Keeping the Bible Open — Say the Secret Word

Once again, following the Catholic Lectionary®, we find two interesting readings, both dealing with who is saved.  In the first reading we hear “Paul” speaking to the Hebrews.  Once again, we don’t know who wrote this, but modern scholarship generally does not think it was Paul.  Here is what whoever has to say:

Every priest stands daily at his ministry,
offering frequently those same sacrifices
that can never take away sins.
But this one offered one sacrifice for sins,
and took his seat forever at the right hand of God;
now he waits until his enemies are made his footstool.
For by one offering he has made perfect forever
those who are being consecrated.
The Holy Spirit also testifies to us, for after saying:

This is the covenant I will establish with them
after those days, says the Lord:
“I will put my laws in their hearts,
and I will write them upon their minds,”

he also says:
Their sins and their evildoing
I will remember no more.

Where there is forgiveness of these, there is no longer offering for sin.

The italics are in the original, so it is “Paul’s” emphasis.  I find this reading totally fascinating and would love to hear the epicycles of a priest who is about to offer the sacrifice of the Mass, just like he does every day.  Which is apparently completely unnecessary.  This is perhaps the clearest statement of universalist theology I have seen.  Jesus died for all of our sins, period, end of story, nothing else need be done.  Religiously, the job is finished.  No baptism, no confession, no communion.  Nothing.  Just “Thank you, Jesus!”  Of course, pretty much any church doesn’t really want to preach universalism.  If ALL of our sins are forgiven, nothing we do matters.  In some ways, it is worse than “Darwinism” to a fundamentalist.  “Darwinism” to a fundamentalist means we can do whatever we want because when we die nothing happens.  in Universalism, you die and go to heaven.  No matter what!  Hard to control a congregation like that.  So much for the Inquisition.

The gospel reading starts with Jesus telling the crowd a parable, yadda, yadda, yadda.  But when he gets alone with his disciples, things get interesting:

And when he was alone,
those present along with the Twelve
questioned him about the parables.
He answered them,
“The mystery of the Kingdom of God has been granted to you.
But to those outside everything comes in parables, so that

they may look and see but not perceive,
and hear and listen but not understand,
in order that they may not be converted and be forgiven.”

Wait….WHAT???  There it is, plain as day, Jesus is telling things to the crowd that are intentionally so obscure and obtuse that they cannot possibly understand them.  And if you don’t understand the parable, BUZZZZZZZZZ, heaven is not for you.  Your sins are not forgiven.  Have to know the secret password!  And once again, the italics are in the original.

What are we to make of a preacher who intentionally preaches so no one understands him?  A teacher who makes things more complicated — not less?  And this is our moral leader for all time?  And before you say, “Well, yes, but now the secret is published for all to see.”  The people who wrote that had no idea that everyone would be able to read that.  Remember everything is handwritten at the time, these would have been intended to be passed around to the elect, people like me weren’t supposed to see this stuff.

So, is everyone in?  Or only those who know the password and secret handshake?  Priests all over the country must have been tap dancing today.

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23 thoughts on “Keeping the Bible Open — Say the Secret Word

  1. Priests stand in for Christ at the Mass.

    That means the Mass is Christ offering himself to us, and us saying, “Thank you.”

    Luckily, as Jesus said, he explained the meaning of scripture to his hand picked Apostles.

    And then those Apostles spent the rest of their lives teaching the Gospel of Jesus.

    Since anyone can avail themselves of those Apostolic teachings, there simply is no basis for the idea that Christianity is exclusionary.

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  2. That still doesn’t answer the question of why Jesus would teach false or obscure things in public. If he wanted the disciples to do the teaching, he should have just had inservices with them. He teaches them and they teach the world. The reading clearly says Jesus went in public and said things he knew would not be understood so that those who heard it would not be saved. Wow.

    I would agree that the mass can be viewed as simply a recreation of the sacrifice of Jesus, but it doesn’t seem that way in practicality. If Paul is right and the sacrifice is already done there is no need to require people to go to mass. Mass has no effect.

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      • Obviously I have read the bible, I just read it with my mind open and working.
        I have “faith.” And certainly I take actions on the basis of that “faith.” Who doesn’t? Why not read the Rig Veda instead of the bible? Or better yet, Philosophiæ Naturalis Principia Mathematica. More wisdom in there than the Summa Theologiae by my reckoning.

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      • Paine,

        The Eastern religions are fatalistic to the point where human life hasn’t the value of a warm bucket of spit.

        Only in the Christian West did the modern idea of human rights and the right to life itself evolve.

        Only in the Christian West did civilization advance past the slave and beast of burden.

        There is no comparison between the pagan East and the Christian West.

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      • That is all complete garbage, I am embarassed for you that you would spout such a thing. The United States was one of the last places that slavery was legally abolished. India and China were far more civilized than Europe during the middle ages. It is you that is suffering from insufferable bias.

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      • Paine,

        That atheists think the way things is “complete garbage” says it all about the hallucinogenic nature of atheism.

        The Indians and Chinese dying like flies was the way of things until the 1990’s.

        By that time those nations had westernized to the point where they could finally begin to addressing there bone grinding, widespread poverty.

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      • The west ended bone grinding poverty with the scientific poverty and by exporting poverty through colonialism. If people die in the the third world it is not because of their religious beliefs, but more often than not ours. Read some other books for a change. 🙂

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      • Paine,

        The United States was one of those colonies you refer too, yet it was capitalism, not colonialism that turned it into a mega-wealthy hyper power.

        Free market capitalism actually creates wealth, so there is no need to steal wealth from other nations.

        That the West somehow acquired its vast wealth by stealing it from poor nations (that in itself defies common sense) is simply Marxist propaganda.

        I suggest you read Adam Smith’s, “The Wealth of Nations.”

        He explains how budding capital markets actually create wealth.

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      • Paine,

        And concerning slavery in the United States, that was the first time in human history when a nation of white people (any people for that matter) went to war to free slaves.

        And the rationale that Abraham Lincoln used came from the Declaration of Independence, that “all men are created.”

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      • And it was the people who wanted to continue slavery that used the bible to support their viewpoint and quite rightfully so considering how often the condones slavery.
        And speaking of “all men created equal” a very odd phrase to be penned by a slave owner, don’t you think? The phrase does not come from the bible, but rather originates in the enlightenment. Self proclaimed deist Thomas Paine wrote these words well before the declaration:
        “All men are by nature equally free and independent. Such equality is necessary in order to create a free government.
        All men must be equal to each other in natural law” Paine was also an abolitionist.

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      • Paine,

        Slavery was a bed rock, worldwide institution since the dawn of man.

        That a nation, any nation, but especially the United States, went to war to end slavery is unprecedented in human history.

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      • Paine,

        Lots of people from lots of countries ran slaves and they still do.

        If memory serves, Arabs ran slaves for Southern US slave owners.

        And shipping slaves from Africa to the America’s was also big business.

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