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.

16th Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year A) July 20 (Wisdom 12:13, 16-19; Psalm 86; Romans 8:26-27; Matthew 13:24-43)

Patience, forbearance and compassion are often equated with weakness. It is far better to be strong and quick to punish, some insist, so that one will be respected and feared. And basing their views of God on the more ancient and undeveloped layers of the Bible they build an image of a God who is quick to lash out with punishments.

True hearing means receiving, accepting, understanding

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Fifteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year A) July 13 (Isaiah 55:10-11; Psalm 65; Romans 8:18-23; Matthew 13:1-23)

The Word of God should not be confused with the written word. The latter is static and unchanging, while the Word of God is dynamic and never at rest until its mission is complete. We might describe the Word of God as God’s creative will and energy. It can be expressed in the created order — what we call nature — as well as in and through human history.

Be open to the spirit of God

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Fourteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year A) July 6 (Zechariah 9:9-10; Psalm 145; Romans 8:9, 11-13; Matthew 11:25-30)

Wouldn’t it be wonderful if a majestic and powerful hero would come and fix all of our problems? Terrorism, the economy, crime, unemployment, all these would vanish before this individual’s power and authority. Unfortunately, most of those who make such claims and promises have very different ideas, and they demand certain things in return — our freedom, for starters.

Those who overcome fear change history

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Twelfth Sunday of Ordinary Time (Year A), June 22 (Jeremiah 20:7, 10-13; Psalm 69; Romans 5:12-15; Matthew 10:26-33)

Jeremiah was not the most enthusiastic prophet in the Old Testament. When God called him the only response he had was a long litany of his unworthiness, youth and incompetence. This was the usual pattern for those called by God — few went eagerly or willingly.

God goes to great lengths for our salvation

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Eleventh Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year A) June 15 (Exodus 19:1-6; Psalm 100; Romans 5:6-11; Matthew 9:36-10:8)

Protectors, champions and warriors — so many ancient peoples compared their gods. Nations, peoples and tribes each had their own deities with whom they entered into a covenant. These gods were meant to protect a people, as well as defeat and destroy their enemies on the battlefield. Gods inspired awe and fear with their displays of power — natural signs such as thunder, lightning, plagues and famines. 

God seeks the lost, wandering

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10th Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year A) June 8 (Hosea 6:3-6; Psalm 50; Romans 4:18-25; Matthew 9:9-13)

Sometimes the limitations of human language can obscure the beauty and subtlety of the intended meaning of a word or phrase. Hosea chastises the people of Israel in God’s name, highlighting the fickleness and superficiality of their commitment to God. He ends his tirade with a warning: God will not be manipulated or bought off by behaviour common to religious people of all times and places. This is the attempt to placate God with sacrifices, rituals, acts of asceticism and the like, while protecting the core of one’s selfish personality. The assumption is that punctilious religious observance will persuade God to ignore or overlook the less admirable areas of our lives.

God seeks the lost, wandering

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10th Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year A) June 8 (Hosea 6:3-6; Psalm 50; Romans 4:18-25; Matthew 9:9-13)

Sometimes the limitations of human language can obscure the beauty and subtlety of the intended meaning of a word or phrase. Hosea chastises the people of Israel in God’s name, highlighting the fickleness and superficiality of their commitment to God. He ends his tirade with a warning: God will not be manipulated or bought off by behaviour common to religious people of all times and places. This is the attempt to placate God with sacrifices, rituals, acts of asceticism and the like, while protecting the core of one’s selfish personality. The assumption is that punctilious religious observance will persuade God to ignore or overlook the less admirable areas of our lives.

We please God with forgiveness

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Ninth Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year A) June 1 (Deuteronomy 10:12-13; 11:18, 26-28, 32; Psalm 31; Romans 1:16-17; 3:20-26, 28; Matthew 7:21-27)

What is most pleasing to God? Deuteronomy insists that loving and serving God alone, walking in God’s ways, brings happiness and gives life. The author defines loving and serving God as absolute loyalty and a refusal to incline one’s heart or mind towards other gods. Indeed, the Deuteronomist considers idolatry the worst of all possible sins, provoking God’s anger and punishment.

Jesus is the source of life, sustenance

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Body and Blood of Christ (Year A) May 25 (Deuteronomy 8:2-3, 14-16; Psalm 147; 1 Corinthians 10:16-17; John 6:51-59)

Meeting the demands of hunger and thirst is the most basic of human drives. Physical survival must be ensured before people turn to those things we consider of a higher nature: self-expression, society, culture, the quest for knowledge and so on. And yet there seems to be a problem right from the beginning of human history as recorded in the Bible. Humans allow hunger and thirst — the basic drives of life — to crowd out and obliterate their relationship with God.

God does not conform to human understanding

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Trinity Sunday (Year A), May 18 (Exodus 34:4-6, 8-9; Daniel 3; 2 Corinthians 13:11-13; John 3:16-18)

A sudden change in perspective or a new view of reality can be shocking and unsettling for many. Suddenly the conventional wisdom is no longer so wise, and reality is far more complicated than we ever imagined.

The Spirit dwells in hearts of those who do good

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

What was the “real” giving of the Spirit like? The Gospels present us with two distinct but rather inconsistent possibilities.