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.

Fifth Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year B) Feb. 5 (Job 7:1-4, 6-7; Psalm 147; 1 Corinthians 9:16-19, 22-23; Mark 1:29-39)

Most people have shared Job’s feelings and thoughts at least once in their lives. There are times when life seems futile, burdensome and joyless. And as we grow older the years seem to fly by with ever-growing speed. Often things do not turn out as we had hoped or planned. Dreams fade, relationships sour and fail and there are many heartbreaks and disappointments along the way.

Jesus lends power to the Word

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Fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year B) Jan. 29 (Deuteronomy 18:15-20; Psalm 95; 1 Corinthians 7:32-35; Mark 1:21-28)

So many people claim to speak for God. There are voices that clearly communicate the divine will, while others reflect more selfish or even evil motives. Through the babble of voices it is surprising that God ever manages to be heard.

Change our ways for the Lord’s coming

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Third Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year B) Jan. 22 (Jonah 3:1-5, 10; Psalm 25; 1 Corinthians 7:29-31; Mark 1:14-20)

Jonah was definitely unhappy with his divine mission to preach repentance to the inhabitants of Nineveh. This was the capital of the Assyrians — a people regarded with fear and loathing by most of the people of the ancient Middle East. Known for their ruthlessness and cruelty, they had given the Israelites plenty of reason to hate them. The northern kingdom of Israel was totally annihilated at their hands in 722 BC.

Jonah fled as far away from Nineveh as he could when God commanded him to preach to that city — but God was relentless. After many adventures, he performed his task: Forty days more, and Nineveh shall be overthrown! Much to his chagrin and anger, the Ninevites took his message to heart and sincerely repented thereby averting the disaster.

Those seeking the Lord must practise what He teaches

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

Perhaps some of us have had the eerie experience of hearing our name called when no one was around. It can happen when we are awake or asleep, but there is always the very clear and startling sense that we are being called by someone.

Most of the time we shrug it off and go on our way.  But often it leaves us with a slightly unsettled feeling.

Epiphany is God’s sending of His light into the world

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Epiphany of the Lord (Year B) Jan. 8 (Isaiah 60:1-6; Psalm 72; Ephesians 3:2-3, 5-6; Matthew 2:1-12)

Just what is Epiphany and why is it important? In some Christian traditions it is celebrated as Christmas, reflecting an ancient and venerable tradition. In the West, the feast is understood as noting the manifestation of the Lord to the gentiles. But that really tells us very little.


“Epiphany” means “manifestation” and in antiquity was usually associated with the manifestation or appearance of a god or divine being. There were rulers and tyrants who claimed to be divine manifestations, the most notorious being the insane megalomaniac Antiochus Epiphanes. He tried to destroy the Jewish culture and religion in the second century BC, igniting the revolt of the Maccabees.

What’s in a name? Everything

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Mary, Mother of God (Year B) Jan. 1 (Numbers 6:22-27; Psalm 67; Galatians 4:4-7; Luke 2:16-21)

What is in a name? For modern people a name reflects personal preference and is often modelled on popular culture or family traditions. The given name has to have appeal or pizzazz.

Jesus comes to make the world right

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Nativity of the Lord (Year B) Dec. 25 (Isaiah 9:2-4, 6-7; Psalm 96; Titus 2:11-14; Luke 2:1-16)

Who are the people walking in darkness? This prophetic passage was originally addressed to the nation of Israel under threat from first the Assyrians and then the Babylonians. It was supposed to give them hope, courage and perseverance in the face of oppression and the collapse of their world. God had not abandoned them but would lead the nation to freedom and prosperity.

Our journey depends on what we allow God to do for us

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Fourth Sunday of Advent (Year B) Dec. 18 (2 Samuel 7:1-5, 8-12, 14, 16; Psalm 89; Romans 16:25-27; Luke 1:26-38)

The idea of building a house for God seems rather preposterous. In the verses omitted from the lectionary reading, God tells David in no uncertain terms that he is out of line.

David is sternly reminded that throughout all the years of wandering in the wilderness God never asked for a permanent dwelling and was quite content. We can have mixed motivations for big God-projects. Often lurking below the surface is a subtle desire to play God. The result is usually a hugely inflated ego.

We struggle to complete the mission Jesus has for us

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Third Sunday of Advent (Year B) Dec. 11 (Isaiah 61:1-2, 10-12; 1 Thessalonians 5:16-24; John 1:6-8, 19-28)

Timely words of comfort and encouragement can work miracles, even more so when they are inspired by the Spirit of God. The prophet figure in Isaiah has clearly been anointed to bring healing words to the broken Israelite exiles. Good news: freedom, liberty, release and healing. But this is far more than a pep-talk — he will proclaim these Spirit-inspired words on behalf of God.

We can open the way to the Kingdom

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Second Sunday of Advent (Year B) Dec. 4 (Isaiah 40:1-5, 9-11; Psalm 85; 2 Peter 3:8-14; Mark 1:1-8)

Time whizzes by like an express train when we are enjoying ourselves. An enjoyable vacation has scarcely begun before it is time to go back to work. But when we are anticipating something or waiting for something to occur time absolutely creeps by.

Human time and God’s time are very different. We are an impatient people and want everything now or very soon. Human staying power is not the greatest. People become disillusioned or lose heart very quickly and easily. The Israelites had been in exile in Babylon for more than 50 years and it must have seemed like an eternity. Many had almost forgotten home while those born in captivity knew only Babylon. To many of the oldtimers it must have seemed that God had forgotten and abandoned them and that they were doomed to dwell forever in an alien land.

Jesus is present in humble ways

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First Sunday of Advent (Year B) Nov. 27 (Isaiah 63:16-17; 64:1, 3-8; Psalm 80; 1 Corinthians 1:3-9; Mark 13:33-37)

Children often play hide-and-seek with adults in a rather amusing way. They cover their face with their hands and then squeal “You can’t see me!” People play a similar game with God but with a twist: “I can’t see you so you either aren’t there or don’t exist!”

The author of Isaiah’s passage is almost sick with yearning as he calls to mind the times in Israel’s past when God seemed so close and the manifestations of divine power so overwhelming. Now it seems that God has disappeared. The author’s cry of the heart resonates with people in all ages: If only you would tear open the heavens and come down! Come down and fix everything, come down and comfort us, come down and defeat our enemies. But God cannot be manipulated or summoned on demand.