Tag Archives: Bible

Mothers of the Gospels

May 11, 2018

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Mother’s Day is an ideal time to reflect upon mothers in the gospels who are spiritual role models for the mothers of today. The two mothers who receive the most attention are Mary, the mother of Jesus, and Elizabeth, the mother of John the Baptist, but there are a number of other mothers who are mentioned briefly that deserve consideration.

Peter’s mother-in-law. She was the mother of Peter’s wife, and when Jesus began his Galilean ministry, she lived with Peter and Andrew in their home in Capernaum. She became sick with a terrible fever. Jesus cured her, and she immediately waited on them (Mt 8:14-16; Mk 1:29-31; Lk 4:38-39). Her healing was for a purpose, so she could be of service to others. She imitated Jesus who came “not to be served, but to serve” (Mt 20:28). Christian mothers give generous and selfless service.

The mother of Zebedee’s sons. She was the mother of James and John. Her husband and sons were fishermen on the Sea of Galilee. Her efforts to help her sons gain a firm foundation in their Jewish faith may have contributed to the fact that they were the third and fourth disciples called by Jesus. She paid Jesus homage (Mt 20:20) which indicated her faith in him. Then she asked if her sons could sit on the right and left of Jesus in his kingdom (Mt 20:21) which indicated her love and concern for her sons. She followed Jesus from Galilee to Jerusalem in order to minister to him (Mt 27:55), and she served in partnership with Mary Magdalene and Mary the mother of James and Joseph (Mt 27:56). She was at Golgotha and watched the death of Jesus on the Cross from a distance. Christian mothers have faith in Jesus, give him their utmost respect, want the best for their children, follow Jesus with love and devotion, associate with other Christian women, and go to great lengths to serve Jesus.

Mary, the mother of James and Joseph. She was the mother of the younger James, the son of Alphaeus (Mt 10:3; Lk 6:15; Acts 1:13), one of the twelve apostles, and Joseph who is also called Joses (Mk 15:40,47). She was one of the women who accompanied Jesus from Galilee to Jerusalem to serve him, and she watched the crucifixion from afar (Mt 27:55-56). She and Mary Magdalene watched where Jesus was laid (Mk 15:47). She is also “the other Mary” who kept vigil outside Jesus’ tomb (Mt 27:61). After the Sabbath she and Mary Magdalene (Mt 28:1), Salome (Mk 16:1), and Joanna (Lk 24:10), brought spices to the tomb to anoint the body of Jesus. She listened to the angel and ran back to the disciples to announce the Resurrection (Mt 28:5-8). The apostles fled out of fear, while Mary faithfully remained with Jesus out of her deep love for him. Christian mothers stay close to Jesus at all times and are steadfast in their love for him, and form partnerships with other good women and do good works together.

The widow of Nain. Her husband had died, and then her only son died (Lk 17:12). His body was being carried to its final resting place and she was weeping. Jesus had taught, “Blessed are they who mourn, for they will be comforted” (Mt 5:4), and Jesus comforted the grief-stricken mother by raising her son from the dead and by returning him to her (Lk 7:14-15). Christian mothers love their children every moment of their child’s life, and if a child should die, the mother grieves over the loss, persists in her love, and provides a respectful burial. Christian mothers also have great compassion on other mothers who have suffered a death in their family and make a conscious effort to offer consolation and assistance.

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‘Gutenberg’s Apprentice’ a superb novel

November 25, 2014

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Gutenbergs ApprenticePrinting history and church history mesh to make for compelling reading in the terrific first novel of Alix Christie, “Gutenberg’s Apprentice.”

Protagonist Peter Schoeffer is the apprentice of the title, and there’s no fiction there: Schoeffer was Gutenberg’s apprentice in the 1450s as the German’s workshop developed moveable type and used it to print 180 copies of the Bible.

The fictional story comes from Ms. Christie’s imagination, but there’s hearty research behind the tale, particularly when it comes to the details of printing and the hurdles that elements of the church put in Gutenberg’s way. Interdicts on dioceses and conflicts between archbishops and religious communities are fact and a dark part of church history.

Gutenberg gets credit for combining the various elements needed for mass production of printed matter. He pulled together dozens of ideas and technological advances systematically, including the creation of metal type, ink and the press itself. But in the novelist’s hands the much-lauded inventor, talented as he is, is schizophrenic. One moment he’s praising his apprentice for his marvelous gifts and telling the tradesmen in his workshop that he couldn’t have printed his Bible without them, and the next he’s taking all the credit, declaring that he did it all alone and needed no one’s help.

Through Schoeffer, who in real life went on to become one of the first publishers of note in Europe, Christie presents a spiritual element to the process that brought about not just the first printed Bible but an invention that was key to the Renaissance and often named as the greatest invention of all time.

Christie’s  Schoeffer sees his part in the drama as one divinely led, that God has placed him in his time and his place to use the gifts he’s been given to be a part of this amazing fete that will change life on earth.

“You always did think that you had some private pact with God,” a life-long acquaintance charges Gutenberg’s apprentice.

Author Christie answers for her story’s hero: Of course. How could he not. . . . How could he have understood his own life otherwise?

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Chanhassen’s ‘Joseph’ a fun night at the theater

May 28, 2013

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215px-Joseph_and_the_Amazing_Technicolor_DreamcoatIt’s been 40 years since “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat” first hit the London stage, 31 years since  Andrew Lylyod Webber’s music and Tim Rice’s lyrics told the story from Genesis on Broadway, and it’s twice before had runs at the Chanhassen Dinner Theatres, the latest only four years ago.

No mind. It just doesn’t get old. Not the way director Michael Brindisi and the company at the Chan play it.

Days later the tunes are still running through my head, of course, but what makes the Chan special are the sight-gags that are so well-timed and well-played, along with the way all the actors, all 27 of  ’em, are engaged all the time.

Take your eyes off charming Jodi Carmeli as she narrates the biblical story or off leading man Jared Oxborough as Joseph, and every single player is in character, doing his or her part to add to the action.

A good example are the way all 11 of Joseph’s brothers have a different way of expressing the distain for their favored-child brother; no two actions are alike, each a creative movement that’s perfect for the scene.

With the dancing, the great costumes and the clever props,it’s what a night’s entertainment ought to be.

 

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Christians may appreciate sci-fi look at the Magi

January 11, 2011

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Science fiction really isn’t my taste, but this Christmastide I savored an interesting, action-filled novel about the Three Kings.

Probably is best termed historical fiction with leanings toward sci-fi, “Epiphany: The Untold Epic Journey of the Magi” is a terrific read. The sci-fi flavor offers a new take on the old story of the wise men who followed a star and brought gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh to the infant Jesus at Bethlehem.

I normally don’t go for stuff about humans with super powers — too much deus-ex-machina for me. But author Paul Harrington doesn’t allow the magic to get in the way of his interesting tale of Melchior, Balthazar and Gaspar and all they ran into as the star led them to the place when they could pay homage to the newborn king of the Jews.

Harrington’s fictionalized version of the travels of the Magi is just that — fiction. Matthew’s Gospel reveals only that the Magi came from the east. But Harrington holds fairly close to the basic storyline in the gospel, and the creativity he adds to the scriptural text does nothing to take away from the birth of Christ and the events the gospel writer saved for posterity.

Put a tickler on your calendar to pick it up next Advent when you’re once again setting up your Nativity Season and take the journey to Jesus with some wise men. — bz

(“Epiphany: The Untold Epic Journey of the Magi” is available at http://www.epiphany-site.com and http://www.Amazon.com)

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Look and learn about the places you’ve read about in the Bible

July 16, 2009

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“Oxford Bible Atlas,”
Edited by Adrian Curtis

If you’ve never been to the Holy Land or other places mentioned in the Bible, this is the book to take you there in absentia.

If you’ve been to any of those ancient sites, this Oxford University Press large-format paperback is the book to rekindle memories.

It was nearly 50 years ago that the Oxford Bible Atlas first appeared in print, and this fourth edition blossoms like none of its predecessors thanks to color photography throughout. As you might imagine, satellite photos of the Dead Sea, the River Jordan, and that portion of Earth from Egypt to the Arabian Penisula weren’t in that first edition in 1962.

As Adrian Curtis explains, the primary aim of the atlas is to provide the reader with an awareness of the world in which the biblical stories are set. Aerial photographs do what one’s imagination never can to show what the hills of Galilee, the road from Jerusalem to Jericho and the City of Jerusalem are really like.

While many of us are accustomed to looking at an atlas for directions, the Oxford Bible Atlas does so much more, offering not just geography and history but archaeology and geology, too. There is as much text and photography as there are maps.
We don’t just see where Babylon is on the map, for example, but we learn how the exile of the Jews there came about.
Curtis, a Methodist lay preacher, is an excellent teacher with a background as a lecturer on the Hebrew Bible for 40 years at the University of Manchester in Great Britain.

You can very easily sit down with the atlas and read it as any other work of nonfiction, chapter by chapter. It would be great for Bible study, small group, faith sharing or adult faith formation purposes, reading a chapter a week. Most chapters are just a few pages, with full-page maps included, and they tend to read chronologically.

Where did the Ephesians live?
While many are likely to have a fairly good idea where Damascus is (in Syria, north and east of Israel), how many times have those of us in the pews heard the lector proclaim names of biblical places such as “Cappadocia” or “Ephesus” (Paul’s epistle to the Ephesians!) and not had a clue that both are part of modern-day Turkey?

A couple of the later chapters offer a real education in archaeology, including a two-page spread on ancient writing systems.

I enjoyed reading and finding my way along on the maps, but I could see where others might enjoy and learn about biblical lands just by looking at the many photos and reading the captions. That alone is an education.
Bravo to all involved in bringing Bible places to life. — bz
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Monk’s poetry invites us to view biblical stories and characters from non-traditional perspectives

January 16, 2009

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“God Drops and Loses Things,”

by Kilian McDonnell

Bible stories we’ve read before, biblical characters we’ve met before, but never this way. That’s what fills the pages of Benedictine Father Kilian McDonnell’s third book of poetry (St. John’s University Press).

Perhaps you — like myself — feel you are out of your area of expertise in reading, no less reviewing, poetry. But take a chance, challenge yourself and try to see with the eyes of this monk from St. John’s Abbey in Collegeville, Minn.

I stuck a Post-It note on at least a dozen of the nearly 50 works because they said something to me.

For one thing, Killian gives a voice to the women of Holy Scripture — Miriam, for example, and Mary Magdalene — whose thoughts the Bible authors mainly ignored.

My favorite might be “Widow Rachel: Matchmaker,” as much a short essay as a poem, but cleverly imagined thoughts from the mind of a woman trying to find a wife for the carpenter, who doesn’t seem to be interested:

“Mary needs grandchildren. The man is thirty and still at home with his mother, so of course the women whisper as they gather at the market stalls.”

It’s a treasure.

See how quickly you find the “prodigal daughter” entry.

Moving from the Hebrew Testament to the New Testament, Father Kilian re-writes parables with a new, imagined tone that somehow makes the stories of Jesus mean more to today’s hearer.

I loved “The Catholic Thing,” an accusation in poetic form that correctly charges us Christians with being so unchristian at times.

Toward the end Kilian favors us with a few pieces that come from his person — family and Benedictine family — that are filled with rich images, take us to the places he chooses to share with all of us. We’re so blessed that he does. — bz
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It’s okay, Catholics, we can laugh

September 30, 2008

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“The Book of Catholic Jokes,”

by Deacon Tom Sheridan

Did you know that they had automobiles in Jesus’ time?

Yes, the Bible says that the disciples were all of one Accord.

Yeah, you may have heard some of them before.

And yes, Tom Sheridan admits that some of these may have been jokes to which a Catholic angle has been added to make them churchy.

But Sheridan, who was a writer and editor for the Chicago Sun-Times before he was a deacon, has nicely selected jokes that folks with decent moral standards can tell in polite company, and Acta Publications has packaged them well as a handy little and inexpensive paperback.

Did you hear the one about the man who opened a dry-cleaning business next door to the convent? He knocked on the door and asked the Mother Superior if she had any dirty habits.

To be sure there are some clinkers in the bunch, and some moldy oldies. And I don’t know why every priest in a joke has to have an Irish surname; hell0 — you don’t have to be Irish to be a priest, or to be funny.

With most of the quips you don’t have to be an “insider,” so to speak, although I’m not sure the jokes that take off on the differences between, say, the Franciscans and the Jesuits, aren’t going to have some Catholics scratching their heads. But maybe not.

For the most part the collection is good stuff — good enough to make you crack a smile even though you may have heard them before.

There’s at least one great priest golf joke, a cute one about a rabbi and a priest, a funny Pope Benedict XVI joke and a clever atheist joke. And as someone who can rarely remember a joke, what a good resource; I’m sure “The Book of Catholic Jokes” will end up on a number of reference shelves in rectories. — bz

One Sunday morning a priest saw a little boy staring intently at the large plaque on the church wall. The plaque was covered with names, and flags hung on either side of it.

“Father,” asked the boy, “what’s this?”

He replied, “It’s a memorial to all the men and women who died in the service.”

They stood together in silence for a moment. Finally, the boy asked with genuine concern: “Was it at the eight or the ten-thirty Mass?”

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