Catholic Diocese of Spokane, Washington
Official News Magazine of the Diocese of Spokane
P.O. Box 48, Spokane WA 99210
(509) 358-7340; FAX: (509) 358-7302
The Question Box
by Father I.J. Mikulski
(From the October 20, 2011 edition of the Inland Register)
Q. Four of us in a car agreed to pray we would win at the casino and we agreed to give 20 percent to a charity of each one’s choice. It didn’t work out that way. Jesus said prayers would be answered. Even if we wanted to move mountains, it would happen if we prayed hard enough. To get to the point, where did we go wrong?
A. Consider the first part of that quote. “He answered ‘Because you have little faith. I tell you solemnly if your faith were the size of a mustard seed you could say to this mountain “Move from here to there” and it would move.” (Matthew 16:20)
The Gospels cannot be adapted to make a financial profit, especially an 80 percent guaranteed profit on your investment. If you accept the total message of Jesus Christ, leaving out the commercial bonus, you will agree to give to the poor all the money you brought along when you entered the casino.
Review the correct Christian attitude for aspiring profiteers in Matthew’s Gospel (19:22). A wealthy young man, full of enthusiasm, approached Jesus for membership in that little group of disciples. Jesus told him to give all that expensive excess baggage to poor folks and join him leading the simple life. But he couldn’t make the cut. “He went away sad for he was a man of great wealth.”
Q. What is the rapture? I hear so much about it lately. It’s about the second coming of Jesus at the end of something or other. Will you please explain rapture in the Catholic tradition?
A. In the past few years there have been at least four guaranteed foolproof forecasts of the absolutely final End Times. Each one was made by a self-taught expert in the field supported with many Bible quotes. One amateur prophet said he double checked his prediction using his laptop computer to prove beyond all question that the end was even closer than he thought.
Like the fella said, “Garbage in, garbage out.”
If you would like to find some prophecies any Bible concordance will provide you with a list of pertinent quotes so you can mix the ingredients using your own forecasts to pick a date.
The Catholic faith, with 20 centuries of experience in the Rapture field, says we cannot use the Bible as a tic-tac-toe game to predict the end-times. That’s a sorry abuse of the Word of God.
“You know not the day nor the hour” is the answer of Jesus Christ and you can’t improve on that.
Q. Our Dad says he doesn’t attend Mass with us because he sees people he knows are sinners going to church on Sunday but behaving like sinners on Monday. That’s his turn-off he says. How would you answer him?
A. Let’s not limit his comment to almost everyone. It’s everyone, including the celebrant. We’re talking about Monday-struggling sinners, although some of them might hold out until Thursday or Friday. But there’s some slippage in his syllogism.
First, “Judge not that you may not be judged” is universal advice. We have enough trouble analyzing ourselves, trying to discern the interior motives for doing what we do. Honest sinners, yes. Jesus understood that very well. “People who are healthy do not need a doctor; sick people do.” (Matthew 9:12)
Churches are not gathering places for saints. Churches are recovery wards for struggling sinners.
Q. Where can I find that wonderful tribute to a fine wife in the Bible? We’re attending a wedding anniversary in another month and I would love to read that tribute as my comment.
A. Get a good translation (New American Bible, New Jerusalem Bible) and practice Chapter 31 in Proverbs. It’s part of an alphabet poem in praise of a good wife using the 21 letters of the Hebrew alphabet. Each two-line verse uses one letter for a total of 42 lines.
We’ve done the same thing with our Mother’s Day song. (“‘M’ is for the many things she gave me, ‘O’ means only that she’s growing old….”) If you hum a few bars the words will come.
It’s impossible to match the Hebrew letters with our English alphabet, so translators didn’t try to play the word game.
This line is typical: “Her husband sings her praises. Many women have done admirable things but you surpass them all.”