Day 358: From Rebellion to Faithfulness
THE LETTER OF JUDE
Some of the early Church Fathers believed the author of this Epistle to be St. Jude Thaddeus, the Apostle, but most scholars today identify him as another St. Jude, the brother of St. James, the first Bishop of Jerusalem and a kinsman of Christ (cf. Mt 13:55).
St. Jude draws his reputation both as a cousin of Christ and as a brother of the renowned bishop.
Because it lacks any reference to the destruction of the Temple in Jerusalem AD 70, many scholars date this Epistle between AD 50 and 70.
Others argue that it was composed as late as AD 90 to 100.
The identification of St. Jude with St. James in the salutation may indicate that the intended audience was the same as James, since they already regarded St. James as an authority.
The mention of Jewish traditions and writings outside of the Scriptures-St. Jude alludes to the apocryphal Assumption of Moses and the Book of Enoch (cf. verses 9, 14)-might also indicate that the Epistle was written to a largely Jewish Christian audience.
Whatever the case, it would appear that Jude was meant for wide circulation and is thus included among the"catholic Epistles" of the New Testament.
The theme of the Epistle is similar to that of the other catholic Epistles: Stand firm in the Faith in the face of temptations and false teachers, "ungodly persons who pervert the grace of our God into licentiousness and deny our only Master and Lord, Jesus Christ" (verse 4).
These false teachers appear to have downplayed the necessity of following the moral law perhaps out of a distorted interpretation of St. Paul's teachings on faith and works; perhaps out of a denial of the Second Coming of Christ, as seen in the Second Epistle of Peter; or perhaps from a dualistic philosophy that separated sins of the flesh from the individual's spirit or soul.
Whatever the reason, St. Jude strongly denounced the error as a heresy whose perpetrators would suffer judgment.
(*The Didache Bible RSV-CE Ignatius Edition, 2006)
Jude 1-2 The author of this Epistle is Jude, further identified as the brother of James, leader of the Church in Jerusalem after Peter. Jude's primary purpose was to warn the faithful about false teachers and to assure them that the deceivers would be judged by God. His introduction briefly describes the Christian journey: We are called by God and become his children through our participation in the life of Christ through Baptism. (CCC 460-461, 542, 1309, 1391, 1416, 2014)
3-4 Jude called for the faithful to put up a vigorous defense of the doctrines of the Faith taught by the Apostles—in essence, the Deposit of Faith. He alluded to false teachers who have infiltrated the Christian community and were corrupting the integrity of the Faith of the Christians with false doctrines. He charged them with two major errors: dispensation from abiding by the moral law and denial of the divinity of Christ. (CCC 78, 84, 89, 91-95, 170-175, 464-467)
5-7 Using the Old Testament, Jude cited examples of what happens to those who are unfaithful to God's Law and indulge their lustful passions; the latter refers to the people of Sodom and Gomorrah, whose perverse and immoral practices resulted in the destruction of their cities. (CCC 391-395, 1033-1039, 2357-2359)
8-13 The story Jude cited here is from an apocryphal work called the Assumption of Moses. This neither discredits Jude's letter nor gives credence to the noncanonical document. Rather, Jude simply made use of the story to illustrate the gravity of the sins enumerated in the previous section.
These blemishes: In addition to other vices, the false teachers were making gluttons of themselves at communal banquets. Their sinful lives presented a danger to the faithful and a scandal to the Christian community. (CCC 29, 1792, 2284-2287)
14-16 Here, Jude quoted from another apocryphal writing, the Book of Enoch (1:9), to make a point about the harsh judgment that awaits "ungodly sinners." Jude's reference to these apocryphal works led some in the early Church to doubt whether Jude should be included in the canon of Scripture. However, in the fourth and fifth centuries, when the canon of Scripture was finalized, Jude's letter was deemed to have been inspired. (CCC 120, 679-681)
17-19 The predictions attributed to the Apostles resonate with what Christ said about false messiahs and false prophets (cf. Mt 24:24).
The last time: This refers to the present messianic age, which began with the Incarnation and will continue until the end of time.
Worldly people: These people are enslaved to material possessions and self-gratification to the serious detriment of their spiritual lives. A worldly attitude disrupts the unity of Christians with each other and with Christ since charity will have been dismissed. (CCC 681, 1287, 2089, 2544-2547)
20-21 Belief in the Trinity, adherence to the Faith they have received, and the need to grow in the virtues of faith, hope, and charity comprise Jude's counsel for the Christian community. The theological virtues are necessary to dialogue in a personal way with the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. (CCC 93, 202, 257-267, 1091)
22-23 Charity toward sinners and apostates is compatible with keeping the necessary distance to avoid the risk of endangering one's faith and life of holiness. Convince some, who doubt: The Church is One and Apostolic in nature, seeking unity among her members and the evangelization of those who have not yet heard the Gospel message. (CCC 855, 863-865)
24-25 The Son of God is the sole Mediator for us before the Father since he reconciles the human race to the Father, winning for all the grace of salvation. (CCC 2641)
(*The Didache Bible RSV-CE Ignatius Edition, 2006)
THE SECOND LETTER OF PAUL TO TIMOTHY
As with the First Epistle to Timothy, this Epistle was accepted as an authentic writing of St. Paul from the earliest times, and only in the nineteenth century was this belief seriously challenged by scholars.
Since the Epistle mentions that St. Paul was in prison at the time, the date can be narrowed to the time of his first Roman imprisonment AD 60-62, or to his later imprisonment, which began about AD 64 and ended with his execution about AD 67.
His mention of the persecution of the Church in Rome suggests the later imprisonment.
If the Epistle is an even later work of a disciple, then it would have been written sometime between St. Paul's death and the end of the first century.
This is a personal Epistle to St. Timothy, who was still ministering to the Christians in Ephesus.
St. Paul was incarcerated, the persecutions of the Church had increased, and the problems within the Church at Ephesus had become worse.
The primary purpose of St. Paul's Epistle was to strengthen and encourage St. Timothy to continue teaching the truth despite opposition and mounting persecution.
The Gospel message in Ephesus was being challenged by false teachers who had a poor understanding of Christianity.
They may have been influenced by Greek dualist philosophy or simply been presenting their own ideas as Christian truths.
Whatever the origin of the confusion, they were leading many of the faithful astray from the Gospel that St. Paul had taught.
He urged St. Timothy to stand firm in his authority and to rise above the "stupid, senseless controversies" (2:23) spread by these false teachers, never to wander from the truth that had been handed to him (cf. 2:14-18).
The Epistle also affirmed the value of "all scripture," the "Sacred Writings which are able to instruct you for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus" (3:15-16).
The reference to "all scripture"in St. Paul's context means at least the Scriptures of the Old Testament known to the Jews but could well include some of the generally accepted Gospels and writings circulating at the time that would later become part of the New Testament.
The Second Epistle to Timothy has been called a kind of "last will and testament” of St. Paul because he sensed his death was near and was preparing for it.
He asked St. Timothy to come to Rome to be with him in his final days.
(*The Didache Bible RSV-CE Ignatius Edition, 2006)
2 Timothy 1:1-7 Paul opened with his customary greeting: an affirmation of his role as an Apostle followed by a brief prayer of thanksgiving.
Life which is in Christ Jesus: The grace that we receive in the Sacraments is a share in the divine life, which is meant to be perfected into the everlasting life of Heaven.
Clear conscience: A good, true conscience is enlightened by faith and purifies the heart. Together, these virtues bear fruit in love for God and neighbor. (CCC 2, 1114-1116, 1794)
Ch 1:5 Those who believe in Christ owe a special gratitude to those who taught them the faith, whether parents, relatives, teachers, pastors, or others. (CCC 2220, 2224-2226)
Ch 1:6 Paul exhorted Timothy to correspond to the grace that he received through Holy Orders, i.e., the "laying on of hands." This gesture, which comes from Christ, is essential to the Sacrament that ordains men to the Church's ministry. Timothy, perhaps due to his youth, may not have been sufficiently assertive or lacked confidence and needed to be encouraged to trust in the gifts he had received. Bishops have received the fullness of Holy Orders, which includes the power and authority to ordain other men as bishops, priests, and deacons. (CCC 1556, 1558, 1573-1577, 1590)
Ch 1:8 Those called to preach the Gospel must remain steadfast in the truth, faithfully handing on the Deposit of Faith received from the Apostles. Catholic teaching is based on this Deposit of Faith found in Sacred Scripture and Sacred Tradition. Even in the midst of suffering, we can count on the work of the Holy Spirit to grant us the courage and strength needed to carry out God's will. Paul, chained in prison, knew this very well. The perfect example is that of Christ in the different aspects of his Passion. Mary, too, maintained her faith throughout the Passion and Death of her Son, Jesus Christ. (CCC 84, 149, 857, 1202)
Ch 1:9-10 Salvation, which is accomplished through Christ's Sacrifice on the Cross, is the fruit of his love for us. This work of salvation continues through the teaching and sacramental ministry of the Church. (CCC 256-257, 1021)
Ch 1:15-18 The good and faithful example of Onesiphorus, who eagerly visited Paul in prison, did much to alleviate the suffering and confusion caused by the apostasy of others who were once part of the Ephesus community. Visiting the imprisoned is one of the seven Corporal Works of Mercy and is among the good works mentioned in Christ's Parable of the Sheep and the Goats (cf. Mt 25:36).
May the Lord grant... on that day: "That day" refers to the Last Judgment.
Asia: In this context, it refers to an eastern Roman province, roughly modern-day Asia Minor. (CCC 2447)
Ch 2:1-7 One of the primary responsibilities of a bishop is teaching the faith in its entirety, hence his role as chief catechist for the people in his diocese. Paul's analogy of the soldier, the athlete, and the farmer illustrate how commitment, discipline, and hard work are a vital component of living out our vocation. (CCC 77-83, 1264)
Ch 2:1 Paul was a spiritual father to Timothy.
Ch 2:2 Entrust to faithful men: Timothy, ordained a bishop by an Apostle, was in turn to ordain men to carry on the priestly ministry in Ephesus beyond his own lifetime. In like manner, future bishops were ordained bishops in a direct line that traces back to the original Apostles. This is called Apostolic Succession. (CCC 77, 860-862, 1087, 1209, 1576)
Ch 2:8-13 Paul offered up his imprisonment as a kind of intercessory prayer for the faithful. Likewise, we must be willing to suffer for the sake of our faith. Suffering accepted in union with Christ's Cross immerses us more profoundly into his life and at the same time extends this life to others. Paul made use of every occasion to proclaim Jesus Christ. Even his chains were no obstacle as the Word of God could not be chained.
Remember Jesus Christ, risen: The Person of Christ was at the heart of Paul's preaching and faithful perseverance. His Birth, Death, and Resurrection offer compelling proof that he is the promised Messiah, the Son of God. (CCC 436-437)
Ch 2:11 If we have died with him: This type of death occurs in three contexts. In Baptism, we die to our sins and rise to new life in Christ. Through our assiduous practice of the Faith, we die to different forms of selfishness as we begin to conform our lives to Christ's. In actual physical death, we obtain eternal life as a reward for our fidelity. (CCC 1010, 1263-1264, 1499-1500)
Ch 2:14-26 Apostates and false teachers are fond of speculations that shake the faith of some, but the Church will always remain on a solid foundation. Church leaders must teach clearly and courageously to oppose error and strengthen the faithful against deception. Paul called for gentle persuasion to steer a person away from error, thus offering a loving admonishment in the form of a fraternal correction. This loving disposition calls for patience and refinement; anger, threats, and bitter zeal are not the ways of the Lord, nor do these means win people over to the truth. (CCC 931-934, 944-945, 2518)
Proverbs 31:1-9 The sayings of Lemuel comprise the final verses that depict a mother speaking to her son. The tribe of Massa was of the line of Ishmael, which was ethnically Arab rather than Jewish. The Arabs of that era had long been credited with the gift of wisdom. (CCC 1930)
(*The Didache Bible RSV-CE Ignatius Edition, 2006)
So we have The Letter of Jude today
It is really brief
Jude is known as one of the relatives of Jesus
So what is the proper term?
Jude is the brother of James
We don’t necessarily know who Jude is writing to exactly
It’s not like with St. Paul writing to Timothy or the Ephesians, etc.
We know exactly who St. Paul is writing to
Jude identified a number of behaviors that people are not living according to the call they have received in Christ Jesus
There is A LOT of immorality in their lives
Jude knows the Old Testament pretty well
He knows the Jewish writings really well
He gives examples that WE are really familiar with
He gives the example of Israel’s wilderness rebellion
He gives the example of the rebellious angels from Genesis Ch 6
He gives the example of the men of Sodom at the end of the Book of Genesis
He even uses stories that are not actually from the Hebrew Old Testament
They are from other stories
For example, he talks about St. Michael the Archangel
And that is from a Hebrew writing called The Testament of Moses
THIS IS REALLY INTERESTING!!
All those stories were about people REBELLING against God’s authority
It’s all stories as well about sexual immorality and REJECTION of God’s messengers
Jude goes on to talk about those people who not only rebelled themselves, but who caused other people to rebel as well
After Cain killed Abel, the line of people that he sired…I guess…the cities of Cain…were cities of violence
There was Balaam who wanted to curse God but was unable (Remember the talking donkey? Go back and read Day 70: The Offense of Balaam in The Bible in a Year Study Guide for a reminder…not that you could ever forget a talking donkey in Scripture 😉)
We have Korah, who led a rebellion against Moses
Sometimes, we think our own sins end with US
We’ve talked about this before (wanna know where? Go read Day 226: Unfaithful Israel in The Bible in a Year Study Guide and jog your memory 😁)
Many times, our behavior AMPLIFIES or it GOES OUT FROM US
And it can corrupt other people
So Jude is writing not only about those people who have rebelled against God and his authority, his plan for sexual morality, against his messengers
They also led others to rebel as well
So the main message of Jude is that he is writing to these people who have fallen into a PLACE OF REBELLION
He’s calling them back to a PLACE OF FAITHFULNESS
He’s calling them back by pointing out, “Here is what happens to those who are unfaithful: the end is DESTRUCTION. God doesn’t want you to be DESTROYED. So I’m calling you back to FAITHFULNESS because God actually loves you.”
And now here is the BIG WARNING
“I would not be an Apostle of the Lord if I didn’t warn you.”
THAT IS SO IMPORTANT!!
The last words are the Benediction
Jude v. 24-25, “Now to him who is able to keep you from falling and present you without blemish before the presence of his glory with rejoicing, to the only God, our Savior through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, dominion, and authority, before all time and now and forever. Amen.”
That Benediction at the end highlights the fact that Jude is giving a HARD HARD message to the people, yes
He is also giving a message that IT IS NOT THE END
It is NOT a message of CONDEMNATION
It is a message of CONVICTION
That is one of the things we have to recognize
We want to hear that message of CONVICTION every time we open the Scriptures
“God, where am I in these pages? What are you trying to tell me? Are you calling me to repentance in this way or that way? Where are you calling me to belong more and more fully to you?”
That is the message of The Letter of Jude
We also have The Second Letter of Paul to Timothy
There are so many things we need to highlight about this
One is that this is Paul’s LAST LETTER
We know that he is in prison somewhere
This might be his first imprisonment in Rome
It also might be a time after he got out of prison and then was put back into prison before he was beheaded in Rome
We know this is one of his FINAL WORDS that he has written
One of his FINAL LETTERS that he has
Paul is writing to Timothy
He calls him his “beloved son”
He also praises Timothy’s mother and grandmother who had faith
Yesterday-Fr. Mike didn’t mention this-in one of the Letters of John he talks about what a delight it is when one’s children were walking in the Faith
That’s what John was writing to the beloved lady, “What a delight it is when you find your children walking in the Faith.”
Here are Eunice and Lois, the grandmother and mother of Timothy
To be able to find their son walking in the Faith…
One of the PAINS of many people in this community is when our kids DO NOT WALK IN THE FAITH
When they walk away
When grandkids walk away
When they’ve never met the Lord
Maybe they were raised in the Catholic Church
For whatever reason, they just wander away, drift away, race away, walk away
So Paul says to Timothy, “That faith that was in your grandmother, that faith that was in your mother, I trust that that faith is in you as well.”
He also says, “Don’t be ashamed of me for testifying to our Lord, nor of me his prisoner…”
Because there are times we see Paul who is an Apostle who is LOOKED DOWN ON by other Christians who are asking, “Wait a second. Why are you always in jail? If you are really an Apostle, would you really be in jail?”
Of course, the answer is YES!!
Because Jesus our Lord himself was arrested, falsely accused, and condemned to death
There were people who were ASHAMED of Paul
We think about how Peter, Paul, the other Apostles, and us Christians are called to BE LIKE JESUS
We are called to ACCEPT THAT REJECTION the way that Jesus accepted that rejection
WHICH IS SO PAINFUL!!
WHICH IS SO DIFFICULT!!
It is TRULY our call
2 Timothy 1:6, “For this reason I remind you to rekindle the gift of God that is within you through the laying on of my hands…”
That’s a great way to say it
Other translations say, “Fan into flame with the gift of God that is within you through the laying on of my hands…for God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power and love and self-control.”
God did not give us a spirit of COWARDICE
God did not give us a spirit of TIMIDITY
A spirit of POWER, LOVE, and SELF-CONTROL
We can FAN THAT FLAME OF FAITH
We can STIFLE THAT FLAME OF FAITH
Paul says to Timothy, “Hey, rekindle that. Fan that into FLAME. Especially in those times when it is very difficult.”
St. Paul talks about how difficult it is for himself
2 Timothy 1:15, “You are aware that all who are in Asia turned away from me, and among them Phygelus and Hermogenes.”
He thought he had friends in these people
This is one of those themes that is going to come up again that Paul is going to write about
“I thought I had friends. But then at one point, everyone abandoned me. People are ashamed of me.”
THIS IS SOMETHING SO IMPORTANT!!
Jesus Christ is RISEN FROM THE DEAD
2 Timothy 2:9, “...[the gospel for which] I am suffering and wearing chains like a criminal. But the word of God is not chained.”
WE LOVE THIS!!
Here we are on DAY 358
We have been HEARING the Word
We have been SHAPED by the Word
For 358 DAYS
THE WORD OF GOD IS NOT CHAINED!!
Whether you are listening to this in a hospital, in a nursing home, in a prison, it doesn’t matter
THE WORD OF GOD IS NOT CHAINED!!
2 Timothy 2:10, “Therefore I endure everything for the sake of the elect, that they may obtain the salvation which in Christ Jesus goes with eternal glory. [The saying is sure:] If we have died with him, we shall also live with him…”
So here we are!!
Keep continuing to move on
Keep continuing to move forward
PRAISE GOD TODAY FOR EVERYTHING HE HAS DONE IN OUR LIVES!!
FOR EVERYTHING HE CONTINUES TO DO IN AND THROUGH US!!
As St. Paul said to Timothy, “Fan into flame the gift of God that you have received…for God did not give us a spirit of timidity but a spirit of power and love and self-control…”
SO WALK IN THAT SPIRIT!!
FR. MIKE IS PRAYING THAT YOU CAN DO THAT!!
PRAY FOR FR. MIKE SO THAT HE CAN DO THAT!!
PRAY FOR EACH OTHER
Prayer by Fr. Mike: “Father in Heaven we give you praise and glory. We thank you so much for this opportunity to hear your Word, to be shaped by your Will, and to find ourselves in your plan, find ourselves in the palm of your hand. Lord God, we just thank you. Help us to walk as faithful people, not as faithless people. You are faithful even when we are not. Help us to cast our cares upon you because you care for us. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.”