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.

Pentecost Sunday (Year C) May 19 (Acts 2:1-1; Psalm 104; 1 Corinthians 12:3-7, 12-13; John 20:19-23)

What actually happened at Pentecost? What would a video recorder have registered? The issue is clouded by the fact that we have two accounts in the New Testament and they are very different. The descent of the Spirit in Acts is rather noisy and flashy, and it results immediately in public proclamation of Jesus by the assembled disciples. The giving of the Spirit in John was a quiet, intimate affair in the upper room. Jesus bestowed the Spirit personally on His followers, but there was no record of an immediate public ministry.

There remains much to be done

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Ascension of the Lord (Year C) May 12 (Acts 1:1-11; Psalm 47; Hebrews 9:24-28; 10:19-23; Luke 24:46-53)

Just where did Jesus go when He ascended? In a medieval artistic rendering of the Ascension, Jesus’ feet dangle from under a cloud as the rest of His body disappeared. This definitely represents a literal way of reading the text as well as a spatial understanding of the cosmos. God is ‘“up there” somewhere, and when we die we go either “up there” or “down below’” as the case may be.

God is as near as we wish Him to be

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Sixth Sunday of Easter (Year C) May 5 (Acts 15:1-2, 22-29; Psalm 67; Revelation 21:10-14, 22-23; John 14:23-29)

What are the basic entry requirements for joining the people of God? This is an age-old question that continues in our own day. In the reading from Acts, we can eavesdrop on a debate that tore the first Christian community apart: does one have to first become fully Jewish, observing all of the elements of the Law, in order to become a follower of Jesus? There were those who interpreted the Law and tradition very strictly and those who were more flexible. The hardliners from Jerusalem had unsettled the community of Antioch and upset the delicate balance between Jewish Christians and gentile converts. Some community members refused to even eat at the same table as gentile Christians. Old ideas die hard, especially those involving separation and difference.

Self-giving love is not optional

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Fifth Sunday of Easter (Year C) April 28 (Acts 14:21-27; Psalm 145; Revelation 21:1-5; John 13:1, 31-33, 34-35)

Becoming a follower of Jesus Christ was not an easy task in the first century. It often involved the loss of friends, the estrangement of family and alienation from one’s culture. Occasionally violent persecution was thrown in.

True faith withstands all

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Fourth Sunday of Easter (Year C) April 21 (Acts 13:14, 43-52; Psalm 100; Revelation 7:9, 14-17; John 10:27-30)

We are called to be witnesses to God’s kingdom

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Third Sunday of Easter (Year C) April 14 (Acts 5:28-32, 40-41; Psalm 30; Revelation 5:11-14; John 21:1-19)

It is well known that dictatorial or totalitarian regimes rule by fear. The oppressed know that they must keep silent at the least and maybe even mouth the party line. The consequences for not doing so are fearsome. Even so-called democratic cultures and societies also use a form of fear to coerce people — the fear of ridicule, exclusion or labelling. The message is clear: do not challenge the status quo or the powers that be, even if they are somewhat benign.

The Resurrection transformed our world

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Resurrection of the Lord (Year C) March 31 (Acts 10:34. 37-43; Psalm 118; Colossians 3:1-4; John 20:1-18)

If the Easter event occurred in our own day, how would the news be transmitted? We can imagine media blitzes, live interviews, endless analysis by “talking heads” and replay after replay. We would probably tire of the story, and as with most media events, it would soon be supplanted by something more exciting (at least for a time). Media can give us immediacy and a lot of “facts” but it often lacks sincerity, passion and the authenticity of one human heart speaking to another.

In our life’s journey we are called to compassion, love

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Passion Sunday (Year C) March 24 (Isaiah 50:4-7; Psalm 22; Philippians 2:6-11; Luke 22:14-23:56)

Let those without sin choose the scapegoat

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Fifth Sunday of Lent (Year C) March 17 (Isaiah 43:16-21; Psalm 126; Philippians 3:8-14; John 8:1-11)

Human memory can be very faulty when it comes to remembering the great things God has done for us. We need to be constantly reminded. The psalm’s refrain of “The Lord has done great things for us” is but one example of how the Scriptures continually proclaimed God’s past mercies and blessings.

Wisdom must be learned the hard way

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Fourth Sunday of Lent (Year C) March 10 (Joshua 5:9, 10-12; Psalm 34; 2 Corinthians 5:17-21; Luke 15:1-3, 11-32)

Disgrace does not give up easily. Those who have experienced disgrace often struggle for the rest of their lives to achieve some sort of restoration of honour and self-respect. These attempts are not always successful.

God coaxes us on our spiritual path

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Third Sunday of Lent (Year C) March 3 (Exodus 3:1-8, 13-15; Psalm 103; 1 Corinthians 10:1-6, 10-12; Luke 13:1-9)

God has always been invoked by many names and has carried many labels. But when God had the opportunity to reveal a name, label or doctrine it was a different story.