Fatima: How July 13, 1917 “changed” the Church

By: Tom Hoppes, Aleteia

What Our Lady of Fatima did that day inspired many to convert, but provoked others to reject the faith. This week marks the 100th anniversary of the most controversial apparition of Our Lady in Fatima, Portugal.

What she did that day inspired many to convert but provoked others to reject the faith out of hand. It made some people a little nutty and won the begrudging respect of others. Continue reading

Will they produce fruit?

Commentary. Matthew 13 is a “day of parables.” The parable of the sower is spoken in public to great crowds (vv. 1–3), but its explanation and the teaching about parables are spoken only to the disciples (vv. 10–11). More parables are then spoken to ‘the crowds’ (v. 34), but the crowds are again left behind (v. 36), and the second explanation and further parables are spoken to the disciples in ‘the house’ (which Jesus had left in v. 1). The unresponsive crowds are thus clearly distinguished from the disciples to whom alone explanation is given, and this distinction is spelt out in vv. 11–17. Continue reading

Will you follow?

Unlike Mark (Mark 3:13–14) and Luke (Luke 6:12–16), Matthew has no story of Jesus’ appointing the Twelve, he assumes that the formation of the group is already known to the reader. “Jesus summoned his Twelve disciples and gave them authority over unclean spirits to drive them out and to cure every disease and every illness. The names of the Twelve Apostles are these: first, Simon called Peter, and his brother Andrew; James, the son of Zebedee, and his brother John; Philip and Bartholomew, Thomas and Matthew the tax collector; James, the son of Alphaeus, and Thaddeus; Simon the Cananean, and Judas Iscariot who betrayed Jesus.” (Mt 10:1-4)

In today’s Gospel, the group, now called, is commissioned. It is in this moment that we see the fulfillment of an earlier individual calling Continue reading

A sower went out to sow…

Matthew 13:1–23 1 On that day, Jesus went out of the house and sat down by the sea.2 Such large crowds gathered around him that he got into a boat and sat down, and the whole crowd stood along the shore.3 And he spoke to them at length in parables, saying: “A sower went out to sow. 4 And as he sowed, some seed fell on the path, and birds came and ate it up.5 Some fell on rocky ground, where it had little soil. It sprang up at once because the soil was not deep,6 and when the sun rose it was scorched, and it withered for lack of roots.7 Some seed fell among thorns, and the thorns grew up and choked it.8 But some seed fell on rich soil, and produced fruit, a hundred or sixty or thirtyfold.9 Whoever has ears ought to hear.” Continue reading

What is a Parable?

In the weeks to come we will hear a number of parables as part of the Gospel. So, what is a “Parable”? Definition: “At its simplest a parable is a metaphor or simile drawn from nature or common life, arresting the hearer by its vividness or strangeness, and leaving the mind in sufficient doubt about its precise application to tease it into active thought.” (C. H. Dodd, The Parables of the Kingdom, New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1961, p. 5) Less accurate, but perhaps more to the point – when heard, a parable should give you pause and turn your world upside down. Continue reading

An Unusual Saint

July 9th is the feast day of St. Mark Ji Tianxiang, a Chinese layman who was murdered in 1900, along with dozens of other Catholics in his village, in the vicious persecution of Christians during the Boxer rebellion.  What’s unusual about St. Mark is that he was an opium addict. To be clear, he was an opium addict. Not had been an opium addict. He was an opium addict at the time of his death. Continue reading

Adjusting along the way

Back in the day, along with a group of friends, I used to camp and backpack in the wilderness of Virginia and West Virginia. Generally, it was just for a long weekend – maybe two or three days. We would carry everything in/out. I remember having fun, enjoying it all, but I always felt like I needed a day to recover. Perhaps it was the infrequency of carrying a load, the hiking, and all that goes with the adventure, but come Monday, there was always a stiffness about my neck, arms, shoulders, upper back and all the rest that is connected to those parts.  I could still feel the after effects of the pack’s burden.  “Come to me, all you who labor and are burdened, and I will give you rest.” It sounded like the perfect scripture for the post-camping Monday mornings. Continue reading

St. Bonaventure

Saturday, July 15th marks the feast day of one of the great figures in Franciscan history – St. Bonaventure of Bagnoregio – as well as the twelfth anniversary of our Franciscan presence in this historic downtown parish. St. Bonaventure is a good model of what it means to be a Franciscan, while at the same time being a priest in leadership positions in a parish. Bonaventure reminded the friars of his day that our first vocation is as “brother.”  At the core of our charism, we are a fraternity in mission to the People of God striving to continue our Order’s 800-year-old mission: bringing the Gospel into the everyday experience of men and women through our life in fraternity and compassionate service to all.  Continue reading

Take my yoke: invitation

Yoke 3Jesus’ Invitation. The last three verses of the chapter contain many echoes of the invitation of Jesus Ben Sira (Sir 51:23–27; cf. also Sir 6:24–31) for men to come and learn from him and take up wisdom’s yoke, so that they may find rest. No doubt Jesus and his hearers knew and valued this book, but Jesus’ invitation reveals a higher authority: it is his own yoke that he offers, and he himself gives the rest which Ben Sira had to win by his ‘little labors’. Continue reading

Take my yoke: commentary

Yoke 3Commentary. Despite the rejection in vv.20-24, some persons accept Jesus’ mission and message – and it is for this that he gives praise to God. In context these words are not a prayer of thanksgiving for a successful mission (cf. Lk 10:21-22), but are a prayerful reflection on the failure of the Galilean mission. The prayers highlight another Matthean theme: reversal. Those who are considered wise and learned are in fact not – at least in the things of the kingdom of heaven. Yet those who are childlike have understood and accepted the revelation of the kingdom in the person of Jesus Continue reading