Homilies for August 2023

For August 6 (Feast of the Transfiguration), August 13, August 15 (Solemnity of the Assumption of Mary), August 20, and August 27

Feast of the Transfiguration of the Lord – August 6, 2023

Readings: Dn 7:9–10, 13–14Ps 97:1–2, 5–6, 92 Pt 1:16–19Mt 17:1–9    bible.usccb.org/bible/readings/080623.cfm

Today’s feast marks a pivotal moment in Christ’s earthly ministry: the manifestation of His radiant glory to Saints Peter, James, and John in the presence of the Old Testament figures of Moses and Elijah. As the Catechism explains, “Christ’s Transfiguration aims at strengthening the apostles’ faith in anticipation of his Passion: the ascent onto the ‘high mountain’ prepares for the ascent to Calvary.” (CCC 568) In light of this traditional interpretation of the reason for this wondrous event, one may ask: why were only these three Apostles chosen to be present? Why not all of the Twelve? Why not even a larger group of disciples? Every follower of Christ could surely have benefited from a strengthening of faith before witnessing the great trial of the Lord’s Passion and Death.

The Fathers of the Church reflected upon this very question. St. John Damascene reasoned that St. Peter was chosen “to show him that the testimony which he had borne was confirmed by the testimony of the Father; and because he was about to become the president of the whole Church.” (Homily on the Transfiguration) In St. Matthew’s Gospel, the account of the Transfiguration occurs very soon after Simon Peter’s profession that Jesus is “the Messiah, the Son of the Living God.” (Mt 16:16) Christ responded famously by saying: “You are Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church.” (Mt 16:18) Immediately after this dialogue, Christ began to foretell his coming Passion. When St. Peter denied that such a thing would ever happen, the Lord strongly rebuked him. Soon after, he would see Christ’s glory and hear the Father confirm: “This is my beloved Son.” (Mt 17:5)

St. John Damascene accounts for the presence of James by the fact that he would be the first of the apostles to die as a martyr. We hear in Acts 12:2 that King Herod “had James, the brother of John, killed by the sword.” All of the apostles except St. John would ultimately shed their blood for Christ. Thus, St. James in a sense represented the apostles who were not present for the Transfiguration.

Finally, Damascene teaches that St. John was present because “he was, as it were, the most pure instrument of theology, that beholding the glory of the Son of God, which is not subject to time, he might declare, In the beginning was the Word.” (Homily on the Transfiguration) These last words, of course, begin the prologue of St. John’s Gospel. This prologue culminates: “And the Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us, and we saw his glory, the glory as of the Father’s only Son, full of grace and truth.” (Jn 1:14) Some exegetes interpret this mention of Christ’s glory as a reference to the Transfiguration that the Beloved Disciple beheld.

These three witnesses, Peter, James, and John would go on to be heroic, courageous apostles and preachers upon receiving the fullness of the Holy Spirit. In the midst of the Lord’s Passion, however, their response was in many respects imperfect. When Christ invited these same three to join him in prayer in the Garden of Gethsemane on Holy Thursday, they could not keep their eyes open. St. Peter would deny knowing the Lord three times soon thereafter. Only the Beloved Disciple stood beneath the cross with our Blessed Mother. While their faith in the Lord had been fortified by seeing Him transfigured, an even greater strengthening was needed, one that would come later at Pentecost.

Christ gave to those three privileged apostles the grace of witnessing the Transfiguration not only to strengthen their own faith, but also to prepare them to preach that faith to the world. Thus, we can understand why He said to them as they descended the mountain: “Do not tell the vision to anyone until the Son of Man has been raised from the dead.” (Mt 17:9) After the Resurrection, their previous experience of seeing the radiance of the Lord’s body on Mount Tabor would help the apostles to make sense of the radiance of His risen body. The presence of Moses and Elijah would help Peter, James, and John to contemplate and to communicate that Jesus is the fulfillment of the Law and the prophets of the Old Testament. The manifestation of the Holy Spirit in the cloud and of the Father in the voice would help them to begin to recognize the reality that we call the Holy Trinity. Toward the end of his apostolic ministry, St. Peter would reflect upon how much the Transfiguration helped him to understand his own role. In today’s Second Reading, he says: “We ourselves heard this voice come from heaven while we were with him on the holy mountain. Moreover, we possess the prophetic message that is altogether reliable.” (2 Pt 1:18–19a)

How can we understand the “glory” that the apostles saw on the mountain? The soul of Christ by virtue of its union with the Son of God possessed this glory in its fullness from the very moment of the Incarnation onward. For most of his earthly life, the bodily glory due the Son of Man was, as it were, hidden or veiled. For a brief glimpse it was seen by Peter, James, and John. After the Resurrection, that bodily glory would be seen by all the apostles and many other witnesses. Theologians describe this quality as the gift of “clarity,” a bodily refulgence or brightness.

Ultimately, the Transfiguration was meant to prepare the apostles and all faithful Christians for the life of glory. Christ promises to glorify both the souls and the bodies of all those who live and believe in Him. While we are on this earth, we begin to share in the life of God through His grace. Yet our souls remain weakened due to the effects of sin. Our bodies are subject to sickness, injury, and death. How comforting is the thought of a glorified soul and a glorified body. Even now, the souls of the blessed experience this glory as they see God face to face and contemplate His goodness. At the general resurrection, the bodies of the just will also be glorified. While we can scarcely begin to anticipate what this life will be like, Peter, James, and John were given a brief glimpse of it on the holy mountain.

This Feast of the Transfiguration is a perfect opportunity to contemplate the “things that are above.” (Col 3:1) This life, with all its joys and sorrows, its beauty and ugliness, its triumphs and its defeats, lasts for a blink of an eye in comparison with eternity. The Lord offers all of us the opportunity to be transfigured one day, as He was on the holy mountain, if only we truly follow Him. If we do so, on the glorious day of our resurrection, we shall all say: “Lord, it is good that we are here!”

Nineteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time – August 13, 2023

Readings: 1 Kgs 19:9a, 11–13aPs 85:9, 10, 11–12, 13–14 Rom 9:1–5Mt 14:22–33    bible.usccb.org/bible/readings/081323.cfm

This Sunday occurs (in the Northern Hemisphere) during the middle of summer. Many families and groups of friends are spending recreational time together near oceans, lakes, and rivers. As human beings, there is something that draws us to such bodies of water, even though we understand the dangers that are also inherent in them.

The geography of the Holy Land is marked by several important bodies of water. The modern State of Israel has a coastline of 170 miles on the Mediterranean Sea. The surface of the Dead Sea lies more than 1,400 feet below sea level, making it the lowest body of water in the world. The Jordan River flows from north to south and terminates at the Dead Sea. In the northern part of Israel lies the Sea of Galilee. So many of the events that we hear about in the Gospels took place around this body of water, sometimes also called Lake Tiberias or the Lake of Gennesaret.

Few of Christ’s miracles capture imaginations more than His walking upon the Sea of Galilee. This event is a dramatic manifestation of our Blessed Lord’s identity and power. It demonstrates both the shortcomings and the potential of the apostles, especially St. Peter. It contains a powerful lesson for all of us about confronting our fears and placing our trust in God.

First, we consider what today’s Gospel teaches us about Christ Himself. Notice the context in which this miracle occurs. St. Matthew tells us that it took place after our Blessed Lord had miraculously fed the 5,000. He instructed the disciples to go by boat from the “deserted place” where the feeding took place to the town of Gennesaret. As He often did during His public ministry, Christ took time to pray in solitude. When we think of the three years of the Lord’s public life, we tend to focus on his dramatic miracles and His powerful words. Yet He always sought time for private prayer, for contemplation.

After this time of solitude, the Lord proceeded to join His disciples in an unforgettable manner, by walking on the surging Sea of Galilee. Some theologians say that at this moment Christ’s Body possessed the quality of “agility.” This anticipated one of the qualities that Christ’s body would have permanently after His Resurrection, much as the Transfiguration anticipated the quality of “clarity.” St. Thomas Aquinas tells us that when one possesses the gift of agility, one’s body “is subject to the soul as its mover, so that it is prompt and apt to obey the spirit in all the movements and actions of the soul.” (Summa Theologiae, Supplement Q. 84, a.1) This means that those obstacles that make it difficult for us in this life to travel from one place to another will not affect glorified bodies. In this instance, the will of Christ’s soul to join His disciples on the boat meant that He could walk on water.

What was the state of the disciples as Christ approached them? In short, they were tired and they were terrified. We know that they were tired because St. Matthew tells us that they encountered the Lord during the “fourth watch of the night.” (Mt 14:25) This period of time lasted from 3 a.m. until 6 a.m. They had set out in the evening and therefore had been rowing for hours in rough seas. Amid this state of chaos and pitch darkness, they suddenly saw a figure coming toward them. St. Matthew tells us: “‘It is a ghost,’ they said, and they cried out in fear.” (Mt 14:26) The laws of nature, as the disciples understood them, could lead to no other conclusion. Even after the Lord told them, “It is I,” the disciples remained skeptical.

Thus, St. Peter devised a test: “Lord, if it is you, command me to come to you on the water.” (Mt 14:28) As usual, Simon Peter was the first to speak and the first to act. He made an act of faith that if it really was the Lord, He would be able to empower him to walk on water as well. And so it happened. Christ gave to him miraculously that same gift of agility that He Himself experienced at that moment. Unfortunately, the flaws of St. Peter would again surface. Even as he walked on the sea, fear and doubt overtook him and he began to sink.

How sad those words are: “O you of little faith, why did you doubt?” (Mt 14:31) If St. Peter had only remained steadfast in his trust in the Lord, he could have walked across the entire Sea of Galilee. Instead, he let his natural fear of the wind and the water override the supernatural faith he had in Christ. For a brief moment, Peter received miraculously a gift proper only to glorified bodies. Yet he squandered this gift out of fear.

It is almost a cliché to point out how often the Bible contains the phrase “do not be afraid,” or something like it. By some counts, there are 365 such verses, one for every day of the year. Fear as a passion or emotion is part of the human condition. It is an aversion to some future evil that seems to us unavoidable or difficult to prevent. Like all of the passions within us, fear must be properly regulated by human reason. The virtue that allows us to do so is called courage. The courageous man is able to discern when it is reasonable to take a risk of incurring some evil in order to pursue some good. Thus, for example, a courageous fireman has a natural aversion toward the possibility of his own death; yet he is willing to risk death by entering a burning building to pursue the good of rescuing others.

Though courage is a human virtue that we can acquire by our own effort, God’s grace also strengthens this virtue within us. Moreover, the theological virtue of hope equips us in a supernatural way to confront future evils, especially natural death, properly. The hopeful person trusts that God, in His infinite goodness and power, will lead him to eternal life in spite of all of the evils that confront him in this world.

Like St. Peter, we tend to waver between trusting in God and living in fear. We so often ignore that simple, oft-repeated advice from Holy Scripture: fear not. We allow our emotions to take control rather than utilizing our reason and the many supernatural gifts that we have received to confront dangers material and spiritual. When faced with difficulties, we must listen again to that “tiny whispering sound,” that voice of the Lord saying to us once more: “Do not be afraid! I am with you.”

Solemnity of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary – August 15, 2023

Readings: Rv 11:19A; 12:1–6A, 10ABPs 45:10, 11, 12, 161 Cor 15:20–27 Lk 1:39–56    bible.usccb.org/bible/readings/081523-Day.cfm

Last Sunday, we heard St. Matthew’s account of Christ walking on the Sea of Galilee. In many parts of the world, the celebration of today’s solemnity includes a blessing of the sea. This custom seems to have originated at the height of the Republic of Venice. Typical prayers for this blessing acknowledge the greatness of God’s creation, plead for the safety of those traveling by ship, and ask the Lord’s abundance for all those who make their living on the sea, especially fishermen. The second of these petitions might best explain the choice of this particular feast day for this blessing. For we celebrate today, in a sense, the Blessed Virgin’s “final journey” to her true homeland. We rejoice that “the Immaculate Mother of God, the ever Virgin Mary, having completed the course of her earthly life, was assumed body and soul into heavenly glory.” (Pius XII, Munificentissimus Deus, 44)

The event of the Assumption is not recorded in Sacred Scripture. Thus, the Church has chosen for today’s Gospel reading a different event in the life of the Blessed Mother: her Visitation. All of the special graces that our Lady received are connected to one another and all of them relate to her unique mission as the Mother of God. Today’s Gospel includes her great canticle of praise, the Magnificat. In this hymn, she acknowledges the great things that the Lord has done for her personally and for the people of Israel through the Incarnation. In one especially evocative phrase she says that “He has cast down the mighty from their thrones, and has lifted up the lowly.” (Lk 1:52) This general inversion would later be realized specifically and in the highest degree when she arrived body and soul in heaven and took up her throne as Queen. Those words of her cousin St. Elizabeth must have resonated once again in her soul: “Blessed are you who believed that what was spoken to you by the Lord would be fulfilled.” (Lk 1:45)

The grace of the Assumption can be directly tied to the very first grace of the Blessed Virgin’s life: her Immaculate Conception. As Catholics, we believe that God preserved her from the stain of original sin from the first moment of her conception. Since she possessed this singular privilege, it would not have been fitting for her to undergo the corruption of the grave, one of the consequences of original sin. We do not know whether our Blessed Mother was preserved from death entirely or whether she died and then was raised a short time after. The definition of the dogma by Pius XII leaves open either possibility. Most theologians, especially in the Latin Church, favor the theory that she died and was raised, out of solidarity with her Son. If this is the case, she would have experienced in advance that which St. Paul describes in today’s Second Reading: “For just as in Adam all die, so too in Christ shall all be brought to life, but each one in proper order: Christ the firstfruits; then, at his coming, those who belong to Christ.” (1 Cor 15:22–23)

We rejoice that our Lady, a human person glorified in body and soul, now reigns in heaven alongside her Son, whose human nature she gave to Him. Our First Reading today is taken from the Book of Revelation, the great apocalyptic vision given to St. John. The very first line of today’s passage is: “God’s temple in heaven was opened, and the ark of his covenant could be seen in the temple.” (Rev 11:19) This could be interpreted as a reference to our Lady’s presence in heaven. In the Old Testament, the ark of the covenant was the vessel containing the Torah and other sacred items. Through the Incarnation, the Virgin Mary became the ark of the new covenant. It is more difficult to determine whether the “woman clothed with the sun” refers to the Blessed Mother. The reference to the pain of the woman giving birth would tend toward a different interpretation, since our Lady did not experience such suffering during the Birth of Christ. Many exegetes interpret this “woman” to be a symbol of the Church as a whole. It is possible that different aspects of this passage could be applied both to the Blessed Mother and the Church. We certainly acknowledge and rejoice on this feast that our Lady has “a place prepared by God” in heaven. (Rev 12:6)

Today’s feast helps us to contemplate more deeply the promise of glory that Christ has made to all those who live and believe in Him. Where our Lady has gone, we hope to follow. We are eager for our souls and our bodies to be made radiant. As the glossary of the Catechism of the Catholic Church teaches us, hope is the “theological virtue by which we desire and expect from God both eternal life and the grace we need to attain it.” When we contemplate all that God has done in and through the Blessed Mother, we see a life “full of grace.” We see the power and the abundance of that grace. Amid the trials of this life, our hope is strengthened as we look to our Lady, assumed body and soul into heaven. We recognize in her the fulfillment of “the promise he made to our fathers, to Abraham and his children forever.” (Lk 1:55) We desire even more deeply for that promise to be fulfilled in us as well.

Many pray today for the safety of those traveling by sea. We must pray for everyone traveling through this life, that they may reach the safe harbor of heaven when their journey here is through. Our Blessed Mother awaits us there. She intercedes for all of us, guiding us especially through the rougher seas that we encounter.

Twentieth Sunday in Ordinary Time – August 20, 2023

Readings: Is 56:1, 6–7Ps 67:2–3, 5, 6, 8Rom 11:13–15, 29–32Mt 15:21–28    bible.usccb.org/bible/readings/082023.cfm

There are certain passages in the Gospels in which Christ’s interactions do not unfold the way that many of us would expect. Today’s Gospel certainly qualifies. A sincere Canaanite woman informs the Lord that her daughter is possessed by a demon. By this point in St. Matthew’s Gospel, we’ve heard about Christ performing numerous exorcisms. The afflicted mother even employs words that others have used with success: “Have pity on me, Lord, Son of David!” (Mt 15:22) In this case, however, He does not respond to her at all. When she later asks a second time for His help, accompanied by an act of homage, He seems to treat her even more harshly. He says: “It is not right to take the food of the children and throw it to the dogs.” (Mt 15:26) How can we understand Christ’s unusual behavior?

To begin to answer, we must consider who the Canaanites were. They were descendants of Ham, one of the sons of Noah. As their name implies, they lived in the land of Canaan, the territory that the Lord promised to Abraham and his descendants. When the people of Israel invaded the promised land under the leadership of Joshua, they drove out some of the Canaanites, but not all. They continued to live in the region called Tyre and Sidon, also known as Phoenicia. Thus, in St. Mark’s version of this encounter, the woman is described as Syrophoenician. However one describes her, this was clearly a Gentile, rather than a Jewish woman.

At the time of our Blessed Lord’s public ministry, Jews and Canaanites had great antipathy toward one another and they tried to avoid one another as much as possible. Thus, one possible explanation for Christ’s initial reaction to the woman’s request was that he was following the cultural norm of the Jewish people. This would explain both His initial silence and His use of the word “dogs” during their second encounter. Jews in ancient Israel would have used this word routinely to describe Gentiles, since they worshipped idols. The Lord also invoked a common Jewish religious assumption in saying: “I was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.” (Mt 15:24) The people of Israel presumed that when the Messiah would arrive, His ministry would be confined to them. Jesus, of course, would transcend these limitations. Before doing so, however, He wished to acknowledge the special status of the Jewish people, the recipient of God’s promises for thousands of years.

Another common interpretation of Christ’s actions and words in today’s Gospel is that He wished to demonstrate the importance of perseverance in prayer. The Canaanite woman desperately wished for her daughter to be free from demonic possession. She had faith that Jesus was Lord and the Son of David, the Messiah. She expressed that faith and asked for His assistance. When He did not help her, she tried to get the disciples to assist her. When that failed, she approached Christ a second time with her request. When He used the word “dogs” in reference to her people, she did not become insulted. Rather she said: “even the dogs eat the scraps that fall from the table of their masters.” (Mt 15:27) It was this humble reply that led Christ to grant her request and heal her daughter. It implicitly acknowledged the special status of the Jewish people, the deficient status of her own people, and Christ’s tremendous power. As St. Peter Chrysologus remarks about the Canaanite woman: “Deservedly is she adopted as a daughter, and raised to the table, who in her humility placed herself beneath the table.” (Sermon 100)

Sometimes it can seem, as it must have seemed at first to the Canaanite woman, that the Lord is ignoring our prayers, especially when we are praying for a special intention. Maybe we have been praying for a sick family member who just seems to be getting worse. Maybe we have been praying for a job opportunity that never seems to come. Maybe we have been praying for peace in the world and violence seems to grow worse and worse by the day. There can be a great temptation to give up praying when it seems like we are not getting what we want. Incidents like that of today’s Gospel teach us that sometimes the Lord delays answering our prayers to bring about a greater good. The Canaanite woman was given the opportunity to deepen her prayer and to express her faith in Christ in a more profound way. When it seems that the Lord is not answering our prayers, we must also reaffirm our trust in God’s providence and continue to lift up our minds and hearts to Him.

Today’s Gospel ultimately shows us how much the Lord wants to bless Jews and Gentiles alike. The prophets of the Old Testament foresaw the universality of the new People of God, the Church. In our First Reading, the Lord says to Isaiah: “The foreigners who join themselves to the LORD, ministering to him, loving the name of the LORD, and becoming his servants — all who keep the sabbath free from profanation and hold to my covenant, them I will bring to my holy mountain and make joyful in my house of prayer.” (Is 56:6–7) This prophecy was fulfilled in the life of the Canaanite woman. It is fulfilled today in the lives of all members of the Church, from every race, nation, and tongue.

Twenty-first Sunday in Ordinary Time – August 27, 2023

Readings: Is 22:19–23Ps 138:1–2, 2–3, 6, 8 Rom 11:33–36Mt 16:13–20    bible.usccb.org/bible/readings/082723.cfm

In his prophetic 1907 novel Lord of the World, Msgr. Robert Hugh Benson describes a future society dominated by Marxism, atheism, and secular humanism. At the beginning of the book, the Catholic Church is allowed to operate in a limited fashion, though her influence over ordinary life is almost non-existent. Evils such as physician-assisted suicide are commonplace. Eventually, a charismatic politician gains enormous power and leads an outright persecution of the Church. A small group of faithful priests and laity keep the Church on earth alive. Without giving away too much of the ending, the gates of hell do not prevail against her.

Today more than ever, Catholics need to hear that promise that Christ made to St. Peter: “The gates of the netherworld shall not prevail against it.” (Mt 13:18) As Msgr. Benson understood so well, that promise does not mean that the Church will always have influence over a society; it does not mean that the members of the Church will not face persecution and even martyrdom; it does not mean that the Church will retain every structure and resource that she currently enjoys; it does not mean that local churches (dioceses) will never disappear. Christ’s promise does mean that no matter what happens, the Church will “continue to stand firm until the end of time.” (Vatican I, Dei Filius)

In today’s Gospel, our Blessed Lord establishes Simon Peter as the rock upon which He will build His Church. He promises to give him the “keys to the kingdom of heaven” and the power to bind and to loose. (Mt 13:19) Catholics recognize in this passage a clear statement about the primacy of St. Peter and his successors, the popes, over the universal Church. We may wonder why the Lord chose to establish the Church in this way. We may wonder why He chose Simon Peter for this role. After all, the Gospels give us plenty of information about Peter’s flaws during the Lord’s public ministry. He often speaks without thinking. He frequently acts impetuously. The weakness of his faith is often exposed. After the Lord is arrested, Peter denies knowing him three times. Yet after Christ rose from the dead, He gave Simon the chance to re-affirm his love for Him three times and He confirmed his mission to feed His flock.

When we read the Acts of the Apostles, we see that Peter is transformed by the Gift of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost. He is confident in his faith and able to articulate it with great eloquence. He is prudent about making crucial decisions for the early Church and mindful that the other apostles have also been entrusted with roles of governance. St. Peter is courageous in the face of opposition and persecution. In this book, we are given a portrait of a man empowered by God’s grace to fulfill the formidable task of shepherding the Lord’s flock in those early years of the Church. Ultimately, he would submit to crucifixion like his Master, asking in humility to be turned upside down. This martyrdom crowned a life of feeding the flock and loving Christ.

St. Peter’s life is a testimony to the fact that whenever the Lord calls us to a vocation or state in life, he gives us all the grace we need to fulfill it. Those called to be bishops, priests, or deacons receive through the Sacrament of Holy Orders special graces proper to each office. These graces empower them to exercise well the duties that the Lord entrusts to His ordained ministers. Similarly, the Sacrament of Marriage bestows graces upon Christian husbands and wives, that they may be faithful to the promises that they have made. Aside from these sacramental graces, the Catechism reminds us of the “graces of state that accompany the exercise of the responsibilities of the Christian life and of the ministries within the Church.” (CCC 2004) We may think especially of the spiritual gifts that God provides to those who enter into consecrated life, that they may be faithful to their vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience. Graces of state are also given, for example, to those who teach the faith in universities, schools, and parishes.

Every member of the Church has a duty to pray in a special way for those who have been entrusted with the task of feeding the Lord’s flock. On Holy Thursday, Christ said to St. Peter: “Simon, Simon, behold Satan has demanded to sift all of you like wheat but I have prayed that your own faith may not fail; and once you have turned back, you must strengthen your brothers.” (Lk 22:32) The Supreme Pontiff and the bishops in communion with him are entrusted with the monumental task of teaching, sanctifying, and governing the Church. The Evil One constantly seeks to thwart their work and that of priests and deacons. All of us must pray that the Lord continue to pour forth abundant graces upon them that they may be faithful in carrying out the work that He has given them to do. We must also pray for the perseverance of those in consecrated life and the steadfastness of married couples.

Christ has promised that the gates of hell will never prevail against the Church. Though we may become discouraged when the world seems to oppose the Gospel in so many ways, we renew our trust in the Lord’s promise. We give thanks for the Church that He has established upon the rock of Peter. We renew our commitment to carry out the work that He has given us to do. We pray that every member of the Church may do the same.

Fr. Joseph Zwosta About Fr. Joseph Zwosta

Fr. Joseph Zwosta was ordained a priest for his native Diocese of Brooklyn in 2012. He obtained a Doctorate in Sacred Theology (STD) from the Pontifical University of St. Thomas Aquinas (Angelicum) in Rome in 2020. Since 2020, he has served as a professor and formator at Pope St. John XXIII National Seminary in Weston, MA. Since 2022, he has also served as Academic Dean.


  1. Avatar G. Poulin says:

    The “gates of hell” passage in Matthew 16:18 was originally understood as a promise of the resurrection of the dead, rather than as a promise of indefectibility. This makes better sense of the passage, as gates are a defensive power against an aggressor (in this case Christ and his church), and the word “hell” in Jesus’ time simply meant “death” or “the place of the dead.” The conventional interpretation of the passage is pretty dubious, regardless of what Vatican 1 said about it.