29th Sunday in Ordinary Time

Throughout the Gospels James and John, together with Peter, form an inner circle among the Twelve. In Sunday’s Gospel reading James and John ask Jesus if one of them can sit on his right and the other on his left when he comes into his glory.  The other ten apostles are indignant when they learn of the request. In a society that prized status and honor, Jesus’ disciples want to know where they stand (recall 9:33-37) and what place they can expect in the kingdom (this week’s Gospel). The request of James and John reveals their self-centeredness and how they, like the other...

28th Sunday of Ordinary Time

The man in the Gospel “ran up” to Jesus, eager to know how to “inherit eternal life.”  How quickly his demeanor changed when Jesus, looking on him with love, challenged him to one thing further: he must sell what he had, give to the poor, and then, follow Jesus (“follow me”).  Following Jesus demands that we choose not to be possessed by things, but by Jesus himself.  To be possessed by Jesus we must be willing to give up our greatest possession of all – what is that for you? “Brothers and sisters: Indeed the word of God is living and effective,...

27th Sunday in Ordinary Time

The main part of next Sunday’s Gospel passage takes the form of a controversy story in which Pharisees, with hostile intent, seek to bring Jesus into conflict with what they regarded as the clear teaching of Scripture.  The Pharisees pose their question to Jesus: “Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife”?  When Jesus asks them what Moses said on this matter, they refer to the book of Deuteronomy.  Thus, Jesus unveils their hostility, since it becomes obvious that they already knew the “biblical answer” to the question.  Jesus’ radical teaching on marriage and divorce must be understood in...

26th Sunday in Ordinary Time

We have heard in the recent Sunday Gospel passages that Jesus has turned his attention to his circle of disciples and has presented them with a most direct and concise account of the fate that awaits him in Jerusalem.  The disciples not only fail to understand the Passion prediction but even fear to pursue the topic.  Then they show the depth of their misunderstanding by arguing about who is the greatest among them (last week’s Gospel) and by trying to restrict the power of Jesus to their own narrow circle (this Sunday’s Gospel). The disciples’ misunderstanding provides the occasion for Jesus to...

25th Sunday in Ordinary Time

The opening passage of Sunday’s Gospel marks another milestone. Jesus had now left the north country and was taking the first steps towards Jerusalem and the Cross which awaited him there. He did not want the crowds around him.  He knew he needed time alone with his apostles.  He needed to write his message on their hearts; anyone can leave behind a series of propositions; Jesus knew that was not enough.  He tells them again about his impending arrest, execution, and resurrection, however this time the tragedy of his suffering and death is even more poignant.  If you compare it to what...

24th Sunday in Ordinary Time

Sunday’s Gospel takes us to a town with an amazing history. (Be sure to read the article I’ve included in the Liturgy of the Word.) It was called Balinas for it had once been a great center of worship of the pagan god, Baal. To this day it is called Banias, which is a form of Panias. It is so called because up on the hillside there was a cavern which was said to be the birthplace of the Greek god, Pan, the god of nature. From a cave in the hillside gushed forth a stream which was held to...

23rd Sunday in Ordinary Time

Sunday’s Gospel passage begins by describing what is on the face of it an amazing journey. Jesus was going from Tyre to the territory around the Sea of Galilee. He was going from Tyre in the north to Galilee in the south; and he started by going to Sidon. That is to say, he started going due south by going due north! It may well be that this long journey is the calm before the storm; an extended communion with the disciples before the final tempest breaks. When Jesus does arrive in the region of Galilee, he comes into the district...

22nd Sunday in Ordinary Time

In the Gospel passage we will hear proclaimed this weekend it is the actions of the disciples rather than those of Jesus himself that evoke opposition (a lesson for us). A dispute arises between Jesus and the Pharisees and Scribes from Jerusalem over precisely how “loaves” are to be eaten.  The plural “loaves” links this dispute with the previous sequence of “bread narratives.”  The dispute escalates into a larger one over food laws and over the relation of external and internal purity.  Jesus does not so much abrogate ritual laws as criticize their potential misuse.  The initial question about eating with unwashed...

21st Sunday in Ordinary Time

This Sunday’s pericope concludes the Bread of Life Discourse. In it we will hear that Jesus, once again, encounters murmuring in response to his claim that he is The Bread Come Down From Heaven; the Bread of Life. However, this time it is his own disciples who are murmuring, “This saying is hard; who can accept it?” At the heart of all religion there must be mystery, for the simple reason that at that heart there is God. In the nature of things man cannot ever fully understand God. Jesus was well aware that some would not only reject his claim but...

The Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary

Sunday’s Solemnity, the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary, crowns the series of liturgical celebrations in which we are called to contemplate the role of the Blessed Virgin Mary in the history of salvation. Indeed, the Immaculate Conception, the Annunciation, the Holy Mother of God, and the Assumption, are the fundamental, interconnected milestones with which the Church exalts and praises the glorious destiny of the Mother of God, but in which we can also read our history – and destiny. The mystery of Mary’s conception recalls the first page of the human event, pointing out to us that in the divine plan...