Scripture Corner

2nd Sunday of Easter – April 23, 2017

by Dan Loch
 
Sunday’s Gospel from John is packed! A bonanza for investigation and inspiration: The appearance of the Risen Lord. Peace be to you (Do not be afraid)! Sending the disciples. The giving of the Holy Spirit. The forgiveness of sins. Blessed are we who have not seen and have believed. Why John wrote his Gospel. And, most prominently and dramatically enduring, the disciple Thomas.
 
But first, the First Reading from Acts. It puts the cart before the horse. This idealized picture of the primitive church describes the evolution of the followers of Jesus in the 60-65 years since the time of today’s Gospel story. The fearful disciples of the Gospel have become the faith-professing. Now they are devoted to their community, to the breaking of the bread (the Eucharist), to prayer, – and to income redistribution! They “would sell their property and possessions and divide them among all according to each one’s need.”

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2nd Sunday in Ordinary Time – January 15, 2017

by Dan Loch
In Sunday’s First Reading Israel, the servant of the Lord, has the mission to bring the people back to the Lord. But wait! There’s more: “It is too little, the Lord says, for you to be my servant, to raise up the tribes of Jacob& I will make you a light to the nations, that my salvation may reach to the ends of the earth.” Not only is the “Servant of the Lord” to restore and gather the Jewish survivors from their capture and exile to Babylon, he also will be Savior of the world. And this “Servant” is a foreshadowing of Jesus as the Messiah of the whole world.
 

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28th Sunday in Ordinary Time – October 9, 2016

by Dan Loch
One year at the REACH Children’s Mass Fr. Mike asked the children, “Who knows what a leper is?” A hand shot up. The boy ventured, “It’s like a tiger.” Undaunted, Fr. Mike continued, “Only one cured leper came back to say thank you to Jesus. What did Jesus say?” Another hand shot up. The girl confidently answered, “You’re welcome.” We think of the 10 Lepers Gospel as the “Thank you” Gospel.
 
But disease, healing, and salvation are just as much what the readings are all about this Sunday. Both the First Reading and the Gospel tell of a person who has been cured returning to acknowledge and give thanks to God. In the First Reading Naaman, a great and powerful general and a foreigner like the Samaritan of the Gospel, emerges from the Jordan completely healed and this triggers another kind of healing or transformation. Naaman now says he is Elisha’s “servant” and professes faith in the God of the country that he previously mocked. This sets up for us the Samaritan’s thank-you to Jesus after his cure in the Gospel.

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20th Sunday in Ordinary Time – Aug 14, 2016

by Dan Loch
Here we go again, more “hard sayings” of Jesus which Luke yokes together in his Gospel: “I have come to set the earth on fire” and “Do you think that I have come to establish peace on the earth? No, I tell you, but rather division.” Fathers fighting sons, daughters fighting mothers, everybody fighting the in-laws. Where’s the “peace on earth to men of good will”? Where did this angry guy come from?
 
Another angry guy is the prophet Jeremiah in the First Reading. “Angry” and “prophet” seem to go together. The job of a prophet is to get people thinking. Prophets create crisis, because crisis is that edge where change is possible. Jeremiah does not say what people want to hear, just as Jesus does in the Gospel by telling us he hasn’t come to leave things the way they are. The princes throw Jeremiah into a well, but Jeremiah has a champion, Ebed-melech, who pulls Jeremiah out.

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13th Sunday in Ordinary Time – June 26, 2016

by Dan Loch

Sunday’s Gospel from Luke is a grim one on first reading. We confront an unsympathetic and uncompromising Jesus who speaks “hard sayings”: “The Son of Man has nowhere to rest his head,” “Let the dead bury their dead,” and “No one who sets a hand to the plow and looks to what was left behind is fit for the kingdom of God.” Harsh! It jars with our image of the compassionate Jesus.
 
But let’s start at the beginning. Luke uses the symbol of a journey to express commitment. Sunday’s Gospel marks the beginning of Jesus’ journey, a turning point from which there is no turning-back. His great journey to Jerusalem makes up the second half of Luke’s Gospel, a good ten chapters. Jesus has been a big success – in Galilee: miracles with the leper, the paralytic, a sick woman, the demon-possessed man, and the raising of the widow’s son and a dead girl; the Centurion’s faith; parables and teachings; feeding 5,000; Peter’s confession of faith; the Transfiguration! Big, BIG success!


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7th Sunday of Easter – May 8th, 2016

by Dan Loch
 
In the backstory to Stephen’s martyrdom in the First Reading today, he is taken before the Sanhedrin for blasphemy (Acts 6:8-15 to 7:1-54). He preaches all of salvation history and then calls the Sanhedrin stiff-necked, uncircumcised, murderers, and disobedient to the Law. Ouch! Cover your ears! Then we hear of the glorious death of Stephen, the first martyr.
 
“Glorious”? How so? Told this story by Sister Mary Armbuster when I was in grade school, my young mind saw only the glory of Stephen’s sacrifice. He paid the price for what he believed. I can do that! After all, I had read “A Man on Fire,” a children’s life of St. Paul, so I knew who this Saul was who watched the coats. I knew he became St. Paul. Even more glorious! Cue background music: “Mine Eyes Have Seen the Glory of the Coming of the Lord.”

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Some Aspects of Divine Mercy by John DiDomizio

Pope Francis has declared this liturgical year as a Jubilee Year of Mercy in which we are to reflect on the great mercy God extends to us and to perform appropriate acts of mercy whether they be in deed, word, or prayer. I’m sure we are all familiar with the opening words of the 118th Psalm: “Give thanks to the Lord for he is good, for his mercy endures forever.” God’s mercy is beyond measure and we must have trust in it.

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4th Sunday in Ordinary Time – January 31, 2016

by Dan Loch
 
This Sunday’s first two readings set the stage for the Gospel. First, Jeremiah declares his call from God was his destiny even before he was born: to proclaim the word of the LORD. Not easy, but God will fortify him; not deliver him, but make him crush-proof. Second, Paul’s praise of love, one of the best known Biblical passages, tells us that we can say all the right words about loving God and each other, but if we do not show it in how we live, then we are noisy gongs and clanging cymbals.
 
Then for this Sunday’s Gospel you have to remember last Sunday’s Gospel when Luke gave us the start of the story. Jesus comes back to Nazareth, his boyhood home. He takes his turn in the synagogue and reads from Isaiah: “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me because he has anointed me to bring glad tidings to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim liberty to captives, and recovery of sight to the blind, to let the oppressed go free, and to proclaim a year acceptable to the Lord.” Jesus’ one-line commentary, “Today this Scripture passage is fulfilled in your hearing,” means he has just read his mission statement, his destiny, as the Messiah.

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3rd Sunday of Advent – December 13, 2015

by Dan Loch
 
This Third Sunday of Advent is known as Gaudete (“Rejoice!”) Sunday. Rejoice because Christmas is near. The First Reading says to “Shout for joy” because “The LORD, your God is in your midst.” The Second Reading is “Rejoice in the Lord always. …Your kindness should be known to all. The Lord is near.” The Responsorial repeats “Cry out with joy and gladness: for among you is the great and Holy One of Israel.” Then, all of a sudden, Luke’s Gospel talks of baptizing with scary fire and threatens me with burning in “unquenchable fire”. Where’s the “good news”? What happened to the joy?

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20th Sunday in Ordinary Time – August 16, 2016

by Dan Loch
 
You are what you eat. Half of Chapter 6 of John’s Gospel is about the Eucharist. And the message in today’s Gospel from Chapter 6 is “You are what you eat.” It overlaps with the reading when Jesus announced that his flesh is the “bread of life.”
 
Transubstantiation. Big word. Is it magic? A miracle? Cannibalism? I looked it up and the word “eat” that Jesus uses in this Gospel is very much like “munch” or “chew.” Jesus seems to be using language designed to shock his audience. The phrase “to eat my flesh and drink my blood” would be instant horror movie to a Jewish audience. Blood was forbidden. In Jewish tradition even to touch blood made a person ritually unclean. According to kosher rules, any meat to be eaten had to be drained of blood. The words used by Jesus are so over-the-top that they cannot possibly be taken literally.

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