Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Happy New Year! The First Sunday of Advent

Happy New Year, everyone!  This Sunday, December 2, is the first day of Liturgical Year 2013, which is Lectionary Cycle C for readings on Lord’s Days and Holy Days.  Obviously, it is also the First Sunday of Advent.  Now, the tradition of the Church is to read the Book of Isaiah during Advent, because this prophetic book, more than any other, is regarded as a prophecy of the Coming of Christ (adventus Christi), both his first coming and his second coming.  Thus, if you examine the Sunday Lectionary for Years A and B, and the weekday Lectionary for Advent, you will see that the First Readings are dominated by selections from Isaiah.

However, in Year C of the Lectionary, the Church opts to do something slightly different for a change.  The First Readings for this year are taken from other important prophetic passages concerning the coming of the Christ outside the Book of Isaiah—passages that otherwise would be neglected if only Isaiah were read.

1.  Our First Reading is Jeremiah 33:14-16:

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

NCCYM in Orlando this Saturday

I'll be giving my overview of salvation history, "How to Get through the Bible in an Hour!" at the National Conference on Catholic Youth Ministry in Orlando, Florida, this Saturday, December 1.  For those attending, it is session D-11, in room Northern A-3, 2:30pm-4:00pm.

Mountains and Mediators: New Scholarship

People familiar with Bible Basics for Catholics or some of my classroom teaching know that I like to draw stick figures on mountains as a way of summarizing salvation history.  It looks whimsical, but what I am doing is actually based on scholarship about the concept of the cosmic mountain in the ancient Near East and the biblical tradition.  Here's a book that's just been published on the subject:

The Tabernacle Prefigured: Cosmic Mountain Ideology in Genesis and Exodus (Biblical Tools and Studies 15; Peeters, 2013)

L. Michael Morales (
Old Testament/Pentateuch, Trinity College/University of Bristol


This thesis examines the creation, deluge, and exodus (sea crossing/Sinai) accounts of Genesis and Exodus in relation to cosmic mountain ideology, demonstrating in each narrative the cosmogonic

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

“Viva Cristo Rey!” The Solemnity of Christ the King

This Sunday is the 34th Sunday of Ordinary Time, and as everyone knows, that means it is the Solemnity of Christ the King!  This is the last Sunday of the liturgical year.  The last day of the liturgical year will be Saturday, December 1, and Liturgical Year 2013 will begin with the First Sunday of Advent, December 2.

I give thanks to God for many things at this time of year, including the joy of living the liturgical calendar, which is such a consolation and guide for one’s spirituality through the seasons of life and the seasons of the year.  Each liturgical year is like a whole catechesis of the Christian faith, as well as a kind of microcosm of the entire life of the believer, from birth and baptism to final anointing and death.

Earlier this year a movie about the struggle for religious freedom of the Catholics of Mexico was released called "For Greater Glory."  The rallying cry of the persecuted Mexican believers was “Viva Cristo Rey!”, “Long Live Christ the King!”  For many of them, these were the last words out of their mouths before their violent deaths.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Tempus Fugit: The Readings for the 33rd Sunday in Ordinary Time

“Tempus fugit,” the Romans used to say.  “Time flies.”  It’s hard to believe that we are already at the second-to-last Sunday of the liturgical year.

[My brother Tim used to say, “Time flies like an arrow, but fruit flies like a banana.”  But that has nothing to do with anything.]

Where has the year gone?  How can it be so close to the end already?  Yet these feelings are very appropriate for Mass we will celebrate this Sunday, whose readings encourage us to count time carefully, to be aware of its passage, to meditate on our mortality and the passing of all things, and to think soberly of the end and the final judgment. 

Friday, November 09, 2012

"Widows, Miracles and Sacrifice" (Sunday Readings Podcast for 11/11/12)

This Sunday we turn to the story of the widow's mite. Notably, we read this story against the backdrop of a miracle worked by Elijah and the Epistle to the Hebrews. [Readings here]

Who was Elijah? Why was he important? How do the Gospels portray Jesus as a New Elijah? How does the reading from the Gospel relate to the first and second readings?

Learn about all that in more in this brief podcast.

Listen on iTunes or click the link below.

As always, we welcome your comments below.

Wednesday, November 07, 2012

Speaking on Scripture and the Year of Faith in Newport Beach Thursday, 11/8

I'll be speaking on Scripture and the Year of Faith tomorrow (Thursday, 11/8) at Our Lady of Mount Carmel Church in Newport Beach, CA. The talk begins at 7:30pm. There's a Q & A that follows.

O'Donnell Hall @ Our Lady of Mount Carmel Church
1441 West Balboa Blvd. Newport Beach 92661

Hope to see some of you there!

A Lesson on Faith for the Year of Faith: 32nd Sunday in Ordinary Time

As we are still in the beginning of the Year of Faith, our Readings for this Sunday give us a lesson in the practice of faith.

Our First Reading is from 1 Kings 17:10-16, the story of Elijah’s visit to the widow of Zarephath:

In those days, Elijah the prophet went to Zarephath.
As he arrived at the entrance of the city,
a widow was gathering sticks there; he called out to her,
"Please bring me a small cupful of water to drink."
She left to get it, and he called out after her,
"Please bring along a bit of bread."

Thursday, November 01, 2012

"The Greatest Commandment" (Sunday Readings Podcast for 11/4/12)

This Sunday's Gospel has Jesus explain the greatest commandment.

The first reading is taken from Deuteronomy and the second is from Hebrews. Find out how they all fit together.

We also talk about how Jesus slightly alters the "greatest commandment" in Deuteronomy, emphasizing the importance of loving the Lord with all one's mind. What does this mean?

Listen on iTunes or click the link below.

As always, we welcome your comments below.