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Scripture Notes

Notes on the Sunday readings by Father Nicholas King SJ (Campion Hall, Oxford University, UK).

By kind permission of the Editor of Southern Cross.



Palm Sunday of the Lord’s Passion (Year A) – April 13th E-mail
Written by Nicholas King SJ   
Saturday, 15 February 2014 16:33

•    Matthew 21:1-11
•    Isaiah 50:4-7
•    Psalm 22: 8-9, 17-20, 23-24,
•    Philippians 2:6-11
•    Matthew 26:14-27:66

Next Sunday we enter the solemn drama of Holy Week; the readings for the day are immensely rich, and you will do well to read reflectively through them all: Matthew’s account of Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem (and you might count how many animals he is riding); then the first of the Songs of the Suffering Servant from Isaiah; next, the psalm, one that has coloured the gospel narratives of Jesus’ passion, and then the second reading, an ancient Christian hymn stressing how Christ “emptied himself”, and how God in response “gave him the name which is above all other names”.

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4th Sunday in Lent – Year A (March 30th) E-mail
Written by Nicholas King SJ   
Saturday, 15 February 2014 16:28

•    1 Samuel 16: 1, 6-7, 10-13
•    Psalm 23:1-6
•    Ephesians 5:8-14
•    John 9:1-41

One of the things that happen to us during Lent, if the season goes well for us, is that we are shown something of the extent of our blindness. Next Sunday is mid-Lent Sunday, when traditionally we relax our austerities; but that does not exempt us from reflecting prayerfully upon the readings.

In the first reading, it is the prophet Samuel who is blind; he has to be told to stop grieving for Saul (whom he had anointed King, it must be said, under God’s instructions), and to anoint someone else, one of the sons of King Jesse, in Bethlehem.

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2nd Sunday in Lent – Year A (March 16th) E-mail
Written by Nicholas King SJ   
Saturday, 15 February 2014 16:24

•    Genesis 12:1-4
•    Psalm 33: 4-5, 18-20, 22
•    2 Timothy: 1:8-10
•    Matthew 17:1-9

If we are to make it through the apparently interminable desert journey that is our Lenten preparation for Easter, then we need a vision to keep us going. This is what the readings for next Sunday offer us.

The vision, however, does not mean that we shall be aware of everything that lies ahead of us (we probably should not set out on the journey if we were!). Consider Abraham, in our first reading. He is summoned by God, to “leave your country and your family and your father’s house, and go to a land I am going to show you”.

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5th Sunday in Lent – Year A (April 6th) E-mail
Written by Nicholas King SJ   
Saturday, 15 February 2014 16:30

•    Ezekiel 37:12-14
•    Psalm 130:1-8
•    Romans 8:8-11
•    John 11:1-45

Next week, we come into that deeper part of Lent, when our attention should be no longer on ourselves and our sinfulness, and focussed instead on the Jesus whose death is now less than two weeks away.

The first reading is from Ezekiel’s wonderful image of the Valley of the Dry Bones, which is intended to give hope to the Israelites exiled to Babylon, to reassure them that God is still at work. That is something that we have to grasp, as Lent reaches its sombre climax.

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3rd Sunday in Lent – Year A (March 23rd) E-mail
Written by Nicholas King SJ   
Saturday, 15 February 2014 16:26

•    Exodus 17:3-7
•    Psalm 95:1-2, 6-9
•    Romans 5:1-2, 5-8
•    John 4:5-42

One of the things that happen to us in the course of Lent is that we journey deeper into the mystery of God. And we have a long way to go.

Look at the first reading for next Sunday; the people have been rescued from slavery in Egypt, and get thirsty in the desert (it happens, in such a climate). So they did what you and I do, and “grumbled against Moses” (and, of course, against God, though they do not say so):  “why did you bring us up from Egypt” (and the answer is, of course, because they wanted to be free!).

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1st Sunday in Lent – Year A (March 9th) E-mail
Written by Nicholas King SJ   
Saturday, 15 February 2014 16:22

•    Genesis 2:7-9; 3:1-7
•    Psalm 51: 3-6, 12-14, 17
•    Romans 5:12-19
•    Matthew 4:1-11

Next Sunday is the first Sunday in Lent; it is a bit late this year, so for once you may even have been waiting impatiently for it. As always on this first Sunday, the readings invite us to face (and not run away from) the mystery of sin in our lives.

The first reading recounts in dramatic style the first sin of our parents. You know the story, for you were brought up on it in your childhood: the cunning serpent, the gullible woman and her gullible husband, the attractive fruit, and the disobedience, followed by the discovery that they were naked, and the consequent need to make loin-cloths out of fig-leaves. But there is a bit more to it than that.

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