Wednesday, July 31, 2013

"Pericope": A helpful term in Gospel studies?

Mark Goodacre has an interesting discussion up on the use of the term "pericope". I think he's right. Let's abandon it.

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Church of the Poor: The 18th Week of OT



“How I long for a poor Church for the poor!”


These were some of the first words of Pope Francis’ pontificate, and the Readings this week seem providentially to support our new pontiff’s emphasis on the spiritual value of poverty.  Texts from the Old and New Testaments remind us that human happiness is not to be found in the accumulation of material goods.  Riches are fleeting and empty.  We are called instead to “store up treasure in heaven, where neither rust nor moth destroy, where thieves cannot break in and steal.”


1.  Our First Reading is Ecc 1:2; 2:21-23:


Vanity of vanities, says Qoheleth,
vanity of vanities! All things are vanity!

Here is one who has labored with wisdom and knowledge and skill,
and yet to another who has not labored over it,
he must leave property.
This also is vanity and a great misfortune.
For what profit comes to man from all the toil and anxiety of heart
with which he has labored under the sun?
All his days sorrow and grief are his occupation;
even at night his mind is not at rest.
This also is vanity.

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Stunning Picture of 3 Million People at World Youth Day Closing Mass

This is just stunning.

From the AP:
Speaking from a white stage on the sands of Copacabana on Sunday, Francis urged a crowd estimated at 3 million people to go out and spread their faith "to the fringes of society, even to those who seem farthest away, most indifferent."  
"The church needs you, your enthusiasm, your creativity and the joy that is so characteristic of you!" he said to applause in his final homily of World Youth Day festivities.
Later Sunday, he issued a more pointed message to the region's bishops, telling them to better look out for their flocks and put an end to the "clerical" culture that places priests on pedestals - often with what Francis called the "sinful complicity" of lay Catholics who hold the clergy in such high esteem.  
... 
Nearly the entire 4-kilometer-long (2.5 mile) Copacabana beach overflowed Sunday with flag-waving faithful, some of them taking an early morning dip in the Atlantic and others tossing T-shirts, flags and soccer jerseys into the pontiff's open-sided car as he drove by. Even the normally stern-faced Vatican bodyguards let smiles slip as they jogged alongside Francis' car, caught up in the enthusiasm of the crowd.
... 
The Vatican said more than 3 million people were on hand for the Mass, based on information from World Youth Day organizers and local authorities who estimated two-thirds were from outside Rio. That was far higher than the 1 million at the last World Youth Day in Madrid in 2011 or the 850,000 at Toronto's 2002 concluding Mass. Only Pope John Paul II's Mass during his 1995 visit to Manila, the capital of the Philippines, topped Rio's numbers, with an estimated 5 million people taking part.  
Third place among papal Masses now goes to Rome's World Youth Day in the 2000 Jubilee year, when 2 million people participated. A similar number attended John Paul's final Mass in Krakow, his Polish hometown, in 1979, during his first visit to his homeland as pope. As if recalling that historic Mass, Francis announced Sunday that the next World Youth Day would be held in Krakow in 2016...
[source]


Friday, July 26, 2013

Bargaining With God: The 17th Sunday in Ordinary Time




With the Bible Conference going on at Franciscan this week, I have to offer a shorter reflection on the Readings:

Who has the guts to bargain with the Divinity?  Abraham, our Father in , does.  In the Readings for this Sunday, we find united several themes: persistence in prayer, the justice and mercy of God, the generosity of God.

1.  Our First Reading is Gn 18:20-3:

Friday, July 19, 2013

TREND: Young evangelicals becoming Catholics or joining other "High Church" traditions

Everywhere I go these days I'm running into young converts to Catholicism.

Just last month my wife and I had the awesome honor of being godparents at the baptism of a former evangelical, a young woman in her mid-twenties whose love for the Lord has inspired us both.

A week later we went to the wedding of another young man we know who came into the Catholic Church a few years back.

Back when my wife and I were at Fuller we knew others who were on a similar track. One of the major highlights was when my wife had the great privilege of sponsoring a classmate into the Church.

Now there's an interesting piece on "The Christian Pundit".
A friend of mine attended a Christian college where almost all of the students, including her, grew up in non-denominational, evangelical Protestant churches. A few years after graduation, she is the only person in her graduating class who is not Roman Catholic, high Anglican or Lutheran...
... 
Young Christians are going over to Catholicism and high Anglicanism/Lutheranism in droves, despite growing up in low Protestant churches that told them about Jesus. It’s a trend that is growing, and it looks like it might go that way for a while...
... 
The kids who leave evangelical Protestantism are looking for something the world can’t give them. The world can give them hotter jeans, better coffee, bands, speakers, and book clubs than a congregation can. What it can’t give them is theology; membership in a group that transcends time, place and race; a historic rootedness; something greater than themselves; ordained men who will be spiritual leaders and not merely listeners and buddies and story-tellers. What the kids leaving generic evangelicalism seem to want is something the world can never give them–a holy Father who demands reverence, a Saviour who requires careful worship, and a Spirit who must be obeyed. They are looking for true, deep, intellectually robust spirituality in their parents’ churches and not finding it. 
But not all kids who grew up in American evangelicalism are jumping off into high church rite and sacrament: congregations that carefully teach robust, historic Protestant theology to their children are notably not losing them to the Vatican, or even Lambeth...
... 
“He cannot have God as his Father who does not have the church for his Mother,” said Cyprian, nearly two millennia ago. Perhaps if Protestant churches began acting more like dutiful mothers instead of fun babysitters, there would be fewer youth leaving their ecclesiastical homes as soon as they are out of the house.
Read the whole thing here.

Entertaining God: The 16th Sunday of OT



This Sunday, as we continue to accompany Jesus on his fateful journey to Jerusalem in the Gospel of Luke, we are confronted with a pair of Readings in which human beings host a meal for God: Abraham for the LORD in the First Reading; Martha and Mary for Jesus in the Gospel.  But is it really possible for us to “do God a favor” by giving him a nice meal?  We are going to discover that, while God graciously accepts our services, it’s really about what God does for us, not what we can do for him.

1.  The First Reading is Gn 18:1-10a:

Thursday, July 18, 2013

A Palace of King David Found?

The Israel Antiquities Authority is reporting the finding of a palace probably built by and for King David in the hill country of Judah, in a location known as Khirbet Qeiyafah, identified as the biblical city Sha'arayim.  One of the articles announcing the discovery can be read here.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Won't You Be My Neighbor? The 15th Sunday of OT

Fred Rogers used to sing at the opening of his classic children’s show:

It's a beautiful day in this neighborhood
A beautiful day for a neighbor
Would you be mine? Could you be mine? …
Won't you be my neighbor?
Won't you please, won't you please?
 Please won't you be my neighbor?

Fred Rogers was a highly theological educated man, an ordained Presbyterian minister who also gave generous grants to St. Vincent’s College and Seminary (Roman Catholic) in Latrobe, Pennsylvania.  I think he was well aware of the theological significance of the concept of “neighbor,” which we will explore through the Readings for this Sunday.

This Sunday Jesus issues us a strong challenge to break down the barriers and prejudices that prevent us from showing love to other human beings.  Jesus’ teaching is in continuity with the best synthesis of the moral instruction of the Old Testament and Judaism, which views every human being as a “neighbor.”

1.  The First Reading is Dt 30:10-14:

Saturday, July 06, 2013

My interview on KUSI San Diego on the Canonization of Popes John Paul II and John XXIII

Overall, I think they did a great job. I did specifically say that the advocatus diaboli ("devil's advocate") is no longer an official term used--that caveat was edited out. Still, I appreciate the opportunity they gave me to explain the Catholic understanding of saints and to talk about two great popes. Steve Bosh was a real pro.


KUSI.com - KUSI News - San Diego CA - News, Weather, PPR

Gathering the New Jerusalem: 14th Sunday of O.T.

 
In the Readings for this Sunday, Jesus continues his final journey, his fateful "death march" toward Jerusalem (Luke 9–19, the "Travel Narrative") that began formally in Luke 9:51.  The past several Sundays have foreshadowed Jesus' coming suffering and death, but this Sunday we get a reprieve as themes of suffering recede into the background.  We are temporarily caught up in the joy of Jesus' ministry, as he assembles around himself a congregation of disciples who constitute a spiritual "Jerusalem."  In the healing ministry of Jesus and his disciples, we see a fulfillment of certain prophecies of peace and restoration to the "holy city" of the LORD.

1. The First Reading is Is 66:10-14c:

Friday, July 05, 2013

My New Book: "Four Views on the Role of Good Works" with Dunn, Schreiner, and Wilkin

Today I received the first case of a new book I'm quite excited about.

Four Views on the Role of Good Works at the Last Judgment (Zondervan).

The four perspectives are written by James D.G. Dunn, Tom Schreiner, Robert Wilkin, and myself. The volume was expertly edited by Alan Stanley.

You can order a copy here.