Saturday, June 24, 2017

Fear No One: Twelfth Sunday of OT Year A

Two Sparrows Sold for a Penny

After the celebrations of Pentecost, Trinity, and Corpus Christi, this Sunday finds us transitioning back to Ordinary Time, and the transition is a bit painful.  The Readings for this Sunday shift right back into the reality of persecution in the Christian life, as we read about Jesus advising the apostles to be prepared for the opposition they will encounter as they do the work of evangelization.
You would think that following the Prince of Peace would lead to a peaceful life, but sadly that’s not how it usually works out.  Those who follow Jesus often find themselves hated, because they speak the truth and thus pose a threat to those who want to promote false ideologies.  The practice of virtue also makes the non-virtuous look bad by contrast, so virtuous people are often resented.  And finally, there is a spiritual warfare dimension: Satan and his demons will oppose everyone who chooses to follow Christ. 
In the Readings for this Sunday, we find the common theme of persecution, beginning with the prophet Jeremiah, then the ancient psalm writer, and finally Our Lord’s words to the apostles about mission.

1. Our First Reading is Jer 20:10-13:

Monday, June 19, 2017

Do Not Fear Those Who Can Kill You (The Mass Readings Explained)

Latest video his now up for The Mass Readings Explained video series.  Check it out and please Like and Share if you are already subscribed and would like to help us spread the word.


Friday, June 16, 2017

The Solemnity of Corpus Christi

This weekend is another great liturgical feast, the Solemnity of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ, otherwise known as Corpus Christi.

Corpus Christi is one of a handful of feasts that celebrates the very gift of the Eucharist itself.  It is one of my favorite feasts, because the doctrine of the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist was instrumental in my becoming Catholic.

Back in the Fall of 1999 I was reading through the Apostolic Fathers and came to this passage in Ignatius of Antioch’s Letter to the Smyrneans (c. AD 106):

Monday, June 12, 2017

The Body and Blood of Christ (The Mass Readings Explained)

My latest video for this week is out on The Body and Blood of Christ.  Please Like and Share if you'd like to share awareness of this series to friends and family.  Thanks!

Friday, June 09, 2017

Circle of Love: Readings for Trinity Sunday!

The Easter Season usually ends with a sort of “trifecta” of major feasts: Pentecost, Trinity, and Corpus Christi, as the Church celebrates the central mysteries of the faith before entering into Ordinary Time once more.

In any event, this weekend is Trinity Sunday, a meditation and celebration of the central mystery of the Christian faith, the dogma that distinguishes Christianity from all other religions.  Christians alone believe in one God, who nonetheless exists in three persons: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

Strangely, our Readings for this Sunday tend not to be classic “proof texts” for the idea that there is more than one person in the Godhead.  Instead, the readings tend to focus on the character or essence of God.  This is appropriate, because as we will see, the character of God is very different, and the meaning of salvation history as well, when one knows God to be a Trinity of persons. 

Reading 1: Exodus 34:4b-6, 8-9:

Monday, June 05, 2017

The Mystery of the Trinity (The Mass Readings Explained)

This Sunday's video is now out: The Mystery of the Trinity.

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Thursday, June 01, 2017

Is the Holy Spirit Divine in Scripture? The Mass Readings Explained (An Excerpt)

Catholic Productions released an excerpt from my video for this Sunday's Mass Readings (for Pentecost Sunday). Check it out and please be sure to Like and Share.  Thanks!

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

The Feast of Pentecost!

I highly recommend reading the commentary below on the Readings for the Vigil in preparation for the Mass of Pentecost Day.  The Readings for the Mass of the Pentecost pick up, as it were, where the Readings for the Vigil left off.

The First Reading is, finally, the account of Pentecost itself, from Acts 2:1-11.  We have already remarked on the intimate relationship between this event and Babel (Pentecost is the Un-Babel) and Sinai (Pentecost is the giving of the New Law of the New Covenant).  It is important to note that the congregation gathered around the apostles comes not only from a wide variety of nations of the earth, but also consists of “Jews and converts to Judaism.”  In other words, there are both ethnic Jews and ethnic Gentiles here: those who hear the apostles are truly a representative cross-section of humanity.

The Vigil of Pentecost!

Pentecost is a very important feast in the liturgical life of the Church, and it has it’s own vigil.  Not only so, but the Readings for the Vigil are particularly rich.  I cannot think of another that has such a wide variety of options, for example, for the First Reading.  Even though only one First Reading will be proclaimed in any given Mass, it is well worth pondering them all, in order to come to understand the significance of Pentecost more deeply:

The First Reading Options for the Vigil:

Monday, May 29, 2017

The Eucharist and Spiritual Battle

The guys over at Catholic Productions posted a video on their blog that I recently gave at a men's retreat.  I hope it proves helpful!

Pentecost and Speaking in Tongues (The Mass Readings Explained)

The video for this Sunday's Mass Readings is now out: Pentecost and Speaking in Tongues.

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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.

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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: