Since we are in Israel we thought this would be a fun quiz. How much do you know about Jesus and his Land? Answers are below in the Comments but DON’T CHEAT until you give it a hero’s try!

1. We have no record of Jesus visiting which place?

a. The Phoenician Coast
b. Tiberias
c. Egypt
d. Nain

2. Jesus’ country was not large. How many times would Israel fit into Texas?

a. 2
b. 5
c. 20
d. 30

3. Jesus was how old when his earthly ministry began?

a. 28
b. 42
c. 30
d. 35

4. Jesus did not say:

a. Regarding the Law: “Love your neighbor as yourself”
b. To questioning followers: “God helps those who help themselves”
c. Regarding his apostles with swords: “Two are enough”
d. To a Jewish questioner: “Man, who made me a judge or divider over you?”

5. Jesus had a robe that was special because it was:

a. Made of flax and cotton
b. It was whiter than any other robes
c. It had tassels for Jewish prayer
d. The robe had no seams

6. How far did Mary walk to visit her relative Elizabeth?

a. Two miles
b. Fifteen miles
c. Fifty miles
d. Ninety miles 


Was Jesus Nice?

by Steve Ray on July 5, 2015

I'm OK, you're OK. Be yourself! Gotcha covered buddy!

I wish I had a dollar for every time someone has said to me. “That was not very Christ-like.” This response usually comes after being honest to the point of making someone upset.  The implication is that Jesus was a cuddly little nice guy who was always smiling, always accepting with kind words – in short NICE.

In America we tend to be pretty nice, except maybe if you live in New York City. But in contrast to the rest of the world we tend to be very polite, genteel, gracious and nice. Tour guides in other countries say that Americans are the nicest people. We transpose our niceness onto Jesus and think he was a lot like us.

But does LOVE = NICE?

Of course Jesus was loving. He is God after all and God is love (1 John 4:8). We also know that love does not always equate to NICE. God allowed Paul to have a thorn in the flesh to keep him humble (2 Cor 12:7). Three times Paul prayed for it to be removed. God said NO.  God was not acting very American. He certainly wasn’t very nice about it.

Nice is defined primarily as “pleasant or commendable, kind or friendly” (Collins English Dictionary). It originally comes from the Latin meaning “simple, silly or ignorant.”

"He's not a tame lion, afterall" Quote from Narnia series

There is such a thing as “tough love.” It is the kind of love that cares enough to be honest, to confront, to discipline, to cause temporary pain to bring about eternal glory.  On the surface “tough love” does not always appear to be nice. How often has a child, sent to the corner blurt out “You are not very nice!”

Was Jesus nice?

Like Aslan the Lion in C. S. Lewis’ Narnia series, Jesus is approachable and loving, but don’t ever consider him “tame” or too cuddly. Jesus is God as well as man. He expressed the wrath and anger of God as well as the mercy and love of God.

Imagine coming to the Temple in Jerusalem one day to pray. You hear a great commotion and run over to see an angry man throwing over tables, grabbing the money from the merchants and throwing the money on the ground.

Whipping the money changers and dumping over their tables

But worse, you see him make a scourge of cords – a whip – and striking people with it. You are shocked that anyone would be so rude and destructive, so inconsiderate and mean to lash people with a whip. People ran in fear! Everyone was upset. Jesus was red in the face and scowling.  It certainly wasn’t very “Christ-like.” How nice was that?

Jesus was always loving, but he was not always nice, as we Americans count niceness. Here is just one example. Jesus spoke very harshly to his fellow Jews.

“Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for you are like whitewashed tombs, which outwardly appear beautiful, but within they are full of dead men’s bones and all uncleanness. So you also outwardly appear righteous to men, but within you are full of hypocrisy and iniquity. . . .  You serpents, you brood of vipers, how are you to escape being sentenced to hell? (Matthew 23:27,  28, 33).

Ouch! Doesn’t sound very kind and courteous: not very thoughtful or nice!

So, maybe there is more to WWJD (What Would Jesus Do?) than we’ve been led to believe. Maybe we shouldn’t worry so much about being nice, being liked, acting like  genteel Americans. Maybe we ought to be more honest and forthright about the things that really matter.  Maybe we should be more willing to hurt some feelings, step on some toes, show tough love to those in sin.

Maybe we should be more Christ-like.


Meaning of Sacred and Immaculate Hearts

by Steve Ray on June 11, 2015

A non-Christian friend found two paintings at an art show and asked me, “What in the world are these? They seem to have pagan elements. What do they have to do with Jesus and Mary?”

Here is my explanation. If you readers have anything to add, please post it in the Comments below. Thanks.

Thanks. Beautiful images. Full of biblical representation — NOT pagan influences. They are devotional images to remind Catholics of the sorrows of Jesus and Mary and the resultant purification, joy and new life that come from them.

Sacred Heart of Jesus

Sacred Heart of Jesus:
Hearts represent love and life as the center of our being. Jesus’ heart beats with the fire of love (at the top of the heart) which was demonstrated at the cross. The fire also represents the purifying fire of God by which he purifies men. It exudes the transformative power of divine love.

The crown of thorns brought suffering which was endured for the love of man to redeem him — to bear man’s pain in his own heart. The cut in the heart is that made by the lance that was thrust through his heart when he was on the cross.

The blood dripping represents the new life secured through his death (life came through dead). The Blood of Jesus also cleanses us, washes us from sin. The result is the heart of man (below surrounded by flowers) is given new life. The flowers represent a garden of delights, new life, freshness. The Garden of Eden which brought about death by sin is now replaced by the Garden of Heaven which brings new life because of holiness and the work of Christ.

Adam and Eve experienced death at the Tree of Life in the Garden of Eden; The New Adam (Jesus) brings about life at the Tree of Death (the cross) in another garden (John 19:41). This cross is at the top of the heart. Heaven and the glory of God is represented by the clouds and the blazing sun or heavenly light from God behind the hearts.

Immaculate Heart of Mary

Immaculate Heart of Mary:
This one is similar to the Sacred Heart. The roses surrounding Mary’s heart represent her sinlessness and purity, sweetness and new life. The seven swords piercing the top of the heart represents the “Seven Sorrows of Mary,” (“Mater Dolorosa”).

The first of her sorrows was the Prophecy of Simeon that a sword would pierce her soul because of her son’s death (Luke 2:35), 2) their flight into Egypt, 3) the loss of Jesus in the Temple; 4) the fourth sorrow is Mary watching Jesus carry the cross, 5) the crucifixion imagining a mother watching her son die this way; 6) receiving his limp, cold body after the crucifixion, 7) the body of her son buried in the tomb.

When Mary and Joseph took Jesus to the temple as a baby the prophet Simeon said that the life and death of Jesus would be like a sword that would pierce her soul (Luke 2:35). The lower heart, the one of Mary surrounded by roses, shows a cut in it which is symbolic of her sorrows. But her sorrows have brought us new life and pure hearts represented by the garden of roses below.

The Mystic Rose:
The mystic rose, symbolizes Mary’s mystical participation in the Holy Trinity as Heaven’s Rose or Mystical Rose. In medieval times the mystic rose symbol was drawn with four petals on a stain glass background or on a multi-colored background like a popular quilt pattern which is still stitched today.

It is a very popular and insightful devotion to Jesus and his mother — the Sacred Heart of Jesus and the Immaculate Heart of Mary. Every aspect is taken from the Bible and nicely illustrated in the pictures you sent. You have a nice few items there :-)


Jesus was NOT Crucified or Killed: Quran, Sura 4

May 25, 2015

by Fr. George W. Rutler “That they said (in boast), “We killed Christ Jesus the son of Mary, the Messenger of Allah”;- but they killed him not, nor crucified him, but so it was made to appear to them, and those who differ therein are full of doubts, with no (certain) knowledge, but only conjecture to follow, for of a surety [...]

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Jesus Was A Jew – So What is That To You?

May 24, 2015

 Jesus was a Jew. This fact may escape the casual reader of the New Testament, but it is crucial to understanding Jesus and the book written about him—the Bible. Unhappily, in 21st century America we are far removed from the land of Israel and the ancient culture and religion of Jesus and his Jewish ancestors.  [...]

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A Limerick for a Questioning Grandson – Did Jesus Really Exist?

May 21, 2015

My grandson Josh asked, “Did Jesus really live? Maybe he didn’t and it was just a good story someone made up.” So I sat down and wrote him this limerick and gave him a stack of books from my library. The topic has not come up again since. Was there really a man named Jesus? [...]

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When Was Jesus Crucified? How Long on the Cross? Do the Gospels Contradict Each Other?

April 3, 2015

Do the Gospels Conflict? How Long was Jesus on the Cross? The question intrigued me sufficiently enough that I spent the best part of a day working on it. On the surface there seems to be a contradiction in the Gospels, mentioning different times for the crucifixion.  Maybe the Apostles forgot to check their watches! Mark says [...]

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Was Jesus Crucified Naked?

April 1, 2015

A gentleman heard me on Relevant Radio earlier. I had mentioned on the air that one of the great humiliations of a crucifixion was that a man was crucified naked. This thoughtful gentleman wrote to challenge my comments. Below is his e-mail and my response. Dear Mr. Ray, Please correct your description of the Passion. [...]

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Two Cool Timelines for Holy Week

March 31, 2015

There are a lot of things that happened in Holy Week. Do you know what was done when?  Where Jesus was each day?  What the sequence of events were? These are great tools to accompany you through Holy Week and beyond. Print them out and put them on your refrigerator. Talk about it over dinner [...]

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Did Jesus Raise Himself from the Dead?

February 14, 2015

Today I received an e-mail with this question: The other night, in one of the RCIA session for which I am responsible, we looked at Who Is Jesus? In that video, some thing was said that struck a very wrong cord. It said that “Jesus raised himself from the dead.” I had never heard that [...]

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“You are Peter” in Jesus’ language of Aramaic

December 30, 2014

Since we recently visited Caesarea Philippi, the site where Jesus renamed Simon as “Peter” or Kepha (Matt 16:13-20), I thought you would find this interesting. So, what did it sound like at Caesarea Philippi when Jesus renamed Simon and made him the rock of the Church: “And I tell you, you are Peter [rock], and [...]

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Have They Discovered a New “Lost Gospel” that Says Jesus was Married?

November 13, 2014

Jimmy Akin writes: It’s getting near Christmas, and you know what that means. That’s right! It’s time for another book to be released telling us the sensationalistic “truth” about Christianity. This time we have The Lost Gospel: Decoding the Ancient Text that Reveals Jesus’ Marriage to Mary the Magdalene by Simcha Jacobovici and Barrie Wilson. [...]

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Muslim Imam Converts to Catholic Church

July 5, 2014

From Darkness to Light (34 minute video explaining how he discovered Jesus was the Word of God, the Son of God) As a Muslim imam, Mario Joseph was well-versed in the Koran and in the teachings of the Islamic religion. In fact, it was precisely the Koran that brought him to an encounter with Jesus [...]

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Catholic Answers Live: Stations of the Cross and Pain of the Crucifixion

April 16, 2014

Wow, what a fun show. Great questions and lively discussion. Listen on-line HERE and other audio options HERE. the audio links as soon as they are available on Thursday. Also, for those who are interested in my audio talks on this topic, visit Steve Ray’s Store/audio. Look for “Stations of the Cross” and also “Pain of [...]

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Temple Sizes Compared – bigger than a football field

January 1, 2014

The 1) Tabernacle in the wilderness, the 2) Temple of Solomon, 3) Herod’s Temple at the time of Christ and 4) Ezekiel’s Temple are compared. The football field looks insignificant compared to the temples (in more than one way :-) The Muslim Shrine that now sits atop Temple Mount is built over the rock where [...]

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We Looked into the Face of God Today – literally – in Manoppello

June 21, 2013

Today we visited “The Face of God” here in Manoppello Italy. This cloth is woven of mussel shell threads and the face of Christ can clearly be seen at the moment of his coming to life in the resurrection. We talked about it for a half an hour on Sean Herriott’s show on Relevant Radio. [...]

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