The National Catholic Review

The Word


  • December 7-14, 2015
    Fourth Sunday of Advent (C), Dec. 20, 2015

    The coming of the Messiah seems to be so small, so little, that it is breathtaking when you recognize the truth of the incarnation as God’s majesty coming to live among lost humanity. God chose to be born as an infant among us, one like any other, the Messiah Jesus coming as a baby boy to a world so rough and cruel. He was a child utterly dependent upon his parents for his care and sustenance. He was so small, so little.


  • December 7-14, 2015
    Third Sunday of Advent (C), Dec. 13, 2015

    Throughout the biblical tradition, in both the Old and New Testament, there are prophetic denunciations of sin, personal and corporate, that call people back to the ways of God. What often gets lost is that these exhortations are not intended primarily as threats to condemn but as wakeup calls for people lost in the false promises of the world. The prophetic call to repent is a gift of forgiveness, an invitation to freedom, a promise of love. It offers the...

  • November 30, 2015
    Second Sunday of Advent (C), Dec. 6, 2015

    Preparation for the coming of the Lord is not simply an individual task, though it incorporates personal holiness and love, but there is most prominently an ecclesial dimension, in which the whole people of God await Christ’s parousia so that they might return home to the Promised Land, the kingdom of God. To prepare, we wait for what God will do for us and we act to make God known to the world around us.

    The text of Baruch,...

  • November 23, 2015
    First Sunday of Advent (C), Nov. 29, 2015

    While the season of Advent is imbued with remembering, recalling Christ’s first coming as an infant, when divinity became incarnate, it is also a time of anticipation, as we reflect on and await Christ’s second coming. But Advent is not only a celebration of the past and an eager expectation of the future; it is a season that asks us to meditate on the present and delight in Christ’s presence with us now. It is this very season that concentrates our hearts,...

  • November 16, 2015
    Christ the King (B), Nov. 22, 2015

    The political context in which Pope Pius XI, by the encyclical “Quas Primas,” established the feast of Christ the King in 1925 was the still unresolved Roman Question, which concerned the papacy and the Kingdom of Italy regarding the temporal authority of the popes and the Papal States. For those of us who have grown up with the separation of church and state, the Papal States are a distant historical oddity.

    Yet, even if...

  • November 9, 2015
    Thirty-third Sunday in Ordinary Time (B), Nov. 15, 2015

    When Jesus outlines the apocalyptic scenario found in the Gospel of Mark, he warns “but about that day or hour, no one knows, neither the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father.” Patristic discussion of this verse focused on what this admission indicated about Jesus’ divinity and the relationship between Jesus’ divine and human knowledge, but in context the intent of this saying points to the need for vigilance and perseverance regarding the...

  • November 2, 2015
    Thirty-second Sunday in Ordinary Time (B), Nov. 8, 2015

    Concerns about the economic teachings of Pope Francis, that he is a Marxist for instance, are bandied about whenever he criticizes unfettered capitalism. These concerns ought to be forwarded to a higher source, since the pope’s critique stems not from modern political divisions but from the biblical call to offer justice to those in need. For it is God “who executes justice for the oppressed; who gives food to the hungry…. He upholds the orphan and the widow...

  • October 26, 2015
    Solemnity of All Saints (B), Nov. 1, 2015

    Apart from brothers and sisters, the most common term the Apostle Paul uses to describe his fellow Christians is saints ( hagioi , “holy ones”). In English, forms of the root hagi- , which might appear as nouns, adjectives or verbs, are translated as “holy,” “holy one,” “holiness,” “sanctification,” “sanctified” and “saints.” Christian are all saints: holy ones, set aside for God. Holiness is not something reserved for the special few followers of Christ but...

  • October 19, 2015
    Thirtieth Sunday in Ordinary Time (B), Oct. 25, 2015

    When Jesus encounters the blind man Bartimaeus, son of Timaeus, in Mark’s Gospel, he has just unveiled the last of the three Passion predictions, in which he explains the suffering and death that await him in Jerusalem. Jesus is leaving Jericho on the way to his destiny in Jerusalem, and Bartimaeus is begging on the roadside. The identification of Bartimaeus by not only his given name but his father’s name as well is unusually precise and detailed for Mark....

  • October 12, 2015
    Twenty-Ninth Sunday in Ordinary Time (B), Oct 18, 2015

    In Chapters 40 to 55 of Isaiah, there are four passages known as the Servant Songs. One of them, quoted as today’s first reading, is about the “suffering servant.” One wonders what it was like to read about this suffering servant in Isaiah, where we hear, “It was the will of the Lord to crush him with pain,” apart from an encounter with the life and death of Jesus. How were these verses understood, in which we are told, “The righteous one, my servant, shall...