The Catholic Register - Fr. Scott Lewis

Fr. Scott Lewis is an associate professor of New Testament at Regis College, a founding member of the Toronto School of Theology.

He is a past president of the Canadian Catholic Biblical Association.

In an uncertain world, God is present

Second Sunday of Advent (Year C) Dec. 6 (Baruch 5:1-9; Psalm 126; Philippians 1:3-6, 8-11; Luke 3:1-6)

Makeover shows are very popular on TV. The theme is always the same: an ugly, broken-down house is transformed into a beautiful dwelling. A shabbily dressed, poorly groomed individual is transformed into an attractive, even stunning, new person. Baruch prophesied the same sort of makeover for Jerusalem. We don’t know who actually wrote this work, and in fact, it is probably a compilation by several authors. It was attributed to Baruch the secretary of Jeremiah, but it was actually written much later, possibly in the second or first century B.C.

Jesus shows us the nature of true power

Christ the King (Year B) Nov. 22 (Daniel 7:13-14; Psalm 93; Revelation 1:5-8; John 18:33b-37)

Who hasn’t wished for some supernatural power to come from above and set the world right? In the chaos, fear and violence of our world it often seems that there is no way out. We are faced with numerous crises of every type — political, economic, environmental and religious.

The Lord’s teaching will outlast this world

33rd Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year B) Nov. 15 (Daniel 12:1-3; Psalm 16; Hebrews 10:11-14, 18; Mark 13:24-32)

Many people have been convinced that they were living through the absolute worst time in the history of the world. The carnage and destruction of the First and Second World Wars, as well as the devastation of revolutions, plagues and natural disasters all vie for the top of the list of horrors. It seemed to those who were experiencing these things that the end of the world had indeed come.

God calls on us to forgo power, be a community of equals

32nd Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year B) Nov. 8 (1 Kings 17:10-16; Psalm 146; Hebrews 9:24-28; Mark 12:38-44)

Fear is often the enemy of generosity and can choke off the better parts of our nature. Many people are unwilling to share from fear of not having enough rather than conscious selfishness.

Living the Beatitudes our only hope for a just world

All Saints (Year B) Nov. 1 (Revelation 7:2-4, 9-14; Psalm 24; 1 John 3:1-5; Matthew 5:1-12a)

What are we to make of the Book of Revelation in our own time? It is not a prediction of current events or a preview of the end of the world. It was written during a time of uncertainty and persecution, most likely to give hope and encouragement to struggling and persecuted Christian communities. This particular passage is filled with rich symbols, each one of them conveying an important message about God.

Faith means trusting in God’s goodness

30th Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year B) Oct. 25 ( Jeremiah 31:7-9; Psalm 126; Hebrews 5:1-6; Mark 10:46-52)

The words of this prophecy sound far too joyful and positive to have come from Jeremiah. His prophecies were known for bitterness, lamentation, misery and predictions of doom. This prophecy, on the other hand, is alive with joy and a sense of a bright and happy future for God’s people.

It is the humble servant who is the true disciple

29th Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year B) Oct. 18 (Isaiah 53:10-11; Psalm 33; Hebrews 4:14-16; Mark 10:35-45)

Suffering is bad; it is to be feared and avoided at all costs. This is the heartfelt attitude of most people. Even though this is understandable, it is incomplete. To be sure, needless suffering should be alleviated or avoided. Masochistic self-indulgence has no place in a healthy spirituality. But there is a sort of suffering that has value, and that is suffering borne freely and willingly for the sake of others.

The value of wisdom

28th Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year B) Oct. 11 (Wisdom 7:7-11; Psalm 90; Hebrews 4:12-13; Mark 10:17-30)

You must run for your life in the face of a natural disaster. If you could take only your most precious possession, what would it be? Your car or house? Perhaps your financial portfolio or family heirlooms? The author of Wisdom had definite ideas on the matter, and his answer might be surprising to many. All the precious and valuable things in the world pale in comparison to his prize — the gift of wisdom. He heaped up superlatives singing wisdom’s praises and demonstrating how it is superior to everything else, even power, glory, gold and precious stones.

Like the innocent child, we must be open to the kingdom of the Lord

27th Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year B) Oct. 4 (Genesis 2:7ab, 15, 18-24; Psalm 128; Hebrews 2:9-11; Mark 10:2-16)

Adam means of the earth, and that is part of what we are. In this symbolic teaching story — Adam and Eve were not historical individuals — Adam was created from the ground itself. God breathed the spirit into Adam and he became a living being. A long parade of living creatures followed, and Adam named them all, implying power over them. But living beings were created for companionship and relationship, and the lack of that was soon evident. Eve was created from Adam, but that does not imply dependence or inferiority.

God’s Spirit rests upon whom it chooses

26th Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year B) Sept. 27 (Numbers 11:25-29; Psalm 19; James 5:1-6; Mark 9:38-43, 45, 47-48)

Religion is all about power — that is the judgment of many cynics and skeptics. While this is too harsh a judgment and suffers from a lack of nuance and balance, it contains an element of truth. People sense the power and energy that flows from a close relationship with God and they guard it jealously. Boundaries and rules are established, as well as ways of determining who is in or out, worthy or unworthy. Tight control is maintained over who is allowed to exercise power.

All are equal in the eyes of the Lord

25th Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year B) Sept. 20 (Wisdom 2:12, 17-20; Psalm 54; James 3:16-4:3; Mark 9:30-37)

Why was Wisdom’s holy and righteous man such an inviting target? One would think that an inspiring example of goodness and righteousness would be welcome. But truly upright individuals generate a lot of resentment, guilt and anger. Their presence can provoke a nagging sense of what we could or should be.

Faith without physical expression is not faith

24th Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year B) Sept. 13 (Isaiah 50:5-9; Psalm 116; James 2:14-18; Mark 8:27-35)

There is no shortage of individuals claiming to be agents and proclaimers of God’s will. Unfortunately, many of them represent nothing more than their own opinions, fears, prejudices and desires. Stripped of the cloak of God-talk, their words, thoughts and actions usually have little if anything to do with God. Often they divide or exclude people, stir up negative thoughts and emotions, and even end in violence that they believe is divinely sanctioned.

God intends for us life, abundance, happiness

23rd Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year B) Sept. 6 (Isaiah 35:4-7; Psalm 146; James 2:1-5; Mark 7:31-37)

Do not fear! This call echoes throughout both the Old and New Testaments. It was often the greeting of an angel, intended to calm the fright of the person for whom they were bearing a message. It was uttered by Jesus on numerous occasions to pacify the terror of His followers — usually when He did something unusual, such as walking to them across the water. These were often the words of God, comforting the people after disaster and calamity and giving them hope for the future.