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.

Holy Family (Year C) Dec. 27 (1 Samuel 1:20-22, 24-28; Psalm 84; 1 John 3:1-2, 21-24; Luke 2:41-52)

The road to motherhood was a long and painful journey for Hannah as for many of the “barren women” of the Bible. Not only did she have to deal with the disappointment at being childless but the shame and guilt as well, for childlessness was thought to be a punishment or curse from God. Not even Hannah’s prayer to God was without difficulty — she had to endure the snide and contemptuous accusations of public drunkenness from Eli the prophet. But she was a woman of intense faith and her prayers were answered.

Give up self in service to God

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Fourth Sunday of Advent (Year C) Dec. 20 (Micah 5:2-5; Psalm 80; Hebrews 10:5-10; Luke 1:39-45)

One of the little (some translations say “least”) clans of Judea — not what a city would want to put on its promotional literature or web site. And yet who has not heard of Bethlehem? Great things definitely come from seemingly insignificant origins.

God asks that we be compassionate, just

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Third Sunday of Advent (Year C) Dec. 13 (Zephaniah 3:14-18; Isaiah 12; Philippians 4:4-7; Luke 3:10-18)

Prophets seldom make pleasant company, and the prophecies of Zephaniah for the most part do not make for pleasant reading. Writing during the reign of Josiah in the seventh century BC, Zephaniah preached against idolatry and other forms of religious corruption. In his attempts to stir the people to moral and spiritual renewal, he prophesied doom and misery for Jerusalem as punishment. He even expanded his prophecy to include the rest of the world in the coming judgment called the “Day of the Lord.” In their eyes, these warnings and prophecies were fulfilled with the destruction of the first temple in 586 BC by the Babylonians.

Love illuminates the way

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Second Sunday of Advent (Year C) Dec. 6 (Baruch 5:1-9; Psalm 126; Philippians 1:3-6, 8-11; Luke 3:1-6)

Clothes make the person — or so goes the old saying. But this very worldly principle is used often in the Scriptures to indicate something much deeper. Clothes in the biblical sense are indicators of one’s psychological and spiritual state — ways of thinking, worldview, values and personal identity.

Advent reminds us redemption is near

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1st Sunday of Advent (Year C) Nov. 29 (Jeremiah 33:14-16; Psalm 25; 1Thessalonians 3:12-4:2; Luke 21:25-28, 34-36)

It takes real courage and conviction to preach hope and redemption in the midst of disaster and suffering. Any politician doing so would be in serious danger of being thrown out of office after being accused of insensitivity, denial, political opportunism and a host of other political and social sins.

Give way to God's sovereignty

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Christ the King (Year B) Nov. 22 (Daniel 7:13-14; Psalm 93; Revelation 1:5-8; John 18:33-37)

Dreams and visions are the food of oppressed and desperate peoples. The Book of Daniel was written during a period of great distress and persecution. The Jewish culture and religion were at stake, and many minds struggled with the question of who ruled the world, the God of Israel or the many divinized tyrants of the surrounding nations.

Sanctification, perfection come through Christ

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33rd Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year B) Nov. 15 (Daniel 12:1-3; Psalm 16; Hebrews 10:11-14, 18; Mark 13:24-32)

 

Cosmic battles and rescuing heroes are usually the stuff of action movies and video games. But in the ancient world it was also the fervent hope and expectation of a brutally oppressed people.

The Jews of the second century BC were struggling with an oppressor bent on destroying the Jewish religion and culture. Antiochus Epiphanes was willing to use any method — however bloody and cruel — to achieve his goal.

We must look out for each other

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32nd Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year B) Nov. 8 (1 Kings 17:10-16; Psalm 146; Hebrews 9:24-28; Mark 12:38-44)

The poor widow of Zarephath probably didn’t know quite what to make of Elijah’s request. She was at the end of her tether — almost nothing to eat and drink and the end loomed all too near. Not only that, she was not even an Israelite nor was she a worshipper of Israel’s God. But she was a humble person with a good heart — the very definition of one who is right with God.

The seal of God is love

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All Saints (Year B) Nov. 1 (Revelation 7:2-4, 9-14; Psalm 24; 1 John 3:1-3; Matthew 5:1-12)

The Book of Revelation can be a confusing and dangerous book — especially in the wrong hands and with a distorted understanding of its contents. But when it is used with its original intent it can speak directly to the heart and imagination.

God stands for new life

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{mosimage}30th Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year B) Oct. 25 (Jeremiah 31:7-9; Psalm 126; Hebrews 5:1-6; Mark 10:46-52)

Sometimes one is given the gift of being able to see the far horizon beyond the chaos and negativity of the present. Jeremiah’s entire life had been dedicated to the thankless task of trying to rouse his own people to spiritual and moral renewal. His ministry involved preaching the unwelcome truth: all was not well with the nation and unless there was a radical change disaster was on its way.

Jesus did not waver in His suffering

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29th Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year B) Oct. 18 (Isaiah 53:10-11; Psalm 33; Hebrews 4:14-16; Mark 10:35-45)

Suffering — is it good or bad? We are appalled by the overwhelming amount of suffering in the world and we want to alleviate this suffering. At the same time, we speak of suffering in terms of a positive force with a redemptive value. Much depends on who is suffering and why.