Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Anointed with Light: Readings for Laetare Sunday

 
The drama increases as we progress toward Easter.  This Sunday’s readings are united by the themes of anointing and light.

The First Reading (1 Sam 16:1-13) recounts Samuel’s anointing of David as King over Israel.  Samuel journeys to Jesse of Bethlehem, and scrutinizes each of his sons in search of God’s chosen king, but to no avail.  Finally, the youngest of the eight, David, is called in from shepherding the sheep.  This at last is the future king:

Monday, March 20, 2017

Conference on Pentateuch is Epic Success

Speakers at the conference, "Paradigm Change in Pentateuchal Research," from left to right: Lina Petersen, Eckart Otto, Benjamin Kilchör, Jan Retso, Fr. Georg Fischer SJ, Richard Averbeck, Carsten Vang, Joshua Berman, Koert van Bekkum, John Bergsma, Markus Zehnder, Pekka Pitkännen, Mattias Armgardt, Guido Pfeiffer, Kenneth Bergland.  Sandra Richter participated via teleconferencing.

The international conference "Paradigm Change in Pentateuchal Research" held this past week (March 16-18) at the Staatsunabhängige Theologische Hochschule Basel (State-Independent Theological College of Basel) was a stunning success.  Bringing together scholars in Pentateuch and cognate fields (History of Law, ANE Linguistics) from around the world, the conference explored ways of interpreting the Pentateuch apart from the now-discredited Wellhausenian paradigm.  Studies in biblical intertextuality, linguistics, source criticism, hermeneutics, and the history of ANE societies tended to converge, making it possible to understand the Pentateuch as a more coherent document from an earlier period in Israel's history than has been commonly recognized in the Wellhausenian tradition and its derivatives.  Highlights were comprehensive critiques of Pentateuchal criticism as usually practiced from Georg Fischer and Richard Averbeck, a remarkable dialogue between Eckart Otto and Benjamin Kilchör on the relative dating of Deuteronomy and the Priestly materials; and innovative presentations from Lina Peterson and Sandra Richter on the historical development of Israel's language and economy, respectively, and the implications for Pentateuchal composition.

The Spit of Jesus and the Man Born Blind (The Mass Readings Explained)

My latest video on "The Spit of Jesus & the Man Born Blind" for this upcoming Sunday's Mass readings is now out! Check it out and please Like and Share. Thanks!




Thursday, March 16, 2017

The Bridegroom Messiah Suddenly Arrives: Readings for the 3rd Sunday of Lent


You know we are “picking up steam” in the season of Lent when the Lectionary starts turning to the long readings from the Gospel of John (John 4, 9, 11).  The Church turns to these texts from John at this point in the liturgical calendar, because John is, in so many ways, a mystagogical document, a gospel intended to takes us deeper into the mysteries, that is, the sacraments.

If one is not initiated into the sacraments, John remains—in many respects—a closed book.  I can attest to this from personal experience.  Although I have always loved my name-sake Gospel more than any other part of Scripture, I virtually never preached from it in while I was a Protestant pastor.  I was enthralled with the words and fascinated with the realities behind them, but wasn’t sure what the application was for texts like John 4 or John 6.  The problem lay in the fact that, as a Christian outside the visible Church, I was only partially initiated into the sacraments.  Not having experienced the sacraments, I could not recognize when Jesus was speaking of them.

Monday, March 13, 2017

Jesus and the Woman at the Well (The Mass Readings Explained)

The video for this Sunday's Mass readings is now out. I hope it is helpful! Please Like and Share! Thanks!



Wednesday, March 08, 2017

Beginning the Journey of Faith: The 2nd Sunday of Lent


This Sunday we are only eleven days into Lent, still very early along on our Lenten pilgrimage.  The readings share the theme of beginning the journey of faith, even while giving us a glimpse of our final destination.

In all three years of the lectionary cycle (A, B, C), the readings for the Second Sunday of Lent always pair a key pericope from the Abraham narrative (Gen 12-22) with an account of the Transfiguration from one of the Synoptic Gospels.  This is because, in all the Gospels, the Transfiguration marks “the beginning of the end” of Jesus’ earthly life.  After the Transfiguration, Jesus “sets his face toward Jerusalem” (Luke 9:51) and begins the “death march” toward the Holy City that will culminate in Passion Week and his crucifixion.  The Readings pair the beginning of Jesus’ journey to his death with accounts of Abraham’s life, because Abraham is remembered as the paradigmatic figure of the Old Testament who went on a “journey of faith” that culminated in the sacrifice of an “only begotten son” (see Gen 22:2 in the RSVCE2).  So Jesus and Abraham are linked as men who journeyed in faith.  Likewise, Lent is, for each one of us, a journey of faith toward greater holiness.

1. The First Reading is the famous opening of the Abraham narrative from Genesis, recounting God’s initial call to Abram while he was still in Ur:

Monday, March 06, 2017

The Mystery of the Transfiguration (The Mass Readings Explained)

My latest video for this upcoming Sunday's Mass readings now now out. Please Like and Share if you can. Thank you!




Wednesday, March 01, 2017

Ash Wednesday Readings Commentary


Welcome to Lent, Everybody!


Time for my annual commentary on the Readings:

Jesus the New Adam: Readings for the 1st Sunday of Lent




The readings for today’s Mass are exceptionally rich and could be the subject of several week’s worth of lectures, so we will have to limit ourselves today to a few central themes.

The First Reading is the account of the Fall, in which Eve, followed by Adam, gives in to temptation by eating the fruit of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil.  This Reading sets up Adam as a foil for Jesus, who will be tempted in three ways in the desert. 

1. Our First Reading is Gn 2:7-9; 3:1:

Monday, February 27, 2017

New CD Set Released

https://store.catholicproductions.com/products/the-book-of-acts?variant=
Catholic Productions has just released our set on Acts from the 2017 West Coast Biblical Conference!

The Three Temptations of Jesus (The Mass Readings Explained)

Latest video is now out on the 1st Sunday of Lent for The Mass Readings Explained. I hope it helps set the stage for great spiritual growth this Lenten season. And, please Like and Share if you can. Thanks!



Thursday, February 23, 2017

The Biblical Roots of Ash Wednesday

With Ash Wednesday upon us, we decided to shoot a video on the Biblical Roots of Ash Wednesday and the purpose of Lent. After watching it yourself, we hope you can help us spread the word through your Likes and Shares. Thank you!



Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Trusting God for All We Need: Readings for the 8th Sunday in OT


As we continue reading the Sermon on the
Mount this week, we come to the place where God assures us that he will meet our temporal needs: “seek first the kingdom and its righteousness, and all these things will be added to you as well.”  How often the saints have found this to be true, beginning as young people with nothing and often ending their lives at the head of orders or movements with amazing resources!  And yet, to take advantage of these resources for personal gain would be to lose the way, and begin worshipping a false God.  So today’s readings urge us to trust God for want we need, but never to see God and his service as a means to some other end.

1. Our First Reading is Is 49:14-15:

Monday, February 20, 2017

The Sermon on the Mount 5: Money & Anxiety (The Mass Readings Explained)

This upcoming Sunday's video, explaining the Mass Readings, is now out. Check it out and please Like and Share! Thank you.



Monday, February 13, 2017

The Sermon on the Mount 4: Love Your Enemies, Be Perfect (The Mass Readings Explained)

Catholic Productions just released my latest video on this Sunday's readings.  I hope it helps and please Like and Share if you are able.  Thanks! 



Loving Those You Hate: The 7th Sunday of OT

 
The 1914 Christmas Truce of WW1
This Sunday’s Readings include some of the best known—and hardest to practice—passages from the Gospel, including Jesus famous command to “turn the other cheek.”  Biblical scholarship can only go so far in elucidating some of Jesus’ challenging commands; beyond that, we need the saints. 



1.  Our Readings start off showing the continuity between Jesus’ teachings and the Old Testament, quoting a section from Leviticus (19:1-2, 17-18):


Saturday, February 11, 2017

The Demanding Laws of Jesus: Readings for the 6th Sunday of OT

 
The “Hippie Jesus" is one of the common misunderstandings of Christ that are circulating in popular culture.  People think of Jesus as a laid back guru who traveled around Israel in this Volkswagen Vanagon, accompanied by twelve dudes in tie-died T-shirts.  Jesus taught that all we need is Love, and not to be so uptight, like all those rule-bound priests and scribes.

Of course, that view of Jesus is wrong.  People adopt it, however, because they misunderstand the nature of Jesus’ conflict with the priests, scribes, and Pharisees that dominated Jewish religious practice in his day.  Because Jesus criticizes them for the way they practice the law, people get the impression that Jesus was against law in general.  But that’s sadly wrong.  Jesus’ criticisms were leveled at the way religious authorities in his day (1) did not interpret the law properly, by allowing lesser principles (e.g. ritual purity) override larger principles (e.g. mercy and justice); (2) did not practice what they taught; and (3) employed complicated legal reasoning to avoid the ethical demands of the moral law.  

The Pharisees were not righteous people.  Rather, they were wealthy persons who used their legal training to create loopholes so they would not have to do the right thing in painful situations.  In this Sunday’s Readings, Jesus calls us to face up to the full demands of God’s moral law, without rationalizing or making excuses for ourselves.

Monday, February 06, 2017

Friday, February 03, 2017

Church, Temple, Lighthouse: The Fifth Sunday in OT

 

The Readings for this Sunday remind me of the Basilica of the Annunciation in Nazareth, which I’ve had the privilege of visiting a couple of times.  This beautiful church is built on a hillside and is easily visible from much of the modern city of Nazareth.  The architect designed the dome of the basilica to look like a lighthouse, symbolizing the light of Christ going out to all Nazareth and the rest of the Galilee region, in keeping with the theme of last week’s Gospel, “Those walking in darkness have seen a great light.”

The theme of light continues in this Sunday’s Readings, in which Jesus calls the people of God, the Church, to be a kind of lighthouse or beacon calling the whole world to the safe harbor with God.

1. The First Reading Isaiah 58:7-10:

Friday, January 27, 2017

Kingdom of the Humble Poor: 4th Sunday in OT

 

Sea of Galilee viewed from Mount of Beatitudes
Children play make-believe games in which they are royalty—kings and queens, princes and princesses—but one of the main attractions of this kind of fantasy play is the imagined wealth that goes along with it.  Who would not like to wear the finest clothes, live in the finest dwellings, dine on the best food, and be waited on hand and foot by servants?
This is our standard notion of what “royalty” involves, but in this Sunday’s readings Jesus inaugurates a new kingdom, the “kingdom of heaven,” in which the aristocrats are going to live a lifestyle completely opposite of Robin Leach’s “rich and famous.”

1. Our Reading is Zep 2:3; 3:12-13: