Thursday, September 21, 2017

Is God Fair? Readings for 25th Sunday of OT


The Gospel Reading for this Lord’s Day raises the issue of the
fairness of God.  Jesus, being a good teacher, wants his students to think.  He teaches in parables that—on the one hand—do indeed communicate truth and answer questions, but—on the other—do raise new, puzzling questions that require the student (disciple means student, after all) to think. 

1.  Our First Reading emphasizes the distance between God’s perspective and ours:

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

What Aquinas Would Give For A Copy of Chrysostom's Commentary on Matthew

Happy Feast Day of St. John Chrysostom! 

Chrysostom was one of Thomas Aquinas' favorite commentators on Scripture. 

In fact, the following story was told at the inquiry for his canonization in 1319. Accounts of this episode can be found in different forms in some of the earliest accounts of Aquinas' life.  
"Once Thomas was returning to Paris from St. Denis with a number of brethren, and when the city came into view they sat down to rest a while. And one of the company, turning to Thomas, said: 'Father, what a fine city Paris is!' 'Very fine,' answered Thomas. I wish it were yours,' said the other; to which Thomas replied, 'Why, what would I do with it?' 'You would sell it to the king of France, and with the money you would build houses for Friar Preachers.' 'Well,' said Thomas, 'I would rather have Chrysostom on Matthew.' This story, the witness said, he had from—among others—brother Nicholas Malasorte of Naples, who had been an advisor to the French king and a particular friend and pupil of his own; he told it when he came on a mission from the same king of France to King Charles II of noble memory . . . ; saying that it was well known in Paris."
For more sources go here.

By the way, the episode is also mentioned in a new book I want to plug by Romanus Cessario, O.P. and Cajetan Cuddy, O.P., entitled, Thomas and the Thomists: The Achievement of Thomas Aquinas and His Interpreters (Minneapolis: Fortress, 2017). 

You need this short but important little book!

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Forgiveness: The 24th Sunday in OT

 


The Readings for this Lord’s Day are unified around the theme of forgiveness.  We begin and end with the words of “Jesus” on this topic: the First Reading records the words of Jesus, son of Sira, and the Gospel records the words of Jesus, Son of God.

One of the last books of the Christian Old Testament to be written, Sirach (also known as Ben Sira or Ecclesiasticus) often seems to anticipate the teachings of Christ himself:

1. Reading 1 Sir 27:30-28:7:

Stylistic Differences between Mark and Luke

Yesterday in my Luke-Acts course at the Augustine Institute we examined some of the stylistic differences between the Gospels of Mark and Luke.

As is well known, Luke seems to smooth out some of the features of Mark.

I thought this might make for a brief but interesting blog post. Here are some examples - obviously, much more could be said!

Luke's Smoother Renderings of Awkward Constructions

Mark's Greek can be a bit awkward in places. Luke's expressions are a bit easier to read. 

For example, 
  • Mark 2:7: “Who can forgive sins except one, God?” (literal; likely alluding to the Shema)
  • Luke 5:21: “Who can forgive sins but God alone?

Monday, September 11, 2017

The Parable of the Merciless Servant (The Mass Readings Explained)

The video for this Sunday is now out.  Please like and share with your friends for all of you who are subscribed if you'd like to help us spread the word about this series.  Thanks!





Friday, September 08, 2017

Hoffmann on Why God's Love Makes 'Sin' Possible

"The specifically Christian core of sin is grasped only when sin is conceived as the rejection of the call to that sonship whose innermost nature consists in being the continuation of Christ’s eternal sonship within the realm of creation, which is the 'other' that stands over against God. Sin means the refusal of the grace of allowing the creaturely 'I' to become the earthly abode of the trinitarian act whereby Father and Son turn toward one another. From this it becomes evident that man is not capable of 'sinning' in this way all on his own. In the sense of revelation, 'sin' becomes a possibility—to put it quite crudely for the sake of clarity—only on account of God’s paternal love for man, which opens wide to man down to its most intimate depth."

--Father Norbert Hoffmann, "Atonement and the Ontological Coherence Between the Trinity and the Cross," in Towards a Civilization of Love (San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 1985), 241. 

Thursday, September 07, 2017

Watchman on the Walls: Readings for the 23rd Sunday of OT

 
I don’t like personal conflict.  I try to avoid it as much as possible.  Probably most Americans do.  I’m not sure what it’s like in other cultures, although I’ve heard of others where open social confrontation is more common.

This Sunday’s readings deal with situations in which Christians have a duty to confront one another.  They don’t make for comfortable reading in a culture that puts a high value on keeping the peace and minding one’s own business.

1. The First Reading is the great “Watchman” passage from the prophet Ezekiel:

Tuesday, September 05, 2017

Harnack on Luke's Paul vs. the "Paul of the Epistles"

As I continue to teach Luke-Acts this semester at the Augustine Institute, I'm working through various issues related to the study of that corpus.

This week in class we tacked the question of whether the author of Luke-Acts is indeed the same Luke mentioned by Paul in his letters (cf. Phlm 24; cf. Col 4:14; 2 Tim 4:11).

Of course, one of the arguments many have found compelling against such an identification is that the Paul of Acts seems different from the Paul of the Epistles. For some, the differences are so pronounced it precludes the possibility that the "historical Luke" is the actual author.

Monday, September 04, 2017

Jesus and the Authority of the Church (The Mass Readings Explained)

The video for this upcoming's Sunday's Mass Readings is now out over at Catholic Productions.  Please like and share if you can.

Thank you.

Thursday, August 31, 2017

Luke's Role in Catholic Tradition

This week I taught my first class at the Augustine Institute. I'm quite impressed by the students so far.

As I mentioned, this semester I'm teaching Luke-Acts. As I prepped for the first day of the course, it struck me just how important Luke really is in Catholic tradition.

More of the New Testament is attributed to Luke than any other author; Luke-Acts comprises roughly 28% of the New Testament! That means that he wrote more of the New Testament than Paul, Matthew, and John. We often forget this.

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

The Cost of Discipleship: 22nd Sunday in OT




If last Sunday’s Readings were a soft-ball pitch, a nice high arc to knock out of the park, this Sunday’s Readings are a wicked curve ball for the Catholic preacher.  Nonetheless, while these readings aren’t the “feel good” homiletical experience of last week’s, the truths are just as important and just as “Catholic.”

We begin with a troublesome passage from the prophet Jeremiah:

Monday, August 28, 2017

Suffering and Discipleship (The Mass Readings Explained)

My latest video is now out.  I hope it is helpful for this Sunday. And, please like and share if you'd like to share this with others who may want to be aware of this series.  Thanks!



Friday, August 25, 2017

The Biblical Basis for the Papacy: 21st Sunday in OT


In terms of Catholic “preachability,” this Sunday’s Readings are a soft-ball pitch, a long high arc that every homilist ought to be able to knock out of the park.  The lectionary readings have been set up for a clear explanation of the nature of the Papacy and its basis in Scripture.

The context of the Old Testament reading should be explained.  During the lifetime of the prophet Isaiah, the royal steward of the palace, a certain Shebna, was arrogating himself by adopting royal privileges.  In particular, he was having a tomb cut for himself in the area reserved for the royal sons of David.  Like Denethor in the Return of the King (not an accidental parallel, by the way—Tolkien was a devout Catholic), he was forgetting his place as steward and confusing his role with that of the king.  As a result, the LORD sends an oracle to Shebna via Isaiah, to the effect that Shebna will be replaced in his position by a more righteous man, a certain Eliakim son of Hilkiah:

Thursday, August 24, 2017

Lost Latin Gospel Commentary Found and Made Available Public Domain!

This may be old news to some Gospel scholarship geeks, but I just came across this article this
morning: the lost Gospel commentary of Fortunatianus of Aquileia, a mid-fourth century Italian bishop, has been found and translated into English.  De Gruyter is making the English translation available in the public domain (! Thanks, De Gruyter!) here. 

Fortunatianus' commentary is fascinating for a number of reasons, as he works in Latin from a pre-Vulgate (OL or Old Latin) translation of the Gospels.  On the genealogies of Jesus in Matthew and Luke, he adopts the Levirate marriage solution to the Jacob-Heli problem, although mentions that "many" commentators prefer to see Matthew's genealogy as that of Joseph, and Luke's as that of Mary (which is my own preferred solution).  In any event, it is intriguing to watch him work through many of the well-known interpretive cruces in the Gospels at this early stage in the Church's history.




Monday, August 21, 2017

Jesus and the Jewish Roots of the Papacy (The Mass Readings Explained)

My latest video is now out.  I hope it is helpful!

This is the 1st video of the 4th quarter of this liturgical year, so now is a perfect time to subscribe if you were considering it and think these weekly videos would be helpful.

You can subscribe here for the remaining 14 videos (a mere $2.85/video for the next 14 weeks).  Thank you!


Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Who Let the Riffraff In? Readings for the 20th Sunday of OT

 
According to Wikipedia, “Riffraff is a term for the common people or hoi polloi, but with negative connotations. The term is derived from Old French ‘rif et raf’ meaning ‘one and all, every bit.’”

My ancestors are Dutch, and—like many other ethnic groups—think they're pretty special.  The typical saying is, “If yah ain’t Dutch, yah ain’t much.”

However one may assess the muchness of the Dutch in modern times, from the perspective of the people of Israel in ancient times, the Dutch were mere riffraff, nameless illiterate Germanic tribes eking out a living on the cold shoreline and humid forests of northwestern Europe.  How could such people ever enter into the fullness of God’s covenant?

The extension of God’s covenant to all the “nations” or “Gentiles” (from the Latin gentes, “races, peoples”) is the unifying theme of the Readings for Mass this weekend.

1. We begin with one of the classic passages from the second half of the Book of Isaiah that indicates a change in the covenant economy under which the people of God were living.

Monday, August 14, 2017

Jesus, the Canaanite Woman, and the Dogs (The Mass Readings Explained)

My video for this Sunday's Mass readings is now out.  Please like and share if you subscribe and want to help us spread the word about this.

Oh -- and you may want to check out Catholic Productions Facebook page throughout the day today -- I've heard they may be releasing this video for free for everyone to view in the next few hours .... :-)