Fr. Scott Lewis, S.J

Fr. Scott Lewis, S.J

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.

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.

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.

22nd Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year B) Aug. 30 (Deuteronomy 4:1-2, 6-8; Psalm 15; James 1:17-18, 21-22, 27; Mark 7:1-8, 14-15, 21-23)

Obedience to rules and laws, especially those of a religious nature, is not popular with many people. Often there is a good reason — we lose sight of the logic behind them, or they fail to take real-life situations into account. They become an end in themselves rather than tools for something greater.

21st Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year B) Aug. 23 (Joshua 24:1-2a, 15-17, 18b; Psalm 34; Ephesians 4:32-5:1-2, 21-32; John 6:53, 60-69)

The people of God had finally entered the Promised Land. Their 40 years of wandering in the wilderness was over and the dream of a new home had been fulfilled. Joshua, the successor to Moses, was growing old and not long for the Earth, so he gathered Israel together for a renewal of the covenant with God. He reminded them of all that God had done for them, and exhorted them to choose whom they wanted to serve.

20th Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year B) Aug. 16 (Proverbs 9:16; Psalm 34; Ephesians 5:15-20; John 6:51-58)

What is wisdom? It is certainly not intelligence in the usual sense of the word, nor is it human cleverness. Quite the opposite: wisdom is the divine gift that flows from humility, simplicity of heart and thoughtful, prayerful, reflection on one’s life experience.

19th Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year B) Aug. 9 (1 Kings 19:4-8; Psalm 34; Ephesians 4:30-5:2; John 6:41-51)

Elijah couldn’t take another step. He had been running for his life from the wicked queen Jezebel and her henchmen. He was so exhausted that he even prayed that God would take his life. Who has not felt like that at one time or another in their life?

17th Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year B) July 26 (2 Kings 4:42-44; Psalm 145; Ephesians 4:1-6; John 6:1-15)

There is not enough for everyone, so some will have to go without. This “me first” attitude took concrete form years ago in something called “lifeboat ethics.” The image of the lifeboat says it all: resources are limited, so they must be distributed only among the select few. The weak and marginalized, and anyone deemed burdensome, are to be left to themselves.

16th Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year B) July 19 (Jeremiah 23:1-6; Psalm 23; Ephesians 2:13-18; Mark 6:30-34)

Shepherds do not fare well in the Old Testament. Although the shepherd was supposed to be the one who protected and cared for the flock, it seldom worked out that way.  

Fifteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year B) July 12 (Amos 7:12-15; Psalm 85; Ephesians 1:3-14; Mark 6:7-13)

Hit the road, Amos, and don’t come back! That was the message that Amaziah delivered to Amos. Amaziah was a priest at the sanctuary of Bethel in the Northern Kingdom of Israel, but he was also the king’s man. He belittled Amos’ qualifications, calling him “seer” rather than prophet, and he forcefully invited him to preach in his own land. He didn’t belong to the right guild or have the proper credentials. But Amos insisted he was an ordinary dresser of sycamore trees rather than a professional prophet. His prophetic call was the result of a direct and personal call from God.

Fourteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year A) July 5 (Ezekiel 2:3-5; Psalm 123; 2 Corinthians 12:7-10; Mark 6:1-6)

Who could blame Ezekiel if he had refused the role of prophet? The job description did not sound promising or encouraging. He was being given a thankless task that was doomed to failure. His mission was to prophesy to Israel, which sounded harmless enough, but the divine voice painted a very unflattering portrait of the nation. Impudent, stubborn and rebellious are not words that would give one hope of success.