Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Even the Dead Obey Him: Readings for the 5th Sunday of Lent

In the season of Lent, the Gospel of John becomes very prominent, especially in Year A, the readings of which can be used in any year that a parish is doing RCIA.

Unlike the other Gospels, John recounts only a limited number of miracles of Jesus, which he designates as “signs,” a rare term in the other Gospels.  Although John tells us of only a few miracles, he describes them in much greater depth than the other gospel writers do.  This is quite evident in this weekend’s Gospel reading, in which we get a very lengthy description of all the events surrounding the resurrection of Lazarus from the dead.

Monday, March 27, 2017

Jesus Wept: The Raising of Lazarus (The Mass Readings Explained)

My latest video for this Sunday's Mass readings is now out: Jesus Wept - The Raising of Lazarus. Check it out and please Like and Share. Thanks!

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Anointed with Light: Readings for Laetare Sunday

The drama increases as we progress toward Easter.  This Sunday’s readings are united by the themes of anointing and light.

The First Reading (1 Sam 16:1-13) recounts Samuel’s anointing of David as King over Israel.  Samuel journeys to Jesse of Bethlehem, and scrutinizes each of his sons in search of God’s chosen king, but to no avail.  Finally, the youngest of the eight, David, is called in from shepherding the sheep.  This at last is the future king:

Monday, March 20, 2017

Conference on Pentateuch is Epic Success

Speakers at the conference, "Paradigm Change in Pentateuchal Research," from left to right: Lina Petersen, Eckart Otto, Benjamin Kilchör, Jan Retso, Fr. Georg Fischer SJ, Richard Averbeck, Carsten Vang, Joshua Berman, Koert van Bekkum, John Bergsma, Markus Zehnder, Pekka Pitkännen, Mattias Armgardt, Guido Pfeiffer, Kenneth Bergland.  Sandra Richter participated via teleconferencing.

The international conference "Paradigm Change in Pentateuchal Research" held this past week (March 16-18) at the Staatsunabhängige Theologische Hochschule Basel (State-Independent Theological College of Basel) was a stunning success.  Bringing together scholars in Pentateuch and cognate fields (History of Law, ANE Linguistics) from around the world, the conference explored ways of interpreting the Pentateuch apart from the now-discredited Wellhausenian paradigm.  Studies in biblical intertextuality, linguistics, source criticism, hermeneutics, and the history of ANE societies tended to converge, making it possible to understand the Pentateuch as a more coherent document from an earlier period in Israel's history than has been commonly recognized in the Wellhausenian tradition and its derivatives.  Highlights were comprehensive critiques of Pentateuchal criticism as usually practiced from Georg Fischer and Richard Averbeck, a remarkable dialogue between Eckart Otto and Benjamin Kilchör on the relative dating of Deuteronomy and the Priestly materials; and innovative presentations from Lina Peterson and Sandra Richter on the historical development of Israel's language and economy, respectively, and the implications for Pentateuchal composition.

The Spit of Jesus and the Man Born Blind (The Mass Readings Explained)

My latest video on "The Spit of Jesus & the Man Born Blind" for this upcoming Sunday's Mass readings is now out! Check it out and please Like and Share. Thanks!

Thursday, March 16, 2017

The Bridegroom Messiah Suddenly Arrives: Readings for the 3rd Sunday of Lent

You know we are “picking up steam” in the season of Lent when the Lectionary starts turning to the long readings from the Gospel of John (John 4, 9, 11).  The Church turns to these texts from John at this point in the liturgical calendar, because John is, in so many ways, a mystagogical document, a gospel intended to takes us deeper into the mysteries, that is, the sacraments.

If one is not initiated into the sacraments, John remains—in many respects—a closed book.  I can attest to this from personal experience.  Although I have always loved my name-sake Gospel more than any other part of Scripture, I virtually never preached from it in while I was a Protestant pastor.  I was enthralled with the words and fascinated with the realities behind them, but wasn’t sure what the application was for texts like John 4 or John 6.  The problem lay in the fact that, as a Christian outside the visible Church, I was only partially initiated into the sacraments.  Not having experienced the sacraments, I could not recognize when Jesus was speaking of them.

Monday, March 13, 2017

Jesus and the Woman at the Well (The Mass Readings Explained)

The video for this Sunday's Mass readings is now out. I hope it is helpful! Please Like and Share! Thanks!

Wednesday, March 08, 2017

Beginning the Journey of Faith: The 2nd Sunday of Lent

This Sunday we are only eleven days into Lent, still very early along on our Lenten pilgrimage.  The readings share the theme of beginning the journey of faith, even while giving us a glimpse of our final destination.

In all three years of the lectionary cycle (A, B, C), the readings for the Second Sunday of Lent always pair a key pericope from the Abraham narrative (Gen 12-22) with an account of the Transfiguration from one of the Synoptic Gospels.  This is because, in all the Gospels, the Transfiguration marks “the beginning of the end” of Jesus’ earthly life.  After the Transfiguration, Jesus “sets his face toward Jerusalem” (Luke 9:51) and begins the “death march” toward the Holy City that will culminate in Passion Week and his crucifixion.  The Readings pair the beginning of Jesus’ journey to his death with accounts of Abraham’s life, because Abraham is remembered as the paradigmatic figure of the Old Testament who went on a “journey of faith” that culminated in the sacrifice of an “only begotten son” (see Gen 22:2 in the RSVCE2).  So Jesus and Abraham are linked as men who journeyed in faith.  Likewise, Lent is, for each one of us, a journey of faith toward greater holiness.

1. The First Reading is the famous opening of the Abraham narrative from Genesis, recounting God’s initial call to Abram while he was still in Ur:

Monday, March 06, 2017

The Mystery of the Transfiguration (The Mass Readings Explained)

My latest video for this upcoming Sunday's Mass readings now now out. Please Like and Share if you can. Thank you!

Wednesday, March 01, 2017

Ash Wednesday Readings Commentary

Welcome to Lent, Everybody!

Time for my annual commentary on the Readings:

Jesus the New Adam: Readings for the 1st Sunday of Lent

The readings for today’s Mass are exceptionally rich and could be the subject of several week’s worth of lectures, so we will have to limit ourselves today to a few central themes.

The First Reading is the account of the Fall, in which Eve, followed by Adam, gives in to temptation by eating the fruit of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil.  This Reading sets up Adam as a foil for Jesus, who will be tempted in three ways in the desert. 

1. Our First Reading is Gn 2:7-9; 3:1: