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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.



29th Sunday – Year C (October 20th) E-mail
Written by Nicholas King SJ   
Saturday, 28 September 2013 16:55

•    Exodus 17:8-13
•    Psalm 121:1-8
•    2 Timothy 3:14 – 4:2
•    Luke 18: 1-8

How does prayer work? The readings for next Sunday are emphatic that it is important to pray, although they never quite explain what it is we do when we pray.

In the first reading, you might be pardoned for thinking that prayer is something magic: if Moses keeps his arms held up, then God will give Israel the victory over the Amalekites, but “whenever he rested his hand, then Amalek was in the ascendancy”.

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27th Sunday – Year C (October 6th) E-mail
Written by Nicholas King SJ   
Friday, 27 September 2013 21:52

•    Habakkuk 1:2-3; 2:2-4
•    Psalm 95:1-2, 6-9
•    2 Timothy 1:6-8, 13-14
•    Luke 17:5-10

God can sometimes feel very remote from us, his demands impossible to comply with, and his deafness too pronounced to be an accident. The readings for next Sunday face this quandary with some courage.

In the first reading, Habakkuk, writing at the turn of the 7th and 6th centuries BC, is not very happy: “How long, O Lord, am I crying – and you do not listen?”. Our Jewish forebears are an example to us of the important truth that we are allowed to complain to God – provided that we listen for the answer.

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25th Sunday – Year C (September 22nd) E-mail
Written by Nicholas King SJ   
Friday, 27 September 2013 21:49

•    Amos 8:4-7
•    Psalm 113:1-2, 4-8
•    1 Timothy 2:1-8
•    Luke 16:1-13

We tend complacently to assume that if we have a bit of wealth, that is a sign that God is very pleased with us; sadly, it may only be a sign that we are very pleased with ourselves, and that God is offering a challenge to us.

The challenge is loud and clear in next Sunday’s readings. Consider first the ranting of Amos, a Southerner laying into the Northerners for their injustice, for the economic prosperity that came at the expense of God’s poor.

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28th Sunday – Year C (October 13th) E-mail
Written by Nicholas King SJ   
Friday, 27 September 2013 21:53

•    2 Kings 5:14-17
•    Psalm 98:1-4
•    2Timothy 2:8-13
•    Luke 17:11-19

The older I get, the more I see that gratitude is the sanest possible stance towards life, and towards God. The readings for next Sunday say something about this.

In the first reading, Naaman, the Syrian general, has just been persuaded by his servants to do what Elisha the “man of God” had told him, and bathe in the Jordan. Reluctantly, he does so, and the inevitable happens: “his flesh was once more like the flesh of a little boy – and he was clean!”.

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26th Sunday – Year C (September 29th) E-mail
Written by Nicholas King SJ   
Friday, 27 September 2013 21:51

•    Amos 6:1, 4-7
•    Psalm 146:7-10
•    1 Timothy 6:11-16
•    Luke 16:19-31

Whose side is God on? We have an appalling tendency to suppose, all unconsciously, that God favours the wealthy. In the readings for next Sunday, that view is stoutly challenged, for the assumption is that the affluent are up to no good.

The first reading, like last week, is taken from Amos, who is in notably good form against the “fat cats”. “Woe”, he bellows, “to the smugly complacent in Zion”, and draws a picture of the upper classes lounging around on “beds of ivory”, who “eat lambs from the flock, and calves from the stall”.

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24th Sunday – Year C (September 15th) E-mail
Written by Nicholas King SJ   
Friday, 27 September 2013 21:48

•    Exodus 32:7-11, 13-14
•    Psalm 51:3-4, 12-13, 17, 19
•    1 Timothy 1:12-17
•    Luke 15:1-32

The mystery of sin is underplayed these days (or so we are often told); but it is simply the other side of the mystery of God. That mystery is the focus of our readings for next Sunday.

The first reading speaks of God’s reaction to Israel’s most spectacular sin, the occasion when, after being delivered by God from slavery in Egypt, they got bored and forgetful in Moses’ absence up the mountain with God, and create the Golden Calf, bellowing “Here are your gods, O Israel, who brought you out of the land of Egypt”.

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