Saturday, January 30, 2016

Tomorrow's Sunday Mass Readings Explained

As a supplement to John and John and Michael's amazing written commentaries on the weekly Sunday readings, here's a link to a series of videos in which I explain the Sunday Scriptures.

Hope you find it helpful!

Thursday, January 28, 2016

Why the "Good Person" is Rejected: 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:

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Coming Soon: The Case for Jesus

Just 7 days left until my new book, The Case for Jesus, is released! (So proud and grateful for the Afterword, written by Bishop Robert Barron.) Check out the sweet cover! 

Here are just a few of the endorsements:

“This book will prove to be a most effective weapon… against the debunking and skeptical attitudes toward the Gospels that are so prevalent, not only in academe, but also on the street, among young people who, sadly, are leaving the Churches in droves.” – Bishop Robert Barron, author of Catholicism

“Brant Pitre, who has already demonstrated his brilliant scholarship in earlier works, explains here in remarkably easy-to-understand ways why we can trust the Gospels. Behind his effective communication, however, is wide-ranging research and careful rethinking. In fact, this book has given me a number of important new matters to consider myself.” –Craig S. Keener, Asbury Theological Seminary

“The Case for Jesus topples the naïve skepticism that too often dominates the study of the Gospels by showing that the evidence for the truth of the Gospels is far stronger than is often assumed. Pitre has a unique talent for putting scholarly work of the highest caliber into an accessible and engaging form. This book should be on the shelf of every homilist, catechist, and Bible study leader.” – Mary Healy,  Sacred Heart Major Seminary 

"Brant Pitre does a stellar job setting forth a robust and rock solid case for Jesus. The sensationalistic claims of super-sceptics are exposed as a sham as Pitre provides a meticulous presentation of the evidence about the reliability of the Gospels, who Jesus thought he was, and what he means today. A balanced, sensible, and measured book that counters the spate of hyped-up conspiracy theories that do the rounds. An informative and enjoyable read. -- Michael F. Bird, Ridley College, Melbourne, Australia. 

"In this important book, one of America’s most brilliant young scholars wrestles with issues of profound importance concerning Jesus and his identity. Pitre, in a lively and direct manner informed by up-to-date scholarship, presents a case for Jesus as the divine Son of God, fully human and fully God. Along the way he bursts some scholarly bubbles and sets a much needed cat amongst the proverbial pigeons. A delight to read!" --Chris Tilling, King's College, London

“Like a room full of stale air, the popular-level conversation about Christian origins could use an open window or two.  Thankfully, we now have one in Brant Pitre’s Case for Jesus.  Personable, accessible, engaging – all supported by top-notch scholarship. Read it.” –Nicholas Perrin, Dean of the Wheaton Graduate School

Thursday, January 21, 2016

Jesus Proclaims Jubilee! 3rd Sunday in 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:

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

The Bridegroom Revealed: 2nd Sunday in Ordinary Time

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 their own 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 07, 2016

West Coast Biblical Studies Conference (Jan 29-30, 2016)

I am very excited to once again be a part of the 13th Annual West Coast Biblical Studies Conference, co-sponsored by JPCatholic University and the St. Paul Center for Biblical Theology. 

This is year presenters include Scott Hahn, John Bergsma, John Kincaid, and myself. 

The conference will be held at Our Lady of Mt. Carmel Catholic Church. 

For more details and to get tickets, go here

Here's the schedule. 

6:00pm – 9:00pm
6:00pm – 6:30pm
6:30pm – 9:00pm
Building Holy Families: Lessons from Genesis 
Dr. John Bergsma 
Jesus as the “Fulfillment” of the Law and His Teaching on Marriage in Matthew 
Dr. Michael Barber
7:30am – 4:00pm
8:00am – 12:00pm
The Family Fully Alive: The New Evangelization Begins at Home 
Dr. Scott Hahn 
Seven Habits of Holy, Effective Catholic Families 
Dr. John Bergsma 
The Age of Divine Sonship: The In-breaking of the World to Come in Romans 8 
Dr. John Kincaid
12:00 – 1:30pm
1:30pm – 4:00pm
The Family Fully Alive II: God, Fatherhood and the New Evangelization 
Dr. Scott Hahn 
Q&A Session 
Final Announcements and Prayer

Wednesday, January 06, 2016

The Baptism of the 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.

The celebrant has a choice of Readings for this Feast Day: either the standard ones for any Year (ABC: Isa 42:1–7; Ps 29:1–10; Acts 10:34-38) or optional readings (introduced in 1998) for Year C: Isa 40:1–11; Ps 104:1–30; Titus 2:11-14, 3:4-7.  In either case, the Gospel for Year C is Luke’s account of the Baptism of the Lord: Luke 3:15-16, 21-22. 

[The celebrant should pick one sequence or the other, not choose the First, Psalm, and Second Readings randomly.  Each sequence (ABC or C) has a kind of integrity and commonality of theme.  If the celebrant chooses the ABC sequence, scroll to the end of this post, where I comment on them.]

I will first comment on the Year C sequence in this post.

1. The First Reading is Is 40:1-5, 9-11: 

Friday, January 01, 2016


The Christmas season is just one joyful feast after another.  We are scarcely past the glow from the Holy Family and Mary, Mother of God, when Epiphany is already upon us.

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: