September 1, 2017

Friday of the Twenty-first Week in Ordinary Time [I]
1 Thessalonians 4:1-8  +  Matthew 25:1-13

“Therefore, stay awake, for you know neither the day nor the hour.”

The parable that Jesus teaches in today’s Gospel passage presents at the outset a question which can prevent us from reaching down into Jesus’ point.  We might well ask, “Why are there ten virgins but only one bridegroom?”  What is the setting or background to this story that Jesus is telling?  Scholars may debate such points, but for ordinary Christians like ourselves, it would be more fruitful to set aside such speculation, and dwell instead on applying the parable to our own spiritual lives today. Continue reading

August 31, 2017

Thursday of the Twenty-first Week in Ordinary Time [I]
1 Thessalonians 3:7-13  +  Matthew 24:42-51

“‘Stay awake!’”

I’m sure all of us have had experiences throughout our lives where we struggled to stay awake.  Maybe those experiences were experiences of waiting for someone to return home late at night.  In such a case, you might have experienced any sort of emotion:  perhaps joy, or perhaps fear, or perhaps anger.  Maybe the experience was one of driving late at night, anxious and exhausted, to reach a far-off destination.  Maybe the experience was one of finishing a project, paper, or report for school or the office:  such an experience may have been fraught with fear. Continue reading

August 30, 2017

Wednesday of the Twenty-first Week in Ordinary Time [I]
1 Thessalonians 2:9-13  +  Matthew 23:27-32

“‘Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, you hypocrites.’”

The next time sometime suggests to you that Jesus was nothing more than a teddy bear, point out today’s Gospel passage.  One of several things will happen.  That someone may recognize that he’s mistaken.  Or that someone may suggest—as some scholars actually do—that this passage was made up, and that Jesus never said what this passage records Him as saying.  Or that someone might suggest that it’s only against people like the scribes and Pharisees that Jesus ever spoke in such a way. Continue reading

The Passion of St. John the Baptist

The Passion of St. John the Baptist
1 Thessalonians 2:1-8  +  Mark 6:17-29
August 29, 2017

“When his disciples heard about it, they came and took his body and laid it in a tomb.”

How did Saint John the Baptist get to be strong enough to speak the truth, even when he knew that it could mean the end of his life?

John constantly preached and practiced penance.  Before Jesus’ Baptism of the Holy Spirit, Saint John preached a different baptism.  Saint John preached a baptism of penance.  Like the Old Testament prophets, Saint John fasted in the desert so that he would be strong enough to speak the truth. Continue reading

St. Augustine of Hippo

St. Augustine of Hippo, Bishop and Doctor of the Church
1 Thessalonians 1:1-5,8-10  +  Matthew 23:13-22
August 28, 2017

“‘You do not enter yourselves, nor do you allow entrance to those trying to enter.’”

Christians often confess the sin of anger, perhaps without considering that anger cannot only be justified at times, but indeed can at times even be righteous.  Perhaps the most famous example from the earthly life of our Savior is His overturning the tables of the money-changers in the Temple.  However, the words of Jesus also at times demonstrate anger on His part.  His words in today’s Gospel passage could hardly have been spoken without anger.  But when justified, anger must be directed to an object deserving anger.  What is the object of Jesus’ condemnation today? Continue reading

The 21st Sunday in Ordinary Time [A]

The Twenty-first Sunday in Ordinary Time [A]
Isa 22:19-23  +  Rom 11:33-36  +  Mt 16:13-20
August 27, 2017

“‘…you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build my Church….’”

Rock collectors aren’t known as dynamic and charismatic folks.  Most of us probably wonder why anyone would bother with such a hobby.  It’s not just that rocks are lifeless:  after all, postage stamps are lifeless, but can be very colorful and historical.  Rocks, however, are dull in more ways than one, and seemingly good for little except holding things down, like a paperweight.

So is Jesus insulting Simon when He gives him the name “Peter”, which literally means “rock”?  Is Jesus suggesting that Simon is hard-headed, lifeless, dull, and good for little?  The Gospel accounts that feature Simon Peter show that, in terms of temperament and traits, he was hard-headed and occasionally dull of mind.  So why would Jesus appoint such a man to the key role within His Church on earth:  the office of the Pope?

The answer has more to do with Peter’s office than his personality.  In other words, “Peter” is a job description, as Jesus explains in the same sentence in which He names Peter.  Jesus tells Simon Peter:  “…upon this rock I will build my Church, and the gates of the netherworld shall not prevail against it.”  Jesus’ description of Peter’s new job makes it clear how important it is, and how literally foundational.  Upon a single rock Jesus wants to build His Church, and Simon Peter is the right man for the job. Continue reading

August 26, 2017

Saturday of the Twentieth Week in Ordinary Time [I]
Ruth 2:1-3,8-11;4:13-17  +  Matthew 23:1-12

“‘… you have but one Father in Heaven.’”

Today’s Gospel passage contains a verse that some Christians quote to “prove” that one of Catholics’ most common practices is “unbiblical”.  Jesus declares, “Call no one on earth your father; you have but one Father in heaven.”  These words of Jesus would seem to condemn the Catholic practice of addressing a priest as “Father”, as well as referring to the Pope as the “Holy Father”. Continue reading

August 25, 2017

Friday of the Twentieth Week in Ordinary Time [I]
Ruth 1:1,3-6,14-16,22  +  Matthew 22:34-40

“‘The whole law and the prophets depends on these two commandments.’”

When we were little we were expected to memorize the basic truths of our Faith.  At the top of the list were the Ten Commandments, which are difficult for a child to memorize.  Today’s Gospel passage offers a clue to help us to remember—or to teach—the Ten Commandments more easily. Continue reading

St. Bartholomew, Apostle

St. Bartholomew, Apostle
Revelation 21:9-14  +  John 1:45-51
August 24, 2017

“‘Come and see.’”

When Philip points out Jesus as the promised Messiah, what does Nathaniel—also known as Bartholomew—say?  We can almost see Nathaniel shrugging his shoulders as he says, “Can anything good come from Nazareth?”  In one sentence, he insults both Jesus, and Jesus’ hometown.  Clearly, he does not have faith at this point. Continue reading