Scripture notes – 16th Sunday of the Year, B – 22nd July 2018

The early Hebrews were pastoralists, moving from place to place with their flocks. Even after they became settlers in the land, the raising of sheep and goats was an important part of the economy. This familiar experience led to ‘Shepherd’ being used in the Old Testament as a metaphor for the leaders of the people, and this was adopted by the writers of the New Testament. Continue reading Scripture notes – 16th Sunday of the Year, B – 22nd July 2018

Scripture notes – 15th Sunday of the Year, B – 15th July 2018

Today’s readings might be titled ‘unlikely messengers’, some who are different from the usual expectations for leaders, but come with a new kind of authority. The prophet Amos had no role in the official religious structures when he was called by God. The twelve apostles also were not part of the Temple ‘establishment when Jesus sent them out to preach. Continue reading Scripture notes – 15th Sunday of the Year, B – 15th July 2018

Scripture notes – The birth of John the Baptist – 24th June 2018

This feast is one of the ‘solemnities’ of the year which are celebrated instead of Ordinary Time when they fall on a Sunday. John the Baptist is an important figure in all four Gospels, but the account of his birth is only in Luke. He came to ‘prepare the way’ for the preaching of Jesus, and stands as the great figure between the Old Covenant and the New one we have in Jesus. Continue reading Scripture notes – The birth of John the Baptist – 24th June 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