Three Religions, One God.

The City of Jerusalem. United in Adoration. “Join me on a virtual pilgrimage to the ancient city of Jerusalem, as we explore the three great faiths which share a common belief in God, the one God, the God of Abraham.

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Book Excerpt. Chapter Twenty-Six: Walking with Mercy. (The Healing Eyes of Mercy. A Journey Towards the Light of God’s Love. By: Karen Sheehy).

Arriving in Jerusalem, I could sense the presence of God. Home to all three monotheistic faiths, that of Judaism, Christianity and Islam, the streets were filled with His praises. Called by many names, including Yahweh, God, Merciful Father, Jesus Christ, and Allah, almost every person in His holy city cried out in adoration. Amidst this praise, however, was a palpable pain, for although they were united in adoration, they were divided in beliefs and religious practices. Stopping for a brief overlook, our Jewish guide pointed out the holiest of sites for each of the three monotheistic faiths. Included was the Jewish Wailing Wall, a remnant of the ancient Jewish Temple, the Christian Church of the Holy Sepulcher, containing the actual Crucifixion and Resurrection sites of Jesus, and the Islamic Dome of the Rock, built over the destination of Mohammed’s Night Journey. Raising a glass of champaign, he toasted our Catholic tour group, saying, “welcome home.” At once, I heard the 3 o’clock Islamic call to prayer bellow throughout the city streets. Overwhelmed by the sheer power and contradiction of the moment, I humbly raised my glass in unified adoration.

Bibles and Quran, interfaith symbols of Christianity, Islam and Judaism, the three monotheistic religions, Haute-Savoie, France, Europe

The Torah, Bible and Quran, interfaith symbols of the three monotheistic faiths, including Judaism, Christianity and Islam.

The three great monotheistic faiths, otherwise known as the Abrahamic religions, include Judaism (founded in the 7th Century BCE), Christianity (founded around 33 AD) and Islam (founded around 630 AD). Each claims descent from Abraham, the ancient Israelite father of faith. The Israelite Nation, known as Jews, traces its Abrahamic lineage through he and Sarah’s son, Isaac. Christians make a similar claim, for they consider themselves grafted into the family tree through Christ’s New Covenant. Muslims, founded by Muhammad, find their connection through Abraham’s son, Ishmael, who was born to the slave girl, Hagar.

In 2005, these faiths comprised approximately 54% of the earth’s population (Christianity-33%, Islam-21%, and Judaism-2%). This represents about 3.6 billion people. Therefore, it seems prudent that these groups strive to live in harmony, seek common ground, and mutual respect. In common, they each:

  1. Profess a belief in the One God, who creates, loves, forgives, reveals, rules and judges humanity at the end of time.
  2. Accept God’s revealed truth through Abraham, the father of faith, and many other divinely inspired prophets.
  3. Preserve God’s revelation in sacred text and various oral teachings of their faith tradition.
    • Judaism: The Jewish Bible, or Tanukh, consists of God’s Laws (Torah), the prophets (Neviim), and sacred writings (Ketuvium). Additionally, Jews look to the supplemental, rabbinical teachings of Midrash, Mishnah, and the Talmud.
    • Catholicism: The revealed Word of God is contained within the 73 Books of the Old and New Testaments (teachings of Jesus, who is God incarnate), the Church’s Sacred Oral Traditions, and the Holy Spirit guided Magisterial teachings (Pope in union with the bishops) detailed in the Catechism of the Catholic Church.
    • Islam: The 114 Chapters (Suras) of the Qur’ran contain truths revealed by God through the Archangel Gabriel to the Prophet Muhammad. Additionally, Muslims look to the supplemental teachings (Hadith) and life story (Sira) of Muhammad, referred to as the Sunnah. The Faqih, or the legal teachings, provide supplemental guidelines for daily living.
  4. Follow an annual religious calendar, and religious, disciplinary and liturgical practices, including but not limited to:
    • Judaism: adherence to the thirteen articles of faith, which summarize core Jewish beliefs, three times daily prayer for men, observation of the Saturday Sabbath, celebration of Shabbat and Passover, adherence to male circumcision, dietary laws, and other spiritual disciplines.
    • Catholicism: belief in the Trinity, One God made of three persons (Father, Son and Holy Spirit), acceptance of the Nicene Creed, observation of the Sunday Sabbath through participation in the Mass (partaking in the consecrated bread and wine or Body and Blood of Christ), and reception of sacramental graces (Baptism, Eucharist, Reconciliation, Confirmation, Marriage, Holy Orders and Anointing of the Sick) as members of His Body, the Church.
    • Islam: observation of Five Pillars, including believe in One God and Muhammad as His final and most perfect prophet, five times daily prayer, alms giving, annual observation of Ramadan, and the completion of a pilgrimage to Mecca (the birth place of Muhammad) if at all possible.
  5. Speak of humanity’s choice between good and evil, and an eternal reward for those who choose obedience to God’s moral law.
  6. Anticipate the coming of a Messiah, who will bring about the Kingdom of God on earth.
  7. Share a love of Jerusalem and deep reverence for the Temple Mount, where Abraham offered his son, in faith, as a sacrificial offering to God. Of course, Abraham’s son was saved, for God, Himself, provided the sacrificial lamb, (Genesis 22:1-13).
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View of the Temple Mount in Jerusalem. Visible is the Western Wall (ancient remnant of the Jewish Temple’s Holy of Holies) and the golden, Islamic Dome of the Rock.

Among their commonalities, however, one finds significant religious and political differences. Of primary importance is Judaism and Islam’s rejection of Jesus Christ’s divinity and humanity, as God incarnate. Secondarily, is Christianity and Islam’s continuous call and desire to evangelize all nations. Subsequently, throughout much of their common history, these three faiths have found themselves at odds, or in the worst case scenario, at war. Overcoming these long-standing difficulties is at the heart of the Catholic Church’s call for interreligious dialogue. These new efforts or plans are contained within the Second Vatican Council’s Declaration on the Relation of the Church to Non-Christian Religions (Nostra Aetate).

Abraham day

Archbishop Timothy Costelloe SBD of Perth, Chief Rabbi of Western Australia, David Freilich OAM, and Sheikh Muhammad Agherdien, gathered (Sept. 22, 2016) to plant an olive tree, a symbol for peace, in celebration of Abraham Day, marking their shared faith in the One God, the God of Abraham.

In the spirit of Nostra Aetate, I pray that each of us strive to:

  1. Reflect the light of Christ to a world in desperate need of love.
  2. Enter, with prudence and charity, into discussion and collaboration with members of other religions.
  3. Acknowledge, preserve and encourage the spiritual and moral truths found within a non-Christian’s faith, social, and cultural life.
  4. Work together to preserve, and promote peace, liberty, social justice and moral values for all.
  5. Avoid discrimination against people, or harassment of any kind, on the basis of race, color, condition in life or religion.

Closing 3:00 Prayer for Divine Mercy.

Eternal Father, I offer You, the Body and Blood, Soul and Divinity of Your Dearly Beloved Son, our Lord, Jesus Christ, in atonement for our sins and the sins of the entire world.

For the sake of His Sorrowful Passion, have mercy on us and on the entire world. (Repeat two more times).

Jesus, I trust in You.

Please click on the link below to learn more about my non-for-profit company, The Healing Eyes of Mercy, make a donation for the people of Haiti, Rwanda, or the Holy Land, shop, or read about my upcoming book, The Healing Eyes of Mercy. A Journey Towards the Light of God’s Love. Thank you and God Bless!

http://www.spiritualsafariguide.com

 

 

 

God’s Loving Plan for Our Lives!

Books and apple

Have you read any good books lately? How about God’s best selling book, the Bible?

“All Scripture is inspired by God and is useful for teaching, for reproof, correction, and training in holiness, so that the man of God may be fully competent and equipped for every good work” (2Timothy 3:16).

Please join me on a virtual pilgrimage to the beautiful country of Israel, as we take a visual journey through God’s plan for our salvation.

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The Bible: God’s love story for His people.

Book Excerpt. Chapter Twenty-Three: A longing for wisdom. (The Healing Eyes of Mercy. A Journey Towards the Light of God’s Love. By: Karen Sheehy)

Exhausted from the demands and emotional difficulties in raising a special needs child, the young mother sought a quiet refuge in the arms of God. Finding rest and comfort in His house, she made regular Mass attendance and Eucharistic Adoration a main stay in her life. This special time, spent with her beloved Jesus, enlivened a deep longing for God’s Word in Sacred Scripture. Recalling her cherished Easter and Christmas memories, she suddenly found these childhood stories lacking. Desiring a more intimate relationship with God, she resolved to read and learn all about His plan for her life. The following day, with her new Bible and CD study set in tow, she started her slow, but persistent journey through God’s love story for His people.

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God’s loving plan of salvation is hidden amongst a “library of books” contained within the pages of Sacred Scripture. By learning which books are narrative and which are supplemental, one can read and better grasp the story of salvation history. Following the narrative thread will reveal the patient love of the Father, beckoning call of His Beloved Son, Jesus, and steadfast guidance of His Holy Spirit. The eternal Trinity of Love, there in the beginning, is present to you now, and always will be. I hope you enjoy this visual journey through the story of salvation history and that it inspires you to dive into the pages of God’s eternal love story. (Taken from Appendix Five: The Healing Eyes of Mercy. A Journey Towards the Light of God’s Love. By: Karen Sheehy)

“In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth…….” (Genesis 1:1)

Narrative Books: Genesis 1-11 

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Sea of Galilee in northern Israel.         

Beginning with the opening chapters of the book of Genesis and continuing to the last book of Revelation, God the Father reveals His plan of salvation and His loving desire to re-establish the broken relationship between Himself and man. The promise and beginning of the fulfillment of that plan, revealed in the book of Genesis, is manifested in the Incarnation of Jesus Christ, the Savior of the world.

Then the Lord Gods said to the serpent, “I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; He will strike at your head, while you strike at his heel”         (Genesis 3:15)

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“Abraham’s gate”, in northern Israel, where Abraham first entered the land promised to him by God.

The Lord said to Abram: “Go forth from the land of your kinsfolk and from your father’s house to a land I will show you” (Genesis 12:1).

God called Abraham and promised that his descendants will be numerous and that they will inherit the Promised Land. This promise, or covenant, indicates their special relationship with God. They are now His chosen people, set apart to love and worship Him. The courtship has begun.

Narrative Books: Genesis 12-50, (Supplemental: Job).

Then Moses stretched out his hand over the sea, and the Lord swept the sea with a strong east wind throughout the night and so turned it into dry land. When the water was thus divided, the Israelites marched into the midst of the sea on dry land, with the water like a wall to their right and to their left, (Exodus 14:21-22).

God kept His promise to Abraham, as he became the father of a great nation, named Israel. Freed from 400 years of bondage in Egypt, the Israelites are eventually led by God and his prophet, Moses, towards the Promised Land. After forty years of wandering in the desert, they cross the River Jordan and make their triumphant re-entry into modern day Israel.

Narrative Books: Exodus, Numbers and Joshua (Supplemental: Leviticus and Deuteronomy).

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Qasr el Yahud, the traditional baptismal site of Jesus, is located on the eastern bank of the River Jordan, just north of the Dead Sea and east of Jericho. Other biblical events associated with this site include Joshua’s leading of the Israelites across the river into the promised land (Joshua 3) and the prophet Elijah’s miraculous ascent into heaven (2Kings).

The Lord said to Samuel, “Fill your horn with oil, and be on your way. I am sending you to Jesse of Bethlehem, for I have chosen my king from among his sons” (1Samuel 16:1).

The next period in salvation history is often referred to as the monarchy, for then the nation of Israel asks for a King. David, a mighty warrior and a man after God’s own heart, unites the tribes of Israel into one kingdom. Solomon, his son, builds the Jewish Temple in their new capital city of Jerusalem.

Narrative Books: Judges, 1 and 2 Samuel, and 1Kings 1-11 (Supplemental: Psalms, 1 and 2 Chronicles, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, and Song of Songs).

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The remains of the ancient Jewish Temple Western Wall, located on the Temple Mount in the Old City of Jerusalem. The original Jewish Temple, built by King Solomon, is believed to be atop the site of Abraham’s attempted sacrifice of Isaac (Genesis 22:2 and 1Kings 6).

They have forsaken the Lord, spurned the Holy One of Israel, apostatized. Where would you yet be struck, you that rebel again and again? (Isaiah 1: 4-5).

After Solomon’s death there is a disagreement among the tribes. Subsequently, God’s people split into two rival kingdoms, Israel to the north and Judah to the south. Despite the warnings of many prophets, the people of both nations turn their back on God and continue to worship many pagan gods. Their stubborn self-reliance, and rejection of God, eventually leads to a time period of captivity in many foreign lands. This period in Jewish history is often referred to as the exile and return. Forty years later, the Jewish nation returns home, rebuilds the Temple and fortifies the Jerusalem city wall. Once a powerful and thriving nation, they are now a small nation occupied by first the Greeks and then the Romans. Feeling lost, but not alone, they eagerly await the future coming of a just, gentile, suffering servant-king who will once again free them from bondage.

Narrative Books: 1Kings 12-22, 2Kings, Ezra, Nehemiah, 1 and 2 Maccabees. (Supplemental: Obadiah, Joel, Amos, Jonah, Tobit, Hosea, Isaiah, Micah, Jeremiah, Nahum, Habakkuk, Daniel, Ezekiel, Judith, Lamentations, Zephaniah, Baruch, Zechariah, Haggai, Ester and Malachi).

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Remnants of the ancient wall surrounding the city of Jerusalem.

The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us and we have seen his glory: the glory of an only Son coming from the Father, filled with enduring love, (John 1:14).

God never abandons his Chosen People, for when the time was right, He sent his only Son, Jesus Christ, into the world. This is the ultimate event in salvation history. Jesus Christ, the Word Made Flesh, is the complete and final revelation of God’s saving plan. Although many of the Jews are hoping for a mighty warrior, Jesus shows them a different way. He preaches love and forgiveness. He heals wounds, works miracles, and ultimately dies to free us all from the bondage of sin. Through His death and resurrection, we have once again gained access to the garden of eden.

Narrative Books: Luke, Acts and Revelation (Supplemental: Matthew, Mark, John, Paul’s Letters, and the other letters of the New Testament).

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Grotto of the birth of Our Lord in Bethlehem.

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Church of the Holy Sepulcher in Jerusalem, built over the sites of Our Lord’s death and resurrection.

The next day, when John the Baptist caught sight of Jesus coming toward him, he exclaimed: “Look! There is the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!” (John 1:29).

I hope that you enjoyed the pictorial walk through the Bible and humanity’s story of salvation. Now that you know the narrative books, start reading, for you don’t want to be standing before God speechless when He asks, “Did you read my book?” As an adjunct to your readings, I highly recommend Walking with God. A Journey Through the Bible by Tim Gray and Jeff Cavins. http://store.spiritualsafariguide.com/t/books-cds-dvds

 

Closing 3:00 p.m. prayer for Divine Mercy.

Eternal Father, I offer You, the Body and Blood, soul and divinity of Your Dearly Beloved Son, our Lord, Jesus Christ, in atonement for our sins and the sins of the entire world.

For the sake of His Sorrowful Passion, have mercy on us and on the entire world. (Repeat two more times).

Jesus, I trust in You.

Please click on the link below to learn more about my non-for-profit company, The Healing Eyes of Mercy, make a donation for the people of Haiti, Rwanda, or the Holy Land, shop, or read about my upcoming book, The Healing Eyes of Mercy. A Journey Towards the Light of God’s Love. Thank you and God Bless!

http://www.spiritualsafariguide.com

A Fresh Start!

Where do we, as Christians, look for inspiration when developing our own personal list of New Year’s resolutions? Please join me on a virtual pilgrimage to the ancient Jewish Temple, located in the heart of Old Jerusalem, as we walk in the very foot steps of Jesus in search of the truest source of new beginnings and personal transformation. No passport necessary.

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Book Excerpt. Chapter Seventeen: The Embrace of Mercy. (The Healing Eyes of Mercy. A Journey Towards the Light of God’s Love. By: Karen Sheehy)

Sitting alone in the comfort of a luxurious black limousine, the bride-to-be took a small shot of Vodka to calm her nerves while staring at the large doors of St. Jude Catholic Church in Atlanta. Awaiting her was the promised love of her life, but how could she be sure? Remembering the wisdom in asking, she simply bowed her head and pleaded to see her future husband through God’s healing eyes of mercy. At once, recognizing the peace and security found within her fiancé’s loving embrace, she immediately saw, in him, her divinely sent and promised soul mate. Fears and uncertainty at bay, she exited the Limo, opened the large church doors of mercy, and headed towards both sources of her fresh start in life, her beloved Jesus and future husband, Tom.

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The Western Wall of Herod’s great Jewish Temple and the Islamic Dome of the Rock located on the Temple Mount in the Old City of Jerusalem.

The Temple Mount, believed to be the site of Abraham’s attempted sacrifice of his son Isaac (Genesis 22:2), bears great religious significance for Jews, Muslims and Christians alike. Known as Jerusalem’s most recognizable landmark, this UNESCO World Heritage Site includes not only the Temple Mount but also the nearby Christian Church of the Holy Sepulchre, which contains the actual Crucifixion and Burial Sites of Jesus.

Three successive Temples have stood on the Temple Mount, including the first built by King Solomon in 957 B.C., the second by Ezra in 538 B.C., and its greatly expanded version built by King Herod in 20 B.C. It was there, within the porticos and steps of Herod’s Temple, that Jesus walked, preached, healed and instructed the early disciples and people of Jerusalem. Therefore, this Temple, mentioned many times throughout the New Testament, is an ideal place to look when developing our own list of New Year’s resolutions, for there, we find Jesus’:

  • new born’s presentation in the Temple (Luke 2:22-24)
  • childhood attendance at the Jewish Feast of the Passover (Luke 2:41-42)
  • forgiving and saving of the adulteress (John 8:1-11)
  • cleansing of the Temple (Matthew 21:12-13)
  • healing of the blind and lame (Matthew 21:14 and John 5:1-9)
  • teachings on the Heavenly Wedding Banquet (Matthew 22:1-14)
  • proclamation about the Jewish Temple’s destruction and three day rebuilding of the new Temple, His Body, the Church (John 2:19-22).
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The Jewish Temple area and proposed site where Jesus saved and forgave a young woman accused of adultery, (John 8:1-11).

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The Pool of Bethesda, located near the Temple remains and Sheep Gate of the ancient Jerusalem Wall, is the site of Jesus’ miraculous healing of a sick man mentioned in the fifth chapter of John’s Gospel, (John 5:1-9).

But how, you may ask, do these historical events relate to New Year’s resolutions?  Well, may I suggest that, as Christians, each of us follow Christ’s illuminated pathway towards spiritual renewal and rebirth by:

  • presenting our lives to God through Baptism and the ongoing gift of self-sacrificial love to others
  • attending daily and/or weekly Mass, including all Holy Days of Obligation
  • receiving the sacrament of Reconciliation on a frequent basis
  • examining one’s conscience daily
  • striving for personal holiness, (the body is the new Temple of the Lord)
  • offering merciful forgiveness to those who have wronged or offended us in any manner
  • performing charitable works for our fellow brothers and sisters in need
  • praying and/or meditating on Sacred Scripture daily
  • adoring the Real Presence of the Lord in Eucharistic Adoration.

In closing, I wish you and your families a year filled with the blessings, love and new beginnings promised by our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Amen

Closing 3:00 p.m. prayer for Divine Mercy.

Eternal Father, I offer You, the Body and Blood, soul and divinity of Your Dearly Beloved Son, our Lord, Jesus Christ, in atonement for our sins and the sins of the entire world.

For the sake of His Sorrowful Passion, have mercy on us and on the entire world. (Repeat two more times).

Jesus, I trust in You.

Please click on the link below to learn more about my non-for-profit company, The Healing Eyes of Mercy, make a donation for the people of Haiti, Rwanda, or the Holy Land, shop, or read about my upcoming book, The Healing Eyes of Mercy. A Journey Towards the Light of God’s Love. Thank you and God Bless!

http://www.spiritualsafariguide.com