Sunday Readings in Context: Years A, B & C by Chris Oliver - Read Online
Sunday Readings in Context
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A short 250 word note on the context of the three Scripture readings for the Catholic Sunday Mass. This background and context of each reading should help listeners to understand the readings more easily.
The notes may be freely included in church newsletters without prior permission.
This book gives notes for the Sundays and Principal Feast Days of all three years A, B and C. These notes have also been published in six parts, one for each half-year.
Appendices indicate when Feast Days take precedence over normal Sundays, which differs in some countries.

Publicado: Chris Oliver el
ISBN: 1370780567
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Contents

Introduction

Year A – Year of Matthew

Chapter 1 – Advent Year A

Chapter 2 – Christmas Season Year A

Chapter 3 – Ordinary Time Sundays 2 to 13 Year A

Sundays 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13

Chapter 4 – Lent Year A

Chapter 5 – Easter Season Year A

Chapter 6 – Ordinary Time Sundays 14 to 33 Year A

Sundays: 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23

Sundays: 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33

Feasts – Year A

Body and Blood of Christ

Saints Peter and Paul

Transfiguration

Assumption

Exaltation of the Cross

All Saints

Dedication of Lateran Basilica

Christ the King

Year B – Year of Mark

Chapter 7 – Advent Year B

Chapter 8 – Christmas Season Year B

Chapter 9 – Ordinary Time Sundays 2 to 13 Year B

Sundays 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13

Chapter 10 – Lent Year B

Chapter 11 – Easter Season Year B

Chapter 12 – Ordinary Time Sundays 14 to 33 Year B

Sundays: 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23

Sundays: 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33

Feasts – Year B

Body and Blood of Christ

Saints Peter and Paul

Transfiguration

Assumption

Exaltation of the Cross

All Saints

Dedication of Lateran Basilica

Christ the King

Year C – Year of Luke

Chapter 13 – Advent Year C

Chapter 14 – Christmas Season Year C

Chapter 15 – Ordinary Time Sundays 2 to 13 Year C

Sundays 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13

Chapter 16 – Lent Year C

Chapter 17 – Easter Season Year C

Chapter 18 – Ordinary Time Year C

Sundays: 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23

Sundays: 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33

Feasts – Year C

Body and Blood of Christ

Saints Peter and Paul

Transfiguration

Assumption

Exaltation of the Cross

All Saints

Dedication of Lateran Basilica

Christ the King

Appendix 1: The Roman Catholic Lectionary

Appendix 2: Precedence of Feast Days

Introduction

Since the introduction of the revised Lectionary after Vatican II there are three readings from Scripture during each Sunday Mass. These are normally from the Old Testament, the New Testament, and one of the Gospels.

This book contains a short note on the context of these Scripture readings – the when, why, how, where, who by and who for. It is hoped that this will help hearers better understand what they are hearing. The notes are based on a wide range of Bible commentaries and several translations.

While Catholics may be fairly familiar with the Gospels, most are unfamiliar with the Old Testament, which was never read during Sunday Mass before Vatican II. And many priests, perhaps also less knowledgeable about the Old Testament, continue to base their homilies mostly on the New Testament readings, especially the Gospel. So the significance of the first reading, which always relates to that day’s Gospel, may be missed.

The second readings, from the New Testament, would also often benefit from being placed in context. There are many examples where being aware of why Paul was writing, or what came before or after the excerpt being read, can help the hearer to make more sense of the reading.

Even with the Gospels, apparently so familiar, some indication of what has gone before, or of the writer’s community, can aid understanding.

Each note covers all three of the Scripture readings for Mass that Sunday, and is less than 250 words. It may therefore be suitable for inclusion in a church newsletter, and may be used freely in that way without prior permission being required from the author. The notes do not seek to draw lessons from the readings, which is the task of the homilist.

This book gives notes for the Sundays and Principal Feast Days of all three years A, B and C. These notes have also been published in six parts, one for each half-year.

Appendices indicate when Feast Days take precedence over normal Sundays, which differs in some countries.

After each note there is a link back to the full table of Contents to make searching easier.

*** [Contents]

Year A – the Year of Matthew

The Gospel readings in Year A are usually from Matthew, seen as perhaps the fullest account of the faith, and so most often used for teaching.

Both Matthew and Luke appear to have known Mark's Gospel, and to have based their accounts on Mark, but apparently without being aware of each other's work. Matthew's Gospel is also very Jewish, referring very often to ways in which the Jewish Scriptures were fulfilled in Jesus.

Chapter 1 – Advent, Year A

1st Sunday of Advent, Year A

During advent the first readings are from first Isaiah, mostly written before 700 BC, a period when Israel was under attack from Assyria. Isaiah is critical of attempts by Israel’s kings to control their destiny – he urges them to place their faith and trust in God, and in His promises to David, whose city of Jerusalem is where God dwells. But God will not necessarily protect Israel from its enemies, who might be the means God uses to cleanse the people.

Nevertheless there will be a remnant who will ensure the survival of the people, like a stump of a tree, from which will come an ideal ruler in the future. In today’s reading Isaiah looks forward to a peaceful time when all nations will be attracted by Israel’s behaviour to accept God’s authority, centred on Mount Zion in Jerusalem.

In his letter to the Romans Paul has been drawing out the implications of his image of Christians as all parts of one body. Since we are therefore dependant on each other we have a duty of love for each other. Judgement will come at any time, so we must live at all times as if all our actions are visible to all.

Matthew’s gospel reinforces the need to stay awake, ready for the Lord’s coming.

(Isaiah 2:1-5; Psalm 121; Romans 13:11-14; Matthew 24:37-44)

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2nd Sunday of Advent, Year A

The readings for Advent from Isaiah continue with his description of the ideal king, who will come from the remnant of Israel – the stump of Jesse, of David’s dynasty. Much quoted by Christian New Testament writers and applied to Jesus. But Isaiah was seeking to comfort his people, under attack by Assyria, and he goes on to foresee a fantastic and idyllic future when the whole of creation will live in complete harmony. No human king could achieve this, but the fear of the Lord and the knowledge of the Lord would bring it about.

Paul’s letter to the Romans exhorts the two groups of Christians in Rome to work patiently together, ignoring varying degrees of conformity to the Jewish Law. We must learn about God from the Jewish Scriptures, the Old Testament, so that we may worship him in unity of mind and mouth. The sufferings of both the Messiah and of Israel demonstrate that God keeps His promises, and the Messiah will lead all nations, both Jews and Gentiles, to praise God.

In the Gospel John the Baptist, the last prophet of the Old Testament, prepares the way of the Lord by urging people to repent, to turn towards God from their sins. But he condemns those who say they have no need of God.

(Isaiah 11:1-10; Psalm 71; Romans 15:4-9; Matthew 3:1-12)

*** [Contents]

3rd Sunday of Advent, Year A

To encourage and console all whose confidence in God falters, Isaiah continues his triumphal vision of the peace that will come from God, when those ransomed by the Lord will go to Zion, singing God’s praises. It was written in Babylon shortly after 540 BC, when the Persian king Cyrus had unexpectedly authorised Jewish exiles to return to Jerusalem. Isaiah’s portrayal of the people’s expectant joy was later seen by Christians as describing their expectation of the peace Jesus Christ will bring to all people.

The letter attributed to James, probably the brother of the Lord, the leader of the Jerusalem Church, was written late in the first century. It is full of pastoral advice and warnings against riches and presumption. Religion is not a private matter – the Christian community is in a covenant relationship with God, and our faith in God must be visible in love of our neighbour. So we must persevere patiently in practising our faith, not swearing but letting our yes mean yes, leaving justice to God.

In Matthew’s Gospel Jesus fulfills Isaiah’s vision – he is already enabling the blind to see, the lame to walk – his kingdom is already coming into being. But this deputation from John the Baptist in prison introduces two chapters describing growing opposition to Jesus by the Jewish leaders.

(Isaiah 35:1-6,10; Psalm 145; James 5:7-10; Matthew 11:2-11)

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4th Sunday of Advent, Year A

First Isaiah was prophesying before 700 BC, when Judah was under attack. Isaiah promises that a time of peace will come when Israel returns to living simply, with no riches to make others envious. But only if they keep their faith in God. Without being asked, God gives King Ahaz a sign of his support: a young woman will bear a son, to be named Immanuel, God with us. Israel will still suffer. But a remnant of David’s house will survive, like the stump of a fallen tree.

Paul begins his letter to the Jewish Christian community in Rome very carefully. They did not know him, so he assures them that he shares their beliefs, especially that Jesus, a descendant of David, is the Christ, proclaimed Son of God through his resurrection. That God raised up a man hung on a tree, and so condemned by the Law, implies that the Jewish Torah is not enough to enable humanity to become right with God.

Before Matthew describes Jesus’ birth, he lists 42 ancestors linking Jesus firmly with Abraham, David and Israel’s kings. The list includes four women, Tamar, Rahab, Ruth, and the wife of Uriah. Through their unconventional behaviour, a remnant of David’s line survived, reminding us of the important roles women have always played in God’s plan.

(Isaiah 7:10-14; Psalm 23; Romans 1:1-7; Matthew 1:18-24)

*** [Contents]

Chapter 2 – Christmas Season, Year A

Christmas – The Nativity of the Lord (Night/Dawn/Day), Year A

Around 720 BC Judah was threatened by many enemies. Isaiah advised the kings to stand firm, because the Lord would give a sign: the maiden shall be with child. The birth of a helpless baby gives hope for the future. But this future must be founded on justice and integrity. Early Christians adopted these words as a marvellous way to celebrate the birth of Jesus.

Written over 60 years after Jesus’ birth, Paul’s summarises the gospel to Titus: a compassionate God chose to offer us the free gift of being at one with him. But God’s revelation of salvation in Christ demands we transform our lives and give up everything that does not lead to God. The reading from Hebrews tells us that God has spoken to us through his son, who is the perfect copy of his nature.

Luke places the birth of the Christ firmly in time and space. Jesus was a man born miraculously to a virgin in Bethlehem in Judea. The peace and quiet of the undercroft, where animals gave warmth, must have been a welcome relief for Mary, after the noise and bustle of the inn. The simplicity of Jesus’ birth is important: God comes as a vulnerable baby to draw us into a relationship with him. The royal birth announcement was sent not to royalty, but to poor shepherds, outcasts excluded from Temple worship by their occupation. Joseph, of the house of David, named Jesus as his son. Jesus lived in history, growing up in Nazareth in Galilee.

By the time John’s gospel was written, Christians had come to realise that Jesus had existed as the Word of God before time began. So John’s prologue seeks to describe the complexity of the creator becoming part of his own creation.

(Midnight: Isaiah 9:1-7; Psalm 95; Titus 2:11-14; Luke 2:1-14)

(Dawn: Isaiah 62:11-12; Psalm 96; Titus 3:4-7; Luke 2:15-20)

(Day: Isaiah 52:7-10; Psalm 97; Hebrews 1:1-6; John 1:1-18)

*** [Contents]

Holy Family, Year A

Sunday after Christmas

The Wisdom of the Son of Sirach was written about 200 BC and much used in the Church to present moral teachings. He sees the family as set up by God, in which we learn and practice kindness and honour to each other, just as we respect and honour the Lord.

The letter to the Colossians advises that wisdom and knowledge should be interpreted only in relation to Christ. Our baptism frees us from man-made religious rules and regulations. This is not total autonomy: our lives must reflect the Spirit of Christ within us, while seeking to avoid offending our neighbours. But following these precepts is not easy: forgiving others is not easy. This beautiful description of the ideal community and family life assumes the normal family structure of the letter’s time and culture. But if husbands, wives and children always treated each other today in the way the Lord would, they would be showing the mutual respect and duty the letter recommends.

In Matthew’s gospel Jesus is taken to Egypt, with Hosea reminding us of God’s deep love and care for Israel, his son. After the slaughter of the innocents, echoing the deaths of Egypt’s first-born before Israel’s exodus from slavery, Jesus is called back. The family return to Israel and settle in Nazareth in Galilee.

(Sirach/Ecclesiasticus 3:2-6,12-14; Psalm 127; Colossians 3:12-21; Matthew 2:13-15, 19-23)

*** [Contents]

Mary, Mother of God, Year A

1st January

The Book of Numbers continues the story of the Israelites during their exodus journey from Mount Sinai until they arrive outside the Promised Land before 1200 BC. Among the many laws for behaviour and ritual practices is this beautiful form of blessing given to Moses by the Lord. It is one of the oldest and finest pieces of ancient poetry. To bless means to pour out the power of life that produces growth, success, fertility and prosperity.

Paul wrote his letter to the Galatians as an angry and anguished appeal to