Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Burning Hearts and Open Scriptures: 3rd Sunday of Easter


How do we know that Jesus was someone and something different than the numerous religious leaders or founders of religions that have appeared on the stage of world history over the centuries?  Last week, we saw one way that he is different: unlike Buddha, Mohammed, or Zarathustra, Jesus rose from the grave after his death, appearing and talking to his followers at length.  In this week’s liturgy, we examine another remarkable piece of evidence for the uniqueness of Jesus: the fact that his suffering and resurrection were strikingly foreshadowed by the sacred writings of the prophets of Israel, hundreds of years before his earthly sojourn.

The Nicene Creed stresses: “For our sake he was crucified under Pontius Pilate, he suffered death and was buried, and rose again on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures.” The inclusion of this line the most widely-used and recognized statement of the Christian faith should cause us to realize: the fact that Jesus’ Passion and Resurrection fulfilled the oracles of the prophets is central to the Gospel message.  Moreover, in the early Church, it was of considerable apologetic and evangelistic power, because no other religious or political leader could claim to have fulfilled ancient prophecies in the way that Jesus had.

1.  Our First Reading is Acts 2:14, 22-33:

Monday, April 24, 2017

The Road to Emmaus (The Mass Readings Explained)

My latest video is out on the Mass readings for this Sunday. Check it out and please Like and Share if you can. Thank you.








Thursday, April 20, 2017

Living the Life of Mercy: Readings for Divine Mercy Sunday

Behind the readings for this Sunday lies a Gospel text which is never read, but whose influence is felt and whose concepts and images serves as a link between the texts that are read.  That passage is John 19:34:

John 19:34 But one of the soldiers pierced his side with a spear, and at once there came out blood and water.  35 He who saw it has borne witness — his testimony is true, and he knows that he tells the truth — that you also may believe.

Monday, April 17, 2017

The Origins of Confession (The Mass Readings Explained)

My latest video on the Origins of Confession is now out; I hope it helps. Please Like and Share if you can - thank you.




Friday, April 14, 2017

Basking in the Glow of the Son: Easter Day


The Mass of Easter Day is one of the most joyful in the Church calendar, as the Church basks in the afterglow of the most remarkable intervention of God into human history, the resurrection of his own son. 

1.  The First Reading is Acts 10:34a, 37-43:

A Complete Course in Biblical Theology: Readings for the Vigil


When I teach biblical theology, I focus on a series of covenants which are central to the economy of salvation: the (1) Creation (or Adamic; Genesis 1-3; Hosea 6:7), (2) Noahic (David Noel Freedman preferred "Noachian"; Genesis 9), (3) Abrahamic (Genesis 15, 17, 22); (4) Mosaic (Exodus 24), (5) Davidic (2 Samuel 7; Psalm 89); and (6) New (Jeremiah 31:31; Luke 22:20).  It has always struck me, and my students, how well this overview of the divine economy accords with the readings of the lectionary of the Mass, especially the readings of the Easter Vigil.

I'll proceed to point out how all these covenants appear in various forms in the seven Old Testament readings that form the backbone of the Liturgy of the Word for the Vigil.

1. The First Reading:

Christ the Priest: Reflections on the Good Friday Readings


Every year on Good Friday, we read St. John’s account of the Passion from John 18-19, together with Isaiah 52-53  and Psalm 31.

One of the themes that runs through these reading is the Priesthood of Christ.

1. There is priestly language already in the First Reading, from Isaiah 52 & 53, the famous “Suffering Servant” Song:

See, my servant shall prosper,
he shall be raised high and greatly exalted.
Even as many were amazed at him
so marred was his look beyond human semblance
and his appearance beyond that of the sons of man
so shall he startle many nations,
because of him kings shall stand speechless;
for those who have not been told shall see,
those who have not heard shall ponder it.

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

The Blood and Water from the Side of Christ

Catholic Productions has made my latest video -- looking at the Blood and Water from the Side of Christ -- available for all to view on their blog. I hope it helps, in particular for Good Friday. Be sure to share with friends and family. God bless!



Monday, April 10, 2017

The Easter Vigil (The Mass Readings Explained)

My latest video for this weekend is now out.  Also, a forthcoming video coming out today or tomorrow on The Blood and Water from the Side of Christ will be made available for everyone.  May God Bless your Holy Week.



The Readings for Holy Thursday


In a few days we will begin the Triduum, this profound reflection on three earth-shaking events which form the pillars of our salvation: Eucharist, Crucifixion, Resurrection.  The Readings for the Holy Thursday Mass focus on the continuity between the ancient Jewish Passover and the institution of the Eucharist.  As the Passover was the meal that marked the transition from slavery to Egypt to the freedom of the Exodus, so the Eucharist is the meal that marks the transition from slavery to sin to the glorious freedom of the children of God.

1.  Our First Reading is from Ex 12:1-8, 11-14:

Thursday, April 06, 2017

New Book on the Resurrection



Jeff Morrow, a good friend of the Sacred Page, has just released a book on the resurrection!  Together with Brant Pitre's The Case for Jesus, this would make excellent reading for high school and college courses on the New Testament! Here's the book.

Wednesday, April 05, 2017

The Bipolar Crowds: Readings for Palm/Passion Sunday



This Sunday’s readings might seem bipolar or schizophrenic.  We begin Mass with exultant cheering as we relive Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem.  We end the Readings on an note of solemn silence, unable to process the reality of one of the most egregious abuses of judicial process and power in human history, in which the only innocent man ever to live is executed.  What does it all mean?

Monday, April 03, 2017

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Even the Dead Obey Him: Readings for the 5th Sunday of Lent


In the season of Lent, the Gospel of John becomes very prominent, especially in Year A, the readings of which can be used in any year that a parish is doing RCIA.

Unlike the other Gospels, John recounts only a limited number of miracles of Jesus, which he designates as “signs,” a rare term in the other Gospels.  Although John tells us of only a few miracles, he describes them in much greater depth than the other gospel writers do.  This is quite evident in this weekend’s Gospel reading, in which we get a very lengthy description of all the events surrounding the resurrection of Lazarus from the dead.

Monday, March 27, 2017

Jesus Wept: The Raising of Lazarus (The Mass Readings Explained)

My latest video for this Sunday's Mass readings is now out: Jesus Wept - The Raising of Lazarus. Check it out and please Like and Share. Thanks!


Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Anointed with Light: Readings for Laetare Sunday

 
The drama increases as we progress toward Easter.  This Sunday’s readings are united by the themes of anointing and light.

The First Reading (1 Sam 16:1-13) recounts Samuel’s anointing of David as King over Israel.  Samuel journeys to Jesse of Bethlehem, and scrutinizes each of his sons in search of God’s chosen king, but to no avail.  Finally, the youngest of the eight, David, is called in from shepherding the sheep.  This at last is the future king:

Monday, March 20, 2017

Conference on Pentateuch is Epic Success

Speakers at the conference, "Paradigm Change in Pentateuchal Research," from left to right: Lina Petersen, Eckart Otto, Benjamin Kilchör, Jan Retso, Fr. Georg Fischer SJ, Richard Averbeck, Carsten Vang, Joshua Berman, Koert van Bekkum, John Bergsma, Markus Zehnder, Pekka Pitkännen, Mattias Armgardt, Guido Pfeiffer, Kenneth Bergland.  Sandra Richter participated via teleconferencing.

The international conference "Paradigm Change in Pentateuchal Research" held this past week (March 16-18) at the Staatsunabhängige Theologische Hochschule Basel (State-Independent Theological College of Basel) was a stunning success.  Bringing together scholars in Pentateuch and cognate fields (History of Law, ANE Linguistics) from around the world, the conference explored ways of interpreting the Pentateuch apart from the now-discredited Wellhausenian paradigm.  Studies in biblical intertextuality, linguistics, source criticism, hermeneutics, and the history of ANE societies tended to converge, making it possible to understand the Pentateuch as a more coherent document from an earlier period in Israel's history than has been commonly recognized in the Wellhausenian tradition and its derivatives.  Highlights were comprehensive critiques of Pentateuchal criticism as usually practiced from Georg Fischer and Richard Averbeck, a remarkable dialogue between Eckart Otto and Benjamin Kilchör on the relative dating of Deuteronomy and the Priestly materials; and innovative presentations from Lina Peterson and Sandra Richter on the historical development of Israel's language and economy, respectively, and the implications for Pentateuchal composition.

The Spit of Jesus and the Man Born Blind (The Mass Readings Explained)

My latest video on "The Spit of Jesus & the Man Born Blind" for this upcoming Sunday's Mass readings is now out! Check it out and please Like and Share. Thanks!




Thursday, March 16, 2017

The Bridegroom Messiah Suddenly Arrives: Readings for the 3rd Sunday of Lent


You know we are “picking up steam” in the season of Lent when the Lectionary starts turning to the long readings from the Gospel of John (John 4, 9, 11).  The Church turns to these texts from John at this point in the liturgical calendar, because John is, in so many ways, a mystagogical document, a gospel intended to takes us deeper into the mysteries, that is, the sacraments.

If one is not initiated into the sacraments, John remains—in many respects—a closed book.  I can attest to this from personal experience.  Although I have always loved my name-sake Gospel more than any other part of Scripture, I virtually never preached from it in while I was a Protestant pastor.  I was enthralled with the words and fascinated with the realities behind them, but wasn’t sure what the application was for texts like John 4 or John 6.  The problem lay in the fact that, as a Christian outside the visible Church, I was only partially initiated into the sacraments.  Not having experienced the sacraments, I could not recognize when Jesus was speaking of them.

Monday, March 13, 2017

Jesus and the Woman at the Well (The Mass Readings Explained)

The video for this Sunday's Mass readings is now out. I hope it is helpful! Please Like and Share! Thanks!



Wednesday, March 08, 2017

Beginning the Journey of Faith: The 2nd Sunday of Lent


This Sunday we are only eleven days into Lent, still very early along on our Lenten pilgrimage.  The readings share the theme of beginning the journey of faith, even while giving us a glimpse of our final destination.

In all three years of the lectionary cycle (A, B, C), the readings for the Second Sunday of Lent always pair a key pericope from the Abraham narrative (Gen 12-22) with an account of the Transfiguration from one of the Synoptic Gospels.  This is because, in all the Gospels, the Transfiguration marks “the beginning of the end” of Jesus’ earthly life.  After the Transfiguration, Jesus “sets his face toward Jerusalem” (Luke 9:51) and begins the “death march” toward the Holy City that will culminate in Passion Week and his crucifixion.  The Readings pair the beginning of Jesus’ journey to his death with accounts of Abraham’s life, because Abraham is remembered as the paradigmatic figure of the Old Testament who went on a “journey of faith” that culminated in the sacrifice of an “only begotten son” (see Gen 22:2 in the RSVCE2).  So Jesus and Abraham are linked as men who journeyed in faith.  Likewise, Lent is, for each one of us, a journey of faith toward greater holiness.

1. The First Reading is the famous opening of the Abraham narrative from Genesis, recounting God’s initial call to Abram while he was still in Ur:

Monday, March 06, 2017

The Mystery of the Transfiguration (The Mass Readings Explained)

My latest video for this upcoming Sunday's Mass readings now now out. Please Like and Share if you can. Thank you!




Wednesday, March 01, 2017

Ash Wednesday Readings Commentary


Welcome to Lent, Everybody!


Time for my annual commentary on the Readings:

Jesus the New Adam: Readings for the 1st Sunday of Lent




The readings for today’s Mass are exceptionally rich and could be the subject of several week’s worth of lectures, so we will have to limit ourselves today to a few central themes.

The First Reading is the account of the Fall, in which Eve, followed by Adam, gives in to temptation by eating the fruit of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil.  This Reading sets up Adam as a foil for Jesus, who will be tempted in three ways in the desert. 

1. Our First Reading is Gn 2:7-9; 3:1:

Monday, February 27, 2017

New CD Set Released

https://store.catholicproductions.com/products/the-book-of-acts?variant=
Catholic Productions has just released our set on Acts from the 2017 West Coast Biblical Conference!

The Three Temptations of Jesus (The Mass Readings Explained)

Latest video is now out on the 1st Sunday of Lent for The Mass Readings Explained. I hope it helps set the stage for great spiritual growth this Lenten season. And, please Like and Share if you can. Thanks!



Thursday, February 23, 2017

The Biblical Roots of Ash Wednesday

With Ash Wednesday upon us, we decided to shoot a video on the Biblical Roots of Ash Wednesday and the purpose of Lent. After watching it yourself, we hope you can help us spread the word through your Likes and Shares. Thank you!



Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Trusting God for All We Need: Readings for the 8th Sunday in OT


As we continue reading the Sermon on the
Mount this week, we come to the place where God assures us that he will meet our temporal needs: “seek first the kingdom and its righteousness, and all these things will be added to you as well.”  How often the saints have found this to be true, beginning as young people with nothing and often ending their lives at the head of orders or movements with amazing resources!  And yet, to take advantage of these resources for personal gain would be to lose the way, and begin worshipping a false God.  So today’s readings urge us to trust God for want we need, but never to see God and his service as a means to some other end.

1. Our First Reading is Is 49:14-15:

Monday, February 20, 2017

The Sermon on the Mount 5: Money & Anxiety (The Mass Readings Explained)

This upcoming Sunday's video, explaining the Mass Readings, is now out. Check it out and please Like and Share! Thank you.



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