Navarre Bible Commentary:
3rd Sunday of Lent

Fig-preserves-fig-treeLuke 13:1–9

There were some present at that very time who told him of the Galileans whose blood Pilate had mingled with their sacrifices. And he answered them, “Do you think that these Galileans were worse sinners than all the other Galileans, because they suffered thus? I tell you, No; but unless you repent you will all likewise perish. Or those eighteen upon whom the tower in Siloam fell and killed them, do you think that they were worse offenders than all the others who dwelt in Jerusalem? I tell you, No; but unless you repent you will all likewise perish.”

And he told this parable: “A man had a fig tree planted in his vineyard; and he came seeking fruit on it and found none. And he said to the vinedresser, ‘Lo, these three years I have come seeking fruit on this fig tree, and I find none. Cut it down; why should it use up the ground?’ And he answered him, ‘Let it alone, sir, this year also, till I dig about it and put on manure. And if it bears fruit next year, well and good; but if not, you can cut it down.’ ”

Catholic Exegesis:

The Second Vatican Council teaches  that if we are to derive the true meaning from the sacred texts,  attention must be devoted “not only to their content but to the unity of the whole of Scripture, the living tradition of the entire Church, and the analogy of faith. […] Everything to do with the interpretation of Scripture is ultimately subject to the judgment of the Church, which exercises the divinely conferred communion and ministry of watching over and interpreting the Word of God” (Dei Verbum, 12).

St. John Paul II, when he promulgated the Catechism of the Catholic Church,  explained that the Catechism “is a statement of the Church’s faith and of catholic doctrine, attested to or illumined by Sacred Scripture, the Apostolic Tradition and the Church’s Magisterium.”  He went on to “declare it to be a sure norm for teaching the faith and thus a valid and legitimate instrument for ecclesial communion” (Fidei Depositum).

Cited in the Catechism:

Passages from this Gospel reading are not cited in the Catechism.

Commentary:

The need for repentance

13:1–5. Our Lord used current events in his teaching. The Galileans referred to here may be the same as mentioned in the Acts of the Apostles (5:37). The episode was fairly typical of the times Jesus lived in, with Pilate sternly suppressing any sign of civil unrest. We do not know anything about the accident at Siloam other than what the Gospel tells us.

The fact that these people died in this way does not mean that they were worse than others, for God does not always punish sinners in this life (cf. Jn 9:3). All of us are sinners, meriting a much worse punishment than temporal misfortune: we merit eternal punishment; but Christ has come to atone for our sins, he has opened the gates of heaven. We must repent of our sins; otherwise God will not free us from the punishment we deserve. “When you meet with suffering, the cross, your thought should be: what is this compared with what I deserve?” (St Josemaría Escrivá, The Way, 690).

13:3. “He tells us that, without Holy Baptism, no one will enter the Kingdom of heaven (cf. Jn 3:5); and, elsewhere, that if we do not repent we will all perish (Lk 13:3). This is all easily understood. Ever since man sinned, all his senses rebel against reason; therefore, if we want the flesh to be controlled by the spirit and by reason, it must be mortified; if we do not want the body to be at war with the soul, it and all our senses need to be chastened; if we desire to go to God, the soul with all its faculties needs to be mortified” (St John Mary Vianney, Selected Sermons, Ash Wednesday).

Parable of the barren fig tree

13:6–9. Our Lord stresses that we need to produce plenty of fruit (cf. Lk 8:11–15) in keeping with the graces we have received (cf. Lk 12:48). But he also tells us that God waits patiently for this fruit to appear; he does not want the death of the sinner; he wants him to be converted and to live (Ezek 33:11) and, as St Peter teaches, he is “forbearing towards you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance” (2 Pet 3:9). But God’s clemency should not lead us to neglect our duties and become lazy and comfort-seeking, living sterile lives. He is merciful, but he is also just and he will punish failure to respond to his grace.

“There is one case that we should be especially sorry about—that of Christians who could do more and don’t; Christians who could live all the consequences of their vocation as children of God, but refuse to do so through lack of generosity. We are partly to blame, for the grace of faith has not been given us to hide but to share with others (cf. Mt 5:15f). We cannot forget that the happiness of these people, in this life and in the next, is at stake. The Christian life is a divine wonder with immediate promises of satisfaction and serenity—but on condition that we know how to recognize the gift of God (cf. Jn 4:10) and be generous, not counting the cost” (St Josemaría Escrivá, Christ Is Passing By, 147).

Source: The Navarre Bible: Text and Commentaries. Biblical text from the Revised Standard Version and New Vulgate. Commentaries by members of the Faculty of Theology, University of Navarre, Spain.

Published by Four Courts Press, Kill Lane, Blackrock, Co. Dublin, Ireland, and by Scepter Publishers in the United States. We encourage readers to purchase The Navarre Bible for personal study. See Scepter Publishers for details.
“Ignorance of Scripture is ignorance of Christ.” St Jerome

Navarre Bible Commentary:
Solemnity of the Epiphany of the Lord

Adoration of the Magi by He Qi
Matthew 2:1–12
Now when Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, behold, wise men from the East came to Jerusalem, saying, “Where is he who has been born king of the Jews? For we have seen his star in the East, and have come to worship him.” When Herod the king heard this, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him; and assembling all the chief priests and scribes of the people, he inquired of them where the Christ was to be born. They told him, “In Bethlehem of Judea; for so it is written by the prophet: ‘And you, O Bethlehem, in the land of Judah,
are by no means least among the rulers of Judah;
for from you shall come a ruler
who will govern my people Israel.’”
Then Herod summoned the wise men secretly and ascertained from them what time the star appeared; and he sent them to Bethlehem, saying, “Go and search diligently for the child, and when you have found him bring me word, that I too may come and worship him.” When they had heard the king they went their way; and lo, the star which they had seen in the East went before them, till it came to rest over the place where the child was. When they saw the star, they rejoiced exceedingly with great joy; and going into the house they saw the child with Mary his mother, and they fell down and worshiped him. Then, opening their treasures, they offered him gifts, gold and frankincense and myrrh. And being warned in a dream not to return to Herod, they departed to their own country by another way.
Catholic Exegesis:
The Second Vatican Council teaches  that if we are to derive the true meaning from the sacred texts,  attention must be devoted “not only to their content but to the unity of the whole of Scripture, the living tradition of the entire Church, and the analogy of faith. […] Everything to do with the interpretation of Scripture is ultimately subject to the judgment of the Church, which exercises the divinely conferred communion and ministry of watching over and interpreting the Word of God” (Dei Verbum, 12).
St. John Paul II, when he promulgated the Catechism of the Catholic Church,  explained that the Catechism “is a statement of the Church’s faith and of catholic doctrine, attested to or illumined by Sacred Scripture, the Apostolic Tradition and the Church’s Magisterium.”  He went on to “declare it to be a sure norm for teaching the faith and thus a valid and legitimate instrument for ecclesial communion” (Fidei Depositum).
Cited in the Catechism:
Passages from this Gospel reading are cited in the Catechism, paragraphs 430, 439, 486, 528  and 724.
Commentary:
The adoration of the Magi
2:1. “King Herod”: four different Herods are mentioned in the New Testament. The first is Herod the Great, referred to in this passage and in the next; the second, his son, Herod Antipas, who had St John the Baptist beheaded (Mt 14:1–12) and who abused our Lord during his passion (Lk 23:7–11); the third, Herod Agrippa I, a grandson of Herod the Great, who executed the apostle St James the Greater (Acts 12:1–3), imprisoned St Peter (Acts 12:4–7), and died suddenly and mysteriously (Acts 12:20–23). The fourth, Herod Agrippa II, was Herod Agrippa I’s son. It was before him that St Paul answered Jewish accusations when he was a prisoner in Caesarea (Acts 25:23).
Herod the Great, who appears here, was the son of non-Jewish parents. He came to power with the aid and as a vassal of the Romans. He was a consummate politician and among other things he rebuilt the temple in Jerusalem on a lavish scale. Herod the Great had a persecution complex; everywhere he saw rivals to his throne. He was notorious for his cruelty: he killed over half of his ten wives, some of his children and many people of standing. This information derives largely from the Jewish historian Flavius Josephus, who wrote towards the end of the first century, and it confirms the cruel picture drawn in the Gospels.
“Wise men”: these were learned men, probably from Persia, who devoted themselves to the study of the stars. Since they were not Jews, they can be considered to be the very first Gentiles to receive the call to salvation in Christ. The adoration of the wise men forms part of the very earliest documented tradition: the scene is already depicted at the beginning of the second century in the paintings in the catacombs of St Priscilla in Rome.
2:2. The Jews had made known throughout the East their hope of a Messiah. The wise men knew about this expected Messiah, king of the Jews. According to ideas widely accepted at the time, this sort of person, because of his significance in world history, would have a star connected with his birth. God made use of these ideas to draw to Christ these representatives of the Gentiles who would later be converted
“The star had been hidden from them so that, on finding themselves without their guide, they would have no alternative but to consult the Jews. In this way the birth of Jesus would be made known to all” (St John Chrysostom, Hom. on St Matthew, 7). Chrysostom also points out that “God calls them by means of the things they are most familiar with: and he shows them a large and extraordinary star so that they would be impressed by its size and beauty” (ibid., 6). God called the wise men in the midst of their ordinary occupations, and he still calls people in that way. He called Moses when he was shepherding his flock (Ex 3:1–3), Elisha the prophet ploughing his land with oxen (1 Kings 19:19–20), Amos looking after his herd (Amos 7:15).… “What amazes you seems natural to me: that God has sought you out in the practice of your profession! That is how he sought the first, Peter and Andrew, James and John, beside their nets, and Matthew, sitting in the custom-house. And—wonder of wonders!—Paul, in his eagerness to destroy the seeds of Christianity” (St Josemaría Escrivá, The Way, 799).
“Like the Magi we have discovered a star—a light and a guide in the sky of our soul. ‘We have seen his star in the East and have come to worship him (Mt 2:2).’ We have had the same experience. We too noticed a new light shining in our soul and growing increasingly brighter. It was a desire to live a fully Christian life, a keenness to take God seriously” (St J. Escrivá, Christ Is Passing By, 32).
2:4. In all Jewish circles at the time of Jesus, the hope was widespread that the Messiah would come soon. The general idea was that he would be a king, like a new and even greater David. Herod’s worry is therefore all the more understandable: he governed the Jews with the aid of the Romans and cruelly and jealously guarded his crown. Due to his political ambition and his lack of religious sense, Herod saw a potential Messiah-King as a dangerous rival to his own worldly power.
In the time of our Lord, both Herod’s monarchy and the occupying Romans (through their procurators) recognized the Sanhedrin as the representative body of the Jewish people. The Sanhedrin was, therefore, the nation’s supreme council which ruled on day-to-day affairs, both religious and civil. The handling of the more important questions needed the approval of either the king (under Herod’s monarchy) or the Roman procurator (at the time of the direct Roman occupation of Palestine). Following Exodus 24:1–9 and Numbers 11:16, the Sanhedrin was composed of seventy-one members presided over by the high priest. The members were elected from three groupings: 1) the chief priests, that is, the leaders of the principal priestly families; it was these families who appointed the high priest (the chief priests also included anybody who had formerly held the high priesthood); 2) the elders, or the leaders of the most important families; 3) the scribes, who were teachers of the Law or experts on legal and religious matters; the majority of these scribes belonged to the party or school of the Pharisees. In this passage of St Matthew only the first and third of the above groups are mentioned. This is understandable since the elders would have no authority in the matter of the birth of the Messiah—a purely religious question.
2:5–6. The prophecy referred to in this passage is Micah 5:1. It is worth noting that Jewish tradition interpreted this prophecy as predicting the Messiah’s exact place of birth and as referring to a particular person. The second text thus teaches us once more that the prophecies of the Old Testament are fulfilled in Jesus Christ.
2:8. Herod tried to find out exactly where the Child was—not, of course, to adore him, as he said, but to dispose of him. Such was Herod’s exclusively political view of things. Yet neither his shrewdness nor his wickedness could prevent God’s plans from being fulfilled. Despite Herod’s ambition and his scheming, God’s wisdom and power were going to bring salvation about.
2:9. “It might happen at certain moments of our interior life—and we are nearly always to blame—that the star disappears, just as it did to the wise kings on their journey. […] What should we do if this happens? Follow the example of those wise men and ask. Herod used knowledge to act unjustly. The Magi use it to do good. But we Christians have no need to go to Herod nor to the wise men of this world. Christ has given his Church sureness of doctrine and a flow of grace in the sacraments. He has arranged things so that there will always be people to guide and lead us, to remind us constantly of our way” (St Josemaría Escrivá, Christ Is Passing By, 34).
2:10. “Why were they so happy? Because those who had never doubted received proof from the Lord that the star had not disappeared. They had ceased to contemplate it visibly, but they kept it always in their souls. Such is the Christian’s vocation. If we do not lose faith, if we keep our hope in Christ who will be with us ‘until the consummation of the world’ (Mt 28:20), then the star reappears. And with this fresh proof that our vocation is real, we are conscious of a greater joy which increases our faith, hope and love” (Christ Is Passing By, 35).
2:11. The gifts they offered—gold, frankincense and myrrh—were those most valued in the East. People feel the need to give gifts to God to show their respect and faith. Since they cannot give themselves as a gift, which is what they would wish, they give instead what is most valuable and dear to them.
The prophets and the psalmists foretold that the kings of the earth would pay homage to God at the time of the Messiah (Is 49:23). They would offer him their treasures (Is 60:5) and adore him (Ps 72:10–15). Through this action of the wise men and the offering of their gifts to Jesus, these prophecies begin to be fulfilled.
The Council of Trent expressly quotes this passage when it underlines the veneration that ought to be given to Christ in the Eucharist: “The faithful of Christ venerate this most holy sacrament with the worship of latria which is due to the true God. […] For in this sacrament we believe that the same God is present whom the eternal Father brought into the world, saying of him, ‘Let all God’s angels worship him’ (Heb 1:6; cf. Ps 97:7). It is the same God whom the Magi fell down and worshipped (cf. Mt 2:11) and, finally, the same God whom the apostles adored and worshipped (cf. Mt 28:17)” (De SS. Eucharistia, chap. 5).
St Gregory Nazianzen has also commented on this verse, as follows: “Let us remain in adoration; and to him, who, in order to save us, humbled himself to such a degree of poverty as to take our flesh, let us offer him not only incense, gold and myrrh (the first as God, the second as king, and the third as one who sought death for our sake), but also spiritual gifts, more sublime than those which can be seen with the eyes” (Oratio, 19).
2:12. The involvement of the wise men in the events at Bethlehem ends with yet another act of respectful obedience and cooperation with God’s plans. Christians also should be receptive to the specific grace and mission God has given them. They should persevere in this even if it means having to change any personal plans they may have made.
Source: The Navarre Bible: Text and Commentaries. Biblical text from the Revised Standard Version and New Vulgate. Commentaries by members of the Faculty of Theology, University of Navarre, Spain.
Published by Four Courts Press, Kill Lane, Blackrock, Co. Dublin, Ireland, and by Scepter Publishers in the United States. We encourage readers to purchase The Navarre Bible for personal study. See Scepter Publishers for details.
“Ignorance of Scripture is ignorance of Christ.” St Jerome

SAINT STEPHEN, FIRST MARTYR

The Stoning of Steven (sp) by Matt Butcher
MT 10:17–22
Beware of men; for they will deliver you up to councils, and flog you in their synagogues, and you will be dragged before governors and kings for my sake, to bear testimony before them and the Gentiles. When they deliver you up, do not be anxious how you are to speak or what you are to say; for what you are to say will be given to you in that hour; for it is not you who speak, but the Spirit of your Father speaking through you. Brother will deliver up brother to death, and the father his child, and children will rise against parents and have them put to death; and you will be hated by all for my name’s sake. But he who endures to the end will be saved.
Catholic Exegesis:
The Second Vatican Council teaches  that if we are to derive the true meaning from the sacred texts,  attention must be devoted “not only to their content but to the unity of the whole of Scripture, the living tradition of the entire Church, and the analogy of faith. […] Everything to do with the interpretation of Scripture is ultimately subject to the judgment of the Church, which exercises the divinely conferred communion and ministry of watching over and interpreting the Word of God” (Dei Verbum, 12).
St. John Paul II, when he promulgated the Catechism of the Catholic Church,  explained that the Catechism “is a statement of the Church’s faith and of catholic doctrine, attested to or illumined by Sacred Scripture, the Apostolic Tradition and the Church’s Magisterium.”  He went on to “declare it to be a sure norm for teaching the faith and thus a valid and legitimate instrument for ecclesial communion” (Fidei Depositum).
Cited in the Catechism:
Passages from this Gospel reading are cited in Catechism paragraphs 161, 728 and 1821.
Commentary:
Jesus’ instructions to the apostles
10:16–23. The instructions and warnings Jesus gives here apply right through the history of the Church. It is difficult for the world to understand the way of God. Sometimes there will be persecutions, sometimes indifference to the Gospel or failure to understand it. Genuine commitment to Jesus always involves effort—which is not surprising, because Jesus himself was a sign of contradiction; indeed, if that were not the experience of a Christian, he would have to ask himself whether he was not in fact a worldly person. There are certain worldly things a Christian cannot compromise about, no matter how much they are in fashion. Therefore, Christian life inevitably involves nonconformity with anything that goes against faith and morals (cf. Rom 12:2). It is not surprising that a Christian’s life often involves choosing between heroism and treachery. Difficulties of this sort should not make us afraid: we are not alone, we can count on the powerful help of our Father God to give us strength and daring.
10:20. Here Jesus teaches the completely supernatural character of the witness he asks his disciples to bear. The documented accounts of a host of Christian martyrs prove that he has kept this promise: they bear eloquent witness to the serenity and wisdom of often uneducated people, some of them scarcely more than children. The teaching contained in this verse provides the basis for the fortitude and confidence a Christian should have whenever he has to profess his faith in difficult situations. He will not be alone, for the Holy Spirit will give him words of divine wisdom.
Source: The Navarre Bible: Text and Commentaries. Biblical text from the Revised Standard Version and New Vulgate. Commentaries by members of the Faculty of Theology, University of Navarre, Spain.
Published by Four Courts Press, Kill Lane, Blackrock, Co. Dublin, Ireland, and by Scepter Publishers in the United States. We encourage readers to purchase The Navarre Bible for personal study. See Scepter Publishers for details.
“Ignorance of Scripture is ignorance of Christ.” St Jerome

Navarre Bible Commentary:
30th Sunday in Ordinary Time

El_Greco_-_Christ_Healing_the_Blind_-_WGA10420Mark 10:46–52

46 And they came to Jericho; and as he was leaving Jericho with his disciples and a great multitude, Bartimaeus, a blind beggar, the son of Timaeus, was sitting by the roadside. 47 And when he heard that it was Jesus of Nazareth, he began to cry out and say, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!” 48 And many rebuked him, telling him to be silent; but he cried out all the more, “Son of David, have mercy on me!” 49 And Jesus stopped and said, “Call him.” And they called the blind man, saying to him, “Take heart; rise, he is calling you.” 50 And throwing off his mantle he sprang up and came to Jesus. 51 And Jesus said to him, “What do you want me to do for you?” And the blind man said to him, “Master, let me receive my sight.” 52 And Jesus said to him, “Go your way; your faith has made you well.” And immediately he received his sight and followed him on the way.

Catholic Exegesis:

The Second Vatican Council teaches  that if we are to derive the true meaning from the sacred texts,  attention must be devoted “not only to their content but to the unity of the whole of Scripture, the living tradition of the entire Church, and the analogy of faith. […] Everything to do with the interpretation of Scripture is ultimately subject to the judgment of the Church, which exercises the divinely conferred communion and ministry of watching over and interpreting the Word of God” (Dei Verbum, 12).

St. John Paul II, when he promulgated the Catechism of the Catholic Church,  explained that the Catechism “is a statement of the Church’s faith and of catholic doctrine, attested to or illumined by Sacred Scripture, the Apostolic Tradition and the Church’s Magisterium.”  He went on to “declare it to be a sure norm for teaching the faith and thus a valid and legitimate instrument for ecclesial communion” (Fidei Depositum).

Cited in the Catechism:

Passages from this Gospel reading are cited in the Catechism, paragraphs 548, 2616 and 2667.

Commentary:

Bartimeus, the blind man of Jericho

10:46–52. “Hearing the commotion the crowd was making, the blind man asks, ‘What is happening?’ They told him, ‘It is Jesus of Nazareth.’ At this his soul was so fired with faith in Christ that he cried out, ‘Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!’

“Don’t you feel the same urge to cry out? You who also are waiting at the side of the way, of this highway of life that is so very short? You who need more light, you who need more grace to make up your mind to seek holiness? Don’t you feel an urgent need to cry out, ‘Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me’? What a beautiful aspiration for you to repeat again and again!…

“ ‘Many rebuked him, telling him to be silent.’ As people have done to you, when you sensed that Jesus was passing your way. Your heart beat faster and you too began to cry out, prompted by an intimate longing. Then your friends, the need to do the done thing, the easy life, your surroundings, all conspired to tell you: ‘Keep quiet, don’t cry out. Who are you to be calling Jesus? Don’t bother him.’

“But poor Bartimaeus would not listen to them. He cried out all the more: ‘Son of David, have mercy on me.’ Our Lord, who had heard him right from the beginning, let him persevere in his prayer. He does the same with you. Jesus hears our cries from the very first, but he waits. He wants us to be convinced that we need him. He wants us to beseech him, to persist, like the blind man waiting by the road from Jericho. ‘Let us imitate him. Even if God does not immediately give us what we ask, even if many people try to put us off our prayers, let us still go on praying’ (St John Chrysostom, Hom. on St Matthew, 66).

“ ‘And Jesus stopped, and told them to call him.’ Some of the better people in the crowd turned to the blind man and said, ‘Take heart; rise, he is calling you.’ Here you have the Christian vocation! But God does not call only once. Bear in mind that our Lord is seeking us at every moment: get up, he tells us, put aside your indolence, your easy life, your petty selfishness, your silly little problems. Get up from the ground, where you are lying prostrate and shapeless. Acquire height, weight and volume, and a supernatural outlook.

“And throwing off his mantle the man sprang up and came to Jesus. He threw off his mantle! I don’t know if you have ever lived through a war, but many years ago I had occasion to visit a battlefield shortly after an engagement. There, strewn all over the ground, were greatcoats, water bottles, haversacks stuffed with family souvenirs, letters, photographs of loved ones … which belonged, moreover, not to the vanquished but to the victors! All these items had become superfluous in the bid to race forward and leap over the enemy defences. Just as happened to Bartimaeus, as he raced towards Christ.

“Never forget that Christ cannot be reached without sacrifice. We have to get rid of everything that gets in the way—greatcoat, haversack, water bottle. You have to do the same in this battle for the glory of God, in this struggle of love and peace by which we are trying to spread Christ’s kingdom. In order to serve the Church, the Pope and all souls, you must be ready to give up everything superfluous.…

“And now begins a dialogue with God, a marvellous dialogue that moves us and sets our hearts on fire, for you and I are now Bartimaeus. Christ, who is God, begins to speak and asks, Quid tibi vis faciam? ‘What do you want me to do for you?’ The blind man answers: ‘Lord, that I may see.’ How utterly logical! How about yourself, can you really see? Haven’t you too experienced at times what happened to the blind man of Jericho? I can never forget how, when meditating on this passage many years back, and realizing that Jesus was expecting something of me, though I myself did not know what it was, I made up my own aspirations: ‘Lord, what is it you want! What are you asking of me?’ I had a feeling that he wanted me to take on something new and the cry, Rabboni, ut videam, ‘Master, that I may see,’ moved me to beseech Christ again and again, ‘Lord, whatever it is that you wish, let it be done.’

“Pray with me now to our Lord: doce me facere voluntatem tuam, quia Deus meus es tu (Ps 143:10) (‘teach me to do thy will, for you art my God’). In short, our lips should express a true desire on our part to correspond effectively to our Creator’s promptings, striving to follow out his plans with unshakeable faith, being fully convinced that he cannot fail us.…

“But let us go back to the scene outside Jericho. It is now to you that Christ is speaking. He asks you, ‘What do you want me to do for you?’ ‘Master, let me receive my sight.’ Then Jesus answers, ‘Go your way. Your faith has made you well.’ And immediately he received his sight and followed him on his way. Following Jesus on his way. You have understood what our Lord was asking from you and you have decided to accompany him on his way. You are trying to walk in his footsteps, to clothe yourself in Christ’s clothing, to be Christ himself: well, your faith, your faith in the light our Lord is giving you, must be both operative and full of sacrifice. Don’t fool yourself. Don’t think you are going to find new ways. The faith he demands of us is as I have said. We must keep in step with him, working generously and at the same time uprooting and getting rid of everything that gets in the way” (St Josemaría Escrivá, Friends of God, 195–198).

Source: The Navarre Bible: Text and Commentaries. Biblical text from the Revised Standard Version and New Vulgate. Commentaries by members of the Faculty of Theology, University of Navarre, Spain.

Published by Four Courts Press, Kill Lane, Blackrock, Co. Dublin, Ireland, and by Scepter Publishers in the United States. We encourage readers to purchase The Navarre Bible for personal study. See Scepter Publishers for details.

“Ignorance of Scripture is ignorance of Christ.” St Jerome  

Navarre Bible Commentary:
Saturday, 29th Week in Ordinary Time

Brooklyn_Museum_-_The_Vine_Dresser_and_the_Fig_Tree_Le_vigneron_et_le_figuier_-_James_Tissot

Luke 13:1-9

The Need for Repentance

[1] There were some present at that very time who told him of the Galileans whose blood Pilate had mingled with their sacrifices. [2] And he answered them, “Do you think that these Galileans were worse sinners than all the other Galileans, because they suffered thus? [3] I tell you, No; but unless you repent you will all likewise perish. [4] Or those eighteen upon whom the tower in Siloam fell and killed them, do you think that they were worse offenders than all the others who dwelt in Jerusalem? [5] I tell you, No; but unless you repent you will all likewise perish.”

Parable of the Barren Fig Tree

[6] And he told this parable: “A man had a fig tree planted in his vineyard; and he came seeking fruit on it and found none. [7] And he said to the vinedresser, ‘Lo, these three years I have come seeking fruit on this fig tree, and I find none. Cut it down; why should it use up the ground?’ [8] And he answered him, ‘Let it alone, sir, this year also, till I dig about it and put on manure. [9] And if it bears fruit next year, well and good; but if not, you can cut it down.'”

Catholic Exegesis:

The Second Vatican Council teaches  that if we are to derive the true meaning from the sacred texts,  attention must be devoted “not only to their content but to the unity of the whole of Scripture, the living tradition of the entire Church, and the analogy of faith. […] Everything to do with the interpretation of Scripture is ultimately subject to the judgment of the Church, which exercises the divinely conferred communion and ministry of watching over and interpreting the Word of God” (Dei Verbum, 12).

St. John Paul II, when he promulgated the Catechism of the Catholic Church,  explained that the Catechism “is a statement of the Church’s faith and of catholic doctrine, attested to or illumined by Sacred Scripture, the Apostolic Tradition and the Church’s Magisterium.”  He went on to “declare it to be a sure norm for teaching the faith and thus a valid and legitimate instrument for ecclesial communion” (Fidei Depositum).

Cited in the Catechism:

Passages from this Gospel reading are not cited in the Catechism.

Commentary:

1-5. Our Lord used current events in his teaching. The Galileans referred to here may be the same as mentioned in the Acts of the Apostles (5:37). The episode was fairly typical of the times Jesus lived in, with Pilate sternly suppressing any sign of civil unrest. We do not know anything about the accident at Siloam other than what the Gospel tells us.

The fact that these people died in this way does not mean that they were worse than others, for God does not always punish sinners in this life (cf. Jn 9:3). All of us are sinners, meriting a much worse punishment than temporal misfortune: we merit eternal punishment; but Christ has come to atone for our sins, he has opened the gates of heaven. We must repent of our sins; otherwise God will not free us from the punishment we deserve. “When you meet with suffering, the Cross, your thought should be: what is this compared with what I deserve?” (St. J. Escriva, The Way, 690)

3. “He tells us that, without Holy Baptism, no one will enter the Kingdom of heaven (cf. Jn 3:5); and, elsewhere, that if we do not repent we will all perish (Lk 13:3). This is all easily understood. Ever since man sinned, all his senses rebel against reason; therefore, if we want the flesh to be controlled by the spirit and by reason, it must be mortified; if we do not want the body to be at war with the soul, it and all our senses need to be chastened; if we desire to go to God, the soul with all its faculties needs to be mortified” (St John Mary Vianney, Selected Sermons, Ash Wednesday).

6-9. Our Lord stresses that we need to produce plenty of fruit (cf. Lk 8:11-15) in keeping with the graces we have received (cf. Lk 12:48). But he also tells us that God waits patiently for this fruit to appear; he does not want the death of the sinner; he wants him to be converted and to live (Ezek 33:11) and, as St Peter teaches, he is “forbearing towards you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance” (2 Pet 3:9). But God’s clemency should not lead us to neglect our duties and become lazy and, comfort-seeking, living sterile lives. He is merciful, but he is also just and he will punish failure to respond to his grace.

“There is one case that we should be especially sorry about–that of Christians who could do more and don’t; Christians who could live all the consequences of their vocation as children of God, but refuse to do so through lack of generosity. We are partly to blame, for the grace of faith has not been given us to hide but to share with others (cf. Mt 5:15f). We cannot forget that the happiness of these people, in this life and in the next, is at stake. The Christian life is a divine wonder with immediate promises of satisfaction and serenity–but on condition that we know how to recognize the gift of God (cf. Jn 4:10) and be generous, not counting the cost” (St. J. Escriva, Christ Is Passing By, 147).

Source: The Navarre Bible: Text and Commentaries. Biblical text from the Revised Standard Version and New Vulgate. Commentaries by members of the Faculty of Theology, University of Navarre, Spain.

Published by Four Courts Press, Kill Lane, Blackrock, Co. Dublin, Ireland, and by Scepter Publishers in the United States. We encourage readers to purchase The Navarre Bible for personal study. See Scepter Publishers for details.

“Ignorance of Scripture is ignorance of Christ.” St Jerome  

Navarre Bible Commentary:
16th Sunday in Ordinary Time

From eSermons
Mark 6:30–34
30 The apostles returned to Jesus, and told him all that they had done and taught. 31 And he said to them, “Come away by yourselves to a lonely place, and rest a while.” For many were coming and going, and they had no leisure even to eat. 32 And they went away in the boat to a lonely place by themselves. 33 Now many saw them going, and knew them, and they ran there on foot from all the towns, and got there ahead of them. 34 As he went ashore he saw a great throng, and he had compassion on them, because they were like sheep without a shepherd; and he began to teach them many things.   
Catholic Exegesis:
The Second Vatican Council teaches  that if we are to derive the true meaning from the sacred texts,  attention must be devoted “not only to their content but to the unity of the whole of Scripture, the living tradition of the entire Church, and the analogy of faith. […] Everything to do with the interpretation of Scripture is ultimately subject to the judgment of the Church, which exercises the divinely conferred communion and ministry of watching over and interpreting the Word of God” (Dei Verbum, 12).
St. John Paul II, when he promulgated the Catechism of the Catholic Church,  explained that the Catechism “is a statement of the Church’s faith and of catholic doctrine, attested to or illumined by Sacred Scripture, the Apostolic Tradition and the Church’s Magisterium.”  He went on to “declare it to be a sure norm for teaching the faith and thus a valid and legitimate instrument for ecclesial communion” (Fidei Depositum).
Cited in the Catechism:
Passages from this Gospel reading are not cited in the Catechism.
Commentary:
6:30–31. We can see here the intensity of Jesus’ public ministry. Such was his dedication to souls that St Mark twice mentions that the disciples did not even have time to eat (cf. Mk 3:20). A Christian should be ready to sacrifice his time and even his rest in the service of the Gospel. This attitude of availability will lead us to change our plans whenever the good of souls so requires.
But Jesus also teaches us here to have common sense and not to go to such extremes that we physically cannot cope: “The Lord makes his disciples rest, to show those in charge that people who work or preach cannot do so without breaks” (St. Bede, In Marci Evangelium expositio, in loc.). “He who pledges himself to work for Christ should never have a free moment, because to rest is not to do nothing: it is to relax in activities which demand less effort” (St Josemaría Escrivá, The Way, 357).
6:34. Our Lord had planned a period of rest, for himself and his disciples, from the pressures of the apostolate (Mk 6:31–32). And he has to change his plans because so many people come, eager to hear him speak. Not only is he not annoyed with them: he feels compassion on seeing their spiritual need. “My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge” (Hos 4:6). They need instruction and our Lord wants to meet this need by preaching to them. “Jesus is moved by hunger and sorrow, but what moves him most is ignorance” (St Josemaría Escrivá, Christ Is Passing By, 109).


Source: The Navarre Bible: Text and Commentaries. Biblical text from the Revised Standard Version and New Vulgate. Commentaries by members of the Faculty of Theology, University of Navarre, Spain.


Published by Four Courts Press, Kill Lane, Blackrock, Co. Dublin, Ireland, and by Scepter Publishers in the United States. We encourage readers to purchase The Navarre Bible for personal study. See Scepter Publishers for details.

“Ignorance of Scripture is ignorance of Christ.” St Jerome  

Video: The SCOTUS Case on Same-Sex Marriage and Its Impact on Religious Liberty

Overview
This video is a one hour presentation by Dr. Ben Nguyen of the Diocese of Corpus Christi in which he details the legal historical context leading up to the recent Supreme Court case which redefined marriage. Additionally, he outlines the moral impact of the decision and its potential threat to the freedom to freely express our faith in the public arena. Nguyen cites a number of court cases, Vatican II documents, Sacred Scripture and natural law.

Brief Bio
Dr. Ben Nguyen is a Canon lawyer and theological advisor to Bishop Wm. Michael Mulvey, STL, DD of the Diocese of Corpus Christi. He is a licensed attorney in the state of Wisconsin. Nguyen has recently served as an Associate Professor in the Institute for Pastoral Studies at Ave Maria University where he taught Canon Law, Liturgy and Sacraments, Moral Theology and Pastoral Theology. In addition to all the work he does for the Church, Dr. Nguyen is married and has five children.

Audio/Video

Iron sharpens iron.