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

Scripture notes – 17th Sunday of the Year, B – 29th July 2018

All four gospels tell the story of the miracle of feeding thousands with a few loaves and some fish. Only John, however, follows this with a long speech of Jesus on ‘the Bread of Life’ which draws out theological and symbolic meanings from the miracle. The liturgy will focus on these speeches for the next four Sundays, and therefore we read John’s account today instead of Mark, as usual for Year B. Continue reading Scripture notes – 17th Sunday of the Year, B – 29th July 2018

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

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