The Book of Esther

QueenEstherThe Book of Esther is from the Old Testament and not a book that often appears in the lectionary cycle for Sunday readings. “The Book of Esther tells a story of the deliverance of the Jewish people. We are shown a Persian emperor, Ahasuerus (loosely based on Xerxes, 485–464 B.C.), who makes momentous decisions for trivial reasons, and his wicked minister, Haman, who takes advantage of the king’s compliance to pursue a personal vendetta against the Jews by having a royal decree issued ordering their destruction. The threat is averted by two Jews, Esther and Mordecai. Their influence and intervention allow the Jews to turn the tables on their enemies and rout their attackers. This deliverance is commemorated by the inauguration of the Jewish festival of Purim on the fourteenth and fifteenth of Adar (mid-February through mid-March). The book confronts the modern reader with important themes, the evils of genocide and racism.” (Introduction to the Book of Esther, USCCB). Continue reading

Where you are planted

parable_SowerThe parable’s focus on the seeds is an allegory for those who hear the word of the kingdom proclaimed. The parables describe the varying receptiveness to what they hear; all hear the same word. Yet each type of person is identified as what was sown in a certain place. This might strike us as odd since we are biased to understand the “seed” as the Word of God proclaimed, but understanding of the parable rests on the interaction of the unvarying seed with the various types of ground. Continue reading

Bread of Life Discourse 3

Bread-of-Life-John-6This coming Sunday is the 17th Sunday in Ordinary Time for Year B of our lectionary cycle. We are taking our gospel from John 6, the Bread of Life Discourse. In yesterday’s post, we noted that the opening verses of John 6 continue the form and pattern of John’s gospel through its opening chapters: increasing moments of revelation, rising opposition, and frequent use of imagery. Notably, those associated with the Passover and the escape into the desert. Continue reading