Day 39 & Day 40: The Book of Revelation

Well, this is the last day of the Nativity Fast New Testament Challenge. All twenty-seven books of the New Testament finished and now it is time to celebrate by giving thanks for the birth of our Lord, God, and Savior Jesus Christ, in the Holy Liturgy.

May He who is  “ the Alpha and the Omega,” and “the one who is and who was and who is to come” (Revelation 1:8) bless us all on the feast of the Incarnation.

Christ is Born! Glorify Him!

Pray for me, a sinner.

Day 35 and 36: The Gospel of John

The Gospel of John is rich in theology. I’m glad that it was assigned last, in terms of Gospel readings, in the Nativity Fast New Testament Challenge. Over the years two particular passages have been helpful in my spiritual journey. One is John chapter 6. In John 6, Jesus teaches explicitly that unless you eat His flesh and drink His blood that you have no life in you:

I am the bread of life. Your ancestors ate the manna in the desert, but they died; this is the bread that comes down from heaven so that one may eat it and not die. I am the living bread that came down from heaven; whoever eats this bread will live forever; and the bread that I will give is my flesh for the life of the world.” The Jews quarreled among themselves, saying, “How can this man give us [his] flesh to eat?”

Jesus said to them, “Amen, amen, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you do not have life within you. Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him on the last day. For my flesh is true food, and my blood is true drink.  Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me and I in him. Just as the living Father sent me and I have life because of the Father, so also the one who feeds on me will have life because of me. This is the bread that came down from heaven. Unlike your ancestors who ate and still died, whoever eats this bread will live forever.” John 6: 48-58

A clearer teaching on the real presence in the Eucharist is not to be found, in my opinion, in the New Testament.

The other passage is Jesus’ prayer for the unity of the Church. My father asked me today, “Why are you Catholic and not Orthodox?” I think this prayer is one of the reasons for my remaining a Greek Catholic. The prayer is found in John: 17:20-23:

I pray not only for them, but also for those who will believe in me through their word, so that they may all be one, as you, Father, are in me and I in you, that they also may be in us, that the world may believe that you sent me.And I have given them the glory you gave me, so that they may be one, as we are one, I in them and you in me, that they may be brought to perfection as one, that the world may know that you sent me, and that you loved them even as you loved me.

All four Gospels down, the Catholic Epistles, and the Epistles of Paul as well. All that remains is the Book of Revelation in the New Testament Nativity Fast Challenge.

Day 33: Philippians & Ephesians Day 34: 1,2,3 John, Jude, & Hebrews

The last two days of the Nativity New Testament Challenge bring to a close the Epistle portion of the New Testament. Only the Gospel of St. John and the Book of Revelation are left, which means the feast of the Nativity is fast approaching. I find it fitting then to share St. Paul’s teaching on the self emptying of Christ found in the book of Philippians. St. Paul teaches that Christ:

Though he was in the form of God, did not regard equality with God something to be grasped. Rather, he emptied himself, taking the form of a slave, coming in human likeness; and found human in appearance, he humbled himself, becoming obedient to death, even death on a cross. Philippians 2: 6-8

Think about, God the Son emptied himself, for our salvation, and took on our humanity. Powerful. Come O Jesus, our savior, redeem and save us.