Wednesday, June 26, 2013

The Radical Call to Discipleship: The 13th Sunday of Ordinary Time

The Readings for this upcoming Sunday continue the strong call to discipleship issued in last Sunday's Readings.  Jesus stresses that following him must be an immediate and complete commitment of one's entire person.  As someone once said, "Jesus did not come to suffer, die and rise from the dead in order to create 'cultural Catholics.'"

1.  Our First Reading is from 1 Kgs 19:16b, 19-21:

The LORD said to Elijah:
“You shall anoint Elisha, son of Shaphat of Abelmeholah,
as prophet to succeed you.”

Pope Francis: The Church as the Temple of God

Pope Francis just offered the following catechesis at his Wednesday audience (6/26/13). This is wonderful!
Dear brothers and sisters, 
Today I would like briefly to refer to one more picture that helps us to illustrate the mystery of the Church: that of the temple (cf. Lumen Gentium 6). 
What does the word, ‘temple’ call to mind? It makes us think of a building, a construction. In particular, it recalls to many minds the history of the People of Israel narrated in the Old Testament. In Jerusalem, the great Temple of Solomon was the locus of the encounter with God in prayer. Within the Temple was the Ark of the Covenant, a sign of God's presence among the people, and inside the Ark were the Tablets of the Law, the manna and the rod of Aaron, a reminder that God had always been in the history of his people, had always been with them on their journey, always directed their stride – and the Temple recalls this story. We, too, when we go to the temple, must remember this story – my story – the story of each one of us – of how Jesus encountered me, of how he walked with me, how Jesus loves and blesses me.  

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Join us in Austin, July 12-13!

Dr. Hahn, Michael Barber, and I will be leading a weekend conference on the New Evangelization in Buda, TX (near Austin) next month.  If you are in driving distance of Austin, fill your van with friends and family and come on out!  Info and registration is here.

Friday, June 21, 2013

A Turn Toward the Passion: The 12th Sunday of Ordinary Time

As the Church reads through the Gospel of Luke this year, we reach a transition point in this Sunday's text (Luke 9:18-24) where the focus of the Gospel begins to shift toward Christ's coming passion and death.  Sorrowful though his suffering will be, ironically it shall serve as the source of the life-giving "water" about which the other Readings speak.

1.  Our First Reading is from Zechariah 12:10-11; 13:1:
Thus says the LORD:
I will pour out on the house of David
and on the inhabitants of Jerusalem
a spirit of grace and petition;
and they shall look on him whom they have pierced,
and they shall mourn for him as one mourns for an only son,
and they shall grieve over him as one grieves over a firstborn.

On that day the mourning in Jerusalem shall be as great
as the mourning of Hadadrimmon in the plain of Megiddo.

On that day there shall be open to the house of David
and to the inhabitants of Jerusalem,
a fountain to purify from sin and uncleanness.

Monday, June 17, 2013

Italian journalist: Francis to essentially publish Benedict's encyclical on faith unchanged

Pope Francis recently made headlines when he announced that his first encyclical will have been worked on by "four hands":
The encyclical has to come out and it's an encyclical written with four hands, so to speak, because Pope Benedict began writing it and he gave it to me... It's a strong document. I will say in it that I received it and most of the work was done by him and I completed it." [source]
The respected Italian journalist, Sandro Magister, often known for having "insider" information, confirms that the document is largely Benedict's work:
... the first encyclical of Benedict XVI, "Deus Caritas Est," had also made use of some material prepared during the previous pontificate [i.e., from Pope John Paul II]. But in that case its general construction, and the first of its two great sections in particular, the more theological one, was typically Ratzingerian. This time, instead, almost the whole composition of the encyclical is by Ratzinger. It is as if pope Bergoglio had limited himself to writing its preface and conclusion. His signature becomes a strong sign of acknowledgement of the pope who preceded him. [source; emphasis added]

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Faith, Love, and Forgiveness: The 11th Sunday of Ordinary Time C


The Readings for this Sunday revolve around a constellation of fundamental issues in our relationship with God: sin, repentance, forgiveness, faith, and love.  Two of the passages used in this liturgy have been battlegrounds in the theological polemic between Protestants and Catholics, but ought not to be so.

1.  Our First Reading is 2 Samuel 12:7-10, 13:

Nathan said to David:
“Thus says the LORD God of Israel:
‘I anointed you king of Israel.
I rescued you from the hand of Saul.
I gave you your lord’s house and your lord’s wives for your own.
I gave you the house of Israel and of Judah.
And if this were not enough, I could count up for you still more.
Why have you spurned the Lord and done evil in his sight?
You have cut down Uriah the Hittite with the sword;
you took his wife as your own,
and him you killed with the sword of the Ammonites.
Now, therefore, the sword shall never depart from your house,

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

The Logic of Biblical Scholarship

(1) If a biblical book presents a clear structure and literary elegance (e.g. Ruth): "This composition is obviously the product of a long history of redaction during which original traditional material was shaped into the elegant structure we now observe in the final form of the text."

(2) If a biblical book presents an obscure structure or signs of disorganization (e.g. Micah): "This composition is obviously the product of a long history of redaction during with original traditional material was interpolated and supplemented with later additions, thus disrupting the structure and resulting in apparent disorganization."

How about this alternative hypothesis for "untidy" biblical books? "This composition was thrown together overnight from oral tradition and fragments of written oracles by a scribe fleeing for his life from Babylonian soldiers."

Just kidding, of course.  : )

Monday, June 10, 2013

Fr. Spitzer on Atheism and Education

A friend sent me this link to a video of Fr. Robert Spitzer, whose masterpiece New Proofs for the Existence of God (Ignatius Press) I have been reading for the past month.  I think Spitzer is excellent and want to share his insights.  His talk really starts at 10:10:

Sunday, June 09, 2013

Hallelujah Chorus in Haitian Creole

I didn't finish my commentary on this Sunday's readings because I'm still recovering/catching up from a week long trip to Haiti, where I spoke at the first Eucharistic Congress of the Diocese of Anse-a-Veau et Miragoane, and at various parishes and missions of the diocese.  It was an incredible experience.  There is much I could say, but for now I just want to post one of my favorite experiences: the Hallelujah Chorus sung by about a hundred teens of the diocese, just after communion (with about 2000 people) during the outdoor mass to close the Congress.  The teens are singing in Haitian Creole.  All parts were learned by ear, as written music is unavailable.

The teen choir isn't visible in the recording, unfortunately.  They are hidden behind the band and a wall.

If the link doesn't work for you, try this You Tube link.

Sunday, June 02, 2013

VIDEO: Curtis Mitch on the Four Marks of the Church in Ephesians

One of my favorite people on the planet--and one of the finest biblical commentators I know--is Curtis Mitch, co-editor (with Scott Hahn) of the Ignatius Catholic Study Bible. Curtis is known mainly for his work on the Study Bible.

I just ran into this video of Curtis presenting at the Institute of Applied Biblical Studies Conference in Steubenville, a conference I look forward to speaking at myself each Summer.

It is wonderful to find a video of him online. I hope you enjoy it!