Catholic Theological Union Learn@CTUCatholics on CallCatholic Common Ground Initiative
Follow CTU on Facebook
CTU Twitter feed
CTU on Google+
December 13, 2015

The Scripture selections for this Advent Sunday capture the double-edged message of this compelling liturgical season: joyful hope and a call for renewal of life.

This third Sunday of Advent is traditionally called "Gaudete Sunday"-the Latin word "rejoice" taken from the opening lines of both the first and second readings today. In the first reading we have the exuberant message of the 6th century B.C. prophet Zephaniah. Zephaniah lived in tortuous times as Israel attempted to get out from under the violent oppression of the Assyrians who had subjugated Israel. With the coming of the new king Josiah and the apparent weakening of the Assyrian grip on their land, the prophet calls on the people to rejoice because God is about to deliver them from the scourge of their enemies.

December 3, 2015

On this Second Sunday of Advent, we have already sung this most familiar Advent hymn:

"Oh come, oh come Emmanuel And ransom captive Israel That mourns in lonely exile here Until the Son of God appear Rejoice, Rejoice Emmanuel Will come to you oh Israel."

The meaning of this refrain is rooted in the history of Ancient Israel, whose people were taken into Exile in Babylon when Israel was conquered by King Nebuchadnezzer in 597 BCE. Our Advent hymn could easily have been theirs.

November 29, 2015

I love the signs and symbols of our church. As a young child with my parents on Sunday, I can remember the bells, the incense, and the colors of the liturgical season. All these pointed to the mysterious reality of our faith. They reminded me to pay attention to the mystery of God's presence in the world, to the mystery of our faith- the Paschal Mystery. In a homily I recently heard, the deacon began by snapping his fingers. He said that when he was a young child, his father would snap his fingers whenever he wanted to get his attention. Today, we are entering the season of Advent. Advent is the season that calls us to pay attention to the mysteries of our faith and prepare ourselves for the coming of Christ in our hearts and minds.

November 22, 2015
For those of us from the United States, the language of king and kingdom fly in the face of our treasured democracy. Annually on July 4, we proudly celebrate our embrace of representative government and our break from the rulership of a king. So today's feast of Christ the King requires some explanation, lest it raise our democratic hackles. This Sunday culminates our lectionary cycle, closing Ordinary Time for Year B and preparing us for the coming season of Advent. Think of Christ the King as our liturgical New Year's Eve. We stand at the end of another year of worship. Today's readings remind us of some significant aspects of our belief about Jesus as the Christ and what effect His kingdom will have.
November 15, 2015
Almost all cultures and religions address questions of the origins and ends of individuals, societies, and creation as a whole. At the end of the liturgical year, our readings focus on the end times. The first reading from Daniel describes that event with archangel Michael overseeing the judgment whereby some will move into everlasting life while others into everlasting disgrace (Dan 12:2). Two groups are given special attention-"the wise will shine brightly...and those who lead the many to justice shall be like the stars forever" (Dan 12:3).
November 8, 2015
The scriptures for this Sunday call us to a deep meditation on "sacrifice." The text from Hebrews provides the theological foundation: on the cross Christ offered himself, once and for all, as a sacrifice on our behalf. This total self-giving was much more than just an event in his human life; it was also an act of the divine person that made a new relationship with God possible for all humanity. Christ's example teaches that even though sacrifice looks like destruction from the point of view of this world, it actually can operate on another level to bear fruit of incomparable value. It shows us that sacrifice is not fundamentally about what is given up; rather, it is really about the renewal and fulfillment of relationship that it makes possible.
November 1, 2015
Sainthood and Character. During the last week or so I have been reading David Brooks's recent book entitled The Road to Character, and I am really being inspired by it. Brooks's basic idea is that contemporary American individualism has persuaded us that we should shape our lives around the desire of self-fulfillment and self-worth rather than around the older, more traditional value of letting our lives be shaped by what our lives and the circumstances of our world call us to be. Rather than look for our own identity in our own unique selves, Brooks urges, we should look for a community or a group of people that can mold us by their example, whose lives challenge us to commit ourselves to something beyond ourselves, to strive to become persons of character.
October 25, 2015
One of the popular settings for Psalm 126 sings this repeating refrain: God has done great things for us, filled us with laughter and music! This is a fine summary of the readings we are given to hear as we enter into the final weeks of Ordinary Time: the compassion and goodness of God; as well as our own call of baptismal priesthood to such compassion and goodness.
October 18, 2015
The Throne of Grace. "Grant that in your glory we may sit one at your right and the other at your left" (Mark 10:37). People can endure almost anything if they know there will be an end to their suffering and that there will be some recompense. In today's gospel James and John have just heard Jesus speak for the third time about being handed over, mocked, scourged, and condemned to death. Unlike Peter, whose response when Jesus first spoke about this was to reject such a scenario, the Zebedee brothers focus their attention on what reward they will gain if they endure such abuse. They envision Jesus enthroned in glory after his ordeal and themselves seated in the places of honor at his right and left. The other disciples are indignant with the two brothers, probably not because James and John have missed Jesus' message but because they beat the others in requesting the honorable spots!
October 11, 2015
Choose life! A passage in Deuteronomy recounts Moses' last words to the Israelites: "I have set before you life and death, the blessing and the curse. Choose life." While it is a stark admonition, it is also rather curious. The choice seems so obvious. Who would choose death over life? Today's readings offer us a similar kind of choice. For the author of Wisdom, it is between wisdom and the trappings of royalty; for the man in the gospel who came to Jesus, it is between renunciation and possessions. For both, the choice is just as stark as it was for the Israelites. However, it is not at all curious, for the options are clearly delineated.