Wednesday, September 18, 2013

WALKING WITH MARY: A Biblical Journey from Nazareth to the Cross - by Edward Sri


Edward Sri's WALKING WITH MARY: A Biblical Journey from Nazareth to the Cross is an incredible biblical meditation upon the life and role of the Blessed Mother in the life of Christ and the Church.

I would love for all my Christian friends to read this biblical meditation, especially those who have relegated Mary to the basement except for her annual pilgrimage upstairs only to be dusted off and placed in the Christmas Creche. Likewise I would recommend it to all my Catholic brothers and sisters who have distanced themselves from both Scripture and Mary and the Sacraments.

Sri takes us through the gospels of Luke and John in a tour de force of the fruits of lectio divina whereby he allows the texts themselves to speak to us, revealing that Mary is indeed Full of Grace, the Queen Mother of the Great King, and the great obedient maidservant who is the first disciple of the Lord Jesus, even while She carried him in the womb with joy beyond all telling.

Arguably, one could meditate upon the Joyful Mysteries of the Rosary while reading the chapters that correspond to the Annunciation, Visitation, Nativity, Presentation, and the Finding of the Child Jesus in the Temple.

Particularly astounding is the revelation that Mary is called by a new name: Full of Grace. She is singled out for a specific mission in Salvation History that no other human person had.

The text also assists us in applying the mysteries of Mary and Christ into our own lives. the resounding message: Be not afraid!

One of my favorite sections of the book covers Mary's Visitation and Mary's Magnificat. Mary praises God for her lowliness and for what He is doing in her life, but then she praises God for what He is doing and will do for all the people of Israel. 

Her Magnificat "prophetically foreshadows her Son's public ministry" and she pre-announces the Gospel of her Son in dramatic fashion. The hungry will be filled, the lowly will be exalted, the proud be cast down and the rich walk away empty. For Jesus will "gather all the suffering and oppressed into the Kingdom...while the proud, the mighty, and the rich who oppose God's people will be cast down." 

For all the religious and Ordained, Oblates and Tertiaries, and all who regularly pray Vespers of the Divine Office or the Liturgy of the Hours, (or anyone who read or prays the Magnificat from Luke's gospel), we are reminded that, we, like Mary and Jesus, are called to feed the hungry, heal and care for the sick, forgive sinners... "extending fellowship to those ostracized in society" so that the downtrodden might be called and raised up as heirs of the kingdom.

Happily, the author does not engage in a polemical debate about Mary - he doesn't have to - but rather he focuses on the Scripture itself and Tradition, with plentiful quotes from Popes John Paul II and Benedict XVI, as well as other sources through Church history.

I read the book while flying from Indianapolis to Spokane, Washington, and back, and couldn't help but sense Mary's presence. As we soared above the earth, and I peered into the wispy clouds, it gave me an inkling of what Mary must see and feel as she looks upon us who are often out of the wine of mercy and compassion, lacking in the wine of faith or hope, and how she longs to bring our needs to the attention of her Beloved Son: "They have no wine." 

Mary's words to the servants at the Wedding at Cana are her words to us today: "Do Whatever He Tells You."

Well researched and prayerfully prepared, this book is a gift just in time for Advent and Christmas. For those who have read Pope Benedict's book Jesus of Nazareth: The Infancy Narratives, I would place Walking With Mary alongside the pope's work.

DR. EDWARD SRI is a nationally known Catholic speaker who appears regularly on EWTN and is the author of several well-loved Catholic books. He is a founding leader, with Curtis Martin, of FOCUS (Fellowship of Catholic University Students), and he currently serves as vice president of mission and outreach and professor of theology and scripture at the Augustine Institute master's program in Denver, Colorado. Sri holds a doctorate from the Pontifical University of St. Thomas Aquinas in Rome. He resides with his wife, Elizabeth, and their six children in Littleton, Colorado. 

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received the above book for free in the hope that I would mention it on my blog. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Saturday, September 14, 2013

A Prodigal Father Had Two Sons.....

Twenty-fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time 

The tax collectors and sinners were all drawing near to listen to him, but the Pharisees and scribes began to complain, saying, “This man welcomes sinners and eats with them. 

So to them he addressed this parable. “A man had two sons, and the younger son said to his father, ‘Father, give me the share of your estate that should come to me.’ So the father divided the property between them. 

After a few days, the younger son collected all his belongings and set off to a distant country where he squandered his inheritance on a life of dissipation. When he had freely spent everything, a severe famine struck that country, and he found himself in dire need. So he hired himself out to one of the local citizens who sent him to his farm to tend the swine.  And he longed to eat his fill of the pods on which the swine fed, but nobody gave him any. 

Coming to his senses he thought, ‘How many of my father’s hired workers have more than enough food to eat, but here am I, dying from hunger. I shall get up and go to my father and I shall say to him, “Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I no longer deserve to be called your son; treat me as you would treat one of your hired workers.” 

So he got up and went back to his father. While he was still a long way off, his father caught sight of him, and was filled with compassion. He ran to his son, embraced him and kissed him. But his father ordered his servants, ‘Quickly bring the finest robe and put it on him; put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet, take the fattened calf and slaughter it. Then let us celebrate with a feast, because this son of mine was dead, and has come to life again; he was lost, and has been found.’ Then the celebration began. 
Today I will tell you this story from the perspective of the older son.

Did you hear that story?  

It was my father who welcomed this Jesus to our home. I think the old man has gone a bit soft in the noggin. ‘Cause if this is where religion is going, then I’m losing mine.

But that story he told about the two sons…. Look, I’m not stupid. I’m the older brother. 

That’s me he’s talking about. No question about it.

It all started a few years ago when my younger brother came to our Father and said, “Look, Pops, I thought you’d be dead by now, and I wish you were dead, but since you’re still up and kicking, I’ve got some wild oats that need sowing; I’ve got people to see, places to go, and women to seduce. I know that you’re not dead yet, but give me what I got coming to me when you go belly-up.”

Well, I said nothing because I couldn’t wait for my father to let him have it. You know, knock his block off.

But do you know what the old man did? He did it! He divided the property between us and gave that spoiled brother of mine everything he wanted!  

Well, you can have him. Let the old man love him…. That son of… his.  Then he left and I said “Good riddance.” 

He and went off to The Palms in Egypt and spent himself at Bordellos; he squandered his money on everything else sinful you can imagine; and then went to Pharaoh’s Palace and lost his assets.

But today…oh, yes, today…that son of his comes back in tatters, nearly naked, smelling like he’s been wallowing in a pig sty, looking like fifty shades of stupid – and what’s the old man do? 

I didn’t see it, but I heard it was a pathetic sight as the old man went running down the hill out to greet him, slobbering kisses on the little loser.

If it had been me, I would have made him come crawling back to me, begging for mercy. But he wouldn’t have gotten any from me. No sir.

And do you know how I heard about the party? Oh, yeah, there’s a party!

I was out working in the field – slaving away for the old man – as usual – and I heard the sound of music and saw people dancing.

Then I smelled barbecue! It was the fatted calf that we were saving for a very special occasion. I helped fatten that calf! I fed it everyday!

But the old man had it slaughtered and served up for the loser!

It’s all wrong! And now the old man has him as the guest of honor – wearing the best robe, fancy shoes, and the family ring!

And I can hardly bring myself to say it, but the Old man wanted me to be the master of ceremonies for this “Welcome home party” for you-know-who. 

Can you believe it? I told him “no way”. I won’t even go in the house and be seen with him and those others.

Why I didn’t even get a kid goat after last year’s harvest, but when that son of his comes home, he kills the fatted calf! 

Did I mention the fatted calf?!

To be honest, now I wish the old man was dead because he’s disgraced our family name.

And if he was dead, then I would show that son of his what’s what. Our reputation is now in danger. 

Look at him in there with that Jesus  eating and laughing with all those sinners as if they’re just an important as those of us who keep the law.

The decent and righteous people will write letters to the chief priest. We’ll be put under investigation all because of the old man’s willingness to forgive so much and so freely.

No, my old man is the real prodigal here. Not my brother—he’s not smart enough to be prodigal—he probably doesn’t even know what the word means.

Wait. Here comes my father.

What about * (Cough) My brother? (pause)

He was lost; as good as dead.

was lost? I stayed home… 

I stayed home and hated every minute of it?

Well, if you put it like that, yes, I suppose you’re right.

But look at all I do for you! I do everything I’m told.

But this son of yours— I mean my brother - look at all his sins!.....

Oh… I’m obsessing over his sins. Well someone has to!

What do you mean I sound jealous? I followed every rule religiously!

I wasn’t the one out carousing with harlots and publicans!

Look, Old Man, you never once threw me a party –

I never asked.

Yes, but the fatted calf?  We were saving it for a very –

(pause) Oh. This is that very special occasion.


I am always with you? Well, yes… (pause)

But this mercy thing has gone too far!....

What?  Not far enough?!   You’ve got to be kidding.

You’re waiting for me to offer a toast? 

For my brother!

No. I cannot. I will not join such frivolous feasting! …..

I Must?... Must celebrate?


What should I do? ….. (pause)

(To the people and pause)

What should we do?....       


Our Father is waiting for our response.