The Catholic Register - Fr. Scott Lewis

Fr. Scott Lewis is an associate professor of New Testament at Regis College, part of the Toronto School of Theology. He is a past president of the Canadian Catholic Biblical Association.


Reach for the helping hand of hope

All Souls’ Day (Year A) Nov. 2 (Lamentations 3:17-26; Psalm 103; 1 Corinthians 15:51-57; Matthew 11:25-30) 

How do we go on when our whole world has collapsed? 

‘The Gospel without joy is not the Gospel’

30th Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year A) Oct. 26 (Exodus 22:21-27; Psalm 18; 1 Thessalonians 1:5c-10; Matthew 22:34-40) 

Remember who you were and what it felt like to be abused and oppressed. Exodus addressed this admonition and guidance to the Israelites but it is also meant for us. The people of Israel were reminded to remember the bitterness and suffering of slavery in Egypt in all of their dealings with other people. It is a variation on the Golden Rule — if you didn’t like the way you were treated, then don’t treat others in the same manner. 

Give to God that which is His

29th Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year A) Oct. 19 (Isaiah 45:1, 4-6; Psalm 96; 1 Thessalonians 1:1-5ab; Matthew 22:15-21)

Who are the “good guys” and “bad guys” in our world? We are prone to dividing the world into the sheep and the goats and attaching the appropriate tags. It can be rather satisfying, and it doesn’t take much reflection or discernment. A mere negative visceral reaction to someone is usually sufficient grounds for a damning label.

Seeking communion with God in the Bible

28th Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year A) Oct. 12 (Isaiah 25:6-10a; Psalm 23; Philippians 4:12-14, 19-20; Matthew 22:1-14) 

Modern people climb great mountains simply because they are there and they want to prove themselves. In the ancient world, mountains were frightening and awesome places where human beings encountered God. Isaiah painted a prophetic picture of the encounter for which so many people had yearned. 

The right path is the just path

27th Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year A) Oct. 5 (Isaiah 5:1-7; Psalm 80; Philippians 4:6-9; Matthew 21:33-43) 

The prophets of Israel had an array of instruments at their disposal in their struggle to reform the nation. Symbolic behaviour — a form of street theatre — was one such technique, and it was very effective in the hands of someone like Jeremiah. 

Receive the Gospel joyfully

26th Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year A) Sept. 28 (Ezekiel 18:25-28; Psalm 25; Philippians 2:1-11; Matthew 21:28-32) 

No one is responsible for anything — we are all victims. If that sounds strange, that’s because it is — and yet it is one of the attitudes present in our culture. If we get in a scrape, the blame lies elsewhere — society, upbringing, personality disorders and genetics — but not with us. Even God is sometimes blamed, or accused of being unfair. God’s job is to give us a smooth, easy, and happy life and to respond to our demands. 

God does not play by human rules

25th Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year A) Sept. 21 (Isaiah 55:6-9; Psalm 145; Philippians 1:20-24, 27; Matthew 20:1-16)

It is often said that God is merely a projection of human wishes and fears. An ancient Greek philosopher once said that if cows, horses and lions had hands and could draw, they would depict gods that looked just like them.

Christ is the cure for what ails humanity

Exaltation of the Holy Cross Sept. 14 (Numbers 21:4-9; Psalm 78; Philippians 2:6-11; John 3:13-17) 

It would be a safe bet to offer $10 to anyone in a group able to explain the Feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross. In the fourth century, it commemorated the discovery of Christ’s cross by St. Helena, the Emperor Constantine’s mother. The Eastern Churches tied it to Emperor Heraclius’ recovery of the relic of the cross from Persian captivity in the seventh century. Take your pick! 

With love we look out for the other

23rd Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year A) Sept. 7 (Ezekiel 33:7-9; Psalm 95; Romans 13:8-10; Matthew 18:15-20) 

How much responsibility do we have for the behaviour of others? This is a difficult and delicate question — many of us have encountered the self-righteous busybody intent on running the lives of others. Ezekiel addressed a different but related issue: communal versus individual responsibility. 

Peace comes with submitting to God

22nd Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year A) Aug. 31 (Jeremiah 20:7-9; Psalm 63; Romans 12:1-2; Matthew 16:21-27) 

We can perhaps sympathize with Jeremiah. He did not ask for the calling of a prophet — in fact, he was dragged kicking and screaming into his role as God’s mouthpiece. 

No favourites, only justice, compassion

21st Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year A) Aug. 24 (Isaiah 22:15, 19-23; Psalm 138; Romans 11:33-36; Matthew 16:13-20) 

No one has an absolute right to a position of trust and authority. Along with authority there is responsibility and accountability, and however slowly the wheels of justice turn they grind exceedingly fine. Shebna discovered this to his chagrin when he was fired by one against whom there is no appeal — God. The people of Israel believed God raised up individuals to govern the nation, but they were also positive God could and would dismiss anyone who abused that trust. 

We don’t own God

20th Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year A) Aug. 17 (Isaiah 56:1, 6-7; Psalm 67; Romans 11:13-15, 29-32; Matthew 15:21-28)

There has always been a battle of wills between God and human beings. Something in our wounded human nature prods us to do our best to possess God for ourselves and the group with whom we identify. This “possession” of God is great for inflating the collective ego and enhancing a sense of superiority towards outsiders. It is also a key contributing factor to religious hatred and violence. Additionally, it prevents us from honest self-examination and robs us of the wisdom and riches of other cultures and belief systems. God is on the other end of the tug-of-war and has very different ideas. God’s intent is always to the greater and the more universal and inclusive.

Faith is in opposition to fear and doubt

19th Sunday in Ordinary Time Aug. 10, (1 Kings 19:9, 11-13; Psalm 85; Romans 9:1-5; Matthew 14:22-33) 

To many people God seems absent from our world. Often it is difficult to discern the presence of God in one’s own life. Part of the reason is that our perception of God is filtered through far too many expectations. We have set ideas about how God is to be revealed and they are usually dramatic, flashy and filled with displays of power — all fine material for Hollywood biblical epics. Compounding the problem is the tendency of ancient peoples to assign manifestations of nature to the immediate hand of God. Our scientific understanding of the natural order would prevent most of us from seeing the hand of God in an earthquake, hurricane or tsunami.