May 4, 2015Sixth Sunday of Easter (B), May 10, 2015
In the Talking Heads song “Once in a Lifetime,” the refrain repeats over and over: “Same as it ever was, same as it ever was....” Whether the refrain is meant to reflect the constancy of sameness or the inevitability of change is an open question. There is in life a tension between the predictability of change and growth and the permanence and stability of reality. The Easter experience of the apostles reveals to us to a number of ancient examples that bear...
April 27, 2015Fifth Sunday of Easter (B), May 3, 2015
We might not say it outright, although unfortunately many of us do, but we are often not convinced that so-and-so is a true Christian. We might know the person well, by public reputation or just by name, or we might not know the name of the person at all who bothers us, or worse, with their words and behavior. From a friend’s Facebook post came this comment about a Catholic politician: “You can’t be Catholic if.... And this is one of those if’s.” Thank...
April 13, 2015Third Sunday of Easter (B), April 19, 2015
To what do the apostles and the other disciples witness when they are called to be witnesses to Jesus Christ? On the one hand, they bear witness to his death: “but you rejected the Holy and Righteous One and asked to have a murderer given to you, and you killed the Author of life.” Yet, even here, the witness to the crucifixion is tied intimately to the resurrection, for the verse continues, “whom God raised from the dead. To this we are witnesses.” The...
April 13, 2015Fourth Sunday of Easter (B), April 26, 2015
In 4 Ezra 5:18, a Jewish apocalyptic text of the first century A.D., Ezra is asked by “Phaltiel, a chief of the people” whether he knows “that Israel has been entrusted to you in the land of their exile? Rise therefore and eat some bread, and do not forsake us, like a shepherd who leaves the flock in the power of savage wolves.” The image is similar to that found in the Gospel of John, in which Jesus says, “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down...
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....