The Catholic Defender: The Apostle John, the Narrow Way To Heaven

Posted by John Benko - December 27th, 2013

December 27 this year is the feast of St. John the Apostle.

St. John was one of the original followers Christ called as he was fishing with his Brother James.

They were the sons of Zebedee. After the first miracle of the catch of fish, “they left everything and followed him”.

Jesus chose 12 Apostles, but Peter, James and John were the Lord’s leaders.

They were present at the transfiguration (Matthew 17:1) and in the garden of Gethsemane (Matthew 26:37).

St. John was the youngest and probably the fastest among the Apostles (John 20:4).

It is interesting that he beat St. Peter to the tomb, yet he waited for St. Peter to inspect the tomb first. St. John was refereed to as the one “whom Jesus loved”.

Of the Apostles, only St. John is mentioned to be present at the crucifixion scene.

The Lord from the cross gave his Mother to St. John to stay and care for her in his house.

Like St. John, we too have been given our Lady as a gift, as our Mother.

St. Peter asked our Lord about St. John, how he would die.

Jesus had told St. Peter how he would glorify God with his death, so Jesus responds to him saying, “What if I want him to remain until I come? What concern is it of yours? You follow me. So the word spread among the brothers that that disciple would not die”.

St. John witnessed all the miracles and teachings of Jesus personally.

He would be significant in spreading the gospel, ordaining men to the priesthood such as St. Polycarp and Ignatius of Antioch.

He would take Mary with him to Ephesus where he cared for her and the Church.

St. John would write the fourth Gospel, three Epistles, and the book of Revelation (The Apocalypse).

He had been imprisoned on the Greek Island of Patmos in the Aegean Sea.

Many Scholars place the writing of the book of Revelation near the end of the first century. Others think it could be somewhat earlier (A.D. 81-96).

The Gospel of John is filled with signs (seven), the wonders of Jesus: The changing of water into wine, the cure of the royal officials son, the cure of the paralytic at the pool, the woman at the well in Samaria, the multiplication of loaves, the walking on the water, the Eucharist.

All these signs signify the changing of life through water offering new life, Jesus life giving word.

Scholars believe St. John wrote this book while in Ephesus but that is not universally held.

What is important is that the Catholic Church at the Council of Hippo recognized the Gospel of John through Sacred Tradition was inspired of God. St.John’s Gospel is different from the three “synoptic” gospels; Matthew, Mark, and Luke.

Something very interesting to me about St.John is the fact that after witnessing the events of Jesus, his teaching, his death and resurrection.

After his own ministry of the Apostolic witness being the last of the Apostles who knew Jesus personally, he writes in Revelation 22:8: It is I John, who heard and saw these things, and when I heard and saw them I fell down to worship at the feet of the angel who showed them to me. But he said to me, ‘Don’t! I am a fellow servant of yours and your brothers the prophets and of those who keep the message of this book, Worship God”.

First, the angel said he was a servant of St. John and the brothers of St. John, the prophets, and the Church. The angel is recognizing the authority of the successors of the Apostles. By this time, St. John was the last of the Apostles. Who are the brothers, the prophets, and “those keeping the message of this book” that the angel was referring to?

The Pope at this time was probably St. Clement (A.D. 88-97), St. Ignatius of Antioch and St. Polycarp most certainly.

I believe this is significant. The Catholic Church maintains the authority that the angel recognized way back then.

The other point I wanted to make about this passage is that St. John was about to worship this angel? With his scope, that is incredible.

That is a lesson that all of us are capable of sin and falling short. Like St. John, we too need to be reminded from time to time to “Worship God”!

By contrast, consider the Archangel Gabriel appearing to a lowly virgin. We are celebrating the events that the angel foretold to Mary because this affects all of mankind.

There is much that St. John presents in his witness that is important to the Church.

The Trinity, the Eucharist, Mary as Mother, the Sacraments and signs of Jesus, the unity of the Church, the Holy Spirit. Let us “Worship God” who is the “Narrow way to Heaven”.

Blogtalkradio Show
You Tube Channel
Twitter Page

*BEST OF DTB #114* The Catholic Defender: The Immaculate Conception

Posted by John Benko - December 8th, 2013

It was 27 January, 2007 I had been out with the Scouts as we went to a number of villages looking for weapons.

That had been a long day that was very beneficial to us as we were able to find weapons and get some key information.

Once we returned back to Base, I was able to take off and go to a scheduled class I was prepared to give.

The following is what I wrote on the Defenders of the Catholic Faith Message Board:

Beginning this morning, I was outside the wire on mission and didn’t get back until after 18:00 hours. I was in full battle rattle when I got to my room and grabbed my computer and speaker system and made my way to the Division Chapel which was about a mile away. I had to go by foot. I got there to find Father was there with the RCIA class which was real glad I was able to get there. Even though I was 45 minutes late, everyone stayed the whole time to watch the DVD on Mary. That was so cool. A non-denominal preacher happened to be in another room became interested in the subject matter so after I dismissed the class we talked for another hour. It was a good night of RCIA action!!!

As I walked back to my unit, it was night time, very dark. I heard the explosions in the distance, the gun fire. I reflected on some of the questions I covered at this evenings class.

I have Soldiers who were raised as Mormons, Church of Christ, Lutherans, Anglicans, Seventh Day Adventist, Baptists, Non-Denominational, Pentecostals, former Catholics, and non-believers.

They had various opinions based from what they were raised so their questions are very interesting as they were all sharing their journey to the Catholic Faith.

In one way, it reminded me of the first Christians who were Baptised that first day (Acts 2:41) St. Luke writes, “Those who accepted his (St. Peter’s) message were baptised, and about three thousand persons were added that day”.

I thought it was cool that we were continuing the work that Christ commissioned the Church to do.

The teaching on Mary was tonight’s main discussion and the Doctrine of the Immaculate Conception was a main issue. What a great reflection of the love of God and I continued to walk along my journey back to my room.

I thought of Genesis 3:15, “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 heal”.

I thought about that for a while, certainly God knew who this woman was when he said this. This woman can not be Eve as I’ve heard some think because her offspring did not conquer the serpent.

It was Jesus who conquered sin and death, St. Paul wrote, “For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor present things, nor depth, nor any other creature will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 8:38).

I felt that the Virgin Mary was the only one who could be the Woman of Genesis 3:15. This is the belief of the Early Church Fathers and the constant teaching of the Catholic Church.

Resting in this truth, my heart just came alive. I continued to reflect on the Immaculate Conception remembering that Gabriel was sent to tell Mary that she was this Woman.

This is very important. Compare the appearance of Gabriel to the Virgin Mary with when the Angel appeared to St. John. Revelation 22:8, St. John writes, “It is I, John, who heard and saw these things, and when I heard and saw them I fell down to worship at the feet of the angel who showed them to me. But he said to me, ‘Don’t! I am a fellow servant of yours and your brothers the prophets and of those who keep the message of this book, Worship God”.

I thought about how St. John was with Jesus for three years learning and hearing the Lord’s teaching first hand. He was one of the Twelve, yet he lost himself with the appearance of the Angel.

Compare this with Mary’s response to Gabriel, an Archangel. The Angel first greets Mary with “Hail, Full of grace, the Lord is with you” (Luke 1:28). I recalled the original Greek “Kecharitomene” means “having been” or “have already been” graced, Mary is “Full of Grace”, a past perfect participle.

Because God knew who the Woman of Genesis 3:15 would be, at the appointed time, God prepares the Virgin Mary from her very beginning to be the Mother of Jesus.

This does not mean that she didn’t need Jesus, she absolutely did, it is when she was free of Original Sin. It is a singular grace by God to the Virgin Mary that benefits all mankind.

She was protected by God from the Devil from the moment of her conception. St. John writes, “When the dragon saw that it had been thrown to the earth, it pursued the woman who had given birth to the male child (Jesus). But the woman was given the two wings of the great eagle, so that she could fly to her place in the desert, where, far from the serpent, she was taken care of for a year, two years, and a half year. The serpent, however, spewed a torrent of water out of his mouth after the woman to sweep her away with the current. But the earth helped the woman and opened it’s mouth and swallowed the flood that the dragon became angry with the woman and went off to wage war against the rest of her offspring, those who keep God’s commandments and bear witness to Jesus” (Rev 12:13-17).

The Virgin Mary appears to St. Catherine Laboure in 1830 giving us the “Miraculous Medal” that shows Mary standing on the moon and the Devil under her feet.

St Augustine said (354-430), “Since the devil is the head of original sin, this head it was that Mary crushed: for sin never had any entry into the soul of this Blessed Virgin, which was consequently free from all stain”.

As I kept thinking about this, I just wanted to reach out to God and thank him, even in this place. He has given us so much.

I couldn’t help thinking of Our Lady of Lourdes, the Virgin Mary appeared to St. Bernadette Soubirous identifying herself, “I am the Immaculate Conception”.

I thought of the wonders God has worked at Lourdes that even today miracles are happening.

I understand that several thousand people go to Lourdes France everyday from around the world.

God promised us signs and wonders through his presence among his Church. As I walked into our Orderly Room, I checked in so they would know I was accounted for. I stopped in talking with the duty personnel and I was overjoyed from all that I was involved in this night.

I could still hear mortar fire in the distance, machine gun fire sporatic, every now and then a real loud explosion, yet it could not dampen my spirit. I dedicated my prayer for those who were in the midst of the fight.

Looking back, what a blessing it was to paticipate in the journey of so many people wanting to become Catholic. Despite the danger we lived, I was consoled with this truth: “You belong to God, children, and you have conquered them, for the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world” (1 John 4:4).

Recently, Islamic Terrorists have attacked Catholic Churches in Baghdad killing many. Please pray for the Church persecuted today.

HOME PAGE Blogtalkradio Show You Tube Channel Twitter Page E-MAIL US

*BEST OF DTB #230* The Catholic Defender: St. Nicholas, the Boy who would become Santa

Posted by John Benko - December 2nd, 2013

St. Nicholas was born in the 3rd century (250) near Patara which is today along the Southern Coast of modern day Turkey.

St. Nicholas was born to very wealthy parents (Epiphanus and Johanna) who brought him up in the Catholic Faith.

St. Nicholas developed a strong love for Christ from a young age.

Due to a local epidemic, St. Nicholas lost both his parents leaving him with an Uncle, Nicholas, the Bishop of Myra. St. Nicholas would take the name of his Uncle. He learned to read the Scriptures, to serve at Mass, would become a Presbyter.

Soon, he became known for his charity among the poor and needy, the sick and the suffering. He would secretly give gifts to children, he would put coins in the shoes of those who left them out for him.

Legends tell of him saving a woodcutters Daughters from slavery and did many more acts of kindness.

As a young man, he became the Bishop of Myra continuing his act of love for God’s people. St. Nicholas would fall prey in the persecution of the Roman Emperor Diocletion who’s Edict savagely persecuted the Church.

Many Religious were placed in prisons, were killed by the local magistrates. The prisons were so full there were little room for the real criminals. Such was the hatred of Diocletian.

When Constantine became the Emperor, he freed the Christians and St. Nicholas was released back into society with his faith intact.

Historically, St. Nicholas participated at the Council of Nicea in 325 A.D. and helped draft the present day “Nicean Creed” that we profess at Mass.

It is debated that St. Nicholas slapped the heretic Arius because of the heresy he was preaching at the Council.

Legend has it that the Bishops were not happy with what he did and placed him in jail. That night Jesus and Mary appear to St. Nicholas giving him the Gospels and the bishops tunic.

St. Nicholas dies in Myra between 343-352 on 6 December.

In 1087, Italian merchants stole his remains and took them to Southeastern Italy to Bari where they are located to this day.

In 2009 Turkey has asked for the remains back but to this point, that has not happened.
Each year at the anniversary of his death, St. Nicholas remains exudes a myrrh like liquid substance that reports miraculous works. Manna is taken from his tomb in a flask.

In 1950, there was a study conducted on the remains of St. Nicholas which pictures were taken and measure the contents in the crypt.

St. Nicholas was a little more that 5 feet tall. It was also noticed he had suffered a broken nose.
In 2005, the results of the findings were sent to England for forensic laboratory research. The miraculous could not be explained with scientific data.

There are many groups who claim St. Nicholas as a patron. St. Nicholas built seaports earning a love of sailors who proclaimed the works of St. Nicholas. Many also proclaimed miracles.
In a three hundred year period, about 2,000 churches were named after St. Nicholas.

Today, in Germany and Poland, young boys dress up as St. Nicholas acting out charity among the poor.

In the Netherlands and Belgium, St. Nicholas arrives riding on a steamship from Spain to ride on a white horse throughout the towns.

Dutch children leave carrots and hay in their shoes hoping that St. Nicholas might have a treat for them in exchange for a treat for his horse.

The modern Santa Claus seems to come from an 1821 children’s book called “The Children’s Friend” depicts Santa Claus arriving from the North riding on a sled with a flying reindeer.

My favorite depiction of Santa Claus is one of him kneeling before the Christ Child.

Santa Claus maintains his red clothing that is derived from being a Cardinal in the Catholic Church.

That says it all for me.

Twitter Page E-MAIL US

*BEST OF DTB #242* The Catholic Defender: The Holy Innocents

Posted by John Benko - December 26th, 2012

December 28 is the Feast of the Holy Innocents. These are the male children who were murdered by King Herod in an attempt to kill the Christ Child.

There was an ancient prophecy going back to the time of the Patriarch Jacob.

His beloved wife Rachael died right out side of where Bethlehem would be built. She died having Benjamin, her second son.

Genesis 35:16-20 states, “Then they departed from Bethel; but while they still had some distance to go on the way to Ephrath, Rachel began to be in labor and to suffer great distress. When her pangs were most severe, her midwife said to her, ‘Have no fear! This time, too, you have a son’. With her last breath–for she was at the point of death–she called him Benoni; his father, however, named him Benjamin. This Rachel dies; and she was buried on the road to Ephrath that is, Bethlehem. Jacob set up a memorial stone on her grave, and the same monument marks Rachel’s grave to this day”.

Jeremiah 31:15 states, “Thus says the Lord: In Ramah is heard the sound of moaning, of bitter weeping! Rachel mourns her children, she refuses to be consoled because her children are no more”.
This is a prophecy of the end of Rachel’s morning, we read the fulfillment of this prophecy Matthew 2:16-18 says, “When Herod realized that he had been deceived by the magi, he became furious. He ordered the massacre of all the boys in Bethlehem and its vicinity two years old and under, in accordance with the time he ascertained from the magi. Then was fulfilled what had been said through Jeremiah the prophet: ‘A voice was heard in Ramah, sobbing and loud lamentation; Rachel weeping for her children, and she would not be consoled, since they were no more”.

What brings an end to Rachel’s morning is the Christ who lives to free all those in captivity.

Jeremiah 15:16 says, “Thus says the Lord: Cease your cries of morning, wipe the tears from your eyes. The sorrow you have shown shall have it’s reward, says the Lord, they shall return from the enemy’s land”.

Jeremiah is prophesying that the children of Israel would return from the Babylonian Captivity, but even more than that!

Revelation 21:3-4 says, “I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, ‘Behold, God’s dwelling is with the human race. He will dwell with them and they will be his people and God himself will always be with them as their God. He will wipe every tear from their eyes, and there shall be no more death or morning, wailing or pain, for the old order has passed away”.

We are living in a New Testament, a new Covenant, a new age. Rachel’s children are in heaven with Rachel.

We are reminded of the massacre of Herod because what we see today with abortion heaven hears the cry of the silent scream.

Heaven intervened with the plight of the Indian’s in Mexico in 1531 putting an end to the human sacrifices conducted there, heaven again responds to the atrocities committed against humanity today.

Jesus institutes the Ministry of the Divine Mercy.

The more we spread the message of His Divine Mercy, the more children will be saved from the Herod’s of our time.

Now is the day of Salvation, now is the time!

HOME PAGE Blogtalkradio Show You Tube Channel Twitter Page E-MAIL US

Born on one tragic day, died on another.

Posted by John Benko - January 9th, 2011

Our prayers with this poor family.

Blogtalkradio Show
You Tube Channel
Twitter Page