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To: All

From: 2 Peter 3:8-14

True Teaching


[8] But do not ignore this one fact, beloved, that with the Lord one day is as a
thousand years, and a thousand years as one day. [9] The Lord is not slow a-
bout his promise as some count slowness, but is forbearing toward you, not wi-
shing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance. [10] But the
day of the Lord will come like a thief, and then the heavens will pass away

with a loud noise, and the elements will be dissolved with fire, and the earth and
the works that are upon it will be burned up.

Moral Lessons to be Drawn


[11] Since all these things are thus to be dissolved, what sort of persons ought
you to be in lives of holiness and godliness awaiting for and hastening the co-
ming of the day of God, because of which the heavens will be kindled and dis-
solved, and the elements will melt with fire! [13] But according to his promise
we wait for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells.

[14] Therefore, beloved, since you wait for these, be zealous to be found by him
without spot or blemish, and at peace.

*********************************************************************************************
Commentary:

8. This passage from v. 4 of Psalm 90 was often cited by Jewish rabbis in their
calculations about how long the messianic times would last and when the end
of the world would be; later on, millenarists would use it as a basis for their far-
fetched theories about Christ and his saints bearing temporal rule for a thousand
years over an earthly kingdom prior to the End. The author of the letter cites the
psalm as an authority for the view that time is a function of Creation and has no
connection with the eternity of God: the fact that the Parousia has not happened
is no reason to deny that it will happen.

9-10. In this passage we are reminded that God, in his great mercy, does not
seek our condemnation but, rather, wants all men to be saved (cf. 1 Tim 2:4;
Rom 11:22) and shows wonderful patience towards them. The fact that the Pa-
rousia has not yet come about is quite compatible with the certainty that it will
happen, and happen all of a sudden; therefore, far from being an excuse for ma-
king Christian life less demanding, the Parousia is a spur to stay vigilant (the
Master himself used the simile of the thief: cf. Mt 24:43 44; Lk 12:39). “Since
we know neither the day nor the hour, we should follow the advice of the Lord
and watch constantly so that, when the single course of our earthly life is com-
pleted (cf. Heb 9:27), we may merit to enter with him into the marriage feast and
be numbered among the blessed (cf. Mt 25:31-46) and not, like the wicked and
slothful servants (cf. Mt 25: 26), be ordered to depart into the eternal fire (cf. Mt
25:41)” (Vatican II, “Lumen Gentium”, 48).

“The earth and the works that are upon it”: there are so many variants in the
Greek manuscripts that it is almost impossible to reconstruct the original text:
but they all convey the idea that the earth will be affected by this universal ca-
taclysm.

11-16. The writer now follows up these considerations with a moral exhortation,
based on the conviction that the old world will disappear (v. 12) producing new
heavens and a new earth (v. 13), and that men living in the period prior to this
cataclysm will not know when it is going to happen (v. 15).

All this should not make Christians afraid; in fact, it should bolster their hope
(vv.12-14). God will keep his promise to grant heaven to those who persevere in
good; but this hope of future reward should not lead one to neglect temporal af-
fairs: “Far from diminishing our concern to develop the earth, the expectancy
of a new earth should spur us on, for it is here that the body of a new human fa-
mily grows, foreshadowing in some way the age which is to come” (Vatican II,
“Gaudium Et Spes”, 39).

Hope opens the way to upright conduct (v. 11) of an even higher standard (v. 14).
Christians should realize that they have a pressing duty to grow in virtue as long
as they live in this world (v. 15): “God may have given us just one more year in
which to serve him. Don’t think of five, or even two. Just concentrate on this one
year, that has just started. Give it to God, don’t bury it! This is the resolution we
ought to make” (St. J. Escriva, “Friends of God”, 47).

The practice of virtue leads to holiness and enduring union with God (v. 14; cf. 1
Thess 3:13). “’While we are at home in the body we are away from the Lord’ (2
Cor 5:6) and, although we have the first fruits of the Spirit, we groan inwardly (cf.
Rom 8:23) in our anxiety to be with Christ (cf. Phil 1:23). The same love urges
us to live more for Him who died for us and who rose again (cf. 2 Cor 5:15). We
make it our aim, then, to please the Lord in all things (cf. 2 Cor 5:9) and we put
on the armor of God that we may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil
and resist the evil day (cf. Eph 6: 13)” (”Lumen Gentium”, 48).

12. “Waiting for and hastening”: these two verbs convey the idea that Christian
hope is something dynamic; it is in no way passive. Contrary to a view quite
widespread among the Jews of the time, it does not mean that the Parousia
will come sooner, the more meritorious men are; what it means is that the more
closely united to Christ they are, the nearer they are to his glory. Therefore, it is
urgent that all should embrace faith in Christ. We who have this faith pray in the
Our Father, “Thy kingdom come.” The first Christians made the same petition in
their ejaculatory prayer, “Marana tha”, “Come, Lord” (1 Cor 16:22; Rev 22:20),
referring to the second coming of the Lord.

“The day of God”: the usual expression in the New Testament is “the day of the
Lord” (1 Cor 1:8; 5:5; 1 Thess 5:2; 2 Thess 2:2; 2 Pet 3: 10); both expressions
refer to the point at which Christ will come to judge the living and the dead.

13. “New heavens and a new earth”: one of things promised for the End is that
creation will be renewed, re-fashioned: the prophets proclaimed this (cf. Is 65:
17), and the New Testament speaks of drinking new wine at the heavenly ban-
quet (cf. Mt 14:25), being given a new name (cf. Rev 2:17), singing a new song
(cf. Rev 5:9), living in a new Jerusalem (Rev 21:3). All this imagery conveys the
idea that the whole universe will be transformed, man included (cf. Rom 8:19-22).
“We know neither the moment of the consummation of the earth and of man (cf.
Acts 1:7) nor the way the universe will be transformed. The form of this world, di-
storted by sin, is passing away (cf. 1 Cor 7:31), and we are taught that God is
preparing a new dwelling and a new earth in which righteousness dwells (cf. 2
Cor 5:2; 2 Pet 3:13), whose happiness will fill and surpass all the desires of
peace arising in the hearts of men” (”Gaudium Et Spes”, 39).

*********************************************************************************************
Source: “The Navarre Bible: Text and Commentaries”. Biblical text from the
Revised Standard Version and New Vulgate. Commentaries by members of
the Faculty of Theology, University of Navarre, Spain.

Published by Four Courts Press, Kill Lane, Blackrock, Co. Dublin, Ireland, and
by Scepter Publishers in the United States.


4 posted on 12/03/2011 7:53:06 PM PST by Salvation ("With God all things are possible." Matthew 19:26)
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To: All

From: Mark 1:1-8

The Ministry of John the Baptist


[1] The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God.

[2] As it is written in Isaiah the prophet, “Behold, I send my messenger before
thy face, who shall prepare the way; [3] the voice of one crying in the wilderness:
Prepare the way of the Lord, make his paths straight.”

[4] John the baptizer appeared in the wilderness, preaching a baptism of repen-
tance for the forgiveness of sins. [5] And there went out to him all the country
of Judea, and all the people of Jerusalem; and they were baptized by him in the
river Jordan, confessing their sins. [6] Now John was clothed in camel’s hair, and
had a leather girdle around his waist, and ate locusts and wild honey. [7] And he
preached, saying, “After me comes he who is mightier than I, the thong of whose
sandals I am not worthy to stoop down and untie. [8] I have baptized you with
water, but he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit.”

*********************************************************************************************
Commentary:

1. With these words St Mark gives us the title of his book and emphasizes that
Jesus is the Messiah foretold by the prophets and that he is the only Son of the
Father, whose nature he shares. The title summarizes the content of the Second
Gospel: Jesus Christ, true God and true Man.

The word “gospel” means good tidings, the good news God sends to mankind
through his Son. The content of this good news is, in the first place, Jesus Christ
himself, his words and his actions. “During the Synod [1974 Synod of Bishops],
the Bishops very frequently referred to this truth: Jesus himself, the Good News
of God (Mk 1:1, Rom 1:13), was the very first and the greatest evangelizer: he
was so through and through, to perfection and to the point of the sacrifice of his
earthly life” (Paul VI, “Evangelii Nuntiandi”, 7). The Apostles, who were chosen
by our Lord to be the basis of his Church, fulfilled his commandment to present
to Jews and Gentiles, by means of oral preaching, the witness of what they had
seen and heard—the fulfillment in Jesus Christ of the prophecies of the Old Tes-
tament, and the forgiveness of sins, adoptive sonship and inheritance of heaven
offered by God to all men. For this reason the word “gospel” can also be used
in the case of the Apostles’ preaching.

Later, the evangelists, inspired by the Holy Spirit, wrote down part of this oral
teaching; and thus, through Sacred Scripture and apostolic Tradition, the voice
of Christ is perpetuated throughout the centuries to reach all generations and
all nations.

The Church, which carries on the mission of the Apostles, must make the “gos-
pel” known. This it does, for example, by means of catechesis: “The primary and
essential object of catechesis is, to use an expression dear to St Paul and also
to contemporary theology, ‘the mystery of Christ.’ [...] It is therefore to reveal in
the Person of Christ the whole of God’s eternal design reaching fulfillment in that
Person. It is to seek to understand the meaning of Christ’s actions and words
and of the signs worked by him, for they simultaneously hide and reveal his mys-
tery. Accordingly, the definitive aim of catechesis is to put people not only in
touch but in communion, in intimacy, with Jesus Christ: only he can lead us to
the love of the Father in the Spirit and make us share in the life of the Holy Trini-
ty” (Bl. John Paul II, “Catechesi Tradendae”, 5).

2-3. The Gospel quotes Isaiah in particular perhaps because he was the most im-
portant of the prophets who foretold the coming of the Messiah: that is why St Je-
rome called Isaiah the “Evangelist of the Old Testament”.

4. St John the Baptist presents himself to the people after spending five years in
the desert. He invites the Israelites to prepare for the coming of the Messiah by
doing penance. The figure of St John points to the continuity between the Old
and New Testaments: he is the last of the prophets and the first of the witnesses
to Jesus. Whereas the other prophets announced Jesus from afar, John the Bap-
tist was given the special privilege of actually pointing him out (cf. Jn 1:29; Mt 11:
9-11).

The baptism given by the Precursor was not Christian Baptism: it was a peniten-
tial rite; but it prefigured the dispositions needed for Christian Baptism — faith in
Christ, the Messiah, the source of grace, and voluntary detachment from sin.

5. “Confessing their sins”: by seeking John’s baptism a person showed that he
realized he was a sinner: the rite which John performed announced forgiveness
of sins through a change of heart and helped remove obstacles in the way of a
person’s acceptance of the Kingdom (Lk 3:10-14).

This confessing of sin was not the same as the Christian sacrament of Penance.
But it was pleasing to God because it was a sign of interior repentance and the
people performed genuine penitential acts (Mt 3:7-10; Lk 3:7-9). In the Sacra-
ment of Penance, in order to obtain God’s forgiveness one must confess one’s
sins orally. In this connection Bl. John Paul II has said: “And keep in mind that
the teaching of the Council of Trent on the need for confession of all mortal sins
still holds and will always hold (Sess. XIV, Chap. 5 and Can. 7). The norm taught
by St Paul and by the same Council of Trent, according to which the worthy re-
ception of the Eucharist must be preceded by the confession of sins when one
is conscious of mortal sin, is and always will be in force in the Church (Sess.
XIII, Chap. 7 and Can. 11)” (”Address to Penitentiaries of the Four Major Basili-
cas in Rome”, 30 January 1981).

8. “Baptizing with the Holy Spirit” refers to the Baptism Jesus will institute and
shows how it differs from the baptism of John. In John’s baptism, as in the other
rites of the Old Testament, grace was only signified, symbolized. “By the bap-
tism of the New Law, men are baptized inwardly by the Holy Spirit, and this is
accomplished by God alone. But by the baptism of John the body alone was
cleansed by the water” (St. Thomas Aquinas, “Summa Theologiae, III, q. 38, art.
2 ad 1). In Christian Baptism, instituted by our Lord, the baptismal rite not only
signifies grace but is the effective cause of grace, i.e. it confers grace. “Baptism
confers the first sanctifying grace and the supernatural virtues, taking away Ori-
ginal Sin and also personal sins if there are any, together with the entire debt of
punishment which the baptized person owes for sin. In addition, Baptism impres-
ses the Christian character in the soul and makes it able to receive the other sa-
craments” (”St. Pius X Catechism”, 295). The effects of Christian Baptism, like
everything to do with the sanctification of souls, are attributed to the Holy Spirit,
the “Sanctifier”. It should be pointed out, however, that like all the “ad extra” ac-
tions of God (i.e. actions external to the intimate life of the Blessed Trinity), the
sanctification of souls is the work of all three Divine Persons.

*********************************************************************************************
Source: “The Navarre Bible: Text and Commentaries”. Biblical text from the
Revised Standard Version and New Vulgate. Commentaries by members of
the Faculty of Theology, University of Navarre, Spain.

Published by Four Courts Press, Kill Lane, Blackrock, Co. Dublin, Ireland, and
by Scepter Publishers in the United States.


5 posted on 12/03/2011 7:56:22 PM PST by Salvation ("With God all things are possible." Matthew 19:26)
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