The gospel for this Monday in the 10th week of Ordinary Time is the familiar Sermon on the Mount from the Gospel of Matthew. If you would like to read a commentary on the Sermon, you can find it here. But in this post I would like to place these passages in a larger flow of the Matthean narrative. If you could only choose one word to describe the Sacred Writer’s “project” the word “fulfillment” would be a good choice.
In today’s gospel we see Jesus in an encounter with the Pharisees as time rapidly approaches the events we know as Holy Week. One of the basic threads of this narrative is about the ability to see, to intuit, to recognize the swirl of events that are around you. At first glance they might seem random, chaotic, or singularly isolated. At second glance there might not be any greater clarity, but something edges up to the corner of consciousness – maybe only to be dismissed, to be misconstrued, lost, or attach itself in that nagging way some thoughts do. The thoughts that just won’t be on their way.
14 And just as Moses lifted up the serpent in the desert, so must the Son of Man be lifted up, 15 so that everyone who believes in him may have eternal life.” 16 For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him might not perish but might have eternal life. 17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world might be saved through him. 18 Whoever believes in him will not be condemned, but whoever does not believe has already been condemned, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God. 19 And this is the verdict, that the light came into the world, but people preferred darkness to light, because their works were evil. 20 For everyone who does wicked things hates the light and does not come toward the light, so that his works might not be exposed. 21 But whoever lives the truth comes to the light, so that his works may be clearly seen as done in God. (John 3:14-21)
Even though the entertainment business does not often seem to overtly share my religious sentiments, it at least pays attention to the religious calendar. I have noticed that almost everyday one of the cable or streaming services is offering the movie, The Ten Commandments, the 1956 American epic religious drama film produced, directed, and narrated by Hollywood legend Cecil B. DeMille. The film stars Charlton Heston in role of Moses, Yul Brynner as Pharoah, Edward G. Robinson as Dathan, and a host of other film stars from the 1950s. It was critically acclaimed, won tons of awards, and was one of the most financially successful films of all times, grossing approximately $122.7 million (equivalent to $1.23 billion in 200). The film is based on Prince of Egypt by Dorothy Clarke Wilson, Pillar of Fire by J.H. Ingraham, On Eagle’s Wings by A.E. Southon, and the Book of Exodus. All evidence indicating that this crew of people knew how to present a good story. A story of faith for me, but a story with epic scenes, even a classic chase scene as Pharaoh’s army chases the escaping daughters and sons of Israel. Good stuff. Continue reading
Today is March 31st Tuesday of the 5th Week of Lent. This is Fr George with some simple words on the Word of God. In today’s gospel we see Jesus in an encounter with the Pharisees as time rapidly approaches the events we know as Holy Week. [Note: not my normal start, but this is the draft of a daily reflection video made for our parishioners. I thought: “why not post it?”]
This morning I want to direct your attention to the life of goodness that surrounds you in family, friends, and fellowship – still there even in these days of loss and isolation. Can you see it?
When Jesus says to Pharisees, “When you lift up the Son of Man, then you will realize that I AM”, he is not only pointing to the divine nature displayed in all his works, his miracles, his teaching, but he is pointing ahead to the Cross when their choice for life will be through the death of one man. But the Pharisees just can’t see it. And if they can’t see it now, what will they believe when they see the contradiction of the cross. It is and will be a “fish or cut bait” moment for the Pharisees. Continue reading
The first reading for today is an odd one in some respects even as the events around it are infamous and memorable. Moses is atop Mt Sinai with God. Meanwhile the people of Israel, just freed from the slavery of Egypt are worshiping the golden calf. It is worth noting that the story of the golden calf is a kind of “fall” story, similar to “the Fall” in the Garden of Eden. In both stories, immediately after the establishment of a relationship between God and humanity, human beings disobey. In the case of Exodus 32, God forms Israel as a new creation and they immediately fall into sin. What is God to do? How is God to be just to God’s self and be faithful to God’s people. In the years of teaching Scripture to folks in the parish, this passage never fails to raise the question about God’s wrath, God’s intent, Moses role, and bargaining with God Continue reading
Commentary. 2 The Pharisees approached and asked, “Is it lawful for a husband to divorce his wife?” They were testing him. 3 He said to them in reply, “What did Moses command you?” 4 They replied, “Moses permitted him to write a bill of divorce and dismiss her.”
The Question. As noted in the preceding section, the question is none too genuine. Both Jesus and the Pharisees – and anyone listening in on the dialogue – know that Dt 24:1, part of the Torah (Law), is the basis for the practice of divorce: “When a man, after marrying a woman and having relations with her, is later displeased with her because he finds in her something indecent, and therefore he writes out a bill of divorce and hands it to her, thus dismissing her from his house.” As ever, the Pharisees’ question has little to do with marriage or divorce, but concerns teaching authority (and their desire to trap Jesus so that they will be able to bring charges against him). We have already seen this pattern in 2:1-3:6 and 7:1-23. Then, Jesus responded with Scripture and challenge traditional understanding of the Pharisees’ teaching. Later we will see a question from the Sadducees about the resurrection (12:23) and the Herodian question about the tribute (12:15); they are also questions designed to make Jesus incriminate himself. Continue reading
The first reading today is from the Book of Deuteronomy, an account of the last words of the prophet Moses to the people at the end of their 40-year trek in the wilderness – from slavery in Egypt to the freedom of the promise land. His words are to the people who long ago made the decision to stay, to fight, to endure the years of struggle, the ones who remained. Continue reading
The story of the “Last Supper” is an account quite familiar to Christians. The version in the Gospel according to Mark certainly recounts many of the familiar features. Too often, Catholic move quickly through the text seeing the institution of the Eucharist – and within the Tradition and Teaching of the church, while they are on solid ground, one wonders if the they adequately understand the deeper currents present in the gospel account. Continue reading