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.
Second Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year B) Jan. 18 (1 Samuel 3:3-10, 19; Psalm 40; 1 Corinthians 6:13-15, 17-20; John 1:35-42)

How well do we listen? Most people could stand some improvement in that area. We don’t really listen to other people as we should — so often we are thinking of something brilliant, witty or caustic to say in response. And shouting at one another is an unfortunate reality in our time. But developing listening skills has an even greater urgency in our relationship with God.

Baptism of the Lord (Year B) Jan. 11 (Isaiah 55:1-11; 1 John 5:1-9; Mark 1:7-11)

Scarcity, real or perceived, is the source of much of the world’s fear and violence. The scarcity or limitation can take the obvious forms — scarcity of food, water and resources. On a higher level, God can seem limited and available to only a select few. In the fearful minds and hearts of many people, life is a deadly struggle to acquire what we need — or think we need — before someone else gets there ahead of us.

Third Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year B) Jan. 25 (Jonah 3:1-5, 10; Psalm 25; 1 Corinthians 7:29-31; Mark 1:14-20)

What if the people we criticize and despise were to change their ways? “Wonderful,” you say, but it isn’t always that simple. There is a rather distressing human need to have enemies and others to condemn and look down upon. The greatest hell for the moralist and reformer is to have no available targets.

Fifth Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year B) Feb. 8 (Job 7:1-4, 6-7; Psalm 147; 1 Corinthians 9:16-19, 22-23; Mark 1:29-39)

When people are young, a year seems like an eternity — especially a school year! No one can imagine themselves as “old” (25 or maybe even 30!). But years fly swiftly by and before we know it we are “there.” Then life seems short indeed and for some it may even be the painful servitude described in Job. Some might even be moved to question the meaning of it all — here today and gone tomorrow.

Fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year B) Feb. 1 (Deuteronomy 18:15-20; Psalm 95; 1 Corinthians 7:32-35; Mark 1:21-28)

Many claim the mantle of prophecy for it can surround one with an aura of moral and spiritual authority. It can also be a sort of free pass to say and do a lot of things that might normally be unacceptable.

February 6, 2009

Respond with compassion

Sixth Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year B) Feb. 15 (Leviticus 13:1-2, 45-46; Psalm 32; 1 Corinthians 10:31-11:1; Mark 1:40-45)

Ignorance and fear are close and frequent companions. Together they often produce the tragic attitude we find in the reading from Leviticus. A leper is to be shunned and excluded from society. Lurking below the surface of the words is the assumption that their predicament must somehow be a punishment from God. And to “treat someone like a leper” has entered our own language to describe shunning another with repugnance and exclusion.

First Sunday of Lent (Year B) March 1 (Genesis 9:8-15; Psalm 25; 1 Peter 3:18-22; Mark 1:12-15)

A flood is terrifying and destructive even if it consists of only a few feet of water. Images from the tsunami in Asia, Katrina in New Orleans and a host of other regional floods are still fresh in our minds. Destruction is great and loss of life can be heavy.

Seventh Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year B) Feb. 22 (Isaiah 43:18-19, 20-22, 24-25; Psalm 41; 2 Corinthians 1:18-22; Mark 2:1-12)

We have a massive memory problem. Those things that we are supposed to remember slip like sand through fingers. Included in this category are the principles of spiritual and humane living and the ethics of God’s kingdom, as well as the many blessings and graces we have received from God or others. We also forget the most important thing in life: why we are here.

Second Sunday of Lent (Year B) March 8 (Genesis 22:1-2, 9-13, 15-18; Psalm 116; Romans 8:31-35, 37; Mark 9:2-10)

Most people keep a death grip on all that they hold dear. They live in dread and fear of losing possession, loved ones, relationships and personal achievements. It is the driving force behind much of our fear-filled and selfish behaviour.

Third Sunday of Lent (Year B) March 15 (Exodus 20:1-17; Psalm 19; 1 Corinthians 1:18, 22-25; John 2:13-25)

A few years ago a conservative politician in the United States was pushing energetically for the display of the Ten Commandments in public buildings in his state. He was challenged during a TV interview to name the commandments but a blank and stricken look was his only reply. The interviewer lowered the bar and asked him to name even one commandment but the hapless politician remained mute and embarrassed before the unblinking eye of the camera.