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

Monday, December 19, 2016

Friday, December 16, 2016

Letting God In: The 4th Sunday of Advent


As Christians, we tend to assume that the idea of God coming into ones’ life is always an attractive concept.  However, that’s a bit naïve.  Having the almighty creator of the universe come into one’s reality could also be an upsetting prospect.  When doing evangelism, I have encountered people who understood the concept of “letting Jesus into your life” very well, but didn’t want that to happen, because it might upset the apple cart, so to speak.  A God living within you might want to change things.  He might want to take over.  Are we ready for that?

In this Sunday’s Readings, we encounter situations in which people found the “invasion” of God into their lives a little bit distressing.  The Readings remind us that Jesus is not a passive presence within us.  He is a meek and humble babe, yes: but also a challenging Lord.

1.  The First Reading is from Is 7:10-14:

Monday, December 12, 2016

The 4th Sunday in Advent: Born of the Virgin Mary (The Mass Readings Explained)

Catholic Productions just released my latest video on the 4th Sunday of Advent's readings, "Born of the Virgin Mary."  I hope it helps, and please be sure to Like and Share!


Thursday, December 08, 2016

Waiting While Everything Goes Wrong: 3rd Sunday of Advent


(I apologize that last week I was sick and unable to post on the Second Week of Advent.)

I always take consolation from the example of saints who faced death in the middle of a historical situation that offered little in the way of hope.  Three in particular come to mind: St. Augustine died with the Arian Goths surrounding Hippo in what looked like the end for Western Christian civilization.  St. Thomas More was executed at a time when it looked like all was lost for the Church in England.  St. Maximillian Kolbe was killed when it looked like German Fascism was going to triumph over Christianity in Europe. All these men kept their faith in a moment when faith seemed impossible.

It’s hard to wait for salvation, especially when everything around you seems to be getting worse, not better.  That was the case for two figures that we encounter in this Sunday’s readings: Isaiah and John the Baptist.  Together, these two prophets teach us how to wait with faith and courage, even when the winds of history seem to be thrashing us and threatening to collapse everything around our ears.

1.  Our First Reading is Is 35:1-6a, 10:

Monday, December 05, 2016

The 3rd Sunday in Advent: John the Baptist and the Coming of God (The Mass Readings Explained)

My latest video is out over at Catholic Productions for the 3rd Sunday of Advent.  You can access it with your subscription by clicking on the top video still frame.  They have also put out an excerpt from it on their new blog at the bottom still frame.

Thanks and please Like and Share!