The blog of the Dominican student brothers at Blackfriars, Oxford.

Built on the four pillars of our Dominican life – preaching, prayer, study, and community – Godzdogz offers many resources for exploring the Catholic Faith today.
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March 25 - The Annunciation of the Lord

Friday, March 25, 2011
Today's readings: Isaiah 7:10-14; 8:10; Psalm 39; Hebrews 10:4-10; Luke 1:26-38 Read more

Lent Week 2: Thursday

Thursday, March 24, 2011
Today's readings: Jeremiah 17:5-10; Psalm 1; Luke 16:19-31

In today's gospel we find the parable of the unnamed rich man and the destitute Lazarus. During their time on earth these two were separated by the rich man's gates which divided the world of luxury and plenty from the world of poverty, hunger, and humiliation. The rich man chose to cut himself off from his community and from God, and instead devote his attention to 'fine clothes' and 'sumptuous feasting' (Luke 16:19). It is almost as if this choice of material things over communion, over love, has become fixed in eternity in the form of an 'unbridgeable chasm' (Luke 16:26) between the rich man and his neighbour. After his death the rich man is alone, tormented by the flames of his desire, longing for sensual consolation in the form of a drop of water (Luke 16:24). In contrast Lazarus, who suffered so much at the rich man's gates, is taken to Abraham's bosom by the angels. He is in communion with God and neighbour; he is at rest.

The gospel concludes with a sting in the tail: the rich man begs Abraham to send Lazarus back from the dead to warn his wealthy brothers of the doom that awaits them if they do not change their ways (Luke 16:27-28). Abraham answers:

'If they do not hear Moses and the prophets, neither will they be convinced if someone should rise from the dead' (Luke 16:31).

St. Luke, of course, when choosing what to include in his gospel, knew that in fact someone had risen from the dead. Christ had died, Christ had risen - yet many still refused to believe. For Luke, then, this rejection of Christ stems from a failure to 'hear' Moses. It is a failure to recognize that the Incarnation is a fulfillment of the Old law and that, as Aquinas puts it, what has been made explicit by the revelation of Christ was implicitly held by Moses.

Loosely speaking, then, we can speak of the Old Testament as a kind of Lent, a preparation for God's great act of salvation. At the heart of this prophetic preparation was the profound insight that we must put no false god before the one true God (Exodus 20:3), and that we must turn away from evil and do good (Psalm 34(33): 14). Like the people of Israel, we too are prepared, by Moses and the prophets, to receive Christ. We too need to put away our idols, our worship of things which are not God, and renew our commitment to virtue. Read more

Lent Week 2: Wednesday

Wednesday, March 23, 2011
Today's readings: Jeremiah 18:18-20; Psalm 30; Matthew 20:17-28 Read more

Lent Week 2: Tuesday

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Lent Week 2: Monday

Monday, March 21, 2011

Comparing ourselves to others is a very human trait and by extension ‘judging’ is also. For much of the time we are, perhaps, unaware of how often we compare ourselves with our neighbours or for what fleeting reasons. At other times we are much more aware, and rather than allowing the example of another to inspire us to greater things, we often seek to drag others down to make ourselves feel or appear ‘better’. It’s a rather twisted logic but there can be few who have not been guilty of judging another, either in thought or word, and then allowing themselves to feel superior as a result. Today’s Gospel is very much concerned with this rather hypocritical and self-serving judgmental attitude that we can exhibit. But does this mean that all ‘judging’ is off limits?

As a general rule of thumb the next time we make a comment that is not ‘for mutual up-building’ and the ‘Glory of God’, we have probably fallen into the trap! As a Church we believe in the truth. In proclaiming the Gospel we seek to articulate the truth and defend it with all our ability. Accordingly, to condone wrongful actions, sinful behaviour – in our own lives as well as others – would not be right. But we must be aware that the spirit of charitable correction is far removed from that of hypocritical judgement. Luke’s Gospel is then, not advocating a spirit of individualism, whereby we all live our lives according to ‘our truths’ and do not speak out for fear of judging another. No, what is at stake here, is how we view one another and whether we are prepared to treat others as Christ would, with hearts full of mercy and charity, with a willingness to forgive and a joyful acceptance of our reliance on His mercy and grace. As Hebrews 10:24 says, 'let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works'.

However we choose to live, we may be sure that we will receive ‘measure for measure’ that which we give. For there is only one Judge, and we may be sure that he will judge ‘with justice and fairness’. This Lent then, provides a real opportunity for us to examine how we view and treat others - what are our hidden motivations - and above all how we live our relationship with God and His Church and endeavour to co-operate with His grace. 'Give and gifts will be given to you; a good measure, packed together, shaken down, and overflowing, will be poured into your lap'.
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Second Sunday of Lent

Sunday, March 20, 2011
Today's readings: Genesis 12:1-4a; Psalm 32; 2 Timothy 1:8-10; Matthew 17:1-9 Read more

Lent Week 1: Friday

Friday, March 18, 2011
Today's readings: Ezekiel 18:21-28; Psalm 130; Matthew 5:20-26 Read more

St Joseph

Friday, March 18, 2011

Lent Week 1: Wednesday

Wednesday, March 16, 2011
Today's readings: Jonah 3:1-10; Psalm 50(51); Luke 11:29-32

In today's gospel according to St. Luke we hear Jesus condemn his own 'evil generation' for seeking 'signs' or miracles. The people wanted absolute proof of Jesus' authority before they were prepared to accept his good news. Jesus disappoints them declaring: 'no sign shall be given except the sign of Jonah. For as Jonah became a sign to the men of Nineveh, so will the Son of Man be to this generation' (Luke 11: 29-30).

In contrast to St. Matthew's gospel, then, which draws attention to the parallel between Jonah's three days and nights in the belly of the whale and Jesus' time in the tomb (Matthew 38-42), Luke's gospel emphasises instead that both Jonah and Jesus are preaching a message of repentance. Both are calling on their contemporaries to change their ways. Hence the men of Nineveh 'will arise at the judgment with this generation and condemn it; for they repented at the preaching of Jonah' (Luke 11: 32). Jesus, on the other hand, was handed over to the Romans and crucified.

Yet the repentance of the people of Nineveh seems to have been short lived. In the book of Jonah we read that God decided to spare the city from the destruction he had threatened (Jonah 3:10). Yet in fact Nineveh was destroyed in 612BC by the Babylonians, and Jesus' contemporaries would have known this. This suggests that the conversion of Nineveh in response to Jonah's preaching was a superficial one: after their fast the people returned to their old ways. The city made outward gestures of sorrow for their sins, but did nothing to correct the injustice at the heart of their society and so eventually their sin destroyed them. True repentance, then, is not primarily about outward rituals but, as we read in today's psalm, a change of heart: 'my sacrifice a contrite spirit, a humbled contrite heart you will not spurn' (Psalm 50(51):19).

Yet if Nineveh's conversion was only superficial, why then will its people rise up and condemn Jesus' generation? The answer offered by Jesus is simple: 'something greater than Jonah is here' (Luke 11:32). Unlike Jonah, Jesus offers more than just a message of repentance or change, he also offers himself as the agent of that change. To be made just, to be justified, is to move away from sin and into a right relation with God. This is not something we can do by our own strength. The people of Nineveh could not 'earn' their salvation. Only God can heal the wounds of our sin. Justification comes, then, when we accept God's free gift of salvation. This free gift is offered to us in Christ. We use our Lenten observances, then, to remind ourselves that we depend on Christ alone: we must never fall into the trap of thinking that the observances themselves will save us. Read more

St Patrick

Wednesday, March 16, 2011
Readings: 1 Peter 4:7-11; Psalm 96:1- 10; Luke 5:1-11 Read more
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