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 .... :-)

Friday, August 11, 2017

The Still Small Voice of God: 19th Sunday in Ordinary Time

There is so much turmoil in the national and international news these days, it makes it difficult to maintain a sense of peace.  Instability in Venezuela, Syria, and the Korean Peninsula seem capable of spiraling out of control, leading to regional or international war.  Christians are targeted for elimination in various places in the Middle East, Africa, and elsewhere.  Closer to home, we witness political rhetoric becoming increasingly crass and violent, while little is done to heal the culture of our nation.  If this were not enough, all of us face the turmoil of our private lives: struggles to overcome sin in ourselves and our families; illnesses and surgeries; financial struggles; temptations against faith; discouragement and dryness in prayer.  It can feel overwhelming for the individual believer who wakes up each morning to face what seems to be an overwhelming avalanche of challenges on a personal and public level.  

The Readings for this Sunday Mass address the struggle of the believer to stay in relationship with God in the face of overwhelming distractions and threats.  In the midst of wind, waves, earthquakes, the voice of God still speaks to us.

1.  The First Reading is 1 Kgs 19:9a, 11-13a:

Monday, August 07, 2017

Jesus Walks on Water (The Mass Readings Explained)

My latest video is now out.   Hope it is helpful!  Please like and share if you can if you are subscribed and would like to help spread the word about this series.  Thank you.

Friday, August 04, 2017

The Feast of the Transfiguration

This Sunday we celebrate the Feast of the Transfiguration!  This Feast last fell on a Sunday in 2006, and won’t fall on a Sunday again until 2023.

In the first three or “synoptic” Gospels, the Transfiguration marks a pivotal point in the ministry of Jesus, the point at which he begins his “death march” to Jerusalem to suffer his Passion.  It is “the beginning of the end.”  In these three Gospels, too, the Baptism and Transfiguration are paired.  At these two events, the voice of the Father is heard from heaven, “This is my beloved son.”  In this way, the Baptism marks the beginning of Jesus’ earthly ministry, and the Transfiguration the end of it, at least in the sense that, from the Transfiguration on, the focus shifts to Jesus’ imminent atoning death. 

1. Our First Reading is Daniel 7:9-10, 13-14: