Archive for the ‘Hebrew’ Tag

the great pep talk

The Great Pep Talk

“When they hand you over, do not worry about how you are to speak or what you are to say. You will be given at that moment what you are to say.  For it will not be you who speak but the Spirit of your Father speaking through you.” –Matthew 10 : 19-20

Today’s Gospel is a great pep-talk for any apologists out there.

I am a Catholic. I love everything about the Catholic faith–the real presence of Christ in the Eucharist, the smells and bells of liturgy, Pope Francis. I love my faith and I try to follow Christ in all that I do.

Yet Christ calls us to more than “simply” following Him in our individual lives. In fact every single Catholic is anointed priest, prophet, and king at their Baptism. Part of the indelible mark of Baptism is the prophetic call.

Most of us don’t want to be prophets. Most of the Biblical prophets didn’t want to be prophets! Moses came up with an array of excuses when he was called: “Who am I that I should go to Pharaoh?” (Ex. 3:11), then “Suppose they do not believe me or listen to me?” (Ex. 4:1), then, “I am slow of speech and slow of tongue,” (Ex. 4:10), “and then the final straw (my personal favorite), “O my Lord please send someone else!” (Ex. 4:13).

Jonah famously tried to dodge his prophetic call and wound up spending three days in the belly of a giant fish.

Jeremiah, too, had his doubts. He cried out, “Ah, Lord God! Truly I do not know how to speak, for I am only a boy!” (Jeremiah 1:6)

The hardest part of the prophetic call is necessarily speaking an unpopular message.  The prophets were virtually never well-received. It is difficult to speak out about something that is counter-cultural or radical. I’ve written about this before—I would much rather blend in and mind my own business than spark a controversy.

Fortunately for us, God doesn’t accept our excuses: God calls us to move beyond our fear. God promises to be with us and to give us the words to speak.  In today’s Gospel Jesus says, “it will not be you who speak but the Spirit of your Father speaking through you.”  This has been God’s message to the prophets from the beginning.  In Jeremiah 1:9, the Hebrew is beautifully expressive—God tells Jeremiah, “Now I have put my words in your mouth.” (Admittedly, Jeremiah had the “easy route”—Ezekiel had to eat a scroll! See Ezekiel 3 for that awesome story).

The only choice we have is to move forward, trusting that God will give us the words that we need to continue to joyfully teach and to live Christ’s message of love in the world, as we draw ever closer to the one who knows what it is like to be persecuted.

This post also appears on the Catholic Voices USA Blog

called to be different

I love today’s first reading because it contains one of those verses that is just so much more meaningful when it is read in Hebrew! I am always telling my students to learn Hebrew, and they mostly laugh at me and think I am a Bible geek, but really, there is so much meaning in this beautiful ancient language.

In today’s first reading, God tells Moses “Speak to the whole assembly of the children of Israel and tell them:  Be holy, for I, the LORD, your God, am holy.”  Poor Moses, always charged with delivering these tall orders to the Israelites.  No wonder he had such a temper.

When I think of a “holy” person, I think of someone who prays a lot, someone who is close to God. A person who obeys the Commandments, maybe, a person who is kind and loves everyone they meet. To be honest, holiness, to me, seems at times to be an unattainable goal. Holy people certainly aren’t impatient, type-A personalities who worry all the time, right?

But here, the Hebrew saves me from my own preconceived notions of holiness.

The Hebrew word for holy, qadosh, does not mean righteous, pious, perfect, or anything of the sort. It means “set apart for a distinct purpose.”   When I think of that definition of holy, I see something attainable. I believe that God calls each one of us to be qadosh, that is, set apart for a distinct purpose—to know, to love, and to serve God.   I certainly don’t always know what my distinct purpose is.  But, when I think of holiness in its true form, I realize suddenly that being “holy” is attainable. I can be holy even in my failures, even in my brokenness. I am holy each day as I strive to be patient, to be a good wife, daughter, sister, friend, teacher—even when I fail.

So when you feel like you aren’t “holy” enough, think again. God has created each of us to be qadosh—set apart, different, for a specific purpose.  And that is a beautiful thing.

Bob Rice

Catholic speaker, musician, author, teacher

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