Selected Sunday Scriptures- #50

The first passage in today’s short post comes from St. Paul’s letter to the Galatians:

Formerly, when you did not know God, you were in bondage to beings that by nature are no gods; but now that you have come to know God, or rather to be known by God, how can you turn back again to the weak and beggarly elemental spirits, whose slaves you want to be once more? 10 You observe days, and months, and seasons, and years! 11 I am afraid I have labored over you in vain.

(Galatians 4:8-11)

This passage has generated some lively theological debate over the years. Some have argued that it demonstrates that Christians shouldn’t celebrate holidays  or the like at all. Needless to say, that doesn’t comport at all with how Christians acted, well, ever. A more sensible argument is that St. Paul was explaining to the Galatians that they needed to set aside their pagan holidays. The reference to “elemental spirits” provides the support for this contextual interpretation. A different view, and a stronger one as I see it, is that it was arguing against the celebration of Jewish holidays. Given how much of St. Paul’s letter is devoted to arguing against a return to the Mosaic Law, it makes far more sense for “days, and months, and seasons, and years” to refer to Jewish holidays. For those who wanted to argue about this topic before, feel free to do so in this post.

Today’s second passage comes from the Letter of James:

13 Is any one among you suffering? Let him pray. Is any cheerful? Let him sing praise. 14 Is any among you sick? Let him call for the elders of the church, and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord; 15 and the prayer of faith will save the sick man, and the Lord will raise him up; and if he has committed sins, he will be forgiven.[c] 16 Therefore confess your sins to one another, and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous man has great power in its effects. 17 Eli′jah was a man of like nature with ourselves and he prayed fervently that it might not rain, and for three years and six months it did not rain on the earth. 18 Then he prayed again and the heaven gave rain, and the earth brought forth its fruit.

19 My brethren, if any one among you wanders from the truth and some one brings him back, 20 let him know that whoever brings back a sinner from the error of his way will save his soul from death and will cover a multitude of sins.

(James 5:13-20)

I’ve been asked some questions about the sacraments by non-Catholics over the months that I’ve run this blog.  Two of them feature prominently in this passage: Confession and the Anointing of the Sick. Both sacraments are like the others: special graces given to us by God for our own benefit. Both Confession and the Anointing of the Sick provide healing, in a physical and a spiritual sense. Confession has changed over the centuries- originally it was often public, but over time it was replaced by private confessions with a presbyter/elder (priest). The Celtic Church was influential in the development of anonymous confessions, thanks in large part to the efforts of a few of the saints I’ve featured on my Saturday posts.

1 Comment

Filed under Selected Sunday Scriptures

One response to “Selected Sunday Scriptures- #50

  1. trugingstar

    Galatians 3:28, (“neither Jew nor Greek…”) does not equal “Jews are to stop being Jews.” You could make the argument “men and women are to stop being men and women” or “slaves (bondservants) are to run away and stop being slaves” (Philemon).

    So, what I’m establishing is Jews aren’t told to not be Jews.

    Acts 15:19-21, Acts 21:17-26 talks about Jews needing to keep their customs, but not the Gentiles*. Of course, Jesus fulfilled the sacrifices and so on, as a High Priest and as a Sacrifice. However, as a people, the Jews were commanded to keep certain things, like circumcision. A good Messianic rabbi (or pastor, as he might prefer to be called) will tell you that the Mosaic Covenant is a broken covenant, but the Abrahamic Covenant (the more permanent one) is still binding, but only to Jews. This makes sense, because it talks in terms of “your seed, forever.” And then, the Festival of Booths (Sukkot) is something that everyone will be celebrating someday, so you’d probably need Jews for that, as it is a Jewish Holiday.

    I like the idea of keeping the Jewish Sabbath, is it is the original Sabbath. I also like the idea of keeping that day, because that’s just respectful for the remnant of Jews who are required to worship on that day. In the olden days, there were more Jewish Christians than Gentile Christians, and we *all* went Messianic Synagogues, and Paul had to swoop in there and tell the Jewish Christians that not everyone’s a Jew, so be considerate. Now, it’s the other way around: the remnant is faithfully living out their birthright and they need their worship accommodated for. In my perfect world, there wouldn’t be a division. However, there are only a few places that Jews can really fully worship, and when I’m in those places, I “become like a Jew.” That’s not to say that I need to do everything they’re doing, but there’s an idea that everyone is still a part of the same “family”, whether by adoption or natural birth. A Jewish boy will get circumcised as a baby, but when Jew or Gentile or man or woman or slave or free (some slaves used to be circumcised, just fyi) is reborn, we all get circumcised in the heart.

    Finally, Jewish Holidays were celebrated in the New Testament, such as in Acts.

    I also like Romans 11:11-31, which talks about the root and the branches. It also talks about the Mystery of the full inclusion of Israel (not just a remnant), something which is yet to happen. I think a good church will be ready for that. The Bible isn’t in just in the past. It talks about things that are going on now and things that *will* happen in the future. Otherwise, faith would be dead. There are still some Orthodox Jews who do not believe that a Messiah came or will ever come. That’s an example of dead faith, because they don’t believe what they read and follow.

    *Whether or not the Gentiles had adopted Jewish customs or kept their old customs, I don’t profess to know. I’ll research this sometime.

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