Friday, February 12, 2016

The Temptations of Jesus

Ever wonder about the Temptations of Jesus in the Desert? Check out my next video explaining this Sunday's Scripture Readings (1st Sunday of Lent). Don't forget to like and share!

Thursday, February 11, 2016

Lent as Spiritual Warfare: 1st Sunday of Lent

At the beginning of Lent, the Church reads to us the account of Jesus doing spiritual combat with the devil in the wilderness, reminding us that Lent is a time of warfare.  Through our Lenten practices of prayer, fasting, and almsgiving, we do battle with the power of the devil in our lives, and with God’s grace, defeat him decisively.

1.  The First Reading is Deuteronomy 26:4-10:

Tuesday, February 02, 2016

Awe and Apostolate: The Readings for the 5th Sunday in OT

Our Readings for this Sunday combine two major themes: awe and apostolate.  Both Isaiah and Peter are awed and ashamed to find themselves in the presence of God; but both are subsequently sent out (in Greek, apostello) on mission for the Almighty.  In this Year of Mercy, we, too, feel our unworthiness and need of mercy in God’s presence, and also our responsibility to spread the Good News of mercy to all people.

1.  Our First Reading is Isaiah 6:1-2a, 3-8:

Saturday, January 30, 2016

Tomorrow's Sunday Mass Readings Explained

As a supplement to John and John and Michael's amazing written commentaries on the weekly Sunday readings, here's a link to a series of videos in which I explain the Sunday Scriptures.

Hope you find it helpful!

Thursday, January 28, 2016

Why the "Good Person" is Rejected: 4th Sunday in OT

The Readings for this Sunday show both Jesus and Jeremiah facing opposition for speaking God’s truth to their contemporaries.  They raise interesting questions about why it is that the “good person” so often suffers at the hands of others, and offer encouragement to those who experience this suffering.

1.  Our First Reading is  Jer 1:4-5, 17-19:

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Coming Soon: The Case for Jesus

Just 7 days left until my new book, The Case for Jesus, is released! (So proud and grateful for the Afterword, written by Bishop Robert Barron.) Check out the sweet cover! 

Here are just a few of the endorsements:

“This book will prove to be a most effective weapon… against the debunking and skeptical attitudes toward the Gospels that are so prevalent, not only in academe, but also on the street, among young people who, sadly, are leaving the Churches in droves.” – Bishop Robert Barron, author of Catholicism

“Brant Pitre, who has already demonstrated his brilliant scholarship in earlier works, explains here in remarkably easy-to-understand ways why we can trust the Gospels. Behind his effective communication, however, is wide-ranging research and careful rethinking. In fact, this book has given me a number of important new matters to consider myself.” –Craig S. Keener, Asbury Theological Seminary

“The Case for Jesus topples the naïve skepticism that too often dominates the study of the Gospels by showing that the evidence for the truth of the Gospels is far stronger than is often assumed. Pitre has a unique talent for putting scholarly work of the highest caliber into an accessible and engaging form. This book should be on the shelf of every homilist, catechist, and Bible study leader.” – Mary Healy,  Sacred Heart Major Seminary 

"Brant Pitre does a stellar job setting forth a robust and rock solid case for Jesus. The sensationalistic claims of super-sceptics are exposed as a sham as Pitre provides a meticulous presentation of the evidence about the reliability of the Gospels, who Jesus thought he was, and what he means today. A balanced, sensible, and measured book that counters the spate of hyped-up conspiracy theories that do the rounds. An informative and enjoyable read. -- Michael F. Bird, Ridley College, Melbourne, Australia. 

"In this important book, one of America’s most brilliant young scholars wrestles with issues of profound importance concerning Jesus and his identity. Pitre, in a lively and direct manner informed by up-to-date scholarship, presents a case for Jesus as the divine Son of God, fully human and fully God. Along the way he bursts some scholarly bubbles and sets a much needed cat amongst the proverbial pigeons. A delight to read!" --Chris Tilling, King's College, London

“Like a room full of stale air, the popular-level conversation about Christian origins could use an open window or two.  Thankfully, we now have one in Brant Pitre’s Case for Jesus.  Personable, accessible, engaging – all supported by top-notch scholarship. Read it.” –Nicholas Perrin, Dean of the Wheaton Graduate School

Thursday, January 21, 2016

Jesus Proclaims Jubilee! 3rd Sunday in OT


The past three Sundays have focused on the three early “manifestations” or “epiphanies” of Jesus’ divine nature recorded in the Gospels: the Visit of the Magi, the Baptism, and the Wedding at Cana.  Now the Lectionary “settles in” to Ordinary Time, which this year involves reading through the Gospel of Luke.  This Sunday, we pick up the introduction to Luke’s Gospel (Lk 1:1-4), but then skip to the beginning of Jesus’ ministry (Luke 4:14-21) because we’ve already heard all the accounts of Jesus’ childhood and early life (Luke 1–3) during Advent, Christmas and Epiphany.

The Readings this Sunday focus on the importance of the public proclamation of God’s Word.  In the First Reading, we see Ezra, the great priest and scholar of the Law, reading the Law of Moses out loud to the people of Israel after their return from Babylonian exile.  In the Gospel, we see Jesus, our great high priest and interpreter of God’s Law, reading the promises of salvation from Isaiah to the Jews in the Synagogue of Nazareth.  In both situations, the proclamation of God’s Word is a call both to repentance and to hope for salvation.  However, in Ezra’s day, the salvation was far off; in Jesus day, He announces that the salvation is present now.

1.  Our First Reading is Neh 8:2-4a, 5-6, 8-10:

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

The Bridegroom Revealed: 2nd Sunday in Ordinary Time

This Sunday we remain in the afterglow of Epiphany, the celebration of the “manifestation” of Jesus’ divine glory. [Greek epi – phaino = “shine upon” = “reveal, manifest.”]  Epiphany, which once was its own season (like Advent or Christmas), has often been associated with three events from the Gospels: the Magi, the Baptism, and the Wedding at Cana.  These are the first events that reveal or “manifest” Jesus’ glory in the Gospels of Matthew, Mark, and John, respectively.  Certain well-known Epiphany hymns (e.g. “Songs of Thankfulness and Praise”) make reference to all three events, and in antiquity the celebration of all three was clustered around January 6 in many rites.  Eventually, the different rites separated out the liturgical celebration of the different events and placed them on their own days. 

In Year C, the Church quite consciously offers us the Wedding at Cana for our meditation on the Sunday immediately following the Baptism.  By happy Providence, this year we are able to ponder the Magi, the Baptism, and Cana on successive Sundays.

The Readings for this Lord’s Day highlight Jesus as our spiritual bridegroom.

1. The First Reading is the same used at the Christmas Vigil, Isaiah 62:1-5:

Thursday, January 07, 2016

West Coast Biblical Studies Conference (Jan 29-30, 2016)

I am very excited to once again be a part of the 13th Annual West Coast Biblical Studies Conference, co-sponsored by JPCatholic University and the St. Paul Center for Biblical Theology. 

This is year presenters include Scott Hahn, John Bergsma, John Kincaid, and myself. 

The conference will be held at Our Lady of Mt. Carmel Catholic Church. 

For more details and to get tickets, go here

Here's the schedule. 

6:00pm – 9:00pm
6:00pm – 6:30pm
6:30pm – 9:00pm
Building Holy Families: Lessons from Genesis 
Dr. John Bergsma 
Jesus as the “Fulfillment” of the Law and His Teaching on Marriage in Matthew 
Dr. Michael Barber
7:30am – 4:00pm
8:00am – 12:00pm
The Family Fully Alive: The New Evangelization Begins at Home 
Dr. Scott Hahn 
Seven Habits of Holy, Effective Catholic Families 
Dr. John Bergsma 
The Age of Divine Sonship: The In-breaking of the World to Come in Romans 8 
Dr. John Kincaid
12:00 – 1:30pm
1:30pm – 4:00pm
The Family Fully Alive II: God, Fatherhood and the New Evangelization 
Dr. Scott Hahn 
Q&A Session 
Final Announcements and Prayer

Wednesday, January 06, 2016

The Baptism of the Lord!

The end of the Season of Christmas arrives this Sunday, as we celebrate the event that marked the end of Jesus’ early life and the beginning of his public ministry: the Baptism.

The Christmas decorations coming down in our churches and homes inevitably leaves a feeling of sadness and nostalgia.  We don’t want to move on from meditation on all the joyful aspects of Our Lord’s early life, the incidents of wonder and mystery, like the angels singing to the shepherds, or the visit of the Magi.  Nonetheless, as we leave the Christmas Season behind, today’s readings remind us of the power of the Holy Spirit that we share with Jesus!  The very Spirit of God has been given us in our own baptisms—this Spirit has ushered us into a new world, a New Creation in which we can daily walk with God, just like Adam and Eve once walked with God in the garden in the cool of the day.

So we will look for “New Creation” themes as we work through this Sunday’s Readings.

The celebrant has a choice of Readings for this Feast Day: either the standard ones for any Year (ABC: Isa 42:1–7; Ps 29:1–10; Acts 10:34-38) or optional readings (introduced in 1998) for Year C: Isa 40:1–11; Ps 104:1–30; Titus 2:11-14, 3:4-7.  In either case, the Gospel for Year C is Luke’s account of the Baptism of the Lord: Luke 3:15-16, 21-22. 

[The celebrant should pick one sequence or the other, not choose the First, Psalm, and Second Readings randomly.  Each sequence (ABC or C) has a kind of integrity and commonality of theme.  If the celebrant chooses the ABC sequence, scroll to the end of this post, where I comment on them.]

I will first comment on the Year C sequence in this post.

1. The First Reading is Is 40:1-5, 9-11: 

Friday, January 01, 2016


The Christmas season is just one joyful feast after another.  We are scarcely past the glow from the Holy Family and Mary, Mother of God, when Epiphany is already upon us.

The word “Epiphany” comes from two Greek words: epi, “on, upon”; and phaino, “to appear, to shine.” Therefore, the “Epiphany” refers to the divinity of Jesus “shining upon” the earth, in other words, the manifestation of his divine nature.

The use of the word “epiphany” for the revelation of divinity predates Christianity.  The Syrian (Seleucid) emperor Antiochus IV (reign 175-165 BC), the villainous tyrant of 1-2 Maccabees, named himself “Epiphanes,” because he considered himself the manifestation of divinity on earth.  His people called him “Epimanes,” which means roughly “something is pressing on the brain,” in other words, “insane.”  Antiochus eventually died in defeat; apparently mankind would need to wait for a different king to be the “Epiphany” of divinity.

1.  Our First Reading is taken from Isaiah 60:1-6:

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Mary, Mother of God

January 1 is the Solemnity (Holy Day) of Mary, Mother of God.  To call Mary the “Mother of God” must not be understood as a claim for Mary’s motherhood of divinity itself, but in the sense that Mary was mother of Jesus, who is truly God.  The Council of Ephesus in 431—long before the schisms with the Eastern churches and the Protestants—proclaimed “Mother of God” a theologically correct title for Mary. 

So far from being a cause of division, the common confession of Mary as “Mother of God” should unite all Christians, and distinguish Christian orthodoxy from various confusions of it, such as Arianism (the denial that Jesus was God) or Nestorianism (in which Mary mothers only the human nature of Jesus but not his whole person).

Two themes are present in the Readings for this Solemnity: (1) the person of Mary, and (2) the name of Jesus.   Why the name of Jesus? Prior to the second Vatican Council, the octave day of Christmas was the Feast of the Holy Name, not Mary Mother of God.  The legacy of that tradition can be seen in the choice of Readings for this Solemnity.  (The Feast of the Holy Name was removed from the calendar after Vatican II; St. John Paul II restored it as an optional memorial on January 3.  This year it is not observed in the U.S., because Epiphany falls on January 3.)

1.  The First Reading is Numbers 6:22-27:

Saturday, December 26, 2015

Readings for the Feast of the Holy Family


The Sunday within the octave of Christmas is always dedicated to contemplation of the Holy Family, giving us the opportunity to meditate on the way in which the family structure, established by God and perfectly mirrored in the Holy Family, reflects His own familial nature (as Father, Son, and Spirit) and shows us the truth about ourselves and our deepest longings for love, acceptance, and communion with other persons.

The Readings for this beautiful feast provide the celebrant with many options.  I will have to limit myself to some remarks on the First Reading and Gospel proposed for Year C.  (For an overview of the options, see Fr. Felix Just’s excellent website dedicated to the Lectionary.  Click here.)

1.  The First Reading option for Year C is 1 Sam 1:20-22, 24-28, the preferred choice to complement this year’s gospel:

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

The Readings for Christmas (Vigil, Midn't, Dawn, Day)

The Christmas Solemnity has distinct readings for four separate masses:  Vigil, Midnight, Dawn, and Day.  There’s such a wealth of material here to meditate on, that not everything can be covered.  In fact, there is almost an entire biblical theology in the sequence of readings of these four masses.  In what follows, I am going to offer just a few brief comments on the more salient points.

Christmas Vigil Mass
1. Reading 1 Is 62:1-5

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

The First Marian Veneration: 4th Sunday of Advent

The Fourth Sunday of Advent marks a switch in focus from John the Baptist (on the previous two Sundays) to the events immediately leading up to the birth of Christ.

The Readings for this Sunday focus on Jesus’ royalty: his descent from the line of Davidic kings.  As we will see, this royal status also accrued to his mother Mary, and this is the basis for the practice of Marian veneration in the Catholic Church.  In fact, the first instance of Marian veneration by another human being takes place in this Sunday’s Gospel.

1. Our First Reading is from the prophet Micah, 5:1-4a:

Thursday, December 10, 2015

My New Book! Jesus and the Last Supper

Ever since I published Jesus and the Jewish Roots of the Eucharist in 2011, various readers have hit me with questions such as: Why didn't you discuss the Feeding of the Five Thousand, in which Jesus acts like a New Moses? What do you think Jesus' meant when he referred to the "daily bread" in the Lord's Prayer ? How can you treat Jesus' sermon in the synagogue at Capernaum in John 6 as historically plausible when scholars doubt that John's Gospel is historical? And, above all: How do you solve the problem of the date of the Last Supper? Did the Last Supper take place at the same time as the Jewish Passover meal (as in the Synoptic Gospels) or did it take place twenty-four hours before the Jewish Passover meal (as John's Gospel appears to describe). And what about the Essene hypothesis, that argues that the Last Supper took place on a Tuesday rather than a Thursday?

I answer these (and many other) questions in my new book Jesus and the Last Supper, which was just released a couple of weekends from Eerdmans. Although it's written for scholars, I tried to make it as clear and readable as possible. I'm really excited about it. It took me almost ten years to write. And boy is the cover sweet! (it looks even better in real life than on this Jpeg.)

If you're interested, below are what some scholarly readers have said about the book. My hope is that you'll pick up a copy and read it.

"This beautifully written work confirms Brant Pitre's eminence as a scholar of the very first rank. . . . Focusing on the Last Supper, Pitre develops such themes as the new bread of the presence, the new manna, the new Passover, the messianic banquet, and the kingdom of God in often surprising but utterly persuasive ways. Catholic participation in the Jesus quest has hereby finally borne its hoped-for fruit, with enormous implications for all Christians. Pitre should win the Ratzinger Prize for this book alone."
Matthew Levering— Mundelein Seminary

"Brant Pitre's contribution is provocative in the best sense of the word. At every turn readers will find new observations worth pondering and new arguments worth weighing. In particular, the numerous intertextual claims should generate much productive discussion, as should Pitre's challenging approach to dating the Last Supper. No one will come away from this volume without having learned much."
Dale C. Allison Jr. — Princeton Theological Seminary

"Now more than ever the field of historical Jesus studies is in a state of flux. The discipline is razing old foundations with the hope that more sophisticated methods will emerge. With Jesus and the Last Supper Brant Pitre constructs a bridge from the best scholarship of previous generations to the most promising possibilities of the present. This book is nothing less than a blueprint for resurrecting Jesus studies in the twenty-first century."
Anthony Le Donne— United Theological Seminary, Dayton

"This dramatic new rereading of the evidence for the Last Supper is a pivotally important work on the Last Supper and also an important contribution to historical Jesus research. Carefully researched and vigorously yet graciously argued, it offers a brilliant new synthesis of the data. Even readers not persuaded by every point will find much or even most of the argument persuasive."
Craig S. Keener— Asbury Theological Seminary

"This long-awaited book is a brilliant study about the sacred meal that Jesus instituted for his followers, including its background, its origins, and its meaning for us. Pitre artfully shows that the bread and wine of the meal commemorate and embody the hopes of Israel's restoration as achieved through their messianic deliverer. You'll never look at the Lord's Supper, Eucharist, or Mass the same way after reading this book. A sumptuous feast of exegesis and theology!"
Michael F. Bird — Ridley Melbourne Mission and Ministry College

Tuesday, December 08, 2015

Gaudete Sunday!

This Sunday is “Gaudete” Sunday, from the Latin gaudete, “Rejoice!” which traditionally begins the introit for this Mass, taken from Phil. 4:4.  Many parishes will mark this Sunday with rose-colored vestments (not “pink”—“pink” is not a liturgical color!), and the theme of joy runs through the readings and the liturgy. 

Gaudete Sunday marks the half-way point of Advent, and the Church rejoices because Jesus’ coming is near.  This year, since Christmas falls late in the fourth week of Advent, Gaudete Sunday falls almost two weeks (twelve days, to be exact) before that holy day.

1.  Our First Reading is Zephaniah 3:14-18a: