Monday, March 19, 2018

Saturday, March 17, 2018

The New Covenant: The Fifth Sunday of Lent

In this Lent of Year B, we are taking a survey through the Old Testament of the great covenant moments. We have seen the Noahic covenant, the Abrahamic covenant, the Mosaic covenant, the covenant failure of Israel resulting in exile, and now finally, on this fifth week, we witness the promise of the New Covenant through the voice of the prophet Jeremiah.  In the Gospel, Jesus speaks in ominous terms about the coming suffering that will be necessary for him to undergo in order to establish that New Covenant.  

Monday, March 12, 2018

The Grain of Wheat and Jesus' "Hour" (The Mass Readings Explained)

Check out the latest video in The Mass Readings Explained series for this Sunday's Mass Readings.  The 14 day free trial is still available.  God bless.

Saturday, March 10, 2018

Parish Mission in Alexandria, LA

If you're in the Alexandria, LA, region, I'll be giving a parish mission at Our Lady of Prompt Succor parish on Tuesday-Wednesday nights this upcoming week:

Laetare Sunday Year B: The Readings

We've reached the midpoint of Lent!  Congratulations, and I hope your Lenten practices have helped you to grow closer to Jesus!

At this midway point, our Readings are filled with themes of judgement, exile, and mercy.  

Friday, March 02, 2018

Parish Mission in Geneseo NY

If you are in the Rochester NY vicinity, I'll be doing a parish mission at St. Mary's in Geneseo next week Sunday and Monday, March 11-12.  Info below:

Thursday, March 01, 2018

Jesus, the Law of God: Readings for 3rd Sunday of Lent

What is the best way to communicate law?  Written law has its limitations, because we are all familiar with the concept of the “loophole.”  There always seem to be methods of interpreting the written law in ways that run contrary to its intent.  The constitution of the United States, for example, says that the “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof,” but somehow in American jurisprudence that has morphed into “a wall of separation between church and state,” such that there are lawsuits to remove memorial crosses from government land.  

Monday, February 26, 2018

Jesus Cleanses the Temple (The Mass Readings Explained)

My latest video for this upcoming Sunday's Mass readings on the Ten Commandments and the Cleansing of the Temple is now out.  Check it out -- You can still get your 14 day trial for free.

Thursday, February 22, 2018

Premonition of Calvary: The 2nd Sunday of Lent

One week into our Lenten journey, the Readings for this weekend’s Masses focus on passages that look ahead or anticipate Christ’s self-sacrifice on Calvary, which awaits us, as it were, in the “liturgical future,” on Maundy Thursday and Good Friday.

1.  The First Readings is one of the most pivotal texts in the Old Testament, the “Calvary” of the old covenant era.  This is what the Jewish tradition calls the Aqedah, the “binding” of Isaac:

Friday, February 09, 2018

Spiritual Leprosy and Healing: The 6th Sunday of OT

In this weekend’s readings, a healed leper disobeys Jesus and spreads the news of his miraculous cure everywhere, impeding the Lord’s ministry.  Why did Jesus tell him to be quiet about the healing?  What is the role of miracles in the Jesus’ ministry, and in the life of the Church today?

1. The First Reading for this weekend’s masses was obviously chosen to provide the background for understanding leprosy as it was experienced by the Jews and other ancient peoples.

Thursday, February 01, 2018

Jesus, Healer of the Broken-Hearted: The 5th Sunday of OT

I went to a public high school in Hawaii back in the late 1980’s, and the social group I hung around with had more than its share of young cynics.  For some reason, it was cool to be morose, and one of my buddies was fond of responding to anyone’s account of some problem or difficulty that they were facing with the lovely couplet, “Well, life s***ks, then you die.”  At the time, we thought it was amusing, a kind of gallows humor, but in hindsight I regret showing any approval for such expressions of pessimism.  Life is difficult, but it neither helps nor is it virtuous to utter expressions of stoic fatalism.  The true virtue, the true courage, is to maintain hope (and also love, and joy) in the face of what can sometimes look and feel like an ocean of darkness.

This Sunday’s Readings raise the problem of the great sorrows of life, the reverses, difficulties, and especially illnesses that can seem to sap life of all joy. Yet in the Gospel, Jesus travels through Galilee relieving the ills and oppressions which have reduced so many to a life of “drudgery.”  The Readings leave us to ponder: how is it that even today, Jesus still comes to us to heal our broken-heartedness, restoring joy and hope?

The First Reading is from the Book of Job:

Thursday, January 25, 2018

Listen to the Ultimate Prophet: 4th Sunday in OT

In the Readings for this Sunday, we are following 1 Corinthians and the Gospel of Mark ad seriatim, so there is less cohesion between the Second Reading and the Gospel than on a high feast day.

Nonetheless, the Readings this week can be linked by the theme of “hearing the voice of the prophet.”

1.  The First Reading is a very famous passage from the Book of Deuteronomy that should be familiar to every Catholic student of biblical theology:

Monday, January 22, 2018

Saturday, January 20, 2018

Come Now! Readings for 3rd Sunday of OT

In my house, not everyone comes for dinner when called.  “It’s dinner time!  Come for dinner!” I’ll call up the stairs, but only a spattering of children materializes in the kitchen—maybe three or four, but where are all the others?  So I have to search the house to find them in various corners, engrossed in some activity—reading, building something, or typing something on their laptop.  They’ve ignored my summons, or didn’t “hear” it.  A wave of frustration sweeps over me, tempered by memories of having been the same way when I was their age.  Then the words pass my lips: “Drop what you’re doing and come now!”  We can’t postpone dinner indefinitely for everyone to finish their pet project before coming to eat.

“Drop what you’re doing and come now!” fairly well summarizes the urgency of the call to repentance that forms the major theme of the Readings for the Third Sunday in Ordinary Time.  The Scriptures have been chosen to emphasize the immediate response to the call of God.

We begin with a reading from the Prophet Jonah:

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Just in time for your Ash Wednesday gift giving ...

Looking for that Ash Wednesday gift for that special person who's hard to buy for?  Look no further than Ave Maria Press and my most recent book in the Basics series ... Psalm Basics for Catholics!
 It's now available for order on Amazon and other book retailers.

I use a series of stick-figure sketches to take the reader by the hand on a tour through the "plot" of the Psalms, which turns out to be the history of the Davidic Kingdom.  (For this I am indebted to Michael Barber, Singing in the Reign, and before him, G.H. Wilson's work on the redaction of the Psalter.)

I also discuss in greater depth twenty-five psalms—five from each book—that fall into the "Absolutely Must Know" category.  The famous, the unforgettable, the pivotal ones fall into this category:  Psalm 1, 2, 8, 22, 23, 51, 72, 89, 90, 100, 110, 136, and many others.  

Did I mention that Brant Pitre and Mike Aquilina say nice things about this book, which should motivate you to purchase it?  If I didn't, let me mention that.

Monday, January 15, 2018

The Call of the Disciples: "Fishers of Men" (The Mass Readings Explained)

The video for The Mass Readings Explained for this Sunday is now out.  I hope it is helpful!

Lastly, Catholic Productions still offers a 14 day free trial for all those who may be interested in subscribing.

Thursday, January 11, 2018

The Personal God who Calls Us By Name: 2nd Sunday in OT

George Lucas’ concocted an interesting religion for his Star Wars film series by combining elements of Christianity and eastern religion.  Ultimate reality, or “God,” in Star Wars turns out to be “the Force,” an impersonal power with a “dark” and “light” side, similar to the way many forms of eastern religion conceive of the divine.  So, instead of the Christian farewell “May God be with you,” Star Wars characters say, “May the Force be with you!”

Is that the ultimate nature of reality?  An impersonal force which is neither good nor evil but somehow combines both?  Or does nature ultimately come from a loving and personal Being, who created us for a relationship with Himself?

The readings for this Sunday’s Mass come down clearly in favor of the personal view of God and reality.

1. Our First Reading recounts the call of Samuel, one of Israel’s greatest prophets, the one who would ultimately anoint Israel’s greatest king, David:

Thursday, January 04, 2018

The Readings for Epiphany

The word “Epiphany” comes from two Greek words: epi, “on, upon”; and phaino, “to appear, to shine.” Therefore, the “Epiphany” refers to the divinity of Jesus “shining upon” the earth, in other words, the manifestation of his divine nature.

The use of the word “epiphany” for the revelation of divinity predates Christianity.  The Syrian (Seleucid) emperor Antiochus IV (reign 175-165 BC), the villainous tyrant of 1-2 Maccabees, named himself “Epiphanes,” because he considered himself the manifestation of divinity on earth.  His people called him “Epimanes,” which means roughly “something is pressing on the brain,” in other words, “insane.”  Antiochus eventually died in defeat; apparently mankind would need to wait for a different king to be the “Epiphany” of divinity.

The Readings for Epiphany remain the same through Years A, B, and C in the Lectionary.

1.  Our First Reading is taken from Isaiah 60:1-6: