April 6, 2015Second Sunday of Easter (B), April 12, 2015
Many Catholics today are rightfully dismayed by divisive arguments among fellow Christians over matters as diverse as liturgy, the pope, politics and morality. Only the strong of heart dare venture near online comboxes on certain Catholic websites. Such disagreements, oftentimes petty, sometimes significant, stand in sharp contrast to the second summary in the Acts of the Apostles on the state of the early church.
March 30, 2015Easter (B), April 5, 2015
All the Gospels recall that on the second morning after Jesus was laid in the tomb, Mary Magdalene and other women were the first to arrive at the tomb to care for Jesus’ body, but his body was not in the tomb. It would be a strange account to concoct. Why? James Dunn says in Jesus Remembered, “As is well known, in Middle Eastern society of the time women were not regarded as reliable witnesses: a woman’s testimony in court was heavily discounted.
March 23, 2015Palm Sunday of the Lord’s Passion (B), March 29, 2015
If the Gospel accounts stopped just after Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday, how would you imagine the next few days playing out? The Gospel of John quotes Zec 9:9–10 as Jesus enters the city: “Look, your king is coming, sitting on a donkey’s colt!” The people were taking “branches of palm trees” and going “out to meet him, shouting, ‘Hosanna! Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord—the King of Israel!’” The scene could easily be...
March 16, 2015Fifth Sunday of Lent (B), March 22, 2015
When we hear of the martyrdom of Christians, like the 21 Coptic Christians killed in Libya recently, we identify with them immediately as disciples of Jesus and as our brothers and sisters in Christ. However little we might know about the history of the Coptic Christians, in their suffering witness we recognize them as family, servants of Christ. Martyrdom purges the ephemera of human life to reveal its cruciform meaning.
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.