« September 2005 |
| July 2005 »
Wednesday, August 31, 2005
The Gospel of Luke and the Letter to the Colossians
For those who are in the habit of reading the Scriptures as part of
their daily activities: Today, we began reading the Letter to the
Colossians as the first reading for the daily mass. This will continue
until next week and will cover until the third chapter of the letter.
Yesterday, we began reading from the gospel of Luke, and this will
continue until November, when the new liturgical season begins with
Advent. We've just finished reading selections from the first letter to
the Thessalonians. Below is a table showing how the selections are
distributed during the weekday masses:
August 31, Wednesday
September 1, Thursday
September 2, Friday
September 3, Saturday
September 5, Monday
September 6, Tuesday
September 7, Wednesday
The readings for Sunday (September 4) and the feast of the Nativity of
Mary (September 8) was not included since readings for these days follow
a different rationale. Following Colossians is the first letter to
Posted by biblista
at 9:24 PM
Edited on: Wednesday, August 31, 2005 10:25 PM
Sunday, August 28, 2005
Mt. 16:21-27 -- Being an Alter Christus
Those who have been baptized are called "alter Christus", an "other
Christ". This aspect of the Christian life is underscored in Mt.
16:21-27. The gospel selection for the 22nd Sunday of Ordinary Time
(Year A) can be divided in the following way:
Get Behind Me, Satan: The Reproach To Peter
The Disciples' Way of the Cross
The statement "Whoever wants to come after me, let him deny himself and
take up his cross and follow me" (v. 24) is actually a statement of the
lifestyle of the one who wishes to follow Jesus. The central statement
"take up his cross" points forward to the Way of the Cross. As Jesus
will be carrying the cross of humiliation and shame, so too the disciple
will have to carry his. The two outward statements -- "deny himself ...
follow me" -- recalls all the instances when those whom Jesus calls have
to leave something of themselves behind. The first four fishermen to be
called left behind their nets and boats (in the case of James and John,
they also left behind Zebedee, their father, the one who passed on to
them their trade as fishermen); the rich young man had to discover that
it was not enough to just obey the Mosaic law, he also had to give up
his wealth (Mt. 19:16-22, cf. parallels). Given the connection of the
statement to the previous one about Jesus' prediction regarding his own
future, one is tempted to see here a call to the same process that Jesus
will undergo: suffering, death and resurrection. When Jesus says "follow
me" one might as well ask, "To where?" The gospel of John will give the
answer: "Where I am, there you will also be", that is, to be with Him at
the side of the Father. In Matthew Jesus intimates this in verse 27 when
he refers to his return as the Son of Man who will render to each one
The Son of Man is the celestial being in Daniel 7:13+ who receives from
God all authority, power and kingship. This is the glorious Son of Man
who will return as the Groom, King and Master of the House (cf. Matthew
25). He will share with the wise, the faithful and those who cared for
the little ones the joy that is His. It is I think within this context
that one must understand the statements in vv. 25-26.
Whoever will seek his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life
for my sake will find it. For what profits a man if he gains the whole
world but loses his own soul? What can he give in return for his own
Vv. 21-23 is in continuation with the previous story about Peter's
confession of the who Jesus is. After Simon Bar-Jona identifies Jesus
as "the Messiah (the Christ), Son of the Living God" and gets commended
for it, he shows in vv. 21-23 that he has not fully understood Jesus'
Messiahship. He, like the Devil in Matthew 4:1f, thought of a Messiah
without a Cross. Hence, Jesus calls him by the name "Satan", the
Hindrance. Like Peter, the "alter Christus" must give up one's favorite
image of Jesus for one that is in conformity with God's mind. In a
moment of inspiration, Peter saw Jesus as the Christ, but as a Christ in
glory with authority and dominion. He had to learn that that image of
Christ will become true only AFTER Jesus has become the Suffering
Messiah, obedient only to the Father's word. As the Tempter in Matthew
4:1f learned what Son of God meant, so too must the disciple.
The Faith of A Pagan: Matthew 15:21-28
The story of the persistent Canaanite woman in Matthew 15:21-28 is taken
by the Catechism as an example of prayer borne out of deep faith (CCC,
2610). In fact, the figure of the Canaanite woman and her persistence in
asking for the Lord's help reminds one of Bartimaeus (Mark 10:46-52),
the Parables of Persistent Prayer in Luke (cf. Luke 11:5-10;18:2-5). And
while it can be compared to the case of the Roman centurion as an
example of a healing at a distance, (Mt. 8:5-13), the case of the
Canaanite woman is distinguished by the fact that here, her request was
granted after being rebuffed.
Jesus' initial rejection of the request of the woman for help is
justified in 15:24: "I was sent after the lost sheep of Israel." This
has led some interpreters to think that the story probably came from a
time in Jesus' ministry when the restoration of the people of Israel was
foremost in his thoughts. However, the fact that Jesus relents to the
woman at the end in recognition of her genuine faith, the story probably
became an inspiration for the early Christian missionaries when these in
turn found themselves in Gentile lands. Hence, this narrative provides a
type for the Church in mission to the Gentiles.
This gospel narrative is paired with Romans 11:13-15.29-32 for the 20th
Sunday of Ordinary Time in Year A. This is interesting because Augustine
has a sermon on the Canaanite woman where he makes side comments on this
section of Romans (Sermon 77).
But why were the natural branches rightly broken off? (cf. Rom.
11:17a) Pride. And the wild olive rightly grafted in (Rom. 11:17b)?
Humility. That's why this woman said: "Yes, Lord, for even the dogs
eat of the crumbs that fall from the table of the master" and why he
said in reply: "O woman, great is your faith!"
In this sermon, Augustine had been explaining to his audience their
connection to the Canaanite woman:
With these words ("I was sent to the lost sheep of Israel") the
question arises: how did we come from the gentiles into Christ's
sheepfold, if he was only sent to the lost sheep of the house of
Israel? What is the meaning of this profoundly mysterious maneuver by
which the Lord, knowing full well why he had come, which was of course
to have a Church among all the nations, said he had only been sent to
the lost sheep of the house of Israel?
Thus, from this opening question, he explains the story as a
prefiguration of what happens in the time of the apostles when they --
especially in the person of St. Paul -- preached the gospel to the
Gentiles and made possible the "grafting" of the wild olive branches of
gentility into the tree that is Israel.
The story of the persistent Canaanite woman therefore has a typological
sense. It also has a moral sense which Augustine does not hesitate to
pound into his audience:
So notice, brothers and sisters, how it is above all humility that is
being recommended to us in this woman who was a Canaanite, that is,
who came from gentility and was a type -- that is, a representation --
of the Church.
Let's learn, let's keep humility. If we haven't got any yet, let's
learn it. If we don't have it, let us not lose it. If we haven't yet
got it, let's get it andbe grafted in. If we already have it, let's
keep it and not be broken off.
The story of the Canaanite woman is rich. It can be seen as an example
of the persistence of a mother who loves her daughter or the humility of
a pagan in front of the Lord or even a reminder of how the Lord refuses
a request so as to make one's desire more intense. There is a lot of
meat here but all derives from the humble woman whom the Lord praises in
the end: "Oh woman, how great is your faith!"
Posted by bible student
at 11:05 PM
Edited on: Wednesday, August 10, 2005 11:46 PM
, New Testament
Jesus Walks On Water: Matthew's Version
Matthew 14:22-33 is a rewriting of Mark 6:45-52, a narrative that
closely follows the feeding of the five thousand (6:34-44) and is
connected to it (see Mk. 6:52). But while in Mark the disciples were not
able to understand the connection between the multiplication of the
loaves and Jesus on the waters, and therefore the significance itself of
this latter, in Matthew, the disciples end up worshipping Jesus as the
"Son of God" that is, as God* (Mark 14:33). This conclusion actually
highlights the Marcan "insinuations" of Jesus' Divinity implied in
Jesus' walking on the waters, the self-presentation "Take courage, I
AM", and the intention to pass them by.
Passages from Ps. 77, 20 and Job 9,8 point to God walking on the Sea.
Ps. 77,20 even mentions the unseen footprints of the Lord on the mighty
Your way was on the sea (byam drkyka)
your path on the mighty waters
no one sees your footprints.
Job 9,8 echoes the mythical language of a hymn about the victory of God
over His enemy Yammu: "He alone stretches out the heavens and treads on
the mighty crests of the Sea." With these two passages at the background
of the Marcan phrase "he came toward them walking on the sea" (6:48),
the following "and he meant to pass them by" should echo passages from
the Exodus about the glorious passing of Yahweh. God passing by is God
doing something for his people. And when therefore Jesus says to his
frightened disciples: "Take courage, I AM", it is as if he is bringing
them the consolation that only God can give (cf. Isaiah
"I AM" is the name Yahweh gives Moses in Exodus 3:14. When Moses asked
Him the name by which He would be known by His people, He said: ehyeh
asher ehyeh which most translations would render as "I Am Who Am".
We know now, however, that the Hebrew asher is not always a
relative pronoun ("who" in this instance); it can also be the equivalent
of a colon or a quotation mark. Thus the proper rendering would be "I am
'I AM'". Hence, the following statement becomes easily understandable:
"This is what you shall say to the Israelites: I AM has sent you."
In Matthew's version, the reference to Jesus' intention of passing by
was suppressed and instead, a concrete saving act is supplied. In the
figure of Peter, the disciples express themselves in a dialogue with the
God who saves:
And Peter said to him:
"Lord, if is truly you, command me to come
to you on the water."
And he said:
got out of the boat,
and began to walk on the water
But when he saw how strong the wind was,
he became frightened
he, beginning to sink, cried out: "Lord, save me!"
stretched out his hand
and caught him
said to him: "O man of little faith, why did you doubt?"
"Lord, save me!" The Lord does not abandon those in
Peter's bark to the waves of history that toss it about. He is there as
the Lord of history with his hands stretched out to the men of little
faith who may think that, in a moment of weakness, that the waves are
bigger and the winds stronger than the Lord.
"O man of little faith, why did you doubt?" is a
rebuke. Coming from one who has shown the majesty of His divinity, it
should also be taken as a reminder that when the Lord is near, there can
be no room for fear, only faith.
*The title "Son of God" is not semitic in origin; it is Roman, and
became more and more a title of the Emperor of Rome after Caesar
Augustus. "Divi Filius" is therefore linked to the imperial religion to
which the gospels set themselves up against. In fact, the claim that
Jesus was "Son of God" is a claim that undermines Roman rule, as does
the more Jewish title "Messiah" (XristoV,
Deuteronomy in the Weekday Liturgy
Deuteronomy, the Pentateuch's book of love
will be read in selections during the coming days. Here is the
Deuteronomy means "Second Law" or "The Law Reiterated". The Israelite
generation that stood at the foot of Sinai has passed away and now Moses
stands before a new generation of Israelites who never saw and
experienced what their fathers saw and experienced in Egypt and in the
Wilderness. This new generation will now walk into the land promised to
their fathers, and so Moses narrates to them how God has loved them and
their fathers and tells them how
to respond to that love.
Love for God is expressed in obedience to the Law. Within the context of
a loving relationship between God and his people, Father and first-born,
the Law becomes the expression of paternal wisdom handed on to the son.
It is thus, that obedience to the Law also becomes an occassion to
really get to know the Great Abba.