+JMJ+ Welcome to part 4 of the continuing series, the Story of Salvation. I should probably rename it to Rambling Rambles About Salvation, or Rambling Through the Bible, or Rambling Tangentially About the Bible When I’m Even Talking About the Bible At All. But that would be a really long title, though undoubtedly more accurate. As usual, notes and links are at the end of the post.
When as Catholics we read the Bible, we are not merely reading ancient history or stories that are unconnected to us. We are reading our family story, our story, the story of why God created us and what for. And the “what for” is to share in God’s Love and Life. Love is life-giving. We see a reflection of this all around us. A man and woman get married and from their union a child is born.
God the Father and God the Son are united, too, in such a deep and real way that their Union is a Person. That Person is not brought about later by them, but all Three exist at the same time in a place that is not a place at a time that is not a time. With our language we have to say one thing and then another, but God is outside of place and time and is not limited by them the way we are. Thinking about God should blow your mind, really, or you need to think some more. ;)
Reading A Father Who Keeps His Promises back in 1998 (when it was first published and I worked in that little Catholic bookstore) blew my mind because no one had ever explained the Bible to me in a way that made that much sense, that didn’t just talk on and on about some plan that I never could understand or even see. Now I’m not suggesting that reading that book will reveal God’s whole plan for the universe. But, well, it does in a way. It certainly makes the plan of the Bible easier to see and understand.
In Genesis we see God create the heavens and the earth, then sea and the land and the air, then the creatures who will live in these realms, then man and woman. God creates the universe from nothing. It’s not there, then it is. There’s not even a there there, then there is. (Now I’ve got an old Donovan song stuck in my head.) God is outside the universe, not in it. He’s not a power or an energy or a force. He’s not the sum of all the things in the world or the cosmos, and He’s not the “real you” at your center. You are not God. God is God. You are part of God’s creation. You did not choose to be born, you did not exist in heaven before you “chose your mission on this planet” or any of the myriad other New Age teachings that I’ve encountered over the last few decades. Oy vey.
Honestly, just read the Biblical texts. They are mind-blowing enough without getting silly. If you want exotic names and even more exotic claims, you’ll find plenty of that in the text but you’ll find more than that. You’ll find a Father Who doesn’t just exist, but IS Being itself. This Father IS Love and He created all of this because He is Love. He is Creative. He is an Artist. He paints with words, sounds, with people, with history, with events, with lives and experiences and with stars and planets and galaxies, and always, always, ALWAYS, with LOVE.
There was a man named Abram who lived in the city of Ur. Abram was married to Sarai. They loved each other very much. They had no children. One day God spoke to Abram. He told him to leave Ur and that He would show him where he was to go. And Abram trusted God and left Ur and went where the Lord showed him to go. And Abram’s people went with him. And one day God told Abram that he would become the Father of many nations. And God saw that it was good but Abram wondered how this could be. But he trusted the Lord, though he continued to seek the way to bring the Lord’s prophecy to pass. And this would lead him into trouble. Much, much trouble, later on.
Patriarch is NOT a four letter word
The Bible is filled with stories of fathers. That’s what the word patriarch means, basically. A father. I don’t know about you but I don’t hate my patriarch, my father, my Daddy. I love him. He passed away in 2013 but I still love him. That didn’t stop merely because he left this life and entered into the next. (And I don’t mean “next life” in the sense of reincarnated life. I mean, next life as in eternal life.) I don’t hate him for being a father, for being part of the patriarchy. Why would I? I don’t hate people based on the way they look or the circumstances of their birth for which they are not responsible. The circumstances of a person’s birth are not to that person’s blame nor do they redound to that person’s credit. What a person does with that life, that’s a different matter and it matters. (But the circumstances of one’s birth? That is something over which one has no control whatsoever, New Age nonsense aside about contracts you made before you incarnated. Do not get me started.)
My patriarch was a man. A husband and father, and a faithful one, at that. A loving man. A funny, storytelling man who laughed often and loudly. He could be tender and he could drive me out of my mind not understanding some things or even trying; but he could also be wise, and he could build things and fix things, and I don’t know why I was so blessed as to have him for my father. I was adopted into this family and I mean it when I say I was blessed by this.
I was blessed to have my mother in this family, too. She was an artist, and a wonderful teacher, although I don’t know if she ever realized that about herself. She understood more than my father did about what it’s like to be and to think and to feel as an artist, but that’s because she was one and he wasn’t. So she understood me in a way that he never could. But he understood me in a different way, in the way I needed to see how things work, that I needed to understand intellectually, that I liked to explore. My mother liked to explore in the sense of going places and my father did, too, but he also liked to explore ideas. So they each nurtured different things in me.
Neither one is better than the other because of the bodies they were given in their lives. Neither one is superior to the other for being a man or a woman. God made both of them and He made them for a reason. I don’t know all of His reason or I’d be God. But I do know part of His reason: to help each other become more and more like Christ, to learn to give themselves to each other and to their children, to their family, and to God. And to help each other and their children live in such a way as to one day live in heaven where they would enjoy the Beatific Vision of God and to know as they are known. They could not have put it in these words but this is what they were meant to be doing. I did not know this when they were here. I know it now. And part of what I am to be doing is praying for them so that they can enjoy that Beatific Vision, too. But I am getting way ahead of myself now. Back to Genesis.
God is the Father, not the Sky Bully
God the Creator, God the Father. He is the same God whichever way you think about Him. I heard a famous filmmaker call Him God the Sky Bully on more than one occasion. I was more than surprised. Sky bully? What? Bully? God, Who created us out of Love, with Love, for Love, a bully? For warning us when we are headed for a fall? For telling us how to avoid it? For doing everything but make us into automatons to help us live better lives so that an even better life can be ours? For giving us free will and not making us into those automatons and writing the natural law into our hearts, giving us our own conscience to guide us, giving us the Law to help us when we so abuse our conscience as to not be able to rely on it without that guidance? By doing everything He can short of hitting us over the head with a two-by-four to get our attention and make us listen?
This describes me to a T, by the way. I have ignored what God has tried so hard to tell me, so many times that He has had to resort to those cosmic two-by-fours and they hurt! Just so’s you know. And all through salvation history you can see God having to hit His people with those two-by-fours, too. You see it in Genesis from nearly start to finish. With Adam and Eve right off the bat, then with Cain and Abel, with Noah’s family, with Abram and Sarai, and on down the line. They are faithful, they stray, God administers His little corrective—POW!—they see the error of their ways (usually), they repent, they’re faithful—at least for a while, then they stray and here we go again.
It is not vengefulness on God’s part to set them back on the path. It would be cruel and hateful to let them go on without trying to help them get back on track. But God is a Father, a Loving Father. So He picks them up and dusts them off and sets them back down on the way they should go, over and over and over. Good Lord, would we be so patient with each other? I think not. I’ve seen how we treat each other and it’s not pretty.
Ramblin’ Rows of Words about the Word
I know I haven’t been going through the Book of Genesis in a straightforward manner, although that was what I intended when I first thought about doing this series. I can’t copy copious amounts from the text I’m using in my study. Copyright and all that, you know. And plenty of people have already taken the Bible line by line almost, and have explained it down to the individual words. I can’t do that and I don’t need to, it’s been done elsewhere. I hope you are reading A Father Who Keeps His Promises, and also the Bible itself. What I can do and am doing is to think about these texts and ponder them. And search the Scriptures. And pray the Rosary. And share with you here the thoughts that come to me. And the fruits of that reading and that pondering, the fruits that can be written down, that is. Other fruits will be known only in the living, in the following of The Way, of the One Who is the Way, the Truth, and the Life, world without end. Amen.
I hope I’m making some sense in these murmurings. In a much earlier series I did proceed in a more orderly manner. I even made graphics of which I am inordinately proud. ;) Thank you for reading my posts, and, yes, I know I’m rambling. I’m just putting things down as they come to me, with a little editing when I catch an error, and I’m sure I am missing (at least) a few. (My MacBook Air keyboard is driving me insane and is making it difficult to write anything. That is not the only reason for my rambling, but it is part of it. I hope to get a new one soon-ish or else I’ll have to start writing with the iPad and a bluetooth keyboard. This thing is making me want to toss it out into the street. Now if I could only win that lottery to pay for a new one.)
Thanks again for reading and I hope you’ll join me again. Until next time, whoever and wherever you are, please stay safe and well, virtuous and holy, but more than all of that, cooperate with the grace God gives you and become who He wants you to be: a SAINT! May the Lord bless and keep you and yours, and may His peace be always with you. +JMJ+
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Notes and Links
These resources have helped me study the Bible over the years. I’ve shared them with many others and they’ve enjoyed using them, too.
- A Father Who Keeps His Promises: God’s Covenant Love In Scripture, by Scott Hahn. Paperback, Kindle. (Affiliate links, see Full Disclosure below.) Logos or Verbum format. (Requires Logos or Verbum software.)
- Our Father’s Plan, series by Jeff Cavins and Scott Hahn. Video series, from EWTN Religious Catalogue.
- The Bible Timeline Study, part of the Great Adventure series by Jeff Cavins. See this page with introduction and options.
Images: In the banner, a photo from Pixabay, free to use. Departure of Abraham for Canaan, by Bassano, from Wikimedia Commons, public domain. God the Father, Girolamo Batoni, from Wikimedia Commons, public domain.
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Story of Salvation Table of Contents, Annotated
All Series Table of Contents, Annotated