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May 8, 2020 Our Catholic Faith No Comments

Q. We know that Jesus loved all of His disciples (John 13:1), but several times in the Gospel of John, the evangelist is referred to specifically as the “disciple whom Jesus loved.” This language is seized upon by some LGBT writers to suggest that there was a homoerotic relationship here. This is a blasphemous assertion and certainly not true, but what is the best response to this allegation? — J.T., North Carolina.
A. The allegation show just how desperate are those in the LGBT community to give their immoral lifestyle some justification. It’s like saying that a special love for one’s parents or siblings suggests an incestuous relationship. Such a suggestion would be absurd in the latter case, but it is both absurd and blasphemous to allege that the pure and sinless Christ could ever engage in impure and sinful behavior. Sin is sin because it contradicts the divine plan of God, so how could Jesus promulgate this divine plan and then violate it? How can God sin against Himself? He can’t.
But perhaps the LGBT writers don’t consider their behavior sinful. That may be so, but God considers such actions sinful, as He made clear throughout the Bible, from Genesis to Revelation. God did not want Adam to be alone, so He created Eve, and He told the first parents of the human race to “be fruitful and multiply,” something that same-sex couples are incapable of doing. He also established the institution of marriage as the union of one man and one woman (“That is why a man leaves his father and mother and clings to his wife, and the two of them become one body.”). Not even the Supreme Court of the United States can undo the plan of God for marriage.
The people of Sodom and Gomorrah tried to undo that plan by engaging in rampant homosexual behavior, but God destroyed their cities with fire, says St. Jude, because they “indulged in sexual promiscuity and practiced unnatural vice.” Jesus Himself condemned unchaste behavior (cf. Mark 7:21-22) and St. Paul on several occasions condemned sodomy (cf. 1 Cor. 6:9 and 1 Tim.1:10), but most notably in Romans 1:26-27, where he says that God handed idolaters “over to degrading passions. Their females exchanged natural relations for unnatural, and the males likewise gave up natural relations with females and burned with lust for one another. Males did shameful things with males and thus received in their own persons the due penalty for their perversity.”
So is it likely that after all these biblical denunciations of homoerotic behavior that Jesus, the central Figure in Holy Scripture, would engage in such behavior Himself? Of course not. Pray that those whose sexual inclinations have led them far from God will repent of their sins and follow Jesus as their sinless Savior.

Q. A posting by an atheist on Facebook said that “I’ve been reading A History of the Bible by John Barton. Last night I learned that Jesus would not have said that Aramaic equivalent of ‘This is my body’ at the Last Supper because in Aramaic the word ‘is’ would not be used in that sentence. Aramaic speakers would simply leave out the verb. Why is that important? Because people have fought and died over the correct interpretation of the word ‘is’ in that sentence.” I have been teaching in my parish for sixteen years and never faced this question. I would appreciate your comments. — G.S., Arizona.
A. The apostles were for the most part uneducated fisherman whose common language was Aramaic, so that is the language Jesus would have used at the Last Supper. That He spoke this language we know from other places in the Gospels. For example, when Jesus raised the daughter of Jairus, He said to the dead girl, “Talitha koum,” which means, “Little girl, I say to you, arise!” (Mark 5:41). When He restored the hearing of the deaf man, He said, “Ephphatha!,” which means, “Be opened!” (Mark 7:34). And one of His seven sayings from the cross was “Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?, which means, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” (Matt. 27:46).
That Jesus used the words, “This is my body,” at the Last Supper is attested to by Matthew, Mark, Luke, and St. Paul (1 Cor. 11:24), so Mr. Barton should rely on their testimony, for which they gave their lives, rather than on some tendentious understanding of Aramaic.
Yes, there have been battles fought over the centuries about the Real Presence of Jesus in the Eucharist, and some commentators have tried to undermine this Catholic belief by changing the words of Jesus. We heard an Evangelical preacher say on the radio that at the Last Supper, Jesus said, “This is a symbol of my body.” No, that’s not what He said. He said, “This is my body.” And those who wish to cast doubt on this should be directed to chapter six of John’s Gospel, where Jesus told the crowd that “I am the living bread that came down from heaven; whoever eats this bread will live forever; and the bread that I will give is my flesh for the life of the world.”
When some in the crowd objected to these words, Jesus didn’t qualify them or say that He was only speaking symbolically. No, He doubled down and said, “Amen, amen, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you do not have life within you. Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life and I will raise him on the last day. For my flesh is true food, and my blood is true drink. Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me and I in him. Just as the living Father sent me and I have life because of the Father, so also the one who feeds on me will have life because of me. This is the bread that came down from heaven. Unlike your ancestors who ate and still died, whoever eats this bread will live forever.”

Q. Many of our Catholic prayers and actions have indulgences attached to them. Does one specifically ask for the graces of the indulgence for each specific prayer or action? Or is it generally assumed that a person wants to receive all of these graces, without specifically asking for them? Could the request for the graces of all indulgenced prayers or actions during the day be made with the Morning Offering? — T.S., Minnesota.
A. The Morning Offering offers up each day’s “prayers, works, joys, and sufferings . . . for all the intentions of the Sacred Heart, in union with the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass throughout the world, in reparation for our sins, for the intentions of all our associates, and in particular for the intentions of the Holy Father.”
This is a praiseworthy way to begin each day, but one would have to perform an indulgenced work to seek removal of the temporal punishment attached to forgiven sins, either our own or those of a soul in Purgatory, and, presumably, one would be specifically seeking removal of all punishment by means of an indulgence.
The Manual of Indulgences, which lists dozens of prayers, devotions, and good works to which graces are attached, defines an indulgence as “the remission before God of the temporal punishment due for sins already forgiven as far as their guilt is concerned. This remission the faithful with the proper dispositions and under certain determined conditions acquire through the intervention of the Church, which, as minister of the Redemption, authoritatively dispenses and applies the treasury of the satisfaction won by Christ and the Saints.”
One can seek total remission of temporal punishment (a plenary indulgence) or partial remission (partial indulgence) for himself or herself or for a soul in Purgatory. For example, a plenary indulgence for the souls in Purgatory is always available on each of the first eight days of November to one who visits a cemetery and prays for a departed soul. A plenary indulgence was also available on the recent Divine Mercy Sunday for any person who fulfilled the necessary conditions, although because of the coronavirus a perfect Act of Contrition and a spiritual Communion replaced the requirement for a sacramental Confession and reception of Holy Communion.
In addition to these usual conditions for obtaining a plenary indulgence, one must also be in the state of grace at the time the work is completed, be free from attachment to sin, even venial sin, or the indulgence is only partial, and recite certain prayers for the intentions of the Holy Father on each day the indulgence is sought. For example, one should pray the Creed, the Our Father, the Hail Mary, and the Glory Be to the Father.

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