Scripture notes – 2nd Sunday, Ordinary Time, C – 20th January 2019

With the end of Christmastide, we begin ‘Ordinary Time’, which goes to Lent, and resumes at the end of Eastertide. The gospels during this period will be following Jesus in his public ministry. The mass will mostly in Year C select Luke, but today is an exception. Continue reading Scripture notes – 2nd Sunday, Ordinary Time, C – 20th January 2019

Introducing the Gospel of Luke

Luke is the ‘most’ gospel in several ways. It is the longest of the four. It is also the only Gospel which has a ‘sequel’, as Luke also wrote The Acts of the Apostles telling of the early work of the Church. This means that Luke is the author of more than one-fourth of the New Testament. His writing is of the highest literary quality in the New Testament, employing a careful use of the Greek language and adapting it to the various styles that suit each section. (This is hard to pick up in translations so scholar’s notes help.) Continue reading Introducing the Gospel of Luke

Scripture notes – The Baptism of the Lord, C – 13th January 2019

In today’s readings, there are two examples of the practice in the ancient world of writing in the name of a famous forerunner. These are not forgeries as seen in the modern sense. Robert A. Wild, S.J. explains, ‘In such cases the writer sought to extend the thought of his or her intellectual master to the problems of a later day.’ Continue reading Scripture notes – The Baptism of the Lord, C – 13th January 2019

Reflections of the Christmas readings

Of the four gospels, only Matthew and Luke, give an account of Jesus’ birth and these are probably the most familiar of all scripture passages because of the popularity of the Christmas holiday even outside the Christian churches. Mark’s shorter Gospel begins with the coming of John the Baptist and therefore we do not hear him during this season. John begins with a theological reflection on ‘The Word’ which describes Jesus’ existence ‘in the beginning’ and this leads to the proclamation of the core message of Christmas: ‘The Word became flesh and came to live among us.’

Matthew and Luke in their detailed stories emphasise some of the same points, such the virgin birth and the town of Bethlehem. Other details, however, are quite different. They do not out-and-out contradict each other, and over the centuries Christians have intermingled them, setting up a pattern that is familiar in paintings, carols, and crib scenes. Various traditions have also added details that are not in the scripture; some of these are logical, like animals around the manger. Continue reading Reflections of the Christmas readings

Scripture notes – 4th Sunday of Advent, C – 23rd December 2018

As we come close to Christmas, the biblical texts become more closely related to the birth of Jesus. First a prophetic testimony that Matthew will quote for both the location of Jesus’ birth and the belief that Jesus is ‘God with us. The second reading also suggests the union of human body and divine nature of Christ. Luke brings Mary to our attention, at the point when she is bearing Jesus within her body, but before his birth in Bethlehem. Continue reading Scripture notes – 4th Sunday of Advent, C – 23rd December 2018

Scripture notes – 3rd Sunday of Advent, C – Gaudete – 16th December 2018

The mass opens with ‘Rejoice’ and rose vestments indicate a break with the purple of preparation. Joy pervades the rest of the liturgy, and indeed it is a joyful time of year for many. But not all the time, nor for all. It is worth remembering that the prophets’ calls to rejoice were not usually addressed to people who were already happy, but instead were oppressed, discouraged and doubting. The joy promised by scripture is not the natural emotion when things are going well, but a deep awareness that no matter what suffering and difficulties we have, there is a loving God who will bring us a deeper joy in God’s own time and mercy. Continue reading Scripture notes – 3rd Sunday of Advent, C – Gaudete – 16th December 2018

A Brief Introduction to the Gospel of Mark

In the three-year cycle of Gospels read at Mass, Year B is Mark, the shortest of the four gospels. After reading the introductions in the dozen commentaries at hand with all their differences, I did not feel like writing even a ‘brief ‘one. Yet some background is useful for those who come to the book fresh, or have forgotten details from the last Year B. What Mark seems to call for is – just read Mark. The whole Gospel can be gone through in one sitting, and that is something I recommend doing sometime during this liturgical year. Get your sense of what Mark set out to do, what picture he paints of Jesus. Continue reading A Brief Introduction to the Gospel of Mark

A brief Introduction to the Gospel of Matthew

In Year A of the liturgical season, the gospel readings at mass highlight Matthew, the first book in the New Testament as we find it now. Since the liturgy can present only short selections, an overview of the book itself and what is found in current scholarship about its background, the author and the meaning, can be helpful for a fuller understanding. Some of this will be taken up in the weekly notes I make available, but here is an overview. Continue reading A brief Introduction to the Gospel of Matthew