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September 8, 2023 Our Catholic Faith No Comments

Q. Concerning your statement in a recent column that Jesus was circumcised in Bethlehem on the eighth day after His birth, no location is given in the Gospel of Luke. Jerusalem is only six miles from Bethlehem. Wouldn’t Mary and Joseph have wanted to travel there for Jesus’ circumcision? Jerusalem was very special to Jewish families. Moreover, rooms continued to be scarce in Bethlehem after Jesus’ birth. Is there evidence of Bethlehem over Jerusalem for the place of Jesus’ circumcision? — M.A.G., Kansas.
A. No, there isn’t, but it would make more practical sense to circumcise the eight-day-old Child in the small town where He was born than travel to a large city like Jerusalem, especially since the Holy Family would be making the same trip for His Presentation in the Temple a month later. Apparently, the scarcity of houses had lessened by the time the Magi arrived in Bethlehem because Matthew says that they presented their gifts to the Infant in a house (cf. 2:11). In his Life of Christ, Giuseppe Ricciotti said that “it was in this house perhaps the infant was circumcised, as the Law prescribed, eight days after his birth, receiving the name of Jesus which had been spoken by the angel both to Mary and Joseph” (p. 90).
In his book Daily Life in the Time of Jesus, Henri Daniel-Rops said that “at the time of Christ each town had a mohel, a man who specialized in this delicate operation. It had to be very well done, for if the prepuce were not properly removed, the man would not be admitted to ‘eat the Terumah,’ that is to say, the first-fruits offering that the faithful made to the priests. The Jews held by this rite more than anything in the world, more even than their lives, as was seen in the time of the Maccabees when Jewish mothers chose rather to be killed than to give up circumcising their sons. For in circumcision they saw the mark of their true belonging to the people of God” (p. 104).

Q. As I understand it, some form of human life has been on this Earth for 200,000 years. So when in the course of human history did man become ensouled? Moreover, how did that change man’s actions and behavior after ensoulment took place? — A.G. via e-mail.
A. According to chapter two of Genesis, the first ensoulment of man took place in the Garden of Eden “when the Lord God formed man out of the clay of the ground and blew into his mouth the breath of life, and so man became a living being” (2:7). A footnote to that passage says that the word “being” literally means “soul.” Man’s actions did not change then, but rather when Adam and Eve disobeyed God, at the instigation of Satan, who told them that if they ate the forbidden fruit they would be “like gods who know what is good and what is bad” (3:5). That Original Sin has plagued the human race ever since.

Q. Because America is losing its moral compass, I feel like the end is approaching fast. I would like you to explain in simple terms the return of Christ. Will the people who are dead now, but who were believers, have their bodies reunited with their souls? — D.H., Iowa.
A. Yes, they will. In fact, all people who ever lived, whether they were good or evil, will have their bodies reunited with their souls for eternity, either in Heaven or in Hell. Citing such Bible passages as Matt. 24:27 and 30-31, Mark 14:62, 1 Cor. 15:51-52, 1 Thess. 4:14-17, 2 Thess. 1:7-8, 10, and Rev.1:7, Paul Thigpen, in his book The Rapture Trap, says that the Second Coming of Christ will not be “a secret or invisible event. On the contrary, in various accounts it is described as unmistakably public, universally visible, glorious, full of splendor. The Lord returns on magnificent clouds of glory with brilliant angels and saints and a trumpet blast announcing their arrival; the faithful on Earth are gathered to Him, while the rest of the world wails at the terrifying sight” (p. 118).
At the end of the world, says the Catechism (n. 1038):
“The resurrection of all the dead, ‘of both the just and the unjust,’ will precede the Last Judgment. This will be ‘the hour when all who are in the tombs will hear [the Son of man’s] voice and come forth, those who have done good, to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil, to the resurrection of judgment.’ Then Christ will come ‘in His glory, and all the angels with Him….Before Him will be gathered all the nations, and He will separate them one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats, and He will place the sheep at His right hand, but the goats at his left….And they will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life’.”
In the presence of Christ, “who is Truth itself,” the Catechism continues, “the truth of each man’s relationship with God will be laid bare. The Last Judgment will reveal even to its furthest consequences the good each person has done or failed to do during his earthly life. The Last Judgment will come when Christ returns in glory. Only the Father knows the day and the hour; only He determines the moment of its coming. Then through his Son Jesus Christ He will pronounce the final word on all history. We shall know the ultimate meaning of the whole work of salvation and understand the marvelous ways by which His Providence led everything to its final end. The Last Judgment will reveal that God’s justice triumphs over all the injustices committed by His creatures and that God’s love is stronger than death” (nn. 1039, 1040).

Q. Tonight I saw three credible UFO witnesses on a prime-time news show. Can you point to any passages in the Bible that these UFOs have anything to do with the end times or the Second Coming of Christ? — K.H., via e-mail.
A. We don’t know of any Bible passages that point to UFOs. What we know about the Second Coming can be found in the previous reply.

Q. Has there been any word from the Vatican on the recent discovery of the incorrupt body of a Benedictine nun in Missouri? – N.J., New Mexico.
A. Just that officials in the Vatican are looking into it. The body is that of Sr. Wilhelmina Lancaster, who founded the Benedictines of Mary, Queen of Apostles, in Gower, MO in 1995 when she was 70 years old and who died in 2019. When her remains were exhumed last April to reinter them in a newly completed St. Joseph’s Shrine, they were found not to have decayed but to have been preserved in remarkably good condition.
The sisters carried their foundress in solemn procession around the abbey grounds, praying the rosary and singing hymns, before placing it inside a glass display case.
The site has since been visited by thousands of people, and priests have heard many Confessions in a large grass field nearby. Local Knights of Columbus volunteers have helped set up tents and distribute free hamburgers, fruit, and water.
The Sisters tried to keep the discovery quiet, but word leaked out, prompting worldwide media coverage and a steady stream of visitors. The local ordinary, Bishop Vann Johnston of the Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph, has said that a “thorough investigation” is needed to answer questions about the state of Sr. Wilhelmina’s body.

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Catechism

Today . . .

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Our Catholic Faith (Section B of print edition)

Catholic Replies

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