About Friar Musings

Franciscan friar and Catholic priest at St. Francis of Assisi in Triangle, VA

Wisdom of Sirach

The first reading for today comes from the Book of Sirach (also known as the Wisdom of Ben Sira and as Ecclesiasticus, or more literally, “Church Book.”) The author, a sage who lived in Jerusalem, was thoroughly imbued with love for the wisdom tradition, and also for the law, priesthood, Temple, and divine worship. As a wise and experienced observer of life he addressed himself to his contemporaries with the motive of helping them to maintain religious faith and integrity through study of the books sacred to the Jewish tradition. Written in Hebrew in the early years of the second century B.C., it holds up the wisdom of the life, scriptures and traditions of Israel as a more sure reflection of the desire of God for his people as opposed to the surrounding Hellenistic culture. Continue reading


This coming Sunday is Holy Trinity Sunday. In John 3:1-21, the focus shifts from the interaction of the many with Jesus to Jesus’ interaction with a single individual, Nicodemus.  What follows seems to naturally divide into two parts: vv. 1-10, the dialogue between Jesus and Nicodemus; and vv. 11-21, a discourse/commentary by Jesus. This text is the first instance of a common Johannine pattern of a central event, in this case a dialogue, followed by a discourse that draws general theological themes out of the particular event. Continue reading

Face-to-face with the Messiah

This coming Sunday is Holy Trinity Sunday. The fuller story of the gospel begins at the end of John 2 where we encounter the gospel writer’s closing statement (vv. 23-25). What seems clear is that a lot more than the temple cleansing took place during Jesus’ visit to Jerusalem for this first Passover festival.  There is the one recorded sign at Cana; otherwise the record is silent. Yet, the evangelist, while recording no details, goes on to write “many began to believe in his name when they saw the signs he was doing.”  Even though many began to believe in Jesus, “Jesus would not trust himself to them.Continue reading

Holy Trinity Sunday: History

This coming Sunday is Holy Trinity Sunday which is celebrated on the first Sunday following Pentecost in most of the liturgical churches in Western Christianity. It is a solemn celebration of the belief in the revelation of one God, yet three divine persons. It was not uniquely celebrated in the early church, but as with many things the advent of new, sometimes heretical, thinking often gives the Church a moment in which to explain and celebrate its own traditions; things it already believes and holds dear. In the early 4th century when the Arian heresy was spreading, the early church, recognizing the inherent Christological and Trinitarian implications, prepared an Office of Prayer with canticles, responses, a preface, and hymns, to be recited on Sundays to proclaim the Holy Trinity.  Pope John XXII (14th century) instituted the celebration for the entire Church as a feast; the celebration became a solemnity after the liturgical reforms of Vatican II. Continue reading

Agents of Completeness

This past Monday one of the readings for daily Mass was from Acts of the Apostles. I described St. Paul’s encounter with two men who had received the baptism of John of the Baptist, were apparently part of the Christian community in Ephesus, but had never heard of nor received the Holy Spirit. Paul baptized them and laid hands upon them that they might receive the Holy Spirit. From then the two men went about using their gifts given by the Spirit. Continue reading

Whose sins you forgive

This coming Sunday is Pentecost with the gospel reading taken from the Gospel of John. Many scholars see a parallel between John 20:23 and Matthew 18:18: “Amen, I say to you, whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.”  The parallel becomes clearer when we know that the words “forgive” in John 20:23 are the Greek words aphiēmi and krateō which mean “send away” and “hold” respectively [EDNT 2:314].  But even with the parallels aside, the meaning, extent and exercise of the Matthean and Johannine powers has been a source of division with the post-Reformation Christian community. Continue reading

I can be replaced

There are lots of things that are fascinating. Consider the first reading.

In Acts 25:13-21, we find a fascinating account of the apostle Paul’s trial before King Agrippa and Festus, the Roman governor. This passage offers insights into the complexities of the political and religious dynamics at play during that time.

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Receive the Holy Spirit

This coming Sunday is Pentecost with the gospel reading taken from the Gospel of John. John 20:21–22 form a key passage in Johannine theology. The disciples receive the Holy Spirit at this second coming of Jesus: the eschaton, the final era, is now; future is present. In 7:39, the Spirit had not yet been given, since Jesus was not yet glorified. On the cross, Jesus, manifesting the nature of God, which is love, delivers over the Spirit (19:30), symbolized immediately afterward by the flow of the sacramental symbols of blood and water. And now, at his first encounter with the believing community, he breathes the Spirit again as he celebrates the re-creation of God’s people. Continue reading

As the Father has sent me, so I send you

This coming Sunday is Pentecost with the gospel reading taken from the Gospel of John. The Fourth Gospel speaks often of Jesus being sent into the world by the Father: to do his will (6:38–39; 8:29), to speak his words (3:34; 8:28; 12:49; 14:24; 17:8), to perform his works (4:34; 5:36; 9:4) and win salvation for all who believe (3:16–17). That the disciples were sent to continue the words and works of Jesus is foreshadowed at various places in the Gospel. Continue reading