St. Paul Center for Biblical Theology

As the Twelve return from their first missionary journey in today’s Gospel, our readings continue to reflect on the authority and mission of the Church.

Jeremiah says in the First Reading that Israel’s leaders, through godlessness and fanciful teachings, had mislead and scattered God’s people. He promises God will send a shepherd, a king and son of David, to gather the lost sheep and appoint for them new shepherds (see Ezekiel 34:23).

The crowd gathering on the green grass (see Mark 6:39) in today’s Gospel is the start of the remnant that Jeremiah promised would be brought back to the meadow of Israel. The people seem to sense that Jesus is the Lord, the good shepherd (see John 10:11), the king they’ve been waiting for (see Hosea 3:1-5).

Jesus is moved to pity, seeing them as sheep without a shepherd. This phrase was used by Moses to describe Israel’s need for a shepherd to succeed him (see Numbers 27:17). And as Moses appointed Joshua, Jesus appointed the Twelve to continue shepherding His people on earth.

Readings:
Jeremiah 23:1-16
Psalms 23:1-6
Ephesians 2:13-18
Mark 6:30-34

Jesus had said there were other sheep who did not belong to Israel’s fold, but would hear His voice and be joined to the one flock of the one shepherd (see John 10:16). In God’s plan, the Church is to seek out first the lost sheep of the house of Israel, and then to bring all nations into the fold (see Acts 13:36; Romans 1:16).

Paul, too, in today’s Epistle, sees the Church as a new creation, in which those nations who were once far off from God are joined as “one new person” with the children of Israel.

As we sing in today’s Psalm, through the Church, the Lord, our good shepherd, still leads people to the verdant pastures of the kingdom, to the restful waters of baptism; He still anoints with the oil of confirmation, and spreads the Eucharistic table before all people, filling their cups to overflowing.

Direct download: B_16_Ordinary.mp3
Category:Sunday Bible Reflections -- posted at: 4:11pm EDT

On the feast of St. Benedict (d. 543 AD), take a few minutes to listen to Mike Aquilina discuss the life of this giant of the Catholic Faith the founder of western monastacism, emphasizing prayer, work, study and contemplation.

Direct download: St._Benedict.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 9:00am EDT

In this episode I look at Jesus' role as a prophet, a much overlooked aspect of his ministry. In addition, I look at the role of "prophetic acts", other first-century Jewish figures, and, for good measure, the Last Supper. This is podcast is jam-packed.

Click here for a .pdf of the outline with all the references cited. Note the extensive footnotes. I covered much of this material in my doctoral dissertation, so this is an area in which I've done a lot of work.


As we’ve walked with the apostles in the Gospels in recent weeks, we’ve witnessed Jesus command the wind and sea, and order a little girl to arise from the dead.

But He seems to meet His match in His hometown of Nazareth. Today’s Gospel is blunt: “He was not able to perform any mighty deed there.”

Why not? Because of the people’s lack of faith. They acknowledged the wisdom of His words, the power of His works. But they refused to recognize Him as a prophet come among them, a messenger sent by God.

All they could see was how much “this man” was like them - a carpenter, the son of their neighbor, Mary, with brothers and sisters.

Of course, Mary was ever-virgin, and had no other children. The Gospel refers to Jesus’ brothers as Paul refers to all Israelites as his brothers, the children of Abraham (see Romans 9:3,7).

That’s the point in today’s Gospel, too. Like the prophet Ezekiel in today’s First Reading, Jesus was sent by God to the rebellious house of Israel, where He found His own brothers and sisters obstinate of heart and in revolt against God. 

The servant is not above the Master (see Matthew 10:24). As His disciples, we too face the mockery and contempt we hear of in today’s Psalm. And isn’t it often hardest to live our faith among those in our own families, those who think they really know us, who define us by the people we used to be - before we chose to walk with Jesus?

As Paul confides in today’s Epistle, insults and hardships are God’s way of teaching us to rely solely on His grace.

Jesus will work no mighty deeds in our lives unless we abandon ourselves to Him in faith. Blessed then are those who take no offense in Him (see Luke 7:23). Instead, we must look upon Him with the eyes of servants - knowing that the son of Mary is also the Lord enthroned in the heavens.

Direct download: B_14_Ordinary.mp3
Category:Sunday Bible Reflections -- posted at: 9:58am EDT

Mike Aquilina discusses the life of this very early Church Father.

Direct download: St._Irenaeus.mp3
Category:Fathers of the Church -- posted at: 10:56am EDT

John Bergsma and Michael Barber discuss the role of the Bible in Catholic Theology, highlighting a new document from the International Theological Commission.


In this interview, Mike Aquilina unpacks the life and times of St. John Damascene (c. 676-754), the last of the Church Fathers.  St. John was a great hymn writer and theologian who, in response to the iconoclast heresy,  gave us the first theology of the icon based on the Incarnation.

Direct download: St._John_of_Damascus.mp3
Category:Fathers of the Church -- posted at: 11:26am EDT

Mike Aquilina discusses St. Gregory of Nyssa, a great thinker and man of prayer of the 4th century.

Direct download: St._Gregory_Nyssa.mp3
Category:Fathers of the Church -- posted at: 4:35pm EDT

Dr. Scott Hahn, on a St. Paul Center pilgrimage to the Holy Land explains how St. Paul, often understood as the favorite New Testament writer among Protestants, is profoundly Catholic when you know how to read him.