June 17:  Recently, sitting at my Sheltie desk, I received a request if I would (could) explain the gospel verses which imply Jesus had brothers and sisters.  It’s a good thing Shelties are able to understand Greek, Hebrew and Aramaic and explain Semantics and what the gospel writers are really saying.  So….

The Catholic Church teaches that Jesus did not have blood brothers and sisters. The problem arises because we read in Mark about the crowd asking, "Isn't this the carpenter, the son of Mary, a brother of James and Joses and Judas and Simon? Aren't his sisters our neighbors here?" (Mk 6:3). A similar reference occurs earlier in Mk 3:31 — "His mother and brothers arrived...."
At first hearing, the words seem to state that Jesus did indeed have blood brothers and sisters. But the Greek word adelphos, was used to describe brothers not born of the same parents, like a half-brother or step-brother. The word also described other relationships like cousins, nephews, etc. In Hebrew and Aramaic languages, no special word existed for cousin, nephew, half-brother, or step-brother.  So, they used the word brother in all these cases. The Greek translation of the Hebrew texts used the word adelphos.

Jesus further states “Whoever does the will of God is my brother, and sister, and mother” was actually a compliment to his mother who had always listened to the word of God and obeyed it. Jesus was declaring, “Blessed are those who hear and keep the word of God as she is faithfully doing." (Vatican II, Lumen Gentium, 58)   Jesus was also using the occasion to teach the congregation a new lesson about their relationship with God. Being a disciple of Jesus, or a Christian, is first and foremost a relationship – a relationship of love and unity with God the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit and with all who belong to God as His children.  Jesus has changed the order of relationships and shows us here that true kinship is not just a matter of flesh and blood.  God’s gracious gift to us is His adoption of us as His sons and daughters. 

So this begs the question of your own relationship with Jesus!!  And doing the will of our Father!!!  Now, I’m trying to teach the squirrels Aramaic??!!!!

June 10:  In squirrel theology 101 I’ve been asked the question of what is a ‘sin’ anyways?  In today’s society it seems that we’ve qualified just about everything and have done away with – sin!  Let me offer a little thought on today’s theology of breaking the commandments!

Among William Shakespeare’s prolific contributions to English literature, there are literally thousands of memorable lines that continue to be quoted because of their eloquence and timeless significance. One of these is the famous line, “What’s in a name?  That which we call a rose, by any other name would smell as sweet” (Romeo and Juliet, act 2, sc.2, l.43). I would paraphrase it, “What’s in a name? That which we call sin, by any other name would still be sin!” There appears to be a tendency in contemporary society to disregard or minimize sin or to call it by another name. Similarly, there is a tendency to ignore evil. The sense of shame regarding sin was renamed and the so-called “guilt complex” have become public enemy number one. In today’s readings, Yahweh God in Genesis, St. Paul, and Jesus call sin a sin.

June 3:  Did you know: On 25th August 1856, Blessed Pope Pius IX inscribed the Solemnity of the Sacred Heart in the Calendar of the Catholic Church, directing that it be celebrated on the Friday after the Octave of Corpus Christi (the Body of Christ) each year.

He was responding to a formal request made by Jesus Himself almost two centuries earlier in 1675 to a French Visitation nun, Margaret Mary Alacoque. This saintly woman was later to be canonized on May 13th, 1920, just five days before the birth of Blessed Pope John Paul II, who, towards the end of his great Pontificate, would nominate the Feast of the Sacred Heart a special Day of Prayer for Priests.

Jesus expressed His wish that the Feast of the Sacred Heart be a day of reparation, not for sins in general, but specifically for sins against the Eucharist which St. Albert the Great considered the first gift of the Sacred Heart. This great Dominican teacher of St. Thomas Aquinas marveled at how the institution of the Eucharist was a source of great joy to the Sacred Heart; “His Heart overflowed with love and joy at being completely one with us and filling our hearts with joy and jubilation.”

I bet you didn’t know all that – and you know what? Now you do!!! 

May 27:  Today’s Solemnity of the Holy Trinity certainly begs a lot of questions from man and beast, especially those squirrels.  So how’s this for a theological explanation!?:

The mystery of the most Holy Trinity is a basic doctrine of faith in Christianity, understandable not with our heads, but with our hearts. The doctrine teaches that there are in One God Three distinct and equal Divine Persons sharing the same divine nature.  Our mind cannot grasp this doctrine which teaches that 1+ 1+ 1 = 1 and not 3. But we believe in this mystery because Jesus, who is God, taught it clearly, the Evangelists recorded it, the Fathers of the Church believed and tried to explain it and the Councils of Nicaea and Constantinople, guided by the Holy Spirit, defined it as a dogma of Christian faith.

So what does this mean for us? I’m thinking we need to respect ourselves and others more because everyone is the temple of the Holy Spirit where all three Persons of the Holy Trinity abide.  How cool that would be in our world if everyone would have such respect, you think? Except for those squirrels! 

For more of Maggie's musings, see our online bulletin archives.  Maggie's column appears on page 3.