The combination of Old and New Testament readings for this fifth Sunday in Lent at first seems an odd one. You have Isa 43:16-21, the prophet’s divine oracle about God doing a new thing. The “former thing” was the Exodus from Egypt (“Thus says the LORD, who opens a way in the sea and a path in the might waters. . .” ) But now God says “Remember not the former things and consider them not. See, I am doing a new thing: in the desert I make a way and in the wasteland, rivers.” What is this new thing?. When we turn to the New Testament passage, perhaps hoping that it will offer us a new answer (for the prophet, the new thing was the return from exile.) But in John 8:1-11 we hear not of a new thing but of a rather old one. First, there is a woman caught in adultery. Then, there are the male religious leaders who want to stone her. These two passages seem at first to have nothing to do with one another. And yet on closer inspection that is not quite true. According to John’s gospel, in this desert of sin and condemnation a new thing does indeed spring forth: “Woman. . .Has no one condemned you?” Jesus asks. “Neither do I condemn you. Go, and sin no more.” Continue reading
Our department chair, Fritz Bauerschmidt, was on the tele last night, discussing the conclave’s process of selecting Benedict XVI’s successor. Watch it here
Is 55:1-9; Ps 63:1-8; Luke 13:1-9; I Cor 10:1-13
“My ways,” the Lord says, “are not your ways.” Indeed, they are not. Jesus finds himself confronted with horrendous evils, “evils the experience of which,” as Marilyn Adams puts it, “threaten to make us doubt our lives are worth living.” The Romans have slaughtered some Jews, even as they were worshiping the One whose promises, amidst the occupation, are so hard to believe. A tower, without warning and apparently at random, has fallen in Jerusalem, ending suddenly the lives of eighteen women and men who never would have guessed as they went about their lives, work and play, that this day would be their last. Evil – moral and natural – cries out for explanation. And the temptation, then and now, in the face of such suffering is to diagnose, to try to read off tragedy’s inscrutable, relentless face just what exactly it is that God is doing in letting it come to pass. Continue reading
Genesis 15:1-12, 17-18; Psalm 27; Philippians 3:17-4:1; Luke 13:31-35
This week’s Gospel reading presents the memorable scene of Jesus’ lament over Jerusalem. In Mathew this scene takes place inside the city, between Jesus’ entry and his Passion. In Luke, however, it takes place outside the city, just before Jesus enters. What might Luke be trying to suggest?
Gillian Rose reminds us that some of art’s most searing depictions of grief and mourning take place outside city walls: Antigone buries her brother outside the palace gates of Athens, Phocion’s wife gathers the ashes of her husband outside of Megara. In both of these cases, such acts of mourning were forbidden. Antigone’s brother fought on the wrong side of Thebes’ civil war and his body was left for prey, while Phocion was accused of treachery and executed, his remains burned and scattered. Mourning in such settings can be seen as many things: a sign of loyalty to family, fidelity to the gods, or resistance to unjust laws. Regardless, there is a sense that such acts of grief are more than acts of private affection; they restore rights, redeem honor, re-establish order. In other words, they are public acts. They are acts of justice. They are offered as much for the city as they are for their loved ones. Continue reading
Have questions about grad school in Theology and Religious Studies? There’s no need to call a conclave! Attend an online info session!
If you’re considering a master degree in theology or religious studies, consider the Loyola MTS. Join us for a google hangout this coming Wednesday at 7:30 for a chance to hear about what makes our program unique among the variety of graduate degrees in theology that are out there. Get your questions answered and hear from current MTS students.
Loyola Theology Professor Rebekah Eklund discusses why she studies the New Testament and the impact that makes in theological education.
Many people are familiar with Goethe’s famous play Faust. As the play unfolds, Doctor Faustus makes a pact with the Devil, who agrees to serve him with knowledge, youth, love, wealth, and magical power. At the end of this pact, however, his soul is to be carried off by Satan. While Faust has been performed on stage in plays and operas, the question still remains: did he repent of his sins or face the devil’s deadline by being condemned? Although many writers and composers portray the latter, some Christian artists feel that this was a struggle in which ultimately the Spirit of God overcame evil. Continue reading
Readings: Joel 2.1-2, 12 – 17 (or Isaiah 58.1-12), Psalm 51.1-17; 2 Corinthians 5.20-6.10; Matthew 6.1 – 6, 16 – 21.
Ash Wednesday is the first day of Lent. One meaning of “lent” in Latin is “spring”, but the Church’s Lent turns the usual clichés about spring emerging from the dark of winter on their head: Lent is a time of repentance, beginning with the priest or minister marking us with ashes in the sign of the cross. Just when we thought we were slowly but happily emerging from dark winter days, a vicious flu season, and even football, we are asked to repent. In some ways, the timing could not be worse. Continue reading
In the account of Jesus’ “transfiguration,” we are told that the “appearance of his countenance was altered, and his raiment became dazzling white” (Luke 9:29). While one might wonder about the significance of this is, the comments that come after shed some light, so to speak. “And behold, two men talked with him, Moses and Elijah, who appeared in glory and spoke of his departure, which he was to accomplish at Jerusalem” (Luke 9:30-31, NRSV). The reader is then told that when Peter, James and John awoke “they saw his glory and the two men who stood with him.” Clearly, then, the significance of Jesus’ altered countenance and dazzling white raiment is that he—along with Moses and Elijah— appear “in glory,” although only of Jesus is it said to be his glory.
In the Old Testament, God’s glory is used to designate the manifestation of God’s “God-ness” to humans: Moses doesn’t see God but God’s glory. Continue reading
In this week’s reading from Luke, Jesus has returned to his home region, Galilee, “filled with the power of the Spirit.” Luke tells us that his homecoming made quite the impression—“a report about his spread throughout…”
The excitement does not end, as Jesus then began to teach and preach in the synagogues as he traveled through Galilee. Eventually, he arrived in his hometown, Nazareth, and is received as a teacher on the Sabbath in the synagogue. As he read from Isaiah 61 (“The spirit of the Lord is upon me… to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor”), and then sat down, “the eyes of all… were fixed on him.” Continue reading