Q: Why weren’t the Hebrews grateful when God freed them from Egypt in the story of Moses?
A: This is a very good question, especially during this Lenten season, for we will hear in the readings proclaimed during Lent the narrative, or story, of the chosen people in the land of Egypt. Moreover, we also will hear of the oppression they endured under Pharaoh and his subjects.
It would seem safe to presume that the Hebrews would be ever grateful for their deliverance from Egypt. However, their story is a very good story that parallels your life and mine. We do the same while participating in the sacrament of penance. While I am not looking for any correspondence from anyone, how often do you and I go to the sacrament of penance confessing the same or similar sins as we did the last time? Why do we not act out of sincere gratitude to God for his forgiveness and his grace? We can easily forget or fall into the same pattern as before.
The chosen people were no different than you and me. Repeatedly, through Moses, Joshua, the Judges, and the prophets, God continued to remind his people of their covenant with him. In the end, God fulfilled the covenant in which we no longer were dependent on the Mosaic Law, for Jesus fulfilled it in his own person, namely, the incarnation.
Q: Why do you have to wait until second grade to have your first reconciliation?
A: The sacrament of reconciliation, also known as the sacrament of penance, is necessary for the forgiveness of sins. What is also understood in the celebration of that sacrament is that the penitent, or the one confessing the sin, must be of the age that he or she can understand as well as be responsible for their words or actions. A certain level of maturity, namely, reaching the age of reason, is assumed when one confesses their sins.
As is the practice in the Diocese of Steubenville, as well as is the teaching of the universal church, all preparing for first Communion, namely first Eucharist, should also receive first penance prior to receiving the sacrament of the Eucharist. The sacrament of penance prepares us, through God’s forgiveness and the graces received, to approach our Lord Jesus with a clean heart, as we receive his sacred body and blood in the Eucharist.
To that end, both sacraments require for one to reach the age of reason. Our ability to take ownership of our actions is another way of viewing the age of reason.
Q: Given all the images and symbols in the Book of Revelation, which do you think is the best description of the coming of God’s new kingdom? Why?
A: The Book of Revelation is the revealed word of God, consequently all the images and symbols in the book best describe the coming of God’s new kingdom in the person of Jesus Christ. Obviously, some symbols are more frightening than others, and others may seem to enjoy greater weight in our understanding of Jesus’ second coming.
God is the author of all the books in the Bible and has utilized various writers over time to provide us the various books and letters in sacred Scripture. At the time of its preparation, the Book of Revelation addressed a specific community in the midst of terrible persecution and oppression by the Roman Empire, as well as by other groups. And yet, this book translates even in 2018 as we recognize God’s enduring love for us. The imagery existent in the Book of Revelation drives home the fact of the seriousness of Jesus’ return.
We must be very careful to not take the very symbolism and language in the Book of Revelation, as well as any other book in the Bible, out of its context. That is why we have the successors of the apostles, namely the bishops, as well as their consultors, that is, the Scripture scholars. To that end we view the images and symbols of the Book of Revelation within the context of God’s enduring love for you and for me. This book instructs that nothing will prevent God from executing his will concerning the salvation of the human race.
May you and your family have a blessed Lenten season, taking time to pray and reflect on the enduring love of God in his son, Jesus Christ, as we embrace our own penances, training our own focus on the compassionate and merciful face of Jesus.