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.
And, please like and Share!  Thank you!



Tuesday, August 02, 2016

Always Prepared: Readings for the 19th Sunday in OT


My father once served as the chaplain for the U.S. Coast Guard Academy in New London, Connecticut.  (U.S. Navy chaplains also serve the Marines and the Coast Guard).  I have fond memories of that beautiful seaside city.  In any event, perhaps the only bit of Coast Guard culture that I absorbed during my dad’s tour of duty was the motto: Semper Paratus, “Always Prepared,” which seems an appropriate summation of the theme of this Sunday’s Readings, which stress vigilance in the Christian life.  In fact, these Readings feel like something we might get in November, closer to the Solemnity of Christ the King, but here they are coming to us in the middle of Ordinary Time.  Yet perhaps that’s appropriate, because it is not just at the end of our lives (or the liturgical year) that we need to be vigilant, but at all times—even and especially when its literally or metaphorically “summertime, and the livin’ is easy …”

1.  Our First Reading is Wisdom 18:6-9:

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

The Rich Fool and the Danger of Wealth: The Mass Readings Explained (The Eighteenth 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.

And, please Like and Share!  Thanks!


Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Wealth and Poverty: The 18th Sunday of OT



“How I long for a poor Church for the poor!”

These were some of the first words of Pope Francis’ pontificate, and the Readings this week support the Pope’s emphasis on the spiritual value of poverty.  Texts from the Old and New Testaments remind us that human happiness is not to be found in the accumulation of material goods.  Riches are fleeting and empty.  We are called instead to “store up treasure in heaven, where neither rust nor moth destroy, where thieves cannot break in and steal.”

1.  Our First Reading is Ecc 1:2; 2:21-23:

Monday, July 25, 2016

Scepter Releases Pocket Catholic NT

There have been at least a dozen times that Pope Francis has urged Catholics to carry a NT with them, and Scepter Press has just helped fulfill that call by producing a high-quality RSVCE translation of the NT in a handy pocket-sized format.  Before this, the only similar NT available was the old Confraternity edition, the precursor of the NAB.  It was pretty good, but I'm sure most Catholic readers of the NT would like a more up-to-date translation.  This edition can be purchased from Scepter Publishers here.  Stuart Dunn has a good review of it over on his blog.

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Jesus Teaches Us How To Pray: The Mass Readings Explained (The Seventeenth Sunday in Ordinary Time)

My latest video on this Sunday's Mass readings is now available.  I hope it helps!

And, please Like and Share!  Thanks!


Haggling With God: 17th Sunday in Ordinary Time

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Who has the guts to bargain with the Divinity?  Abraham, the father of the Israel, does.  In the Readings for this Sunday, we find united several themes: persistence in prayer, the justice and mercy of God, the generosity of God.

1.  Our First Reading is Gn 18:20-3:

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

The Myth of the Council of Jamnia and the Origin of the Bible

Check out my latest video with the guys at Catholic Productions on "The Myth of the Council of Jamnia and the Origin of the Bible."  I hope this helps!

Please Like and Share!  Thanks!


Thursday, July 14, 2016

Martha, Mary and the One Thing Necessary: The Mass Readings Explained (The Sixteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time)

The guys at Catholic Productions just released my latest video for this Sunday's Mass readings.  Check it out after reading John's commentary below.

And, please Like and Share!  Thanks!


Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Entertaining God: The 16th Sunday of OT




This Sunday, as we continue to accompany Jesus on his fateful journey to Jerusalem in the Gospel of Luke, we are confronted with a pair of Readings in which human beings host a meal for God: Abraham for the LORD in the First Reading; Martha and Mary for Jesus in the Gospel.  But is it really possible for us to “do God a favor” by giving him a nice meal?  We are going to discover that, while God graciously accepts our services, it’s really about what God does for us, not what we can do for him.

1.  The First Reading is Gn 18:1-10a:

Thursday, July 07, 2016

The Jewish Roots of the Merciful Samaritan: The Mass Readings Explained (The Fifteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time)

While I'm not as clever with the titles as John apparently is(!), after you check out his post below,  I hope my video may be of help to you as well.   And, if you can, please Like and Share!  Thanks!


Won't You Be My Neighbor? The 15th Sunday of OT

Fred Rogers used to sing at the opening of his classic children’s show:

It's a beautiful day in this neighborhood
A beautiful day for a neighbor
Would you be mine? Could you be mine? …
Won't you be my neighbor?
Won't you please, won't you please?
 Please won't you be my neighbor?


Fred Rogers was a highly theological educated man, an ordained Presbyterian minister who also gave generous grants to St. Vincent’s College and Seminary (Roman Catholic) in Latrobe, Pennsylvania.  I think he was well aware of the theological significance of the concept of “neighbor,” which we will explore through the Readings for this Sunday.

This Sunday Jesus issues us a strong challenge to break down the barriers and prejudices that prevent us from showing love to other human beings.  Jesus’ teaching is in continuity with the best synthesis of the moral instruction of the Old Testament and Judaism, which views every human being as a “neighbor.”

1.  The First Reading is Dt 30:10-14:

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

The Mysterious 70 (or 72?) Disciples: The Mass Readings Explained (The Fourteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time)

Check out John's commentary on this Sunday's Mass readings below and then check out my supplemental video.  I hope it helps!

If you can kindly Like and Share, it would be greatly appreciated!  Thanks!