Thursday, January 25, 2018

Listen to the Ultimate Prophet: 4th Sunday in OT

In the Readings for this Sunday, we are following 1 Corinthians and the Gospel of Mark ad seriatim, so there is less cohesion between the Second Reading and the Gospel than on a high feast day.

Nonetheless, the Readings this week can be linked by the theme of “hearing the voice of the prophet.”

1.  The First Reading is a very famous passage from the Book of Deuteronomy that should be familiar to every Catholic student of biblical theology:

Monday, January 22, 2018

Saturday, January 20, 2018

Come Now! Readings for 3rd Sunday of OT

In my house, not everyone comes for dinner when called.  “It’s dinner time!  Come for dinner!” I’ll call up the stairs, but only a spattering of children materializes in the kitchen—maybe three or four, but where are all the others?  So I have to search the house to find them in various corners, engrossed in some activity—reading, building something, or typing something on their laptop.  They’ve ignored my summons, or didn’t “hear” it.  A wave of frustration sweeps over me, tempered by memories of having been the same way when I was their age.  Then the words pass my lips: “Drop what you’re doing and come now!”  We can’t postpone dinner indefinitely for everyone to finish their pet project before coming to eat.

“Drop what you’re doing and come now!” fairly well summarizes the urgency of the call to repentance that forms the major theme of the Readings for the Third Sunday in Ordinary Time.  The Scriptures have been chosen to emphasize the immediate response to the call of God.

We begin with a reading from the Prophet Jonah:

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Just in time for your Ash Wednesday gift giving ...

Looking for that Ash Wednesday gift for that special person who's hard to buy for?  Look no further than Ave Maria Press and my most recent book in the Basics series ... Psalm Basics for Catholics!
 It's now available for order on Amazon and other book retailers.

I use a series of stick-figure sketches to take the reader by the hand on a tour through the "plot" of the Psalms, which turns out to be the history of the Davidic Kingdom.  (For this I am indebted to Michael Barber, Singing in the Reign, and before him, G.H. Wilson's work on the redaction of the Psalter.)

I also discuss in greater depth twenty-five psalms—five from each book—that fall into the "Absolutely Must Know" category.  The famous, the unforgettable, the pivotal ones fall into this category:  Psalm 1, 2, 8, 22, 23, 51, 72, 89, 90, 100, 110, 136, and many others.  

Did I mention that Brant Pitre and Mike Aquilina say nice things about this book, which should motivate you to purchase it?  If I didn't, let me mention that.

Monday, January 15, 2018

The Call of the Disciples: "Fishers of Men" (The Mass Readings Explained)

The video for The Mass Readings Explained for this Sunday is now out.  I hope it is helpful!

Lastly, Catholic Productions still offers a 14 day free trial for all those who may be interested in subscribing.

Thursday, January 11, 2018

The Personal God who Calls Us By Name: 2nd Sunday in OT

George Lucas’ concocted an interesting religion for his Star Wars film series by combining elements of Christianity and eastern religion.  Ultimate reality, or “God,” in Star Wars turns out to be “the Force,” an impersonal power with a “dark” and “light” side, similar to the way many forms of eastern religion conceive of the divine.  So, instead of the Christian farewell “May God be with you,” Star Wars characters say, “May the Force be with you!”

Is that the ultimate nature of reality?  An impersonal force which is neither good nor evil but somehow combines both?  Or does nature ultimately come from a loving and personal Being, who created us for a relationship with Himself?

The readings for this Sunday’s Mass come down clearly in favor of the personal view of God and reality.

1. Our First Reading recounts the call of Samuel, one of Israel’s greatest prophets, the one who would ultimately anoint Israel’s greatest king, David:

Thursday, January 04, 2018

The Readings for Epiphany

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.

The Readings for Epiphany remain the same through Years A, B, and C in the Lectionary.

1.  Our First Reading is taken from Isaiah 60:1-6: