Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Seventh Sunday of Easter


In the provinces of Boston, Hartford, New York, Newark, Philadelphia, and Omaha, Ascension Day is observed on it's proper day, and this Sunday is observed as the Seventh Sunday of Easter.  It's a shame that so much of the country will not have a chance to meditate on these Scriptures, but perhaps even those of us living in areas where the Seventh Sunday is not celebrated can benefit by bringing these Readings to our prayer.

(If you're looking for the Ascension commentary, it's below.)

Holy Mother Church offers as an intriguing theme in these Readings: the paradoxical relationship between glory and suffering.  We find these two motifs expressed particularly in the Second Reading and Gospel.

Ascension Day!




If you are living in Nebraska or the northeastern US, then congratulations, this is Ascension Day! (The rest of the country will observe it this Sunday.) This is an unusual Solemnity, in which the “action” of the Feast Day actually takes place in the First Reading.  We typically think of all the narratives of Jesus’ life as recorded in the Gospels, overlooking that Acts records at least two important narratives about the activity of the Resurrected Lord (Acts 1:1-11; also 9:1-8).

Saturday, May 20, 2017

The Samaritan Pentecost: 6th Sunday of Easter



So we have arrived at the sixth Sunday of Easter, and Pentecost is only two weeks away!  It is hard to believe that this blessed season has traveled by so quickly.  Yet we are approaching the end, now is the time to prepare more seriously than ever to be filled anew with the Holy Spirit on this upcoming Feast. 
Our Readings for this Sunday are filled with instruction and narrative about the gift  of the Holy Spirit.  In the First Reading, we have the account of the “Samaritan Pentecost,” as the Holy Spirit falls on these much-maligned descendants of northern Israel.  In the Second Reading, Peter encourages us that, though we be maligned and persecuted in this life, we will be brought to eternal life in the Spirit with Christ.  In the Gospel, Jesus teaches us about the Spirit, who communicates to us the Life and the Love of the Father.

1.  Our First Reading is Acts 8:5-8, 14-17:

Monday, May 15, 2017

Jesus, the Advocate, and Confirmation (The Mass Readings Explained)

The video for this Sunday's Mass Readings is now out: Jesus, the Advocate, and Confirmation.

For those who subscribe, if you would like to help spread the word about this series, please be sure to Like and Share.  Thank you!



Friday, May 12, 2017

Building the New Temple: The 5th Sunday of Easter


Since the beginning of time, human beings have sought to construct buildings that would bridge the gap between the temporal and eternal, earthly and heavenly planes of existence.  These temples have taken widely differing forms in many cultures.  One of the greatest was the Jerusalem temple begun by Herod the Great (73–4 BC), an architectural marvel of the ancient world while it stood (finished in AD 66, razed in AD 70). 

The authors of the New Testament texts in this Sunday’s Readings were well familiar with Herod’s great temple, yet they were convinced that God had begun the construction new and greater dwelling place for himself in their own time, consisting not of gathered stones, but of a gathering (ekklesia) of human beings, first of whom was Jesus the Christ.  Thus, our Readings are filled with images of the building of the Church, the new sanctuary that would replace the old and continue to serve as God’s habitation on earth till the end of time.

1.  Our First Reading is Acts 6:1-7:

Monday, May 08, 2017

The Way, the Truth, and the Life (The Mass Readings Explained)

My latest video for this Sunday's Mass Readings is now out: The Way, the Truth, and the Life. 

For those who subscribe, if you would like to help spread the word about this series, please be sure to Like and Share.  Thank you!



Saturday, May 06, 2017

Good Shepherd Sunday: 4th Sunday of Easter


So we have reached the mid-point of the Easter Season and come to the Lord’s Day unofficially called “Good Shepherd Sunday,” because every year at this time we read from John 10, the famous “Good Shepherd Discourse.”   For the most part, the Readings are focused around the idea of Jesus Christ as our divine Shepherd.

Monday, May 01, 2017

The Good Shepherd and the Gate (The Mass Readings Explained)

My latest video for this Sunday's Mass Readings is now out.

For those who subscribe, if you would like to help spread the word about this series, please be sure to Like and Share.  Thank you!


Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Burning Hearts and Open Scriptures: 3rd Sunday of Easter


How do we know that Jesus was someone and something different than the numerous religious leaders or founders of religions that have appeared on the stage of world history over the centuries?  Last week, we saw one way that he is different: unlike Buddha, Mohammed, or Zarathustra, Jesus rose from the grave after his death, appearing and talking to his followers at length.  In this week’s liturgy, we examine another remarkable piece of evidence for the uniqueness of Jesus: the fact that his suffering and resurrection were strikingly foreshadowed by the sacred writings of the prophets of Israel, hundreds of years before his earthly sojourn.

The Nicene Creed stresses: “For our sake he was crucified under Pontius Pilate, he suffered death and was buried, and rose again on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures.” The inclusion of this line the most widely-used and recognized statement of the Christian faith should cause us to realize: the fact that Jesus’ Passion and Resurrection fulfilled the oracles of the prophets is central to the Gospel message.  Moreover, in the early Church, it was of considerable apologetic and evangelistic power, because no other religious or political leader could claim to have fulfilled ancient prophecies in the way that Jesus had.

1.  Our First Reading is Acts 2:14, 22-33:

Monday, April 24, 2017

The Road to Emmaus (The Mass Readings Explained)

My latest video is out on the Mass readings for this Sunday. Check it out and please Like and Share if you can. Thank you.








Thursday, April 20, 2017

Living the Life of Mercy: Readings for Divine Mercy Sunday

Behind the readings for this Sunday lies a Gospel text which is never read, but whose influence is felt and whose concepts and images serves as a link between the texts that are read.  That passage is John 19:34:

John 19:34 But one of the soldiers pierced his side with a spear, and at once there came out blood and water.  35 He who saw it has borne witness — his testimony is true, and he knows that he tells the truth — that you also may believe.

Monday, April 17, 2017

The Origins of Confession (The Mass Readings Explained)

My latest video on the Origins of Confession is now out; I hope it helps. Please Like and Share if you can - thank you.




Friday, April 14, 2017

Basking in the Glow of the Son: Easter Day


The Mass of Easter Day is one of the most joyful in the Church calendar, as the Church basks in the afterglow of the most remarkable intervention of God into human history, the resurrection of his own son. 

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

A Complete Course in Biblical Theology: Readings for the Vigil


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.

I'll proceed to point out how all these covenants appear in various forms in the seven Old Testament readings that form the backbone of the Liturgy of the Word for the Vigil.

1. The First Reading:

Christ the Priest: Reflections on the Good Friday Readings


Every year on Good Friday, we read St. John’s account of the Passion from John 18-19, together with Isaiah 52-53  and Psalm 31.

One of the themes that runs through these reading is the Priesthood of Christ.

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

See, my servant shall prosper,
he shall be raised high and greatly exalted.
Even as many were amazed at him
so marred was his look beyond human semblance
and his appearance beyond that of the sons of man
so shall he startle many nations,
because of him kings shall stand speechless;
for those who have not been told shall see,
those who have not heard shall ponder it.

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

The Blood and Water from the Side of Christ

Catholic Productions has made my latest video -- looking at the Blood and Water from the Side of Christ -- available for all to view on their blog. I hope it helps, in particular for Good Friday. Be sure to share with friends and family. God bless!



Monday, April 10, 2017

The Easter Vigil (The Mass Readings Explained)

My latest video for this weekend is now out.  Also, a forthcoming video coming out today or tomorrow on The Blood and Water from the Side of Christ will be made available for everyone.  May God Bless your Holy Week.



The Readings for Holy Thursday


In a few days we will 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:

Thursday, April 06, 2017

New Book on the Resurrection



Jeff Morrow, a good friend of the Sacred Page, has just released a book on the resurrection!  Together with Brant Pitre's The Case for Jesus, this would make excellent reading for high school and college courses on the New Testament! Here's the book.

Wednesday, April 05, 2017

The Bipolar Crowds: Readings for Palm/Passion Sunday



This Sunday’s readings might seem bipolar or schizophrenic.  We begin Mass with exultant cheering as we relive Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem.  We end the Readings on an note of solemn silence, unable to process the reality of one of the most egregious abuses of judicial process and power in human history, in which the only innocent man ever to live is executed.  What does it all mean?

Monday, April 03, 2017