Monday, December 10, 2018

What Should We Do To Prepare? (The Mass Readings Explained)

The 3rd Sunday of Advent, often called Gaudete Sunday, is this weekend.  Check out the video on this Sunday's Mass Readings.  If you haven't subscribed yet, now's a perfect time to do so.

Catholic Productions' notable quote from this week's video:

"In this case the special passage from Luke is about the ministry of John the Baptist, and it's a window that we are given into John's ethical teaching, or his moral teaching. So we know about, so to speak, his sacramental activity of, you know, calling people to repent so that they might be baptized with the baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. But, it's easy to miss, because the other gospels don’t tell us about it -- that John also had a moral dimension to his preaching.  He called people to change their lives in very specific ways and so today the Church gives us one of those exchanges."



Thursday, December 06, 2018

A Straight Path in the Wilderness of Our Soul: 2nd Sunday of Advent





As we start the second week of Advent, the Church turns her attention from the second coming of Christ to his first coming, and in particular to the figure of John the Baptist, the forerunner or herald of Jesus Christ.

Usually the Church reads heavily from the prophet Isaiah during the Advent season, and indeed, Isaiah 40 would have made a good First Reading for this Sunday because it is quoted in the Gospel.  However, in Year C, the Church takes a little break from exclusive attention to Isaiah and reads some other Old Testament texts that are also important for understanding the significance of Christ’s coming. 

Monday, December 03, 2018

John the Baptist and the New Exodus (The Mass Readings Explained)

The video for the 2nd Sunday of Advent is now out.  Check it out below.

Catholic Productions' notable quote from this week's video:

"First, notice the fact that Luke is clearly not writing mythology. He’s also clearly not writing a fairytale, right. No fairytale begins, "In the fifteenth year of the reign of Tiberius Caesar," you know, "during the governorship of Pontius Pilate." 


​That’s not how fairytales begin. Fairytales begin with once upon a time, right. So Luke is clearly talking about history. So what we’re preparing for during Advent and what we’re going to celebrate during Christmas is not some myth. It's an actual historical event that took place in real space and real time, and the gospels describe it as such."


Thursday, November 29, 2018

Soberly Awaiting the Second Coming: Readings for 1st Sunday of Advent


Happy New Year everyone!  We start the liturgical calendar anew this weekend, and we are in Year C, which has some of the most creative and stimulating combinations of lectionary readings.

We just concluded the liturgical calendar by reading largely from the Book of Revelation and Our Lord’s eschatological discourse from the Gospel of Luke.  We spent a good deal of time meditating on the second coming of Our Lord, the end of history, and the final judgment.  We now make a smooth segue into Advent, because the first week of this liturgical season is given over to contemplating the second coming, as well.  The second week of Advent will move into the “John the Baptist” stage of the season, where we meditate on John as the introductory and transitional figure between the Old and the New Testaments.

But for now, we are thinking about the return of Christ and the final judgment.  This Sunday’s Readings continue to present to us Jesus as the King, the Son of David and Son of God, who will come to bring human history to its conclusion. 

1. Reading 1 Jer 33:14-16:

Monday, November 26, 2018

The Second Coming of Jesus: Be Prepared (The Mass Readings Explained)

With the new liturgical year upon us, the 1st video for the Mass Readings Explained, Year C is now out for this upcoming Sunday (the 1st Sunday of Advent).  Check out this series here (it has a 14 day free trial), and you can watch an intro to this week's video below.

Catholic Productions' notable quote from this week's video:

"…[Y]ou’ve probably had this experience — if you’ve ever read the lives of the Saints… The power of their ability to convert souls to Christ, to draw people to Jesus, flows out of the fact that they’ve been engaged in spiritual exercises, right. There not just lounging about; they’re not just laying about. They’re trying to grow every single day in holiness, in prayer, in fasting, in reading the word of God, in teaching and preaching."


https://catholicproductions.com/blogs/mass-readings-explained-year-c/the-first-sunday-of-advent-year-c

Saturday, November 24, 2018

The Readings for Christ the King


This Sunday is the 34th Sunday of Ordinary Time, and as everyone knows, that means it is the Solemnity of Christ the King!  This is the last Sunday of the liturgical year.  The last day of the liturgical year will be Saturday December 1, and Liturgical Year 2019 will begin with the First Sunday of Advent, December 2.

I give thanks to God for many things at this time of year, including the joy of living the liturgical calendar, which is such a consolation and guide for one’s spirituality through the seasons of life and the seasons of the year.  Each liturgical year is like a whole catechesis of the Christian faith, as well as a kind of microcosm of the entire life of the believer, from birth and baptism to final anointing and death.

Monday, November 19, 2018

My Kingdom Is Not of This World (The Mass Readings Explained)

This week's video is now out.  The new liturgical year starts with the following video ("Year C") on the 1st Sunday of Advent.  Subscribe now and view all of Year C.

Catholic Productions' notable quote from this week's video:

"Even in these contexts he frequently will throw back a person's words to them and get them to either ask the question or answer it for themself. We’ve seen him do this throughout the Gospels: 'What do you think, what do you say, who do you say that I am?'

And he’s doing it here with Pilate as well: 'Are you saying this of your own accord or are others saying it to you about me?'

He’s... in a sense... trying to elicit a confession of faith... by Pilate in his messiahship."



Thursday, November 15, 2018

The Final Judgment: Readings for the 33rd Sunday of OT


“Tempus fugit,” the Romans used to say.  “Time flies.”  It’s hard to believe that we are already at the second-to-last Sunday of the liturgical year.

[My brother Tim used to say, “Time flies like an arrow, but fruit flies like a banana.”  But that has nothing to do with anything.]

Where has the year gone?  How can it be so close to the end already?  Yet these feelings are very appropriate for Mass we will celebrate this Sunday, whose readings encourage us to count time carefully, to be aware of its passage, to meditate on our mortality and the passing of all things, and to think soberly of the end and the final judgment. 

The Church gives us the entire month of November to contemplate the Last Things: Death, Judgment, Heaven, and Hell.  We still have about two weeks left, and we should resist letting Advent and Christmas “creep forward” in our thoughts and spirituality, causing us to miss the graces that are meant for us in November. 

1. The Readings look forward to the final judgment.  The First is Daniel 12:1-3:

Monday, November 12, 2018

No One Knows the Day or Hour (The Mass Readings Explained)

This week's The Mass Readings Explained video is now out.  Check it out below.

Catholic Productions' notable quote from this week's video:

Now, when you read those verses, your first move — the first you think of — will probably be the final coming of Jesus, the end of time. … And there is a sense in which that’s definitely true of these verses.  

However, a number of scholars have pointed out that if you look at Jesus’ words in light of the Old Testament, the very images he uses here of the sun being darkened, the moon not giving its light, the stars falling from heaven — are also images that the prophets…use to refer to the destruction of a city or the destruction of an empire.



Tuesday, November 06, 2018

Acting on Faith: Readings for 32nd Sunday in OT


In this month of November, we are pondering the Last Things (Death, Judgment, Heaven, Hell) and gearing up for the celebration of Christ the King in two weeks (!).  The falling leaves remind us that our bodies will one day fall to the ground, and our spirits return to God (Eccl. 12:7) to face judgment for the “deeds done in the body” (2 Cor. 5:10).  Can anyone face the judgment of God?  Only those who trust completely in him, and we call this trust “faith.”  This Sunday’s Readings give us a powerful lesson in faith.

1.  Our First Reading is from 1 Kings 17:10-16, the story of Elijah’s visit to the widow of Zarephath:

Monday, November 05, 2018

The Widow's Two Cents (The Mass Readings Explained)

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

Also, Year C begins with Advent -- right around the corner -- so be sure to subscribe.

Year C, which primarily focuses on the Gospel of Luke, is when this series all began 3 years ago.  And, we're re-filming the entire year!  So, be sure to subscribe.

Catholic Productions' notable quote from this week's video:

“It [the temple] has all the money it could possibly need.   But, this woman takes her money and she makes an offering to God.  Now, was it a whole burnt offering, was it money for some gold for the temple, was it money for a free-will offering?  We don’t know.  Was she paying her tithe for the year?  We don’t know.

But, what we do know is that it’s all that she had.  And, Jesus takes that moment and he uses it to teach the apostles that although the rich people put in quantitatively more money than she did, she qualitatively far exceeded them with her donation because she gave all that she had.  She gave the last of her living to God, and to the sacrifices and to the temple.”


Friday, November 02, 2018

Loving God: The 31st Sunday in Ordinary Time





The Readings for this upcoming Sunday revolve around the themes of love of God and perfect priesthood.

1.  The First Reading is Deuteronomy 6:2-6:

Moses spoke to the people, saying:
"Fear the LORD, your God,
and keep, throughout the days of your lives,
all his statutes and commandments which I enjoin on you,
and thus have long life.
Hear then, Israel, and be careful to observe them,
that you may grow and prosper the more,
in keeping with the promise of the LORD, the God of your fathers,
to give you a land flowing with milk and honey.

"Hear, O Israel! The LORD is our God, the LORD alone!
Therefore, you shall love the LORD, your God,
with all your heart,
and with all your soul,
and with all your strength.
Take to heart these words which I enjoin on you today."

Monday, October 29, 2018

The Greatest Commandments (The Mass Readings Explained)

This week's video is now out for the 31st Sunday in Ordinary Time on the Greatest Commandments.

Enjoy!

Catholic Productions' notable quote from this week's video:
"Now, once he makes that leap — when he recognizes that it’s the interior movement of the heart and the mind that God ultimately desires and that that’s the most valuable thing — Jesus says something that he says really only to him here … “You are not far from the Kingdom of God.”  In another words, “You are really close here to the mystery I’ve come to unveil…”, which is about driving the law of God into the human heart, mind and the soul.

Not just engaging in those exterior actions — although they are important — but rather making the interior movements of the heart and mind conform to the exterior worship.  So, that what is expressed is ultimately what God wants from us, which is our love."



Tuesday, October 23, 2018

20/20 Vision: The Readings for the 30th Sunday in OT



My vision is terrible.  Uncorrected, it’s probably much worse than 20/200.  My glasses prescription is about -8.5 diopters, for those of you who know what that means.  Without my glasses, the whole world looks like a poorly-executed Impressionist painting.  I’ve often wondered if Monet had bad eyesight, too. 
Bad vision usually isn’t too much of an inconvenience these days.  High index lenses have taken the bulk out of the old “coke bottles.”  For sports, I can slip in a pair of contacts.  However, there remains a more serious form of “visual impairment” in the spiritual realm: the inability to see reality properly, to see it from God’s perspective.  The Readings for this Sunday seem to be about physical sight on the surface, but on a deeper level point us to our need to see things through the eyes of God.
1. Our First Reading is Jer 31:7-9

Monday, October 22, 2018

Jesus and Blind Bartimaeus (The Mass Readings Explained)

The Mass Readings Explained video is now out.   Check it out below.


Catholic Productions' notable quote from this week's video:

“‘The Way’ is an evocative term because if you are asking Jews about ‘The Way’ or ‘The Road’ another connotation would be the road through the desert, the time of the exodus — when God made a path in the wilderness.  So, there are two ‘ways’ in the Bible: there’s the way or the path of the Exodus under Moses, and then there’s the way or the path of the new exodus under Jesus. …You’ve got all these Exodus images swirling around beneath the surface of Mark’s Gospel.  Well, here’s one more: the new exodus, the new path, the new way that we’re all called out of bondage and called to journey into is the way of discipleship.”



Thursday, October 18, 2018

His Life as a Ransom for Many: 29th Sunday of OT


The First Reading for this Lord’s Day is personally very significant to me, because it caused me to be disturbed as a young man, and even contributed to a bout of depression I had. 

When I was in college, a group of Messianic (Christian) Jewish singers called “The Liberated Wailing Wall” came to my home church to put on a concert.  One of their numbers was a setting of Isaiah 53 adapted for choir.  They got to verse 10 and belted out in a very catchy way, “It was the will of the Father to crush him!”  Musically, it made a great impact, but the line stuck with me and nagged me for years.  

A few years later I began to face several severe family and career setbacks and began to slip into depression.  “If it was the will of the Father to crush Jesus,” I thought, “How much more is it the Father’s will to crush me?”  I felt that God had it in for me and was trying to destroy me.  I didn’t get over the resulting depression until my old spiritual director assured me that God didn’t want to destroy me, but rather loved me.  That let loose on emotional dam and I had a spiritual experience that enabled me to break through the darkness.

Nonentheless, that line from Isaiah 53:10 begins our First Reading for this Lord’s Day.  Is God cruel?  Why would he crush anyone, much less his own son?  This raises the question of the mystery of redemptive suffering, which we will get into as we explore these readings.

Reading 1 Is 53:10-11

Monday, October 15, 2018

Did Jesus Die for "Many," or For All? (The Mass Readings Explained)

My latest video for The Mass Readings Explained is now out.  You can check it out over at Catholics Productions.

Catholic Productions' Notable Quote:

"I think this is an important teaching to highlight from the Catechism for a couple of reasons.  First, the idea that Jesus is just a good teacher or a great prophet or a world leader of a religion has become much more widespread where we have this tendency to just look at religions as created equal.  And, that can mislead us about the unique character of Christianity and in particular about the radical nature of the claim that we’re making in Christianity.  

When we say that the death of Jesus of Nazareth atoned for all the sins of all humanity — from the beginning of time to the end of time — that’s a big claim.  …You can’t make that claim about a regular human being, about just an ordinary human being.  There were lots of…prophets who were tortured and killed over the course of Israel’s history.  No one ever claimed that any of their deaths made up for the sins of all humanity."