Thursday, September 29, 2016

Living by Faith: The 27th Sunday of OT

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By accident in the past few weeks I stumbled on an interview with Rev. T.D. Jakes, one of the nations most prominent African-American megachurch pastors.  The interview concerned the recent canonization of St. Theresa of Calcutta, and the interviewer was questioning Rev. Jakes about the revelation that Mother Theresa suffered interior darkness and even temptations against faith. Rev. Jakes gave an excellent reply, explaining how true faith can be compatible with experiencing doubt and struggling against darkness.  In fact, his discussions reminded me of passages from Benedict XVI on the relationship of faith and doubt.  

Our readings this week take up the theme of faith, both Israel’s faith under the old covenant and the faith to which we are called in the new.  Jesus urges us not to despair even if we feel our faith is pitiful.  God can work wonders using small material.

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Lazarus & the Realm of the Dead: Mass Readings Explained (The 26th Sunday in Ordinary Time)

Check out my latest video on this Sunday's Mass readings.  I hope it's helpful to you.

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Does it Matter How We Treat Others? The 26th Sunday of Ordinary Time


Does it matter how we treat others?  What does my neighbor’s suffering have to do with me?  Can I continue living in comfort while bypassing those around me who are in misery?  These are questions that the Readings for this Sunday raise, and to which they provide uncomfortable answers.  Let’s read and let the Holy Spirit move us outside our comfort zone.

1.  The First Reading is Am 6:1a, 4-7:

Thursday, September 15, 2016

God and Mammon: The 25th Sunday in Ordinary Time


(Sorry I posted the Year A reading earlier!)



As Jesus continues his “death march” to Jerusalem in Luke’s Gospel (Luke 9–19), he challenges us this Sunday to choose, in a clear and conscious way, our goal in life: God or money.  The First Reading reminds us that wealth was a seductive trap for the people of God throughout salvation history.



1. The First Reading is Amos 8:4-7:


Friday, September 09, 2016

Lost Sheep, Lost Coin & Lost Son: Mass Readings Explained (The 24th Sunday in Ordinary Time)

My latest video on the Sunday Mass readings is out -- I hope it helps you!

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Wednesday, September 07, 2016

Prodigal Son Sunday: 24th Sunday in OT


This upcoming Sunday marks one of only two times in the main lectionary cycle that we hear the Parable of the Prodigal Son proclaimed (the other being the 4th Sunday of Lent [C]).  The Readings are marked by the theme of repentance and forgiveness. 

1. Our First Reading is Ex 32:7-11, 13-14:

Friday, September 02, 2016

The Cost of Discipleship: 23rd Sunday in OT


Dietric von Bonhoeffer as a young man
One of the most famous German opponents of Adolf Hitler and Nazism was the Lutheran pastor and theologian Dietrich Bonhoeffer, whom the Nazis executed by hanging in April 1945 for his involvement in a plot against Hitler himself.  Bonhoeffer’s most famous work was a meditation on the Sermon on the Mount entitled (in English) The Cost of Discipleship.  In it, Bonhoeffer parted ways with a Protestantism that understood “salvation by faith alone” as some kind of easy road to heaven.  Bonhoeffer criticized “easy-believism” as “cheap grace”:

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Guess Who’s Coming for Dinner? 22nd Sunday in OT


In 2005, a quasi-remake of the famous 1967 movie “Guess Who’s Coming for Dinner” was released.  Entitled “Guess Who?” it starred Bernie Mac as an African-American father who struggled to deal with his daughter’s Caucasian fiancé (played by Ashton Kutcher).  Much of the (sometimes rude) comedy of the film revolved around the clash of cultures at the dinner table.  Usually we only share meals with people like us: family members or friends from our own “circle.”  When someone from “outside” comes in, it upsets the balance. 

The Wedding Banquet & the Resurrection of the Righteous: Mass Readings Explained (The 22nd Sunday in Ordinary Time)

My latest video on the Sunday Mass readings is now out.  Check it out and please Like and Share. 

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Tuesday, August 23, 2016

SWIDS 2016

I'm happy to be doing some continuing ed for the permanent deacons in driving distance of Austin, Texas, this weekend.  It's the South West Institute of Diaconal Studies, 2016: SWIDS for short.  They are great men.  I visited with them in 2014. This year we are tackling the Gospel of John.  Here's the link: http://www.swidsonline.com/



Friday, August 19, 2016

Catholic Introduction to the Old Testament Can Be Pre-Ordered!

If anyone has been wondering why Brant Pitre and I haven't been writing and doing more than we have for the past four or five years, it's because a lot of our time has been taken up quietly working on a massive project which Ignatius Press has now rolled out on Amazon: A Catholic Introduction to the Bible: Old Testament.

There are good Catholic introductory texts on the OT out there (those by Boadt and Jensen come to mind), but there has been a need for some time for a more recent and thorough treatment of the Old Testament which takes advantage, from the ground up, of recent developments in Old Testament interpretation from the 1990's on, especially the growth in literary studies like narrative and canonical criticism, the impact of the Dead Sea Scrolls, and new archeological discoveries.

Will Many Be Saved? 21st Sunday in OT

 

If Jesus was walking through your town and you had ten seconds as he passed to ask any question you wished, what would it be?  “Why is there evil in the world?” “How can I be saved?” “What is heaven like?”



In this Sunday’s Gospel, an anonymous bystander gets his chance to ask Jesus one of the “big questions”: “Will only a few people be saved?”  Jesus’ answer is complex, indirect, and very well worth examining!  The Readings leading up to the Gospel help prepare us to understand Jesus’ response.


Will Many Be Saved? 21st Sunday in OT

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If Jesus was walking through your town and you had ten seconds as he passed to ask any question you wished, what would it be?  “Why is there evil in the world?” “How can I be saved?” “What is heaven like?”



In this Sunday’s Gospel, an anonymous bystander gets his chance to ask Jesus one of the “big questions”: “Will only a few people be saved?”  Jesus’ answer is complex, indirect, and very well worth examining!  The Readings leading up to the Gospel help prepare us to understand Jesus’ response.


Thursday, August 18, 2016

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI Signs New Book Deal with Bloomsbury

Indeed, it's official. Bloomsbury is announcing that Pope Benedict has a new book coming in November 2016, entitled, The Last Testament. It appears to be 224 pages.

Ever since Bloomsbury merged ("bought out?") T & T Clark, they have been emerging as a major academic press. In fact, I love what they have done with the Library of New Testament Studies Series (formerly Journal for the Study of the New Testament Supplement Series published with Sheffield Academic Press). 

But back to the major headline: Benedict XVI "breaks his silence." 

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Jesus' Take on Family Values: 20th Sunday in OT




In recent decades, the term “family values” has almost become a code word for “Christian culture” in American society.  Influential Christian organizations have adopted names like “Focus on the Family,” “American Family Association,” the “Family Research Council”; and on the Catholic side of things we have “Catholic Family Land,” “Tradition, Family and Property,” or “The Catholic Family and Human Rights Institute,” better known as “C-FAM.”  The natural family unit—based on a husband and wife who have made an exclusive, permanent, public commitment to share a common life and raise children together—has been under such political and social pressure that at times we almost identify Christianity as a social movement to promote family life.

In this context, this Sunday’s Mass Readings can be unsettling.  Jesus says he has “not come to bring peace but division.”  Come again?  Lord, with due respect, isn’t one of your messianic titles “Prince of Peace?”  Then again, the Lord speaks of causing division and struggle within families—strife in the family unit caused by Jesus!  How can this be?  Doesn’t Jesus believe in “family values”?

1.  Our First Reading is Jer 38:4-6, 8-10:

Wednesday, August 03, 2016

Be Ready! The Master is Coming Back: Mass Readings Explained (The Nineteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time)

My latest video on this Sunday's Mass readings is now out.  Check it out after reading John's contribution below.
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