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He explained to them all the typological references to Him in the Old Testament, but this was not enough to convince them; therefore, the Bible alone , even thoroughly explained by Jesus Himself! I turned then to the actual words of Christ in the Upper Room in Luke I was fully familiar with these from my many years as an Evangelical and as a pastor. I also recalled from my Lutheran childhood catechism how Martin Luther had insisted, his fist pounding on a table, that the words of Christ were literal though I had never taken them seriously.

Luke wrote:. Why would He be doing this, saying this, on the last night He would spend with His chosen Apostles, whom He would eventually send forth to make disciples of all nations through preaching and Baptism? There were other words He could have used to tell them to do this to remind them of what He was about to do for them on the cross. The use of this word, however, implies that this was essentially to have been a memorial sacrifice. You might be anticipating that by now I surely would have turned to John 6, but still I was not ready to bring this down from the nice shelf. Rather, through my readings I was becoming more and more aware of the importance of the early Church Fathers.

So the question was, how did they who directly learned their faith from the Apostles understand all this? For them, was it merely a symbol or a mere reminder of the cross?

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Jimmy Akin, in his great book, The Fathers Know Best , does a superb job of summarizing the views of the early Fathers on all aspects of our Faith. On the Eucharist, Akin writes:. The doctrine of the Real Presence asserts that in the Holy Eucharist, Jesus is literally and wholly present—body and blood, soul and divinity—under the appearances of bread and wine. The early Church Fathers interpreted these passages literally.

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So what did the early Church Father teach and believe about the Eucharist? There are, of course, entire books on this, but here are a few quotes:. The Didache is an ancient document for whom authorship is unknown. The majority of biblical scholars believe that it was written sometime between AD , with many believing it was written at the same time as the other New Testament documents.

In the earliest days of the Church, many included this book in the canon of the New Testament. In chapter 9, we read:. Concerning the Eucharist, celebrate the Eucharist in this way. First, concerning the cup, we thank you, our Father, for the holy vine of David your servant which you made known to us through Jesus your child. To you be the glory forever. To you be glory forever. As the broken bread was scattered on the mountains and then gathered into one, thus let your church be gathered from the ends of the earth into your kingdom because yours is the glory and the power through Jesus Christ forever. Scripture / Parables Section

Let no one eat or drink from your Eucharist except those who are baptized in the name of the Lord. Here we see that the breaking of the bread and blessing of the cup is now being called the Eucharist, that it is understood as a means of unity, and that is to be partaken of only by those who have been baptized. In chapter 14, we learn a little more:.

We also hear clearly that the Eucharist is a sacrifice, not merely a ritual symbol or reminder. Tradition has always held that he was a disciple of the Apostle John. In his letter to the Smyrneans, he wrote:. You have noted those who teach heterodox things about the grace of Jesus Christ which came to us.

How they are contrary to the mind of God! They are not concerned about love, neither the widow, the orphan, the afflicted—whether bound or free, the hungry nor the thirsty. They abstain from the Eucharist and from [set times of] prayer because they do not confess that the Eucharist is the flesh of our Savior Jesus Christ, that flesh which suffered for our sins but which the Father raised in his kindness. Those who contradict the gift of God with strife will die. Justin Martyr was a Christian apologist, born around AD at Flavia Neapolis, converted to Christianity about , taught and defended the Christian religion in Asia Minor and at Rome, where he suffered martyrdom about the year In his First Apology , he wrote a long section describing, in very familiar terms, the Mass of his day.

We call this food Eucharist, and no one else is permitted to partake of it, except one who believes our teaching to be true and who has been washed in the washing which is for the remission of sins and for regeneration [i. For not as common bread nor common drink do we receive these; but since Jesus Christ our Savior was made incarnate by the word of God and had both flesh and blood for our salvation, so too, as we have been taught, the food which has been made into the Eucharist by the Eucharistic prayer set down by him, and by the change of which our blood and flesh is nurtured, is both the flesh and the blood of that incarnated Jesus.

First Apology, It completes us; it completes our baptismal regeneration. Irenaeus was the bishop of Lyons, in what is now France. His life spanned most of the second century. Tradition holds that he was a disciple of Saint Polycarp who himself was a disciple of Saint John and a friend of Ignatius of Antioch. In his book, Against Heresies , he wrote:. He has declared the cup, a part of creation, to be his own blood, from which he causes our blood to flow; and the bread, a part of creation, he has established as his own body, from which he gives increase unto our bodies.

When, therefore, the mixed cup [wine and water] and the baked bread receives the Word of God and becomes the Eucharist, the body of Christ, and from these the substance of our flesh is increased and supported, how can they say that the flesh is not capable of receiving the gift of God, which is eternal life—flesh which is nourished by the body and blood of the Lord, and is in fact a member of him?

Here St. I found many more references in the early Church Fathers to their belief in the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist, but I was still not ready to face John 6.

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I was, however, drawn to it through the back door. In preparing for one of my last sermons as a Presbyterian minister, I read one of my favorite texts, from John 15, where Jesus said:. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me.

Here Jesus teaches that it was not enough to be united with Him by grace through faith and through the waters of Baptism. This is how a person comes into Christ, begins his walk with Christ. Jesus was saying that a Christian must also abide, also translated remain or continue, in Him. How does one do this? He who eats my flesh and drinks my blood abides in me, and I in him. It had always puzzled me that, unlike the other Gospel writers, Saint John had not described the Last Supper. But I came to realize in my studies, that the entire chapter six of John is his way of emphasizing the central importance of the Eucharist.

In this chapter, Saint John describes the winnowing effect of the Eucharist. But He never did this. Instead, He said boldly in verses Truly, truly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of man and drink his blood, you have no life in you; he who eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day. For my flesh is food indeed, and my blood is drink indeed. As the living Father sent me, and I live because of the Father, so he who eats me will live because of me. This is the bread which came down from heaven, not such as the fathers ate and died; he who eats this bread will live for ever.

Once again, Jesus had an opportunity to straighten out any misunderstandings. In other circumstances, He had admitted to His followers that to the crowd He often spoke in parables while to them He was clear, sharing with them the secrets of the kingdom of God cf. So, as with the parable of the Sower, He could have given them the keys to unlock His symbolism. The younger Christian people would exceed the older Jewish race Gn The Book of Esther presents a story of how the loyalty of a servant can bring an ultimate reward.

Just as the invited in the wedding feast desired to kill the messengers, so too did Haman desire to kill Esther and Mordecai. The invitation is to the kingdom of heaven. God extends the invitation through grace and man accepts the invitation through faith in Jesus Christ, the Son of God. In the parable of the Good Shepherd, Christ is the gate through which all must enter Jn In the parable of the Vine and the Branches, no one can succeed without Christ.

Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abide in the vine, so neither can you, unless you abide in me. I am the vine; you the branches: he that abideth in me, and I in him, the same beareth much fruit: for without me you can do nothing. If any one abide not in me, he shall be cast forth as a branch, and shall wither, and they shall gather him up, and cast him into fire, and he burneth Jn For God so loved the world, as to give his only begotten Son: that whosoever believeth in him, may not perish, but may have life everlasting Jn 3.

One must accept the gift of grace through faith in order to inherit the kingdom of God. He that believeth in him is not judged. But he that doth not believe, is already judged: because he believeth not in the name of the only begotten Son of God Jn 3. Many people did not accept Christ during His time.

He came unto his own, but his own received him not Jn 1. Many today do not accept him.

Which of you shall convince me of sin? If I say the truth to you, why do you not believe me? He that is of God, heareth the words of God. Therefore you hear them not, because you are not of God Jn 8. The rejection of Christ, or the failure to believe in Him came about because of a lack of faith.

Those who did not believe in Him could not come to share in the salvation that Christ brought about. We have piped to you, and you have not danced: we have mourned, and you have not wept Lk 7. If I do not the works of my Father, believe me not. But if I do, though you will not believe me, believe the works: that you may know and believe that the Father is in me, and I in the Father Jn Therefore, those who rejected Christ and His disciples were subject to a fate worse than that of the people of Sodom and Gomorrah Lk The spiritual mark from the waters of Baptism is extended to everyone willing to accept it, not limited to the males of Israel like circumcision.

Similar to circumcision, Baptism must be accompanied by a sincere heart Jer 4. The acceptance of the invitation to know and love God begins with Baptism, which is instrumental to the Catholic faith. Christ spoke to Nicodemus of the need to be born from above Jn 3. Abraham was and Sarah was 90 years old when God promised them that Sarah would bear a child, Isaac.

He that believeth and is baptized, shall be saved: but he that believeth not shall be condemned Mk One must be baptized with the use of water and the Baptism must include a Trinitarian statement Mt Thus the baptism of John, that of water and repentance, is not enough. This symbol displays the two necessary components, water and spirit the sign of the cross. The dipping of Baptism represents the burial of the dead and sinful self that is being resurrected in the new spiritual life in Christ Col 2.

Baptism cleanses away all sin, including original sin Gn 8. Just as the new life of creation springs forth as the land emerges from the water at the dawn of creation Gn 1. The symbolism of Baptism continues with the great flood during the time of Noah Gn 7. They emerged from the sea free from the bondage of the Egyptians Ex The waters of Baptism free man from the slavery of sin Jn 8. Christ united the chosen people of the Old Testament through His circumcision Lk 2.

The Baptism of His own blood 1 Jn 5. And I have a baptism wherewith I am to be baptized: and how am I straitened until it be accomplished Lk In this way, Christ dipped into death and into the depths of hell Eph 4. He then emerged as the firstborn of every creature Col 1. In reverse order, Christ began as one spiritually free taking on the form of human bondage and finally submitting to his own death as the sacrifice which produced the freedom and life which would be shared by His believers. While Baptism can be administered at any age, one is also required to freely choose and acknowledge his faith.

A Catholic is often baptized as an infant just like the sons of Abraham were circumcised when they became eight days old Gn In both cases, the parent acted on behalf of the child. But unlike the Israelites, who were born into their faith, the new chosen people must choose their faith. Christ required everyone of age to acknowledge Him in order to enter the kingdom Mt Thus, by attesting to the truths of the Church in the sacrament of Confirmation, one continues what was begun at Baptism CCC , Act 8.

A person is tested in faith throughout his life. Peter demonstrated his faith by saying: Lord, to whom shall we go? Thou hast the words of eternal life. And we have believed and have known, that thou art the Christ, the Son of God Jn 6. Neither is there salvation in any other. For there is no other name under heaven given to men, whereby we must be saved Act 4.

The sacrament of Confirmation has ancient roots in the Jewish Bar Mitzvah, or son of the divine law. This initiation into the adult community was generally conducted at age Girls often had a similar ceremony called a Bat Mitzvah. Some people believe that the story of Jesus being found in the temple Lk 2.

Although Jesus was only 12, it was not unusual for a son who had lost his father to demonstrate maturity by celebrating his Bar Mitzvah a year early. The celebration of a spiritual maturity in the sacrament of Confirmation began with the apostles on Pentecost Sunday Act 2.