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.

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.

Whatsoever you do to the least of my brothers...

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Christ the King (Year A) Nov. 20 (Ezekiel 34:11-12, 15-17; Psalm 23; 1 Corinthians 15:20-26, 28; Matthew 25:31-46)

Why is the image of the shepherd used so often in the Bible as a metaphor for God? A shepherd never leaves the sheep — he or she is with them 24/7 — and their safety and well-being is the shepherd’s prime concern. That sounds a lot like God!

Be bold enough to take risks

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33rd Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year A) Nov. 13 (Proverbs 31:10-13, 16-18, 20, 26, 28-31; Psalm 128; 1 Thessalonians 5:1-6; Matthew 25:14-30)

A capable husband, who can find him? Perhaps this would have been the wording of a proverb penned by a woman. Its silence on the matter almost implies that the excellence of the husband is a given.

Wisdom, righteousness key to life

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32nd Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year A) Nov. 6 (Wisdom 6:12-16; Psalm 63; 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18; Matthew 25:1-13)

The encounter of two cultures can be a rich and rewarding experience, especially when both sides are receptive to each other. This was the case when the religion of the Jewish people met Greek culture and philosophy during the three centuries before the coming of Christ. Many Jewish scholars expressed the faith of the Hebrew Scriptures using the symbols and concepts of Greek philosophy. Although the author writes as King Solomon whose wisdom was legendary it was clearly written centuries after the king’s death.

Everyone is equal in the eyes of God

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31st Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year A) Oct. 30 (Malachi 1:14-2:2, 8-10; Psalm 131; 1 Thessalonians 2:7-9, 13; Matthew 23:1-12)

The prophets of Israel — the genuine prophets — were never afraid to speak truth to power. Malachi addressed the religious elite as a spokesman for God and called them to task for dereliction of duty. They were raised to their positions of authority to shepherd the people and to be spiritual guides. They were to keep the covenant with God pure. But human greed, selfishness and lust for power had all taken their toll.