Saturday, June 15, 2019

Solemnity of the Most Holy Trinity




Pentecost is not supposed to mark a spiritual highpoint, from which we then regress and go back to being our slovenly selves. 
Rather, Pentecost should be a dramatic infusion of spiritual energy climaxing a period of formation that has been ongoing since the first week of Advent.  Pentecost propels us, like a shot out of a cannon, into the “world” of Ordinary Time, in order to do effective combat with sin, death, and the Devil.
This Sunday marks approximately the half-way point in the liturgical year, and at this temporal center, we pause to reflect on the central mystery of our Faith, the Most Holy Trinity.  This seems appropriate on the heels of Pentecost, because it is through the Holy Spirit that the whole Trinity—Father, Son, and Holy Ghost—dwells within our soul.
Predictably, the Readings view the mystery of the Trinity from different angles.

Monday, June 10, 2019

The Mystery of the Trinity (The Mass Readings Explained)

This week's video for The Mass Readings Explained is now out.  Check out this intro video below taken from this week's video.

Catholic Productions Notable Quote:
Who is this other divine agent? Well, ancient Church Fathers would say, it’s the Son. It’s Christ, the wisdom of God. However, if you look at that first verse, Arius, the arch heretic, the heretic from the 4th Century that I mentioned at the beginning of the video, interpreted it differently. 

Although the New American Bible says “The Lord possessed me” at the beginning of his work, the Revised Standard Version says “The Lord created me”. Now those are very different verbs, right? Did the Lord possess wisdom at the beginning of creation? Or did he create wisdom at the beginning of creation? Well, in order to clarify this I’m going to have to do some Hebrew and Greek, so just bear with me for two seconds. I’ll try to make this as clear as possible.

Friday, June 07, 2019

Readings for Pentecost


This post picks up from themes discussed in the post below on the Readings for the Vigil of Pentecost.  For that post, scroll down.

For Pentecost Sunday, Mass during the Day, the First Reading is, finally, the account of Pentecost itself, from Acts 2:1-11:


Gathering the Human Family: Pentecost Vigil Readings




Welcome to Pentecost!  This is such an important Feast Day in the life of the Church, we should celebrate it with just as much joy and enthusiasm as Christmas and Easter.  This the day of the Spirit, and if we have understood Jesus' teachings clearly, we understand that the outpouring of the Holy Spirit is not an epilogue or denouement to the story of salvation, but its climactic finale that ushers in a new age!  This is the high point of our liturgical journey that began in Advent with anticipation of the coming of the Messiah!  

The Church recognizes the importance of Pentecost in her liturgy, and graces this Solemnity with its own vigil, complete with four different options for the First Reading.  All of them are important for understanding the meaning of this feast:

Tuesday, May 28, 2019

The 7th Sunday of Easter


Here is a commentary on the Readings for the Seventh Sunday of Easter, and let me begin by saying, if you have a Seventh Sunday of Easter, you are indeed blessed!  

This is an important Sunday: it is climactic, the last Sunday before Pentecost in the Easter Season.  The architects of the Vatican II lectionary saved very important readings for this date, notably the High Priestly Prayer of John 17.  This magnificient prayer is the longest of Jesus’ prayers recorded in Scripture, and it is the climax of the Last Supper Discourse (John 13-17), the longest discourse of Jesus recorded in Scripture.  In this prayer, Our Lord reveals his deepest desires for himself, his Apostles, and the whole Church.   

Ascension Day


Ascension Day, unfortunately, is not observed in a uniform manner across the United States.  Catholics in Nebraska, Pennsylvania, New York, and New England will observe it on Thursday, May 30; the rest of the country observes it this Sunday, June 2. 

The First Reading and Psalm for this Solemnity are always Acts 1:1-11 and Psalm 47.   In Year C has the option to employ Hebrews 9:24-28; 10:19-23 instead of Eph 4:17-23 as the Second Reading (both are discussed below), and proclaims Luke 24:46-53 as the Gospel.

This is an unusual Lord’s Day, in which the “action” of the Feast Day actually takes place in the First Reading.  We typically think of all the narratives of Jesus’ life as recorded in the Gospels, overlooking that Acts records at least two important narratives about the activity of the Resurrected Lord (Acts 1:1-11; also 9:1-8):

Wednesday, May 22, 2019

The Kingdom of Love: 6th Sunday of Easter


We have arrived at the Sixth Week of Easter, and continue to bask in the glow of the story of the growth of the early Church in Acts, the vision of heaven from the Book of Revelation, and the consolation of Jesus’ words to the Apostles in the Upper Room from John.  It’s a trifecta of glory in these Readings.

If last Sunday we noted a “kingdom of love” theme, this week we notice an emphasis on the idea of the “kingdom of peace.”  In Acts (1st Reading) we see the measures that were necessary to keep peace in the early Church.  In Revelation (2nd Reading) we see the peace of Eden restored in the heavenly New Jerusalem.  In the Gospel we see Jesus bestowing his supernatural peace on the disciples.

1. The First Reading is Acts 15:1-2, 22-29.  Because this reading skips Acts 15:3-21, which I think is very important for understanding the significance of the passage, I have spliced in the missing text below, to aid our understanding:

Monday, May 20, 2019

"The Father is Greater than I" (The Mass Readings Explained)

This week's video for The Mass Readings Explained is now out.  You can check it out below.

Catholic Productions' Notable Quote:
"So the Father here is greater than Christ in the sense of Christ’s humanity (his limited human nature). And so what he’s telling the disciples is, if you understood this, you would actually rejoice because my human nature is going to be put to death. My human body will die and it will be raised again and then I will return to the Father. You should rejoice at that, because before the ascension of Jesus, there is no human being (no human nature) that has been brought into the life of the triune God (Father, Son, and Holy Spirit). That union of God and humanity is something that takes place through the incarnation, death and resurrection of Christ. It’s the entry of Jesus into the life of the Trinity, not just in his divine nature, which has always been the case; he’s always been united with the Father and the Spirit for all eternity in his divine nature, but something new is taking place in the human nature that he’s assumed in the incarnation."

The Mass Readings Explained: The Father and I are One

Thursday, May 16, 2019

The Kingdom of Love: 5th Sunday of Easter


The Easter Season is passing quickly.  Already it is more than half over, as we progress toward the great Feasts of Ascension and Pentecost.  We want the Season to slow down, so that we may savor the joy and consolation of these readings from Acts and John that dominate the Easter Cycle, but tempus fugit.
The Readings for this Fifth Sunday of Easter describe the growth of the Kingdom of God, which is manifested on earth as the Church.  The first two readings and the psalm are tied together with Kingdom images, and the Gospel reminds us that this Kingdom is characterized by God’s love.

1. The First Reading is Acts 14:21-27:

Saturday, May 11, 2019

Good Shepherd Sunday


This upcoming Lord’s Day is often known as “Good Shepherd Sunday,” since each year the Gospel reading is taken from John 10, the “Good Shepherd Discourse.”  It’s also often observed as a day of prayer for vocations to the priesthood and religious life, since priests and religious are visible manifestations to us of Christ in his role as the Good Shepherd.

Most of the Readings are tied together by a shepherding theme.

1.  The First Reading continues the traditional Christian practice of reading Acts during the season of Easter.  We are up to Acts 13, the point in Acts where St. Luke begins to follow the career of St. Paul in a particular way.

There is a basic division of Acts into two parts: Acts 1-12 follows Peter's ministry and Acts 13-28 follows Paul's.

Monday, May 06, 2019

The Divine Shepherd: "I and the Father are One" (The Mass Readings Explained)

This week's video for The Mass Readings Explained is now out for the 4th Sunday of Easter.

Enjoy!

Catholic Productions' Notable Quote:
"So notice, what is God saying? He’s saying because the shepherds of Israel (the chief priests and the elders) have proven themselves to be wicked, he is going to come in person and save his flock. He’s going to come in person and gather the scattered sheep of the people of Israel. 


So in that context, think about it, if you’re a first century Jew, you’re waiting for the age of the messiah, you’re waiting for the age of salvation, and you know the prophecy of Ezekiel, that God says, 'In the future age of salvation, when I gather the people of Israel once again, I’m going to come myself and be the good shepherd.' In that context, Jesus now comes in the Temple and says, 'I am the good shepherd, my sheep hear my voice. I know them. I give them eternal life.'”


The Mass Readings Explained -- The Divine Shepherd

Friday, May 03, 2019

The Primacy of Peter and of Love


(These weeks have been very busy and stressful and I forgot to post last week!  My apologies to my readers.)
 
This week is the Third Sunday of Easter, and our readings highlight the primacy of Peter among the Apostles, and the primacy of love in following Jesus.  

Just a few comments on the preliminary readings before we concentrate on the Gospel.  

Monday, April 29, 2019

Jesus Appears by the Sea of Galilee (The Mass Readings Explained)

The Third Sunday of Easter's video for The Mass Readings Explained is now out.  Check out the excerpt below or subscribe today and see the full length video plus get access to the outline and transcript.

Catholic Productions' Notable Quote:
"Now, the reason that is so crucial here in the context of John’s overall gospel is that in John 10, Jesus reveals that he himself is the Good Shepherd. And he even says there will be one flock and one shepherd. And then he turns around (after his resurrection) and makes Peter the shepherd of the flock. So, which is it? Is Jesus the shepherd or is Peter the shepherd? And the answer is both. Jesus is of course the Divine Shepherd, the Supreme Shepherd; we’re going to see that when we look at Jesus’ own words on Good Shepherd Sunday, but Peter is established as the earthly shepherd over the flock of Jesus’ disciples, and that includes (very importantly) the other twelve."

The Mass Readings Explained: Jesus Appears by the Sea of Galilee

Monday, April 22, 2019

Divine Mercy Sunday (The Mass Readings Explained)

This week's video is now out for The Mass Readings Explained for Divine Mercy Sunday.

Check it out below.

Catholic Productions' Notable Quote:
Now, in a 1st Century Jewish setting, this is a staggering bestowal of authority, because as we see from elsewhere in the gospels (like in the gospel of Mark), when Jesus forgives the sins of the paralytic, they say, “This man speaks blasphemy. Who can forgive sins but God alone?” It’s a divine power. It’s a divine prerogative to forgive sins. And amazingly, now Jesus gives that divine authority and that divine power to the Apostles. And so, it’s very crucial here to stress that in order for them to both forgive and to retain someone’s sins, the implication is that they would somehow know what those sins are.


Divine Mercy Sunday - The Mass Readings Explained

Thursday, April 18, 2019

Readings for Easter Day

(Commentary on Holy Thursday, Good Friday, and the Easter Vigil are  below, just scroll down)
 
The Mass of Easter Day is one of the most joyful in the Church calendar, as the Church basks in the afterglow of the most remarkable intervention of God into human history, the resurrection of his own son. 

1.  The First Reading is Acts 10:34a, 37-43:

Readings for the Easter Vigil








The Readings for the Easter Vigil recount the history of salvation by focusing on the various covenant stages throughout the Biblical storyline.  My book Bible Basics for Catholics follows this same pattern, using stick figure drawings to illustrate these various stages.

The Readings for Good Friday


Every year on Good Friday, we read St. John’s account of the Passion from John 18-19, together with Isaiah 52-53  and Psalm 31.

One of the themes that runs through these reading is the Priesthood of Christ.

1. There is priestly language already in the First Reading, from Isaiah 52 & 53, the famous “Suffering Servant” Song:

The Readings for Holy Thursday




The Readings for the Holy Thursday Mass focus on the continuity between the ancient Jewish Passover and the institution of the Eucharist.  As the Passover was the meal that marked the transition from slavery to Egypt to the freedom of the Exodus, so the Eucharist is the meal that marks the transition from slavery to sin to the glorious freedom of the children of God.

1.  Our First Reading is from Ex 12:1-8, 11-14:

Monday, April 15, 2019

Easter Vigil (The Mass Readings Explained)

Try to wait until at least Saturday, but the Easter Vigil Mass Readings Explained video is now out.

Have a blessed Holy Week.


Thursday, April 11, 2019

Announcing My New Book: "Salvation: What Every Catholic Should Know"


I am thrilled to announce that you can now pre-order my next book, Salvation: What Every Catholic Should Know, which is jointly published by Augustine Institute Press and Ignatius Press. We are trying to spread the word about it quickly since it will be out in time for Easter season.

Let me say a bit about the book. This book is the first book in a new series (more on that soon). It is not a technical work. It aims at to be readable by all audiences. In many ways, it unpacks in simple terms some of the key ideas Brant Pitre, John Kincaid, and I examine in our upcoming book, Paul, A New Covenant Jew: Rethinking Pauline Theology (Eerdmans, forthcoming August 1). Appropriately enough then this book has a Foreword by Brant Pitre. 

I am thrilled with the endorsements it has received, many of which I have posted below. I am especially grateful to Joshua Jipp (Trinity Evangelical Divinity School) and Ben Blackwell (Houston Baptist University) for their kind words about the book. Given the title, I fear many non-Catholics will feel it is not for them, but I hope the endorsements by Jipp and Blackwell will help in this regard.  I was my aim to write  an irenic piece that would be helpful for all Christians interested in the doctrine of salvation in Christ in the New Testament. To that end, I hope Catholics will feel comfortable sharing it with their non-Catholic friends. 

Jesus Cheered, Then Killed: Palm/Passion Sunday C




This Sunday’s readings might seem bipolar or schizophrenic.  We begin Mass with exultant cheering as we relive Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem.  We end the Readings on a note of solemn silence, unable to process the reality of one of the most egregious abuses of judicial process and power in human history, in which the only innocent man ever to live is executed.  What does it all mean?

Despite a few mysterious prophetic texts that seemed to intimate this possibility, the idea that the Messiah could arrive and subsequently be killed was radically counter-intuitive to most of first-century Jews. 

Yet the conviction of the early Christians, based on Jesus of Nazareth’s own teachings about himself, was that the radically counter-intuitive impossibility was actually prophesied, if one had the eyes to see and the ears to hear it in Israel’s Scriptures.

The Readings for this Mass offer us two of the most poignant prophecies of the suffering of the Messiah.

Tuesday, April 09, 2019

Passion Sunday (The Mass Readings Explained)

This week's video is now out for The Mass Readings Explained.  You can check it out below.

God bless you.

Catholic Productions' Notable Quote:
"So notice here something really significant about Luke’s account. First, Luke (and Luke alone) tells us that during the Last Supper, Jesus appoints a share in his royal identity as king to the twelve apostles. Literally in the Greek, what Jesus says here, “As my father covenanted the kingdom for me, so I covenant to you, that you may eat and drink at my table, in my kingdom, and sit on thrones judging the twelve tribes of Israel.” So, effectively what Jesus is doing is constituting (in the figure of the Apostles) a new Israel, where they will rule over this new Israel, sitting on twelve thrones. Secondly, notice also that within these twelve Apostles who are going to reign over the new Israel, Simon Peter has pride of place. And it’s easy to miss that if you read it in English, but in Greek it’s really clear...".

The Mass Readings Explained: Passion Sunday (Palm Sunday)

Thursday, April 04, 2019

Jesus and the New Exodus: 5th Sunday of Lent


Lent is drawing to a close.  This week we celebrate the last Sunday of Lent before the beginning of Passion Week.  This Sunday is period of “quiet” between Laetare Sunday and Passion/Palm Sunday, our last opportunity to meditate on the ‘ordinary’ struggle of Lent before the intensity of the events in the last week of Our Lord’s life.  Let’s use it well!

The Readings for this week focus on the theme of a “New Exodus.”  Just as Moses was a savior figure who lead Israel to freedom through the Red Sea, so Jesus leads us to freedom through the waters of Baptism.  Let’s see how this theme plays out:

1.  Our First Reading is Isaiah 43:16-21: