The National Catholic Review

The Word


  • August 29-September 6, 2016
    Twenty-third Sunday in Ordinary Time (C), Sept. 4, 2016

    The Gospel of Luke has a central message: God’s mercy, in the person of Jesus Christ, has been offered to all without exception. God’s gracious gift, however, has one limitation, which is our willingness to respond to God’s mercy. And while God’s mercy evokes a “feel-good” response—endless GIFs of cuddly cats and infants taking their first steps—discipleship, the result of responding to God’s mercy, has a price. On the road to Jerusalem, Jesus asks his...

  • August 29-September 6, 2016
    Twenty-fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time (C), Sept. 11, 2016

    I hate sin. Not enough to stop doing it, try as I might, but I truly hate it. The older I get, the more I recognize sin as persistent foolishness, darkness and nothingness that pulls me away from God, whispers false promises in my ears about new pleasures, asks, “Why not?” or assures me, “You deserve it!” With the purported author of Psalm 51, King David, I can say with honesty that “I know my transgressions, and my sin is ever before me.” And I know now,...

  • August 15-22, 2016
    Twenty-first Sunday in Ordinary Time (C), Aug. 21, 2016

    God is for us, on our side. This can sometimes be hard to believe as we struggle with our own daily battles or as we take in today’s new terrorist horror, failed coup, refugee exodus, unarmed black man shot dead or police executed by an unhinged civilian.

    God is good; this is the truth at the heart of the cosmos. This can seem impossible, betrayed by the daily doses of violence and cruelty. Goodness seems soft and weak, while...

  • August 15-22, 2016
    Twenty-second Sunday in Ordinary Time (C), Aug. 28, 2016

    Honor, and who is honorable, differs not only across time but across cultures in our own time and among different classes even within our own culture. In certain subcultures, like academia or show business, a frivolous matter, like where one sits or when one speaks, can create honor. In some cultures a family’s honor is considered besmirched by behavior that would not create a whisper of dissent elsewhere. Just last month a young Pakistani Muslim woman was...

  • 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...