Monthly Archives: November 2018

Holy Land Pilgrimage

HL Map

We soon leave on our long-awaited pilgrimage to the Holy Land. We will be travelling with a group from Edmonton, 2 Oblate priests and another couple from Arnprior. Over the 13 days we will be touring, walking, praying and celebrating the Eucharist in many of the places Jesus ministered, as depicted on the map above.  We will also be visiting many old testament sites.

In preparing for this trip, Dave has been studying the Historical Jesus and the Holy Land Revealed, two great video courses from The Great Courses Plus.   What Dave is left with is a profound sense of regret over the “great split” that occurred many years ago between the three Abrahamic faiths namely Judaism, Christianity and Islam.

The Catechism of the Catholic Church says:

Jesus tomb

Jesus’ Tomb, Church of the Holy Sepulchre

839 The relationship of the Church with the Jewish people.  When she delves into her own mystery, the Church, the People of God in the New Covenant, discovers her link with the Jewish People, “the first to hear the Word of the Lord.”  The Jewish faith, unlike other non-Christian religions, is already a response to God’s revelation in the Old Covenant.  To the Jews “belong the sonship, the glory, the covenants, the giving of the law, the worship and the promises; to them belong the patriarchs, and of their race, according to their flesh, is the Christ”, “for the gifts and the call of God are irrevocable.”


The Dome of the Rock, Temple Mount

841 The Church’s relationship with the Muslims. “The plan of salvation also includes those who acknowledge the Creator, in the first place are among whom are the Muslims; these profess to hold the truth of Abraham, and together with us they adore the one, merciful God, mankind’s judge on the last day.



So it is with a profound sense of hope for a brighter future that we embark on this holy pilgrimage.  It is time to meditate on the great mystery that God is about to reveal to us.  Please pray for us.  We will by praying for you.

Dave and Marie


holy land


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Who do you say I am?

He pressed the disciples! “And how about you?  Who do you say I am?”  Simon Peter said, “You’re the Christ, the Messiah, the Son of the Living God.”  He swore the disciples to secrecy.  He made them promise they would tell no one that he was the Messiah.

MT 16:15-16;20

“It’s really happened!  The Master has been raised up – Simon saw him!”  While they were saying all this Jesus appeared to them and said “Peace be with you.”

LK 24:34;36

As Christians, we believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God, was crucified for our sins, died and rose again from the dead before ascending to heaven.


In his 2014 book How Jesus Became God, Prof. Bart Ehrman asks the question “But what did Jesus really say and do during his life on earth?”  As a historian, based on historical evidence, he concludes that during his lifetime, Jesus’ followers understood him to be an apocalyptic preacher who predicted the world would soon be ending and that the Son of Man would come down from heaven, to vanquish evil and save those people who had repented and lived by God’s rules.  It was only in the years after his death, that Jesus was elevated by his followers from being a man, to being a pre-existent divine being, equal to God himself, professes Ehrman.

The main tool he uses to justify historical truth is “plausibility”.  If it is mentioned in multiple sources, (e.g,  in multiple Gospels) it probably happened.  If it is somewhat negative, it probably happened. (e.g. Jesus recruited lowly fisherman and tax collectors as his disciples.)  However, if it is mentioned only once, particularly if it somewhat enhances the stature of Jesus or if the multiple reports are inconsistent, it probably did not happen like that, or at all (e.g., the passage from Mathew above was a single report only.)

Ehrman admits that there is no ‘historical’ doubt that the disciples had “visions” of the risen Christ and that led them to firmly believe that he had risen from the dead.  Otherwise, Christianity could never have established itself as a religion.  However since there is no way to prove historically that Jesus actually did rise from the dead, it seems that it was man and not God who raised Jesus up to the level of a deity, in the initial and subsequent 300 years of theological debate after his death, says Ehrman.

It is interesting to note that apart from the quote in MT above and when he was before Pontius Pilate, Jesus never acknowledged himself to be divine, ie. the Messiah and the Son of God.  Rather, he refers to the mysterious “Son of Man” over 50 times in the Gospels, but does not say that he is that being.  It was like Jesus did not seem to know during his lifetime that he was divine – further evidence of his lack of divinity according to the author.  The passage from Luke quoted above differs from the reports of this in the other Gospels, hence it is suspect according to Ehrman.

A lot happened particularly in the first 20 years after Jesus death. By the 300s there was no doubt Jesus was God, the arguments were more about was Christ two persons or one, the nature of his soul and how Mary could be the Mother of God given God is pre-existent. The author uses the term contextualize a lot. By nature we humans contextualize our views of things based on our lived experience. An example is that today about 80% of Catholics believe that anyone can get to heaven by following their particular religious beliefs. 50 years ago this figure was more like 10%. The context has changed.  Now many of our neighbours and family members practice a different religion, no religion or are of a different race.

Ehrman is a great teacher and very respected New Testament scholar.  A former evangelical Christian, he now admits to having become an atheist.  Hence he is the darling of those who wish to apply “scientific” tools to debunk the Christian faith, e.g., too many of today’s youth, atheists and the so-called “nones.”  Don’t get me wrong, he is a very credible researcher who clearly presents his ideas in a convincing and scholarly way.  He then makes his conclusions and recognizes that others are free to make theirs.

So it comes down to a matter of faith of whether Jesus resurrection really occured or not.  In order to believe, man needs the interior helps of the Holy Spirit.  When St. Peter confessed that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the living God, Jesus declared to him that this revelation did not come “from flesh and blood” but “from my Father who is in heaven.”

A good read but I disagree with the author’s conclusions.



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