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Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Less is More

What did Jesus mean by "the least in the kingdom of heaven"? Was He referring to Angels? We are all born of woman, so how is it referring to us as those in the kingdom of heaven? Also, John must be in heaven now, so how would some smelly, nasty person here be greater than him?

You do realize that John the Baptist lived out in the desert and pretty much never changed his clothes?  I'm sure everyone back then pretty much wore the same clothes but I imagine his were especially rough, filthy, torn and smelly.

Good thing he stood around in the water all day. That might have been his saving grace, socially speaking.

You also realize that Jesus kissed a leper?  There's a smelly nasty person for you.

Why did he do that? To show that He was not above them.

Remember when He washed the feet of His disciples? To show that He was here to serve, not reign.

All God's souls are the equal of all of God's souls.  

I know a lot of people don't like the idea that sinners and goof offs are equally loved by God. Remember the story of the Prodigal Son?  That's what that story was was about.

Angels aren't the least in the kingdom of Heaven. They serve God directly.  They are the first circle of Heaven.  After that, I don't know how it works. The Catholic Church does believe that people that were holier than others enjoy a closer relationship with God in Heaven.  I suppose you could call that a hierarchy. 

How a person appears or smells has nothing whatsoever to do with holiness as evidenced in the multitude of desert hermits, pole sitters and anchoresses. I'm sure not of those people smelled very rosy.

St. Rita smelled so bad because of her festering stigmata wound that she had to be locked in a room by herself for her whole life.

I'm sure everyone in Heaven smells like roses, since that's the scent they leave behind when they visit. St. Rita's old stinky room has smelled of roses since her death.

I'm going with "Whatsoever you do to the least of My brothers, this you also do unto Me."



Now if he would just convert....

13 comments:

Danielle said...

As an advocate for children, I'd have to say kids count as "the least of these", especially very young ones. They cannot speak for themselves.

Anonymous said...

Hi Sister, that's not really what I meant...I was quoting you with the "smelly, nasty person" description, when you said it's hard to imagine how they would be greater than John. What I don't understand is how those in the kingdom includes the "smelly, nasty" person, but not John? Still not sure I am making myself clear but not sure how else to put it.

abishag said...

I think you'd have to ask Jesus what he meant by "least of these is better than John" - he's the one who said it in the first place. If he had meant that Angels were "the least" in the Kingdom of God, he surely would have said "Even the Angels are better than John!" Jesus had a large vocabulary after all. But compiling everything Jesus said or did for people we find distasteful; smelly, homeless, children (well, some people find them distasteful) poor, tax collectors, I think that it's safe to assume that he meant actually the Least. Blessed are the Poor? The Meek? The last shall be first and the first shall be last? This is revolutionary! And really, really hard. I struggle with it every day. But my faith prods me to attempt to see the face of Christ in every rotten person I meet. Sometimes faith is uncomfortable. That's the point.

Alexandra S said...

I didn't see a contact, so I'll leave my question here. Actually, it's my 15 year old son's question. He has some doozies! He was wondering why God put a hit on the Egyptian first born children(specifically - 10th plague) when He was trying to get the Jews their freedom via Moses(Exodus). He thinks it was an act of terrorism. Sigh, I tried to explain it, but he is not buying a more philosophical, broader interpretation. I think he reads the news too much! He doesn't understand why innocent children had to die at the Lord's hands.

De Maria said...

Just my two cents. Jesus said:

4 Jesus answered and said unto them, Go and shew John again those things which ye do hear and see:

So, St. John was still alive and walking upon the earth.

But Jesus also said:
11 Verily I say unto you, Among them that are born of women there hath not risen a greater than John the Baptist:

That means that any person who is walking the earth, is not greater than John (with the exception of Jesus and His own mother).

notwithstanding he that is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he.

But anyone who is already in heaven is already born again of the Holy Spirit. Mary would qualify here since she was united to the Holy Spirit from the instant of her conception. And perhaps Moses, who was assumed into heaven when the Angel Michael confronted Satan saying:
Jude 1:9
Yet Michael the archangel, when contending with the devil he disputed about the body of Moses, durst not bring against him a railing accusation, but said, The Lord rebuke thee.

And also Elijah of whom it is said that he was taken into heaven by a chariot:
2 Kings 2:11
And it came to pass, as they still went on, and talked, that, behold, there appeared a chariot of fire, and horses of fire, and parted them both asunder; and Elijah went up by a whirlwind into heaven.

Or Enoch, of whom it is said that God took him:
Genesis 5:
24 And Enoch walked with God: and he was not; for God took him.

But everyone else had to wait until Jesus opened the doors of heaven:
Heb 11:39-40
39 And these all, having obtained a good report through faith, received not the promise:

40 God having provided some better thing for us, that they without us should not be made perfect.

I hope that helps.

Sincerely,

De Maria

Anonymous said...

@Alexander: I have a 14 yr old daughter who refuses to go to Communion. When I talk about the grace she is missing out on, she tells me "You don't know that.". Same with Eucharist--"You don't know it's His body".

I think it's the age. I hope it is, anyway. I worry about my daughter's soul. She does go to Mass with me but complains it's boring. She wants to attend a protestant church with a friend because it's "more fun" and I said "No". She thinks all christian religions are the same. I don't know how this happened. I had her baptized, she received her first communion, she went to religious instruction, we talk about God, we pray.

Maybe it's school..or maybe friends..or, hopefully, just teenage rebellion.

It's scary to be a parent. It's scary to think that you are responsible for someone's soul. What if, when I face God, He tells me I failed her. I should have done _____ and _____ but I didn't. But for my parenting, she would have been more religious, more faithful.

When I was a teenager, my brother and I (he was about 14) did a 30 day novena where we went to Mass and Communion every day for 30 days. We did it for our parents because my Dad was not attending Mass. How were we different from our own kids? Was it Catholic school?

Catholic school is so far out of my reach. Our school tuition is $750 a month and you must meet a fund raising goal (or they tack it on to your tuition) and volunteer for x number of hours per month.

I'm a single mom with two kids. I would have to win the lotto to be able to send them.

I hope, when I face God, He doesn't tell me He's sorry He gave me these girls. I love them so much. I'm so grateful for them. But I worry.

Anonymous said...

Thanks De Maria, that's made it clearer, I think...but as John is now in Heaven we can assume, and the person Sister MM came across isn't, we can take it that they are not considered greater than John, and even when, or if, they get there, they still won't be considered greater than him.

Anonymous said...

P.s. Alexandra S, what an interesting question, I would like to know that too. And anonymous above with the 2 girls, sounds like you are a wonderful parent.

Anonymous said...

As the mother of three boys (the youngest 18) and a former teenage girl myself, it sounds to me like you're dealing with normal teenage antics. Keep taking her to Mass, try to get her involved in the parish youth group, keep praying and talking. She'll roll her eyes and complain, but stick to your guns. Let her know that this might not be what her friends are doing, but it's what her family is doing, and that's the way it is. She may rebel, and she may even stop going to church for awhile when she leaves home, but the foundation you're building for her will always, always be there. When she least expects it, and when she most needs it, she'll discover you gave her a beautiful gift.
And ask your school or parish if there are any Catholic school scholarships available. Most have at least partial scholarships, and keep the information very private.

De Maria said...

Alexandra S said…

Hi Alexandra,

Your son sounds just like me at his age. If that is true, then he is probably an atheist. I was.

I didn't see a contact, so I'll leave my question here. Actually, it's my 15 year old son's question. He has some doozies! He was wondering why God put a hit on the Egyptian first born children(specifically - 10th plague) when He was trying to get the Jews their freedom via Moses(Exodus). He thinks it was an act of terrorism. Sigh, I tried to explain it, but he is not buying a more philosophical, broader interpretation. I think he reads the news too much! He doesn't understand why innocent children had to die at the Lord's hands.

That is a very good explanation. God actually saved their eternal life by taking them back to Himself.

One of the reasons that I was an atheist at an early age is because Christians refused to answer my questions. Your answer is very good and profound. Keep answering and keep praying. I think the main reason I came back to the faith is because of my Grandmother's prayers. I didn't know she was praying for me. But after she passed away, I found a ton of prayer cards in my baby photo album. Since she was the prayer warrior in the family, I assume that she stuck them there.

Keep praying for your son,

Sincerely,

De Maria

De Maria said...

Anonymous said...
Thanks De Maria, that's made it clearer, I think...but as John is now in Heaven we can assume,


We know this for a fact because the Church declares it so. That is why he is called, SAINT John.

and the person Sister MM came across isn't,

I guess I missed that one. Unless you mean the "now if he would only convert" part, at the end. I think she was making a funny about John the BAPTIST.

However, the Church teaches that we do not judge our neighbors spiritual condition. That is God's business.

we can take it that they are not considered greater than John, and even when, or if, they get there, they still won't be considered greater than him.

After he arrived in heaven, I assume that St. John the Baptist took his place amongst the greatest of the Saints. Where he is in the hierarchy, only God knows.

Sincerely,

De Maria

De Maria said...

Anonymous said...
@Alexander: I have a 14 yr old daughter who refuses to go to Communion. When I talk about the grace she is missing out on, she tells me "You don't know that.". Same with Eucharist--"You don't know it's His body"


Sounds like your daughter has either been convinced by Protestants.

The first thing I would do is ask her why she doesn't believe the Bible. The Bible says that the Eucharist is the Body of Christ. Take her to the Gospel of John and read Chapter 6:51 through the end.

a. Note how the ones who don't believe Jesus is the BREAD of life are the ones' who leave Him.

b. Note how he repeats 7 times that His Flesh and Blood are food and drink and that we must eat this food to get to heaven.

c. Compare this to the Manna which Moses gave. That was formerly the bread of heaven. But it had no saving power.

Then go to
Matthew 26:26
And as they were eating, Jesus took bread, and blessed it, and brake it, and gave it to the disciples, and said, Take, eat; this is my body.

Mark 14:22
And as they did eat, Jesus took bread, and blessed, and brake it, and gave to them, and said, Take, eat: this is my body.

Luke 22:19
King James Version (KJV)
19 And he took bread, and gave thanks, and brake it, and gave unto them, saying, This is my body which is given for you: this do in remembrance of me.

Those are the plain words of Scripture spoken by the Apostles who walked with Christ.

And then, St. Paul, said:
1 Corinthians 11:23-25
King James Version (KJV)
23 For I have received of the Lord that which also I delivered unto you, that the Lord Jesus the same night in which he was betrayed took bread: 24 And when he had given thanks, he brake it, and said, Take, eat: this is my body, which is broken for you: this do in remembrance of me. 25 After the same manner also he took the cup, when he had supped, saying, this cup is the new testament in my blood: this do ye, as oft as ye drink it, in remembrance of me.

So, ask her again why she doesn't believe the Word of God?

I think it's the age

Partially, perhaps. But more likely, she is being given reasonable sounding answers to her questions by people who err in good faith.

You need to give her the true answers.

cont'd

De Maria said...

cont'd

. I hope it is, anyway. I worry about my daughter's soul. She does go to Mass with me but complains it's boring. She wants to attend a protestant church with a friend because it's "more fun"

You need to explain that its not about fun. Its about obedience to God's will. Again, take her to Scripture. Explain that the Mass is the Assembly of Christians and read this to her:
Hebrews 10:25-31
King James Version (KJV)
25 Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching. 26 For if we sin wilfully after that we have received the knowledge of the truth, there remaineth no more sacrifice for sins, 27 But a certain fearful looking for of judgment and fiery indignation, which shall devour the adversaries. 28 He that despised Moses' law died without mercy under two or three witnesses: 29 Of how much sorer punishment, suppose ye, shall he be thought worthy, who hath trodden under foot the Son of God, and hath counted the blood of the covenant, wherewith he was sanctified, an unholy thing, and hath done despite unto the Spirit of grace? 30 For we know him that hath said, Vengeance belongeth unto me, I will recompense, saith the Lord. And again, The Lord shall judge his people. 31 It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.

That says that God is insulted and deeply angry with those who refuse to attend the Mass. And then read this:
Hebrews 5:9
And being made perfect, he became the author of eternal salvation unto all them that obey him;

That says that only those who obey Jesus Christ will be saved. And Jesus commanded us to each His Flesh and drink His Blood. That's the point of John 6 and the other Eucharistic verses you read before.

and I said "No".

Good for you. Remind her that you are her parent and that God commanded, in the Bible, that she obey her parents. Not her friends.

She thinks all christian religions are the same.

Again, take her to the Bible and show her that they are not. The Catholic Church is described in the Bible. None of the Protestant religions are there.

I don't know how this happened. I had her baptized, she received her first communion, she went to religious instruction, we talk about God, we pray.

Keep on doing all of that. Especially the prayer part. All you can do is plant the seed again.

….I hope, when I face God, He doesn't tell me He's sorry He gave me these girls. I love them so much. I'm so grateful for them. But I worry.

You're not dead yet. If you don't do something now, God will say just that. Put yourself in gear and study your faith. Then give the girls the answers that they hunger for. Here's a good resource for Catholic based Bible teaching. You might want to listen to it with your daughters.

Sincerely,

De Maria