Third Sunday in Ordinary Time – Year B

Sunday, January 21

What kind of certainty are we supposed to have in life? What should we be sure about? In the first reading we are reminded briefly about the story of Jonah and the Ninevites. From what we know about Nineva, it was not particularly morally corrupt when compared to the different cities around. It would seem that Nineva, when looked at from the outside, was a city that wasn’t particularly religious, it participated in the same sorts of organized commerce and city life that you would have found elsewhere at that time. In short, Nineva was a lot like the cities where most people live. We can safely imagine that Jonah began preaching doom to people who did not stand out as any more wicked than us. read more

15th Sunday OT Year A

Beloved brothers and sisters, our Lord Jesus Christ is the Sower who generously scatters the seed of God’s word. As St. Jerome said, God’s word is seed sown in fertile soil, yielding abundant harvest. Yet as Jesus’ parable shows, the soil’s condition matters greatly.

Why parables? St. John Chrysostom noted Jesus taught parables to engage people face-to-face, meeting them where they were. As St. Jerome explained, Jesus used everyday stories to draw people deeper in understanding.

The hard path represents those shutting out God’s word entirely. As St. Jerome lamented, the stubbornly unwilling perceive parables as riddles, not revelation. Let us pray for receptive hearts and spirits to receive God’s wisdom. How tragic to spurn life-giving teaching! We must guard against creeping hardness of heart over time. Worldly clamor and clinging to sin cement resistance if we’re not careful. But take heart! It’s not too late to let God soften hardened ground through repentance. By God’s grace the fallow fields of the soul can nourish new growth again. read more

Tuesday of the Thirteenth Week in Ordinary Time

I hope you are all familiar with the story of Sodom. The story is literally a warning about the punishment and judgment of God upon a city full of unchecked vice and sin. Allegorically, the Fathers of the Church bring us to the deeper spiritual lessons this tale imparts. Names, St. Ambrose reminds us, are often a clue in Sacred Scripture of where to dig to uncover the hidden pearls of wisdom. You see, Lot’s name means “deviation.” Lot separates from Abram, deviates to a land that seemed better, more fertile, more pleasing. Lot associates himself with a people whom he found agreeable, despite their dissolute way of life. Lot only narrowly escapes death – he only narrowly escapes perdition. Origen remarks that the only good deed, the singular virtuous act performed by Lot was his hospitality to strangers. “Angels entered the hospitable house; fire entered the houses closed to strangers.” read more