Sunday Lectionary: Blessed are the unblessed

Beatitudes

Beatitudes

Back when I started this blog, I led a Young Adult Bible study group, so each week I would post my notes concerning the upcoming Mass Readings. My goal was to produce a commentary for the entirety of the Sunday Lectionary. However, this came to an end when I started attending an Eastern-Rite parish and handed the Bible Study over to another leader. The Eastern Churches have a different liturgical calendar and Lectionary, so the project came to an end.

This Wednesday I was leading a Bible study at a Roman-Rite parish, so I thought I would revive my tradition of posting my notes for today’s readings…

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Sunday Lectionary: Doers of the Word

Twenty-Sixth Sunday in Ordinary Time: September 25th, 2011

The readings this week focus on God’s mercy and exhort us to humility and obedience in following God’s way. There isn’t much technical stuff to deal with in these passages. Instead, these readings are an opportunity for the group to share with one another their struggles in this area and to encourage one another.

“There are two ways, one of life and one of death; but a great difference between the two ways”
– The Didache, c. 65 AD

Reading I: Ezekiel 18:25-28

This section of Ezekiel comes from a longer section entitled “The soul who sins will die” where Ezekiel affirms personal responsibility for one’s own soul and the Prophet outlines all the things that Israel must not do . This long section concludes with the passage below. God affirms that He is indeed just and that, in sinning, it is Israel that is disrupting the right order of things. However, God also affirms that He takes no pleasure in the destruction of sinners. He continually holds out His offer to those who will repent, that he will forgive their sin and spare their life.

Thus says the LORD:

You say, “The LORD’s way is not fair!” Hear now, house of Israel: Is it my way that is unfair, or rather, are not your ways unfair? When someone virtuous turns away from virtue to commit iniquity, and dies, it is because of the iniquity he committed that he must die. But if he turns from the wickedness he has committed, he does what is right and just, he shall preserve his life; since he has turned away from all the sins that he has committed, he shall surely live, he shall not die.

Possible Questions:

  • What is the complaint of the Israelites?
  • What is the Lord’s response through Ezekiel?
  • How is God’s mercy demonstrated in this passage?
  • What is the main exhortation of this Reading?

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Sunday Lectionary: August 21st

August 21, Twenty-First Sunday in Ordinary Time

In this week’s readings we hear the passages of Scripture which have been used by the Church throughout the centuries to defend the Primacy of Peter and the authority of the Pope. Our Gospel Reading, in particularly, was cited at the First Vatican Council in the document “Pastor aeternus”.

I’m going to do my best this week to ensure that these notes remain a Scripture commentary, rather than an apologetic defense of the Papacy. I may well write a more apologetic piece later in the week. 😉

“When the builders laid the foundation of the temple of the LORD, the priests in their vestments and with trumpets, and the Levites (the sons of Asaph) with cymbals, took their places to praise the LORD, as prescribed by David king of Israel.” – Ezekiel 3:10

 

Reading I: Is 22:19-23

The First Reading this week is our hermetical “key” for understanding the Gospel Reading.

In this section of the prophet Isaiah we hear how Shebna, the Chief Steward of the Kingdom, was replaced by a man called Eliakim. Understanding this ministerial office is critical to our understanding of what Jesus says in the Gospel which, in turn, is paramount to our understanding of the Papacy.

In this passage we see foreshadowed a man on whom God would bestow His blessing. This man would exercise authority on behalf of the King in the administration of the Kingdom. He would be a secured feature, a father to the people and an honoured member of the family of God…

Thus says the LORD to Shebna, master of the palace: “I will thrust you from your office and pull you down from your station. On that day I will summon my servant Eliakim, son of Hilkiah; I will clothe him with your robe, and gird him with your sash, and give over to him your authority. He shall be a father to the inhabitants of Jerusalem, and to the house of Judah. I will place the key of the House of David on Eliakim’s shoulder; when he opens, no one shall shut when he shuts, no one shall open. I will fix him like a peg in a sure spot, to be a place of honor for his family.”

Questions:

  • What is happening here in Isaiah?
  • Who is Shebna?
  • What kind of job did he have?
  • Who is Eliakim?
  • What symbol of authority is Eliakim given?
  • What does he mean when he says when he opens, no one shall shut when he shuts, no one shall open”?

Commentary:

“Thus says the LORD to Shebna, master of the palace: ‘I will thrust you from your office…'”

Through the Prophet Isaiah, God “fires” Shebna from his position as “master of the palace”. Up until this point, Sheba was the Chief Steward, the Prime Minister in the Davidic Kingdom. The Master of the Palace was not the one ultimately in charge, the King was, but the Prime Minister exercised the King’s authority in the administration and running of the Kingdom. This is the same kind of post that Joseph (son of Jacob) had when he lived in Egypt.

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