Biblical Exposition

The lady at the pet store told me I was a sick individual. I didn’t think so, but then again I am biased and think I’m OK – and my wife tends to agree with me.

The whole thing started because of a small hobby of mine. When I was a little boy my dad bought me binoculars and a bird book (picture: still have that first bird book my dad gave me ).

I sat under trees for hours and kept track of the birds I discovered. It was great fun. How many people have had the pleasure of discovering Indigo Buntings, Rose-breasted Grosbeaks, Rufous-sided Towhees, or Northern Snowbirds?

Janet and I live in the country with a large field behind our house. Last week a raccoon was hit by a car near our home. It didn’t listen to his mother when she warned him about playing in the road. At least that’s what we told our kids as they were growing up—a lesson in obeying parents!

Anyway, I had the crazy idea to pick up the dead raccoon, toss him on the hood of my car, and throw him in our back field to see if the Turkey Vultures would come to eat it. Looking at the head of this vulture will give you an idea where he got his name.

The lady at the pet store told me I was a sick individual when I told her what I had done.  I told her our bird feeders are often visited by the smallest bird in Michigan – the hummingbird – so we thought we would try to attract one of the largest birds in Michigan.

It didn’t take long. The large shadow passed by my window as I was working on my laptop and sure enough it was Mr. Vulture circling with his 6 foot wingspan. I slipped out to the back porch to watch.

Janet joined me and we were intrigued as nine Turkey Vultures from every corner of the county swirled and swooped, landing around the raccoon to tear the corpse to ribbons with their sharp, hooked beaks. They fought, danced, challenged each other with their wings spread—all while Janet and I watched the show. They came back the next few days until all that was left was a bare skeleton.

We told the grandkids about the vultures and they said, “Bampa, get ‘nother  coon! We want see bultures!” So I jumped in the car and found another road-kill-coon and brought him back on the hood of my car. I got more than one shocked look from fellow drivers. I was laughing my head off—kind of like watching people react on Candid Camera.

It wasn’t long before the whole feathered gang was putting on a show for us again in the back yard. The grandkids sat and watched and kept shouting “bulchers, bampa, bultures!”

We’ve even had two bald eagles stop by for dinner!

It got me thinking of what the Bible says about vultures and birds of prey. There are about ten species of high-flying, carrion-eating birds in Israel. They are all lumped together in the Bible. My book Birds of Israel says that one is called an Egyptian Vulture and another the Common Buzzard.

The Jews were forbidden to eat these birds. Geez, I guess so and I can see why. When I was about ten years old, I caught a baby vulture and he puked rotten meat all over me. It was his means of self-defense—scaring off the enemy, and it worked!

Who could imagine eating an ugly bird that eats such rotten meat? The Jews were also forbidden from eating catfish since they are also bottom feeders. Even today Jewish fishermen kill every catfish they catch to decrease their population in the Sea of Galilee. God forbade Jews from eating such animals—and pigs too.

Jesus mentions vultures in the Gospels. It is recorded in Matthew 24:28 and Luke 17:37. In speaking of the end times Jesus  says, “Wherever the corpse is, there the vultures will gather.” It seems Jesus is quoting a common proverb of his time. No one is quite sure what Jesus meant and it is difficult to figure out.

Word Biblical Commentary thinks it refers to the unmistakable character of Jesus’ Second Coming. As surely as you know that where you see vultures gathered there is a carcass, so you will not be able to miss the coming of the Son of Man.

But others think it means that at the end of time, just as these birds of prey gather where the rotting carcasses are, so the judgments of God will descend upon the corrupt state of humanity. When the world has degenerated to the point that it resembles a maggot-infested corpse, when the world’s cup of iniquity is full, then Christ will condemn the world. The vultures might represent the judgment of God. Jesus mentions these birds once in the gospels.

Carrion eating birds are mentioned again at the judgment in the last days, “Then I saw an angel standing in the sun, and with a loud voice he called to all the birds that fly in midheaven, ‘Come, gather for the great supper of God, to eat the flesh of kings, the flesh of captains, the flesh of mighty men,’. . . And the rest were slain by the sword of him who sits upon the horse, the sword that issues from his mouth; and all the birds were gorged with their flesh” (Rev 17:17-21).

As I watched the vultures gorging on the dead raccoons this week, I thought of the end times when the world becomes so corrupt and putrid—crawling with maggots and foul-smelling in God’s nostrils—that God will put an end to it and judge the earth. Christ will come again. On that day the vultures will not waste time on raccoons, they will feast on human flesh. They will fill their foul bellies with meat torn from the enemies of God.

Last Sunday at Mass I recited the Nicene Creed and I believed it. “We look for the resurrection of the body and the life of the world to come.”  I, for one, expect my flesh to rise on the last day to glory and the beatific vision, not to be torn and eaten by the hooked bills of stinking, unclean birds—symbolic of the judgment and punishment of God.

(Picture: Me in a coffin, a scene about the resurrection from our “Jesus, the Word Became Flesh” movie)

But in the meantime, we will enjoy watching the vultures eat from our unique birdfeeder in the back yard. It will be a daily reminder to be holy and remain in the grace and friendship of God—prepared for the Last Day and the final judgment.

I will also try to convince myself that I am not a sick individual :-) By the way, what right did that lady have to call me sick when she was selling me crickets to feed to my tarantula? The nerve of some people!

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Feast Day of St. Martha, loved by Jesus

by Steve Ray on July 29, 2020

Martha is often given the short shrift. She lived with her brother Lazarus and her sister Mary in Bethany where Jesus lived when he was in the Jerusalem area. She worked hard, cared for people but was criticized by Jesus, or so it seems.

I don’t think Jesus was criticizing those who serve guests and take care of details. He was commenting on the nervousness, “worry and bother” that was causing Martha to miss the whole point of the gathering. Jesus was there and it is more important to spend time with him than in scuttling about in a nervous tizzy. Mary certainly helped too, but she was aware of the real import of the moment.

Bethany (picture above) is much bigger now than in Jesus’ day. Today it is an Arab town called El-Aziriye, after Lazarus. It was the home of Lazarus, Mary and Martha.

The other picture is of me coming out of Lazarus’ Tomb. We have visited this tomb often. It is incredible to enter this tomb and then reemerge to read St. John 11 and the historical account of Jesus raising Lazarus from this very tomb.

This demonstrates again that the Bible is historical and accurate. The places mentioned in the Gospels still exist. On our pilgrimages, we visit, touch and pray at these sites. You can be proud to be a Catholic and confident in the Bible and the teaching of the Church!

To see these sites on DVD, get our Jesus, the Word Became Flesh where we visit Bethany, the home of Martha and Mary and the Tomb of Lazarus.

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Vine, Branches & Fire: Where Will You End up?

by Steve Ray on July 27, 2020

One has to take time to care for their land. We own two acres in the country and awhile ago I was cutting wild vines out of the trees and burning them. The overgrown branches from the bushes and trees were also trimmed and burned.

The flames brought to mind the words of Jesus in John 15:5–6, “I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in me, and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.  If a man does not abide in me, he is cast forth as a branch and withers; and the branches are gathered, thrown into the fire and burned.”

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Feast Day of Joachim & Anna: Nativity and Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary

July 26, 2020

July 27 is the Feast Day of Mary’s parents Sts. Joachim and Anna. Their story is not told in the Bible, but in a 2nd-century document entitled The Protoevangelium of James. In this document we read of the birth and presentation of Mary and her childhood through her marriage to Joseph and the birth of Jesus. This […]

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Peter and the Primacy in Scripture and the Early Church Discussion

July 16, 2020

Had another great evening with William Albrecht and Michael Lofton on their popular and wide-ranging Reason & Theology show. It was a great time of discussion, challenge and digging deep into the issue of the primage of Peter and Rome in Scripture and the Church Fathers – East and West. Enjoy the lively discussion…. Throughout […]

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Mass with 2 Protestants and 1 Crucifix

July 14, 2020

A while ago we went to Mass with two Protestants.  As we walked in the door — there it was, as big as life — a CRUCIFIX with the Body of Our Lord hanging over the altar. I knew what the Protestants were thinking — I used to think the same — “CATHOLICS ARE WRONG, JESUS IS […]

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Peter & the Primacy in the New Testament

June 30, 2020

St. Peter in the New Testament What Do We Know About Him? Peter is the big rugged fisherman who became the humble servant of the servants of God. Jesus chose him from among the Twelve to be the leader and the visible head of the Church. What do we know about Peter from the New […]

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Eucharist Interview with Steve Ray and Paul Sangreal

June 29, 2020

This is a recording of my interview with Paul Thies on the Eucharist. You can listen by clicking below. His website page for this talk is here. Questions discussed: 1.      As a convert to Catholicism, describe how you came to accept the Real Presence? 2.      What was instrumental in increasing your devotion to the Eucharist? 3.      What is […]

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Did Jesus Re-name Simon the “Rock” – Confusion with Petra, Cephas, Rock and Peter

June 29, 2020

A loving wife of an unbelieving Protestant husband asked me to explain to her husband that Jesus renamed Simon as Peter and how that relates to Greek, Aramaic and Hebrew. So in simple terms I gave it a simple (though a bit long) explanation. I hope it helps you as well. ******************************* Let’s give this […]

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Philippines Zoom Conference: “What it Means to Be Born Again”

June 6, 2020

In the Philippines people who leave the Catholic Church to become Protestants are usually called the “born agains.” But are they really? According to the Bible – NO! Catholics are the real and true “born agains” and Steve explains why from the Bible. When someone asks Steve if he is born again, he answers, “Yes, […]

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St. Patrick Explains the Trinity to Simple Irish Peasants :-)

June 6, 2020

In preparation for Trinity Sunday, here is a clever little video that says a lot in a short time with good humor.

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Are You Born Again?

June 6, 2020

I posted this for the listeners of Catholic Answers Live on Wednesday evening, March 21. I will post the audio link as soon as it is available and a list of all the questions we answered. It seems that God is kind of predictable in a way :-) since He always starts new things in the […]

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My Updated Article on Infant Baptism

June 5, 2020

Even among Evangelical Protestants there is much debate about Infant Baptism. My old Baptist tradition rejected it as a Catholic tradition of men. Dr. Francis Schaeffer, my favorite Evangelical Presbyterian theologian wrote a booklet entitled Infant Baptism in favor of the practice – my wife Janet was raised Presbyterian and baptized as an infant. It […]

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Who Says the Mass is a Sacrifice?

June 1, 2020

Jimmy Swaggart says it is NOT a sacrifice. He wrote: “The Catholic doctrine of transubstantiation is, without question, one of the most absurd doctrines ever imposed on a trusting public… Roman Catholic errors are inevitably human innovations that were inserted into the church during the early centuries. This teaching on the Eucharist follows this pattern. […]

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“Saved by Grace through Faith, not of Yourselves…”

May 27, 2020

Uh oh. What do we do now? Someone just discovered a Bible verse that destroys the Catholic view of salvation. Here is the previously “undiscovered verse” which Catholics seem to have missed somehow! Ephesians 2:8–9. “For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of […]

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Two New Zoom Podcasts: Matt Fradd’s “Pints with Aquinas” & “Reason and Theology”

May 26, 2020

On his podcast Pints with Aquinas, Matt Fradd and I discussed the Papacy. Very lively and wide-ranging conversation. Matt is an excellent interviewer. He entitled the show “A Conversation with the “Indiana Jones” of the Catholic Church” I interviewed on Reason & Faith on the Crisis in the Church with William Albrecht, Erick Ybarra and […]

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