Scripture notes – 25th Sunday of the Year, B – 23rd September 2018

Ambition – or a current term ‘aspiration’ – is often commended in our times, but the readings today call us to look at its darker side and to consider where it fits in with the community Jesus wanted to create. Continue reading Scripture notes – 25th Sunday of the Year, B – 23rd September 2018

Scripture notes – 24th Sunday of the Year, B – 16th September 2018

Today’s Gospel reading is the central point of Mark’s Gospel. Up to this point, Jesus has been teaching and healing, leading the disciples to recognise that he is someone sent by God. The crowds have shown excitement hinting at their hopes of the promised Messiah. Their Messiah was generally hoped to overturn the Roman government and usher in a time a ‘Kingdom of God’ which would fulfil every dream. Mark has a shocking surprise for the disciples. Continue reading Scripture notes – 24th Sunday of the Year, B – 16th September 2018

Scripture notes – 23rd Sunday of the Year, B – 9th September 2018

Today’s readings focus on healing of those who cannot hear and cannot speak, and this works on two levels. First there is the physical healing described in the Gospel; looking deeper there are spiritual, symbolic meanings. Reading Mark in short selections, we miss the subtle ways the Gospel has been written so that the arrangement of stories is part of the overall direction of his account. Mark has three healings concerning sight, hearing and speech, and their placement shows significant stages in the growth of the disciples into deeper and deeper knowledge of who Jesus is. Continue reading Scripture notes – 23rd Sunday of the Year, B – 9th September 2018

Scripture notes – 22nd Sunday of the Year, B – 2nd September 2018

What is the ‘right thing to do’ is very much a current issue but of course a concern for ages. Today three different takes on human obligations. The first and second readings from the Hebrew Bible call for carrying out all of the Jewish Torah, often translated as ‘Law’. In the Gospel Jesus discounts outer observances and emphasises the inner disposition where good and evil impulses arise. Continue reading Scripture notes – 22nd Sunday of the Year, B – 2nd September 2018

Scripture notes – 20th Sunday of the Year, B – 19th August 2018

In the Bread of Life discourse, Jesus has been stressing his role as the one sent by the Father. Now he takes a further step in showing how truly and deeply he is ‘bread’. In John’s Gospel, there is no account of Jesus giving the Eucharist at the Last Supper but in this section, he gives the fullest explanation of what that means. Continue reading Scripture notes – 20th Sunday of the Year, B – 19th August 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