Feb 2, 2013

St. Paul's confirmation class, Sun. Feb. 3, 2013

The first reading this Sunday is from the Prophet Jeremiah,
"The word of the LORD came to me, saying: Before I formed [knit] you in the womb I knew you,before you were born I dedicated you, a prophet to the nations I appointed you", has always struck me as a Pro-Life verse, especially when the Hebrew word 'yawtsar' or formed (as in formed or moulded in clay) is translated as knit (saw-kak' Psalm 139:13), because I think of the double-helix of our DNA, and realize that a Hebrew speaking prophet writing 2500 years ago attempting to convey the reality of God's handiwork in us really would understand the DNA as 'knitted' together.

Be that as it may, this class, coming 1 week after our post March for Life Class last week where we covered the opening remarks of Ruth Pakaluk in her debate on 'Human Rights and Abortion' with Planned Parenthood, which you can read here:

I want to continue the Pro-Life theme because our Catholic faith teaches that "From the first moment of his existence, a human being must be recognized as having the rights of a person - among which is the inviolable right of every innocent being to life." - Catechism of the Catholic Church, CCC 2270. Our faith also teaches that the only unforgivable sin is to not ask for forgiveness. Obviously many people, including many Catholics in the United States, have supported abortion and have had or helped others to obtain an abortion. But as Jesus said after forgiving the sins of the adulterous woman, ‘go and sin no more.’

I had mentioned to the class that Genesis 9:6 is typically translated, “Whoso sheddeth the blood of man by man shall his blood be shed: for in the image of God made he man.“ but in Hebrew, the part, ‘man by man’, which is ‘adam ha adam’ can also be translated as ‘man in man’. So we could have Gen 9:6 as “Whoso sheddeth the blood of man in man shall his blood be shed: for in the image of God made he man.”

This passage calls out the profound subtlety of the Hebrew language, and how this passage relates to abortion, but first some background.

The Mishnah or Mishna (Hebrew: משנה, "repetition", from the verb shanah שנה, or "to study and review, also "secondary"[1](derived from the adj. שני)) is the first major written redaction of the Jewish oral traditions called the "Oral Torah" and the first major work of Rabbinic Judaism. The two main commentaries on the Mishna are the Babylonian Talmud and the Yerushalmi Talmud.

Rabbi Ishmael or Ishmael ben Elisha (90-135 AD, Hebrew: רבי ישמעאל), who was a Tanna or rabbinic sage of the first and second centuries (third tannaitic generation) who wrote parts of the Misha. According to the Mishna Sanhedrin 57b, written by Rabbi Ishmael, Gen 9:6 can also be translated as “Whoso sheddeth the blood of man in man shall his blood be shed: for in the image of God made he man.” But Rabbi Ishmael goes on, asking the question, “What is 'man in man”? He answers, ‘This is the foetus’. (Sanhedrin57b)

Other Jewish Traditions also call out the evil that is abortion.

Jewish Understanding of abortion:
Maimonides (Rambam) 1135-1204AD, the Mishnah, which was redacted circa 200 AD by Yehudah Ha-Nasi "Judah the Prince", is the first written recording of the Oral Torah of the Jewish people, as championed by the Pharisees, and as debated between 70-200 AD by the group of rabbinic sages known as the Tannaim and other Jewish sources permit a “self defense” exemption to the commandment not to kill when an abortion is performed to save the mother's life. However an inference is drawn from this that if the mother's life is not threatened, abortion is not in self defense.

The Tosafot are mediæval critical and explanatory glosses printed in almost all Talmud editions, on the outer margin and opposite Rashi's notes. Tosafot teaches that the majority of abortions are “a moral offense.” (Sanhedrin59a, Chullin 33a)

The Zohar is considered the most important work of Kabbalah, Jewish mysticism. It is a mystical commentary on the Torah (the five books of Moses), written in medieval Aramaic and medieval Hebrew. Zohar teaches in Shemat 3b, abortion “drives away the Shekhina (G_d's presence) from the world...For these abominations the Spirit of Holiness weeps.”

Rabbi Meir Simchah taught that abortion was punishable by “death at the hands of heaven” (Meshekh Chokhnash)

The Didache (80AD) Chap2 - 1. And the second commandment of the Teaching; 2. You shall not commit murder, you shall not commit adultery, Exodus 20:13-14 you shall not commit pæderasty, you shall not commit fornication, you shall not steal, Exodus 20:15 you shall not practice magic, you shall not practice witchcraft, you shall not murder a child by abortion nor kill that which is begotten. You shall not covet the things of your neighbour, Exodus 20:17 3. you shall not forswear yourself, Matthew 5:34 you shall not bear false witness, Exodus 20:16 you shall not speak evil, you shall bear no grudge.

The early Christians are the first on record as having pronounced abortion to be the murder of human beings, for their public apologists, Athenagoras, Tertullian, and Minutius Felix (Eschbach, "Disp. Phys.", Disp. iii), to refute the slander that a child was slain, and its flesh eaten, by the guests at the Agapae, appealed to their laws as forbidding all manner of murder, even that of children in the womb. The Fathers of the Church unanimously maintained the same doctrine. In the fourth century the Council of Eliberis decreed that Holy Communion should be refused all the rest of her life, even on her deathbed, to an adulteress who had procured the abortion of her child. The Sixth Ecumenical Council (Third Council of Constantinople 678 AD) determined for the whole Church that anyone who procured abortion should bear all the punishments inflicted on murderers. In all these teachings and enactments no distinction is made between the earlier and the later stages of gestation. For, though the opinion of Aristotle, or similar speculations, regarding the time when the rational soul is infused into the embryo, were practically accepted for many centuries still it was always held by the Church that he who destroyed what was to be a man was guilty of destroying a human life. The great prevalence of criminal abortion ceased wherever Christianity became established. - Catholic Encyclopedia

God bless, and hope our confirmants are considering Confirmation names.
See you in Church,
Jay G

No comments :