Scripture notes – Pentecost, Year B – 20th May 2018

The first reading today from Luke’s two volume work of Gospel and Acts marks a shift in his emphasis. Jesus in his life on earth was ‘filled with the Holy Spirit’ (Luke 4:1) and had prepared his disciples for their calling. Now filled with the Holy Spirit themselves, they will be ready to continue his ministry. The Gospel promise of baptism in ‘Holy Spirit and fire’ by John the Baptist (Luke 3:16) is now seen to be fulfilled on the church’s first Pentecost. Continue reading Scripture notes – Pentecost, Year B – 20th May 2018

Scripture notes – 7th Sunday of Easter Year B – 13th May 2018

This week’s liturgy is a transition from the Easter celebration of the Resurrection to the sending of the Holy Spirit on the disciples which we celebrate next Sunday. That moment empowers them to take over the work of Christ, and the readings today continue some themes from the previous weeks that show the preparation for the consecration of their ministry. Continue reading Scripture notes – 7th Sunday of Easter Year B – 13th May 2018

Scripture notes – The Ascension of the Lord Year B – 10th May 2018

We have heard in the Sundays of Easter time, how Jesus in his new resurrected body appeared unexpectedly to various disciples, but that time would come to an end. The word used for this was ‘ascending’ to the Father. The idea of ‘going up’ fits the world as it was known before modern astronomy and visualises Heaven as ‘up above’ our usual experience. This ascent of Jesus is mentioned in various ways in the New Testament, but it is only Luke who dramatizes the scene – and he does it twice, at the end of his Gospel and the beginning of the Acts of the Apostles. Continue reading Scripture notes – The Ascension of the Lord Year B – 10th May 2018

Scripture notes – 6th Sunday of Easter Year B – 6th May 2018

Whether or not it still seems like Easter to us, it is for the church. In one sense, every Sunday is a commemoration of the Resurrection for it is central to our Christian faith and hope. Thursday this week celebrates the time when Jesus physically walked no more on earth, but ‘ascended’ to his Father. Continue reading Scripture notes – 6th Sunday of Easter Year B – 6th May 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

Mercy in the Bible

‘In the name of God, the All-Merciful, the All-Compassionate.’

Although we will be considering only the Hebrew and Christian Bible, I have taken these lines from the first words of the Qur’an, because as Pope Francis wrote in his Bull opening the Year of Mercy: ‘There is an aspect of mercy that goes beyond the confines of the church. It connects us with Judaism and Islam…. I trust that this year of Mercy will foster an encounter with these and other noble religious traditions.’ The Jubilee Year is one of openness to all. Continue reading Mercy in the Bible