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.


Tuesday, February 05, 2019

Awe and Apostolate: 5th Sunday in OT


Our Readings for this Sunday combine two major themes: awe and apostolate.  Both Isaiah and Peter are awed and ashamed to find themselves in the presence of God; but both are subsequently sent out (in Greek, apostello) on mission for the Almighty.  We, too, feel our unworthiness and need of mercy in God’s presence, and also our responsibility to spread the Good News of mercy to all people.

1.  Our First Reading is Isaiah 6:1-2a, 3-8:

Monday, February 04, 2019

The Call of Simon Peter (The Mass Readings Explained)

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

Catholic Productions' Notable Quote:
So you can imagine, Peter’s probably tired (on a human level), and he’s frustrated from not having caught any fish and this carpenter comes along and says, “Well, hey, did you try the deep water? Go out into the deep water and try and put your nets down and see what happens.” So this is a test. 

Is Peter going to do the human thing which would be, “I know what I’m doing, thank you very much. We failed. Nothing, caught nothing all night. I’m not about to just go out into the water again and let down a net.” ...And yet, what does Peter say? “At your word, I will let down the nets.”


Wednesday, January 30, 2019

Why Do People Hate the "Good Person"? The 4th Sunday in OT


The Readings for this Sunday show both Jesus and Jeremiah facing opposition for speaking God’s truth to their contemporaries.  They raise interesting questions about why it is that the “good person” so often suffers at the hands of others, and offer encouragement to those who experience this suffering.

1.  Our First Reading is Jer 1:4-5, 17-19:

Monday, January 28, 2019

Jesus' First Sermon in Nazareth [Part 2] (The Mass Readings Explained)

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

Thank you.

Catholic Productions Notable Quote:

Now I don’t know about you, but whenever I see this passage…if I was sitting in the synagogue and he quoted this, I’d just be like, “Oh. That’s interesting. Naʹaman… widow of Zarʹephath… okay.” I would not rise up and want to throw him off of a hill for saying that. So if you don’t understand the crowd’s vehement response to Jesus, it’s obvious that you don’t get the allusion to those Old Testament texts that he’s quoting there. So it’s really important for us to actually go back to those Old Testament passages and look at them in context. 


Thursday, January 24, 2019

Jesus Proclaims the Jubilee: The 3rd Sunday of OT




The past three Sundays have focused on the three early “manifestations” or “epiphanies” of Jesus’ divine nature recorded in the Gospels: the Visit of the Magi, the Baptism, and the Wedding at Cana.  Now the Lectionary “settles in” to Ordinary Time, which this year involves reading through the Gospel of Luke.  This Sunday, we pick up the introduction to Luke’s Gospel (Lk 1:1-4), but then skip to the beginning of Jesus’ ministry (Luke 4:14-21) because we’ve already heard all the accounts of Jesus’ childhood and early life (Luke 1–3) during Advent, Christmas and Epiphany.

The Readings this Sunday focus on the importance of the public proclamation of God’s Word.  In the First Reading, we see Ezra, the great priest and scholar of the Law, reading the Law of Moses out loud to the people of Israel after their return from Babylonian exile.  In the Gospel, we see Jesus, our great high priest and interpreter of God’s Law, reading the promises of salvation from Isaiah to the Jews in the Synagogue of Nazareth.  In both situations, the proclamation of God’s Word is a call both to repentance and to hope for salvation.  However, in Ezra’s day, the salvation was far off; in Jesus day, He announces that the salvation is present now.

1.  Our First Reading is Neh 8:2-4a, 5-6, 8-10:

Monday, January 21, 2019

Jesus' First Sermon in Nazareth [Part 1] (The Mass Readings Explained)

This week's video is now out.  Check it out below.

Catholic Productions Notable Quote:
"Another little side note, this is why Jesus is going to get into conflict with the Pharisees so much in the gospels. Have you ever wondered why he’s always bumping heads with the Pharisees? It’s not because the Pharisees were priests. They weren’t priests either; they were laymen who mastered the scriptures and who studied the traditions of the fathers and they ran the show in the synagogues. So if Jesus’ custom was to go about preaching in the synagogues, the first people he’s going to come into conflict with aren’t the priests in the temple of Jerusalem, it’s the Pharisees, the lay people in the synagogues who were used to preaching and teaching tradition of the fathers, then Jesus steps in and he blows them all out of the water."


Friday, January 18, 2019

The Bridegroom Revealed: The 2nd Sunday of OT


This Sunday we remain in the afterglow of Epiphany, the celebration of the “manifestation” of Jesus’ divine glory. [Greek epi – phaino = “shine upon” = “reveal, manifest.”]  Epiphany, which once was its own season (like Advent or Christmas), has often been associated with three events from the Gospels: the Magi, the Baptism, and the Wedding at Cana.  These are the first events that reveal or “manifest” Jesus’ glory in the Gospels of Matthew, Mark, and John, respectively.  Certain well-known Epiphany hymns (e.g. “Songs of Thankfulness and Praise”) make reference to all three events, and in antiquity the celebration of all three was clustered around January 6 in many rites.  Eventually, the different rites separated out the liturgical celebration of the different events and placed them on separate days. 

In Year C, the Church quite consciously offers us the Wedding at Cana for our meditation on the Sunday immediately following the Baptism.  By happy Providence, this year we are able to ponder the Magi, the Baptism, and Cana on successive Sundays.

The Readings for this Lord’s Day highlight Jesus as our spiritual bridegroom.

1. The First Reading is the same used at the Christmas Vigil, Isaiah 62:1-5:

Thursday, January 17, 2019

EXCITING ANNOUNCEMENT: An M.A. in Scripture at the Augustine Institute

I am very pleased to announce that we are launching a new M.A. in Sacred Scripture at the Augustine Institute Graduate School of Theology. We are looking to accept about three students into this rigorous program.

Those who are accepted will have access to funding for the degree. Students will learn from professors like Brant Pitre, Mark Giszczak, John Sehorn, Tim Gray, and myself in small seminar style courses taught here in beautiful Denver, CO. More information is provided in the video below. If you are a professor and have questions, please let me know. This is a special opportunity for your students interested in pursuing an academic career in biblical studies. Please help us spread the word about this exciting new program!

Tomorrow, Friday, January 17, at 3pm (EST) I will be doing a special webinar to answer any questions people might have. To join us, please contact our Director of Admission, Kathryn Murray: kathryn.gillette@augustineinstitute.org

Hope you can join us!


Monday, January 14, 2019

The Wedding at Cana (The Mass Readings Explained)

This week's video is now out on the Wedding at Cana for The Mass Readings Explained.  Check it out below.

Catholic Productions' Notable Quote:
But Jesus says something else, he says, "My hour has not yet come." So, in John's gospel, that points forward to his passion and death, the hour of the cross, the hour of his passion. And so, mysteriously, somehow Mary's words, “they have no wine,” Jesus has taken them not just to refer to the problem of the practical loss of wine, but somehow to refer to the hour of his passion and his death. Why does he go there? How does he get from "A" to "Z"? How does he get from "running out of wine" to "the hour of the cross"?


Thursday, January 10, 2019

Baptism of Our Lord




The end of the Season of Christmas arrives this Sunday, as we celebrate the event that marked the end of Jesus’ early life and the beginning of his public ministry: the Baptism.

The Christmas decorations coming down in our churches and homes inevitably leaves a feeling of sadness and nostalgia.  We don’t want to move on from meditation on all the joyful aspects of Our Lord’s early life, the incidents of wonder and mystery, like the angels singing to the shepherds, or the visit of the Magi.  Nonetheless, as we leave the Christmas Season behind, today’s readings remind us of the power of the Holy Spirit that we share with Jesus!  The very Spirit of God has been given us in our own baptisms—this Spirit has ushered us into a new world, a New Creation in which we can daily walk with God, just like Adam and Eve once walked with God in the garden in the cool of the day.

So we will look for “New Creation” themes as we work through this Sunday’s Readings.

Monday, January 07, 2019

The Baptism of the Lord (The Mass Readings Explained)

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

Catholic Productions' notable quote:

"So the reason the Church picks this passage as background to the Baptism of Jesus is because Jesus is being revealed as the beloved — not just the Son — but the beloved servant of God, in whom God’s soul takes delight, upon whom the Spirit comes and who will eventually bring this new law, this new light, not just to Israel but to the Gentiles as well. That's what he’s going to do, and the way you’ll know he's the servant … is through his miracles, right. He's going to 'open the eyes of the blind,' he’s going to bring out the 'prisoners from the dungeon.' That's exactly what Jesus is going to begin to do in his public ministry: Open people's eyes to the truth of his new law, but also literally open their eyes through his healings, and his signs, and his wonders."



Thursday, January 03, 2019

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.

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