Third Sunday of the Year–January 23, 1977–CNR
At the time of the Second Vatican Council it became common for theologians to say that the Church is never more the Church than when it gathers for the Eucharist. The meaning of that statement is one of the many themes that are suggested by the lovely scriptural readings today.
Two of them speak of what we call “the Liturgy of the Word,” and the other of the Body of Christ which is realized in what we call “the Liturgy of the Eucharist.” (more…)
THIRD SUNDAY OF THE YEAR – JANUARY 26, 1992 – BLESSED SACRAMENT
We have a tendency, I think, as we listen to the readings from St. Paul’s Epistles, to idealize the churches to which he addressed them. To idealize them, first, by thinking of them somewhat abstractly, apart from the women and men who composed them and from the specific conditions of their common life; and to idealize them also by imagining that they were perfect embodiments of what churches should be, so close were they to the founding events of Christianity and watched over so carefully by the Apostle himself.
If there was one of Paul’s churches which should not be idealized in either way it was the church he had founded at Corinth. (more…)
THIRD SUNDAY OF THE YEAR – JANUARY 25, 1998 – BLESSED SACRAMENT
With a certain solemnity, today’s Gospel passage introduces us into Luke’s account of the ministry of Jesus. We are brought to his hometown, to the synagogue he attended, where he is asked to do the reading of the Scriptures. By deliberate intent, it seems, he unrolls the scroll to the passage from the prophet, reads it, and then as everyone waits expectantly, he announces: “Today this Scripture passage is fulfilled in your hearing.”
It was a bold claim. (more…)
Third Sunday in Ordinary Time – January 25, 2004 – Blessed Sacrament
I teach courses on the Church at Catholic University, the discipline called “ecclesiology.” I’ve been teaching courses on the subject for, God help me, for thirty-seven years, since 1967. Since I started down that road, I have had a main concern: to try to bring students, and other people to whom I have spoken, an appreciation of the full spiritual reality of the Church. At the same time, and only apparently in contrast, I have tried to bring theologians to a greater appreciation of the human character of the Church. Let me try to illustrate with this morning’s second reading. (more…)
Third Sunday in Ordinary Time – January 21, 2007 – Blessed Sacrament
You may have noticed that the reading from St. Luke’s Gospel that we have just heard combines verses from different chapters. The first was the very elegant paragraph in which Luke addresses Theophilus, apparently a patron, and tells him what he is attempting with his book. Others had written narratives about Jesus before Luke, which presumably he consulted, but he has also drawn on the memories of eye-witnesses and ministers of the word in order to construct an orderly sequence of the events. The passage is written in excellent Greek and was obviously written for a Greek audience whose attention he was seeking by this brief introduction.
The story he has to tell, of course, is not Greek. It unfolds in an insignificant little land called Palestine, land of the Jews. (more…)
SECOND SUNDAY OF THE YEAR – JANUARY 19, 1992 – BLESSED SACRAMENT
In the fourth Gospel, simple stories are seldom as simple as they seem. Events are hardly ever told merely for their surface meanings, and dialogues unfold with at least two levels of meaning. We have a perfect illustration in the story of the wedding-feast at Cana.
Far behind the symbolism of this narrative lies, of course, the ancient metaphor of the relation between God and Israel as a marriage. This is why we heard as our first reading the prophet’s description of the full restoration of Israel after the Exile as God’s espousal of his people: “You shall be called ‘My Delight,’ and your land ‘Espoused’…. As a bridegroom rejoices in his bride, so shall your God rejoice in you.” More proximately, the traditions on which the Evangelist could draw included Jesus’ description of himself as a bridegroom and of the blessings he brought as “new wine.” And all of these themes are implied as he reworks an older story of a miracle of Jesus to demonstrate the effects of his coming.
The story presents the first of Jesus’ “signs”: not simple events, but symbols displaying and embodying what his hour of “glory”–his death and resurrection–brought to mankind. (more…)
Second Sunday of the Year – January 15, 1995 – Blessed Sacrament
The miracle at Cana is described by the Evangelist as the first of the signs by which Christ revealed his glory and his disciples came to believe in him. This description takes the event out of the realm of the merely spectacular and turns it, as will be the case later with the other “signs” recounted, into a symbol of the whole work of Christ, the manifestation of God’s glory and a call to faith.
As we have heard in our first reading, a marriage feast is a frequent biblical symbol of the joy of the messianic age and its restoration of communion between God and mankind: “As a bridegroom rejoices in his bride, so shall your God rejoice in you.” The Gospel account builds on that symbolism and tells of the abundance (six stone jars with fifteen to twenty-five gallons each: somewhere between 90 and 150 gallons!) of choice wine, saved until now, with which God is replacing the pale wine of the Old Covenant. One can imagine the festivities that could result!
Abundance is also a theme in our second reading: the abundance of gifts, ministries, and works which St. Paul says God has poured out upon his Church. (more…)
Second Sunday in Ordinary Time – January 18, 2004 – Blessed Sacrament
There’s a dimension of our existence as Christians, as the Church, that is set out in today’s readings and is worth a thought or two. The passage from Isaiah prepares for the Gospel account of the wedding feast of Cana, and it makes it clear that we are not to read the latter simply on the literal level. We should know this even from the last words in this Gospel, which tell us: “Jesus did this as the beginning of his signs, and so revealed his glory and his disciples began to believe in him.” Cana, in Galilee, saw the first of the “signs” which the evangelist has included in his Gospel, as he tells us “so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God and that by believing you may have life in his name.”
The sign is only intelligible against the backdrop that is illustrated by the reading from Isaiah: that the relationship between God and Israel is a spousal one, a marriage. During the exile, the prophet says, people looked at Israel and called her names like those used of a widow or an abandoned woman: “Forsaken,” “Desolate.” But there will come a time, he goes on, when the exile will be ended, and a new name must be used for her: “No more shall people call you ‘Forsaken,’ or your land ‘Desolate,’ but you will be called “My Delight,’ and your land ‘Espoused’ (Married). For the Lord takes delight in you and makes your land his spouse. As a young man marries a virgin, your Builder shall marry you, and as a bridegroom rejoices in his bride so shall your God rejoice in you.” We must imagine the exuberant joy of a wedding reception and the passionate joy of a honeymoon. “So shall your God rejoice in you.” (What a lovely thought: that God rejoices in us!) (more…)
In 1950, Msgr. Montini, number 2 man in the Vatican Department of State, asked John Courtney Murray to write a memorandum on Church-State relations in the United States, the subject of considerable controversy not only between Catholics and others but also among American Catholics. I discovered a copy of this memorandum in the papers of Clare Boothe Luce in the Library of Congress and another in the papers of Card. Stritch of Chicago. I published the text, with an introduction in The Review of Politics. Here it is.
Rather than post them separately, I have gathered homilies on the Feast of the Epiphany over more than forty years. Inevitably (I tell myself) there is a good deal of repetition, but some new insights appear here or there. You can find them at: Epiphany Homilies