Catholic Diocese of Spokane, Washington
Official News Magazine of the Diocese of Spokane
P.O. Box 48, Spokane WA 99210
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The Best of The Question Box
by Father I.J. Mikulski
(From the March 20, 2014 edition of the Inland Register)
Q. Can we go back to one of your Christmas questions? What did Mary do with the Magiís gifts? St. Brigid says Mary gave it all to Joseph, who paid for their travel costs to Egypt rather than live off relatives.
A. Legends are a delightful staple of life, so essential that when we donít have them we invent them. Here are samples from readers:
Joseph used the money to buy new carpenter tools to replace the ones that were stolen during his long absence. Mary sold the expensive perfume to buy soap and baby clothes. Angels blinded wayside bandits as the Holy Family traveled to and from Egypt. They were welcomed by surprised kinsmen with whom they stayed two years. The three magi, not 12, were later converts, baptized Caspar, Melchior and Baltazar by St. Thomas the Apostle of India, and later ordained priests and bishops.
Q. The only letter I have is directly from the Mother of Christ Crusade I happened to find a while ago. Where do we stand on this? It says we can expect three days of fires, floods followed by days of darkness.
A. Your mother, like my mother and all good mothers, said there would be days like this. The Q.B. scrivener suggests you return that message to the place where it was lost or lose it permanently in another place.
The Church does not comment on the emotional status of visionaries, of course. People sometimes hear voices, or bells, or strange noises or thumps in the night. But self-anointed visionaries proclaim that we will face calamity unless we listen to their voices.
Thatís not Catholic doctrine. Thatís not Bible teaching. Thatís not the Virgin Mary talking. There have been at least five claimants in the past decade, all of them fizzles.
Q. My lectorís workbook states John of Patmos was the author of the book of Revelation. I always thought it was written by John the Apostle. Who was John of Patmos? When did he emerge? Where and what is Patmos?
A. We know this much absolutely:
Patmos is an island in the Aegean Sea, off the west coast of Asia Minor where John, the likely author of Revelation, was banished, lived in exile, had his visions (Rev. 1:19) and wrote his masterful Revelation. But John who? Which John was it?
Scripture scholars have debated the issue for centuries. Was John, the seer of Revelation, also the author of the Gospel and the epistles? Most likely, say many scholars, but maybe not the epistles. Was the Apostle John, the last survivor of the original Twelve Apostles, the writer of Revelation, the fourth Gospel, and those epistles? Most likely, say many scholars, although the Gospel and the epistles are two different styles of Greek. Did the Apostle John write Revelation, but maybe not the Gospel or epistles? Possibly, say some scholars, but not necessarily. Or did John write the Gospel, but not the epistles or Revelation? Much more likely, say other scholars.
Most Scripture scholars settle for this: the Apostle John, the last of the Twelve, wrote the fourth Gospel, the epistles and Revelation during his exile on the island. We can refer to him as John the Apostle, John the Evangelist, John of Patmos. At least thatís the common starting point of discussion.
One more point: During the 16th century Reformation, a few religious leaders deleted Revelation from the canon of inspired books in the Bible because, they said, it was neither apostolic nor prophetic. There are still some denominations that reject Revelation because, they say, it should never have been approved. And there are a few denominations that have built their entire creed around Revelation because, they say, itís both apostolic and prophetic. Go figure.
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