospels is accurate. Did Jesus speak “those exact words?” Did this event happen “exactly this way?”

One of several tools by which scholars try to resolve this is the “criterion of embarrassment.” The natural tendency would not be to add embarrassing details, but rather to soften or suppress them. So, the more embarrassing a detail, the more it might be an indication that it happened that way.

The story of the betrayal by Judas is an example of this. Did it really happen? The “criterion of embarrassment” (plus the fact that it is told in all four Gospels) makes a very strong case for the fact that this story accurately describes a historical fact.

52 posted on 03/11/2007 9:34:26 PM PDT by Salvation (†With God all things are possible.†)
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Saturday – Second Week of Lent

At that hour Jesus said to the crowds, “Have you come out as against a robber, with swords and clubs to seize me? Day after day I sat teaching in the Temple area, yet you did not arrest me. But all this has come to pass that the writings of the prophets may be fulfilled.”

Then all the disciples left him and fled. (Mt. 26:55:56)

“Robber” is probably too soft a translation. The Greek word is the same one used of the “robbers” in the parable of the Good Samaritan – who stripped and beat the victim and went off leaving him half dead. It is also the same word used of Barabbas. Jesus is saying, “Have you come out as against a thug?”

Of course, these people hardly knew Jesus. He was from up north, and spent almost all his ministry up there. Their poor opinion of him was based only on hearsay.

The way we Christians sometimes act toward one another – whether in wars, or fights in families, in parishes – can make Jesus look bad. At times we need to hear a mother’s words to her children” “I don’t care who started it. Just stop it right now.” Anything come to mind?

Spend some quiet time with the Lord.

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53 posted on 03/11/2007 9:36:29 PM PDT by Salvation (†With God all things are possible.†)
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March 11, 2007

”Servant of Slaves”

”I believe in God.
I hope in God.
I love God.
I want to live and die for God.
~Henriette Delille

Heniriette Delille was born in 1913 into one of the New Orleans’ oldest families of free people of color. The exact date of her birth is unknown, but March 11 is often celebrated as her birthday.

Henriette was educated, taught music and French literature, and attended balls. One day she met a French man who impressed the young girl with her dedication to God and her charitable work.

Henriette transformed her life. She taught religion to slaves, baptized them, and encouraged marriage, at a time when Louisiana law prohibited educating slaves and free people of color, under penalty of death or life imprisonment.

Unable to find a religious community that would accept a black woman, in 1835 she sold all her property in order to found a religious community of black sisters. In 1842, after several setbacks, she and friend, Juliette Charles, received permission from the diocese to establish the Sisters of the Holy Family.

Besides educating and evangelizing slaves and free people of color, Sr. Henriette also encouraged the order to build a home for the sick, aged and poor black residents of the city. She died Nov. 16, 1862.

In 1997, the U. S. bishops unanimously endorsed her cause for canonization.

54 posted on 03/14/2007 10:18:08 PM PDT by Salvation (†With God all things are possible.†)
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Sunday – Third Week of Lent

The Fig Tree

We are all going to die.

It might happen through cruelty (like those Galileans killed by Pilate.) or by accident (like those people in Jerusalem killed when a tower fell upon them.) But inevitably, we’re all going to die one way or another, and in the perspective of the long sweep of history, we’re going to died relatively soon.

Lent is a good time to think through like that.

We are each created by God and put here on earth for a purpose. We may not know, this side of the grave, what our purpose is. But if we do our best, in the circumstances of our own life, to live as Jesus taught us to live, we still accomplish our purpose. In the eyes of the world, what we do may not seem all that important. It won’t make me famous. But there is no greater, more important accomplishment than simply to do what it is God put us here to do.

But we don’t always take this seriously. We don’t think we’re that important or that good. But the fact is each one of us is put here by God to accomplish something that no one else is given to accomplish. And we do that simply by doing our best to live the Gospel in the situations of our own life.

Am I doing it? Am I living the Gospel and thus having the effects that god wanted me to have on this earth?

If not, I’ve still got some time given to me by the gardener, Jesus.

Spend some quiet time with the Lord.

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55 posted on 03/14/2007 10:20:27 PM PDT by Salvation (†With God all things are possible.†)
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To: Salvation
March 12, 2007

St. Ignatius of Loyola

During Lent of 1539, a former soldier named Ignatius of Loyola was about to embark on a path that would change his life.

After many years of studying in Paris (one of his roommates was Francis Xavier) Ignatius and several of his fellow students had come to Rome to place themselves at the Pope’ disposal to do God’s will.

Now, they had to make some decisions about their future. After many weeks of prayer and discussion, they decided to form a religious community.

It became known as the Company of Jesus, or Societatis Jesu. Eventually they became known as the Jesuits.

* * * * * *

While a soldier, Ignatius was severely wounded. One day, during his long recovery, he was unable to find light reading. Instead, he picked up some books on the life of Christ and several saints. He noticed that after such reading, he felt at peace. The experience eventually led to his conversion and helped him develop what is today known as the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius. The Exercises, which acknowledges the action of the Holy Spirit in one’s life, have become the foundation for many retreats. They are a form of reflection and meditation that guides one in discerning God’s will.

* * * * * *

St. Ignatius was canonized on this day in 1622.

56 posted on 03/15/2007 6:21:57 PM PDT by Salvation (†With God all things are possible.†)
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Monday – Third Week of Lent

Those who had arrested Jesus led him away to Caiaphas the high priest, where the scribes and the elders were assembled.

Peter was following him at a distance as far as the high priest’s courtyard, and going inside he sat down with the servants to see the outcome. (Mt. 26:57:58)

It’s about a half-mile walk from Gethsemane to where the high priest’s house is thought to have been located.

Jesus is in the clutches of the arresting party. The disciples have run off – we don’t know where.

On the way to Gethsemane Jesus had said to his disciples, “This night all of you will have your faith in me shaken.” Peter confidently replied, “Though all may have their faith in you shaken, mine will never be.”

Well, Peter was wrong. His faith is shaken and he moves back a few hundred yards from Jesus.

What’s my yardage? During my day, am I close to the Lord? Or do I put the Lord in the background, a hundred yards away? Or is the Lord totally removed from the scene?

What’s my yardage?

Spend some quiet time with the Lord.

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57 posted on 03/15/2007 6:24:22 PM PDT by Salvation (†With God all things are possible.†)
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March 13, 2007

The Sanhedrin

The word “Sanhedrin” comes from a Greek word that means “sitting together.” The term was used for the supreme council of the Jews which first appeared some 200 years before Christ.

As best one can tell, at the time of Chris this council had 71 members from three classes: The elders, the present and former high priests and the scribes.

In effect, the Sanhedrin was the “supreme court” of Jewish people, with competence in both religious and secular matters. It had the power of arrest and its own police.

After the Temple was destroyed in 70 A, D, the Sanhedrin moved from place to place in Israel, and finally went out of existence.

* * * * * *

In the Acts of the Apostles, Peter and John were brought before the Sanhedrin, and Gamaliel, one of its leaders, stood up and made a famous speech:
Have nothing to do with these men . . .
For it this endeavor or this activity is
of human origin, it will destroy itself. But if
it comes from God, you will not be able to
destroy it.

The rest is history.

58 posted on 03/17/2007 11:43:40 AM PDT by Salvation (†With God all things are possible.†)
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Tuesday – Third Week of Lent

The chief priests and the entire Sanhedrin kept trying to obtain false testimony against Jesus in order to put him to death, but they found none, though many false witnesses came forward. Finally two came forward who stated, “This man said, ‘I can destroy the Temple of God and within three days rebuild it.’” (Mt. 26:59:61)

Matthew emphasizes how unprincipled the Sanhedrin was – they were seeking false testimony. After several failed attempts, they finally hit on something they could use.

The religious leaders had probably heard rumors of what Jesus had said about the need to reform Temple worship. Five chapters earlier in Matthew’s Gospel, Jesus had turned over the tables of some of the money changers – “cleansing” the Temple. All this made them nervous.

There is an old Latin saying about the Church – “semper reformanda” – which means “always in need of reform.” We never were a perfect Church, and never will be a perfect Church until this world ends. But it’s hard to let go of things that need to change. It was so from the beginning. In the Acts of the Apostles, we read of how hard it was for Peter to accept Gentiles into the community of disciples.

It’s easier to think about reform in “the Church” than reform in me. But all of us together are the Church. The reform most within reach is the reform of me. Which happens to be what Lent is about. Any thoughts about “the reform of me?”

Spend some quiet time with the Lord.

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59 posted on 03/17/2007 11:46:51 AM PDT by Salvation (†With God all things are possible.†)
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March 14, 2007

Jewish Authorities in the Passion Narrative

High Priest: There was only one high priest in office chosen from the descendants of Aaron, and he lived in Jerusalem. He was in office for life, but at the time of Jesus, the Roman Prefect deposed those not to his liking.

Chief Priests: This term refers to a Jerusalem priestly aristocracy in positions of power over the Temple and its treasury. They were active opponents of Jesus probably because of his criticism of Temple practices.

Scribes: These were scholars in the Law, sometimes referred to as “lawyers.” They treasured the traditions of Judaism, and dedicated themselves to copying and compiling them – thus the name “scribes.”

Elders: In Jesus’ time, these were wealthy nobles, respected for their wisdom. Two of them play a role in the Passion: Nicodemus (who in John’s Gospel, provided expensive spices for the burial of Jesus) and Joseph of Arimathea (whom Matthew describes as “a rich man.”)

Pharisees: These were people belonging to a movement, rather than in positions of power. They tried to reinterpret primitive prescriptions of the Law and adapt them to contemporary conditions. Strict Jews accused them of adding to the Law. (Before he became a Christian, Paul was a Pharisee.)

60 posted on 03/17/2007 9:01:34 PM PDT by Salvation (†With God all things are possible.†)
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