March 9, 2015Fourth Sunday of Lent (B), March 15, 2015
One of the darkest times in the life of the Jewish people was the destruction of Jerusalem and the Temple by the Babylonians and the subsequent exile of the people of God. According to the Chronicler, this was not an action God wanted, “but they kept mocking the messengers of God, despising his words, and scoffing at his prophets, until the wrath of the Lord against his people became so great that there was no remedy.” Only then did the Babylonians come.
March 2, 2015Third Sunday of Lent (B), March 8, 2015
There is no question about the centrality of the Ten Commandments to Judaism and subsequently to Christianity. The Ten Words, as the Old Testament itself calls them (Ex 34:28; Dt 4:13), or Decalogue, which God spoke to Moses, resonate down through the centuries into our lives. The Catechism of the Catholic Church (Nos. 2056-63), however, stresses not just the importance of the commandments but their embeddedness in the lives of the people of Israel....
February 23, 2015Second Sunday of Lent (B), March 1, 2015
The first thing Abraham had to do was listen to God, but Abraham also had to be willing to hear God, no matter the word spoken. And the word Abraham first heard from God, the command to sacrifice his beloved son Isaac, remains even now at some level inconceivable and incomprehensible. Why would God ask Abraham to kill the child in whom the divine promises of Israel were embedded?
February 16, 2015First Sunday of Lent (B), Feb. 22, 2015
Many theological reasons for Jesus’ baptism have been proposed, explaining it as a sacramental model for the church, an act of solidarity with sinful humanity or “a manifestation of his self-emptying” (Catechism of the Catholic Church, No. 1224), but any answer must stress that “the baptism of Jesus is on his part the acceptance and inauguration of his...
February 9, 2015Sixth Sunday in Ordinary Time (B), Feb. 15, 2015
In Impurity and Sin in Ancient Judaism, Jonathan Klawans outlines the differences between ritual impurity and moral impurity. Moral impurity, which includes acts like adultery and murder, comprises a category of impure, sinful acts. Ritual impurity includes natural processes, like childbirth, marital sexual relations and menstruation, and does not reflect sinfulness. Leprosy, which designates any number of skin diseases, falls under the category of...
February 2, 2015Fifth Sunday in Ordinary Time (B), Feb. 8, 2015
Our evaluation of work is equivocal. A person without work is in a precarious situation, financially and emotionally, and being jobless can erode a sense of worth. But those lucky enough to have jobs seem always to be plotting when to retire. Although work is sometimes a burden, it is also necessary. The tension between the need to work and the desire to leave it behind is inherent in the human condition.
January 19-26, 2015Fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time (B), Feb. 1, 2015
We are all formally students for some time in our lives, and it is best to remain informal students throughout our lives, for there is no point at which there is not something we can learn. At the same time, most of us function as teachers at many points in our lives, some of us professionally but most of us casually, guiding and directing people in ways that might even escape us.
January 19-26, 2015Third Sunday in Ordinary Time (B), Jan. 25, 2015
When is the best time to repent? Now. Now is the time. Now is always the time. Who knows whether there will be time if you wait? This seems to be the approach of the Ninevites, who appear in the prophetic book of Jonah as the most eager of penitents. Scholars do not see Jonah as a historical account of a mission to Nineveh, but a didactic tale, even a satire, in which irony abounds.
January 5-12, 2015Second Sunday in Ordinary Time (B), Jan. 18, 2015
How do relationships begin? There is naturally not just one way, one place or one word needed to start a relationship. But is there a common process by which friendship is built from nothing to the point that neither party can imagine life without the other? Some friendships begin in childhood, their origins hazy with time, while others start late in life; but some factors, it seems, are essential to every friendship.
January 5-12, 2015Baptism of the Lord (B), Jan. 11, 2015
In a number of Servant Songs in Isaiah, a mysterious individual appears who sometimes represents the nation of Israel, though later Christians understood him to represent Jesus. In Isaiah 42, this person is designated “my servant” (ebed in Hebrew), while in the Septuagint “my child” (Greek pais) is identified with the nation of Israel. But whether we see the servant, God’s child, as the nation of Israel or as a prefiguring of Jesus Christ, God’s...