22nd Sunday of the Year – August 29, 1971 – CNR
The second and third readings today suggest reflection on the Church–on the people God has gathered for his own, on us assembled for faith and repentance and for thanksgiving.
The passage from the Epistle to the Hebrews compares the constitutive moments of the Old Israel and the Church. Israeli at Sinai stood before its God in storm and fire, confronted with a holiness that terrified men into awe. This is not the Church’s encounter with its God; the new People of God comes before Mt. Sion, the heavenly Jerusalem, the city of the living God. Already its life of worship is participation in the assembly of angels and saints who worship in the heavenly sanctuary of their great High Priest, who mediates the new covenant through the blood he shed, crying out, not for vengeance (as did Abel’s), but for pardon for sinners.
The whole scenario is not one that immediately appeals to our somewhat less than Platonic imaginations; but the vision of Hebrews does communicate a dimension of the Church we should not lose from sight. (more…)
The first implementation of Pope John’s announcement of his intention to convoke an ecumenical council (January 25, 1959) was the invitation sent to all the bishops of the world to submit suggestions (vota) for the conciliar agenda. A good number of studies have been published about the proposals sent in by various episcopates throughout the world. Two decades ago, I did a study of the vota submitted by the U.S. bishops as they could be found in the official Acta of the ante-preparatory period. In a few cases I was able to find documentation about how the proposals of certain bishops were prepared, but the great majority of them I knew only from their published form. If anyone is looking for a good topic for a doctoral dissertation, I can suggest that he complete (and no doubt correct) my investigations which can be found here: JAK US Bishops vota
21ST SUNDAY OF THE YEAR – AUGUST 27, 1995 – BLESSED SACRAMENT
The biblical readings today set out two of the great features of Christianity. Anticipating the Gospel, the reading from Isaiah describes the assembling of the nations, Spain, Africa, eastern Europe, in a restored Jerusalem, joining Israel, returned from exile, in the worship of God. The expectation of this universalism Jesus then draws upon in the Gospel when he describes a Kingdom of God which includes people from east and west, north and south.
It was this vision that propelled the early Christians out and on to their catholicizing mission: the truth and grace embodied in Christ, they were convinced, were not meant only for Israel but for all nations. (more…)
20th Sunday of the Year – August 18, 1974 – CNR
The sayings of Jesus gathered in the passage of Luke’s Gospel we have just heard, are among the fiercest the Gospels record. They present a Jesus who is the opposite of the figure portrayed in a certain liberal theology of the past as also in those images of Christ today which stress rather the “sweetness-and-light” version of Christianity. The Jesus of these sayings would be, for any generation, an uncomfortable figure to know and to approach.
The sayings effect something of a revolution in Jewish expectation of the Messiah. It had long been expected that the age of the Messiah would be introduced by an age of woe, of violent warfare, which would include the division of a household, father against son, daughter against mother (Mic 7:6). The coming of the Messiah himself, however, would bring these woes to an end, and he would introduce a reign of endless peace.
This is the image Jesus is attacking. (more…)
Nineteenth Sunday of the Year – August 8, 1971 – CNR
The eleventh chapter of the Letter to the Hebrews is a long hymn in praise of faith, illustrated by the examples of the great men of the Old Testament.
The hymn begins with a definition: “Faith gives substance to our hopes, and makes us certain of realities we do not see.” My impression is that our view of faith has normally centered on the latter, somewhat to the neglect of the element of hope, although it is hope that is most copiously displayed in the OT heroes. Both sides of faith need stressing.
Faith ‘makes us certain of realities we do not see.” (more…)
Here is the inaugural lecture which I delivered in 1996 upon assuming the Hubbard Chair in Religious Studies at The Catholic University of America.
Eighteenth Sunday of the Year – August 1, 1971 – CNR
More than the other three, Luke’s Gospel displays something like what today would be called a “social consciousness,” a concern to make the Gospel relevant to concrete social issues. You may recall how he presents the teaching of John the Baptist: John is not only the prophet of judgement; he also gives specific practical advice to those who come to him: Do an honest day’s work. Do not cheat your workers. Etc. The poor have an especial place in Luke’s vision. Mary’s Magnificat is a poor person’s praise of God for looking on her lowly self: “The hungry he has satisfied with good things, the rich sent empty away.” Luke is the only evangelist to tell the story of Lazarus and the rich man who ignored the starving man at his gate. And in today’s reading, which comes just before the words of Jesus about the carefree birds of the air and lilies of the field, Luke tells a parable of a man whose whole life was his riches, and his whole concern his greed.
The lesson drawn is simple: (more…)