Category Archives: Bible History

What the Holy Family was Not


By .

This is the time of year when we come across tiresome statements about the Holy Family, all in an effort to make them into some kind of political symbol, I suppose.  If I could make it clear:

  They were not homeless.  Joseph and Mary each came from perfectly good homes in Nazareth, and they were no more homeless than I was during the time we lived in England, when I had to travel from my home in Bristol up to the American Embassy in London to register the births of my children when they were born.  I’m sick of the stories that make them sound like vagrants, having to find shelter under the nearest interstate overpass.  The inn was full, yes.  All the inns were full.  Bethlehem was packed full of people.  It wasn’t out of cruelty that the innkeeper offered them the stable.  It was probably done as a favor to them.  Inns were notoriously seedy places, and the stable was probably a whole lot cleaner and more private.  Homelessness in our society is a sad and tragic thing, caused by various circumstances.  But let’s not use the Holy Family as a prop in the lobby for the homeless.

    They were not illegal aliens.  Joseph and Mary were obeying civil authority when they went to the city of David, because Joseph was descended from King David. They weren’t fleeing from an oppressive regime in Nazareth, and they weren’t scrounging for work in Bethlehem so they could send some denarii back to the folks in the old country. Nor was that the case when they went to Egypt.  Yes, they were fleeing from a cruel ruler, but they weren’t crawling through barbed wire or hiding from border agents.  They simply crossed over into Egypt because borders were immaterial. Whatever one’s opinion is about illegal immigration, Joseph and Mary don’t lend themselves as examples for any argument one way or the other.  The circumstances just don’t fit.

    They were not living in poverty.  Ok, they weren’t rich.  But they weren’t eating out of garbage cans or subsisting on food stamps, either.  Joseph, as a carpenter, had a perfectly respectable trade, and his work would be much in demand, wherever he was.  In fact, his occupation is described as tekton, which is more like a general contractor.  Mary’s parents were respectable people.  Tradition hints that Anne was descended from one of the high priests of the Temple, and Joachim was well-off enough to have a flock of sheep, indicating that Mary’s background was not one of grinding poverty, any more than was Joseph’s.

The Holy Family is just that: the Holy Family.  Their place in history is unique.  But every year we’re treated to shallow words by politicians and media hacks who think they’re expressing deep thoughts, using the Holy Family to make some point or other about social ills.  These usually are the very people who are horrified by the mention of religion at any other time of the year.  Ignore them.


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King James Bible movie – 5 stars!

I expected this to be a 3 star maximum and only got it to fill in my history knowledge about Scripture.  Boy was I surprised!  It’s a fantastic movie!  It also includes a really clear explanation of the Guy Fawkes affair.



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During my morning devotions, I read from the Old Testament, Gospels, and Epistles.  Then, I read a section in the Catechism of the Catholic Church.  It’s my favorite part of the day.  Today, I learned something new:


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Noah’s Ark and the Great Flood

CAT Noah called

I was considering purchasing a certain Catholic Bible commentary when I read one scathing Amazon reviewer saying it contained the “heretical” position that the flood might not have been global.

I was not aware that my church had taught definitively about the scope of the flood.  My quick google search suggests I was right and Mr. One Star Heresy was wrong.

I searched the Catechism for “Noah” and “Flood” and found about 10 statements that talked about the flood as if it was a real event.  However, none of them spoke to the issue of scope.

I also searched the EWTN site, whose archives have a wealth of good stuff about Catholic teaching and practice.  I think this bit by Father Echert explains clearly what I was taught by Father Bob:

As to whether or not we must affirm that the flood encompassed the entire orb of the earth, the text would seem to teach this and subsequent texts would tend to corroborate this, but there is some flexibility with regards to the first eleven chapters of the Book of Genesis, as expressed in the encyclical “Humani Generis” of Pope Pius XII:

“..the first eleven chapters of Genesis…nevertheless come under the heading of history; in what exact sense, it is for the further study of the exegete to determine. These chapters have a naïve, symbolic way of speaking, well suited to the understanding of primitive people. But they do disclose to us certain important truths, upon which the attainment of our eternal salvation depends, and they do also give a popular description of the origin of the human race and of the chosen people.”

Personally, I’ve never had any problem with the fact that the flood author’s “world” was quite small in relation to the entire Earth.  A really ginormous flood that covered every bit of land he had any reason to know about would fit the bill.

But I also have no problem with accepting scientific evidence that the flood covered the whole world in the way that we moderns with satellite imagery etc. understand “whole world” … should that evidence become available.

Similarly, I had no particular opinion about the meaning of day in the creation story.  I was taught that the divinely inspired truth in the story is that God created everything and said it was all good.  According to Father Bob, the author could have used the “days” thing as a literary device without harming the salvation truth of the story.

The main thing the Catholic Church teaches is that God’s truth and science cannot ever truly be in conflict, because God is Truth.

Maybe this is why I never could swallow the Young Earth interpretation of the story that insists “day” has to mean our 24-hour solar cycle.  There is just way too much scientific evidence that the planet is very old and the universe is far older.

Plus, the idea that God faked that evidence of age repels me.  I was far more comfortable with “I don’t know what day means” than with “God lied about the dinosaurs.”

However, since I watched “The Genesis Code” (DVD) — and later read the book the code part is based on — I’ve come to believe that the days are indeed miraculously literal, albeit not in the Young Earth 24-hour way.  I can’t explain it properly, so go watch the movie.  It will uplift and inspire you enormously!

As for that Bible commentary, I would’ve ordered it except it was more than $100.  If any of you Catholics know of a good one that is affordable AND orthodox, I’d love to know about it.


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Why did I label Jubilee with a question mark?

2015_09 Calendar

I posted the calendar above on Monday @  Below is why I put a question mark after Jubilee.

In the Jewish calendar, every seventh year is a Shemitah [shmee-tah] year, during which God commanded the Jews to leave their fields fallow and trust Him to provide for their needs.

The Second and Third Blood Moons were during Shemitah 825 (825 x 7 = HY 5775). HY 5775 ended Sept 13, 2015. The Fourth Blood Moon will be in two weeks, on Sept 28, 2015, which is the first day of the Feast of Sukkot [soo-kote] (aka, Tabernacles, Booths) for HY 5776.

God also commanded that the year after every seventh Shemitah would be a Jubilee year when Jews were commanded to return to the land God had given them.

Jews were not permitted to sell the land that God had given them. However, they were permitted to lease it for a time. The value of the land lease would be the value of the projected harvests x the number of years until the next Jubilee.

At Jubilee, everyone who had leased out land was commanded to return and take possession of their ancestral inheritance.

  • The Jubilee year is also the first year of the next 49 year cycle, putting it in the 50th year.
  • Jubilee means 50.
  • To calculate from one to the next, you add 49, not 50.

Pastor Cahn says nobody knows how the early Jews calculated Jubilee.

  • Shemitah years are those Hebrew years that are evenly divisible by 7.
  • It may or may not follow that Jubilee years are those Hebrew years that are evenly divisible by 49, plus one.

If we go with the Hebrew years evenly divisible by 49, plus one, then the previous Jubilee year was HY 5734 (Sept 27, 1973 – Sept 16, 1974). The Yom Kippur War began on Yom Kippur HY 5734 (October 6, 1973) and the next Jubilee year will be HY 5783 (Sept 26, 2022 – Sept 15, 2023). (This is easier to see in the graphic below.)

But what if we go with recent history concerning the Jews’ return to their ancestral land?

  • In November 1917 (HY 5678), the British declared their intention to give the Holy Land back to the Jews.  This document is known as the Balfour Declaration. HY 5678 was the year following Shemitah 811.
  • In June 1967 (HY 5727), the Jews regained control of Jerusalem during the Six Day War. HY 5727 was the year following Shemitah 818.  It is also 49 years after HY 5678.
  • If these two years mark Jubilee years, then the next one began Sept 14, 2015 (HY 5776).
  • (Again, this is easier to see in the graphic below.)

But what if God is using both ways of counting Jubilee years?

Let’s suppose that Sept 13, 2015, marked the end of both HY 5775 and the Age of the Gentiles and that the Christian “return to homeland” (i.e., Rapture) will occur during the Jubilee year as calculated by the Balfour Declaration and Six Day War (HY 5776 = Sept 14, 2015 – Oct 2, 2016).

The Jews have one more “week”i.e., period of seven yearsbefore the Age of the Jews is complete.

  • If Sept 14, 2015, marked the beginning of that last seven year period, then Jesus will return as the warrior Messiah (Armageddon) during the next Shemitah year in HY 5782 (Sept 7, 2021 – Sept 25, 2022).

After Satan has been locked up for good*, God is going to destroy our fallen world and create a New Heaven, a New Earth, and a New Jerusalem for those who have chosen eternal life in His presence.

  • At that time, all those who have chosen Jesus during the Final Tribulation will “return to homeland” (Final Judgment) during the Jubilee year as calculated via 49 + 1 (HY 5783 = Sept 26, 2022 – Sept 15, 2023).

Click on graphic to embiggen.  If you hold the CONTROL key down while clicking, it will embiggen in a new window so you can click tabs to go back and forth between the confusing text above and the explanatory graphic below.

Jubilee years

Cross reference Hebrew-Roman calendar dates @

*The Roman Catholic Church condemns the idea that the Millennium will occur after Armageddon.  See further explanation:

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The Rock: Did Jesus mean Peter’s confession of faith or Peter himself?

Is Peter the Rock in Matthew 16:18? [6:37]

Many Evangelicals believe that petros meant “small stone” and that petra meant “large rock.”  They interpret Matthew 16:18 as an antithetic statement:

“I tell you Peter, you are a very small stone, but on the great rock [of your confessional statement with regard to my identity as the Messiah], I will build my Church.”

However, Matthew 16:18 can just as easily be interpreted as a synthetic statement:

“I tell you Peter, you may look like a small stone now, but on the great rock you truly are, I will build my Church.”

But, in fact, neither of these sentences make much sense since, in first century Greek, petros and petra were synonyms

Moreover, the synthetic (and Catholic) interpretation becomes the obviously correct choice once you realize that Jesus’ actual words were not in Greek, but in Aramaic, where the two words — kepha and kepha — were identical.  Pron. keh-fa.

“You are Kepha and on this kepha I will build my church.”


The petros/petra difference arose when Jesus’ words were forced into Greek grammar, which dictated the masculine form, petros, in the first place, and the feminine form, petra, in the second.

“You are Petros and on this petra I will build my church.”

(In the NT, Peter is sometimes referred to as Cephas, which is a Greek variant of the Aramaic name — Kepha — that Jesus had given him.  It is sometimes pronounced see-fas, but should be pronounced keh-fas.)

By the time the Bible was translated into English, everyone knew the man as St. Peter, so the rendering in the English version is rather nonsensical.

“You are Peter and on this rock I will build my church.”

Rock? What rock? Who said anything about a rock?

The structure of Matthew 16:17-19 makes it even more clear that Jesus meant to build His church on the man, Peter,  and not just on his confessional statement that Jesus was the Messiah. Click on graphic to embiggen for easier reading.

Matt 16 17-19 Exegetical structure

The sources from which I excerpted the above are well worth reading in full:


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Pondering Jesus’ Transfiguration

Transfiguration stained glass window

I was trying to pray the fourth Luminous Mystery and realized I don’t really know much about the Transfiguration.  So I googled and found an article that included this interesting bit:

In Luke 9:27, at the end of a speech to the twelve apostles, Jesus adds, enigmatically:  “There are some standing here who will not taste death before they see the kingdom of God.” This has often been taken as a prophecy that the end of the world would occur before the first generation of Christians died out.

The phrase “kingdom of God” can also refer to other things, though, including the Church–the outward expression of God’s invisible kingdom. The kingdom is embodied in Christ himself and thus might be “seen” if Christ were to manifest it in an unusual way, even in his own earthly life.

Did such a manifestation occur?  Yes, and it is the very next thing that Luke relates: the Transfiguration.

Pope Benedict states that it has been “convincingly argued that the placing of this saying immediately before the Transfiguration clearly relates it to this event.  Some—that is to say, the three disciples who accompany Jesus up the mountain—are promised that they will personally witness the coming of the Kingdom of God ‘in power.’ 

“On the mountain the three of them see the glory of God’s Kingdom shining out of Jesus. On the mountain they are overshadowed by God’s holy cloud. On the mountain—in the conversation of the transfigured Jesus with the Law and the Prophets—they realize that the true Feast of Tabernacles has come. On the mountain they learn that Jesus himself is the living Torah, the complete Word of God. On the mountain they see the ‘power’ (dynamis) of the Kingdom that is coming in Christ.”

(Jesus of Nazareth, vol. 1, p. 317).

We thus may have the key to understanding Jesus’ mysterious statement just before the Transfiguration. He wasn’t talking about the end of the world. He was talking about this.  In fact, Luke notes that the Transfiguration took place “about eight days after these sayings,” thus stressing its proximity to them and suggesting that it was the fulfillment of this  saying, concerning the fact that some of them would see the kingdom of God.

Mark gives a different number of days, saying it was “after six days” (Mk. 9:2), but these both approximate a week.

Read the rest @


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Update: ISIS in Iraq

2014_07 26 ISIS blows up Jonah's tomb

The Mosque of the Prophet Younis (Jonah) was built on an archaeological site dating back to the eighth century BC and is said to be the burial place of the prophet, who in stories from both the Bible and Qur’an is swallowed by a whale.

It was renovated in the 1990s under Iraq’s late dictator Saddam Hussein and, until the recent blitz by Isis that engulfed Mosul, remained a popular destination for religious pilgrims from around the world.

Islamic State (ISIS) militants BLEW IT UP, because they decided it had become a place for apostasy, not prayer. They also blew up another place of worship nearby on Thursday, the Imam Aoun Bin al-Hassan mosque.

The ISIS militants have seized a huge chunk of territory straddling the Iraq-Syria border, and have declared a self-styled caliphate in the territory they control. They’ve been destroying Christian places of worship and targeting Christians and their homes and businesses. They are also cutting off water to Christians and Kurds in regions they do not control.

This is the first I’ve heard of them going after Muslims who aren’t Muslim enough to suit them. During a fundraiser this week, President Obama described the situation in Iraq as “the failure in Iraq for Sunni and Shia and Kurd to compromise.”

Words fail me.


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Dating the Slaughter of the Innocents and the Flight into Egypt

Today is Sivan 15, the date Jesus was born in Bethlehem.  Let’s all spend a few minutes this Father’s Day week-end thinking about what Joseph went through … accepting that his pregnant wife hadn’t cheated on him, but was carrying the Messiah … taking a massively pregnant woman on a week-long journey by foot to a town too crowded to provide her a clean bed in which to give birth … supporting the three of them in Bethlehem while the baby grew enough to travel … packing them all on to their donkey and fleeing to Egypt … supporting them in a strange country where he likely did not speak the language … taking them all on the long journey back to Nazareth where he again had to set up shop … be the most important human father figure in the young life of the Son of God.  Phew.  The man deserves a lot more credit than he usually gets!

Dating the Slaughter of Innocents Flight to Egypt

0000_01 10 Herod's lunar eclipse - compiled

Sources and Background Reading:

Hebrew-Roman calendars @

NASA’s lunar eclipse catalog @

Why NASA labels 1 BC as “0000” @

“Mary’s pregnancy: Nine months in 3759” – About Jesus’ actual birth date and when Mary was pregnant @

“Why I spend so much time on sky signs”
Link to free viewing of “The Star of Bethlehem”

“Astronomy and the Death of King Herod” – A close analysis of the Jewish calendar, lunar eclipse data from NASA and Josephus’ account of Herod’s death @

“Herod the Great died in 1 BC” – Why the traditional date given for the death of Herod the Great (4 BC) is wrong @

Golden eagle of Rome @

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Tomorrow is the Medjugorje Anniversary of Jesus’ 33d Birthday

In case you wanted to get Him something. 🙂

5774 Sivan calendar - MayJune 2014

Funny thing … I got this ready, then went to PoliNation to post it and saw Pete’s post which says: “PARTY’S OVER … Maybe tomorrow.” LOL

Background Reading:

“Mary has been appearing at Medjugorje for 33 years”
The first apparition at Medjugorje was on the 1982d anniversary of Jesus’ circumcision.

“A Timeline for the Ministry of Jesus”
An attempt to use Scripture clues and sky charts to date Jesus’ public years

“Is Mary’s Medjugorje timeline related to Jesus’ First Coming?”
About what I mean by a “Medjugorje Anniversary”

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