Monday, February 13, 2017

The Sermon on the Mount 4: Love Your Enemies, Be Perfect (The Mass Readings Explained)

Catholic Productions just released my latest video on this Sunday's readings.  I hope it helps and please Like and Share if you are able.  Thanks! 



Loving Those You Hate: The 7th Sunday of OT

 
The 1914 Christmas Truce of WW1
This Sunday’s Readings include some of the best known—and hardest to practice—passages from the Gospel, including Jesus famous command to “turn the other cheek.”  Biblical scholarship can only go so far in elucidating some of Jesus’ challenging commands; beyond that, we need the saints. 



1.  Our Readings start off showing the continuity between Jesus’ teachings and the Old Testament, quoting a section from Leviticus (19:1-2, 17-18):


Saturday, February 11, 2017

The Demanding Laws of Jesus: Readings for the 6th Sunday of OT

 
The “Hippie Jesus" is one of the common misunderstandings of Christ that are circulating in popular culture.  People think of Jesus as a laid back guru who traveled around Israel in this Volkswagen Vanagon, accompanied by twelve dudes in tie-died T-shirts.  Jesus taught that all we need is Love, and not to be so uptight, like all those rule-bound priests and scribes.

Of course, that view of Jesus is wrong.  People adopt it, however, because they misunderstand the nature of Jesus’ conflict with the priests, scribes, and Pharisees that dominated Jewish religious practice in his day.  Because Jesus criticizes them for the way they practice the law, people get the impression that Jesus was against law in general.  But that’s sadly wrong.  Jesus’ criticisms were leveled at the way religious authorities in his day (1) did not interpret the law properly, by allowing lesser principles (e.g. ritual purity) override larger principles (e.g. mercy and justice); (2) did not practice what they taught; and (3) employed complicated legal reasoning to avoid the ethical demands of the moral law.  

The Pharisees were not righteous people.  Rather, they were wealthy persons who used their legal training to create loopholes so they would not have to do the right thing in painful situations.  In this Sunday’s Readings, Jesus calls us to face up to the full demands of God’s moral law, without rationalizing or making excuses for ourselves.

Monday, February 06, 2017

Friday, February 03, 2017

Church, Temple, Lighthouse: The Fifth Sunday in OT

 

The Readings for this Sunday remind me of the Basilica of the Annunciation in Nazareth, which I’ve had the privilege of visiting a couple of times.  This beautiful church is built on a hillside and is easily visible from much of the modern city of Nazareth.  The architect designed the dome of the basilica to look like a lighthouse, symbolizing the light of Christ going out to all Nazareth and the rest of the Galilee region, in keeping with the theme of last week’s Gospel, “Those walking in darkness have seen a great light.”

The theme of light continues in this Sunday’s Readings, in which Jesus calls the people of God, the Church, to be a kind of lighthouse or beacon calling the whole world to the safe harbor with God.

1. The First Reading Isaiah 58:7-10:

Friday, January 27, 2017

Kingdom of the Humble Poor: 4th Sunday in OT

 

Sea of Galilee viewed from Mount of Beatitudes
Children play make-believe games in which they are royalty—kings and queens, princes and princesses—but one of the main attractions of this kind of fantasy play is the imagined wealth that goes along with it.  Who would not like to wear the finest clothes, live in the finest dwellings, dine on the best food, and be waited on hand and foot by servants?
This is our standard notion of what “royalty” involves, but in this Sunday’s readings Jesus inaugurates a new kingdom, the “kingdom of heaven,” in which the aristocrats are going to live a lifestyle completely opposite of Robin Leach’s “rich and famous.”

1. Our Reading is Zep 2:3; 3:12-13:

Monday, January 23, 2017

The Sermon on the Mount 1: The Beatitudes (The Mass Readings Explained)

The latest release in The Mass Readings Explained is now out for this upcoming Sunday's Mass Readings (4th Sunday in Ordinary Time).  I hope it helps, and please Like and Share if you can.

Thanks.





Thursday, January 19, 2017

Joy in Dropping Everything to Follow: 3rd Sunday of OT


The Readings for this Sunday focus in part on the theme of joy, the joy that comes from recognizing Jesus Christ as the light of the world, the ray of sunshine from God who shows us a different way to live, a way that will lead to an eternal friendship with a God who loves us as our Father.  Jesus is the joy and light that first was promised to the people of Israel long ago, but is now available to the whole world, from Sweden to Swaziland.

1.  Our First Reading is Isaiah 8:23-9:3:

Monday, January 16, 2017

Thursday, January 12, 2017

Afterglow of the Baptism: Readings for the 2nd Sunday of OT



The Readings for the Second Sunday of Ordinary Time this year are like a “holy hangover” from the Feasts of Epiphany and Baptism that we celebrated last week.  Traditionally, three events of our Lord’s life have been celebrated clumped together around January 6, between the Christmas season and the transition to ordinary time.  These are the arrival of the magi (Epiphany), the Baptism, and the Wedding at Cana.  These are the three events in the various Gospels that “manifest” or show forth Jesus’ glory at the beginning of his life or career: the Magi in Matthew, the Baptism in Mark and Luke, and the Wedding at Cana in John.  In the modern lectionary, the Wedding at Cana is read on the Sunday after the Baptism only in Year C.  This is Year A, and following the Baptism (which was last Monday—on years when Epiphany is observed on Jan 7 or 8, Baptism is celebrated the next day) we read the reflection on the Baptism from the mouth of John the Baptist, as recorded in the Gospel of John.  The Readings for this Mass focus on the role of Jesus as God’s definitive Servant, come to show the glory and salvation of God to the whole world.

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

New Set on History and the Bible!

Ever wonder if the Bible is really history?  Catholic Productions has just rolled out my three-hour overview of this question.  While we can't address every historical claim the Bible makes, I do point out many of the most significant historical and archeological finds that confirm key points of the Bible's narratives.  From the unearthing of St. John's "Pools of Bethesda" (John 5) to the recovering of the "Taylor Prism" with the account of Sennacherib's siege of Jerusalem (2 Kings 18-19), we come to see that the main biblical narrative is rooted in history in a way unlike the  myths and sagas of other ancient peoples.  Click here: http://bit.ly/2j7T3OR

The Gospel of Matthew: An Introduction (The Mass Readings Explained)

Catholic Productions just released the bonus video I did as part of The Mass Readings Explained series. I hope it gives some insight into the Gospel and provides a good primer as we start moving through the Gospel of Matthew with the Church each week in the liturgy. 

If you can kindly Like and Share that would great. Thank you and God Bless!




Monday, January 09, 2017

Thursday, January 05, 2017

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.

Monday, January 02, 2017

Friday, December 30, 2016

Mary, Mother of God


This Sunday is the Solemnity (Holy Day) of Mary, Mother of God, one of the more significant liturgical celebrations in the Catholic calendar.

The confession of Mary as “Mother of God” presents a stumbling block for some non-Catholic Christians, but curiously it never did for me.

I think it was back in the Fall of 1992 when I was sitting in a course in Ancient Church History at one of the best Calvinist seminaries in America.  Our professor, a devout Dutch Calvinist (like most of us students), was lecturing on the Ecumenical Council of Ephesus AD 431, the council that recognized Mary as “Theotokos,” “Mother of God” (or more literally, “Bearer of God”).  He began to address the question, Can Calvinists confess Mary as “Mother of God”?  He answered in the affirmative, granted that one understood this not as a claim for Mary’s motherhood of divinity itself, but in the sense that Mary was mother of Jesus, who is truly God.  And that, of course, is precisely how the Catholic Church understands the term.

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).

Happy feast day to all!

A brief commentary on the Readings:

Two themes are present in the Readings: (1) the person of Mary, and (2) the name of Jesus.

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

Thursday, December 29, 2016

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

The Readings for Christmas: Vigil, Midnight, Dawn, and Day


The Christmas Solemnity has distinct readings for four separate masses:  Vigil, Midnight, Dawn, and Day.  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