Steve’s Columns

22nd Sunday in Ordinary Time – 2 September 2018

“Well did Isaiah prophesy about you hypocrites, as it is written … “in vain do they worship me, teaching as doctrines human precepts”. You disregard God’s commandment but cling to human tradition.” (Mk 7:6-7) For many years now Church Tradition has suffered from neglect. Long before our present condition, in which we have erroneously built a chasm between pastoral care and church teaching in order to “catch up with the times”, many believers had already been abandoning the foundations of the faith. One sign of this was so many Catholics referring to Church teaching as “man-made laws”. This is simply …

21st Sunday in Ordinary Time – 26 August 2018

Many of Jesus’ disciples who were listening said, “This saying is hard; who can accept it?” … As a result of this, many of his disciples returned to their former way of life and no longer accompanied him. (Jn 6:60; 66) Jesus had to know that he would lose many disciples. After all, in His Parable of the Seed (or Sower) three quarters of the soil that receives the word of God bears no fruit; only the rich soil which nourishes the seed yields an abundant harvest (Mk 4:3-8). Thus Jesus predicted that many people who first accepted His Word …

20th Sunday in Ordinary Time – 19 August 2018

“To the one who lacks understanding, [Wisdom] says, Come, eat of my food, and drink of the wine I have mixed! Forsake foolishness that you may live; advance in the way of understanding.” (Prv 9:4-6) In his excellent Catholic Dictionary, Father John Hardon defines wisdom as “knowledge that is so perfect that it directs the will to obey God’s commands”. Since wisdom is an act of the mind moving the will to obey, it is a knowledge which not only understands perfectly, but trusts perfectly. Wisdom is thus such a complete confidence in the truth of God that it can …

19th Sunday in Ordinary Time – 12 August 2018

The Jews murmured about Jesus because he said, “I am the bread that came down from heaven, “and they said, “Is this not Jesus, the son of Joseph? Do we not know his father and mother?  Then how can he say, ‘I have come down from heaven’?”  (Jn 6:41-42) Five weeks ago on the 14th Sunday in Ordinary Time, we read at Holy Mass (from the Gospel of Mark) how Jesus came to the synagogue of his “native place”. While many who heard Jesus speak “were astonished at his teaching”, they still “took offense at him” (Mk 6:3). This was …

18th Sunday in Ordinary Time – 5 August 2018

“… They said to him, “What can we do to accomplish the works of God?”  Jesus answered and said to them, ‘This is the work of God, that you believe in the one he sent’.”  (Jn 6:28-29) The very first work that man renders to God is faith. In one sense, this statement settles the debate over whether “faith alone” or “faith and good works” is the way to salvation, since faith is to be considered man’s first good work in the pursuit of his salvation (Phil 2:12). However, any discussion about faith and/or good works (charity) is meaningless without …

17th Sunday in Ordinary Time – 29 July 2018

“Jesus went up on the mountain, and there he sat down with his disciples… When Jesus raised his eyes and saw that a large crowd was coming to him, he said to Philip, “Where can we buy enough food for them to eat?” He said this to test him, because he himself knew what he was going to do.”  (Jn 6:3;5-6) What parent has not asked his or her little child a question which the parent already knew the answer to? Good parents do this all the time in the raising and rearing of their children. When the parent tests the child with …

16th Sunday of Ordinary Time – 22 July 2018

“Woe to the shepherds who mislead and scatter the flock of my pasture, says the LORD… Behold, the days are coming, says the LORD, when I will raise up a righteous shoot to David.” (Jer 23:1;5) Once Moses and his trusted aide Joshua had died, the next generation of Israelites lost sight of the Lord God and began worshipping the gods of Canaan (Jg 2:10-11). First, God admonished them by not assisting their armies; then God showed his divine mercy by sending them “judges” – Israelites of great and humble faith who shepherded the people with counsel and victory. However, …

15th Sunday in Ordinary Time – 15 July 2018

Jesus summoned the Twelve and began to send them out… “Whatever place does not welcome you or listen to you, leave there and shake the dust off your feet in testimony against them.” So they went off and preached repentance.  (Mk 6:7;11-12) Christians are ambassadors of Christ and therefore envoys of reconciliation to God (2 Cor 5:20). All reconciliation to God comes about through contrition or man’s repentance. This is certainly why Jesus sent out his Apostles to preach repentance (the forgiveness of sins) to all the nations. Further, Jesus does not tolerate those who treat his ambassadors with discourtesy, obstinacy, …

14th Sunday in Ordinary Time – 8 July 2018

Jesus… came to his native place, accompanied by his disciples… When the Sabbath came he began to teach in the synagogue and many who heard him were astonished. They said, “Where did this man get all this…”  And they took offense at him.  (Mk 6:1-2;3) The ancient Jews were always demanding signs from their prophets (1 Cor 1:22). Sometimes signs were given even when not asked for (Is 7:14). But just as often as the “stiff-necked” people required signs, they frequently rejected the admonitions and counsels of God’s prophets. Israelite prophets were not like oracles of the Greek cult to …

13th Sunday in Ordinary Time – 1 July 2018

“God did not make death, nor does he rejoice in the destruction of the living”… “For God formed man to be imperishable; the image of his own nature he made him.” (Wis 1:13; 2:23) Modern man views death as something natural.  There are three reasons for this.  First, common sense indicates that no one lives forever and that human persons become old and die.  Second, science proves the cellular and physical breakdown of the body over time indicating that mortality is natural.  Lastly, pagan thought, still prominent in man, proposes death and life as a cyclical process such that life …