On the Catholic Bible and Tradition

As Catholics, whenever we have questions and doubts about our faith and practices, we should not just give up. Instead, we should study and try to understand why we do what we do and believe what we believe.

The Catholic Bible has more books than other Christian denominations because it includes some additions to the books of Esther and Daniel and the seven Deuterocanonical books:

  • Tobit
  • Judith
  • Wisdom
  • Sirach
  • Baruch
  • 1 Maccabees
  • 2 Maccabees

I am not in the position to say why they are included in the Catholic Bible and why they are not included in those of other Christian denominations. But one of the reasons they were heavily contested was because these books were not part of the Hebrew canon. However, they were part of the Greek Septuagint which were used by the early Church.

In today’s Gospel reading, it mentions one of the feasts which can be found only in two of the Deuterocanonical books.

“The feast of the Dedication was then taking place in Jerusalem.” — John 10:22
“Then Judas and his brothers and the entire assembly of Israel decreed that every year for eight days, from the twenty-fifth day of the month Kislev, the days of the dedication of the altar should be observed with joy and gladness on the anniversary.” — 1 Maccabees 4:59
“On the anniversary of the day on which the temple had been profaned by the foreigners, that is, the twenty-fifth of the same month Kislev, the purification of the temple took place. By public decree and vote they prescribed that the whole Jewish nation should celebrate these days every year.” — 2 Maccabees 10:5,8

Why is this important?

Because the Gospel according to John is part of all the Christian Bibles. If it mentions parts that can be found only in the Deuterocanonical books (or what other Christian denominations call apocrypha and some even consider, sadly, as false writings), then somehow, those books are validated.

But then, it may be further argued that the Feast of the Dedication cannot only be found in the Deuterocanonical books, but also in religious practices and traditions during that time. (Otherwise, where else can the Feast of the Dedication be found?) Then, it somehow validates our belief that the teachings of Jesus (and the Jewish customs and traditions which Jesus also followed) were passed not only through Scripture but also through Tradition.

What does this mean for us, Catholics?

As Catholics, whenever we have questions and doubts about our beliefs and practices, we should not just give up on our faith. Instead, we should study and try to understand why we do what we do and believe what we believe. There is a basis for our beliefs and our practices.

We are called not to follow blindly, even our Church’s teachings, but to make an effort understand — especially the Scripture and the Tradition — with the help and guidance of the Holy Spirit.

Make an effort to understand your faith. Seek His guidance as well.

 

P.S. You can start understanding your faith by reading the Bible and the Catechism of the Catholic Church, which is truly a treasure of our faith. You can buy them from your parish or bookstore.


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Familiarity with God

You cannot know someone, let alone be familiar with him, without spending time with him and listening to him. It’s the same with God. You can only know Him and be familiar with Him by spending time with Him.

When you are discerning or praying about a decision, how do you know if it is God who is talking to you? 

“[The shepherd of the sheep] walks ahead of them, and the sheep follow him, because they recognize his voice.” — John 10:4

In order to know whether it is God who is talking to you or not, you have to recognize His voice. You have to be familiar with Him, His voice, and how He works in your life.

You can only learn to recognize His voice and become familiar with Him when you listen to Him repeatedly, consistently.

Even our pets or babies learn to recognize our voices in that way, by always hearing our voices and listening to us.

You can listen to God in prayer. But, you can also listen to Him by going to Mass or spending time with Him in the adoration chapel or even inside your room. You can know more about Him and be familiar with Him and how He works by reading the Bible.

You cannot know someone, let alone be familiar with him, without spending time with him and listening to him. It’s the same with God. You can only know Him and be familiar with Him by spending time with Him.


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A career (and life) advice from Jesus?

Don’t just be a hired worker who works for pay. Be a good shepherd.
Career Advice from Jesus.jpg

Recently, I started working with my high school classmate. You can call him one of my best friends, if not the best. Out of more than two hundred students in our batch, he was the only one who became my classmate for four straight years. He was also my basketball teammate during all those years and we even joined our school’s varsity team together during our last year in high school.

Working with him recently, one of the things I truly admire about his work ethic is that he gives more than what is required of him.

He does not act like an employee of the organization we are working with, but like a true partner who cares about its profitability, its growth, its reputation, and its long-term viability. He spends more time than required looking for solutions that can help our organization provide a better service for our clients.

How many employees like him can you find in your own organization?

Many times, when given a budget by our companies to have our lunches out at fancy restaurants, we take that opportunity, not even thinking about its impact to the company’s bottom line.

For many of us, we work only for how much are getting paid. We give just enough time and effort. For some of us even, we only go to work to get paid. I’m guilty of that as well.

In today’s Gospel reading, Jesus tells us the difference of a good shepherd and a hired man who only works for pay:

“I am the good shepherd. A good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. A hired man, who is not a shepherd and whose sheep are not his own, sees a wolf coming and leaves the sheep and runs away, and the wolf catches and scatters them. This is because he works for pay and has no concern for the sheep. I am the good shepherd, and I know mine and mine know me, just as the Father knows me and I know the Father; and I will lay down my life for the sheep.” — John 10:11-15

A hired man who works only for pay has no real love and concern for the sheep. He is like an employee who does not have real, genuine love and concern for the company he is working with.

A good shepherd, on the other hand, works for more than pay. In fact, he does not even get paid. He works because he loves the sheep and the one who entrusted the sheep to him. He works because of love. The good shepherd is like my friend who goes beyond the call of duty.

Today, Jesus reminds us to do more than what we get paid. If Jesus had a career advice, this would probably be it. Let us have real concern for the organizations we are working with. By giving more than what is required of us, by genuinely caring about our organizations, not only do they become more profitable, we also get ahead in our careers.

More importantly, Jesus reminds us that He is the Good Shepherd. We are His sheep and we belong to Him. Not only was He willing to lay down His life for us, He actually laid it down for us. Because He loves us. Because He loves the Father who entrusted us to Him.

What further proof do we need that we are loved?

Finally, Jesus also reminds us to be good shepherds to our families, to the people He entrusted us with, and to our neighbors. Let us not serve them for our personal benefits, but be truly willing to lay our lives for them — like how Jesus laid down His life for us. Without expecting anything in return.

You have a Good Shepherd in Jesus.

Be a good shepherd to others as well. 

Don’t just be a hired worker who works for pay. Be a good shepherd — in everything that you do.


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Until it hurts

Will you keep following Jesus even until it hurts?

When the teachings of Jesus became hard and difficult to comprehend, many of His followers gave up on following Him, left Him, and returned to their former ways.

“As a result of this, many [of] his disciples returned to their former way of life and no longer accompanied him. Jesus then said to the Twelve, ‘Do you also want to leave?’” — John 6:66-67

When the teachings become hard, will you quit or will you continue following Jesus?

When following Jesus become inconvenient or uncomfortable, will you give up or will you keep on following Jesus?

When following Jesus finally demands your time, your resources, your intellect, your strength, your whole self, and even your life, will you leave Jesus or will you follow Him even more?

Until when will you follow Jesus?

Will you follow Him even until it hurts?


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The biblical basis of the Eucharist

Are you having a hard time feeling the presence of God? Receive Jesus through the Eucharist.

The Gospel according to John contains many of the biblical bases of our Sacraments. Today, in the bread of life discourse, it tells the biblical basis of the Eucharist:

“Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him on the last day. For my flesh is true food, and my blood is true drink.” — John 6:54-55

The original verb used for “eat” in the verses was a word used to describe animal eating rather than human eating. It meant something like munching or gnawing rather than simply partaking of the flesh of Jesus.

The evangelist perhaps wanted to emphasize the importance of partaking of the body of Christ not merely by participation, but by literally eating His flesh and drinking His blood. 

As Catholics, we believe in the real presence of Jesus in the Eucharist. The Gospel reading today reminds us of our belief.

More importantly, by receiving the Sacrament of Holy Communion, we are reminded not only to remain in Jesus, but also that Jesus remains in us.

“Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me and I in him.” — John 6:56

Are you having a hard time feeling the presence of God? Receive Jesus through the Eucharist.


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