Monday, December 30, 2019

The Solemnity of Mary Mother of God

January 1 is the Solemnity (Holy Day) of Mary, Mother of God.  To call Mary the “Mother of God” must not be understood as a claim for Mary’s motherhood of divinity itself, but in the sense that Mary was mother of Jesus, who is truly God.  The Council of Ephesus in 431—long before the schisms with the Eastern churches and the Protestants—proclaimed “Mother of God” a theologically correct title for Mary. 

So far from being a cause of division, the common confession of Mary as “Mother of God” should unite all Christians, and distinguish Christian orthodoxy from various confusions of it, such as Arianism (the denial that Jesus was God) or Nestorianism (in which Mary mothers only the human nature of Jesus but not his whole person).

Two themes are present in the Readings for this Solemnity: (1) the person of Mary, and (2) the name of Jesus.   Why the name of Jesus? Prior to the second Vatican Council, the octave day of Christmas was the Feast of the Holy Name, not Mary Mother of God.  The legacy of that tradition can be seen in the choice of Readings for this Solemnity.  (The Feast of the Holy Name was removed from the calendar after Vatican II; St. John Paul II restored it as an optional memorial on January 3, which this year falls on this coming Friday. While the Holy Name is an optional memorial, The Solemnity of Mary Mother of God on January 1 is a holy day of obligation, meaning that it is a mortal sin knowingly and consciously to skip mass on that day.)

1.  The First Reading is Numbers 6:22-27

The Epiphany (The Mass Readings Explained)

The Mystery of the Magi and the Epiphany: This week's video for The Mass Readings Explained...  Enjoy!

Friday, December 27, 2019

The Readings for Holy Family Sunday

The Sunday that falls in the Octave of the Solemnity of Christmas is dedicated to celebrating the Holy Family.  The Readings for this Sunday focus on the rights and responsibilities of family members toward each other, and the Gospel focuses on the role of the “most forgotten” member of the Holy Family, St. Joseph, who cared for and protected the Blessed Mother and infant Jesus through the dangerous early years of Jesus’ childhood.

1.  The First Reading is Sirach 3:2-6, 12-14:

Monday, December 23, 2019

Christmas is Here! Readings for the Nativity

The Christmas Solemnity has distinct readings for four separate masses:  Vigil, Midnight, Dawn, and Day.  They stay the same from year to year, so below are my annual comments, only lightly revised.  Merry Christmas!

Christmas Vigil Mass

1. Reading 1 Is 62:1-5:

The Holy Family (The Mass Readings Explained)

This week's video for The Mass Readings Explained is now out.  Check it out below, and Merry Christmas to you and yours!

Friday, December 20, 2019

Letting God In: 4th Sunday of Advent

As Christians, we tend to assume that the idea of God coming into ones’ life is always an attractive concept.  However, that’s a bit na├»ve.  Having the almighty creator of the universe come into one’s reality could also be an upsetting prospect.  When doing evangelism, I have encountered people who understood the concept of “letting Jesus into your life” very well, but didn’t want that to happen, because it might upset the apple cart, so to speak.  A God living within you might want to change things.  He might want to take over.  Are we ready for that?
In this Sunday’s Readings, we encounter situations in which people found the “invasion” of God into their lives a little bit distressing.  The Readings remind us that Jesus is not a passive presence within us.  He is a meek and humble babe, yes: but also a challenging Lord.

1.  The First Reading is from Is 7:10-14:

Monday, December 16, 2019

Born of the Virgin Mary (The Mass Readings Explained)

This week's video for the 4th Sunday of Advent is now out.  You can subscribe today to watch the full video as well as my commentary on the new expanded portion of this series as I take you through the 2nd reading at Mass (primarily from the Letters of St. Paul).

Wednesday, December 11, 2019

Joyful When Nothing Is Going Well: Gaudete Sunday Year A

I always take consolation from the example of saints who faced death in the middle of a historical situation that offered little in the way of hope.  Three in particular come to mind: St. Augustine died with an army of Arian Goths surrounding Hippo in what looked like the end for Western Christian civilization.  St. Thomas More was executed at a time when it looked like all was lost for the Church in England.  St. Maximillian Kolbe was killed when it looked like German Fascism was going to triumph over Christianity in Europe. 

It’s hard to wait for salvation, especially when everything around you seems to be getting worse, not better.  That was the case for two figures that we encounter in this Sunday’s readings: Isaiah and John the Baptist.  Together, these two prophets teach us how to wait with faith and courage, even when the winds of history seem to be thrashing us and threatening to collapse everything around our ears.

1.  Our First Reading is Is 35:1-6a, 10:

Announcing "Salvation" - the New Video Study

I am very pleased to announce that you can now purchase this new video study based on my book, Salvation: What Every Catholic Should Know (Augustine Institute / Ignatius Press, 2019). It comes with a leader guide and participant workbook. The series takes you chapter by chapter through the book, explaining why salvation in the New Testament is “Not Self-Help,” “Not Just Fire Insurance,” “Not Merely Personal,” etc. I am very grateful to the Augustine Institute for investing in this project. It can be used for group or personal study. Here is a link to the whole bundle. You can also purchase items (e.g., the DVDs) individually.

Monday, December 02, 2019

The Jesse Tree and John the Baptist (The Mass Readings Explained)

This week's video is now out for the 2nd Sunday of Advent.  Check it out and subscribe today to the new expanded version of The Mass Readings Explained if you'd like to see more.