Monday, February 18, 2019

Love Your Enemies (The Mass Readings Explained)

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

Check it out below.  Thank you.

Catholic Productions' Notable Quote:

If you’ve ever fallen into any one of those sins, if you struggle with anger for example, or resentment, then you want people to love you even when you act like an enemy to them. I think that’s the context Jesus is giving us here. It’s a radical love that he’s calling for in the golden rule. It is counter-intuitive. It is not irrational; it’s super-rational, because it’s supernatural...

Thursday, February 14, 2019

The Upside Down Kingdom of God: 6th Sunday in OT


As we continue our journey through the Gospel of Luke in Ordinary Time, Jesus keeps teaching us that his kingdom, the Kingdom of God, reverses many of our expectations and stereotypes. His is a kingdom where the typical markings of “blessing”—health, wealth, prosperity, power—are doomed to woe, and the typical markings of “curse”—weakness, sickness, poverty, humiliation—are signs of happiness and rejoicing.  What is going on?  Jesus’ teaching “upsets our apple cart”, and forces us to think more deeply about who God is and who we are.  

1.  Our First Reading is from Jeremiah  17:5-8:

Monday, February 11, 2019

The Sermon on "the Plain" (The Mass Readings Explained)

This week's video is now out for The Mass Readings Explained.  Check it out below, and you can still subscribe to this series for a weekly Bible study of every Sunday's Mass Readings.

Catholic Productions Notable Quote:
In my mind, what I think’s happening here is something very significant. In the new covenant, in the teaching of Jesus from this sermon, the blessings are the curses. That’s the thing. The blessings are the curses. We don’t think of it this way. 

In other words, the way you will build up treasure not on earth but in heaven, is precisely through suffering. It’s through poverty. It’s through hunger. It’s through mourning. And it’s ultimately, above all, through persecution for the sake of the gospel. It’s through persecution for the sake of the son of man. By contrast, earthly blessings in the new covenant are dangerous. They’re spiritually dangerous.


Tuesday, February 05, 2019

Awe and Apostolate: 5th Sunday in OT


Our Readings for this Sunday combine two major themes: awe and apostolate.  Both Isaiah and Peter are awed and ashamed to find themselves in the presence of God; but both are subsequently sent out (in Greek, apostello) on mission for the Almighty.  We, too, feel our unworthiness and need of mercy in God’s presence, and also our responsibility to spread the Good News of mercy to all people.

1.  Our First Reading is Isaiah 6:1-2a, 3-8:

Monday, February 04, 2019

The Call of Simon Peter (The Mass Readings Explained)

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

Catholic Productions' Notable Quote:
So you can imagine, Peter’s probably tired (on a human level), and he’s frustrated from not having caught any fish and this carpenter comes along and says, “Well, hey, did you try the deep water? Go out into the deep water and try and put your nets down and see what happens.” So this is a test. 

Is Peter going to do the human thing which would be, “I know what I’m doing, thank you very much. We failed. Nothing, caught nothing all night. I’m not about to just go out into the water again and let down a net.” ...And yet, what does Peter say? “At your word, I will let down the nets.”


Wednesday, January 30, 2019

Why Do People Hate the "Good Person"? The 4th Sunday in OT


The Readings for this Sunday show both Jesus and Jeremiah facing opposition for speaking God’s truth to their contemporaries.  They raise interesting questions about why it is that the “good person” so often suffers at the hands of others, and offer encouragement to those who experience this suffering.

1.  Our First Reading is Jer 1:4-5, 17-19:

Monday, January 28, 2019

Jesus' First Sermon in Nazareth [Part 2] (The Mass Readings Explained)

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

Thank you.

Catholic Productions Notable Quote:

Now I don’t know about you, but whenever I see this passage…if I was sitting in the synagogue and he quoted this, I’d just be like, “Oh. That’s interesting. Naʹaman… widow of Zarʹephath… okay.” I would not rise up and want to throw him off of a hill for saying that. So if you don’t understand the crowd’s vehement response to Jesus, it’s obvious that you don’t get the allusion to those Old Testament texts that he’s quoting there. So it’s really important for us to actually go back to those Old Testament passages and look at them in context. 


Thursday, January 24, 2019

Jesus Proclaims the Jubilee: The 3rd Sunday of OT




The past three Sundays have focused on the three early “manifestations” or “epiphanies” of Jesus’ divine nature recorded in the Gospels: the Visit of the Magi, the Baptism, and the Wedding at Cana.  Now the Lectionary “settles in” to Ordinary Time, which this year involves reading through the Gospel of Luke.  This Sunday, we pick up the introduction to Luke’s Gospel (Lk 1:1-4), but then skip to the beginning of Jesus’ ministry (Luke 4:14-21) because we’ve already heard all the accounts of Jesus’ childhood and early life (Luke 1–3) during Advent, Christmas and Epiphany.

The Readings this Sunday focus on the importance of the public proclamation of God’s Word.  In the First Reading, we see Ezra, the great priest and scholar of the Law, reading the Law of Moses out loud to the people of Israel after their return from Babylonian exile.  In the Gospel, we see Jesus, our great high priest and interpreter of God’s Law, reading the promises of salvation from Isaiah to the Jews in the Synagogue of Nazareth.  In both situations, the proclamation of God’s Word is a call both to repentance and to hope for salvation.  However, in Ezra’s day, the salvation was far off; in Jesus day, He announces that the salvation is present now.

1.  Our First Reading is Neh 8:2-4a, 5-6, 8-10:

Monday, January 21, 2019

Jesus' First Sermon in Nazareth [Part 1] (The Mass Readings Explained)

This week's video is now out.  Check it out below.

Catholic Productions Notable Quote:
"Another little side note, this is why Jesus is going to get into conflict with the Pharisees so much in the gospels. Have you ever wondered why he’s always bumping heads with the Pharisees? It’s not because the Pharisees were priests. They weren’t priests either; they were laymen who mastered the scriptures and who studied the traditions of the fathers and they ran the show in the synagogues. So if Jesus’ custom was to go about preaching in the synagogues, the first people he’s going to come into conflict with aren’t the priests in the temple of Jerusalem, it’s the Pharisees, the lay people in the synagogues who were used to preaching and teaching tradition of the fathers, then Jesus steps in and he blows them all out of the water."


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: