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 B)  May 27 (Acts 2:1-11; Psalm 104; 1 Corinthians 12:3-7, 12-13; John 20:19-23)

The spectacular and amazing nature of an event often distracts us from its deeper and more subtle meaning. Mystical experiences, apparitions and miracles are not given to dazzle or entertain us but to enlighten and empower. Luke portrayed the descent of the Spirit as something visible and palpable. Tongues of fire and the violent sound of a rushing wind alert the reader to the imminent manifestation of the divine presence. We should notice that those habitually gathered in that upper room were more than the 12 — they included a number of women and Mary the mother of Jesus. The tongues of fire settled on each one present, not on one more than another. Finally, the various languages that the assembled crowd heard were treated by Luke as a fulfilment of the prophecy of Joel (2:28-32) in the Old Testament. God had promised that in the latter days the Spirit would be poured out on all flesh — slave and free, young and old, male and female. Spiritual empowerment would be offered to all of humanity.

God’s Spirit the power from above

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Ascension of the Lord (Year B) May 20 (Acts 1:1-11; Psalm 47; Ephesians 1:17-23; Mark 16:15-20)

We can only imagine the thoughts and emotions of those who watched Jesus ascend to heaven. Joy, to be sure, that He was risen from the dead — but also bewilderment and anxiety. Where was He going? When was He going to return? Was He going to restore the kingdom of Israel or not?

Jesus’ sacrifice was the highest form of love

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Sixth Sunday of Easter (Year B) May 13 (Acts 10:25-26, 34-35, 44-48; Psalm 98; 1 John 4:7-10; John 15:9-17)

There is never a dull moment when the Holy Spirit is involved. The Spirit was probably the most exhilarating and disconcerting experience of the first generation of Christians. It has a mind of its own and cares little for our prejudices, opinions, preferences or theologies. That is probably why we try to keep it under lock and key. The Spirit had already shocked Peter and his companions by commanding them to eat foods without distinction — nothing that God created was to be called unclean.

God’s Spirit is at work in giving another chance

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Fifth Sunday of Easter (Year B) May 6 (Acts 9:26-31; Psalm 22; 1 John 3:18-24; John 15:1-8)

It was no wonder that Saul frightened the Christian community in Jerusalem. He had done nothing to inspire trust or openness; in fact, he had been their tormentor-in-chief for a number of years. He was responsible for the blood and the misfortune of many. His arrival in Jerusalem and his claim to be a follower of Jesus only aroused suspicion and anxiety.

Jesus took on for us a sacred responsibility and sacrifice

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Fourth Sunday of Easter (Year B) April 29 (Acts 4:7-12; Psalm 118; 1 John 3:1-2; John 10:11-18)

Without proof the proclamation of the Resurrection would have seemed to be nothing more than a wild tale or what we would call an urban myth. The apostles were quick to provide that proof — a crippled man was restored to health right before the eyes of the astonished crowd. The temple authorities did not deny that something marvelous had taken place. Since there are many spirits and powers in the world, they demanded to know the power and name by which the apostles had performed the healing.

True witness means experiencing both repentance and forgiveness

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Third Sunday of Easter (Year B) April 22 (Acts 3:13-15, 17-19; Psalm 4; 1 John 2:1-5; Luke 24:35-48)

Terrible things are often done not by evil people but quite ordinary ones who believe that they are doing the right thing. Peter confronted the crowd with the knowledge that they had rejected and killed God’s Holy and Righteous One — the very Author of life. These were very religious folks bent on preserving their traditions and the purity of their religion. The trouble is, zeal and fanaticism are no guarantee of clear understanding or moral and spiritual correctness. They are often a smokescreen for fear and uncertainty. We can point to countless examples in Christian history, and for that matter in the history of practically every religion.

We will find a little of Thomas’ doubt in all of us

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Second Sunday of Easter (Year B) April 15 (Acts 4:32-35; Psalm 118; 1 John 5:1-6; John 20:19-31)

There are many passages of the Scriptures that should have a more forceful impact on us but unfortunately do not. Perhaps we have heard them too many times or the countless compromises that we have made collectively with the demands of the Gospel have deadened our spiritual and moral awareness.

Christ died on the cross for all of us

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Easter Sunday (Year B) April 8 (Acts 10:34, 37-43; Psalm 118; Colossians 3:1-4; John 20:1-18)

The first Easter proclamation was rather simple. It spoke of a spirit-filled man who travelled throughout Judea and Galilee ‘doing good’ — healing, encouraging, challenging and inspiring all who were troubled or suffering. There was little reference to the content of his teaching or to complex theological issues. Shock and grief at his untimely end on the cross was evident but also wonder, joy and awe at the fact that God raised him from the dead.

Jesus showed us God’s perfect love

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Passion Sunday (Year B) April 1 (Isaiah 50:4-7; Psalm 22; Philippians 2:6-11; Mark 14:1-15:47)

Simple words can encourage and give hope to those who are on the verge of despair and defeat. Careless, foolish or cruel words usually destroy, deflate and snuff out life.

The Suffering Servant figure in Isaiah was a person of the first approach. We have no idea who he was and it really doesn’t matter. Of prime importance is the way in which this individual was guided by God — his inner spiritual senses were attuned to the whisperings of the Spirit.

There is no new life without death

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Fifth Sunday of Lent (Year B) March 25 (Jeremiah 31:31-34; Psalm 51; Hebrews 5:7-9; John 12:20-33)

Human history is the story of broken promises. People break promises to one another; nations break covenants and treaties; and people let God down in very big ways. The result is shattered relationships and societies, and the most devastating of all, a sense of alienation and separation from God.

God is mercy and love

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Fourth Sunday of Lent (Year B) March 18 (2 Chronicles 36:14-17, 19-23; Psalm 137; Ephesians 2:4-10; John 3:14-21)

All written histories are interpretations of events rather than “cold, hard facts.” Historians have a lens through which they view the world and events. They usually seek to demonstrate their own ideas through the arrangement, selection and interpretation of events. For example, I and II Chronicles are theological reinterpretations of Israel’s history after the painful 70-year exile in Babylon and the return of the people to Jerusalem.