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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.



8th Sunday – Year A (March 2nd) E-mail
Written by Nicholas King SJ   
Wednesday, 18 December 2013 12:53

•    Isaiah 9:14-15
•    Psalm 62:2-3, 6-9
•    1 Corinthians 4:1-5
•    Matthew 6:24-34

Do you ever get the feeling that God has utterly abandoned you and forgotten about you? Join the club. That is something that happens to us all from time to time. In the first reading for next Sunday, Isaiah is quite explicit about it. Or rather Israel, for “Zion is saying: ‘The Lord has abandoned me, has forgotten about me’.” In response to these petulant exiles, the poet-prophet asks, in a beautiful image, “can a woman forget her infant?”, and drives the message home, putting on the Lord’s lips the profound affirmation,  “even if she could forget, I shall not forget”.

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6th Sunday – Year A (February 16th) E-mail
Written by Nicholas King SJ   
Wednesday, 18 December 2013 12:49

•    Ecclesiasticus 15:15-20
•    Psalm 119:1-2, 4-5, 17-18, 33-34
•    1 Corinthians 2:6-10
•    Matthew 5:17-37

There is a danger that we may be rather grudging in our attitudes to “Law”; unless we are careful, we can find ourselves regarding it as an imposition, a burden that we have to shoulder, like those who keep the speed limit only because there is a camera waiting to catch us. The readings for next Sunday show quite a different attitude on the part of God’s people.

In the first reading, written, or translated, for a society that in many ways resembles ours, technologically brilliant, and fertile in new ideas that tended to make traditional religion appear embarrassingly out of date, the author, Jesus ben Sira, insists that it is, after all, possible, even in this age, to “keep the commandments”: it is a matter of what you choose.

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The Presentation of the Lord (February 2nd) E-mail
Written by Nicholas King SJ   
Wednesday, 18 December 2013 12:46

•    Malachi 3:1-4
•    Psalm 24:7-10
•    Hebrews 2:14-18
•    Luke 2:22-40

Next Sunday is the feast of the Presentation. Here in the Northern Hemisphere, it celebrates the returning of the light, and there is much in the readings for us. The basic idea is that God is coming into His Own; and that will be far from comfortable. At the same time, however, this God wears a human face, and is accessible to human beings.

We should notice, however, that it is God (always) who takes the initiative. So the first reading begins, ‘Behold I am sending my angel {or ‘Malachi’}, and he will prepare a way before me, and suddenly he will enter his Temple, the Lord whom you are looking for…says YHWH Sabaoth’.

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7th Sunday – Year A (February 23rd) E-mail
Written by Nicholas King SJ   
Wednesday, 18 December 2013 12:51

•    Leviticus 19:1-2, 17-18
•    Psalm 103:1-4, 8, 10, 12-13
•    1 Corinthians 3:16-23
•    Matthew 5:38-48

One of the most remarkable things about our biblical texts is that we are invited to become like God, in the Old Testament, and, in the New, like Jesus. That is the invitation laid before us by next Sunday’s readings.

The first reading has as its centre, “You are to be holy, for I the Lord your God am holy”.  And what does holiness imply? “You are not to hate your brother with your heart...you are not to take revenge or bear a grudge against the children of your people. You are to love your neighbour as yourself”. It is obvious, once you think about it, but we need to think about what it means, this invitation to holiness.

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5th Sunday – Year A (February 9th) E-mail
Written by Nicholas King SJ   
Wednesday, 18 December 2013 12:47

•    Isaiah 58:7-10
•    Psalm 112:4-9
•    1 Corinthians 2:1-5
•    Matthew 5:13-16

Why is it that not everyone believes in the God in whom you and I believe? Is it, perhaps, because when people look at us, they do not see the gospel values that we proclaim? That is an age-old problem of religion: our high ideals inevitably expose us to the charge of hypocrisy.

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3rd Sunday – Year A (January 26th) E-mail
Written by Nicholas King SJ   
Wednesday, 18 December 2013 12:42

•    Isaiah 8:23-9:3
•    Psalm 27:1-4, 13-14
•    1 Corinthians 1:10-13, 17
•    Matthew 4:12-23

“Galilee - where’s that?”, might be the cry on the lips of many people in the ancient world. And yet for Christians it is the obscure district in the North of Israel from which Jesus emerged. In the first reading for next Sunday, it is “Galilee of the Gentiles”, the place that was being ravaged by the alarming armies of the Assyrians, in the last third of the 8th Century BC. To them the prophet Isaiah sings a song of hope, that “The people that walked in darkness have seen a great light; those who dwell in the land of the shadow of death, on them a light has shone.” That is how God works, no matter how difficult things may seem to be.

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