Scripture notes – 2nd Sunday of Ordinary Time – Year B – 14th January 2018

Fitting our commemoration of ‘Peace Sunday’ is the opening prayer of today’s mass: ‘Father of heaven and earth, hear our prayers and show us the way to peace in the world.’

After a long celebration of Advent and Christ’s birth, ‘Ordinary Time’ brings us into the period of his ministry. (The ‘First Sunday’ disappeared with some liturgical changes to the Christmas season, but still names the weekdays.) Continue reading Scripture notes – 2nd Sunday of Ordinary Time – Year B – 14th January 2018

Readings during the Christmas Season

The Christmas selection of readings is the same every year. Of the four gospels, 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 as 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. Our traditions have also added details that are not in the scripture; some of these are logical, like animals around the manger. Continue reading Readings during the Christmas Season

Scripture notes – 4th Sunday of Advent – Year B – 24th December 2017

The readings for this week, which bring us up to Christmas, are concerned with the title of Jesus the ‘Son of David’. At the time of the gospels, this was important to show that he was the expected the ‘Messiah’ or ‘Christ’. For us, it places him in the line of the hopes and prophecies of the Jewish religion that a basis of Christian identity. Continue reading Scripture notes – 4th Sunday of Advent – Year B – 24th December 2017

Scripture notes – 3rd Sunday of Advent – Year B – 17th December 2017

Rose colour today signals half-way through Advent. The first word of the mass at the entry antiphon is ‘Rejoice!’ – Gaudete in Latin – which is the traditional name for today. St John the Baptist again has centre stage in preparing for our welcoming of Jesus to his life on earth. Continue reading Scripture notes – 3rd Sunday of Advent – Year B – 17th December 2017

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

Scripture notes – 1st Sunday of Advent – Year B – 3rd December 2017

The Church liturgical year begins not with the civil year on January 1, but four weeks before the Feast of Christmas. Advent is derived from the Latin words meaning ‘coming to’. Is a time of preparation for celebrating the coming of Jesus on earth, and also still looking towards his ‘Second Coming’ at the end of time. The first Sunday of the year has the same message as the last – how Christians are to act while waiting for the return of our Lord and Saviour.

Year B focuses on St Mark but we do not start today at the beginning of that Gospel. Continue reading Scripture notes – 1st Sunday of Advent – Year B – 3rd December 2017

Scripture notes – Our Lord Jesus Christ, King of the Universe – Year A – 26th November 2017

The 34th and last Sunday of the liturgical year celebrates the kingship of Jesus, and the first reading shows us first what kind of King Jesus is. Not a ‘figurehead’ like most modern monarch, nor running a secular government like those in the past, and one not expecting honours. Instead we have the image of a shepherd-king, one dedicated to caring, nurturing, and establishing justice and mercy for the ‘sheep’. Continue reading Scripture notes – Our Lord Jesus Christ, King of the Universe – Year A – 26th November 2017