Monday, July 15, 2019

Jesus, Martha, and Mary (The Mass Readings Explained)

This week's video is now out for The Mass Readings Explained.  You can see the intro clip below and  sign up here to watch the full length video/see the transcript and study guide.

Catholic Productions Notable Quote:
Now what is going on exactly in this story? Most people, I think, and most homilies I’ve heard on this, will focus on Martha and Mary as kind of symbols for two aspects of the spiritual life. 

Activity, who would be represented by Martha, who’s serving, who’s doing something; and then contemplation, which is symbolized by Mary, who’s simply sitting and receiving and listening to the Lord. And as we will see in a minute when we get to the living tradition, that’s a very, very ancient interpretation. It goes all the way back to the 3rd Century A.D. with the writings of Origen of Alexandria, who is the most prolific Bible commentator among the early Church Fathers in the 3rd Century A.D., before the time of Saint Jerome. So it’s a very ancient interpretation and I don’t want to deny that interpretation. 

However, it’s important that we be precise here about exactly what’s going on because sometimes people will say, “Well Jesus rebukes Martha for being too active and he approves Mary for being contemplative”, but there’s a little bit more going on there if you look exactly what he says here.


Monday, July 08, 2019

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


Fred Rogers used to sing at the opening of his classic children’s show, Mr. Roger’s Neighborhood:

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:

The Good Samaritan (The Mass Readings Explained)

This week's video is now out for The Mass Readings Explained.  Check it out below.

Catholic Productions' Notable Quote:
Now watch, this is important. In context, the question is “Well, what does it mean when it says love your neighbor? Who does the category of ‘neighbor’ include?”

If you go back to Leviticus 19:18, the verse that is quoted by the 
doctor of the law here is 
the 2nd half of the verse: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” But if you back up and read the whole verse, listen to what it says: “You shall not take vengeance or bare any grudge against the sons of your own people, but you shall love your neighbor as yourself: I am the Lord.”

That’s Leviticus 19:18. So notice there, in context, does neighbor simply mean “the sons of your own people”? In other words, fellow Israelites. It could be interpreted in an inclusive way, meaning anyone who is a neighbor to you, or it could also be interpreted exclusively as saying, “The only neighbor who I have to love as myself are the sons of my own people.”

So there is an ambiguity there and if you read the whole text in its even broader context, it mentions your servants, it mentions the deaf, it mentions the blind, it mentions the poor and the great, and so there’s this whole question that arises: “Exactly who is my neighbor in context? Is it just the sons of my own people or is it broader than that?” And so in that context, back up to the gospel and you can understand, the lawyer here, the doctor of law, appears to be asking Jesus in a sense, “What’s your take on the exact meaning of who my neighbor is?”



Monday, July 01, 2019

Jesus, the Seventy Disciples, and the New Priesthood (The Mass Readings Explained)

This week's video for the 14th Sunday in Ordinary time is now out for The Mass Readings Explained.  Enjoy.

Catholic Productions' Notable Quote:
So if you’re Jesus and it’s the 1st Century A.D. and people are saying you’re the Messiah, and you’ve gathered not just a group of twelve around you, but also you appoint seventy other disciples around you, what are you doing? What are you saying? What’s the implication of that act? Well, it’s not just that you’re the new Moses and there’s a new Exodus, but something much more. You are setting up a priestly hierarchy of appointed leaders underneath you, not just to bring the good news to the twelve tribes of Israel, but to bring the good news to all the nations. 

So it’s an implicit act of claim of authority on Jesus’ part, it’s an implicit establishment of a priestly hierarchy on Jesus’ part, and it’s also an anticipation of the fact that the gospel’s going to go not just to the twelve tribes of Israel, but to all the nations of the world. And if you might have missed that connotation of the seventy, I bet the seventy members of the Sanhedrin (when Jesus was alive) didn’t miss the point. They would have gotten the point, because at the head of the seventy members of the Sanhedrin was the one high priest, so seventy plus one, the high priest. And Jesus isn’t a member of the seventy or the twelve, he’s above them. So he’s making himself like a new high priest.


Sunday, June 30, 2019

Gathering the New Israel: Readings for 14th Sunday of OT


(Sorry I missed last week!)
 
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:

Monday, June 24, 2019

The Cost of Discipleship (The Mass Readings Explained)

This week's video for The Mass Readings Explained is now out for the 13th Sunday of Ordinary Time on the cost of discipleship.  Enjoy!

Catholic Productions' Notable Quote:
"Now again, in a 1st Century Jewish context, it’s fascinating because both of those images, putting your hand to the plow and looking back, would echo two Old Testament passages. The first one is the call of Eli’sha, the prophet, the successor to Eli’jah, whom Eli’jah calls while he’s plowing the fields.

So here’s another Eli’jah- Eli’sha echo in this gospel reading for today. Jesus is like a new Eli’jah, calling his disciples to be like new Eli’sha’s (new prophetic successors), and just like Eli’sha was plowing the field and left if behind to follow Eli’jah, so now Jesus is saying to his disciples, even more, “Don’t even put your hand to the plow. If you do, you’re not fit to be my disciple.” And the other image is of course Lot’s wife in Genesis 19, who looks back not to Egypt, but looks back to the sinful city of Sodom in longing for what’s being lost when the city’s destroyed.

And there’s your other parallel, it’s fascinating. They’re calling down fire from heaven on the Samaritans, that’s an echo of Sodom, the image of looking back here makes you think of Lot’s wife, also an image of Sodom and Gomorrah. So Jesus here is calling for a radical detachment from past life, from past sins, but also from good things, like parents and family and land."


Tuesday, June 18, 2019

Eucharist and Priesthood: The Feast of Corpus Christi


I love the early summer liturgical “trifecta” of Pentecost, Trinity, and Corpus Christi, forming a kind of “encore” to the joyful Easter Season focusing in succession on three fundamental realities of the Christian life: the Church, the Triune Godhead, and the Eucharist.  This “trifecta” comes to an end this week with the celebration of the Body and Blood of Christ.

The Readings for this Solemnity obviously focus on types and descriptions of the Eucharist, but there is a notably priestly theme that also runs through them.  

Monday, June 17, 2019

The Body and the Blood of Christ (The Mass Readings Explained)

This week's video for The Mass Readings Explained for Corpus Christi is now out.  Check it out below.

Catholic Productions' Notable Quote:
So what we have here in the feeding of the five thousand, just the very setting itself, in a lonely place (or in a desert), is an echo of the miracle of the manna. Which is, by the way, another reason for showing that this isn’t a miracle of sharing, because the miracle of the manna in the Old Testament didn’t have anything to do with sharing, it had to do with God miraculously and supernaturally supplying his people with food while they were in the wilderness so that they could journey to the Promised Land. So if the feeding of the five thousand is a recapitulation of the manna, if Jesus is like a new Moses in a new wilderness feeding the new Israel, then it wouldn’t make any sense for the first one to be miraculous, but this new and greater feeding to be a simple, natural act of sharing.


Saturday, June 15, 2019

Solemnity of the Most Holy Trinity




Pentecost is not supposed to mark a spiritual highpoint, from which we then regress and go back to being our slovenly selves. 
Rather, Pentecost should be a dramatic infusion of spiritual energy climaxing a period of formation that has been ongoing since the first week of Advent.  Pentecost propels us, like a shot out of a cannon, into the “world” of Ordinary Time, in order to do effective combat with sin, death, and the Devil.
This Sunday marks approximately the half-way point in the liturgical year, and at this temporal center, we pause to reflect on the central mystery of our Faith, the Most Holy Trinity.  This seems appropriate on the heels of Pentecost, because it is through the Holy Spirit that the whole Trinity—Father, Son, and Holy Ghost—dwells within our soul.
Predictably, the Readings view the mystery of the Trinity from different angles.

Monday, June 10, 2019

The Mystery of the Trinity (The Mass Readings Explained)

This week's video for The Mass Readings Explained is now out.  Check out this intro video below taken from this week's video.

Catholic Productions Notable Quote:
Who is this other divine agent? Well, ancient Church Fathers would say, it’s the Son. It’s Christ, the wisdom of God. However, if you look at that first verse, Arius, the arch heretic, the heretic from the 4th Century that I mentioned at the beginning of the video, interpreted it differently. 

Although the New American Bible says “The Lord possessed me” at the beginning of his work, the Revised Standard Version says “The Lord created me”. Now those are very different verbs, right? Did the Lord possess wisdom at the beginning of creation? Or did he create wisdom at the beginning of creation? Well, in order to clarify this I’m going to have to do some Hebrew and Greek, so just bear with me for two seconds. I’ll try to make this as clear as possible.

Friday, June 07, 2019

Readings for Pentecost


This post picks up from themes discussed in the post below on the Readings for the Vigil of Pentecost.  For that post, scroll down.

For Pentecost Sunday, Mass during the Day, the First Reading is, finally, the account of Pentecost itself, from Acts 2:1-11:


Gathering the Human Family: Pentecost Vigil Readings




Welcome to Pentecost!  This is such an important Feast Day in the life of the Church, we should celebrate it with just as much joy and enthusiasm as Christmas and Easter.  This the day of the Spirit, and if we have understood Jesus' teachings clearly, we understand that the outpouring of the Holy Spirit is not an epilogue or denouement to the story of salvation, but its climactic finale that ushers in a new age!  This is the high point of our liturgical journey that began in Advent with anticipation of the coming of the Messiah!  

The Church recognizes the importance of Pentecost in her liturgy, and graces this Solemnity with its own vigil, complete with four different options for the First Reading.  All of them are important for understanding the meaning of this feast:

Tuesday, May 28, 2019

The 7th Sunday of Easter


Here is a commentary on the Readings for the Seventh Sunday of Easter, and let me begin by saying, if you have a Seventh Sunday of Easter, you are indeed blessed!  

This is an important Sunday: it is climactic, the last Sunday before Pentecost in the Easter Season.  The architects of the Vatican II lectionary saved very important readings for this date, notably the High Priestly Prayer of John 17.  This magnificient prayer is the longest of Jesus’ prayers recorded in Scripture, and it is the climax of the Last Supper Discourse (John 13-17), the longest discourse of Jesus recorded in Scripture.  In this prayer, Our Lord reveals his deepest desires for himself, his Apostles, and the whole Church.   

Ascension Day


Ascension Day, unfortunately, is not observed in a uniform manner across the United States.  Catholics in Nebraska, Pennsylvania, New York, and New England will observe it on Thursday, May 30; the rest of the country observes it this Sunday, June 2. 

The First Reading and Psalm for this Solemnity are always Acts 1:1-11 and Psalm 47.   In Year C has the option to employ Hebrews 9:24-28; 10:19-23 instead of Eph 4:17-23 as the Second Reading (both are discussed below), and proclaims Luke 24:46-53 as the Gospel.

This is an unusual Lord’s Day, in which the “action” of the Feast Day actually takes place in the First Reading.  We typically think of all the narratives of Jesus’ life as recorded in the Gospels, overlooking that Acts records at least two important narratives about the activity of the Resurrected Lord (Acts 1:1-11; also 9:1-8):

Wednesday, May 22, 2019

The Kingdom of Love: 6th Sunday of Easter


We have arrived at the Sixth Week of Easter, and continue to bask in the glow of the story of the growth of the early Church in Acts, the vision of heaven from the Book of Revelation, and the consolation of Jesus’ words to the Apostles in the Upper Room from John.  It’s a trifecta of glory in these Readings.

If last Sunday we noted a “kingdom of love” theme, this week we notice an emphasis on the idea of the “kingdom of peace.”  In Acts (1st Reading) we see the measures that were necessary to keep peace in the early Church.  In Revelation (2nd Reading) we see the peace of Eden restored in the heavenly New Jerusalem.  In the Gospel we see Jesus bestowing his supernatural peace on the disciples.

1. The First Reading is Acts 15:1-2, 22-29.  Because this reading skips Acts 15:3-21, which I think is very important for understanding the significance of the passage, I have spliced in the missing text below, to aid our understanding:

Monday, May 20, 2019

"The Father is Greater than I" (The Mass Readings Explained)

This week's video for The Mass Readings Explained is now out.  You can check it out below.

Catholic Productions' Notable Quote:
"So the Father here is greater than Christ in the sense of Christ’s humanity (his limited human nature). And so what he’s telling the disciples is, if you understood this, you would actually rejoice because my human nature is going to be put to death. My human body will die and it will be raised again and then I will return to the Father. You should rejoice at that, because before the ascension of Jesus, there is no human being (no human nature) that has been brought into the life of the triune God (Father, Son, and Holy Spirit). That union of God and humanity is something that takes place through the incarnation, death and resurrection of Christ. It’s the entry of Jesus into the life of the Trinity, not just in his divine nature, which has always been the case; he’s always been united with the Father and the Spirit for all eternity in his divine nature, but something new is taking place in the human nature that he’s assumed in the incarnation."

The Mass Readings Explained: The Father and I are One

Thursday, May 16, 2019

The Kingdom of Love: 5th Sunday of Easter


The Easter Season is passing quickly.  Already it is more than half over, as we progress toward the great Feasts of Ascension and Pentecost.  We want the Season to slow down, so that we may savor the joy and consolation of these readings from Acts and John that dominate the Easter Cycle, but tempus fugit.
The Readings for this Fifth Sunday of Easter describe the growth of the Kingdom of God, which is manifested on earth as the Church.  The first two readings and the psalm are tied together with Kingdom images, and the Gospel reminds us that this Kingdom is characterized by God’s love.

1. The First Reading is Acts 14:21-27:

Saturday, May 11, 2019

Good Shepherd Sunday


This upcoming Lord’s Day is often known as “Good Shepherd Sunday,” since each year the Gospel reading is taken from John 10, the “Good Shepherd Discourse.”  It’s also often observed as a day of prayer for vocations to the priesthood and religious life, since priests and religious are visible manifestations to us of Christ in his role as the Good Shepherd.

Most of the Readings are tied together by a shepherding theme.

1.  The First Reading continues the traditional Christian practice of reading Acts during the season of Easter.  We are up to Acts 13, the point in Acts where St. Luke begins to follow the career of St. Paul in a particular way.

There is a basic division of Acts into two parts: Acts 1-12 follows Peter's ministry and Acts 13-28 follows Paul's.

Monday, May 06, 2019

The Divine Shepherd: "I and the Father are One" (The Mass Readings Explained)

This week's video for The Mass Readings Explained is now out for the 4th Sunday of Easter.

Enjoy!

Catholic Productions' Notable Quote:
"So notice, what is God saying? He’s saying because the shepherds of Israel (the chief priests and the elders) have proven themselves to be wicked, he is going to come in person and save his flock. He’s going to come in person and gather the scattered sheep of the people of Israel. 


So in that context, think about it, if you’re a first century Jew, you’re waiting for the age of the messiah, you’re waiting for the age of salvation, and you know the prophecy of Ezekiel, that God says, 'In the future age of salvation, when I gather the people of Israel once again, I’m going to come myself and be the good shepherd.' In that context, Jesus now comes in the Temple and says, 'I am the good shepherd, my sheep hear my voice. I know them. I give them eternal life.'”


The Mass Readings Explained -- The Divine Shepherd

Friday, May 03, 2019

The Primacy of Peter and of Love


(These weeks have been very busy and stressful and I forgot to post last week!  My apologies to my readers.)
 
This week is the Third Sunday of Easter, and our readings highlight the primacy of Peter among the Apostles, and the primacy of love in following Jesus.  

Just a few comments on the preliminary readings before we concentrate on the Gospel.  

Monday, April 29, 2019

Jesus Appears by the Sea of Galilee (The Mass Readings Explained)

The Third Sunday of Easter's video for The Mass Readings Explained is now out.  Check out the excerpt below or subscribe today and see the full length video plus get access to the outline and transcript.

Catholic Productions' Notable Quote:
"Now, the reason that is so crucial here in the context of John’s overall gospel is that in John 10, Jesus reveals that he himself is the Good Shepherd. And he even says there will be one flock and one shepherd. And then he turns around (after his resurrection) and makes Peter the shepherd of the flock. So, which is it? Is Jesus the shepherd or is Peter the shepherd? And the answer is both. Jesus is of course the Divine Shepherd, the Supreme Shepherd; we’re going to see that when we look at Jesus’ own words on Good Shepherd Sunday, but Peter is established as the earthly shepherd over the flock of Jesus’ disciples, and that includes (very importantly) the other twelve."

The Mass Readings Explained: Jesus Appears by the Sea of Galilee

Monday, April 22, 2019

Divine Mercy Sunday (The Mass Readings Explained)

This week's video is now out for The Mass Readings Explained for Divine Mercy Sunday.

Check it out below.

Catholic Productions' Notable Quote:
Now, in a 1st Century Jewish setting, this is a staggering bestowal of authority, because as we see from elsewhere in the gospels (like in the gospel of Mark), when Jesus forgives the sins of the paralytic, they say, “This man speaks blasphemy. Who can forgive sins but God alone?” It’s a divine power. It’s a divine prerogative to forgive sins. And amazingly, now Jesus gives that divine authority and that divine power to the Apostles. And so, it’s very crucial here to stress that in order for them to both forgive and to retain someone’s sins, the implication is that they would somehow know what those sins are.


Divine Mercy Sunday - The Mass Readings Explained

Thursday, April 18, 2019

Readings for Easter Day

(Commentary on Holy Thursday, Good Friday, and the Easter Vigil are  below, just scroll down)
 
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:

Readings for the Easter Vigil








The Readings for the Easter Vigil recount the history of salvation by focusing on the various covenant stages throughout the Biblical storyline.  My book Bible Basics for Catholics follows this same pattern, using stick figure drawings to illustrate these various stages.

The Readings for Good Friday


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:

The Readings for Holy Thursday




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:

Monday, April 15, 2019

Easter Vigil (The Mass Readings Explained)

Try to wait until at least Saturday, but the Easter Vigil Mass Readings Explained video is now out.

Have a blessed Holy Week.


Thursday, April 11, 2019

Announcing My New Book: "Salvation: What Every Catholic Should Know"


I am thrilled to announce that you can now pre-order my next book, Salvation: What Every Catholic Should Know, which is jointly published by Augustine Institute Press and Ignatius Press. We are trying to spread the word about it quickly since it will be out in time for Easter season.

Let me say a bit about the book. This book is the first book in a new series (more on that soon). It is not a technical work. It aims at to be readable by all audiences. In many ways, it unpacks in simple terms some of the key ideas Brant Pitre, John Kincaid, and I examine in our upcoming book, Paul, A New Covenant Jew: Rethinking Pauline Theology (Eerdmans, forthcoming August 1). Appropriately enough then this book has a Foreword by Brant Pitre. 

I am thrilled with the endorsements it has received, many of which I have posted below. I am especially grateful to Joshua Jipp (Trinity Evangelical Divinity School) and Ben Blackwell (Houston Baptist University) for their kind words about the book. Given the title, I fear many non-Catholics will feel it is not for them, but I hope the endorsements by Jipp and Blackwell will help in this regard.  I was my aim to write  an irenic piece that would be helpful for all Christians interested in the doctrine of salvation in Christ in the New Testament. To that end, I hope Catholics will feel comfortable sharing it with their non-Catholic friends. 

Jesus Cheered, Then Killed: Palm/Passion Sunday C




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 a 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?

Despite a few mysterious prophetic texts that seemed to intimate this possibility, the idea that the Messiah could arrive and subsequently be killed was radically counter-intuitive to most of first-century Jews. 

Yet the conviction of the early Christians, based on Jesus of Nazareth’s own teachings about himself, was that the radically counter-intuitive impossibility was actually prophesied, if one had the eyes to see and the ears to hear it in Israel’s Scriptures.

The Readings for this Mass offer us two of the most poignant prophecies of the suffering of the Messiah.

Tuesday, April 09, 2019

Passion Sunday (The Mass Readings Explained)

This week's video is now out for The Mass Readings Explained.  You can check it out below.

God bless you.

Catholic Productions' Notable Quote:
"So notice here something really significant about Luke’s account. First, Luke (and Luke alone) tells us that during the Last Supper, Jesus appoints a share in his royal identity as king to the twelve apostles. Literally in the Greek, what Jesus says here, “As my father covenanted the kingdom for me, so I covenant to you, that you may eat and drink at my table, in my kingdom, and sit on thrones judging the twelve tribes of Israel.” So, effectively what Jesus is doing is constituting (in the figure of the Apostles) a new Israel, where they will rule over this new Israel, sitting on twelve thrones. Secondly, notice also that within these twelve Apostles who are going to reign over the new Israel, Simon Peter has pride of place. And it’s easy to miss that if you read it in English, but in Greek it’s really clear...".

The Mass Readings Explained: Passion Sunday (Palm Sunday)

Thursday, April 04, 2019

Jesus and the New Exodus: 5th Sunday of Lent


Lent is drawing to a close.  This week we celebrate the last Sunday of Lent before the beginning of Passion Week.  This Sunday is period of “quiet” between Laetare Sunday and Passion/Palm Sunday, our last opportunity to meditate on the ‘ordinary’ struggle of Lent before the intensity of the events in the last week of Our Lord’s life.  Let’s use it well!

The Readings for this week focus on the theme of a “New Exodus.”  Just as Moses was a savior figure who lead Israel to freedom through the Red Sea, so Jesus leads us to freedom through the waters of Baptism.  Let’s see how this theme plays out:

1.  Our First Reading is Isaiah 43:16-21:

Monday, April 01, 2019

The Woman Caught in Adultery (The Mass Readings Explained)

This week's Mass Readings Explained is now out.  Check it out below.

Catholic Productions' Notable Quote:
And I’ll just say, especially to all those Catechumens coming into the Church at Easter time, remember this: what’s past is past. The Lord does not condemn you for what you have done. Now, go, sin no more and live a new life in Christ, either through the waters of baptism for those who are coming into the Church or through the graces of confession for those of us who are in it. Let us enter into the Easter season turning away from sin and turning our hearts and our minds to God.

Tuesday, March 26, 2019

A Whole New World: Readings for Laetare Sunday


The Fourth Sunday of Lent is known as “Laetare Sunday,” from the Latin Introit of the Mass, “Laetare Jerusalem,” “Rejoice, O Jerusalem” (Isa 66:10).  This mid-point of Lent is traditionally a somewhat festive Sunday, to encourage the faithful to see “the light at the end of the tunnel,” as more than half of the fasting and mortification of Lent is behind us.  The use of festive rose-colored vestments is authorized.   Many Catholics relax Lenten observances on this day, before gearing up for the “final push” to Holy Week and the Triduum.

The Readings can all be connected with the idea of a “new creation” to which God invites us.

1.  The First Reading is Joshua 5:9a, 10-12:

Monday, March 25, 2019

The Parable of "the Prodigal Son" (The Mass Readings Explained)

This week's video is now out for the 4th Sunday of Lent.  Check it out below and you can subscribe today if you like -- Lent's a perfect time!

Catholic Productions' Notable Quote:
"Why does the parable end this way? I think it takes us all the way back around to the very first verses. What was the setting of the parable in which Jesus delivered it? It was in the context of the Pharisees and the Scribes, who saw themselves as keeping the commandments and as serving God, being angry that Jesus was offering mercy and compassion and salvation and the opportunity for repentance to sinners. They are, in this sense, the Pharisees and the Scribes who feel that way about Jesus eating with sinners are like the elder son, who instead of feeling joy at the repentance of a sinner actually feels anger."

The Parable of the Prodigal Son - The Mass Readings Explained

Thursday, March 21, 2019

Bearing the Fruit of Repentance: 3rd Sunday of Lent


In this third week of our spiritual journey through Lent, the Scripture readings remind us of what we might call the “Moses stage” of salvation history, and also drive home the theme of repentance during this holy season.

1. Our First Reading is
Ex 3:1-8a, 13-1

Monday, March 18, 2019

The Fruits of Repentance (The Mass Readings Explained)

This week's video is now out over at Catholic Productions for the 3rd Sunday of Lent.  Check it out below.

Catholic Productions Notable Quote:
"Interior repentance is a radical reorientation of our whole life, a return, a conversion to God with all our heart, an end of sin, a turning away from evil, with repugnance toward the evil actions we have committed.  

At the same time it entails the desire and resolution to change one’s life, with hope in God’s mercy and trust in the help of his grace. This conversion of heart is accompanied by a salutary pain and sadness which the Fathers called animi cruciatus (affliction of spirit) and compunctio cordis (repentance of heart)."

The Mass Readings Explained: The Fruits of Repentance (3rd Sunday of Lent)

Friday, March 15, 2019

The New Exodus: Readings for 2nd Sunday of Lent


No one wants to be a slave.  Yet many have fallen into slavery in the course of human history, and too often by their own choice.  Jesus tells us, “Everyone who commits a sin is a slave to sin” (John 8:34).  How do we escape the slavery of sin?

Although loosely related, the Readings for this Sunday are linked by the theme of the Exodus.  In the First Reading, the Exodus is prophesied; in the Gospel, Jesus begins a New Exodus that culminates in the Last Supper and Calvary.

1.  Our First Reading is
Genesis 15:5-12, 17-18:
 

Monday, March 11, 2019

The Transfiguration (The Mass Readings Explained)

The video for the 2nd Sunday of Lent (Year C) is now out.  Check it out below, and you can still subscribe with a 14 day free trial.  God bless.

Catholic Productions' Notable Quote:
"Now, to be very specific here, it’s really crucial to recognize that the new exodus is both similar to the old and different from the old. If you think about it this way, both of them are similar in the sense that they involve a journey that has a beginning and an end, and it’s a journey that is meant to set the people of God free and bring them home to the promised land. However, they’re different in their locations and in their destinies." 

The Transfiguration - Mass Readings Explained with Dr. Brant Pitre

Thursday, March 07, 2019

Doing Battle with the Devil: 1st Sunday of Lent


At the beginning of Lent, the Church reads to us the account of Jesus doing spiritual combat with the devil in the wilderness, reminding us that Lent is a time of warfare.  Through our Lenten practices of prayer, fasting, and almsgiving, we do battle with the power of the devil in our lives, and with God’s grace, defeat him decisively.

1.  The First Reading is Deuteronomy 26:4-10:

Monday, March 04, 2019

The Temptations in the Desert (The Mass Readings Explained)

This week's video is now out for the 1st Sunday of Lent.  You can check it out below.

Catholic Productions' Notable Quote:
"So the last word before the temptation narrative in Luke’s gospel is, 'the son of Adam, the son of God.' So he’s just told you about Adam and now Jesus goes into the desert and has these three temptations which recapitulate the temptations of Adam in the desert to show that he is now overcoming them. So that’s what’s going on in the temptation in the desert which is why we use it for Lent, because effectively, what’s taking place then, in the Season of Lent, is that we are now going to recapitulate the temptations of Jesus in ourselves."


Thursday, February 28, 2019

Who’s Your Role Model?: 8th Sunday of OT C



Several years ago Charles Barkley, when confronted with the misdeeds of his private life, famously quipped, “I’m not paid to be a role model.  I’m paid to wreak havoc on the basketball court.”  He went on to rake in quite a bundle of cash making an “I’m no role model” commercial with Nike.  Many people felt, despite the appearance of laudable honesty, Barkley’s posturing was a kind of excuse to escape culpability for the bad example he sets for youth.  

Monday, February 25, 2019

Good Trees and Bad Trees (The Mass Readings Explained)

This week's video for The Mass Readings Explained is now out.  Check it out below.

Catholic Productions' Notable Quote:
"For he says (at the end), “Out of the abundance of the heart, the mouth speaks.” So there’s a direct connection between our heart and our mouth. So the vices and the virtues in this context that Jesus is using are vicious words or virtuous words; sinning with our mouths, sinning with our tongues. In context that makes sense because what’s the whole Sermon on the Plain, the second half of its all been about? Judging others, condemning others, blessing those who curse us, praying for those who persecute us. So all of those things are things that we do with the mouth, and Jesus (notice this), in the Sermon on the Plain, as he’s trying to get the disciples to learn what it means to imitate him, notice, he doesn’t spend the whole sermon talking about the sins of the flesh (not that those aren’t important), but he’s first talking about the sins of the tongue, because it’s out of the mouth that the abundance of the heart speaks."



Thursday, February 21, 2019

Loving Our Enemies, Whoever They May Be: 7th Sunday of OT


In many years, we wouldn’t have a seventh Sunday of Ordinary Time, because of how Lent usually falls, but we do this year, and it is providential, because the teachings of the Readings for this Lord’s Day are particularly relevant.  The Readings are united by the theme of love for enemies, which is one of the most difficult forms of love to practice.  The First Reading and the Gospel show that, in both the Old Covenant and the New Covenant eras, God is on the side of those who pay back hatred with love.

1. Our First Reading is 1 Sam 26:2, 7-9, 12-13, 22-23:

Monday, February 18, 2019

Love Your Enemies (The Mass Readings Explained)

This week's video is now out for The Mass Readings Explained.

Check it out below.  Thank you.

Catholic Productions' Notable Quote:

If you’ve ever fallen into any one of those sins, if you struggle with anger for example, or resentment, then you want people to love you even when you act like an enemy to them. I think that’s the context Jesus is giving us here. It’s a radical love that he’s calling for in the golden rule. It is counter-intuitive. It is not irrational; it’s super-rational, because it’s supernatural...

Thursday, February 14, 2019

The Upside Down Kingdom of God: 6th Sunday in OT


As we continue our journey through the Gospel of Luke in Ordinary Time, Jesus keeps teaching us that his kingdom, the Kingdom of God, reverses many of our expectations and stereotypes. His is a kingdom where the typical markings of “blessing”—health, wealth, prosperity, power—are doomed to woe, and the typical markings of “curse”—weakness, sickness, poverty, humiliation—are signs of happiness and rejoicing.  What is going on?  Jesus’ teaching “upsets our apple cart”, and forces us to think more deeply about who God is and who we are.  

1.  Our First Reading is from Jeremiah  17:5-8:

Monday, February 11, 2019

The Sermon on "the Plain" (The Mass Readings Explained)

This week's video is now out for The Mass Readings Explained.  Check it out below, and you can still subscribe to this series for a weekly Bible study of every Sunday's Mass Readings.

Catholic Productions Notable Quote:
In my mind, what I think’s happening here is something very significant. In the new covenant, in the teaching of Jesus from this sermon, the blessings are the curses. That’s the thing. The blessings are the curses. We don’t think of it this way. 

In other words, the way you will build up treasure not on earth but in heaven, is precisely through suffering. It’s through poverty. It’s through hunger. It’s through mourning. And it’s ultimately, above all, through persecution for the sake of the gospel. It’s through persecution for the sake of the son of man. By contrast, earthly blessings in the new covenant are dangerous. They’re spiritually dangerous.