February 25, 2017

Author Archive | Mark Shea

Pope Francis pictured in St Peter's Square on 8 June. Photo: CNS/Paul Haring

Mark Shea: A Conversation About Amoris Laetitia

A friend of mine writes from England, asking me for my take on Amoris Laetitia. Here is my reply: Unfortunately I’m really not much use here. I have more or less tuned out the many kerfuffles about Francis and this is one of them. What little I have gleaned is that this is controversy about […]

Photo: Pixabay

Mark Shea: thou shalt not put buttons up your nose

When I was in fourth grade I was much the same as I am now: a loudmouth who knew everything and therefore had to be taught by experience. I have tape recordings of me from just a little after this time that are better than a hair shirt. I sounded off about all sorts of […]

Filipino women covered in mud and dressed in dried leaves participate in a religious ritual known locally as "Taong Putik" (Mud People), in the village of Aliaga, while celebrating the feast of St John the Baptist. Participants wear the banana leaves in honour of St John the Baptist, whose rough clothing -- like his baptism -- was principally an external sign of repentance, unlike Christian baptism in which the baptised person is transformed from within by the Holy Spirit. Photo: Shubert Ciencia

Mark Shea: John’s second best baptism, or how the Holy Spirit changed everything

Recently we celebrated the Feast of the Baptism of Jesus, and it’s worth taking a look at the meaning of this strange incident (surely one of several in the gospel that show the historicity of these accounts since no one would invent it.) John the Baptist stands on the cusp of a new revelation of […]


Mark Shea: praying to action figures

Here is one of those odd stories that makes me wonder how it reached a global news network. Could be true. Could be urban legend for all I know (and I really do wonder how such a story gets from a little old lady’s living room to a global epidemic of comedy, so I take […]


Herod and the Magi

It being Epiphany and all, I thought it might be good to spend a bit of time on the story that Matthew related concerning both Herod and the Magi. The death of Herod is one of the points in time by which we calculate the birth of Jesus. Many scholars have placed it sometime before […]

Can the baby Jesus really harden hearts? A girl holds her baby Jesus figurine as Pope Francis leads the Angelus in Rome on 11 December 2016. Photo: CNS

Mark Shea: the hidden God and scripture’s satire on willful blindness

As we saw last time, Jesus draws from the Old Testament tradition in telling parables. And at the heart of the Old Testament tradition of parabolic storytelling is the fact that parables are stories told to and about corrupt figure in positions of power.  That is why, for instance, the prophet Nathan tells King David […]

Italian journalist Gianluigi Nuzzi is surrounded by the media after a 4 November news conference for his new book "Merchants in the Temple: Inside Pope Francis' Secret Battle Against Corruption in the Vatican."

Mark Shea: The Bible is dopey stories for cretins? Time to think again

As I mentioned last time in this space, we often have the perception of the gospels as more or less unstructured ragbags of “tales and sayings about Jesus” in which the evangelist just tosses out collections of yarns about Jesus, some stories he told and a jumble of memories from people who give us random […]

Detail from 'The Call of St Matthew', a mural in the Cathedral of St Matthew in Washington DC, USA. Photo: Fr Lawrence Lew OP

Mark Shea: a grace mightier than the law

As we saw last time in this space, Matthew’s purpose in giving us an apparent grab-bag jumble of miracle stories in Matthew 8-9 is to show that he gives us the power to live out the new law of the new covenant given on a new mountain by a new Moses.  As we also discussed, […]


Mark Shea: the power to conquer sin, not simply to identify it

Last time, in this space, we looked at the way Matthew and Luke arrange and relate similar batches of sayings from Jesus in order to make different points to different audiences. One of the things we noted was that Matthew is making the case to an audience of his fellow Jews that Jesus is the […]

A mosaic of an angel, a symbol of St Matthew, on the facade of St Paul's within the Walls in Rome. Photo: Fr Lawrence Lew OP

Mark Shea: we’re so much smarter now, right?

We live in an age under the chronic delusion that we are 2000 years smarter than the simple people who wrote and read the gospels. Accordingly, we often do not bother to look for the sophisticated and subtle ways in which the evangelists communicated with their disciples and we therefore miss a great deal of […]