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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.



Feast of the Holy Family – Year C (December 27th) E-mail
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Wednesday, 16 December 2009 21:47
  • 1 Samuel 1:20-22, 24-28
  • Psalm 84:2-3, 5-6, 9-10
  • 1John 3:1-2, 21-24
  • Luke 2:41-52

Next Sunday, as always on the first Sunday after Christmas, we celebrate the feast of the Holy Family.
Families are not easy to manage (you may find yourself reflecting on this most especially at Christmas
time); they bring with them not only joy but also pain, as the readings for next Sunday do not hesitate
to remind us.

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3rd Sunday of Advent - Year C (13th December) E-mail
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Wednesday, 16 December 2009 21:44
  • Zephaniah 3:14-18
  • Isaiah 12:2-6
  • Philippians 4:4-7
  • Luke 3:10-18

Next Sunday is mid-Advent Sunday, known as “Gaudete” or “Rejoice” Sunday (which means that you
can relax your Advent fast, if any). The key-note of the readings is therefore one of joy; but it is not
the rather weary, compulsory joy that is going on out there in the shops just at the moment. This is a
real, clear-eyed joy because it is God’s doing.

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1st Sunday of Advent - Year C (November 29th) E-mail
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Wednesday, 16 December 2009 21:40
  • Jeremiah 33:14-16
  • Psalm 25:4-5, 8-10, 14
  • 1 Thessalonians 3:12-4:2
  • Luke 21:25-28, 34-36

Whatever it says in the shops, and even if they are blasting Good King Wenceslas from all the loud-
speakers together, Christmas has yet to arrive. Next Sunday we start “Advent”, a word which means
“Coming”, because Jesus has not yet come. The trick for us during the next four weeks will be to wait
and to watch out for the hand of God, for the coming of Jesus.

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4th Sunday of Advent – Year C (20th December) E-mail
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Wednesday, 16 December 2009 21:46
  • Micah 5:1-4
  • Psalm 80:1-3, 15, 18-19
  • Hebrews 10:5-10
  • Luke 1:39-45

Next Sunday, all of a sudden, is the final Sunday before Christmas; and we can allow ourselves at last
to think that Christmas is approaching. What kind of person will he be, our Messiah, who comes to us
on Christmas Day? As far as the first reading is concerned, he will come from the utterly unimportant
(except that David came from there) town of Bethlehem. Nevertheless, “he shall be a ruler in Israel”,
and “his origin shall be of old” (so he comes from God). He has a mother, for “she who will bring
forth a child, is bringing forth a child”; and he will reunite Israel. Then comes the powerful metaphor
of a “shepherd”, which Christians readily adopted for Jesus: “he shall stand and shepherd his flock by
YHWH’s power”. Finally, in an image that is lovelier still, “he shall be peace”.

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2nd Sunday of Advent - Year C (6th December) E-mail
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Wednesday, 16 December 2009 21:43
  • Baruch 5:1-9
  • Psalm 126
  • Philippians 1:3-6, 8-11
  • Luke 3:1-6

We shall only make sense of Advent if we recognise that the whole thing is God’s work. Next
Sunday’s first reading, the closing prophecy of the book of Baruch, is apparently telling about the
return from exile, back in the 6th century before Christ; but it probably comes from a time much closer
to the birth of Jesus. The reading proclaims to Jerusalem that God is putting an end to her misery:
“put on the beauty that comes from the glory of God…for God shall reveal your brightness to every
land under heaven”. Then comes a poignant appeal: “arise, Jerusalem, and stand on a high place, and
look to the sunrise, and see your children, gathered from the setting of the sun to its rising at the word
of the Holy One”. It is all God’s doing: “for God will lead Israel with joy, by the light of his glory,
with the mercy and righteousness that comes from him.” Do you find difficulty in believing that this
vision will come to us before Christmas Day? Then just wait, for God’s time is not our time; but God
is at work.

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Christ the King - Year B (November 22) E-mail
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Thursday, 12 November 2009 14:49
  • Daniel 7:13-14
  • Psalm 93:1-2, 5
  • Revelation 1:5-8
  • John 18:33-37

Next Sunday the Church’s year comes to its end with the feast of Christ the King. The word ‘Christ’ means ‘Anointed One’; and perhaps ‘King’ is quite close to what the word meant in its day. But our King is not just any old sort of a king. Jesus is King only because God is in charge and Jesus is given over wholly to God.

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