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Last Friday, I wrote about the importance of responsible chaperoning, which included basic rules to ensure safety on school trips.

The article used what happened to students from Covington Catholic High School after the 2019 March for Life on Friday, January 18, 2019.

I quoted sensible advice from this young journalist who writes for the Libertarian publication Reason:

Soave’s message to faculty — and, indirectly, chaperones — is this (emphases mine below):

Unless other information emerges, the school’s best move would be to have a conversation with the boys about the incident, perhaps discuss some strategies for remaining on perfect behavior at highly charged political rallieswhere everybody is recording everything on a cell phone—and let that be the end of it.

My post also quoted student Nick Sandmann’s detailed statement and discussed the media furore which took place on Saturday, January 19.

The following day, some media pundits apologised for criticising the students based on the short video clips they had seen. They had voiced an opinion before the longer video clips began surfacing. The Washington Examiner has a good report which includes these two tweets:

Some Twitter account holders tweeted some highly unpleasant things that they would like to do to the boys. Twitter did not find that objectionable, as The Daily Caller reported on Monday, January 21:

Twitter said Monday that former CNN contributor Reza Aslan did not violate the platform’s policies when he posted a tweet Saturday suggesting one of the boys involved in a dust-up during the March for Life rally had a “punchable face.”

“We have investigated the reported content and could not identify any violations of the Twitter Rules or applicable law,” Twitter wrote in a letter Aslan included in a tweet. “Accordingly,” the letter adds, “we have not taken any action at this time.”

The article explained that Aslan lost his job at CNN in 2017 for referring to President Trump in a derogatory manner (see quote in the article, language alert).

The article also included retractions — not necessarily apologies — from two other nationally-known journalists, the New York Times‘s Maggie Haberman and National Review‘s Rich Lowry.

Fortunately, not everyone was verbally beating up the students.

The Federalist‘s Cheryl Magness put blame where it belonged — on the adults. Her boss tweeted her article:

In ‘All The Adults Involved Failed The Covington Catholic School Boys, And Should Be Ashamed’, she provides a summary of what happened, then points out the students’ bemusement:

A few of the boys can be heard asking, “What’s going on?” It seems they were a bit confused by it all. Wouldn’t you be? Maybe, without a playbook or previous experience dealing with a situation like this, you wouldn’t respond in the most elegant way either.

She adds:

I have not been more ashamed to be a grown-up in a long, long time. What I have observed in the last three days is not how grown-ups are supposed to act. The Covington Catholic boys may not have behaved with perfect decorum. But they’re teenagers. I’m not sure I would have known what to do had I found myself in the situation they did.

Actually, I do know what I would have done. I would have walked away. Unfortunately, these boys couldn’t do that. They were following instructions to wait for their bus in a designated location. They didn’t have the option of walking away. So they engaged in school cheers and general teenaged goofiness while they passed the time, never anticipating that they were going to be called on to provide the world a model of what to do when you find yourselves verbally attacked by protestors on a Washington D.C. street corner.

She rightly takes issue with the protestors — the Black Hebrew Israelites (BHI) and Nathan Phillips:

Free speech does not consist of hurling obscenities and insults at the perceived opponent, nor does it consist of wordlessly inserting oneself into an already charged situation, as Phillips did, then lying about it afterward.

What adult picks on a minor, anyway? That’s cowardice.

That said, Magness levelled the most pointed — and justified — criticism at the adults from Covington Catholic and the Catholic Diocese of Covington, Kentucky:

No sooner had the boys gotten on their bus than they were thrown under it by their school and the Covington diocese, who issued a joint statement condemning the students’ actions and saying the matter was under investigation that appropriate action would be taken. Um, if the matter is under investigation, doesn’t that suggest it might be good to wait before condemning the behavior? Could it be that there’s more to the story than a short, viral video?

The school and the diocese owed these boys a full hearing before coming to any conclusion. They now owe them an apology.

That apology took nearly another week to come in writing. I’ll have more on that in another post.

Magness was quite generous about the adults accompanying the boys:

Speaking of adults, some are starting to ask where the Covington boys’ chaperones were. My guess is that they were there, doing their best, along with the boys, in a challenging situation. I’ve been a chaperone on a youth trip. It’s hard. There are more kids than adults. You manage them as best you can. You try to keep them corralled while giving them a little space.

I am not sure what I would have done had I found myself in charge of a group under the circumstances that played out Friday. My guess is that the Covington Catholic chaperones, like the boys, perhaps didn’t manage the situation perfectly, but did the best they could.

I went to the article at the link in the preceding quote, because Magness was much more gracious in her assessment than I have been. The Cincinnati Enquirer‘s Scott Wartman asked ‘Where were the chaperones? The question lingers amid outrage at Covington Catholic Students’. Excerpts follow:

The Enquirer has also tried to find and connect with chaperones.

The Diocese of Covington, the organizers of the trip and officials with Covington Catholic have not returned messages from The Enquirer asking that question …

Many noticed a lack of adults with the students.

“Cov Cath chaperones, where were you?” tweeted Amy Baskin.

Even an official with the Vatican is asking that question.

“Second, where were the chaperones?” wrote Father James Martin, consultant to the Vatican’s secretariat of communications. “The idea that a group of Catholic high school students were placed, either wittingly or unwittingly, in such an incendiary situation, seems to indicate a lack of oversight.”

I could not agree more with Father Martin.

However, the diocese did not view the matter in quite the same way:

The fallout from the controversy remains to be seen. The diocese in a statement said they were investigating and that they “will take appropriate action, up to and including expulsion.”

For those who have not followed it, this story was far from over.

More tomorrow.

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Earlier this month, a schoolboy found a coin dating from the New Testament era whilst on a class trip in Israel.

On January 27, 2019, The Times of Israel reported:

A boy found a 2,000-year-old coin from the Second Temple-era rule of Herod Agrippa, the last king of Judea, during a hike last week in the northern West Bank.

The rare piece was uncovered in the Shilo stream during a school trip, according to a Sunday statement from the Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT), an Israeli body that administers civilian matters in the West Bank under the Defense Ministry.

The coin features three stalks of grain on one side, and a royal canopy surrounded by an engraving reading “King Agrippa” on the other side.

The boy notified his tour guide, who, in turn, contacted an employee of the Archaeology Unit at COGAT’s Civil Administration. The boy gave the employee the coin, which was duly analysed.

The coin will soon join the Israel Antiquities Authority’s collection of National Treasures.

I was excited to see this article, even happier when the journalist carefully identified the Herod involved:

Herod Agrippa ruled Judea from 41 CE until his death three years later. He was the grandson of Herod the Great and the father of Herod Agrippa II, the last king of the Herodian Dynasty. He ruled the territory to the satisfaction of the Jews, and was hailed at the time as “Agrippa the Great,” according to Josephus.

In Acts 12, St Luke — the author of Acts — wrote of how Agrippa had James (John’s brother, the sons of Zebedee) beheaded, put Peter in prison and not long afterwards, after an angel of the Lord released Peter from prison, he received a divine judgement: death by worms, which ate him alive.

The Jewish historian Josephus wrote that it took five days for the worms to consume his body.

I am amazed by the ancient finds that continue to turn up.

In London, as the exciting new Crossrail line is being built, archaeologists are still examining sets of skulls unearthed during construction a few years ago. The skulls date to around 100-110 AD, so, during the Roman rule of Britain — and not that long, relatively speaking, after Herod Agrippa I’s death. But I digress.

In closing, when I get to Acts 26 in my Forbidden Bible Verses series, I will be writing about St Paul’s encounter with Herod Agrippa II.

On Monday, January 28, 2019, President Trump tweeted:

A few hours later, there was this:

I couldn’t agree more.

A few years ago, I had a reader who was suffering from a deep lack of reassurance regarding salvation. When I repeatedly — and nicely — encouraged him to read the Bible more often, he refused. He wrote, ‘I’ve already read the Bible — in school,’ which had been decades before.

It takes a lifetime to become a proper Bible scholar in the theological sense of the term. Most of them, throughout history, were still learning about the Good Book even as they wrote about it.

Once one starts drifting away from Scripture, one starts distancing oneself from God.

By way of illustration, this is how leftist thought has deteriorated the appreciation of Western European civilisation over the decades:

The same has been happening to Christianity, especially in the United States.

Lately, journalists have been piling on the hate, linking Christianity with bigotry, just as the Left has been doing with Western Civilisation.

Unless we know and understand Holy Scripture, we are likely to begin doubting our faith, relying more on tweets such as this to determine our religious outlook:

Mollie Hemingway wrote a piece for The Federalist yesterday on that very tweet and other anti-Christian sentiment from various journalists. ‘Bigotry Against Christians Harms The Media’s Reputation’ is well worth reading.

Of Lorenz’s tweet, Hemingway writes (emphases mine):

Christ’s triumph over death is the central historical event in the Christian faith. It is the source of Christian hope for humanity. It is recorded in multiple sources from the ancient world based on testimony from eyewitnesses and those close to the event. You can read about it in the Synoptic Gospels, the Gospel of John, the letter of James, the letters of St. Paul, and the letter of Peter. This teaching accounts for the persona transformation in the lives of the apostles, and the spread throughout the world of Jesus’s teachings ever since.

Lorenz was dunking on Pope Francis for a tweet about Jesus’ mother Mary. It is a free country, for the time being, and she has every right to do so. I’m unclear what her religion is, but the notion that Jesus Christ couldn’t possibly have been crucified and resurrected is one with long lineage. St. Paul references the substance of Lorenz’s scalding hot take in a passage on the wisdom and power of God when he wrote in 1 Corinthians 1:23-25:

but we preach Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and folly to the Gentiles, but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. For the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men.

The Christian teachings of Christ’s crucifixion and resurrection are central to the faith, but not everyone is called, as St. Paul puts it. And those who don’t believe view this central teaching as a stumbling block, as Lorenz does.

Unfortunately, there is the increasing tendency to make Christians out to be bigots:

As the media lean into their progressive political ideology, they are becoming more and more anti-Christian. Anti-Christian Ideology Is an Emerging Aspect of White Progressive Populism,” David French observed recently.

In addition to the tens of thousands of Lorenz followers who retweeted and liked the tweet, many journalists gave her atta-girls and other support. This includes The Hill’s Niall Stanage, who said it was Lorenz’s “greatest tweet.” Bloomberg’s Sarah Frier, Axios’ Felix Salmon, Wired’s Meghann Farnsworth, journalist Patrick Hruby, BuzzFeed’s Brandon Wall, The Week’s Navneet Alang, New York Magazine’s Abraham Riesman, The Daily Beast’s Marlow Stern, NPR’s Brandon Carter, and many others.

We all know that journalists would not mock others as they mock Jesus and his followers.

They cannot even bear having the attention turned on them. A significant number of BuzzFeed journalists were laid off last week. Some on Twitter advised them to pursue other lines of work — ‘learn how to code’ — advice journalists gave laid off workers in Flyover Country, as they call it, several years ago. Essentially, those journalists were saying to those unemployed workers, ‘Deal with it. We don’t care.’

Now that journalists are experiencing hardship:

On the other hand, Twitter has not objected to the boys at Covington Catholic High School — minors — being verbally attacked via tweets:

But I digress.

All of this goes to show that we must stop believing what an unbeliever tells us about the Bible and Christians.

We are in a spiritual battle at the moment, not only in the United States but also elsewhere in the Western world. Those who hate Christianity — and by extension, Christians — will continue to throw enough mud until it starts sticking.

We need to gently but firmly continue to stand our ground. Knowing Scripture is one of the best defences we can give to those who mock us.

We would do well to continue to pray regularly for strength and fortitude. This will get worse before it gets better.

Let us also pray that these Bible literacy classes become increasingly popular.

John F MacArthurThose who have followed my Forbidden Bible Verses series on the Book of Acts will know that I have been citing one of John MacArthur’s sermons in my posts on Acts 23.

John MacArthur wrote ‘Providential Protection’ in 1974, and it is about Acts 23:12-35.

Throughout, the Lord divinely intervened on Paul’s behalf — via unbelievers — to bring the Apostle where He wanted him to be: first class in the governor Felix’s palace, formerly Herod’s. Although Paul was a prisoner and recovering from a heavy physical beating from the people of Jerusalem, he was able to rest for a few days and share the Good News with the upper strata of Roman society in well deserved comfort.

I cited MacArthur’s sermon most recently in my post on Acts 23:31-35 and would now like to share the ending with you. This pertains to all of us and it might surprise some readers in that God does not want us to be miserable. He provides as and when we need it. Emphases mine below:

People always think God wants everybody to be poor, destitute, and barely scrape by. No. God knows when you need first class. I remember coming home from a meeting one time, to give you a really silly illustration. I was so tired; I had never been as sick as I was. I got sick during the entire meeting. In fact, the church wouldn’t let me come home and come back to preach. I was flying from Chicago to Portland, and I was at the end of my tether. I had stayed all week in Chicago in a place that was un- air conditioned. It was 100 every day and about 95% humidity, and I had the flu, and I had to speak two or three times a day in an auditorium without air conditioning. And by the time the week was over, I was wiped out.

And I’ll never forget; I just didn’t think I could hack it. I knew I was going to get on that airplane and get squished in that preachers’ economy section, next to a guy with a black cigar, you know? I mean, I had it all figured out. I got on there and the girl says to me, “I’m sorry, sir, there are no more seats left. We’ll have to put you in first class.” And I said, “Lord, You know. You know,” and I went in there and they started feeding me, and they fed me from Chicago to Portland.

The Lord knows those things. It is His delight. “Fear not, little flock.” First Samuel 30, verse 6, “And David was greatly distressed, but David encouraged his heart in the Lord his God.” Amen. Let’s pray.

We thank You, Father, for what You have accomplished in the life of Paul through Your providence, as well as through miracles. We thank You for what we see in our own lives as the providence that You design guides us to the accomplishment of Your will.

Thank You for the time we’ve shared together today. Teach us to trust You, to remember that You care. For remember the words of Peter, “Casting all your care on Him, for He cares for you,” and to fear not, to be anxious for nothing; to know that it’s Your delight to give us all that the Kingdom involves. We thank You in Jesus’ name, Amen.

Excellent points.

Of course, the Lord also gives us trials — another subject — but everything He does is for a greater purpose in accomplishing His will.

Returning to ‘first class’, the Lord knows what we need and when we need it. He is all-loving and all-merciful. May we always remember that.

Bible kevinroosecomThe three-year Lectionary that many Catholics and Protestants hear in public worship gives us a great variety of Holy Scripture.

Yet, it doesn’t tell the whole story.

My series Forbidden Bible Verses — ones the Lectionary editors and their clergy omit — examines the passages we do not hear in church. These missing verses are also Essential Bible Verses, ones we should study with care and attention. Often, we find that they carry difficult messages and warnings.

Today’s reading is from the English Standard Version with commentary by Matthew Henry and John MacArthur.

Acts 23:31-35

31 So the soldiers, according to their instructions, took Paul and brought him by night to Antipatris. 32 And on the next day they returned to the barracks, letting the horsemen go on with him. 33 When they had come to Caesarea and delivered the letter to the governor, they presented Paul also before him. 34 On reading the letter, he asked what province he was from. And when he learned that he was from Cilicia, 35 he said, “I will give you a hearing when your accusers arrive.” And he commanded him to be guarded in Herod’s praetorium.

————————————————————————————————————————

Last week’s entry discussed the letter that Jerusalem’s Roman tribune Claudius Lysias — whom St Luke referred to by name in Acts 23:26 — sent to the Roman governor Felix.

Claudius Lysias had moved Paul’s case up the management chain, therefore, the Apostle was no longer his responsibility.

As we read last week, the tribune ordered two of his centurions — each in charge of 100 troops — to provide Paul with horses. It is quite possible that Luke, the author of Acts, accompanied Paul on this journey to Caesarea.

Paul had a huge military escort. The full phalanx of men took him during the night to Antipatris (verse 31). BibleHub’s atlas page tells us more about Antipatris, which was halfway between Jerusalem and Caesarea (emphases mine):

It was a town built by Herod the Great, and called after his father Antipater. It is probably identical with the modern Ras el-`Ain, “fountain head,” a large mound with ruins at the source of Nahr el`Aujeh, in the plain to the Northeast of Jaffa. There are remains of a crusading castle which may be the Mirabel of those times …

It is 28 ms. n. w. of Jerusalem, has ruins, a fine spring and is on the ancient Roman road: 27 ms. a little w. of n. are the ruins of Cesarea, on the coast. Another site has been suggested at Kefr Saba, 4 ms. n. of the first mentioned place.

The following day, no doubt after a short rest period, the main body of troops returned to the barracks in Jerusalem (verse 32). Antipatris was in a calmer region characterised by the lack of tension between Romans and Jews, as it was mostly Gentile. The more armed Roman troops were needed back in the city, hence their return. Therefore, the horsemen continued escorting Paul from Antipatris to Caesarea.

Matthew Henry’s commentary tells us:

Thence the two hundred foot-soldiers, and the two hundred spearmen, returned back to Jerusalem, to their quarters in the castle; for, having conducted Paul out of danger, there needed not strong a guard, but the horsemen might serve to bring him to Cæsarea, and would do it with more expedition

John MacArthur says:

Once they got him down to Antipatris, they were in Gentile territory – pretty much. And, they felt that the 70 horsemen could handle him, so the other 400 came back to Jerusalem. And that was wise, too, because he had to have his forces where they needed to be, back in the city.

Upon arrival, the cavalry presented Paul and the letter from Claudius Lysias to the governor, Felix (verse 33). They duly returned to Jerusalem.

Felix read the brief letter and asked Paul where he was from. Paul told him he was from Cilicia (verse 34), where Tarsus was.

Felix asked Paul that question, because he wanted to be sure that he was authorised to hear the case. MacArthur explains:

he had to determine who had jurisdiction. The Romans had divided their conquered world into various provinces over which there were procurators, or governors. Cilicia and Judea were considered to be in the domain of Felix, and that’s what he wanted to determine so that he would know that he had jurisdiction. When Paul replied that he was from Cilicia, which is just north of the Judea area, he agreed that that was his jurisdiction. He says, “I will try the case,” verse 35, “…when your accusers arrive.”

Having told Paul that he would hear his case, he commanded his men to put Paul up in one of Herod Agrippa I’s apartments (verse 35). That was the Herod who suffered a divine judgement of death by worms in Acts 12. He was eaten alive. His palace — praetorium — became the governor’s residence. So, Paul was lodging in the same building as Felix.

At the beginning of Acts 23, MacArthur said that there were four themes to the chapter: the confrontation, the conflict, the conquest and the consolation.

Clearly, this was a time of consolation for Paul, to be accommodated in such grandeur — even if he was a prisoner.

Throughout this chapter, MacArthur — and Henry — have pointed out that God was working through unbelievers, the Romans, to deliver Paul to safety. Luke did not write of divine intervention, but it is apparent. MacArthur says:

You talk about first class; he’d had been escorted by 470 soldiers, and now he is going to room in the palace. God is taking care of him.

You can just imagine that Paul is there in the palace just praising the Lord for a promise given only a night before, and fulfilled already – the care of the Lord for His children. Do you see a miracle in the passage? Did you see a miracle anywhere? No miracle. No signs, no wonders, and no mighty deeds. Did you see God at work in His providence, ordering the circumstances, ordering the lives of the people, moving all the scenes and the characters on the stage to accomplish His will?

Beloved, this passage tells me things about God even though God isn’t mentioned. One, it tells me God is faithful. He keeps His word. Do you believe that? Peter said this in 2 Peter 3:9, “The Lord is not slack concerning His promise.” I see a faithful God. He makes a promise in verse 11, and right in the morning He carries out the fulfillment of it. Paul is 60 miles closer to the promised destination the first day, and God confirmed that promise in his heart. God is faithful.

Second, God is caring. Did you see the care of God? Did you see how He takes care of His servant? He knows how much Paul can handle. He knew that it wasn’t time now for Paul to sneak out of town, or to be dragged out of town, or to be hustled through the Judean hillsides between the robbers and all of the people that were lurking there, and the seditionists; by two or three men, sort of scared and huddled in the corner. He knew how much Paul had endured, and He knew it was time for Paul to go first class, and that’s how he went.

Henry’s commentary points out another aspect, the fact that Paul’s stay in the governor’s palace brought him in contact with many great men with whom he could share the Good News:

Paul had never affected acquaintance or society with great men, but with the disciples, wherever he came; yet Providence overrules his sufferings so as by them to give him an opportunity of witnessing to Christ before great men; and so Christ had foretold concerning his disciples, that they should be brought before rulers and kings for his sake, for a testimony against them, Mark 13:9 … There he had opportunity of acquainting himself with great men that attended the governor’s court, and, no doubt, he improved what acquaintance he got there to the best purposes.

There is a concept popular in some Protestant denominations, that of common grace. Catholics would call it natural law. Jewish people understand it as the Noahide laws. Whatever the case, divinely oriented common decency prevents our world from completely falling apart through violence and depravity. Even though we all sin, most of us — wherever we are in the world and regardless of belief or unbelief — recognise the difference between right and wrong.

How the Romans treated Paul in Acts 23 is one good biblical example of divine intervention at work in unbelievers.

Next time — Acts 24:1-9

What follows are the readings for the Third Sunday after Epiphany, January 27, 2019.

These are for Year C in the three-year Lectionary.

Emphases mine below.

First reading

The worship service of thanksgiving that Nehemiah wrote of was conducted after the Lord released His people from Babylon. In like manner, Christians are grateful that the Lord sent us Christ Jesus who freed us from sin by dying on the Cross.

Nehemiah 8:1-3, 5-6, 8-10

8:1 all the people gathered together into the square before the Water Gate. They told the scribe Ezra to bring the book of the law of Moses, which the LORD had given to Israel.

8:2 Accordingly, the priest Ezra brought the law before the assembly, both men and women and all who could hear with understanding. This was on the first day of the seventh month.

8:3 He read from it facing the square before the Water Gate from early morning until midday, in the presence of the men and the women and those who could understand; and the ears of all the people were attentive to the book of the law.

8:5 And Ezra opened the book in the sight of all the people, for he was standing above all the people; and when he opened it, all the people stood up.

8:6 Then Ezra blessed the LORD, the great God, and all the people answered, “Amen, Amen,” lifting up their hands. Then they bowed their heads and worshiped the LORD with their faces to the ground.

8:8 So they read from the book, from the law of God, with interpretation. They gave the sense, so that the people understood the reading.

8:9 And Nehemiah, who was the governor, and Ezra the priest and scribe, and the Levites who taught the people said to all the people, “This day is holy to the LORD your God; do not mourn or weep.” For all the people wept when they heard the words of the law.

8:10 Then he said to them, “Go your way, eat the fat and drink sweet wine and send portions of them to those for whom nothing is prepared, for this day is holy to our LORD; and do not be grieved, for the joy of the LORD is your strength.”

Psalm

The Psalm is a jubilant one of rejoicing in the Lord. Verse 14 is what many Anglican — including Episcopal — clergy pray aloud before they give their sermons.

Psalm 19

19:1 The heavens are telling the glory of God; and the firmament proclaims his handiwork.

19:2 Day to day pours forth speech, and night to night declares knowledge.

19:3 There is no speech, nor are there words; their voice is not heard;

19:4 yet their voice goes out through all the earth, and their words to the end of the world. In the heavens he has set a tent for the sun,

19:5 which comes out like a bridegroom from his wedding canopy, and like a strong man runs its course with joy.

19:6 Its rising is from the end of the heavens, and its circuit to the end of them; and nothing is hid from its heat.

19:7 The law of the LORD is perfect, reviving the soul; the decrees of the LORD are sure, making wise the simple;

19:8 the precepts of the LORD are right, rejoicing the heart; the commandment of the LORD is clear, enlightening the eyes;

19:9 the fear of the LORD is pure, enduring forever; the ordinances of the LORD are true and righteous altogether.

19:10 More to be desired are they than gold, even much fine gold; sweeter also than honey, and drippings of the honeycomb.

19:11 Moreover by them is your servant warned; in keeping them there is great reward.

19:12 But who can detect their errors? Clear me from hidden faults.

19:13 Keep back your servant also from the insolent; do not let them have dominion over me. Then I shall be blameless, and innocent of great transgression.

19:14 Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable to you, O LORD, my rock and my redeemer.

Epistle

Paul explained the importance of a church community. This unity holds true both locally and globally.

1 Corinthians 12:12-31a

12:12 For just as the body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body, though many, are one body, so it is with Christ.

12:13 For in the one Spirit we were all baptized into one body–Jews or Greeks, slaves or free–and we were all made to drink of one Spirit.

12:14 Indeed, the body does not consist of one member but of many.

12:15 If the foot would say, “Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body,” that would not make it any less a part of the body.

12:16 And if the ear would say, “Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body,” that would not make it any less a part of the body.

12:17 If the whole body were an eye, where would the hearing be? If the whole body were hearing, where would the sense of smell be?

12:18 But as it is, God arranged the members in the body, each one of them, as he chose.

12:19 If all were a single member, where would the body be?

12:20 As it is, there are many members, yet one body.

12:21 The eye cannot say to the hand, “I have no need of you,” nor again the head to the feet, “I have no need of you.”

12:22 On the contrary, the members of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable,

12:23 and those members of the body that we think less honorable we clothe with greater honor, and our less respectable members are treated with greater respect;

12:24 whereas our more respectable members do not need this. But God has so arranged the body, giving the greater honor to the inferior member,

12:25 that there may be no dissension within the body, but the members may have the same care for one another.

12:26 If one member suffers, all suffer together with it; if one member is honored, all rejoice together with it.

12:27 Now you are the body of Christ and individually members of it.

12:28 And God has appointed in the church first apostles, second prophets, third teachers; then deeds of power, then gifts of healing, forms of assistance, forms of leadership, various kinds of tongues.

12:29 Are all apostles? Are all prophets? Are all teachers? Do all work miracles?

12:30 Do all possess gifts of healing? Do all speak in tongues? Do all interpret?

12:31 But strive for the greater gifts.

Gospel

Jesus’s reading at the synagogue in Nazareth took place after his 40 days in the desert. Note that He told his hometown congregation that Isaiah’s prophecy was fulfilled that very day. Matthew Henry has an excellent commentary on the verses from Isaiah and Jesus’s fulfilment of that prophecy.

Luke 4:14-21

4:14 Then Jesus, filled with the power of the Spirit, returned to Galilee, and a report about him spread through all the surrounding country.

4:15 He began to teach in their synagogues and was praised by everyone.

4:16 When he came to Nazareth, where he had been brought up, he went to the synagogue on the sabbath day, as was his custom. He stood up to read,

4:17 and the scroll of the prophet Isaiah was given to him. He unrolled the scroll and found the place where it was written:

4:18 “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to bring good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to let the oppressed go free,

4:19 to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.”

4:20 And he rolled up the scroll, gave it back to the attendant, and sat down. The eyes of all in the synagogue were fixed on him.

4:21 Then he began to say to them, “Today this scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing.”

Anyone reading this looking for a good interpretation of Luke’s Gospel would do well to read the aforementioned commentary from Matthew Henry.

Nearly 50 years ago, my mother was a school chaperone on a few local trips with my classmates and me.

When newspaper stories appeared in the early 1970s about chaperoned trips that went wrong, she decided to stop supervising school outings. She said there were too many unknowns and that parents might sue her and the other chaperones if something went wrong.

My mother told me that chaperoning children was an onerous responsibility, even if it had its enjoyable moments. School chaperones have to consider their charges as their own offspring.

What was true 50 years ago is even truer today.

The following are what I would consider to be 21st chaperone guidelines:

1/ Schools should choose a Mr Buzzkill and a Ms Boring.

2/ One of them should be reasonably well acquainted with local and state laws.

3/ One of them should be proficient in self-defence, either physically or verbally.

4/ One of them needs to be streetwise and anticipate adverse situations.

5/ Occupations of potentially good 21st century chaperones, in addition to a street-smart teacher, include: retired lawyer, military veteran, retired law enforcement officer, PE teacher.

6/ Teachers should begin laying down the law to students going on a trip a few days beforehand. Main messages (from my own schooldays):

a/ No calling attention to — ‘making a spectacle of’ — oneself.

b/ Assume that what is acceptable behaviour at school or at home is unacceptable in other places.

c/ No arguments with anyone, especially strangers.

d/ No fights with anyone, especially strangers.

e/ If your chaperone tells you to do something, do it. It’s for your own safety.

7/ On the day, at the start of the trip, chaperones should repeat the points in item 6 to their charges.

8/ Chaperones should remember that they can never be too careful, especially these days.

9/ Have solid, well rehearsed plans in place for various adverse scenarios — including rapid reaction in order to protect students.

Last Friday, January 18, 2018, an unfortunate incident happened, involving a group of students from Kentucky who took part in the March for Life in Washington, DC.

The incident should serve as a warning to current and potential chaperones.

The best — and earliest — account of what happened to Covington Catholic High School students appeared in Reason on Sunday, March 20: ‘The Media Wildly Mischaracterized That Video of Covington Catholic Students Confronting a Native American Veteran – Hit and Run’ by Robby Soave.

Lesson for faculty and chaperones

Soave’s message to faculty — and, indirectly, chaperones — is this (emphases mine below):

Unless other information emerges, the school’s best move would be to have a conversation with the boys about the incident, perhaps discuss some strategies for remaining on perfect behavior at highly charged political rallieswhere everybody is recording everything on a cell phone—and let that be the end of it.

Absolutely.

What sentient adult American today is unaware of the political tension, including violence, taking place not only in the nation’s capital, but also in other cities, e.g. Portland?

It is the responsibility of faculty and chaperones to explain to students that going outside their comfort zones, especially to a big city, is fraught with unknown variables, even violence. Therefore: keep a low profile at all times.

What happened

Soave’s article reproduces Covington Catholic student Nick Sandmann’s testimony in full. Excerpts follow:

I am providing this factual account of what happened on Friday afternoon at the Lincoln Memorial to correct misinformation and outright lies being spread about my family and me.

I am the student in the video who was confronted by the Native American protestor. I arrived at the Lincoln Memorial at 4:30 p.m. I was told to be there by 5:30 p.m., when our busses were due to leave Washington for the trip back to Kentucky. We had been attending the March for Life rally, and then had split up into small groups to do sightseeing.

When we arrived, we noticed four African American protestors who were also on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial. I am not sure what they were protesting, and I did not interact with them. I did hear them direct derogatory insults at our school group.

The protestors said hateful things. They called us “racists,” “bigots,” “white crackers,” “faggots,” and “incest kids.” They also taunted an African American student from my school by telling him that we would “harvest his organs.” I have no idea what that insult means, but it was startling to hear.

Because we were being loudly attacked and taunted in public, a student in our group asked one of our teacher chaperones for permission to begin our school spirit chants to counter the hateful things that were being shouted at our group. The chants are commonly used at sporting events. They are all positive in nature and sound like what you would hear at any high school. Our chaperone gave us permission to use our school chants. We would not have done that without obtaining permission from the adults in charge of our group.

Big mistake! The chaperone never should have given a group of teenagers permission to start acting as if they were at a school sporting event!

Then, a Native American activist, identified as Nathan Phillips, approached:

After a few minutes of chanting, the Native American protestors, who I hadn’t previously noticed, approached our group. The Native American protestors had drums and were accompanied by at least one person with a camera.

The protestor everyone has seen in the video began playing his drum as he waded into the crowd, which parted for him. I did not see anyone try to block his path. He locked eyes with me and approached me, coming within inches of my face. He played his drum the entire time he was in my face.

I never interacted with this protestor. I did not speak to him. I did not make any hand gestures or other aggressive moves. To be honest, I was startled and confused as to why he had approached me. We had already been yelled at by another group of protestors, and when the second group approached I was worried that a situation was getting out of control where adults were attempting to provoke teenagers.

I believed that by remaining motionless and calm, I was helping to diffuse the situation. I realized everyone had cameras and that perhaps a group of adults was trying to provoke a group of teenagers into a larger conflict. I said a silent prayer that the situation would not get out of hand.

During the period of the drumming, a member of the protestor’s entourage began yelling at a fellow student that we “stole our land” and that we should “go back to Europe.” I heard one of my fellow students begin to respond. I motioned to my classmate and tried to get him to stop engaging with the protestor, as I was still in the mindset that we needed to calm down tensions.

I never felt like I was blocking the Native American protestor. He did not make any attempt to go around me. It was clear to me that he had singled me out for a confrontation, although I am not sure why.

The engagement ended when one of our teachers told me the busses had arrived and it was time to go. I obeyed my teacher and simply walked to the busses. At that moment, I thought I had diffused the situation by remaining calm, and I was thankful nothing physical had occurred.

I never understood why either of the two groups of protestors were engaging with us, or exactly what they were protesting at the Lincoln Memorial. We were simply there to meet a bus, not become central players in a media spectacle. This is the first time in my life I’ve ever encountered any sort of public protest, let alone this kind of confrontation or demonstration.

Yes, which is why the faculty and chaperone(s) should have explained the atmosphere in Washington DC in school before the trip and on the day of the trip, as soon as everyone boarded the bus.

Granting permission to recite school chants unleashed the law of unintended consequences — the media and others on the Left as well as the Right drew their own conclusions the following day.

The students in the videos — as well as their families — have been living a nightmare since then that not even a scriptwriter for the old series The Twilight Zone could have imagined:

I was not intentionally making faces at the protestor. I did smile at one point because I wanted him to know that I was not going to become angry, intimidated or be provoked into a larger confrontation. I am a faithful Christian and practicing Catholic, and I always try to live up to the ideals my faith teaches me – to remain respectful of others, and to take no action that would lead to conflict or violence.

I harbor no ill will for this person. I respect this person’s right to protest and engage in free speech activities, and I support his chanting on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial any day of the week. I believe he should re-think his tactics of invading the personal space of others, but that is his choice to make …

I have read that Mr. Phillips is a veteran of the United States Marines. I thank him for his service and am grateful to anyone who puts on the uniform to defend our nation. If anyone has earned the right to speak freely, it is a U.S. Marine veteran.

I can only speak for myself and what I observed and felt at the time. But I would caution everyone passing judgement based on a few seconds of video to watch the longer video clips that are on the internet, as they show a much different story than is being portrayed by people with agendas.

I provided this account of events to the Diocese of Covington so they may know exactly what happened, and I stand ready and willing to cooperate with any investigation they are conducting.

Saturday’s nightmare

On Saturday, March 19, social media went wild over videos of the incident.

Clicking on this tweet will show an entire thread of various alarming reactions interspersed with messages of support. That day, the Gateway Pundit reported that Covington Catholic was doxxed (the tweet is still in my previous link in this paragraph), as was the student. Out of common decency, the article did not mention him by name.

Would you believe that a tweet that doxxed Nick Sandmann is still on Twitter? Here is an indirect link to it.

At least one Democrat legislator tweeted their outrage that day. Another chimed in on Sunday, referring to the group of Covington Catholic students in MAGA hats:

The AP reported that the Diocese of Covington quickly issued an apology to the Native American, Nathan Phillips, and launched an investigation into the students’ behaviour.

More Covington Catholic students — and their families — were harassed that day. Here is one student’s testimony.

The Gateway Pundit reported that one online news outlet doxxed the school and another outlet reported that the students would be expelled.

Another student felt compelled to give a detailed account of what happened at the Lincoln Memorial. His testimony mentioned more lengthy videos of the students during the incident.

Independent journalist Tim Pool watched a two-hour video:

The Gateway Pundit reported on the longer videos, which showed that the supposed narrative of the students harassing the veteran was clearly wrong.

Actor and comedian Terrence K. Williams rightly pointed out the toxic hypocrisy of those attacking Covington students online:

I will have more on this topic next week.

Conclusion

One week on, and Covington Catholic students and their families are experiencing the unimaginable which could have potential far-reaching effects for some of them personally, not only now, but also in the years to come.

Chaperones — wherever you are and whoever you are in the world — please take every precaution when taking minors on a school trip.

And please do not allow them to recite school chants or engage in any similar behaviour that could attract trouble or national, if not worldwide, attention.

The world is a dangerous place.

Last week, a tweet appeared about a barbershop in Pennsylvania that promotes childrens’ reading:

In the short video, the barber mentors the boy as he reads his book.

This is an excellent idea.

City Cuts in Kutztown sounds like a classic barbershop for men of all ages — including young readers.

Kudos to them. Perhaps more barbers could copy their example.

Before I report on the annual March for Life which, this year, took place on Friday, January 18, an excellent citizen journalist, Lady Penquin/Lady Penguin, wrote a sobering essay on abortion, ‘Silent Scream, the Genocide of the Unborn’, the following day.

I would encourage everyone committed to the cause of life to read it in full. It is excellent.

Lady Penquin begins:

In 1962, Rachael Carson published a book, “Silent Spring,” – which was basically a treatise, where Ms Carson contended that the entire ecosystem was adversely affected by the indiscriminate use of pesticides, particularly, DDT. Using “Silent Spring” as a metaphor, her premise was that the adverse environmental effects were so catastrophic that conceivably, some day, spring, when new life begins, would be silent.

It’s likely that few people don’t know the volcanic impact that book had on the social-environmental movement of the 1960’s – but the result was explosive – leading to the banning of DDT, and restricted use of pesticides and chemicals in general. This post isn’t, of course, to debate DDT, but it is to speak of another Silent Spring.

The Silent Spring of the unborn. The cries of babies we’ll never hear.

On Jan. 22, 1973, eleven years, and four months after the world began to worry about Nature’s creatures, the Supreme Court (Jan 22, 1973) issued their decision in “favor” of Roe, from Jane Roe v Henry Wade (Dallas District Attorney). America was now allowed to kill its unborn children.

Since then:

The original Roe v Wade ruling has since been expanded by subsequent court rulings which solidified women’s rights to privacy, and a woman’s “right” to abort – even through the third trimester.

It appears that the Supreme Court no longer has a vested interest in “protecting the potentiality of human life,” or even the needs of the State (survival of society).

We’ve watched for decades failed measure after measure, in the hallowed halls of Congress, defeat of any ability to restrain and pull back the so-called “Safe, legal and rare” mantra the Lefties shouted with glee that dark day in 1973. Safe, legal and rare has turned into 46 years of almost unfettered abortions. Worldwide, abortion was the leading cause of death in 2018, 42 million murdered infants.

In 2012, when I wrote this article: “King Herod, Obama and the Genocide of the Unborn” – the number of aborted American babies was 50 million. Today, 6 1/2 years later, the number stands at 61 million. Go to the counter, and watch it change in real time. It should shock you.

http://www.numberofabortions.com/

Every uptick of those counters represents an innocent life destroyed, a silent scream not heard.

She rightly laments abortions done for convenience, then asks us to think about why the ‘pro-choice’ crowd never show any abortion photos with their written material:

If abortion was a good thing, a clean act and not a horrific one, then they wouldn’t have to hide the stories or prevent the pictures from being shown. They wouldn’t lie in court and say the videos were “doctored.” Only evil deeds have to be kept hidden and in darkness.

Also:

Right now, the state of Virginia has a Democrat, a woman, trying to end required ultrasounds before abortions. What are the pro-abortionists afraid of? That someone might see the image of their baby and decide to choose life? Why are the Democrats so intent on killing children?

I know that a lot of American churchgoers think that the Democrats are political good guys, but, if that were true, why would things such as the following occur?

This past week, Democrats blocked a bill that would have defunded Planned Parenthood. Planned Parenthood’s name is a misnomer. Planning means preparing in advance, and making mature choices. It is not supposed to mean the local factory where you stop by and get an abortion because a baby might be a “mistake” as former President Barack Obama said.

In previous Congresses, efforts were made to pass a fetal pain bill, recognizing that infants can certainly feel pain by 20 weeks, though we actually know they can feel pain much earlier – 10 weeks. Why didn’t it pass? The pro-abortionists in the Senate filibustered it. Republican Senator Lindsey Graham has reintroduced the bill this legislative session.

She points out that, in his address to the 2018 March for Life, President Trump pointed out (emphasis mine):

the United States [is] one of only seven countries to allow elective late-term abortions, along with China, North Korea, and others.

Lady Penquin included two tweets that should cause pro-choice supporters to change their minds. Please circulate these among your children, other family members and friends:

Click on the above graphic to see it in full.

A foetus is far from being a ‘lump of cells’, as most abortion supporters put it.

Fortunately, young Americans are now starting to question Roe v Wade:

That is welcome news, indeed.

But, why is it that President Trump has been the only president to ever address the March for Life?

In 2017, after a week in office, he sent this tweet:

Vice President Mike Pence addressed the crowd that year, as did Kellyanne Conway, Trump’s 2016 campaign manager:

I am pleased to report that, even though Big Media do not report on this annual event, countless thousands continue to attend. Please take a minute to watch the time-lapse footage of this year’s march:

Please pray for those who choose life:

For many, it is not easy.

How great is this?

On Saturday, January 19, 2019, President Trump held the first ever naturalisation ceremony in the Oval Office:

What a day to remember that must have been. Wow.

Here are the fortunate five who made history last Saturday:

The AP was one of a handful to carry this story. It’s a good report, by the way, excerpted below:

The new citizens had the oath of allegiance administered by Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen and received their naturalization certificates from Vice President Mike Pence, followed by a handshake from Trump.

“By taking this oath, you have forged a sacred bond with this nation, its traditions, its culture and its values. This heritage is now yours to protect, promote and pass down to the next generation and to the next wave of newcomers to our shores,” the president said.

Splendid!

The White House posted a transcript of President Trump’s remarks to the newly minted Americans. Excerpts follow, emphases mine:

Each of you worked hard for this moment. You followed the rules, upheld our laws, and contributed to the strength and success and vitality of our nation. Now each of you stands here today, before your proud and beaming families — look at those families, huh? — in the Oval Office of the White House. A very special place. I look, and sometimes they say, “Wow, this is it.” Right? The Oval Office. So, congratulations.

I’d like to share a few brief words about each of our new citizens.

Estabraq Adel Al Sayyad came with her husband to the United Statesfrom Iraq in 2013. She is the proud mother of two children and is expecting a third. Since coming to America, she has become a teacher’s assistant in our public schools — doing a fantastic job, I might add — preparing the next generation of young Americans to make the most of this magnificent country that she, too, now enjoys. And I want to just congratulate you, Estabraq. Thank you. (Applause.)

Matthew Hemsley is from the United Kingdom. Thank you, Matthew. He is an Anglican pastor who came to the United States in 2006 and earned a master’s degree from Gordon Conwell Seminary in North Carolina. A fine place. His grandmother was an American citizen whose ancestors first came to North America in 1637 — that means you beat us — (laughter) — you beat all of us — as part of the Plymouth Colony. Now the Hemsley family history to the United States is renewed, and the next chapter of their American story begins. Matthew, it’s an honor. Great luck. Great luck. (Applause.)

Yook Young Choi is from South Korea and came to the United States in 1992 to pursue a master’s degree. She earned a PhD from the University of Maryland and is now a professor at Azusa Pacific University. Her husband teaches statistics at George Mason, and — it’s a great school too, by the way — and they are proud parents of two sons. I want to congratulate you, and you’re going to have a great time. Great time. Thank you very much. We really appreciate it. (Applause.) Appreciate you being a member of the family. Thank you.

Robert Castle is from Jamaica, and he immigrated to the United States in 2009 as the husband of a then-active duty service member of the United States Army. Robert is a warehouse supervisor — a strong guy, a smart guy — and they have a beautiful four-year-old son who was born here in the United States. Robert, congratulations. Thank you. (Applause.)

Marcelo Ramos Ramirez is from Bolivia and has a beautiful, lawful permanent resident of the United States, and has been since 2013. He is the co-owner of a staffing company with his son Marcio. The business is thriving. He’s doing really well. And it’s expanding in all different ways. He says, “I know that in the [United States] you can achieve anything that you want, and I am a perfect example.” In another words, he’s making a lot of money. (Laughter.) Marcelo, thank you very much. (Applause.)

You’re all at the beginning of a new and extraordinary adventure. With the rights and freedoms you enjoy as Americans, there is nothing you cannot achieve.

But citizenship is also a profound responsibility. Each year, over 700,000 new Americans take the oath and allegiance, and inherit a legacy of liberty and justice that generations of Americans fought and died to secure …

As Americans, and American citizens, we are bound together in love, and loyalty, and friendship, and affection. We must look out for each other, care for each other, and always act in the best interests of our nation and all citizens living here today. We love each other. We’re proud of each other.

The beauty and majesty of citizenship is that it draws no distinctions of race, or class, or faith, or gender or background. No matter where our story begins, whether we are the first generation or the tenth generation, we are all equal. We are one team and one people proudly saluting one great American flag.

Again, I want to congratulate you and welcome you to the family. It’s a family. It’s a beautiful family

What a moving ceremony that must have been.

I hope that this will become an annual tradition at the White House, at least during the Trump years.

May God bless these new citizens and may He continue to watch over the President, his family and his administration.

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