Leprosy: 6th Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year B)

One of the themes that emerge from this week’s readings is the importance of communion, that is: the role of the Church in not only embracing all people in brotherhood, but doing so by means of bringing all people to a place of graced renewal, for the end, as Paul says in the second reading, “that they may be saved.” The device that is used to characterize this is the ancient scourge of leprosy. The first reading, from Leviticus, skips over an extensive middle section of the Biblical text on the details of the disease, including regulations on distingui...

Comfort Without Complacency

Comfort, comfort my people. 2nd Sunday in Advent, Year B 1 Comfort, give comfort to my people, says your God. 2 Speak tenderly to Jerusalem, and proclaim to her that her service is at an end, her guilt is expiated; Indeed, she has received from the hand of the LORD double for all her sins. 3 A voice cries out: In the desert prepare the way of the LORD! Make straight in the wasteland a highway for our God! 4 Every valley shall be filled in, every mountain and hill shall be made low; The rugged land shall be made a plain, the rough country, a b...

Oh, That You Would Rend the Heavens and Come Down!

I had the curious privilege this weekend of proclaiming the liturgical reading for the last Mass of the year on Saturday, as well as the readings for the first Mass of the new liturgical year today. I’m sure that’s not particularly unusual, but given as I only read about three days a month, it was a bit curious to draw these exact two assignments. In reflecting on them both, it struck me how similar they are – in that even the triumphant scene from Revelation of the vision of the tree of life in the Saturday reading is imbued with suc...

Watchman for the House of Israel

There is a common thread of real, and very serious, responsibility for neighbor running across all three of this week’s readings. 23rd Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year A Ezek 33:7-9; Rom 13:8-10; Mt 18:15-20 It’s not that common for the second reading to dovetail this nicely with the first reading and the Gospel reading. I know I’ve mentioned this before, but perhaps it bears repeating (even in somewhat oversimplified form). . . The lectionary cycle for Sunday readings consists of two independent threads of content: the primary thread be...

Upon This Rock: Royal Authority & Stewardship

A few observations on the Gospel reading for this week… 21st Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year A 19 I will thrust you from your office and pull you down from your station. 20 On that day I will summon my servant Eliakim, son of Hilkiah; 21 I will clothe him with your robe, and gird him with your sash, and give over to him your authority. He shall be a father to the inhabitants of Jerusalem, and to the house of Judah. 22 I will place the key of the House of David on his shoulder; when he opens, no one shall shut, when he shuts, no one shall open. 23 I w...

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...