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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.



23rd Sunday – Year C (September 8th) E-mail
Written by Nicholas King SJ   
Friday, 27 September 2013 21:47

•    Wisdom 9:13-19
•    Psalm 90:3-6, 12-14, 17
•    Philemon 9-10, 12-17
•    Luke 14:25-33

Our God is different, and answering the call that comes to each of us from God is no easy matter; so the task is to try and decide whether it is worth it. The first reading comes from a prayer placed on the lips of Solomon, by the author of the Book of Wisdom, which was written for Greek-speaking Jews in Alexandria (Egypt). The prayer asks God for wisdom, on the grounds that no one “will know God’s plan, or conceive what the Lord wants”. He makes the point that we are so weighed down by our mortal plight that “we can scarcely guess at the things on earth, and we struggle to find what is to hand – who can track down the things that are in heaven?”

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21st Sunday – Year C (August 25th) E-mail
Written by Nicholas King SJ   
Friday, 27 September 2013 21:44

•    Isaiah 66:18-21
•    Psalm 117:1-2
•    Hebrews 12:5-7, 11-13
•    Luke 13:22-30

Will there be foreigners in Heaven? We tend unreflectively to assume that God has the good taste to include only “People Like Us” in the Kingdom. The readings for next Sunday rather challenge that too-comfortable prejudice of ours; God has a broader gaze than ours, and we have to learn that we need to look beyond our easy racial (and other) stereotypes.

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Solemnity of the Assumption – Year C (August 15th) E-mail
Written by Nicholas King SJ   
Friday, 27 September 2013 21:40

•    Revelation 11:19a: 12:1-6a, 10ab
•    Psalm 45:10-12
•    1 Corinthians 15:20-27
•    Luke 1:39-56

On Thursday, we celebrate the Feast of Our Lady’s Assumption. Privately we scratch our heads about this feast, and wonder whether it is really “in the Bible”, but it may be helpful to remember two things. First, all feasts of Our Lady are always celebrations of her Son; and secondly, no city, anywhere, has ever claimed to have her bones. So the celebration is an ancient one, and no matter how difficult we may find it, it is all about Jesus, whose mother had to be different, not because of what she had done, but because God had prepared her for the unique task that she had to fulfil, as Mother of God. In addition to that, the fact that she is, in our belief, now utterly present to God, is a sign for us of where we shall be when our story is finished.

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22nd Sunday – Year C (September 1st) E-mail
Written by Nicholas King SJ   
Friday, 27 September 2013 21:45

•    Sirach 3:19-21, 30-31
•    Psalm 68: 4-7, 10-11
•    Hebrews 12:18-19, 22-24
•    Luke 14:1, 7-14

Our God is a very unexpected one, as next Sunday’s readings remind us. The context of the first reading is the appropriate way of behaving towards our parents, which is placed in the context of our attitude to God. So it is as children that we are advised to “conduct your business with humility, and you will be loved by a person who is acceptable”; and it is no good our saying “I am too important to bother about my parents”, for “the greater you are, the more you should humble yourself – then you will find grace before the Lord”.

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20th Sunday of Ordinary Time – Year C (August 18th) E-mail
Written by Nicholas King SJ   
Friday, 27 September 2013 21:42

•    Jeremiah 38:4-6, 8-10
•    Psalm 40:2-4, 18
•    Hebrews 12:1-4
•    Luke 12:49-53

The enemies of Christianity often claim that our religion is a “crutch for weaklings”, offering comfort that only the inadequate need. Next Sunday’s readings offer a rather different idea, that the service of God is rather an uncomfortable option, and is not at all for the faint-hearted.

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19th Sunday – Year C (August11th) E-mail
Written by Nicholas King SJ   
Wednesday, 07 August 2013 15:34

•    Wisdom 18:6-9
•    Psalm 33:1, 12, 18-20, 22
•    Hebrews 11:1-2, 8-19
•    Luke 12:32-48

We have to be ready for God. Not that God disappears; we could not exist for a second unless God were looking lovingly and attentively at us. It is, rather, that the call of God can come, and unless we are switched to “receive” rather than “transmit”, then we may miss the vital moment.

So it is with the readings for next Sunday. The first reading meditates on the ancestors of Israel on the night of their liberation from Egypt. It may help you to know that the Book of Wisdom was written for a group of Israelites who, centuries later, once again found themselves in Egypt, and oppressed by Egypt’s superior technological and scientific advances.

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