Motherhood and Salvation

I think the Gospel reading for this week – Mt 15:21-28, The Healing of the Canaanite Woman’s Daughter – is pregnant with eschatological meaning. 20th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year AIsa 56:1, 6-7Ro 11:13-15, 29-32Mt 15:21-28“O woman, great is your faith! Let it be done for you as you wish.” And her daughter was healed from that hour. (Mt 15:28) The woman, who calls Jesus “Lord” and “Son of David,” asks for mercy on herself, but in doing so is actually referring to her daughter’s ailment. She is, ...

Walking on Water

I love the readings for this week. The Gospel reading is one of those stories that even unbelievers are familiar with – Jesus walking on the water. It has become a cultural reference, and the phrase “he walks on water” has come to have an immediately identifiable meaning. The Gospel story, for its part, is taken as evidence of (or at least a claim for) the Divinity of Christ. But, interestingly, in this Matthean version, unlike the parallel in Mark, Peter also walks on water, if only briefly. This suggests some magnificent things about...

God’s Treasure

A few years ago, I started teaching a unit called "Biblical Themes" in the parish Confirmation Prep program. I was given six 90-minute sessions to work with, and no curricula whatsoever. Since I was recruited for the task a mere week before classes were to begin, I didn’t have a lot of time to plan out the program, but I relished the idea of having such free reign to come up with six Biblical lessons for the high school kids. I quickly sketched out a plan of study that I can only describe now as grossly optimistic. It involved touching ea...

“Terror All Around!”

12th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year A Jer 20:10-13; Rom 5:12-15; Mt 10:26-33 “Terror All Around! Denounce him! Let us denounce him!” (Jer 20:10) ◊ It would seem that Jeremiah had come to be known among his “friends” and co-religionists as “Terror All Around.” Perhaps they had grown weary of hearing him repeat the phrase. Nobody likes a whiner, and particularly odious is anyone who dares to suggest that the “good guys” might not be square with God. There is something at once disarming yet alarming about Jeremiah: J...

Turning Aside from the Way Ordained

Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father in heaven. Matt 7:21 (NAB) 9th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year A Deut 11.18, 26-28, 32 Rom 3.21-25, 28 Matt 7.21-27 (view the readings at the USCCB site) Very interesting how the two reading cycles converge in today’s liturgy – which they certainly don’t always do. The first reading is not on a cycle, but is usually an Old Testament reading that somehow typifies, or at least contextualizes, the reading ...

Ransomed From Your Empty Way of Life

There is a strand of thought in Christianity which supposes that each person, to be saved, is obliged to believe in Jesus as the Christ, wherein they will be judged righteous by God, with no reference to the lives they have led (i.e. their works). I think this is an oversimplification, failing to grasp either the defining significance of our lived lives, or the complex character of a believing faith. I also think the second reading in today’s liturgy, 1Pet 1.17-21, is awfully difficult to reconcile with such a soteriology. 3rd Sunday of Easter, Yea...

Giving Thomas His Due

Today is the day we hear in the Gospel reading about the Apostle Thomas doubting the resurrection until he sees and feels the wounds on the body of Christ. Much like Mary Magdalene, I think Thomas gets short shrift at the bar of history. It is true that Thomas was not with the other ten disciples when the Lord first appeared to them on Sunday evening. In his homily today, my pastor explained how it should serve as a lesson to us that his not being with the community in their time of trial following Jesus’ execution led to his missing the appearance...

Mary Magdalene, Redux

I kept thinking about Mary Magdalene today. I had a hard time finding an appropriate portrait of her to include in the post I wrote last night, and I got to thinking today that perhaps she hasn’t been very well represented over the years. She is often depicted in low-cut dresses, or in other ways linked to the idea of being a woman of loose morals. This is no doubt on account of her being associated with the woman of ill repute in Luke 7:36-50 who washed Jesus’ feet with her tears – of whom Jesus said she was forgiven because she loved ...

Mary!

The Gospel reading for Mass today (Jn 20.11-18) contains one of the great literary images in Scripture. Mary Magdalene, after having found the tomb of Jesus disturbed, and fetching Peter and John, stayed behind at the tomb, weeping, after the others had left. After conversing briefly with two angels she saw inside the tomb, she turned away from them in her tears, and in doing so, encountered the risen Jesus – whom she mistook for the gardener. After a few brief words, she turned away from him, too. And then Jesus spoke a single word to her that wh...