Sunday reflection: Matthew 2:1–12

posted at 12:01 pm on January 3, 2016 by Ed Morrissey

“Sunday Reflection” is a regular feature, looking at the specific readings used in today’s Mass in Catholic parishes around the world. The reflection represents only my own point of view, intended to help prepare myself for the Lord’s day and perhaps spark a meaningful discussion. Previous Sunday Reflections from the main page can be found here.  For previous Green Room entries, click here.

This morning’s Gospel reading is Matthew 2:1–12:

When Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea, in the days of King Herod, behold, magi from the east arrived in Jerusalem, saying, “Where is the newborn king of the Jews? We saw his star at its rising and have come to do him homage.” When King Herod heard this, he was greatly troubled, and all Jerusalem with him. Assembling all the chief priests and the scribes of the people, he inquired of them where the Christ was to be born. They said to him, “In Bethlehem of Judea, for thus it has been written through the prophet:

And you, Bethlehem, land of Judah, are by no means least among the rulers of Judah; since from you shall come a ruler, who is to shepherd my people Israel.”

Then Herod called the magi secretly and ascertained from them the time of the star’s appearance. He sent them to Bethlehem and said, “Go and search diligently for the child. When you have found him, bring me word, that I too may go and do him homage.” After their audience with the king they set out. And behold, the star that they had seen at its rising preceded them, until it came and stopped over the place where the child was. They were overjoyed at seeing the star, and on entering the house they saw the child with Mary his mother. They prostrated themselves and did him homage. Then they opened their treasures and offered him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh. And having been warned in a dream not to return to Herod, they departed for their country by another way.

Today we celebrate the solemnity of Epiphany, and our readings today all relate to epiphanies of one sort or another. Perhaps the most intriguing epiphany in today’s readings is the one that gets away. It reminds us of the nature of sin and materialism, and how it can blind us to the Lord’s calling and will.

Consider the position of Herod, often called Herod the Great. Raised as a Jew as the second son of Antipater the Idumaean, his family had converted to Judaism before Antipater, an act considered by some to be a political move to grasp more power. Herod started off his career as governor of Galilee and quickly acquired a reputation for brutality. He allied with Marc Antony to gain the title of King of the Jews from the Roman senate and then waged a bloody interfamily war with the help of the Roman army to make that claim good. When Antony fell and Octavian rose to the rank of consul (later to become Caesar Augustus), Herod managed to win Octavian’s support by imposing his will on Judea. Herod ruled for another 34 years while increasing his reputation for ruthlessness.

Yet Herod also built the Second Temple, allowing for what seemed to be the restoration of sacrificial life for the Israelites. Despite all of Herod’s sins, he ended up in position to serve the Lord and become an instrument of His will, had he so chosen. And when the Magi come to Jerusalem on the way to Bethlehem, Herod has the perfect opportunity to experience an epiphany to this end.

That, however, is not what Herod does. He sees the signs not as the unfolding of God’s plan, but as an excuse for his enemies to usurp the throne Herod imposed by blood on the Judeans. It likely never crosses his mind that the prophecies are legitimate, but it’s doubtful Herod would care one way or the other. He wants to secure his throne for himself and his sons, and Herod has no compunction about murder to achieve his goals. (Not long after, he plans the murder a number of high-ranking Judeans at his death in order to ensure plenty of mourning on his passing, but his heirs think better of that plot in the end.)

Greed, avarice, and a thirst for temporal power have blinded Herod to the salvation that Christ will bring. In its way, Herod’s example is a parallel for the fallen line of kings in Israel and Judea; instead of trusting in the Lord and acting as a nation of priests, the kings instead chose temporal power and worldly alliances for their security, adopting idolatrous worship to make themselves more like other nations in their sin. Herod, in that sense, is the representation of the history of the Israelites, who chose to put their faith in kings rather than the Lord Himself.

The Magi, however, choose more wisely. Perhaps Herod’s reputation preceded their meeting with him, or perhaps the Magi were at first unsuspecting of Herod when he demanded an audience with them. By Matthew’s description, it appears that they consulted honestly with Herod during their meeting, giving Herod an opportunity to act in accordance with God’s will. Only after seeing Jesus did the wise men have a vision about Herod’s true intentions and choose to defy his order.

Or did they have an inkling before that? The wise men bring gifts suitable for a king to Jesus in Bethleham — gold, frankincense, and myrrh — after meeting with Herod. They appear to have given Herod due respect for his position, but did they bring gifts to Herod? The Gospel makes no mention of it, but clearly they kept the most remarkable gifts for Christ. “Then they opened their treasures and offered him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh,” we read in today’s passage, hinting that the wise men had not opened any treasure to Herod despite his status as king, and despite the favor it would bring them.

They had a mission, and understood it well enough to know which authority to follow. When they see Jesus with Mary and Joseph, they know Christ has arrived and pay homage in a manner that at least this passage suggests they never did with Herod.

Instead of choosing to follow earthly kingship, the Magi instead choose to follow the Word of God. Herod surely would have showered them with riches in exchange for what the wise men had discovered, but they chose a path of peril rather than avarice. They understood that their choice could have dire consequences in Herod’s Judea. The Magi have to sneak out of the area, and that also would be no easy task, given how close Bethlehem was to Jerusalem. But they put their faith in the Lord rather than in material possessions and power, and in doing so became instruments of God’s will in a manner rejected by Herod and so many kings in the region before him.

So it is with us when it comes to epiphanies. We must choose constantly whether to put our “trust in princes,” in material security at the expense of serving the Lord. We will often face the choice that confronted the Magi — whether to choose material wealth and power from a world steeped in sin, or whether to choose the Lord and put our faith and trust in Him for our security and salvation. Fortunately for us, we already have the triumph of Christ to sustain us, and the example of three wise men who sought out true kingship. When we say “wise men still seek Him,” we remind ourselves of the nature of wisdom itself, which is trust in the Lord.


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Comment pages: 1 2

Because I was interested if the reaction I’d get would be as predictable as I thought. Just testing an hypothesis :D
DarkCurrent on January 4, 2016 at 1:35 PM

OK, understandable, but let me ask you this, while you might conclude that these people are predictable, can you conclude that they’re liars?

Cleombrotus on January 4, 2016 at 1:55 PM

Certainly. I would even go so far as to say we could both be wrong.
DarkCurrent on January

Not in the matter of Christ being influenced by Buddhism, we can’t. He either was or He was not. No two ways about it.

Cleombrotus on January 4, 2016 at 2:03 PM

It’s not that I have faith that it’s not true. I suppose it could be true. I just see no compelling evidence to support it, so don’t have any particular reason to believe that it is true. Certainly no faith that it’s true.

We all have faith in something. Your every belief is faith as there is nothing so evident that it cannot later be proven false. I use the “Matrix” example. Everything you sense could be a tolerable “reality” fed to you by some superior intelligence, having no basis in actual reality. So faith is the substance of things not seen, according to the Bible. Do you have faith in gravity? You can’t see it, but you couldn’t walk without trusting it to do its thing. So don’t cast your lack of spiritual faith as a lack of faith. It’s simply faith in something else.

Of course you think your faith is true. By definition you must believe your faith is true. But just because you believe your faith is true isn’t at all compelling evidence for me. Sorry.

The fact that you don’t question it makes it even less compelling.

DarkCurrent on January 4, 2016 at 1:15 PM

Your belief doesn’t change the reality of a things existence any more than mine does. My belief in God doesn’t make him real, and your beliefs don’t banish him.

As far as questioning goes, I spent fifty years as an atheist, at least thirty-five of those through my own reasoning. I didn’t come to God through lack of doubt. I came to him through an open mind and a willing heart. I was reluctant, but eventually I accepted what my experience told me must be true.

Immolate on January 4, 2016 at 2:10 PM

Because I was interested if the reaction I’d get would be as predictable as I thought. Just testing an hypothesis :D

DarkCurrent on January 4, 2016 at 1:35 PM

It is the height of arrogance to pretend that you are above the discussions in which you participate. If you lack the seriousness needed to debate, don’t waste people’s time. Do you suppose that your enlightenment is such that you may sprinkle it like fairy dust on the slow-minded and slack-jawed around you?

Proverbs 16:18 – Pride goeth before destruction, and an haughty spirit before a fall.

Immolate on January 4, 2016 at 2:18 PM

It is the height of arrogance to pretend that you are above the discussions in which you participate. If you lack the seriousness needed to debate, don’t waste people’s time. Do you suppose that your enlightenment is such that you may sprinkle it like fairy dust on the slow-minded and slack-jawed around you?

Proverbs 16:18 – Pride goeth before destruction, and an haughty spirit before a fall.

Immolate on January 4, 2016 at 2:18 PM

My faith is truth, and yours is a lie. There is no equivalence.

Immolate on January 4, 2016 at 12:42 PM

Debate? What debate? Pride headed for a fall indeed…

DarkCurrent on January 4, 2016 at 2:40 PM

OK, understandable, but let me ask you this, while you might conclude that these people are predictable, can you conclude that they’re liars?

Cleombrotus on January 4, 2016 at 1:55 PM

Certainly not, and I’ve never suggested any such thing, have I?

DarkCurrent on January 4, 2016 at 2:42 PM

… the slow-minded and slack-jawed …

Immolate on January 4, 2016 at 2:18 PM

Your words Immolate, not mine.

DarkCurrent on January 4, 2016 at 2:49 PM

Certainly not, and I’ve never suggested any such thing, have I?
DarkCurrent on January

Don’t be so defensive. I merely wanted to point that out, for what it’s worth.

Incidentally, when I say that you really don’t understand Jesus or His teaching, I’m also not intending that as an insult nor a slur. Just a statement of fact.

Cleombrotus on January 4, 2016 at 2:50 PM

Don’t be so defensive. I merely wanted to point that out, for what it’s worth.

Incidentally, when I say that you really don’t understand Jesus or His teaching, I’m also not intending that as an insult nor a slur. Just a statement of fact.

Cleombrotus on January 4, 2016 at 2:50 PM

No problem Cleo. I understand enough of your religion’s basics to realize it’s utter self-contradictory nonsense. That doesn’t mean I’m calling you an idiot for believing it.

Just pointing out the obvious.

DarkCurrent on January 4, 2016 at 3:08 PM

DarkCurrent on January 4, 2016 at 3:08 PM

You understand very little of the basics, because if you had you wouldn’t have just spent the better part of the day confirming them.

Cleombrotus on January 4, 2016 at 3:23 PM

No problem Cleo. I understand enough of your religion’s basics to realize it’s utter self-contradictory nonsense. That doesn’t mean I’m calling you an idiot for believing it.

Just pointing out the obvious.

DarkCurrent on January 4, 2016 at 3:08 PM

For example?

questionmark on January 4, 2016 at 3:26 PM

In fact I believe some of his teachings may have been derived from Buddhism, which was already known to the Greeks and Romans hundreds of years before Jesus’ time.

DarkCurrent on January 4, 2016 at 9:02 AM

Jesus’ “time” has been since before eternity. Yeshua (Jesus, Messiah, Christ) is God in the flesh. God wasn’t taught by buddhists. Cute thought…but idolatrous.

tiptopsaidhe on January 4, 2016 at 4:11 PM

For example?

questionmark on January 4, 2016 at 3:26 PM

Omniscient omnipotent creator God and the notion of freewill. Totally inconsistent.

For an obvious example.

DarkCurrent on January 4, 2016 at 4:14 PM

Cute thought…but idolatrous.

tiptopsaidhe on January 4, 2016 at 4:11 PM

Gee, sorry.

DarkCurrent on January 4, 2016 at 4:16 PM

You understand very little of the basics, because if you had you wouldn’t have just spent the better part of the day confirming them.

Cleombrotus on January 4, 2016 at 3:23 PM

I wondered if you could get any feebler. Seems you could.

DarkCurrent on January 4, 2016 at 4:17 PM

Cute thought…but idolatrous.

tiptopsaidhe on January 4, 2016 at 4:11 PM

Btw, speaking of idolatrous, what’s with all of the Jesus imagery in Christianity? Pagan influences?

DarkCurrent on January 4, 2016 at 4:22 PM

My faith is truth, and yours is a lie. There is no equivalence.

Immolate on January 4, 2016 at 12:42 PM

Debate? What debate? Pride headed for a fall indeed…

DarkCurrent on January 4, 2016 at 2:40 PM

That’s cool and all, but you couldn’t be more wrong. It was pride that kept me lost my whole life. It was humility that allowed me to submit my will to God’s. Let me explain my posture here.

There are a lot of folks who practice a very soft sell on Christianity. Some of them are here, and I understand and appreciate their approach. I do the same thing when I’m out in the world, telling people about the Gospel and leading the willing to Christ. But I’m not here at Hot Air to evangelize. I attempt to strip myself of pretext and stick to the unvarnished truth here, because the people here are generally smarter, or at least better informed than most of the folks I witness to, and that sort will seize on any hint of softening the blow as hypocrisy.

God is often kind and loving, but he’s also wrathful and sometimes cruel. I don’t believe in him because he’s the kind of God I would design if I had the job. I believe in him because he is, and that is what I have to work with. People think you have to sell others a God that is like what they’d like him to be like, but that’s setting them up for a fall. He is truth, and he is exclusive. The Bible is clear. There is one path to salvation (today), and that is through Jesus Christ our Lord. The same is true for Christian, Jew, Muslim, Atheist or Buddhist. There is no possibility in Christianity for other valid faiths.

Mental exercise time: if I believe that only saved Christians will go to heaven, and everyone else will burn in hell for eternity, am I doing anyone any favors by group-hugging them about their other beliefs? The correct answer is no. I have the cure for damnation and I’m keeping it to myself to avoid suffering any discomfort. Bad mojo. I don’t want all those suffering souls on my conscience for eternity.

Diplomacy has its place. More flies with honey, and people respond better to a positive message than a fearful one, but here I think I should call them as I see them. Not only to avoid ambiguity when dealing with non-believers, but so I can provoke discussion with believers that will help me further my understanding.

Immolate on January 4, 2016 at 4:32 PM

God is often kind and loving, but he’s also wrathful and sometimes cruel.

Immolate on January 4, 2016 at 4:32 PM

The sudden introduction of entities we don’t agree even agree exist may be part of why these ‘conversations’ typically go nowhere.

DarkCurrent on January 4, 2016 at 4:38 PM

I get it Immolate. You have faith.

Your faith isn’t a convincing reason for any but the feeble-minded to convert to your way of thinking.

DarkCurrent on January 4, 2016 at 4:41 PM

Omniscient omnipotent creator God and the notion of freewill. Totally inconsistent.

For an obvious example.

DarkCurrent on January 4, 2016 at 4:14 PM

Too easy. Having absolute knowledge and absolute power doesn’t compel action. God can make us do whatever he likes, but he doesn’t. This is a simple concept.

Btw, speaking of idolatrous, what’s with all of the Jesus imagery in Christianity? Pagan influences?

DarkCurrent on January 4, 2016 at 4:22 PM

I wouldn’t call it pagan. I’d call it human nature. The allure of symbols is powerful to humans, and pretty much unavoidable (the letters I’m typing, for example). But there are churches that do not use crucifixes or crosses or little fishes or any other symbol of Christ to avoid the slippery slope of idolatry. I attend one of those. But if someone gives me a cross on a necklace, like my mom did, I keep it as a token of her affection for me, not as a representation of Christ, and I don’t wear it to avoid influencing others to do likewise. It would be stupid to start an internecine war over it though, because I don’t see a lot of people making their nicknacks sacred.

Bibles are ubiquitous. Anyone could get one or a truckload of them and urinate on them and burn them or rub them on their naked bodies and you’d get little reaction from worldwide Christianity over it. God’s word is holy, but it’s physical form is just paper bound by leather or something else. Funny, the contrast.

Immolate on January 4, 2016 at 4:47 PM

Btw, speaking of idolatrous, what’s with all of the Jesus imagery in Christianity? Pagan influences?

DarkCurrent on January 4, 2016 at 4:22 PM

Amen!

God wouldn’t allow the Israelites, or Moses, to see Him in any way so they wouldn’t create images to worship instead of Him. He knew they were an idolatrous people, having been in Egypt all those generations. They tended to worship as the pagans worshiped, so He forbade them to get close enough to see Him so they couldn’t carve images and worship them.

Exo 19:21 And the LORD said unto Moses, Go down, charge the people, lest they break through unto the LORD to gaze, and many of them perish.
Exo 19:22 And let the priests also, which come near to the LORD, sanctify themselves, lest the LORD break forth upon them.
Exo 19:23 And Moses said unto the LORD, The people cannot come up to mount Sinai: for thou chargedst us, saying, Set bounds about the mount, and sanctify it.
Exo 19:24 And the LORD said unto him, Away, get thee down, and thou shalt come up, thou, and Aaron with thee: but let not the priests and the people break through to come up unto the LORD, lest he break forth upon them.
Exo 19:25 So Moses went down unto the people, and spake unto them.

Then, one of the 10 commandments deals specifically with this:

Exo 20:4 Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of any thing that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth:
Exo 20:5 Thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, nor serve them: for I the LORD thy God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate me;
Exo 20:6 And shewing mercy unto thousands of them that love me, and keep my commandments.

We are not called to worship the creation, but the Creator!

tiptopsaidhe on January 4, 2016 at 5:09 PM

Diplomacy has its place. More flies with honey, and people respond better to a positive message than a fearful one, but here I think I should call them as I see them. Not only to avoid ambiguity when dealing with non-believers, but so I can provoke discussion with believers that will help me further my understanding.

Immolate on January 4, 2016 at 4:32 PM

If I gave you a parachute for your vacation flight and told you that you would enjoy your coke better and the movie would be more entertaining while wearing it, you would wear it for a little while…until you realized it didn’t make your coke or movie better, and it was uncomfortable and people were looking at you funny. Then, you’d take it off and mock the idea.

If I gave you a parachute for the same flight and told you that when the plane reached 30,000 feet the back half of the plane was going to fall off, you’d wear it no matter the mockery or the discomfort, and you’d have no concern about the coke or the movie.

The old song says “twas grace that taught my heart to fear…and grace my fears relieved.” If there is no fear of hell, there is no place for a savior. Universalism, or “all people will eventually be saved and be with God for eternity” leaves no need for a savior or His sacrifice.

tiptopsaidhe on January 4, 2016 at 5:30 PM

I realize Christians must reject the notion out of hand since it would completely undermine their belief system.

DarkCurrent on January 4, 2016 at 11:25 AM

There are some similarities amongst many of the oldest and largest religions of the world.

Jesus was a Jew and Christian theology is based on and influenced by Judaism, not Buddhism. Jesus read the Law and Prophets and Solomon.

Some believe that Solomon or Judaism influenced Buddha.

I don’t think any of them influenced each other. I think truth develops parallel to each other in different regions of the world.

The one true God has whispered some of His truth to all the major religions of the world from the earliest times, beginning with the pagans. Instead of disproving Christianity, it proves that the Holy Spirit spreads an objective truth.

God has written His natural law into the hearts of all men. God made us in His image and has written Himself into our DNA. So men have always had a sense that God existed and a yearning to know Him and understand Him. And God has always from the beginning whispered knowledge of Himself to humanity.

St. Augustine said, “We were made for you, O Lord, and our hearts are restless until they rest in Thee.”

That sense of good and bad, right and wrong doesn’t just magically appear from nowhere.

It is more than just a social order or fear of the unknown. Men have a conscience from the moment they are born. Even when no one is looking. Even when it does not benefit them or society. A sacrificial love that animals do not have and that cannot be explained. It is rare and we all fail, but it is there and all men value it and the lucky ones know it’s source.

God had a salvation plan, through the Jews, His chosen people, then through Jesus Christ, Our Savior for all nations. That is why the early pagans and pagans today believed some of the things Christians also believe. Because they are true.

The basics. The Ten Commandments/natural law, right and wrong, good and evil, sin and redemption. A creator God who loves us. Needing to be reconciled with God. Being at peace with God and the universe. Life after death. Hell/eternal punishment, Heaven/eternal reward. Unselfishness, charity, treating others well. Living a simple life, not relying on material. possessions and wants.

Then God reveals more of Himself to the Jews, then He reveals the fullness of His truth and is even more intimate with all nations through Jesus Christ.

Even before Abraham we see God speaking to Adam, his children, Noah, etc.

And St. Paul says, “Ever since the creation of the world, his invisible attributes of eternal power and divinity have been able to be understood and perceived in what he has made. . . . . For when the Gentiles who do not have the law by nature observe the prescriptions of the law, they are a law for themselves even though they do not have the law.” (Romans 1:20 and 2:14)

The Holy Spirit spoke to mankind before Abraham and God still speaks to all men on some level, Christians, Jews, Muslims, pagans. The Jews, then the followers of Christ, His Church, were God’s instruments for salvation and Divine Revelation of His truths, and He used them to convey His Word to ALL mankind. This was His plan of salvation. He increasingly became more and more intimate with His people and revealed deeper truths. But many truths were known by mankind before the Jews and before Christ. Because God always revealed Himself to the mankind in some way and He loves all men, whom He created. He is Father to all, then and now. And God loves all people whom He created.

The Holy Spirit can whisper His truth to men who are in other faiths that also teach untruth, and some of those people can have implicit faith (“a preparation for the Gospel”) that can, in the last moments before death, quietly become explicit faith in Christ, by the grace of Jesus Christ. Jesus can reveal Himself at any moment to any man at His choosing. Only God can read the hearts and minds of man.

But Jesus Christ is “the way, the truth and the life” for all men who will be saved. Even if they do not know Him right now.

Elisa on January 4, 2016 at 7:42 PM

Btw, speaking of idolatrous, what’s with all of the Jesus imagery in Christianity? Pagan influences?

DarkCurrent on January 4, 2016 at 4:22 PM

Idolatry is the worship of an inanimate object, like a statue or picture. Believing the are a god. Pagans since the beginning of time, especially during the Old Testament, actually believed that the statues themselves were gods and had inherent power in and of themselves.

The one true God hid His face from mankind (after the Fall, since God was intimate with man before that and walked with man in the garden) in the Old Testament. He showed Himself in fire and clouds.

But in the New Covenant, God showed us His face. Mankind, beginning with Mary and Joseph, were able to gaze on His face, in the form of the Second Person of the Holy Trinity. God again was intimate with His children who accepted Him as Lord.

In Christianity, our statues are not gods and have no power in and of themselves. They are “holy reminders” of God and of the Saints who we try to emulate and who pray for us.

God knows we humans are physical people. Jesus used the physical world in His ministry. Even later, we see people being cured by hankershiefs of St. Paul. Even in the Old Testament, God allowed some images. He specified that images of angels had to be on the Ark of the Covenant. He had them create a bronze serpent that those who gazed upon it were cured. (later when the Jews started worshipping the serpents, those were banned.)

As long as we know the difference between the one true God and images that remind us of Him, that is what counts.

Elisa on January 4, 2016 at 7:57 PM

* handkerchiefs

Elisa on January 4, 2016 at 8:07 PM

For example?
questionmark on January 4, 2016 at 3:26 PM

Omniscient omnipotent creator God and the notion of freewill. Totally inconsistent.
For an obvious example.
DarkCurrent on January 4, 2016 at 4:14 PM

It’s like deja vu all over again!

Messiah was never the fix, He was always the plan.
questionmark on August 30, 2015 at 3:29 PM

Are you suggesting that Mankind falling into sin was by design?
DarkCurrent on August 30, 2015 at 3:40 PM

Omnipotence and omniscience will allow for nothing else, as far as I can see.
questionmark on August 30, 2015 at 3:43 PM

I think we agree.
DarkCurrent on August 30, 2015 at 3:53 PM

On this point we do.
I believe that GOD exists, and is both omnipotent and omniscient, and that man’s will is first and foremost subservient (i.e., NOT FREE) to the will of GOD, and is also bound (i.e., NOT FREE) by the spiritual deadness of sin, and the natural limitations in what man can know.
questionmark on August 30, 2015 at 4:23 PM

And that leads us to this:

The sudden introduction of entities we don’t agree even agree exist may be part of why these ‘conversations’ typically go nowhere.
DarkCurrent on January 4, 2016 at 4:38 PM

Surely there is no “sudden” introduction here. In Sunday Reflection. Of all places.

As to why these ” ‘conversations’ typically go nowhere,” I’ll refer the gentleman to the answer I gave some months ago, where the last ‘conversation’ about an “entity” stopped.

Shouldn’t we start with what are the greatest arguments for God’s existence?
DarkCurrent on August 30, 2015 at 9:06 PM

Ok. We exist. We came to exist out of something. That something is either eternal, or was created by an eternal being.

If the uncreated something is eternal and has intelligence, then that uncreated something is God.

If the uncreated something is eternal but mere matter, incapable of thought or animation, then our existence is mere chance, and mathematical odds make such an occurrence far harder to reasonably swallow than any coherent religious concept.

To add to the mathematical complications, you must consider how inanimate matter started movement – at which point the whole concept is rendered impossible, unless…

There is an intelligent prime mover, aka, God.
questionmark on August 30, 2015 at 9:32 PM

questionmark on January 4, 2016 at 8:35 PM

I don’t believe Herod was signalling belief or disbelief in the prophecy. I think it’s plain that Herod didn’t believe in a living God or he would not have behaved as he did. He wasn’t signalling anything. He was stomping out the spark of rebellion by killing anyone who could claim to “fulfill” the prophesy. His methods were purely Machiavellian. An actual believer would already understand that you cannot frustrate God’s will through purging babies.

Herod’s Judaism is no more difficult to interpret than Obama’s Christianity.

Immolate on January 4, 2016 at 11:01 AM

Even Satan believes. It’s what you do with your belief that matters.

Satan and his minions choose to do evil. They view themselves, even as they know God exists, as greater than God.

That is the lesson from Herod’s acts — no matter what you do to foil God, in the end He wins.

If you think baser motives of Herod — that he was merely acting to instill fear in people — you miss the bigger message of this Scripture.

I would submit that many of the the motivations of Obama’s putative Christianity are unknown to us. Some motives are known, and are common to progressives everywhere — that good can come when one steals the property of others. Good can come of murdering children. Good can come of destroying the rich.

Such things can be justified only when one centers the world on one’s self — even as one truly thinks they have a belief in God.

It doesn’t help that Mr. Obama had as his pastor Rev. Wright. If one wants corrupted faith formation, no better teacher can be found.

unclesmrgol on January 4, 2016 at 9:36 PM

No problem Cleo. I understand enough of your religion’s basics to realize it’s utter self-contradictory nonsense. That doesn’t mean I’m calling you an idiot for believing it.

Just pointing out the obvious.

DarkCurrent on January 4, 2016 at 3:08 PM

Actually, you aren’t pointing out the obvious. What you are pointing out is your own lower form of enlightenment.

Who determines when one has reached the highest form of enlightenment — or is it self-determined? Can one have any form of freedom from ignorance without being all-knowing? And once one is all-knowing, what is to be done with that all-knowledge?

If it is to be frittered away on one’s own self — elevating one out of the material plane, where does that leave one, other than in a selfish void?

You see, we have two different world views here at work — one which views enlightenment as a perfect self-journey, and another which views it as an imperfect common journey.

We have differing world views on the matter of rebirth. In Christianity, you get one chance and one chance only to attain the necessary level of enlightenment (so to speak); your religion allows multiple passes, with each pass randomly allowing one to attain a higher “energy state” so to speak — or, even, to descend to a lower one.

I see no humans presently on this earth with so much enlightenment (such a heightened “energy state”) that they are a benefit to everyone around them. Yet your religion says that such should be bountiful amongst the billions of people currently walking the earth.

Indeed, a person of such superior enlightenment as to be about to transcend existence should have a world-wide effect. Such a person must always act in ways which we would consider altogether good.

Yet there is no person on this earth without sin. How can one transcend existence unless one has ceased to sin? And once one has transcended existence, how does one tell the people left how to do it — for the only believable authority on how to do it is someone who has successfully done it.

Just pointing out the obvious.

unclesmrgol on January 4, 2016 at 9:58 PM

I understand enough of your religion’s basics to realize it’s utter self-contradictory nonsense.
DarkCurrent on January 4, 2016 at 3:08 PM

“A natural man does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually appraised.”
(1 Corinthians 2:14)

whatcat on January 5, 2016 at 12:19 AM

How do you win an argument with someone who reasons thusly:

“If I say a concept is nonsense, it is, because it must be. If you tell me I’m incorrect because you do understand the concept, I will insist that you don’t, and insult you in some manner for good measure.”?

Why spend your time debating such a person, hmm?

Anti-ControI on January 5, 2016 at 4:50 AM

Why spend your time debating such a person, hmm?

Anti-ControI on January 5, 2016 at 4:50 AM

There may be others who land here with the same questions or doubts. Our care for the soul of DC is to be the same care we have for the souls of all God brings across our paths. It is God’s work to save, but ours to present His truth. Your contributions are valuable A/C. Continue your faithful pursuit of holiness.

tiptopsaidhe on January 5, 2016 at 2:45 PM

“A natural man does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually appraised.”
(1 Corinthians 2:14)

whatcat on January 5, 2016 at 12:19 AM

People who don’t believe the Bible are foolish because the Bible says so?

Nice circular reasoning there.

DarkCurrent on January 5, 2016 at 2:45 PM

I don’t think any of them influenced each other. I think truth develops parallel to each other in different regions of the world.

Elisa on January 4, 2016 at 7:42 PM

I seems you’re still missing the point that these were not regions of the world that were completely isolated from each other. There was trade and cultural exchange between them.

Of course Christianity is primarily based on Judaism, but that certainly doesn’t rule out the possibility of Buddhist influence, since Buddhism was known in the region and at the time that Christianity emerged.

DarkCurrent on January 5, 2016 at 2:52 PM

There may be others who land here with the same questions or doubts. Our care for the soul of DC is to be the same care we have for the souls of all God brings across our paths. It is God’s work to save, but ours to present His truth. Your contributions are valuable A/C. Continue your faithful pursuit of holiness.

tiptopsaidhe on January 5, 2016 at 2:45 PM

What’s your take on this verse?

Don’t have anything to do with foolish and stupid arguments, because you know they produce quarrels. -2 Timothy 2:23

Are you going to try saying that going around in a debate circle with an obviously smug and closeminded person is the wisest usage of one’s time? :D

Anti-ControI on January 5, 2016 at 3:03 PM

Are you going to try saying that going around in a debate circle with an obviously smug and closeminded person is the wisest usage of one’s time? :D

Anti-ControI on January 5, 2016 at 3:03 PM

Respond to Christ over His shoulder…or Christ over the shoulder of someone else struggling with the same issues. Think bigger.

tiptopsaidhe on January 5, 2016 at 3:13 PM

Respond to Christ over His shoulder…or Christ over the shoulder of someone else struggling with the same issues.

You didn’t pertinently answer what I asked, which is because you like to dictate and argue, and rationalize about it.

Think bigger.

tiptopsaidhe on January 5, 2016 at 3:13 PM

Set the example first why don’t you. lol :D

Anti-ControI on January 5, 2016 at 3:17 PM

You didn’t pertinently answer what I asked, which is because you like to dictate and argue, and rationalize about it.

Anti-ControI on January 5, 2016 at 3:17 PM

Heh. Says AC. LOL.

DarkCurrent on January 5, 2016 at 3:55 PM

If I gave you a parachute for your vacation flight and told you that you would enjoy your coke better and the movie would be more entertaining while wearing it, you would wear it for a little while…until you realized it didn’t make your coke or movie better, and it was uncomfortable and people were looking at you funny. Then, you’d take it off and mock the idea.

If I gave you a parachute for the same flight and told you that when the plane reached 30,000 feet the back half of the plane was going to fall off, you’d wear it no matter the mockery or the discomfort, and you’d have no concern about the coke or the movie.

tiptopsaidhe on January 4, 2016 at 5:30 PM

I’m pretty sure I missed the point, but if you gave Immolate a parachute and told him or her that the back half of the play was going to fall off at 30,000 feet and he or she thought you were credible he or she probably wouldn’t get on the plane at all, parachute or not.

DarkCurrent on January 5, 2016 at 4:01 PM

You didn’t pertinently answer what I asked, which is because you like to dictate and argue, and rationalize about it.

Set the example first why don’t you. lol :D

Anti-ControI on January 5, 2016 at 3:17 PM

10-4 AC. I should have been more clear in my “think bigger” comment. It was intended to mean Christ as being bigger than DC, not you having to rise up to a new level in some manner. Imagine you are talking with Christ standing just behind DC, instead of talking with DC. God created DC, just as He did you and me, and He sent the same savior for DC as He did for you and me. I should have spelled it out more clearly so you didn’t apprehend a sense of disrespect towards your character and feel compelled to project in defense. Contempt for you was never intended, yet yours in response indicates that you felt personally insulted. I apologize.

tiptopsaidhe on January 5, 2016 at 4:10 PM

I’m pretty sure I missed the point, but if you gave Immolate a parachute and told him or her that the back half of the play was going to fall off at 30,000 feet and he or she thought you were credible he or she probably wouldn’t get on the plane at all, parachute or not.

DarkCurrent on January 5, 2016 at 4:01 PM

;-) Obtuse. You’re already on the plane when you are offered the parachute. Of course you wouldn’t get on the plane if you knew it was going to crash. If you already knew you were going to hell, would you choose not to be born? Did we get to choose to be born? We are aboard already. We’re in flight. The plane will crash. Christ is the parachute.

You’ll figure it out.

tiptopsaidhe on January 5, 2016 at 4:19 PM

Whoa…late to the party…and what a party it is !
Yeesh…so much for that Christmas spirit, eh ?… !!!

Remember, “It” will always have more questions than we have answers…..and its all part of the “noise”……

Noise, the grand dynamism, the audible expression of all that is exultant, ruthless, and virile–Noise which alone defends us from silly qualms, despairing scruples, and impossible desires. We will make the whole universe a noise in the end.
We have already made great strides in this direction as regards the Earth. The melodies and silences of Heaven will be shouted down in the end. But I admit we are not yet loud enough, or anything like it.

FlaMurph on January 5, 2016 at 4:24 PM

10-4 AC. I should have been more clear in my “think bigger” comment. It was intended to mean Christ as being bigger than DC, not you having to rise up to a new level in some manner. Imagine you are talking with Christ standing just behind DC, instead of talking with DC. God created DC, just as He did you and me, and He sent the same savior for DC as He did for you and me. I should have spelled it out more clearly so you didn’t apprehend a sense of disrespect towards your character and feel compelled to project in defense. Contempt for you was never intended, yet yours in response indicates that you felt personally insulted. I apologize.

tiptopsaidhe on January 5, 2016 at 4:10 PM

I’ll get this out of the way first: I never thought you were showing contempt for me. Now, onto my point…

Here’s what I asked you, remember?

What’s your take on this verse?

Don’t have anything to do with foolish and stupid arguments, because you know they produce quarrels. -2 Timothy 2:23

and

Are you going to try saying that going around in a debate circle with an obviously smug and closeminded person is the wisest usage of one’s time? :D

Anti-ControI on January 5, 2016 at 3:03 PM

What was so confusing/complicated about what I asked that necessitated you going into the weeds and telling me that I’m not thinking largely enough – it’s not me who’s ignoring the message of 2 Timothy 2:23 here, is it?

You’re rationalizing circular debating with smug, closeminded fools who aren’t searching for the truth about God in defiance of what you know from the Bible… You’re not doing God’s will when you do that, but your own, and you’re setting a bad example.

Anti-ControI on January 5, 2016 at 4:30 PM

-) Obtuse. You’re already on the plane when you are offered the parachute.

tiptopsaidhe on January 5, 2016 at 4:19 PM

You could have said that in the first place.

If we were already on the plane I’d put on the parachute and then demand that the plane be landed at the nearest airport while remaining under 30,000 feet because there was a bomb onboard.

That would be the Buddhist way. In the Christian way everyone aboard without a parachute would probably die.

DarkCurrent on January 5, 2016 at 5:08 PM

Who determines when one has reached the highest form of enlightenment — or is it self-determined?

unclesmrgol on January 4, 2016 at 9:58 PM

You tell me. Apparently you can tell ‘lower enlightenment’ from ‘higher enlightenment’.

You must be a bodhisattva if not a buddha.

DarkCurrent on January 5, 2016 at 5:15 PM

You’re rationalizing circular debating with smug, closeminded fools who aren’t searching for the truth about God in defiance of what you know from the Bible… You’re not doing God’s will when you do that, but your own, and you’re setting a bad example.

Anti-ControI on January 5, 2016 at 4:30 PM

I appreciate the rebuke. I will take it to God in prayer. It may seem a further rationalization, but I remember being a smug, closed-minded fool not searching for God’s truth. I guess I’m glad those who kept after me didn’t stop. I will seek guidance and counsel.

What was so confusing/complicated about what I asked that necessitated you going into the weeds and telling me that I’m not thinking largely enough – it’s not me who’s ignoring the message of 2 Timothy 2:23 here, is it?

I thought I explained the “thinking bigger” statement in the last post, to which you acknowledged that you didn’t take it as contempt. Yet, you persist as if it is contemptuous. Perhaps, we should revisit 2 Tim 2:23 and call it a day.

tiptopsaidhe on January 5, 2016 at 5:35 PM

In the Christian way everyone aboard without a parachute would probably die.

DarkCurrent on January 5, 2016 at 5:08 PM

In spite of the whirlwind you create with your schtick, every person knows what awaits at the end. Peace to you.

tiptopsaidhe on January 5, 2016 at 5:50 PM

I appreciate the rebuke. I will take it to God in prayer. It may seem a further rationalization, but I remember being a smug, closed-minded fool not searching for God’s truth. I guess I’m glad those who kept after me didn’t stop. I will seek guidance and counsel.

Please don’t conflate yourself with anyone else like that, D/C in particular here.

Going around in a debate circle with someone is a worldly behavior, not spiritual, is it not? I mean, that’s one reason why Christians are told to avoid pointless arguments, isn’t it?

I thought I explained the “thinking bigger” statement in the last post, to which you acknowledged that you didn’t take it as contempt. Yet, you persist as if it is contemptuous. Perhaps, we should revisit 2 Tim 2:23 and call it a day.

tiptopsaidhe on January 5, 2016 at 5:35 PM

You’re discernment’s off here, as I’ve never implied nor indicated that I’ve been taking what you meant by “thinking bigger” as negatively as you perceive… My point has been, since I’m the one promoting 2 Timothy 2:23, I already have Christ’s approval on the issue – it’s not me who needs to be thinking bigger in this case! :D

Anti-ControI on January 5, 2016 at 5:59 PM

WOW … when a “Sunday Reflection” goes this long, all I’m left with is:
.

Everyone who agrees with me is RIGHT … the rest of you are WRONG

.
There … the self righteous one has spoken.

listens2glenn on January 5, 2016 at 6:38 PM

listens2glenn on January 5, 2016 at 6:38 PM

Finally!

What took you so long!

questionmark on January 5, 2016 at 7:46 PM

Elisa on January 4, 2016 at 7:42 PM

I seems you’re still missing the point that these were not regions of the world that were completely isolated from each other. There was trade and cultural exchange between them.

Of course Christianity is primarily based on Judaism, but that certainly doesn’t rule out the possibility of Buddhist influence, since Buddhism was known in the region and at the time that Christianity emerged.

DarkCurrent on January 5, 2016 at 2:52 PM

No, I didn’t miss your point. My point is that just because there is trade, it doesn’t mean similar beliefs can’t both develop parallel to each other.

TO BE CLEAR: There are many clear and important differences between Christianity and Buddhism. WE ARE ONLY TALKING ABOUT A FEW SIMILARITIES.

And again, there are some similarities amongst many of the oldest and largest religions of the world. Not just Buddhism.

The one true God has whispered some of His truth to all the major religions of the world from the earliest times, beginning with the pagans. Instead of disproving Christianity, it proves that the Holy Spirit spreads an objective truth.

God has written His natural law into the hearts of all men.

What you fail to understand from my post is that Jesus’ theology isn’t just “primarily based” in Judaism. It is entirely based on Judaism.

Judaism is older than Buddha.

Those trade routes were around during Buddha’s time too.

Some believe that Buddha got his philosophy from King Solomon and Old Testament writings.

If there are similarities between Jesus and Buddha, then maybe it’s because Buddha was exposed to Jewish teachings, like Jesus was, since He was a Jew. (Not to mention that He is “the Word of God made Flesh.” Solomon’s writings and the Old Testament came from the one Word.)

Elisa on January 5, 2016 at 7:52 PM

Elisa on January 5, 2016 at 7:52 PM

I forgot to add that some people don’t realize that 90% of what Jesus preached is in the Old Testament and Jewish Tradition. The rest He developed and took a step further.

Loving your neighbor as yourself, is in the Old Testament.
Charity, living a simple life, peace with God and all men. Enlightenment.

All from Judaism.

Even “any eye for and eye and a tooth for a tooth” was good. It civilized society so that fights did not escalate. It was not meant to be vindictive. It was meant to keep fights on equal ground. Don’t hurt someone further.

No Buddhism necessary for Christianity’s roots. The one true God had already started whispering, then proclaiming His truth through His Chosen People for thousands of years, not just a few centuries.

Elisa on January 5, 2016 at 8:04 PM

tiptopsaidhe

You have displayed as fine an example of humility and patience as I’ve ever seen in these posts. I thank Yahweh for the blessing your words are to me, and hope that others benefit as well.

Surely this is the Spirit of Yeshua, and my prayer is that it would take root and flourish in all here, bearing such precious fruit as you have shown, particularly in my own soul.

Grace and peace to you from Yahweh our Father and Yeshua ha Mashiach, and to all others here as well.

questionmark on January 5, 2016 at 8:05 PM

tiptopsaidhe

You have displayed as fine an example of humility and patience as I’ve ever seen in these posts. . . . .

questionmark on January 5, 2016 at 8:05 PM

He always does. He is a true gentleman and genuine Christian and an example to all of us.

He is a blessing to this place. (as are you) Even though I don’t usually agree with you guys. lol

Elisa on January 5, 2016 at 8:16 PM

Elisa on January 5, 2016 at 8:16 PM

:)

The sentiment is mutual. Disagreement need not be disagreeable, as you regularly demonstrate.

questionmark on January 5, 2016 at 8:23 PM

questionmark on January 5, 2016 at 8:23 PM

You are very kind.

God bless you and all here. And your families.

Elisa on January 5, 2016 at 8:29 PM

listens2glenn on January 5, 2016 at 6:38 PM

.
Finally!

What took you so long!

questionmark on January 5, 2016 at 7:46 PM

.
The guy at the “Halo Shop” gave me the wrong size, but I didn’t find out about it till I got home.

Took me a whole !!@#!%$ DAY … to return it for the right one.
Yep … the life of a perfect, sin-free Saint isn’t as easy as it looks, I tell ya’.

listens2glenn on January 5, 2016 at 8:41 PM

listens2glenn on January 5, 2016 at 8:41 PM

Yeah, those extra large are hard to come by!

questionmark on January 5, 2016 at 9:28 PM

listens2glenn on January 5, 2016 at 8:41 PM

.
Yeah, those extra large are hard to come by!
.
questionmark on January 5, 2016 at 9:28 PM

.
Hang yeah … I spent an hour goin’ over the catalog ahead of time, choosing the right tone of nearly (but not quite) pure, translucent Gold. Then asked ’em to buff it to the highest shine possible, and have my named engraved on it, in flawless Latin Calligraphy. They did a good job, too … but then the store clerk gave me the wrong box.
I dunno where they come up with these “imperfect” people to help run the store.

Back in our day, perfection meant PERFECTION, dang blast it. But these young wipper snappers today ain’t perfect enough to hand us PERFECT curmugeons our proper perfect Halo. What’s the Heavens coming to? . . . (shakes head sadly)

listens2glenn on January 5, 2016 at 10:13 PM

listens2glenn on January 5, 2016 at 10:13 PM

HA! Love it! Well done sir!

questionmark on January 6, 2016 at 9:56 AM

t/t/s/h, in case you’re still reading, I want to leave you (and anyone else’s who’s interested) with something…

Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect. -Matthew 5:48

Therefore, my dear friends, as you have always obeyed—not only in my presence, but now much more in my absence—continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill his good purpose.

Do everything without grumbling or arguing, so that you may become blameless and pure, “children of God without fault in a warped and crooked generation.” Then you will shine among them like stars in the sky as you hold firmly to the word of life. -Philippians 2:12-16a

When self-proclaimed Christian mock and downplay those passages and those who are sincerely trying to apply them, you wouldn’t say they’re honoring God and His will, would you?

What kind of Christians do you conclude they are – do you believe it’s likely they’ve been regenerated, that they’re true friends of Jesus who should be respected as such?

Anti-ControI on January 8, 2016 at 12:53 AM

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