Monday, July 29, 2013

Weekly Bible Study - Genesis 18:20-32

28 July 2013
17th Sunday in Ordinary Time

We have to admire Abraham’s boldness in today’s reading. How do you bargain with God? Abraham’s audacity is a marvel as he confidently sets out to bargain with God for the fate of Sodom.

Used with permission
We might wonder, Is the city even worth saving? The Hebrew Scriptures cite a number of places in which Sodom’s sinfulness is described. The prophet Isaiah speaks of Sodom’s lack of justice and concern for the poor. In Ezekiel we learn of the city’s “abominable crimes” and the prophet Jeremiah refers to Sodom’s conscious choice to live in evil.  And, of course, Genesis 19 refers to its sin as sodomy, hence the city’s name. Sodom is often viewed as a modern metaphor for extreme depravity. Abraham certainly needs to appeal to God’s enormous well of mercy!

Abraham’s concern is that the Lord will “sweep away the innocent with the guilty.” In his persistent bargaining Abraham seeks to “wear down” the Lord, to find some reassurance that God will act justly in the end. Imagine that: humankind is concerned that God will act justly!

Reading ahead in the book of Genesis, we know that Sodom was destroyed. Did the Lord renege on the promise to Abraham? Not really.  A few people were led out of the city before its demise. Sodom was not saved, but the Lord took care of those faithful to him.

In all of God’s dealings with humankind the results of our prayerful (and sometimes not so prayerful) “bargaining” may not be what we expect.  But the Lord always finds a way. And the real point of this passage is that the Lord’s mercy is available for all.  We have only to ask and sometimes with the persistence of Abraham.

Let us all be the bold friend of God that Abraham was and confidently approach the deep well of the Lord’s endless mercy.

The author, Ms. Barbara Gawle, leads Bible studies at her parish, Incarnation Church of Wethersfield, CT. She is a CBS graduate and the 2012 recipient of the Biblical School's highest award, The Lawrence Boadt Memorial Medal.

Silly Summer Sallies

Cartoon of the Week*:

Joke of the Week:
Q: Who was the largest woman in the bible?
A: The woman of Samaria ("Some Area" - See John 4)

Source unknown, borrowed from
*Copyright 2000-2003, Kevin Frank.Used by permission.

Monday, July 22, 2013

Weekly Bible Study - Gen 18:1-10 and Luke 10:38-42

16th Sunday in Ordinary Time

Perfect strangers to Abraham, the three men suddenly appear at his tent. And Abraham and Sarah provide the strangers with a gracious, fabulous welcome at a moment’s notice.

Hospitality in Old Testament times was extended with great generosity and reverence – foot washing, no less – to both friends and strangers. It was considered a sacred duty that could not be overlooked. What Abraham had, he prepared joyfully for his mysterious guests. It is only after the three men leave that Abraham begins to realize they might be more than simple travelers.

And then what happens? The same time next year, Abraham and Sarah experience the graciousness and generosity of God who visits Sarah, with new life.

In terms of his hospitality, would Abraham have acted any differently if he had known the strangers were actually God’s messengers? Probably not. And unlike Martha in today’s gospel, Abraham does not seem to fret over the preparations for his guests. This is a startling contrast, considering that Abraham welcomes strangers and Martha welcomes a dear friend. But despite her fretting, Martha ministers to our Lord and is remembered for her hospitality to Jesus.

Christ lays a banquet before us every week. Do we give thanks for those who prepare the Eucharistic table for us? Is hospitality an important ministry in our parish? Do we greet strangers and make everyone welcome at the table, whether or not they are dressed in a way we define as reverent?

And whether we are serving or being served at the eucharistic banquet, do we listen to our Lord’s words and find nourishment there? Whether we are with friends or strangers, do we embody the fruits of biblical hospitality: generosity, graciousness, goodwill, God-likeness?

The author, Ms. Barbara Gawle, leads Bible studies at her parish, Incarnation Church of Wethersfield, CT. She is a CBS graduate and the 2012 recipient of the Biblical School's highest award, The Lawrence Boadt Memorial Medal.

Silly Summer Sallies

Cartoon of the Week*:

Joke of the Week:
Q: Where is the first example of cannabalism in the Bible?
A: That would be 2 Kings 8:1 ("Two kings ate one.”)

*Copyright 2000-2003, Kevin Frank.Used by permission.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Basic Certificates Awarded

The Catholic Biblical School is a 4-year program of Scripture study that covers every book of the
Bible. It consists of two phases: Basic Biblical Studies during the first two years; and Advanced Biblical Studies during years 3 and 4.  Students who have completed the requirements of the first two years of the program receive a Certificate in Basic Biblical Studies. They study eleven books of the Old Testament in Year 1 and nineteen books of the New Testament in Year 2. Twenty-five students were awarded the Basic Certificate this year at the Office of Religious Education and Evangelization Award Ceremony in early June:

Judy Annatone, Our Lady of Mt. Carmel, Hamden
Janice R. Belfiore, St. Mary, Simsbury
Kathleen A. Bellemare, Basilica of the Immaculate Conception, Waterbury
Janice A. Colandrea, St. Rose of Lima, Meriden
Kathleen Mary Congero, St. Patrick-St. Anthony, Hartford
Robert P. Cyr, St. Rose of Lima, Meriden
Debra Rose Federico, St. Frances Cabrini, North Haven
Robert T. Howard, St. Thomas, Southington
Susan Coon Howard, St. Thomas, Southington
Barbara R. Kaminsky, Sacred Heart, Suffield
Nicholas Albert Karlowicz, St. Thomas the Apostle, West Hartford
Maria L. Klimczak, St. Patrick, Collinsville
Leslie Roncari Marconi, St. Mary, Windsor Locks
Guy Mazzarella, St. Martha, Enfield
John K. Nieb, Holy Spirit, Newington
James Oberembt, St. James, Rocky Hill   
Mary Oberembt, St. James, Rocky Hill
Beth Polio, St. Catherine of Siena, West Simsbury
Rosalie G. Puskar, St. Therese, Granby
Georgieanna Roy, St. Peter, Torrington
Rosemary Salerno, Mary Our Queen, Plantsville
Robin Hinckley Wachs, Sacred Heart, Suffield
Linda Sue Ward, St. Bridget, Cheshire
Stephen R. Ward, St. Bridget, Cheshire
Loretta Antonelli Whiting, St. Gabriel, Windsor

Monday, July 15, 2013

Silly Summer Sallies

Cartoon of the Week*:

Joke of the Week:

Q. What kind of motor vehicles are in the Bible?
A. David's Triumph was heard throughout the land. Also, probably a Honda, because the apostles were all in one Accord.

*Copyright 2000-2003, Kevin Frank.Used by permission.

Weekly Bible Study - Deuteronomy 30:10-14

15th Sunday in Ordinary Time

God asked much of Moses, and Moses responded in great faith.  Courageously leading his people through the trials of the wilderness, Moses dealt with their incessant grumbling and impatience, and called them back numerous times to faithful observance of the law.  In today's reading he is on the last leg of his journey. Here we see Moses facing a new challenge from the Lord: he will not see the Promised Land. For forty years he has worked so hard to lead his people to their homeland, and he doesn’t even get to share in the fulfillment of the promise!  It is a true test of Moses' fidelity.

The Book of Deuteronomy is set, by the biblical author, as a series of farewell addresses given by Moses on the threshold of the "Promised Land." It is a beautiful testimony to God’s continued care of his people, and it is well worth pondering. Actually written about six centuries after Moses' death, Deuteronomy calls the Jews of his time back to remembrance of God’s plan for their salvation, their livelihood and worship, and their identity as a chosen people.

If we put ourselves into the sandals of the then-struggling Jewish community, we might be tempted to have sympathy with these people. Imagine how easy it would be to forget the religion of the ancestors in the face of destruction and exile at the hands of the Babylonian conquerers.

But the biblical author has no sympathy for those who turn aside!

In today’s reading we are called to imagine the Jews making excuses for not taking the word of God to heart. “Is it out in the sky, or across the sea?” they ask. Moses simply tells them that it is not too mysterious nor too remote. “It is very near to you, already in your mouths and in your hearts, you have only to carry it out.” No excuses, it's right there in front of you!

How much like the Israelites are we, as we ourselves so often place God outside of our minds and hearts? How quickly the excuses can tumble over each other, racing from out of our mouths! How often does God remain somewhere outside of our everyday awareness?

Yet that life of God is very near to us, planted within our hearts. We have only to reach deep within, to acknowledge that quiet voice that continually calls us to deeper life. And our praise is already upon our lips. We have only to carry it out!

The author, Ms. Barbara Gawle, leads Bible studies at her parish, Incarnation Church of Wethersfield, CT. She is a CBS graduate and the 2012 recipient of the Biblical School's highest award, The Lawrence Boadt Memorial Medal.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Jewish Words of Wisdom

Karl Kuhn, Class of 2013, shared these words emailed to him by his friend, Bob Cohen:

that are limitless,
of which a person enjoys the fruit of the world,
while the principal remains in the world to come.

They are:
honoring one’s father and mother,
engaging in deeds of compassion,
arriving early for study, morning and evening,
dealing graciously with guests,
visiting the sick,
providing for the wedding couple,
accompanying the dead for burial,
being devoted in prayer,
and making peace among people.
But the study of Torah encompasses them all.

Courtesy Artsmith, Inc.

Monday, July 8, 2013

Silly Summer Sallies

Cartoon of the Week*:


Q: Who was the smallest person in the Bible?
A: No one knows for sure. It could be “Bildad the Shu-hite” (shoe-height) or "Knee High Miah” (Nehemiah). But my vote goes to “Peter who slept on his watch.”

The Beloved Community

July 15-17, 6:00-8:00 pm each night
St. Patrick-St. Anthony
285 Church St., Hartford

A program of Scripture, prayer and non-violence presented by Deacon Arthur Miller, Director of the Office for Black Catholic Ministries.

July 15: Dehumanization: Blaming the Victim
July 16: Forming the Community
July 17: Commitment to Conversion and Discussion of "What Next"

Pre-registration required: Call 860-756-4034.

Weekly Bible Study

14th Sunday in Ordinary Time
Galatians 6:14-18

"May I never boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world."

In order to understand properly the context of this quote from Galatians, we first need to consider the “Judaizers.”  These Jewish Christians in the early church held that circumcision and the observance of the Mosaic Law were necessary for salvation and wished to impose them on the Gentile converts or require them of other Jewish Christians.

Paul admonishes those of the Galatian church who continue to promote the notion that their external acts, behaviors and achievements mark them as believers. These acts seemingly became a source of boasting.

Paul points them, rather, in the direction of the one and only reality that must be the source of their boasting: the cross.  In this context “cross” signifies the whole Christ-event, the Paschal Mystery.  When he says “the world has been crucified to me and I to the world,” Paul has put to death within himself all that is opposed to his new faith. He looks to the cross as the true symbol of transformation. The reality of the Paschal Mystery is now so central to Paul’s life that he is totally absorbed in its power to shape his life.

Would that we could even come close to Paul’s resolve!

The author, Ms. Barbara Gawle, leads Bible studies at her parish, Incarnation Church of Wethersfield, CT. She is a CBS graduate and the 2012 recipient of the Biblical School's highest award, The Lawrence Boadt Memorial Medal.

Friday, July 5, 2013

Visit the Cyrus Cylinder in NYC Through August 4!

Photo courtesy of
On loan from the British Museum, London, the Cyrus Cylinder documents the policy of Cyrus of Persia (sometimes called "the Liberator") to release captured peoples after his conquest of Babylon--thus putting an end to 60 years of Exile for the Jewish people.

The biblical books of 2 Chronicles, Ezra, Isaiah and Daniel all discuss Cyrus in heroic terms for his part in releasing the captive people, giving full credit of course to the LORD (YHWH). But in the Cylinder itself, Cyrus credits the Babylonian god Marduk for his victories, writing (in cuneiform) that Marduk "pronounced the name of Cyrus, king of Anshan; declared him to be ruler of all the world." (Pritchard, ANET, 315-316).

Often considered a pioneer for human rights, Cyrus is the only foreigner to be called God's "anointed" (messiah!) anywhere in the Bible:

Thus says the LORD to his anointed, Cyrus,
Courtesy Flickr photos
whose right hand I grasp,
Subduing nations before him...
"I will go before you
and level the mountains;....
For the sake of Jacob, my servant,
of Israel my chosen one,
I have called you by name,
giving you a title, though you do not know me.
I am the LORD, there is no other,
there is no God besides me.
(Isaiah 45:1-5, NABRE)

For the first time ever, the famous Cyrus Cylinder will be on display in five cities in the US, including this summer at New York City's Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City. (I'm practically out the door already--hope to see you there!)

Click below for more details:

About the NYC Exhibit:

About the Cylinder: The British Museum:

About Cyrus in History:

About Cyrus in the Bible: Lawrence Boadt, Reading the Old Testament. Check the index under "Cyrus of Persia" and "Cyrus Cylinder" for page references in your edition (1984 or 2012).

Cyrus in Art, courtesy

CBS Class of 2013

Front Row: Mr. Joe Polio, Our Lady of Pompeii, East Haven
Mrs. Marj Hurley, Sacred Heart, Bloomfield
Sr. Jewel Renna, CND (Faculty)
Sr. Doretta D'Albero, ASCJ, Mount Sacred Heart, Hamden
Dr. Paula DeSilva, St. Ann, Avon
Ms. Alexis Chacchia, St. Teresa of Avila, Woodbury
Ms. Martha Marin, Sagrado Corazon, Waterbury
Mr. Dave Capra, Holy Spirit, Newington

Back Row:
Ms. BJ Daly Horell (CBS Coordinator and Faculty Chair)
Mr. Tom Desjardins, St. John the Evangelist, Watertown
Mrs. Amy Louen, Basilica of the Immaculate Conception, Waterbury
Mrs. Fran Giard, St. Christopher, East Hartford
Dcn. Ed Giard, St. Christopher, East Hartford
Ms. Connie Oligino, St. Thomas Becket, Cheshire
Fr. Christopher M. Tiano (ORE Director and Faculty)
Mr. Karl Kuhn, St. Timothy, West Hartford
Mr. Al Van Leuven, St. Joseph of Arimathea, East Haven

Not pictured: Sr. Luisa Villegas, ASC, Mount Sacred Heart, Hamden

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Silly Summer Sallies (aka Dumb Bible Humor)

 Cartoon of the Week:

 Joke of the Week:
What was the name of Jeremiah's horse? Isme.
How do we know? He was always saying, "Woah Isme!" (Woe is me.)

Cartoon Source:

Monday, July 1, 2013

Ryan Hinton, Assistant Director

Let us extend a hearty welcome to Mr. Ryan Hinton who has been named as the new Assistant Director of the Office of Religious Education and Evangelization, replacing Pat Keck, who retired last winter.

Ryan comes to our ministry with a background in both theology and education. He holds masters degrees in education from Notre Dame University and a degree in theology from St. Mary's University of Minnesota. Most recently Ryan was the Chairperson of the Religion Department at East Catholic High School in Manchester, CT.

Ryan has been married for five years to Jessica, and they have an 8-month old son Benjamin.

One weekend a month, Ryan is "on loan" in service to our country as a Chaplain Assistant in the US Army Reserve, having served four years in active duty with the Army in Kosovo, Afghanistan, and Iraq.

Weekly Bible Study - 1 Kings 19:19-21 and Luke 9:51-62

June 30, 2013
Thirteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Are God's demands too great for us?

In today's readings, Elijah and Jesus seem almost insensitive as they call their followers away even from parents and family obligations.

Is Christian discipleship too demanding? Well, let's think about it in terms of this Sunday's Scripture readings. 

1 Kings 19:19-21 (first reading)

Going about his usual business, Elisha is confronted by the prophet Elijah, who is prepared to “pass the torch to” (or in Hebrew idiom, "cast his mantle on") Elisha. Seemingly flustered, Elisha asks if he can first say good-bye to his parents. Elijah agrees but is adamant. (The meaning of v. 20 is: "Go and return to me, for I have done something very important to you.") Elisha responds by slaughtering his oxen--a sign that he is "done" with his past life.

Luke 9:51-62 (gospel reading)
A similar scenario enfolds in first century Galilee. Eager to become disciples, three would-be followers approach Jesus. The first expresses an unconditional willingness to follow him. The others, however, are concerned about tasks they need to complete first. They want first to tend to their (reasonable) social obligations.

Jesus’s harsh rebuke takes us all by surprise. (And surprise is exactly what the gospel is going
for here.) After all, Jesus teaches his followers to love others and to take care of those in need. How can our Lord ask his followers to leave their parents without saying good-bye?

But Jesus not suggesting that we abandon charity. He is simply making a very different point here. He wants to make it crystal clear that discipleship requires a single-minded and single-hearted commitment to Jesus. This Scripture passage does not mean we should focus on Jesus to the neglect of others. Rather, we must embrace Christ as the foundation of our life and incorporate that singular focus into the many opportunities we encounter daily to live in relationship to our families, friends and all others.

So when Jesus calls us, will we lay our excuses aside? Or is "making a living" too time-consuming to "live in the Spirit," as Paul challenges us in the second reading?

The author, Ms. Barbara Gawle, leads Bible studies at her parish, Incarnation Church of Wethersfield, CT. She is a CBS graduate and the 2012 recipient of the Biblical School's highest award, The Lawrence Boadt Memorial Medal.