Friday, January 18, 2019

The Bridegroom Revealed: The 2nd Sunday of OT


This Sunday we remain in the afterglow of Epiphany, the celebration of the “manifestation” of Jesus’ divine glory. [Greek epi – phaino = “shine upon” = “reveal, manifest.”]  Epiphany, which once was its own season (like Advent or Christmas), has often been associated with three events from the Gospels: the Magi, the Baptism, and the Wedding at Cana.  These are the first events that reveal or “manifest” Jesus’ glory in the Gospels of Matthew, Mark, and John, respectively.  Certain well-known Epiphany hymns (e.g. “Songs of Thankfulness and Praise”) make reference to all three events, and in antiquity the celebration of all three was clustered around January 6 in many rites.  Eventually, the different rites separated out the liturgical celebration of the different events and placed them on separate days. 

In Year C, the Church quite consciously offers us the Wedding at Cana for our meditation on the Sunday immediately following the Baptism.  By happy Providence, this year we are able to ponder the Magi, the Baptism, and Cana on successive Sundays.

The Readings for this Lord’s Day highlight Jesus as our spiritual bridegroom.

1. The First Reading is the same used at the Christmas Vigil, Isaiah 62:1-5:

Thursday, January 17, 2019

EXCITING ANNOUNCEMENT: An M.A. in Scripture at the Augustine Institute

I am very pleased to announce that we are launching a new M.A. in Sacred Scripture at the Augustine Institute Graduate School of Theology. We are looking to accept about three students into this rigorous program.

Those who are accepted will have access to funding for the degree. Students will learn from professors like Brant Pitre, Mark Giszczak, John Sehorn, Tim Gray, and myself in small seminar style courses taught here in beautiful Denver, CO. More information is provided in the video below. If you are a professor and have questions, please let me know. This is a special opportunity for your students interested in pursuing an academic career in biblical studies. Please help us spread the word about this exciting new program!

Tomorrow, Friday, January 17, at 3pm (EST) I will be doing a special webinar to answer any questions people might have. To join us, please contact our Director of Admission, Kathryn Murray: kathryn.gillette@augustineinstitute.org

Hope you can join us!


Monday, January 14, 2019

The Wedding at Cana (The Mass Readings Explained)

This week's video is now out on the Wedding at Cana for The Mass Readings Explained.  Check it out below.

Catholic Productions' Notable Quote:
But Jesus says something else, he says, "My hour has not yet come." So, in John's gospel, that points forward to his passion and death, the hour of the cross, the hour of his passion. And so, mysteriously, somehow Mary's words, “they have no wine,” Jesus has taken them not just to refer to the problem of the practical loss of wine, but somehow to refer to the hour of his passion and his death. Why does he go there? How does he get from "A" to "Z"? How does he get from "running out of wine" to "the hour of the cross"?


Thursday, January 10, 2019

Baptism of Our Lord




The end of the Season of Christmas arrives this Sunday, as we celebrate the event that marked the end of Jesus’ early life and the beginning of his public ministry: the Baptism.

The Christmas decorations coming down in our churches and homes inevitably leaves a feeling of sadness and nostalgia.  We don’t want to move on from meditation on all the joyful aspects of Our Lord’s early life, the incidents of wonder and mystery, like the angels singing to the shepherds, or the visit of the Magi.  Nonetheless, as we leave the Christmas Season behind, today’s readings remind us of the power of the Holy Spirit that we share with Jesus!  The very Spirit of God has been given us in our own baptisms—this Spirit has ushered us into a new world, a New Creation in which we can daily walk with God, just like Adam and Eve once walked with God in the garden in the cool of the day.

So we will look for “New Creation” themes as we work through this Sunday’s Readings.

Monday, January 07, 2019

The Baptism of the Lord (The Mass Readings Explained)

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

Catholic Productions' notable quote:

"So the reason the Church picks this passage as background to the Baptism of Jesus is because Jesus is being revealed as the beloved — not just the Son — but the beloved servant of God, in whom God’s soul takes delight, upon whom the Spirit comes and who will eventually bring this new law, this new light, not just to Israel but to the Gentiles as well. That's what he’s going to do, and the way you’ll know he's the servant … is through his miracles, right. He's going to 'open the eyes of the blind,' he’s going to bring out the 'prisoners from the dungeon.' That's exactly what Jesus is going to begin to do in his public ministry: Open people's eyes to the truth of his new law, but also literally open their eyes through his healings, and his signs, and his wonders."



Thursday, January 03, 2019

The Readings for Epiphany


The word “Epiphany” comes from two Greek words: epi, “on, upon”; and phaino, “to appear, to shine.” Therefore, the “Epiphany” refers to the divinity of Jesus “shining upon” the earth, in other words, the manifestation of his divine nature.

The use of the word “epiphany” for the revelation of divinity predates Christianity.  The Syrian (Seleucid) emperor Antiochus IV (reign 175-165 BC), the villainous tyrant of 1-2 Maccabees, named himself “Epiphanes,” because he considered himself the manifestation of divinity on earth.  His people called him “Epimanes,” which means roughly “something is pressing on the brain,” in other words, “insane.”  Antiochus eventually died in defeat; apparently mankind would need to wait for a different king to be the “Epiphany” of divinity.

1.  Our First Reading is taken from Isaiah 60:1-6:

Monday, December 31, 2018

Mary, Mother of God


January 1 is the Solemnity (Holy Day) of Mary, Mother of God.  To call Mary the “Mother of God” must not be understood as a claim for Mary’s motherhood of divinity itself, but in the sense that Mary was mother of Jesus, who is truly God.  The Council of Ephesus in 431—long before the schisms with the Eastern churches and the Protestants—proclaimed “Mother of God” a theologically correct title for Mary. 

So far from being a cause of division, the common confession of Mary as “Mother of God” should unite all Christians, and distinguish Christian orthodoxy from various confusions of it, such as Arianism (the denial that Jesus was God) or Nestorianism (in which Mary mothers only the human nature of Jesus but not his whole person).

Two themes are present in the Readings for this Solemnity: (1) the person of Mary, and (2) the name of Jesus.   Why the name of Jesus? Prior to the second Vatican Council, the octave day of Christmas was the Feast of the Holy Name, not Mary Mother of God.  The legacy of that tradition can be seen in the choice of Readings for this Solemnity.  (The Feast of the Holy Name was removed from the calendar after Vatican II; St. John Paul II restored it as an optional memorial on January 3.  This year, it will be an optional mass on Thursday.)

1.  The First Reading is Numbers 6:22-27

Epiphany: The Mystery of the Magi (The Mass Readings Explained)

This week's video is now out for the Epiphany.  Happy New Year Everyone.

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

"...[T]hink about this for a second, the star in the heavens, which is kind of like the book of creation, so the Magi are reading the book of creation and it gives them some guidance, but then the other is the city of Bethlehem which they read about in the book of the Scriptures. So these two books, the book of creation and the book of the Scriptures, need to be read together in order for the Magi to find the Christ child, in order for them to find the one who has been born, the King of the Jews. So the book of nature gets them so far, it gets them to Jerusalem, but they need the Scriptures to finally locate the true Messiah, to locate the King."



Saturday, December 29, 2018

Readings for the Feast of the Holy Family


The Sunday within the octave of Christmas is always dedicated to contemplation of the Holy Family, giving us the opportunity to meditate on the way in which the family structure, established by God and perfectly mirrored in the Holy Family, reflects His own familial nature (as Father, Son, and Spirit) and shows us the truth about ourselves and our deepest longings for love, acceptance, and communion with other persons.

The Readings for this beautiful feast provide the celebrant with two options for a set of Readings: the standard Readings for the feast (ABC): Sirach 3:2-14; Psalm 128; Col 2:12-21; and Matt 2:13-23.  Then, there are the optional alternative readings for Year C: 1 Sam 1:20-28; Ps 84 (selections); 1 John 3:1-2, 21-24; and Luke 2:41-52.  The Readings are chosen as a thematic whole, so it is best not to “mix and match” between the two sets of Readings.  [Strangely, the USCCB website provides both sets of Readings except for the Gospel, for which they give only the Year C alternative (Luke 2:41-52).]  In what follows, I will provide comments on all the Reading options, both ABC and C.  (See here for the full readings options: https://bit.ly/2BKn3Ia)

1.  The First Reading (ABC) is Sirach 3:2-6, 12-14:

Thursday, December 20, 2018

Readings for the Christmas Masses


The Christmas Solemnity has distinct readings for four separate masses:  Vigil, Midnight, Dawn, and Day.  The Readings for these Masses are stable from year to year (ABC), so my comments below are largely the same as previous years.  There’s such a wealth of material here to meditate on, that not everything can be covered.  In fact, there is almost an entire biblical theology in the sequence of readings of these four masses.  In what follows, I am going to offer just a few brief comments on the more salient points.

Christmas Vigil Mass

1. Reading 1 Is 62:1-5:

Mary, Queen Mother of the Crown Prince: The 4th Sunday of Advent




The Fourth Sunday of Advent marks a switch in focus from John the Baptist (on the previous two Sundays) to the events immediately leading up to the birth of Christ.

The Readings for this Sunday focus on Jesus’ royalty: his descent from the line of Davidic kings.  As we will see, this royal status also accrued to his mother Mary, and this is the basis for the practice of Marian veneration in the Catholic Church.  In fact, the first instance of Marian veneration by another human being takes place in this Sunday’s Gospel.

1. Our First Reading is from the prophet Micah, 5:1-4a:

Monday, December 17, 2018

The Visitation to Elizabeth (The Mass Readings Explained)

This week's video for the 4th Sunday of Advent is now out.  You can check it out below.

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

"...[S]ometimes our non-Catholic brothers and sisters, non-Catholic Christians, will say, you know, why do you Catholics give so much honor to Mary? Don't you think it's just too much? Is just too much emphasis. You're taking away from Jesus by honoring her. Not according to the Bible.

I mean notice here, who is it that inspires Elizabeth to utter these words of honor over Mary? It’s the Holy Spirit. So apparently the Holy Spirit didn't have a problem with Elizabeth blessing Mary. Same thing, it's the Holy Spirit who inspires the author of Luke's gospel, Luke, to tell us that Elizabeth was humbled in the presence of Mary. None of this takes away from Christ, it's Christ himself who makes Mary mother of the Messiah, that makes Mary mother of God. And so Elizabeth doesn't honor either Christ or Mary, she honors Mary because of Christ. It's a both and, not an either or."

Thursday, December 13, 2018

Rejoicing in the Midst of Suffering: Gaudete Sunday!


This Sunday is “Gaudete” Sunday, from the Latin gaudete, “Rejoice!” which traditionally begins the introit for this Mass, taken from Phil. 4:4.  Many parishes will mark this Sunday with rose-colored vestments (not “pink”—“pink” is not a liturgical color!), and the theme of joy runs through the readings and the liturgy. 

Gaudete Sunday marks the liturgical half-way point of Advent, and the Church rejoices because Jesus’ coming is near.  This year, since Christmas falls early in the fourth week of Advent, Gaudete Sunday falls only a little more than a week (!) (nine days, to be exact) before that holy day!

1.  Our First Reading is Zephaniah 3:14-18a:

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.