Monday, November 11, 2019

The Destruction of the Temple and the Tribulation (The Mass Readings Explained)

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

Check out the clip below, and be sure to check out this series, as we're going to begin the "expanded" edition in just a few weeks.

Thanks!


Tuesday, November 05, 2019

The Revolutionary Belief in Resurrection: 32nd Sunday of OT


We are advancing in the “unofficial liturgical season” of November, and the Mass Readings turn toward meditation on the Last Things.  This Sunday we are directed especially to the consideration of the resurrection of the dead.  

The resurrection of the dead is controversial.  It is a traditional belief in Christianity, Islam, and Judaism, but Eastern religions have no necessary commitment to it.  Indeed, bodily resurrection makes no sense in Buddhism.  Likewise, ancient Greek philosophy had little use for the body in general, and it was often regarded as a prison for the soul.  Western secularism espouses materialism; therefore, there is nothing to a human person except his material body.  Resurrection is impossible, unless it be through some technology.  

Christian faith, following Jesus Christ, proclaims the goodness of the body, and affirms that God will one day restore and transform our bodies, similar to the transformation we witness in the accounts of Jesus’ post-resurrection physical appearances.

1. Our First Reading is 2 Maccabees 7:1-2, 9-1:

Monday, November 04, 2019

Will There Be Marriage in the Resurrection (The Mass Readings Explained)

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

Check out a free clip below, and you can subscribe to get your 14 day free trial before the new liturgical year begins with the 1st Sunday of Advent (Dec. 1), when we will start covering the 2nd reading from the Sunday Masses, primarily focused on the letters of Paul.


Tuesday, October 29, 2019

Making Things Right: The Biblical Basis of Reparation (31st Sun. OT)


We are in November, the month that constitutes its own unofficial liturgical season, focused on the Last Things.  We begin the month with All Saints and round it out with the Feast of Christ the King.  This Sunday’s Readings introduce themes that will be developed throughout the finale of the liturgical year: repentance, the Kingdom of God, and final judgment.  In particular, the Gospel Reading urges us not merely to repent while we still have time, but also to make right the wrongs we have done to others, that is, to make reparation.  Some non-Catholic theologies deny the need for reparation, but it is a biblical concept that has within it the power of healing and reconciliation.

1. Our First Reading is Wisdom 11:22-12:2:

Monday, October 28, 2019

Friday, October 25, 2019

The Mass Readings Explained...Expanded

I am pleased to announce that I will be producing another set of videos with Catholic Productions, going through the 3-year cycle of the 2nd reading at Mass (typically, though not exclusively, from the Letters of St. Paul).

If you've ever wanted to get a grasp of St. Paul as the Church presents his Letters to us through the Liturgy, then be sure to check out the expanded version of this series, which starts with the 1st week of Advent (December 1).

Thanks and God bless.


Thursday, October 24, 2019

Pride and Poverty: The 30th Sunday of OT


Several years ago, Christians around the world were shocked and saddened by the execution of twenty-one Egyptian Christian men who were in the wrong place at the wrong time, and fell under the power of ISIS.  This martyrdom is just one of the more dramatic examples of abuse and oppression that seems so prevalent in the contemporary world.  Where is God in all this?  Does he pay attention to poor and the oppressed?  The Readings for this Sunday dwell on these and related issues.

Monday, October 21, 2019

The Pharisee and the Tax-Collector (The Mass Readings Explained)

This week's video is now out for The Mass Readings Explained.  Check out the excerpt below and you can subscribe today for a 14-day free trial for the access to all of the The Mass Readings Explained.


Tuesday, October 15, 2019

Prayer as Warfare: The 29th Sunday in OT


Usually we think of men of prayer and men of war as complete opposites.  A monk in a habit—such as St. Francis—is a man dedicated to peace, a total contrast to one clad in armor brandishing weapons.  Yet the Readings for this Sunday combine the imagery of war and prayer in interesting ways that provoke our thoughts about the nature and reality of supplicating God.

1.  Our First Reading is Exodus 17:8-13:

Saturday, October 12, 2019

A Culture of Gratitude: Readings for 28th Week of OT


The Thanksgiving holiday is coming upon us in a little over a month, and this season of the year always makes me think, How do you give thanks if you don’t believe there’s anyone there to thank?  Thanksgiving is not a holiday that ever could have arisen in an atheist culture. 

The themes of the Readings for this Sunday focus on the gratitude for God’s salvation.  Gratitude is an important psychological and spiritual disposition.  Dr. Daniel G. Amen, the popular brain researcher and public health spokesman, identifies gratitude as a key character quality of persons with physiologically healthy brains.  That’s right: gratitude affects your physical health, including the shape and functioning of your brain.  This Sunday’s Readings focus particularly on gratitude to God, and how it should be expressed.

1.  Our First Reading is 2 Kgs 5:14-17:

Monday, October 07, 2019

The Grateful Leper (The Mass Readings Explained)

This week's video is now out for The Mass Readings Explained.  Check it out below and subscribe today for your 14 day free trial.

Catholic Productions' Notable Quote:
Remember who Elisha is? This is very important for understanding what’s going on. Elisha is the successor of the prophet Elijah. And if you remember, after Elijah is taken up into heaven on a chariot of fire, his successor Elisha is given a twofold portion of his spirit. This means that Elisha is actually more powerful than Elijah, his predecessor, and he performs greater miracles than Elijah.

So what’s going on here then, is, in the Old Testament, in the scheme of things, Elisha, who is the prophet who heals Naaman, is considered, in a sense, the greatest miracle worker in the Old Testament. If you want an example of this, later in the book of Kings 13, after Elisha dies and is buried, someone is thrown into the grave with him and just touching his bones brings that man back from the dead. That’s how holy, that’s how powerful Elisha was.

Now the reason all of this matters is because if you fast forward to the New Testament, you’ll recall in the Gospels, Jesus identifies John the Baptist as Elijah. And yet, Jesus is like the successor to John the Baptist. Just as Elijah was the precursor of Elisha, so John the Baptist is the precursor of Jesus.

So if John the Baptist is a new Elijah, then Jesus is a new Elisha. But He’s not just a new Elisha, He’s greater than Elisha. So whereas Elisha only healed one leper in the Old Testament, what does Jesus, the new Elisha, do? He heals ten lepers, all at once, and they don’t have to go down to the Jordan River and wash seven times. He does it instantaneously. All they have to do is obey his word and start heading toward the Temple and they’re all cleansed.



Thursday, October 03, 2019

Living By Faith: The 27th Sunday in OT


Our readings this week take up the theme of faith, both Israel’s faith under the old covenant and the faith to which we are called in the new.  Jesus urges us not to despair even if we feel our faith is pitiful.  God can work wonders using small material.

1.  Our First Reading is a famous passage from Habbakuk:   

Monday, September 30, 2019

A Little Shot in the Arm from the Holy Father

On the Feast of St. Jerome, it's like the Holy Father sensed those of us at the Sacred Page needed a little encouragement in these tough times, and decided to give us a gift of The Sunday of the Word of God in his motu proprio "Aperuit Illis".  It is a concise, readable document that does a tremendous job of summarizing a robust Catholic appropriation of divine revelation. Along the way, it corrects misconceptions that may have arisen that the Pope was downplaying the importance of the Word of God in evangelization, etc.  I think I can say it sums up everything that we at The Sacred Page and Catholic Productions are trying to contribute to the Church.  Well worth the read, the link is here.

The Parable of the Mustard Seed & the Mulberry Tree (The Mass Readings Explained)

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

Thanks.

Catholic Productions' Notable Quote:
Now, if you’ve ever tried to pull up a weed, like in your garden, that has a root system that goes out six feet—much less sixty feet—you know how difficult it is to pull a plant out of the ground...even a small plant, if it has a widespread root system. It’s basically impossible, in other words, to yank up a sycamore tree by the stump—or by the trunk—because the root system is so extensive.

So Jesus is presuming his audience is familiar with that reality of what a sycamine tree is like, so he’s saying “even if your faith was as small as a mustard seed, you could say to the sycamine tree”—first point of impossibility—“be uprooted,” and it would. And the second point is “be planted in the sea, and it would obey you.” Now this is a great example of the parabolic twist, right? Jesus always has some element of his parables—or not always, but often—has some element of the parable that’s unexpected or it’s surprising. It’s not what you would think, and it doesn’t actually match life in the natural world. And as a rule, this would qualify. Nobody plants their sycamore trees in the ocean, right? You don’t plant trees in the ocean. They can’t grow there.

And yet, what Jesus is saying is, even if your faith was as small as a mustard seed, you can take this sycamine tree, not only uproot it, but you could plant it in the ocean, and it would obey you.



Tuesday, September 24, 2019

Does It Even Matter How We Treat Others? The 26th Sunday of OT


Does it matter how we treat others?  What does my neighbor’s suffering have to do with me?  Can I continue living in comfort while bypassing those around me who are in misery?  These are questions that the Readings for this Sunday raise, and to which they provide uncomfortable answers.  Let’s read and let the Holy Spirit move us outside our comfort zone.

1.  The First Reading is Am 6:1a, 4-7:

Monday, September 23, 2019

The Parable of the Lazarus and the Rich Man (The Mass Readings Explained)

This week's video for The Mass Readings Explained is now out on Lazarus and the Rich Man.

Catholic Productions' Notable Quote:
So this is a really powerful parable about how wealth can lead us to fail in charity toward other human beings and that failure—a grave failure—in charity toward other human beings can be the cause of the loss of eternal life. And I just think that that’s something that we don’t often think about nowadays. I mean, how many times have you heard people in the modern world say something like, “Well, I never killed anybody.” You know? “I’m a good person. I never killed anyone.” 

Okay, well, that’s setting the bar rather low in terms of ancient Jewish morality, in particular in terms of Scripture. Sins of commission are evil, but sins of omission can be equally grave depending on the gravity of the omission. And in this case, the factors involved in his failing to love Lazarus by caring for him, or at least feeding him, are two things: luxury and gluttony. He’s living a life of comfort and ease. He’s living a life focused entirely on himself, and both of those, of course, are rooted in the capital sin of pride, which is a disordered self-love that leads him to be blind to the sufferings of those around him and to do anything about it. 

And that is what Jesus is warning us about in this parable—the hardness of heart that can come with luxury and gluttony and wealth. So, I mean, we see it elsewhere in the Gospel: it’s easier for a camel to go through an eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven. This is like Exhibit A. This is a parabolic description of that maxim, of that teaching of Jesus, about the dangers of wealth and how it can lead to eternal damnation and the loss of everlasting life.


Thursday, September 19, 2019

God and Mammon: The 25th Sunday in Ordinary Time

As Jesus continues his “death march” to Jerusalem in Luke’s Gospel (Luke 9–19), he challenges us this Sunday to choose, in a clear and conscious way, our goal in life: God or money.  The First Reading reminds us that wealth was a seductive trap for the people of God throughout salvation history.

1. The First Reading is Amos 8:4-7:

Bible Basics for Catholics: for cheap and in Spanish

https://bit.ly/2Z5uvMn
Ave Maria Press is ending the special parish edition of my Bible Basics for Catholics. Right now, you can get it for $3 a copy in bulk, great for parish biblestudies or parish "Christmas gifts"! Click on the image for an online link.

Also, Rialp publishers in Spain have translated it into Spanish and are selling it as La Biblia Paso a Paso.  If anyone is interested in Spanish copies, go ahead and contact me through the Sacred Page website.