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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.

7th Sunday – Year C (May 12th) E-mail
Written by Nicholas King SJ   
Wednesday, 27 February 2013 16:59

•    Acts 7:55-60
•    Psalm 97: 1-2, 6-7, 9
•    Revelation 22:12-14, 16-17, 20
•    John 17:20-26

We are rushing towards the end of the Easter season now; Pentecost is just a week away, and already the readings look forward to what life is going to be like once we lapse back into “Ordinary Time”.

The first reading contains the stark warning that following Jesus out of Easter and into ordinary time is liable to mean death, as we read of what happened to Stephen. However, it is also the case that death is not the end of the story: for Luke shares with us that Stephen saw “the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God”. This means that all is going to be well, even if Stephen’s utterance brings about his death.

5th Sunday of Easter – Year C (April 28th) E-mail
Written by Nicholas King SJ   
Wednesday, 27 February 2013 16:56

•    Acts 14:21b-27
•    Psalm 145:8-13b
•    Revelation 21:1-5a
•    John 13:31-35

Easter means that things look completely different. Easter does not mean that a magic wand is waved over our pains, so that they no longer hurt. Look at the readings for next Sunday. In the first reading, Paul is still feeling his way; but already the note is struck of the restless travelling that was to mark the remainder of his life after his dramatic encounter with Jesus; he is travelling now around the hinterland of Asia Minor, exhorting disciples, and stressing to them that “it is through many tribulations that we have to enter the Kingdom of Heaven”.

3rd Sunday of Easter – Year C (April 14th) E-mail
Written by Nicholas King SJ   
Wednesday, 27 February 2013 16:54

•    Acts 5:27-32, 40-41
•    Psalm 30: 2, 4-6, 11-13
•    Revelation 5:11-14
•    John 21:1-19

We are well into Easter now, and it may even have lost something of its freshness; so what we have to do now is to recall the confidence that God’s Resurrection power can engender in us, regardless of what life may throw at us. That confidence is visible in the first reading for next Sunday. Not very long ago, Peter was cravenly denying to the High Priest’s slave-girl that he had ever heard of Jesus. Now he is facing down the High Priest himself; and when the eminent prelate reminds him that he has been given explicit instructions “not to teach in this name” (the name of Jesus, that is), and that so far from obeying this instruction from lawful religious authority, they have “filled Jerusalem with the teaching, and want to bring Jesus’ blood” on the religious authorities.

6th Sunday of Easter – Year C (May 5th) E-mail
Written by Nicholas King SJ   
Wednesday, 27 February 2013 16:58

•    Acts 15:1-2, 22-29
•    Psalm 67: 2-3, 5-6, 8
•    Revelation 21:10-14, 22-23
•    John 14:23-29

How are we to solve our problems? We have been long enough now in the Easter season (and, for that matter, it is long enough since the message of Resurrection was first preached to the world) to know that our faith in God’s power over death does not mean that there are no longer any problems to keep us awake at nights.

In the first reading, we encounter first Christians dealing with a problem that could have torn the church apart in that first century, namely whether, in order to be a follower of Jesus, a male Christian had to be circumcised, as Jesus was, and as (presumably) all his first disciples were.

4th Sunday of Easter – Year C (April 21st) E-mail
Written by Nicholas King SJ   
Wednesday, 27 February 2013 16:55

•    Acts 13:14, 43-52,
•    Psalm 100:2-3, 5
•    Revelation 7:9, 14b-17
•    John 10:27-30

It may be the Easter season, and Resurrection may be in the air, but that does not mean that it is going to be easy to follow Jesus. For, make no mistake about it, there is going to be trouble. In the first reading, we see Paul, newly turned to preaching about Jesus with just the same enthusiasm that he had previously applied to assailing those pesky disciples of Jesus. He gives two sermons in the synagogue in Pisidian Antioch. The first one (omitted in our reading) is quite a success, for “they were persuading them to remain in God’s grace”; but by the following week, Paul’s enemies have arranged a hostile reception for him, although “the whole city” was so excited that they had turned up to “hear God’s word”.

2nd Sunday of Easter – Year C (April 7th) E-mail
Written by Nicholas King SJ   
Wednesday, 27 February 2013 07:36

•    Acts 5:12-16
•    Psalm 118:2-4, 22-27a
•    Revelation 1:9-13, 17-19
•    John 19-31

We are into the Easter season now, and it is important for us to examine how we are to respond to the Resurrection, the mystery that lies at the heart of our faith. In the readings for next Sunday, we find a variety of possible responses. 

In the first reading, from Acts, which we shall follow on Sundays throughout the Easter season, we have one of the “summaries” in which Luke specialises, painting a picture with a broad brush: this is how it was in the early Church. So we read that God, through the apostles, brought about “many signs and portents among the people”, that outsiders were scared to join them, but that “the people held them in high esteem”, and at the same time “believers in the Lord grew in number, crowds of men and women”, and healings and exorcisms went on apace.


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