The National Catholic Review

The Word


  • August 1-8, 2016
    Nineteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time (C), Aug. 7, 2016

    The Greek for “little flock” is mikron poimnion , and while both “little” and “flock” are important in this phrase, poimnion , “flock,” is evocative, since a poimēn is a shepherd. The “little flock” of Jesus’ disciples is like a flock of sheep who are shepherded by God. The image of the people of God as a flock of sheep does not begin with Jesus but is found in Zec 10:3 (“the Lord of hosts cares for his flock, the house of Judah”) and Jer 13:17 (“the Lord’s...

  • August 1-8, 2016
    Twentieth Sunday in Ordinary Time (C), Aug. 14, 2016

    The prophet Jeremiah felt the scorn of those who sought comfort, not God’s truth, because he spoke of God’s irrevocable judgment on Jerusalem. The officials of the king decided instead to make Jeremiah’s death inevitable, and they threw him into the cistern intending for him to die there: “There was no water in the cistern, but only mud, and Jeremiah sank in the mud.” Ultimately, Jeremiah was rescued from the cistern, but the episode points to the reality of...

  • July 18-25, 2016
    Eighteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time (C), July 31, 2016

    Jesus’ parable of the rich fool is simple—so simple to understand that it’s a wonder we fall for the conceit, not of the parable, but of riches. The parable, at root, has to do with a confusion of categories. At the center of this parable is a rich man, who believes his wealth has made him great—perhaps it will even make Judea great again—and this has led to satisfaction with himself and with his life. But he has confused earthly goods for heavenly goods, a...

  • July 18-25, 2016
    Seventeenth Sunday in Ordinary Time (C), July 24, 2016

    The Catechism of the Catholic Church outlines five different forms of prayer: prayer of blessing and adoration, prayer of petition, prayer of thanksgiving, prayer of praise and prayer of intercession (No. 2625-43). These forms of prayer, in their biblical exemplars and elsewhere, often intermingle more than one form of prayer, so that one sees together, for example, prayer of praise and petition, thanksgiving and blessing, intercession and petition. And this...

  • July 4-11, 2016
    Sixteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time (C), July 17, 2016

    Ma rtha was made for our time: busy with many things, seeking to be recognized and also, it must be said, trying to do her best. We meet her in Luke’s Gospel when Jesus comes to visit the two sisters, Mary and Martha, in their home. Mary sat at Jesus’ feet and “listened to his word,” while Martha was distracted by “much service.” Indeed, Martha was so distracted by her own work that she complained that her sister was not helping her, a complaint that rings true in our own day as...

  • July 4-11, 2016
    Fifteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time (C), July 10, 2016

    In Colossians, traditionally understood to have been written by the apostle Paul, Christ is described as “the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation,” and it is said that “in him all things in heaven and on earth were created, things visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or powers—all things have been created through him and for him.” This presentation of glorious majesty, apart from reflecting the reality of Christ’s lordship, seems also...

  • June 20-27, 2016
    Thirteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time (C), June 26, 2016

    There are different ways to understand freedom. There is childhood freedom, which remains linked to the carefree days of summer, peddling furiously to the playground to join friends in a game of baseball or to go swimming. The summer idyll reflects freedom from responsibility. Others view freedom as the choice to live your life however you choose, unencumbered by religious morality or authority figures. This is freedom as license. There is also the liberty...

  • June 20-27, 2016
    Fourteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time (C), July 3, 2016

    In the Apostle Paul’s letters, especially in Galatians, Paul sees boasting as the core of the spiritual sins that haunt the church. Boasting reflects more than just a problematic personality or character trait. For Paul, boasting in anything other than Christ is a sign of the “old creation,” a refusal to be transformed by Christ into a “new creation.” The cross, though, is the emblem of how the old ways are made new in Christ....

  • June 6-13, 2016
    Eleventh Sunday in Ordinary Time (C), June 12, 2016

    A tension in the church today mimics a tension Jesus felt with the religious experts of his own day: Why did Jesus welcome sinners without asking for a change or transformation, a turn away from their sin? Some Catholics sense something similar going on with Pope Francis. Why does Francis seem to water down the faith, welcoming in those who seem at odds with the teaching of the church? Jesus did, of course, ask sinners to stop sinning, as does Pope Francis;...

  • June 6-13, 2016
    Twelfth Sunday in Ordinary Time (C), June 19, 2016

    Matters of personal identity loom large in today’s culture. Yet elements of identity that once seemed stable, like gender, are often seen today as products of self-construction. These elements, which might also include sexuality and definitions of family, create a fluidity of self-identity that seems to leave no solid ground, no stable place.

    Many Christians find that this sort of shifting ground wreaks havoc on traditional...