Scripture notes – The Ascension of the Lord Year A – 28th May 2017

Some may be celebrating the Ascension on the previous Thursday. In England and Wales, as in various other parts of the world, the feast has been moved to the Sunday to make it easier for everyone to attend mass.

Only Luke of the four Gospels tells details of Jesus’ leaving this world to return to the Father in eternal glory – and Luke tells it twice, first at the end of his gospel and then at the beginning of the Book of Acts. It is a bridge between Jesus life and the history of the first days of the Church. Continue reading Scripture notes – The Ascension of the Lord Year A – 28th May 2017

Scripture notes – 6th Sunday of Easter Year A – 21st May 2017

This is the last day with the ‘Easter’ label, as we come to the final events of the season, the Ascension of Jesus shortly followed by the celebration of the coming of the Holy Spirit on Pentecost. The readings again move between the experience of the first Christians and the words of Jesus at the Last Supper. Continue reading Scripture notes – 6th Sunday of Easter Year A – 21st May 2017

Scripture notes – 5th Sunday of Easter Year A – 14th May 2017

Today’s readings are an example of how the liturgy holds the full presence, in various aspects, of the whole Christian message. Being between Easter Day and Pentecost, we are reminded ‘Christ has died, has risen, will come again’ as is celebrated in every mass. We are also as individuals and as a community living as Christ lives. The middle reading opens this out, while the first shows that community brings challenges, and the Gospel places it all in Jesus’ farewell address at the Last Supper. Continue reading Scripture notes – 5th Sunday of Easter Year A – 14th May 2017

Scripture notes – 4th Sunday of Easter Year A – 7th May 2017

The liturgy has finished with the Resurrection stories. From now till Pentecost, the Gospel readings are taken from John with speeches at differing periods before the Passion. They show us various aspects of what living in the risen Lord means for a Christian.

Today has been called ‘Good Shepherd Sunday’. Sheep and shepherds were frequently used for comparisons, both in the Old Testament and in all four gospels. They were part of everyday life from the earliest times of the Hebrew people, who followed a pastoral way of life, closely involved with their flocks. Even in cities like Jerusalem, sheep were conspicuous, being used in Temple sacrifices. In the Bible, a shepherd became an idealized image for a king or ruler, helped by the fact that King David began life tending his father’s flocks. Continue reading Scripture notes – 4th Sunday of Easter Year A – 7th May 2017

Scripture notes – 3rd Sunday of Easter Year A – 30th April 2017

Our liturgy celebrates Easter till Pentecost, but it can be a challenge in the modern world to live for 50 days in the spirit of the Resurrection – much less continue to wish people ‘Happy Easter’ during all that time! We frequently heard the question, ‘What are you doing for Lent? – the 40 days of penance? Should we also ask, ‘What am I doing for Easter – for 50 days of joy?’ Continue reading Scripture notes – 3rd Sunday of Easter Year A – 30th April 2017

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

Reading the Gospel of Luke in the ‘Year of Mercy’ 2015/2016

On December 8 2015, Pope Francis opened the ‘Year of Mercy’. During this time, the mass readings have mostly been taken from the Gospel of St Luke, which fits very well with the Pope’s theme. Although God’s mercy is stressed throughout the Bible, it has a special emphasis in the third gospel. In the first chapter, Luke presents two ‘songs’, the first of Mary (‘The Magnificat’) in which she is aware of the blessing of God to her personally, but also ‘his mercy from generation after generation’. In the song of Zachary (‘The Benedictus’), he also recalls the past where ‘God showed mercy to our ancestors’ and looks forward to the ‘tender mercy of our God who from on high will bring the rising Sun [Jesus] to visit us….’ Continue reading Reading the Gospel of Luke in the ‘Year of Mercy’ 2015/2016