My parish has its scripture studies usually during the week which is frequented by the retired folks in the parish community. However, as I have a rotating day off during the week, today my day off fell during one of those scripture studies. The scriptural course is one that covers every book of the Bible in a synopsis format more or less picking out important bits or pieces within the text. The topic for today was Exodus and Numbers, as many readers here know, which is a great interest to me.
To be honest, I am a bit disappointed with the lack of catechesis during the study; more or less the study simply focused on the Exodus being a narrative account. It didn’t take into account really any theological or historical exegesis of the scripture. So, I sat there and watched the video, the priest came in for the discussion time; I remained silent. One gentleman finally brought up a particular passage in Numbers 14:18:
18 ‘The Lord is slow to anger,
and abounding in steadfast love,
forgiving iniquity and transgression,
but by no means clearing the guilty,
visiting the iniquity of the parents
upon the children
to the third and the fourth generation.’
The gentleman asked if we sin does God punish our children for our sins. Of course, some gave some decent answers such as our children’s future is affected by our actions in the present, but a good portion of the group took a more eschatological approach that our sins damned, in a manner of speaking, our children. At the point, I was just shaking my head and I finally said, “I think we have to examine Hebrews 10 in which the writer states the Jesus’ sacrifice is the once and for all sacrifice for our sins.”
12 But when Christ[e] had offered for all time a single sacrifice for sins, “he sat down at the right hand of God,” 13 and since then has been waiting “until his enemies would be made a footstool for his feet.” 14 For by a single offering he has perfected for all time those who are sanctified.
I was met with blank stares in which I interpreted as skeptical faces.
But since I had the floor at this point, I opened up about the philosophical aspects of Exodus Chapter 3 and the Cosmological arguments connection with the revelation of God’s name and entering the debate of Christianity within the societal interest such as those like Justin Martyr did with Greek philosophy.
After all of this, to make a long story short, a gentleman answered, “I have a far simpler faith than that.” In truth, I envied his sentiment, but at the same time, I knew for myself, as a relatively young man, the sentiment has not been a winning sentiment for my generation and younger for the faith.
I keep thinking to myself, “The faith of a child…The faith of a child…” I fear the secular has made such sentiments foolish to most. In the end, I eventually just said, “I start with the historical claim of the Resurrection and move backward.”