Saturday, April 19, 2014

The Testimony of Peter and John: The Readings for Easter


Holy Mother Church offers us Readings from Scripture this Easter Sunday that comprise an elegant review and statement of the whole Gospel message.  In particular, they focus our attention on the Resurrection, the Eucharist, and the relationship between the two.

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

The Easter Vigil Readings: A Celebration of Covenant


Brant, Michael and I belong to a school of thought that sees covenant as a central concept in biblical theology, particularly Catholic biblical theology.  Such an approach has strong support in the text of Scripture and in the tradition and liturgy of the Church, and would seem to be a "no-brainer," yet there are those who oppose it and de-emphasize the significance of covenant for interpreting the Scriptures in the Church.  For that reason, it's necessary periodically to justify this approach.

When I teach biblical theology, I focus on a series of covenants which are central to the economy of salvation: the (1) Creation (or Adamic; Genesis 1-3; Hosea 6:7), (2) Noahic (David Noel Freedman preferred "Noachian"; Genesis 9), (3) Abrahamic (Genesis 15, 17, 22); (4) Mosaic (Exodus 24), (5) Davidic (2 Samuel 7; Psalm 89); and (6) New (Jeremiah 31:31; Luke 22:20).  It has always struck me, and my students, how well this overview of the divine economy accords with the readings of the lectionary of the Mass, especially the readings of the Easter Vigil.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Good Friday Homily on Jesus the Bridegroom on Zenit!






Hey, everybody, check out this Good Friday homily on Zenit News about my new book
 on the Passion of Christ: Jesus the Bridegroom: the Greatest Love Story Ever Told

Let us pray for one another as we prepare to celebrate the great day that "the Bridegroom [was] taken away" from us (Mark 2:20). 

Have a blessed Triduum.


The Good Friday Readings and the Priesthood of Christ


(Holy Thursday commentary is below; scroll down if you are looking for it.)

Every year on Good Friday, we read St. John’s account of the Passion from John 18-19.

One of the themes that runs through this reading is the Priesthood of Christ.  I’ve traced this theme through the Good Friday Readings in previous years.  Here, I repost my earlier comments with some additions, especially concerning the First Reading:

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

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Crucifixion in the Ancient World and Why Jesus Died This Way (Good Friday Post and Podcast)

Click below to listen to our special Good Friday podcast. Also be sure to come back tomorrow and Sunday for special podcasts on Holy Saturday and Easter Sunday! 



Crucifixion: History, Archaeology, and Why Jesus Died This Way (Good Friday Podcast)(Right click to download)

Today we meditate on the crucifixion of Jesus. In places around the world, images of the Christ crucified will be contemplated and venerated. Indeed, the image of the cross is quite familiar to us. It is part and parcel of Christian iconography.

Perhaps, it is too familiar.

Put frankly, the cross has in many ways been sanitized. Of course, Mel Gibson’s The Passion of the Christ (2004) offered a kind of corrective to this, depicting this form of ancient execution in gruesome detail. Indeed, this caused a great bit of controversy.

Some have even claimed that the film exaggerated the violence of Jesus’ death. For example, some complained that the scene of the scourging, a vicious punishment carried out prior to crucifixion, was unrealistic.

Such complaints reveal just how “safe” Christian art has made Jesus’ suffering. A look at ancient sources reveals that this sentence was indeed brutal. Describing the scourging of another first century man named Jesus—Jesus ben Ananias—Josephus, a first century Jewish historian, relates how his bones were “laid bare” (B.J. 6.304). (See also Goodacre's piece defending the film's depiction here).

Ancient Accounts of Crucifixion

The reality is, crucifixion was ghastly. Here I can only offer a brief treatment of the evidence. The fullest study is written by Martin Hengel.1 I’d also recommend Joe Zias’ fine overview here. In addition, be sure to check out Mark Goodacre's fine podcast on the topic.

Josephus describes crucifixion as “the most wretched of deaths” (B.J. 7.203). The second century writer Origen calls it the “utterly vile death” (Commentary on Matthew 27:22). Cicero was horrified that any Roman citizen should crucified—in fact, he wrote that even the mention of the cross was too offensive to be mentioned:
But the executioner, the veiling of the head and the very word cross‘ should be far removed not only from the person of a Roman citizen but from his thoughts, his eyes and his ears. For it is not only the actual occurrence of these things or the endurance of them, but liability to them, the expectation, indeed the very mention of them, that is unworthy of a Roman citizen and a free man. (Pro Rabirio 16)
Seneca pointed to crucifixion to make the case for suicide. He made the case that no one would fault a person facing such a death for choosing to take their own life in order to avoid having to endure such a death.
Can anyone be found who would prefer wasting away in pain dying limb by limb, or letting out his life drop by drop, rather than expiring once for all? Can any man be found willing to be fastened to the accursed tree, long sickly, already deformed, swelling with ugly weals on shoulders and chest, and drawing the breath of life amid long drawn-out agony? He would have many excuses for dying even before mounting the cross.” (Seneca, Epistle 101 to Lucilius).
(Note the implicit reference here to the effects of the scourging prior to crucifixion—the body is “already deformed” when fastened to the tree.)

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

The "Billy Graham of Scandinavia" Announces His Conversion to Catholicism

As hundreds of thousands of people in the US alone prepare to join the Catholic Church this Easter, a high-profile conversion has been rocking the largely-secular Swedish culture.  Rev. Ulf Ekman, Sweden's most prominent evangelical pastor, leader of the nation's largest mega-church, announced a few weeks ago that he has decided to become Catholic.  A full interview with a Swedish newspaper is available here.

Holy Thursday Mass of the Lord's Supper

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So we are soon to begin the Triduum, this profound reflection on three earth-shaking events which form the pillars of our salvation: Eucharist, Crucifixion, Resurrection.  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:


Saturday, April 12, 2014

Blast from the Past: Colbert vs. Ehrman

With Colbert's big new promotion in the news, I thought I'd revisit this blast from the past. I wonder if we'll see any further discussion of historical Jesus issues on The Late Show.

I, for one, certainly hope so.

Friday, April 11, 2014

E.P. Sanders' endorsement of Ben Meyer's book

I was just re-reading the introduction of E.P. Sanders' landmark book, Jesus and Judaism, and came across a quote that I had forgotten about. It concerns one of my favorite books about Jesus ever written--a book I am sad to report is often overlooked. . . though not by Sanders:
"Ben Meyer's description of The Aims of Jesus is the riches and best nuanced one that I know, and it will be necessary to return to his recent book in discussing points along the way and in the conclusion."--E.P. Sanders, Jesus and Judaism, 47
How's that for an endorsement?

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Jesus' Triumphal Entry, the Descent into Hell, and the Coming of the Messiah (Palm Sunday, Year A)


On this coming Sunday, the Church will bring us to what may be one of my favorite Masses and my favorite sets of Scripture readings in the entire liturgical year: Palm Sunday of the Passion of the Lord, popularly known simply as ‘Palm Sunday’.

With the Palm Sunday readings, the Church ushers us into the climax of the liturgical year in the celebration of Holy Week. This is the last Sunday feast before the beginning of the Triduum, which will climax in the celebration of Easter (Latin Pascha), what the Catechism calls the “feast of feasts” (CCC 1169).

As you may recall—especially if you have young children who need to be held the entire time the Gospel is being proclaimed!—this is one of the longest sets of readings in the entire liturgical year. (A word of advice: don't lock your knees :) For on this Sunday, the Church not only commemorates the Triumphal Entry of Jesus into Jerusalem six days before the Passover; she also lays before the faithful the complete account of Jesus’ Passion and death, according to one of the Synoptic Gospels (This year, Year A, it is Matthew’s account.)

Given the sheer number and length of readings for this Sunday, it should go without saying that I can’t give a full analysis of them all. (Whole books have been written just on the Passion! In fact, I just published one myself.) Instead, I simply want to focus our attention on the Jewish roots of Jesus' Triumphal Entry, and show how Jesus fulfills Zechariah's prophecy of the Messiah in his Triumphal Entry, the Last Supper, his Passion, and even his descent into Hell.

Jesus Fulfills Zechariah's Prophecy of the Coming of the Messiah
Unlike other Masses, Palm Sunday contains two proclamations of the Gospel. The first is from Matthew’s account of Jesus Triumphal Entry into Jerusalem:

Wednesday, April 02, 2014

"I'm Back!": The Raising of Lazarus, 5th Sunday of Lent



Unlike the other Gospels, John recounts only a limited number of miracles of Jesus, which he designates as “signs,” a rare term in the other Gospels.  Although John tells us of only a few miracles, he describes them in much greater depth than the other gospel writers do.  This is quite evident in this weekend’s Gospel reading, in which we get a very lengthy description of all the events surrounding the resurrection of Lazarus from the dead.

Beale on Eschatology

“[T]he apostles understood eschatology not merely as futurology but as a mindset for understanding the present within the climaxing context of redemptive history. That is, the apostles understood that they were already living in the end-times and that they were to understand their present salvation in Christ to be already an end-time reality. Every aspect of their salvation was to be conceived as eschatological in nature.

--G. K. Beale, “The Eschatological Conception of New Testament Theology,” in Eschatology in Bible and Theology: Evangelical Essays at the Dawn of a New Millennium (ed. K. E. Brower and M. W. Elliot; Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 1997), 18–19

Monday, March 31, 2014

Getting "legit" with Alexa

Following Peter Kirby's ranking of biblioblogs, I'm learning more and more about the benefits of "Alexa", a web information site. They offer a few interesting services that seem to be helpful.

Certainly knowledge is power and knowing more about how visits the site can only seem to be beneficial. I'm going to take it slow and see how things go, but if you're running a website you might really take a look at their resources.

One thing I like: I'm not a techie, but I seem to be able to figure how to use their tools. That's certainly a plus!


Sunday, March 30, 2014

TheSacredPage.com ranks #30 among biblioblogs (academic bible blogs)

Peter Kirby has released the latest rankings by traffic of academic bible blogs ("biblioblogs"). This blog comes in at #30. Not bad!

In the last ranking, we were at #52. At that time, blogging had slowed down here considerably. However, we've stepped it up here and t's nice to be back in the top 50.

Some random observations. . .

  • The #1 and #2 slots continue to be held by Jim West and Scot McKnight. Congratulations to both! 
  • 3 of the top 10 are Patheos blogs.
  • TheSacredPage.com is one of only two blogs written by Catholic academics on the list--and the only one written by Catholic academics in English.
  • Bart Ehrman's blog has fallen from #27 to out of the top 50.  
  • Nijay Gupta's fine blog has climbed to number #28 (from #45). This is one of my favorite bible blogs and I am pleased that it is getting increased traffic.
  • Another personal favorite who is on the rise is Nick Norelli, who has risen from #70 to #48. Nick is a great guy and he has a great site. It's so good to see him crack the top 50.  
  • The top 10 include both believers and skeptics. 

Thanks, Peter, for this undertaking. I find it all very interesting. And, of course, I'm thrilled that we made the top 50!

Friday, March 28, 2014

PICTURE: Pope Francis goes to confession

Just before Pope Francis heard confessions in St. Peter's Basilica, he knelt down at a confessional and asked God to forgive him, making his own confession of sins. 


To be fair, all the recent popes went to confession regularly. However I must say: it's nice to see Pope Francis doing it in public. 

Actually, I have found personally that confessing your sins--taking ownership of them by admitting them out load to another person--is extremely important. And, regardless of what you think of Catholic sacramental theology (I know many readers of this blog are not Catholic), clearly forgiveness of sins in Scripture is not something that is merely be individualistic. In the New Testament, reconciliation occurs within the ecclesial context (cf. Matt 18:15-22; John 20:21-23). Confessing your sins in the church--at least in the presence of a representative of the church who is specially trained at giving spiritual direction--is essential for true healing.

It's really great to see Pope Francis emphasizing the importance of confession by practicing it himself--no one is above it, not even the pope! (Or better put: especially, not the pope!)

Speaking Saturday, March 29th in Long Beach, CA

I posted on this before but I have some updated information. Here's how the parish is advertising the event. I think I gave the church building address in the original post on this. That was incorrect! The talk will actually be at the school hall.

Hope you can come!
"Overcoming Temptations: Learning from Jesus in the Wilderness"
Free event 
SATURDAY, MARCH 29, at 7:00 p.m.
Holy Innocents School Hall
2500 Pacific Avenue, Long Beach, CA 90806 
Dr. Michael Barber, Theology professor at John Paul the Great University in San Diego, will be speaking at Holy Innocents on SATURDAY, MARCH 29, 2014 at 7:00 p.m. 
In this special Lenten presentation, Dr. Barber will guide us in a penetrating look at the temptations of Christ in the wilderness and show us how this mystery in our Lord's earthly life can teach us and strengthen us in our own struggle against sin and temptation.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Browsing the latest journals just got a lot easier

I realize I may be a bit late on this one, but there is now a blog that follows most major academic journal in biblical studies and theology. This is a huge help. I get email notices from most of these journals when a new volume comes out, but I think this will be even easier to follow.



The Good Shepherd and True Sight: The Readings for the Fourth Sundayof Lent


The major theme of this Sunday’s readings is coming to true “sight” and being restored from the darkness of sin. This is explored in different ways. Here we will simply offer some brief thoughts on the way this motif is explored in this Sunday readings.

THE FIRST READING: 1 Samuel 16:1B, 6-7, 10-13A
The LORD said to Samuel:
“Fill your horn with oil, and be on your way.
I am sending you to Jesse of Bethlehem,
for I have chosen my king from among his sons.”
 
As Jesse and his sons came to the sacrifice,
Samuel looked at Eliab and thought,
“Surely the LORD’s anointed is here before him.”
But the LORD said to Samuel:
“Do not judge from his appearance or from his lofty stature,
because I have rejected him.
Not as man sees does God see,
because man sees the appearance
but the LORD looks into the heart.”
 
In the same way Jesse presented seven sons before Samuel,
but Samuel said to Jesse,
“The LORD has not chosen any one of these.”
Then Samuel asked Jesse,
“Are these all the sons you have?”
Jesse replied,
“There is still the youngest, who is tending the sheep.”
Samuel said to Jesse,
“Send for him;
we will not begin the sacrificial banquet until he arrives here.”
Jesse sent and had the young man brought to them.
He was ruddy, a youth handsome to behold
and making a splendid appearance.
 
The LORD said,
“There—anoint him, for this is the one!”
Then Samuel, with the horn of oil in hand,
anointed David in the presence of his brothers;
and from that day on, the spirit of the LORD rushed upon David.
A man after God’s own heart. The first reading from 1 Samuel is the biblical introduction to the figure of David, the man identified in Scripture as “a man after God’s own heart” (1 Sam. 13:14; Acts 13:22). Though David certainly sinned, David also repented and, by Jesus’ day, was basically regarded as the model of piety for ancient Israel (cf. Ps. 1; Sir. 47; Ps. 151). To be righteous is to walk in the ways of David (e.g., Sir. 48:22; 1 Kgs. 3:14; 8:25; 11:38; 2 Kgs. 22:2); to be wicked is to be unlike him (cf. Sir 49:4).

The Lord looks into the heart. In this reading David is chosen not because of his appearance—the Lord sees his true greatness, but others are not able to see it. Whereas the worldly look towards outward appearances, true greatness is found in the heart. Thus, whereas Samuel expects to anoint one of Jesse’s older sons, the Lord chooses the young man David.

Of course, God always does this in scripture. He chooses the weak to shame the proud. He chooses the unlikely as his instruments so that when his purpose is accomplished through them, it is clear: it had to be God (because the victory could have been the result of that guy—something more was at work).

By the way, there’s a lesson in humility here. God chooses the weak. If God uses us for his purposes, we can never become proud. God chooses the unlikely. If you think you’re something special because you were able to be an instrument of grace in someone’s life, don’t get full of yourself—God chooses the weak!

David as the “Messiah”. David’s anointing is linked to the coming of the Spirit. Indeed, in Catholic tradition the anointing of oil is used as a symbol of the Spirit (e.g., the sacrament of confirmation). Specifically, it is because the Spirit is upon David—not just oil, which represents the spirit—that he is “anointed”. The Hebrew word for “anointed one”, mashiyach, is where we get the term, “Messiah”. The Greek translation of this term, christos, is where, of course, we get the term, “Christ”.

In fact, David is specifically identified as “the anointed of God” (2 Sam 23:1). It is no surprise, then, that the New Testament describes David as a kind of type of Jesus. For example, psalms about David are specifically applied to Jesus (cf., e.g., Acts 2:25–36).


Sunday, March 23, 2014

Colbert on atheists against the 9-11 "cross"

Stephen Colbert did, I think, a pretty funny segment on the protest against the "cross" at the 9-11 museum being made by some atheists.



The Colbert Report
Get More: Colbert Report Full Episodes,Video Archive

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Presenting at the Paul and Judaism Conference in Houston, TX

I am very much looking forward to presenting a paper, entitled, "Cultic Theosis in Paul and Second Temple Judaism" at the big Paul and Judaism Conference this week at Houston Baptist University. The paper is co-written with my friend and colleague at JP Catholic, John Kincaid.

The conference should be a lot of fun. This should be a pretty exciting scholarly event. Other speakers include N.T. Wright (who will, of course, be speaking on his recently released book on Paul), Ross Wagner, and Beverly Gaventa.

For more information on the conference, which begins on Wednesday (March 18) and ends Thursday (March 19), go here.

Give me a Drink! The Third Sunday of Lent

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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.

Tonight I'm speaking at St. Theresa's Catholic Church in Sugarland, TX

If you're in Texas, I'll be speaking at St. Theresa's Catholic Church in Sugarland, TX, tonight, Tuesday (3/18/14) at 7pm at the school hall.

This is a Lenten talk, entitled, "How To Battle Temptations: Learning from Christ in the Wilderness".

I'm really looking forward to being there! Hope you can make it.

For more information, go here.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Living by Faith and the Transfiguration: The Readings for the Second Sunday of Lent

Trust in the Lord. That is the major theme of this week's lectionary readings. From Abraham as a model of faith, to Jesus, who tells his disciples, "Do not be afraid", this Sunday the liturgy underscores the importance of faith.

Let us look at how this motif is developed in the readings this Sunday.

FIRST READING: Genesis 12:1-4a
The LORD said to Abram:
“Go forth from the land of your kinsfolk
and from your father’s house to a land that I will show you.
“I will make of you a great nation,
and I will bless you;
I will make your name great,
so that you will be a blessing.
I will bless those who bless you
and curse those who curse you.
All the communities of the earth
shall find blessing in you.”
Abram went as the LORD directed him. 
The first reading comes from Genesis 12. This is the chapter in the Bible that really introduces the story of Abraham. Although much could be said, there are a few things to note in reference to the major theme of this Sunday's readings.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Fasting on Fridays and the Passion of Jesus the Bridegroom



Have you ever wondered? Why do Catholics fast on Good Friday? Moreover, why is it traditional to fast on the Fridays of Lent?

There are, of course, various historical and liturgical reasons for the custom of fasting. But there's also a biblical foundation for fasting on Fridays that's directly tied to the topic of my new book, Jesus the Bridegroom: the Greatest Love Story Ever Told. The connection really hit me when I went to Mass last Friday with my wife and children. 

Jesus the Bridegroom and the First Friday in Lent
Sitting there on the front pew (because that's the best seat if you have young children!), we were, like many other young families at the beginning of Lent, somewhat tired and distracted at the end of a long week. I for one was starting to get anxious about the flurry of speaking engagements and interviews that were coming up to promote the book, and also thinking hard about how to help people see why the topic was not just fascinating but spiritually relevant to their lives. And then, much to my surprise, when it came time to stand for the Friday Gospel, I heard these words:

The disciples of John approached Jesus and said, "Why do we and the Pharisees fast much, but your disciples do not fast?" Jesus answered them, "Can the wedding guests mourn as long as the Bridegroom is with them? The days will come when the Bridegroom is taken away from them, and then they will fast." (Matthew 9:14-15)

As I heard these words,  a big smile spread across my face. Any worries I may have had about the importance of the topic of the new book melted away.  My twelve-year old daughter reached over and tugged my arm, smiling and pointing up to the Gospel! (She knew my book was on Jesus the Bridegroom.) At that moment, I realized for the first time: Every year, on the very first Friday of Lent, the Church proclaims Jesus' riddle about the Bridegroom and the Wedding  Guests. Why?

For one thing, it's because this is one of Jesus' first allusions to his coming passion and death. You can see this by realizing that Jesus' mysterious response is really a parable, in which he makes three key comparisons.

Jesus' Riddle about the Sons of the Bridechamber
First, Jesus implicitly identifies himself as "the bridegroom" in order to suggest that the present, while he and his disciples are together, are like an ancient Jewish wedding feast: it's a time for celebration, not for fasting.

Second, he compares his disciples to the wedding guests--or, more literally, the "sons of the bridechamber" (Greek huioi tou nymphonos). These were basically the ancient Jewish equivalent of 'groomsmen', who--in ancient as well as modern times!--weren't exactly known for fasting. Indeed, in rabbinic tradition, both the bridegroom and the sons of the bridechamber were not obligated to perform ordinary religious duties during the seven-day Jewish wedding, including fasting.

Third and finally--and most importantly for us--Jesus is also implicitly identifying the day of his passion and death as his wedding day. He does this by speaking about the coming time "when the bridegroom is taken away from them" and how they will fast on that day (cf. Mark 2:20). 

The Jewish Bridechamber and Jesus' 'Wedding Day'
On one level this is a reference to the ancient Jewish night of consummation, when the bridegroom would leave his family and friends and enter into the "bridechamber" (Hebrew huppah) in order to be united to his bride, not to come out again until morning (see Psalm 19:4-5; Tobit 6:15-17). On a deeper level, the day that Jesus the Bridegroom is "taken away" is of course the day of his passion an death. As New Testament scholar Craig Keener puts it: "Jesus is the groom of God's people in the coming messianic banquet... The 'taking' of the bridegroom, of course, is a veiled reference to the impending crucifixion.' (Keener, Matthew, p. 300). In other words, Jesus' 'wedding day' is the day of his death. (And this isn't just a pretty metaphor. As I show in the chapter on the Crucifixion in the book, there are several striking parallels between Jesus' crucifixion and an ancient Jewish wedding day.)

Remembering the Day our Bridegroom was "Taken Away"
What does any of this have to do with fasting on Fridays in Lent, and on Good Friday above all? From a biblical perspective: the reason we fast  is because Friday is the day our Bridegroom was 'taken away' from us, and we don't ever want to forget it. In fulfillment of Jesus' words--"then they will fast"--we deny ourselves and remember the passion of the Bridegroom God of Israel, who loved us so much that he not only became man, but mounted the wood of the cross in order to save humanity from sin and be united to us in love. In the words of Pope Benedict XVI:

"In [Jesus] in an unexpected way, God and man become one, become a 'marriage', though this marriage--as Jesus subsequently points out--passes through the Cross, through the 'taking away' of the bridegroom. (Ratzinger, Jesus of Nazareth, 1, p. 252)

From this perspective, our Friday fasting and penances should not just be acts of self-denial, but sacrifices given out of love, just as the Bridegroom Messiah sacrificed himself out of love for us. We fast in memory of the one who 'loved us and gave himself for us' (cf. Galatians 2:20).

The Divine Love Story
Although many a man throughout history has compared his wedding day to his funeral; Jesus of Nazareth is the only man who ever compared his funeral to his wedding day. That is because he was no ordinary man; he was the Bridegroom God of Israel come in the flesh in to save his Bride. And his life and death on the Cross were nothing less than the center of the divine love story that is the real meaning of human history. Why else does the Bible begin with the wedding of Adam and Eve (Genesis 2-3) and end with the Wedding of Christ in the Church in the Book of Revelation (Rev 19-22)?!

 On every Friday during Lent--especially Good Friday--may his disciples remember his words about the passion--"they will fast on that day." In this way, we will truly prepare ourselves for the great Feast of Easter, when we will celebrate the Resurrection of the Bridegroom who gives himself to his Bride in every Eucharist as a foretaste of heaven--of the eternal "Wedding Supper of the Lamb" (Revelation 19:7).

Have a blessed Lent! 


Monday, March 10, 2014

Did Jabba the Hut meet St. Martha?

At St. Martha's in Murrieta leading a parish mission (see the previous post). It's a beautiful parish and a wonderful, thriving Catholic community.

The church is very beautiful. Lots of great art.

I have to highlight one piece though. Chris Mueller, the youth minister, calls this, "St. Martha in Carbonite".

Very funny.