Catholic Diocese of Spokane, Washington

From the

Official News Magazine of the Diocese of Spokane

Eric Meisfjord, Editor
P.O. Box 1453, Spokane WA 99210
(509) 358-7340; FAX: (509) 358-7302

The Best of The Question Box

by Father I.J. Mikulski

(From the January 15, 2015 edition of the Inland Register)

Father I.J. Mikulski Q. At Christmas Mass I noticed for the first time that Lukeís Gospel does not agree with Matthewís, concerning the ancestry of Jesus. How we can have two versions claiming to be inspired, but they donít agree? Whatís the answer to that conflict of evidence?

A. Matthew starts from the top with Abraham the Great and works his way up to Jesus through three sets of 14 names in each set. Three is the perfect number, seven is like magic, and 14 is a double seven as the ultimate power. No doubt about it, Matthew presents the firm genealogy that this baby is the promised Messiah.

To make his numbers come out even, Matthew has to adjust. He pads his list a little. He omits three names in a row. Not to worry.

Luke, always the precise narrator, starts at the top of the list with Jesus and works all the way back to Adam. He also appreciates the magic of numbers. He has 11 (ďseven come elevenĒ) sets of seven names each for a total of 77 Ė that double seven again. Lukeís list gives Jesus the credentials of the Messiah.

Never mind the genealogical gerrymandering. Early readers knew what those writers were doing and accepted both Gospels in the spirit in which they were written.

Bible fundamentalists who insist that every line must be inerrant fact are completely flummoxed by those two puzzling genealogies. We must understand the intention of the writers, the context of their writings and the conditions at that time. Matthew and Luke have done us proud.

Q. We knew Father would not baptize our little girl so we asked our friend, a nurse in OB, and she agreed. Itís part of her training, she said. We know the baptism was correctly done. Itís over. Now we want to set things right regarding our Catholic family faith by belonging to the parish, but how do we go about this?

A. Re-start your faith by joining the nearest Catholic community. It may well be the parish where the reluctant priest is pastor. No matter. Make an appointment so you and your spouse can discuss why youíre standing outside in the cold. Come on in. We miss you.

Your pastor has heard your story before, many times. You may be that 100th sheep wandering off alone (Luke 15:4). Heís been looking for you.

Baptism isnít just a private ritual for your newborn child. The Rite of Baptism makes it clear that itís a celebration of faith into the larger community of your entire parish. Obviously that wasnít done when your baby girl was baptized privately.

The crux of the matter is your desire to re-start your Catholic faith. Your new Christian daughter will show you the way if you follow her.

Q. If a person has been in Godís graces for his entire life but then falls into sin during his last day on Earth do you think he would suffer punishment for all eternity? In one way that doesnít seem fair, but in another way that seems to be Godís justice. Whatís the answer?

A. Nobody knows the eternal destiny of anyone. We can debate, we can rationalize, and we can express our strongest convictions, but no one can pass final judgment on anyone, even our own.

Your hypothesis, the last day crumbling of lifetime moral convictions, is contrary to the tenets of human behavior. We are creatures of habit, good or bad. Virtue is an ingrained habit of doing good so often that it becomes part of us. Itís our second nature. Vice is also an ingrained habit repeated so often that itís embedded in us. Itís our second nature. Itís highly unnatural, after years of virtuous living, to shift gears suddenly from top level virtue into low gear reverse serious sin. Anything is possible, but such a reverse conversion is nearly impossible.

Everyone would like to be God, but some, only in an advisory capacity.

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