Lectionary Reflection: Good Friday

Reading I: Isaiah 52:13-53:12; Responsorial Psalm: 31:2, 6, 12-13, 15-16, 17, 25; Reading II: Hebrews 4:14-16; 5:7-9; Gospel: John 18:1-19:42

The book of the prophet Isaiah has sometimes been called the “Fifth Gospel,” because Christians have mined it so thoroughly for prophecies of the Messiah. In it they have found passages that are illuminated by the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus; in turn, these passages themselves have cast a light that has helped Christians interpret the life, death and resurrection of Jesus. This is perhaps nowhere more apparent than in the “Servant Songs” of Isaiah (Isaiah 42:1-4; 49:1-6; 50:4-9; 52:13-53:12). It is hard to imagine that these were not among “what referred to him in all the Scriptures” (Luke 24:27) that Jesus interpreted to the disciples on the road to Emmaus on Easter evening. It is hard to imagine that the first Christians did not look to such passages as they began to tell the story of the passion and death of Jesus, finding in them a way to understand Jesus as the one who “was pierced for our offenses, crushed for our sins; upon him was the chastisement that makes us whole, by his stripes we were healed” (53:5). Continue reading

Lectionary Reflection: Genesis 2:18-24; Hebrews 2:9-11; Mark 10:2-16

Thus Sunday’s Gospel is a passage that probably causes anyone involved in pastoral ministry at least a twinge of anxiety. Every congregation – Catholic, Protestant, or Orthodox – has people in it show has suffered through a divorce, often due to no fault of their own. Jesus’s stringent and seemingly uncompromising teaching on divorce seems sure to offend at least someone present, and they are much more likely to take out their anger or hurt on the preacher than on Jesus himself. Continue reading

Lent 3 – 1 Corinthians 1:22-25; John 2:13-25

John’s account of the “cleansing” of the Temple ends with the statement that Jesus “did not need anyone to testify about human nature. He himself understood it well.” Jesus understands human nature because, as God, he is the author of that nature, knowing it in the way that only the artisan can know his or her work. Jesus understands human nature because, as truly human, he knows from within the experience of being human. Jesus, above all others, knows our natures better than we know them ourselves.

This is a statement both frightening and consoling. Continue reading