Throughout the time of COVID I have been sending reflections on the Sunday to my parishioners. These have been well received so that a new sequence began at the beginning of September. Matt Betts has asked me whether I could send reflections for this website and I am pleased to accept.
The aim of the reflections is to help you to read what is there. All too often we read what we think is there, often with one of the other Gospels in mind. It matters that in Jesus’ parable the sheep is lost in Luke but wandering in Matthew. All the emphasis today is on the Gospels as stories, narrative criticism if you want the posh term. For me that approach has brought the Gospels alive. However, the Sunday lectionary which is the basis of the reflections was drawn up before this development. The lectionary has many flaws but it is the presentation of Scripture that have. The basic three year cycle of Matthew, Mark and Luke is sound even though John is not properly presented as a result. In the choice of Sunday readings there are though many gaps in the readings from Sunday to Sunday. It is important that we bridge these gaps and become aware of the continuity of the story.
Indeed, it is most important that you read the readings in your Bibles. You will in fact find that the most interesting pieces have been edited out. I suspect that may be because they were deemed unsuitable for Sunday mornings, possibly offensive to some. But we don’t do ourselves any favours by ignoring such lines. Also important is the translation of the readings used at Mass. This is currently being changed by the Bishops of England and Wales because the shortcomings of the 1960’s Jerusalem Bible are evident.
Part of my aim is to make you aware of the underlying Greek original where that is helpful. Thus for the 26th Sunday of the year, translation completely lose the contrast between stumbling blocks and millstones. In the same part of Mark’s Gospel, there are consistent references to the way. Translators however like stylistic variation: roads, paths and so forth. These obscure the presentation of the evangelist and so miss the point. These reflections are to be taken as occasional pieces. I do a minimum of planning from Sunday to Sunday but no more. I may as a result say the same thing many times! Repetition can be helpful.
Finally, I would not that these reflections are not intended as preparation for Sunday. Rather they aim to be a follow-on, food for thought during the week.
Read Fr Patrick's reflections, here.