October 31, 2016Thirty-second Sunday in Ordinary Time (C), Nov. 6, 2016
St. Augustine defined martyrdom in this way: “It is the reason why, not the suffering that constitutes the martyr.” The “reason why” is the martyr’s “witness” (Greek martys ) to the truth, regardless of the consequences, strengthened and guarded by God to remain faithful. The Christian understanding of martyrdom does not require that one must die, though at various times throughout history, including our own, Christian witness has led to death....
October 24, 2016Thirty-first Sunday in Ordinary Time (C), Oct. 30, 2016
Since there are so many books in the Bible, each coming from a particular time and place, it can be difficult to make generalizations about what the corpus of biblical literature states. Given the historical conditions and cultural and political realities of each book, not to mention developing theologies, what “the Bible says” often depends on the time period in which a book emerged. Each text was written by human authors who “made use of their...
October 17, 2016Thirtieth Sunday in Ordinary Time (C), Oct. 23, 2016
The introductory line to Jesus’ parable of the Pharisee and the tax collector is as important to understand as is the parable itself. The Gospel of Luke, the only Gospel in which this parable is found, sets the scene. Following the parable of the unjust judge and the widow, Jesus “also told this parable to some who trusted in themselves that they were righteous and regarded others with contempt.” Jesus told this parable “to some,” who were standing...
October 10, 2016Twenty-ninth Sunday in Ordinary Time (C), Oct. 16, 2016
The spiritual life is often likened in the New Testament to a battle against foes. Jesus describes establishing God’s kingdom by tying up the strong man, Satan, and plundering his house (Mk 3:22-27), and the apostle Paul instructs the Christians in Thessalonica to “be sober, and put on the breastplate of faith and love, and for a helmet the hope of salvation” in order to be armored for the spiritual fight (1 Thes 5:8). The foes against which one fights might be...
October 3, 2016Twenty-eighth Sunday in Ordinary Time (C), Oct. 9, 2016
The story of 10 lepers being healed is found only in Luke’s Gospel and represents an event that takes place as Jesus and his apostles are travelling toward Jerusalem. Though short, the account is full of salvific meaning. Numerous scholars have pointed to the geographical difficulty in the description of Jesus “going through the region between Samaria and Galilee,” since no such geographical region exists, but Joseph Fitzmyer, S.J., must be correct when he says the...
September 26, 2016Twenty-seventh Sunday in Ordinary Time (C), Oct. 2, 2016
There are two parts to today’s Gospel reading from Luke, which readers sometimes struggle to connect. In one, the apostles ask for faith from Jesus (17:5-6); the other is a parable about a master and slaves that is found only in Luke’s Gospel. They are connected by more than just proximity, but understanding each of these passages on its own terms allows us to understand how the two parts fit together.
September 19, 2016Twenty-sixth Sunday in Ordinary Time (C), Sept. 25, 2016
If you are not interested in caring for those in need, have no fear, God is on watch for them. Do not worry. The psalmist tells us that “the Lord watches over the strangers; he upholds the orphan and the widow.” Though God would prefer that we join in on the watch, even if we ignore the plight of those in need, or turn from the suffering, God will not turn away or forget them.
On the other hand, even if you have no particular concern...
September 12, 2016Twenty-fifth Sunday in Ordinary Time (C), Sept. 18, 2016
The complexity of the parable of the dishonest manager, found in Luke’s Gospel alone, did not stop the church fathers from cutting to the heart of the matter. Jesus commended the dishonest manager for slashing the amount of money the debtors owed to his master and encouraged his listeners to also “make friends for yourselves by means of dishonest wealth, so that when it is gone, they may welcome you into the eternal homes.” The commendation of the...
August 29-September 6, 2016Twenty-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 29-September 6, 2016Twenty-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...