Scripture notes – 3rd Sunday of Lent, C – 24th March 2019

How does God ‘appear’ to a human being? Those who have felt they ‘experienced’ the divine, but usually find it hard to describe or explain. The Bible tells of some of these events, and mostly they keep an aura of mystery. One of the strangest is in a plant – not a majestic tree like the California redwoods nor the cedars of Lebanon that the psalms often speak of. These indeed can be awe-inspiring. But today we hear of a scrubby desert bush. Continue reading Scripture notes – 3rd Sunday of Lent, C – 24th March 2019

Scripture notes – 2nd Sunday of Lent, C – 17th March 2019

After the liturgy started Lent about prayer and fasting, this week’s readings may be seen as a reminder of what our practices are meant for: to bring us ever closer to God. There two striking revelations of God’s presence, but we usually experience something less dramatic. Continue reading Scripture notes – 2nd Sunday of Lent, C – 17th March 2019

Scripture notes – Ash Wednesday

The liturgy marks the beginning of the Church’s 40 days of Lent, which is intended to be a preparation for Jesus’ Passion, Death and Resurrection. The liturgy starts with fasting, a practice widespread in world religions. For the Jews at that time wearing ‘sackcloth’ (a rough material) and sprinkling oneself with ashes were a sign of mourning and this was extended to ‘mourning’ for sins. We today have only a symbolic amount of ashes pressed on the forehead, with the reminder that we all are to die – ‘return to dust’. This is not meant to depress us, rather to focus our minds on what is lasting: God’s love and his Kingdom. Continue reading Scripture notes – Ash Wednesday

Scripture notes – 6th Sunday of the year, C – 17th February 2019

Where do you put your ultimate trust? Today’s readings all show how often the Bible makes a contrast between relying on humans and relying on God. This age-old choice has relevance for the present with uncertainty and instability in so much of the globe and people are looking for political solutions. Continue reading Scripture notes – 6th Sunday of the year, C – 17th February 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

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