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.

We find God when we cleanse our hearts


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.

Feasting on the reality of Jesus


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.

Jesus’ word is eternal life


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.

Sustenance from Christ is eternal life


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?

God’s generosity is what we celebrate


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.

Perfect hands of the Good Shepherd


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.  

Often man refuses to hear the truth


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.

God’s power manifests when we surrender to Him


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.

God has greater plans for us beyond death


Thirteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year B) June 28 (Wisdom 1:13-15; 2:23-24; Psalm 30; 2 Corinthians 8:7, 9, 13-15; Mark 5:21-43)

Death is the enemy that humans fear most. People tend to blot it from their minds and often refuse to even talk about it. It is easy to bury it under a layer of euphemisms, even as aches, pains and illness become more frequent and unwelcome visitors. But in the end, death comes for us — all of us without exception. 

In God we trust


Twelfth Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year B) June 21 (Job 38:1-4, 8-11; Psalm 107; 2 Corinthians 5:14-17; Mark 4:35-41)

Job found out that he was not God — and neither are we. The suffering and struggle of Job is well-known to most of us. A seemingly upright, pious and successful man was brought low by a series of catastrophes that appeared to have no reason. Job steadfastly maintained his innocence of any wrongdoing despite the advice of his “friends.” They all encouraged him to confess his sin against God — after all, if these things happened, there must have been a reason!