Tuesday, April 30, 2024

Bishop Mar Mari Emmanuel Loses Eye

In a solemn turn of events, Bishop Mar Mari Emmanuel, a figure of peace and faith within the Assyrian community, has faced a harrowing ordeal that resulted in the loss of sight in his right eye. This incident occurred during what should have been a serene religious gathering at the Christ the Good Shepherd church in Sydney, Australia. The bishop was the victim of a stabbing attack that not only left physical scars but also sparked a wave of tension across western Sydney, leading to counter-terrorism raids.

The bishop's response to this violent act has been nothing short of remarkable. In a display of immense fortitude and forgiveness, Bishop Emmanuel addressed his congregation and the wider community, expressing his view of the injury as a sacrifice and a gesture of love towards Muslims. His message of forgiveness and unity transcends the personal tragedy he endured, showcasing his unwavering commitment to his faith and the principles of peace and dialogue.

Bishop Emmanuel's ordeal has also ignited a conversation about freedom of speech and religion. In the aftermath of the attack, a legal battle ensued between the Australian government and a social media platform over the removal of a video depicting the incident. The bishop took this opportunity to advocate for the rights of all individuals to express their beliefs freely, without fear of violence or repression. His stance is a testament to the values of democracy and the importance of protecting civil liberties, even in the face of adversity.

The resilience and compassion demonstrated by Bishop Emmanuel in the wake of such a traumatic event are a beacon of hope and a call to action for all communities to stand together against violence and intolerance. His message is clear: dialogue, understanding, and forgiveness are the pathways to a more peaceful and just society.


 


Sources:

: [The Guardian](https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2024/apr/29/sydney-church-stabbing-bishop-loses-eye-mar-mari-emmanuel)

: [The Christian Post](https://www.christianpost.com/news/bishop-loses-sight-in-eye-after-being-stabbed-during-sermon.html)

Monday, April 29, 2024

National Alcohol Awareness Month

April: National Alcohol Awareness Month

April marks National Alcohol Awareness Month, a time dedicated to raising awareness about alcohol misuse and encouraging individuals to make healthy and safe choices. This observance is crucial as it shines a light on the risks associated with alcohol consumption and the impact it can have on individuals, families, and communities.

Alcohol misuse remains a significant public health concern in the United States. According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA), alcohol-related problems continue to take a heavy toll on society, with more than 178,000 alcohol-related deaths annually, making alcohol a leading preventable cause of death. Moreover, there are over 200 disease and injury-related conditions associated with alcohol misuse.

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) emphasizes that April is a time to enhance understanding and provide support for individuals struggling with alcohol use. SAMHSA offers a variety of resources and tools to support prevention, treatment, and recovery efforts. For instance, their "Talk. They Hear You." campaign provides parents and caregivers with the resources to start conversations with youth about the importance of alcohol avoidance and other healthy lifestyle choices.

National Alcohol Awareness Month also focuses on underage drinking prevention, highlighting the effectiveness of such initiatives. It's an opportunity to educate the public on the latest research and resources available to support these efforts. The NIAAA and other organizations offer free, research-based resources covering many topics related to alcohol misuse, available in multiple languages.

The observance is not only about raising awareness but also about taking action. Communities are encouraged to get involved by hosting events, sharing information, and providing support to those affected by alcohol misuse. It's a collective effort to foster a better understanding of alcohol use disorders and to promote recovery and healthy living.

Recently Pope Francis made some comments regarding wine. He said it is a "gift from God" and "a true source of joy."  The comments were made during a private audience at the Vatican attended by Italian winemakers.  The Vatican is known for having the largest consumption of wine per capita against any other nation in the world.  What are we to make of the pope's comments?  

Well, first of all, his opinion is not official teaching, so we do not have to follow every word he says. If the pope says the Yankees are the best team in the world or God's team, we can dismiss his comments as his personal opinion. Second, wine is not a gift from God any more than soda. While the ingredients were created by God and are "good (Genesis 1:31)," the new substance (wine, beer, liquor) is man-made. Thirdly, the pope's comments were irresponsible.  Over 140,000 people die due to alcohol in the United States alone. These deaths stem from driving while intoxicated, poisoning from drinking too much alcohol, and other tragedies including domestic violence. Many times, children are the ones caught in the latter.  (See: https://www.niaaa.nih.gov/alcohols-effects-health/alcohol-topics/alcohol-facts-and-statistics/alcohol-related-emergencies-and-deaths-united-states#:~:text=The%20Alcohol%2DRelated%20Disease%20Impact,behind%20tobacco%2C%20poor%20diet%20and). 


The CDC or Center for Disease Control states:

Short-Term Health Risks

Excessive alcohol use has immediate effects that increase the risk of many harmful health conditions. These are most often the result of binge drinking and include the following:


Injuries, such as motor vehicle crashes, falls, drownings, and burns.6,7

Violence, including homicide, suicide, sexual assault, and intimate partner violence.6-10

Alcohol poisoning, a medical emergency that results from high blood alcohol levels.11

Risky sexual behaviors, including unprotected sex or sex with multiple partners. These behaviors can result in unintended pregnancy or sexually transmitted diseases, including HIV.12,13

Miscarriage and stillbirth or fetal alcohol spectrum disorders (FASDs) among pregnant women.6,12,14,15

Long-Term Health Risks

Over time, excessive alcohol use can lead to the development of chronic diseases and other serious problems including:


High blood pressure, heart disease, stroke, liver disease, and digestive problems.6,16

Cancer of the breast, mouth, throat, esophagus, voice box, liver, colon, and rectum.6,17

Weakening of the immune system, increasing the chances of getting sick.6,16

Learning and memory problems, including dementia and poor school performance.6,18

Mental health problems, including depression and anxiety.6,19

Social problems, including family problems, job-related problems, and unemployment.6,20,21

Alcohol use disorders, or alcohol dependence.5

By not drinking too much, you can reduce the risk of these short- and long-term health risks.

(Source: https://www.cdc.gov/alcohol/fact-sheets/alcohol-use.htm#:~:text=Long%2DTerm%20Health%20Risks,liver%20disease%2C%20and%20digestive%20problems.)


The National Institue on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism states the effects of alcohol on the body:


Drinking too much – on a single occasion or over time – can take a serious toll on your health.  Here’s how alcohol can affect your body:


Brain:

Alcohol interferes with the brain’s communication pathways, and can affect the way the brain looks and works. These disruptions can change mood and behavior, and make it harder to think clearly and move with coordination.  


Heart:

Drinking a lot over a long time or too much on a single occasion can damage the heart, causing problems including:


Cardiomyopathy – Stretching and drooping of heart muscle

Arrhythmias – Irregular heart beat

Stroke

High blood pressure  

Liver:

Heavy drinking takes a toll on the liver, and can lead to a variety of problems and liver inflammations including:


Steatosis, or fatty liver

Alcoholic hepatitis

Fibrosis

Cirrhosis

Pancreas:

Alcohol causes the pancreas to produce toxic substances that can eventually lead to pancreatitis, a dangerous inflammation in the pancreas that causes its swelling and pain (which may spread) and impairs its ability to make enzymes and hormones for proper digestion. 


Cancer:

According to the National Cancer Institute: "There is a strong scientific consensus that alcohol drinking can cause several types of cancer. In its Report on Carcinogens, the National Toxicology Program of the US Department of Health and Human Services lists consumption of alcoholic beverages as a known human carcinogen.


"The evidence indicates that the more alcohol a person drinks–particularly the more alcohol a person drinks regularly over time–the higher his or her risk of developing an alcohol-associated cancer. Even those who have no more than one drink per day and people who binge drink (those who consume 4 or more drinks for women and 5 or more drinks for men in one sitting) have a modestly increased risk of some cancers. Based on data from 2009, an estimated 3.5% of cancer deaths in the United States (about 19,500 deaths were alcohol related."


Clear patterns have emerged between alcohol consumption and increased risks of certain types of cancer:


Head and neck cancer, including oral cavity, pharynx, and larynx cancers.

Esophageal cancer, particularly esophageal squamous cell carcinoma. In addition, people who inherit a deficiency in an enzyme that metabolizes alcohol have been found to have substantially increased risks of esophageal squamous cell carcinoma if they consume alcohol.

Liver cancer.

Breast cancer: Studies have consistently found an increased risk of breast cancer in women with increasing alcohol intake. Women who consume about 1 drink per day have a 5 to 9 percent higher chance of developing breast cancer than women who do not drink at all.

Colorectal cancer.


(Source: https://www.niaaa.nih.gov/alcohols-effects-health/alcohols-effects-body)


Even a little consumption of alcohol opens oneself up to dangerous health problems. A Study in November of 2023 highlighted this (see: https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jamanetworkopen/fullarticle/2798004 and the article https://www.nytimes.com/2023/01/13/well/mind/alcohol-health-effects.html).  This is important for everyone to know. We are not sure if even the pope is made aware of this. Moreover, Pope Francis has brought a lot of attention to the Climate Change crisis that he issued the encyclical Laudato Si. In it, he expresses the scientific community's concerns that man-made activities are causing the earth to warm which then leads to climate disasters.  Yet here he is praising the wine industry which does a lot to cause harm to the earth and adds to the climate change crisis.  The production of wine adds a huge carbon footprint on the world. The process of making wine alters the soil and pollutes it and the water, as well as the air. This is just the processing of grapes. We cannot forget about the fermentation process and industrial process of bottling which creates fumes that go into the atmosphere while making the wine, not to forget the consumption of energy, mostly fossil fuels for the machinery which in turn is released into the atmosphere as co2, the main cause of global warming (see: https://greenly.earth/en-us/blog/ecology-news/what-is-the-carbon-footprint-of-the-wine-industry  and  https://www.infowine.com/intranet/libretti/libretto12728-02-1.pdf.  It is hypocritical of the pope to show concern for the environment while at the same time endorsing a business that adds considerably to the climate change crisis. Here in Laudato Si he quotes his predecessors showing the concern for human activities and how they harm the planet was always a concern for the Church:


4. In 1971, eight years after Pacem in Terris, Blessed Pope Paul VI referred to the ecological concern as “a tragic consequence” of unchecked human activity: “Due to an ill-considered exploitation of nature, humanity runs the risk of destroying it and becoming in turn a victim of this degradation”.[2] He spoke in similar terms to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations about the potential for an “ecological catastrophe under the effective explosion of industrial civilization”, and stressed “the urgent need for a radical change in the conduct of humanity”, inasmuch as “the most extraordinary scientific advances, the most amazing technical abilities, the most astonishing economic growth, unless they are accompanied by authentic social and moral progress, will definitively turn against man”.[3]


5. Saint John Paul II became increasingly concerned about this issue. In his first Encyclical he warned that human beings frequently seem “to see no other meaning in their natural environment than what serves for immediate use and consumption”.[4] Subsequently, he would call for a global ecological conversion.[5] At the same time, he noted that little effort had been made to “safeguard the moral conditions for an authentic human ecology”.[6] The destruction of the human environment is extremely serious, not only because God has entrusted the world to us men and women, but because human life is itself a gift which must be defended from various forms of debasement. Every effort to protect and improve our world entails profound changes in “lifestyles, models of production and consumption, and the established structures of power which today govern societies”.[7] Authentic human development has a moral character. It presumes full respect for the human person, but it must also be concerned for the world around us and “take into account the nature of each being and of its mutual connection in an ordered system”.[8] Accordingly, our human ability to transform reality must proceed in line with God’s original gift of all that is.[9]


6. My predecessor Benedict XVI likewise proposed “eliminating the structural causes of the dysfunctions of the world economy and correcting models of growth which have proved incapable of ensuring respect for the environment”.[10] He observed that the world cannot be analyzed by isolating only one of its aspects, since “the book of nature is one and indivisible”, and includes the environment, life, sexuality, the family, social relations, and so forth. It follows that “the deterioration of nature is closely connected to the culture which shapes human coexistence”.[11] Pope Benedict asked us to recognize that the natural environment has been gravely damaged by our irresponsible behaviour. The social environment has also suffered damage. Both are ultimately due to the same evil: the notion that there are no indisputable truths to guide our lives, and hence human freedom is limitless. We have forgotten that “man is not only a freedom which he creates for himself. Man does not create himself. He is spirit and will, but also nature”.[12] With paternal concern, Benedict urged us to realize that creation is harmed “where we ourselves have the final word, where everything is simply our property and we use it for ourselves alone. The misuse of creation begins when we no longer recognize any higher instance than ourselves, when we see nothing else but ourselves”.[13]


(Source: Laudato Si -https://www.vatican.va/content/francesco/en/encyclicals/documents/papa-francesco_20150524_enciclica-laudato-si.html)


How can Pope Francis in good faith preach the dangers of Climate Change while endorsing a business that adds to Global Warming and produces a drug that kills hundreds of thousands a year and hurts families? 

There are even books out there about "saints that drink" and social media posts presenting the drink as something cool or fun. It is just distasteful, irrational, reckless, and bad optics.  We as Catholics in general need to put disclaimers about alcohol use and not try to use the saints to make drinking "cool" or beneficial.  The truth is Alcohol hurts so many families and people. It should not be celebrated or presented as a virtue. Growing up in the Bronx I witnessed many families and kids' lives destroyed by this vice. A glass of wine may not immediately lead to ruin, but it is the starting point that leads to addiction. Addiction starts somewhere, right? It is not just something that happens spontaneously. 

Alcohol rewires the brain. About 20% is absorbed immediately from the stomach into the bloodstream. Just a small amount increased stomach juice production which leads to an increase in appetite. This causes the drinker to want more. Remember 20% was absorbed already, so the brain starts to desire it more. Once in the bloodstream, it widens your blood vessels making you feel warmth. However, the body begins to lose heat, and blood pressure drops. In the brain, it starts to weaken the parts that control the body. The brain cannot make clear decisions. Filters are gone. It begins to change your mood by making you feel moody or depressed, even aggressive. The more alcohol enters, the more you will be susceptible to slurring of words, blurry vision, and loss of coordination. In the kidneys, it dehydrates and forces the body to produce more urine. This loss of urine then causes the body to want more liquid. The liquid is of course alcohol. When it enters the liver, 95% of it gets processed creating water and carbon monoxide. Yes, carbon monoxide the poisonous substance! This is why it causes heavy damage to the liver. Just one sip of alcohol either wine or beer brings about an increase in dopamine. I can go on and on about what science says, but I think we get the idea that this stuff is just not as "good."  It is a psychological placebo that gives you the impression it is good.  Like the devil coming like an angel of light offering you the world as he did to Jesus in the desert.  Are we strong enough like Jesus to say no and get away Satan?

Drinking alcohol has NO BENEFITS at all unless you hate life and want out or hate people and want to harass them while intoxicated. This is why I applaud our separated Protestant friends who choose the route of temperance and avoid this vice. Just because you have a mouth does not mean you can drink gasoline because you have the will for it. Just because you can taste sugar does not mean you should consume sacks of it. Alcohol is different. It is literally a toxin. There is nothing good about it at all unless you are pouring it on a wound to disinfect it. That is about the only thing good about it. Even a small amount is dangerous when consumed orally.  

What I found disturbing is that some Catholics will go at any length to defend alcoholism.  They will do this more than defend the Church's actual teachings.  This is typical of addicts who are in denial. We can see the effects of alcohol already in these people and they are not even aware of it.  Some will argue and bring up the miracle at Cana. I was just having this discussion with a laywoman on Facebook a while back and on Instagram with some English and Portuguese speakers and corrected the misconception. I also did this on X (formerly Twitter).  Some of the proponents for alcoholism were quick to insult and block. They did not like to hear the truth and seemed to be under the impression that the Catholic faith teaches that we must drink alcohol. This is false.   So what are we to make of the biblical claims of Jesus at Cana and so on?

If you study the Bible and history professionally and academically you would know the wine used in biblical times is much different than the one used now, not to mention that beer is a completely different substance. Ancient wine was diluted. They were poured and mixed with water in amphorae jars. The modern alcohol content we have today was not what Jesus had at Cana. The distillation process used to make modern alcoholic beverages came later on in the 7 to 8th centuries by Arabs. The Mishnah and Talmud show that the normal dilution rate among the Jews was 3 parts water to 1 part wine. B. Shabbath 77a says that wine that does not mix well with three parts water is not true wine. B. Pesahim 108b states that the wine consumed during Passover was 3:1 wine. This was very likely the commonly accepted dilution rate among Jews of the New Testament era as well. This dilution rate reduces the alcohol content of New Testament wine to 2.75 to 3.0 percent. So it is not the same thing. This is why some alcoholic priests or priests with digestion issues are allowed to use what is called mustum.  Moreover, alcohol is not the matter necessary to confect the Sacrament in Holy Communion. This is why, as stated, the Church allows mustum to be used.  

Everything must be used in moderation. The Catechism states this and makes it clear that food, alcohol, tobacco, or medicine cannot be abused or taken in excess:


2290 The virtue of temperance disposes us to avoid every kind of excess: the abuse of food, alcohol, tobacco, or medicine. Those incur grave guilt who, by drunkenness or a love of speed, endanger their own and others' safety on the road, at sea, or in the air.


The Sacred Scriptures or the Bible also says a lot about wine.  It mentions wine in these passages and even encourages its use in moderation and in other places condemns it (Lev 10:9; Num 6:3; Deut 14:26; 29:6; Jud 13:4, 7, 14; 1 Sam 1:15; Prov 31:4; Mic 2:11; cf. Prov 20:1; 31:6; Is 5:11, 22; 24:9; 28:7; 56:12; Lk 1:15; Deut 21:20; Prov 20:1; 21:17; 23:20-21, 29-35; 26:9; Is 5:11-12; Rom 13:13; Rom 14:21; 1 Cor 5:11; 6:10; Gal 5:21; 1 Tim 3:3, 8; Titus 1:7; 2:3; 1 Pet 4:3). So we seen wine has been a drink mentioned throughout biblical times and its use was often recommended for celebration, ailments and even religious ceremonies while warnings were often given for its use as well. 

Jesus partook in events with wine as we read in Matt 11:19; Lk 7:33, Jn 2:1.  Jesus was even accused of being a drunk and glutton because of His "partying," so to speak.  Moreover, we read how wine was used for religious purposes (Ex 29:40; 1 Sam 1:24, Mt 26:17 ff.; Mk 14:12 ff.; Lk 22:15 ff.; Jn 13:1).  It is important that we present the facts so that the reader can make his or her conclusion.  

Remember, drinking is not part of the Catholic faith. What we mean by this is that drinking, smoking, and so on are not required by the Catholic faith. We do not have to drink wine, coffee, tea soda, water, juice, or even smoke to be practicing Catholics in good standing. These vices are performed on the individual's conscience and free will. Nowhere in the Church's teachings, Sacred Scripture, Sacred Tradition, or the Magisterium does it say that we need to drink or smoke in order to become holy, serve Christ, or make it to heaven. Books, social media posts and commentaries out there from clergy, the laity, religious, or even the pope on drinking and smoking are their personal opinions based on their palates.  You are not obliged to try their recommendations or engage in vices because they mentioned them or praised them. 

Let me be clear. I never said we should ban alcohol. I am saying these posts and comments from the pope, the posts on social media, and the defense of alcoholism by some Catholics do not help our faith. If we are teaching people to be virtuous and care for themselves, their bodies, and the earth, then we should not be endorsing substances or behaviors that contradict what we are trying to teach the world.  For example, imagine if I preach on the street that drunkards will not enter the Kingdom of Heaven and then take a break and go to the corner store and get a beer to drink. What will the people I just preached to think?  I would become a clown, a charlatan.  

St Augustine is quoted as stating “Take care of your body as if you were going to live forever; and take care of your soul as if you were going to die tomorrow. How can we do this by making choices to drink toxins?  

1 Corinthians 6:19 says the human body is the temple of the Holy Spirit.  Do we take care of temples or destroy them intentionally?  We must take care of our temples, both the body and the buildings we use for the Sacraments.  Nowhere in Catholic teaching does it say to destroy the body or ignore health. That is a pro-choice stance, not pro-life.  Caring for our health is part of Church teaching: 


"Everyone has the duty to care for his or her own health or to seek such care from others. Those whose task it is to care for the sick must do so conscientiously and administer the remedies that seem necessary or useful." 
-  Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Declaration on Euthanasia, 1980 (https://www.vatican.va/roman_curia/congregations/cfaith/documents/rc_con_cfaith_doc_19800505_euthanasia_en.html)


So in conclusion, we need to do better. The world has a spotlight on us and will catch us whenever we show a slight contradiction between what we believe what we say and how we act.  It is 2024, and we have advanced in science. We know the dangers of alcohol, so why promote it?  We have psychology and know the human mind is frail. We cannot expect human beings to know what "moderation" is via second nature.  Unfortunately, self-control is not exceptionally hardwired in us. This is why we have so many people addicted to drugs, alcohol, smoking, and even food or hoarding.  The human brain is not as advanced as some of us believe and our bodies all work on different metabolisms.  Women usually get drunk faster than men due to this biological difference. This is why when people say "moderation," it really means nothing because each body is different. What is moderate for you is not necessarily moderate for others.  

Hopefully, this post will educate you so that you make an informed decision about whether to drink or not. Now that you know the dangers and the religious reasons surrounding drinking you can hopefully avoid intoxication, hurting others, death, and causing the death of others.  

Everything in moderation, yes, but we must understand and learn what this means in regard to our physiology. Also, note that some people are genetically predisposed to alcoholism, so even a taste can cause addiction.   It is just not worth it.  People in biblical times did not know about genetics and did not anticipate the creation of vehicles, but they did know how drunks behaved. This is why the characters in Scripture often encouraged moderation.  The same applies to Church figures in history. They are a product of their time and understanding. We know better now and our future descendants will know even more and will hopefully solve the problem of alcohol abuse.  Hopefully, the Church's teaching will develop on this just like it did with the death penalty which is now inadmissible. Maybe one day a better-educated pope who values health science will enforce a non-alcoholic stance knowing the dangers of drinking.  Alcohol is a poison. It is as simple as that.  It destroys lives and bodies. 

Please do not drink and drive. Drink very little and do not make it a daily thing. Be considerate of your family, especially children. They imitate what they see and what they see does affect them.  They do not need to see you staggering around like a zombie or walker from The Walking Dead with slurred speech and a violent or annoying demeanor. 

As we observe National Alcohol Awareness Month, let's take this opportunity to reflect on our own alcohol consumption habits, educate ourselves and others about the dangers of alcohol misuse, and support those who are on the path to recovery. It's a time to come together as a community to address this critical issue and to make a positive change for the well-being of all.

For more information on how to get involved or to find resources related to alcohol misuse prevention, treatment, and recovery support services, visit SAMHSA's website and the NIAAA's website.


If you need help with substance abuse, in particular, alcohol, call:

SAMHSA National Helpline

Confidential free help, from public health agencies, to find substance use treatment and information.  

1-800-662-4357

Sunday, April 28, 2024

Reflection: Fifth Sunday of Easter Year B

The readings for the Fifth Sunday of Easter, Cycle B, offer a profound reflection on the themes of transformation, community, and love. The first reading from Acts 9:26-31 recounts the transformative journey of Saul, who, after his encounter with the Lord, seeks to join the disciples in Jerusalem. Despite their initial fear and disbelief, Saul is eventually embraced by the community, illustrating the power of forgiveness and the importance of community in the Christian life.  Saul today is the atheist, agnostic of those who fell away from the Church who persecute her and Jesus. Like Jesus said on the cross, "Forgive them for they know not what they do." People who attack the Church are often ignorant of her.  They attack what they do not understand like Saul did. God's grace eventually wins and softens the hardest of hearts. 

The responsorial psalm, Ps 22:26-27, 28, 30, 31-32, echoes this sentiment of the community as it invites all to praise the Lord in the assembly of the people. It speaks to the inclusivity of God's love, reaching out to "all the ends of the earth" and promising life and service to future generations.

In the second reading, 1 John 3:18-24, the focus shifts to the nature of love — not as mere words or speech but as action and truth. This passage challenges believers to live out the commandments of God through genuine acts of love, thereby remaining in Him, as He remains in us through the Spirit.

The Gospel of John 15:1-8 presents the metaphor of the true vine, with Jesus as the vine and believers as the branches. It emphasizes the importance of remaining in Jesus to bear fruit, and it serves as a reminder of the nurturing relationship between God and His people and the pruning process that leads to greater spiritual growth. We are nothing without Jesus.  Jesus is the vine and we are the branches. Without the vine, there are no branches. This is why in this period of Eucharistic revival, we must remember who is the Church composed of and of whose body.  We are the branches that make up the Catholic Church, but Jesus' body is the Church.  We cannot do anything without Jesus.

These readings collectively underscore the essence of the Christian experience: a life marked by transformation, sustained by community, and expressed through love. They invite reflection on one's personal journey of faith, the role of community in that journey, and the expression of faith through love in action. As we meditate on these readings, we are called to consider how we are being pruned and nourished by our relationship with Christ, and how we can bear fruit in the world around us. 

Sunday, April 21, 2024

Reflection: 4th Sunday of Easter - The Good Shepherd

The Fourth Sunday of Easter, often referred to as "Good Shepherd Sunday," is a time for reflection and gratitude within the Christian faith. The readings for this day, in Year B of the liturgical calendar, offer a rich tapestry of themes centered around the figure of Christ as the Good Shepherd and the profound implications of this metaphor for believers.

The first reading from Acts 4:5-12 presents a powerful testimony by Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, asserting the name of Jesus Christ as the cornerstone of salvation. This passage emphasizes the boldness of the apostles' witness to the resurrection of Jesus and the transformative power of His name.

Psalm 23, perhaps one of the most beloved psalms, offers comfort and reassurance, depicting the Lord as a shepherd who provides, guides, and accompanies His flock. This psalm resonates with the theme of trust and divine providence, assuring believers that they are cared for even in the darkest of valleys.

The second reading, from 1 John 3:16-24, calls believers to live out the love of Christ through concrete actions. It challenges individuals to embody the self-sacrificial love of Jesus, laying down their lives for others, and to love not just in words but in truth and action.

The Gospel reading from John 10:11-18 reveals Jesus as the Good Shepherd who knows His sheep intimately and lays down His life for them. This passage contrasts the commitment of the Good Shepherd with the mercenary attitude of the hired hand. It speaks to the intimate relationship between Christ and His followers, a relationship that is personal, sacrificial, and life-giving.

These readings collectively invite reflection on the nature of Christ's leadership as one marked by sacrifice, intimacy, and care. They call the faithful to recognize Jesus as the true shepherd of their lives, to listen to His voice, and to follow Him with trust and confidence. The readings also inspire believers to reflect on how they are called to mirror the Good Shepherd's love in their own lives, caring for others and living out the Gospel with courage and compassion.

As we meditate on these passages, we are reminded of the enduring presence of the Good Shepherd in our journey of faith. We are encouraged to embrace His guidance, to find solace in His protection, and to extend His love to the world around us. The Fourth Sunday of Easter thus becomes a moment to renew our commitment to living as disciples of the one who calls us each by name and leads us to the fullness of life.

Saturday, April 20, 2024

Dangers of Marijuana Use

Today is April 20 or 420 which is the street code for marijuana or weed. Like with other evils that have been legalized in the United States such as abortion, so-called same-sex marriage, euthanasia, and so on, Marijuana has joined the ranks of now socially accepted behavior. I remember when I was a kid. Cops used to visit our classroom. One brought a red suitcase display with various drugs. He explained to us about each drug and the dangers surrounding their use. 

Shortly afterward, I remember the cartoon program that aired on all networks containing the popular characters at the time. This cartoon was geared towards teaching kids about drugs and why they are not good.  How times have changed! Now it is celebrated!  Drug use is now a thing that even our own government promotes. You will even find people who will defend the use of Marijuana justifying it by claiming it is legalized, therefore it is good. This is not how ethics or morality works or even healthcare. The majority does not decide what is right or wrong. Things are intrinsically good or evil or can be abused. Marijuana is one such thing. While it is natural, it is a plant, and it can be abused. 

Medicinal Marijuana does have its benefits, but this form is controlled. Only the beneficial parts remain. Recreational marijuana is a different story. It is harmful to the smoker's health and those around the smoker. States that have legalized its use have seen a rise in crime. In New York, California, and Massachusetts, we see a huge rise in crime. People are being pushed into trains, into traffic, punched, slapped, and stabbed. Most of the attackers are labeled as "mentally ill" but upon closer inspection, they are high on drugs, namely, Marijuana and Synthetic marijuana or "K2."  

These cities and Democratic-run states even encourage drug use. Instead of helping drug addicts, they give them syringes and even have places in parks or on the street where they can shoot up their drugs. The syringes are then discarded on the street, park grounds, alleys, and sidewalks where innocent people or pets can jab themselves with them by accident. Despite being against state and federal law (Federal prosecutor threatens to shut down NYC overdose prevention centers - CBS New York (cbsnews.com)), these injection safe spaces were created and are active.

Now the idea for this handing out of syringes and creating "safe injecting sites" was to limit the spread of HIV, Hepatitis, and other intravenous pathogens or viruses and to prevent addicts from dangerous withdrawal symptoms. Naloxone or Narcan are provided with syringes. This is a drug administered via a nasal spray that can potentially save the life of someone who has overdosed by reversing the effects.  

However, things did not work out as planned.  As stated, used syringes are being disposed of improperly and after injection along with the Narcan (unused), addicts are seen in a zombie-like state, acting irrationally or feral, passed out, and in some cases, deceased from a heavy overdose. At St. Mary's Park in my hometown The Bronx in New York City, residents have been complaining about this for years. In a few months, over 6,000 used syringes were found on the grounds of the park. Last year alone, over 30,000 were found.  See:

Drug needles, syringes litter a Bronx park. This organization is taking action. - CBS New York (cbsnews.com)

Residents worry about an ongoing safety risk at St. Mary's Park: Discarded needles - Mott Haven Herald

Used needles, syringes litter one of the only parks in the South Bronx - CBS New York (cbsnews.com)

So while the intention was good-natured, it backfired. The government and health officially literally believed that addicts have the discipline and temperance to "shoot up" responsibly if that makes sense. Instead, overdosing and deaths due to them have increased in NYC, see:

(91) NYC drug overdose deaths skyrocketing, experts explain - YouTube

Report details "unprecedented" number of drug overdoses in NYC (youtube.com)

This is not the way to help drug addicts or even alcoholics. The same was done with Marijuana. The legalization of Marijuana as recreational was done in an attempt to raise money for the government. Instead of having drug dealers make millions, why not the state? The state became the drug dealer. They do not care about citizens or those with addiction. Many areas are now rethinking their laws that legalized Marijuana use. Thailand is one such nation doing this after there was a rise in crime and mental health problems.  

The Dangers of Smoking Marijuana: A Closer Look

Marijuana, often referred to as weed, pot, or cannabis, is a topic of significant debate and research due to its widespread use and the shifting legal landscape surrounding it. While some advocate for its benefits, particularly in medical contexts, it is crucial to acknowledge the potential risks associated with its use, especially when smoked. Here, we delve into the dangers of smoking marijuana, supported by references to recent studies and health resources.

Marijuana, while it may be something natural – a plant – it is still dangerous. It is the most used illicit drug in the United States and its effects come instantly once a person smokes it since the smoke enters the lungs and then the bloodstream via the alveoli immediately. These effects can last over three hours.

  • Marijuana is a psychoactive drug which means that it alters the mind and how it perceives reality.
  • It distorts what we hear, see, smell, taste, and touch. Our perception of time is disrupted. Marijuana also disrupts learning, and memory and takes away coordination.
  • Users of the drug have trouble concentrating, and cannot problem-solve or think clearly. The heartbeat increases while blood pressure drops dramatically. So much for recreation/fun right?
  • These symptoms are due to the tetrahydrocannabinol or THC chemical which affects the nerve cells in the brain by disrupting anandamides because both have nearly identical molecular structures. Anandamides ironically are natural marijuana-like chemicals that the brain produces. It helps with pain relief.
  • Furthermore, the use of marijuana weakens the immune system due to the presence of THC. Smoking it also poses dangers to the lungs because it contains 50% more carcinogens than regular cigarettes. It will also bring about anxiety, panic attacks, depression, and paranoia.
  • The verdict is that using marijuana for recreational reasons is not a good idea and is hardly recreational or fun.

Impact on Brain Health

Research indicates that marijuana can cause permanent IQ loss, particularly when use begins at a young age. This loss in cognitive function does not appear to be reversible, even after ceasing marijuana use.

Mental Health Concerns

There is a documented link between marijuana use and various mental health issues, including depression, anxiety, and psychotic episodes. While causation is not fully established, the correlation is a cause for concern, particularly among younger users who are at a higher risk of addiction.

Physical Health Risks

Smoking marijuana can lead to respiratory issues similar to those caused by smoking tobacco. This includes an increased risk of bronchitis, lung infections, and potential damage to lung tissue. Additionally, there are cardiovascular risks, with some studies suggesting a link between heavy marijuana use and an increased risk of heart failure and other vascular diseases.

Exploring the Complex Relationship Between Marijuana and Cancer

The intersection of marijuana use and cancer is a topic of growing interest and research, particularly as the legal landscape surrounding cannabis continues to evolve. The plant Cannabis sativa, commonly known as marijuana, has been utilized in herbal remedies for centuries, and modern science has begun to shed light on its potential therapeutic and adverse health effects.

Cannabinoids, the biologically active components of marijuana, have been identified and extensively studied, with delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD) being the most well-known. These compounds have shown promise in managing symptoms related to cancer and its treatments, such as nausea, pain, and loss of appetite. For instance, pharmaceutical forms of THC and a synthetic cannabinoid called nabilone have received FDA approval for treating conditions like chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting.

However, the relationship between marijuana and cancer risk is complex and not fully understood. While some studies suggest a potential increased risk of certain cancers, such as lung, head, and neck cancers, associated with long-term cannabis smoking, the quality of this research is not as robust as the evidence linking tobacco use to cancer. Moreover, there is insufficient evidence to conclude that marijuana use is associated with a higher risk of other forms of cancer, including prostate, cervical, penile, and colorectal cancers.

The method of marijuana consumption also plays a significant role in its health effects. Inhaled marijuana, whether smoked or vaporized, introduces a range of chemicals into the body, some of which are known irritants and carcinogens found in tobacco smoke. This exposure can lead to lung irritation, acute bronchospasm, and an increased risk of chronic bronchitis and lung cancer. Conversely, edible forms of marijuana, which are absorbed through the gastrointestinal tract, produce different psychoactive effects and have a delayed onset of action.

It's important to note that the legalization of marijuana in various states has led to increased usage and a greater need for public education on its potential health impacts. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and other health organizations continue to study marijuana's health effects, including its potential to manage the side effects of cancer therapies.

Ongoing research is essential to fully understand the implications of marijuana use on cancer risk and to guide patients and healthcare providers in making informed decisions about its therapeutic use. As with any substance, moderation and medical guidance are key to minimizing risks and maximizing potential benefits.

Effects on Athletic Performance

Timing, movement, and coordination are essential for athletic performance, and these can be adversely affected by marijuana use. The impairment of these physical capabilities can have a significant negative impact on athletes' performance levels.

Risks During Pregnancy and Breastfeeding

Pregnant women and nursing mothers should be particularly cautious, as marijuana use can affect fetal growth, potentially leading to premature birth or stillbirth. Furthermore, THC and other chemicals can be transferred to the child through breast milk, impacting the child's development.

Influence on Daily Life

The use of marijuana is not without consequences in one's daily life. Studies have shown that regular users may experience relationship problems, educational setbacks, lower career achievement, and overall reduced life satisfaction.

Addiction and Dependency

Contrary to some beliefs, marijuana can be addictive. The risk of addiction is higher for those who begin using at a younger age, with approximately 1 in 6 becoming addicted if they start before age 18. For adults, the addiction rate is around 1 in 10.

Conclusion

While the conversation around marijuana is complex and multifaceted, it is essential to consider the potential dangers of its use. Smoking marijuana, in particular, carries risks that can affect an individual's mental and physical health, as well as their overall quality of life. As research continues to evolve, it is important for individuals to stay informed and weigh the risks when making decisions about marijuana use.

If you are smart and care about your life and others, do not use it! It will just remove days from your life and the lives of others. It is just not worth it.  Why would you want to be high? Why do you want to "escape from the world" by being "out of your mind?" Why become a zombie?  People who just marijuana and promote it seem to be afraid of life and reality. They think this plant will make things disappear via delusions and psychedelic experiences. News flash, life, and reality remain the same even after the high.  

For more detailed information and further reading on the subject, the following resources provide valuable insights: SAMHSA, WebMD, Cleveland Clinic, Scientific American, and Healthline. It is always recommended to consult with healthcare professionals when seeking advice on substance use and its effects.

Other sources:

Is marijuana legalization driving increases in violent crime? | The Hill

Luke Niforatos: Bad things happen when states legalize weed | Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

New study reveals increase in marijuana-related incidents since legalization in Illinois (fox32chicago.com)

America, take note: Thailand is set to REVERSE weed legalization after spike in cannabis-related mental health issues and crime - with government calling pot 'a big problem' | Daily Mail Online

Marijuana use during pregnancy linked to increase in childhood cancers, Duke study finds - ABC11 Raleigh-Durham

Genomic study links cannabis abuse to multiple health problems | YaleNews

Many Americans wrongly believe exposure to marijuana smoke is safer than tobacco, study finds | CNN

Genome study unveils genetic ties between cannabis use disorder and lung cancer risk (news-medical.net)

Marijuana & Lung Cancer Risk - Mayo Clinic Health System


Thursday, April 18, 2024

Columbia University Agitators

The Columbia University campus has become a focal point for protests, reflecting a broader wave of demonstrations that have swept across college campuses in the United States. The recent protests at Columbia are centered around the complex and deeply contentious issue of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, with students and other groups expressing their stances through occupation and demonstrations.

The situation escalated when protesters occupied Hamilton Hall, leading to a significant police presence and nearly 100 arrests. The university administration has requested the NYPD to maintain a presence through May 17th, indicating the expectation of ongoing tensions. These events are part of a larger pattern of campus activism that has seen students demanding their institutions divest from entities connected to the Israeli military operations, while also raising concerns about antisemitism and student safety.

This is not the first time Columbia University has been the site of significant protests. The university has a history of student activism, dating back to the 1968 protests against institutional links to the Vietnam War and civil rights issues. The current protests are a continuation of this legacy, as students exercise their right to free speech and assembly, bringing attention to international issues and their impact on campus life.

The university's response to the protests has included suspensions and a firm stance against divestment from Israel, which has been a central demand of the protesters. This has led to a complex dialogue about the role of academic institutions in political matters, the rights of students to protest, and the responsibilities of universities to ensure the safety and well-being of all students.

As the situation continues to develop, it remains to be seen how the protests will resolve and what long-term impact they will have on the university and its community. What is clear, however, is that the spirit of student activism is alive at Columbia, as students engage with pressing global issues and seek to influence the policies and positions of their institution.


Source:

Columbia University sets midnight deadline for talks to dismantle protest encampment | CNN

Columbia faculty joins student protests despite bipartisan criticism | The Hill

Some Jewish Students Are Targeted as Protests Continue at Columbia - The New York Times (nytimes.com)

Student protesters begin dismantling some tents as negotiations with Columbia University progress - ABC News

Wednesday, April 17, 2024

Cardinal Sarah: Western Bishops & Practical Atheism

The topic of religious leaders' engagement with secular values is a complex and sensitive one, often leading to vigorous debate within religious communities. Recently, Cardinal Robert Sarah, a prominent figure within the Catholic Church, addressed this issue head-on. During a speech to the National Episcopal Conference of Cameroon, he expressed concern over what he perceives as a growing trend of 'practical atheism' among some Western bishops.

Cardinal Sarah, who hails from Guinea and has served as the prefect of the Vatican’s Congregation for Divine Worship until his retirement in 2021, criticized these bishops for aligning too closely with secular values, which he believes leads to a detachment from traditional Christian doctrines. He described this phenomenon as a subtle infiltration that never announces itself but gradually erodes the Church's spiritual fervor, leading to a situation where religious rites are celebrated, but the underlying faith is diluted.

The cardinal's remarks highlight a tension between the desire to remain relevant in a rapidly changing world and the need to uphold the foundational truths of the faith. This balance is particularly challenging in the context of Western societies, where secularism is more prevalent, and the Church is often seen as needing to adapt to survive.

Cardinal Sarah's comments have sparked discussions on the role of the Church in modern society and the importance of maintaining doctrinal integrity. He praised the response of African bishops, especially during the Synod on Synodality, for their steadfastness in upholding doctrinal integrity against pressures for cultural adaptations in Church teachings. He emphasized the importance of maintaining doctrinal unity, accusing some of pursuing a “dictatorship of relativism” that threatens to fragment the Church’s universal truth.

The debate is not just about the survival of traditional values but also about the identity and mission of the Church in the 21st century. Cardinal Sarah's call to action urges the global episcopate to defend the foundational truths of the Church vigorously. He sees the Church in Africa as potentially having to defend the truth of the priesthood and the unity of the faith in the near future, a role he deems critical at a time when traditional values are under challenge.

This ongoing conversation is a reminder of the dynamic nature of faith and its interaction with broader cultural and societal trends. It raises important questions about how religious institutions can remain true to their beliefs while also engaging constructively with the world around them.

For more detailed information on Cardinal Sarah's address and the implications of his statements, you can refer to the original articles and sources provided.


Source:

Cardinal Sarah denounces 'atheistic' Western bishops who prefer the world to the cross - Catholic Herald


Tuesday, April 16, 2024

Happy Birthday Pope Benedict XVI - We Miss You!

Pope Benedict XVI, born Joseph Aloisius Ratzinger on April 16, 1927, served as the head of the Catholic Church and the sovereign of the Vatican City State from April 19, 2005, until his resignation on February 28, 2013. His papacy was marked by a deep commitment to orthodox theology and a strong stance on authentic Catholic doctrine. 

Benedict XVI's early life in Marktl am Inn, Bavaria, was shaped by the turbulent times of World War II. Despite these challenges, he pursued a path that led him to become one of the most influential theologians of the 20th century. His extensive writings and teachings have left a lasting impact on the Church.

As pope, Benedict XVI was known for his intellectual depth and his efforts to address various issues facing the modern Church, including secularism and interfaith dialogue. His decision to resign, a move that had not been made by a pope for almost 600 years, was a historic moment for the Catholic Church, demonstrating his humility and concern for the welfare of the Church over personal legacy.

After his resignation, he took the title of Pope Emeritus and continued to live in the Vatican, dedicating his time to prayer and study. His 95th birthday was celebrated with reflections on his life and contributions to the Church. Despite preferring a more private life post-papacy, his influence remains significant, and his works continue to be studied by theologians and laypeople alike.

Today would have been his 97th birthday.  He passed away on 1/31/22.  Pope Benedict XVI's legacy is a testament to a life devoted to faith, scholarship, and leadership in the Catholic Church. His birthday serves as a reminder of his profound impact on the Church and the world. We all miss him, especially those of us who love the Catholic faith and want it to thrive and spread around the world converting it. 

Monday, April 15, 2024

Bishop Mar Mari Emmanuel Attacked

In a shocking series of events, Bishop Mar Mari Emmanuel was attacked during a church service in Sydney. The incident, which was captured on video and shared widely, occurred just days after a separate tragedy where six people were fatally stabbed at a Sydney shopping mall. The bishop was among several people injured during the church service attack. A man has been arrested in connection with the incident and is assisting police with inquiries. Some reports claim he is 15. 

Emmanuel gained popularity on social media during the Covid-19 pandemic lockdown. He attacked it as a "pandemic," described the virus as a mere flu, and said churches were manipulated by Satan.  He has also said Pope Francis is possessed by the devil.

This recent violence has shaken the local community and raised concerns about safety in public spaces. The attack on Bishop Emmanuel, a prominent Christian leader who gained recognition during the COVID-19 pandemic, is particularly disturbing as it took place in a sacred space, a place of worship where people seek peace and solace.

The authorities responded promptly to the incident, ensuring that the injured received medical attention and that the public was kept informed. The New South Wales Police have urged the community to avoid the area as they conduct their investigation.

These events serve as a somber reminder of the unpredictability of such attacks and the importance of security measures in public venues. It also highlights the bravery of those who step in to assist and protect others in times of crisis. The community's response in the aftermath of such incidents reflects the resilience and solidarity among the people, as they come together to support one another and condemn acts of violence.

Bishop Emmanuel is not Catholic. He is a cleric of the Non-Catholic Eastern Church and at one point started his own independent church but later returned into communion with metropolitan Toma Gewargis.

According to reports, the knife failed to open and the bishop suffered just minor facial injuries. Other reports claim the knife was a switchblade and retracted upon striking the bishop while some claim the knife "softened."

Our thoughts and prayers are with the injured and all those affected by these tragic events. As the situation develops, further details will emerge, providing clarity on the motives behind these attacks and hopefully, measures to prevent such incidents in the future.

Here is the video of the attack




Source:

Sydney church stabbing: crowds clash with police after bishop allegedly stabbed during mass | New South Wales | The Guardian

Sydney: Bishop among several people stabbed in attack during church service | World News | Sky News

Sydney church stabbing: Boy, 15, arrested after Bishop attacked (bbc.com)

Sydney stabbing: Bishop injured at Sydney church in new Australia incident (nbcnews.com)

Bishop allegedly stabbed by 15yo boy during service in Sydney, while three others also injured | news.com.au — Australia’s leading news site

Mar Mari Emmanuel, prominent bishop stabbed in Sydney - The Jerusalem Post (jpost.com)

Sydney is rocked by another stabbing rampage with a priest and worshippers attacked at Christ the Good Shepherd Church in Wakeley | Daily Mail Online

Bishop stabbed during service in Sydney just days after mall massacre (nypost.com)


Sunday, April 14, 2024

Reflection: Third Sunday of Easter Year B

The Third Sunday of Easter offers a profound opportunity for reflection and spiritual growth. The readings for this day, as outlined in the liturgical calendar, present a tapestry of themes that resonate with the joyous reality of the Resurrection. The readings from Acts 3:13-15, 17-19, 1 John 2:1-5, and Luke 24:35-48, bring to the forefront the transformative power of Christ's resurrection and its implications for personal and communal faith.

The first reading from Acts presents Peter's bold proclamation to the people, reminding them of their denial of Christ and the fulfillment of the prophecies through His suffering. It is a call to repentance and conversion, highlighting the mercy and forgiveness available through Jesus, the risen Lord. The Responsorial Psalm, Ps 4:2, 4, 7-8, 9, echoes this theme of trust and confidence in God's unfailing love and presence.

The second reading from 1 John emphasizes the advocacy role of Jesus Christ, the righteous one, who is the expiation for our sins. It challenges believers to live in fidelity to His commandments, assuring them of the perfection of God's love in those who keep His word.

The Gospel according to Luke recounts the appearance of Jesus to His disciples, dispelling their doubts and fears, and affirming His physical resurrection. It is a narrative that invites believers to experience the risen Christ in their midst, recognizing Him in the breaking of bread and the sharing of the Scriptures.

These readings collectively underscore the central message of Easter: Jesus Christ is risen indeed, and this truth is the cornerstone of Christian faith. They invite the faithful to encounter the risen Lord in their daily lives, to embrace the joy of the Resurrection, and to bear witness to the hope it brings to the world.

As we reflect on these readings, we are encouraged to consider how the reality of the Resurrection influences our actions, attitudes, and relationships. It is a time to renew our commitment to living out the Gospel values, to seek reconciliation and peace, and to be agents of God's love in a world yearning for redemption.

The Third Sunday of Easter is not just a commemoration but a living experience of the risen Christ's ongoing presence and activity in our lives. It is an invitation to open our hearts to the transformative power of His love and to share the Good News with all we encounter.


Friday, April 12, 2024

John 1:1 "Word was God" or "Word was a god"?

Exploring the Depth of John 1:1

The opening verse of the Gospel of John, "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God," is a profound statement that has captivated theologians, scholars, and believers for centuries. This verse, which establishes the eternal existence and divine nature of the Word, is a cornerstone of Christian theology.

The term "Word" (Logos in Greek) carries significant philosophical and theological weight. In Greek philosophy, Logos referred to the principle of order and knowledge. In the context of John's Gospel, it is a title for Jesus, identifying Him as the divine, self-expression of God. Through Him, the invisible God is made visible and accessible to humanity.

John 1:1 counters the notion that the universe is eternal by affirming that there was a beginning, and God existed from that beginning. It also establishes the distinct yet unified relationship between God and the Word, implying a complex unity within the Godhead. This verse sets the stage for the rest of the Gospel, which unfolds the identity and mission of Jesus as the incarnate Word who reveals God to the world. This was defined (homoousios) in the Council of Nicaea against the heresies of Arianism and Sabellianism which sought to degrade Jesus into a mere human, a lesser god, or not an equal to God. 

The depth of John 1:1 lies in its affirmation of creation, revelation, and redemption all found in the person of Jesus Christ. As the Word, He is the agent of creation, the source of life and light, and the ultimate revelation of God's love and truth. This single verse invites readers to ponder the mystery of God's eternal plan and the central role of Christ in the cosmos and human history.

For those exploring the Christian faith, John 1:1 serves as an invitation to consider the claims of Jesus and the implications of His identity as the Word made flesh. It challenges us to reflect on the nature of God and the meaning of existence, leading us to a deeper understanding of our purpose and destiny in relation to the divine.

The Gospel of John continues to reveal the character and works of Jesus, demonstrating how the Word, which was with God in the beginning, became flesh and dwelt among us, full of grace and truth. This profound truth has the power to transform lives and shape destinies, as it has done throughout the ages.

Jehovah's Witnesses/Watchtower: The Word was "a god." 

However, there are some, namely the Watchtower or more commonly known as the "Jehovah's Witnesses" sect that claim that John 1:1's proper translation is, "In the beginning was the Word, the Word was God and the Word was a god."  They have their own heavily edited version of the Bible called the New World Translation and often cite Coptic and Syriac texts to justify their edit.  

Here are the problems with this:

1) The Gospel of John was NOT written in Coptic but in Koine Greek.  Syriac, Coptic, and Latin translations were written later around 200 AD. 

2) Suppose the Watchtower translation is correct, hypothetically speaking. This brings about a lot of problems.  

a. If the Word is a god, which god is the Word supposed to be? 

b. How can there be other gods co-existing with God? This would be polytheism. This would contradict Exodus 20:3-5 in which God says not to have other gods before Him.

c. Jesus says that He and the Father are ONE (John 10:30), how can this be possible?   

3) Only the New World Translation has this translation. No other Bible translations have this. Some use other variations such as, "the Word was Divine." 

4) If this translation is correct, why do the Greek Orthodox not use it in their Gospel of John text? The Greek Orthodox Church is older than the Watchtower which is a sect founded in the United States by Charles T. Russell. 

5) How can Jesus be "Imanu-El/Emanu-El" or "God among us/God with us" but not be God and just "a god?" This goes back to number 2. How can there be more than One God?

So as you can see, this translation disrupts the entire Bible and reason in general.  Thankfully, we know how Koine Greek words and exegesis work.  

Greek lacks what is called the indefinite article (a and an). When translating to other non-Greek languages, discretion must be used to add it in order for the translated language to flow semantically and grammatically. However, before "a or an" can be added, the context of the text must be taken into account.  

The words used are "theos en ho logos." This can be translated literally as "God is logos," "Logos is God," "Word was God," and "God was word" due to the absence of the indefinite article. In light of this, the translation must be made carefully and accurately to the context of the text. John is introducing Jesus Christ to readers. He begins by telling us about this word or logos and then mentions John, but clearly states that John was just a witness and was not the light. 

In verse 14 John tells us who is this word or logos and is stating that this word or logos took on flesh and dwelled among us (Immanu-El). So we know John is introducing Jesus Christ as the subject here.  If a translator adds "a or an" to John 1:1, problems arise. This word or logos becomes a created being, a finite being (in this case, a god), and inferior to the One True God. The Gospel of John emphasizes greatly the divinity of Christ. In John 5:18 John tells us that the Jews sought to kill Jesus because he allegedly broke the sabbath and called God His Father and even made Himself equal to God.  John does not dispute this nor correct the Jews' accusation.  So the translation stating that the "Word was a god" is erroneous and does not fit the context of John 1:1 and the entire Gospel of John. (Daniel Wallace, Greek Grammar Beyond the Basics, 255–70).  

John 1:2 and 3 go further saying the Word/Logos was with God and all was created through this Word/Logos. This Word/Logos is referred to as a He/Him. Let us go back to verse 1. It says, "en arche 'en o logos" literally "In beginning was the Word." Notice that there is no definite article before arche. Even the New World Translation puts the article there. That is how it is supposed to read. Toying with it would cause confusion in the English translation of the text which would read "In a beginning was the Word..." That implies that there were multiple beginnings to the universe, which is false (biblically & cosmogonically speaking) and not consistent with the rest of the Scriptures. 

So we can see how the New World Translation deliberately edited some of the text while leaving the rest untouched showing inconsistency and lack of thought behind the translation.  The translator either made a mistake, did it intentionally to try to lessen the divinity of Christ, or simply was not an expert in Koine Greek and exegesis. It is interesting to note that the names of the alleged committee that made the translation were kept anonymous. Names of individuals assumed to possibly have had a hand in the translation are from individuals who lacked proper education in Greek, Hebrew, and Biblical studies.   

Now it is important to note that the early Hebrews were henotheists or believed in henotheism or the worship of one Supreme God or deity while acknowledging others exist. However, the Hebrews moved beyond that to monotheism and Christians definitely have never subscribed to this.  Clearly the Jews in Jesus' time did not subscribe to henotheism either. 

So again, this is why the translation "The Word was God" is the best translation semantically, exegetically, theologically, and grammatically. Even Google Translate translates it in this manner.  See the attached screenshot and photos of my Koine Greek New Testament. 

Some argue that Colwell’s rule which is a linguistic rubric is outdated, or obsolete. Not necessarily.  We see this when a definite predicate nominative when linked to the article and when a verb follows it. With John 1:1, the question is in regards to the clause are και θεος ην, the verb and now ην, θεος.  In regards to Koine Greek and how sentences are structured, there is no expectation for a definite article to be present when a verb is consecutive to the aforementioned noun.  This is why the Jehovah's Witness New World Translation is the only text that does something differently that makes no sense. They are inconsistent because, in other verses that lack an article, they replace it with "Jehovah" when the original text does not have a noun or this name or any name specifically. 

Wallace on pp. 5-6 writes, “One of the most well-known rules of NT grammar articulated in this century encompassed just such an approach [i.e. beginning with semantics and involving what Wallace calls “the prescriptive fallacy”]. What became known as ‘Colwell’s Rule’ was first published in 1933…. The rule is valid as far as it goes, though it is relatively worthless for syntactical purposes since it presupposes a certain semantic force for the predicate nominatives in question.” 

Wallace explains and makes note that Colwell’s rule was in criticism of text or semantics rather than in grammar. Moreover, on pp. 256-271, Wallace explains the rule more intensely and admits that some scholars misinterpreted the rule on page 257 and explains how this led to the resurrection of Arianism and other heresies on page 258 due to the misinterpretation of the rule.  A predicate nominative when it comes before a verb can be anarthrous when no article that is definite is present, however, in the case of John 1:1 that is not the case.  I.E. "In the beginning."  

A book from 1982 authored by the Jehovah's Witness (The Jehovah’s Witnesses NT: A Critical Analysis of the NWT of the Christian Greek Scriptures Philipsburg: P&R, 1982) even admits to the erroneous translation.  It notes the inconsistencies found in the New World Translation where there are 282 references to the anarthrous θεος.  They admit that the New World Translation was only consistent with the translation as such only 16 of those 282 locations.  In regards to θεος and how it is translated, the New World Translation uses it 6 times as "God," one time for "a god," and two times for "the god." 

So we see how the Jehovah's Witnesses play around with "a god."  As stated, the New World translation has inconsistencies - in other places where we have anarthrous "theos", the translators do NOT use "a god" i.e.:around

John 1:6 -There came a man who was sent as a representative of God; his name was John [notice - no "a" before "God" despite the lack of article]

John 1:12  - However, to all who did receive him, he gave authority to become God’s children [notice - no "a" before "God" despite the lack of article]

John 1:13 - And they were born, not from blood or from a fleshly will or from man’s will, but from God [notice - no "a" before "God" despite the lack of article]

Bruce Metzger writes:

"Some years ago Dr. Ernest Cadman Colwell of the University of Chicago pointed out in a study of the Greek definite article that, “A definite predicate nominative has the article when it follows the verb; it does not have the article when it precedes the verb. … The opening verse of John’s Gospel contains one of the many passages where this rule suggests the translation of a predicate as a definite noun. The absence of the article [before θεος] does not make the predicate indefinite or qualitative when it precedes the verb; it is indefinite in this position only when the context demands it. The context makes no such demand in the Gospel of John, for this statement cannot be regarded as strange in the prologue of the gospel which reaches its climax in the confession of Thomas [John 20:28, ‘My Lord and my God’].”

In a lengthy Appendix in the Jehovah’s Witnesses’ translation, which was added to support the mistranslation of John 1:1, there are quoted thirty-five other passages in John where the predicate noun has the definite article in Greek. 20 These are intended to prove that the absence of the article in John 1:1 requires that θεος must be translated “a god.” None of the thirty-five instances is parallel, however, for in every case the predicate noun stands after the verb, and so, according to Colwell’s rule, properly has the article. So far, therefore, from being evidence against the usual translation of John 1:1, these instances add confirmation to the full enunciation of the rule of the Greek definite article."

Daniel Wallace writes:

"The most likely candidate for Θεὸς is qualitative. This is true both grammatically (for the largest proportion of pre-verbal anarthrous predicate nominatives fall into this category) and theologically (both the theology of the Fourth Gospel and the NT as a whole). There is a balance between the Word's deity, which was already present in the beginning (Ἐν ἀρχῇ ... Θεὸς ἦν [1:1], and his humanity, which was added later (σὰρξ ἐγένετο [1:14]). The grammatical structure of these two statements mirrors each other; both emphasize the nature of the Word, rather than his identity. But Θεὸς was his nature from eternity (hence εἰμί is used), while σὰρξ was added at the incarnation (hence γίνομαι is used.)"

So we can see that "a god" is a bad translation and makes no sense in relation to the context of the rest of the text, Gospels, and the beliefs of John being a Christian.  

  • Again, who is "a god"?  This is polytheism, not monotheism. 
  • If the "a god" is correct, why did not the early Church Father adopt this translation or theology behind it?  
  • Why to this day do Greek Christians both in the Eastern and Western Churches not follow this "a god" translation. 
  • Why did in 325, (the Council of Nicaea) define that Jesus Christ was God, "consubstantial with the Father?"  
  • Why did Thomas say, "My Lord and My God"  to Jesus in John 20:28?  (Ἀπεκρίθη Θωμᾶς καὶ εἶπεν αὐτῷ Ὁ Κύριός μου καὶ ὁ Θεός μου.)  Transliterated as:  (Answered Thomas and said to Him, The Lord of Me, and the God of Me!)  "A god" was not used in this text nor does the New World Translation translate John 20:28 using "a god."  

We can go on and on, but we can see the problem "a god" causes and why it does not match with the context of John or the entire Gospel.  

Watchtower followers argue over translating Greek into English, not the actual Koine Greek text and the semantics surrounding it.  This is where the confusion lies.  Surely any language can be translated in different ways. For example, I can say "This is cool."  Someone can interpret it as referencing temperature while a younger person may interpret it as meaning something fun, attractive, or exciting. What decides what I mean is the context or main idea behind the statement. If the saying, "This is cool" continues with "I really like that car." Then we know what I am trying to convey.  So "cool" can mean different things but what decides the ultimate meaning is the context. 

The same with John 1:1.  John is introducing Jesus as God and Son of God who came into the world.  So Jesus is God but is not the Father or the Holy Spirit. They are distinct persons but one God substance. Moreover, John specifically uses Hellenistic jargon such as "Logos" to do this. The Greeks believed in the Logos or the great order or mind that runs the universe or is the universe. John was using their jargon to show that the universe is not the Logos, God is the Logos who was there before the universe (In the beginning was the Word) and the one who became flesh (Jesus), is also the Logos (was God) but also a distinct person from the Logos (with God). So here, Logos is the God substance or Divine nature that the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are equal with the only difference that they each are distinct persons within this Godhead or God substance. 

This is why all Bibles except the Watchtower's New World Translation say "The Word Was God." It is the only correct translation that connects with the context and corroborates with the Gospels.  Even Biblehub's Greek-English lexicon shows this and why even Google Translate uses a similar translation as demonstrated beforehand. 

"A god" makes no sense at all in this text.  Moreover, as shown, the Watchtowers fails to use the same translation in another 200-plus verses where "a god" could have been placed.  They selectively only made the edit in John 1:1.

This was done to push their false heretical views which are a rehashing of the banal arguments of Arianism and Sabellianism. From here they get stranger in their doctrine. They go as far as to claim that Jesus is a creature and even claim Jesus is St. Michael the Archangel.  This idea is absurd and is of the antichrist as Scripture says (1 John 4:3, 2 John 7, 2 John 1:7).  Those who deny Jesus coming into flesh and His divinity are of the spirit of the antichrist.  

Jesus is God, the Second Person of the Blessed Trinity.  Jesus is NOT the Father or the Holy Spirit. All three are one God, three distinct persons in this Godhead.  Jesus and St. Michael the Archangel are also not the same beings.  St. Michael the Archangel is an archangel created by God, Jesus is not. Jesus says that He and the Father are ONE (John 10:30-38).  Think about it. How can Michael and God be ONE while at the same time being an archangel and creation of God?  God is absolute. He has no beginning or end.  Some cite St. Justin Martyr where he uses "Angel of the Lord" alongside Jesus Christ.  They claim that Justin Martyr acknowledges that Jesus is an angel or a creation of God; a lesser god. In Hebrew scriptures, the refers"Angel of the Lord" refers to God. We see different instances where the "Angel of the Lords" is actually God speaking (1st person) see: (Genesis 16:7-12; 21:17-18; 22:11-18; Exodus 3:2; Judges 2:1-4; 5:23; 6:11-24; 13:3-22; 2 Samuel 24:16; Zechariah 1:12; 3:1; 12:8). St. Justin Martyr clearly makes this distinction in Dialogue with Trypho.

Jesus is God. Jesus is the Word of God.  Jesus was with God and is God.  John 1:1 is a crucial theological text that must be believed if one is to be a follower of Jesus.  Jesus Christ is true God and true Man. He was God before creation, at conception, while growing up as a male Jew, and after His crucifixion, death, resurrection, and ascension.  He is a man at conception in the womb of the Blessed Virgin Mary and remains so. He did not lose His divinity. He is God and Man simultaneously with two natures (divine and human) and one personhood (Jesus Christ/Son of God/Second Person of the Blessed Trinity).  This is what the Catholic Church has always believed and taught and formulated in the Nicense Creed which says:

I believe in one Lord Jesus Christ, the Only Begotten Son of God, born of the Father before all ages. God from God, Light from Light, true God from true God, begotten, not made, consubstantial with the Father; through him all things were made. For us men and for our salvation he came down from heaven, and by the Holy Spirit was incarnate of the Virgin Mary, and became man.

Jesus is not "a god."  Jesus is not Michael or an angel. Jesus is God, the Son of God, and the second person of the Blessed Trinity.  The editing of the Bible by the Watchtower sect shows the extremes that some will go to push lies.  To have the audacity to edit the Bible so it can fit your heresy is sinful and blasphemy. As stated, this edit distorts the entire Scriptures. It defeats the purpose of Jesus even incarnating. It warps theism as presented in the Bible and creates a polytheistic disaster.  




 

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