Sunday Scripture

Sunday Scripture Readings

FIRST SUNDAY OF ADVENT,

NOVEMBER 28

Isaiah 2:1-5; Psalm 122;

Romans 13:11-14; Matthew 24:37-44

OUR GOOD NEWS: The Lord proclaims His return, bringing peace and joy to those prepared for the unexpected.

Advent season divides into two periods, corresponding to its twofold character and reflected in the two Advent prefaces used during this season.

From First Sunday through Dec. 12 we direct attention to Christ’s Parousia ("Presence"). Originally describing a Roman emperor’s state visit to one of the provinces, in the New Testament this word refers to the Lord’s Second Coming. Advent is not Lent, its primary focus not penance, but joy and spiritual expectation. During this time we eagerly await final consummation of God’s promises, recorded, along with their partial fulfillment, in Old and New Testaments.

"In days to come, the mountain of the Lord’s house shall be established as the highest mountain." Isaiah’s vision (first reading) is "eschatological": concerning an event in the indeterminate future, brought about by causes exceeding this-worldly capacities.

Nonetheless, this Kingdom which is God’s gift rather than human achievement has now become present reality in Christ Jesus. Isaiah’s description is not just promise concerning the future (heavenly life), but program for present implementation. Our witness is not to human talent, ingenuity or hard work but to the divine power of love transforming all who are willing to be saved.

"All nations shall stream toward it ..." Ancient myths told of a world-mountain, center where earth and heaven meet. From this unique point of contact the divine truth and order necessary for genuine peace and prosperity would radiate out to all humankind. Mount Zion, site of the Jerusalem Temple, corresponds to this mythic expectation insofar as it symbolizes the Church, mediator of God’s presence and blessing in fulfillment of universal hopes.

" ... That He may instruct us in his ways" — World mastery consists not in domination but in service, providing an "instruction" that not only spells out but also empowers our full obedience. No force other than attraction operates to create a worldwide pilgrimage and worldwide attentiveness to the divine will.
"He shall judge between the nations ... " God doesn’t condemn the human race for past rebellion but "judges" by settling disputes formerly resolved through warfare.

Advent sentiments we are to foster include gratitude to God, who showed unreserved esteem for the material world and human race in sending his Son as one of us. Trust the world; don’t be afraid! A second disposition to be encouraged is humble pride in the Son of God who became Jesus our brother. We share the intimacy of family with the Lord! Finally, now is time to renew our commitment, meeting exalted expectations put upon us, made possible by divine grace through the coming One, who will come again!

Sunday Scripture Readings


PENTECOST, JUNE 8



Acts 2:1-11; Psalm 104;


1 Corinthians 12:3-7, 12-13; John 20:19-23

OUR GOOD NEWS: Happy Birthday, Church!

Today's selections provide welcome insight into how we are to understand the Scriptures. Our modern - and relatively recent - insistence on literal accuracy is challenged by the first reading and the Gospel. When did Jesus' gift of the Spirit to His followers occur? Luke, in his Gospel and in his Acts of the Apostles, related this gift to Pentecost, a major Jewish festival with overtones of covenant renewal (first reading). By contrast, in his Gospel John preferred to stress the organic unity of Jesus' various salvific acts. Death, Resurrection, Ascension and sending of the Spirit constituted one grand "lifting up" - on the Cross and up to the Father. John therefore located the Pentecost event on Easter Sunday evening (Gospel).

Both interpretations are equally true, neither one demonstrably more "historical" than the other. The two Evangelists sacrificed unessential factual detail that we would insist on for far more important authoritative interpretation. Luke's structure within a yearly cycle permits our sustained reflection on each of the major components of the Paschal mystery. By contrast, John's arrangement rightly located Spirit bestowal in the immediate context of Resurrection (Easter Sunday night), which made it possible.

Today's three readings illustrate another difference. What is the Church's principal charism (spiritual gift)? In Acts (first reading), Jesus' gift of the Spirit empowered (a) mission to gather people from every nation, making intelligible the apostolic proclamation of the Good News available through Jesus. Paul (second reading) emphasized the Spirit's role of re-creation resulting in (b) unity, a miraculous bringing together of mutually antagonistic groups into genuine fellowship. While repeating Luke's theme of mission, John stressed yet another facet of Spirit achievement within community: full and lasting (c) reconciliation with God. Thus, by adapting the Gospel's story line, each of the three Evangelists communicates something of the riches in the foundational event.

This variant story of the gift of the Spirit - whether on Easter Sunday evening or Pentecost Sunday - invites us to look at the meaning of today's first reading. Here, Luke drew upon biblical images to describe the divine saving presence. Since the Spirit-gift was announced by something "like a strong, driving wind," the gathered large crowd witnessed Spirit presence through transformation verified in witnessing believers.

Each of us as believers has shared in the Pentecost event. After our suitable preparation for the Sacrament of Confirmation, the divine gift of Spirit empowers us to live genuinely Christian lives and to witness to the whole world. Our entire liturgical year climaxes on Pentecost, the Church's birthday.

Our second reading explains how reciting the Creed and meaning it requires divine help. However naturally repugnant we find Jesus' way of the Cross, we thereby make it our own. Paul's theology of charisms (second reading) is illustrated in healthy parishes, where every person, including laity, women, children and single adults, are empowered and authorized to build up community through particular services.

Sunday Scripture Readings


easter Sunday,


march 31


Acts 10:34, 37-41; Psalm 118;


Colossians 3:1-4; John 20:1-9

OUR GOOD NEWS: Easter is the Day when the Lord "takes action" against everything opposed to joy-filled life.

Properly to understand biblical accounts of post-Resurrection appearances, we must recognize them for what they are - "gospel" (Good News). In hearing and praying these biblical passages we gain ever-new insight into what it means to live the Christian calling.

Central figures in today's Gospel that describe the first Easter Day include Peter, earliest witness to Jesus resurrected, and "the other disciple," "the one Jesus loved." This mysterious person appears only in John's Gospel, first at the Last Supper and then beneath the cross.

Christian spirituality is marvelously epitomized in his description as "the disciple whom Jesus loved," rather than "who loved Jesus more," or "who prayed/worked/suffered/tried harder than the rest." Salvation comes through accepting God's empowering love (grace) rather than from human striving. But letting oneself be loved goes against sinful pride, for being loved arouses selfless, open-ended, answering love.

Mary Magdalen had seen the empty tomb and concluded Jesus' body was stolen. Peter, the first official witness, "entered . . . observed . . . and saw" the empty tomb. This empty tomb tradition would become part of his testimony, which centered on his later personal encounter with the risen Lord. Peter is not here criticized for disbelief but described as a careful, effective witness.

The Beloved Disciple however came to full faith through evidence provided within the tomb, without need of post-Resurrection appearance. Of decisive importance was the "napkin" or "handkerchief" covering Jesus' face. Earlier Jesus had emptied Lazarus' tomb (proclaimed on the fifth Sunday of Lent), but the latter came out wearing his "face cloth" and had to be freed from it. In noting this same object, now left behind where it had covered Jesus' face, the Beloved Disciple found evidence of resurrection rather than resuscitation (mere restoration to earthly life), and confirmation of everything Jesus had done and said in fulfillment of Scriptures. The Beloved Disciple thus discovered the Lord glorified and with the Father in heaven. Later on, Peter, the other disciples and we find him also present within the community of the faithful.

Sunday Scripture Readings

Dr. Charles Mayo, founder of the world famous Mayo Clinic and one of the greatest medical men in the world, once had some European medical experts as guests at his home.

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