« May 8, 2022 | Main | May 22, 2022 »

May 15, 2022

Year 2 - Week 36 (May 15-21, 2022)

Day 1 (Monday)

Joshua 2

Last time we read the instructions that Yahweh, the God of Israel, gave to them through Moses, concerning how they should go about making war. He reminded them that they would be victorious not because of their own strength, but because He would give them victory, to the point that He commanded them to send anyone who didn’t want to be at the battle home before beginning the fighting. He commanded them to offer terms of peace to most people against whom they fought, leaving those peoples a way to become part of the Covenant He had made with Israel. But He also commanded them that the evil nations who inhabited the Promised Land, who had made common cause with the fallen angels, were to be completely destroyed, so that none of their evil would remain to corrupt His chosen, priestly people.

The next book in the Bible after Deuteronomy is Joshua, which is named for Moses’ successor as the leader of Yahweh’s people. In the first chapter, Yahweh commands Joshua to cross the Jordan, and promises to give to the children of Israel the land that He had promised to them. We will continue with the second chapter, and see how Joshua goes about obeying this command.

Spies Sent to Jericho

2 Then Joshua son of Nun sent two men secretly from Shittim as spies, saying, “Go, view the land, especially Jericho.” So they went, and entered the house of a prostitute whose name was Rahab, and spent the night there. 2 The king of Jericho was told, “Some Israelites have come here tonight to search out the land.” 3 Then the king of Jericho sent orders to Rahab, “Bring out the men who have come to you, who entered your house, for they have come only to search out the whole land.”

4 But the woman took the two men and hid them. Then she said, “True, the men came to me, but I did not know where they came from. 5 And when it was time to close the gate at dark, the men went out. Where the men went I do not know. Pursue them quickly, for you can overtake them.” 6 She had, however, brought them up to the roof and hidden them with the stalks of flax that she had laid out on the roof. 7 So the men pursued them on the way to the Jordan as far as the fords. As soon as the pursuers had gone out, the gate was shut.

8 Before they went to sleep, she came up to them on the roof 9 and said to the men: “I know that the Lord has given you the land, and that dread of you has fallen on us, and that all the inhabitants of the land melt in fear before you. 10 For we have heard how the Lord dried up the water of the Red Sea before you when you came out of Egypt, and what you did to the two kings of the Amorites that were beyond the Jordan, to Sihon and Og, whom you utterly destroyed. 11 As soon as we heard it, our hearts melted, and there was no courage left in any of us because of you. The Lord your God is indeed God in heaven above and on earth below.

12 Now then, since I have dealt kindly with you, swear to me by the Lord that you in turn will deal kindly with my family. Give me a sign of good faith 13 that you will spare my father and mother, my brothers and sisters, and all who belong to them, and deliver our lives from death.” 14 The men said to her, “Our life for yours! If you do not tell this business of ours, then we will deal kindly and faithfully with you when the Lord gives us the land.”

15 Then she let them down by a rope through the window, for her house was on the outer side of the city wall and she resided within the wall itself. 16 She said to them, “Go toward the hill country, so that the pursuers may not come upon you. Hide yourselves there three days, until the pursuers have returned; then afterward you may go your way.”

17 The men said to her, “We will be released from this oath that you have made us swear to you 18 if we invade the land and you do not tie this crimson cord in the window through which you let us down, and you do not gather into your house your father and mother, your brothers, and all your family. 19 If any of you go out of the doors of your house into the street, they shall be responsible for their own death, and we shall be innocent; but if a hand is laid upon any who are with you in the house, we shall bear the responsibility for their death. 20 But if you tell this business of ours, then we shall be released from this oath that you made us swear to you.” 21 She said, “According to your words, so be it.” She sent them away and they departed. Then she tied the crimson cord in the window.

22 They departed and went into the hill country and stayed there three days, until the pursuers returned. The pursuers had searched all along the way and found nothing. 23 Then the two men came down again from the hill country. They crossed over, came to Joshua son of Nun, and told him all that had happened to them. 24 They said to Joshua, “Truly the Lord has given all the land into our hands; moreover all the inhabitants of the land melt in fear before us.”

Discussion questions:

1) What did you notice in today’s reading? What surprised you or what was memorable to you? (Leader should note that the people in Jericho have heard about what Yahweh has done for the Israelites, and are afraid. More than that, they know what it means; as Rahab says, “Yahweh your God is indeed God in heaven above and on earth below.” Rahab knows this, and desires to change sides; she renounces Satan, and all his worship, and all his angels, and all his pomp, as does everyone who comes for baptism, and submits herself to the Lord. What this means is important; Yahweh’s warfare is not against cities or ethnic groups, but against those who have made themselves His enemies, and know themselves to have done so. If they repent…if WE repent…then they and we can be saved.)

2) What do we learn about God in this reading?

3) What do we learn about human beings in this reading?

4) What do you find difficult about this reading? Is there anything confusing about it, or anything that you dislike? (This is an open question, as always. )

5) Does this reading make you think that you need to change anything in your life?

Day 2 (Wednesday)

First Apology of Justin Martyr - 2: 4-6

We began last time to read the First Apology of St. Justin Martyr, and saw the saint begin by urging the emperors to fulfil their reputation and their very names, as men called pious and devoted to the truth, and to examine justly and fairly the reality of who the Christians were and what sort of life they led, and if they found them to be upright and virtuous people, to cease the persecutions against them. This time, he will address the first accusation against the Christians, that they were atheists, because they did not worship the “normal” gods of the Greeks and the Romans.

Chapter 4

Nothing good or evil is included in the mere use of a name, apart from the actions which are associated with that name. We, if you judge from the name we are accused of, are most excellent persons. Now, we do not think it right to ask for acquittal because of a name, if we be convicted as criminals. Likewise, if we be found to have done no wrong, either as regards the use of our name or our conduct as citizens, you must be careful lest, by unjustly punishing the unconvicted, you justly incur punishment yourselves.

Indeed, neither praise nor punishment can rightly arise from a name, unless some good or bad action can be proved. For, you do not punish those of your own people who are accused, before they are proved guilty, yet with us you accept the name alone as proof against us. But so far as a name is concerned, you ought rather to punish our accusers. We are accused of being Christians, yet to hate what is good is not just. Then, too, if any of the accused should deny verbally to be what the name implies, you acquit him, as though having no proof that he did wrong. But, if anyone confesses to be [a Christian], because of that confession you punish him.

You ought rather to investigate the life of both the one who makes the admission and of the one who denies, so that the character of each might become known from his actions. Some, who learned from Christ the Master not to deny Him, when they are questioned, give encouragement to others thereby; they who lead evil lives equally encourage all those who rashly accuse all Christians of impiety and injustice. This, too, is not just.

Some persons, too, assume the name and attire of philosophers and do nothing worthy of their profession. You know that those of the ancients who held and taught opposing opinions are all called by the one name of philosophers; some of them taught that there are no gods. Even your poets denounce the licentiousness of Jupiter with his children. But those who follow these teachings are not checked by you; on the contrary, you bestow rewards and honors on them for insulting your gods with sweet-sounding words.


Chapter 5

What, then, can all this mean? Although, in our case, we promise to do no evil, and to hold no such atheistic opinions, you do not investigate the charges made against us. Instead, led by unreasonable passion and at the instigation of wicked demons, you punish us inconsiderately without trial. But the truth shall be told, for the wicked demons from ancient times appeared and defiled women, corrupted boys, and presented such terrifying sights to men that those who were not guided by reason in judging these [diabolical] acts were panic-stricken. Seized with fear and unaware that these were evil demons, they called them gods and greeted each by the name which each demon had bestowed upon himself.

But, when Socrates attempted to make these things known and to draw men away from the demons by true reason and judgment, then these very demons brought it about, through men delighting in evil, that he be put to death as an atheist and impious person, because, they claimed, he introduced new divinities. And now they endeavor to do the very same thing to us. And not only among the Greeks were these things through Socrates condemned by reason [logos], but also among the non-Hellenic peoples by the Logos Himself, who assumed a human form and became man, and was called Jesus Christ. Through our belief in Him we not only deny that they who did these things are good deities, but claim that they are evil and ungodly demons, whose actions should not be compared with those of virtue-seeking men.


Chapter 6

Thus are we even called atheists. We do proclaim ourselves atheists as regards those whom you call gods, but not with respect to the Most True God, who is alien to all evil and is the Father of justice, temperance, and the other virtues. We revere and worship Him and the Son who came forth from Him and taught us these things, and also the legion of good angels who attend Him and reflect His virtues, and the Prophetic Spirit, and we pay homage to them in reason and truth, and pass His doctrine on intact to everyone who wishes to learn it.


Thomas B. Falls with Justin Martyr, The First Apology, The Second Apology, Dialogue with Trypho, Exhortation to the Greeks, Discourse to the Greeks, The Monarchy or The Rule of God, vol. 6, The Fathers of the Church (Washington, DC: The Catholic University of America Press, 1948), 36–39.

Discussion questions:

1) What did you notice in today’s reading? What surprised you or what was memorable to you? (The Leader should point out that the accusation “atheist” at this time did not mean “one who denies the existence of god” but rather “one who opposes the gods.” Justin is saying, effectively, that the Christians are indeed opposed to the demon gods of the nations, to Jupiter and his type, but that they are opposed to them because they know and worship the one true God. He makes the point, too, that other wise men among the Greeks and Romans have made the same point, that the demon gods are immoral and unworthy of honor, so that this insight of the Christians should be no surprise to them. We should note especially that Justin does NOT say that the gods of the nations don’t exist…he says rather that they are demons, and are unworthy of worship. They are real…but are our enemies and God’s.)

2) Where do we see Christ in this text; what is He saying or doing here?

3) Do we see ourselves and the Church in this text; what does it say about us?

4) What do you find difficult about this reading? Is there anything confusing about it, or anything that you dislike? (This is an open question, as always. )

5) Does this reading make you think that you need to change anything in your life?

Day 3 (Friday)

Mark 10:16-31

Last time we saw Jesus teach His disciples that the world was, or should be, different from how everyone assumed. He showed them that marriage was not just for the benefit of one spouse or the other, but a sacred reality established by God that could not be dissolved for reasons of convenience or desire; the result of this simple point is the new reality of Christian marriage as a life of salvation and mutual self-sacrifice, in obedience to God. He showed them as well that children (and along with them, all the small and weak and unimportant in the world) were precious to God, and must be honored, and indeed imitated, as models of how all of us must approach the Lord. He continues this week on his way to Jerusalem, and continues to teach those He encounters along the way that everything they think they know about how life works is wrong.

The Rich Man

17 As he was setting out on a journey, a man ran up and knelt before him, and asked him, “Good Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?” 18 Jesus said to him, “Why do you call me good? No one is good but God alone. 19 You know the commandments: ‘You shall not murder; You shall not commit adultery; You shall not steal; You shall not bear false witness; You shall not defraud; Honor your father and mother.’” 20 He said to him, “Teacher, I have kept all these since my youth.” 21 Jesus, looking at him, loved him and said, “You lack one thing; go, sell what you own, and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; then come, follow me.” 22 When he heard this, he was shocked and went away grieving, for he had many possessions.

23 Then Jesus looked around and said to his disciples, “How hard it will be for those who have wealth to enter the kingdom of God!” 24 And the disciples were perplexed at these words. But Jesus said to them again, “Children, how hard it is to enter the kingdom of God! 25 It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God.” 26 They were greatly astounded and said to one another, “Then who can be saved?” 27 Jesus looked at them and said, “For mortals it is impossible, but not for God; for God all things are possible.”

28 Peter began to say to him, “Look, we have left everything and followed you.” 29 Jesus said, “Truly I tell you, there is no one who has left house or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or fields, for my sake and for the sake of the gospel, 30 who will not receive a hundredfold now in this age—houses, brothers and sisters, mothers and children, and fields, with persecutions—and in the age to come eternal life. 31 But many who are first will be last, and the last will be first.”

Discussion questions:

1) What did you notice in today’s reading? What surprised you or what was memorable to you? (The Leader should point out that the basic point of this passage is that, if we are going to follow Christ, we cannot also hold onto the things of this world at the same time. We may “have” those things, as we follow Him, but we cannot “hold” onto them. The point that He makes to the rich man here is to show him that He isn’t as righteous as he thinks, and to call him to actually choose Christ. For all of us, the temptation is to think that we can hold onto both the world and to the Lord. It may not come right away, or with the intensity of this challenge to the rich man, but it will surely come to all of us, the necessity of choosing to lose the world in order to hold fast to the Lord.)

2) Where do we see Christ in this text; what is He saying or doing here?

3) Do we see ourselves and the Church in this text; what does it say about us?

4) What do you find difficult about this reading? Is there anything confusing about it, or anything that you dislike? (This is an open question, as always. )

5) Does this reading make you think that you need to change anything in your life?